David Sabino
Tuesday September 23rd, 2008

The second-to-last week of the regular season was punctuated by Diamond Digits' final trip to the big ballyard in the Bronx, the place that provided the original inspiration for much of what you read here week after week. The Yankees swept Baltimore in the final three games on the hallowed ground, a series played largely for pride. Like the Yankees who are on the cusp of missing a postseason for the first time since 1993, the other subjects of this week's look into the numbers will all just be footnotes once the 2008 postseason begins. So here's a final look at the good, the bad and the ugly from teams that fell just short this season.

.241

Major league-low batting average for the 2008 Oakland A's, the second worst in the Interleague Era, trailing only the 119-loss 2003 Tigers (.240). Hands down, Oakland has been the worst offensive team in the AL this season, failing to hit for power or average and placing last in the league in runs (620). The team that produced the Bash Brothers also finds itself last in the majors in hits (1,262), extra base hits (393), slugging percentage (.366), doubles (252), and is barely above last place in on-base percentage (.317). Oakland also leads the AL in strikeouts (1,173) while placing third from the bottom in home runs (118), a very rare strikeout-to-home run relationship. In fact, only one team in history has more strikeouts with fewer home runs than these A's. The 1968 Mets fanned 1,203 times while hitting just 81 home runs.

3

Times this season the Reds have hit seven home runs in a game, the only team in baseball to do it at all. On Friday the Reds helped advance the Brewers' downward spiral out of playoff contention by clouting seven bombs in an 11-2 drubbing. Twice before, Cincinnati jacked seven homers against the Cubs, becoming the only team in the expansion era to do so on three separate occasions in a single season. In all three instances, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips participated in the bombardment, with six of Votto's 22 home runs for the season coming in those three contests. Against Milwaukee, Votto and fellow rookie Jay Bruce became the first rookies since the founding of the Rookie of the Year Award to each hit a pair of home runs in the same contest.

10.61

Season ERA for the most disappointing acquisition of last offseason, Tigers pitcher Dontrelle Willis. Making just his second start since being recalled from the minors, Willis allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings in Cleveland to raise his season's ERA from 8.82 to 10.61. Willis has pitched just 18 2/3 innings over seven major league games this season and Detroit lost six of the seven games he appeared in. However, as bad as he's been, the onetime 22-game winner for the Marlins hasn't had the worst season ever for a former 20-game winner. That dubious honor belongs to Orel Hershiser who in his big league swan song back in Los Angeles as a Dodger was 1-5 with a 13.14 ERA in 24 2/3 innings over 10 appearances in 2000.

Ryan Garko, 1B, Indians

All season we've generally reserved this slot for players who either played six or seven games or pitched at least twice in a week, but after what Garko did this week in limited playing time, we'll make an exception. The Indians first baseman came to the plate just 15 times, reaching in 11 or those appearances and providing sacrifice flies in two more. He hit .833, slugged 1.333, had an OBP of .733, struck out just once and drove in nine runs in the four games he appeared, all Cleveland wins.

Greg Reynolds, SP, Rockies

September callup Reynolds was completely ineffective in two home starts for the defending NL champions. The 6-foot-7 right-handed sinkerballer tossed a combined 3 1/3 innings against the Padres and Diamondbacks and got pummeled for 13 earned runs, 16 hits, two home runs and two walks. His ERA for the week was 35.10 and opposing batters hit .696, raising his season numbers from an ugly 6.60 and .285 to an even more unacceptable 8.13 and .322. Add in his previous NL start in June against the Marlins when he lasted just one inning, and the numbers get even uglier: 20 earned runs and 23 hits in just 4 1/3 innings (41.54 ERA).

Leading off the eighth inning on Wednesday at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City, Ichiro Suzuki legged out a grounder to shortstop Mike Aviles for his third hit of the game and his 200th of the season, tying him at eight with Hall of Famer Willie Keeler for the most consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits. The infield single also broke a tie at seven between Suzuki and Wade Boggs for the AL record. Earlier this season Ichiro had his 3,000th professional hit, including his career with the Orix Blue Wave (based in Kobe) in the Japanese Pacific League. Through Sunday that number stood at 3,075. For the Mariners he's collected 1,797 hits in 1,273 games and needs just three more knocks to beat Boggs' big league-fastest feat of 1,800 hits in 1,352 contests.

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