If the name Ildemaro Vargas rings a bell, it’s because he did get 13 PA for the D-backs last season. He got a cup of coffee in June, as a result of Shortstopocalypse 2017, then was one of the team’s September call-ups. Over 112 games for the Reno Aces last season, he had a good campaign, batting .312, though the overall .817 OPS was slightly below average for the Aces. Through June 23, the 26-year-old was having a bit of a down year, hitting only .268 over his first 68 games. But the following day in Las Vegas. he went 1-for-3, and didn’t stop hitting until yesterday, when he went 0-for-3.
It seems a little unfair as he only had 7 innings to try and extend it, due to the game being a double-header, following the completion of a game held over the previous day, due to a dust-storm. However, there was a certain symmetry, as the streak began and ended in the same place and against the same opponent as it had begun. Vargas finished the with 57 hits, and across the 35 games, had a line of .363/.408/.478. It increased his batting average for the year by 31 points, with Ildemaro now hitting .299. Hopefully, he can get right back on the horse, and start another streak tonight, in Reno. The streak set a record there, surpassing the 31-game run by Jake Elmore for the Aces in 2012.
It was also the longest in the Pacific Coast League since 1989, when Joey Cora hit in 37 consecutive games, the most in my lifetime (and I’m not young!). The all-time mark was set by someone you may have heard of: Joe DiMaggio. Yes, the man who holds the MLB record with a (possibly unbreakable?) 56-game streak had a sixty-one game streak in the PCL as a teenager in 1933, back when according to some, “The PCL really was the Major Leagues out [west].” The minor-league record, and that for professional baseball, belongs to Joe Wilhoit at 69 games, with the Wichita Jobbers of the Western League in 1919. This lasted more than two months (June 14-August 19), during which time Wilhoit had a .515 BA (153-for-297!).
For context, Arizona’s best at the major-league level is the 30-game streak which Luis Gonzalez had in 1999, from April 11 through May 18. In those games, Gonzo hit a cool .400 with seven home-runs, for an OPS of 1.162. Only three other Diamondbacks have reached even twenty major-league games in a row: Tony Womack (24 games in 2000), Danny Bautista (21 games in 2004), and Paul Goldschmidt (26 games from September 10, 2013 through April 4 the following year). Since the Diamondbacks entered the league in 1998, the longest in the majors belongs to Jimmy Rollins, who had a 38-game streak in 2005-06, with four others getting past 30 games, most recently Dan Uggla’s 31-game run in 2011.
Down on the farm, I could only find two examples of Diamondbacks’ prospects reaching the 30-game mark. The first of these pre-dates the D-backs playing a single game. In 1997, 18-year-old Lance Downing, our 33rd round pick in the draft, hit for 32 consecutive games in the Arizona Rookie League. He batted .381 that year, but was out of pro baseball before his 24th birthday. Five years later, in 2002, infielder Corey Myers had a 33-game hitting streak. Myers had been the fourth overall pick in the 1999 draft - ahead of Barry Zito, Carl Crawford and Justin Morneau - but also never made it to the majors, becoming Arizona’s first big draft bust. Vargas can has already done more than either of these two prospects!