Elias Says ...
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• We've been down this road before, but Houston's decision to decline salary arbitration to Roger Clemens could mark the beginning of another end to the Rocket's career. If we've really seen Clemens for the last time as an active major leaguer, his 341 career wins would be the most for any pitcher who ended his playing career with an appearance in the World Series. Clemens would already hold that distinction had he retired "as a Yankee" following the 2003 World Series; he had 310 victories at the time. But for now, the only player to cap a 200-win career by pitching in a Fall Classic is Paul Derringer (223 wins), whose last appearance in the majors was for the Cubs in the 1945 World Series.
• The Cubs had the lowest batting average of any National League team from the top spot in the batting order last season (.245) and their .299 on-base percentage from that slot was the third-lowest in the majors, ahead of only the Mets and Rockies. Four different players started at least 15 games at the top of Chicago's batting order in 2005 (Jerry Hairston, Corey Patterson, Neifi Perez and Matt Lawton) and no one has led off a majority of games for the Cubs in any season since Eric Young did it in 2001.
Juan Pierre started 696 games from the first batting-order position over the last five years (2001-2005), second-most in the majors over that span, behind Ichiro (769). But while Pierre's .355 career on-base percentage is above the NL average for leadoff hitters (.339 in 2005), he posted a career-low .326 mark in that category last season.
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