Baseball Superlatives: Week Six

Manny Ramirez and the Peanut Corp. Scandal: a study in relevance.

Hello! Welcome to Superlatives. A weekly roundup post where we hand out some superlatives and awards for the previous week in baseball. 

This was, as most are, a weird week in the 2020 MLB season. I would just like to clarify that this and every other instance of a team choosing to strike, kneel, or in any other way show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Jacob Blake, and countless other victims of police brutality and systemic racism, is not weird. It is right, it is admirable, and it is so very normal. 

With that said, let’s get to the weird stuff. 



Saddest Tuba Noise: Womp Womp

Lucas Giolito Does A Thing But Not Another Thing

Congrats to Lucas Giolito on completing the second no-hitter of the season when you account for Japanese baseball, which this specific corner of the internet does. 

But also pour one out for Lucas Giolito for being two pitches short of my personal favorite pitching accomplishment – The Maddux. 

What is a Maddux? 

Named after Greg Maddux, who accomplished the feat 13 times, it is a start in which a pitcher throws a complete game shutout in under 100 pitches. Giolito, with 101, just missed the milestone. And while you may argue that a no-hitter, especially one that was a single walk away from a perfect game, should be more important than a Maddux, I disagree. Why do I disagree? 

Because, as has been made clear by Commissioner Rob Manfred, a faster game is better than a good game. A Maddux, with less than 100 pitches, is without a doubt the best kind of game, in that sense. The only better game than a Maddux would be one cancelled by rain. To be perfectly honest, Giolito really wasted everyone’s time with those two extra pitches. 

Next time, throw 99 pitches or don’t show up. 



Man Most At Work: For Coming From (Or Going To) The Land Down Under 

Manny Ramirez Goes to Australia

Give me 100 guesses for weird moments in the 2020 MLB season and I never would have made “48 year-old Manny Ramirez signs with the Sydney Blue Sox” as one of them. I also wouldn’t have guessed “48 year-old Manny Ramirez wins Australian Baseball MVP” or “48 year-old Manny Ramirez becomes mayor of Sydney”, but now I’d really very much like to see betting odds on both of these things happening because I’d really very much like to bet on both of these things absolutely happening. 

I don’t have any inside knowledge on this and, frankly, haven’t really thought of what Manny Ramirez might contribute to a baseball team since Peanut Corp, a peanut butter processor implicated in nine deaths and more than 600 poisonings due to salmonella, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but here we are. The Joke is that the thing happened in 2009. 



Crankiest Greinke: For The Greinkiest Moments 

Zack Greinke Is Cranky 

Where do we start? On Sunday, in his start against the San Diego Padres, Zack Greinke made it very clear that we were all living his world. 

First, in the third inning, he decided to call his own pitch. Fine, that happens, he had a good feeling about maybe a fastball or a curve or something. 

So yeah, he throws a 54mph Eephus pitch. No, it’s not a curveball. That’s an Eephus. Why? Because it was a Sunday afternoon and Zack Greinke was goofing off at work. We’ve all done it. He just managed to goof off for a strike against Trent Grisham, which is something I have never done. 

Then, in the fourth inning, Greinke walked right off the mound with runners on first and third. He did this, not because he was getting pulled, or because he was injured, but because he didn’t like how deep the hole on the mound was. 

Apparently, the dirt wasn’t right anymore on the pitcher’s mound, so Greinke voiced his concern to the relevant authorities and had it fixed. This is fine. Maybe a little weird, but fine. Except Greinke just sat there and watched the whole thing. 

Imagine being the grounds crew when you realize that Zack Greinke is coming back out of the tunnel and no, really, he’s just going to sit down on the grass and watch you fill in the hole he made. No, he’s not gonna go get some water. He’s going to sit right there and check your work.  The man just got bored and threw a 54mph strike against a Major League hitter, and now he’s going to make sure you fill up the dirt hole he made. 

If Juan Soto is the person having the absolute most fun being a baseball player, Zack Greinke is the person who still hasn’t found out he’s a baseball player. He thinks he’s on a long episode of Punk’d, and he’s just still waiting for Ashton Kutcher (or I guess Chance the Rapper now?) to take off the Umpire Mask. 



Most Fun: For Whatever’s The Most Fun Thing

Jon Berti Earns An RRI (Run Ran In)

On Tuesday, something unprecedented happened. Jon Berti drew a walk from Mets pitcher Jeurys Familia in the sixth inning, then realized his fantasy football draft was about to start. With few options left to him, Berti realized he could just run home. So he did. 

Berti earned himself an RRI, short for Run Ran In, which I believe is a statistic I’ve just invented for players who want to get back to the dugout as fast as possible. This impressive feat got me thinking: how many times could this possibly have been pulled off? 


That seems wild to me. Fifty four times? Players have just up and run all the way to home plate more times than America’s had Presidents? That seems wrong. But then I kept digging. Since 1902, the American League has managed to pull this off with some regularity – their longest gap between RRI’s was 28 years, between 1941 and 1969. Their standard deviation between RRI’s was 2552 days, or 6.9 years. 

The National League, however, just absolutely loses it. Harvey Hendrick managed to pull it off in 1928 while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The next time it happened in the NL was Pete Rose in 1980 – a 52 year gap. Their standard deviation? 3,596 days, or 9.8 years. 

So even though the NL had only 3 years longer between succesfull RRI’s, they had a gap twice nearly twice as long as the AL.

Some other neat trivia – it was exactly 28 days between the AL’s second and third succesfull RRI’s, in 1906, and it was also 28 days between the NL’s first and second in 1899.

So – does any of this matter? 


Is there any reason for the difference between the NL and AL in terms of succesfull RRI’s? No.


I’ll tell you – it’s baseball. It’s weird sometimes. 

Shoutout to Ben Hillman (@bitbracket) for crunching some numbers to make this meaningless exploration of baseball events possible.


The Mariners World Series Report 


Previous Odds: 120%

Current Odds: OOF% 

Percentage Change: OOF 

Vegas Odds: 800/1 

This week I found out my bookie has a strict “no take-backs” policy on MLB futures bets. 

Ben Ellenberg

Ben lives in Los Angeles and is almost always thinking about Tony Gwynn stuff.

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