Hall Monitor: Middle infielders, whiffs and luminaries
By Trevor Hayes
The regular season has just two weeks left. That means contenders are fighting for holds on playoffs spots and the game’s stars are grabbing hold of history.
Torrid Tulo: In two of the last three seasons, the Rockies have pasted together historic September runs and are in the middle of trying to sneak into the playoffs again in 2010. Those successes were in part thanks to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. This year is no different. Over his last 14 games, Tulo has 11 home runs and 27 RBIs, including a pair of jacks and seven RBI during a 9-6 win over the Padres on Wednesday which brought Colorado 2-and-a-half back from both the division and Wild Card leads.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tulowitzki is the second player with more than 10 homers and 25 RBIs during a 14 game stretch in September or October. During his MVP season in 1940, Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg had 12 homers and 31 RBIs in the waning month of the season. During his spree, the Rockies shortstop tied another Hall of Fame name for a nugget of September history. Ralph Kiner hit 11 home runs through the his 15 games of September, 1949 – the same number Tulo has during his first 14.
Southland Southpaws: This week, Clayton Kershaw became the first Dodger lefty to reach 200 strikeouts in a season since 1986. That year Fernando Valenzuela fanned 242 for his third straight 200-K season. Only one other southpaw has at least 200 K’s in a season since the team moved to Los Angeles. Sandy Koufax racked up six 200-plus seasons, three of which were over 300 including 1965, in which he set a then-Major League record with 382. Just one other 200-strikeout season exists in franchise history by a lefty. Nap Rucker had 201 for the 1909 Brooklyn Superbas.
Cub closers: Carlos Marmol ended Monday’s Cubs-Cards contest with his 120th strikeout of the season. He’s the first reliever to produce a season at that level since 2004, when four players topped the mark. Marmol also became just the second Cub to rack up that many strikeouts in relief, joining Bruce Sutter, who had 129 in 1977. Interestingly enough the only other Hall of Famer to top 120 without starting a game also played for the Cubs. Goose Gossage had three seasons with at least 120 strikeouts including one with the Cubs neighbors to the South – the White Sox in 1975.
Uggla stands alone: Fourteen second basemen, including three Hall of Famers, have belted 30 home runs in a single season. But Marlins two-bagger Dan Uggla became the first Monday to hit 30 or more in four total seasons. In addition, he’s done it in four consecutive seasons – further besting the previous record of two straight. Prior to Uggla’s record-setting power at the keystone sack, Alfonso Soriano, Chase Utley and Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby were the only hitters with three 30-homer seasons. Four men have compiled two such seasons, including Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg and Joe Gordon.
Hall of Famer watch: Whitey Herzog will be at Busch Stadium tonight. Fresh off his number retirement ceremony last month and Hall of Fame Induction in July, the newest Hall of Fame manager will spend some time with fans in his adopted hometown, St. Louis, before his beloved Cardinals open their series against the Padres.
The Giants will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with their annual Fiesta Gigantes event. Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda and Rock & Roll Legend Carlos Santana are offering a special event before the Brewers-Giants matchup Saturday with proceeds benefiting Santana’s Milagro Foundation.
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.