Things I’ve come across:
The 2018 Dodgers didn’t have one pitcher throw 162 or more innings. That’s how much the game of baseball has come to rely upon bullpens. That means not one Dodger qualified to league leadership in any category because rules state in order to do so a pitcher must work a total amount of innings that would equal the number of games their team played (normally, 162).
Last season also featured just the third player to top his league in hits and steals–Whit Merrifield, an underrated player. The other two men were Dee Gordon and Ichiro.
I read that Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, who had an ERA of 1.70, was deserving of winning the Cy Young Award, but I have some trouble with that. Yes, some of his stats, including that tiny ERA, are very impressive, but a Cy Young winner with 10 wins?! That bothers me. Maybe that’s because I grew up in an era when a Cy Young recipient such as Sandy Koufax put up numbers such as a sizzling 25-5 record (.833 WL%), with a 1.88 ERA. The year I’m using as an example, 1963, wasn’t an aberration–it was one of five consecutive seasons in which he led his league in ERA. In fact, that season Koufax had more shutouts, 11, than deGrom had wins!! I know baseball has changed so I won’t dwell on the contrast between their complete games, but here it is in black and white– Koufax turned in 20 CG (two other times he hit a personal high of 27) while deGrom had ONE! Koufax’s .833 winning percentage puts deGrom’s .526 to shame. Guess I’m getting resistant to changing times, but, again, the thinking of recent voters for awards is perplexing to me.
Likewise, the reliance upon homers is troubling. On September 6, 2018, the Yankees who set a record for the most homers by a team in a season, became the first team ever to field a team which had each of their nine lineup slots filled with men who had already powered 20+ homers. Of course, as of this early June writing, they’re saying the 2019 Twins are slugging at a pace which would shatter the Yanks record.
Mookie Wilson became the first batting crown winner to join the 30 HR/30 SB club…The Red Sox were a juggernaut last year: in their three rounds of playoff action, they clinched wins against three pitchers who were Cy Young winners in CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw…I heard an interesting trivia item about Shohei Ohtani. It seems that he is the only man to homer off a reigning Cy Young winner and strike out the reigning MVP in 2019.
Flashback to a 1970 item. Cotton Nash set a University of Kentucky basketball scoring record with 1,770 points. That mark fell to Dan Issel, but Nash went on to play minor league baseball (and was up to the majors for a couple of cups of coffee–playing in 13 games). On August 3, 1970, he made Evansville (of the American Association) history when he drilled his 12th homer within a period of one month. Nash’s 25th homer tied a league record first set by Danny Walton and he went on to break Walton’s mark even though Nash got a late start in his quest for the record–his first blast didn’t come until May 7th. He wound up the year with 33 HR. Though he enjoyed quite a few years of power hitting in the minors, he never hit one in the majors.
The old record was shared by Leonard “Preacher” Williams and Lee Maye–how many of you remember him? He is NOT the Lee May (who spelled his last name without an “E”). That man compiled 354 homers with teams such as the Reds and O’s.
Lee Maye had a good career, lasting 13 seasons in the majors and collecting 94 HR and once leading the NL in doubles with 44. For doo-wop lovers, Maye also gained fame under the name of Arthur Lee Maye (mainly as an R & B/soul singer) long ago. As a high school student he sang with friends such as Jesse Belvin, who went on to record a hit in “Goodnight My Love,” and Richard Berry who wrote “Louie, Louie,” as well as Cornell Gunter who later sang with the Coasters. Maye formed a singing group called Arthur Lee Maye and the Crowns but also became a solo act. For those of you who are really into old music, here are a few of his titles: I’m Happy and In Love, Moonlight, and a version of Gloria.