A favorite White Sox stat of 2019


The 162-game grind of a season leaves a lot in its wake. Including pages upon pages of statistics on the internet. It’s always fun to revisit the season that was, going through all the fun facts and stats that I completely forgot about as well as discovering new ones that slipped by me at the time.

Some of these are meaningful. Many of them are completely useless… but FUN!

This one below might just be my favorite.

On May 3, the White Sox trailed 6-1 heading into the top of the ninth inning. With only a five-run deficit, Ricky Renteria turned to infielder José Rondón to pitch the final inning. That was seen as a rather unconventional choice, as position player pitchers are very uncommon in games that close. But that’s not why we’re here. When he entered the game, he started throwing pitches that didn’t even register on the speed gun. The four pitches that DID register ranged from 50.7 to  59.0 mph. But that’s also not why we’re here.

What José Rondón did was retire the first batter he faced by getting him to fly out to center field. That batter was Mookie Betts, who was the AL MVP the season prior.

But wait, there’s more!

You may recall that on August 6, 2018, Matt Davidson entered a game in the ninth inning where the White Sox trailed 7-0 to the Yankees. It was his third pitching appearance of the season (which in itself deserves to be remembered). He got Brett Gardner out on a grounder in front of the plate. It’s what he did next that is particularly notable. He struck out Giancarlo Stanton, who just so happened to be the NL MVP the season prior.

So in two consecutive seasons a White Sox positon player got the previous season’s MVP out. Amazing!

And to go even further, prior to Davidson, the last position player to get the previous season’s MVP out was ANOTHER White Sox player. J.B. Shuck on June 8, 2016, got 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper to ground out.

So I started wondering, who else from the position player ranks managed to strike out somebody who won an MVP the previous season? So went through and made me a list. I went back to 1970.

Position player pitchers who got the previous season’s MVP out from 1970 to present:

July 22, 2019 Mike Brosseau Rays Mookie Betts lineout
July 20, 2019 Stevie Wilkerson Orioles Mookie Betts groundout
May 3, 2019 Jose Rondon White Sox Mookie Betts flyout
Aug. 6, 2018 Matt Davidson White Sox Giancarlo Stanton strikeout swinging
July 8, 2016 J.B. Shuck White Sox Bryce Harper groundout
May 25, 2011 Wilson Valdez Phillies Joey Votto flyout
June 13, 2008 Aaron Miles Cardinals Jimmy Rollins flyout
Aug. 22, 2000 Brent Mayne Rockies Chipper Jones groundout
July 2, 1991 Doug Dascenzo Cubs Barry Bonds flyout

Sometimes you look for one thing and find something else equally amazing. How about THREE DIFFERENT position players getting Mookie Betts out this season? He was 0 for 3 against position player pitchers only one year removed from an MVP season, which is just plain weird. But how about the White Sox with three consecutive entries on this list? They have had a position player get the previous season’s MVP out three of the last four seasons. And the two guys who did it before Shuck, Davidson & Rondón were also former Sox. Wilson Valdéz played 19 games for the 2004 White Sox and Aaron Miles played 8 games for the 2003 Sox.

It's tough to deny that the recent flurry of entries on this list is due to the fact that position player pitchers have been much more prevalent lately. And sure, having a position player pitcher isn’t fun since the usual reason they’re even used is because the team is being blown out. And sure, maybe a batter doesn’t bear down as much when his team is up 12-1. But still, hey position player pitchers getting MVPs out? That’s always cool no matter what. 

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