Today’s Trivia: It was 50 years ago today that Roger Maris hit the first of his 61 home runs in 1961. (He went homerless in his first 10 games of the season.) Maris would win his second straight American League MVP that year. Who is the only player to win back-to-back American League MVP awards since?
On Monday, we looked at American League hitters who were slumping. Here’s a look at the numbers behind some of the notable slumps in the National League:
Gonzalez• The Rockies Carlos Gonzalez is just 3-for-34 on at-bats ending in a fastball. At .088, that’s the lowest of any regular in the majors this season. Last season, he hit .379 with 14 home runs on at-bats ending in a fastball.
• The Los Angeles Dodgers James Loney (.170 BA) is swinging at 53.5 percent of pitches, way up from 42.2 percent last season. It’s most noticeable on the first pitch where he’s swinging at 39.4 percent compared to 21.9 percent in 2010.
• Marlins’ shortstop Hanley Ramirez (.194) actually is 5-for-14 with three doubles against left-handed pitching, but righties have been a different story. A career .313 hitter against right-handers, Ramirez is hitting .151 against them this season. Of his swings against right-handed pitching, 27.1 percent have been swings and misses, up from 19.9 percent last season.
• Dan Uggla has a .174 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), which puts him ahead of only Angel Pagan among 99 National League qualifiers. (The league average is .297.) However, that’s not just a matter of luck. Only 10.8 percent of Uggla’s hits have been line drives, down from 22.5 percent in 2010.
• When you look at the National League players who hit the highest percentage of ground balls, speedsters Jose Tabata and Michael Bourn not surprisingly top the list. But sixth on that list is Raul Ibanez (.179) who is hitting 60.0 percent grounders, up from 44.6 percent in 2010.
• Given that he hit .196 in 2010, it’s hard to call Carlos Pena's .169 batting average a slump. However, the fact that he has only one extra-base hit (a double) would qualify as a power slump. All 28 of his home runs in 2010 came on pitches middle-away. This season, he’s hitting just .125 on those pitches.
Trivia Answer: Frank Thomas (1993-94) is the only player to win back-to-back American League MVP awards since Maris.