Archive for September 3rd, 2011
Tonight, Milwaukee Brewers catcher George Kottaras hit for the cycle. He’s only the seventh Brewer to have done so, and is the third catcher behind Charlie Moore (who did so in 1980) and Chad Moeller (who did so in 2004) to have attained this feat. Kottaras is also the first major leaguer to have done so in 2011.
Now, for you non-baseball fans out there, “hitting for the cycle” means that Kottaras hit a single, a double, a triple and a home run in the same game. It is exceptionally difficult to do, and happens only rarely. (For example, Corey Hart nearly hit for the cycle a few weeks ago, but didn’t quite get it. And my favorite minor league player, Vinny Rottino of the New Orleans Zephyrs, nearly hit for the cycle this year but didn’t quite make it, either.)
Here’s a player analysis of the six Brewers (before tonight’s game) who hit for the cycle, in case you’re interested: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/392627-player-analysis-the-six-brewers-who-have-hit-for-the-cycle
Here’s part of what the Bleacher Report article has to say about Charlie Moore, the second Brewers player overall to do so:
Moore reached the cycle on Oct. 1, 1980 . . . According to Baseball-Reference.com, Moore pounded out four hits in a 10-7 win against the California Angels. Moore went 4-for-5, knocking in three runs and scoring three times.
A bit later, the same article observes:
Moore’s career spanned 15 seasons and 1,334 games. He finished with 1,052 hits, 408 RBI, and a .261 lifetime batting average.
During his time with the Brewers, Moore played multiple positions. As a right fielder in ’82, Moore posted an impressive .992 fielding percentage, second best in the American League.
I was young in 1982, but I remember Moore’s play very well; he was an outstanding defensive outfielder, a good defensive catcher, and a very good contact hitter when he was on. He is by far my favorite Brewers player because he maximized his ability every time he went out onto the field; he was the type of guy who had no “quit” in him, and I greatly respected that.
Now, Chad Moeller is another story; while Moeller is an excellent defensive catcher, no one could ever say that Moeller’s added much with his bat except for one evening in 2004 — April 27, 2004 to be exact.
Here’s what the same Bleacher Report article has to say about Moeller:
Moeller reached the accomplishment by going 4-for-5, with four RBI and one run scored.
A bit later, the B/R article states:
Moeller spent three seasons in Milwaukee (2004-06), splitting time at catcher with Gary Bennett and Damian Miller. The year Moeller hit for the cycle, he played in 101 games, the most by far in his career.
Moeller is a career .226 average hitter, while Moore, over fifteen seasons, hit for a career .261 batting average — very solid hitter, Moore. But as the B/R article says, the “stars aligned for Moeller” and he did, indeed, hit for the cycle.
Now, as for Kottaras . . . to date, he’s a career .219 hitter with some power in his bat and has greatly improved, defensively, in the past year or two since he came to the Brewers. Kottaras, entering tonight’s game, was hitting .241; because he’s played sparingly, his excellent game tonight raised his average to .273 with 4 HRs and 14 RBI in 88 official at-bats in only 38 games. (Kottaras plays once a week or so, mostly because he is Randy Wolf’s “personal catcher.”)
In tonight’s game, Kottaras started instead of Jonathan Lucroy perhaps so Lucroy could rest a bit, as Lucroy has caught a great many games this year (116 to date). His start obviously paid off for Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, and for the Brewers as a whole.
I like Kottaras; he’s a scrappy hitter with some power and speed to him, and he fights for every at-bat he gets. I wouldn’t have said, before tonight, that it would be likely that Kottaras would hit for the cycle as he’s received very little playing time; for example, Charlie Moore played in 111 games in 1980, batting .291 with 2 HRs (one of ’em being in that “cycle” game), 30 RBI, 10 SBs and 42 runs scored, so Moore had more opportunities to get his cycle in during the 1980 season than Kottaras has had this year.
That being said, Kottaras is now in rarefied company, as among the seven people who’ve hit for the cycle are Brewers Hall of Fame players Robin Yount (SS-CF) and Paul Molitor (3B-DH) along with Moore, Moeller, Mike Hegan (who hit the very first cycle in Brewers history) and Jody Gerut (who hit for the cycle last year).