They say that hope springs eternal in spring training. Each of the 30 MLB teams has a certain degree of optimism and many feel they can not only make the playoffs but also contend for the championship. All too often, however, April brings a dose of reality when the games start to count and losses start to pile up.
Getting off to a good start in April sure helps. Consider this: Only seven of the 30 playoffs teams in the last three MLB seasons played under .500 in the first month of the season. Furthermore, only two playoff teams from 2014-16 played under .400 in the first month of the season.
Take a look at the standings just one week into the 2017 campaign. The team with the worst record in baseball last season, the Minnesota Twins, have gotten off to a great start and are 5-1… their .833 winning percentage is currently the best in baseball.
Let’s take a look at how well each of the 30 teams has played in the first month of the season over the past three years. The New York Mets top the list with a .634 winning percentage in the first month of the season from 2014-16. The Detroit Tigers are the only other team with a winning percentage over .600 in the first month the last three years at .609. The worst team in the first month from 2014-16 were the Arizona Diamondbacks; they had a winning percentage of .397.
Here’s a look at the winning percentage of each team in first month of the baseball season (games played in March and April are included) in the last three campaigns.
New York Mets .634, Detroit .609
Kansas City .577, St. Louis .568, Washington .568, Chicago Cubs .559, Los Angeles Dodgers .548, Baltimore .537, Chicago White Sox .534, Boston .534, Oakland .526, Colorado .521, New York Yankees .514, Pittsburgh .514, San Francisco .507
Los Angeles Angels .493, Texas .493, Seattle .486, Miami .486, Philadelphia .479, Tampa Bay .472, Toronto .453, Milwaukee .452, Atlanta .451, Cincinnati .438, San Diego .434, Houston .419, Minnesota .414, Cleveland .400,
Russell Westbrook is the favorite to win the NBA’s MVP Award this season. He is averaging a triple-double this season (31.8 points per game to go along with 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per contest). He could become only the second player (since Oscar Robertson) to average a triple-double in a season, and could overtake the Big “O” for most triple-doubles in a season.
Here’s another stat about Westbrook: With four games remaining, Westbrook has attempted 1,874 shots, or about 24 per game. He would need to fire up 116 shots in his final four contests to become the 11th player in NBA history to attempt 2,000 or more shots in a regular season. He’s on a pace for 1,970, so he’ll have to take closer to 30 shots per game in those last four games to reach 2,000.
Here’s a look at some other stats re: players to have attempted 2,000 or more shots in a season:
- The last player to attempt 2,000 shots in an NBA season was Kobe Bryant in 2005-06. He took 2,173 shots that year.
- There have been 21 seasons where a player took 2,000 shots. That was accomplished by 10 players (Westbrook could become the 11th player). Wilt Chamberlain had the most 2,000-shot seasons with six. Elvin Hayes is next on the list with three campaigns.
With 1,874 shots this season, Westbrook became the 42nd different player to reach 1,750 shots in a season (it has happened 90 times in the history of the NBA). Michael Jordan did it 10 times to top the list, followed by Wilt with seven, Kareem Abdu-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Alex English and Dominique Wilkins with five such seasons, and Elvin Hayes and Allen Iverson with four seasons each with 1,750 shot attempts.
Of the 90 occasions/seasons when a player attempted 1,750 shots, Westbrook’s .426 field goal percentage ranks as the 11th lowest of the 90. Kobe Bryant is also the last player to reach 1,750 shots in a season; he did it in 2006-07.
It doesn’t look like any other player this season with join Westbrook in the 1,750-shot club; New Orleans’ Anthony Davis has taken the second most shots this year with 1,499 and DeMar DeRozan follows with 1,498. Nine other players this year have attempted 1,400 or more shots this season.
The most players to reach 1,750 shot attempts in an NBA season is seven. That was done twice… in 1962 and 1973.
Madison Bumgarner is good, really good. We know he is one of the top pitchers in the majors. But he also made MLB history by hitting two home runs on Opening Day (April 2, 2017).
Bumgarner hit a pair of homers in the Giants Opening Day game versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. He became the 21st pitcher to homer on his team’s Opening Day, but the first to hit two dingers in his team’s first game of the season.
The last pitcher to homer on Opening Day was Clayton Kershaw in 2013 for the Dodgers against the Giants. Another former Dodgers hurler, Don Drysdale, homered on Opening Day twice in his career, the only pitcher to do so in MLB history.
Let’s take a look at some other Opening Day home run notes:
- Three players have hit three home runs on Opening Day: George Bell for Toronto in 1988; Tuffy Rhodes for the Cubs in 1994; and Dmitri Young for Detroit in 2005. All three of these games were played on April 4.
- Seven different players hit two or more home runs on Opening Day twice: Joe Torre, Albert Pujols, Xavier Nady, Ral Mondesi, Eddie Mathews, Juan Gonzalez and Adam Dunn.
- The most Opening Day home runs in MLB history is eight held by three players… Dunn, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Frank Robinson. Next with seven are Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Eddie Mathews. Those players with six Opening Day HRs are Dave Winfield, Scott Rolen, Gary Carter, Carl Yastrzemski, Brooks Robinson, Richie Hebner and Barry Bonds. There are 20 players who have five Opening Day homers.
The Brewers have had an Opening Day home run hit by 43 different players in franchise history. Eight players have hit an Opening Day homer on two occasions: Jeff Cirillo, Carlos Gomez, Larry Hisle, Sixton Lezcano, Ben Oglivie, Richie Sexson, Greg Vaughn and Robin Yount. Only one Brewers players has hit a pair of home runs in the team’s first game of the year: Lezcano hit a pair of HRs on April 10 against Baltimore on April 10, 1980 in the Brewers 9-5 win over the Orioles. Lezcano had six RBI in that contest.
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