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2012 OQ Report

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2012 OQ Report

2012 Offensive Leaders By Position
2012 National League OQ Leaders
The No-Contact Rule
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Cavalcade of Catchers
The Play of Jon Jay
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2012 OQ REPORT

2012 OFFENSIVE LEADERS BY POSITION

AMERICAN LEAGUE  
     
C Carlos Santana  
1B Prince Fielder(was NL leader in 2011)  
2B Robinson Cano  
SS Derek Jeter  
3B Miguel Cabrera  
LF Josh Hamilton  
CF Mike Trout  
RF Nick Swisher  
DH Edwin Encarnacion  


NATIONAL LEAGUE  
     
C Buster Posey  
1B Adam LaRoche  
2B Neil Walker  
SS Ian Desmond  
3B David Wright  
LF Ryan Braun  
CF Andrew McCutchen  
RF Giancarlo Stanton  

Bold
indicates 2011 leaders.

To qualify for this list, a player must play at least half his team’s games at the defensive position indicated.

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2012 AMERICAN LEAGUE OQ LEADERS

 
Rank
 
Player
Team
OQ
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
Cabrera
DET
158
 
 
2
 
Trout
LA
151
 
 
3
 
Encarnacion
TOR
147
 
 
4
 
Fielder
DET
146
 
 
5
 
Hamilton
TEX
142
 
 
6
 
Cano
NY
140
 
 
7
 
Beltre
TEX
136
 
 
8
 
Willingham
MIN
135
 
 
9
 
Mauer
MIN
134
 
 
10
 
Zobrist
TAM
131
 
 
 
 
 
11
 
Butler
KC
129
 
 
12
 
Jackson
DET
128
 
 
13
 
Murphy
TEX
128
 
 
14
 
Swisher
NY
126
 
 
15
 
Konerko
CHI
125
 
 
16
 
Pujols
LA
125
 
 
17
 
Cespedes
OAK
125
 
 
18
 
Dunn
CHI
124
 
 
19
 
Gordon
KC
120
 
 
20
 
Granderson
NY
119
 
 
 
 
 
21
 
Rios
CHI
119
 
 
22
 
Santana
CLE
119
 
 
23
 
Teixeira
NY
118
 
 
24
 
Choo
CLE
117
 
 
25
 
Davis
BAL
117
 
 
26
 
Jones
BAL
116
 
 
27
 
Ross
BOS
116
 
 
28
 
Pierzynski
CHI
115
 
 
29
 
Trumbo
LA
113
 
 
30
 
Gonzalez
BOS
113
 
 
 
 
 
31
 
Hunter
LA
113
 
 
32
 
Reynolds
BAL
113
 
 
33
 
Pedroia
BOS
112
 
 
34
 
Rodriguez
NY
110
 
 
35
 
Morneau
MIN
109
 
 
36
 
Cruz
TEX
109
 
 
37
 
Wieters
BAL
109
 
 
38
 
Morales
LA
109
 
 
39
 
Reddick
OAK
109
 
 
40
 
Jeter
NY
108
 
 
41
 
Doumit
MIN
107
 
 
42
 
Cabrera
CLE
106
 
 
43
 
Upton
TAM
105
 
 
44
 
Brantley
CLE
104
 
 
45
 
Crisp
OAK
104
 
 
46
 
De Aza
CHI
103
 
 
47
 
Kinsler
TEX
103
 
 
48
 
Youkilis
BOS/CHI
102
 
 
49
 
Saunders
SEA
102
 
 
50
 
Span
MIN
101
 
 
 
 
 
51
 
Seager
SEA
100
 
 
52
 
Viciedo
CHI
100
 
 
53
 
Kipnis
CLE
99
 
 
54
 
Pena
TAM
98
 
 
55
 
Andrus
TEX
98
 
 
56
 
Lawrie
TOR
97
 
 
57
 
Callaspo
LA
96
 
 
58
 
Aybar
LA
96
 
 
59
 
Kendrick
LA
94
 
 
60
 
Jennings
TAM
94
 
 
 
 
 
61
 
Moustakas
KC
94
 
 
62
 
Johnson
TOR
93
 
 
63
 
Peralta
DET
93
 
 
64
 
Rasmus
TOR
93
 
 
65
 
Escobar
KC
91
 
 
66
 
Young
DET
90
 
 
67
 
Hosmer
KC
90
 
 
68
 
Montero
SEA
89
 
 
69
 
Smoak
SEA
89
 
 
70
 
Suzuki
SEA/NY
88
 
 
 
 
 
71
 
Hardy
BAL
87
 
 
72
 
Young
TEX
87
 
 
73
 
Beckham
CHI
87
 
 
74
 
Carroll
MIN
87
 
 
75
 
Francoeur
KC
85
 
 
76
 
Aviles
BOS
85
 
 
77
 
Revere
MIN
84
 
 
78
 
Boesch
DET
84
 
 
79
 
Ackley
SEA
82
 
 
80
 
Escobar
TOR
81
 
 
 
 
 
81
 
Weeks
OAK
80
 
 
82
 
Ramirez
CHI
79
 
 
83
 
Kotchman
CLE
75
 

The 2012 American League base-to-out ratio was .672.

This list includes every player who had at least 3 (at bats + walks) for each game his team played.

OQs of selected nonqualifiers, American League: J.P. Arencibia TOR 94, Alex Avila DET 108, Jose Bautista TOR 138, Chris Carter OAK 135, Eric Chavez NY 125, Carl Crawford BOS 104, Johnny Damon CLE 79, Rajai Davis TOR 89, Andy Dirks DET 123, Jacoby Ellsbury BOS 88, Jonny Gomes OAK 131, Travis Hafner CLE 113, Raul Ibanez NY 107, Brandon Inge DET/OAK 88, John Jaso SEA 133, Andruw Jones NY 98, Matt Joyce TAM 111, Jeff Keppinger TAM 110, Adam Lind TOR 101, Evan Longoria TAM 136, Nick Markakis BAL 121, Russell Martin NY 100, Will Middlebrooks BOS 117, Mitch Moreland TEX 111, Brandon Moss OAK 146, Mike Napoli TEX 121, David Ortiz BOS 171, Trevor Plouffe MIN 106, Sean Rodriguez TAM 78, Brendan Ryan SEA 71, Luke Scott TAM 98, Seth Smith OAK 108, Vernon Wells LA 91.

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2012 NATIONAL LEAGUE OQ LEADERS

 
Rank
 
Player
Team
OQ
 
 
 
 
  
 
1
 
Braun
MIL
157
  
 
2
 
Posey
SF
156
  
 
3
 
Stanton
MIA
152
  
 
4
 
McCutchen,A
PIT
152
  
 
5
 
Wright
NY
139
  
 
6
 
Cabrera
SF
139
  
 
7
 
Headley
SD
137
  
 
8
 
Fowler
COL
136
  
 
9
 
Gonzalez
COL
135
  
 
10
 
Holliday
STL
135
  
 
 
  
 
11
 
Ramirez
MIL
134
  
 
12
 
Hill
ARI
133
  
 
13
 
Craig
STL
132
  
 
14
 
Molina
STL
131
  
 
15
 
LaRoche
WAS
131
  
 
16
 
Goldschmidt
ARI
130
  
 
17
 
Beltran
STL
128
  
 
18
 
Bruce
CIN
127
  
 
19
 
Kubel
ARI
126
  
 
20
 
Montero
ARI
126
  
 
 
  
 
21
 
Freese
STL
125
  
 
22
 
Jones
PIT
123
  
 
23
 
Desmond
WAS
123
  
 
24
 
Hart
MIL
122
  
 
25
 
Zimmerman
WAS
122
  
 
26
 
Harper
WAS
121
  
 
27
 
Heyward
ATL
120
  
 
28
 
Soriano
CHI
119
  
 
29
 
Ellis,A
LA
118
  
 
30
 
Freeman
ATL
118
  
 
 
  
 
31
 
Ethier
LA
117
  
 
32
 
Prado
ATL
116
  
 
33
 
Alvarez
PIT
116
  
 
34
 
Upton
ARI
115
  
 
35
 
Davis
NY
114
  
 
36
 
Reyes
MIA
114
  
 
37
 
Walker
PIT
111
  
 
38
 
Pagan
SF
111
  
 
39
 
Aoki
MIL
110
  
 
40
 
Uggla
ATL
110
  
 
 
  
 
41
 
Johnson
HOU/ARI
109
  
 
42
 
DeJesus
CHI
108
  
 
43
 
Ramirez
MIA/LA
108
  
 
44
 
Rollins
PHI
107
  
 
45
 
Alonso
SD
106
  
 
46
 
Bourn
ATL
106
  
 
47
 
Pence
PHI/SF
105
  
 
48
 
Weeks
MIL
104
  
 
49
 
Castro
CHI
103
  
 
50
 
Pacheco
COL
103
  
 
 
  
 
51
 
Scutaro
COL/SF
103
  
 
52
 
Phillips
CIN
101
  
 
53
 
Altuve
HOU
101
  
 
54
 
Murphy
NY
100
  
 
55
 
Lee
HOU/MIA
98
  
 
56
 
Espinosa
WAS
97
  
 
57
 
Victorino
PHI/LA
97
  
 
58
 
Cozart
CIN
92
  
 
59
 
Furcal
STL
90
  
 
60
 
Tejada
NY
88
  
 
 
  
 
61
 
Maybin
SD
88
  
 
62
 
Barney
CHI
85
  
 
63
 
Stubbs
CIN
81
  

The 2012 National League base-to-out ratio was .656.

This list includes every player who had at least 3 (at bats + walks) for each game his team played.

OQs of selected nonqualifiers, National League: Jason Bay NY 72, Brandon Belt SF 116, Domonic Brown PHI 101, Tyler Colvin COL 125, Brandon Crawford SF 86, Michael Cuddyer COL 119, Lucas "Sin" Duda NY 104, Todd Frazier CIN 122, Carlos Gomez MIL 105, Adrian Gonzalez LA 112, Chris Heisey CIN 94, Todd Helton COL 113, Ryan Howard PHI 101, Jon Jay STL 104, Chipper Jones ATL 129, Matt Kemp LA 139, Bryan LaHair CHI 116, Jed Lowrie HOU 114, Jonathan Lucroy MIL 130, Ryan Ludwick CIN 132, J.D. Martinez HOU 96, John Mayberry PHI 95, Brian McCann ATL 99, Logan Morrison MIA 100, Michael Morse WAS 110, Gerardo Parra ARI 100, Alex Presley PIT 91, Carlos Quentin SD 130, Juan Rivera LA 87, Anthony Rizzo CHI 116, Scott Rolen CIN 101, Wilin Rosario COL 124, Justin Ruggiano MIA 141, Carlos Ruiz PHI 140, Pablo Sandoval SF 115, Jose Tabata PIT 88, Troy Tulowitzki COL 126, Chase Utley PHI 117, Luis Valbuena CHI 93, Will Venable SD 109, Joey Votto CIN 188, Jayson Werth WAS 126, Chris Young ARI 108.

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MASTERS OF WAR

Of all the new "metrics" (as baseball statistics are now called), the one all the pundits seem to be talking about these days is WAR (Wins above Replacement). The American League vote for Most Valuable Player will apparently be a referendum on WAR, split on generational lines. That Miguel Cabrera led the league in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in for a division winner counts less in the minds of younger voters than Mike Trout's magnificent season, which scores highest when measured by WAR. (Cabrera, by the way, also led the league in OQ.) Old measures of excellence, like batting average and runs batted in for batters and wins and earned run average for pitchers, are now dismissed as "grandfather stats," beneath consideration. Who is doing most of the denigrating? The grandsons, of course.

Any tool that helps us understand the game and the value of each player's contribution is welcome. WAR attempts to evaluate everything that happens on a baseball field, and it's worth looking at. But WAR's esoteric nature renders it inaccessible to the average fan, and I resist that. It rests on a set of convoluted formulae that is guarded by a small coterie of high priests.

Go to a major league game on a Saturday. Let's say you're one of a crowd of 30,000. Choose any 100 fans and ask them how WAR is calculated. Will even one be able to tell you? Would 5 people in the entire ballpark have the correct answer? I doubt it.

The Offensive Quotient (OQ) remains valuable in large part because it is accessible. Its concept is simple to understand, and a school child can figure it out. Additionally, it measures precisely something that is worth knowing about a player's offensive production.

Although I'm never all that interested in awards, my own opinion of the Cabrera-versus-Trout brouhaha is this. Trout's defensive acumen is lauded, and more power to him. But Cabrera hasn't received much credit for agreeing to a position switch when the Tigers signed Prince Fielder. Cabrera is not a graceful defensive presence and risked embarrassment at third base, a position that can make you look bad. (Ask Johnny Bench about 1982.) Although Detroit is not a team that catches the ball very well and was not built to be, the Tigers were good enough to win their division. The seers predicted an ugly result to the Cabrera "experiment," but Cabrera gave his best effort and played the position adequately. He is not a worse third baseman than Jhonny Peralta is a shortstop, and he carried the team with his bat all season.

My MVP nod goes to Cabrera by a nose. And in celebrating Trout's season, let's keep in mind that Trout led major league baseball in one very significant "grandfather stat" by scoring 129 runs.

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THEIR ABSENCE IS NOTED

In each league a star fell in the middle of a shining season. In the American League it was David Ortiz, whose 171 OQ would have surpassed Miguel Cabrera's 158 if he had been able to sustain it. An aching Achilles tendon rendered the point moot, however, and I can't help thinking that the air would probably have gone out of Ortiz's balloon anyway when the Red Sox tanked in the second half.

In the senior circuit, a knee injury prostrated Joey Votto. Baseball's most selective hitter, Votto missed 51 games but still managed to lead the NL in walks with 94 (tied with Dan Uggla). Remarkably, Votto mashed 44 doubles in just 374 at bats and would have had a good shot at 60 if he'd remained healthy. His home run power suffered (he hit just 14), but he put up an OQ of 188 after successive seasons of 170 and 160. No qualifying National League batter reached the 160 mark.

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DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU

A year ago I considered what would become the offseason's single burning question: should and would St Louis re-sign Albert Pujols? I argued against the team offering the well-over-30 Pujols the ten-year, top-dollar contract he thought was his due. As it turned out, the Lost Angels of Anaheim ponied up $240 million for whatever Pujols has to give over the next decade, sweetening the deal with a host of perks. When the Cardinals refused to budge over $200 million, Pujols went with the money after uttering the obligatory disclaimer "It's not about the money. It's about respect."

Pujols had a rough first month in the American League, but when the dust of the season settled he had amassed a very respectable 50 doubles, 30 home runs, and 160 runs produced in 154 games. He was as durable as ever, and his OQ of 125 placed him sixteenth. He was very good, maybe very, very good, but not great, and his presence did not catapult the Angels back into the postseason.

As I predicted, St Louis fans did not boycott Busch Stadium after Al-Pu packed his bags. Gloom and doom were notably absent as the Cardinals drew a very healthy 3.2 million fans and earned themselves a wild card spot while saving $200 million dollars they can spend on player procurement and development. Even in the plush boardrooms of major league baseball, that ain't hay.

In the words of Joel Sherman, "Big spending generally guarantees only this: big mistakes."

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THE NO-CONTACT RULE

We have become accustomed to the presence of sluggers who strike out a lot but hit a lot of home runs: guys like Curtis Granderson, Ryan Howard, and Josh Hamilton. The list is getting longer and longer because players who hit the long ball exert an earning power that high strikeout totals do nothing to diminish. Players who have the ability to hit for distance flail away, and nobody seems to mind.

In the wake of these behemoths another species of player is emerging. This is the guy who strikes out a lot without walking or hitting a lot of home runs. With strikeouts no longer stigmatized, this type of player is proliferating. Atlanta's Michael Bourn is a good example. He struck out 155 times (exactly one per game) and hit just 9 home runs. Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs fanned 166 times in 136 games (493 at bats) with 14 home runs. Both of these men lead off. When leadoff men can strike out with impunity, without the saving graces of walks or extra-base power, the game of baseball has changed. Dustin Ackley, Shin-Soo Choo, Danny Espinosa, Dexter Fowler, Alex Gordon, Austin Jackson, Desmond Jennings, Chris Johnson, Kelly Johnson, Cameron Maybin, Jordan Schafer… these guys seem to be everywhere.

I'm particularly fascinated by Brian Bixler, who has plied his trade for three noncontending National League franchises since 2008. In 323 at bats Bixler has compiled 61 hits (14 doubles, 3 triples, and 2 home runs). He has produced 53 runs (41 scored, 14 driven in). He boasts 22 walks to go with 117 strikeouts. His batting average is .189 and his base-to-out ratio .416, which translates to a lifetime OQ of about 65. He has seen service at every infield and outfield position without mastery of any of them. He's a poor baserunner, and he doesn't hustle. He'll turn 30 later this month. And somewhere in 2013 Brian Bixler will have a major league job, for at least part of the season.

Bixler might be viewed as an extreme example of a player who has no business in the major leagues. But he might also be viewed as a logical end product of the twenty-first century ethos that devalues simple contact.

A team of Brian Bixlers would not win a championship. It would certainly lose 100 games. But such a team is not unthinkable, as it would have been once. Ask the Astros or the Cubs. There are fans, a lot of fans, who will pay to see the Brian Bixlers of the world perform.

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FOUL BALL DERBY

I attended my first major league game on May 16, 1959. Cleveland was Boston's opponent at Fenway Park. The first big league hitter I ever watched was Woodie Held, who led off for the Indians. Red Sox starter Frank Baumann slipped across two quick strikes, which didn't seem to concern Held at all. With an air of nonchalance he began flicking Baumann's entries, one by one, into foul territory. This happened nine or ten times, and Baumann became visibly more agitated with each futile effort to throw a third strike past Held. Finally, utterly frustrated, panting, and red in the face, Baumann rocked back and heaved a speeding bullet right down the heart of the plate. Held slammed it off the Green Monster for two bases.

The next six batters doubled, singled, homered, grounded out, singled, and walked. At that point Baumann was removed. He was tagged for the loss when the Indians finally prevailed by a score of 12 to 6. I believed at the time, and I still believe, that the game was lost when Baumann lost Held.

Eighty-five batters came to the plate in this game, and only one of them, Held in the first inning, employed the tactic of unlimited fouloffs. As a psychological weapon it proved highly effective, and fans understood and appreciated that Held had outwitted Baumann, a talented pitcher who might have defeated the Tribe if he had been able to keep his composure.

I suspect that half a century ago most major league hitters were capable of fouling off a series of pitches. I know that modern hitters are because I see it in every game, often in multiple plate appearances. Adam Dunn has admitted that he fouls off hittable pitches deliberately in order to tire and frustrate the pitcher, and he's hardly alone.

What was once a strategy employed only on special occasions is now seen as desirable in every plate appearance. It is encouraged by sportswriters and radio and television announcers. Batters who foul pitches off are described approvingly as "battling," "hanging tough," or "playing smart baseball." I actually heard Reds colorman Chris Welsh laud Willy Taveras for "a great at bat" after Taveras fouled off nine pitches before lifting a feeble popup to second base. Fouling off pitches has become an end in itself.

I now see batters fouling off strikes and fouling off balls. My idea of baseball is that when you see a strike, you hit it hard into fair territory, and when you see a ball, you let it by in the hope of drawing a base on balls. With rare exceptions, a hitter ought to be focused on a primary goal of getting on base. Each batter who gets on base hastens a pitcher's exit as surely as one who fouls a dozen pitches off.

One batter fouling multiple pitches off can be a dramatic spectacle (e.g. Held versus Baumann in 1959). When everybody's doing it, the practice gets old fast. It's a way to win (maybe), but it slows down an already slow game intolerably by injecting yet another element of nonaction. When I watch baseball I want to see defense (pitching and fielding) dueling offense (batting and baserunning). Fouling pitches off is a static activity that in most cases serves only to delay, delay, delay.

When the game was young, the panjandrums of baseball adjusted the rules often until they got them right. The modern four-ball, three-strike configuration was not settled upon until 1889, the nineteenth season of major league baseball's existence. The definition of what constitutes a foul ball changed several times in the nineteenth century. The rule that a foul ball not caught on the fly is a strike unless two strikes have already been called was not adopted until 1901 (1903 in the American League).

The foul-strike rule, as the latter was termed, was a radical rule change whose aim was to move the game along. Before it was legislated, batters were permitted to foul off an infinite number of pitches with impunity, and by the late 1890s this had become a problem with the emergence of bat control artists like John McGraw and Willie Keeler. The rule was changed to ensure a competitive balance between batter and pitcher.

I would argue that balance needs again to be restored, as it was when the foul-strike rule was instituted, and as it was when the pitcher's mound was lowered to ten inches in 1969.

Baseball already dictates that a batter who bunts foul with two strikes is out, and nobody complains. What if this rule were extended to non-bunts? Or if that's too drastic, what if a batter were allowed two "free" foul balls after two strikes, but would be declared out if he fouled off a third?

You'd no longer have the type of Held-versus-Baumann battle I witnessed. But you'd gain quicker, snappier games by eliminating a practice that has ceased to be entertaining. The best pitchers would stay in the game longer, reducing the endless and tedious parade of late-inning relief specialists. That would aid the emergence of the pitching stars the game needs to sustain fan interest.

Commissioner Bud Selig has shown himself willing to innovate in off-field matters like the schedule, interleague play, postseason competition, and instant replay, but he has resisted any temptation to modify the game on the field. Still, I can dream.

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CAVALCADE OF CATCHERS

"The catcher is the greatest asset you can have." …Don Larsen

I've been watching Cincinnati all year, and the most valuable player on this division winner is a guy who gets no publicity, Ryan Hanigan. He has developed into a masterful receiver and handler of pitchers. He gets overlooked because he doesn't hit for power, but his OQ of 100 indicates that he contributes offense at the league average. Although I haven't run the numbers yet, I'm certain the team's winning percentage was significantly higher in games Hanigan caught.

Hanigan's on-base percentage is second on the Reds to Joey Votto's. With his pitch-selection and bat-control skills, Hanigan would be a good man to try in the second hole, but manager Dusty Baker believes strongly that speed is the most important attribute of a player at the top of the batting order. Baker has opined that "on-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage. On-base percentage just to clog up the bases isn't that great to me." While there's some merit to that position (see "Slow Man Walking" in the 2008 OQ Report), it drives fans crazy when the guys getting the lion's share of plate appearances can run but can't get on base. Hanigan's bat could be deployed more effectively, but at least Baker recognizes his value as a defensive player.

Farewell to post-2011 retirees Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Kendall, Jorge Posada, and Jason Varitek. At final tally this quartet caught a whopping 7,514 games. I-Rod's career records of 2427 games caught, 1197 wins, and 1140 losses might stand for a very long time. Kendall, fifth all-time in games caught with 2025, is the career leader in games caught by a catcher with a losing record (938-1045).

The active catcher who has caught the most games is now the venerable A.J. Pierzynski. He's worn the tools of ignorance in 1559 of them, tied with Luke Sewell for 26th place on the all-time list. Pierzynski will be 36 on Opening Day and shows no signs of slowing down.

The 1000-game honor roll now stands at 113 catchers. Three receivers passed the milestone in 2012: Rod Barajas (1065), Yadier Molina (1064), and Miguel Olivo (1020). Molina, who will be just 30 on Opening Day, is at his peak and plays a vital role for a perennial contender, while Barajas and Olivo are merely playing out the string for any bad team that will have them. Although stopping the running game is overrated, Barajas threw out only 6 of 99 batters attempting to steal, a rate that has to be unacceptably low. Oft-injured Brian Schneider has caught 992 games, but he will be 36 on Opening Day and may find himself without a job. Brian McCann, a year younger than Molina, has caught 954 games but may be beginning to break down.

All-time best catcher who didn't catch 1000 games? That's an easy call: Buck Ewing

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THE PLAY OF JON JAY

Tuned in to the telecast of the National League play-in game, I heard announcer Brian Anderson intone:

"It was the play
Of Jon Jay
In a roundabout way
That helped the Cardinals win the World Series."

Whereupon the inning ended before Anderson could complete his versifying. I'd like to hear or read the rest of it, if there is any. Perhaps Anderson was making it up on the spot. At any rate, this beginning cries for a conclusion. Come to think of it, this would make a great poetry contest for the public to enter.

Here's one way it could go:

"Jon Jay
Knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow. Oh."

I've been feeling kind of literary lately myself. I gotta work on this.

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WHEN ONE RUN STOOD UP

The 2012 season produced two one-run standups. This is the name I've given to games in which the first batter scores and there is no subsequent scoring. This type of game is more than twice as rare as a no-hitter. Since 1871 over 200,000 major league games have been played, and just 119 of them have been one-run standups.

Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins hit a home run leading off at Miami on August 14; no one else scored. On September 28 Cincinnati's Homer Bailey shut out the sad sack Pittsburgh Pirates. After leadoff hitter Brandon Phillips singled and advanced around the bases on a wild pitch, single, and sacrifice fly, the game was effectively over. Bailey preserved that one-run margin by allowing no hits. This was history's first no-hitter on a one-run standup.

For a complete list, look elsewhere on this website for When One Run Stood Up.

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PROSPECT WATCH

Tigers signee Adelyn Santa turned 17 in June but didn't, to my knowledge, suit up for any of their farm teams this summer.

Cheslor Cuthbert, the pride of Corn Island, Nicaragua, didn't hit real well in the Carolina League but displayed a powerful arm at third base. The Royals are said to be high on him. He'll be 20 next month.

First baseman Rock Shoulders showed good power in the Northwest League, but he's 21 and the clock is ticking. The Cubs are hoping they have another Bryan LaHair in the making, but he'll have to show progress in 2013.

I saw Pirate farmhand Rinku Singh pitch two hitless innings in Lexington on his 24th birthday in August. He had a good year as a lefthanded reliever in the Sally League, but he's not being groomed as a big league prospect. If he made it to the bigs, he'd be the first player from his native India to do so.

7-1 Angels righthander Ludovicus Jacobus Maria Van Mil failed once again to crack the Triple-A barrier. He just turned 28.

The Tigers jettisoned southpaw Fu-Te Ni midway through his fourth season in Toledo. He has since been spotted in Taiwan, from whence he came. He'll be 30 next month.

Eugenio Velez saw no major league action after going 0-for-37 for the Dodgers in 2011. He spent 2012 at second base at Triple-A Memphis. At 30 he's not getting any younger.

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RUMINATIONS

*You take Felix Pie. I'll take Pie Traynor. Or even Pie Schwert.

*Robinson Cano is the best player I can remember who doesn't run out ground balls. He's too cool to run and too well paid to be disciplined for it.

*Congratulations to Baltimore's J.J. Hardy, who submitted a rare 500-out season. It's been done just 10 times. Subtract Hardy's 158 hits from his 663 at bats and you get 505 outs, the most since Jose Reyes recorded 506 in 2005. Hardy's 87 OQ was not very good, but the Birds won 93 games with him at short.

*Hardy was one of a whopping seven Baltimore position players with 100 or more strikeouts.

*Late in the season Toronto general manager Al Anthopoulos told the press that the team's greatest priority was to sign Colby Rasmus to a contract extension. Given full-time duty in 2012, Rasmus led the team in games played (151) and at bats (565). He rewarded his employers with a 93 OQ that ranked 64th in the league, and he produced a paltry 127 runs. Anthopoulos' statement sums up the administrative acumen that led the Jays to a fifth place, 73-89 season. Hope fans aren't expecting better in 2013.

*Was the 2011 Adam Dunn the worst full-time designated hitter of all time? The answer to last year's question is, surprisingly, no. Further research has revealed that while Dunn did serve as Chicago's regular 2011 DH, his 89 OQ as a DH, miserable as it was, was higher than the 83 OQ that Mitchell Page posted for the Swingin' A's of 1979. Go figure this one: "The Rage" later became a hitting coach, most recently for Washington in 2007.

*You take Alexi Casilla. I'll take Alexei Kosygin.

*After the Athletics signed Yoenis Cespedes in February and announced their intention to try him in center field, incumbent Coco Crisp told an Oakland sportswriter, "Unless he's a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field. But I'm excited to play alongside Cespedes, no matter what side that may be." How was the situation resolved? Cespedes played 48 games in center, 56 in left. Crisp played 97 in center and 16 in left. And, oh yes, the Athletics won the division.

*The other shoe dropped: Yu Darvish is here. For better or worse.

*The 2012 Negative World Series is a rematch of last year's Houston versus Minnesota epic. That hasn't happened since the Kansas City Athletics engaged the New York Mets in 1964 and 1965.

*One-liner of the year from the Sportswriters Hall of Fame: "Chicks dig the long ball a lot more than they dig the passed ball." (Jayson Stark)

*You take Zach Cozart. I'll take Wolf Mozart.

*Andy Pettitte went 5-4 in the 12 games he pitched after a year's absence, thereby preserving his status as one of the few pitchers in baseball history with at least 100 more wins than losses. Pettitte is now 245-142. If he continues to pitch for the Yankees, he has a good chance to stay at +100. Bubbling up is C.C. Sabathia. At age 32, Sabathia is 191-102, and he too toils for the ever-contending Yankees.

*Question: what do Mariekson "Didi" Gregorius, Jurickson Profar, and Andrelton Simmons have in common?

All are shortstops. All played major league baseball in 2012. All played for teams that will compete in the postseason. All are natives of Curacao. And each is the first player bearing his Christian name ever to appear in a big league box score.

*Watching Chipper Jones doddering through the play-in game brought back unpleasant memories of Willie Mays falling on his face in the 1973 World Series.

*Remember Mike Hargrove, who spent so much time fidgeting in the batter's box that he was dubbed "The Human Rain Delay?" Milwaukee's rookie outfielder Logan Schafer must watch video of Hargrove every night. This guy will drive you crazy, and he's not half the hitter Hargrove was. Both bat left, but that's where the similarity ends.

*Say what you want about Bobby Valentine, but I liked what he said on September 7: "Pride is one of those things, when you're playing in front of people who pay to see you play, you're professional, it's on television, you have teammates whose won and loss records will go with them to their grave. I never understand the idea of not playing as hard as you can or giving anything less than everything you have that day."

*You take Frank Sinatra. I'll take Yingluck Shinawatra.

*I wish I'd witnessed the game Philadelphia played at Cleveland on July 10, 1932. After the Athletics score two runs in the top of the first, the Indians answered with three runs off Lew Krausse Senior. In the second inning manager Connie Mack replaced Krausse with Eddie Rommel, vowing solemnly to stick with Rommel no matter what. After nine innings the score stood knotted 15-all. Rommel stayed in.

The Athletics tallied twice in the top of the sixteenth, but the Indians knotted the score again in their half of the inning. Still Mack retained his confidence in Rommel, and his patience was rewarded when the Athletics pushed across another run in the eighteenth. Thereafter Rommel held the Indians scoreless to earn the victory in a pitching job that totaled 17 innings, 29 hits, and 14 runs, all but one of them earned. He struck out 7 and walked 9.

If this was not the most remarkable relief appearance of all time, I'd like to see the other candidates. Men were men in those days, I guess. But the 34-year-old Rommel did not pitch again for a month, and the 1932 Athletics finished second after winning three consecutive American League pennants. By 1933 Rommel was out of the big leagues.

When in Castries, stay at the Bel Jou Hotel.

October 2012

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