Jul 29, 2014
Partly Cloudy

Hot Stove: 1/10

History of Baseball: 1901
AL Champion: Chicago White Stockings (83-53, .610 WPCT).  NL Champion: Pittsburgh Pirates (90-49, .647).
1901 was a huge year for baseball.  It was the first year in which the new American League played.  The National League had been in existence since 1876, but now, for the first time since the American Association folded in 1891, the NL did not have a monopoly.  The AL formed with eight charter members: the Baltimore Orioles (not today's Orioles), Boston Americans, Chicago White Stockings, Cleveland Bluebirds, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers (not today's Brewers), Philadelphia Athletics, and Washington Senators.  The National League landscape remained the same.  The American League officially began on April 24th, when the Chicago White Stockings beat the Cleveland Bluebirds 8-2 in Chicago.  Throughout the season, a rookie named Christy Mathewson, recently acquired by the New York Giants, was electrifying baseball.  He earned his first win on April 26th and tossed a no-hitter on July 15th, still before his 21st birthday.  As it turned out, the Chicago White Stockings became the first American League Champions, going 83-53 to finish four games ahead of the Boston Americans (79-57).  35.5 games back were the Milwaukee Brewers, who went 48-89 to be the first time to occupy the AL cellar (something the Astros proudly do today).  In the business as usual NL, the Pirates won the pennant with a 90-49 record, easily outlasting the second place Phillies, who went 83-57 and finished 7.5 games back.  The Reds finished last, going 52-87, 38 games out.  Statistically, the AL was dominated by two players.  Nap Lajoie of the Philadelphia Athletics (having transferred from the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason) won the Triple Crown, leading the league with 14 home runs, 125 RBI, and a .421 average.  In addition, Lajoie led the AL in runs (145), doubles (48), hits (229), on-base percentage (.458), slugging percentage (.643), and OPS (1.101) to go along with his lead in homers, ribbies, and average.  It's safe to say the young AL was not ready for a star of Lajoie's status.  In the batting average race, his .421 mark was a full .081 higher than second place Mike Donlin of Baltimore (.340).  On NL-AL transfer was just as dominant on the mound.  Cy Young, who moved from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Boston Americans, went 33-10 with a 1.62 ERA and 158 strikeouts to win the pitchers' Triple Crown.  He also led with a 0.97 WHIP.  Back in the NL, St. Louis' Jesse Burkett won the batting title at .376.  Pittsburgh's Jesse Tannehill won the NL ERA crown at 2.18.  In Christy Mathewson's incredibly successful rookie campaign, he finished 20-17 with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.  Another NL star to go along with Lajoie and Young, Joe McGinnity, did not fare as well in his first AL season; he was just 26-20 with a 3.56 ERA for the Orioles.  After the season, there would be some moving around in the AL, and the 1902 season would see the famous Tinker to Evers to Chance double play combination enacted for the first time.

Three new members were voted into the Hall of Fame; the BBWAA elected Greg MadduxTom Glavine, and Frank Thomas all on their first ballot.  A blog is coming out later with highlights and in depth analysis for the three.
Yankees designated Vernon Wells for assignment, meaning they have ten days to trade, demote, or release him.
Rangers pitcher Derek Holland will be out well into the first half with a knee injury.
Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander had abdominal muscle surgery and will be out six weeks.  He will more than likely be ready for Opening Day.
Nationals agreed to terms with Stephen Strasburg on a $3.98 million deal that will avoid arbitration for 2014.

Free Agent Signings
Nationals signed Jamey Carroll (0 HR, 11 RBI, .211 AVG, 2 SB, 2014 age: 40) to a minor league deal.
Rays signed Jayson Nix (3 HR, 24 RBI, .236 AVG, 13 SB, 2014 age: 31) to a minor league deal.
Mets resigned Jeremy Hefner (4-8, 4.34 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2014 age: 28) to a minor league deal.
Angels signed Mark Mulder (coming out of retirement, 4.18 career ERA, 2014 age: 36) to a minor league deal.
Royals signed Ramon Hernandez (3 HR, 6 RBI, .208 AVG, 1 SB, 2014 age: 38) to a minor league deal.
Pirates signed Robert Andino (0 HR, 4 RBI, .184 AVG, 0 SB, 2014 age: 30) to a minor league deal.
Nationals signed Mike Fontenot (missed 2013, 27 career HR, .265 AVG, 2014 age: 34) to a minor league deal.

Lacking infield depth, the Nationals turned to veteran utility man Jamey Carroll.  He's played every single position on the diamond except for catcher and first base, appearing at second, third, short, all three outfield positions, and even pitcher for one game in a 13-0 blowout last year.  A three time winner of his team's Heart and Hustle Award (2006 with Rockies, 2011 with Dodgers, and 2012 with Twins), he is known as a reliable player and a positive influence in the clubhouse.  Though he lacks any power whatsoever, he can hit for average and steal an occasional base.  He played for the Expos from 2002-2004, then was a utility man on the inaugural Nationals team in 2005.  When general manager Jim Bowden sold him to the Rockies in 2006, manager Frank Robinson was very upset to lose Carroll.  Carroll, born and raised in Evansville, Indiana, had his best season in 2006 with Colorado, when he hit five home runs and batted .300 with 10 stolen bases in 136 games.  Last year, injuries limited him to 72 games, and he batted only .211 with only nine extra base hits, all doubles.  However, as recently as 2012, he hit .268 with nine stolen bases and a home run in 138 games.  For his career, he has 13 home runs, 265 RBI, a .272 average, and 74 stolen bases in 1275 games for the Expos/Nationals (2002-2005), Rockies (2006-2007), Indians (2008-2009), Dodgers (2010-2011), Twins (2012-2013), and Royals (2013).  

The Nationals also added Mike Fontenot to the infield mix.  He can play second base, third base, and shortstop.  Though he did not play in the majors in 2013, but he did bat .289 in 47 games for the Phillies in 2012.  The 5'8" utility infielder out of LSU had his best season in 2008, when he hit nine home runs, drove in 40, and batted .305 in 119 games for the Cubs.  He spent last season with the Rays' AAA affiliate in Durham, where he batted .264 with four home runs in 120 games.  For his major league career, he has 27 home runs, 163 RBI, and a .265 average in 582 games for the Cubs (2005-2010), Giants (2010-2011), and Phillies (2012).

Coming out of retirement is former Moneyball pitcher Mark Mulder.  He pitched with the A's and Cardinals from 2000-2008, then spent five years out of baseball.  Over the 2013-2014 off-season, he retooled his stuff and brought his fastball back up to the low 90's.  The Angels took a chance on him, and he will vie for that fifth rotation spot with Tyler Skaggs, Joe Blanton, and Matt Shoemaker.  Mulder is best known for his time with the Moneyball A's, where he reached two All Star teams and was known as one of the better pitchers in the AL. His best season came in 2001, when he was 21-8 with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP, completing six of his 34 starts and tossing four shutouts.  The 21 wins were tops in the AL and the four shutouts led all of baseball.  Mulder then went 19-7 with a 3.47 ERA in 2002, then made his first All Star team in 2003 by going 15-9 with a 3.13 ERA and nine complete games in just 26 starts.  Despite his low total of 26 starts, his nine complete games tied with Roy Halladay and Bartolo Colon to lead the majors.  Mulder would win 17 and 16 games in 2004 and 2005, but injury issues slowly knocked him out of baseball by 2008.  For his career, he is 103-60 with a 4.18 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 205 games (203 starts).  His ten career shutouts are tied for fifth among active pitchers, behind Tim Hudson (13), Bartolo and Colon/Cliff Lee/C.C. Sabathia (12), and tied with A.J. Burnett and Johan Santana.  Mulder has also been very successful in the postseason, going 3-4 with a 2.34 ERA over seven starts in the 2001, 2002, and 2005 postseasons.

Teams followed in this update: Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers
If your team is not included, please leave a comment.
HR: home runs.  RBI: runs batted in.  AVG: batting average.  SB: stolen bases.  ERA: earned run average. WHIP: walks/hits per innings pitched.  K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage
Zack Silverman

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