- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Biggest Surprise. Mike Stanley, Yankees. A .251 hitter with 24 home runs and 147 RBIs in just over six seasons before 1993, he hit .307 with 26 homers and 82 RBIs. Only four other catchers in American League history have hit .300 with 25 homers.
Biggest Disappointment. Ray Lank-ford, Cardinals. Projected as an MVP candidate entering the season, he hit .246 with seven homers and 44 RBIs.
Best Pitching Performance by a Non-Pitcher. When A's third baseman Kevin Seitzer made his major league pitching debut on May 2, he threw one pitch and was credited with a strikeout against a hitter he never faced. Oakland was trailing 10-2 in the eighth inning when Seitzer was brought in to pitch after A's pitcher Kelly Downs and Indian batter Carlos Martinez were ejected for fighting. Glenallen Hill replaced Martinez with a 2-2 count and took-one pitch down the middle for strike three. But, according to the rules, the strikeout was charged to Martinez. "I couldn't believe I threw a strike," said Seitzer. "I couldn't believe he didn't swing."
Best Line by a Broadcaster. When Pirate outfielder Scott Bullett missed the cutoff man on consecutive plays against the Braves on July 24, Atlanta play-by-play announcer Skip Caray said, "Any more throws like that, and there will be a no-Bullett theory." Two weeks later Bullett was demoted.
Most Memorable Big League Debut. On May 14, Rocky first baseman Jay Gainer became the 12th player in history to hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues. "I told the guys at Triple A that I was going to swing at the first pitch and try to hit one out," Gainer said. "But I was joking. No one does that. Afterward, I was thinking, My god, what did I do? It was like I did something I shouldn't have done."
Least Memorable Big League Debut. On Sept. 1, Ranger reliever Darren Oliver's first pitch, to Mike Greenwell, went to the screen, but he was not charged with a wild pitch because Billy Hatcher of the Red Sox stole second base on the play. Then Oliver was told to intentionally walk Greenwell. After doing that, he was taken out of the game. Oliver's stat line: one pitch (deliveries leading to an intentional walk aren't included in the official pitch count) and one walk. Oliver said after the game, "Home plate looked like it was 100 miles away." He hasn't pitched since.
Alfred (Not Sterling) Hitchcock Award. On June 11 several dozen sea gulls invaded Milwaukee's County Stadium and remained around the field for the entire Yankee-Brewer game. "It was hilarious, but it was definitely a challenge to grab the ball, not a bird," said Yankee leftfielder Dion James. In 1987, at the Mets' Shea Stadium, James, then with the Braves, hit a fly ball that killed a bird, but he wound up with a double. "It's amazing no bird got it this time," said James. "I thought for sure I'd go for the record: two birds hit in a career."
Most Obscure Record Broken. When Giant pitcher Jim Deshaies went 0 for 2 against the Astros on Sept. 20, he had 372 career at bats without an extra-base hit, breaking a major league mark set by New York Giant and Boston Brave pitcher Virgil Barnes from 1919 to '28. Before the record at bat, Deshaies said, "I looked up and saw leftfielder Luis Gonzalez playing deep shortstop, centerfielder Steve Finley was right behind second, and rightfielder Kevin Bass was drinking a cup of coffee and talking to some fans in foul territory. They took my hitting lanes away."
Mascot of the Year. In late August manager Tim Flannery of the Padres' Northwest League (Rookie) affiliate in Spokane was ejected from a game, but when his team's mascot, who is part dinosaur and part anteater, passed through the clubhouse between innings, Flannery got an idea. He borrowed the mascot's costume, put it on and went out to the dugout to entertain the 7,000 fans in Indians Stadium, none of whom knew Flannery was now the mascot. He even yelled to his wife, Donna, "Honey, I love you." It wasn't until near the end of the game that his players finally caught on, but they were sworn to secrecy so Flannery wouldn't get suspended by the league. Later, Flannery said he would never pull that stunt again. "I swallowed a hair ball in that thing and about choked to death," he said.
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