Note on the 2018 Red Sox

Boston lost 7 of 12, 7 of 11, and 6 of 8 in different stretches of the 2018 season. This is just to say that we shouldn’t overreact to trends that have emerged early in the 2019 season.

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Published in: Uncategorized on April 15, 2019 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment  

The Chicago Cubs: 100,000 Runs Scored

Retrosheet says that in the franchise’s lifetime, the Chicago Cubs have scored 99,538 runs. They should hit 100,000 sometime in July (2019). It looks like the Cubs are the only franchise so close to 100,000, because they and the Braves are the only two that date back to 1871, and the Braves are at 98,116.

It’s a bit of interesting history there in Chicago. 360 feet for each run scored, times 99,538, is 35.768880 million feet worth of footsteps. The Cubs have allowed 96,120 runs. Retrosheet has them with a 10,975-10,403 w-l record, as well as 163 ties.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 6, 2019 at 1:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Michael Young and Ichiro

There is a pretty interesting comparison to make between these two, in terms of offensive stats alone. Here are Young’s stats, and here are Ichiro’s stats.

Young played a couple games in 2000, but his career effectively spanned 2001 to 2013. Like Ichiro, he was older than the average rookie in his first full season: Young was 24 and a half in April 2001. I’m not going to go through all of their stats here. Suffice to say that they were the two great hitters for average in the AL West during the 2000s decade, Young hitting for more power, Ichiro getting more singles and many more steals, both of them getting a fairly similar number of walks, both of them being very durable throughout the decade. For 2013, Young’s last season, he had better stats than Ichiro, but since 2013 Ichiro has added about 350 hits, for 3089 total, compared to Young’s 2375 total.

Considering just their MLB offensive stats, the great glaring difference between them, reputationally, is that Young got 2.1 percent of the Hall of Fame vote this year, while Ichiro is considered likely to be a first ballot inductee. My question, especially for those of you who are Rangers fans and followed his career closely, is whether Young is mistakenly underrated, both in absolute terms and vis a vis Ichiro.

Published in: Uncategorized on February 22, 2019 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  

The Underrated Phil Niekro

Niekro was a really good pitcher for a very long time. He didn’t get much acclaim during his career, judging from award voting, but looking at the incredible number of innings he pitched, year after year, I have to think he’s underrated. 280 or so innings each year, 1968 through 1980, with ERAs that were fairly close to the league leaders, is an awfully nice thing to bank on if you’re the GM or manager of a team.

For example, Niekro’s 1978: a 2.76 ERA for 334 1/3rd innings should be good for better than 6th place in the Cy Young voting. Baseball-reference has him leading the NL in WAR that year. Are Niekro’s stats unfairly discounted because he wasn’t a “great” pitcher (didn’t have the profile of Marichal or Seaver or Gibson), didn’t have an awesome strikeout rate, hardly ever got into the postseason, and threw a knuckleball? The obvious comparison is with Don Sutton, who benefited from pitching for the Dodgers while Niekro was pitching for the Braves.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 22, 2019 at 7:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

The 1938 to 1942 Philadelphia Phillies

These five teams reached a peak of 50 wins, in 1940. Here are some of their monthly win-loss tallies:
For 1938: 1-10; 5-20; 7-22
1939: 7-23; 6-27
1940: 9-21; 7-23; 11-24
1941: 7-22; 6-20; 7-22
1942: 4-12; 5;19; 8-20; 6-21

By September of 1942, Philadelphia was so tired of watching the Phillies play that on September 11, only 393 people got to Shibe Park for that day’s game vs. the Reds.

Published in: Uncategorized on December 29, 2018 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Leading the League in Homers and Bases on Balls

This is a list of the years in which the same hitter has led his league in both home runs and walks. In the National League, it has happened in 2001, 1998, 1985, 1983, 1981, 1956, 1952, 1951, 1949, 1942, 1930, 1926, 1915, 1879.

In the American League, it has happened in 2017, 2011, 2006, 1981-Dwight Evans in a tie for most homers, 1972, 1970, 1969, 1967-Harmon Killebrew in a tie for most homers, 1958, 1955, 1949, 1947, 1944, 1942, 1941, 1938-Hank Greenberg in a tie for most walks, 1936, 1931-Babe Ruth in a tie for most homers, 1930, 1928, 1927, 1926, 1924, 1923, 1921, 1920.

Published in: Uncategorized on December 9, 2018 at 12:31 pm  Comments (1)  

Notes on the 3rd Game of the 2018 World Series

Boston’s 1-4 hitters were 0-28 with two walks. The Dodgers had runners on in 5 of the extra innings; the Sox had runners on in 6 of the extra innings. And, the Dodgers used 1 pitcher to get through the 7th, while Boston used 4. But then LA used 4 pitchers for their last 5 2/3rds innings, while Eovaldi was pitching the last 6+ innings.

Watching the game, in extras the Dodgers especially were swinging big, swinging for the homer, I thought, and it did wind up winning the game for them. It would’ve been nicer if Muncy had won it in the 15th. By the 18th, there was such a sense of weariness, almost, that it was hard to get extremely excited about Muncy’s homer. Maeda’s play to get the runner at third was the defensive gem of extra innings. That play seemed to snap Maeda on track and, given how things turned out, put LA on the path to win.

Published in: Uncategorized on October 27, 2018 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Franchise Batting and Pitching Leaders

Retrosheet has a nice feature where you can look at lists of a given MLB franchise’s leaders in batting and pitching, for both an entire career with the franchise and for a single season. If you think you know a lot of MLB history, you will probably find yourself surprised by some of the things you’ll learn from looking through the lists.

For example, the Cleveland Indians have had only one hitter hit more than 250 homers while playing for the franchise. It’s Jim Thome, with 337. However, the Indians do have a 2000-hit man, and two more players with more than 1900 hits for Cleveland.

Published in: Uncategorized on October 19, 2018 at 11:20 am  Comments (1)  

Home Run Hitters in the 1920s

Five players in the 1920s who weren’t Babe Ruth hit as many as 40 homers in a season. What’s particularly striking is that as late as 1926, Ruth was hitting twice as many homers as the 2nd place hitter: Ruth with 46 that year, and Hack Wilson, with 21, the only other hitter with more than 19. It took until 1929 for Ruth to no longer be regularly far in front of everyone else in homers hit.

This shows how few individual players in the 1920s were capable of, or perhaps willing to, adopt Ruth’s approach to hitting. I assume Rogers Hornsby, with 250 homers in the decade, was 2nd to Ruth. Hornsby’s homer stats in the decade are very erratic, year to year. It looks as if he would decide at the start of the year whether to try to hit for extra power, and that shaped his number of home runs for the coming season.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 2, 2018 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

The 2018 Seattle Mariners

At the close of play on June 13, the Mariners were 44-24, on pace for 105 wins. If they play .500 for the rest of the season, they will wind up 91-71. In 2003, the last time Seattle was near this pace, the team was 44-21 at the close of play on June 13. 2018 is apparently the third-best start to a season, through 68 games, in franchise history. You probably have heard it before, but it bears repeating that the Mariners are 44-24 despite Felix Hernandez, their best pitcher for the past decade, being their worst starting pitcher so far this year, and despite Robinson Cano, their best position player for the past half-decade, having missed the last month of games.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 14, 2018 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment