Posts Tagged ‘John Buck’
Surprisingly, the Mormon starting pitcher who is most successful this year is not Roy Halladay, the Phillies’ starter who chalked up a perfect game and post-season no hitter in 2010, nor is it Josh Johnson, the Blue Jays’ ace who was part of the teams off-season attempt to build a first-rate pitching staff.
No, its Jeremy Guthrie, who struggled in the first half of 2012 before joining the Royals to help them stay only 18 games below .500. This year’s Guthrie is like the Guthrie of the last half of 2012, but still a bit better. And he is playing for a team that is (so far) remarkably better at 17-10, the 5th best record in the majors. Guthrie is now 4-0 with a 2.40 era in 6 starts. And on Saturday, Guthrie pitched a complete game shutout of the Chicago White Sox.
With the first month of the season drawing to a close, many ballplayers seem to be settling into their habtis, performing at a normal level instead of unexpectedly high or low. Darwin Barney, two weeks back from the DL, might be an example. His first week back, Barney hit an anemic .059, but this past week he’s back closer to his career norm—.240 with a home run and just one strike out in 25 at bats.
Barney isn’t the only one. After causing a stir with his great start, Mets catcher John Buck had another off week last week, which brought his stats down to normal for his career (.250, 17 ks in 80 at bats). Still, the rbis he rang up in the first two weeks of the season have left him in 5th place in MLB (and far ahead of pace for his best season ever, 2010, when he had 66 rbis) and his 8 home runs put him tied for 4th.
Buck isn’t the only Mormon ballplayer among the leaders in the stats race. Jacoby Ellsbury’s 11 stolen bases leads the majors. And, of course, Bryce Harper is near the top in multiple categories. His 9 homers put him tied for 2nd; he is 5th in batting average, leading the majors in ops, 4th in obp, and tied for 2nd in slugging. And in Harper’s case its not hard to imagine him keeping up this level of performance.
For fans of Mormon players in baseball, the place to be this past weekend was CitiField in Queens, New York, where 20-year-old phenom Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals lost two games to John Buck and the New York Mets. Buck hit a home run and earned an rbi in each of the three games, giving him the major league lead in rbis and putting him in a multi-way tie for 2nd place (along with Bryce Harper) in home runs.
How much longer can Buck keep doing this?
That has to be the question on the minds of the Mets brass as they enjoy results of John Buck’s surprising early performance. Buck, currently having the best start of his nearly decade long career will be looking to improve his contract prospects, since he is up for renewal this year. He is also making a case that at 32 he should keep his place as the Mets’ every day catcher. His performance would delay the arrival of the Mets’ heralded prospect Travis d’Arnaud, whose arrival in the majors was delayedthis past week anyway due to a foot fracture that will take 8 weeks to heal. In any case, the Mets, and fans of Mormons in baseball, should enjoy this performance while it lasts.
While everyone else seems to be cooling down (if they were ever hot this year), Eric Sogard managed to heat up this past week. The Oakland As backup infielder, lodged at second base since regular Scott Sizemore is out with a sprained left knee, went 5 for 15 last week, scoring 4 times and walking once, bringing his batting average up to a respectable .250 in the process.
Sogard was the only Mormon position player on the upswing this past week, but that doesn’t mean that others weren’t also doing well. Bryce Harper hit just as well (.333), but his average was coming down last week from the .400 he it the first week of the season. Harper also hit 2 home runs, earned 5 rbis, scored 4 times and walked 4 times—most of this before the Nationals ran into a stone wall and dropped three in a row to the Braves this past weekend. John Buck also managed to do well this week, hitting 4 home runs earning 10 rbis (!) and scoring 5 times. However, his batting average dropped to .238 for the week.
When the Yankees’ play-by-play radio announcer, John Sterling, says (as he does every game) “You just can’t predict baseball,” I can’t help laughing—because he says it so often. The thing is, though, he’s right.
And in the first week of baseball for 2013 I saw that he is right again. Who would have predicted, even given his strong performance in spring training, that the Mets’ John Buck would have the best batting average among the Mormons in professional baseball? Better than Bryce Harper? Better than Jacoby Ellsbury and Darwin Barney? But here we are, after a week of play, 20 at bats for Buck, he is hitting .400 with 9 rbis and 2 home runs.
Starting the season last week, I thought Harper was the one with the hot bat. He homered in each of his first two at bats for the season (what a hot dog!) and had to endear himself to fans when he checked with his team mates (because he didn’t want to seem cocky) after the second home run to see if it was all right to take a curtain call. Alright? Of course its alright! You just hit back-to-back home runs! when no one else on the team could hit Ricky Nolasco! Yes, Bryce, take the curtain call.
I’ve neglected following the transactions and changing status of the Mormon players for the past several months — a bit of a vacation, I suppose. But with spring training rapidly approaching, I thought I should get the status up to date and start following where everyone is. Today’s update only includes the players who played in the Majors last year.
There are still a couple of players who have played in the majors in previous years whose status is uncertain—Kyle Farnsworth and Brandon Lyon both had strong enough years in 2012 that I think they are likely to be picked up by someone.
Two Mormon players are part of the massive trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Miami Marlins last week that involved a total of 10 players and gutted the highly-paid Marlins team. High performing pitcher Josh Johnson and struggling catcher John Buck were both traded to the Blue Jays as the Marlins reduced their payroll following a losing season. The deal is pending league approval.
The Mormon domain—that part of the Western U.S. where Mormons are a significant portion of the population—first gained a major league team in 1998 when the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks started playing. Since then several Mormons have played on the team, but recently there hasn’t been a Mormon for local fans to cheer. That changed again Sunday when the Diamondbacks traded for Matt Lindstrom.
Read the rest of this entry »
A reader has alerted me to another Mormon playing professional baseball, Lance Pendleton, who is currently with the Durham Bulls in the Tampa Bay Ray’s organization. After he was drafted by the Yankees out of Rice University, Pendleton has spent 6 years in the minors, rising to even the major leagues, debuting on April 15th of last year. Unfortunately, his numbers aren’t very strong this year — a 4.49 era so far — so a return to the majors seems unlikely at the moment.