By The Numbers – 7

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #7.  88 different players have donned #7 while playing in Chicago, 43 for the White Sox and 45 for the Cubs.

After wearing #12 when he was first called up to the big leagues, Tim Anderson switched to #7 starting with his second season in 2017.  Showing that he was still a work in progress, Anderson slashed .257/.276/.402 in 2017, with a 2.1% walk rate, the lowest in the major leagues.  Defensively, he led the major leagues in errors, with 28, as well as fielding errors (16) and throwing errors (12).  He showed slight improvements in 2018, with slight improvements in his OBP and slugging percentage, while reducing his overall errors.

2019 was Anderson’s coming out party.  He led the major leagues with a .335 average while raising his OPS to .865, setting career highs with 167 hits, 32 doubles, and 81 runs.  He still had some issues on defense, leading all major league players with 26 errors, leading to the lowest fielding percentage amongst all shortstops.  His hot bat continued into the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, notching a .322 average and an .886 OPS.  He won his first Silver Slugger award while leading the White Sox to their first post-season appearance since 2008.  He thrived in the Wild Card series against the A’s, going 9-14 in the three-game series.

Anderson continued to prove that he his offensive improvement wasn’t a fluke when baseball returned full time in 2021.  He was named to his first All Star team and, on the game’s biggest stage, he hit a walk-off home run against the Yankees in the inaugural Field of Dreams game in the cornfields of Iowa.  Overall, he hit .309 and posted an .807 OPS while hitting 17 home runs and driving in 61 RBIs.  Continuing where he left off the previous October, Anderson hit .368 in the ALDS against the Astros.

On the north side of town, Peoria-native and Northwestern graduate Joe Girardi made his Major League debut for the Cubs on April 4, 1989 wearing #7.  He batted .248 with a home run and 14 runs batted in (RBIs) in 59 games as the surprising Cubs took home a division title. Getting more consistent playing time in 1990, he hit .270 with a home run and 38 RBIs.  Limited to only 21 games in 1991, he managed just a .191 average with only 6 RBIs. In 1992, he rebounded to play in 91 games, hitting .270 with a home run and 12 RBIs.  Following the season, he was left unprotected in the expansion draft and was selected by the Rockies.

Last Run For Dallas

After nearly a seasons-worth of poor performances, the White Sox cut bait on Dallas Keuchel yesterday, designating the veteran left hander for assignment.  Keuchel, 34, had a 2-5 record with a 7.88 ERA in eight starts this season and finished his White Sox career 17-16 with a 4.79 ERA in 51 appearances, 49 of them starts.

Signed prior to the 2020 season, Keuchel looked like a steal during the pandemic shortened season.  He went 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA in 11 starts, finishing fifth in Cy Young Award voting.  He started strong in 2021, going 6-1 with a 3.78 ERA in his first 14 starts, but things went south quickly from there.  In his last 18 appearances, he put up a 3-8 record with a 6.70 ERA.  Things were bad enough that he was left off the playoff roster for the ALDS against the Astros.

Keuchel said during spring training that the end of 2021 left a “sour taste” in his mouth, so he started throwing earlier in the offseason than usual to in hopes of a rebound season.  Unfortunately, it didn’t produce the results he was hoping for.  He managed to go at least five innings in just half of his eight starts.  In his last two starts, against the Yankees and the Red Sox, he gave up a combined 12 earned runs in just 6 innings pitched.

Is this the end of the road for Keuchel?  It certainly seems possible, given not just his poor results but also how he’s been getting them.  His long-held ability to limit damage by not giving up free baserunners has left him, as he walked 20 batters in jut 32 innings this year.  But, injuries have a way of making teams desperate for pitching, so his phone may ring sometime over the next few months.

Throwback Thursday – Team Records Of The 2000s

It’s time for another trip in the wayback machine, as this week we move our focus to the start of the 21st century and see what my view of the baseball world looked like in the 2000s.  This was my first decade as a season ticket holder, starting in 2002 for the Cubs and 2005 for the White Sox.

I attended 518 contests during the 2000s, starting with my first trip to Cincinnati in April of 2000 and finishing with Daniel Hudson’s first major league victory in September of 2009.  I attended games at 13 stadiums from coast to coast and saw my first post-season action, with an ALDS in 2000, an NLCS in 2003, and a World Series game in 2005.

2021 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Arizona Diamondbacks 11 1 0.917
Philadelphia Phillies 10 4 0.714
Toronto Blue Jays 6 3 0.667
Florida Marlins 12 7 0.632
Tampa Bay Rays 3 2 0.600
Texas Rangers 8 6 0.571
Los Angeles Dodgers 8 6 0.571
Chicago White Sox 130 107 0.549
Chicago Cubs 172 147 0.539
Baltimore Orioles 9 8 0.529
Cleveland Indians 10 9 0.526
Los Angeles Angels 10 9 0.526
Boston Red Sox 9 9 0.500
Colorado Rockies 6 6 0.500
Seattle Mariners 5 5 0.500
Anaheim Angels 1 1 0.500
Houston Astros Continue reading →

Throwback Thursday – Team Records Of The 1990s

Last week, we took a trip in the wayback machine to see all of the games that I attended during the 1980s.  This week, we turn our attention to the 1990s to see what my view of the baseball world looked like.

I’ve been able to identify 32 games I attended during the 90s, starting with a late April outing during the final season at Comiskey Park in 1990 through a September 2000 game at Wrigley Field, including my first visits to stadiums outside of Chicago starting with a July 1993 visit to County Stadium in Milwaukee.  All told, I saw games at eight different ballparks throughout the decade.

1990s Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Houston Astros 1 0 1.000
California Angels 1 0 1.000
Cincinnati Reds 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Florida Marlins 1 0 1.000
New York Yankees 1 0 1.000
San Francisco Giants 1 0 1.000
Detroit Tigers 3 1 0.750
Oakland Athletics 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 12 10 0.545
Chicago Cubs 6 5 0.545
Kansas City Royals Continue reading →

All Time Team Records

After a long lockout and an abbreviated spring training, the 2022 baseball season finally gets underway today, so, to celebrate, it is time once again to look at the all-time team records for games that I have identified as having attended dating back to 1984.  Last year, I tied 2004 for my 5th highest game total of all time and managed to see 25 out of the 30 teams, so there should be some nice changes.  Thanks to a name change, the all-time record of the Cleveland Indians become static moving forward, forever stuck at 4 games over .500.

The White Sox look to once again lead an improving AL Central and move past the ALDS in the post-season, while the Cubs are neither contending nor rebuilding.  The 2022 season should be an interesting one on both sides of town, even more interesting if we are able to see it in person.

All-Time Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 14 2 0.875
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
New York Yankees 17 11 0.607
Boston Red Sox 19 13 0.594
Los Angeles Angels 20 14 0.588
Toronto Blue Jays 15 11 0.577
Philadelphia Phillies 11 9 0.550
Washington Nationals 7 6 0.538
Cleveland Indians 31 27 0.534
Chicago White Sox 335 307 0.522
Chicago Cubs 224 206 0.521
Houston Astros Continue reading →

2022 Predictions

After 99-day lockout and a truncated spring training schedule, the 2022 baseball season is finally scheduled to kick off tomorrow with a slate of games.  For the twelfth consecutive year, I’ve looked into the crystal ball to make my picks for the upcoming season, including an additional Wild Card pick for each league.

American League

East: Blue Jays

Central: White Sox

West: Astros

Wild Cards: Yankees, Angels, Red Sox

AL Champion: Yankees

Cy Young: Lucas Giolito

MVP: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

National League

Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 15

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #15.  98 different players have donned #15 while playing in Chicago, 44 for the White Sox and 54 for the Cubs.

Dick Allen was acquired after the 1971 season, when attendance at Comiskey Park had cratered and the team had finished 22½ games out of first place.  The addition of Allen, donning #15, sparked an unforeseen pennant race in 1972, with the Sox in contention for most of the season, finishing 5½ games behind the A’s in the AL West and drawing more than 1.18 million fans, more than double what they drew in 1970.  Allen only spent 3 years in Chicago, making the All Star team each time.  A broken leg cut short his 1973 campaign and, with two weeks to go in the 1974 season, Allen left the team over a feud with teammate Ron Santo.  Not knowing if Allen planned to return to baseball, the Sox sold his contract to the Braves for $5000, at which point Allen temporarily retired.

Acquired by the Cubs for the stretch run in 1984, Davey Lopes switched to his familiar #15 in 1985.  Appearing in 99 games in his age 40 season, Lopes stole 47 bases, his highest total since 1977.  He made his way into 59 games in 1986 before being traded to the Astros for Frank DiPino.

Moving On

Last July, with an eye towards the postseason, the White Sox acquired Craig Kimbrel from the Cubs for second baseman Nick Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer.  To put it mildly, it didn’t work out.  Working mostly as a setup man to Liam Hendriks, Kimbril posted a 5.09 ERA in 24 appearances with the White Sox down the stretch and then gave up 2 earned runs in 2 innings against the Astros in the ALDS.

The White Sox picked up Kimbrel’s $16M option for 2022, looking to trade him and recoup some of the capital they spent to acquire him.  Then, the lockout happened.  When spring training camps opened with Kimbrel still on the roster, things looked dire.  But, today, the White Sox announced they have traded Kimbrel to the Dodgers for outfielder A.J. Pollock.

Pollock should fill a hole in right field, though he has very little experience there.  He also brings some needed pop against RHP, with an .802 career OPS against righties.  Best of all, he saves the White Sox $3-6 million, which will likely come in handy come trade deadline.  Kimbrel, hopefully, can regain his form by moving back into the closer role with the Dodgers.

Kimbrel’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

Continue reading →

Against The Astros All Time Leaders – Through 2021

astros-primaryIn the past, we’ve looked at the all time leaders in both offensive and defensive categories for all 30 teams. This offseason, we will take our first ever look at those leaders against all 30 clubs.  We continue today with the Houston Astros.

The Astros began life in 1962 as the Colt 45’s, joining the National League along with the Mets, and became the Astros 3 years later.  In 2013, they moved to the American League, becoming just the second team to switch leagues.  I’ve seen them play 47 times, including game 2 of the 2005 World Series and games 3 and 4 of the 2021 ALDS.

Home Runs

Name Total
Derrek Lee 4
Corey Patterson 3
Tim Anderson 2
Paul Konerko 2
Adam Dunn 2
Tadahito Iguchi 2
Alfonso Soriano 2

Hits

Name Total
Derrek Lee 15
Alfonso Soriano 11
Aramis Ramirez 11

Runs

Name Total
Derrek Lee 10
Alfonso Soriano 6
Aramis Ramirez 5
Paul Konerko 5
Alejandro de Aza 5

RBI

Name Total
Derrek Lee 8
Paul Konerko 7
Tadahito Iguchi 7
Adam Dunn 7

Doubles

Name Total
Derrek Lee 4
Aramis Ramirez 3
7 tied with 2

Triples Continue reading →

Book 51 (of 52) – Yogi

Yogi: A Life Behind The Mask – Jon Pessah

Lawrence Peter Berra was born on May 12, 1925 in St. Louis, the third child of Italian immigrants who wanted to try and make a living playing baseball.  When the hometown Cardinals passed on him, Berra started playing in the local American Legion league, where he picked up a nickname: Yogi.  After serving with the Navy in World War II, Yogi Berra made his mark with the New York Yankees.  Over his career, he won 3 MVP awards, appeared in a record 14 World Series. and won 10 championships.  After his playing career, he managed and coached for both the Yankees and the Mets.  When he was fired by George Steinbrenner 16 games into the 1985 season, Berra vowed to never enter Yankee Stadium again as long as Steinbrenner owned the team.  14 years later, Steinbrenner apologized and mended fences, bringing Berra back in to the fold, where he would remain until his 2015 death.

I feel like for baseball fans of my era, Yogi Berra’s accomplishments on the baseball field were blunted by his reputation off of it, that of the bumbling goofball who says funny things.  In fact, until fairly recently, I didn’t even know that he had coached with the Astros for 5 seasons following his fallout with the Yankees in 1985.  Reading through this biography, I learned that Berra was not just along for the ride for Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle’s championship teams, but was instead the driving force that bridged those two eras and kept the Yankees the champions of the American League for all but 3 seasons of his career.  I have a newfound respect for Berra and his place in baseball history.