This week's Diamond Digits focuses on Jayson Werth going off, Alfonso Soriano going yard, and Jeremy Reed going back to Seattle.
Players this decade who have hit as many as three home runs in one game against their former team after Phillies center fielder Jayson Werth did so against the Blue Jays on Friday. Werth, who also played for the Dodgers and Orioles, joined Mike Cameron, who circled the bases four times against the White Sox on May 2, 2003 while a member of the Mariners, and Bret Boone, who took three Reds pitches deep while with the Padres on June 23, 2000. Also, nobody during the expansion era has had more RBIs in a game against their old mates than the eight Werth collected against Toronto.
Consecutive career steals by Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury before he was caught on Sunday afternoon. When Milwaukee catcher Jason Kendall gunned down Ellsbury attempting to swipe second base in the fourth inning, it was the first blemish on the rookie center fielder's baserunning record. Ellsbury fell just two shy of the greatest number of uncaught steals to start a career held by Montreal's Tim Raines who successfully stole his first 27 career bases. Even with the CS, Ellsbury remains the alltime leader in stolen base percentage among those with as many as 25 steals with a rate of 96.2%. The rest of the top five are also still stealing bases: Ian Kinsler (88.7%), Nate McLouth (88.4%), Carlos Beltran (87.9%) and Kaz Matsui (87.7%).
Composite slugging percentage of the NL through the first weekend of interleague play, a full .014 higher than the American League's. The AL is supposed to be known for its offenses (see the Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees) and the NL for its pitching (welcome to the NL, Johan Santana), but so far this year it's the opposite. At this time last year, the AL had a significant lead on the NL, .409 to .397. Part of the blame can be placed squarely on the junior circuit's power elite. Nine of the top 10 home run hitters in the major leagues reside in the NL, with Carlos Quentin of the White Sox, an NL expatriate, the only AL representative cracking the top 10, tied for sixth with four others at 11. Only two players, Boston's David Ortiz and L.A.'s Mike Napoli have double-digit home run totals who were employees of AL teams in 2007.
Alfonso Soriano, LF, Cubs
Even with the usual best-player candidates like Lance Berkman, Chipper Jones and Ryan Braun still raking, the choice this week was clear. To put it simply Soriano had a great month this week, blasting major league leading totals of seven home runs, 14 RBIs, 16 hits and 10 runs, all while putting up averages of .516/.500/1.258. A little perspective: Only five players had more home runs in the entire month of April than Soriano had in his past seven-game stretch.
Austin Kearns, RF, Nationals
When you start losing at bats to someone hitting .042 like backup outfielder Elijah Dukes is, you know you're in a horrible slump. In 21 plate appearances last week Kearns reached base twice, once on a single, once on a hit-by-pitch. Kearns hasn't scored or driven in a run since May 8. (While Dukes also had only one hit during the week, he did score two runs and drive in another).
Number of pitchers in the expansion era (1961-present) to begin a season with no-decisions in nine consecutive starts. Astros veteran right hander Shawn Chacon set the mark after he was torched for five runs in 3 1/3 innings on Friday against the Rangers and still avoided taking the loss in Houston's 16-8 defeat. He broke the mark of Minnesota's Dick Stigman who despite a record of 4-2, was decision-less in all eight of his starts in 1965. Six of Chacon's nine starts this season have been quality starts and his 4.14 ERA is the best among Houston's regular starters. However with all of the action that he's seen this season, Chacon has yet to be the pitcher of record in any of his starts.
After sending catcher Matt Clement back to the minors, the Mariners are poised to call up outfielder Jeremy Reed from Triple A Tacoma. Seattle's regular center fielder in 2005, Reed spent most of '07 and all of '08 so far in Tacoma, batting .300 with 13 home runs and 14 steals last season and .364 with six home runs and six steals so far this year. He's expected to begin this stint as the Mariners fourth outfielder, with Jose Vidro returning to the fulltime DH role, but don't be too shocked to see Reed and his powerful bat take over as the regular left fielder in Seattle's anemic lineup, with Raul Ibanez shifting to the DH slot.