June 1, 2012: history was made. Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets history in their 8-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. What made this feat especially impressive is that the Cardinals are arguably the best hitting team in baseball today. Santana threw a career-high 134 pitches (77 for strikes), struck out eight batters and walked five.
The 134 pitches and five walks are not no-hitter records. Edwin Jackson threw 149 pitches in his no-hitter for the Arizona Diamondbacks and walked eight (June 25, 2010). A.J. Burnett walked nine batters and threw 129 pitches in his no-hitter for the Florida Marlins (May 12, 2001).
The no-hitter marked the second consecutive complete game shutout for Santana, who improved to 3-2 on the season with a 2.38 ERA. In his previous start, Santana pitched a shutout against the San Diego Padres. Like all no-hitters, Santana had help on the side. His defense made spectacular plays when necessary; left fielder Mike Baxter robbed Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina of a hit in the seventh inning and injured himself in the process. Santana was also fortunate not to have lost the no-hit bid in the sixth inning as Cardinals outfielder – and former Mets player – Carlos Beltran hit the foul line on the third base side. Much of the ball was in foul territory; however, it was a fair ball for the imprint of the ball could be seen on the foul line chalk.
Santana’s detractors will likely state that this no-hitter should be marked with an asterisk; however, it is not going to happen. Get over it! Missed calls DO happen in baseball. Major League Baseball did not reverse any calls or place an asterisk on the game in which a blown call by the first base umpire cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game on June 2, 2010.
Those who own Santana in fantasy baseball leagues must be pleased with his efforts this season. Santana last lost on April 17; since then, Santana is 3-0 in his last eight starts with a 2.06 ERA and two shutouts. While Santana does not have the velocity he once had, he is clearly showing this season that he can still pitch at a high level.
As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA), I participate each year in several voting sessions during the course of a baseball season. It is now time to unveil my BBA votes for the 2011 MLB All-Star Game.
C: Brian McCann
1B: Joey Votto
2B: Brandon Phillips
3B: Placido Polanco
SS: Jose Reyes
OF: Matt Kemp
OF: Ryan Braun
OF: Matt Holliday
SP: Roy Halladay
NL Rationale: McCann seemed to be an easy choice to me, as he has the best offensive statistics among NL catchers at this time. First base was somewhat a tough decision as I contemplated between Votto and Gaby Sanchez. Both have similar numbers; however, Votto got my vote because he is heating up again while Sanchez has cooled off lately; furthermore, Votto’s .407 OBP is superior to Sanchez’s .376 OBP.
I reluctantly voted for Polanco at third base because he is in a major slump at this time. He has good numbers with a .289 AVG and 39 RBIs; however, his hitting is not as hot as it once was. Polanco hit .398 in April, .248 in May and is currently hitting .207 in June. Nevertheless, he is one of the best contact hitters in baseball when his game is on. He is also an excellent defensive player. No NL third baseman really has mind-blowing numbers this season, so Polanco gets lucky and gets my vote.
Jose Reyes was an easy choice at shortstop. Despite the New York Mets not being contenders in the NL East, I believe Reyes deserves to be mentioned as a possible NL MVP candidate this season. At this time, Reyes is hitting .341 with 61 runs and 28 stolen bases.
Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun were obvious choices for me in the outfield. The difficulty was selecting a third NL outfielder. I originally wanted to cast my vote for Lance Berkman; however, Berkman’s hitting has cooled off recently. His fellow St. Louis Cardinals teammate Matt Holliday has been a much more consistent hitter this season and is the focal point of the Cardinals’ offense while Pujols is on the DL. Despite an earlier trip to the DL, Holliday has a .330 AVG with nine home runs and 39 RBIs.
Roy Halladay gets my vote for the starting pitcher job. In the past few weeks, I felt the NL pitcher spot was a two-man race between Halladay and Hamels. After their most recent outings, Halladay edges Hamels in virtually every stat and is the NL leader in strikeouts; Halladay also has five complete games on the season.
C: Victor Martinez
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Robinson Cano
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Jhonny Peralta
OF: Jacoby Ellsbury
OF: Jose Bautista
OF: Curtis Granderson
DH: David Ortiz
SP: Justin Verlander
AL Rationale: although Victor Martinez splits time between catching and serving as the designated hitter, Martinez gets my vote for the catcher spot in the AL. Martinez currently has a .333 AVG, six home runs and 44 RBIs. No other AL catcher can match him in production at this time.
Adrian Gonzalez was THE most obvious choice for any all-star position on either team this season. Gonzalez is having a monstrous season and should be a unanimous choice for the AL MVP if the season were over today. Gonzalez currently has a .361 AVG with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs. Just as many expected when he was traded to the Red Sox, Gonzalez is putting up video game-like statistics in hitter-friendly Fenway Park. Should Gonzalez remain hot, there is a very real possibility of him winning the triple crown (a feat last accomplished by Carl Yastrzemski in 1967).
Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez were obvious choices for me at second and third base. Cano has no competition in the AL at the position. Although Adrian Beltre put up similar numbers to Rodriguez, Rodriguez has the higher AVG and gets my vote.
Shortstop is where it gets interesting: I originally planned to vote for Asdrubal Cabrera of the Cleveland Indians; however, Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta got my vote. Peralta has a higher AVG and his power numbers are similar to Cabrera, despite having many fewer at-bats than Cabrera.
Jose Bautista was an easy selection for the AL outfield. With the exception of Adrian Gonzalez, Bautista has been the best hitter in baseball this season. The Blue Jays left fielder is currently hitting .325 with 23 home runs and 48 RBIs.
Curtis Granderson and Jacoby Ellsbury also get my votes for the outfield. Offensively, Granderson has been the complete package for the Yankees this season. Granderson is currently hitting .276 with 21 home runs, 55 RBIs, 68 runs and 12 stolen bases. Ellsbury is hitting .303 with nine home runs, 39 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.
David Ortiz was an easy selection for the designated hitter slot in the AL for two reasons: (1) I took Victor Martinez out of consideration for it by voting him to be the catcher and (2) Ortiz has the numbers to back up the vote. Ortiz is curently hitting .311 with 17 home runs and 48 RBIs. He also has 20 doubles, a .391 OBP and .972 OPS. Ortiz may hit .300 or higher for the first time since the 2007 season. Ortiz is turning back the clock and hitting once again like an AL MVP candidate; unfortunately for Ortiz, an MVP will be impossible to win this season if teammate Adrian Gonzalez keeps hitting in Ruthian fashion.
Selecting a starting pitcher for the AL was no easy task. I juggled between Justin Verlander (10 W, 2.38 ERA, 0.84 WHIP), James Shields (8 W, 2.29 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) and Josh Beckett (6 W, 1.86 ERA, 0.92 WHIP). Although all three pitchers have superb numbers, Beckett’s downfall is that he had not pitched nearly as many innings as Shields or Verlander.
In the end, Verlander got my vote because he not only tossed a no-hitter (the second of his career), but flirted with a no-hitter several times this season. Furthermore, his 0.84 WHIP is superior to Shields’ 0.92 WHIP. Simply put, Verlander has been more dominating than any other AL pitcher this year.