It Only Hurts for a Little While

September 25, 2017

“Fanned Out”
By
Charles Dana Gibson
1867-1944
~~~~~~~~~
These Astro fans finally got over the sad news that Larry Anderson had been traded to the Boston Red Sox.

 

ASTRO*NOTES

The HFA RACE. It’s not the end of the world. The Dodgers and Indians are looking more and more like a two-horse race for home field advantage through the World Series as we head into the last week of the season.

Altuve Needs Two. Two more hits and our incredible hitting man, Jose Altuve, racks up his 4th consecutive 200-hit season on his way to his 3rd AL batting championship in 4 years and an MVP award that feels ever the more like a coronation of the biggest big man to ever play the game. Let’s hope he gets them in Arlington tonight and puts that bear to bed forever.

The Batting Title Qualifier Rule About Minimal Participation. With 382 official times at bat, the long-injured Mike Trout returned to the list of qualified AL hitters by batting average yesterday, whereas, Carlos Correa has a higher total number of times at bat at 397, but still remains unqualified on the basis of insufficient service. The reason for this apparent error is simple.

It isn’t an error.

Eligibility for hitting recognition is not based upon official times at bat. It is based upon a player’s total plate appearances, averaged by the number of games his team of record has played to date.

If a player averages 3.1 or higher on plate appearances for all the games his team has played to date, he will be eligible for an official ranking and a possible batting title.

To get that number, you simply divide a player’s total plate appearances by the number of total games his team has played to date. If you get a number that is 3.1 or higher, he is eligible. Otherwise, he is not. This comparison of Trout and Correa crisply shows the difference between barely making it and barely missing it:

PLAYER TEAM PA / TG = ES
Mike Trout Angels 482 / 155 = 3.109
Carlos Correa Astros 453 / 155 = 2.923

PA = PLAYER’S TOTAL PLATE APPEARANCES

/ = DIVIDED BY

TG = PLAYER’S TEAM GAMES PLAYED TO DATE

ES = ELIGIBILITY SCORE IS 3.1. ANY SCORE OF 3.1 OR HIGHER QUALIFIES THE BATTER FOR HIS OFFICIAL RANKING. AS WE SEE FROM OUR TABLE, TROUT JUST BECAME ELIGIBLE AGAIN YESTERDAY. CORREA REMAINS SHY OF THE 3.1 MARK.

Footnote: If a player is under contract to more than a single MLB club in the same season, obviously, you get the same correct answers by simply holding him accountable for the total number of games he was under contract to separate teams. If a guy is 90 games a Cub and 60 games a Giant in 2017, the total of 150 is the number to use in the batting eligibility division work.

Simple enough.

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE RACES, GB IN EACH

THRU GAMES PLAYED SUNDAY, 9/24/2017

CLUB W L W%   AL   NL   WS
DODGERS 99 57 .635   ~   L   L
INDIANS 98 58 .628   L   ~   1.0
ASTROS 95 60 .613   2.5   ~   3.5
NATIONALS 94 61 .606   ~   4.5   4.5

L = LEADER BY LEAGUE AND WS OVERALL.

Overall Leader gets home field advantage (HFA) in World Series.

GAMES TO PLAY: DODGERS 6, INDIANS 6, ASTROS 7, NATIONALS 7 

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE SERIOUS CONTENDER SCORES

THRU GAMES PLAYED SUNDAY, 9/24/2017

ANGELS 7 – ASTROS 5

INDIANS 4 – MARINERS 2

NATIONALS 3 – METS 2

DODGERS 3 – GIANTS 1

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES PLAYED SUNDAY, 9/24/2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 569 198 38 4 24 .348
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 496 164 24 4 18 .331
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 582 187 30 1 24 .321
4 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 564 179 51 6 29 .317
5 JOSH REDDICK HOU 477 150 34 4 13 .314
6 MIKE TROUT LAA 382 118 25 3 29 .309
7 JOE MAUER MIN 513 158 35 1 7 .308
8 JOSE ABREU CWS 598 182 41 6 31 .304
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 397 120 21 1 21 .302
9 LORENZO CAIN KC 566 170 26 5 15 .300
10 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 603 180 35 0 32 .299
  ALL TOP 40 ASTROS
12 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 436 129 32 0 22 .296
14 YULI GURRIEL HOU 509 150 39 1 18 .295
22 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 525 149 28 0 33 .284
29 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 528 147 36 5 17 .278

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

What’s Cooking, Baseball Gods?

September 24, 2017

We wonder what chicanery the baseball gods are cooking up for the 2017 World Series?

 

In 2005, many fans hoped that the then NL-based Astros’ hunger for a first World Series win in their first opportunity over 43 years (1962-2005) would carry them past the Chicago White Sox. As you know, it did not. The White Sox deprivation far exceeded the Astros wait, and, when the Sox won in 2005, it ended an 88-year gap between their two most recent White Sox World Series wins of 1917 and 2005.

If the length of wait sometimes determines who will win the World Series, here are the results for the four possible matches between our four best record clubs, two from each league, in 2017:

Under Condition 1: The Rule only goes into Effect for the World Series:

Astros (1962-2017) 55 years win over Dodgers (1988-2017) 29 years

Nationals (1924-2017) 93 years win over Astros (1962-2017) 55 years

Indians (1948-2017) 69 years win over Dodgers (1988-2017) 29 years

Nationals (1924-2017) 93 years win over Indians (1948-2017) 69 years

Under Condition 2: The Rule also determines which two teams reach the World Series

Under that finer case qualification, there is only one result:

Nationals (1924-2017) 93 years win over Indians (1948-2017) 69 years

Under Condition 3: Other Teams Not Named Here Become Qualifiers:

Either reconfigure or throw the whole thing out as a waste of Sunday morning time. 🙂

~ PS: There are no true wastes of time. If we ever hope to better understand how the baseball gods think along their ways to arranging everything and everyone by fate and destiny, we must be willing to humbly dabble in the same absurd corners of both math and reason where they walk – and sometimes stumble – and not be afraid of the boogeyman.

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE RACES, GB IN EACH

THRU GAMES PLAYED SATURDAY, 9/23/2017

CLUB W L W%   AL   NL   WS
DODGERS 98 57 .632   ~   L   L
INDIANS 97 58 .626   L   ~   1.0
ASTROS 95 59 .617   1.5   ~   2.5
NATIONALS 93 61 .604   ~   4.5   4.5

L = LEADER BY LEAGUE AND WS OVERALL.

Overall Leader gets home field advantage (HFA) in World Series. 

GAMES TO PLAY: DODGERS 7, INDIANS 7, ASTROS 8, NATIONALS 8

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE SERIOUS CONTENDER SCORES

THRU GAMES PLAYED SATURDAY, 9/23/2017

ASTROS 3 – ANGELS 0

INDIANS 11 – MARINERS 4

NATIONALS 4 – METS 3

GIANTS 2 – DODGERS 1

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES PLAYED SATURDAY, 9/23/2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 566 196 38 4 24 .346
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 492 162 23 4 17 .329
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 579 186 30 1 24 .321
4 JOSH REDDICK HOU 473 150 34 4 13 .317
5 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 560 177 51 6 28 .316
6 JOE MAUER MIN 508 156 35 1 7 .307
7 JOSE ABREU CWS 598 182 41 6 31 .304
8 LORENZO CAIN KC 563 169 26 5 14 .303
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 394 119 21 1 21 .302
9 YULI GURRIEL HOU 505 150 39 1 18 .297
10 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 613 182 42 4 20 .297
  ALL TOP 40 ASTROS
11 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 436 129 32 0 22 .296
21 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 521 148 28 0 32 .284
27 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 523 146 36 5 16 .279

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Tiger Who Came in from the Cold

September 23, 2017

A few days ago, George Springer (L) shared s sure smile of agreement with new Astro teammate Justin Verlander that clinching the AL WEST feels so good.

 

ASTRO*NOTES

The 4-game career statistics of Justin Verlander as a Houston Astro speak loudly and plainly for his value to the club’s chances in the forthcoming 2017 post-season playoffs. In fact, it’s now pretty much impossible to think that we even could have entertained serious thoughts of lasting very long without help on his level at the front door of our starting rotation. All things considered, that evidence already had been stacking up at the time that GM Jeff Luhnow and Verlander fiancee Kate Upton went to work as independent forces to make it happen at the literal last minute of legal possibility.

Luhnow had to sell the idea to the Tigers; Upton had to convince Justin that she was 100% supportive of his choice to move on from Detroit for a serious Series run with the Astros. And they both got it done because Justin Verlander wanted it to happen too. Every Verlander body movement and facial expression on the field, in the dugout, or anywhere else on candid camera simply screams the roaring joy of this tiger who came in from the cold for another shot – or more – at baseball’s biggest prize. The guy fits both the team’s baseball needs and its rollicking big bopper temperament to an absolute tee.

Thank you, baseball gods, for smiling sunshine of another more spiritual nature upon our Harvey-soaked Houston baseball landscape of the mind!

And, oh yes, here’s the briefest of summaries on the so-far dazzling Astros career of the already great Justin Verlander.

The real story lays within the heart and soul of this smiling assassin of enemy team hitting excess:

ASTRO STATS W L ERA G/GS/CG IP R/ER HR H BB SO HBP
Justin Verlander 4 0 0.64 4/4/0 28.0 2/2 2 11 5 32 1

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE RACES, GB IN EACH

THRU GAMES PLAYED FRIDAY, 9/22/2017

CLUB W L W%   AL   NL   WS
DODGERS 98 56 .636   ~   L   L
INDIANS 96 58 .623   L   ~   2.0
ASTROS 94 59 .614   1.5   ~   3.5
NATIONALS 92 61 .601   ~   5.5   5.5

L = LEADER BY LEAGUE AND WS OVERALL.

Overall Leader gets home field advantage (HFA) in World Series.

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE SERIOUS CONTENDER SCORES

THRU GAMES PLAYED FRIDAY, 9/22/2017

ASTROS 3 – ANGELS 0

MARINERS 3 – INDIANS 1

METS 7 – NATIONALS 6

DODGERS 4 – GIANTS 2

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES PLAYED FRIDAY, 9/22/2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 566 196 38 4 24 .346
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 488 161 23 4 17 .330
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 575 184 30 1 24 .320
4 JOSH REDDICK HOU 473 150 34 4 13 .317
5 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 557 174 51 6 27 .312
6 JOE MAUER MIN 504 155 35 1 7 .308
7 JOSE ABREU CWS 594 181 41 6 31 .305
8 LORENZO CAIN KC 558 169 26 5 14 .303
9 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 609 182 42 4 20 .299
10 YULI GURRIEL HOU 502 150 39 1 18 .299
       
OTHER TOP 40
RANK HOUSTON ASTROS TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 391 116 20 1 21 .297
14 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 432 126 30 0 22 .292
21 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 521 148 28 0 32 .284
27 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 520 145 36 5 16 .279

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Hooray for Hollywood Astro Fiancee Kisses

September 22, 2017

QUESTION: How are the kisses that Astros pitcher Justin Verlander gives to his beautiful movie actress/model fiancee Kate Upton different from the ones we everyday guys plant on our own little Houston ladies of squeeze?
ANSWER: Justin’s kisses have to pass a screen test.

 

Thank you, Tony Cavender, for alerting us here at The Pecan Park Eagle to the great little article on the role that fiancee Kate Upton played in Justin Verlander’s decision to leave his long-time base with the Detroit Tigers and give himself over baseball-wise – in body, soul and golden arm – to the Houston Astros.

If you haven’t read it, please do so. Here’s the ESPN source link:

http://freebeacon.com/culture/thank-goodness-for-kate-upton-fiance-tells-espn/

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

The Season of the Orange Rose is at Hand

September 22, 2017

After 55 years of great anticipation, the Season of the Orange Rose is at hand in Houston. Let’s hope that 2017 will be the joyously high time in which we all get to see it blossom in baseball as beautifully as this incredibly pictured example does in caring hands.

 

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Our Astros 2017 Playoff Starting Pitcher Candidates: Who gets the rose? And who gets the hose?

Justin Verlander is one of our two no-brainers for a rose – and he should be our #1 starter.

Dallas Keuchel is the only lefty. On the other hand, thank goodness one of our two “best shot/no-brainer starters is Dallas Keuchel – and he just happens to hold both baseballs and roses in his left hand.

Once we get past our two former Cy Young pitchers, we run out of easy roses in dealing with whatever else is to be for this important short-term rotation.

Lance McCullers is also as certain as his cantankerous back will allow him to be. It would be nice to see McCullers have one problem-free start prior to the AL playoffs. If that doesn’t happen, Manager Hinch bears the extra burden of deciding whether to risk using the young man in the third game of any first series – or at all, for that matter.

Brad Peacock becomes more lovable with each most recent appearance. This quiet-spoken young man and new father is now putting up one of the best records on the team or league as a steady and reliable starter. His stability offers some ease to the ongoing touch-and-go condition of young Mr. McCullers.

Charlie Morton is another steady influence too most of the time and a guy who also is putting up some some good team numbers. Morton and Peacock both have shared the “first responder” role that had to be filled when both McCullers and Collin McHugh were lost to the Astros for so much of the 2017 season due to injuries. The Question now is – will they be expected to start during the playoffs – or will they be moved into shoring up spots on the relief pitcher schedule? Morton hasn’t been used in relief by the Astros, so far.

Collin McHugh is hard for some of us to figure. Is he ready to be placed on the line as a starter in one of these do-or-die series that are coming up for the Astros in October? More gray-matter usage material is already in the lap of A.J. Hinch on that decision too.

We like Joe Musgrove exactly where he is now – in the pen. It seems to fit his temperament and stuff pretty well. He simply exudes greater command of his pitches as a reliever.

Mike Fiers ate a lot of starter innings during the season. I keep wishing he’d find that magic key that unlocks all of his ability on the mound that we know from previous starts he’s capable of using to the fullest extent, but that’s a rehab goal that has no room for trial as a playoff starter. We would prefer to see Mike used in relief only during the playoffs.

At any rate that’s our take, and without two answers that only Manager Hinch possesses. – How many guys will actually figure into the Astros starting rotation during the first round of the playoffs? – And who will they actually be?

2017 Houston Astros Playoff Starters Pool

# Pitcher W L ERA G/GS IP H BB SO HR
1 J Verlander 13 8 3.50 31/31 193.0 163 70 202 25
2 D Keuchel (L) 13 5 2.96 22/22 139.2 111 46 117 14
3 L McCullers 7 3 3.97 20/20 111.0 104 37 122 7
4 B Peacock 12 2 2.98 33/20 127.0 96 56 159 9
5 C Morton 12 7 3.75 23/23 134.1 117 49 154 11
6 C McHugh 3 2 3.44 10/10 52.1 50 16 48 6
7 J Musgrove 7 8 4.83 36/15 108.0 116 28 97 18
8 M Fiers 8 10 5.22 29/28 153.1 157 62 146 32

What do you think? How many starters will Hinch use? And who will they be?

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE RACES, GB IN EACH

THRU GAMES PLAYED THURSDAY, 9/21/2017

CLUB W L W%   AL   NL   WS
DODGERS 97 56 .634   ~   L   L
INDIANS 96 57 .627   L   ~   1.0
ASTROS 93 59 .612   2.5   ~   3.5
NATIONALS 92 60 .605   ~   4.5   4.5

 L = LEADER BY LEAGUE AND WS OVERALL.

Overall Leader gets home field advantage (HFA) in World Series.

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE SERIOUS CONTENDER SCORES

THRU GAMES PLAYED THURSDAY, 9/21/2017

WHITE SOX 3 – ASTROS 1

INDIANS 4 – ANGELS 1

BRAVES 3 – NATIONALS 2

DODGERS 5 – PHILLIES 4

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 AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

 THRU GAMES PLAYED THURSDAY, 9/21/2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 563 195 38 4 24 .346
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 484 161 23 4 17 .333
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 571 183 30 1 24 .320
4 JOSH REDDICK HOU 471 149 33 4 13 .316
5 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 553 174 51 6 27 .315
6 JOE MAUER MIN 499 155 35 1 7 .311
7 JOSE ABREU CWS 590 179 40 6 31 .303
8 LORENZO CAIN KC 553 167 26 5 14 .302
9 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 605 182 42 4 20 .301
10 YULI GURRIEL HOU 499 149 39 1 17 .299
       
OTHER TOP 40
RANK HOUSTON ASTROS TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 391 116 20 1 21 .297
13 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 430 126 30 0 22 .293
19 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 517 148 28 0 32 .286
24 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 518 145 36 5 16 .280

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Spahnie, Our Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes….

September 22, 2017

Warren Spahn (1942-1965)
Hall of Fame Pitcher
665 MLB Starts
382 Complete Games

 

Some mysteries are simply too easy to solve. Take The Case of the Disappearing CG Stat.

In this era of 100 pitch count limits on starters – and an emphasis upon the need for pitchers to work the corners of the plate and run up pitch counts – who in the world is going to be around deep enough to even have a shot at a complete game?

To stay within the 100 pitch limitation for 9 full innings, a pitcher has to average no more than 11.1 pitches per inning to get there. And that breaks down further to no more than 3.0 pitches per out and 2.1 pitches per inning for hits and all other outcomes. Not much squeeze room for error in any variant form it takes from the possibilities described here.

Complete games? Forget about them. They are the dinosaurs of baseball in 2017. Unless the gene bank of rubber-arm guys like Warren Spahn start showing up strong enough to overwhelm the wisdom of baseball’s current pitching wizards, we are stuck with short term starters and a long spread of specialized relievers that inevitably follow.

Maybe we should change the title of starters to better describe what the first pitcher in every MLB game has become. He is the “opener” of a baseball activity that ultimately ends up in the hands of a “closer”.

Mystery solved.

Symmetry of role description improved.

Enjoyment of the game? Diminished.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Everybody Gained on the Dodgers Last Night

September 21, 2017

Maybe the Dodgers are still “bums”, but don’t count on it.

 

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE RACES, GB IN EACH

THRU GAMES PLAYED WEDNESDAY, 9/20/2017

CLUB W L W%   AL   NL   WS
DODGERS 96 56 .632   ~   L   L
INDIANS 95 57 .625   L   ~   1.0
ASTROS 93 58 .616   1.5   ~   2.5
NATIONALS 92 59 .609   ~   3.5   3.5

L = LEADER BY LEAGUE AND WS OVERALL.

Overall Leader gets home field advantage (HFA) in World Series.

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE SERIOUS CONTENDER SCORES

THRU GAMES PLAYED WEDNESDAY, 9/20/2017

ASTROS 4 – WHITE SOX 3

INDIANS 6 – ANGELS 5

NATIONALS 7 – BRAVES 3

PHILLIES 7 – DODGERS 5

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES PLAYED WEDNESDAY, 9/20/2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 561 195 38 4 24 .348
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 481 160 23 4 17 .333
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 567 183 30 1 24 .323
4 JOSH REDDICK HOU 468 149 33 4 13 .318
5 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 553 174 51 6 27 .315
6 JOE MAUER MIN 495 152 34 1 7 .307
7 JOSE ABREU CWS 586 178 39 6 31 .304
8 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 601 181 42 4 20 .301
9 LORENZO CAIN KC 549 165 26 5 14 .301
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 387 116 20 1 21 .300
10 YULI GURRIEL HOU 496 148 39 1 17 .298
RANK OTHER TOP 40 ASTROS TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
13 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 426 126 30 0 22 .296
18 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 513 148 28 0 32 .288
28 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 516 144 36 5 16 .279
       

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

2017 is Record Year for MLB Homers

September 20, 2017

Jerry Witte, 1951 Houston Buffs
Jeff Bagwell, 1B, 2001 Houston Astros
MMP (then Enron Field)
August 3, 2001

 

“When Alex Gordon hit a home run for the Royals in the eighth inning on Tuesday, it was the 5,694th home run of the season, breaking the record for most home runs in a single season set in 2000.” ~ And with that droll sentence for openers. writer Khadrice Rollins began this linked article on a moment in MLB history last night:

https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/09/19/most-home-runs-one-season-record

We have no specific tally on the number of homers that may have followed Gordon last night, but the Royals were playing in Toronto when his record-breaking pop exploded and there most probably was a homer or two that got launched elsewhere later, especially since there were some games going on from the west coast.

How long can something that happens at a record pace, one that pops in about a dozen games shy of season’s end, stay exciting? Yeah, we do get it, folks. The answer to that question forever shall remain a contextual one. It all depends on “who hit it” and “when” – in relation to our personal fan interests in the outcome of a game.

What about the impact of this home run record year?

The question we ought to be asking is what does the volume of home runs we see today mean to the game of baseball as an in-depth play of strategy? Or has it simply become the strategy of the game? If all you have to do to win is hit more home runs than your own rag-arm, short-time pitchers give up, than any of us can put on a baseball uniform, have them stencil “Earl Weaver Wannabe” on the back of the jersey and start managing today.

Two other thoughts: Some of us long-of-tooth former players and fans grew up when baseballs were far more rare, but a sight to behold when they left the park. I realize my bias here, but there was a visually-inspired biochemical high we got when a slugger like the late Jerry Witte used to hit with those high arching, Ruthian parabolic homers he struck in Buff Stadium – each far surpassing anything I ever saw Albert Pujols hit at Minute Maid Park. Let me try to find the words to separate the two images:

Pujols at MMP in 2005; The Brad Lidge Playoff Game Bomb. The ball left the park at night so fast you couldn’t even very well see or follow its high arching departure from MMP amidst the high walls of the park. It detonated a deadly silence that was mostly mental. From the “Oh, My God!” lip movements we saw later in videos of Andy Pettitte’s face as he watched from the Astros dugout to the stunned look on the face of Astros pitcher Brad Lidge and the rest of us fans it all boiled down to a psychological explosion of hope. In a nanosecond, we all had gone from the belief that we were about to clinch our first Astros pennant that night to – “OMG, now we have to go back to St. Louis and use our presumed World Series starter, Roy Oswalt, just to have any chance of actually getting there.” – What a letdown.

Jerry Witte at Buff Stadium in 1951: On a Few Sunday afternoon games. The Buffs were Texas League Champions in 1951 and they played like it. SABR’s current member Larry Miggins also was the left fielder on that club. He also hit 28 line drive homers for the ’51 Buffs, but his teammate, first baseman Jerry Witte, had 38 of those mostly rainbow-arching moon shots that just seemed to disappear into the wide-open summer skies. The balls took off with rocketry ascent. We can only imagine the g-force upon a baseball hit at that gravity-defiant angle with such total brute force. The ball transformed instantly into pea size as it ascended fifty times higher than the left field fence itself into the mixture of cotton candy clouds and summer blue canvas skies. The space-hurdling pea continued to change as it finally leveled to now covering more distance than altitude – and rapidly becoming more of a short-lived black dot. Before it could descend, the black dot would always disappear from our stadium view. If it ever came down, I’ve yet to meet another witness who saw it happen.

Bottom Line: As best I am able, I’ve just tried to share one the most sacred (and I do mean “sacred”) baseball memories of my younger days. And I wonder today: Do the home runs the kids see today still hold that special magic for them, as well. Or have they simply become something that happens so often that they are expected? And what is special today about baseball to our current younger generation – if and when they are actually watching what is happening on the field – and not staring at their electronic devices?

A Parting Random Thought. The first home runs were not helped by fences. There weren’t any fences until people started trying to contain the game so they could charge people for watching. But once they had fences up for a game somewhere in the 19th century, regardless of whether or not there was a an admission charge, we wonder what the first fans thought when they saw a batter hit one over the fence and then, we presume, leisurely ran home to score?

Did any of them think: “Is that legal? …. Do you get a free run for hitting the ball over the fence? …. Why can’t the fielder run over the fence and try to get the ball for a play on that arrogant runner?”

You never know what people may think.

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HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE RACES, GB IN EACH

THROUGH GAMES PLAYED 9/19/2017

CLUB W L W%   AL   NL   WS
DODGERS 96 55 .636   ~   L   L
INDIANS 94 57 .623   L   ~   2.0
ASTROS 92 58 .613   1.5   ~   3.5
NATIONALS 91 59 .607   ~   4.5   4.5

 L = LEADER BY LEAGUE AND WS OVERALL.

Overall Leader gets home field advantage (HFA) in World Series.

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 HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE SERIOUS CONTENDER SCORES

THROUGH GAMES PLAYED 9/19/2017

ASTROS 3 – WHITE SOX 1

ANGELS 6 – INDIANS 3

NATIONALS 4 – BRAVES 2

PHILLIES 6 – DODGERS 2

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 558 194 38 4 24 .348
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 480 160 23 4 17 .333
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 563 182 29 1 24 .323
4 JOSH REDDICK HOU 464 147 32 3 13 .317
5 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 548 172 50 6 27 .314
6 JOE MAUER MIN 491 151 34 1 7 .308
7 JOSE ABREU CWS 582 178 39 6 31 .306
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 384 116 20 1 21 .302
8 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 596 180 42 4 20 .302
9 LORENZO CAIN KC 546 164 26 5 14 .300
10 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 584 174 33 0 32 .298
RANK OTHER TOP 40 ASTROS TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
12 YULI GURRIEL HOU 492 145 38 1 17 .295
13 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 423 124 30 0 22 .293
17 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 509 148 28 0 32 .291
26 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 516 144 36 5 16 .279

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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Race is On for Home Field Advantages

September 19, 2017

How fast – and how far – can a space rock soar?
Watch out, World Series!
We’re Aiming for the Door!

 

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE RACES, GB IN EACH

CLUB W L W% AL NL WS
DODGERS 96 54 .640 L L
INDIANS 93 57 .620 L 3.0
ASTROS 91 58 .611 1.5 4.5
NATIONALS 90 59 .604 5.5 5.5
D-BACKS 87 64 .576 9.5 9.5
RED SOX 86 64 .573 7.0 10.0
CUBS 83 66 .557 12.5 12.5
YANKEES 83 67 .553 10.0 13.0

L = LEADER BY LEAGUE AND WS OVERALL.

Overall Leader gets home field advantage (HFA) in World Series.

 CONTENDER GAMES PLAYED THROUGH 9/18/17

 RED SOX 10 – ORIOLES 8

YANKEES 2 – TWINS 1

 No Other Contenders Played on 9/18/17

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ASTRO*NOTES

Although the Indians and the Astros are the only two clubs left in mild to serious contention for the “HFA” through the World Series, the Astros still have an excellent chance to catch the Indians for “HFA” through the AL Playoffs if the space rocks can now sully forth with momentum from the Verlander-inspired AL WEST clinching on Sunday.

 C’mon, guys! ~ Bring it on home! ~ The rest of the pie is yours for the taking!

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

Astros Clinch AL West Behind Verlander

September 18, 2017

At last out Sunday, game-resting Jose Altuve ran onto the field to celebrate with his game-active teammates. His whole body language speaks loudly about the joy that comes from relief. “WE DID IT!” (This part of “IT”, at least.) Says the smile.

 

The Astros beat the Mariners, 7-1, to clinch 1st place in the 2017 AL West. George Springer and Justin Verlander had good reasons to thank each other for today’s win. Verlander won his 3rd start as an Astro – and Springer banged his 32nd HR in support. Where would the Astros be without these two guys, plus Altuve, Correa, and few others? I don’t know, but we wouldn’t be smiling today, not like we are.

 

Astros Manager A.J. Hinch hugs shortstop Carlos Correa, who caught the high pop fly that was the game’s last out. A.J.’s hug was for much more than his guy’s handling of a single pop fly.

 

Carlos Correa pauses for a nice interview by Julia Morales of AT&T Sportsnet. – Carlos also hit his 21st HR of the season to dead center today. It was his first long ball since the week prior to the All Star Game and the injury that took him out for so many weeks. His new tee-shirt was a popular post game change of jerseys for the Astros this happy Sunday in Houston.

 

ASTRO*NOTES. If you are a player, and you want a ring, you have be a member of the team that survives to win the World Series. Until then, every other win on the way is only for caps and tee shirts. And, frankly, that’s as it should be. In the big leagues, like in real life, you shouldn’t get a ring, a trophy, a watch or a car – just for showing up.

2017 AL WEST Champions is the Astros’ first division title in 16 years, the first since Astros icon and then manager Larry Dierker led the 2001 club to the title as Champions of the NL Central Division. To the best of our knowledge (:-)), Houston is the first double-league team to win division titles in both the NL Central and the AL West. We Astros fans owe a backhanded word of thanks to former Commissioner and newbie Hall of Famer Bud Selig for making it all possible.

Home Field Advantage Races. Sunday’s Houston 7-1 win over Seattle also was matched by Cleveland’s 2nd straight win over Kansas City by 3-2 on the same day. As a result, the Astros (91-58) remain 1.5 games behind the also new AL Central Division Champion Indians (93-57) for home field advantage throughout the AL Playoffs.

Hopefully, this table will show the race for home field advantage by league and overall for the World Series in an even easier way to see. It only includes those still possible playoff contenders who still have a snowball’s chance at the best scheduling rewards of the new system:

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE RACES, GB IN EACH 

CLUB W L W% AL NL WS
DODGERS 96 53 .644 L L
INDIANS 93 57 .620 L 2.5
ASTROS 91 58 .611 1.5 5.0
NATIONALS 90 59 .604 6.0 6.0
D-BACKS 87 63 .580 9.5 9.5
RED SOX 85 64 .570 7.5 11.0
CUBS 83 66 .557 13.0 13.0
YANKEES 82 67 .550 10.5 14.0

 L= LEADER BY LEAGUE AND OVERALL.

Overall Leader gets home field advantage in World Series.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 c *
ASTROS 91 58 .611  
2 ANGELS 76 73 .510 15.0
3 MARINERS 74 76 .493 17.5
4 RANGERS 73 76 .490 18.0
5 ATHLETICS 66 83 .443 25.0

c * ~ Clinched 2017 AL West Division Championship, 9/17/2017.

With Cleveland also winning today, the Astros remain 1.5 games back of the Indians for home field advantage through all rounds of the AL Playoffs.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2017

ASTROS 7 – MARINERS 1

RANGERS 4 – ANGELS 2                 

ATHLETICS 6 – PHILLIES 3

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 554 193 38 4 23 .348
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 477 159 23 4 17 .333
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 560 181 29 1 24 .323
4 JOSH REDDICK HOU 461 145 32 3 13 .315
5 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 545 171 50 6 27 .314
6 JOE MAUER MIN 483 148 34 1 7 .306
7 JOSE ABREU CWS 579 177 38 6 31 .306
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 381 116 20 1 21 .304
8 LORENZO CAIN KC 542 164 26 5 14 .303
9 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 592 178 42 4 20 .301
10 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 573 172 33 0 32 .300
RANK OTHER TOP 40 ASTROS TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
15 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 420 123 30 0 22 .293
16 YULI GURRIEL HOU 489 143 37 1 17 .292
17 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 505 147 27 0 32 .291
30 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 513 143 35 5 16 .279

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle