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Baseball Esoterica



Here's where you'll find baseball's hidden feats, streaks, and patterns, as well as historical oddities and exceptionally good and bad achievements you've never heard of.



Updated: 2015-09-16T12:11:40.548-04:00

 



Another Big Start!

2006-04-21T01:12:11.826-04:00

Sorry I haven't been posting...just got a new job.

I remember a couple of years ago when Kaz Matsui homered in his MLB first plate appearance, that was pretty cool. Then, last year, when he did it again, that was really cool. So I was looking forward to his return to the Mets lineup. First time up tonight? Not out of the park...but he circles the bases for an inside-the-parker! I don't have the data, but I bet no one's ever hit homers in his first plate appearance of the year three years in a row, never mind in his first three years. I mean, if Albert Pujols did it, nice--but Matsui is no home run hitter. This is a guy who hits a home run once every hundred plate appearances when not leading off the season. So the tally stands at: 3 homers in 3 first-of-the-year PA's, 8 homers in 805 non-first-of-the-year PA's. Wow. Interestingly, Matsui's trifecta occurred in the same game as Julio Franco becoming the oldest player to ever hit a homer.

Extra Esoterica
In 2004, Matsui went 88 plate appearances until his next homer. In 2005, it took him 110 plate appearances to hit another one.



What's So Special About Opening Day?

2006-04-03T23:08:52.126-04:00

Happy Opening Day, aka, Christmas!

We're always hearing about team's won-lost records in season openers, like the Red Sox not having won since 2000, or the Mets being 27-9 since 1970. Yes, it's significant since it's the first game of the year, but looking at teams' records for Game 1 of the season is really no more significant than their records for Game 101. So, I decided to do just that: I have checked the handy-dandy database for the best records for any particular game of the season...and came up with a few awesomely Esoteric tidbits. Here are the top five (since 1960, as usual, for team games).

5. The best record in a particular game for teams that have played in every season, and for games that have been played in every season (the schedule expanded from 154 games to 162 in 1962) is 34-12 (.739), shared by three teams: the Dodgers in Game 62, the Braves in Game 77, and the Reds in game 103.

4. The Yankees are 7-0 in game 163, and 1-1 in Game 164. For the record, there have been 50 Game 163's and five Game 164's (not counting the LA-SF three game playoff in 1962. If you keep that in, there was actually one Game 165!). Oddly, in 1964, almost half of the 20 teams (nine) played in more than 162 games.

3. Despite their .397 winning percentage in all other games, Tampa Bay is a perfect 8-0 in Game 156's!

2. Colorado does even better...at least Esoterically. Since their inception in 1993, they have never won the 21st game of the season, putting up a surprising (even for a bad team) 0-13 mark! Just for good measure, they're also 12-1 in Game 114!

1. Because of the sheer volume of baseball games played, there are always some nice outlier stats. Those are nice. Then there are the extreme cases, which are totally sweet and totally Esoteric! San Diego can proudly claim one of those extreme outliers. Here's why. Since their inception in 1969, they have played the 36th game of the season 37 times...and won...wait for it...five of them! Yep, that's an Esoterially rapturous 5-32 (.135) record. And that's even after winning that game last year. No one else really comes close. The second worst record (in at least 37 games) is Montreal/Washington with 8-29 (.216) record in Game 32.

So, you can see, the arbitrary Opening Day stuff doesn't really mean anything...but that doesn't mean it can't be fun!

Extra Esoterica
The team with the best worst-game-of-the-year record is Boston, whose worst is their not-so-terrible 18-28 (.391) mark in Game 93.



2005 Flashback III – Last Licks

2006-04-02T15:34:27.710-04:00

A few Random lists and stuff:

HR/RBI Efficiency
Most RBI's with fewer than X HR, 2005.
 X Player          Team  HR(Rank)   RBI(Rank)
40 Gary Sheffield NYY 34(T15) 123(6)
30 Joege Cantu TB 28(T31) 117(T8)
25 Hideki Matsui NYY 23(T53) 116(T11)
20 Garret Anderson LAA 17(T98) 96(32)
15 Garrett Atkins COL 13(T140) 89(T39)
10 Edgar Renteria BOS 8(T220) 70(T89)
5 Jason Kendall OAK 0(T492) 53(T172)

Wait for it...
Bobby Abreu saw 284 more pitches than anyone else (3,159 to Jeter’s 2,875). If you go 284 fewer than Jeter, you'd be in would be 39th place. This is because Abreu led the majors with 4.39 pitches per PA and played in all 162 games. Miguel Tejada also played in 162 games…and saw 669 (21%) fewer pitches (2,490)! Angel Berroa played in 159 games and saw 975 fewer pitches!

Also, oddly, Casey Blake ranked second in pitches per plate appearance with 4.38, but somehow only walked 43 times, compiling a lousy .308 OBP!

Staying on First
Willy Taveras came to the plate 635 times last year and managed only 20 extra-base hits! That's 1 every 32 times up (less than once a week). Historically, believe it or not, both Horace Clark (9 EBH in 602 PA in 1968) and Sandy Alomar, Sr (8 EBH in 504 PA in 1973) actually blow Taveras away here!

Speaking of EBH, Jason Kendall gets another mention for another interesting feat: getting hit by a pitch almost as often as getting an extra-base hit. He was hit 20 times while hitting 29 EBH. Here are the top ten seasons (min 400 AB), with an unsurprising king:

Name Year HBP EBH DIFF
Ron Hunt 1971 50 28 -22
Ron Hunt 1973 24 14 -10
Ron Hunt 1972 26 20 -6
Ron Hunt 1968 25 21 -4
Ron Hunt 1974 14 15 1
Ron Hunt 1969 25 29 4
Wally Gerber 1926 3 8 5
Alex Cora 2004 18 23 5
Dave Chalk 1976 10 15 5
Ivy Griffin 1920 11 16 5

And that's about it for 2005. See you on Opening Day...and find out an amazing and Esoteric record the Padres have been building since 1969.

Extra Esoterica
Paul Molitor is the last player to amass more than 100 RBIs with fewer than 10 home runs. He drove in 113 runners with only 9 homers in 1996.



2005 Flashback II – Scarily Bad (And Good) Baserunning

2006-03-30T13:48:26.270-05:00

Just a quick follow-up to my previous post on Doubles and Homers, in which I listed the players who hit at least 40 more two-baggers than round-trippers. So, as a proper Esotericist, you must have been asking yourself, "Well, what about the opposite situation?" Well, funny you should ask. Here are those with 35 or more homers than doubles.Name Year 2B HR DiffMark McGwire 1998 21 70 49Sammy Sosa 1998 20 66 46Roger Maris 1961 16 61 45Mark McGwire 1999 21 65 44Barry Bonds 2001 32 73 41Sammy Sosa 1999 24 63 39Harmon Killebrew 1964 11 49 38Mickey Mantle 1961 16 54 38It's interesting, if unsurprising, that Maris and Mantle from the '61 home run chase as well as McGwire and Sosa from the '98 and '99 editions all make the list. McGwire is the king, though. He hit 20 more homers than doubles eight times in his career. Killebrew tops the under-50HR group with crazy-low total of 11 doubles. Interestingly, Maris actually hit more doubles (34) than home runs (33) in '62.A couple of Honorable Mention seasons:Name Year 2B HR DiffDave Kingman 1982 9 37 28Mark McGwire 2001 4 29 25Kingman actually led the league in homers in '82, while compiling an astonishingly miniscule nine two-baggers...in 607 trips to the plate! McGwire? Well, 2001, his last season, was just a bizarre (and shortened) year for him.Robles and RunnelsNo, that's not the newest online fantasy game, it brings us to today's topic. 2005 saw some historic stolen base futility. Imagine attempting to steal for the first time and getting caught. And then the second time, too. And then the third and fourth time. I'd think you would get discouraged, or (at least, if I were the manager) that you would get a big fat don't-even-run-on-a-hit-and-run red light! But apparently Jim Tracy had unbelievable faith in rookie Oscar Robles and let him run into a ball-filled glove eight times! Robles' 0-for-8 was the second worst o-fer of all time, next to his friend in futility (and alliteration) Pete Runnels' 0-for-10 fiasco in 1952 (he definitely did not put the "Run" in Runnels :). This followed an 0-for-3 rookie campaign for Runnels, meaning he began his career by being thrown out each of the first 13 times he tried to steal (and maybe worse)! Hopefully, Robles won't follow in his, ahem, footsteps and better Runnels' career 42% (37-for-88) stolen base percentage. For the record, the only other SB shutout of that magnitude was turned in by Jose Offerman in 2000, who was also 0-for-8.Just a hair behind Robles was Angel Juan Rivera, whose pathetic 1-for-10 effort was also historic. Check out the 10% club:Name Year SB CS SB PctZeb Terry 1921 1 13 7.1%Eddie Yost 1957 1 11 8.3%Jose Vizcaino 1994 1 11 8.3%Bobby Doerr 1939 1 10 9.1%Juan Rivera 2005 1 9 10.0%Soup Campbell 1941 1 9 10.0%Hod Ford 1924 1 9 10.0%Eddie Mayo 1948 1 9 10.0%Elliott Maddox 1980 1 9 10.0%I love these kinds of lists: some notable names mixed in with Hod Ford, Soup Campbell, and Eddie Mayo. Man, what was Vizcaino thinking in '94?The Good GuysThere was also some historic and near historic base-stealing in 2005, including a much-larger-than-usual number of near-perfect seasons. Check it out.Player SB CS SB PctJason Bay 21 1 95.5%Johnny Damon 18 1 94.7%Reggie Sanders 14 1 93.3%Willie Bloomquist 14 1 93.3%Mike Cameron 13 1 92.9%Vladimir Guerrero 13 1 92.9%Joe Mauer 13 1 92.9%Craig Biggio 11 1 91.7%Emil Brown 10 1 90.0%There were a total of nine 10+ SB near perfect seasons, the most ever. The previous high was eight in 1995. As many of you know, Kevin McReynolds set the record for a perfect season in 1988, going 21-for-21. But did you know that Paul Molitor nearly matched him in 1994 with a 20-for-20 mark (and the[...]



Join Baseball Esoterica Group on Yahoo!

2006-03-28T14:54:54.956-05:00

I've started a Yahoo! Group to provide a forum for "special" people like us to discuss the Esoterica that only we can appreciate. Go to the following link and click the "Join This Group!" button on the upper right.

http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/baseball_esoterica/

-Eric



I'm Baa-aack!

2006-03-27T11:30:01.746-05:00

Hey all! Sorry for my extended hiatus. I got busy with other things, but I’m back, ready, and psyched for a fresh season of Esoterica. What wild, unbelievable “achievements” do we have waiting for us in the next six months? Well, we all know that with 2,430 games to be played; 22,365 innings to pitch*; 188,568 batters to come to the plate**; and more than 650,000 pitches to be thrown…yeah, you know tons of crazy stuff is gonna happen. Keep it here to keep up with all the Esoterica 2006 gives us!

*based on the average game length since 1960: 9.204 innings
**based on the average PA/game since 1994 (the power/steroids era): 77.6




2005 Flashback I – Doubles and Homers

2006-03-27T11:18:07.576-05:00

What better way to start off 2006 than with…one last look at last season. Yes, this is the stuff I was promising at the end of last season, but, well, better late than never.

Brad Wilkerson and Marcus Giles hit a lot of doubles in 2005, with 42 and 45, respectively. But, contrary to what you’d think (like everything I ever write about, come to think of it!) they had below-average power, with only 11 and 15 homers. With both of these guys hitting 30 more doubles than homers, it got me thinking…is that historically significant? So I went back the ol’ players database and came up with the following list of seasons with the largest double/homer discrepancy, and it turns out that 30 is not exactly historic. Since 1950*, there have actually been 18 seasons of 40 or more doubles than homers.
Player              Year  2B  HR  Diff
Mark Grudzielanek 1997 54 4 50
Wade Boggs 1989 51 3 48
George Kell 1950 56 8 48
Brian Roberts 2004 50 4 46
Jeff Cirillo 2000 53 11 42
Dave Cash 1977 42 0 42
Ferris Fain 1952 43 2 41
Pete Rose 1980 42 1 41
Lou Brock 1968 46 6 40
Jody Reed 1990 45 5 40
Ozzie Smith 1987 40 0 40
Craig Biggio 1999 56 16 40
Chuck Knoblauch 1994 45 5 40
Wade Boggs 1988 45 5 40
Matty Alou 1969 41 1 40
Pete Rose 1975 47 7 40
Grudzielanek takes this one hands down. You know, it’s tough to hit 54 two-baggers and not even slug .400, but Grudzie did it, slugging only .384 that historic year. But that’s not all. He also tallied more doubles than RBIs, an even rarer feat. Since 1950, this has only been done 10 times (min. 400 AB).
Player             Year  2B  RBI   Diff
Frank Baumholtz 1953 36 25 11
Mark Grudzielanek 1997 54 51 3
Billy Hatcher 1990 28 25 3
Ron Hunt 1972 20 18 2
Jody Reed 1989 42 40 2
Frank Taveras 1980 27 25 2
Don Blasingame 1959 26 24 2
Mickey Morandini 1997 40 39 1
Eric Young 2002 29 28 1
Eric Young 2001 43 42 1
Grudzie almost takes this one, too. But a dude named Frank Baumholtz destroys the comeptition in this bizarre category. Just how is it possible to bat .306 with 159 hits--including 36 doubles and a league-average .778 OPS--and only drive in 25 runs all year? His few stolen bases and unimpressive runs scored totals tell me that he probably wasn’t a leadoff hitter. Too bad we don’t have the batting-with-men-on-base splits for the Fifties! And by the way, in true Esoteric style, he never came close to duplicating that “magical” season (his second best was 19 doubles and 30 RBIs in 1948).

As usual, we ended up a ways away from where we started. You just never know where the Esoterica will take you! Tune in next time for some top-notch--and some decidedly lower-notch--baserunning from 2005. It was a delightfully Esoteric year in both directions!

*1950 is somewhat arbitrary, but when comparing home run stats, I prefer modern-day comparisons.

Extra Esoterica
Oddly, four years after his landmark 1997 campaign, Grudzielanek's put up only 21 two-baggers, but "exploded" for 13 dingers (a difference of only 8!), both career extremes for a full season.



Schizo Streaks

2005-11-21T14:40:11.556-05:00

So what's the most alternating wins and losses?

The most is 16, done twice since 1960. It was first done by the Phillies between June 3 and June 20, 1974. The ironic part is that after the "anti-streak", they went 20 games without a "one-game streak" (and nine games before it, as well!) Then the Dodgers did it, though it took them...two and a half months. Huh? Well, they happened to begin their streak on June 6, 1981, just five days before the two-month strike. When play continued on August 10, they picked up right where they left off, ripping off 11 more one-gamers through August 21. Now that's tough to do!



Upgrading...Be Back Soon

2005-11-19T10:13:41.230-05:00

Hey all. Sorry for not posting. I am currently upgrading my systems so I don't have to say "I wonder if that's a record" quite as much. For example, I now have the ability to find the longest "schizo" streak, that is, the most alternating wins and losses. How many do you think? Leave a comment. Answer Monday...



The Great and the Ugly II - Range Rovers

2005-11-11T13:22:21.096-05:00

Now let's look at the runs these guys surrendered this year. First here's where their ERA's wandered in 2005. SeasonERA Range Post-AprilERA Range Lima 6.08 - 15.00 6.40 - 8.39 Milton 4.86 - 7.97 5.79 - 7.97 Clemens 0.32 - 1.89 1.10 - 1.89 Carpenter 1.29 - 7.84 2.21 - 4.24 Here's a timeline of their season's progress. (Click to enlarge) Yes, Clemens' ERA really never rose above 1.89 all season. It's unbelievable that he never even challenged that "2.00" line until very late in the season. Wonder if that's a record.And, yes, Lima's ERA really never fell below 6.08 all season. It's unbelievable that he never really challenged that "6.00" line. That is definitely a record. It was as high as 8.39 twelve starts into the season on June 4.Milton at least had a decent start. Between April 10 and 21, he actually had a better ERA than Carpenter!Carpenter's ERA didn't stay below four until May 23, largely because of a disasterous three-inning eight-run start in April 10. If it weren't for that, he'd have been dipping below three at that point.Oddly, all four pitchers displayed very similar patterns after the Break, steadily improving, and then fininshing poorly. Here's the earned runs (bottom axis) given up per start.Here's another way to look at it: 0-1 2-4 5+ Lima 4 14 14 Milton 7 14 13 Clemens 20 10 2 Carpenter 14 15 4 Some "wows" here.Lima allowed five of more runs 14 times, and Milton 13 times! Considering their average start was just over five innings, that is truly tragic. And, unsurprisingly, there was no shortage of "disaster starts"--those in which the pitcher allows more runs than innings pitched. Milton had 13 of them, an astonishing 38% of his starts. Lima wasn't far behind with 11 (34%). Both pitchers started seven games in which the opposing team finished with at least ten runs. I suppose there were money and reputation considerations, but it's hard to figure how you could keep sending these guys out there.Milton was the most Jeckyll and Hyde of the four, surrendering at least six runs ten times, but only allowing zero or one run seven times. Clemens was the most consistant. He didn't allow six runs in a start all season, and gave up only zero or one an amazing 63% of the time (20 of 32). In fact, he only gave up more than two runs five times all season! Now that's damn good.Next up, the rest.Extra EsotericaI meant to mention this in my last post when I discussed innings pitched. As you may know, Mark Buerhle ended a streak of 49 consecutive games of pitching at least six innings this past year. Well, Lima had the longest "non-Buerhle" streak of the four, and probably MLB when he went eight straight starts pitchingfewer than six between May 1 and June 9. All told, he went fewer than six in 21 of his 32 starts, as opposed to three of 33 for Carpenter.[...]



The Great and the Ugly

2005-11-08T14:12:11.350-05:00

I'm sure many of you have tracked the seasons of two of 2005's best pitchers--Roger Clemens and Chris Carpenter--and two of the worst--Jose Lima and Eric Milton. I've tallied some interesting numbers from their performances this past season. First up, "Going Deep".



The Great and the Ugly I - Going Deep

2005-11-08T14:15:39.783-05:00

Pitching deep into games is a good indicator of effectiveness. Check out how they match up. Inning Reached Starts 5 6 7 8 9 Comp IP Lima 32 23 16 6 3 1 1 168.2 Milton 34 29 20 10 2 0 0 186.1 Clemens 32 31 28 23 4 0 1 211.1 Carpenter 33 31 31 26 17 8 7 241.2 Lima Time didn't last very long in 2005. He made it past the fifth inning in only half of his starts, averaging a mere 5.27 per outing. He compiled only 168.2 innings despite 32 starts. That's the second-lowest total ever for a 32-start season with no relief appearances. Who beat him out? Steve Cooke made it through only 167.1 innings in 32 starts for the 1997 Pirates. Who did Lima bump out of second place in that category? Why, Eric Milton! In 1998, the rookie Milton pitched only 172.1 innings in 32 starts for the Twins. And the most innings in a 32-start season (since WWII)? Why, it's Roger Clemens! In the same number of games as Lima, he threw 246.2 innings for Boston in 1992. To add insult to injury, in the only start in which Lima made it to the ninth, a complete game 5-hitter on August 14, he still lost 1-0.Milton, on the other hand, did make a little history here, becoming the reigning king in the 34-plus start category of Not-Even-Coming-Close-To-Finishing-What-You-Started. Since 1900 there have been 743 seasons in which a pitcher has started at least 34 games without a relief appearance. Of those, only 11 have failed to log at least 200 innings in the process. And only one didn't make it to 195 . And then along came Milton, who, in blowing past the immortal Chuck Rainey, denies him his only claim-to-fame: an anemic 191 IP over 34 starts for the 1983 Cubs. Milton stomped all over Rainey with an even more unimpressive 186.1 IP. Who could have seen that coming? Well, actually, Milton narrowly escaped joining this club just last year, compiling only 201 innings in his 34 starts, good for 50th place in innings per start amongst 2004's 57 30-plus-game starters. But that didn't stop Cincinnati from giving him more than $25 million!Clemens was an interesting case. He had pretty good staying power, averaging 6.60 innings each time on the mound. But what makes that impressive--unbelievable, actually--is that he only got to the eighth four times! That's only one more time than Lima. He apparently had a predictable tiring point: he pitched exactly 7 innings in 19 of his 32 starts. Verrry interesting...Carpenter was the workhorse. He pitched 73 more innings than Lima despite making only one more start than him, and 55.1 innings more than Milton despite making one fewer start. He reached the eighth an amazing 25 times as opposed to Milton's...um...two. His 241.2 innings is the most in a 33-start, no relief season since Charles Nagy logged 252 IP in 1992. And Carpenter's 7.47 innings per start is the most since Randy Johnson's amazing 7.76 mark in his memorable 364-strikeout 1999 campaign.Tune in next time for some ERA fun.Extra EsotericaHow about this for a contrast: In 1982, Bob Stanley averaged 3.51 innings per appearance in 48 games without a start. Yes, that's a record by far. He threw an amazing, only-topped-by-inhuman-Mike-Marshall 168.1 innings in relief, just about the same number as starter Lima. And each time out there, Lima, on average, got only 5 more outs than Stanley![...]



But Wait, There's More!

2005-11-01T12:58:08.706-05:00

Just because the season's over, doesn't mean that there's no more esoterica to discover! In the coming chilly months, I will wade through this year's stats and find many more inna-resting things that you never knew you never knew! Stay tuned.



2,500 Games Later...It's Another Sox!

2005-10-27T15:04:54.256-04:00

Some game and series esoterica:
  • Chicago surpassed Houston in every major offensive stat in the series...except walks! That's pretty weird, because...
  • As mentioned in my last post, the Chicago pitching staff has been extremely frugal with free passes, yielding a mere 13 in their first 10 playoff games, up to WS Game 2. So how unbelievable is it that in their 11th they set the record for most walks in a World Series game, giving up 12?? I don't have data for 2005 yet, but they'd only walked 12 or more three times in their previous 1,400 games dating back to 1996!
  • Houston struck out 36 times in 143 at-bats...that's a K every four at-bats! For a player, that would be a 150-whiff pace, meaning Chicago pitching made all Houston hitters into Preston Wilson. During the season, they averaged one every 5.3 AB, sixth in the NL.
  • Check out the White Sox relievers' crazy line for Games 3 and 4. It's reminiscent of an AJ Burnett masterpiece.
    IP H R ER BB SO HB
    HR ERA
    9.0 2 1
    1
    11
    10
    2
    0
    1.00
    Nine of the 11 pitchers did not allow a hit. For the series, Chicago's relievers gave up a hit in only four of their 16 appearances. Only five did not allow a baserunner, though.
  • The Sox only scored six more runs than the 'Stros. I haven't checked it out, but I that's got to be the record--or just off it--for the smallest margin in a four-game sweep. It's reminiscent of the 2000 Series, when all five games were one- or two-run games.
  • After a season of no home runs and one triple in 129 games, Scott Podsednik had three three-baggers and two homers in 12 post-season games. In fact, he had three total in just the four-game World Series! After getting to actually watch him drive the ball into the right-centerfield gap and sprint around the bases, how the heck did he not hit a triple until September??
  • The White Sox had two batters, Geoff Blum and Willie Harris, finish with a 1.000 average. Blum also had a 5.000 OPS!



More Runs, Less Walks

2005-10-24T14:44:02.603-04:00

A few extra bits about yesterday's game:

  • Once again, Guillen did not use his bench, and with good reason: the Sox are hitting up and down their lineup. In Game 1, eight of nine starters got a hit. Game 2? How about all nine. Only Iguchi has failed to hit in both games!
  • When Bobby Jenks walked Chris Burke in the ninth inning, it ended an amazing string of White Sox stinginess. Sox pitching hadn't issued a free pass since the fourth inning of Game 5 of the ALCS, a span of 86 batters! (And, of course, that walk then scored the tying run!)
  • 12 different players scored the 13 runs in yesterday's game.
  • Believe it or not, the 13 runs scored made this the highest scoring game in more than two weeks. It was 15 games ago, on October 9, that Chris Burke scored the last 13th run of a game in a certain 18-inning affair.
Extra Esoterica
So Brad Lidge has now surrendered game-winning homers to one player with 41 in the regular season and one with...yikes!...zero. In their their last 900 AB (including post-season), Pujols had hit 65 dingers. Pods? How about four. Wow. Check out Jayson Stark's definitive account of these strange goings-on.



Low Variance, High Esoterica

2005-10-20T18:44:16.660-04:00

It's been pointed out that in the NLCS, neither team scored more than five runs for the first time in a while. But I've noticed that this is not an isolated phenomenon. If we make the standard 10 runs for two teams rather than five runs for one team, the trend persists throughout the almost all playoff series. In fact, 20 of this year's 26 playoff games have featured 10 or fewer runs, including all 11 LCS games! I don't have data for 2005, yet, but in 2004, the average game featured 9.6 runs, so this is like two regular season days of games being way below average.

But wait, there's more!

What makes this note transcend to the next level of esoterica is that, despite all the low scoring games, there have been no shutouts! The closest regular season couple of days like this since 1993--when offense spiked above nine runs a game--was on August 5 and 6, 1993, when 10 or fewer runs were scored in 22 of 28 games, with nary a shutout.

With the pitching matchups scheduled for the Big One, we just may ascend further into rarified esoterica.

Extra Esoterica
The "best" pair of days like this since 1960 (min. 26 games) was August 19 and 20, 1977, when 25 of 28 games fit these criteria.



Is One Bigger Than Five?

2005-10-20T23:41:07.166-04:00

OK, here's a little quiz. Look at the following table. Which team is the Angels in the entire five-game 2005 ALCS and which is the Yankees in Game 3 of last year's ALCS? No cheating! Team A Team B Runs 19 11 Hits 22 27 Players with 3+ hits 4 4 Players with 5+ hits 1 0 Players with 2+ RBIs 5 2 Players scoring 2+ runs 4 2 Walks 5 4 Doubles+Triples 9 6 Home Runs 4 3 Total Bases 44 41 Stolen Bases 0 2 AB 47 154 Well, that last line kinda gave it away, but I'm sure you'd already figured it out. Unbelievable.Extra Esoterica During the season, the Angels averaged a paltry 2.8 walks a game, good for 24th in the majors. But over both of their playoff series, the entire team averaged…I still don’t believe this…0.9 walks per game (nine walks in 10 games). Hideki Matsui’s five Game 3 hits in 2004 is more than any Angel over the entirety of this year's series! Late Breaking News: The Yankees achieved a rare (I think) esoteric feat in that game: six consecutive batters in their order drove in a different number of runs. Slot Player RBIs 3 Sheffield 4 4 Matsui 5 5 Williams 3 6 Posada 1 7 Sierra 2 8 Olerud 0 If you're a fan, you'll remember that this also happened this year, just three weeks ago, as described in the post Craps, Anyone?. And if you remember, it was done...against the Yankees! [...]



(Again) Too Little, (Again) Too Late

2005-10-13T00:58:51.923-04:00

For the fourth game in a row, the Cardinals have scored the first four-plus runs of the game, got outscored afterwards, and had the tying run unsuccessfully come up to bat!

They did this in all three games against the Padres, as discussed in this post. And then, last night, sure enough, they jump out to a 5-0 lead (again)--dominating the first six innings (again)--then allow an ultimately futile Houston rally which nonetheless brought up the tying run (again).

This is just too weird. Baseball is random...game patterns don't repeat themselves four times in a row. I mean, St Louis simply won four in a row--with any pattern--only twice after the All-Star Break.

So check out this breakdown. During innings one through six of these four games, the Cardinals' opponents came to bat 24 times, and scored in only one of those at-bats. But in innings seven through nine, the Cards' opponents came to bat 12 times, and scored in nine of them!! This is beyond "Well, their starters are great and their bullpen is terrible." It defies logic.

Extra Esoterica
St. Louis won 100 regular season games despite never winning more than five in a row. That has got to be a record. I bet almost every team just this year had at least one six-game streak. By the way, they never lost more than three in a row, either. They're just the most consistant SOB's ever, I guess! [I will look into these notes and report back soon] Oddly enough, including the last three games of the reglular season, tonight's win was their seventh in a row!



Vlad the Paler

2005-10-11T22:21:53.340-04:00

No Horde of the Rings
The Yankees have now gone five years without a Ring. Actually, on their post-season roster, those who have won a championship with the Yankees outnumber those who have won for Boston by only 5-2! And players who have gone all the way with another team outnumber them 8-5.

Everyone's talking about A-Rod...
A-Rod's five game RBI-less streak in the series is not unprecedented, though still somewhat of an anomaly. This year, Rodriguez had only one streak of at least five games without an RBI, when he had an 11 game slump between May 27-June 7. Interestingly, he had driven in a run in eight of nine games before the extended dry period! He had two four-game streaks, as well.

But what about Vlad?
He didn't drive in a run all series, either. And didn't have an extra-base hit. If Matsui had hit a home run in the ninth last night and won the game, I bet all the chattering would have cast Vlad as the goat. It's less surprising from him, though. This season, he had two long RBI-poor stretches: he drove in two runs in a 16-game span between May 6 and June 12 (including a trip to the DL), and only one run in another 16-game span from August 16-Sept 1.

Extra Esoterica
  • Sluggers Sheffield and Rodriguez combined for one extra base hit in the series.
  • Nine of the ten Yankee pitchers gave up a run in the series.
  • The Angels had only two more walks (5) than triples (3)!
  • Darrin Erstad and Adam Kennedy combined to score one run.
  • Backup catcher Jose Molina batted 1.000 in the series (1-for-1). Chone Figgins pulled off that same feat for Anaheim in the 2002 ALCS.



No Joy, No Surprise

2005-10-11T09:47:51.223-04:00

Glad I'm not a Braves fan. In their unprecedented 14-season playoff run, 13 times they have fallen short, and 12 different team have done the trick. Check it out: Yr Res Opp Rnd 1991 Lost Minnesota WS 1992 Lost Toronto WS 1993 Lost Philadelphia NLCS 1995 Won Cleveland WS 1996 Lost NY Yankees WS 1997 Lost Florida NLCS 1998 Lost San Diego NLCS 1999 Lost NY Yankees WS 2000 Lost St Louis NLDS 2001 Lost Arizona NLCS 2002 Lost San Francisco NLDS 2003 Lost Chicago NLDS 2004 Lost Houston NLDS 2005 Lost Houston NLDS The Astros just joined the Yankees as the only teams to do it twice.Here's their series results. There was no NLDS before 1995. Yr NLDS NLCS WS 1991 Won Lost 1992 Won Lost 1993 Lost 1995 Won Won Won 1996 Won Won Lost 1997 Won Lost 1998 Won Lost 1999 Won Won Lost 2000 Lost 2001 Won Lost 2002 Lost 2003 Lost 2004 Lost 2005 Lost Record 6-5 5-4 1-4 After earning a spot in the World Series in four of five years, they've been in only one of the past nine. Atlanta has now participated in ten consecutive post-seasons without winning it all. And to top it off, after losing six of seven series in the '00's, they now have a losing record in post-season series at 12-13. And poor Smoltzie has been there for every one. Sigh.[...]



Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

2005-10-09T12:12:33.010-04:00

While reading today's Elias Says... on ESPN, two items caught my interest: Craig Biggio hit three doubles Saturday, two of them going to left field and one to center. Biggio had 67 extra-base hits during the regular season, 64 of which were hit to left field (he had two to center, one to right). Biggio had the highest percentage of pulled extra-base hits among players with at least 50 extra-base hits this season. This made me think of the other night when Chone Figgins legged out a triple hit to left, and I thought "Wow, you don't see that often". And then a light bulb. In one of my Triples and Stolen Bases posts, I wondered how a player could hit so many doubles but so few triples--especially those with a bunch of stolen bases--and postulated that they were "anti-hustlers". But maybe they were just right-handed extreme pull hitters? Here are the single-season leaders, again. Anybody know about these guys? Name Year SB 3B 2B Miguel Dilone 1978 50 0 8 Mariano Duncan 1986 48 0 7 Davey Lopes 1985 47 0 11 Jose Canseco 1988 40 0 34 Rickey Henderson 1999 37 0 30 Bob Dernier 1983 35 0 10 Eric Davis 1993 33 0 17 Frank Taveras 1980 32 0 27 Derek Jeter 2002 32 0 26 Larry Lintz 1976 31 0 0 Lenny Dykstra 1992 30 0 18 Jeff Bagwell 1999 30 0 35 And this one: Aaron Small, 10-0 during the regular season, was the first pitcher ever to lose a postseason game following a season in which he was 5-0 or better. Two pitchers suffered postseason losses after seasons in which they were 4-0: Larry Gura of the 1976 Royals and Chad Qualls of the 2004 Astros. Gee, if you read this blog, you would have (pretty much) known this already....Hmm, maybe they're readers??[...]



Too Little, Too Late

2005-10-09T11:47:48.876-04:00

It was a weird series for San Diego. They managed to average a respectable 3.7 runs/game, but talk about late starters--they never scored until St. Louis scored at least four runs! In the series' three games, they started down 8-0, 4-0, and 7-0. But, despite that, San Diego amazingly got the tying run to the plate in all three games before losing 8-5, 6-2, and 7-4! Check out the composite boxscore:STL 2 4 5 2 6 0 1 1 0SD 0 0 0 0 2 0 3 3 3First six innings: Cards 19-2Final three innings: Padres 9-2So there must be a crazy starter/bullpen split, right? Yeah, you can say that. IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA STL Starters 18.2 16 3 3 7 9 0 1.45 Bullpen 8.1 16 8 8 3 8 3 8.64 SD Starters 10.0 17 17 15 8 9 3 13.50 Bullpen 15.0 12 4 4 5 8 0 2.40 The Cards' bullpen better revert back its regular season 3.22 selves, or else it may be trouble next time!Extra Esoterica: I wonder if this is the first series in which every run total was unique. Easier to show than to describe: the Pads scored 2, 4, and 5 runs, and the Cards 6, 7, and 8 runs...no repeats![...]



Yankee Deja Vu, Esoteric Style

2005-10-09T11:42:36.146-04:00

Well, yes, we all know that this series is following the same pattern as the 2002 Division Series (An aside: if it's called the Division Series, why can't teams from the same division play each other?? But I digress). No, I, of course, am referring to something a little more esoteric.

Last night's game was a weird back and forth, with the Angels scoring five to take a 5-0 lead, then the Yankees coming back with six to take a 6-5 lead, and then the Angels scoring six more, themselves, to go up 11-6. Each rally took at least two innings, with the other team waiting politely until the other had finished.

Believe it or not, a mere 10 days before (as covered in this post), the Yankees lost a game in which nearly that exact thing happened, as well. After New York took a 1-0 lead, Baltimore scored five in their next two turns up to take a 5-1 lead. The Yanks answered back with six in their next two at-bats to go up 7-5, only to have the O's score eight in their next couple of innings to regain the lead, 13-7. Crazy stuff!

Extra Esoterica

  • Aaron Small lost in his first post-season appearance after going 10-0 in 15 regular season appearances, including nine starts!
  • Six Yankees had exactly two hits. Everyone else? How about none?
  • A tidbit I neglected to mention about the O's-Yanks game: of the eight New York pitchers used that game (two off the nine-inning record), Mike Mussina had the lowest post-game ERA with a unimpressive 4.41. The ERA's of all of Baltimore's five pitchers were lower.



Sox's Sixth Surprise

2005-10-08T10:32:15.700-04:00

I thought I'd do a special weekend post on a bit of the boxscore from last night's Sox-Sox game.

Did you happen to see the game? Well I didn't. I checked out the boxscore and the line that stood out to me was Damaso Marte's:

IP H R ER BB SO HR PC-ST ERA
F Garcia
5.0
5
3
3
4
1
3
98-58
5.40
D Marte (H, 1) 0.0 1 0 0 2 0 0 16-7 ###
Wow, I thought, how'd that happen? The next pitcher must have gotten out of it! But I looked up and saw that Boston had actually scored a run in the sixth. Huh? So I proceeded to the play-by-play and, as it turns out, this was the unusual turn of events:
  Garcia pitching for Chicago
  • Ramirez homered
Marte relieved Garcia
  • Nixon singled
  • Mueller walked
  • Olerud walked
Hernandez relieved Marte
  • Varitek popped out
  • Graffanino popped out
  • Damon struck out
Now that doesn't happen every day!

This sequence demonstrates a case in point why a middle reliever's ERA is less than meaningful and holds are even less so: Marte comes into the middle of the game (the sixth) and retires none of the three batters he faces. If Hernandez allows a routine fly ball, or a bases-clearing double, Marte would have been charged with all those runs (and his ERA would be...ooooh...infinite). But because of Hernandez's heroics, he comes out spotless...and with a hold! Hernandez, actually, for his three nearly perfect innings in a one-run, series-clinching game against the defending world champs, got a hold, too. That's gotta be the worst, most meaningless hold of all time followed by perhaps the most meaningful!



Great Pitching Only Gets Ya So Far

2005-10-07T00:49:58.950-04:00

In August, I mentioned that Texas went 3-9 in a string of games in which they scored at least 5 runs in each. Well, in September, the Mets did the opposite. In their first 13 games of the month, they never allowed their opponent to score more than 5 runs...and went 2-11. Through the first 17 games of the month, they allowed only 61 runs, or only 3.6/game while going 4-13. I guess that could be because they only scored 49 (2.9/game) themselves. (For those of you counting, that an average of only 6.5 runs combined per game!)

And that all came after a historic two-game outbutst in which they scored 32 runs. It took them 13 games to score 32 more. And they reached as many as seven runs just once in the next 33 games.

Extra Esoterica:
The Mets finished their season with an interesting series of occurrences. In each of their last three series, two pitchers with the same last name either won or lost consecutive games!
  1. On 9/23, the Mets' Roberto Hernandez picked up the win in relief against Washington; the following day, Livan Hernandez beat the Mets.
  2. On 9/27, the Mets' Juan Padilla got a relief win against the Phillies; the next day, Philly's own Padilla--Vincente--beat the Mets.
  3. On 9/29 and 9/30, the Mets defeated two Kims: Colorado's Sunny and Byung-Hyun.
What makes this even more impressive is that this comes on the heels of their celebrated August 7 Zambrano-Zambrano affair!