On owning a Major League pitcher

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On owning a Major League pitcher

Last night at Fenway, Kelly Shoppach hit a home run.

This was naturally a little weird, because Kelly Shoppach is Kelly Shoppach. The second inning blast was only his fourth of the season and the 63rd of his eight-year career.

But what wasn't weird is that Shoppach's homer came against Mark Buehrle, a typically-solid pitcher who the typically scant-hitting catcher has absolutely owned over his career. How owned? This owned: After last night, Shoppach's a lifetime 8-18 with four home runs against Buehrle.

Anyway, it got me thinking: How rare is it to see one batter so ruthlessly dominate a particular pitcher?

Answer: It would take much longer than one afternoon to figure out.

So instead and with a little (OK, a lot) of help from Baseball-Reference I went through the hitting history of the Red Sox should-be starting nine (only with Youkilis in for Middlebrooks for history's sake) and picked out the pitchers who each guy has dominated the most during his career.

Does anyone hold a candle to Shoppach?

The answer lies ahead (with a helping hand from Drunk Chris Berman):

Jarrod Saltalamacchia has 51 career homers, and there are only three pitchers against whom he's hit more than one. But it's interesting to note that in all three cases, Salty's two homers have come in a tiny, dominating span of at-bats. He's 4-4 with two homers and a double against Arizona's Jensen Lewis Can't Lose. He's 3-5 with two homers against the White Sox Philip Humb and Humber and 2-3 with two homers against now-retired Mike Bacsik Instinct, who's much better known as the guy who served up Barry Bonds' record 756th homer.

Going around the infield, Adrian Gonzalez is 4-5 with two homers against Rich Jean Claude van den Hurk. For a large sample size, Gonzalez is 7-10 with two homers and three RBI against Colby College Lewis and 7-10 with with two homers and five RBI against Ramon A the Pest Ortiz.

Dustin Pedroia has four homers in 17 at-bats against David "I'm Keith Hernandez" Hernandez, but those are his only hits. He's also 4-7 with two homers and seven RBI against Rafael Betancourt Room Drama and 11-21 with one homer and four RBI against Joba the Hut Chamberlain.

Mike Aviles is 9-16 with a home run against Freddy Got Fingered Garcia.

Like Salty, Kevin Youkilis has had his way with Jensen Lewis Can't Lose to the tune of 7-10 with a homer and three RBI. He's also 5-7 against now-retired Todd Williams-Sonoma and is an impressive 4-7 with two homers against current Red Sox teammate Alfredo "I'm not going to give him a nickname for fear of him devouring my unborn children" Aceves.

In the outfield, Jacoby Ellsbury's 8-16 with three homers and eight RBI against Brandon Just Thinking Aout To Morrow and 2-5 with two homers against Orioles hurler Jake Arrieta Huffington. For pure average, Jacoby is a perfect 5-5 against Detroit's Rich Porcello Pudding Pop and 5-7 against Toronto's Scott Brand Paper Towels Richmond.

Carl Crawford hasn't been especially dominant of any pitcher, but he does have two homers in three at-bats against retired-Royal Shawn Sedlacek Eye Surgery. As far as guys who are still active, Crawford greatest success has come equally against Brad Take a Penny Leave a Penny and Livan La Vida Loca Hernandez. CC is 7-11 with a homer and three RBI against each. (He's also 21-69 against CC).

For the third Sox outfielder, let's go with Cody Ross, who's a ridiculous 6-6 with a homer and seven RBI against Mark St. John's Redman.

Lastly, the DH. David Ortiz loves him some Seth Mayor McClung. Ortiz is 4-8 with four homers and seven RBI against the former Raycurrent Brewer. In terms of average, Papi has two favorites (although both have since retired): He was 8-12 against former Indian Chuck Nagy Bragy Heart and 11-18 with a homer and three doubles against former White Sox left Jim Parque Floor.

And that's a wrap.

I'd like to thank Kelly Shoppach and Mark Buehrle for inspiring this post. Baseball-Reference for all the awesome info. And of course, Drunk Chris Berman for his valuable time and effort.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Three players are tied for the Red Sox' lead in home runs in Florida. Only two of them will be with the team come Opening Day.

The other may be the starting first baseman a year from now.

Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Sam Travis have all gone deep three times this Grapefruit League season.

Coming back from surgery on his left ACL, Travis has yet to play in the majors. But he easily could later this year.

In a perfect world, though, the 23-year-old spends 2017 at Triple-A Pawtucket. He needs to prove he can consistently hit off-speed pitches.

A right-handed hitting first baseman who played college ball with Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs, Travis already crushes fastballs.

He carries himself like a stereotypical masher, too.

Travis rocks an unbuttoned jersey with no undershirt. No batting gloves. A grip-it-and-rip-it approach and Mike Napoli vibe.

But, don't get too caught up in the image.

"I mean, are you essentially asking like, do I still like have a plan?" Travis said when approached about his reputation.

No, because everyone has a plan. It's a question of how his is formulated, what matters to him. Because it can't always be as simple as see ball, hit ball. And it isn't.

"I definitely watch video. Everyone watches video," Travis said. "You kind of need to watch video when you get to this stage . . . You're in the box, you don't really want to think at all. That's what practice is for. But yeah, I'm definitely working on stuff.

"Just because I don't wear batting gloves doesn't mean I'm just going out there -- I definitely still got an idea what I'm trying to do."

Travis said he tried batting gloves once in high school and they just didn't feel right. So he takes hacks with a 34-inch bat with no frills..

But even when hitters say they don't think at the plate, they do.

If you're up 2-and-0, the thought has to cross your mind: fastball?

"I mean, yeah, you definitely are talking to yourself," Travis said. "But you don't want to get too far into your own thoughts because then that's when you get in trouble."

Slugging involves calculating.

Travis will look at scouting reports, but they're not his end-all be-all. The written ones, anyway. He keeps others in his head.

"I like to know what pitches [an opponent] has, which way pitches are going to move," Travis said. "But you know, you find that out from other players, and of course scouting reports and video. But the best experience is when you're actually in there, when you actually see it first hand.

"I remember everybody."

Video can be used to break down one's own swing, too. But that's not Travis. Tinkering's not his bag.

In part, that's because he's always had a simple approach mechanically.

"I don't really take much of a stride or anything. I kind of just pick it up and put it down," Travis said. "I've always been the guy that can make an adjustment pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat depending on what the pitcher is, it just goes with like timing and stuff."

Usually, somewhere along the way -- in the professional or amateur chain -- a coach will try to change a player's swing. Travis said that wasn't the case for him, though.

"No. Not really," Travis said. "Everyone's still gonna have minor adjustments, it's just how the game works. You know, you're going to put a bad swing on the ball. But as long as you recognize it and get right back to where you are . . .

"I've always been a guy who believes less movement, the better it is. That's my own personal opinion. Whatever works for people, that's what they're going to do."

Sometimes, that means loosening a few buttons and just letting it rip.

After watching a little video before the game.