Khris Davis Crushing (and Striking Out) Like Few Others
- Slugger Khris Davis hit his 24th home run of the season on July 6. That total is tied for the sixth-most by an Oakland player before the All-Star Game and the most since Mark McGwire hit 31 pre-break home runs in 1997.
- Has registered 117 strikeouts for the season, which is an Athletics record for strikeouts before the All-Star Break. The previous was 114 by Cust in 2008.
- Has 66 home runs over the last two seasons, which is the most in the Major Leagues. Edward Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo are next, both with 60 home runs during that period
Note: Jackson would finish the season with 47 home runs.
An Old One
- At the age of 36, Chris Smith earned a spot start on July 8 for Oakland at Seattle. In doing so he became the oldest A’s pitcher ever to make his first Major League start.
- Smith had made 63 Major League appearances as a reliever, including 13 with Oakland last season, but had never started a game at this level.
- The oldest A’s pitcher to make his first Major League start was back in the Philadelphia days. Joe Pate did so on May 6, 1926 against the St. Louis Browns, at 33 years, 334 days, according to team officials.
- In that game, Pate had a no decision and the following pitching line: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB and 0 SO. Pate ended with just two games started in his career.
- Smith has made 164 starts as a minor leaguer.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Smith became just the fourth Major League pitcher over the last 55 years to make his first start at age 36 or greater (see list immediately below).
Years / Days
||36 / 090
||37 / 218
||38 / 052
||36 / 259
Note on Jason Lane:
Jason Lane became the oldest pitcher to make his first career start on the hill in Padre franchise history at 37. His story doesn’t stop there. If his name sounds familiar, you might recall him hitting 26 home runs for the 2005 Houston Astros in the regular season and then clubbing three home runs in the postseason — including one in the World Series.
After Lane’s career year in 2005, he hit just .201 in 2006 and things spiraled downward from there at the plate. He played strictly in the minors in 2008 and then transitioned to pitching in 2009. In 2012, he bounced between Triple-A and Independent ball (with the Sugar Land Skeeters). He did the same in 2013 with Sugar Land and Tucson (the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate). In Triple-A this season, Lane made 19 starts. And now, he has one major-league start under his belt.
When Satchel Pitched Again
In 1965, Kansas City Athletics owner Charles O. Finley signed Satchel Paige, 59 at the time, for one game. On September 25, against the Boston Red Sox, Finley invited several Negro league veterans including “Cool Papa” Bell to be introduced before the game. Paige was in the bullpen, sitting on a rocking chair, being served coffee by a “nurse” between innings.
He started the game by getting Jim Gosger out on a pop foul. The next man, Dalton Jones, reached first and went to second on an infield error, but was thrown out trying to reach third on a pitch in the dirt. Carl Yastrzemski doubled and Tony Conigliaro hit a fly ball to end the inning. The next six batters went down in order, including a strikeout of Bill Monbouquette.
In the fourth inning, Paige took the mound, to be removed according to plan by Haywood Sullivan. He walked off to a standing ovation from the small crowd of 9,289. The lights dimmed and, led by the public address announcer, the fans lit matches and cigarette lighters while singing “The Old Gray Mare.” The double by Yaz was the only blemish.
This was another publicity stunt by A’s owner Charlie Finley. By 1965, Paige was more than a star. He was a legend. He’d pitched for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues — and for anyone who would pay him in the offseason — before finally debuting with the Cleveland Indians in 1948. He was the first Negro Leagues player inducted to the Hall of Fame, in 1971.
Yes, Paige was famous. Finley had a hunch Paige might still be able to pitch in 1965, but he was dead certain he’d draw a crowd. Finley’s plan with Paige worked, and not just by quadrupling the attendance from the day before.
Age Not Slowing Down Rajai Davis
- Outfielder Rajai Davis, 36, became the oldest player to produce a four-steal game for the Athletics in the team’s 117-year history in the July 5 game. Previously, Bert Campaneris had been the oldest A’s player to swipe four bases in a game when he did so at age 34 in 1976.
- Franklin Barreto’s home run on July 4th was the fourth walk-off for the Athletics this season — the most of any team. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, the 21-year-old Barreto is the second-youngest Athletics player with a walk-off home run, trailing only Hall-of-Famer Jimmie Foxx, who was 20 when he hit one for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1928.
Blackburn Wins First, But No Ks
- A solo home run by Seattle’s Mitch Haniger, who starred at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, was the lone blemish for Phil Blackburn. The right-hander, a product of Brentwood High School in the East Bay, didn’t record a strikeout, but utilized three double plays in 7 2/3 innings to keep Seattle at bay and notch his first Major League victory.
Bay Area “Home Run Derby” Rewind
Since 1985, Major League Baseball has held the “Home Run Derby” during the All-Star Game festivities. The event has grown significantly from its roots in the mid-1980s, when it was not televised. When the ASG was played in Oakland, the event was in its infancy. By the time it reached the edge of the Bay twenty seasons later, everyone thought there would be a barrage of water landing. One main reason there wasn’t? Barry Bonds did not participate. All in all, both events were disappointments.
1987 @ Oakland Coliseum
The Derby’s format was a bit different in its early years: From 1985 to 1990, four or five hitters from each league were simply given two “innings” of five outs each to hit as many home runs as they could, with the league with the highest total declared the winner. Unsurprisingly, this produced some pretty low home run totals — like in 1987, when the entire field combined for just eight home runs. The individual winner? Andre Dawson, who hit four. Ozzie Virgil, Jr. had two and George Bell and the hometown hero Mark McGwire settled for one apiece.
2007 @ AT&T Park
Seemingly every kayak in America packed into McCovey Cove for the first Home Run Derby in the history of AT&T Park, but alas, they would go home empty handed. Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau were the featured left-handed hitters participating. Howard hit 58 bombs the year before and had 21 by the All-Star break in 2007. Fielder was on his way to a 50-home run season as well.
While Howard, Fielder and Morneau combined for 10 home runs, none of them got wet. The field produced a grand total of zero “Splash Landings,” while Vladimir Guerrero cruised to a win over Alex Rios in the final round.
Giants Hit the Skids
No matter how you slice and dice the numbers, the San Francisco Giants have endured a rough first-half to the 2017 season. The team has gone from having the best record in Major League Baseball at the All-Star Game Break just one year ago (2016) to having perhaps its worst season in the 135-year history of the franchise.
- Current Record: 34-56, .378 (On Pace for 62-100, .383)
- 56 is the Most Losses in Franchise History at All-Star Break (2008 team was 40-55 .421, but had played five more games)
- Games Currently Behind Division Leader: 27
- Last Time That Far Behind in July: July 7, 1902
- Winning Percentage Points Behind Dodgers (Leaders): .300 (.678 – .378) — Largest Gap Ever
- Record Since the Last All-Star Game: 64-98, .396
- Record at 2016 All-Star Break: 57-33, .633
- Win Percentage Point Difference from 2016 to 2017: .255 (= 41-plus games)
- Record in Second-Half of 2016: 30-42, .417
- 2017 team has tied club record for worst win-loss record through 90 games played, 34-56 (with 1985 team). That club was 62-100. It was the only 100-loss season in franchise history.
- Number of 98-Plus Loss Seasons in Franchise History: 2
— 1985: 62-100 (.383)
— 1943: 55-98 (.359)
- Worst Winning Percentages in Franchise History
— .353 in 1902 (48-88), 53 1/2 Behind
— .359 in 1943 (55-98), 49 1/2 Behind
Defense Still Not Impacted
Although the Giants offense has struggled throughout the season, the team has not let it impacted its play in the field. San Francisco has the second-best fielding percentage in the National League and third-best in all of the Major Leagues. In the case of ties, the team with more chances is listed higher.
Huge Strikeout Totals the Major League Norm
- There have been nine instances in which a player has struck out 200-or-more times in a season in Major League history, all coming since the 2008 season. This has been done by six players.
- The only time two players had at least 200 Ks in the same season was 2016, when Chris Davis (219) and Chris Carter (206) both did it.
- SEVEN different batters are on pace to cross that threshold this season.
|Batters on Pace for 200 Strikeouts in 2017
||New York Yankees
||San Diego Padres
||Chicago White Sox
Only five rookies in Major League history have hit at least 25 home runs before the All-Star break. Two of them (Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger) have accomplished that feat this season.
|Most Home Runs by Rookie
All-Star Break All-Time
||New York Yankees
||Chicago White Sox
||Los Angeles Dodgers