Sunday Notes: Logan O’Hoppe Bought a Bleacher Ticket

When I interviewed him 12 months ago, Logan O’Hoppe told me that he keeps two journals. One is for baseball. The other is for life. As the then-rookie catcher explained, “It’s tough to stay in a consistent headspace day to day,” and writing down his thoughts helps keep him centered.

One year later, he’s not only taking his game to a new level — O’Hoppe has a 137 wRC+ over 70 plate appearances — he’s also upping his journal input. I learned as much when I asked the LA backstop if he ever writes about the ballparks he visits. Moreover, I learned those visits are atypical of most major leaguers’.

“I’ve got three different ones now,” O’Hoppe explained when the Angels played at Fenway Park earlier this month. “One is for the game-planning stuff with the pitcher, and another is for hitting; those are obviously all baseball. With the third one, yes, I write a lot about the ballparks. It keeps my perspective in line. Early on last year, when I was really new to [the big leagues], I tended to think that this was the end all be all, and that the results were everything. I’m trying to realign my perspective and understand the results for what they are. I feel like it’s really helped me to come to different ballparks like this one, and sit alone in stadiums that I was at growing up.”

Adam Wainwright did something similar toward the end of his career, visiting various locales in ballparks, such as press boxes and concourses, prior to games. O’Hoppe is doing something similar, only on the front end of his career.

“I love it,” the 24-year-old Long Island native told me. “I try to do that in every ballpark I go to. One thing I always thought of growing up was, ‘What would it be like if I got this ballpark to myself? What would I go see, what would I go do?’ I try to take advantage of that everywhere I go.”

That includes Fenway Park. The Angels had an off day before starting a weekend series against the Red Sox, and O’Hoppe took advantage by experiencing the historic venue in much the same way that you, the reader, would have done.

“We got in on Wednesday night and Boston was playing Baltimore on Thursday,” explained O’Hoppe. “So, I bought a ticket in the center field bleachers and floated around, watching the game. I wanted to realign my perspective and watch as a fan.”

He did capitalize on his player status midway through the contest. A bleacher ticket won’t get you access to Fenway’s most-unique viewing locale, but an MLB credential will. O’Hoppe watched the latter innings from the Monster seats.

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Whitey Herzog went 10 for 24 against Early Wynn.

Whitey Kurowski went 9 for 14 against Tom Seats.

Whitey Witt went 7 for 12 against Waite Hoyt.

Whitey Lockman went 6 for 12 against Rip Sewell.

Chuck Essegian went 11 for 21 against Whitey Ford.

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You have to go all the way back to 1954 for the last batting title won by a Cleveland player. Bobby Avila holds that distinction, having hit .341 for an Indians team that won 111 games before being swept by Willie Mays and the New York Giants in the World Series.

Might Steven Kwan be the player to break the now-70-year-old drought? A .289/.358/.392 hitter since debuting with the Guardians in 2022, Kwan has a .374 average three-plus weeks into the current campaign. (While I’m not necessarily making the same prediction here, it’s worth noting that Luis Arraez was batting .316 on May 12, 2022 when I wrote that he was a future batting champion).

I asked Kwan for this thoughts on batting titles when the Guardians visited Fenway Park earlier this week.

“They’re awesome,” the Guardians outfielder said. “They’re super prestigious. I feel like they’re the gold standard of hitting. It’s a really cool honor.”

Even in an era where batting average isn’t valued like it once was?

“I definitely have to think so,” replied the 26-year-old Kwan. “I’m not a guy who is going to hit a bunch of home runs or extra-base hits. I’m more like like Luis Arraez or Ichiro, or even Trea Turner — guys who have high batting averages. Those are guys I model my game after.”

Asked if he ever thinks about what it would be like to win a batting title, Kwan was pragmatic in his response.

“This is kind of a boring answer,” said Kwan, “but if I do, great. And if I don’t, it is what it is. When the dust settles, it’s something I can look back on. Right now it’s not something you think about.”

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A quiz:

Pete Rose has the most runs scored in Cincinnati Reds franchise history. Who has the most RBIs in Reds franchise history?

The answer can be found below.

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NEWS NOTES

University of Florida two-way player Jac Caglianone tied an NCAA D-1 record on Friday by homering in his ninth straight game. The 21-year-old left-handed first baseman/pitcher is expected to be selected in the top half of the first round of this summer’s MLB draft.

Several new guest speakers were announced for his summer’s SABR national convention, which will be held in Minneapolis from August 7-11. Among those joining the previously-announced Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Jim Kaat, and Tony Oliva are Twins radio voice Kris Atteberry, players-turned-broadcasters LaTroy Hawkins and Glen Perkins, and GM Thad Levine. More information can be found here.

Yuniesky Betancourt has reportedly been arrested on insurance fraud charges in Miami-Dade County. The former MLB and NPB infielder was one of four people accused of staging a car crash to collect on insurance premiums.

Ken Holtzman, who pitched for five teams — primarily the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics — from 1965-1979, died earlier this week at age 78. The southpaw logged 174 wins, made two All-Star teams, and won four World Series rings, three with the A’s and one with the New York Yankees.

Fritz Peterson, a left-handed pitcher who spent eight-plus seasons with the Yankees in a career that spanned the 1966-1976 seasons, died on April 11 at age 82. Best known for swapping wives with teammate Mike Kekich in 1973, Peterson went 133-131 with a 3.30 ERA and made one All-Star appearance.

Larry Brown, a middle infielder who spent the bulk of his 12-year career with the Cleveland Indians, died last weekend at age 84. Known mostly for his glove, Brown batted .233/.300/.313 from 1963-1974.

Carl Erskine, a quality starter for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s, died on Tuesday at age 97. The right-hander’s best seasons came in 1952 and 1953 when he went 14-6, 2.70 and 20-6, 3.54 respectively. He pitched in five Fall Classics, winning a World Series ring with the Dodgers in 1955.

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This has been a take-a-deep-breath week in terms of baseball passings. While listing the above passings early Friday evening, I learned that Dave McCarty has died at the far-too-early age of 54 due to a cardiac event. Like a number of you reading this, I am older than McCarty, whose big-league career spanned the 1993-2005 seasons. Life is precious. Hold your loved ones close.

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The answer to the quiz is Johnny Bench, who had 1,376 RBIs with the Reds. Tony Perez is second with 1,192. Joey Votto is third with 1,144.

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Casey Mize will be looking to build on a solid comeback campaign when he takes the mound in Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. Out for most of the past two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2022, the 26-year-old Detroit Tigers right-hander has a 4.11 ERA and a 3.27 FIP over three starts comprising 15-and-a-third innings. Prior to the second of his outings, I asked him how he differs from his pre-TJ self.

“The biggest change I’ve made is the fastball,” said Mize, whom the.Tigers took first-overall in the 2018 draft out of Auburn University. “I’m not really throwing two-seam fastballs anymore. I’m trying to really ride the four-seamer. My arm slot has changed. I’ve had a back surgery [in 2022, after the Tommy John] that allows me to leverage the ball a little bit better, so I’m able to carry it a little bit more. I’ve been about 18-plus [inches] compared to probably 15 in the past. My VAA (vertical approach angle) is only like 4-8, but from the feedback I’ve gotten from hitters, the ball kind of jumps on them a bit.”

The righty has tweaked the grip on his heater, although he doesn’t feel that’s a primary reason behind its success.

“I flipped the laces,” explained Mize. “Now I’m climbing with the laces instead of the horseshoe where it’s declining. The logo is towards me when I hold it. The grip helps, but I think just staying behind the ball and leveraging it with a little bit higher arm slot is probably what’s affected the fastball more than anything.”

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles infielder Hideto Asamura played in his 1,181st consecutive game on Friday, moving him into sole possession of sixth place in NPB history. The NPB record is 2,215, by Hiroshima Carp player Sachio Kinugasa. Cal Ripken Jr.’s MLB record is 2,632 consecutive games.

Anderson Espinoza has won each of his first three NPB starts while allowing just one run over 20 innings for the Orix Buffaloes. The 26-year-old former MLB right-hander has surrendered 12 hits and fanned 16 batters.

Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks outfielder Kensuke Kondoh is slashing .323/.468/.500 with three home runs in 79 plate appearances. The 30-year-old left-handed hitter has a .307/.416/.448 slash line over 13 NPB seasons.

Do Yeong Kim is slashing .316/.356/.589 with seven home runs in 105 plate appearances for the KBO’s Kia Tigers. The 20-year-old third baseman homered the same number of times last season in 385 PAs while slashing .303/.371/.453.

Victor Reyes is slashing .375/.433/.500 with three home runs in 97 plate appearances for the Lotte Giants. The 29-year-old former Detroit Tigers outfielder is in his first KBO season after spending last year in Triple-A with the Chicago White Sox organization.

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A random obscure former player snapshot:

Hal Trosky wasn’t obscure during his playing days, but he is largely forgotten nearly a century later. A slugging first baseman for the Cleveland Indians from 1934-1941 before severe migraines compromised his career, the Norway, Iowa native bashed 215 home runs while logging a 130 wRC+ over that eight-year stretch. His 1936 campaign was spectacular. Along with posting a .346 average and leaving the yard 42 times, Trosky drove in a league-best 162 runs. Five years earlier, at age 18, he’d begun his professional career as a pitcher with the Class-D Cedar Rapids Bunnies.

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FARM NOTES

Zyhir Hope is slashing .310/.396/.667 with three home runs and a 165 wRC+ over 48 plate appearances with the Low-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The 19-year-old outfielder was acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Chicago Cubs in January as part of the Michael Busch trade.

Mark Coley II is slashing .365/.484/.731 with two home runs and a 226 wRC+ over 64 plate appearances between Low-A Jupiter and High-A Beloit. The 23-year-old outfielder was drafted by the Miami Marlins last year out of the University of Rhode Island in the 17th round.

Mike Boeve was promoted to Double-A Biloxi yesterday after slashing .528/.620/.611 with a 247 wRC+ in 50 plate appearances with the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The 21-year-old corner infielder was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers last year out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the second round.

Jonah Tong has a 56.3% strikeout rate and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 12-and-two-thirds innings with the Low-A St. Lucie Mets. New York selected the 20-year-old right-hander in the seventh round of the 2022 draft out of a Markham, Ontario high school.

Carson Palmquist has allowed eight hits over 16 scoreless innings for the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats. Colorado’s third-round pick in 2022, the 23-year-old southpaw out of the University of Miami has walked seven and fanned 25.

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Red Sox right-hander Tanner Houck tossed a gem at Fenway Park on Wednesday, requiring just 94 pitches in a complete-game effort as Boston beat Cleveland 2-0. Moreover, the contest was played in a crisp 1:49 — the shortest game in MLB since 2010. Afterwards, I asked Alex Cora if what we’d just witnessed, a pitcher going the distance in a less-than-two-hours time frame, was good for the game.

“It’s good for the families,” the Red Sox manager replied. “You can go home early and enjoy it. But I think where we’re at in the game, in the business, it’s a better game as far as the pace.”

Philadelphia’s Ranger Suárez had thrown nine shutout innings against Colorado the previous night. Might we begin seeing more complete games going forward?

“I don’t know,” Cora said to that question. “Here? Nah. We’re not big fans of complete games here.”

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The shortest nine-inning game in MLB history was played on September 28, 1919 when the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-1 in a time of 51 minutes. According to this article from The Guardian, which referenced newspaper stories from that day, the two teams were attempting to break the record for shortest game in history.

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APRIL STAT NOTABLES

The Baltimore Orioles are a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts. The Pittsburgh Pirates are 11-for-11, the Detroit Tiger 10-for-10. The Chicago Cubs are 3-for-9.

The Kansas City Royals have a plus-43 run differential. The Chicago White Sox have a minus-65 run differential.

The Cleveland Guardians are 10-3 on the road. The Miami Marlins are 2-11 at home.

Marlins catchers are slashing .048/.104/.063 with no home runs and a minus-46 wRC+ so far this season. They have combined to go 3-for-63 with three walks and 10 strikeouts.

Boston Red Sox catchers, who placed 27th in our preseason positional power rankings, are slashing .299/.326/.494 with five home runs and a 129 wRC+.

Red Sox starting pitchers have allowed 28 runs, 22 of them earned, in 116 innings. Red Sox relievers have allowed 56 runs, 37 of them earned, in 85-and-a-third innings.

Colton Cowser (234 wRC+) and Michael Busch (187), both of whom were featured here at FanGraphs in past week, have been the hottest-hitting rookies so far. Other rookie standouts include:

Blaze Alexander: .333/.393/.588 with a 169 wRC+.
Masyn Winn: .321/.385/.429 with a 128 wRC+.
Jackson Merrill: .311/.378/.419 with a 127 wRC+.

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

Toronto left-hander Yusei Kikuchi reaches into his locker for a bottle of expensive Japanese whisky after the Blue Jays win one of his starts, and he reads over 200 books a year. Keegan Matheson has the story at MLB.com.

The Baseball Hall of Fame will be highlighting the history of US-Japan ties in a new exhibit. Jason Coskrey has the story at The Japan Times.

At Inside the Diamondbacks, Jake Oliver wrote about how Tucker Barnhart is excited to work with the Diamondbacks pitching staff.

At The Bangor Daily News, Emily Burnham wrote about Maine’s long minor league baseball history, from the Millionaires to the Orphans to the Sea Dogs.

The KBO is now using an automated ball-strike system (ABS) — aka a robot umpire — and the first controversy occurred earlier this week thanks to human error and a hot mic. Jim Bulley and Mary Yang have the story at Korea JoongAng Daily.

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Mike Trout’s 13th-inning walk on Tuesday was the 941st of his career, moving him past Tim Salmon for the most in franchise history. Trout also has the most strikeouts in franchise history. Salmon has the second most.

St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder Curt Flood was caught stealing 16 times in 20 attempts to start his MLB career.

Sandy Koufax had six seasons with 5.0 or more WAR, with a high of 10.0.
Bert Blyleven had nine seasons with 5.0 or more WAR, with a high of 10.8.

Bill Campbell threw 167-and-two-thirds innings, all of them out of the bullpen, for the Minnesota Twins in 1976. The right-hander went 17-5 with 20 saves and a 3.01 ERA.

John Dagenhard holds the MLB record for most innings pitched without allowing an earned run. The right-hander from Magnolia, Ohio appeared in two games for the Boston Braves in 1943 and allowed a pair of tallies, both of the unearned variety, over 11 innings. He logged a complete game win in his lone start.

Cleveland has won five of the last six games they’ve played in Boston on Patriots Day/Marathon Monday. The Guardians’ 6-0 win this past Monday was their fourth shutout in those half dozen contests.

On today’s date in 2001, Jim Thome hit a two-run, walk-off home run against Todd Jones to give the Cleveland Indians a 5-4 win over the Detroit Tigers. The Hall of Fame slugger finished the year with 49 round-trippers.

Zack Cozart hit two of Cincinnati’s five home runs on today’s date in 2015 as the Reds outscored the Brewers 16-10 at Milwaukee’s Miller Park. Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Joey Votto also went deep for the visitors.

Players born on today’s date include Greg Harts, whose big-league career comprised three games, two as a pinch-hitter and one as a pinch-runner, for the New York Mets in 1973. Harts went 1-for-2, singling off of Rick Reuschel in a game where the Chicago Cubs right-hander threw a 10-hit shutout with two walks and no strikeouts.

Also born on today’s date was Greg Legg, who went 9-for-22 while playing in 14 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1986-1987. A minor-league coach and manager in the organization once his playing days were over, Legg has a .409 batting average on his ledger — the highest in Phillies franchise history among players with at least 20 plate appearances.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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PC1970
1 month ago

Debated Tony Perez & Johnny Bench for 5 minutes before picking Perez because I knew Perez had a big # of career RBI..

Should have remembered Bench played his whole career in Cincinnati & forgot that Perez played 6-7 season elsewhere, 3-4 of them as a full time player.

Last edited 1 month ago by PC1970
Left of Centerfield
1 month ago
Reply to  PC1970

I was between Bench, Votto, and Frank Robinson. I knew Robinson was still fairly young when we got traded away. Between Votto and Bench, I went with Votto since Bench was fairly young when he tailed off. Forgot that Bench a) got a much younger start, b) played on better offenses, 3) walked less.

PC1970
1 month ago

Funny, I figured it wasn’t Votto due to Marty Brennaman’s commentary about his RBI’s or lack thereof.

JoeyVottoIsGonemember
1 month ago
Reply to  PC1970

Noted RBI man, Joey Votto!

MikeSmember
1 month ago
Reply to  PC1970

My first thought was Bench, but I wondered if he played enough games because he was primarily a catcher so I considered Votto. But I knew Bench played a lot of games in the OF, 1B, and 3B to get his bat in the lineup and he hit in that stacked mid-70’s Reds lineup so he would have had a ton of opportunities. So I stuck with him and got it right.

I didn’t really consider Perez. I thought he played an even higher proportion of games for other teams because I mostly remember the end of his career.

PC1970
1 month ago
Reply to  MikeS

We must be similar age because I knew Perez went to Montreal before 1977 (& don’t remember him on Cincinnati at all)..but, I recently read the Pete Rose biography, Charlie Hustle (awesome book, highly recommend) & Perez was ahead of Rose in the minors, so I assumed he came up in 1963 like Pete did. But, he didn’t really hit until 1965 & didn’t play full time until 1967. Those 2-3 extra years I thought he had messed me up.

sadtrombonemember
1 month ago
Reply to  PC1970

I got this one because I knew I needed someone who hit behind Rose (and Joe Morgan, I think) and who played an enormous amount with the Reds. And Bench played forever and was a Reds lifer. (I also think people sometimes forget how much power he had. People remember the defense, not the 30-homer seasons)

Greatest catcher of all time and whoever is in second place isn’t close. Probably Gary Carter or Yogi Berra. But I don’t think they compare.

mordecaiconstant
1 month ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Everyone should comfortable calling Bench the best catcher of all time. I am also comfortable calling Josh Gibson the best. In the sense if you could put Babe Ruth behind the plate and get average defense out of him that is going to win you a lot more games than Bench.

Career WAR/162:
Bench – 5.6
Gibson – 10.4

Career OPS+:
Bench – 126
Gibson – 214

dWAR/162:
Bench – 1.5
Gibson – 0.4

oWAR/162:
Bench – 4.9
Gibson – 10.3

Best “pure catcher” – sure, Bench. Best overall player to spend his career there – Gibson. My vote is for Gibson, and I won’t be talked out of it, but begrudge no one from disagreeing.

I’m with you with Carter being next on the list after those two.

TKDCmember
1 month ago

Yeah, unfortunately it’s just impossible to really know since Gibson was not allowed to play in MLB. I’d just say that Bench was the best MLB catcher and Gibson was the best Negro League catcher, and it’s totally okay to have no idea who was actually better.

Heck, trying to determine who was a better player between Ruth, Mays, and Bonds is pretty much impossible and they all played in MLB.

sadtrombonemember
1 month ago
Reply to  TKDC

This is why I usually take 1951 as the start of determining “the best.” Stuff before integration is impossible to determine because the best players often weren’t playing each other.

Left of Centerfield
1 month ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Bench and Carter are actually close in WAR and JAWS. And Carter caught 20% more innings than Bench in a career of similar length. So in terms of value added while catching, Carter is probably ahead of Bench.