David Sabino
Tuesday August 18th, 2009

This week's Diamond Digits looks at a speedy rookie and his impact on the playoff race, a first-ballot Hall of Famer reaching the pinnacle of his position and a hitter who hasn't been as advertised, yet still has gained a lofty honor, reserved solely for his countrymen.

Stolen bases for the Rangers on Saturday in a win over the Red Sox.

Texas took over the AL Wild Card lead from Boston partly by running wild on the base-paths in a pivotal second game of the three-game series. Rookie outfielder Julio Borbon, playing in just his sixth Big League game, led the way by stealing four bases to become the first player to steal a quartet of bags in one of his first 10 career games since Cleveland's Alex Cole swiped four in his eighth career contest in 1990. Rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus accounted for three more steals to move him ahead of New York's Brett Gardner and into sole possession of the AL rookie lead with 23 for the season.

This game also marked the second time this season that Boston catcher Jason Varitek was the victim of an eight-stolen-base game (the Rays swiped eight against him May 3). He's now allowing 91.1 percent of runners to steal successfully (92 of 101), the highest in baseball. It's also the highest percentage since the statistic has been kept, beginning in 1974. The only catchers with a worse rate of nabbing would-be base stealers were Varitek's former backup Josh Bard, who allowed 93.8 percent to arrive safely at the next base in 2007 while playing for the Padres, and Brewers backstop Johnny Estrada, also in 2007 when his rate was 92.4 percent.

Times Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter reached base safely while in the lineup as a shortstop after his RBI double off Mariners rookie Doug Fister in Seattle's 10-3 win Sunday.

Jeter's base put him past longtime White Sox and Orioles Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio as the all-time hits leader among major league shortstops. Since Jeter became the Yankees starter in 1996, he has more than 500 hits (2,663) than the second-ranked shortstop, Edgar Renteria (2,154). In fact, since his first season, in 2005, Jeter is the top hitter in the MLB, amassing an impressive 2,688 hits at any position, 216 more than the man who lines up next to him on a daily basis, Alex Rodriguez.

Hits combined in the Major Leagues and Japanese Major Leagues for Astros second baseman Kazuo Matsui.

The former Japanese All Star had 1,433 safeties in his native country, and now has 567 for the Mets, Rockies and Astros. He became the fifth player from Japan to reach 2,000 hits and 400 stolen bases, joining Ichiro Suzuki (3,246 hits, 537 steals), Yutaka Fukumoto (2,543, 1,065 ), Yoshinori Hirose (2,157, 596) and Isao Shibata (2,018, 579). Matsui also became one of just five Major Leaguers (with Hideo Nomo, Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Sasaki) to earn the honor of being inducted into the Meikyukai, or Golden Players Club, an automatic honor once Japanese-born players achieve 2,000 hits, 200 wins or 250 saves in Japan, the U.S., or collectively between both. Non-Japanese players aren't eligible for the honor, but among hitters who played in both countries, the following would've been eligible, based on the 2,000 hits criteria.

Hitter Combined Hits Tony Fernandez 2,397 Reggie Smith 2,154 Roy White 2,125 Bill Madlock 2,123 Warren Cromartie 2,055 Matty Alou 2,035 Larry Parrish 2,006

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres

With the trade deadline behind him, Gonzalez, who entered last week batting just .251 following a six-week slump, got scorching hot. In 30 at-bats over six games, Gonzalez reached base via a hit 19 times. His .633/.645/1.100 averages each led everyone for the week and raised his season numbers back up to .279/410/.570. He also led the majors in runs scored (10) while falling one off the pace in home runs (three) and three behind the top in RBIs (eight). Unfortunately, even Gonzalez's tear couldn't produce many wins for the reeling Padres, who dropped four of the six games they played, including a sweep at the hands of the Cardinals.

Honorable Mention: Jonny Gomes, Jorge de la Rosa, Brendan Ryan, Ryan Howard, Troy Tulowitzki, Mark Ellis, Miguel Montero, Josh Hamilton, Joe Mauer, Randy Wolf,

I try not to make a habit of picking the recipient of worst stats title to a pitcher based simply on one start, but in Charlie Morton's case, that start was so awful it breaks all the rules. On Friday night against the Cubs, Morton struggled in the first inning, giving up four earned runs, including a three-run home run to Kosuke Fukudome, before recording the requisite three outs. Then, in the second inning, the wheels came off as Morton allowed a triple, double, two singles and two walks without getting a single out. After he was lifted, the Cubs continued the onslaught against Pirates reliever Chris Bootcheck with three more consecutive batters reaching base, driving in the two runners Morton left on base. In all, Morton pitched one inning plus six batters and allowed 10 earned runs, seven hits and three walks.

Dishonorable Mention: Nick Blackburn, Paul Konerko, Russell Martin, Lastings Milledge, Clete Thomas, Alfonso Soriano, Adam Rosales, Casey Blake, Sean O'Sullivan, Jeremy Guthrie

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