Earlier this week the New York Yankees signed Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year contract worth $153 million. Several media outlets and baseball pundits questioned whether or not it was a good move on the part of the Yankees. Many questioned either the length or value of the contract, while others opined that Ellsbury was just not the type of player that deserved that type of free-agent contract.
In defense of Ellsbury, he played a major role in the Red Sox winning the championship last year. He led the majors with 52 stolen bases and batted .298 while playing a solid center field. He has stolen 50 or more base in three of his seven seasons. But his speed on the basepaths was a bone of contention for some people who see Ellsbury as too one-dimensional of a player.
Maybe, however, the Yankees decision was a simple response to a need that has plagued the team for almost 25 years.
As mentioned above, Ellsbury led the majors last season with 52 stolen bases. He was the only player to steal 50 or more last season. Do you know the last Yankees player to steal 50 or more bases in a season? It happened in 1988. Rickey Henderson stole 93 in that season, the last time the Yanks had a player reach the 50-steal mark in a season.
Here’s a look at the last time each of the major league teams had a player who stole 50 or more bases in a season.
American League teams
1988: New York Yankees (Rickey Henderson, 93)
1995: Texas (Otis Nixon, 50)
1996: Kansas City (Tom Goodwin, 66)
1997: Minnesota (Chuck Knoblauch, 62)
1998: Cleveland (Kenny Lofton, 54)
1998: Toronto (Shannon Stewart, 51)
2001: Detroit (Roger Cedeno, 55)
2001: Seattle (Ichiro Suzuki, 56)
2006: L.A. Angels (Chone Figgins, 52)
2007: Baltimore (Brian Roberts, 50)
2009: Tampa Bay (Carl Crawford, 60)
2010: Chicago White Sox (Juan Pierre, 68)
2010: Houston (Michael Bourne, 52)
2010: Oakland (Rajai Davis, 50)
2013: Boston (Jacoby Ellsbury, 52)
National League teams
1985: Philadelphia (Juan Samuel, 53)
1987: San Diego (Tony Gwynn, 56)
1990: San Francisco (Brett Butler, 51)
1991: Atlanta (Otis Nixon, 72)
1993: Washington (Marquis Grissom, 53)
1997: Cincinnati (Deion Sanders, 56)
1997: St. Louis (Delino DeShields, 55)
1998: Pittsburgh (Tony Womack, 58)
2004: Milwaukee (Scott Podsednik, 70)
2006: Chicago Cubs (Juan Pierre, 58)
2007: Arizona (Eric Byrnes, 50)
2007: Los Angeles Dodgers (Juan Pierre, 64)
2007: Miami (Hanley Ramirez, 51)
2008: Colorado (Willy Taveras, 68)
2008: New York Mets (Jose Reyes, 56)
* Note: Did you notice that one player, Juan Pierre, is the last player to steal 50 or more bases for three different teams (Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and L.A. Dodgers), and Otis Nixon is the last player to steal 50-plus bases for two teams (Texas and Atlanta).
Will a full season of Ellsbury stealing bases lead the Yankees to a World Championship? We’ll have a few months to see how well this free agent signing plays out. No doubt the Bronx Bombers are hoping Ellsbury’s stolen base skill will be a catalyst in that journey back to the World Series.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
Imagine an NFL team with an effective offense and an unbreakable defense. Seems like the recipe for a championship team, right?
Let’s put some numbers to the above concept.
On offense, let’s look at teams that average 5.6 or more yards per play. On defense, let’s look at teams that allow less than 4.6 yards per play by their opponents. How many teams fit into those parameters… both on offense and defense?
For the 2013 NFL season, only one team fits the bill… the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll’s offense (through Week #13) are averaging 5.89 yards per play on offense. On defense, the ball-hawking Seattle “D” is allowing only 4.53 yards per play. The Seahawks rank eighth on offense with their 5.89/yards per play, while the defense is second in the league by allowing only 4.53/yards per play. Seattle is the only team in the league to rank in the top 10 in both of these categories.
Looking back at the history of the league, only 10 teams have ended the season with a yards per play on offense of 5.6 or above and a yards per play on defense under 4.6. The Seahawks could become the 11th team in history if their numbers stay where they are currently at for the season. Interestingly, the last two teams to fit into these stat numbers were from the last two NFL seasons. The Denver Broncos last year averaged 5.84 yards per play on offense and 4.58 yards on defense; in 2011, the Steelers gained 5.87 yards per play and allowed 4.51 on defense.
Following are the 10 teams that were 5.6 yards or above on offense and less than 4.6 yards on defense in a season since 1966 (the beginning of the Super Bowl era).
2012 Denver: 5.84 yards per play on offense, 4.58 yards per play on defense
2011 Pittsburgh: 5.87 yards per play on offense, 4.51 yards per play on defense
2007 Indianapolis: 5.63 yards per play on offense, 4.57 yards per play on defense
1991 Washington: 5.76 yards per play on offense, 4.54 yards per play on defense
1987 San Francisco: 5.68 yards per play on offense, 4.39 yards per play on defense
1980 San Diego: 5.65 yards per play on offense, 4.44 yards per play on defense
1979 Pittsburgh: 5.79 yards per play on offense, 4.13 yards per play on defense
1972 Miami: 5.64 yards per play on offense, 4.28 yards per play on defense
1968 Oakland: 5.88 yards per play on offense, 4.33 yards per play on defense
1966 Kansas City: 6.04 yards per play on offense, 4.55 yards per play on defense
Of the 10 teams listed above, four made the Super Bowl that season (1991 Washington, 1979 Pittsburgh, 1972 Miami and 1966 Kansas City) with three of those teams, Washington, Pittsburgh and Miami, winning the title that year. The other six teams each made the playoffs that year. All of the 10 teams won 11 or more games that season.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
Through games of December 4, 2013, there have been 10 “triple-doubles” in the NBA this season. All 10 were by players age 25 and younger.
Earlier this week (December 3), Orlando rookie Victor Oladipo and Philadelphia rookie Michel Carter-Williams became the first rookies to record triple-doubles in the same game. Oladipo, aged 21, had 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while Carter-Williams, age 22, had 27 points, 12 boards and 10 assists in the game. Last month, another 76ers player, second-year player Tony Wroten, age 20, had a triple-double in a November 13 contest with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
Basketball-Reference.com has NBA player game stats back to the 1985-86 season. Since that season, there have been 57 different players who have had a triple-double in a game before the age 23. LeBron James leads that category with 16 such games. Following are the players who had two or more NBA triple-doubles before their 23rd birthday.
Triple-Doubles prior to their 23rd birthday
LeBron James, 16
Jason Kidd, 11
Lamar Odom, 7
Russell Westbrook, 6
Kevin Johnson, Chris Paul, Chris Webber, 5 each
Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, Antoine Walker, 3 each
Kenny Anderson, Kobe Bryant, Brad Daugherty, Paul George, Blake Griffin, Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Rajon Rondo, 2 each
Of these players listed above, all are now 23 years of age or older.
During the 2012-13 season, five different players under the age of 23 had a triple-double. Those players: Greg Monroe, Detroit (age 22); DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento (age 22); Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia (age 22); Paul George, Indiana (age 22… he had one regular season triple-double and a playoff triple-double); and Ricky Rubio, Minnesota (age 22).
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
Week 13 had two games go into overtime: The Vikings beat the Bears 23-20, and the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Buffalo Bills 34-31. For the Falcons, it was their first overtime win on the road since September 26, 2010.
Through games of December 1, there have been 13 overtime games in the NFL this season. One ended in a tie, and the home team has won nine of the other 12 OT contests.
In 2012, there 21 regular-season overtime games in the NFL. Of those 21, the home team won 11 of them. There was also an overtime game in the playoffs; that was won by the away team (Baltimore) as they knocked the Denver Broncos out of the playoffs on their home field on a Justin Tucker 47-yard field goal in double overtime.
One of the more interesting overtime games last season was on December 2. The Seattle Seahawks were on the road facing the Chicago Bears. The Seahawks won the game 23-17 in Chicago in overtime. It was the first victory in a five-game winning streak that propelled the Seahawks to an 11-win season and a spot in the playoffs.
But another reason that game was noteworthy was that it was the first overtime win on the road for the Seahawks in almost 10 years. Prior to that win in Chicago, the last time Seattle won an overtime game on the road was December 29, 2002 when they beat the Chargers 31-28 in an overtime game in San Diego.
The current longest drought for a road overtime win belongs to the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona has not won an overtime game on the road since December 2, 2001.
With that in mind, here is the last time each team won an overtime game on the road.
Last overtime game won on the road, team
10-23-2003: New England
11-27-2005: St. Louis
10-29-2007: Green Bay
12-9-2007: San Diego
9-14-2008: San Francisco
1-22-2012: New York Giants
9-23-2012: Kansas City
9-23-2012: New York Jets
11-18-2012: Tampa Bay
12-23-2012: New Orleans
Of the three teams that have this season won OT games on the road, two of those road OT victories came at the expense of the Buffalo Bills (both Cincinnati and Atlanta beat Buffalo in OT on the Bills’ home field). The Bills became the 11th team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to have lost two overtime games at home in a season. Following are those teams:
Lost two overtime games at home in a season
2003: Tampa Bay
2002: Minnesota, Oakland
1993: New England
1987: New England
1983: Green Bay, Houston Oilers, Tampa Bay
1979: New England
With four weeks left in the 2013 NFL regular season, there is more and more conversation about the playoffs and which teams will not only make the playoffs, but which teams might have home field advantage throughout the duration of the post-season.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that having the home field is a benefit during the season and also in the playoffs. For the record, from the 2010 season through Week #13 of this year, home teams have won .572 of the games with road teams at .428, a difference of .144. (In the last three NFL playoffs, home teams have an 18-12 record, a .600 winning percentage.)
For some teams, however, the difference between their regular season home and road winning percentage is much greater than the league average of .144 since 2010. The Arizona Cardinals since 2010 are 19-11 (.633) at home and 6-24 (.200) on the road. That .433 difference is the largest of all NFL teams in that time period.
After looking at the records below, you will notice that:
* Two teams, Philadelphia and Washington, have actually played better on the road than at home since 2010. Only two teams, New England (.700) and Philadelphia (.600) have won 60 percent or more of their regular season road games since 2010.
Here’s a look at each NFL teams winning percentage at home and on the road since 2010.
Difference, Team (Home win pct/Road win pct)
+.433 Arizona (.633/.200)
+.400 Baltimore (.867/.467)
+.334 Seattle (.767/.433)
+.317 Green Bay (.850/.533)
+.250 Minnesota (.500/.250)
+.247 Cleveland (.419/.172)
+.245 Buffalo (.452/.207)
+.233 Indianapolis (.633/.400)
+.217 San Francisco (.750/.533)
+.200 New England (.900/.700)
+.200 New Orleans (.767/.567)
+.200 New York Jets (.600/.400)
+.166 Atlanta (.733/.567)
+.150 St. Louis (.433/.283)
+.142 Pittsburgh (.690/.548)
+.134 Oakland (.467/.333)
+.133 San Diego (.552/.419)
+ .102 Kansas City (.516/.414)
+.100 Chicago (.633/.533)
+.100 Dallas (.533/.433)
+.100 Denver (.633/.533)
+.100 Detroit (.500/.400)
+.100 New York Giants (.600/.500)
+.087 Jacksonville (.345/.258)
+.068 Cincinnati (.552/.484)
+.067 Tennessee (.467/.400)
+.066 Carolina (.433/.367)
+.033 Houston (.516/.483)
+.000 Miami (.433/.433)
+.000 Tampa Bay (.400/.400)
-.066 Washington (.367/.433)
-.233 Philadelphia (.367/.600)
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp