MLB Notebook: Teen records in reach for Harper
On Sept. 9, 1928, the New York Giants lost to Brooklyn to fall to 75-56, 4 1/2 games off the pace in the National League. Stuck in third place with just three weeks left in the season, time was running out on manager John McGraw and his club.
The Giants then went on a tear, winning 16 of their next 18, and on the morning of Sept. 26, they were in second place, one game behind the Cardinals. During that 18-game stretch, Mel Ott was in right field for 13 of the contests -- all victories. In those 13 games, Ott batted .364, reached base 49 percent of the time and slugged .614. He scored 11 runs, drew 10 walks and didn't strike out -- a 1.105 OPS during the heat of a pennant race. Not too bad for a 19-year-old.
The 2012 Nationals -- who have a 7 1/2 game lead in the NL East -- are in a much more comfortable position than Ott's Giants were in 1928, but it does seem like a good time to note that in his past 13 contests, 19-year-old Bryce Harper has assembled a line of .347/.396/.735/1.131 and is within reasonable distance of matching Ott's home run and extra-base hit totals from that age-19 season.
In Wednesday's 9-1 win over the Cubs, Harper had his second multihomer game in the past eight contests, giving him 17 home runs for the season. Harper (19 years and 325 days) joined Ott and Ken Griffey Jr. as the only teenagers since 1918 to have a pair of multihomer games.
Harper's 17 home runs are the third most for any teenager in history. Tony Conigliaro hit 24 (all in 1964) and is followed by Ott, with 19. Ott had one in '27 and 18 in his age-19 season in '28.
Harper has 43 extra-base hits this season. Those 43 are the fourth most for any player in history in his age-19 season or younger. Ott had 48 in 1928, Phil Cavarretta had 48 in '35 and Conigliaro had 47 in '64.
Besides the two homers from Harper, the Nationals also got home runs from Roger Bernadina, Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. LaRoche's homer gave him five in his past five games and 28 for the year.
Washington also hit six homers in its previous game. The Nats were the third club since 1918 to have back-to-back six-homer contests. The '96 Dodgers and 2003 Angels were the other two.
Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings to pick up his 18th win. The Mets' R.A. Dickey allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings and recorded his 18th victory of the year. The two are tied for the Major League lead in wins.
Gonzalez, who leads the NL in hits allowed per nine innings and is second in the NL (behind teammate Stephen Strasburg) in strikeouts per nine, is tied with Carl Morton (1970) and Bryn Smith ('85) for the third-most wins in Expos/Nationals history. Ross Grimsley had 20 victories in '78 and Steve Rogers won 19 in '82.
With Gonzalez lowering his ERA to 2.98 (tied for seventh in the NL), the Nationals have four qualifying starters in the top 12 in the league. Strasburg (2.94) is sixth, Jordan Zimmermann (3.01) is ninth and Ross Detwiler (3.15) is tied for 11th.
Reds outfielder Jay Bruce doubled twice and homered in a 6-2 loss to the Phillies, giving him 69 extra-base hits, which ties him for the most in the NL.
Bruce has homered in four straight games for the second time this season. The first four-game streak took place in April. Bruce is the first Reds player since Johnny Bench in 1972 to have multiple four-game homer streaks in a season.
In the Yankees' 6-4 win over the Rays, Derek Jeter went 3-for-5 with his 29th double of the season, bringing his hit total to 182 and his extra-base hit total to 43.
The 182 hits are the most for a shortstop in his age-38 season or older (Honus Wagner had 181 hits in 1912), and his 43 extra-base hits are the fourth most in history for a shortstop in his age-38 season or older. Wagner leads with 62 in '12.
In the Angels' 7-1 victory over the Athletics to complete a three-game sweep, Albert Pujols doubled for the fifth straight game, giving him 40 for the season. It's the seventh time in his 12-year career Pujols has hit at least 40 doubles.
Most 40-double seasons through first 12 years
Here and there
Dickey, who is second in the NL in winning percentage, third in hits allowed per nine innings and second in ERA, is the first Mets pitcher to win 18 games since 1990. That season, Frank Viola won 20 and Dwight Gooden had 19 victories.
In a 6-2 win over the Twins, White Sox outfielder Alex Rios homered twice and drove in a career-high six runs. Rios, who posted a .613 OPS in 2011 (the worst of his career) is at .845 this season.
Craig Kimbrel struck out four of the five batters he faced and got the final four outs in a combined two-hit shutout, as the Braves defeated the Rockies, 1-0. Kimbrel's strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio stands at 16.45, while his hits per nine is at 3.58 and his OPS against is .357. All three of those marks would be the best in history for any pitcher with at least 30 saves.
Adrian Beltre tripled and homered and drove in three runs in helping the Rangers to a 7-6 victory over the Royals. In his past 14 games, Beltre owns a .439 batting average and a 1.140 slugging percentage, with 18 of his 25 hits going for extra bases. Among all players in history through their age-33 season, Beltre's 829 extra-base hits are 21st most, and the second most (to Eddie Mathews' 860) among third basemen.
Kansas City's Billy Butler doubled three times -- the fifth time in his career (which began in 2007) he had collected three in a game. Since '07, those five are the most in the Majors. Butler's other four came in '09, when he became the first player in the live-ball era to have four such games in one season.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.