Fitbit VII – Week 38

And yet another disappointing week.  Things got off to a decent enough start on Sunday, as Game 3 of the ALDS led me to 5300 steps.  Monday was slightly lower due to rain surpassing 4800 steps.  Game 4, and the end of the White Sox season, came on Tuesday, as I finished with 4700 steps.  Wednesday fell even lower, falling down to 3300 steps.  Thursday saw a slight increase, jumping back up to 4200 steps.  Friday was even better, as I finished only 17 steps shy of 4700.  Saturday was a bust of a day, with only 2500 steps.

Total steps: 29,578

Daily average: 4225.4

By The Numbers – 35

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 #35.  26 players have donned #35 on each side of town, including one Hall of Famer.

Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas was selected by the White Sox with the seventh pick in the first round of the 1989 draft and, a little more than a year later, he made his major league debut.  In 1991, as the White Sox moved into the new Comiskey Park, Thomas became one of the most feared hitters in the American League.  He won the MVP award in both 1993 and 1994, while leading the White Sox to their first division title since 1983.  In 1997, he earned his first batting title and notched his 7th top 10 finish in MVP voting in his first 7 full seasons.

Thomas became a full time DH in 1998 and struggled for the first time.  Injuries slowed him down in 1999, but he bounced back in a big way in 2000.  He hit .328 and set career highs with 43 home runs and 143 RBIs as the White Sox returned to the post-season for the first time since 1993.  A torn triceps cut his 2001 campaign short, and, when he returned in 2002, he was clearly no longer the offensive force he had been.  Foot injuries robbed him of most of the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and, after watching the only team he had even played for win the World Series without him, he became a free agent after the 2005 season.  His number 35 was retired by the White Sox on August 29, 2010 and he was part of the 2014 Hall of Fame class, elected on the first ballot with 83.7% of the vote.

The history of #35 on the north side of town is nowhere near as impressive.  Of the 26 players to wear the number, 4 came in 2000 alone.  While there are players I like a little more, we will go with shortstop Lennie Merullo, who was the first player to wear #35 for the Cubs, during the 1941 and 1942 seasons.  Merullo’s 7 year career was spent entirely with the Cubs.  He went 0-2 in the 1945 World Series.  His biggest claim to fame, at least to me, came off the field, as he is the grandfather of former White Sox catcher Matt Merullo.

2021 Final Batting Leaders

Another baseball season has come to an end, with the White Sox winning their first division title since 2008 and making the post-season in consecutive seasons for the first time in team history, before losing to the Astros in the ALDS and the Cubs shocking their fanbase with the dismantling of the core that led them to 3 straight NLCSs and a world championship in 2016.  Let’s take a look back at the offensive leaders for the 58 games that I attended this season, with lower capacity crowds in the spring to full capacity at the end:

Home Runs

Name Total
Jose Abreu 9
Yasmani Grandal 8
Patrick Wisdom 7
Luis Robert 6
Yoan Moncada 5
Tim Anderson 5

Hits

Name Total
Tim Anderson 55
Jose Abreu 49
Yoan Moncada 49
Luis Robert 29
Andrew Vaughn 26

Runs

Name Total
Tim Anderson 32
Yoan Moncada 27
Continue reading →

2021 Final Standings

The 2021 season, at least the portion which would see me attending games, has come to an end after the White Sox lost to the Astros in the ALDS 3-1.  After a year without in-person baseball thanks to the corona virus, I ended up attending the most games I’ve seen since 2009 and my 5th highest total of all time.  I also managed to travel to four different stadiums, bringing my total up to 27.  All told, I managed to see 25 of the 30 teams a year after seeing none.

2021 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Tampa Bay Rays 3 0 1.000
New York Yankees 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 1 0 1.000
Philadelphia Phillies 1 0 1.000
Los Angeles Angels 1 0 1.000
San Francisco Giants 1 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 1 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 29 20 0.592
Cleveland Indians 3 3 0.500
Kansas City Royals Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 36

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 #36.  83 different players have donned #36 while playing in Chicago, 54 for the White Sox and 29 for the Cubs.

Acquired by the Cubs, along with Bob Dernier and Porfi Altamirano, from the Phillies for Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz near the end of spring training in 1984, Gary “Sarge” Matthews, wearing #36, became a spark plug that helped lead the Cubs to their first ever division title.  Leading the league in walks and OBP, Matthews set a career high with 101 runs scored and finished 5th in MVP voting, behind teammates Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe.  He saw a big drop-off in 1985, appearing in only 97 games and hitting a career low .235.  He bounced back a bit in 1986, appearing in 123 games and hitting 21 home runs, his highest total since 1979.  Reduced to a bench player in 1987, Matthews had 42 ABs in 44 games when he was traded to the Mariners on July 11 for a minor league player to be named later.

On the south side of town, Jerry Koosman donned #36 when he joined the White Sox on August 30, 1981 after coming to the White Sox via trade from the Twins.  Koosman appeared in 8 games down the stretch, starting 3, as the White Sox finished 6th in the second half of the crazy strike season.  He returned in 1982, working mostly out of the bullpen but still starting 19 games as the White Sox squandered a quick start to finish in 3rd place.  The veteran lefty spent most of the 1983 season in the starting rotation, but saw his ERA inflate to a career high 4.77.  However, after a shaky start, the White Sox caught fire and Koosman was the starting pitcher on September 17, when the White Sox clinched their first division title.  Koosman made one relief appearance during the ALCS against the Orioles, throwing 1/3 of a disastrous inning in the Game 3 blowout, giving up 1 hit, 2 walks, and 3 runs (2 earned).  He re-upped with the White Sox following the season, but was sent to the Phillies the following spring to complete the trade for Ron Reed.

Division Series Pitching Leaders

After a disappointing start to their series with the Astros, the White Sox, behind Lucas Giolito, look to even things up by taking Game 2 of the ALDS and come home with a split.  With both NLDS series starting today, we have a full day of baseball on tap, which means it’s time to take a look at the pitching leaders from the 16 division series games I’ve attended since the White Sox won the AL Central in 2000.

Wins

Name Total
16 tied with 1

Losses

Name Total
Matt Clement 2
14 tied with 1

ERA (> 6 IP)

Name Total
Stephen Strasburg 0.00
Jon Lester 0.77
Mark Prior 1.00
Johnny Cueto 1.13
Chad Billingsley 1.35

Strikeouts

Name Total
Jake Arrieta 13
Stephen Strasburg 12
Johnny Cueto 10
Continue reading →

Division Series Batting Leaders

Both Wild Card games are in the books, with the Red Sox and the Dodgers moving on to their respective DSs, and the White Sox look to kick off their series with the Astros later today.  With that in mind, it’s time to take our first look at the offensive leaders from the 16 Division Series games I have attended since 2000.  So, without further ado, we start off with:

Home Runs

Name Total
B.J. Upton 3
Eric Karros 2
Paul Konerko 2
A.J. Pierzynski 2
Manny Ramirez 2
Chipper Jones 2

Hits

Name Total
Mark DeRosa 7
Manny Ramirez 5
A.J. Pierzynski 5
Jason Heyward 5
Javier Baez 5
Moises Alou 5
Derrek Lee 5
Carlos Pena 5

Runs

Name Total
Paul Konerko 5
Mark DeRosa 4
Manny Ramirez 4
A.J. Pierzynski 4
B.J. Upton 3
Juan Uribe 3
Continue reading →

All Time Division Series Team Records

We’ve gotten through 162 games and the post-season is set.  The White Sox travel to Houston to take on the Astros in the ALDS.  I seem to remember something good happening the last time these two teams met up in the post-season.

Normally, I would take a renewed view of the team records for the 30 playoff contests I have attended.  Thanks to the corona virus pandemic that kept fans home last season, however, nothing has changed since I looked at those records last year.  Instead, I figured it was worth our while to focus on the Division Series for the first time and see how teams have performed in the 16 games I’ve attended in that first playoff round from 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Division Series Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Seattle Mariners 2 0 1.000
Los Angeles Dodgers 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 1 1 0.500
Tampa Bay Rays 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 3 3 0.500
Chicago Cubs 5 5 0.500
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0.500
St. Louis Cardinals 0 1 0.000
San Francisco Giants 0 2 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 2 0.000

2021 Predictions Revisited

What a difference six months makes.  Back in March, at the dawn of the 2021 baseball season, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what with little idea if the season would go off as planned.  Now that the regular season has come to an end, it is time revisit those predictions and see what, if anything, I got right.

American League

East: Yankees

Well, that’s one down.  Despite losing two starting pitchers from last year’s staff, the Rays managed to repeat as champs of the AL East.

Central: Twins

I was all set to go with the White Sox here, until a late injury to Eloy Jimenez in spring training left me feeling bad.  The Twins fell off the face of the Earth, while the White Sox overcame injuries all season to cruise to their first division title since 2008.

West: Astros

Hey, here’s one I got right.  The Astros return to the top of the division after a one year break.

Wild Cards: White Sox, Blue Jays

Talk about coming down to the wire.  With a potential 4-way tie for the two Wild Card spots heading in to the final day of the season, the Yankees and the Red Sox both took control of their destinies with victories on Sunday, leaving the Blue Jays and the Mariners on the outside looking in.

AL Champion: Yankees

The Rays do seem to be the class of the league.

Cy Young: Lucas Giolito

That seems very unlikely.  Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray seems like a popular choice.

MVP: Aaron Judge

A fine choice, but who could have seen Shohei Ohtani coming?  The two-way Angels star will run away and hide with this award.

National League

Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 37

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 #37.  74 different players have donned #37 while playing in Chicago, 27 for the White Sox and 47 for the Cubs.

Selected in the fourth round of the 1985 draft, Bobby Thigpen made his major league debut for the White Sox just over a year later, wearing #58.  He switched to his more familiar #37 the following year, as he moved in to the closer role full time, replacing Bob James, and racked up 16 saves while also putting up a 7-5 record with a 2.73 ERA.  In 1988, he broke the team record for saves, with 34, while leading the league with 59 games finished.  He duplicated the effort in 1989 with another 34 saves, though with a 2-6 record and a 3.76 ERA.

Thigpen’s 1990 season was one for the record books.  He earned his first All Star nod while on his way to setting the major league record with 57 saves, while also leading the league with 77 games and 73 games finished.  On September 30, he earned his 57th save while throwing the final pitch at Comiskey Park.  After the 1990 season, Thigpen joined other major league all stars on a tour of Japan where, unfortunately, he would suffer a back injury that would plague him for the remainder of his career.

In 1991, he still managed to earn 30 saves, but his ERA jumped up to 3.49.  In 1992, he set a career high with a 4.75 ERA while earning only 22 saves, losing his grip on the closer role to both Scott Radinsky and Roberto Hernandez.  His 1993 was even worse, as his ERA jumped to 5.71 and he managed only 1 save in 25 appearances before an August 10 trade to the Phillies for former teammate Jose DeLeon.  He left as the franchise’s all time leader with 201 saves, a position he still holds today.

On the north side of town, pitcher Travis Wood was acquired by the Cubs, along with Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes, in exchange for Sean Marshall.  Wearing #37, Wood was called up to the major league club in early May of 2012, replacing Chris Volstad, who started the season 0–6.  Wood went 6-13 with a 4.27 ERA in his first year as a Cub.  In 2013, Wood became the first Cub since Mordecai Brown to start a season with 9 straight quality starts and, on May 30, he hit his first career grand slam, leading to his first All-Star selection.

Wood struggled in 2014, with a 5.03 ERA in 31 starts, though he did hit his 9th career home run.  After struggling in the rotation to start the 2015 season, Wood was moved to the bullpen, where he fared much better, posting a 2.95 ERA and 4 saves in relief.  Continuing to work out of the bullpen in 2016, Wood posted a 4-0 record with a 2.95 ERA in 77 appearances.  In Game 2 of the NLDS, Wood hit a home run off of Giants’ reliever George Kontos, becoming just the second relief pitcher to homer in a postseason game., after Rosy Ryan in Game 3 of the 1924 World Series.  Wood appeared in 3 games of the 2016 World Series, giving up 2 hits and a run in 1 2/3 innings.  Following the season, he became a free agent.