Category Archives: Baseball

Today’s Sportstats: March 25, 2019

Brewers Opening Day line-up and Opening Day pitchers

The Brewers 2019 season beings this Thursday March 28 with a home contest against division rivals the St. Louis Cardinals. Here are two stats you might find interesting about the Brewers Opening Day line-ups from the past.

Opening Day starters-by position: Did you know that Robin Yount has the most Opening Day starts for the Brewers at two different positions? Yount started at shortstop on Opening Day for the Brewers 10 times and started as the Opening Day center fielder eight times, both tops for the team. Care to take a guess at which players rank second to Yount for most Opening Day starts at shortstop and center field for the Brewers in their history? The answer is at the end of this article.

Here is a look at the players who have made the most Opening Days starts at each position for the Brewers in their 50-year history.

Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy and B.J. Surhoff, both with 5

First Baseman: Cecil Cooper, 9

Second Baseman: Jim Gantner, 11

Third baseman: Don Money, 7

Shortstop: Robin Yount, 10

Left Fielder: Ryan Braun, 8

Center Fielder: Robin Yount, 8

Right Fielder: Sixton Lezcano and Jeromy Burnitz, both 5

Designated Hitter: Paul Molitor, 4

Pitcher: Ben Sheets, 6

Opening Day starting pitcher: Brewers manager Craig Counsell about two weeks ago announced that Jhoulys Chacin would be the team’s Opening Day starting pitcher on March 28 versus the Cards. While Chacin, who will be the sixth different Opening Day starter for the Brew Crew in the last six seasons, said he was honored with the assignment, being the Brewers Opening Day starting pitcher has not been a good omen over the past few years for the Brewers.

Consider this:

  • Of the last five pitchers to be the Opening Day starter for the Brewers, none finished the season with 10 or more wins. The 2018 starter, Chase Anderson finished last season 9-8; the 2017 starter, Junior Guerra ended that year 1-4; the 2016 Opening Day starter Wily Peralta ended the ’16 campaign with a 7-11 record; the 2015 starter Kyle Lohse ended that year 5-13; and 2014 starter Yovani Gallardo ended that season 8-11. That’s a collective 22-36 record, a pathetic .379 winning percentage.
  • Of the Brewers last 20 Opening Day starting pitchers, only eight ended that year with a winning record.
  • Of the Brewers last 20 Opening Day starting pitchers, only twice did that pitcher end the year with 15 or more wins (Yovani Gallardo in 2011, 17 wins, and Gallardo again in 2012, 16 wins).
  • The combined season record of the Brewers last 20 Opening Day starting pitchers was 189-197, a .490 winning percentage.

Answer to the question: The Brewers shortstop with the second-most Opening Day starts for the team is J.J. Hardy with five; the Brewers center fielder with the second-most Opening Day starts for the team is Carlos Gomez with five.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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Today’s Sportstat: March 14, 2019

Another 90-win season in 2019 could put Cubs in elite company

 

Would you consider this Cubs team a dynasty? Would you say that the Cubs run over the past few years would make them one of the elite teams in baseball history?

As you ponder those two questions, let me offer a case that a great 2019 will put the Cubs in some very impressive company.

The Cubs in the last four seasons have won 97 games (2015), 103 (in 2016), 92 (2017) and 95 last season. Another 90-win season in 2019 would give the Cubs a run of five consecutive seasons with 90 wins. It would make them only the 20th team in MLB history to win 90 or more games in five (or more) straight seasons.

The New York Yankees hold the record for most consecutive 90-win seasons with 12. They did from 1947-58.

Here’s a look at the 19 teams that have won 90 games in five or more seasons in MLB history.

12-N.Y. Yankees (1947-58)
9-Chicago Cubs (1904-12)
7-N.Y. Yankees (2001-07)
6-Atlanta Braves (1995-2000)
6-Brooklyn Dodgers (1951-56)
6-Cleveland Indians (1950-55)
6-L.A. Dodgers (2013-18)
6-N.Y. Giants (1909-13)
6-Philadelphia A’s (1909-14)
6-Philadelphia A’s (1927-32)
6-St. Louis Cardinals (1941-46)
5-Cincinnati Reds (1972-76)
5-N.Y. Giants (1933-37)
5-N.Y. Mets (1984-88)
5-N.Y. Yankees (1960-64)
5-Oakland A’s (1971-75)
5-Oakland A’s (2000-04)
5-Pittsburgh Pirates (1905-09)
5-San Francisco Giants (2000-04)

With their four straight seasons with 90 or more wins, the Cubs became the 39th team in history to reach that milestone. As you probably noticed, the L.A. Dodgers last season had their sixth straight season with 90 wins making them only the 11th team in history to win 90 or more in six straight campaigns.

It’s interesting to note that of the 19 teams that have won 90 or more in five (or more) seasons, six did not win a World Series during that timeframe. The six: Cleveland (1950-55), the Dodgers (2013-18), the Yankees (2001-07), Oakland (2000-04), the New York Giants (1908-13), and the San Francisco Giants (2000-04). Of these six teams, only one, the 2000-04 Oakland A’s, did not even appear in a World Series during that time when they had the streak of 90-win seasons.

For the record, the Cubs, if they have another 90-win season, will at least have won a World Series during their streak.

The current Cubs team a dynasty? What do you think?

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: March 4, 2019

Can Christian Yelich repeat his 2018 season?

One of the most frequent questions you will hear throughout Miller Park during the early months of the 2019 MLB season is… Can Christian Yelich have another big season?

Yelich won the National League MVP last season with a .326 average, 36 home runs and 110 RBI. While reaching these numbers again this season might be asking for much, it does beg the question… Can Yelich, statistically speaking, match his 2018 output?

To answer that question, let’s take a journey over the past five seasons and see how the last five MVPs in each league did the year following their MVP season.

For the record, here are the MVPs for each league from 2013-17:

American League: Miguel Cabrera (2013), Mike Trout (2014), Josh Donaldson (2015), Mike Trout (2016) and Jose Altuve (2017).

National League: Andrew McCutchen (2013), Clayton Kershaw (2014), Bryce harper (2015), Kris Bryant (2016), Giancarlo Stanton (2017).

As you can see, nine of the 10 MVPs prior to 2018 were everyday players (the only exception was Kershaw in 2014). To get a take on what has happened to previous MVPs and how it might answer the question about whether or not Yelich will match his 2018 MVP season, let’s see how the previous nine everyday MVPs did statistically when it comes to comparing the batting average, HR and RBI numbers from the MVP season to the following year.

Here’s what we find… of the nine non-pitcher MVPs from 2013-17:

  • Only three of the nine increased their season HR totals the year after the MVP season;
  • All nine saw their RBI totals the season after their MVP campaign decrease the following season;
  • Only two of the nine increased their season batting average the year after the MVP year.

Here’s another stat using these year-after-the-MVP numbers… of the nine non-pitchers MVPs from 2013-17:

  • Their season home run totals dropped by an average of 7.8 home runs from their MVP season to the following year;
  • Their season RBI totals dropped by an average of 21.8 RBI from their MVP season to the following year;
  • Their season batting average dropped by an average of 19.7 points from their MVP season to the following year.

If we apply the above numbers to Yelich’s totals from 2018 to project what he might do statistically (batting average, HRs and RBIs) in 2019, we would project Yelich to end 2019, the year after his MVP, with a .306 average with 28 home runs and 88 RBI. Again, this would be based on what we’ve seen from the past five MVPs in each year and what they did the year after their MVP campaign.

Those projected 2019 numbers would not be all that bad for Yelich, but certainly not where he ended the year in 2018. A World Series appearance for the Brewers in 2019 would certainly carry more weight than Yelich reaching his 2018 stats in 2019.

One more quick note: Looking at Clayton Kershaw’s MVP numbers the year after his MVP season, we see that in 2014 (the year Kershaw won the N.L. MVP) he had a 21-3 record with a 1.77 ERA and a WHIP of 0.857. Using those stats as a comparison, Kershaw dropped in each category the year after his MVP; in 2015 Kershaw had a 16-7 record, a 2.13 ERA, and a 0.881 WHIP. Very respectable numbers, but, again, he did not reach the numbers he had in his MVP season.

Will Yelich have a “successful” 2019 season? It all depends on how you want to define successful. History, however, may be telling us that Yelich may not reach the major stats he had in 2018. Are the Brew Crew faithful okay with that?

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: March 2, 2019

Who’s on first… for the Brewers on Opening Day?

If you are a diehard Brewers fan, you may find it hard to believe the following stat.

Did you know…

… from 2011-18, eight straight seasons, the Brewers have had a different starting first baseman on Opening Day. Yes, the Brew Crew’s Opening Day lineup has featured a different starter at first base for the last eight consecutive seasons.

Go back to 2011; Prince Fielder was the starting first baseman that season, the sixth straight year he was the Opening Day starting first baseman for the Brewers. After that, however, the Opening Day starting first basemen has looked like this…

2012: Mat Gamel

2013: Alex Gonzalez

2014: Lyle Overbay

2015: Adam Lind

2016: Chris Carter

2017: Eric Thames

2018: Ryan Braun

Conventional wisdom is that Jesus Aguilar, last year’s regular at first base for the Crew, will hold that spot on Opening Day in 2019… that is baring any injury that would prevent him from that honor.

So… if Aguilar mans the first base spot on Opening Day in late March this season, we could see yet another different first baseman on Opening Day for the Brewers, the ninth straight year that has happened.

Prior to this season, that longest stretch where the Brewers had a different Opening Day starting first baseman was 1998-2001. John Jaha was the Opening Day starter at first in 1998; the following year it was Sean Berry, followed by Kevin Barker in 2000 and Richie Sexson in 2001.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: February 21, 2019

Can the Brewers finally post back-to-back playoff seasons?

The beginning of 2019 Major League Baseball’s spring training is a time for most of the 30 MLB teams to start the chatter of a potential championship this season. Yes, title hopes run rampant in February.

Just making the playoffs is a key first step to any professional team’s championship run. It’s interesting to note that baseball probably has the most difficult path for teams to take towards a title, especially if you go by the numbers: Of the four professional sports (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL), baseball has the fewest teams that make the playoffs after their regular season with 10 (and that’s after adding two additional teams to the post-season format just a few short years ago). The NFL is next with 12 of their 32 teams qualifying for the playoffs, and the NBA and NHL each have 16 of their teams advance to the playoffs.

The Brewers took that all-important first step last year when they made the playoffs and finished one game short of reaching the World Series. The question this year is: Can they repeat the 2018 season and make a return appearance in the ’19 post-season? Considering that the Brewers have not made the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1981-82, Brew Crew faithful have their fingers crossed that their team can do something this season that hasn’t happened in almost 40 years… back-to-back playoff seasons.

Last season seven of the 10 MLB teams that played in the post-season also played in the 2017 playoffs: Boston, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland, Colorado, Houston, L.A. Dodgers and the N.Y. Yankees. The Brewers, Oakland and Atlanta were the three teams that made the playoffs in 2018 after not making the post-season the previous campaign.

Of the 30 current MLB franchises, 26 have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons at least once this century. Two franchises, the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox, have never made the MLB post-season in back-to-back seasons in their histories. Two other teams, the Brewers and the Baltimore Orioles, have previously appeared in the post-season in back-to-back seasons, but not this century (the White Sox failure to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons is quite amazing considering they have been around as a franchise since 1901!). The Brewers, as mentioned above, last made the post-season in back-to-back years in 1981 and 1982, while the Orioles last made the post-season in consecutive years in 1996 and 1997.

Here’s a look at the last time each of the 30 MLB teams made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

Never: Chicago White Sox
Never: Miami Marlins
1981-82: Milwaukee
1996-97: Baltimore
2000-01: Seattle
2001-02: Arizona
2002-03: San Francisco
2005-06: San Diego
2008-09: L.A. Angels
2009-10: Minnesota
2010-11: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay
2012-13: Atlanta, Cincinnati
2013-14: Detroit, Oakland
2014-15: Kansas City, Pittsburgh, St. Louis
2015-16: N.Y. Mets, Texas, Toronto
2016-17: Washington
2017-18: Boston, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland, Colorado, Houston, L.A. Dodgers, N.Y. Yankees

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp