Sam Fuld, the Hitless Cubs Club, and "Law & Order"
In the Comments last week, loyal TCR reader The Joe asked which Major Leaguer had the most at-bats without ever getting a hit. (The question stemmed from the fact that Cubs CF candidate Sam Fuld currently has the roundest of lifetime batting averages, .000, after his 0-for-6 showing last season.)
According to the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index, the answer is Mets pitcher Randy Tate, who had 41 at-bats in 1975 without once hitting his way on base. Among non-pitchers, the more interesting record, I think, Mike Potter ('76-'77) and Larry Littleton ('81) share the mark with 23 hitless at-bats for the Cards and Indians, respectively.
But what about the Cubs? I figured that an organization which has fielded so many craptacular teams with roster spots filled by so many never-developed young players and over-the-hill old players would have some worthy entries in a category like this one.
So I waded back into the B-R Play Index and changed the original search parameters a bit to find the 10 non-pitchers who accumulated the most AB's for the Cubs without getting a hit. Note: the players listed may have hit safely before or after they wore the Cub uniform; the point is, they were hitless while they were ours.
Anyway, here are the Top Ten Members of the Hitless Cubs Club:
#10. Herb Hunter, 2B-3B; 0/7 (7 plate appearances) for the 1916-'17 Cubs
In August of 1916, Hunter, then a Giant, became one of still relatively few players in Major League history to hit a home run before his 20th birthday. Two weeks later, he was traded to the Cubs. He went 0-for-4 in the remaining weeks of the 1916 season, then 0-for-3 in 1917, before leaving to fight in World War I. Hunter returned to the bigs in 1920, playing just a handful of games for the Red Sox and Cardinals. He only collected one hit--and no more home runs.
Hunter did eventually manage to leave his mark on baseball, however, becoming a pivotal figure in spreading the game to the Far East. Between the 1922 and '23 seasons, he arranged for a group of American big leaguers to play an exhibition tour in Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines. The group included eventual Hall of Famers Casey Stengel, Herb Pennock, and Waite Hoyt. Nine years later, Hunter returned to Japan with another contingent that included Lou Gehrig, Mickey Cochrane, and Frankie Frisch. And in 1932, he arranged for three American players to travel to Japan and give baseball seminars in universities. Among the three was a player who would ultimately achieve notoriety away from the diamond--catcher turned spy, Moe Berg.
#8(t). Ed Glenn, Shortstop; 0/7 (8 PA) for the 1902 Cubs
#8(t). Bill Carney, Outfielder; 0/7 (8 PA) for the 1904 Cubs
#7. Mario Encarnacion, Outfielder; 0/7 (9 PA) for the 2002 Cubs
"Super Mario" was once a highly regarded prospect, even more highly regarded than his close friend and fellow Dominican, Miguel Tejada. Originally signed by the A's, Encarnacion spent seven years in the minors before his rookie year with the Rockies in 2001. He was placed on waivers by the Rox and picked up by the Cubs at the beginning of the '02 season, playing in just three games before he was out of the majors for good.
Three years later, Encarnacion, playing for a professional team in China, failed a steroids test and was suspended for two weeks. Late that same season, when he failed to show up for a team practice, club officials found Encarnacion dead in his hotel room. Encarnacion's death was never directly tied to the drug use (at least, not that I could find).
#6. Harry Wilke, 3B; 0/9 for the '27 Cubs
Wilke deserves a special place in the Hitless Cubs Club since he is the only player on this list whose entire hitless career was as a member of the Chicago Cubs. Congrats, Harry!
#5. Al Glossop, 2B-SS; 0/10 for the '46 Cubs
#4. Ike Van Zandt, Outfielder; 0/11 for the 1904 Cubs
Another happy tale: Van Zandt played in four games for the Cubs in '04, finishing his unremarkable Major League career the next season with the St. Louis Browns. Three years later, while he was playing for a town team in North Adams, New Hampshire, Van Zandt helped fix a game. When news of the fix got out, Van Zandt shot himself in the heart. (No more tragic deaths on this list--I promise.)
#3. Ed Mickelson, 1B; 0/12 for the '57 Cubs
Mickelson had several things to be proud of in his baseball career. He got his first Major League hit as a St. Louis Cardinal while subbing for the great Stan Musial; the hit came off Braves Hall of Famer Warren Spahn; and in 1953, Mickelson recorded the last RBI in the history of the St. Louis Browns. As a Cub, however, he was just hitless.
#2. Clem "Count" Clemens, Catcher: 0/15 for the '16 Cubs
A basketball player at Notre Dame before turning pro in baseball, Clemens eventually landed with the Chicago Whales of the Federal League--the original tenants in Weeghman Park, now Wrigley Field--before joining the Cubs in 1916. Following his baseball career, Clemens became an attorney and was active in Chicago political and legal circles, even running (unsuccessfully) for alderman.
As far as I know, he never crossed paths with Tony Rezko.
Moriarty's brief, hit-free time as a Chicago Cub was just a blip in his colorful, 37-year career as a Major League player, manager, and umpire.
Born in Chicago and raised near the Union Stock Yards, Moriarty had an undistinguished playing career with the Cubs, New York Highlanders, Detroit Tigers and White Sox, which ended in 1916. He then worked as an American League umpire until 1940, with a brief interruption in 1927 and '28 to manage the Tigers.
As an ump, it sounds like Moriarty was a first-class bastard. He reportedly challenged members of the Cleveland Indians to a fistfight beneath the stands in the middle of a game in 1932. He is also the butt of a probably apocryphal story involving Babe Ruth, who, between pitches of an at-bat, allegedly stepped away from the plate and asked home-plate ump Moriarty how he spelled his last name. Moriarty spelled it, after which Ruth is said to have replied, "Just like I thought. Only one I."
Moriarty's final claim to fame has nothing to do with baseball, but very much to do with one of television's greatest shows. He was the grandfather of actor Michael Moriarty, who, among his many roles, played Ben Stone, the original Assistant District Attorney on "Law & Order."
I think while I get what you're saying with moving around a lot of baseball is very rhythm based and for many players moving around a lot could disrupt that. It's the same reason many players aren't cut out for phing or dhing since they need to be in the rhythm of the game to hit.
Of course then you have players like LaStella who are terrible as starters and should only PH. Really hope Madden doesn't get enthralled with him starting too much.
The players are required to perform with minimal thinking, relying on reflex, reaction, and muscle memory (or, as you say, rhythm). I think this point of view doesn't lend itself well to changing things up. Wearing Zany suits, on the other hand, does sound like fun and definitely keeps things interesting.
Scared me for a minute with your anagram for "Almora".
KKVG: Among the players at Extended Spring Training, Isaac Paredes is the most-impressive position-player from the Cubs 2015-16 IFA class (I'm not including OF Eddy Julio Martinez, because he skipped EXST and began the season at South Bend). Paredes has legit game power and handles himself well at SS, although I think he will likely eventually end-up at 2B or 3B (maybe not this year, but down-the-line). It is possible that Paredes will get assigned to Eugene (and skip AZL) next month, and I would say he's the only one of the Cubs 2015-16 IFA position players who could.
Having been a mediocre HS player, I would think at a professional level - and in their 20's - doesn't it sound actually FUN to have a chance to play different positions in a 162-Game, uber-long season?
It has to take some of the monotony out of the job and keep you on your toes.
In fact, the best manufacturing floor job satisfaction training theories include job rotation as a way to improve employee satisfaction.
I hope Maddon can keep it going.
(It's usually KK, because his DNA is more like ours.)
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.