Jayson Nix continues home run tear

In his last 6 games Jayson Nix is 9-23 (.391 BA) with five HR and seven RBI. He’s gone deep in each of his last three games.

This is the same player who was batting .163 with one HR and five RBI in 24 games with the White Sox before the Tribe picked him up off the waiver wire.

Not only is his streak unlikely, it’s historical. Over the last 50 seasons, only one other Tribe second baseman has homered in three straight game. Amazingly, it’s not Alomar, Baerga, Gordon, Avila or even Bernazard. Nope, its Ronnie Belliard.

In fact, in the entire “baseball-reference searching era” (1920-39 and 1952-pres) only one other second baseman joins Belliard and Nix: the legendary Odell “Bad News” Hale in 1933.

Jayson Nix goes deep twice

Jayson Nix belted two home runs on Monday, becoming the 7th Indians second baseman in the last 50 seasons with a multi-home run game and the first since Robbie Alomar in 2001. Each of the last 12 instances, all of which occurred between 1991 and 2001, came from Alomar or Carlos Baerga. The last to do so other than those two was Tony Bernazard in 1987.

The nine year drought between multi-home run games by an Indians second baseman had been the longest current drought for a position other than pitcher. Earlier this season, Austin Kearns also snapped a drought for left field which dated back to Matt Lawton in 2004.

Squeeze play is back in Cleveland

On Monday night Jayson Nix executed a perfect squeeze play with Travis Hafner on 3rd to give the Indians a 2-1 lead, which they would hold to for the win. It was the second successful squeeze for the Indians this season.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine exactly when a squeeze has been executed by going through box scores, but on baseball-reference’s play index we can come pretty close. Using their “event finder” we can find sacrifice bunts with a runner on 3rd base. Technically, a squeeze play can result in a hit, if the bunt is placed in such a way that the official scorer rules that the runner would have been safe regardless of what the fielder did with the ball. However, that is certainly a rare occurrence.

Using what we can on baseball reference, the Indians two “RBI sacrifice bunts with a runner on 3rd” are their most in a single season since 1993. In fact, Luis Valbuena‘s earlier this season was the first since Omar Vizquel in 2003.

When compiling the list on the right, two things immediately jumped out at me:

1) Albert Belle bunted?! Sure enough, on July 9, 1994 in the Metrodome, Jim Deshaies walked Kenny Lofton who stole 2nd and then 3rd. After another walk was issued to Carlos Baerga, Belle laid down a sacrifice bunt, scoring Lofton from 3rd. It was the 4th and final sac bunt of Belle’s career.

2) Thomas Howard not only had three in one season, but two in ONE GAME! On June 16, 1992 at Cleveland Stadium, Howard officially went 0-3 with 2 RBI. In the 5th inning, following a Lofton triple, Howard laid down a squeeze to give the Indians a 3-2 lead over the Orioles. Then in the 7th inning, with the Tribe up 4-2, Howard laid down ANOTHER squeeze, this time scoring Mark Lewis.

Welcome aboard Jayson Nix

The Indians claimed Jayson Nix off waivers from the White Sox yesterday and added him to the big league roster, optioning Jensen Lewis an Luis Valbuena to Columbus.

Nix was a 2001 1st-round pick of the Rockies, immediately making him the most successful 2001 1st-round pick to play for the Indians (our 1st rounders Alan Horne and Mike Conroy never made it to the majors).

The only good thing I can say about Nix is that he’s versatile. A poor man’s Jamey Carroll, if you will. Primarily a second baseman, he’s also played third, short and a little outfield over the past two seasons in Chicago.

He was batting .163 for the White Sox before being designated for assignment – one of the few players with a worse average than Valbuena this season. The thinking behind the move is likely that Valbuena is doing himself more harm than good in the majors. Down in the minors he can rebuild his confidence. Nix may be nothing more than a stop-gap solution until Valbuena straightens things out and gets recalled.

In an effort to find a good note on Nix, I did come across this oddity: he has just 13 career home runs, but three have come off Joe Saunders. He has no more than one homer against any other pitcher.