Monthly Archives: July, 2016

How strikeouts are killing the Brewers this year

CarterVillar

Those of us who are Brewers fans knew that this season was not going to end with a divisional title. I think what most of us hoped for was a competitive team that showed glimpses of what may be coming down the road… young, exciting players who could turn the fortunes of the franchise around in a few years. In many respects, I think the team has done just that.

There is, however, a disturbing element of the Brewers’ game that needs to be addressed: strikeouts, and I don’t mean when a Brewers pitcher is on the mound. The Brewers bats are striking out way too much.

Let’s throw the statistical lens down and see what the numbers show.

First, consider these two stats:

  • The Brewers rank dead last in most games played this season where the team’s batters struck out five times or less. The Brewers have had only five such games in 2016. The Los Angeles Angels rank first with 45 games. In fact, 23 of the 30 MLB teams have played at least 15 or more games where their batters struck out five or fewer times in a contest.
  • Not surprisingly, the Brewers rank first this season with 47 games where their batters have struck out 10 times or more.

The team seems to have a pretty distinctive line this season of when they win and when they lose based on the number of times their batters were struck out in a game… the Brew Crew is 16-16 (.500) when the team’s batters strike out eight times or less in a game; they are 24-38 (.387) when they strike out nine or more times in a game.

The team issue with strikeouts is obviously having an effect on several individual players. First-year first baseman Chris Carter leads the team with 22 HRs and 54 RBI, although his batting average is a paltry .220. Carter also leads the team in strikeouts with 124. He is on a pace to exceed 30 homers for the season, but he is also on pace to eclipse the 150-strikeout mark in the season. He would become the seventh Brewers player in team history to have 30+ home runs and 150+ strikeouts in the same season if he continues at this pace.

Here’s a look at the Brewers batters who reached 30 HR and 150 K in a season.

Season, player, home runs-strikeouts 1979: Gorman Thomas, 45-175 1980: Gorman Thomas, 38-170 1986: Rob Deer, 33-179 1998: Jeromy Burnitz, 38-158 2001: Richie Sexson, 45-178 2001: Jeromy Burnitz, 34-150 2003: Richie Sexson, 45-151 2006: Bill Hall, 35-162 2012: Corey Hart, 30-151

Another Brewers first-year player, Jonathan Villar, has been a pleasant surprise with a .299 batting average, a .383 on-base percentage that leads the team and stellar play at shortstop… not to mention that he leads the league in stolen bases with 34. Strikeouts, however, have been an issue for Villar. He has 103 for the season.

Villar is on a pace to get very close to 50 stolen bases for the year and 150 strikeouts. No Brewers player has ever reached these two numbers in the same season. In fact, only two players in MLB history have ever had 50 or more steals in a season and 150 or more strikeouts. The two: Delino DeShields (56 steals-151 strikeouts for Montreal in 1991) and Juan Samuel (72 steals-168 strikeouts for Philadelphia in 1984). Could Villar become the third member of this unique club?

No doubt the Brewers are headed in the right direction. They need, however, to figure out a way to lessen the number of strikeouts accumulating on the offensive side.

Strikeouts are haunting the Brewers

JVCC2

Those of us who are Brewers fans knew that this season was not going to end with a divisional title. I think what most of us hoped for was a competitive team that showed glimpses of what may be coming down the road… young, exciting players who could turn the fortunes of the franchise around in a few years. In many respects, I think the team has done just that.

There is, however, a disturbing element of the Brewers’ game that needs to be addressed: strikeouts, and I don’t mean when a Brewers pitcher is on the mound. The Brewers bats are striking out way too much.

Let’s throw the statistical lens down and see what the numbers show.

First, consider these two stats:

  • The Brewers rank dead last in most games played this season where the team’s batters struck out five times or less. The Brewers have had only five such games in 2016. The Los Angeles Angels rank first with 45 games. In fact, 23 of the 30 MLB teams have played at least 15 or more games where their batters struck out five or fewer times in a contest.
  • Not surprisingly, the Brewers rank first this season with 47 games where their batters have struck out 10 times or more.

The team seems to have a pretty distinctive line this season of when they win and when they lose based on the number of times their batters were struck out in a game… the Brew Crew is 16-16 (.500) when the team’s batters strike out eight times or less in a game; they are 24-38 (.387) when they strike out nine or more times in a game.

The team issue with strikeouts is obviously having an effect on several individual players. First-year first baseman Chris Carter leads the team with 22 HRs and 54 RBI, although his batting average is a paltry .220. Carter also leads the team in strikeouts with 124. He is on a pace to exceed 30 homers for the season, but he is also on pace to eclipse the 150-strikeout mark in the season. He would become the seventh Brewers player in team history to have 30+ home runs and 150+ strikeouts in the same season if he continues at this pace.

Here’s a look at the Brewers batters who reached 30 HR and 150 K in a season.

Season, player, home runs-strikeouts 1979: Gorman Thomas, 45-175 1980: Gorman Thomas, 38-170 1986: Rob Deer, 33-179 1998: Jeromy Burnitz, 38-158 2001: Richie Sexson, 45-178 2001: Jeromy Burnitz, 34-150 2003: Richie Sexson, 45-151 2006: Bill Hall, 35-162 2012: Corey Hart, 30-151

Another Brewers first-year player, Jonathan Villar, has been a pleasant surprise with a .299 batting average, a .383 on-base percentage that leads the team and stellar play at shortstop… not to mention that he leads the league in stolen bases with 34. Strikeouts, however, have been an issue for Villar. He has 103 for the season.

Villar is on a pace to get very close to 50 stolen bases for the year and 150 strikeouts. No Brewers player has ever reached these two numbers in the same season. In fact, only two players in MLB history have ever had 50 or more steals in a season and 150 or more strikeouts. The two: Delino DeShields (56 steals-151 strikeouts for Montreal in 1991) and Juan Samuel (72 steals-168 strikeouts for Philadelphia in 1984). Could Villar become the third member of this unique club?

No doubt the Brewers are headed in the right direction. They need, however, to figure out a way to lessen the number of strikeouts accumulating on the offensive side.

Consecutive title losses in professional sports

Cavs

With their defeat of the Golden State Warriors in this year’s NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavs avoided becoming the 34th franchise in pro sports history to lose the title in their sport in consecutive years. The last pro sports team to lose consecutive titles were the Texas Rangers… they lost the World Series in 2010 to the San Francisco Giants and then lost the following year to the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the NBA, the last team to lose back-to-back NBA Finals were the New Jersey Nets. They lost the finals in 2002 and 2003. It’s a close race for the most back-to-back title losses in pro sports: There have been 11 in the NHL, 10 in MLB and nine in the NBA. There has been only three teams that lost back-to-back Super Bowls.

Here’s a look at the franchises that lost consecutive title games/series in the four major pro sports.

NHL (11)
Toronto, 1935, 36
Toronto, 1938, 39, 40 *
Detroit, 1941, 42
Detroit, 1948, 49
Montreal, 1951, 52
Montreal, 1954, 55
Boston, 1957, 58
Toronto, 1959, 60
Detroit, 1963, 64
St. Louis, 1968, 69, 70 *
Boston, 1978, 79

MLB (10)
Detroit, 1907, 08, 09 *
NY Giants, 1911, 12, 13 *
NY Yankees, 1921, 22
NY Giants, 1923, 24
NY Giants, 1936, 37
Brooklyn Dodgers, 1952, 53
NY Yankees, 1963, 64
L.A. Dodgers, 1977, 78
Atlanta Braves, 1991, 92
Texas Rangers, 2010, 2011

NBA (9)
NY Knicks, 1951, 52, 53 *
Ft. Wayne Pistons, 1955, 56
St. Louis hawks, 1960, 61
L.A. Lakers, 1962, 63
L.A. Lakers, 1965, 66
L.A. Lakers, 1968, 69, 70 *
L.A. Lakers, 1983, 84
Utah Jazz, 1997, 98
New Jersey Nets, 2002, 2003

NFL (3)
Minnesota Vikings, 1974, 75
Denver Broncos, 1987, 88
Buffalo Bills, 1991, 92, 93, 94 *

  • Lost three or more consecutive title games/series

 

 

10 Facts You May Not Know About MLB All-Star Game MVPs

ASG MVP

The MLB All-Star Game will be played tonight in San Diego. Here’s a look at 10 facts you may not know about MLB All-Star Game (ASG) MVPs since it was first awarded in 1962.

  1. Maury Wills was the first recipient of the ASG MVP in 1962. That was the same year that he was voted the National League MVP after batting .299 and stealing 104 bases.
  2. Five players have won the award twice: Gary Carter, Steve Garvey, Willie Mays, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Mike Trout. As the winner of the ASG MVP the last two years, Trout is the only player to win back-to-back honors. Ripken had the longest span in between awards… 10 years.
  3. Sixteen different players won the ASG MVP and are members of Baseball’s Hall of Fame: Roberto Alomar, Gary Carter, Ken Griffey, Jr., Juan Marichal, Pedro Martinez, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Cal Ripken, Jr., Mike Piazza, Kirby Puckett, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Don Sutton and Carl Yastrzemski.
  4. The Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants are tied for the most MVP awards with six. Cincinnati is next with five; the Red Sox and Angels have each had players win four ASG MVP awards.
  5. Outfielders have won 24 of the 55 ASG MVPs. Infielders have won 18, the battery combo of pitchers and catchers have won 13.
  6. The American League has the lead in MVPs with 28, one more than the N.L.
  7. Four players won the ASG MVP in their only ASG appearance: Melky Cabrera, J.D. Drew, LaMarr Hoyt and Bo Jackson.
  8. As mentioned above, Trout is the only player to win the award in back-to-back years. Teammates have won the award back-to-back twice: 1968-Mays, 1969-McCovey; 1977-Sutton, 1978-Garvey.
  9. There was no MVP awarded in 2002; that was the ASG played in Milwaukee that ended in a tie.
  10. Two players won the ASG MVP even though they played for the team that lost the game: Brooks Robinson in 1966 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1970.

A 7-game lead on July 1: A good omen?

July 1

When the calendar turned over to July last Friday, each of the 30 MLB teams were at or near the mid-point in their season. The sports pages showed two divisional leaders with leads of seven games or more over their closest competitor… a good sign, right?

In the last 20 seasons (since 1996), there have been 16 teams that had a divisional lead of at least seven games at the start of the day on July 1. Of those 16, how many do you think won the World Series that year? How many do you think failed to make the playoffs that year? That answer in a minute.

This year the Chicago Cubs had the biggest division lead of the six divisions with an 11-game advantage over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. In the America League, the Texas Rangers were 8.5 games ahead of division rival Houston in the West. The other four division leaders on July 1 (Washington, San Francisco, Baltimore and Cleveland) had leads of five or six games.

So, does having a lead of seven games or more on July 1 translate to a World Series appearance? Of those 16 teams with divisional leads of seven games or more on July 1 since 1996, only three went on to play in the World Series that season; all three, however, did win the championship (Boston-2007, White Sox -2005 and the Yankees-1998). Only two of those teams (the 2007 Brewers and 2003 Mariners) had a lead of seven games or more on July 1 but did not make the playoffs that year.

Here’s a look at how well the 16 teams with a lead in their division of seven games or more on July 1 did in the post-season that season. (How big a lead they had on July 1 is noted in parenthesis.)

Won World Series
Boston, 2007 (10.5 game lead)
Chicago White Sox, 2005 (10.5)
N.Y. Yankees, 1998 (10)

Lost in the playoffs before the World Series
St. Louis, 2015 (8)
N.Y. Mets, 2006 (10.5)
St. Louis, 2005 (8.5)
N.Y. Yankees, 2004 (7.5)
Atlanta, 2002 (8.5)
Seattle, 2001 (20)
Chicago White Sox, 2000 (9.5)
St. Louis, 2000 (8.5)
Cleveland, 1999 (12.5)
Cleveland, 1998 (8.5)
Atlanta, 1998 (8.5)

Did not make the playoffs that season
Milwaukee, 2007 (7.5)
Seattle, 203 (7)

If Cubs fans are looking for some good mojo concerning their team, consider this: Of the six teams that had a division lead of 10 games or more on July 1 since 1996, three won the World Series that season.