Hitting Streaks


Ty Cobb didn't need too many games to rack up 4,191 hits.

Ty Cobb didn’t need too many games to rack up 4,191 hits.

I haven’t been at 100 percent for most of this week, sidelined by a strong summer cold or a really weak version of the flu that’s been accompanied by an occasional fever and lots of tea and more than a couple of boxes of tissues.

So I’ve been on the couch, or in bed, mostly watching TV. With all that, this seemed like as good a time as any to re-watch Ken Burns’ documentary, Baseball. I’ve seen it enough that I wouldn’t feel bad about lapsing in and out of consciousness while it was on, and while I was with it, hey, there’s Cy Young and the Huntington Avenue Grounds.

This morning, again, half paying attention, the 1920s were coming to a close and Ty Cobb’s career was summed up. Cobb, as the documentary is sure to note, was a miserable human being and an amazing hitter and competitor, the likes of which just didn’t exist in his time.

But when they were running through his career statistics, one jumped out at me: in 3,034 games played, he tallied 4,191 hits. (more…)

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Say Hey! Yuniesky is back in Kansas City... or something.

Yuniesky Betancourt is not a great player. By most accounts, he’s not even a good player, or slightly below average. He’s in competition for the coveted title of  “Worst Everyday Player in Baseball.”

His 2011 numbers with Milwaukee back that up. in 152 games, all at shortstop save for a few pinch hits, Betancourt hit .252 for a .652 OPS, which adjusts down to a 75 OPS+. He did hit 13 home runs, but walked only 16 times. He’s a slap hitter with signs of pop but no real discipline, and he’ll be 30 years old before Opening Day. If he hits a peak, he probably already has.

With that in mind, it’s not hard to understand the outrage with the Royals signing him to a contract for 2012, if there can be such a feeling regarding the signing of an infielder in Kansas City. Even when that infielder has recently been underwhelming in the same uniform. And the “underwhelming” tag comes without much in the way of initial expectations. (more…)


Dustin Pedroia’s streak wasn’t the longest in league history (Joe DiMaggio, famously, went on a 56-game tear in 1941) or even team history (that belongs to Joe’s brother, Dom DiMaggio, with 34 games in 1949). But it was the longest in the American League thus far in 2011, and it was a blast to watch.

I’ve been on record numerous times this season that Pedroia is the most fun player to watch in baseball. He might not be the best — arguments could easily be made for Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera or a number of pitchers — but I certainly don’t enjoy watching anyone quite as much these days.

He looks like he might twist and implode on every splinter-straining swing. He dives into gaps with reckless abandon, always seeming to pop up and fire the throw to first on target. And, as in a 25-game run from June 29 to July 28, he hits. He hits liners through short, bloopers into the short outfield, screaming liners off the wall, and home runs that race out of the park in a hurry.

He’s been entertaining his whole career, and he’s having his best year as a pro yet. And making this graphic was almost as fun as watching him build his case for Most Valuable Player.