MLB Notebook: Veteran stars shine again
In Major League history, only one team -- the 1978 Baltimore Orioles -- can claim a pair of switch-hitters who each qualified for the batting title and produced a season-ending OPS+ of at least 140. That season, second-year first baseman Eddie Murray posted a 140 and clubbed 27 home runs while driving in 95. Murray's mark was 12 points lower than the 152 OPS+ produced by Ken Singleton, who drew 98 walks to go along with 20 dingers.
For their careers, both Murray (129 OPS+) and Singleton (132) are in the top seven in OPS+ all-time among players who hit from both sides of the plate. The 2012 version of the St. Louis Cardinals have the No. 2 and No. 12 guys on that career list, with Lance Berkman at 146 and Carlos Beltran at 121.
In 2011, both Berkman and Beltran finished the season with an OPS+ above 150, and it will be an interesting storyline to follow in 2012: Can these two stay healthy and produce enough to allow the 2012 Cards to join the 1978 Orioles in this switch-hitting club?
In the Cardinals' 3-1 victory over the Reds on Tuesday, Berkman tripled and Beltran homered. Berkman tied Roberto Alomar for the sixth-most extra-base hits by a switch-hitter (794), while Beltran, with 768, moved to within 10 of tying Ted Simmons for 10th most on that list.
With a pair of hits (including a two-run home run), David Freese continued his hot start to the 2012 season. Freese has hit safely in all six of the Cardinals' games this season, and he has driven in at least one run in five of the contests.
Matt Holliday ('10) was the most recent Cardinals player to hit safely in each of the team's first six games, while Freese is the first St. Louis player since Albert Pujols in '03 to have at least one RBI in five of the team's first six games.
In his first game of the 2012 season, Chipper Jones homered during a 2-for-4 night and the Braves collected their first win of the season. Over the span of Jones' career, the Braves own a 1,345-953 record when he starts a ballgame.
Most career extra-base hits by a switch-hitter
Derek Jeter hit his 25th career leadoff home run, tying him with Brian Downing, Rickie Weeks and Hanley Ramirez for 18th on the all-time list. Jeter's 25 leadoff homers are also a Yankees record, eclipsing the 24 hit by Rickey Henderson during his time with the franchise.
Jeter collected two hits on the night, giving him 910 career multi-hit games, and leaving him one behind tying Carl Yastrzemski for the ninth most since 1918.
The Orioles' Wei-Yin Chen made his Major League debut, allowing four runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and a walk. Chen finished the game -- a Baltimore loss in 12 innings -- with a no-decision.
Dating back to 2007, 12 pitchers have made their Major League debut in a start for the Orioles. In those 12 contests, the pitchers went 8-1 with three no decisions and a 2.96 ERA, and Baltimore posted a 10-2 record. The 11 before Chen: Garrett Olson, Radhames Liz, Chris Waters, Koji Uehara, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, David Hernandez, Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton.
Making the first start of his career after 154 relief appearances, Neftali Feliz allowed four hits in seven shutout innings and got the win in the Rangers' 1-0 victory over the Mariners. The Rangers already own two team shutouts this season (they blanked the White Sox, 5-0, on Sunday). Last season, Texas set a franchise record with 19 shutouts.
The Rangers' win over the Mariners marked the 10th 1-0 contest in the history of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, which opened in 1994. Texas has gone 6-4 in those 10 games.
Here and there
The Tigers beat the Rays, 5-2, to improve to 4-0. This start marks the 12th time in franchise history the club has begun the season with four straight victories. The other years: 1901, '03, '09, '11, '50, '60, '66, '84, '85, 2004, '06.
In the Dodgers' 2-1 victory over the Pirates, Matt Kemp drove in a run, giving him at least one RBI in each of the team's first five games. The most recent Dodgers player to do that was J.D. Drew, in 2006. Dating back to last season, Kemp has driven in at least one run in his past nine contests.
Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly in the eighth inning made him the seventh player in Expos/Nationals history to drive in at least 500 runs. The others: Tim Wallach (905), Andre Dawson (838), Gary Carter (823), Vladimir Guerrero (702), Tim Raines (556) and Jose Vidro (550). Across Major League history, Zimmerman is the 165th player with at least 500 RBIs through his age-27 season, and the 20th third baseman to do it.
The D-backs beat the Padres, 4-2, in 11 innings and improved to 4-0. Arizona had never opened the year with four straight victories in their previous 14 seasons.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.