Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
How does a 39-33 major league record sound?
That is the combined won-loss log for all former American Association pitchers in the two leagues this season heading into the final weekend of the campaign.
Not shockingly, Washington ace Max Scherzer (Fort Worth ’07) has led the way with his 16-6 record although Seattle’s James Paxton (pictured, Grand Prairie ’10) has put together a 12-5 season and even though the lefty missed 55 days as he worked through two different muscle issues the Seattle chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of American selected him as the Mariners’ Pitcher of the Year, an honor Felix Hernandez has won seven of the previous nine seasons.
“Coming back from injury, I’ve had a couple of blips there, but once I’m at full strength, it’s been good,” Paxton told The Tacoma News-Tribune. “Obviously, the big goal for me is to stay healthy and get those 33 or 34 starts in a season. That’s what I’m going to focus on this offseason, finding (a) way to stay healthy for the entire season.”
He has set a career high in 2017 with 23 starts, and has a 3.12 earned run average.
Tim Adleman (Lincoln/El Paso ’12) has won five games for Cincinnati and Brandon Kintzler (St. Paul ’09) has four victories between Minnesota and Washington in addition to saving 29 other games. Junior Guerra (Wichita ’11, ’13) of Milwaukee and James Hoyt (Wichita ’12) of Houston have one win apiece.
Yes, He Is ‘Out There’, But Mark Hamburger Puts Up Wins for Saints and Elsewhere
Whenever Mark Hamburger‘s baseball career ends he seems to be almost certain to be remembered best for his days as a standout pitcher for the St. Paul Saints. After all, this 30-year-old was born in St. Paul, went to both high school and college in Minnesota, first played professionally in the Minnesota Twins farm system and still lives in the state.
But he also could be remembered for his free-spirited ways, for winning the only decision he has had in the major leagues–at least through his 11th professional season–and most of all for his quality work as a starting pitcher.
Hamburger won 13 games (13-6) for the Saints this season, one more than one year ago (12-6) and now has a 31-20 regular-season career record for three seasons with the team. When they slumped late and failed to make the American Association playoffs the 6-foot-4 right-hander also made the league look good in another way because he joined the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League and threw so well in his only regular-season appearance (two runs and five hits in seven no-decision innings) that they selected him to start their playoff opener.
He did not disappoint. Hamburger held the Long Islandne Ducks to one run in seven innings to claim the only victory the six-time champions earned before they were eliminated.
Presumably, the pitcher, who got his lone major league experience–and that one victory–with the World Series-bound 2011 Texas Rangers, could ditch baseball and go back to restoring a 1969 camper and living life with the freedom that has described much of his off-the-diamond time.
“If people look at me and say that I’m ‘out there’, I mean, I guess it’s true for the job that I’m in,” Hamburger recently told Minneapolis radio station WCCO as part of a lengthy feature story. “I don’t try to push myself on anybody or be all crazy goofy, but I am free. I’m free to be who I am, and I don’t hold myself to, like, rules of the clubhouse.”
The WCCO story talked about Hamburger quoting Plato from memory and preferring not to carry a cell phone but as long as he wins games for the Saints or Patriots or wherever the hurler’s baseball legacy will continue to be a good one.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at traditional book-buying sites, or at www.WirzandAssociates.com.