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Welcome to the Majors, Jay June 22, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Jay Sborz had a rough debut in relief of Justin Verlander during tonight’s Tigers at Mets game when there was a rain delay in the top of the 3rd. He faced seven batters in two-thirds of an inning, plunking the first two – Rod Barajas and Jeff Francoeur – and giving up hits to the last three. As Sborz, who was obviously struggling with nerves, tried to pitch his way out of the inning, Mets commentator Gary Cohen was mocking him mercilessly. “That’s got to be some kind of record,” for one.

Though Gary said it, that pinged my “Stuff Keith Hernandez Says” meter, and I trotted off to Baseball-Reference.com to look it up. Since 1973, six other pitchers who debuted in relief have two hit batsman. Were any of them as bad as Sborz?

We don’t have to go back too far to find someone who was. In 2002, Justin Miller of the Blue Jays made his debut against the Devil Rays and hit Chris Gomez, then Jason Tyner. Miller deserves special recognition – after that beautiful start, he held on to pitch 2 2/3 and got the win!

Honorable mention goes to Mitch Stetter of the Brewers. In a 2007 game against the Pirates, Stetter debuted in the last inning of a 12-2 blowout. He was on the winning side, though it ended up 12-3. Stetter hit Jack Wilson. He threw a wild pitch in the process of walking Nyjer Morgan, then iced the cake by plunking Nate McLouth. That was followed up with a groundout that scored Wilson and a merciful game-ending double play.

Leadoff Home Runs June 19, 2010

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Jose Reyes led off today’s Mets-Yankees game with a home run off Phil Hughes. That’s the eleventh leadoff home run of the year. That’s a little over half as many as there were last year on June 19, when Nate McLouth hit the 19th leadoff home run of 2009.

Last year, there were 51 leadoff home runs over roughly 6 months (early April through the first week of October), which puts uniformly distributed homers at  8.5 per month (so McLouth’s #19 on June 19 was about 2.25 behind pace). So far, with eleven over 2.5 months, that puts us on pace for 26.4, or, to be generous, about 30 leadoff home runs.

The change probably isn’t indicative of anything other than chance, but in 2008 #24 of 52 came on June 20, and in 2007 they were already up to 28 of 59 by June 19. Over the past few years there’s been a slowing of leadoff home runs which may be due to chance or may be due to some other factor. Who knows? It’s way too small a sample to say anything about.