Lefties in the News
No, today's article is not about President Obama or Elena Kagan. Instead, the title is meant to honor two southpaws who made news this week.
Recalling my encounter with Cliff Lee on a subway in New York two years ago, colleague Jeremy Greenhouse sent me the following email last night:
They just mentioned this on Baseball Tonight, which I thought would be of interest to you:
Lee also allowed two runs in the ninth, but calmly worked out of trouble. He kept his cool earlier in the day, too, when his subway sped through the stop for Yankee Stadium. Lee handled it like a local. He got off and switched to a downtown D train going the other way. No big deal.
"I'm not afraid to take the subway," Lee said.
Lee has made a habit of bypassing the team bus in favor of alternative transportation to Yankee Stadium. Taking a taxi to Game One of the 2009 World Series at rush hour, Lee got stuck in traffic and asked the driver to take him to the nearest subway station. He took the local 6 train and changed to the express 4 train, exited at the 161st Ave./Yankee Stadium stop, and walked down the stairs and across the street to the ballpark, just as he did two years ago.
The lefthander is 43-19 with a 2.81 ERA (151 ERA+) and a 7.0 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, and 0.6 HR/9 since the beginning of his 2008 Cy Young Award campaign. A free agent at the end of this season, Lee is likely to be traded to a contender within the next month. The 31-year-old veteran could give the acquiring team a big boost down the stretch and into October as he was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA covering five starts and 40.1 IP in the postseason last year.
On the subject of southpaws, Jamie Moyer set a MLB record for home runs allowed on Sunday. He passed Robin Roberts, who died in early May. Moyer and Roberts are the only hurlers to allow 500 HR. A rookie in 1986, Moyer, 47, leads all active pitchers by a wide margin. Realistically speaking, Javier Vazquez, Mark Buehrle, and Jon Garland, are the only candidates who could surpass Moyer.
Here are the career leaders:
1 Jamie Moyer 506
2 Robin Roberts 505
3 Ferguson Jenkins 484
4 Phil Niekro 482
5 Don Sutton 472
6 Frank Tanana 448
7 Warren Spahn 434
8 Bert Blyleven 430
9 Steve Carlton 414
10 Randy Johnson 411
The top three all pitched for the Phillies, as did Steve Carlton, who ranks ninth. Six of the ten pitchers are in the Hall of Fame and Bert Blyleven should make it seven in 2011 and Randy Johnson eight when his name appears on the ballot five years from now, leaving Moyer and Frank Tanana as the only non-HOFers to comprise this list. Moyer and Tanana are distinguished for much more than their proclivity of giving up long balls. They have combined for 507 wins and 5,166 strikeouts over 8,243 innings with an ERA+ of 105 and 106, respectively. For more on Moyer, check out the tribute Patrick Sullivan wrote last month.
As Lee Sinins noted in his ATM Report on Monday, "Even though they are in the top 10 for most HR allowed, Spahn, Blyleven, Carlton and Johnson all allowed less than their league averages. Moyer is only tied for 36th in most HR above the league average."
HOMERUNS DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
1 Ferguson Jenkins -111 484 373
T2 Pedro Ramos -83 315 232
T2 Catfish Hunter -83 374 291
4 Scott Sanderson -77 297 220
5 Jose Lima -76 267 191
6 Denny McLain -75 242 167
7 Brian Anderson -74 264 190
8 Tom Browning -73 236 163
9 Eric Milton -71 267 196
10 George Blaeholder -62 173 111
T36 Jamie Moyer -43 506 463
T36 Jim Deshaies -43 179 136
T36 Pedro Astacio -43 291 248
Funny how some writers will use Blyleven's home runs against him when casting their Hall of Fame votes (despite the fact that he gave up fewer than the league average), yet Catfish Hunter and Fergie Jenkins were elected in 1987 and 1991, respectively, in their third year on the ballot.
In addition, Jay Jaffe has everything you would ever want to know about pitchers giving up home runs in a Baseball Prospectus article (subscription required) he titled Jacktastic!