Tristan Peters covered a lot of miles in the days surrounding this year’s trade deadline. A 22-year-outfielder now in the San Francisco Giants system, Peters was playing for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the High-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, when his madcap travels began.
“I was told that I was being promoted to Double-A Biloxi,” Peters told me before a recent game in Portland, Maine. “That was on Sunday, and on Monday I drove from Appleton, Wisconsin to Jackson, Mississippi to meet the team there. I did 11 of the 14 hours that day, stayed in Memphis, Tennessee overnight, then drove the last three hours on Tuesday.”
He wasn’t in Jackson very long. Playing cards in the clubhouse prior to what would have been his Double-A debut — Peters was penciled into the starting lineup as Biloxi’s leadoff hitter — he was informed that he was being traded to the Giants.
His new organization requested that he report to their Double-A club in Richmond, Virginia, so the next morning Peters climbed into his car and made another 14-hour drive. This time, he covered the entire distance in one day.
Air travel followed. The Flying Squirrels were playing a road series, and Peters was told to fly from Richmond to Manchester, New Hampshire to join the team there. The flight got cancelled. Peters ended up taking a two-hour Uber ride to Washington, DC, where he caught a plane to Manchester. Sleep-deprived and travel-weary, he arrived in time to play three games before hopping on the team bus for the 95-mile ride to Portland.
Peters’s journey from youth baseball to professional baseball began in Winkler, Manitoba, Canada, so rolling down the highway is something he got used to at a relatively early age.
“I moved out of the house when I was 16 to go to high school in Okotoks, Alberta, which is near Calgary,” explained Peters. “With the Okotoks Dawgs [Baseball] Academy, we would go on 13-hour bus rides for tournaments. I think the shortest one was probably eight hours. It was mostly within Canada, although one of the tournaments we drove to was in North Dakota. We went to Indianapolis and Ohio as well, but we flew to those places.”
Not drafted out of high school, Peters subsequently played two years at Arizona’s Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and then a year at Southern Illinois University. Selected in the seventh round of last year’s draft by the Brewers, Peters was slashing .306/.386/.485 with seven home runs and 13 stolen bases at High-A Wisconsin. Then came the whirlwind of travel.
RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS
Left on the cutting-room floor from my recent interview with Jameson Taillon was a question about his slider. More specifically, why doesn’t he throw a sweeper — a “whirly,” if you will — like many of his pitching peers in the Yankees organization?
“I haven’t found a way for that to work for me,” explained Taillon, who has thrown his version of the pitch 17.9% of the time this season. “It could be an arm-slot thing, but I also throw two breaking balls — a curveball and a slider — so I don’t think it’s quite as important for me to throw a sweeper. I like that my slider is a little harder and shorter. As a starter, it’s something that I can command pretty well to the edge. I want it to be a pitch I can throw 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 to get back into counts, whereas a sweeper is a little harder to land, because it’s so big.”
Also not included from my conversation with the veteran right-hander was what he’s been doing of late from a preparation standpoint.
“I’m always thinking about something, or working on something,” Taillon told me. “Right now, I’m into my Plyo-Ball drills. After one outing I’ll feel like, ‘Man, I felt like my arm was getting a little longer,’ so maybe I’ll throw a heavier ball and focus on drills that make me feel connected to my upper half. Other times the upper half feels good, so for a couple starts I’ll focus on lower-half drills. That’s kind of what’s been on my mind lately.”
Which player holds the MLB record for most hits in a single game?
The answer can be found below.
Dominic Cotroneo has been hired as the new host of Brewers Extra Innings and Brewers Weekly on Milwaukee’s 620-WTMJ. The son of longtime Oakland Athletics radio voice Vince Cotroneo will continue to host the Locked-On Brewers podcast and serve as the statistician for Brewers games on Bally Sports Milwaukee.
F.X. Flinn is the winner of this year’s Bob Davids Award, which honors SABR members whose contributions to SABR and baseball reflect the ingenuity, integrity, and self-sacrifice of the founder and past president of SABR, L. Robert “Bob” Davids.
Milt Ramirez, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1970 and 1971, and for the Oakland Athletics in 1979, has reportedly died at age 72. The Mayaguez, Puerto Rico native had 28 career hits in the big leagues, and another 1,008 in the minors.
For those of you in the Boston area, the Oldtime Baseball Game will be played tomorrow night, Monday August 22, at St. Peter’s Field in North Cambridge. An annual benefit featuring throwback uniforms, this year’s game will played in honor of the late Jim Corsi, who pitched for the Red Sox and four other teams from 1988-1999. Proceeds will go to the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The answer to the quiz is Johnny Burnett, with nine. On July 10, 1932, the Cleveland Indians infielder went 9-for-11 in an 18-inning, 18-17 loss to the Philadelphia Athletics.
David Cone copied Luis Tiant’s pitching style while growing up as a young pitcher in Kansas City. Cone explained why on Friday’s episode of FanGraphs Audio, after which I asked if there are any current pitchers who remind him of himself.
“There are a few out there,” replied Cone. “Maybe Johnny Cueto a little bit, or even Nestor Cortes with the Yankees. He certainly changes his arm angle from time to time. A lot of pitchers try to be really consistent with their release point nowadays. There are a lot of analytics behind being deceptive, or being consistent, with your release point, making all of your pitches come out of the same window and on the same plane — the tunneling effect that we see nowadays. So there aren’t as many that try to change arm angles and give different looks. Nestor Cortes might be the closest one.”
Twenty-two-year-old Yakult Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami has upped his home run count to 44. The next-highest home run totals in NPB belong to Seibu’s Hotaka Yamakawa (35) and Yomiuri’s Kazuma Okamoto and Yoshihiro Maru (23 each).
Roki Sasaki is 7-3 with a 2.29 in 16 starts for the Chiba Lotte Marines. The 20-year-old right-hander has allowed 67 hits and fanned 145 batters in 102-and-a-third innings.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto leads all NPB pitchers with 154 strikeouts. The just-turned-24-year-old Orix Buffaloes right-hander is 11-5 with a 1.71 ERA over 147 innings.
Woo-Jin An leads all KBO pitchers with 161 strikeouts. The 22-year-old Kiwoom Heroes right-hander is 11-5 with a 2.25 ERA over 144 innings.
Kwang Hyun Kim has been the top pitcher in the KBO this year. The 34-year-old SS Landers left-hander is 10-2 with a league-best 1.93 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 125-and-two-thirds innings.
Batting titles don’t hold nearly the importance they once did. That caveat out of the way, let’s look at this year’s leaders (through Friday).
Paul Goldschmidt currently tops the National League with a .339 batting average, while Freddie Freeman ranks second at .319. Behind that sweet-swinging duo are Jeff McNeill (.315) and José Iglesias (.313).
It bears noting that the AL leader was featured here at FanGraphs in mid-May in an article titled A Poor Man’s Rod Carew, Luis Arraez Is In Line To Win a Batting Title. It’s likewise worth noting that the Minnesota Twins infielder also leads the junior circuit with a .400 OBP. His 146 wRC+ ranks seventh-best.
A .320/.382/.415 hitter over 1,404 career plate appearances, Arraez deserves more national attention than he generally gets. Five months older than the understandably-hyped Steven Kwan, Arraez not only is similar in style to the Cleveland Guardians rookie, he’s got better numbers. Moreover, he’s in line to win a batting title.
Per a poster presentation put together by historian Chuck Hildebrandt for the ongoing national SABR convention, about half of the nearly 20,000 rookies in MLB history have been multi-season rookies. By definition, those would be players who, across more than one season, had yet to exceed rookie limits (Mike Trout is an example of a 2-time rookie, having logged 123 at bats — seven fewer than the 130-at-bat limit to retain eligibility — in his 2011 debut season.)
According to Hildebrandt’s research there have been five 7-time multiple-season rookies: Raul Chavez, Adrian Garrett, Paul Hoover, Jeff Kaiser, and Gilberto Reyes. A 4-time rookie is in the Hall of Fame: Kiki Cuyler had cups of coffee in 1921, 1922, and 1923 before breaking out and exceeding rookie eligibility in 1924.
Red hot since returning from a shoulder injury that had shelved him for most of the season, Josh Jung is 21-for-62 with eight home runs between two levels in the Texas Rangers system. Currently with Triple-A Round Rock, the 24-year-old third baseman was drafted eighth-overall in 2019 out of Texas Tech.
Sal Frelick is slashing .333/.408/.475 with seven home runs in 413 plate appearances between three levels in the Milwaukee Brewers system. Currently with Triple-A Nashville, the 22-year-old outfielder was drafted 15th-overall last year out of Boston College.
Jordan Lawlar is slashing .324/.421/.542 will 11 home runs in 354 plate appearances between three levels in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. Currently with High-A Hillsboro, the 20-year-old shortstop was drafted sixth-overall last year out of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas.
Coleman Crow is 9-2 with a 4.37 ERA and a 4.50 ERA over 19 starts for the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas. Selected in the 28th round of the 2019 draft by the Los Angeles Angels out of Zebulon, Georgia’s Pike County High School, the 21-year-old right-hander has 103 strikeouts in the same number of innings.
Gavin Hollowell has 15 saves to go with a 3.16 ERA and a 2.92 FIP over 37 relief appearances for the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats. The 22-year-old right-hander in the Colorado Rockies system has allowed 25 hits and recorded 54 strikeouts in 42-and-two-thirds innings.
Veronica Alvarez plays an important role in the development of Oakland Athletics catching prospects. A catcher on the US Women’s National Baseball Team from 2008-2015, Alvarez has served primarily as a roving instructor for that position since joining the organization in 2019. One of the young backstops she’s been most impressed with was acquired by the A’s from the Atlanta Braves in March as part of the Matt Olsen trade.
“We just promoted Shea Langeliers to the big leagues, and along with this spring I was able to see him at his affiliate before he went up,” said Alvarez, who along with working for the A’s is the head coach of the Women’s National Team. “He’s a really good receiver. I think that will be exhibited at the big-league level.
“Receiving is an art,” added Alvarez. “A lot of people think it’s just something catchers do, but not every catcher is a great receiver. It’s a skill that we work on our entire lives. It’s not something that just comes easily, and he is a really good receiver in the sense that he makes the pitch look good, whether it’s a strike or slightly a ball. He’s got good hands.”
In other words, Alvarez is impressed with Langelier’s framing ability. The idea that the skill may soon become less important is not one she’s enamored with.
“We could get into this,” Alvarez said with a shake of the head. “Automated umpires are going to ruin the position.”
LINKS YOU’LL LIKE
Sixteen-year-old Jada Lee made history this summer when she became the first female to play baseball at the Canada Summer Games. Bernd Franke has the story at The Standard.
MLB.com’s Mike Petriello looked at how the Baltimore Orioles have turned their franchise around.
Also at MLB.com, Steve Gilbert wrote about how LinkedIn helped an Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder reach the big leagues.
RANDOM FACTS AND STATS
The Philadelphia Phillies franchise has won 10,001 regular-season games and two World Series titles. The Miami Marlins franchise has won 2,140 regular-season games and two World Series titles.
The Arizona Diamondbacks franchise has an all-time record of 1,895-2,011. The Tampa Bay Rays franchise has an all-time record of 1,890-2,013.
In 2003, Mike Matheny caught 1,096-and-two-thirds innings for the St. Louis Cardinals and wasn’t charged with an error. In 1975, Thurman Munson caught 1,131-and-two-thirds innings for the New York Yankees and was charged with 23 errors.
Doc Cramer and Jimmie Foxx were Boston Red Sox teammates from 1936-1940. Over that five year stretch, Cramer had 940 hits, including one home run. Foxx had 878 hits, including an MLB-best 198 home runs.
Louisville Eclipse right-hander Guy Hecker had 17.8 bWAR (15.5 as a pitcher and 2.3 as a hitter) in 1884. Hecker led the American Association in wins (52), ERA (1.80), innings pitched (670-and-two-thirds) and strikeouts (385). He batted .297 with a 148 OPS+.
Lefty Grove was charged with the loss when the Philadelphia Athletics fell to the St. Louis Browns by a score of 1-0 on August 23, 1931. The Hall of Fame southpaw had been the winning pitcher in each of his previous 23 starts. On the season, Grove went 27-3 in 30 starts and 4-1 with five saves in 11 relief appearances.
On today’s date in 1972, the Chicago Cubs scored three times in the top of the ninth inning to break a 2-2 tie, only to have the San Diego Padres respond with four runs of their own in the bottom half to claim a 6-5 win. Johnny Jeter walked it off with a three-run blast against Jack Aker.
On today’s date in 1962, Marv Throneberry hit a three-run homer off of Roy Face in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the New York Mets a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Throneberry, who was pinch-hitting for Jim Hickman, had been coaching first base.
Players born on today’s date include Dean Crow, whose big-league career comprised 32 relief outings with the Detroit Tigers in 1998. The right-hander from Garland, Texas was credited with two wins, the first coming in his MLB debut, and the second coming in his last-ever appearance.
Also born on today’s date was Cannonball Titcomb, a left-handed pitcher who saw action in 63 games with four teams from 1886-1890. The West Baldwin, Maine native had his best season with the New York Giants when he went 14-8 with a 2.24 ERA in 1888.