Before we start lurching into all those annual arguments about who should make the All-Star team, it's time to get our facts straight. Especially the facts that we weren't quite anticipating in March.
So we bet you didn't know that (through June 24) ...
No catcher in baseball had hit more home runs than Rod Barajas (12).
No catcher in baseball had more extra-base hits than Victor Martinez (33).
No first baseman in baseball had more hits, more RBI, more multi-hit games, more extra-base hits or a higher batting average than Sean Casey.
No first baseman in the American League had a higher batting average than Ken Harvey (.346).
No second baseman in baseball had scored more runs, drawn more walks or run up a higher on-base percentage than Mark Bellhorn.
No second baseman in the American League had more extra-base hits than Juan Uribe (32).
No shortstop in baseball had scored more runs than Royce Clayton (53).
No shortstop in baseball had more extra-base hits than Carlos Guillen (34).
No shortstop in the National League had more home runs than the Florida edition of Alex Gonzalez (8).
No shortstop in the American League had thumped more doubles than Julio Lugo (19).
No shortstop in baseball had a higher batting average than Jack Wilson (.340).
No third baseman in baseball had more hits than Aramis Ramirez (92).
No third baseman in baseball had stolen more bases than Alex Rodriguez (14).
No third baseman in baseball had a higher batting average, on-base percentage, more runs scored or more multi-hit games than Melvin Mora.
No outfielder in baseball not named Bonds, Guerrero or Ramirez had a higher batting average than Matt Lawton (.330).
No outfielder in baseball not named Bonds, Ramirez or Alou had more total bases than Miguel Cabrera (151).
No centerfielder in baseball had more extra-base hits than Jim Edmonds (38).
With Beltran gone, no centerfielder in the American League had driven in more runs than the leadoff hitter in Boston, Johnny Damon (35).
No centerfielder in the pre-Beltran National League had scored more runs than Scott Podsednik (48).
No rookie in the National League had hit more home runs than Matt Holliday (9).
No hitter in baseball had been harder to strike out than A.J. Pierzynski (a whiff every 19.2 plate appearances).
No hitter in the American League had been harder to strike out than Scott Hatteberg (a whiff every 17.0 trips).
No right-handed pitcher in the American League had more quality starts than Brad Radke (12).
No starting pitcher in baseball had allowed fewer baserunners per nine innings than Sheets (8.0).
No starting pitcher in the American League had allowed fewer baserunners per nine innings than Javier Vazquez (9.7).
No starting pitcher in baseball had allowed fewer home runs than Tim Hudson (3).
No starting pitcher in baseball had a better strikeout ratio than Oliver Perez (10.2 per nine innings).
No starting pitcher in the American League had a better strikeout ratio than Rich Harden (9.0 per nine innings).
No starting pitcher in the American League had held the hitters he's faced to a lower batting average than Nate Robertson (.217).
And, of course, no closer in baseball not named Gagne had blown fewer saves than (gulp) Jose Mesa (0 of 16).
Useless Devil Rays Information
How unlikely was that 12-game winning streak by the Devil Rays? Here's one way to look at it:
Six teams have never had a 12-game winning streak -- the Angels (44 seasons), Mets (43 seasons), Expos (36 seasons), Blue Jays (28 seasons), Rockies (12 seasons) and Marlins (12 seasons).
The Yankees haven't had a 12-game winning streak in 43 years (since the '61 Yankees won 13 in a row).
The Tigers haven't had a 12-game winning streak in 70 years (since the '34 Tigers won 13 straight).
The Indians haven't had a 12-game winning streak in 53 years (since the '51 Indians won 13 in a row).
Four other teams have had no 12-game winning streaks during the division-play era (1969-2004) -- the Reds (none since '59), White Sox (none since '61), Pirates (none since '65) and Giants (none since '66).
And seven other teams have gone more than a decade since their last 12-game winning streak -- the Dodgers (since '76), Cardinals ('82), Brewers ('87), Twins ('91), Phillies ('91), Rangers ('91) and Royals ('94).
But that's not all ...
Research by Devil Rays PR genius Rick Vaughn determined that no team had ever played as lousy (21-34, .382) for as long into a season as the Rays before starting a winning streak that long.
The only other American League team in history to have a winning percentage that low at any point in a season and then have a streak that long was the 1942 Indians (who were only 1-3).
Just three teams have ever had a streak that long after finishing last the year before -- the 1916 Giants (26 in a row), 1991 Twins (15) and 2001 Cubs (12).
Until they embarked on their first two-game winning streak of the season, the Devil Rays were 18 games under .500. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team has ever finished with a winning record after being 18 under at any point of any season. And the only team that even made it back to .500 was the 1899 Louisville Colonels (who finished four under).
Since 1900, the only team to submerge even 17 games under .500 and finish with a winning record was the 1999 Brewers.
And the only other team (besides the Brewers) since 1900 that was 17 under and reached .500 (before falling under again) was the 1991 Giants.
Love those Devil Rays.
Useless Interleague Information
Thanks to the miracle of interleague play, Cleveland's Jason Davis just became the sixth American League pitcher to hit a home run in the DH era. The others: Bobby Witt (Rangers) in 1997, Dave Burba (Indians) in 1998, Dwight Gooden (Indians) in 1999, Esteban Yan (Devil Rays) in 2000 and Mark Hendrickson (Blue Jays) last year.
Davis' other claim to fame: He's the first American League pitcher ever to homer against the Braves -- either in the regular season or in any of their nine World Series appearances.
In case you missed it, Jamie Moyer singled in two runs last weekend in Pittsbugh, which would have been cool even if they hadn't been his first RBI since 1988. But those 16 years without an entry in the RBI column break the all-time record for most seasons between RBI. According to Elias, he joins this list of four players with a dozen or more years between RBI:
16 (1988-2004) Jamie Moyer
13 (1936-1949) Ralph Winegarner
13 (1980-1993) Charlie Hough
12 (1945-1957) Bud Byerly
We're now in the eighth season of interleague play, and only one team (the Red Sox) has never gotten an RBI from a pitcher. So the last Red Sox pitcher to drive in a run, according to retrosheet.org, was Lynn McGlothen -- with a ground ball off the Royals' Ken Brett -- on Sept. 27, 1972.
The White Sox lost a 17-14 game to the Expos and a 13-10 game to the Phillies during interleague play. But they haven't lost a game to an American League team when they've scored in double figures since Aug. 20, 2000 -- when they lost to Tampa Bay, 12-11. Since then, they're 57-0 when they've scored at least 10 runs in games against their own league. Hard to believe.
The Red Sox haven't been shut out all year by an American League team. But Jason Schmidt threw a one-hitter against them last Sunday in San Francisco.
The Devil Rays went 11-1 in their first round of games against the National League. Which was a slightly better clip (.917 winning percentage) than their record against their own league (22-34, .393). Now they just have to split their six games against the Marlins and they'll compile the greatest single-season differential in the interleague-play era between record against one league and record against the other. The '97 Expos hold the current record. Here's the leader board heading into the weekend, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau:
.524 -- 2004 Devil Rays (11-1, .917 vs NL, 22-34, .393 vs. AL)
.351 -- 1997 Expos (12-3, .800 vs. AL, 66-81,.449 vs. NL)
.340 -- 2002 Reds (2-10, .167 vs AL, 76-74, .507 vs. NL)
.333 -- 2002 Red Sox (5-13, .278 vs. NL, 88-56, .611 vs. AL)
.326 -- 2004 Padres (3-9, .250 vs. AL, 34-25, .576 vs. NL)
Loyal reader Bob Breyer got to wondering, now that we're eight seasons deep into interleague play, how many teams are left that have never played each other. Well, if you don't include clubs that have met in the World Series at some point, we found only six remaining matchups that have never taken place (anywhere other than spring training, at least):
But we also found eight other matchups that, while they still haven't made the regular-season schedule, would sure rekindle some of the great World Series duels ever witnessed. Here they are:
One question: How the heck could we not have had a Cubs-Red Sox interleague series? Think some network might want to televise those three games?
Finally, according to Elias only two teams have now hosted everybody in their home park at some point, if you include the postseason. They are -- guess who? -- the Yankees and Red Sox.