The veteran slugger and former New York Yankees 2009 World Series MVP collected a pair of go-ahead hits for the Oakland A’s Wednesday night, the first of which was his 500th professional home run. Matsui hit his seventh HR on the year as he dinged a solo shot off the right-field foul pole against Detroit Tigers starter Duane Below in the sixth inning to give the A’s a 3-2 lead. In the seventh, Matsui singled to right scoring Coco Crisp putting the A’s up 6-5 en route to an eventual 7-5 victory.
Hideki Matsui Hits 500th HR!
That’s the headline I saw all over the place Wednesday night. Look, I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, but this is kind of silly. Matsui has hit 168 HRs in nine MLB seasons. At the moment that equates to Hideki having hit about 18.67 HRs per year. If he has a great second half, perhaps he can get that number over 19. That’s nice, but nothing headline warranting. The other 332 HRs included in the 500 total were hit in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attempting to diminish what Matsui did in Japan, the numbers he put up there were of legendary proportions. Matsui didn’t do much in his first three professional seasons there but then put together a stretch that got him noticed around the world and eventually landed him contract with the Yankees. His breakout season came in 1996, when he batted .314 with 38 home runs and 99 RBIs. A three-time MVP in the Japanese Central League (1996, 2000, and 2002), Matsui led his team into four Japan Series winning three titles (1994, 2000 and 2002). Godzilla as he was affectionately known made nine consecutive all-star games and led the league in HRs and RBI three times (1998, 2000, and 2002). His single season high mark for home runs was 50 in 2002, his final season in Japan. In the ten seasons he played in Japan, Matsui totaled 1268 games played, 4572 AB, 1390 hits, 901 runs, 332 home runs, 889 RBIs, a .304 BA, and a .582 SLG. His streak of 1,250 consecutive games played was the second longest in Japan.
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While that’s all well and good, none of it was done in Major League Baseball and I’m sorry but it doesn’t count. According to the official stats of the East Rockaway, NY, Rhame Avenue stickball league, between 1979 and 1985 I hit 576 HRs in stickball in the school parking lot field. Don’t believe me? It’s true; you can verify the numbers with my childhood buddy Kenny Swinson who gave up most of them. Granted there was a short porch in right-center and the pitching wasn’t very good, but hey, I still had to make square contact with a round ball a round bat right? That has to count for something. The fact that the dimensions of the field were favorable for hitters isn’t relevant either, I actually had to turn around and hit lefty to take advantage of the 180 foot wall in in right-center.
My point is that my accomplishment didn’t come in MLB and I have no reason to suggest that my statistical achievement was in any way a benchmark that was headline worthy (although you’re damn certain that it was the first thing I brought up to Kenny at the 25-year High School reunion last year).
So congratulations Hideki Matsui on your 168 MLB HR, because that’s what it was.
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Clayton Kershaw out-pitched Tim Lincecum tossing eight shutout innings and Dioner Navarro homered into the bay leading off the seventh inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
Kershaw is now 11-4 with a 2.72 ERA and is the Major League strikeout leader with 167 in 145 2/3 innings on an awful Dodgers team. At only 23-years old (won’t turn 24 until March 19th, 2012) Kershaw is becoming one of the games most dominant pitchers. If you’re in a Fantasy Baseball keeper league and you are out of it and looking to dump and stockpile some young talent for next year and beyond, Clayton Kershaw is about as good as it gets.
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