1st Pitch: Chasing history before the break

Quick Hits: With less than a week before All-Star voting closes, let’s take a look at some players having historic first halves to the season. Can they keep up the pace going into the break?

  • Arthur Rhodes’ 0.24 ERA would be the second lowest going into the break (min. 30 IP) over the last 50 years. In 1989, Bill Landrum took a 0.23 ERA into the break for the Pirates (but was not an NL All-Star), before finishing the season at 1.69.

  • Likely to make three more starts before the break, Ubaldo Jimenez (13-1) has a shot at being the first pitcher with 16 wins before the break since Wilbur Wood (16-11) in 1974 for the White Sox. However, Wood did it in 27 starts, whereas Jimenez will have only made 18. The last pitcher to win 15 before the break was David Wells in 2000.

  • Jaime Garcia’s 1.79 ERA would be the lowest at the break for a qualifying rookie since Mark Fidrych’s 1.78 in 1976. He started the All-Star Game for the AL that season.

  • If he gets enough plate appearances to qualify, Brennan Boesch’s .346 batting average would be the highest for a rookie at the break in the last 50 years. In 2001, Ichiro Suzuki found himself at .345 going into the All-Star Game.

  • Cliff Lee has issued just four walks in 86.2 innings, a rate of 0.42 per nine innings. Only one starter has had a lower rate going into the break over the last 50 years. In 2005, Carlos Silva walked only five in 114.2 innings, a rate of 0.39 per nine.

  • Kenshin Kawakami (0-9) draws another start on Saturday. In 2007, Anthony Reyes went into the break at 0-10. The worst winless pre-break start over the last 50 years belongs to Anthony Young, who was 0-12 in 1993 for the Mets.

  • The Orioles’ .278 winning percentage would be the fourth lowest at the break over the last 50 years, and the lowest since the 2003 Tigers (.272). The 1979 A’s hold the low-water mark over that span, having entered the break at 25-69 (.266).

Today’s Trivia: Over the last three seasons combined, who has the most home runs before the All-Star break?

Today’s Leaderboard: Roy Halladay takes the hill against the Blue Jays for the first time in his career today. Among players that started their career in the last 50 years, Halladay has the second best winning percentage before the All-Star break. Only Pedro Martinez has been more dominant. Halladay is 101-44 (.697) before the break, and just 55-38 (.591) after.

Highest Win Pct Before All-Star Break (min. 70 decisions)

Among Pitchers Who Debuted in Last 50 Years

Key Matchups: Aaron Rowand has only started four of the Giants’ last 11 games, but you can bet that he will be penciled in on Friday. Quite simply, no one mashes Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball like Rowand, who is 11-for-17 with four home runs and eight RBI in his career against the veteran. That’s the highest average for anyone who has faced Wakefield at least 15 times. This would be their first regular season meeting since 2006.

In four of the first five games that he faced CC Sabathia, Manny Ramirez hit a home run. He’s homerless in two meetings since, but has a .571 career average against the big lefty. Only Jermaine Dye and Alfonso Soriano have more career homers against Sabathia, but among those with 15 plate appearances, no one tops Manny’s 1.894 OPS.

Trivia Answer: Since 2008, Adam Dunn’s 66 home runs before the All-Star break are the most in the majors. He has one more than Albert Pujols and two more than Ryan Howard.