8/1/2014 11:49 A.M. ET
MLB Notebook: Kershaw poised for fourth straight title
Ace joined Grove, Maddux when he posted best ERA for third consecutive year in '13
By Roger Schlueter / MLB.com
From 1929-31, the Major League ERA champ in each year pitched for the same team (the Athletics) and went by the same name (Lefty Grove). From 1993-95, the Braves' Greg Maddux claimed the lowest ERA in baseball.
Last year, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw joined these two, winning his third straight Major League ERA title. Neither Grove nor Maddux issued a low enough mark in the year following the third straight crown to make it four in a row, with Grove finishing fifth in 1932 and Maddux dropping to a distant second in '96.
More and more, it looks like a fourth straight big league belt -- even amid elite seasons by other pitchers around the league -- is within Kershaw's grasp, as he keeps finding ways to astonish and deepen his imprint.
Kershaw went the distance in the Dodgers' 2-1 victory over the Braves on Thursday, allowing nine hits and one earned run with nine strikeouts and no walks.
For the month of July, Kershaw -- in five starts -- was 4-0 with a 1.07 ERA, a 0.643 WHIP, 4.929 hits allowed per nine innings, and a 10.75 K:BB ratio. Looking at each July since 1914, among left-handers:
• He is the fourth to have at least five starts, at least four wins and no losses, and an ERA as low as 1.07;
• His 0.643 WHIP is the third lowest for those with at least five starts (his 0.596 in July of 2103 is the lowest);
• His 4.929 hits per nine is the 10th lowest for those with at least five starts;
• His 10.75 K:BB ratio is the 12th best for those with at least five starts.
Taking stock of Kershaw's season, among all left-handers since 1893 who qualified for an ERA title:
• Kershaw's 0.824 WHIP would rank first, ahead of Dave McNally's 0.842 in 1968;
• Kershaw's 1.71 ERA would tie for 12th;
• Kershaw's 207 ERA+ would be sixth best;
• Kershaw's 10.00 K:BB ratio would rank second, with Cliff Lee's 10.28 in 2010 the top mark;
• Kershaw's 6.30 hits per nine would rank 23rd;
• Kershaw's 33.0 strikeout percentage would rank sixth.
Kershaw has won 10 straight decisions, and owns a 0.94 ERA over the course of the streak - one that encompasses 11 starts. The last Dodgers pitcher to record a longer winning streak was Orel Hershiser, who won 11 decisions in a row in 1985.
Abreu: More than beginner's luck
The White Sox defeated the Tigers, 7-4, on Thursday, with first baseman Jose Abreu going 3-for-3 with two doubles and two walks. Abreu has now hit safely in 20 straight games, and he is .407/.462/.691 during the streak.
• The hitting streak is the third longest ever for a White Sox rookie, behind Guy Curtright's 26-game run in 1943 and Chico Carrasquel's 24-game streak in 1950;
• Abreu is now slugging an AL-leading .636.
• Mark McGwire is the last rookie to lead his league in slugging, posting a .618 to pace the AL in 1987;
• The Major League rookie record for slugging percentage is Rudy York's .651 in 1937;
• With his two doubles, Abreu has 60 extra-base hits in 407 plate appearances for an extra-base-hit percentage of 14.74. Using the current standards to identify all rookies, no rookie in the modern era (since 1901) has ever qualified for the batting title and finished with a percentage that high. York's 13.43 stands as the highest mark.
Arrieta creeping onto leaderboards
Jake Arrieta allowed one run on three hits in seven innings and picked up the win as the Cubs defeated the Rockies, 3-1 on Thursday. With 98 innings pitched this season, Arrieta is still short of the necessary amount to appear on the NL leaderboard for ERA, but his 2.11 is the fourth lowest in the league among those with at least 16 starts. Arrieta is also holding opponents to a .196 batting average and owns a 0.990 WHIP.
Among Cubs pitchers who did finish a season with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title:
• The last to own a season-ending ERA at or below 2.20 was Maddux, who posted 2.18 in 1992;
• The last to finish with a sub-one WHIP was Dennis Eckersley, who completed the '85 campaign at 0.969;
• The last to finish the year with a batting average against below .200 was Kerry Wood, who limited the opposition to a .196 mark in '98.
Pujols: Extra-innings royalty
Albert Pujols delivered an RBI single in the top of the 13th inning and the Angels defeated the Orioles, 1-0, on Thursday.
Pujols owns a 1.129 career OPS in extra innings in 154 plate appearances. That is the second highest mark for any player over the past 40 seasons with a minimum of 150 trips to the plate.
• Highest OPS in extra innings from 1975-2014 (min. 150 plate appearances):
Jack Clark, 1.154 OPS, 232 PA
Pujols, 1.129, 154
McGwire, 1.096, 151
Will Clark, 1.090, 186
Frank Thomas, 1.064, 183
George Brett, 1.041, 226
The Angels had last won a 1-0 affair that went at least 13 innings on Aug. 20, 1978, when they defeated the Orioles in 14 innings. The only other time they beat a team 1-0 in a game lasting at least 13 innings was when the Los Angeles Angels defeated the White Sox in 15 innings at Dodger Stadium on April 13, 1963.
The Angels limited the Orioles to just five singles in the win, which saw 48 Baltimore batters come to the plate. The Angels had last authored a shutout, faced at least 48 batters and allowed no extra-base hits in 1963 in that 1-0 win against the White Sox.
Double the fun: Cano reaches milestone
In the Mariners' 6-5 win over the Tribe on Thursday, Robinson Cano collected his 400th career double. Cano's 400:
• Are the seventh most in history for any player through his age-31 season. He trails Ducky Medwick, Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Stan Musial, Robin Yount and Lou Gehrig (who would be next for Cano, with 402);
• Tie him with Wade Boggs for the fourth most in history for any player through his first 10 seasons. In this scenario, Boggs and Cano trail Pujols, Medwick, and Todd Helton.
Cueto taking place in record books
Johnny Cueto allowed one run, four hits, and one walk in seven innings and picked up the win as the Reds defeated the Marlins, 3-1, on Thursday. With the effort, Cueto -- now 12-6 -- owns a 2.05 ERA, a 0.916 WHIP and a rate of 5.86 hits allowed per nine innings.
Looking at Cueto's numbers in relation to qualifying NL right-handers in the liveball era:
• His 2.05 ERA would stand as the 19th lowest, just behind Hershiser's 2.03 in 1985;
• Cueto's 178 ERA+ would be 23rd highest, just behind the 179 put together by Phil Niekro in '67, Marvin Freeman in '94, and Mark Prior in 2003;
• Cueto's 0.916 WHIP would be seventh lowest, in between Juan Marichal's 0.914 in '65 and Mike Scott's 0.923 in '86;
• Cueto's 5.86 hits per nine would rank fourth lowest, in between Bob Gibson's 5.85 in '68 and Pedro Martinez's 5.89 in '97.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.