Don't ask me why but I've always liked the number 11. Maybe it's because the 11 times table was the easiest to learn while at school. Or it could be that it's the atomic number of sodium.
Whatever the reason, I decided to make a list of 11 things, some of which are related to baseball.
1. The age Dice-K was when Tim Wakefield made his majors debut. I'm big on Matsuzaka this year. Some may say he was lucky last year in posting an 18-3 record—a WHIP of 1.32 and an AL leading strand rate of 80.6 percent would suggest as much. But I think Dice-K has a chance of a similar record with a much lower WHIP this season. Following the All-Star break he posted a far more ace like WHIP of 1.26, lowering his walks per nine innings whilst raising his strike outs per nine to 8.74.
2. The Cincinnati Kids: 11 not only is it an awesome number but it is also the number of bases Ken Griffey Jr. has stolen over the last eight seasons. His replacement in center field Willy Taveras had that many bags by the end of April last year.
3. The fifth smallest prime number is 11. And the first one larger than ten. Go eleven!
4. The number of shut outs Roy 'Doc' Halladay has thrown during his big league career. I love this guy. 20 wins on the Blue Jays whilst playing in the AL East, nine complete games, an ERA under three, and over 200 strikeouts. For my money the best pitcher in the AL, maybe even the majors.
5. The number of wins Nationals "ace" has during his career. When John Lannan is the top of your rotation, surely you have got to be worried about the year ahead.
6. How many home runs did Jeff Francoeur hit last year? You guessed it. I say it was a muscled induced misnomer. Predicting his stat line is tricky, however, 2007 saw his home run total drop from 29 to 19, while his batting average jumped 33 points to .293. I reckon the more flexible Brave hits 20-25 home runs, drives in 90 RBI, and hits .280.
7. The number Yankees centre fielder Brett Gardner wears. One of my rookies to watch this spring seems to have locked down the starting job ahead of Melky Cabrera. He could steal 30-35 bases while hitting .270, handy production from a late round draft pick.
8. The eleventh moon of Jupiter is called Himalia. Named after the nymph Himalia, this moon also has an average orbit radius of about 11 million kilometers, And who doesn't love a good nymph?
9. The number of franchises Matt Stairs has played for. From Montreal to Philadelphia via Boston, Oakland, Chicago, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Arlington, Detroit, and Toronto. Incidentally, no other player has hit more home runs whilst playing for at least 11 franchises.
10. The number of hits the Mets and the Astros both got in a game in 1968. Doesn't sound too odd? Well the game lasted 24 innings and featured two players who went hitless in 10 at bats—Tommie Agee and Ron Swoboda. That feat has only been achieved four times since 1956. Thanks to baseballreference.com for that one.
11. How many games Livan Hernandez lost last year as a Twin. He did manage to win 13, but how is a mystery. An ERA of 6.05 and a WHIP of 1.67 are a little high for my liking. Still, he reached 180 innings for the seventh consecutive season was it? Oh no wait, it was the 11th.