Elias Says: September 26, 2017

Judge joins the 50-homer club

Aaron Judge clubbed two home runs on Monday, his 49th and 50th of the season, breaking Mark McGwire’s rookie record. At the start of September, Judge’s chances of reaching 50 homers didn’t look so good: he entered the month with 37 homers, the second-fewest for any member of the 50-homers-in-a-season club. In 1995, Albert Belle hit 50 home runs for the Indians after entering September with 33 longballs.

Judge had consecutive multiple-homer games to reach 50 for the season, something done previously only by Sammy Sosa (1999).

Judge has re-inserted himself in the MVP conversation with his monster September. From 1931 (the first year that the current award was presented) through 1989, there were 12 instances in which a major-league player hit 50-plus home runs in a season, and six of those players won the MVP Award. From 1990 to 2016, there were 26 instances of players producing 50-homer seasons, with five of those players capturing the MVP. Giancarlo Stanton and Judge are hoping to add to that total this season.

Judge has accumulated 327 total bases this season with 120 walks and he’s been hit by a pitch five times for a total of 452 “bases gained”, the highest total by any rookie in major-league history. On Monday, he passed Ted Williams (451 in 1939) for the top total by a rookie.

King Felix Rules Oakland

Felix Hernandez improved to 25–9 against the Athletics in his major-league career in the Mariners’ win in Oakland on Monday. Since the major leagues expanded to 24 teams in 1969, only two other pitchers have won 25 games against one team before turning 32 years old, which Hernandez will do next April: Dwight Gooden against the Cubs (27–4) and Mark Buehrle against the Twins (25–18).

Darvish is in top form

Yu Darvish allowed only two hits to the Padres on Monday and over his last three starts, he’s 2–0 with a 0.47 ERA. That matches his lowest ERA over a three-start span in the major leagues. He also allowed one earned run in 19⅓ innings in the summer of 2013 (July 22—August 1).

Donaldson has found the power

Josh Donaldson hit his 31st home run of the season on Monday, giving him 22 homers in his last 50 games, after he hit only nine homers over his first 59 games. That’s Donaldson’s highest home-run total over any 50-game span in the major leagues. Before this season, Donaldson had never hit more than 18 homers in a 50-game span.

Albies slugs fifth home run

Ozzie Albies, the second-youngest player in the major leagues, hit his fifth home run of the season in the Braves’ win over the Mets on Monday. Over the last 50 years, only two other players hit five home runs as a second baseman before turning 21 years old: Roberto Alomar in 1988 (9) and Rougned Odor in 2014 (9).

Mets are sixth team to set home run record this season

Travis d’Arnaud’s home run in the Mets’ win over the Braves on Monday night was New York’s 219th of the season, setting a team record. They’re the sixth major-league team to set a team record in home runs this season, joining the Dodgers, Nationals, Padres, Royals and Rays.

Cubs bats come alive against Cardinals

Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell and Javier Baez went a combined 8-for-16 with seven runs scored and seven RBIs in the Cubs’ win over the Cardinals on Monday, with Bryant and Baez slugging home runs. Those four players entered the day hitting a combined .188 (31-for-165) with four home runs against St. Louis this season.

Cashner glad to be done with Houston

The Astros hung a loss on Andrew Cashner for the fifth time this season on Monday night. It’s the first time that Houston has saddled five losses on a pitcher in one season since 1986, when the Astros won the N.L. West and contributed five losses to Tom Browning’s total for the Reds.

Taylor terrorizes Phillies, ends Nats’ homer drought

Michael Taylor drove in two of the Nationals’ runs with a home run in their 3–1 win over the Phillies on Monday. Taylor has 12 RBIs in his last five games against the Phillies; over his first 34 games against the Phillies he knocked in only five runs. Before Taylor’s home run on Monday, Nationals outfielders had gone 13 games without a home run, their longest drought since 2014.

Rockies RISP struggles

Colorado went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in its 5–4 loss to Miami on Monday. The Rockies, whose lead for the second Wild Card spot in the National League has shrunk to 1½ games, are hitting .215 with RISP this month after they entered September with a .297 mark in that situation.

Cardinals lose a game of keep-away

The Cardinals ran 75 plays to Dallas’s 45, but the Cowboys came away with a 28–17 victory in Arizona on Monday. The Cowboys have scored four touchdowns on offense while running so few plays in only one other game in team history. On October 20, 1996, they defeated the Falcons, 32–28, while running only 42 plays on offense.

Dez Bryant made his 69th touchdown catch in the Cowboys win on Monday, the sixth-highest total in league history in a player’s first 100 games, and a team record.