Despite being four games under .500 the New York Mets have outscored their opponents through 108 games this season. By pure run differential the Mets are better than the Yankees, Cardinals, Rays, Pirates and Reds in 2014.
So how have the team from Flushing been able to score runs? The Base-On-Balls.
NYM lead the National League in walks. Terry Collins‘ lineup features five players with on-base percentages over .330. Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and David Wright have all been very good at reaching base this year. Only St. Louis has as many high OBP guys as the Mets.
San Diego Padres lefty Alex Torres pitched two innings of shutout relief last night against the Cubs. The former Tampa Bay Ray has now thrown 87 career innings in MLB and allowed only one home run*.
Torres is one of only four pitchers to allow fewer than two HR’s while throwing over 80 innings in the MLB integration era….
Rk Player IP HR From To Age G BF Tm 1 Lance Rautzhan 94.2 1 1977 1979 24-26 83 414 LAD-MIL 2 Alex Torres 87.0 1 2011 2014 23-26 65 348 TBR-SDP 3 Kevin Cameron 86.1 1 2007 2009 27-29 69 383 SDP-OAK 4 Dan Otero 81.0 1 2012 2014 27-29 66 334 SFG-OAK
*Martin Prado tagged him last August
In the history of MLB there have been only a dozen players with career stats lines of:
- .300 Batting Average
- .400 On Base
- .550 Slugging
Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig is on this very elite list…
Player HR BA OBP SLG From Yasiel Puig 28 .323 .401 .552 2013 Albert Pujols 504 .320 .408 .597 2001 Manny Ramirez 555 .312 .411 .585 1993 Frank Thomas 521 .301 .419 .555 1990 Larry Walker 383 .313 .400 .565 1989 Stan Musial 475 .331 .417 .559 1941 Ted Williams 521 .344 .482 .634 1939 Hank Greenberg 331 .313 .412 .605 1930 Jimmie Foxx 534 .325 .428 .609 1925 Lou Gehrig 493 .340 .447 .632 1923 Rogers Hornsby 301 .358 .434 .577 1915 Babe Ruth 714 .342 .474 .690 1914
The Oakland Athletics 1B/OF Brandon Moss played ten seasons in the minor leagues before breaking out with 30 home runs last season.
Not bad for a guy getting paid less than $6 million total over the last two seasons.
Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton had a spectacular first month of 2014. In April he slugged .641 and reached base 4-of-10 times he came to the plate. To boot, Upton is the current NL leader in home runs with 8.
You may already know that this is Justin Upton’s second best April of his career. Last season, his first with the Braves, he hit 12 home runs with a .734 SLG.
For whatever reason Upton has historically been better in the spring than the fall. But if he can buck the trend in 2014 he should easily best his career high of 31 home runs he smashed in 2011.
Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham hit over 20 doubles in each of his first five seasons. While not great power this is solid line drive hitting for a young middle-infielder.
Beckham is the first second baseman, shortstop or third baseman to accomplish this since Dan Uggla. Before him only Robinson Cano had gone over 20 doubles in their first five years with careers entirely in the past decade.
Here is the full list of players in MLB history with 21+ doubles in each of their first five seasons (among infielders, non-first baseman):
Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has made an interesting lineup switch recently. Over the last two games against the Angels Rajai Davis has batted leadoff while Austin Jackson is hitting sixth. Davis has now ledoff in half of Detroit’s games this season.
Each player has been exclusively in the AL for the last five seasons, here are their on-base percentages over this time:
Davis – .309 OBP
Jackson – .344 OBP
Lineup construction is a low-risk, low-reward activity. Give your highest on-base guys the most chances over the course of 162 games and you will gain an extra win or two. Give more at-bats to poor run producers and you loose a couple games you should have won.
The difference between the two Tigers equates to more than just a rounding error. Austin Jackson clearly deserves more at-bats than Davis. Is Brad Ausmus aware of this?
Before 1996 there was never an MLB season which featured more than four starting pitchers who averaged at least one strikeout per inning. In 1965 and 1986 there were four starters who posted at least 9 Ks/game. The ’60’s were led by Sandy Koufax and Sam McDowell while the 80’s featured fire-ballers Nolan Ryan and Bobby Witt.
As the strikeout began to rise during the steroid era we saw eight high K starters (9+ SO/9 innings) in 1998 and ten in 2002. From ’02-’04 alone there were 29 individual high K starting pitcher seasons. Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Jason Schmidt, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez averaged at least one strikeout/inning in all three seasons.
There was a slight dip in high K starters during the next four seasons before an explosion in 2009. An all-time high of thirteen high K starters appeared in ’09, a feat matched in 2010. This record was quickly broken in 2012 with fifteen and subsequently tied last year.
Five pitchers recorded at least 9 strikeouts/game in each of the last two seasons, they are: Yu Darvish, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer amd Jeff Samardzija. How many of these will repeat the feat in 2014?
*Thank you to Baseball-Reference.com for all this awesome data.