My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· In wake of Roy Halladay’s tragic death this week, it was disheartening to see so many people on social media debating his Cooperstown candidacy. Should this really matter right now? This is not the time for us to offer our opinions, our judgments and our statistical analysis. This is the time to be thinking of Halladay’s wife Brandy and his two teenage sons.
· Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Corunna, Ont., native Rob Thomson was being interviewed for the New York Yankees’ vacant managerial position on Wednesday. Thomson, who has been with the Bronx Bombers organization for 28 seasons and has served as the team’s bench coach since 2013, was reportedly the first candidate to be interviewed. One former player who gave Thomson a ringing endorsement for the position was Mark Teixeira in an interview on the YES Network on Thursday. “He’d be awesome,” said Teixeira, when asked of what he thought of Thomson managing the Yankees. “I love Rob Thomson as a person. I love him as a baseball guy. He bleeds Yankee blue in the pinstripes. He’s one of those guys as soon as people started asking me after the World Series when they decided not to bring Joe back, he was the first guy that came to my mind.” If Thomson is named Yankees manager, he’ll become the first full-time Canadian big league skipper since George Gibson with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1935.
· Interesting baseball stat of the week: From Jeremy Frank’s Twitter account (@MLBRandomStats): “If you added an 0-for-65 to Joey Votto’s 2017 season, he still would’ve led the NL in on-base percentage.”
· Second great Votto stat from Frank’s Twitter account: “Giancarlo Stanton would need to reach base in 100 consecutive plate appearances to have a higher on base percentage than Joey Votto in 2017.”
· Yet, despite these remarkable numbers and topping Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in almost every significant offensive statistical category, including batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and WAR, it was Goldschmidt who was named the Silver Slugger Award recipient for National League first basemen on Thursday. Managers and coaches vote on the Silver Slugger Awards.
· Twenty-one years ago today. Pat Hentgen became the first Toronto Blue Jays pitcher to win the American League Cy Young Award. He edged Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte for the honour. In 1996, Hentgen won 20 games and topped the American League in innings pitched (265-2/3), complete games (10) and shutouts (3). Two other Blue Jays hurlers would later win the award: Roger Clemens (1997, 1998) and Halladay (2003).
· Another remarkable stat from the Vlad Guerrero 4 HOF (@Vlad4HOF) Twitter account on Thursday: “Vlad has 12 seasons of .300+ batting average and 25+ HR. Only three players had more: Ted Williams (14), Babe Ruth (14) and Hank Aaron (13).”
· One fascinating Twitter account to follow is Home Run Hockey (@HomeRunHockey). It tweets about athletes who have excelled in hockey and baseball. An October 30 tweet from this account revealed that Pierre Turgeon, who scored 515 NHL goals, played for the Rouyn, Que., team that represented Canada in the 1982 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Here’s some footage of Turgeon at the tournament.
· Seven years ago, the Oakland A’s picked up Edwin Encarnacion on waivers from the Blue Jays, only to non-tender him a few weeks later. Encarnacion then re-signed with the Blue Jays on December 16, 2010. He received a one-year, $2.5-million contract with a $3.5-million option for 2011. The rest, of course, is history. He proceeded to enjoy five 30-plus home run seasons and become a three-time all-star with the Blue Jays.
· Happy 49th Birthday to former Blue Jays catcher Randy Knorr! During Knorr’s playing career, he likely suited up for more Canadian professional teams – Medicine Hat Blue Jays (Rookie 1986, 1987), Toronto Blue Jays (1991 to 1995), Montreal Expos (2001), Ottawa Lynx (triple-A 2002) and Edmonton Trappers (triple A 2003, 2004) – than any other player. Knorr was recently named manager of the Washington Nationals’ triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. With this assignment, he returns to the city where he played parts of four seasons in triple-A (1991-92, 1995-96) as a catcher in the Blue Jays’ organization.
· If you’re a Canadian baseball history buff (like me), mark November 18th and 19th on your calendar. Crackerjack Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer and longtime SABR member Andrew North has announced that the second annual Canadian Baseball History Symposium will take place at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club in St. Marys, Ont., on those dates. This year’s event, which will again be organized by North, will include presentations about 19th-century player Bob Addy and manager William Watkins, baseball and Canadian soldiers in World War I and the Chatham Coloured All-Stars. There will also be a pictorial history quiz based on images and a panel discussion of what defines being Canadian, and the consequences of that definition for baseball research. The registration fee is $60. To register, please email Andrew North at email@example.com.
· This week’s trivia question: Marcus Stroman was named a Gold Glove Award winner on Tuesday. Who is the only other Blue Jays pitcher to win an American League Gold Glove Award? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1975 Topps Tommy John card, a 1983 Donruss Reggie Jackson card and a 1991 Classic Best Pedro Martinez card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (In the 1976 MLB expansion draft, the Blue Jays selected one player that would go on to win a Cy Young Award. Who is he? ) was Pete Vuckovich who won the American League Cy Young Award for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982.