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Daily Box Score 7/15: Half-Way Home

Reminder: Post links you come across in the comments section. Then let's discuss the events of the day.

With the All-Star Game behind us, today is one of only two days on which no major American sports hold any competitions (the other being the day before the ASG). As such, today's box score is full of miscellany.

Think about the ten best hitters of all time. I'll give you a minute. Did you include Stan Musial on that list? If you did, would you have before last night's homage to The Man? At Big League Stew, David Brown argues Musial is historically very underrated. But did you know:

He's the first grandfather to hit a home run in a major league game.

Of course, Sean Smith's new WAR leaderboards say he's the 8th best hitter ever, just ahead of Rogers Hornsby. (Speaking of Hornsby, how many of you got last night's trivia question that he was the only player besides Ted Williams to win the Triple Crown twice? Can't say I did...) 

What's the Japanese word for "class act"? Whatever it is, Ichiro has it in spades:

Turns out that Ichiro spent part of Monday visiting the St. Louis grave of Hall of Famer George Sisler, whose single-season hits record he broke in 2004. Ichiro very much wanted to pay his respects to Sisler, and brought flowers to leave at the gravesite.

Folks, that's a record he broke five years ago. 

Via the B-Ref blog, here's a mystery leaderboard:

1. Jason Giambi, 2. Chris Young, 3. Ken Griffey, 4. Chris Davis, 5. Jason Varitek, 6. Mike Fontenot, 7. Jim Thome, 8. Mike Jacobs, 9. Joe Crede, 10. Chris Duncan

The list is active for 2009. Can you guess what it is? Hit the link when you're ready to find out.

Does it help a runner trying to steal a base if the batter swings or not? I think most people intuitively would say that the swing and miss can help, because it can slow the catcher down. But is it true? At BPro Unfiltered, Tim Kniker runs the numbers. The results? It does not appear from the data to help:

So ... it seems that swinging to protect the batter would be a bad tactic, as the evidence suggests that there is no consistent measurable benefit to the runner, and therefore the swing would simply be a wasted strike.

I continue to be fascinated with Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, the Indian-born Pirates farmhands. Two days ago, Singh secured a milestone:

Singh struck out the only batter he faced in the Bradenton Pirates' 10-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers' affiliate. He is believed to be the first India-born player to win a professional baseball game in the United States.

On his blog, Singh writes,

I am happy team doing good today.  Our team is very good guys.

I now wanting we winning more games.  winning is good feeling for team.

I think they've got the hang of it.

Monday's Futures Game likely spelled the end of Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly's pitching season. But he's about to start another one, as a shortstop. Kelly prefers to man short, but the Red Sox like him as a pitcher. Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan has a good article about Kelly and the transition. Kelly was no slouch on the mound, putting up a 74/16 K/BB and a 2.08 ERA in 95 IP.

Are we witnessing the beginning of one of the greatest crops of young pitchers of all time? Wezen-ball says it's possible (but you gotta watch out for those firethrowers from '69):

A few names off the top of my head: Gallardo, Kershaw, Zack Grienke, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez, Chad Billingsley, John Danks, Jon Lester, and Edinson Volquez. All of these pitchers are 25 years old or younger and many of them have a legitimate argument for being the best pitcher in baseball.

Retrosheet reminds us of one group of pitchers that will always compare unfavorably, the 1930 Philadelphia Phillies, who effectively made their collected opponents the best hitting team in history. Between the atrocious staff and the bandbox at the Baker Bowl, the '30 Fightins yielded a jaw-dropping 1199 runs. Kinda makes you wonder if they couldn't have sprung for that last one.