Mark Grudzielanek is on the verge of the elite. Just under two percent of all Major League Baseball players who had a hit make it to 2,000 hits. Grudzielanek is sitting at 1,998. The Royals second baseman had a three-hitter last night against the Sox, inching him closer to a mark that’s been 15 years in the making.
We said it yesterday as a little extra nugget, but it’s a pretty big deal. Entering today, 13,096 players in Major League history have gotten at least one hit. That number is subject to change at any moment. Already this year, 131 rookies have collected their first hits, including the Royals Mike Aviles who has 38 in 32 games and Matt Tupman who has one in his only game as a big leaguer.
That number doesn’t take into account non-rookies who have picked up their first career hits. The Royals don’t have anyone who falls into that category but Joel Peralta smacked a game winning double to pick up his first career hit in Colorado last season – his third season in the Bigs.
So Grudzielanek will be in an elite category. Only 1.9 percent of Major Leaguers get to that point. Even more elite, he’ll be only the 22nd second basemen to reach the milestone. The Royals have another second baseman on that list, and he will be in the building tonight. Frank White ended his career with 2,006 hits. White was the last player to reach the feat as a Royal, doing it in 1990.
Grudzielanek has a lot going for him. He’s been great against lefties, like Sox starter Mark Buerhle, hitting .397 versus southpaws, which is tops in the American League. He leads the A.L. with a .383 home batting average. And his .319 overall average is fifth in the League and 10th in the Majors.
Tonight might be the night. Are you gonna watch history tonight?
In the Monster All-Star Final Vote, Jose Guillen couldn’t overcome the strength of Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria, who is putting together a Rookie of the Year caliber season. Longoria has collected a pair of awards this week over Royals players. He also snagged Rookie of the Month for his solid June – an award for which Mike Aviles was a candidate.
So Joakim Soria will go it alone to New York. But Around the Horn can’t thank the fans enough for your support.
The Royal announced a two-year extension with Wilmington (Del.) to be an Class A affiliate through 2010…Brian Bannister tied a season high with his six strikeouts last night; it was the second game in a row he’s punched out that many…Notes from Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Hillman was asked if David DeJesus might be better suited elsewhere in the lineup and he replied that while DeJesus might be great elsewhere in the lineup, ultimately he is comfy in the leadoff spot and is the spark plug for the Royals’ offense…Also from Hillman: Hillman says he is looking for consistency from the rotation to give the bullpen some rest; the Royals bullpen has seen a lot of action over the last week in helping shut down opponents so the team could make comebacks like the two in Baltimore.
The Royals also announced today the extension of the relief efforts this weekend. Heart to Heart International will be on hand Sunday to collect donations to support the severe weather relief in the Midwest. Tomorrow was already slated for donations to be given to the American Red Cross and Saturday is the Salvation Army’s night.
For the first two nights of the Seattle series, fans can buy discounted tickets for $12, $5 of which will be given to that night’s organization.
Remember, the “Hats off Weekend” kicks off tomorrow with cowboy hats sponsored by AT&T. Saturday, it wouldn’t be Christmas in July without Santa hats sponsored by MLB 2K8. Finally Sunday, is the New. Blue. Tradition. visor. All giveaways are limited, so make sure we see you out at the K.
The Royals are working on a number of things for Military Appreciation Day, which is August 2. Around the Horn would like to request some help from our faithful here at mlblogs.com. If you have pictures of loved ones overseas wearing Royals gear, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we might be able to use them for a presentation during that day’s events. If not, Around the Horn is also working on a special post for that day and may post some of these photos right here. Please include the name of the person, hometown, where they are stationed and what branch they are in.
Thanks for your help.
Here’s today’s Official Game Notes.