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Game 112 Open Thread: August 8, 2006

marquis milton
12-9, 5.68 7-7, 5.20

jeff gordon has love for chris duncan in today's paper; calls him "the key to the outfield equation." the kid's hanging in there pretty well; i'd noticed he started out august 2 for 15 with 6 strikeouts and was thinking "mmm hmmmm," league's caught up to him . . . so last night he goes 3 for 5 with a walk and a dinger. similar thing at the outset of last month, when he poked just 4 singles in his first 17 at-bats; the kid hit ~.350 the rest of the month with power. his 8 hr make him the cardinals' 4th most prolific rookie home-run hitter of the la russa era:

  1. 37, pujols, 2001
  2. 13, drew, 1999
  3. 9, mcewing, 1999
  4. 8, duncan, 2006
  5. 5, rodriguez, 2005
  6. 5, d young, 1997
duncan's a sure bet to move up to 3d on that list, and 2d place is well within reach.

for that matter, duncan is getting more playing time than most rookies under la russa. he currently stands 14th on the list of rookie at-bats in the TLR era. if he matches his july at-bat total (68) in the last two months of the year, he'll finish with ~250 at-bats, placing just outside the top 5:

  1. 590, albert pujols, 2001
  2. 513, joe mcewing, 1999
  3. 368, jd drew, 1999
  4. 333, dmitri young, 1997
  5. 296, bo hart, 2003
  6. 260, mike difelice, 1997
  7. 254, eli marrero, 1998
  8. 186, kerry robinson, 2001
  9. 173, hector luna, 2004
  10. 170, mark sweeney, 1996
  11. 149, john rodriguez, 2005
  12. 145, placido polanco, 1998
  13. 135, yadier molina, 2004
  14. 128, chris duncan, 2006
  15. 102, adam kennedy, 1999
that's a pretty thin list of ballplayers -- and a pretty light usage of rookies overall. i would have thought, without counting them up, that more than two cardinal rookies had accumulated 500 at-bats in the TLR era. i wonder how the cardinals' rookie usage compares to that of other playoff-perennial teams of the era -- the giants, braves, yankees, boxos, astros. don't have time to look that up just now; maybe tomorrow a.m.

i want to make clear, i'm not criticizing la russa; there aren't many guys on that list who merited more than 500 ab in their rookie years. maybe jd drew, maybe dmitri; those are the only two you could make a compelling argument for. but dmitri lost his playing time to mark mcgwire, and the main reason drew fell so short of 500 ab is because he spent 45 games on the dl in his rookie year. no, this isn't a TLR issue; it's an organizational issue.

one more duncan item: there's an interesting discussion of his cousin, eric, at Minor League Ball; same great power potential, same youthful struggles with strike-zone judgment, same defensive limitations. but he's put up better numbers than his cousin; maybe the yanks' 1st baseman / dh someday.