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October 24, 2009

The season that was...August

Going into the 2009 season, there were about a dozen or so active players with 300 or more home runs. By the time August rolled around…five more joined the club and two others topped 400 and 500 respectively.

Which brings us to (drum roll, please)…Carlos Lee!

When “El Caballo" went deep against his old team, the Brewers on August 8, his Astros became the first team in Major League history to have three players (Ivan Rodriguez and Lance Berkman were the first two) get their 300th home runs in the same season.

Another sidenote...Lee is the only Panamanian born player to hit 300 home runs. And in case you were wondering (and I know you were), Ben Oglivie is next on the "most home runs hit by a Panamanian born player" with 235.

Two nights later, Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero accomplished something that only five others have done...reached 400 career bombs while maintaining a .320 career batting average.

So who are the other throwbacks you ask?

Babe Ruth (.342 career average and 714 home runs), Jimmie Foxx (.325 and 534), Ted Williams (.344 and 521), Lou Gehrig (.340 and 493) and Stan Musial (.331 and 475).

Later in the month, Guerrero became just the 13th player to notch more than 1000 hits with more than two teams. He’s got 1215 from his days in Montreal and ended the season at 1034. And still young at 34, it isn’t out of the question that he could get the 751 hits he needs to get to 3000.

All that aside, I’m picking him as an early lock to get enshrined whenever he decides to hang up his batting gloves, er…cleats.

Also on August 10, Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies hit for the cycle against the Cubs. In doing so…he became only the second player in baseball history to have hit for the cycle and have an unassisted triple play in their career.

The other? John Valentin.

And before he surpassed Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig for what proved to be the most over-hyped milestone of the season, Derek Jeter actually accomplished something a little more impressive than being the Yankees all-time hit leader.

In the span of one week, the Yankees shortstop amassed enough hits to pass up both Luis Aparicio and Omar Vizquel to become the all-time hit leader among shortstops.

Allow me to explain.

Of Vizquel's 2697 hits at the time...2669 came at shortstop, whereas all but four (2673) of Aparicio's 2677 career base knocks came at shortstop. Coming into the August 16 contest against the Mariners, Jeter had 2672 hits as a shortstop.

Clearly, his 3 for 4 that night put him over the top.

To put this achievement into perspective, Cal Ripken Jr. notched 2479 of his 3,184 hits as a shortstop. So, how good is Jeter?

He's a ten-time All-Star (missing the game only twice since 1998), carries a .316 career batting average and in 2003, was named New York's team captain...making him only the 11th player to carry that moniker since 1912.

Not too shabby.

Add to that that his second place finish in the 2006 MVP balloting was the best by a Yankees shortstop since Phil Rizzuto took home the award in 1950 and you've got a legend in the making.

But I didn't have to tell any of you that.

Knock yourself out and check out April, May, June and July...September, naturally, is up next.

BallHype: hype it up!

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