Sunday Notes: Trevor May Has Favorite Miggy Moments

Trevor May is a Miguel Cabrera fan. Moreover, he has some favorite Miggy moments. I learned as much when I caught up to the always-engaging 33-year-old right-hander on the Sunday leading into the All-Star break.

“I got my first jersey from another player in our last series,” said May, who broke into the big leagues with the Minnesota Twins in 2014 and now plays for the Oakland Athletics. “We were in Detroit and I got a Miggy Cabrera jersey signed. I’m not a huge memorabilia guy, but he was my first, ‘Oh wow, I’m in The Show.’ It was like, ‘That’s Miguel Cabrera in the box!’ He’s one of the greatest of this generation.”

Nine years later, both players are nearing the end of the line. Cabrera, whose career has him Cooperstown-bound, is set to retire after this season. May, whose accomplishments have been far more humble, faces an uncertain near-term future. He has a 5.32 ERA in the current campaign, as well as a career-low 17.0% K rate.

May’s post-playing-days future is media-focused, and he’s already begun establishing himself in that realm. The Longview, Washington native has been an active podcaster and streamer — gaming is a noteworthy interest, Pat McAfee a notable influence — and just this past week he was part of MLBNetwork Radio’s All-Star Game coverage. His newly-signed jersey is ticketed for his home studio. As May explained, “the background has been kind of sparse, and I wanted to make sure that baseball has a spot there, along with all the nerdy stuff I’m into, whenever I’m in front of the camera.”

May has pitched in front of ballpark cameras many times, and while that includes more than two dozen appearances against the Detroit Tigers, a few of his Miggy moments likely weren’t captured. Even if they were, they went unnoticed by the vast majority of viewers.

“I’ve gotten a thumbs up from Miggy after a good slider for a strikeout,” said May. “That was in 2019, in a save situation — I remember being really dialed in — and that’s like the Holy Grail for a pitcher. To get a nod… Austin Pruitt actually got one from him the other day. He threw a good sinker that Miggy fouled off, and got a nod. He’s never going to forget that. That’s one my favorite thing about Miggy; he gives guys credit, which a lot of hitters don’t do. It’s awesome.”

Another of May’s Miggy moments took place five years earlier, during his 2014 rookie season. He’d given up a home run to the future Hall of Famer the previous day, and during a lull in the action — the Twins were making a pitching change — he heard his name called while sitting in the dugout.

Anthony Swarzak had started for us,” recalled May. “Torii Hunter was on second and Miggy was on first. Torii came over — they were talking to the first base coach — and Miggy said, ‘Hey, May!’ I said, ‘Me? Are you talking to me?’ He said, ‘Changeup. Nasty. I couldn’t see it yesterday.’ He’d taken me deep the day before on a slider, so then he goes, ‘The slider. No.’ That was a Miggy moment for me. Miggy is great. He’s definitely a favorite.”

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Bill Buckner went 9 for 12 against Doug Rau.

Mickey Owen went 9 for 14 against Clyde Shoun.

Fred Snodgrass went 9 for 14 against Earl Yingling.

Gregg Jefferies went 9 for 16 against Jose Mesa.

Johnny Pesky went 9 for 21 against Al Widmar.

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Andrew Nardi is quietly having a good first full season out of the Miami Marlins bullpen. A 24-year-old southpaw who debuted last summer, he is 6-2 with a pair of saves and a 3.19 ERA over 41 appearances. I recently asked him what he considers his signature big-league moment to date.

“I think it would be my first day at Wrigley Field,” said Nardi, whom the Marlins took in 16th round of the 2019 draft out of the University of Arizona. “We were in the 14th inning, there was obviously the runner on second base, and I got out of it. I struck out [Tucker] Barnhart for the last out of the game for my first-ever save. That was so surreal for me.”

Miami won the May 7 contest 5-4, with the winning run scoring on an Adbert Alzolay balk in the top of the 14th. Nardi retired all three batters he faced in the bottom half.

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Back in April, I led a Sunday Notes column by speculating on the Hall of Fame chances of closers Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel. Each has added to his bona fides since that time. Jansen is now up to 20 saves on the season and has 411 for his career. Kimbrel has racked up 14 saves this season and has 408 for his career. Both took the mound in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

Kimbrel’s continued climb toward Cooperstown-worthiness is especially notable, as the righty had shown signs of decline in recent seasons. He’s turned that around. On the year, Kimbrel has 57 strikeouts in 37 innings, while surrendering14 walks and 22 hits. Moreover, he’s been on a roll since the calendar flipped to June. Over 18 appearances (including the All-Star Game), he’s allowed just one run in 18 innings.

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Should MLB players wear National League and American League specific uniforms for the All-Star Game, or wear their own team home and road uniforms? That question was asked by @MLB Cathedrals in a Twitter poll earlier this week, and of the more than 13,000 votes cast, 87.9% went to “own team.” Only 12.1% went to the generic N.L. and A.L. uniforms.

Based on numerous other social media postings I’ve seen, as well as outside-of-that-realm commentary, the poll results weren’t an anomaly. A clear majority of baseball fans want to see their favorite players wearing their teams’ jerseys. Do MLB’s powers-that-be care about history, tradition, and the preferences of fans, or is the marketing opportunity — people will obviously buy replicas of the generics online and in team stores — more important to them?

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A quiz:

Ernie Banks had 4,706 total bases with the Chicago Cubs, the most in franchise history. Which modern-era Cub ranks second in that category?

The answer can be found below.

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NEWS NOTES

The SABR Defensive Index rankings were released this week, with data through games of July 9. The top 25 players in each league are listed.

Claire Smith received the Red Smith Award — the Associated Press Sports Editors’ highest honor — this past Tuesday. Currently a professor at Lew Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, Smith was awarded the BBWAA’s Career Excellence Award in 2017.

A reminder that SABR’s annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference will be held in Detroit on July 20-23. The complete schedule can be found here.

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The answer to the quiz is Billy Williams, with 4,261 total bases. Sammy Sosa has the third-highest total among modern-era Cubs, with 3,980.

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Three weeks ago, this column included the fact that Bruce Bochy went 3-for-6 with a double and a home run against Nolan Ryan. What I didn’t know at the time were the circumstances of the dinger. On July 1, 1985 in his only at-bat of game, Bochy hit a 10th-inning walk-off to give the San Diego Padres a 6-5 win against the Houston Astros. It was the only walk-off home run Ryan allowed in his 27-year career.

”I remember it well,” the now Texas Rangers manager said when I asked him about the blast. “I think any time somebody hits a walk-off home run, they’re going to remember it. So, yeah, it was obviously pretty cool for me. Nolan and I were teammates earlier, so I had some knowledge of him. I kid about how he was probably at 150 pitches, so he had slowed down to probably around 95 [mph].”

The pitch he hit?

“It was a fastball down and in,” recalled Bochy, who went deep 26 times over parts of nine big-league seasons. “That one little sweet area I had.”

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Niko Goodrum signed with the KBO’s Lotte Giants earlier this week after opting out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox. The 31-year-old veteran of six MLB seasons had been playing with Triple-A Worcester.

Jae-gyun Hwang is slashing .299/.369/.401 with the KT Wiz. A veteran of 16 KBO seasons, the 35-year-old infielder briefly played with the San Francisco Giants in 2017. His lone home run came at Coors Field in the first of his 18 MLB games.

Roki Sasaki had 14 strikeouts and allowed one run over seven innings as the Chiba Lotte Marines beat the Orix Buffaloes 5-2 on Wednesday. The 21-year-old right-hander has a 1.48 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 79 innings on the season.

Jharel Cotton was tagged with the loss in Orix’s aforementioned defeat. The 31-year-old erstwhile big-leaguer has a 5.89 ERA over 18-and-a-third innings in his first NPB season.

Trevor Bauer was named NPB’s player of the month for June after going 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA for the Yokohama BayStars. The disgraced erstwhile MLB ace is 6-2 with a 3.67 ERA on the season.

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Teams don’t get all of their targets in the draft, and most often it’s because they never get an opportunity to call a player’s name. Another reason is their unwillingness to accede to demands. After the completion of this year’s 20 rounds, I asked Red Sox amateur scouting director Devin Pearson if any pre-pick calls resulted in the need to go in another direction.

“We had that happen quite a bit,” admitted Pearson. “Starting yesterday [on day two], and then today, we made phone calls and the number was higher than we would have wanted. The good thing about how we got things stacked up is that we knew exactly who the next player was on our board. We got a lot of guys that we’re really, really happy with.”

As for not getting a chance to take players they coveted, that happened too.

“That’s typically how it goes,” Pearson said. “We like to think we’re the smartest in the room, but there are 29 other clubs with the same player pool and we expect to get sniped every year.”

Which players the Red Sox — ditto the 29 other teams — lost out on is something we may never know. Scouting directors are uniformly reluctant to divulge such information. If only to be a fly on the wall in a draft room.

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On a related note, I recently asked Red Sox catcher Connor Wong about his draft experience. Selected 100th overall in 2017 by the Dodgers out of the University of Houston, might he have gone to Boston with the ensuing pick had Los Angeles not taken him? It is by no means uncommon for a team to deal for a player they once missed out on draft day.

Asked about that possibility, Wong — acquired by Boston from L.A. in February 2020 as part of the Mookie Betts trade — said that he doesn’t recall talking to a Red Sox crosschecker. Then again, he wasn’t expecting to go to the Dodgers when he did. The 27-year-old backstop found out he’d been drafted on Twitter, moments before he got a call from his agent/advisor.

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FARM NOTES

Heston Kjerstad is slashing .316/.398/.579 with 16 home runs in 329 plate appearances between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. The 24-year-old outfielder was drafted second-overall in 2020 by the Baltimore Orioles out of the University of Arkansas.

Tyler Black is slashing .273/.422/.513 with 12 home runs in 304 plate appearances with Double-A Biloxi. The 22-year-old Toronto-born third baseman was drafted 33rd-overall in 2021 by the Milwaukee Brewers out of Wright State University.

Jordan Beck slashed .292..378/.566 with 20 home runs in 341 plate appearances for High-A Spokane before being promoted to Double-A Hartford on Friday. The 22-year-old outfielder was drafted 38th-overall in 2022 by the Colorado Rockies out of the University of Tennessee.

Robby Snelling is 6-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 62-and-a-third innings between Low-A Lake Elsinore and High-A Fort Wayne. The 19-year-old left-hander was drafted 39th-overall in 2022 by the San Diego Padres out of Reno, Nevada’s Robert McQueen High School.

Dalton Rushing is slashing .254/.419/.472 with eight home runs in 253 plate appearances with the High-A Great Lakes Loons. The 22-year-old catcher was drafted 40th-overall in 2022 by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of the University of Louisville.

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Ryan Noda was coming off a strong first full professional season when he led Sunday Notes on December 15, 2018. Drafted by Toronto out of the University of Cincinnati the previous year, the 15th-rounder had logged a .421 on-base percentage while slugging 20 home runs with the Midwest League’s Lansing Lugnuts. Given the high OBP and their mutual Bearcat backgrounds, I comped Noda to Kevin Youkilis.

The 27-year-old first baseman isn’t to that level just yet — Youkilis had a 140 wRC+ in a five-year prime beginning at age 28 — but he is enjoying a promising rookie season. Acquired by the Oakland A’s in last winter’s Rule 5 draft, he’s slashing .225/.375/.404 with 10 home runs and a 129 wRC+.

They’ve known each other since Noda’s UC days — Youkilis would occasionally visit campus — and more recently they have had conversations about baseball, and life, at homecoming events. What they haven’t done together is quaff beverages produced in Los Gatos, California by the Youkilis-owned Loma Brewing Company.

“I haven’t,” Nola admitted when I asked if he’s enjoyed any Loma products. “He hasn’t brought any to Cinci yet, but hopefully he will if he can make it to homecoming this year. I’ve heard it’s pretty good.”

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

At The New York Times Magazine, Will Harrison looked at Pedro Martinez — “a maestro on the mound” — as an inspiration to improve his writing game.

At The Los Angeles Times, Bill Shaikin wrote about how the Athletics’ impending departure from Oakland — the only West Coast major-league city with a significant Black community — leaves a deep hole in East Bay,

Writing for Dallas’s D Magazine, Jamey Newberg explained how Wyatt Langford’s impact will begin long before the Rangers’ first-round draft pick arrives in Arlington.

MLB.com’s David Adler wrote about submariner Tyler Rogers and his UFO slider.

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

San Francisco’s Blake Sabol went into the All-Star break with 10 home runs. The last Giants rookie with more than 10 homers at the break was Dave Kingman, with 21 in 1972.

Blake Snell has 85 strikeouts in 53 innings over his last nine starts. The Padres left-hander has allowed just three runs in that stretch.

Andrew McCutchen has 2,018 hits and 1,156 runs scored.
Freddie Freeman has 2,018 hits and 1,158 runs scored.

Minnie Minoso led American League hitters in HBP ten times from 1951-1961. He reached base via that route 178 times over the 11-season stretch.

Mickey Mantle reached base via HBP only 13 times in 9,910 career plate appearances.

On today’s date in 1999, the Chicago Cubs scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Minnesota Twins, who had scored three runs of their own in the top half, by a score of 11-10. Henry Rodriguez plated Mark Grace with a walk-off single.

On today’s date in 1920, the New York Giants broke a scoreless tie with seven runs in the top of the 17th inning in a 7-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rube Benton went the distance for the shutout.

Players born on today’s date include Doc Prothro, who batted .313 with the Boston Red Sox in 1925 while playing in 119 of his 180 big-league games. His son, Tommy Prothro, coached the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers in the 1970s.

Also born on today’s date was Eddie Fisher, a workhorse reliever and knuckleball pitcher who appeared in 690 games while playing for six teams from 1959-1973. Fisher’s best season came with the Chicago White Sox in 1965 when he went 15-7 with 24 saves and a 2.40 ERA over a league-high 82 outing. Fisher won a World Series ring with the Baltimore Orioles in 1966.

Jim Cockman batted .413 for the Canadian League’s London Cockneys in 1897. He went on to bat .105 for the American League’s New York Highlanders in 1905.





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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Left of Centerfield
8 months ago

Got the quiz right though it helps that I blanked on the existence of Sammy Sosa. 🙂

MikeSmember
8 months ago

I had Sandberg who might be fourth – he had 3786 by my count.

sadtrombonemember
8 months ago
Reply to  MikeS

Sandberg was the guess that popped into my head first. And then I thought “you know, Sammy Sosa hit a lot of home runs when he was a Cub.” Steroids, dude…they work.

I literally have no memory of “Billy Williams”, if that’s even his real name (who names their kid William Williams, or was Billy his given name?). But it turns out he had quite an impressive career and was even inducted into the Hall of Fame, he was just overshadowed by Ernie Banks and Ron Santo.

Mitchell Mooremember
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Born Billy Leo Williams. He kind of gets lost in the shuffle among the studs of the 1960s. As you note, he played in the shadow of Santo and Banks (though Banks’ best years were behind him by the 1960s, make no mistake, he remained a star), and the Cubs were mostly bad during his career. The generic name probably doesn’t help, either. But for the period spanning his Cubs career, 1961-1974, his 390 HRs were 5th most in MLB, his 58.8 fWAR 11th best. Fella could hit the baseball.

PC1970
8 months ago
Reply to  David Laurila

Didn’t Williams have the NL record for consecutive games played at one point? Or came very close to having it?

My real memory of him was, when I was a kid & Steve Garvey broke that record, Billy Williams name would come up on the list.

He retired right before I remember baseball.

Sleepy
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Sosa had a five-year window (1998-2002) in which he hit 292 (?!?!?) dingers.

Left of Centerfield
8 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

You never know. There was a professional bowler from my hometown named John Johns. Never underestimate parents’ ability to name their children strange/embarrassing things.

PC1970
8 months ago

Guessed Sosa, but, Sandberg was the first guy I thought of..then Santo, but, then realized neither likely played long enough.

Total blanked on Billy Williams

bluerum29
8 months ago

I had Grace, who had over 3100.