Behind-the-scenes stories from the time 2016 champion Chicago Cubs
Rob Zastryzny was a member of the 2016 Chicago Cubs bullpen although he was not on the World Series roster. In a new episode of Da Windy City, he shared his memories of the night the Cubs finally ended their World Series drought. When Chicago Cubs fans remember the 2016 World Series champions, na mes like Rizzo, Bryant and Lester come to mind. Rob Zastryzny's name likely does not. Yet Rob Z was a popular member of the team and now five years later, after battling through independent league baseball and a return to health last season in the Marlins system, Zastryzny hopes to get the call to return to the big leagues.
The free-agent starting pitching market has gotten off to a fast start, but there hasn’t yet been any movement among the top tier of arms. There’s surely robust interest in each of the class’ top starters, particularly given that the market for mid-tier options has already proved to be quite strong. Some clarity has emerged on the bidding for one of those top hurlers: right-hander Marcus Stroman. © Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Some clarity has emerged on the bidding for Marcus Stroman.
MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports that the Red Sox, Giants, Cubs, Angels and incumbent Mets are among the clubs with interest in Stroman. The Angels were already reported to be suitors, but the other four teams represent newly known entrants into his market.
Marcus Stroman laughs at notion of going to the Yankees
NewYork Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman laughs at the notion ofhim signing with the New York Yankees over Twitter. While some New York Yankees fans may love to see Marcus Stroman switch allegiances, the New York Mets starter does not see himself in The Bronx in the slightest. Stroman has already clapped back at a weird preseason projection from Bill James this week, so letting a Yankees fan on Twitter know he's not suiting up for them in free agency was not out of the question. While Stroman would not even have to move to play for New York's American League franchise, he is not about to follow his former skipper Luis Rojas over from Queens.
No one in that group is particularly surprising, as each of that quintet has been known to be seeking starting pitching. The Giants, Cubs and Angels have all made one or more notable rotation pickups already, but each reportedly remained in the bidding for Steven Matz even after landing other starters. The Red Sox and Mets were also known Matz suitors, and they’re both facing rotation uncertainty this winter. Boston has already seen Eduardo Rodríguez depart, while the Mets have lost Noah Syndergaard and would need to replace Stroman were he to sign elsewhere.
Stroman’s a sensible target for any team looking to bolster its rotation. The 30-year-old has been a reliable source of above-average innings for essentially the entirety of his career. He’s started more than 32 games and exceeded 175 innings in four of the past five full seasons, with his 19 starts and 102 1/3 frames in 2018 the lone exception. (Stroman also opted out of the shortened 2020 campaign.) Going back to the start of 2016, he ranks 15th in innings pitched, consistently shouldering a heavy workload in spite of his slight frame.
3 expensive free agents the New York Mets must target
The New York Mets are poised to spend big this offseason. Another team looking to reverse its fortunes in 2022 is ready to spend a fortune to do so. Good thing, too; withNoah Syndergaard signing with the Angels this week, Jacob deGrom's arm issues, and many of their stars now free agents, the Mets will have to shell out to win. According to New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, his front office has the green light. "I'm willing, for the right deals and right free agents, to go get the players we need," Cohen said. "We want to be competitive. We want to win our division and be in the playoffs and get deep into the playoffs.
Over the course of his career, Stroman typically hasn’t had an approach geared toward missing many bats. He’s coming off a career-best 11.6% swinging-strike rate, though, a mark that’s a hair above the 10.9% league average for starters. Generating an average-or-better amount of whiffs would be more of an ancillary bonus than anything, as Stroman’s calling cards are plus strike-throwing and plenty of grounders.
The sinker-baller has induced grounders on more than half the balls in play against him in each season of his career, routinely surpassing 60% ground-ball rates during his time with the Blue Jays. His 50.8% rate in 2021 was a career-low, but that figure was still eight points above the league mark. That consistency in inducing ground-ball contact has allowed Stroman to remain mostly impervious to long balls, as he’s never allowed even one homer per nine innings in a season during his big league career.
Tom Brady vs. the Giants: A look at all of the QB's matchups against New York
Tom Brady loves to beat the Giants. That's because of the two enormous games he lost to them and other close calls. We look back at their history.Make no mistake: The legendary quarterback — previously with the Patriots and now with the Buccaneers — certainly respects the history between the G.O.A.T. and Big Blue.
Stroman played out the 2021 campaign with the Mets after accepting the club’s qualifying offer last winter. Players can’t be tagged with a QO more than once in their careers, so Stroman hit the market this winter unencumbered. Signing clubs won’t have to forfeit a draft choice to land the former first-round pick, and the Mets wouldn’t receive any compensation were he to depart.
Between Stroman’s consistently strong track record and the lack of a QO, he profiles as one of the more appealing options in this winter’s class. Stroman doesn’t boast the swing-and-miss stuff of some of this offseason’s other top options, but he’s also proved to be capable of thriving in spite of below-average strikeout numbers. The Duke University product has posted an ERA under 4.00 in four of his six seasons with 100-plus innings pitched, and his 3.02 mark in 2021 was a personal best. Entering the offseason, MLBTR placed Stroman 11th on the Top 50 free agents, forecasting a five-year, $110M guarantee.
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MLB rumors: Dodgers focused on re-signing Corey Seager; Mets make minor moves, eye rotation help
Here's what's buzzing around MLB for Thanksgiving EveThe Dodgers, coming off nine straight postseason appearances, have a number of outgoing free agents who should be priority items this winter.
- Mets owner Steven Cohen blasts Steven Matz's camp after SP signs with Cardinals
- Report: Red Sox 'showing interest' in one-time All-Star reliever Jeurys Familia
- The '200 or more strikeouts in 2019' quiz
Related slideshow: The best-hitting MLB pitchers of all time (Provided by Yardbarker)
The best-hitting pitchers of all time
Most insiders think that the DH is here to stay in the National League, so with hitting pitchers about to go the way of the dinosaur, it's worth taking a look at those hurlers who raked (relatively speaking).
Backe played eight seasons, from 2002-2009, and most of them were undistinguished, posting a 31-29 career record, with a mediocre 5.23 ERA. However, as a hitter with the Astros — they were still in the National League during his stint — he showed some serious potential. He had four home runs in 133 career at-bats, but power wasn’t the most impressive part of his game; Backe was an overall solid hitter. He finished his career with a .256 average and a .731 OPS.
George Brett’s older brother was a pretty fair player in his own right, posting a career 3.93 ERA in 14 seasons. Given his family history, it’s unsurprising that there was some thunder in his bat. Brett’s two best years as a hitter came in 1973 and 1974, when he combined to hit .281 with six home runs in 167 at-bats, and post a .766 OPS. When accounting for the offensive environment of that era, Brett was, amazingly enough, an above-average hitter relative to his non-pitching peers.
Bullet Joe Bush
Bush possessed both an all-time great nickname and some serious chops as a hitter. His career straddled the end of the Dead-ball era, and the beginning of the Live-ball era. When Bush got significant plate appearances in 1921 and 1922, he proved that not only was he not a pushover, but he also was a tough out. Bush hit .325 in 1921 and .326 the following season and then topped both of those years by hitting .339 in 1924. For his career, he finished with a .253 average and seven home runs.
As far as hitting pitchers go, Drysdale is a legend. He hit 29 home runs in 1,169 career at-bats, but what is particularly amazing about his work as a hitter is that the majority of his production came in two flukish, outlier seasons. As a 21-year-old in 1958, Drysdale hit an astounding seven home runs in just 66 at-bats, good for a .591 slugging percentage and an .852 OPS. Seven years later, at age 28, he hit .300 in 130 at-bats, cracked seven more home runs and had an .839 OPS. Oh, and he won a Cy Young and is in the Hall of Fame. Not bad, not bad at all.
Here’s a pretty good synopsis of Ferrell’s talents as a hitter: His 38 career home runs are the all-time record for a pitcher, he was so good as a hitter that he was often used in a pinch-hitting capacity, and he had two seasons with an OPS better than .950, not to mention two more above .800. Ferrell might have been playing in the 1930s, but those numbers are impressive in any era. He wasn’t too shabby as a pitcher, either, winning 193 games in a 15-year career.
Gallardo had an impressive early start to his career, finishing seventh in the National League Cy Young race in 2010, but his talents weren’t limited to the mound. That same season, he slugged four home runs and finished with an .837 OPS while also managing to hit .254. That was by far his best offensive season. A move to the American League in 2015 finished him as a hitter, but he made the bottom of the Brewers lineup formidable every time he pitched.
A Hall of Famer, and one of the best, most intimidating pitchers in baseball history, Gibson was also no slouch when it came to hitting. He managed to stay above the Mendoza Line for his career, finishing with a .206 average, and he also hit 24 home runs. What was most impressive about his hitting prowess was that he did it while having to deal with headhunting opposing pitchers unhappy about his aggressive inside pitching.
A Hall of Famer and member of the 300-win club, Glavine was always a great natural athlete; good enough to get drafted in the NHL and MLB. He made the right choice when he went with baseball, and his natural athletic talents allowed him to shine at the plate. Glavine had virtually no power, but he was an outstanding bunter, leading the league in sacrifices in 2001 and finishing with 216 for his career. He also managed to hit above .200 in nine of 22 seasons.
A two-time All-Star and 22-game winner in 1999, Hampton’s career was derailed late by injuries, but for a time he was one of baseball’s better starters and possibly its best hitting pitcher. Hampton swatted seven home runs in 2001 and finished the season with a .291 average and an .891 OPS. He hit .300 or better in four separate seasons, though some were small sample sizes, even for a pitcher. Still, Hampton more than earned his reputation as one of the most dangerous hitting pitchers in the league.
Harshman dabbled as a first baseman before switching over to pitcher full time in his mid-20s, and he finished his career with a 69-65 mark and a 3.50 ERA. His work as a hitter was impressive, as he hit 18 home runs in a five-season stretch from 1954-1958. Harshman never hit for great average, as he finished with a .179 career mark, but he took a surprising number of walks, was tough to strike out and had legitimate pop in his bat.
One of the game’s all-time best pitchers, The Big Train was also a fearsome hitter in his day. Johnson won 417 games for Washington, six times leading the league in wins. Johnson hit 24 home runs in a 21-year career and was a .235 career hitter. He was a model of consistency, rarely seeing his average dip below .200 for an entire season, putting up solid numbers. His best season as a hitter came at age 36 when he managed a .433 average and a 1.033 OPS in 97 at-bats.
Larsen is most famous for throwing what remains the only perfect game in postseason history in the 1956 World Series, when he blanked the Brooklyn Dodgers while a member of the Yankees. Larsen could also hit, finishing his career with 14 home runs, a .242 average and a tremendous 1958 campaign, when he hit four home runs and finished with a .935 OPS in just 49 at-bats.
Look at that picture and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Michael Lorenzen got lost on his way to the gym and ended up a member of a Major League Baseball team. The Reds reliever is coming off his best season as a pro, with a 2.92 ERA in 73 appearances, but he’s truly noteworthy because he cuts a physically imposing profile and can also hit the daylights out of the ball. Never was this more evident than in 2018 when Lorenzen hit .290 with four home runs in just 31 at-bats, good for a 1.043 OPS.
Newcombe pulled off a rare MVP-Cy Young sweep with his 27-7 campaign in 1956. In his 10-year career, he won 149 games, the 1949 Rookie of the Year Award and a World Series. Newcombe was also a dangerous hitter. His 1955 season is one of the best you’ll ever see from a pitcher at the plate (non-Babe Ruth category). That year, Newcombe hit .359 in 117 at-bats, with seven home runs, 23 RBI and a 1.028 OPS. He never came all that close to any of those numbers again, but that level of sustained brilliance deserves recognition, as does his excellent career .271 average.
Nuxhall is notable for the fact that he made his MLB debut at age 15, but he carved out a solid career, winning 135 games with a career 3.90 ERA. While he only hit .198 in his 16 seasons, he did have some consistent pop in his bat, with 15 career home runs. Early on he was particularly fearsome, piling up 11 home runs from 1953-1956. He was particularly great in 1953, finishing the year with a .327 average and a .928 OPS.
If you want to know what it was like watching Babe Ruth in the flesh, Ohtani provided a pretty good facsimile in 2021. The do-it-all Angels star slugged 46 home runs, third-best in the league behind Salvador Perez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., rapped 26 doubles and even chipped in a league-leading 8 triples. Ohtani led the league with 20 intentional walks, and was unquestionably the most must-see athlete in all of baseball. He finished the season with a .965 OPS (on-base plus slugging), good for third in the majors behind Guerrero and Bryce Harper. And as a pitcher? Ohtani went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA, and struck out nearly 11 batters per nine innings.
Owings the pitcher? Nothing to see here. He had a 32-33 record and a 4.86 ERA in a career that spanned six seasons. Ho-hum. Owings the hitter? That was an altogether different story. He burst onto the scenes as a rookie, hitting four home runs in just 60 at-bats and posting a .333 average for the year, not to mention a 1.033 OPS. He followed that up by hitting .304 the following year and then added three more home runs to his total the year after that. Owings hit nine home runs in the majors, and ended his career with a .283 average and an .813 OPS, the latter figure the best all time for a pitcher.
Pappas won 209 games during a 17-year career, and by some measures he doesn’t deserve to be called a great hitting pitcher. He finished his career with a paltry .354 OPS and hit just .123 as a pro. Still, he did manage to clobber 20 home runs, and while I never saw him hit, one gets the sense that he stepped into the batter’s box with one plan: Swing as hard as possible and hope for the best. Nothing but respect for that approach.
Peters won 124 games in a 14-year career and finished with a solid 3.25 ERA. He also made his mark as a hitter. His best season was his rookie campaign in 1963 with the White Sox, one that saw him win Rookie of the Year. That season, Peters hit .259 with three home runs. He would remain a consistent power threat throughout the rest of his career, finishing up with 19 home runs and a .222 average.
Three All-Star selections, the 1935 World Series with Detroit and a terrific nickname; Rowe had it all. He was also a good hitter. In 15 seasons, Rowe clobbered 18 home runs, hit .263, and had an OPS of .710. He hit .300 or better on three separate occasions and failed to hit .200 for a season just four times in those 15 years. And it bears repeating: He went by “Schoolboy.”
Pretty sure you know about this guy. As a pitcher, you might be interested to learn that he went 94-46 in his career with a 2.28 ERA and won the ERA title in 1916, at 1.75. Next!
Spahn won 363 games in a 21-year career, took home the National League Cy Young Award in 1957, was a 17-time All-Star and won a World Series in 1957. He also has the second-most home runs of any pitcher in history, with 35. Spahn was a model of consistency, never hitting more than four round-trippers in a single season but typically knocking a few out of the yard. Aside from a 1958 season that saw him hit .333, Spahn was not a particularly great hitter, but his power more than made up for that.
A guy who went by “Sloppy” doesn’t really need much else added to his story, but Thurston was a good hitting pitcher in the 1920s and 1930s. He finished his nine-year career with a .270 average and hit over .300 four separate times in his career. He never showed much power, with only five home runs, but he was a triples machine, with 10 to his credit.
Tobin had a losing record for his career despite a 3.44 career ERA. He led the league in losses in 1942 but did earn some small measure of revenge, hitting six home runs that season on the way to 17 for his career. Tobin’s career numbers would have looked poor for a position player, but his .230 average and .648 OPS were more than respectable for a pitcher, even in an era where solid hitting from that position was slightly more common.
The longtime Tigers hurler won 170 games in a 15-year career, posting impressive numbers in the process, including an ERA title in 1944. That wasn’t his only significant achievement that season; Trout also hit five home runs, a career best, and batted .271. Trout ended up with 20 home runs for his career and managed to hit better than .200, finishing his time in the majors with a .213 average.
Willis took the league by storm with his Rookie of the Year-winning performance in 2003, going 14-6 and helping lead the Marlins to a World Series in his age-21 season. He went on to lead the National League in wins in 2005, going 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA. Willis was known for his infectious energy and funky windup, but only the first quality applied to his hitting, which was quite traditional and quite dangerous. Willis had just nine home runs for his career, but he hit .244 overall and managed a .286 mark in 2007, with an .856 OPS to boot. Willis’ career might have been short, but he made his mark on the mound and in the batter’s box.
Wilson led the league with 22 wins for the Tigers in 1967, and while he was an above-average pitcher for the duration of his 11-year career, he was nearly as well-known for his prodigious power. Wilson hit 35 home runs in all, including 18 in a three-season stretch from 1964-1966 and was a classic feast-or-famine hitter. He managed just a .195 average overall, but the threat of his power forced opposing pitchers to deal carefully with them, and he still made them pay.
Zambrano was one of the league’s fieriest players over the course of his 12-year career, the kind of player worth the price of admission whether you were cheering for him or not. He led the league with 16 wins for the Cubs in 2006, but his prowess wasn’t limited to the mound. Zambrano was a menace at the plate, with 24 career home runs and a .238 average. Not only that: He was a switch-hitter, and his approach at the plate might have been more intense than it was on the mound. One of the most fun players to watch in recent baseball history, no matter what he was doing.
7 thoughts for the final 7 games of the Giants’ 2021 season .
There are a lot of Giants with a lot to prove during the remainder of the seasonI say this over and over. Giants’ ownership does not want to have to fire Joe Judge. Ben McAdoo lasted less than two seasons. Pat Shurmur lasted two seasons. The Giants know they have to break this cycle of hiring a coach every third year and starting over. John Mara said he and Steve Tisch understood when they hired Judge, a young first-time head coach, that they were going to have to exercise more patience.