Chris Kamka

Patrick Kane's decade was one for the history books

kane_pic.jpg
USA TODAY

Patrick Kane's decade was one for the history books

The NHL season runs from October to April, so decade leaderboards usually don’t get a lot of attention since it’s sort of odd to chop off halves of seasons. But today, we’re digging in. Why? 

Because a decade just ended and look at who tops the leaderboard in NHL points from 2010-19 (as in January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2019):

Patrick Kane: 807

Sidney Crosby: 788

Alex Ovechkin: 783

Kane’s total of 807 points for the decade is the second-most ever for a Blackhawks player during any decade.

Most points by a Blackhawks player in a decade

Denis Savard: 984 (1980s)

Patrick Kane: 807 (2010s)

Stan Mikita: 784 (1960s)

Bobby Hull: 774 (1960s)

Stan Mikita: 665 (1970s)

Steve Larmer: 630 (1980s)

Jonathan Toews: 628 (2010s)

Doug Wilson: 625 (1980s)

Notice Toews also ranks among the best point decades in Blackhawks history, but his 628 points were only good for 15th in the NHL during the 2010s. And Denis Savard’s franchise best for a decade – 984 points during the 1980s – were only good for fourth in the NHL. Guess who was first.

Most points in the NHL during the 1980s

Wayne Gretzky: 1,864

Peter Stastny: 1,024

Jari Kurri: 997

Denis Savard: 984

I present this list because of how ridiculous it is. The difference between No. 1 and No. 2 is greater than Kane’s point total this decade! By the way, Gretzky also led the NHL with 940 points during the 1990s, but this time he only led by 12 over Jaromir Jagr’s 928. The 1980s were definitely the highest scoring decade in NHL history – look at the five biggest point totals for a player during a decade:

Wayne Gretzky: 1,864 (1980s)    

Phil Esposito: 1,110 (1970s)

Peter Stastny: 1,024 (1980s)

Jari Kurri: 997 (1980s)

Denis Savard: 984 (1980s)

So a recap so far: the best scoring decade by a player in Blackhawks history was the fourth best in that particular decade, but also the fifth best in any decade. OK, now back to Patrick Kane.

Kane is the third Blackhawks player to lead the NHL in points during a decade.

Patrick Kane: 807 (2010s)

Stan Mikita: 784* (1960s)

Doug Bentley: 467 (1940s)

*Bobby Hull & Gordie Howe were tied for second with 774.

The Blackhawks top three in the 2010s is a drastic change from the top three in the 2000s.

2010s

Patrick Kane: 802

Jonathan Toews: 627                        

Duncan Keith: 429

2000s

Steve Sullivan: 281

Alex Zhamnov: 230

Kyle Calder: 209

Sure, the 2004-05 season was wiped out by a lockout, but the reason for the underwhelming total for the Blackhawks leaders during the 2000s is more due to turnover than it is to the missing season.

That being said, Kane has more points during the 2010s than the Blackhawks’ top three point scorers in the 2000s combined (720). And that’s fun.

What an incredible decade for 88.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

 

Remember That Guy: Herbert Perry – a LegenDairy Third Baseman

milkman_white_sox.jpg
AP

Remember That Guy: Herbert Perry – a LegenDairy Third Baseman

Over the last 20 years, the White Sox employed both a “Melkman” and a “Milkman.” Melky Cabrera received his nickname due to his first name. But then there was the “Milkman” Herbert Perry, who actually ran a dairy farm.

Herbert Edward Perry Jr. was born on September 15, 1969, in Live Oak, Florida. His father, Herbert Sr. (who went by Ed) ran a family dairy farm in Mayo, Florida located up where the panhandle meets the peninsula. You can’t make this up: the town briefly renamed itself Miracle Whip in 2018 as part of a marketing deal with Kraft, in exchange for funds to beautify the town.

In any event, Perry was an excellent athlete; he threw multiple no-hitters in high school and played quarterback for the football team at Lafayette High School, eventually earning a football scholarship at the University of Florida. Perry backed up Gators QB Kerwin Bell, who amazingly was also from Mayo (a town of only about 1,200) and was a teammate of future Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. In addition to backup QB duties, Perry punted the pigskin as well.

But it was on the diamond where Perry was most successful, and he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the second round in 1991.

Herbert worked his way through the minors playing first & third base with some pop and patience at the plate leading to a Major League debut for the Tribe on May 3, 1994, at New Comiskey Park.

Perry entered the game in the bottom of the 8th inning as a defensive replacement for future Hall of Famer Jim Thome at third base and drew a walk in the top of the 9th. He earned his first Major League hit a few weeks later off Al Leiter and after a brief four-game trial was sent back to the Indians Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte, where he hit .327/.397/.505 with 13 home runs in 102 games.

Perry returned to the Indians in mid-June 1995 when Dave Winfield went to the DL and performed well in limited duty, spending most of his time at first base and hitting .315/.376/.463 in 52 games. He even saw some postseason action going 0 for 14 with a walk as the Indians eventually lost the World Series to the Braves.

When Julio Franco won the first base job for 1996 (Jim Thome was entrenched at third), Perry was shuffled back to the minors where he eventually suffered a knee injury which kept him sidelined all the way through the 1997 season. He never played another game for the Indians.

While Perry didn’t play a game in 1997, it was an eventful year. He and his brother Chan (who played 18 games over two MLB seasons with the Indians & Royals) purchased cows of their own to continue the family dairy business. Also in November, Herbert got married and later that month, he was the 34th of 35 picks by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the expansion draft.

Other notables selected by the Rays in that draft: Bobby Abreu (immediately traded to the Phillies), Dmitri Young (immediately traded back to the Reds), Esteban Yan (who allowed Konerko’s inside-the-park home run at Tropicana Field AND a home run to Jon Garland in Cincinnati) & White Sox legend Jose Paniagua.

After a year in the minors where he missed a chunk of time due to a broken hand, Perry got the call back to the Majors in May 1999. After not appearing in a Major League game since June 19, 1996, Perry had a wonderful return by collecting 8 hits and 6 RBI in his first three games back. Perry went on to play 66 games for the Devil Rays in 1999. The retiring Wade Boggs opened up the third base spot for Tampa for 2000 but the Devil (since exorcised) Rays instead acquired Vinny Castilla in a trade from the Rockies. However, Perry DID end up the Rays 2000 opening day starter at third base, but only because Castilla was nursing a rib-cage muscle injury. The Rays won that game 7-0 (Perry went 2-4 with a double), and after 7 games with the Rays he ended up on waivers at the end of April. Then the White Sox came calling.

On April 21, the White Sox skimmed the waiver wire and selected Perry from the Rays. On April 22, the White Sox & Tigers got into an infamous brawl, the aftermath of which left 16 players suspended for a total of 82 games. The following day, McKay Christensen was sent down to Charlotte (which was by now the White Sox triple-A affiliate) to make room for Perry.

At age 30, the ”Milkman” finally played in 100 games in a season (7 for the Rays, 109 for the White Sox). Initially backing up Greg Norton, he played himself into a starting role while with the Southsiders, hitting .308/.356/.483 with 12 home runs & 61 RBI. In his first start with the Sox, third baseman Perry homered in an 11-6 win over the Orioles. His .308 batting average was the best by a White Sox third baseman (minimum 50% of games at third) with at least 400 plate appearances in a season since George Kell hit .312 in 1955. Only Yoán Moncada (.315 in 2019) has done it since. From July 25-27, Perry homered in 3 straight games, which is roughly 2% of a 162-game schedule. The White Sox learned that Milkman does a lineup well.

Perry got a chance to play in the ALDS in 2000, and he milked it for all it was worth with a strong 4-for-9 (with 2 walks) performance against the Mariners even though the White Sox were swept in the series. At the team level, it was a big disappointment; the White Sox led the Majors with 978 runs scored and led the AL with a 95-67 record. For Perry, 2001 was a disappointment. He battled a strained Achilles tendon and struggled to remain on the field.

Rather than crying over spilled milk(man), in November the White Sox dealt Perry to Texas for a player to be named later (pitcher Corey Lee). Besides, Joe Crede was waiting in the wings to take over at third base, which he eventually did for good in 2003.

Perry flourished in the Lone Star State in 2002, as he hit .276/.333/.480 with career highs in games (132), home runs (22 – finishing 3rd on the Rangers behind Alex Rodriguez’s 57 and Rafael Palmeiro’s 43) and RBI (77). Unfortunately, the Milkman was at the wrong place at the wrong time. By 2003, Hank Blalock took over at the hot corner and Perry’s playing time was condensed (partially due to another injury). He saw his last MLB action in 2004.

The family dairy farm was sold shortly after Herbert’s father died in December 2004. Perry moved on to running a company in Mayo where he molds and delivers septic tanks throughout Lafayette County.

Herbert Perry was a solid player who could really hit when he was healthy. It’s a shame we never got a chance to see him deliver for an extended period of time. But we remember the Milkman fondly!

Sources:

Holy Cow: A Season Worth Milking

Written by Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune, October 1, 2000

 

SABR BioProject: Herbert Perry

Written by Jay Hurd

 

No Longer The ‘Milkman,’ Perry Tries a Pre-Cast Side to Life

Written by George Castle, chicagobaseballmuseum.org August 29, 2016

 

Baseball-Reference.com

 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

 

 

Tim Anderson’s improbable batting title

Tim Anderson’s improbable batting title

Tim Anderson’s rise to the 2019 American League (and Major Leagues for that matter) batting champion was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2019. In 2018, Anderson posted only the sixth season in White Sox history of 20+ home runs & 20+ stolen bases. However, he did it with a subpar .240 batting average (and .281 on-base percentage). Most of the optimism heading out of last season was due to his noticeable improvement in the field. So when Anderson barreled out of the gate earning the AL Player of the Month Award and a .375/.394/.615 slashline through the end of April (becoming the first player in MLB history with 5+ home runs & 10+ stolen bases without being caught through the end of April), it was quite a breakthrough.

How drastic was Anderson’s improvement? I dug into the record books to see.

First I took a look at batting champions – 1901 to present – who hit under .250 the previous season. There were a few players who did not play at all the previous season – Ichiro (played in Japan) & Willie Mays (military service) come to mind. I did not include those players in these charts.

Players to win a batting title after hitting under .250 the previous season (1901-present)

Player Year Batting Average (BA) Previous BA Previous season PA
Tim Anderson 2019 .335 .240 606
Alex Rodriguez 1996 .385 .232 149
Andres Galarraga 1993 .370 .243 347
Gary Sheffield 1992 .330 .194 203
Terry Pendleton 1991 .319 .230 484
Willie McGee 1990 .335 (NL) .236 211
Matty Alou 1966 .342 .231 351
Carl Furillo 1953 .344 .247 462
Harry Walker 1946 .363 .237 385

I included the plate appearances from the previous season for a reason. None of the other batters qualified for the batting title! I marked Willie McGee’s batting average with (NL) because he was traded to the A’s near the end of the season and I did not include his American League totals in that batting average since he was the NL batting champion.

So there it is, Tim Anderson is the first player in modern MLB history (1901-present) to win a batting title after qualifying with a batting average under .250 the season before.

What about the size of the increase, regardless what the batting average was the previous season?

Well, it’s most of the same names from the previous list, for one thing.

Biggest batting average increase over previous season among batting champions (1901-present); players who qualified for batting title in both seasons are in boldface

Player Year BA Previous season (plate app) Increase
Gary Sheffield 1992 .330 .194 (203) +.136
Andres Galarraga 1993 .370 .243 (347) +.127
Alex Rodriguez 1996 .358 .232 (149) +.126
Harry Walker 1946 .363 .237 (385) +.126
Matty Alou 1966 .342 .231 (351) +.111
Willie McGee 1990 .335 .236 (211) +.099
Carl Furillo 1953 .344 .247 (462) +.097
Tim Anderson 2019 .335 .240 (606) +.095
Josh Hamilton 2010 .359 .268 (365) +.091
Keith Hernandez 1979 .344 .355 (633) +.089

During the modern era (1901-present), Tim Anderson’s 95-point increase is the biggest by a batting champion who qualified for the batting title the previous season as well. Next is Keith Hernandez. To find a bigger increase by a batting champion who also qualified the previous season, you have to go all the way back to when Hall of Famer Mike “King” Kelly who improved from .288 in 1885 to .388 in 1886.  (If you ever wondered what King Kelly looks like, he’s the guy I use for my Twitter avatar.)

Of course, there’s one distinction by Tim Anderson as a batting champion that’s less desirable. And that’s his lack of walks.

Fewest walks by a batting champion (1901-present)

Player Year BA BB
Tim Anderson 2019 .335 15
Zack Wheat 1918 .335 16
Hal Chase 1916 .339 19
Debs Garms 1940 .355 23
Andres Galarraga 1993 .370 24
Matty Alou 1966 .342 24
Ty Cobb 1907 .350 24
Napoleon Lajorie 1903 .357 24
Napoleon Lajorie 1901 .421 24

One bonus note: in the penultimate game of the season, Anderson entered the game with 13 walks and 15 three+ hit games on the season. He improbably walked twice to even up his total of walks & games with three or more safeties. He would have been the only batting champion since AT LEAST 1908 to have more 3+ hit games than walks. However he ended up with 15 apiece, making him only the third batting champion from 1908 to present (that was as far back as I could search gamelogs) with an equal amount of walks & 3+ hit games. Here they are:

Year Player BA Walks 3+ hit games
2019 Tim Anderson .335 15 12
2015 Dee Gordan .333 25 25
1974 Ralph Garr .353 28 28

Yes, the lack of bases on balls has always been his major weakness at the plate, but with Anderson’s improvement at the plate, it’s hard to argue with his .335 batting average and .357 on-base percentage. Those numbers are good no matter how you arrive at them. And if that’s how Anderson best utilizes his skills and maximizes his potential, then you let him do his thing. Hopefully he retains his confidence and his edge into another hugely productive season in 2020.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.