Welcome to Notes on Baseball, a Sunday rundown of my favorite writing and stories in baseball this past week.
No-no, not again
OK, this is out of hand.
This week baseball recorded its fifth and sixth no-hitters of the season, thanks to the Tigers’ Spencer Turnbull:
and the Yankees’ Corey Kluber:
The modern era record for no-hitters in a season is seven, and if baseball rules weren’t dumb, we’d already be there. Don’t forget Madison Bumgarner no-hit the Braves for all of the innings available in that game: seven. But MLB said it didn’t count.
The all-time record of eight no hitters goes back to 1884. That number is toast:
There were only six no-hitters thrown from opening day in 2016 through July 11, 2019, and now we’ve already tied the record of four no-hitters in a calendar month.
Considering there are 19½ weeks remaining in the season, is there any doubt the record of eight no-hitters in 1884 will be obliterated?
At this rate, it may be shattered by Memorial Day.
Perhaps more frightening is that the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Cleveland still have a combined 356 games left in their season.
These teams have already been no-hit twice apiece, with no team in baseball history having ever been no-hit three times in a season.
There’s no doubt pitchers have the technological upper hand right now. Not sure what rule changes can fix that, but I think “the market” will balance somewhat as hitters make better use of tech-fueled training and strategy.
The Twins were generally perceived as a contender in the A.L. Central, expected to give the upstart White Sox a run for their money.
Instead, following a sweep of the Twins by the White Sox last week, Minnesota owned baseball’s worst record.
What happened? Well, a lot:
Just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the Twins. They're allowing 5.09 runs per game, sixth most in MLB, and they've lost several key players to injury, including Byron Buxton and Alex Kirilloff. Alex Colomé has been the worst player in the game by win probability added (including position players) and reigning Cy Young runner-up Kenta Maeda has a 5.08 ERA. Ouch.
Minnesota is now ten games behind Chicago. In Mid-May.
Aaron Gleeman points out the Twins have some big decisions to make:
Free agents after next year include Byron Buxton, José Berríos, Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey, as well as possibly Miguel Sanó.
Repair or rebuild? The Twins don’t have to decide today. But soon.
A Giant resurgance
It’s nearly June, and the Giants sit one game back in the N.L. West—as predicted by exactly no one.
Evan Longoria is one big reason for the Giants’ ahead-of-schedule-success. Long(oria) ago, Evan was the face of the upstart Rays, leading them from doldrums to the World Series in 2008.
Now, 12 years later, Longoria is surprising even himself:
Longo is 35. He’s closing in on 1,800 career major league games, he’s a significant part of the San Francisco Giants wonderful 2021 story, and even though he’s now old enough to run for president, he boasts — for the youngsters who seek these analytics — career highs in exit velocity and hard-hit rate to go with a not-too-bad 24.1 percent strikeout rate, pretty good for an older guy in a world of 98-MPH desperados 10 years his junior.
Longoria is indeed hitting at career-high levels:
Longoria is hitting better than he ever has, boasting an asinine 177 wRC+ in his first 19 games. Granted, league wide hitting is way down so far this season so that number may be a little inflated, but a slash line of .316/.418/.614 and a .431 wOBA is nothing to sneeze at no matter what year it is.
Can the Giants keep it up? The Dodgers and Padres are both picking up steam. Vets like Longoria, Buster Posey, and Brandon Crawford will have to maintain their late-career surges. But it’s always fun to watch an unlikely team upset the apple cart of the off-season consensus.
If at first you don’t succeed … throw first base
Nationals manager Davey Martinez once patrolled center field for the Cubs, so it was nice of him to do a little groundskeeping on his latest visit to Wrigley:
What spurred his spearious attack on first base? Trea Turner was called out for running out of the baseline. Again.
“He didn’t even run hard,” is the most unique argument I’ve seen against an in-game ruling in quite awhile. About as convincing as—but less fun than—chucking first base.
Thanks for reading! See you next Sunday.