May 25, 2024

Could the woeful White Sox lose more than the ’62 Mets? They’re off to a great start!


Boy, have we seen some weirdness, and also some wildness, lately in the beautiful sport of baseball. This is that column where we tell you about it.

An 11-run inning, all against position players? Check! … A game turning on a wild pitch, passed ball and catcher’s interference, all in a span of four pitches? Check! … A nine-inning baseball game beginning and ending in less time than it takes to air “The Masked Singer” season finale? Double check! (Read about that one here.)

So hey, that was fun. But this just in: It still wasn’t weirder (or wilder) than the first three weeks in the life of a baseball team in Chicago that would not be called “the Cubs.” So what do you say we look in on that team this week — and alert you all that …

Your Sox are Missing

In football, if you win once a week, you’re going to the Super Bowl. In baseball, if you win once a week, you’re going to the Stengel Bowl. Is that good?

I mention this because these are your 2024 Chicago White Sox.

Let’s add that up so you don’t have to. Three weeks into this baseball season, the 2024 White Sox have won three times. They’re 3-15. Ol’ Casey Stengel’s fabled 1962 Mets once won three games in 24 hours. As I type this, the White Sox have won three games in 500 hours. That feels like not that good a pace.

I bring up those ’62 Mets because I found myself in a surreal debate in the press box in Philadelphia this week. The topic was one that no team wants to get dragged into:

Which team in 2024 has the best chance to supplant those ’62 Mets (a glorious 40-120) as the losingest team of the modern era — the White Sox (3-15) or the Rockies (4-15)? (Not even pictured: those 4-15 Marlins.)

The Rockies are an easy pick because they play in the loaded NL West, and still haven’t played a single game against the Dodgers, Padres or Giants. But I think the correct answer is the White Sox, a team whose most spectacular claim to fame so far is leading the league in most guys getting hurt running to first base (three). Or possibly most milkshakes sold amid temperatures under 47 degrees.

Why would I dare to hint that the White Sox are a team to watch in the race for the Stengel Bowl? Here at Weird and Wild World HQ, we have some thoughts on that.

1. They’re summoning their inner Choo-Choo Coleman and Ossee Schreckengost! I know it’s only three weeks in, and the ice on Lake Michigan just defrosted about 20 minutes ago. But how could I not point this out:

RECORD AFTER 18 GAMES

• Choo-Choo’s 1962 Mets (on way to 40-120): 3-15

• Ossee’s 1899 Cleveland Spiders (on way to 20-134): 3-15

• Your 2024 White Sox (on way to ??-??): 3-15

2. They’ve scored half as many runs as the ’62 Mets! Do these White Sox seem as if they might be a little offensively challenged? Here’s one scary bit of evidence:

RUNS SCORED, FIRST 18 GAMES

Rod Kanehl’s ’62 Mets — 76
Your 2024 White Sox — 38

Yikes! Even those 1899 Spiders scored 63 runs through 18 games. So where does this start by the White Sox rank among the most offensively challenged teams of modern times? Here we go:

FEWEST RUNS, FIRST 18 GAMES, LIVE-BALL ERA

Roger Repoz’s 1966 A’s — 31
Terrmel Sledge’s 2004 Expos — 32
Jeff Stone’s 1988 Orioles34
Justin Ruggiano’s 2013 Marlins — 37
Your 2024 White Sox — 38

(Source: Baseball Reference / Stathead)


A 3-15 start will do that to you. (Joseph Weiser / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

3. Just don’t change the Sheets! Here’s to Gavin Sheets (163 OPS+) and Paul DeJong (152 OPS+). They’ve held up their end. But aside from those two guys, whew. This offense seems like it might be short on thunder. I only say that because the White Sox have …

• No hitters on pace for 100 hits this season!

• No hitters on pace to score 50 runs this season!

• Eight position players (minimum 20 plate appearances) with a batting average south of Mount .200!

• Six position players with an OPS+ under 40!

A little historical tidbit: You know how many teams since 1900 have ever made it through a (relatively) full season without anybody getting 100 hits? Just one!

That was the 1972 Mets, who were not managed by Casey Stengel … but were led by Tommie Agee’s 96 hits. Except that team played only 156 games that year (due to labor snafus that are not worth getting into). So there you go.

4. They should petition to have all games end after the first inning! Here’s some upbeat White Sox news for you: They’re outscoring their opponents 9-7 in the first inning this season.

Here’s some less upbeat White Sox news: Every one of those games then continued … and they’re being outscored 82-29 in all those other innings.

In more inspirational first-inning news …

• The White Sox are batting a respectable .250 in the first inning.

• Unfortunately, they have then gone on to hit a slightly less respectable .188 in all those other innings.

• And even those nine runs they’ve scored in the first have a messy subplot attached. They scored two in the first in the second game of the season — and still emerged from that inning trailing 3-2. … And in both of the other games in which they scored in the first, they blew five-run leads (although they survived to win one of them).

So are baseball games too long? This team would vote yes … eight innings too long.

5. What do they call that thing where a ball goes over the fence again? Back on April 2, in the seventh inning of a game against the Braves, an actual White Sox hitter did something that is absolutely legal in all 50 states.

That’s Paul DeJong hitting a home run, friends. If you pull for these White Sox, you should savor that sight because it’s more rare than an eclipse. Let’s roll the tape forward two weeks to the second inning Wednesday, when DeJong did that thing again.

OK, now let’s discuss what happened in between. By which I mean not much of that.

In between, 406 White Sox hitters marched to home plate … and combined to hit two home runs. Which means …

In all that time when the White Sox were only going deep twice, 36 players hit more home runs than that all by themselves.

And one of those players used to do that for the White Sox … as recently as last year. That would be Jake Burger, who was traded to Miami at the trade deadline for pitcher Jake Eder, whose ERA as a White Sox minor leaguer since then is 10.04.

We should also mention that five of those 36 players play for one team … by which I mean the Orioles … who hit three bombs every day while the White Sox are busy hitting one home run every week or so.

6. They bake more doughnuts than Krispy Kreme! A.J. Pierzynski’s 2010 White Sox got shut out five times all season. Paul Konerko’s 2000 White Sox got shut out only three times all season. Pardon me for reminiscing, but it’s leading somewhere. I promise.

It’s leading, in fact, to this: Your 2024 White Sox got shut out six times by April 15!

Want to guess how many times the other four teams in their division have been shut out combined? That would be four. Hoo boy.

Konerko and Frank Thomas once played for White Sox teams that got shut out just six times in 295 games between Sept. 14, 1999, and July 23, 2001. Your 2024 White Sox, on the other hand, got shut out six times in a mere 16 games to kick off this season.

And as you may have heard someplace, that’s a feat matched by just one other team in the history of Major League Baseball — Whitey Alperman’s 1907 Brooklyn Superbas. But I’m going to step in and halt all further Superbas comparisons right now.

That team started 1-16 and had only one game, in its first 17, in which it scored more than two runs. So these White Sox are the 1995 Indians compared to those Superbas. And don’t you forget it!

7. But that’s not all! I haven’t even mentioned that these White Sox also have no pitchers with a winning record. … or that their OPS+, as a team, in games before their milkshake-chugging home “faithful,” is a lusty 45 … or that, 11 home games into the season, the team with the most runs scored at Guaranteed Rate Field is not a team known as the White Sox. (Correct answer: the Reds, with 27 runs in three games, as opposed to the home team’s 20 runs in 11 games.) Hat tip: Jay Cuda … or that White Sox leadoff men are hitting a not-that-Mookie-esque .134 … or that Steven Kwan has personally outhomered all of their corner outfielders (2-1) … or that the next extra-base hit they get with men in scoring position and two outs will be their first of the season … or that they’re the only team in the majors with one home run or none from seven different positions.

I could keep these pearls rolling off the Weird and Wild assembly line all day long. But you get the idea. Is this just a rough start? Or is it where the road to 121 losses begins? We have five and a half months of baseball left to provide the answer. But in the meantime, well, have another milkshake.

The Weird and Wild Play of the Week

I don’t know if this is a department that’s about to become a weekly staple of the Weird and Wild column … or if it’s just a category I had to invent this week. But I do know this:

There’s only one choice for the first-ever winner of the prestigious non-trophy for Weird and Wild Play of the Week.

Lucas Erceg, you’ve really made the big time now, my friend. Here’s the magic trick the A’s reliever pulled off Sunday in Oakland. It’s awesome. I could watch this play 1,000 times and never get tired of seeing the man on the mound do whatever this was to get an out at first base.

All that play needs is … a name! So here it comes, courtesy of A’s broadcast wordsmith Dallas Braden:

“It’s the Kick It & Wicket!” Braden told us. “He kicked it and then shoveled it through his wickets over to first base!”

Yeah, he did. Just don’t try that at home. There’s no telling what you might kick through your wicket.

This Week in Useless Info


Hank Aaron hits No. 715 to pass Babe Ruth on the all-time home runs list. (Sporting News via Getty Images)

OH HENRY

As you undoubtedly noticed, last week was the 50th anniversary of Henry Aaron’s iconic 715th home run — more than 700 of them while he was wearing that famed No. 44 on his back. But that got me to wondering … because that’s what we do around here:

Which No. 44 has hit the most home runs since that day?

Feel free to guess. I bet you’ll get this wrong. Ready? Here’s the list, courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Adam Dunn — 374
Reggie Jackson — 282
Anthony Rizzo242
Paul Goldschmidt209

It’s our first Adam Dunn sighting of the year here at Weird and Wild World HQ. The highlight of every year!

IT’S A STEAL AND A DRIVE

Is Andrew McCutchen a Hall of Famer? Don’t say no too fast. But that’s not what this item is about, because the Pirates icon did something super cool Sunday:

He hit his 300th career homer … and stole home (on the back end of a double steal) … in the same game! So it got me to wondering: Has anyone else ever stolen home on a day they hit a milestone homer — meaning their 300th, 400th, 500th or 600th?

Baseball Reference/Stathead research whiz Katie Sharp took on that fun little research project for me. And would it shock you to know that the complete list of players, in the last 110 years, to steal home in the game they hit their 100th, 200th, 300th, 400th, 500th, 600th or 700th consists of …

Andrew McCutchen.

And that’s a wrap on that list.

NOT TROTLESS IN SEATTLE

After those five long balls he pounded for the Cubs in the past week, I could fire off Michael Busch nuggets for you all day long. But let’s stick with this one.

What Michael Busch did last weekend: Hit a home run in all three games of the first three-game series he ever played in Seattle, at T-Mobile Park.

Want a fun list of Mariners who never did that? Oh, only Ichiro, Adrián Beltré, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Robinson Canó and that dude you may know as A-Rod.

Baseball. It’s the gift that never stops giving.

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GO DEEPER

Rosenthal: Michael Busch’s stellar Cubs first impression, Ángel Hernández strikes again and more MLB notes

THE NAME OF THE GAME

But before we exit that Cubs-Mariners series, Marquee Sports Network research genius and friend of the program Chris Kamka got my brain turned upside-down with this fun tidbit last weekend:

That was from last Friday night. But then, on Saturday, you know who else homered for the Cubs? That would be Seiya Suzuki. Hmmm. Are you ready?

Complete list of all Suzukis who have homered in Seattle since Ichiro:

Seiya!

HERE’S WHAT’S LEFT

Phillies leadoff thumpster Kyle Schwarber hit .188 against left-handers last year. He hit .193 against them the year before that. So keep that in mind when we tell you that last Saturday, he got five plate appearances in a game against the Pirates … every one of them against left-handed pitchers … and, incredibly, he reached base in all five (three hits, two walks).

So how wild (and also weird) is that, part one? The Baseball Savant plate appearance database goes back to 2008. In 17 seasons, only four other left-handed hitters have had a game like that, where they reached base at least five times (via hit or walk) against left-handed pitchers. Fun list:

7/27/09, Shin-Soo Choo
9/12/09, Bobby Abreu
4/19/11, Ichiro Suzuki
4/20/23, Anthony Rizzo

So how wild (also weird) is that, part two? The Phillies report that no left-handed hitting Phillie had had a game like that in 66 years. And the last time it happened, it was one future Hall of Famer (Richie Ashburn) reaching five straight times against another future Hall of Famer (Sandy Koufax). That was July 26, 1958. But of course, I dug a little deeper.

Ashburn against Koufax that day: three hits, two walks.

The rest of the Phillies’ starting lineup combined against Koufax that day: three hits … and … two walks.

MINOR LEAGUE KICKOFF DEPT.

If you’re not perusing the scoreboard page at MILB.com these days, you have no idea what you’re missing. Like this, for instance, from April 9.

I can hear you from here, saying: “Whoa, it’s a football score.” Little did you know …

Don’t call that a football score! Number of NFL games last season that ended 28-10: Right you are. Zero! In fact, there hasn’t been a 28-10 game in the NFL since Week 3, 2020. Buccaneers 28, Broncos 10. Three TDs and 297 yards in the air for Bucs legend Tom Brady.

But we’re not through here because this game also featured …

An 11-run inning against position players! IronPigs infielder Esteban Quiroz gave up nine of those runs. Outfielder Cal Stevenson allowed the other two. Here’s how their leisurely inning on the mound went:

Homer, double, line-drive out, walk, single, double, double, single, single, passed ball, homer. (Pitching change!) Double, homer, line-drive out, line-drive out. So that went well. Quiroz is now riding a 243.00 ERA if you don’t have your calculators handy. But also …

Durham crushed 15 hits at 100 mph or harder! And does that seem like a lot? According to Baseball Savant’s awesome new minor-league Statcast search tool, we can report it’s the most hits in a game at 100-plus mph in any Triple-A (or big-league) game all year. So let’s go with: It’s a lot!

BEAT THE STREAK

Anybody want to take a wild stab at naming the last team in the American League to lose two games in a row this season? If you guessed John Sterling’s New York Yankees, you win. But when the Yankees finally experienced that first two-game losing streak Monday, I had a weird suspicion that it wasn’t the first time. So …

I asked the great Kenny Jackelen of Baseball Reference to take a look. That’s one weird suspicion that’s now confirmed.

How many times have the Yankees been the last AL team to lose two in a row? Oh, only in 22 different seasons since they became “the Yankees” in 1913. Here come all 22 seasons: 2024, 2011, 2003, 1976, 1960, 1958, 1956, 1955, 1953, 1950, 1949, 1947, 1946, 1943, 1939, 1937, 1933, 1932, 1926, 1922, 1916, 1915.

The only other AL franchise that’s even within nine of them is Cleveland, with 17 (but none since 2006).

Not on the list (incredibly enough), the mighty 1927, 1961 or 1998 Yankees, because baseball is weird (but also wild).

THE NO. 7 TRAIN

Jackson Holliday is 20 years old. He’s wearing No. 7. Have we digested how cool that is?

I made the assumption, when I launched into this research, that he’s going to stick around Baltimore for a while. Let’s say he makes it into 100 games this year. Not preposterous, right?

How many second basemen from the Players Get Their Own Number era have played 100 games in a season at 20 or younger while wearing a single-digit number on their back? That would be exactly two, according to Baseball Reference’s Uniform Tracker:

PLAYER NO. YEAR

Bill Mazeroski

9

1957

Bobby Doerr

1

1938

That’s a fun list. But here’s another one. Among the players who have done that at any position: Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline, Alan Trammell, Alex Rodriguez, Clint Hurdle, Carlos Correa and a guy named Ted Williams. Single digits. They’re the coolest.

This week in box score Strange But Trueness

ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER

Thanks to loyal reader James Long for catching this box-score classic from Pirates reliever Roansy Contreras last Saturday:

1 walk
1 walk-off hit allowed (to Nick Castellanos)
1 pitch thrown!

So how is that possible, you ask? It’s so easy nowadays. Intentional walk (with zero pitches needing to be thrown) … first-pitch hit. Bingo! But here comes the Strange But True part.

The no-pitch intentional walk is now in its eighth season. And somehow, Contreras just became the first pitcher ever to pull that off: a walk and a walk-off hit, on only one pitch. The old record was two pitches, by the Mets’ Adam Ottavino, in a walk-off loss last Sept. 22 … in the same ballpark (Citizens Bank Park).

THE ZACH ATTACK

Zach McKinstry is a valuable and versatile multi-positional kind of guy for the 2024 Tigers. So you never know where you might find him in the box scores. But check out these three entries in his box-score journey last Saturday, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Twins. They’ll give you quite a taste of how his day went.

McKinstry SS-3B-P

E: McKinstry (2)

McKinstry’s pitching line: 1/3 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, O K, 1 HR

So what we have here, buried deep inside those three box-score entries, is this big news: Zach McKinstry had himself an all-time inning.

In the 12th inning that day, in the span of just three hitters, here’s what he did:

• Committed a three-run error.

• Gave up a three-run homer (to Matt Wallner).

That seems hard. So once again, I turned to Kenny Jackelen for help looking into this. Here’s what he found in the Baseball Reference play-by-play database, which is mostly complete back to 1912:

Full list of players who have jammed a three-run error and three-run gopherball into the same inning — Well, there’s Zach McKinstry. And that’ll do it.

Full list of players who have even had a three-run error and three-run gopherball in the same game — Once again, there’s Zach McKinstry and, um, nobody.

Full list of players with any kind of error and a three-run gopherball in the same game — Hey, finally, McKinstry has company. In 2018, Chris Gimenez made an error as a catcher, then went in to pitch and gave up two homers. And there was a guy named Bill Pertica in 1922. Pitched in relief. Gave up a three-run homer. Then moved to shortstop after he pitched for his only career appearance at short and made an error. So I don’t know what was going on there. But if it’s any consolation to Zach McKinstry, at least he brought that guy back to life.

THE BROWNOUT

It isn’t every week we get to present a box-score line never before seen in the history of this sport. But here we are. Houston’s Hunter Brown went out to pitch against the Royals last week. It didn’t seem to go too smoothly:

2/3 IP 11 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 40 pitches to get two outs

So what’s up with that? Apparently, it’s hard to give up 11 hits in the first inning and not even get through the inning. We’re guessing that only because in the modern era, no one had ever done that before. But also … you know what else is hard? Facing 14 hitters in the first inning (and not even getting three outs). We know that because no starter in the modern era had ever done that before, either. The old record was 13, by Luke Hudson (2006) and Jason Jennings (2007). Geez, tough night at the office!

This Week in Strange But Trueness


A rude awakening times three: Connor Brogdon actually has some company on this weird tidbit. (Jesse Johnson / USA Today)

HELLO … AND GOODBYE

Does this seem like a good trend? In 2020, Connor Brogdon made his major-league debut for the Phillies … and gave up a home run to the first hitter he faced.

Then last week, after getting traded, he debuted for his second team, the Dodgers … and gave up home runs to the first two hitters he faced.

I don’t even want to think about what’ll happen if he ever joins a third team. But I did do some thinking about this: Did anyone else ever do that?

Ha. Are you familiar with baseball? Katie Sharp and Kenny Jackelen actually found three other pitchers who allowed a home run to the first hitter they faced for one team and the first two they faced for another team. Seriously:

Max CastilloRoyals (first hitter), Blue Jays (first two)

Domingo Tapia — Red Sox (first hitter) and Padres (first two)

Ryan Tepera — White Sox (first hitter) and Angels (first two)

But what’s Brogdon’s claim to fame? He’s the only pitcher in the last century to do that while only pitching for two teams and doing it in that order (one for the first team, two for the second).

Baseball. It’s pure madness, isn’t it?

RAYS-ING HELL

I don’t know what your nomination for the most whacked-out game of 2024. But here’s my nomination:

Tuesday at the Trop. Rays-Angels. How the heck did the Rays possibly win this game?

With two outs in the ninth, they were two runs behind, had nobody on base and had gotten one hit all night. But a Luis Rengifo error started a miracle two-run, game-tying rally. And that wasn’t even the Strange But True part.

The Rays then went on to win a game that they trailed in the ninth, 10th, 11th and 13th innings. That’s so hard, according to Katie Sharp, the list of teams since 1912 that have won a game they trailed in the ninth, 10th, 11th and any extra inning from the 13th on consists of … just these Rays.

But there’s one other game that comes close: Phillies-Marlins on July 24, 1998 — a game in which the Phillies also trailed with two outs in the ninth and the 10th and the 11th and 12th … and won. And for all those wondering, yup. I was at that game!

SNELL SHOCK

The world spins in funny ways sometimes. So last Saturday, where did the schedule send Blake Snell for his second start as a Giant? That would be good old Tropicana Field in lovely St. Petersburg, Fla., where let’s just say he had pitched several times before.

But is that the Strange But True part? No. It. Is. Not. Here it comes:

Runs allowed by Blake Snell, the Giant, in his first start at the Trop as a visitor: That would be seven.

Number of times Snell allowed seven runs in 50 regular-season starts at the Trop as a Ray: That would be none.

Baseball!

STRANGEST BUT TRUEST INNINGS OF THE YEAR

On Monday, the Padres won a nutty little game in Milwaukee, thanks to a game-winning six-run inning that included an infield single, an RBI groundout, a passed ball, a catcher’s interference and a bases-filling walk on a pitch-clock violation. And I saw people describing that as the most bonkers inning of the season.

Look, I don’t blame them, except for one thing: It wasn’t even the most bonkers inning of the week! That’s because five days earlier in Boston, the Orioles fired up a game-winning seventh-inning rally that went like this:

Out, single, passed ball, walk, wild pitch, catcher’s interference, wild pitch, strikeout, home run … with the passed ball, wild pitch and catcher’s interference all busting out in a span of four pitches.

I ran this one past my good friends from STATS Perform. Here we go.

• How many innings in the last 50 years have featured a passed ball and a wild pitch and a walk and a homer and (just for fun) a catcher’s interference? Right you are. That would be … not one.

• How many innings in the pitch-counting era (since 1988) have included a passed ball, wild pitch and catcher’s interference in a span of four pitches? Also, that would be … none. Of course.

• So let’s drop the home run part and the four pitches part. How many innings in the last 50 years have just included a passed ball, wild pitch and catcher’s interference, period? Good news. They found three! The Cubs lurched through an inning like that against the Phillies on April 23, 1992. And the White Sox did it twice — against the A’s in 2015 and the Diamondbacks in 2022. Must be the deep dish!

THE RONEL EXPRESS

You know a research project I embarked on this week, that two weeks ago, had never, ever, entered any portion of my brain? This one:

Hey, I wonder who had a longer streak of not giving up a hit — Nolan Ryan or … Ronel Blanco?

But then baseball happened. And Blanco started his season for the Astros by blitzing through 44 consecutive outs without allowing a hit. So yep, I asked that very question in the previous paragraph of the amazing Kenny Jackelen. And the answer is …

Ronel’s longest hitless streak: Actually 48 outs in a row, going back to his final appearance of last season.

Ryan’s longest hitless streak: Was “only” 49 outs in a row, starting with his final out in a July 11, 1973 start in Baltimore … then rolling along through a 17-strikeout no-hitter in Detroit … then the first 21 outs of his next start, against the Orioles.

So there you have it, Weird and Wild readers. Ronel Blanco — nearly as unhittable as Nolan Ryan. Only in …

Baseball!

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Tanner Houck’s 1-hour, 49-minute shutout: A quick appreciation

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MLB’s endangered ace crisis: Strider’s surgery is latest reminder of what baseball has lost

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Weird & Wild: Blanco’s no-hit history, Rockies’ (and Mets’) rocky start, Harper’s homers

(Top photo of Lenyn Sosa reacts after a strikeout: Paul Beaty / Associated Press)





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