Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Rangers Honor Beltre 3,000 Plus Hit Career

September 15, 2017

The Texas Rangers duly honored third baseman Adrian Beltre last weekend for his 3,000 hot passage season. In the process, one of our wonderful Pecan Park Eagle contributors, artist Michael Hogue, also was reflectively honored for that magnificent graphic he did of Beltre in the new company of all the other 3,000 hit club members to date.

Congratulations to Adrian Beltre, the Texas Rangers organization, and Michael Hogue – one and all – for a job well done!

That’s Mike Hogue embracing honoree Adrian Beltre in the center bottom photo of our lead graphic entry above. To be reminded of how dynamic the original Hogue work really was, check out this link to the original display of the graphic we featured in a pre-release column we did recently in The Pecan Park Eagle on Mike Hogue’s original work. If you guide your cursors over the image of each player in the larger version of our original Hogue column piece, shown here at this link, it will identify each of the members included in this rare group:

https://bill37mccurdy.com/2017/08/01/dallas-morning-news-beltre-reaches-3000-hits/

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(An Associated Press Report, September 9, 2017)

ARLINGTON, Texas — A congratulatory letter from Willie Mays and a video tribute including a request from George Brett were part of a pregame ceremony in which the Texas Rangers recognized Adrian Beltre for joining the 3,000-hit club.

The ceremony Friday night before the series opener against the New York Yankees included the reading of a letter from Mays that started, “This is Willie here. Welcome to the club.” Mays wrote that he knows it’s not an easy accomplishment and told Beltre to “keep at it” because everybody loves to watch him hit.

A video shown during the ceremony included Brett, Pedro Martinez, Paul Molitor, David Ortiz, Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez and Nelson Cruz congratulating Beltre on becoming the 31st player, and first from the Dominican Republic, to get 3,000 hits.

“When you get 3,153 (hits), retire, and five years after you retire, I will see you in Cooperstown,” said Brett, a Hall of Famer whose 3,154 hits are the most by a third baseman.

Beltre got his 3,000th hit with a double July 30 at home against Baltimore. The third baseman has 3,035 career hits, though he hasn’t played since straining his left hamstring Aug. 31 and could miss the rest of the regular season for wild card-hopeful Texas.

“This is a little bittersweet,” Beltre said. “I’m humbled and grateful for the honor, but it would be nicer if I could go back out and play. I know it’s supposed to be at least four weeks. It’s going a little slow for my liking. I want to be optimistic, but I don’t know that I can say when I will play again.”

The Rangers presented Beltre with an ATV that was driven on the field by teammate Elvis Andrus, as well as one of the bases from the July 30 game that was signed by the entire team. There also was a proclamation from Arlington’s mayor declaring “Adrian Beltre Day” and a plaque presented on behalf of the Dominican Republic recognizing him for his achievements.

“When you have 3,000 hits every day is Adrian Beltre day,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said when addressing the crowd.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

There’s Still Time to Rise Above Mediocrity

September 15, 2017

Rogelio Armenteros
RHP, Fresno Grizzlies
8-1, 2.16 ERA

ASTRO*NOTES

Magic #. The 5-1 Astros series rubber game win over the Angels in Anaheim on Thursday has reduce the long-held Houston magic claim check on the AL West title to a measly 3. Any combination of Astro wins or Angel losses totally 3 now finally gives the long-awaited keys to the division crown to Houston.

Home Field Advantage. Houston still holds a 5-game lead over Boston in any meeting they may have in the AL Playoffs, but Cleveland continues to hold a 2.5 game lead over the Astros for home field advantage is any playoff series with the space rockers – or anyone else, for that matter. How could they not? The Tribe never loses. Last night they rallied late to beat KC, 3-2, in 10 as they expanded their AL winning streak record to 22 games. – An Upcoming Cleveland Foe Warning: Say goodbye to your scalps as you enter the ballpark where your next game with the Indians is scheduled to be played. There will not be time for goodbyes once the next massacre gets off to its inevitably whooping and hollering start.

Random Thoughts. … Brad Peacock (11-2, 2.98) was again brilliant, but like the little Dutch boy in the fairy tale, he cannot plug all the leaking holes in the Astros’ starter and relief pitching dike. …. Hope the Astro fates do not now hinge on a sensational catch in center field that only Jake Marisnick could have made. …. Wonder how A.J. Hinch feels now about all the second-guessing that’s inspired by a great team that falls into a September slump? …. I still don’t know why we lost Jeb Lowrie again after getting him back in 2015 for a second time. …. Does Dallas Keuchel ever stop to think that the growing length of his beard may be slowing his speed pitches down to more hittable acceleration levels? …. Are bench coaches sometimes capable of topical conversations that go beyond baseball? …. Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa all seem to be hitting walls together at just the wrong time. What’s the remedy? Rest? Or keep cranking til their engines start – or their arms and legs fall off? …. Gotta get these guys pumped again and soon. We have to build a powerful momentum, asap, and it’s not going to happen around the Astros Holy Three – without their loose as a goose participation. …. Don’t envy Hinch his job in the least. Anything he decides to do can either work for the better – or for the worse. …. Either way, the offense for now is still sucking air. …. The club has been playing mediocre baseball since the All Star Game.  From the start of the 2017 2nd half on July 14, the Astros have a record of 28 wins and 29 losses. Do that long enough and it’s easy to become the thing your club record says you are. …. And the word is mediocre. …. If possible, this is the time for the club to prove they are not …. just another flash in the pan burned out nobody special mediocre club.

How About Trying The Cuban Pitcher Down in Fresno? Take a look at the year that young Rogelio Armenteros has been having at Corpus Christi, but especially at Fresno? Wouldn’t this be a good time to see if his stuff is superior to the short-term adjustment leaning curve of major league batters as the Astros head into the playoffs with a starting rotation that contains more holes than a block of Swiss cheese? Our good friend/talent scout/ baseball minded Dr. Don Matlosz of Fresno State University may be able to bring us up to speed on this question or even point us to others among the Fresno Grizzlies who might be able to help the Astros in their hour of greatest need.

Here’s the statistical link to the page on Rogelio Armenteros:

http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?sid=t259&player_id=660494#/career/R/pitching/2017/ALL

Note to Dr. Matlosz of Fresno State University: If you have a comment on Rogelio Armenteros or any other pitcher at Fresno that you may have recommended who might be capable of stepping into this critical late season role, please drop me an e-mail and I will publish it here as an addendum scouting report by you to The Pecan Park Eagle on this pitching needs question:

A Possible Addendum: A Donald “Doc” Matlosz Fresno Pitcher Scouting Report (awaiting sender’s decision to participate): ????

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 88 58 .603  
2 ANGELS 74 72 .507 14.0
3 MARINERS 74 73 .503 14.5
4 RANGERS 72 74 .493 16.0
5 ATHLETICS 64 82 .438 24.0

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

ASTROS 5 – ANGELS 1

MARINERS 10 – RANGERS 4                 

RED SOX 6ATHLETICS 2

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 546 190 38 4 23 .348
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 466 155 23 4 17 .333
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 547 178 29 1 24 .325
4 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 541 170 50 6 26 .314
5 JOSH REDDICK HOU 450 141 31 3 13 .313
6 JOSE ABREU CWS 569 175 38 6 31 .308
7 JOE MAUER MIN 471 144 32 1 6 .306
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 369 112 19 1 20 .304
8 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 582 176 42 4 20 .302
9 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 563 170 33 0 32 .302
10 LORENZO CAIN KC 535 160 25 5 14 .299
RANK OTHER TOP 40 ASTROS TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
13 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 412 121 29 0 21 .294
 

14

YULI GURRIEL HOU  

481

141 26 1 17 .293
18 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 494 142 25 0 31 .287
23 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 501 142 35 5 16 .283

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

 

 

 

Oakland Romp is Tribute to Parity in 2017

September 11, 2017

Could the 1927 Browns have done to the 1927 Yankees what the 2017 A’s just did to the 2017 Astros? Nor likely. – Talent parity is far better today.

 

Astros*Notes

The A’s did it, finishing the 4-game, first-time ever, series sweep of the Astros by 10-2, producing some tabs worthy of a baseball house of horrors

For the A’s: 4 wins in 4 tries; 41 runs on 51 hits – and 11 homers!

A’s 11 HR in 4-Game Series vs. Astros, Sep. 8-10, 2017

HR#/G# INN BATTER B L/R RUNS 0UTS PITCHER T L/R
1/1 2nd Matt Chapman BR 2 1 Collin McHugh TR
2/1 3rd Matt Joyce BL 1 0 Collin McHugh TR
3/1 7TH Marcus Semien BR 4 0 Luke Gregerson TR
4/1 9th Boog Powell BL 1 0 Ben Giles TR
5/3 6TH Matt Olson BL 2 0 Brad Peacock TR
6/3 7TH Chad Pinder BR 1 2 Chris Devenski TR
7/3 8TH Chad Pinder BR 3 2 Michael Feliz TR
8/4 5TH Matt Chapman BR 1 0 Dallas Keuchel TL
9/4 7TH Ryan Healy BR 2 1 Francis Martes TR
10/4 8th Boog Powell BL 2 2 Luke Gregerson TR
11/4 8TH Matt Olson BL 2 2 Tony Sipp TL

Two Basic Observations from the Chart’s Data:

(There are many others there, simply awaiting your own excavations.)

1.) 7 of of the 11 HR were yielded by relievers;

2.) 21 of the 41 total runs scored by the A’s came on these charted long balls;

One Overlayed Subjective Observation:

This series screams at the overall parity of talent that spreads today from MLB’s alleged best to worst teams. The 1927 St. Louis Browns never could have done this kind of job in a series with the 1927 New York Yankees if you had spotted them four strikes and four outs per inning. The talent simply was not there within the Browns to get the job done. Assuming that to be true, it does make it easier for a new ownership of a failed performance franchise today to sell the idea to fans that a quick return to serious competition is both possible and probable – with good management and money thrown at the identified solutions. Back in the 1920s, clubs like the A’s did what the old Browns and Senators also actually did. They survived by selling their best players, simply to pay the rent and light bills.

The Damage Tab to the Juice that Squeezed from Houston Strong/Verlander:

Plans for purchasing the Buffalo Bayou Bridge at the foot of Main and painting it orange and deep blue in honor of the 2017 World Series Champions, the Houston Astros, have been put on serious hold.

Three Positive Getaway Thoughts:

  1. The Astros will not lose today. Monday is a day off;
  2. No matter what, as always, the sun will come up tomorrow, just as it did today, as long as our personal time is not up; and,
  3. The hope for something beautiful is the future’s gift to the present.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 86 57 .601  
2 ANGELS 73 70 .510 13.0
3 RANGERS 71 71 .500 14.5
4 MARINERS 71 72 .497 15.0
5 ATHLETICS 63 80 .441 23

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2017

 ATHLETICS 10 – ASTROS 2

 YANKEES 16 – RANGERS 7                 

 ANGELS 5 – MARINERS 3

AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

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BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 538 189 38 4 23 .351
2 ERIC HOSMER KC 534 175 27 1 24 .328
3 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 447 144 22 4 16 .322
4 JOSH REDDICK HOU 441 139 30 3 13 .315
NR* CARLOS CORREA HOU 532 164 48 6 25 .307
5 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 529 162 47 6 25 .306
6 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 569 174 41 4 20 .306
7 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 548 167 33 0 31 .305
8 JJOE MAUER MIN 458 139 32 1 6 .303
9 JOSE ABREU CWS 550 166 37 5 31 .302
10 JEAN SEGURA SEA 470 141 28 2 9 .300
RANK OTHER TOP 40 ASTROS TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
13 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 404 119 28 0 21 .295
15 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 482 141 25 0 31 .293
20 YULI GURRIEL HOU 473 136 36 1 17 .288
22 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 490 139 34 5 16 .284

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

 

 

 

 

Certain Things Are Bigger Than The Game

September 8, 2017

Jake Olson is congratulated by teammate Wyatt Schmidt, #46, for his vital participation in the game deciding play.

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Certain things are bigger than the game, any game. Although it’s hard to conceive of any other sports, beyond bowling, perhaps, where a legitimate player could have achieved what Jake Olson did last week as a long-snap center for the USC Trojans on a late-in-the-game victory-important NCAA Division 1 football extra point conversion against the Western Michigan Broncos.

In case you haven’t heard, Jake Olson is a totally blind football player for the USC Trojans. Thanks to this young man of great heart and ability – and with special thanks to USC Head Coach Clay Helton and Western Michigan Head Coach Tim Lester, Jake got to participate in one of the deciding plays in the game – with no violation of the rules of football – and in respect for a value in life that certain things in life, truly are, bigger than the game itself.

In a world dominated by news of killer storms, insane dictators with bad haircuts, and the never-ending rancor from all the lovely people we’ve elected to lifetime perks in Washington, this link to the September 2, 2017 article by Bill Plaschke for the Los Angeles Times is worth your investment of attention and energy – to all of those rarer folks who sometimes rise to higher callings than the dangerous appetites of nature and the call of the human ego to personal glorification:

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-usc-plaschke-20170902-story.html

Thank you, Rob Sangster, for alerting The Pecan Park Eagle to this beautiful story.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Maxwell Kates: Justin Verlander

September 5, 2017

Maxwell Kates

 Maxwell Kates is a talented and dedicated SABR member who researches, writes and breathes baseball with all the passion and fire that comes with the territory – as he still manages to contain what he wants to say in organized columns and rows of thought. His background in accounting has served him well. Maxwell grew up a Tigers fan and this contribution could not have come at a more timely moment for publication. With the great Justin Verlander making his first start as an Astro Tuesday night in Seattle, we hope you enjoy and appreciate this timely story in words and pictures that we received all good-to-go now only yesterday.

Look for another thoughtful and scholarly baseball history piece from David Skelton here too in the next couple of weeks. We think you are going to like it as well.

JUSTIN VERLANDER – DETROIT MEMORIES

By Maxwell Kates

Only a handful of major league players in the history of baseball can claim to be ‘franchise players.’ These are players whose talent is so exceptional that the success of their entire team often runs in direct proportion to their own diamond achievements. The obvious one is Tom Seaver, who was even labelled as ‘The Franchise’ in his decade with the New York Mets. The Giants won the pennant in Willie Mays’ rookie season of 1951 and remained perennial contenders until he was traded from the organization 21 years later. The Yankees never posted a losing season with their Clipper in centre field, while the Baltimore Orioles won four pennants in six years with Frank Robinson in right field.

A more recent star who may claim bragging rights as a franchise player is Justin Verlander. Until recently, he pitched his entire career with the Detroit Tigers. Verlander joined the Tigers in 2005, just as the team was completing its seventeen year odyssey as the worst team in major league baseball. Almost instantaneous with Verlander’s arrival, the Tigers became contenders. They posted winning records in nine of eleven seasons between 2006 and 2016, with five playoff berths and two trips to the World Series. Verlander remained a Tiger until the final minute of August 2017. Floundering on the field, the Tigers dealt Verlander to the Houston Astros for prospects Franklin Perez, Jake Rogers, and Daz Cameron. What you’re about to read is a nostalgic look back at Verlander’s Detroit years as seen through the eyes of one Tigers fan through the lens of six personal memories.

MEMORY #1: JUNE 12, 2007

Justin Verlander’s First No-Hitter

Verlander, a native of Virginia, was born on February 20, 1983. He attended Old Dominion University and was selected first by the Detroit Tigers in the June 2004 amateur draft. Slightly more than one year later, on July 4, 2005, Verlander made his major league debut, a 6-0 loss to the Indians in Cleveland. Unsuccessful in two 2005 appearances, he returned to the Tigers with a vengeance in 2006 by posting a 17-9 record with 3.63 ERA and 124 strikeouts. Verlander complemented starters Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and Kenny Rogers on a Detroit team that surprised everyone except themselves, going as far as the World Series before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Vienna, Austria

The emerging ‘Dutch Master’ of Detroit’s rotation was out to prove that 2007 was no sophomore jinx. He won 18 games with a berth on the All-Star team in San Francisco. One of those wins took place on June 12 as the Tigers hosted the Milwaukee Brewers at Comerica Park. I listened to the game on the radio as Verlander struck out 12 batters, including future teammate Prince Fielder in the 4th inning. Four Brewers reached base on balls while one Verlander fastball reached 102 miles per hour on the radar. As Vin Scully would have reported, in the top of the 9th with two outs, the next Brewer to get a base hit would be the first. J. J. Hardy wouldn’t have the chance. He flew out to right to end the ballgame, Tigers win 4-0, no-hitter for Justin Verlander! From where I sat, the most unique aspect of the game was my own vantage point. I was listening on short wave radio in Vienna, Austria.

MEMORY #2: MAY 7, 2011

Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander works against the Toronto Blue Jays during fourth inning of a baseball game in Toronto Saturday, May 7, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

After falling short of a second consecutive playoff berth in 2007, the Tigers acquired Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, and Edgar Renteria in blockbuster trades. Anticipated to return to the World Series, they began the 2008 season 0-7 which set the course for the balance of the year. Verlander led the league with 17 losses and posted a ghastly 4.84 ERA. Although Verlander and his Tigers returned to respectability in 2009 (19-9, 269K, 3.45 ERA), they fell short of any playoff hopes on the final day of the season. Injuries protracted any success for the Tigers in 2010 but 2011 became a season for the ages in the Motor City.

I was preparing for the CPA finals in 2011. Returning home from a course on a Saturday afternoon, my telephone was ringing as I walked in the door. It was my mother. “Turn on the television,” she insisted. “I won’t tell you what channel, just turn it on.” It was the 5th inning and the Tigers were leading the hometown Blue Jays by a margin of 7-0. At that stage, no Toronto batter had reached 1st base safely, let alone achieved a hit. There was tension in the top of the 8th when home plate umpire Jerry Meals identified a close pitch as ball four for Blue Jays’ catcher J. P. Arencibia. The perfect game was over but Arencibia reached base on a walk, not a hit. The Tigers added two runs in the top of the ninth before retiring the Blue Jays in a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning. The Tigers 9, the Blue Jays 0, no-hitter #2 for Justin Verlander!

My mother knew that I always wanted to watch a no-hitter twenty years after we missed Wilson Alvarez throw one in Baltimore for the Chicago White Sox by a couple of games. Now I had finally seen my no-hitter and as an added bonus, it was authored by my favourite player on my favourite team. To date, it’s the only one I’ve ever seen.

MEMORY #3: JULY 5, 2011

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander, left, and catcher Alex Avila watch the scoreboard replay of Los Angeles Angels’ Howard Kendrick (not pictured) scoring during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, July 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Verlander improved his record to a modest 3-3 with his no-hitter in Toronto but he would not lose again in eight decisions through early July. His record was now a sterling 11-3 as he faced Dan Haren of the Angels at Anaheim Stadium. It was also the eve of the 41st annual SABR convention in nearby Long Beach, California. Dave Raglin, a friend of mine from Virginia through the Mayo Smith Society, had arranged to attend the contest with his wife, Barb Mantegani. Also joining us were Mark Kanter and the late Paul Hirsch. A batboy for the Angels in 1974, Paul remained familiar with the nooks and crannies of Anaheim Stadium that were obscure to the more casual fans among us.

(FROM LEFT) MARK KANTER, DAVE RAGLIN, BARB MANTEGANI, MAXWELL KATES, and PAUL HIRSCH.

Seated behind home plate in the upper deck, we were treated to a view worthy of a Jerry Dunphy news signoff, including the desert, the sea, and much of southern California. Verlander only gave up one run, an RBI double by Erick Aybar which scored Howie Kendrick, and two hits the entire evening. Unfortunately for his team, that was still one run more than the Tigers scored. In an unusual turn of events, Verlander was ejected as he was being relieved for Joaquin Benoit. Storming off the field, he proceeded to argue a call in the 2nd inning with 1st base umpire Joe West.

Verlander’s loss in Orange county was but a blip on his 2011 record. On June 25, he struck out 14 Arizona Diamondbacks while on August 27, he became the first Tiger since Bill Gullickson in 1991 to register 20 wins for the year as he whitewashed the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

MEMORY #4: SEPTEMBER 24, 2011

Verlander of Detroit
Tuning Up the Motor City

My parents drove from their home in Ottawa to Detroit, stopping to collect me in Toronto for a weekend of Tigers baseball and visits with family friends Allen and Phyllis Gantman, along with Steve Lauer and Marilyn Klar from Toledo. While Verlander did not pitch on the Sunday contest we attended at Comerica Park, a 10-6 rout of the Baltimore Orioles, we did watch him pitch the night before on a large screen television at the Motor City Casino. It was not Verlander’s most stellar performance. He yielded five Baltimore runs – four of them earned – before the 3rd inning came and went. Although the Tigers rallied to tie the game in the 8th inning, Baltimore pinch runner Kyle Hudson tipped the scale in favour of the visitors from Charm City. Orioles 6, Tigers 5, no decision for Justin Verlander.

(From Left) Steve Lauer, Marilyn Klar, Maxwell Kates, David Kates, Phyllis Gantman, Allen Gantman 2

The game was memorable not so much for the action on the field but for the editorial offered by my mother after the game. “What’s the big deal with Verlander?” she asked rhetorically before continuing with “He never does anything good anytime I watch.” Then she pointed to me and insisted, “Just like your other favourite, Ripken.” Finally she asked my father, “David, did you ever see Baltimore play where Ripken didn’t strike out?”

The Tigers Yearbook in the 2011 Season of Justin Verlander’s Cy Young and MVP Renderings.

My mother’s attempt at Ernie Harwell notwithstanding, Verlander was completing one of the signature seasons by any starter of the 21st century. He led the league with 24 wins against only 5 losses, 250 strikeouts, and a 2.40 ERA, joining former Astros scout Hal Newhouser as the only Detroit hurler to win the Pitching Triple Crown. Although the Tigers lost the American League Championship Series to the Texas Rangers, Verlander impressed the writers sufficiently to win both the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards.

MEMORY #5: OCTOBER 24, 2012

Verlander and the 2012 World Series

My mother must have been watching both the All-Star Game and Game 1 of the World Series in 2012. Verlander started both and he was pitiful on each occasion. During the regular season, he continued to pitch brilliantly, 17 wins against 8 losses, 239 strikeouts, and a 2.64 ERA. Unfortunately, the cast that supported him was lacklustre for much of the season. Verlander, Cabrera, and free agent signing Prince Fielder anchored one of the most expensive payrolls in baseball, one that did not yield the intended results. At a family brunch at the end of June, my father even admonished me by arguing that “…at least my team didn’t spend all their money on Percy Fielding.”

The Sandoval Home Run

Somehow the Tigers managed to sprint to the end of the regular season before dispatching the Oakland A’s and New York Yankees in their respective playoff series. Only four victories at the expense of the San Francisco Giants separated the Tigers from their fifth World Series championship. They never achieved those victories. In the opening game in Herb Caen’s ‘Baghdad by the Bay,’ the Tigers and Verlander surrendered five runs in four innings, including two home runs to Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval. My friend Dash Read, a high school classmate now working as a realtor in Ottawa, sent me a one word e-mail which read “VERLOSER.”

Fortunately, Tommy Lasorda was not a Tigers fan. If a reporter, Paul Olden for example, would have asked his opinion of Sandoval’s performance, Lasorda would have likely answered, “What’s my opinion of Sandoval’s performance? What do you think? He beat us with three home runs!” That was the bowdlerized rendition. Even after Verlander was sent to the showers, Sandoval hit his hat trick off relief pitcher Al Albuquerque. Final score, San Francisco Giants 8, Detroit Tigers 3. Verlander and his teammates were clearly in over their heads. He would not be the only matinee idol named Justin to make that claim.

MEMORY #6: JULY 4, 2013

Justin Verlander in Toronto

The Tigers overcame a disappointing finish in the 2012 World Series to once again field a contending ballclub in 2013. Verlander did not pitch his most brilliant record, 13-12 for the season, but was good for 217 strikeouts and a 3.46 ERA. Shortly before his sixth and final All-Star Game berth in a Detroit uniform, Verlander took the mound in Toronto on the birthday of his country. The Blue Jays had whitewashed the Tigers on Canada Day three days before while Detroit won each of the next two games.

David Eisenstadt
Maxwell Kates’ treasured baseball mentor

Verlander pitched seven impressive innings, fanning five Blue Jays and yielding no runs and three hits. I attended the game with David Eisenstadt, an important mentor throughout my career who ignited my interest in the Tigers to begin with. Unlike the game in Anaheim nearly two years before, his position players helped him on this Thursday night. A quintet of doubles by Detroit hitters, complemented by a two run blast by Austin Jackson, propelled the Tigers to an 11-1 victory over the Blue Jays.

More accurately, I watched eight innings with David – the 3rd inning I watched with Karen and Joe Wampler who travelled to Toronto from Westland, Michigan to watch the Tigers play. It was the day Karen went from being a ‘Facebook friend’ to a ‘real friend,’ as was the case with David Lally, who had travelled with his son David Jr. from Flint to watch the Tigers-Blue Jays series.

CONCLUSION

Although the Tigers returned to the playoffs in 2013 and again in 2014, it became clear that their window of opportunity was shrinking. After enduring injuries during a last-place 2015 campaign, Verlander posted an impressive renaissance in 2016 (16-9, 254K, 3.04 ERA). Unfortunately, he lost the Cy Young Award to former teammate Rick Porcello by only five votes. The Tigers were eliminated from the playoffs on the final day of the 2016 season, a sign of things to come in 2017.

On February 10, 2017, Tigers owner Mike Ilitch passed away at the age of 87. The next generation of his family adopted a different philosophy to run the ballclub with a movement towards youth. Despite winning 8 of their first 12 games, it soon became evident that reign at contention was a thing of the past. The final outing in a Detroit uniform took place on August 30, a 6-2 victory over the Rockies bolstered by an RBI single in the Rocky Mountain air of Denver. The following day, Justin Verlander’s tenure with the Tigers became a memory.

September 2, 2017
Justin Verlander is now a Houston Astro.

Verlander was traded at a time another major league organization needs his skills far more than the Tigers’ do. Donald Sutherland once stated that “legends are made by doing the right thing in the right place at the right time.” The next two months represents the greatest challenge of Verlander’s career and he knows it. This is an opportunity for him to shine and become a hero in an altogether new city while pitching for the Houston Astros.

While I, personally, am disappointed that I will no longer have the chance to see Verlander pitch in a Detroit uniform, I hope other Tigers fans will join me in supporting his new team, the Astros, as they compete to win the 2017 World Series for the city of Houston.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Greatness Calling Houston Via Verlander

September 4, 2017

When he wasn’t busy meeting his new teammates Saturday, Justin Verlander was paying riveted close attention to the game itself.

 

Labor Day Notes. …. The Astros seem to be catching a second strong wind this Labor Day Weekend. Just getting home to be with their own families who rode out the storm of biblical proportions may have been tonic enough, but can we even imagine how the players felt when brand new Astro Justin Verlander showed up in time from Detroit to suit up and join the club in their dugout for most of Saturday’s first game of a doubleheader sweep of the Mets? His handsome presence and infectious smile, and, even on TV at home, his easy-to-see gladness to go through all the new-kid-in-school hugs and hand shakes was totally in place. Justin Verlander, the arguably greatest pitcher in 21st century MLB history is here – as one of us – as one of the now two former Cy Young winners that frame all of our hopes – including his own – for a Houston World Series victory in 2017.

Wanting greatness for our Houston Astros is one thing, folks, but finding out that greatness also wants to be one of our Houston Astros is a whole other level of surrealism.

The great Justin Verlander is not simply here. If he didn’t want to be here, this trade could not have happened. – That’s right. – Justin Verlander wants to be here. And he obviously wants to be a Houston Astro. And he didn’t come here to not be great. – We take nothing for granted, friends, but strap on your seat belts and hold onto your caps. If our hopes should fall out of this plane anytime between now and late October, it’s going to be a long trip to the ground.

We just gotta believe!

Too sweet” would be my tweet – if I were the kind of Internet Joe who did that sort of thing.

Happy Labor Day, Everybody!

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 83 53 .610  
2 ANGELS 70 67 .511 13.5
3 MARINERS 69 68 .504 14.5
4 RANGERS 68 68 .500 15.0
5 ATHLETICS 58 78 .426 25.0

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2017

ASTROS 8 – METS 6

RANGERS 7 – ANGELS 6                 

MARINERS 10 – ATHLETICS 2

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 513 183 36 4 21 .357
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 422 137 22 4 14 .325
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 328 105 18 1 20 .320
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 508 161 24 1 22 .317
4 JOSH REDDICK HOU 425 132 28 3 12 .311
5 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 513 159 46 6 22 .310
6 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 525 162 33 0 30 .309
7 JEAN SEGURA SEA 444 136 27 1 8 .306
8 JOE MAUER MIN 436 132 29 1 6 .303
9 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 545 164 37 4 18 .301
10 JOSE ABREU CWS 522 157 36 4 27 .301
OTHER TOP 40 ASTROS
12 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 460 136 25 0 31 .296
13 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 384 113 25 0 21 .294
14 YULI GURRIEL HOU 454 133 36 1 15 .293
21 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 466 134 31 5 16 .288

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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Series Tales Can Come True

September 2, 2017

The Great Cy Young

For Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, the presence of each other as Astros teammates may spur one or the other into Cy Young mode the rest of the way. If both are great, rack ’em. If one is great and the other is only good, the Astros should still prevail, even against the vaulted Dodgers. For the Astros to fail, both these guys will have to fail – and we don’t see that happening. – But, again, what do we know? This is baseball. The sport that spends your lifetime trying to get all of us to learn that there are no experts in baseball. Unless you believe in reincarnation, no one can learn everything they need to know about baseball in a single lifetime – especially if our main view of the sport has been limited to what fans and writers see.

At any rate, I cannot keep myself from writing parodies as they occur. It’s been happening since I was a kid. And this one, based upon this subject, awakened me this morning about four o’clock AM. As noted, it’s based upon the melody of that old 1954 song, “Young at Heart”.

Series Tales Can Come True for the Orange and Blue

(a parody based upon the song, “Young at Heart”)

By Bill McCurdy

Series tales – can come true
For the Orange and Blue – with two “Youngs” to start
For it’s hard – you will find
To be caught in a bind – with two “Youngs” to start

Hinch can go – to extremes – with impossible schemes
As we laugh – when our dreams – fall apart at the seams
But life gets more exciting – with each passing day
The championship – that’s in our hearts – is on it’s way

Don’t you know – that it’s worth
Every treasure on earth – two “Cy” men to start
But as rich as we are – we can still travel far
If one does – his part

Let our mem’ry survive – from the year nineteen five
Christy buried the A’s – in all goose egg filets
And here is the best part – we have a head start
‘Cause we have – two “Cy Young” guys to – push the cart

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Notes. Stats and Data Reports will return tomorrow, after the Astros move the numbers around with today’s Saturday doubleheader. Meanwhile, it was great seeing guys like Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez show up at George R. Brown downtown to make genuine supportive contact with the people. Our guys have class and passionate fire oozing from every cell in the bodies and souls. We should all be very proud of the Astros, Texans and Rockets who have shown up to help in our community’s need for healing. Thank you, God, for the mirror on who we are and what our people are really about.
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Glad You Be Dead, Harvey

September 1, 2017

houston flood

 

Glad You Be Dead, Harvey

(Sung to the old blues song, “You Rascal You”)

By Bill McCurdy

We be glad when you dead, you rascal, you!
We be glad when you dead, you rascal, you!
When you dead and in your grave,
No more houses will you crave.
We be glad when you dead, you rascal, you!

I don’t trust you near my home, you rascal, you.
I don’t trust you near my home, you rascal, you.
I don’t trust you near my home,
You wouldn’t leave my stuff alone.
I be glad when you dead, you rascal, you!

We just heard you headed east, you rascal, you.
We just heard you headed east, you rascal, you.
Time to see your ugly fall,
So we can get your ashes hauled.
We be glad, so damn glad, you rascal, you!

You tried to drown our town, you rascal, you.
You tried to drown out town, you rascal, you.
You dropped oceans on our toes
Tried to drown us, goodness knows.
You tried to drown our town, you rascal, you!

You know you done us wrong, you rascal, you.
You know you done us wrong, you rascal, you.
You know you done us wrong,
But we did not stay down long.
We just glad you be dead, you rascal, you!

We rose up and took you on, you rascal, you!
We rose up and took you on, you rascal, you!
You tried to put us down,
But you don’t do that to H Town.
We make sure you stay dead, you rascal, you!

We learn hard from what you do, you rascal, you!
We learn hard from what you do, you rascal, you!
We now use you as our teacher,
Building dams that have no breacher.
We learn strong, from what you do, you rascal, you!

Ain’t no use to run, you rascal, you.
Ain’t no use to run, you rascal, you.
Ain’t no use to run,
Now that you have had your fun.
Ain’t no use to run, you rascal, you!

You picked the wrong town to hit, you dumb ass, you!
You picked the wrong town to hit, you dumb ass, you!
Watching you die is going to be fun;
Buzzards gonna have you when we done.
You picked the wrong town to hit, you dumb ass, you!

You done messing with our lives, you rascal, you!
You done messing with our lives, you rascal, you!
Houston thrives on building stronger,
Texas fights to live well longer!
We all glad, you be dead, you rascal, you!

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Three Stooges Punch Astros Win in Mouth

August 27, 2017

“Next time Hinch calls for you, you stay away from the white part of the plate. – Larry and me has got that part covered!”

 

Bottom Line: It’s a little hard to win from a brilliant 6-inning performance by the starter when the three relievers who come in to protect, hold and save victory pitch more like “The Three Stooges” over the last two innings 0f opportunity. Astros starter Brad Peacock gave up only 1 run over the first 6 frames, striking out 8 and walking 1, before leaving the Astros with a 6-1 lead to defend.

Then came Mo, Larry, and Curly.

Taking over in the bottom of the 7th, Francisco Liriano, Francis Martes, and Tyler Clippard proceeded to cough up 6 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk, capped by a 3-run homer off Clippard in the bottom of the 8th in a way that made his return for the bottom of the 9th totally unnecessary after the Stros took the sheep’s way home, going away mildly in defeat in the top of the 9th.

Liriano and Clippard were/are our Astros shore-up acquisitions at the recently infamous trade deadline. Boy! Weren’t we lucky?

What’s that you were saying about the Dodgers yesterday, Harvey?

Other notes: Jose Altuve returned to the lineup, but went 0 for 5. …. Alex Bregman stayed torrid, going 2 for 5 and raising his BA to .287. …. Jake Marisnick was the only other Astro with multiple hits, including a monster bomb to dead center in the 4th …. and George Springer also picked up his 29th HR of the season with a blow in the 7th that briefly looked like the deciding crunch on an Astros victory. …. It was not to be. …. The good news that lasted? The Red Sox also lost Saturday, keeping the Astros a full 5 games up on the Bostons for home field advantage in the AL Playoffs.

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DAY 2 IN HOUSTON
RAIN. RAIN. RAIN
SOME BAD FLOODING
A FEW TORNADOES

 

Fleming Drive & Maxey Road
East Houston
Sunday Morning
August 27, 2017

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 78 51 .605  
2 ANGELS 66 64 .508 12.5
3 MARINERS 66 64 .508 12.5
4 RANGERS 64 65 .496 14.0
5 ATHLETICS 57 72 .442 21.0

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 2017

ANGELS 7 – ASTROS 6.

YANKEES 6MARINERS 3.

ATHLETICS 8 – RANGERS 3.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 488 173 35 4 19 .355
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
2 ERIC HOSMER KC 488 156 24 1 21 .320
3 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 395 126 21 3 13 .319
4 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 488 150 30 0 28 .307
5 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 412 126 22 0 19 .306
6 JOSH REDDICK HOU 401 121 26 3 12 .302
7 JEAN SEGURA SEA 418 126 24 1 7 .301
8 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 361 108 23 0 21 .299
9 ELVIS ANDRUS TEX 513 153 34 3 16 .298
10 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 483 143 40 5 18 .296
Other Top 40 Astros
13 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 434 128 25 0 29 .295
20 YULI GURRIEL HOU 446 129 35 1 15 .289
25 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 435 125 31 5 16 .287

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