MLB Notebook: Pence's pace one to marvel
Lofty September numbers put Giants outfielder on tail of Greenberg and Co.
At the end of August in 1940, the Tigers owned a 72-53 record, good enough for second place in the American League, 2 1/2 games behind the Indians. Looming, the Yankees -- winners of four consecutive pennants -- sat just 2 1/2 games behind Detroit. Fortunately for the Tigers, they had Hank Greenberg on their side. Playing in 27 games that month (the club went 18-9 in those contests), Greenberg batted .396, posted a .525 on-base percentage, slugged .979 and collected seven doubles, two triples, 15 home runs and 38 RBIs. Greenberg's superb month helped Detroit overtake Cleveland, hold off New York and claim the franchise's sixth pennant. The Giants' Hunter Pence won't be spurring his team toward a pennant in 2013, but with two weeks to go, he still has some time to see how he measures up to Greenberg.
The Giants defeated the Dodgers, 4-3, with Pence continuing a notable run of production. In the win, Pence hit a pair of home runs and drove in three runs, giving him 13 hits in 25 at-bats, with six home runs and 19 RBIs in his past six games.
Pence's eruption has pushed his numbers in September to include nine home runs, 25 RBIs and a .421/.493/.965/1.457 line. Dating back to 1916, there have been 16 players to have a September-October that concluded with at least nine home runs, at least 25 RBIs and an OPS of at least 1.300, while just three of these 16 finished the month with an OPS above 1.400:
• Greenberg, 1940: 15 HR, 38 RBIs, 1.504 OPS
• Richard Hidalgo, 2000: 11 HR, 32 RBIs, 1.486 OPS
• Barry Bonds, 2001: 16 HR, 25 RBIs, 1.685 OPS
Pence has homered in four straight games. He is the first Giants player to do that since Bonds in 2005. Pence also is the first Giants player since Willie Mays in 1965 to homer in every game of a four-game series against the Dodgers; his six-game stretch looks amazingly similar to the run enjoyed by the Yankees' Alfonso Soriano in August.
Double-digit K's for Scherzer again
In a no-decision, Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer allowed one run, five hits and a walk in seven innings, and also fanned 12.
The 12 K's gave Scherzer seven games this season with at least 10 strikeouts -- tied for the fourth most for Detroit since 1916. Mickey Lolich had 11 such games in 1971, and two years earlier had 10. Hal Newhouser posted nine of these games in 1946, and at seven, Scherzer is tied with Denny McLain ('68), Jack Morris ('86) and Justin Verlander (2009).
With his effort, Scherzer owns a 0.959 WHIP and is averaging 10.15 K's per nine.
In the AL since the integration of the designated hitter, four qualifying pitchers have finished a season with a lower WHIP than Scherzer's current mark: Pedro Martinez (three times), Verlander, Johan Santana and Ron Guidry. And in baseball history, four pitchers have finished a year with a WHIP as low as 0.959 and a K/9 as high as 10.15:
• Sandy Koufax in 1965: 0.855 WHIP, 10.24 K/9
• Martinez in 1997: 0.932 WHIP, 11.37 K/9
• Martinez in 1999: 13.20 K/9
• Martinez in 2000: 11.78 K/9
• Martinez in 2002: 10.79 K/9
• Santana in 2004: 10.46 K/9
• Randy Johnson in 2004: 0.900 WHIP, 10.62 K/9
Venable spinning wheels
Padres outfielder Will Venable had two singles and a double to go along with his 20th stolen base of the year. With the steal, Venable became the eighth Padres player with a 20-homer, 20-steal season. Dave Winfield (1978 and '80) and Ryan Klesko (2000-01) each did it twice, while the rest all had one such season. The single-season performers: Joe Carter (1990), Derek Bell ('93), Steve Finley ('96), Reggie Sanders ('99) and Mike Cameron (2006).
Extra, extra! Harper joins rare company
In the Nationals' win over the Phillies, Bryce Harper had a pair of doubles, giving him 101 extra-base hits in his career. Harper is the fifth player in history to have at least 100 through his age-20 season, joining Mel Ott (142), Phil Cavarretta (108), Tony Conigliaro (105) and Alex Rodriguez (104).
Stingy staff for Bucs
The Pirates defeated the Cubs, 3-2, limiting Chicago to three hits. It is the 12th time the Bucs' staff has held the opposition to three or fewer hits, with those 12 the second most in the Majors, trailing the Dodgers' 14. Those 12 are tied for the most for Pittsburgh in a season since 1916, with the 1916, '65 and '75 teams also having 12 such games.
Walk this way, Trout
The Angels defeated the Astros, 2-1, with Mike Trout stealing a base (his 33rd steal), scoring a run (his 104th) and drawing a walk (his league-leading 100th). Trout is the sixth player in baseball history with at least 100 walks in an age-21 or younger season, joining Rickey Henderson (117 in 1980), Ott (league-leading 113 in '29; 103 in '30), Ted Williams (107 in '39), Jimmie Foxx (103 in '29) and John McGraw (101 in 1893).
Trout also became the youngest player in baseball history to have a season with at least 100 walks, at least 70 extra-base hits and at least 30 steals. Before Trout, only 10 players had done this, and all 10 were NL representatives The five youngest? Trout (21 in 2013), Joe Kelley (22 in 1894), Bobby Abreu (27 in 2001; 28 in '02) and Bonds (27 in 1992).
Paul Goldschmidt singled twice, doubled and homered in a 4-for-4, five-RBI day that propelled the D-backs to an 8-2 win over the Rockies. For the season, Goldschmidt has 66 extra-base hits, 114 RBIs and 95 walks. In baseball history, seven first basemen have reached those three numbers in an age-25 or younger season. Lou Gehrig, Foxx and Frank Thomas each did it twice, while Goldschmidt joins Harmon Killebrew, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder with one season apiece.
Swish meets Tex's Mark
In the Indians' 7-1 win, Nick Swisher homered from both sides of the plate for the 13th time in his career. The two home runs gave him 20 for the season. With that mark of 13, Swisher tied Mark Teixeira for the most in baseball history. Swisher's 13 are also the most in AL history (two of Teixeira's 13 came with the Braves). Swisher is one of six switch-hitters in history to have hit at least 20 home runs in at least nine straight seasons. The others are Chipper Jones (14), Mickey Mantle (11), Lance Berkman (10), Teixeira (10) and Eddie Murray (9).
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.