One of baseball’s greatest relief pitchers, Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, passed away on October 13 at the age of 69. He played for the Cubs, Cardinals, and Atlanta Braves in his 12-year major league career. In his first professional season in 1972, he injured his arm. At spring training in 1973 he was taught how to throw a split-finger fastball and it energized his career.
Sutter was a six-time All-Star and won a Cy Young Award in 1979 with the Cubs. He ended his career with 300 saves.
- Sutter was born in Lancaster, PA. He is one of 1,488 MLB players born in Pennsylvania, and one of 678 pitchers born in that state. Sutter is also one of 19 players born in Lancaster; one of his teammates with the St. Louis Cardinals was second baseman Tom Herr, another Lancaster, PA-born MLB player. The two of them won a World Series together with the Cards in 1982.
- Drafted by the Washington Senators in the 21st round of the 1970 draft, Sutter never played a game in the Senators organization. He in September 1971, signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs and played his first professional game as a member of the Gulf Coast Cubs in 1972 at age 19.
- He made his MLB debut on May 9, 1976, with the Cubs pitching one inning in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. His first career strikeout was Dan Driessen.
- Sutter was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. He is one of seven relievers in the Hall with at least 300 saves. He collected his 300th save in the last game of his career on September 9, 1988. He was then pitching for the Atlanta Braves.
- Bruce was a six-time National League All-Star, making the team five straight years from 1977-81. He won or saved the All-Star game for the N.L. in four consecutive years (1978-81).
- Sutter had 22 saves in the minors. He did start two games in his minor league career. In his MLB career, all 661 games that he pitched were in relief. He is one of 47 relievers to pitch in 600 or more career games, all in relief.
- He led the National League in saves five times. He did it twice as a member of the Cubs and three times with the Cardinals.
- Sutter accumulated 133 career saves with the Cubs and 127 with the Cardinals. He is second on the Cubs all-time career saves list behind Lee Smith. He ranks fourth on the Cardinals all-time career list. Jason Isringhausen ranks #1 in that category for the Cards.
- Sutter had a career batting average of .088. He had six RBIs, no extra base hits, but did steal a base in a game.
- He had the most saves in his career against the Mets with 38. He gave up 77 home runs; the player who hit the most HRs off Sutter was a former Cub, Ryne Sandberg. The two, however, never played together with the Cubs. Sutter’s last year with the Cubs was 1980; Sandberg’s first year with the Cubs was in 1982.
- Sutter twice lost 10 or more games in a season. In 1978 he was 8-10 with the Cubs; in 1983 he was 9-10 with the Cardinals. He is one of 21 relief pitchers (80% or more of their games pitched as a reliever) to lose 10 or more games in multiple seasons. Former reliever Mike Marshall tops this list losing 10 or more games as a reliever in five seasons.
- Bruce Sutter pitched in one post-season, 1982. The Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS and then beat the Milwaukee Brewers in seven games to win the ‘82 World Series. Sutter pitched in six post-season games that season collecting two wins and three saves.
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- Over the past couple of weeks, the Milwaukee media has been writing about how the Brewers will be looking to make club history in the 2020 season by making the playoffs for the third season in a row, something that has never been done in the history of the team. It is true that the Brewers have never made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, but they are one of 11 MLB teams that have never accomplished this feat. The other 10 MLB franchises that have never made it to the post-season in three straight years: Arizona, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, Colorado, Miami, New York Mets, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington. The Brew Crew is the only one of these 11 teams that could make it three in a row this season; Tampa Bay and Washington are the only other two teams on this list that made it to the post-season last season.
- In the past 20 seasons, which Chicago baseball team has won the most games in a season? In 2014, the Cubs and White Sox each won 73 games. In the other 19 seasons, the Cubs have won more games than the White Sox in 12 seasons. The White Sox won more games than the Cubs in seven seasons since 2000.
- Last year in the NFL (2019 season) about 45% of the TDs scored in the season were by players who were under the age of 25. In NFL history, there have been six players who scored 50 or more career TDs before they turned 25: Barry Sanders (57), Todd Gurley (56), Maurice Jones-Drew (56), Randy Moss (54), Jim Brown (53) and Emmitt Smith (53).
- Which NBA franchise has had the worst record this century? If you answered the New York Knicks, you are correct. The Knicks have a combined record of 693-997 (.410 winning percentage) from the 1999-2000 season until today. Three other teams have a cumulative winning percentage under .426 since 1999-2000: Washington (.423), Charlotte (.424) and Minnesota (.425).
- Terry Felton may not be a name that you are familiar with in baseball lore, but he holds a very dubious honor. Felton, a pitcher, was a second round pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 1976 draft. He played four seasons in the majors. In 1979 he was 0-0; in 1980, he was 0-3, in 1981 he was again 0-0; in 1982, however, he had a record of 0-13. After that 1982 season, he never again played in the majors. He ended his MLB career with a record of 0-16. He holds the record for most career losses without a win in the majors. Felton played two years in the minors in 1983 and 1984. In his minor league career he compiled a pitching record of 43 wins and 64 losses.
- It looks like we are less than two months away from the 2020 NFL regular season kicking off. Over the past 10 seasons, there are two teams that have compiled an 8-2 record in their opening week games… New England and Philadelphia. Five teams went 7-3 in their first game of the year from 2010-2019: Kansas City, Denver, Green Bay, Baltimore and San Francisco. The NFL’s worst opening game teams this past decade? Cleveland was 0-9-1, Indianapolis was 1-9, and the Giants were 2-8.
- The 2020 MLB season will consist of only 60 regular season games. In MLB history, the best record after the first 60 games of the year is 48-12 by the 1912 New York Giants. The 2001 Seattle Mariners, 1939 New York Yankees and 1907 Chicago Cubs tied for the next-best record after the first 60 games with a 47-13 record. Since 2010, there have been seven teams that won 40 or more games in the first 60 played in a season. Three of those teams won the World Series (the 2016 Cubs went 42-18; the 2017 Astros went 42-18 and the 2018 Red Sox went 41-19). For Brewers fans, the best the Brew Crew has done in the first 60 games of a season is 37-23 in 2018.
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MLB’s best second-half teams over the past three seasons
For those teams hoping to make a run at a post-season appearance, getting off to a good start after the All-Star break is important.
Looking at the past three seasons (2016-18), the Chicago Cubs have been baseball’s best second-half team in that time period. The Cubs compiled a record of 139-78 (.641 winning percentage) after the All-Star break in the past three seasons, tops in the majors. Over in the American League, the Cleveland Indians were the league’s best second-half team the last three seasons with a .633 winning percentage. The Cubs and Indians were the only teams to win 60 percent or more of their games in the second half of the three seasons from 2016-18.
Here’s a look at the winning percentages of each MLB team after the All-Star break over the past three seasons.
Chicago Cubs, .641
L.A. Dodgers, .581
N.Y. Yankees, .571
St. Louis, .556
Tampa Bay, .509
N.Y. Mets, .500
L.A. Angels, .499
Kansas City, .477
San Diego, .424
Chicago White Sox, .421
San Francisco, .399
The Cubs have had two of the three best second half winning percentages over the last three campaigns. In 2016 the Cubs had a winning percentage of .685 the second half of the season; in 2017 their second-half winning percentage was .662. The only team with a better second-half winning percentage over the past three seasons were the 2017 Cleveland Indians who had a .733 winning percentage after the All-Star break that season. The Oakland A’s had the best second half winning percentage last season at .646; the Brewers were second with a .631 second-half winning percentage in 2018.
For the record, the Boston Braves hold the MLB record for highest second-half winning percentage at .792… they were 61-16 after the All-Star break in 1914. Thirty-three different teams had a winning percentage of .700 or higher in the second half of the season. Five of those happened after 2000: Oakland-2001, .773; Cleveland-2017, .733; Oakland-2002, .716; Seattle-2001, .707; and N.Y. Yankees-2009, .703.
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Another 90-win season in 2019 could put Cubs in elite company
Would you consider this Cubs team a dynasty? Would you say that the Cubs run over the past few years would make them one of the elite teams in baseball history?
As you ponder those two questions, let me offer a case that a great 2019 will put the Cubs in some very impressive company.
The Cubs in the last four seasons have won 97 games (2015), 103 (in 2016), 92 (2017) and 95 last season. Another 90-win season in 2019 would give the Cubs a run of five consecutive seasons with 90 wins. It would make them only the 20th team in MLB history to win 90 or more games in five (or more) straight seasons.
The New York Yankees hold the record for most consecutive 90-win seasons with 12. They did from 1947-58.
Here’s a look at the 19 teams that have won 90 games in five or more seasons in MLB history.
12-N.Y. Yankees (1947-58)
9-Chicago Cubs (1904-12)
7-N.Y. Yankees (2001-07)
6-Atlanta Braves (1995-2000)
6-Brooklyn Dodgers (1951-56)
6-Cleveland Indians (1950-55)
6-L.A. Dodgers (2013-18)
6-N.Y. Giants (1909-13)
6-Philadelphia A’s (1909-14)
6-Philadelphia A’s (1927-32)
6-St. Louis Cardinals (1941-46)
5-Cincinnati Reds (1972-76)
5-N.Y. Giants (1933-37)
5-N.Y. Mets (1984-88)
5-N.Y. Yankees (1960-64)
5-Oakland A’s (1971-75)
5-Oakland A’s (2000-04)
5-Pittsburgh Pirates (1905-09)
5-San Francisco Giants (2000-04)
With their four straight seasons with 90 or more wins, the Cubs became the 39th team in history to reach that milestone. As you probably noticed, the L.A. Dodgers last season had their sixth straight season with 90 wins making them only the 11th team in history to win 90 or more in six straight campaigns.
It’s interesting to note that of the 19 teams that have won 90 or more in five (or more) seasons, six did not win a World Series during that timeframe. The six: Cleveland (1950-55), the Dodgers (2013-18), the Yankees (2001-07), Oakland (2000-04), the New York Giants (1908-13), and the San Francisco Giants (2000-04). Of these six teams, only one, the 2000-04 Oakland A’s, did not even appear in a World Series during that time when they had the streak of 90-win seasons.
For the record, the Cubs, if they have another 90-win season, will at least have won a World Series during their streak.
The current Cubs team a dynasty? What do you think?
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After being swept by the Chicago Cubs in a four-game series this past weekend, we have to ask:
Are the Cubs the Brewers “kryptonite”?
In fact, if we add the St. Louis Cardinals to the discussion, you can make a good case that if the Brew Crew wants to make a serious charge at a playoff spot this season, they better figure out a way to beat these two division opponents.
Let’s go back to 2016. Since then, the Brewers are 38-52 against the Cubs and Cardinals, a winning percentage of .422. From the 2016 season through games of April 29, 2018, the Brewers are 18-28 versus the Cubs (.391 winning percentage) and 20-24 (.455) versus the Cards.
Compare that to all other teams since 2016… the Brewers are 137-126 (.521) since 2016 in games against all other MLB teams other than the Cubs and Cards. That’s a difference of about 100 percentage points (99 to be exact)… .422 versus the Cubs and Cards and .521 against all other teams.
This season is no different. MLB standings show the Brewers at 16-13 this season. Ten of their 13 losses this year have come to the Cubs or Cards (1-7 versus the Cubs, 3-3 versus the Cards). That’s 4-10 versus the Cubs and Cards (.286 winning percentage) and 12-3 (.800) versus the rest of the league.
Any way you look at it, it’s a disturbing trend that the Brewers will need to figure out if they hope to challenge for a post-season spot in 2018.
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