Number of at-bats by the Angels’ Albert Pujols without a home run this year, topped only by Michael Bourn’s 105 entering play Thursday. This from a player (Pujols, not Bourn) who has averaged 40 homers per year and hit three in a single World Series game last year. His .287 slugging percentage has him tied with Cliff Pennington, not a player he usually shares space with. Pujols is not a normal slow starter — he’s hit 78 April home runs in his first 11 seasons — and Monday he lashed out harder at hitting coach Mickey Hatcher than he has at any opposing pitcher this year (Pujols was upset at Hatcher for discussing the particulars of a meeting among Angels hitters. There’s something unseemly about the idea of Hatcher, a .280 career hitter with 38 home runs, giving instruction to Pujols). We don’t know how long Pujols’ slump lasts — and the 203-point drop in OPS from 2010 to 2011 is troubling, as is this year’s drop in plate control (61 walks and 58 strikeouts last year vs. 6 and 14 this year) — but we do know two things: 1.) it’s not time to take at-bats from Pujols and give them to Maicer Izturis, and; 2.) the happiest Angel to see Jered Weaver throw a no-hitter Wednesday was Pujols. At least, for one day, no one is talking about his slump.
Games it took for a Chicago Cub outfielder — any Cub outfielder — to hit a home run, until Joe Mather did so on the 249th at-bat for a Chicago outfielder on April 29 off Kyle Kendrick. That’s not all Marlon Byrd’s fault, even if it is a lot Alfonso Soriano’s (speaking of highly paid, unproductive outfielders, Soriano has two extra-base hits and two walks in 80 at-bats). For the season, Cubs outfielders — not including pinch-hitting or infield appearances –are hitting .227 (64 for 281) with 21 RBIs, 27 runs scored and 10 extra-base hits.
Home runs the Chicago Cubs have hit as a team. Or one less than Matt Kemp, who is outhomering the Cubs outfielders, 12-1.
Forget home runs. The number of at-bats without an extra-base hit, most in major-league baseball, by Miami’s Emilio Bonifacio. No one will ever confuse Bonifacio with Albert Pujols — even now — but Bonifacio did have 38 extra-base hits last year when he hit .296. This year he’s hitting .237, and slugging .237. An old rule of baseball says it’s not good when your batting average and slugging percentage are on the same point of the statistical circle.
Number of pitches A.J. Burnett threw Wednesday night to get eight outs vs. St. Louis, or four less than he needed to get 21 outs vs. the same team 10 days previously. He trailed 4-0 after six pitches and stuck around after his manager and catcher were ejected in the second inning. “I stunk,” said Burnett, more accurate with his analysis than he was with his pitches.
Number of runs allowed by Burnett, one of four pitchers to give up that many in three innings or less in the modern era, according to ESPN.com. Burnett didn’t equal the Royals’ Vin Mazzaro, who gave up 14 runs in 2.1 innings in relief last year in a 19-1 loss to Cleveland, or the Phillies’ Hal Kelleher, who gave up 12 runs in a single inning in 1938. And he’ll have to go some to equal June Greene, a 1929 Phillie who gave up 12 runs in two innings of a 21-4 loss to the Reds, and then a month later gave up 11 runs in a 28-6 loss to the Cardinals (the 1929 Phillies were an unusual group. They had a .398 hitter in Lefty O’Doul, a .356 hitter with 43 homers in Chuck Klein, a .309 team batting average and yet they finished fifth, thanks to a 6.13 team ERA). Here’s the difference between Burnett, Mazzaro, Kelleher and Greene: Burnett isn’t going anywhere. The three other pitchers made only seven more appearances after their dubious outings. Mazzaro has a 5.14 ERA in AAA; he won’t be back in the majors soon, although it’s debatable if the Royals would count. Greene pitched twice more, brought his ERA down to 19.76 (30 earned runs in 13.2 innings) and never played again in the majors. Kelleher entered the eighth inning of a 9-2 game, allowed 12 runs and never pitched again in the majors. For better, worse or millions of dollars, Burnett will be around.
Number of earned runs given up by Miami closer Heath Bell in his first 10 appearances this year, or seven less than he gave up in all of 2011. Bell has an 11.74 ERA, an 0-3 record and eight walks and 13 hits allowed in 21.2 innings. His manager, Ozzie Guillen, has thus far displayed patience only with Latin American dictators of island nations close enough to be Marlins fans; it seems likely the next save opportunity will go to Steve Cishek (3-0, 0.79 ERA, 0.88 WHIP).
Number of home runs NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw allowed to left-handed hitters in 2011. Also the number of home runs Kershaw allowed Wednesday vs. Colorado — two by left-handed Carlos Gonzalez — after throwing just one in his first 30.1 innings this year.