By The Numbers – 39

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 #39.  77 different players have donned #39 while playing in Chicago, 31 for the White Sox and 46 for the Cubs.

First acquired in 1989, Roberto Hernandez, donning #39, made his major league debut on September 2, 1991, getting the start and going 7 innings for the victory in the White Sox win over the Royals.  He appeared in 9 games in the final month of the season, making the only 3 starts of his career, and finished the year with a 7.80 ERA.  In 1992, Hernandez split the year between Triple A and Chicago, eventually supplanting Bobby Thigpen as the team’s primary closer.  He finished the year with 12 saves and a sparkling 1.65 ERA.  Hernandez had another great year in 1993, saving 38 games in 70 appearances with a 2.29 ERA as the White Sox won their final AL West title.  During the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Hernandez threw 4 scoreless innings in 4 appearances, earning 1 save.

In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Hernandez struggled.  His ERA jumped to 4.91 and he saved only 14 games before the season ended on August 12, despite leading the league in games finished.  When baseball returned in 1995, Hernandez bounced back somewhat, once again leading the league in games finished and lowering his ERA by nearly a full run to 3.92.  1996 was a true return to form for Hernandez.  He led the league in games finished for the third straight year and lowered his ERA by 2 full runs to 1.91.  He earned his first All Star selection and, with 38 saves, finished 6th in Cy Young Award voting.  Hernandez was well on his way to another strong season in 1997, with 27 saves and a 2.44 ERA, when he was included in the infamous White Flag trade on July 31, joining Wilson Alzarez and Danny Darwin in going to the Giants for the collection of Brian Manning, Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining.

On the other side of town, Andrew Chafin wore #39 for the 11 months he was a member of the Cubs.  Acquired on August 31, the trade deadline of the shortened 2020 season, Chafin pitched in 4 games over the final month, posting a 3.00 ERA and retired the only batter he faced in the Wild Card series against the Marlins.  In February, Chafin re-upped with the Cubs and became sort of a cult hero.  On June 24, he was part of a combined no-hitter against the Dodgers.  In 43 appearances for the Cubs in 2021, Chafin recorded a 2.06 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 39.1 innings of work before being traded to the A’s on July 27th.

By The Numbers – 57

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 #57.  30 players have donned #57 while playing in Chicago, 17 for the White Sox and 13 for the Cubs.

Acquired by the Cubs, along with Matt Clement, in the deal that sent Dontrelle Willis, among others, to the Marlins in March of 2002, Antonio Alfonseca became the closer for a miserable 2002 Cubs team, which just so happened to be my first as a season ticket holder.  The 12-fingered Alfonseca went 2-5 with a 4.00 ERA and 19 saves in his first go-around with the team.  In 2003, he lost the closer role and was not particularly effective, going 3-1 with a 5.83 ERA.  He was suspended for 5 games in September after bumping an umpire with his generous stomach.  He was perfect in the post-season, appearing in 4 games total giving up no runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Braves and the Marlins.  He became a free agent following that 2003 season.

#57 has been a mainstay of the back end of the White Sox bullpen for many years, shared amongst such luminaries as Jace Fry, Zach Putnam, Tony Pena, and Boone Logan.

All Time Team Records

In a shocking development, the 2021 baseball season got underway last night without issue or delay.  With hopefully a full 162 game schedule on the docket, 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.  Thanks to some eBaying of pocket schedules from the 80s, I was able to identify one additional game that I attended in 1988, a California Angels victory at Comiskey Park against the White Sox.

The Cubs look to contend in a weak NL Central with one final year of having the core of their World Series Championship team under contract, while the White Sox hope their offseason additions put them over the top and make them true World Series contenders.  The 2021 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 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
Boston Red Sox 18 13 0.581
Toronto Blue Jays 15 11 0.577
New York Yankees 15 11 0.577
Los Angeles Angels 19 14 0.576
Cleveland Indians 28 24 0.538
Chicago Cubs 219 197 0.526
Philadelphia Phillies 10 9 0.526
Houston Astros 22 20 0.524
Chicago White Sox 306 287 0.516
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A New Voice

The Cubs and the Marquee Sports Network announced on Monday that Jon “Boog” Sciambi has been hired as the new play-by-play voice of the Cubs.  Sciambi has been the voice of ESPN Sunday Night Baseball for MLB on ESPN Radio and the play-by-play voice for Wednesday Night Baseball telecasts since 2014.  He takes the spot vacated by Len Kasper, who moved over to the White Sox radio booth last month.

“Having the opportunity to come to Wrigley Field and call games for the Chicago Cubs every day is surreal,” Sciambi said in a statement. “It really doesn’t get better than that. Chicago is one of the best cities and Wrigley is the best ballpark out there.”  Prior to joining ESPN, Sciambi had served as the lead television announcer for the Braves from 2007-2009 and as the radio voice of the Marlins from 1997-2004.

Sciambi teamed with current Cubs manager David Ross on ESPN telecasts, so he should have an immediate in to the organization.  He will continue working for ESPN in some capacity under this new deal.

In somewhat related news, missing from the list of contributors in the press release from Marquee was Mark Grace, the former Cub star who was suspended last season after making derogatory comments about his ex-wife during a broadcast.  Not a huge loss for the network or the Cubs, since, in my opinion, Grace makes for a poor broadcaster, but losing a high profile gig must sting for the former all-star.

2020 BBWAA Award Predictions

The Baseball Writers of America have announced the finalists for their awards for the just completed shortened baseball season, which will be announced next week.  It is a good bet that few of my original predictions for the winners will be accurate.  Hopefully, these new predictions will be slightly better, especially since I’ll have a 33% chance of being right.

American League

Most Valuable Player: Jose Abreu, D.J. LeMahieu, Jose Ramirez

Well, my pre-season selection to win the award this year, Yoan Moncada, got taken down by the corona virus, but I’m expecting (and hoping) that it stays in the same clubhouse and that Jose Abreu wins.

Cy Young Award: Shane Bieber, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu

My initial guess was that Blake Snell would take home the prize, but this has Shane Bieber written all over it.

Manager of the Year: Kevin Cash, Charlie Montoyo, Rick Renteria

Once again, I didn’t make any predictions for this award prior to the season.  Kevin Cash is the likely winner, though wouldn’t it be funny to see Renteria bring home this award a month after losing the job he was being recognized for?.

Rookie of the Year: Christian Javier, Kyle Lewis, Luis Robert

Another award I didn’t predict prior to the season.  Had you held the election at the end of August, Robert would have been the odds-on favorite.  However, a month long slump in September probably puts Kyle Lewis in the driver’s seat.

National League

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2020 Final Standings

In the summer of 1984, I was 9 years old and that is the earliest summer that I’ve been able to identify a specific baseball game that I attended.  For the next 36 years, I’ve been to a least one game and, in more recent times, it has become one of the defining activities of my summer.  Until this year, when the corona virus shut down the season for nearly 4 months and the remaining 2 went off without fans.  Of course, it also was the first season both Chicago teams made the post-season since 2008.

Now that both teams have been eliminated, it is fair to say that they are moving in opposite directions.  After 7 straight losing seasons, the White Sox rebuild finally started to show the promise that had been promised, finishing in second place and posting their highest winning percentage since 2005.  There is still some room for improvement, especially in the starting rotation, and the way the last week of the season went down is a valid cause for concern, but the future does look a whole lot brighter on the south side than it has in quite some time.

On the north side of town, you get the feeling that the contention window is closing rapidly.  After missing the playoffs last year, Theo Epstein said that major changes would be in play heading in to 2020.  For various reasons, the only big change was in the manager’s office and the team that ultimately took the field in 2020 was nearly identical to the 2019 version.  As this shortened season went on, the results didn’t look all that different either.  Thanks to early season success and a COVID outbreak for the Cardinals, they were able to coast to the division title, which again masked some of the team’s hitting problems.  Those problems came to the forefront in the quick 2 game series against the Marlins.  With big pieces of the core heading towards free agency in the next 1-2 years, and coming off a season with crashed revenues and even lower offensive production, it may be difficult to make any substantial moves while getting reasonable value back in return.

Playoff Pitching Leaders

Well, the White Sox have been pushed off the post-season stage and, thanks to yesterday’s rainout, the Cubs still need to take 2 from the Marlins to avoid the same fate.  It’s time to take our updated look at the pitching leaders from the now 30 post-season games I’ve attended since the White Sox won the AL Central in 2000.

Wins

Name Total
Mark Buehrle 2
Jon Lester 2
Jake Arrieta 2
25 tied with 1

Losses

Name Total
Matt Clement 2
29 tied with 1

ERA (> 6 IP)

Name Total
Aroldis Chapman 0.00
Stephen Strasburg 0.00
Kyle Freeland 0.00
Johnny Cueto 1.13
Chad Billingsley 1.35

Strikeouts

Name Total
Jon Lester 25
Jake Arrieta 22
Mark Buehrle 13
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Playoff Batting Leaders

Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series is in the books and the White Sox look to close out the A’s this afternoon.  The NL Wild Card Series kicks off this afternoon, with the Cubs doing battle against the Marlins.  With that in mind, it’s time to take an updated look at the offensive leaders from the now 30 post-season games I have attended since 2000.  So, without further ado, we start off with:

Home Runs

Name Total
Kris Bryant 4
Javier Baez 3
Paul Konerko 3
B.J. Upton 3
Dexter Fowler 3
Enrique Hernandez 3

Hits

Name Total
Kris Bryant 11
Javier Baez 11
Dexter Fowler 10
Anthony Rizzo 10
Moises Alou 9
Jason Heyward 9

Runs

Name Total
Dexter Fowler 7
Paul Konerko 6
Daniel Murphy 6
A.J. Pierzynski 5
Kris Bryant 5
Javier Baez 5
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All Time Playoff Team Records

For the first time since 2008, both the White Sox and the Cubs are in the post-season following this abbreviated 2020 season.  The expanded run to the World Series will start with the White Sox facing A’s in Oakland for a best of 3 series starting tonight, while the Cubs welcome the Marlins to Wrigley starting tomorrow.  Winners will advance to the LDS and enter a playoff bubble, with the AL moving to California and the NL to Texas.

With the AL Wild Card Series set to kick off today, it’s time to take an updated look at the team records for the now 30 playoff contests I have attended. These contests come from the 2018 Wild Card game, the ALDS in 2000, 2005, and 2008, the NLDS in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the NLCS in 2003, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the ALCS in 2005, and, of course, the 2005 and 2016 World Series.  Sadly, I won’t be adding any games to this list this year.  Thanks, corona virus.

Post-Season Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Florida Marlins 3 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 2 0 1.000
Colorado Rockies 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Chicago White Sox 5 4 0.556
Los Angeles Dodgers 3 3 0.500
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0.500
Cleveland Indians 1 1 0.500
Los Angeles Angels 1 1 0.500
Washington Nationals 1 1 0.500
Tampa Bay Rays 1 1 0.500
Chicago Cubs 9 13 0.409
San Francisco Giants 0 2 0.000
St. Louis Cardinals 0 1 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 2 0.000
Houston Astros 0 1 0.000

2020 Predictions Revisited

The shortened 60 game 2020 baseball season wraps up today.  2 months ago, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what, not really knowing what a shortened season during a global pandemic would entail.  Now that the 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.  The Yankees looked to be on cruise control, until a plague of injuries knocked them off course.  The Rays, meanwhile, took home their first division crown since 2010.

Central: Twins

The Twins take their second consecutive division title, thanks in part to the White Sox crapping down their pants leg over the last week of the season.

West: Astros

The A’s came through in a big way, dethroning the Astros after their 3 year reign atop the division.

Wild Cards: White Sox, Rays

Well, these predictions were made before the current playoff structure was put in place.  The three second place teams are guaranteed a post-season slot, with the next two best records earning a wild card spot.

AL Champion: Yankees

While they didn’t win the division, the Yankees do seem primed to make a strong run.

Cy Young: Blake Snell

Indians ace Shane Bieber pretty much has this wrapped up.

MVP: Yoan Moncada

Moncada has struggled after contracting COVID-19 back during summer camp, but I think I was in the right ballpark.  Jose Abreu looks to be the clubhouse leader for this award.

National League

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