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June 12, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Russell Branyan, Jack Cust, and a TTO Dream Come True

by Ben Lindbergh

Some very prominent prospects are putting up some very pretty numbers in Triple-A. But you can have Adam Eaton's .398 average, Anthony Rizzo's 22 homers, Brett Jackson's eight triples, Anthony Gose' 24 steals, and Trevor Bauer's 11.8 strikeouts per nine. I'll take these two:

That's half of the box score from Sunday's Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees game against the Louisville Bats. I had to highlight the Cust and Branyan rows, because the box score inexplicably didn't come with them pre-highlighted. In 10 plate appearances, Cust and Branyan combined for four strikeouts, one home run, and one walk. That's six of 10 plate appearances ending in one of the Three True Outcomes. If you're wondering why that's so wonderful, take a look at the all-time major-league TTO% leaderboard, minimum 2500 plate appearances:

Name

TTO%

Jack Cust

53.0

Russell Branyan

50.4

Mark Reynolds

50.1

Adam Dunn

49.9

Jim Thome

47.6

Ryan Howard

46.1

Carlos Pena

45.7

Mark McGwire

45.6

Bo Jackson

45.0

Pat Burrell

42.8

 

On February 8th, the Yankees signed Russell Branyan. On March 28th, they signed Jack Cust. Knowing that neither was anything more than insurance, only one was healthy, and both seemed destined for DH, I tweeted:

Well, it happened. And not only are they playing on the same Triple-A team, but they're batting back to back. So far, it's been beautiful.

Branyan has hit .310/.474/.862 in 38 plate appearances. After returning from the latest in a long line of back injuries on June 2nd, he hit five home runs in his first eight games, 2000-Indians style, and was named the International League's Batter of the Week. Cust has hit .266/.414/.492 in 251 plate appearances. His walk and strikeout rates lead the league, and he ranks fifth with 12 home runs.

Cust is 33, and Branyan is 36. They're not going to be content keeping each other company and trading TTO trade secrets forever. Before long, one of them will be disabled, released, or promoted, and this magical interlude will be at an end. Until then, they'll keep racking up no-contact plate appearances at a record pace. And when they do make contact, it'll often look a lot like this:

Long may they trot. Together.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

Related Content:  Jack Cust,  Russell Branyan,  Tto,  Three True Outcomes

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