Sunday, August 22, 2010

Today's posting is more about the "steady hand" than the "hot hand," as Seattle Mariners' first-baseman Casey Kotchman had a record fielding streak end yesterday. According to this game article:

A wicked, one-hop shot in the eighth inning [off the bat of Yankee Curtis Granderson] caromed off Kotchman's glove and continued into right field. He was charged with an error, ending his Major League-record streak of 274 games without a fielding miscue.

The streak lasted more than two years and covered 2,379 fielding chances.

Another, slightly dated (April 27, 2010) article includes a chart of the records for consecutive error-free games by position. At the time, outfielder Darren Lewis held the overall record at 269 games. The positions of catcher, first-base, and outfield seem particularly conducive to long streaks; shortstop and third-base don't. I would say there are two things that set apart first-basemen from their counterparts on the other side of the infield:

(1) First-basemen get a lot of their fielding opportunities by catching thrown balls (from the other infielders) and relatively few from fielding hit balls. Shortstops and third-basemen (the latter playing at a location known as the "Hot Corner") primarily face balls hit at them.

(2) Shortstops and third-basemen presumably get more balls hit at them than first- or second-basemen, because there are more right- than left-handed hitting batters.

This is not to say that first-basemen never get hard shots ripped at them. The streak-ending ball hit to Kotchman was one that required a difficult short-hop to field, and he couldn't do it (see video associated with the linked article in the first paragraph above). There'll probably be a lot of debate over whether the official scorer's call should have been a hit or an error.

Friday, August 20, 2010

With a 7-2 loss tonight to the New York Mets, the Pittsburgh Pirates saw their record for the season fall to a dismal 40-82. The significance of this record is that, in a 162-game season, the break-even point would be 81-81. The Pirates' 82nd loss thus officially guarantees them of a losing record. And the losing record gives Pittsburgh an unenviable streak, namely 18 straight years without a winning record. As this game article notes about the Pirates:

Their 82nd loss in 122 games extended the longest streak of consecutive losing seasons in major American pro sports history.

They'd never secured a losing season so early, either, accomplishing it on Aug. 20. Previously, the earliest they had done so during the streak was on Aug. 27, 2001.
For a team that's been this pathetic for this long, a more thorough autopsy is in order. Fortunately, Sports Illustrated conducted one earlier this summer.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Milwaukee Brewers third-baseman Casey McGehee had his streak of hits in nine consecutive at-bats stopped Friday in the first inning against Colorado Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa.

As noted in an earlier article marking McGehee's extension of his streak to 9-for-9, "The major league record for consecutive hits is 12, set by Pinky Higgins in 1938 and matched by Walt Dropo in 1952."

I've always felt streaks for consecutive at-bats with hits are underrated. Here, the batter has no margin for error. One out and the streak is over. In a consecutive-games hitting streak (immortalized by Joe DiMaggio), a batter can make outs perhaps a few times per game and still have the streak persist -- as long as he gets at least one hit in a game.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Arizona Diamondbacks a couple of nights ago became the latest Major League Baseball team to hit four straight home runs. As shown in this chart, Arizona's is the fourth quadruple homer barrage since 2006. Before 2006, the last instance of four straight homers was all the way back in 1964.