A Pitcher’s Best Friend, times 1.5

Last night, the Yankees pulled off a triple play, the third one completed in back of CC Sabathia in the last four years.

This got me wondering what the record is, from the pitcher’s perspective, for most triple plays “induced”.  Using the Baseball Reference Play Index (a fantastic resource and well-worth your purchase), I collected all the triple plays for which it had details, and sorted it by pitcher.

It turns out that Sabathia has tied Bill Faul and Chris Short for this “record”, as follows:


Date Tm Opp Inn RoB Play Description
2010-04-22 NYY @OAK b6 12- Ground Ball Triple Play:3B-2B-1B(Weak 3B)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2014.
Date Tm Opp Inn RoB Play Description
2013-04-12 NYY BAL t8 12- Triple Play: Groundout: 2B-SS-3B-SS-3B;Machado out at 2B/3B-1B-2B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2014.
Date Tm Opp Inn RoB Play Description
2014-04-17 NYY @TBR b2 12- Ground Ball Triple Play:3B-2B-1B (Weak 3B)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2014.


Date Tm Opp Inn RoB Play Description
1964-05-17 PHI @HOU b5 12- Triple Play: Groundout:1B-SS-1B-C
1964-10-02 PHI @CIN b4 12- Triple Play: Flyball: LF;Pinson out at 2B/LF-SS-2B;Robinson out at 1B/2B-1B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2014.
Date Tm Opp Inn RoB Play Description
1968-05-04 PHI PIT t8 12- Line Drive Triple Play:SS-2B-1B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2014.


Date Tm Opp Inn RoB Play Description
1965-07-14 (2) CHC MLN t2 1-3 Triple Play: Foul Popfly:C-SS-P-2B
1965-07-25 (2) CHC PIT t4 12- Line Drive Triple Play:2B-SS-1B
1965-10-03 CHC @PIT b5 12- Line Drive Triple Play: 1B; Alley out at 1B/1B;Mazeroski out at 2B/1B-SS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2014.

And since I know you are wondering, the record for the BATTER hitting into the most triple plays?  Its the FOUR by Brooks Robinson, which is two more than anyone else.  Here are the four:

Date Tm Opp Inn RoB Play Description
1958-06-02 BAL WSH b6 12- Line Drive Triple Play:SS-1B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2014.
Date Tm Opp Inn RoB Play Description
1964-09-10 BAL @WSA t5 123 Ground Ball Triple Play: SS-2B-1B;Adair Scores; Aparicio out at Hm/1B-C
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2014.
Date Tm Opp Inn RoB Play Description
1965-08-18 BAL BOS b1 12- Triple Play: Groundout:3B-2B-1B-3B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2014.
Date Tm Opp Inn RoB Play Description
1967-08-06 (2) BAL CHW b5 12- Ground Ball Triple Play:3B-2B-1B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2014.
Posted in factoids, game events, pitchers, Play Index mining, records | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

More Errors than Strikeouts in a Season

As with many prior posts, it began with an innocent tweet:

David Schoenfield @dschoenfield

Andrelton Simmons still with no strikeouts and no errors on the season. Which will come first? #Braves

. . . which elicited this response from me:

dianagram @dianagram

@dschoenfield oh you’re going to inspire me to find players with more Es than Ks in a season! :-)

. . . which elicited this response from David:

David Schoenfield @dschoenfield

I was thinking the same thing. Good luck! RT @dianagram oh you’re going to inspire me to find players with more Es than Ks in a season! :-)

So, I fired up the Lahman Baseball Database (which readers of the VORG should be supporting with donations from time to time, please) and lined up the fielding data table with the batting data table.  I decided to limit the search to 1914 forward (so the last 100 seasons), since the error totals in the late 1800s to early 1900s were of course significantly larger than they are now.  I then looked for all players with season error totals greater than strikeouts.

In the Division Play era (1969 to 2013), we have a tie at nine more errors than Ks.  The first such player is Gary Sutherland, who was an original Montreal Expo.  He was a middle infielder taken in the 1969 Expansion Draft off of the Phillies roster.  For his career, he struck out in only 6.5% of plate appearances, and compiled fielding percentages of .971 at second and .936 at shortstop.   In 1971, Sutherland appeared in 111 games, amassing 331 plate appearances.  He struck out a mere 12 times (3.6%), while committing nine errors in 56 games at second and 12 more in 46 games at shortstop, for a total of 21 miscues.

22 years later, Indians shortstop Felix Fermin duplicated the feat.  Normally a sure-handed fielder, Fermin made 23 errors in 580 chances for a career-low .960 fielding percentage.  His batting eye was still keen though, as he bettered his career 4.8 K% by striking out in a career-low 2.7% of his plate appearances (14 out of 514).

For the record-holder over the last 100 seasons, we turn to Hall of Famer shortstop/third baseman Joe Sewell.  From 1925-1933, Sewell came to the plate 5,539 times and struck out in a mere 48 of them (0.8%)!  He has the most plate appearances, by far, of anyone with as low a career K% (1.45%).  He was also blessed with terrific range at shortstop. He finished first or second in range factor at the position seven times, as well as leading in assists and putouts four times each.  On the flip side, he also placed in the top five in errors six times.   In 1923, Sewell struck out 12 times in 686 plate appearances, while committing a career-high 59 errors at short.  Thus, he holds the record for largest error-strikeout differential of the last 100 years at 47.

Posted in factoids, Lahman Baseball Database, records | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Heavyweight Pitching Matchups

In Atlanta this evening, 285-pound Bartolo Colon is facing off against 260-pound Aaron Harang.  That got Stuart Johnson thinking, and good friend of the VORG Mark Simon putting out the “bat signal” . . .

Stuart Johnson @stujo11

Bartolo Colon (listed 285 lbs) and Aaron Harang (260 lbs) square off tonight. Wonder what the heaviest pitching matchup ever is? @msimonespn

Mark Simon @msimonespn

@stujo11 Paging @dianagram & @TomTheIntern – my guess is Jumbo Brown vs someone

Using the height and weight data from the Lahman Baseball Database, and the starting pitcher data from the Retrosheet game logs, I was able to research this question.  The results are available in this Google Drive document, but here are the highlights:

At a combined 575 pounds, CC Sabathia (290) and Colon (285) are the record-holders for the weightiest matchup.  They’ve met four times between 2004 and 2013.

In terms of BMI, which takes into account height and weight, Colon (BMI of 38.6) is again part of the record matchup.  His duels with Tommy Hunter (35.0) combine for a record 73.6 BMI.  They met twice in 2012.

So Harang and Colon will have to go back to the buffet to get closer to the record.


Posted in demographics, frivolity, Lahman Baseball Database, records, Retrosheet | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

An Appreciation of Strat-O-Matic

Over at the ESPN Sweet Spot, I have an appreciation for the tabletop version of Strat-O-Matic baseball.

I’ll have a review of the new season’s card set and game soon right here.

Posted in essay, linkapalooza | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Scrabble-acceptability of 2014 Opening Day Rosters

With the first full weekend of games upon us, its time for the VORG to once again present the list of Scrabble-acceptable player names on each team’s Opening Day/week roster.

The player’s first or last name is deemed “acceptable” if it can be found in the “bible” of organized Scrabble, the Official Tournament and Club Word List.  If the player’s name is seven letters or more and a valid Scrabble word, it is referred to as a  “bingo”. The total below each team’s roster gives the team’s tally of qualifying names.

See the Google Drive chart for all the details.

The A’s and Reds are tied for the most first acceptable first names (12), while the Mets trump all others in last names (11).  The team with the longest nickname (Diamondbacks) happens to have an MLB-best 15 players with a first and/or last name that is acceptable. The Angels (thanks in part to “Mike Trout” … is there NOTHING he can’t do?) lead the league with four players with acceptable first AND last names.   The Royals have a league-leading six “bingo” names.  The Tigers’ Joba Chamberlain possesses the longest acceptable Scrabble word on anyone’s 25-man roster, as a “chamberlain” is an officer who manages the household of a sovereign or noble.  Meanwhile, the Rockies’ Franklin Morales is once again the only player to have both his first and last name be “bingos”.


Today marks the third anniversary of the VORG.  Regardless of how long you’ve been a reader of the site, I want to thank you for your support.  Its been a blast!


Posted in frivolity, Opening Day, rosters, Scrabble | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Its Like They Never Left

When it comes to coming up with the opening and final series of each season, the MLB schedule makers generally try for natural intradivision rivalries . . . Red Sox and Yankees, Cubs and Cardinals, Dodgers and Giants.  In the era of daily interleague play, that becomes a bit harder.  For example, the Phillies are opening this season not against the Mets or Nationals, but the Texas Rangers.

Last year, the Yankees finished up the regular season with a three-game series in Houston, an interdivision tilt.  Tomorrow, they will open the season, once again, in Houston.

I was curious to find out how many times a team ended the season in an interdivision matchup, and then started the next season with the same matchup in the same city.  I parsed the game logs in the “division era” from Retrosheet, filtering the first and last series of each year from 1969-2013.

Amazingly, the Astros and Yankees appear to be the first such matchup in history (there have been no interleague matchups with similar scheduling).  So, let’s hear it for the quirky schedule makers.

Posted in Retrosheet, schedules | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The VORG’s All-Haiku 2014 Season Preview

At ESPN.COM and around the web, you’ll see season previews full of projections, tables, diagrams and paragraphs explaining why your team will or will not be playing in October. I offer you this condensed analysis, via traditional Japanese poetic verse.


O’s sign up for Cruz
But its their pitching that will
Stall their ship at sea

Red Sox

Raise your hand if you
Had Sizemore in center field
But Bogaerts key guy


Horrendous infield
Improved starting pitching mean
Hope no groundball outs


Price stays here (for now)
Bullpen shuffled once again
Don’t count Maddon out


Rotation questions
But potent offense makes for
Many 9-8 games

White Sox

Jose Abreu
Makes this team fun to watch while
Farm system rebuilds


Lost two-fifths of staff
Can Santana handle third?
They need (Jack) Bauer


Prince is gone, Miggy
Back to first but defense lacks
Iglesias’ glove


One more year of Shields
Hope that Ventura can shine
Offense is legit


Buxton and Sano
Can Twins petition league to
Just jump to next year?


Appel, Correa
Can they petition league to
Jump to two years hence?


Trout locked up but
He can’t pitch and barren farm
Can’t help them this year


Parker injury
Puts pressure on Kazmir, Gray
Stadium still smells


Why pitch to Cano?
No other scares in lineup
Pitchers must step up


Decimated staff
Injured Profar and Soto
Do they have the depth?


Speaking of bad health
No Beachy or Medlen mean
Untested kids get starts


Three great young pitchers
Can’t hide awful offense
Lose all 2-1 games


Get Harvey healthy
Bring Syndergaard along slow
Top 3 staff next year


Fillies: young horses
Phillies: old roster, makes for
Big crash soon to come


Fister’s injury
Slight concern, but all eyes on
Harper … MVP?


Baez, Almora
Soler, Villanueva
Alcantara . . . whew!


Hamilton’s on-base
Most watched number in Cincy?
If he’s on, Reds win


Wretched defense
And suspect starting pitching
Braun can’t carry load


No ninety-four wins
But Polanco and (maybe)
Taillon bring more hope


Taveras delayed
But Wong right on time, Cards are
Class of division


Corbin out for year
Shaky staff needs Bradley soon
Trumbo in left? Yikes!


Watch Arenado
He’s a star in the making
Otherwise, snorefest


Kershaw must be right
Or it won’t matter how
Much they spent this year


Cashner’s stuff nasty
Will they let Chase Headley go?
Quentin injured? Yup!


Slimmed down Panda
As he enters his walk year
Gets a Pence deal? No.

Posted in haiku, Opening Day | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment