Monthly Archives: August, 2012

Will the Nationals franchise finally end their 33-year 20-game winner drought?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: Stephen Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forty percent of the major league teams (12 of the 30 teams) have not had a 20-game winning pitcher on their staff this century. Two teams, Colorado and Tampa Bay, have never had a 20-game winner in their history.

Of those teams that have had a 20-game winner in their franchise’s history, two teams, San Diego and Washington (previously Montreal) have not had a 20-game winner since 1978. The Nationals, however, are knocking at the door to end this drought. Through games of August 29, the Nationals have two pitchers with 15 or more wins, Gio Gonzalez (16) and Stephen Strasburg (15), although there is quite a bit of discussion that Strasburg will be shut-down sometime in September and will likely not have a shot at 20 wins.

In 2011, two teams ended  long droughts of not having a 20-game winner. American League Cy Young Award winner and league MVP Justin Verlander won 24 games last year, giving the Tigers their first 20-game winner since Bill Gullickson won 20 in 1991. In the National League, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw won the league Cy Young Award and 21 games, giving Los Angeles their first 20-game winner since 1990 when Ramon Martinez won 20.

Following are the teams that have the longest drought since their last 20-game winner.

Team, Last 20-game winner year, pitcher

San Diego: 1978-Gaylord Perry

*Washington: 1978-Ross Grimsley

Baltimore: 1984-Mike Boddicker

Milwaukee: 1986-Teddy Higuera

Cincinnati: 1988-Danny Jackson

Kansas City: 1989-Bret Saberhagen

NY Mets: 1990-Frank Viola

Pittsburgh: 1991-John Smiley

Colorado: 1993-Never had a 20-game winner

San Francisco: 1993-Bill Swift/John Burkett

Tampa Bay: 1998-Never had a 20-game winner

Texas: 1998-Rick Helling

* Previously Montreal

With just about a month to go in the 2012 season, a couple of other teams on the list above may be close to ending their drought like the Nationals. In Cincinnati, Johnny Cueto leads the N.L. with 17 wins and three more victories for him would give the Reds their first 20-game winner since 1988. The Mets have not had a 20-game winner since 1990 with Frank Viola. R.A. Dickey has 16 victories and will have a good shot at reaching that 20-win mark for the Mets. Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett has 15 wins this season and could end the Pirates more than two-decade drought of 20-game winners.

In the A.L., Tampa Bay’s David Price has 16 wins, and Texas Rangers’ starter Matt Harrison has 15 wins (he lost his attempt for number 16 on Wednesday versus Tampa Bay. Both have a shot at 20 wins.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp


The evolution of the pass-catching running back in the NFL

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: LT

LaDainian Tomlinson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re looking for one way that the National Football League has changed since, say the start of the century, you don’t have to go much further than looking at how running backs are being used.

In simple terms, NFL teams are looking for ways to get the ball into the hands of their fleet-footed runners. No longer is the game limited to handing the ball off to the best runner and letting him find a way up the field. These days, passing the ball to your running back is just as important as the quarterback handing the ball off to his runners.

Let’s quantify this… using 250 or more rushing attempts and 50 receptions in a season as the yardstick, we see that in NFL history there have been 107 occasions when a running back had 250-plus rushing attempts and 50-plus receptions in the same season. Fifty different running backs have accomplished this feat in NFL history.

Last season three players met these numbers: Houston’s Arian Foster with 278 carries and 53 receptions; Tennessee’s Chris Johnson with 262 carries and 57 receptions; and the Ravens’ Ray Rice, who carried the ball 291 times to go along with his 76 catches.

Of those 107 occasions, 55 of them have occurred since 2000, a testament to the fact that teams have increased the workload of their runners with pass catching responsibilities. (Most running backs to meet these numbers was seven in both the 2000 and 2003 seasons.)

Following are the running backs that have had the most seasons with 250+ carries and 50+ receptions.

Seasons with 250+ carries/50+ receptions, Players

8: LaDainian Tomlinson

6: Marshall Faulk

5: Tiki Barber, Edgerrin James

4: Ahman Greene, Emmitt Smith, Thurman Thomas, Ricky Watters

3: Marcus Allen, Ottis Anderson, William Andrews, Priest Holmes, Ray Rice, Lydell Mitchell

If we move the criteria up to 300 carries and 70 catches, only eight players have met those numbers in league history. They are:

Lydell Mitchell, 1977, Baltimore, 301 carries, 71 catches

James Wilder, 1984, Tampa Bay, 407 carries, 85 catches

Roger Craig, 1988, San Francisco, 310 carries, 76 catches

Marshall Faulk, 1998, Indianapolis, 324 carries, 86 catches

Curtis Martin, 2000, N.Y. Jets, 316 carries, 70 catches

LaDainian Tomlinson, 2002, San Diego, 372 carries, 79 catches

Priest Holmes, 2002, Kansas City, 313 carries, 70 catches

LaDainian Tomlinson, 2003, San Diego, 313 carries, 100 catches

Priest Holmes, 2003, Kansas City, 320 carries, 74 catches

Steven Jackson, St. Louis, 2006, 346 carries, 90 catches

Here’s a few more stats concerning running backs with 250-plus carries and 50-plus catches in a season:

* Four players accomplished this feat at the age of 30: Tiki Barber (2006, 2007 at age 30 and 31), Ricky Watters (2000 at age 31), Tony Dorsett (1984 at age 30) and Priest Holmes (2003 at age 30).

* LaDainian Tomlinson holds the record for most consecutive seasons with 250-plus rushing attempts and 50-plus receptions with eight. He did it from 2001-2008. Tiki Barber did it in five straight seasons from 2002-2006.

* Eight players reached the 250/50 milestone in their rookie season. They were: Billy Sims (1980), Joe Cribbs (1980), Eric Dickerson (1983), Marshall Faulk (1994), Edgerrin James (1999), LaDainian Tomlinson (2001), Steve Slaton (2008) and Matt Forte (2008).

* Two players in NFL history not only had 250 carries and 50 catches, but also had at least one kickoff return and one punt return in that season. Joe Cribbs did it in 1980, Maurice Jones-Drew did it in 2009.

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Braun, Hart and Ramirez look to make extra-base history for the Brewers

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Corey Hart at bat

Corey Hart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ryan Braun and Corey Hart each had doubles in last night’s 4-1 Brewers win over the Cubs. The Brewers have three of the top four leaders in the National League in extra-base hits with Aramis Ramirez (65), Braun (63) and Hart (59).

The trio of Braun, Hart and Ramirez are looking to become the first trio of Brewer players to each have 70 or more extra-base hits in a season. Five times in club history two players had 70 or more extra-base hits in a season, but never three teammates. Those five previous times:

1982: Cecil Cooper and Robin Yount

2001: Jeromy Burnitz and Richie Sexson

2008: Ryan Braun and Corey Hart

2009: Braun and Prince Fielder

2011: Braun and Fielder

With Hart’s next extra-base hit, the trio will become the eighth threesome (or more) in team history to have 60 or more extra-base hits in a season. In 2010, the Brewers had four players who ended the year with 60-plus extra-base hits: Braun, Hart, Rickie Weeks and Casey McGehee. The others Brewers teammates who had seasons with 60 or more extra-base hits:

1979 (four players): Cooper, Sixto Lezcano, Ben Oglivie and Gorman Thomas

1980 (four players): Cooper, Oglivie, Thomas and Yount

1982 (three players): Cooper, Thomas and Yount

1996 (three players): Jeff Cirillo, John Jaha and Jose Valentin

2005 (three players): Bill Hall, Geoff Jenkins and Carlos Lee

2007 (three players): Braun, Fielder and Hart

2008 (three players): Braun, Fielder and Hart

There have been 24 sets of teammates that had 70-plus extra-base hits in a season. The last time it happened was last year when Boston Red Sox players Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz each accomplished this feat.

In baseball history, there has been only six times when four teammates had 70-plus extra-base hits in a season. They were:

Year, Team, Players with 70+ extra-base hits

1996, Seattle: Buhner, Griffey, Martinez and Rodriguez

1996, Colorado: Bichette, Burks, Castilla and Galarraga

1999, Arizona: Bell, Finley, Gonzalez and Williams

2000, Anaheim: Anderson, Erstad, Glaus and Salmon

2007, Philadelphia: Howard, Rollins, Rowand and Utley

2008, N.Y. Mets: Beltran, Delgado, Reyes and Wright

Could Braun, Hart and Ramirez each reach 75 or more extra-base hits this season? Braun and Ramirez have a good shot, but Hart would have to collect 16 extra-base hits in the final 34 games. If the three should each reach 75 extra-base hits, they would become only the seventh such teammates to accomplish this in MLB history. The last trio to do so? The 2006 Phillies with Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.

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Will any rookie on Week One match Randall Cobb’s 2011 debut?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: Green Bay Packers rookie wide receive...

Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last year rookie receiver/return man Randall Cobb made his Green Bay Packers regular season debut with a pair of touchdowns. It was the first time since Javon Walker in 2002 that a Packers rookie scored a touchdown in the team’s first game of the season.

In addition to Cobb, six other rookies scored a touchdown in their team’s first game last season. They were: Doug Baldwin (Seattle), A.J. Green (Cincinnati), Cam Newton (Carolina), Ben Tate (Houston), Ryan Kerrigan (Washington) and Patrick Petersen (Arizona).

Since 1960, there have been 276 rookies that scored a touchdown in their team’s first game of the season, an average of just over five per season. Most in a season was in 1969 when 11 different rookies scored a TD in their team’s first game of the season. That group included O.J. Simpson and Roger Staubach.

In looking at stats from the past 25 NFL seasons (since 1987), there have been 131 rookies that scored a touchdown in their team’s first game of the year. It has proven to be a good omen for those teams as they have won 90 and lost 41 in those games, a .687 winning percentage.

Since 1987, the Detroit Lions and New York Giants have each had nine different rookies score a TD in the team’s opening game. Following are the number of times it has happened for each team in the last 25 seasons.

Rookies with a TD in the opening game (since 1987), Teams

9: Detroit, N.Y. Giants

8: Kansas City, Tampa Bay

7: Miami

6: Denver, Indianapolis, New Orleans

5: Buffalo, San Diego

4: Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Minnesota, New England, Oakland, Tennessee

3: Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Washington

2: Cleveland, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis

1: Houston, N.Y Jets

Three different teams have not had a rookie score a TD in the opening game this century. The longest drought is in Philadelphia where an Eagles rookie has not scored a TD in the opening game since 1993. Atlanta has not had a rookie score in the first game since 1998, while the Rams have not had one score since 1999.

One final note: Seventeen different members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame scored a touchdown as a rookie in their team’s first game of their rookie season (since the 1960 season). The 17 are: Marcus Allen, Lem Barney, Earl Campbell, Marshall Faulk, Bob Hayes, Michael Irvin, John Mackey, Curtis Martin, Ozzie Newsome, Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, O.J. Simpson, Roger Staubach, Lynn Swann, Fran Tarkenton, Charley Taylor, Thurman Thomas.

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Brewers recover well after getting shut-out in a game

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

On Saturday night, Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jeff Karstens pitched seven-plus innings as the Pirates shut-out the Brewers 4-0. Not to be outdone, the Brewers returned the favor yesterday in a 7-0 shutout of the Pirates behind five scoreless innings from starter Mark Rogers and scoreless relief from three members of the bullpen.

This was the second time this season that the Brewers have shut-out their opponent after being shut-out in the previous contest. The other time it happened was on June 5 when the Cubs held the Brewers scoreless in a 10-0 win and the Brewers won the next game with an 8-0 shutout of the Cubs.

The Brewers have been shut-out in 10 games this season, making them one of 10 teams that have been shut-out 10 or more times this season. Leading the way are the Oakland A’s who have been shut-out 15 times. At the other end are the Detroit Tigers who have been shut-out only once in 2012. In the National League, the Cincinnati Reds have been held scoreless in only two games.

The Brewers have, however, been able to bounce back pretty well after being shut-out. They are one of nine teams that have won 60 percent or more of their games this year after being shut-out in the previous game.

Following are each teams’ records in games after being shut-out.

Record in games after being shut-out (win pct.), Team(s)

5-0 (1.000): Kansas City

2-0 (1.000): Cincinnati

1-0 (1.000): Detroit

5-1 (.833): Toronto

4-2 (.667): San Francisco

5-3 (.625): Arizona

6-4 (.600): Milwaukee

3-2 (.600): N.Y. Yankees, Washington

7-5 (.583): L.A. Angels

8-6 (.571): Miami

4-3 (.571): St. Louis

5-4 (.556): Pittsburgh

8-7 (.533): Oakland

4-4 (.500): Minnesota

3-3 (.500): Cleveland

5-6 (.455): Seattle

4-5 (.444): Chicago White Sox

3-4 (.429): Tampa Bay

4-6 (.400): Atlanta, L.A. Dodgers

2-3 (.400): Boston, Philadelphia

3-5 (.375): N.Y. Mets

4-8 (.333): Houston

2-6 (.333): Baltimore

1-2 (.333): Texas

3-8 (.273): Chicago Cubs, San Diego

1-5 (.167): Colorado

The 10 shutouts this season are the 21st time in club history that the Brewers have reached double-figures in shutouts. The team record is 20, which was set in 1972. They were shut-out 16 times in 2004. In 1982, the last time the Brewers appeared in the World Series, the team was shut-out only once that season. They were also only shut-out once in 1979.

One final stat: You’ll have to excuse recently released pitcher Randy Wolf if he mentions that the team didn’t always give him the offensive support he needed to win games. In three seasons with the Brewers (2010-2012), Wolf was the losing pitcher in nine games where the Brewers did not score a run. Since 2010, the Brewers have been shut-out 36 times, meaning that Wolf was the losing pitcher in a quarter of the games when the team did not score a run.

Here’s a rundown of the Brewers pitchers since 2000 who were the losing pitcher in games where the team was shut-out.

Games as losing pitcher when team was shut-out, Pitcher(s)

9: Randy Wolf

7: Dave Bush

6: Jeff Suppan, Doug Davis

5: Yovani Gallardo, Chris Narveson, Wes Obermueller, Victor Santos, Jamey Wright, Jimmy Haynes

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp