David Sabino
Tuesday April 29th, 2008

Some sleeping giants emerged this week following long slumps, while a slumping Giant is now the most expensive situational lefty in the world. All that and more in this version of Diamond Digits.

37

Combined hit and RBI totals for Chicago's tandem of Jim Thome and Paul Konerko. The White Sox have picked up right where they left off last year posting a .242 batting average, worst in the American League. Two of the major culprits are Konerko, batting just .229, and Thome who's at .214. However, both have made the most of the few hits they've gotten. Konerko has just 19 hits, but 19 RBIs while Thome has 18 hits and 18 RBIs. Boston's David Oritz (17 hits, 20 RBIs), Cleveland's Casey Blake (17 and 18), Arizona's Chris Snyder (13 and 13) and Jason Giambi of the Yankees (11 and 11) are the only major leaguers with RBI totals greater than or equal to their current hits totals. Giambi was the last player to drive in at least 100 runs with a hit total less than or equal to his runs driven in 2003 when he had 113 of each.

3

Pitchers since the inception of the 162-game schedule who have lost six games before May 1: Mike Maroth of the 2003 Tigers, Dave Stewart of the 1984 Rangers, and now Barry Zito of the Giants. Zito, who at $18-million per year is among the highest paid pitchers in baseball, is winless and leads the majors with six losses, earning himself a temporary demotion to the bullpen. Zito's horrific streak has also obscured what has been a fantastic start by the rest of the Giants starters. If Zito's numbers (0-6, .336 opposition batting average, 7.53 ERA) were removed from the rest of San Francisco's starters, you'd get one of the best rotations in the game. The non-Zito starters are 7-6 with a .239 opposition average (which would rank fifth on the majors) and a 3.39 ERA (third best in the bigs) so perhaps the switch will spur on a spike in wins for the struggling Giants.

1

Triple in the career of slow-footed Braves catcher Brian McCann, who legged out his first major league three-bagger on Thursday against the Marlins, knocking himself out of contention for a dubious distinction. McCann was one of nine players in history with over 1,000 at bats and no career triples. Current Nationals (and former Braves) catcher Johnny Estrada is the alltime leader with no triples in 2,058 at bats. He also has the most total bases (829) without ever racking up three at a time. Three more tripleless players (not surprisingly catchers) Chris Snyder, Ramon Castro and Ronny Paulino, are approaching the 1,000 career at bat plateau.

James Shields, SP, Rays

Facing division rivals Toronto and Boston at home this week, Shields was dominant, limiting Toronto to two earned runs in seven innings, then coming back on Sunday to shut out the Red Sox while allowing just two hits and one walk. In those 16 innings, Shields struck out 12, walked three, allowed eight hits and pitched the up-and-coming Rays into a first-place tie in the AL East, uncharted territory for traditionally woeful Tampa Bay this late in the season. Honorable mention goes to Washington's John Lannan who allowed no earned runs or walks in 14 innings of his two wins and Houston's Lance Berkman who hit .474 and slugged 1.105 this week.

Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks

While others had worse overall numbers than Reynolds' .120 average with a home run and three RBIs this week (See Jim Edmonds' 0 for 15), one number jumps out as so incredible, it's hard to ignore. Reynolds had a Jack Cust-ian week with 16 strikeouts in 25 at bats. And for good measure he chipped in his sixth error of the month, which tied for second-most among NL third basemen. On the bright side, Reynolds batted .333 (3 for 9) on balls he put in play.

Max Scherzer, P, Diamondbacks

Keep an eye on the newly recalled Scherzer. The righty was going crazy in Triple-A Tucson, allowing just three earned runs on 12 hits and three walks in 23 innings. He also struck out an outstanding 38 of the 86 batters he faced, translating into a staggering 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Even with a 1.17 ERA and 0.65 WHIP, Scherzer pitched in hard luck; he didn't earn a win any of his starts for the Sidewinders, who at 6-19 are the PCL's worst team. But now he'll be pitching out of the pen for the best team in the major leagues and should quickly cultivate a role a la Joba Chamberlain to stabilize Arizona's only glaring weakness, a bullpen that ranks ninth in the NL at 6.91 strikeouts per nine innings. He'll eventually reach the rotation, but for now, with Brandon Webb, Danny Haren, Randy Johnson, Micah Owings and Edgar Gonzalez holding the spots, look for Scherzer to take over as one of Bob Melvin's go-to guys.

They were celebrating in Caracas this week as two native Venezuelans drove in their 1,000th career runs. Detroit's Magglio Ordonez joined Andres Galarraga (1,425) as the only Venezuelans to reach four-figures in RBIs when he hit a solo home run against Texas on Monday. Three days later Bobby Abreu of the Yankees hit a two-run double in a loss to the White Sox, giving him an even one thousand RBIs, making him the third to the milestone from the nation that has produced 219 major leaguers (and counting).

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