Tag Archives: MLB

Today’s Sportstat: July 8, 2019

TODAY’s SPORTSTAT-July 8, 2019

National League Central Division could be headed for historic pennant race in 2019

If you are a baseball fan, do yourself a favor and check out the standings as we head into the All-Star break. Did you notice the large disparity between the first place teams and the last place teams in five of the six divisions?

In the A.L. East, the first place team is 30.5 games ahead of the last place team; in the A.L. Central, the gap between the first place and last place teams is 27 games. In the A.L. West the gap is 20 games; in the N.L. East the first place team holds a 19.5 game lead over the last place team; in the N.L. West that margin is 17.5 games.

Over in the N.L. Central, however, the first place Cubs have a 4.5-game lead over last place Cincinnati, quite a contrast to the other five divisions. There are still a lot of games yet to be played this season and it’s unlikely that at the end of the season the first place team will outdistance the last place team by less than 10 games… at least that’s how history has played out.

In 1994 Major League Baseball went to three divisions in each of the two leagues. Since then, there has been only one season in the last 25 years where the first place team that year won the division by less than 10 games over the last place team. In the ‘94 season, which ended on August 11 due to a strike, the Texas Rangers were leading the American League West when the season abruptly ended. In last place in that division were the California Angels who were only 5.5 games behind the division-winning Rangers.

Here are the 12 times since 1994 where first place and last place in a division were separated by 15 games or less.

1994 A.L. West, 5.5 games
1995 N.L. West, 11.0 games
1995 A.L. West, 11.5 games
2006 N.L. West, 12.0 games
1994 N.L. West, 12.5 games
1998 A.L. West, 14.0 games
1997 N.L. West, 14.0 games
2008 A.L. Central, 14.5 games
1996 N.L. Central, 15.0 games
2005 N.L. West, 15.0 games
2006 A.L. West, 15.0 games
2015 A.L. East 15.0 games

With the Cubs holding a 4.5 games lead over the Reds on July 7, let’s look back over the past 25 years and see if there has been a closer race top to bottom on July 7 in the league since 1994…

… this N.L. Central race (top to bottom) is tied for the second closest race (as of July 7) in the last 25 years. In 2006, the first place Oakland A’s had a four-game lead over the last place Los Angeles Angels. Including this season, there have now been six divisional races where the margin between the first and last place teams in a division has been five games or less on July 7. Here are those six races:

1995: A.L. West, first place Texas had a 5-game lead over last place Seattle

1995: N.L. West, first place Colorado had a 4.5-game lead over last place San Diego.

2006: A.L. West, first place Oakland had a 4-game lead over last place Los Angeles.

2006: N.L. West, first place San Diego had a 5-game lead over last place Arizona.

2015: A.L. East, first place New York Yankees had a 5-game lead over last place Boston

2019: N.L. Central, first place Chicago Cubs had a 4.5-game lead over last place Cincinnati.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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Today’s Sportstat: July 1, 2019

Which teams are getting hits in the All-Star Game?

The Brewers will have three everyday players represented at this year’s All-Star Game (ASG): Christian Yelich, who will be a starter, Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas.

Milwaukee’s AGS reps have provided some of the National League’s offense over the past decade. Since 2010, Brewers hitters are 10-for-31 (a .323) average in the All-Star Game. The 10 hits are tied for the most for N.L. clubs and the .323 batting average by Brewers players are one of only seven teams that have a .300 or better batting average by its players in the ASG since 2010.

The Boston Red Sox have the most hits by their players in the ASG since 2010 with 11. Here is a look at the number of hits in the ASG each team has had since 2010.

11: Boston

10: Milwaukee, St. Louis

7: Kansas City, L.A. Angels

6: Colorado, Detroit, N.Y. Yankees, Texas

5: N.Y. Mets, Washington, Cleveland, Houston

4: Atlanta, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, L.A. Dodgers, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Baltimore, Minnesota

3: Oakland, Seattle, Toronto

2: Arizona, San Diego, Tampa Bay

1: Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago White Sox

The team with the highest batting average in the ASG since 2010 is the Minnesota Twins. Their players are hitting .500 with four hits in eight ASG at-bats from 2010-18.

Following are the ASG team batting averages for each of the 30 teams from 2010-18, the last nine All-Star Games.

.500-Minnesota

.400-St. Louis

.357-N.Y. Mets, .333-San Diego, .324-Boston, .323-Milwaukee, .318-L.A. Angels

.292-Kansas City, .286-Tampa Bay, .250-Oakland, .235-Pittsburgh, .231-Detroit, .231-Texas, .227-Washington, .227-Cleveland, .214-N.Y. Yankees, .211-Atlanta, .208-Houston, .200-San Francisco

.188-Seattle, .182-Chicago Cubs, .182-L.A. Dodgers, .176-Toronto, .171-Colorado, .167-Philadelphia, .133-Baltimore, .114-Cincinnati, .100-Arizona

.083-Chicago White Sox, .071-Miami

 

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Today’s Sportstat: June 6, 2019

Seven years without hitting the baseball

I came across this quote a couple of weeks ago. It is attributed to Yankees great Mickey Mantle. According to the “Mick”:

“During my 18 years (in the majors) I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and I walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at-bats a season. That means I played seven seasons without hitting the ball.”

Think about that for a second…. seven years without hitting the ball.

It got me thinking about whether or not Mantle was the only player who might fall into this category. To establish the standard, I looked to see how many players, like Mantle, had more than 1,500 strikeouts and 1,500 walks in their careers. There are six players on this list:

Barry Bonds (1,539 strikeouts, 2,558 walks)

Jim Thome (2,548 strikeouts, 1,747 walks)

Harmon Killebrew (1,699 strikeouts, 1,559 walks)

Mike Schmidt (1,883 strikeouts, 1,507 walks)

Mickey Mantle (1,719 strikeouts, 1,733 walks)

Rickey Henderson (1,694 strikeouts, 2,190 walks)

(Note: Tally up Thome’s strikeout and walk numbers and it adds up to 4,295. Using Mantle’s example, that’s eight and a half seasons without hitting the ball!)

I also wondered how many players had seasons “without hitting the ball,” specifically, how many players had a season where they had more than 150 strikeouts and 150 walks. There is only one player that fits into this category: In 1998, Mark McGwire ended that season with 155 strikeouts and 162 walks, just about a strikeout and a walk each game that season.

If we drop the numbers down to 125 strikeouts and 125 walks in a season, there have been a dozen players who have reached the 125-125 milestone in a season. Three did it in two seasons… Jack Clark, Joey Votto, and McGwire. The other nine players who have done it once: Aaron Judge, Adam Dunn, Bryce Harper, Frank Howard, Jeff Bagwell, Jim Thome, Jim Wynn, Mike Schmidt, and Tony Phillips.

For the record, only one Brewers player ever had a season with 100 or more strikeouts and 100 or more walks in the same campaign, and he did it in three consecutive seasons; Prince Fielder in 2009 had 138 strikeouts and 110 walks, in 2010 he had 138 strikeouts and 114 walks, and in 2011 he had 106 strikeouts and 107 walks.

 

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Today’s Sportstat: May 30, 2019

Bill Buckner: Underrated, Underappreciated!

The sports world lost another memorable athlete this week when former major leaguer Bill Buckner died on Monday of dementia at age 69. Buckner may not have been the iconic sports personality that was Bart Starr, who preceded him in passing just a few days earlier, but Buckner is certainly attached to one of sports’ most unforgettable moments.

Buckner enjoyed a 22-year career (1969-90) in baseball and had 2,715 hits, a career batting average of .289 with 174 home runs, and he tallied 1,077 runs scored and 1,208 RBI. He was an all-star and a batting champ (in 1980 as a member of the Chicago Cubs). The sad thing is that Buckner is one of those rare athletes who is probably more infamous than famous because of what happened in one game.

As a member of the Boston Red Sox, first baseman Buckner had a Mookie Wilson (New York Mets) groundball go through his legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series that led to a Mets walk-off victory in that game. The Mets went on to win Game 7 and the Red Sox (at that time) were still waiting for their first World Series title since 1918. Buckner’s error, at that time, made him somewhat of a scapegoat for the Game 6 loss, the World Series defeat, and the Red Sox Nation continued woes.

Buckner’s career, however, should not be defined by his fielding gaffe in the ’86 World Series. A 22-year MLB career, .289 average and 2,717 career hits are certainly stats that generate discussion about whether or not Buckner deserves to be in the Hall of Fame… for the record, he appeared on the ballot in 1996 and received only 10 votes.

But I contend that Buckner was a much underrated and underappreciated player. I’m not ready to say he should be in the Hall, but in my mind he was a “hitter’s hitter.” He rarely struck out, rarely walked, and was probably the best example of what youth coaches preach to their young players: “Put the ball in play and see what can happen.”

There are a few stats in Buckner’s stat-line that illustrate this point:

    • Buckner had 15 seasons where he had 400 or more plate appearances and less than 40 strikeouts. That ranks tied for sixth most in baseball history. Tris Speaker tops the list with 18 such seasons.
    • Buckner had 14 seasons where he had 400 or more plate appearances and less than 40 walks. That ranks tied for fifth most in baseball history. Ivan Rodriguez and Tommy Corcoran top the list with 16 such seasons each.
    • If we combine the two stats above, Buckner had 14 seasons where he had 400 or more plate appearances and less than 40 strikeouts and less than 40 walks in that season. That ranks tied for second most in MLB history. Lave Cross tops the list with 15 such seasons.
    • Buckner’s 2,715 career hits ranks him 66th on the all-time list. Of those 66 players with 2,715 or more career hits, Buckner’s 453 career strikeouts ranks as the second fewest of the group and his 450 career walks ranks also ranks as the second fewest among the 66 players.
  • How about this stat… of the players who have more than 10,000 career plate appearances, Buckner is one of only 11 players in history to have less than 500 career strikeouts. The others: Charlie Gehringer, Tony Gwynn, Tris Speaker, Paul Waner, Frankie Frisch, Cap Anson, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, Sam Rice and Nellie Fox. Of these 11 players, only three, Gywnn, Fox and Buckner ended their careers after the 1960’s. Here’s the real eye-opening part of this stat… of the 11, all but Buckner are in the Hall of Fame.

 

Buckner was a unique hitter. If a pitch was in the strike zone, chances are he was swinging and there was a good chance he was making contact and putting the ball in play. He seemed like an “old school” player and one that probably was born later than he should have been… his game seemed to fit more appropriately with those players from the first half of the century, especially when you consider that most of his batting stats with low strikeouts and low walk totals are shared with players from that earlier era.

Here are three more stats that I found interesting about Buckner’s career:

  • He hit 174 home runs. His last home was an inside-the-park HR. It was also the only inside-the-park home run of his career.
  • He had seven seasons where he played in 100 or more games and batted over .300. He is one of 151 players in MLB history to do that.
  • Fifty-one of the 65 players ahead of Buckner on the all-time hits list are in the Hall of Fame.

Bill Buckner, Hall of Famer? The voters certainly did not think so as he appeared only once on the HOF ballot in 1996 (because he did not receive at least 5% of the vote that year, he was taken off the ballot for future consideration). But I think Bill Buckner will one day find his way into the Hall as a future selection of the Veteran Committee. He was clearly one of the most unique and successful hitters of all-time.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: May 6, 2019

Is scoring four runs or more in a game the key to Brewers success?

This past weekend the Brewers won games by the score of 4-3 (Saturday) and 3-2 (Sunday). These victories represent the best of the success the Brewers have had in 2019. Let me explain…

The Brewers 18-inning 4-3 win over the Mets on Saturday gave the Brew Crew a 17-7 record (.708 winning percentage) in games this season when they score four or more runs in a game.

The team’s 3-2 win on Sunday, gave the club a very modest 3-9 record (.250 winning percentage) in games when they score three or fewer runs in a game, but it upped their record to 13-1 (.929 winning percentage) this season when they hold opponents to three or fewer runs in a contest.

Here’s a quick look at the Brewers records in 2019 games when they score four or more runs, three or fewer runs, and when they allow their opponents to score four or more runs in a game, and when they hold the opposition to three or fewer runs in a game.

Brewers score four or more runs in a game (2019): 17-7 .708
Brewers score three or fewer runs in a game (2019): 3-9 .250
Brewers allow opponents four or more runs in a game (2019): 7-15 .318
Brewers allow opponents three or fewer runs in a game (2019): 13-1 .929

The above win-loss records are surprisingly close to what the Brewers records have been in games over the past three seasons. Following are the records in each of the above four categories from 2016-18, the last three seasons.

Brewers score four or more runs in a game (2016-18): 198-75 .726
Brewers score three or fewer runs in a game (2016-18): 56-157 .263
Brewers allow opponents four or more runs in a game (2016-18): 86-182 .321
Brewers allow opponents three or fewer runs in a game (2016-18): 169-50 .772

As that famous baseball philosopher Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh once remarked, “baseball is a simple game… you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.” For the Brewers, that simple statement could be translated to, “score four or more runs in a game and hold your opponents to three runs or less, you’ll win.”

Quite simple, isn’t it?

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp