Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday a bit more bearable:
- Wladimir Balentien, whose 495-foot blast in Great America Ballpark in 2009 has yet to be surpassed, broke the Nippon Professional Baseball’s single-season home-run record yesterday. Scott Weber of Lookout Landing examines the “strange and wonderful journey” of the one-time Mariners prospect.
- Seventeen-year veteran Todd Helton will retire after the regular season concludes, according to Trey Renck of the Denver Post. As of last night, the 40-year-old first baseman, who has called Coors Field home for his entire career, enters this week with a career slash line of .317/.415/.539 and 55.7 fWAR.
- Although he has not played an MLB game since 2011, Vladimir Guerrero finally hung up his spikes, Matt Snyder of CBS Sports’ “Eye on Baseball” reported on Friday. Vlad posted a .318/.379 /.553 slash line and 56.6 fWAR. Baseball Nation’s Rob Neyer points out that, on the very day that we learned of the notorious bad-ball hitter’s retirement, Corey Dickerson pulled off a quirky feat that must have been done in Guerrero’s honor:
Boy, sometimes it sure is nice to have instant replay. Because in real-time, nobody in the booth or in the stands seems to have realized Friday night just how odd Corey Dickerson’s double really was. . . .
I can’t find any evidence, but I have some vague memory of Guerrero actually hitting a home run off a pitch that bounced. My memory’s probably faulty. But Guerrero did hit a bloop single off a bouncing pitch in 2009, and this grainy video seems to show Ichiro hitting a bouncing pitch while he was still playing in Japan. I’ve seen a few other players do it over the years. So it does happen. But doubling off a bouncing pitch? That’s pretty rare.
- So how did the Orioles go from having the all-time best record in one-run games in 2012 (29–9) to MLB’s worst in one-run affairs (16–28)? Joe Posnanski says to chalk it up to randomness or luck. (On a related note, will the TV analysts who last season gave skipper Buck Showalter effusive praise for the Orioles’ one-run performances excoriate him for this year’s awfulness? I know, I know, of course not.)
- Safe or out? Do we ever get tired of watching games end on a play at the plate? Watch chugging baserunner Prince Fielder and relay-throw picker Salvador Perez star in Friday night’s climax at Comerica Park.
- How often does an official scorer overrule the awarding of a save to a reliever, let alone the great Mariano Rivera in one of his final appearances?
- Yu Darvish put in another excellent performance on Saturday afternoon, albeit in a losing cause, but his curious confrontation with opponents Coco Crisp and Josh Donaldson sparked the interest of ESPN Dallas ‘ Todd Willis.
- The smiling mug above belongs to 21-year-old phenom pitcher Jose Fernandez. Grantland’s Jonah Keri asserts that the pushing and shoving that ensued after the charming and/or mischievous youngster finished his home-run trot ought not distract from the far more important takeaway from the game: “Fernandez just completed one of the best seasons ever for a pitcher his age, making his starts into can’t-miss baseball on an otherwise missable team.”
That’s it. Have a walk-off week!