Overs and Unders Revisited
Back in April, I posted a Baker's Dozen of over/under lines for player and team events. Even though there are still two weeks to play, the envelopes are all in and the answers can now be revealed. Reader predictions can be found in the comments section of the original article.
Alex Rodriguez: over or under 50 HR?
Over. Alex Rodriguez slugged his 50th and 51st HR on September 8 vs. the Kansas City Royals. He also hit one the next day and now has 52 on the season. I guess today's question is whether he will finish the year with a hot streak and reach the magical 60 mark. The odds say no. Perhaps it is more realistic to ask if A-Rod can break his single-season high of 57 four baggers back in 2002?
Josh Hamilton: over or under 25 HR?
Under. Josh Hamilton recently suffered a strained right hamstring and will not accompany the Reds on the final road trip of the season. The rookie hit 19 HR in 298 AB over 90 games. A pretty remarkable achievement for the Rule 5 draft pick. He mashed RHP to the tune of .314/.391/.637 with 18 of his 19 HR. Impressively, Hamilton only struck out 36 times in 226 AB vs. righties. In order to become more than a platoon player, the former #1 overall pick in the draft will need to hit southpaws better than he did this year when the now 26-year-old put up a line of .222/.296/.292 with 1 HR and 29 SO in 79 AB.
Barry Bonds: over or under August 15 for HR #756?
Under (but only by a week). Barry Bonds hit the 756th HR of his career on August 7 vs. Washington. You can buy that ball at auction today for what is being described as a discount price.
Today's questions: Will Bonds reach 800? Either way, will A-Rod eventually pass him?
Sammy Sosa: over or under June 30 for HR #600?
Under. Sammy Sosa became the fifth player to blast 600 home runs on June 20 against, ironically, his old team, the Chicago Cubs. Sosa hit the first HR of his career vs. Roger Clemens at Fenway Park in 1989 as a member of the Texas Rangers.
Will Sosa, who now has 608 homers, hit his first and last dinger with the Rangers – or will he find a new employer next season and add to his career total?
Tom Glavine: over or under July 31 for Win #300?
Over. Tom Glavine won the 300th game of his career on August 5, becoming the 23rd pitcher – and only the fifth lefthander – to accomplish that feat.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether anyone else will ever reach that plateau. Randy Johnson has the most wins among active pitchers with 284. He is 44 years old and will be coming off back surgery next season. If The Big Unit doesn't do it, I don't think anybody is going to get there for a long, long time.
Here is a list of the top 20 active pitchers (and their ages) in career wins:
Roger Clemens (44) 354
Greg Maddux (41) 345
Tom Glavine (41) 303
Randy Johnson (43) 284
Mike Mussina (38) 248
David Wells (44) 238
Jamie Moyer (44) 229
Curt Schilling (40) 215
Kenny Rogers (42) 210
Pedro Martinez (35) 208
John Smoltz (40) 206
Andy Pettitte (35) 199
Tim Wakefield (40) 167
Aaron Sele (37) 148
Bartolo Colon (34) 146
Steve Trachsel (36) 141
Tim Hudson (31) 134
Tom Gordon (39) 133
Livan Hernandez (32) 133
Kevin Millwood (32) 132
Take, for example, Tim Hudson, the youngest pitcher on that list. He would have to win 166 more games. At 15 per season (the number he has averaged over the course of his first nine campaigns), that means Hudson would need to win one more game in 2007 and pitch for 11 more years after that. It's certainly possible. Roger Clemens has won 191 games since the conclusion of his 31-year-old season. Greg Maddux has won 161 and Glavine has picked up 150 victories from age 32 on.
Roy Oswalt (112), Barry Zito (111), Mark Buehrle (106), and Mark Mulder (103) are the only pitchers under the age of 30 with 100 or more wins. Someone like C.C. Sabathia (98) or Johan Santana (93) might give 300 a run but both need to worry about getting to 100 and 200 first. If Randy doesn't win 300, there is a good chance that it will be at least 11 more years before anyone is even remotely close to that hallowed mark – with the distinct possibility that the next one to 300 isn't even in the big leagues now.
Charlie Manuel: over or under Memorial Day as the date of his firing?
Over. Charlie Manuel not only survived Memorial Day but he looks as if he will be back next season. I've even heard analysts on BBTN tout him as a possible Manager of the Year. The Phillies may not have much of a shot at winning the NL East but remain in the thick of things when it comes to the Wild Card.
Felix Hernandez: over or under May 8 for his next start?
Over. Felix Hernandez's next start turned out to be May 15. The peripherals are all there but King Felix hasn't quite pitched up to expectations to this point. Count me as someone who would not have guessed that he would have allowed 190 hits in 169.2 IP this season. But, hey, the guy is only 21. He's got plenty of time to figure things out.
Roger Clemens: over or under June 22 for his next start?
Under. Clemens, who began this season sooner than last, beat the Pittsburgh Pirates (nice choice for a debut) 9-3 on June 9. The Rocket threw 108 pitches in that game and has only exceeded that total twice in his subsequent 15 starts (one of which was his next outing). Clemens hasn't thrown more than six innings since July 28 when he unleashed a season-high 114 pitches in a 7-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. He is scheduled to start on Sunday night against the Boston Red Sox. If his elbow fails him in that game, it's possible that we could witness the last start of his storied career tomorrow night. Let's hope not.
Tim Lincecum: over or under May 15 for his first big league start?
Under. The San Francisco Giants brought up their top pitching prospect and allowed him to make his MLB debut on May 6 against the Philadelphia Phillies on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball Game. Cole Hamels got the better of Tim Lincecum, who allowed five hits, five walks, and five runs (four earned) in 4 1/3 innings while striking out five. The hard-throwing 22-year-old and fives were both wild that night. The 10th overall pick in 2006 was the fourth player from his draft class to reach the majors, joining fellow pitchers Andrew Miller, Joe Smith, and Brandon Morrow.
Phil Hughes: over or under July 1 for his first big league start?
Under. Way under. Phil Hughes made his MLB debut a week after that over/under was posted. The prized pitching prospect lost to A.J. Burnett and the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-0. However, the then 20-year-old bounced back and no-hit the Texas Rangers for 6.1 innings before leaving the game with a severe hamstring injury that shelved him for three months. The righthander has taken a regular turn in the rotation the past month but has not exhibited his pre-injury stuff according to ESPN's Keith Law, who sat behind home plate at one of his recent outings.
Max Scherzer: over or under May 31 to sign and turn pro?
Under. But just barely. Max Scherzer signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks within 24 hours of the deadline. The first-round pick in 2006 dominated High-A California League opponents (2-0, 0.53 ERA with a pitching line that reads 17-5-1-1-0-2-30) but struggled a bit when promoted to Double-A Mobile of the Southern League (4-4, 3.91 with a 1.41 WHIP and a K/BB ratio below 2.0).
Joe Mauer: over or under .333 batting average?
Under. The season, of course, isn't over but Joe Mauer could go 30-for-50 in the team's final 15 games and not reach the .333 mark. The line seems far fetched now but the 2006 AL batting champ was hitting .364 back then after posting a .347 mark the previous season. Most disturbing is the fact that he hasn't gone yard since July 21, a homerless streak that has now reached 122 AB. As Rob Neyer pointed out, "The Twins have four players -- four! -- with more than five home runs this season."
That's just not a championship quality attack, and there's no help on the way from the minors. The Twins are going to have to buy hitting or trade for it. Or both. They can trade Santana for hitting and use the money they're not paying him on hitting.
It would be unfair to say that Terry Ryan resigned because of the Twins' near-term prospects but suffice it to say that new GM Bill Smith has his work cut out to make Minnesota a contender again. With so little power on the horizon, one has to truly wonder why the Twins drafted Ben Revere with its first pick this year as I have on more than one occasion. Incredulous.
Washington Nationals: over or under 108 losses?
Under. Not even close. I underestimated Washington by a wide margin. The Nats could lose the rest of their games this year and still not reach 100 losses. Silly me. I thought Washington was a lock to lose 100 and would not have been surprised had they lost two out of three. The Nationals are one game ahead of the Florida Marlins in the NL East and six clubs in the majors have worse records. Manager Manny Acta has his team not only exceeding expectations but playing .500 ball at home. Kudos to Acta, GM Jim Bowden, and all the players for making me look bad.