The season is in its twilight, but the stars of Diamond Digits shine on. This week an all-time great hurler continues his improbable comeback run, a young star shortstop is unprecedentedly good in the field. At the plate, we have a Royal who puts up triple-doubles like Oscar Robertson, and for the second consecutive week, Ichiro hits a huge milestone.
Phillies' record in starts by Pedro Martinez.
The major-league active leader with a .688 career winning percentage has been unbeatable since his first start with Philadelphia on August 12, tying with Chris Carpenter, Scott Feldman, CC Sabathia and Adam Wainwright for the MLB lead with five victories, while holding opposing offenses to a 2.87 ERA and .245 batting average. The sweetest outing of his comeback had to be on Sunday when he kept the Mets off the scoreboard for eight innings, surrendering just six hits and two walks in the process. New York didn't offer its former ace a contract over the winter but sure could've used him, especially recently. Since Martinez's return, no Mets hurler has won more than two games, and only one of them, Mike Pelfrey, is a starter.
Home runs for the year by Rockies shortstop and team leader Troy Tulowitzki.
Colorado has continued its late-season roll, and Tulowitzki is a main reason why. In Saturday night's extra-innings loss to the Padres, Tulowitzki clubbed his 25th home run, setting a personal career-high and extending his own team mark for a shortstop. Tulowitzki also flashes a great glove, as seen by his .990 fielding percentage, second in the majors to Jimmy Rollins' .991. Taken together, those two achievements are quite impressive, but when you put them together like Tulowitzki has, it's downright unbelievable. In fact, he's poised to be the first shortstop in baseball history to have a fielding percentage of over .990 during a 25-home run season. Alex Rodriguez didn't do it. Miguel Tejada hasn't done it. Even Cal Ripken, who achieved both individually, never had a single season in which he was so effective with the bat and the glove.
Games with at three doubles this season by Royals first baseman Billy Butler, the first AL player in history to ever accomplish the feat in a single year, and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only one in either league since the AL came into existence in 1901.
To help better put this into perspective, consider that over the last half-century, just 27 players have more three-double games over their entire careers. Some of the players who never even had three three-double games include Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Todd Helton, Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Perez, and the list goes on and on. In fact, among active players, only Mike Lowell (2006) and Aaron Rowand (2007) have a trio of three-double games in a single season.
Hits in each of nine major-league seasons for Ichiro Suzuki, subject of the top spot in last week's Diamond Digits.
By hitting safely in both ends of a Sunday doubleheader split against the Rangers on Saturday, Ichiro moved ahead of Willie Keeler alone atop the all-time consecutive 200-hit seasons list. Keeler, best known for his motto "I hit 'em where they ain't," totaled 200 hits or more each season from 1894 to 1901 for the Baltimore Orioles and Brooklyn Superbas. Next up is the all-time record for 200-hit seasons, consecutive or not, currently held by Pete Rose at 10 and well within Ichiro's reach in 2010.
Juan Uribe, Giants: The 20 home runs the former White Sox shortstop averaged from 2004 to 2007 seemed like a distant memory until the last six weeks when he's pushed his homer total from just four to 13, including a pair against the Padres (along with five RBIs) last Monday. Switching between second, third and shortstop, Uribe has been one of the Giants' most pleasant surprises and one of the most productive members of a generally weak offense. Last week he was the top power man in baseball, slugging at a rate of .955 while batting .409 and reaching base at a .435 clip. He even hit .545 on balls in play, also best in the game.
Honorable Mention: David Ortiz, Raul Ibañez, Billy Butler, Marlon Byrd, Brian Roberts, Esteban German, Miguel Montero, Derrek Lee, Kyle Davies, Rafael Betancourt, Ted Lilly, Pedro Martinez, Javier Vazquez, Brad Penny, Vicente Padilla, Clay Buchholz and Felix Hernandez.
Jermaine Dye, White Sox: Rumored to have been shopped around at the trade deadline, Dye stayed with the White Sox, but the way he's hit recently, GM Kenny Williams should've tried harder to find a taker. A .300 hitter in the first half, the veteran right fielder has tanked in the second half, batting just .166 since the All Star break, the lowest of any player with at least 100 at-bats. Last week was especially tough, as Dye managed just one hit in 20 at-bats, including five straight games against the A's and Angels in which he went hitless. His .050 was the worst for anybody over that span and he extended his streak of games without an RBI to 10. His solo shot against the Yankees on Aug. 30 accounts for his only home run since Aug 2 and his only RBI since Aug 14.
Dishonorable Mention: Pat Burrell, Alex Rios, John Baker, Mark Teahen, Lyle Overbay, Milton Bradley, Mike Pelfrey, Scott Richmond, Wade Davis, Andy Sonnastine and Roy Oswalt.