Each MLB Team's Most Skewed Early-Season Stat
With its 162-game schedule, each MLB season is both long and grueling. As such, it's hard to pluck a sample size of statistics from a specific stretch of time and point to it as being a barometer of things to come.
A player on a seven-game hit streak, for example, doesn't necessarily indicate that he's going to sustain that standard of excellence for the entire season.
For team statistics, the skewed early-season stats can indeed be stark when comparing them to historical trends throughout an entire season. An entire team can get hot and produce numbers in just a few weeks that seem almost impossible to sustain for the entire season.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a team who has a collective batting average of only .125 through a seven-game stretch isn't likely to be that bad for the entire season, either.
The Pittsburgh Pirates started the 2013 season hovering around the .150 mark in terms of team batting average through the first week. They're now hitting .242. Obviously, this is not a stat that can be looked at as a barometer.
However, now that each team has played at least 30 games this year, there are some stats that are indeed skewed. Here is a look at each MLB team's most skewed early-season stat.
Note: All statistics current as of games played through Wednesday, May 8.
Team BA with two outs, RISP: .139
The Arizona Diamondbacks are currently 19-15, and they are holding their own in a tight NL West Division race. They're ranked fourth in the National League in runs scored, and they have hit .252 as a team, good for sixth in the NL.
However, driving in baserunners in scoring position with two outs has not been their forte. Their .139 team average in that situation is far and away the worst in the National League.
Given what could be a tight divisional race, that's a stat that will need stark improvement.
Team BA, seventh inning: .148
Apparently, when fans get up to stretch in the seventh inning, Atlanta Braves hitters decide to do the same thing on the field.
Their .148 team average in the seventh inning pales in comparison to their .301 mark in the eighth.
Maybe they need to start drinking Red Bull just a wee bit earlier.
Team ERA, sixth inning: 7.94
If the Baltimore Orioles could avoid the sixth inning, they'd have the second-best team ERA in the American League.
For some reason the O's simply can't pitch in the sixth, posting a 7.94 ERA in this inning all year. Take away that inning and their ERA shrinks to 3.31—a full half-run lower.
I suspect that it's likely due to the starters tiring around that time, so it could improve as they continue to build stamina. They have posted a 4.76 ERA in the seventh inning, though, before vastly improving in the late going.
Boston Red Sox
Team BA, eighth inning: .179
The Boston Red Sox offense has absolutely bashed through the first six innings of games thus far in the 2013 season. As a team they have hit .288 in the first six innings, but just .225 thereafter, including a paltry .179 average in the eighth inning.
Oddly enough, it hasn't hampered their ability to score late in games—they rank fourth in the American League in runs scored from the seventh inning on.
Team ERA, third inning: 0.79
Despite the Chicago Cubs starting rotation's 8-16 record thus far, they have a very respectable 3.43 ERA. Their work from the second through fourth innings has been especially stellar.
Cubs starters have posted a 2.91 ERA in the second inning followed by a miniscule 0.79 ERA in the third. They follow up with a 2.79 ERA in the fourth.
While there are plenty of apparent problems when looking at the Cubs' current last-place squad in the NL Central, starting pitching has been surprisingly sound.
Opposing batters are hitting just .145 against Cub pitching in the third inning this year.
Chicago White Sox
Team slash line, innings 8-9: .179/.240/.253
With a 14-18 record and a last-place standing in the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox can look at several areas of concern that point to their slow start.
However, their obvious inability to hit late in games is certainly a leading cause. They've scored just 13 runs in those innings combined, compared to 22 runs in the seventh inning alone.
Team BA vs. RHP as RHB: .191
The Cincinnati Reds have enjoyed success with their offense overall, ranking second in the National League in runs scored through action on Wednesday.
However, the team's right-handed hitters have had a particularly tough time when facing right-handed opposition.
They can point to four hitters as the main culprits:
It wouldn't be shocking to see teams loading up on right-handed relievers against the Reds if these numbers hold up.
Team ERA, ninth inning: 0.75
The Cleveland Indians were sluggish out of the gates, starting with a 5-10 record. With 12 wins in their last 16 games through Wednesday, though, they've climbed right into the thick of the AL Central race.
They can attribute part of their success to clutch pitching.
Tribe pitchers have posted a 0.75 ERA in the ninth inning thus far. Closer Chris Perez has obviously accounted for a lot of that success, but six other Indians pitchers have combined to keep opposing batters hitless in the ninth inning as well.
Team ERA at home: 3.59
Everyone expected the Colorado Rockies to hit—they've done that with aplomb, leading the National League in runs scored (168), batting average (.281), slugging (.464) and OPS (.810).
But what's been completely unexpected is their pitching, especially at home.
Last year, the Rockies pitching staff posted a 5.97 ERA at Coors Field. Through games played on Wednesday, the Rockies are allowing over two runs less per game at home.
All the hitting in the world couldn't have helped the Rockies last year. But the stability of the pitching staff thus far has them just a half-game behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
Team BA on Tuesdays: .357
Tuesday is a day unlike any other for the Detroit Tigers.
While most people are trudging along, trying to get through their work week, the Tigers welcome the second day of the new week.
Yes, in baseball it's the second day, with new series commencing on a Monday or Tuesday, in most cases.
The Tigers bash to the tune of a .357 average on Tuesdays, along with a 1.008 OPS. Sure, it's only been three games, but it's all about "skewed" stats.
It doesn't get much more skewed than that.
Team BAA against Nos. 2-4 hitters: .354
The Houston Astros are firmly in last place in the majors with a 5.62 team ERA.
Part of their struggles have come against the Nos. 2-4 hitters in opposing lineups.
The Astros have allowed a .360 average to No. 2 hitters, a .391 average to those batting third and a .312 average to cleanup hitters.
Giving it up to the heart of the opposing batting order hasn't done the Astros any favors thus far.
Kansas City Royals
Team BA on Mondays: .202
Wow, the Kansas City Royals offense really takes a while to get going.
When playing on Mondays, the Royals simply have a hard time getting it together, hitting just .202. On the days preceding and succeeding Monday, however, they pretty much rake.
The Royals hit .283 on Sundays and a robust .319 on Tuesdays.
Los Angeles Angels
Team BA from cleanup spot: .187
With an 11-22 start, there are clearly several areas of concern for the Los Angeles Angels.
Part of their struggles can be linked to the cold starts of Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, but in particular, anyone who has batted in the cleanup spot has been hideous thus far in the early going.
Hamilton hit third in the lineup for much of his time with the Texas Rangers, and he's clearly not comfortable in the No. 4 hole with the Angels, where he is hitting just .170 through Wednesday.
Mark Trumbo is a much better producer in the five-hole, batting .314 there as opposed to hitting .219 in the No.4 slot. However, Trumbo has hit five of his nine home runs from the cleanup spot.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Starting Rotation ERA minus Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke: 5.21
Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw is off to a stellar start, which was certainly not unexpected. So too was Zack Greinke before Carlos Quentin hit him with a nasty downfield block.
As for the rest of the Dodgers' rotation? In one word: bleh.
They're 4-9 with a 5.21 ERA, a 1.54 WHIP and a 10.6 H/9 rate.
Yeah, that's not going to get it done.
Team BA vs. LHP as LHB: .146
You can look at a lot of different stats for the Miami Marlins right now and find them to be skewed.
This particular one definitely stood out right away.
The inability of the Marlins' left-handed hitters to hit southpaws is embarrassing.
Here's a closer look:
Chris Coghlan is at least hitting .286, but that's in only seven at-bats.
Team BAA in high-leverage situations: .330
Baseball Reference and FanGraphs both have different interpretations of high-leverage situations for a pitcher. But broken down in the simplest of terms, it essentially describes the situation a pitcher is facing at the time. Two outs and no runners on base is a low-leverage situation. Two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning qualifies as a high-leverage matchup.
In the case of the Milwaukee Brewers, they simply don't pitch well in the clutch—their pitching staff has allowed a .330 average in high-leverage at-bats.
In losing six of seven games in May, the Brewers have posted an ugly 5.71 ERA.
Rotation ERA with 4-5 days of rest: 5.97
The Minnesota Twins went over .500 with a win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, and they're doing it with a rotation that simply isn't performing on regular rest.
Whenever starters for the Twins get four or five days of rest between starts, their ERA hovers around 6.00. With six days of rest or more, they're 5-3 with a 4.04 ERA.
On regular rest between starts, Vance Worley has an 0-2 record and 7.36 ERA.
New York Mets
Team BA innings 6-8: .191
The New York Mets offense was absolutely considered a deficiency heading into the season. Thankfully, John Buck and David Wright have saved face, and Lucas Duda is bashing to the tune of a .913 OPS.
However, in the middle-to-late innings, no one is hitting much of anything.
The Mets are punchless from the sixth through eighth innings. They have hit .194 in the sixth inning, .204 in the seventh, and they bottom out with a .176 average in the eighth inning.
New York Yankees
Team BA vs. LHP as RHB: .197
Normally, right-handed batters have an advantage when facing southpaws. Early in the 2013 season, however, that's not the case for the New York Yankees.
Lefties have held right-handed hitting Yankees hitters under the Mendoza line thus far. Before he was hurt, third baseman Kevin Youkilis had just one hit in 21 at-bats against southpaws.
Team ERA at home: 4.58
Considering that O.co Coliseum is one of the toughest parks in the majors to hit in, Oakland Athletics pitchers simply haven't been very good at home this year.
Through 17 games, the A's are 9-8 with a 4.58 ERA at home, while they've been much stingier on the road, where they have posted a 3.70 ERA.
Last year, A's pitchers posted a 3.08 ERA at home while winning 50 games there.
Team ERA in losses: 11.07
When Philadelphia Phillies pitchers lose, they accomplish the feat in spectacular fashion.
In 16 games in which a pitcher has recorded a win this season, Philadelphia's team ERA is a paltry 1.81. However, in games that pitchers have recorded a loss, their ERA is a lofty 11.07.
In games in which pitchers have received a no-decision, the team ERA is 3.27.
Team BA at Dodger Stadium: .093
The Pittsburgh Pirates didn't hit very well when the visited Dodger Stadium last year, hitting just .202 in Los Angeles and losing all three games ther.
They got swept again in LA in the second series of the season, but they outdid themselves this year—well, they outdid their own ineptitude, that is.
The Pirates were shut out by both Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the first two games against the Dodgers this season before finally breaking through with two runs in the finale against Hyun-Jin Ryu.
San Diego Padres
Team BA in day games: .205
The San Diego Padres have played themselves back to respectability by winning six of their past seven games.
As long as they don't play during the day, they're good.
Padres hitters apparently don't like sunlight—they hit .261 at night but only .205 during games played before dusk.
San Francisco Giants
Rotation ERA with five days' rest: 6.07
Apparently, for San Francisco Giants pitchers, routine means everything.
When pitching on regular rest, starters post a 4-0 record and 3.30 ERA, but with an extra day between starts, their ERA balloons to 6.07 with a 3-7 record.
Matt Cain has really suffered with five days between starts—he sports an 8.22 ERA with the extra day of rest.
Team BA vs. RHP as RHB: .186
The Seattle Mariners have scored the least amount of runs of any team in the American League over the past four seasons. They've shown improvement thus far in 2013, but not by much.
The Mariners entered Thursday second-to-last in the AL in runs scored, only ahead of the Chicago White Sox. Part of the reason why may be the inability of their right-handed hitters to hit right-handed pitching.
With a .186 average against righties, Mariners' right-handed hitters have struggled mightily. Brendan Ryan brings up the rear among regular players with a .083 average.
St. Louis Cardinals
Team starter/reliever ERA split: 2.29/5.14
St. Louis Cardinals starters have been absolutely spectacular thus far through their first 33 games.
Their bullpen, however, has pretty much been a trainwreck.
Edward Mujica has at least stabilized the ninth inning, posting nine consecutive saves since taking over the closer's role from Mitchell Boggs.
The rest of the bullpen is still struggling while the starters keep rolling along, as not one starter has an ERA above 2.75.
Tampa Bay Rays
Team ERA from bullpen: 5.16
The Tampa Bay Rays have worked to build an organization that relies upon the strength of its pitching.
That strength has yet to show up in the bullpen in 2013.
The Rays are last in the American League with a 5.16 ERA from its relievers. Closer Fernando Rodney posted a 0.60 ERA and gave up just five earned runs all of last season—he's already given up six this year.
Team ERA: 3.22
For many years, the Texas Rangers featured an offense that could bash with a pitching staff that leaked like a sieve.
After 34 games this year, the Rangers lead the American League with a 3.22 ERA.
No, it's not an alternate universe.
Texas has been outstanding on the mound—particularly at Rangers Ballpark, which is normally a haven for hitters.
The Rangers have an outstanding 2.60 ERA at home, and have held their own on the road with a 3.72 ERA.
Toronto Blue Jays
Team BA, runners in scoring position: .204
The Toronto Blue Jays acquired several players over the offseason with the goal of getting to the postseason. But in clutch situations, they've failed miserably thus far.
Their .204 average with runners in scoring position is just one of the problems seen thus far in their first 35 games.
Their inability to plate these runners was evident in their loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, when they were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Team BA from seventh inning on: .196
After a rough first month, the Washington Nationals have clawed their way back into the NL East race. Now 19-15, the Nationals are just 1.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves.
The Nationals, however, are struggling to hit in the later innings. With just a .196 average, they haven't given themselves much of a chance to make enough offensive noise for a comeback.
In fact, the Nats offense falters as the game moves along. In the first three innings, Washington hits .261. From the fourth through sixth innings, their average drops to .234 and then under the Mendoza line from the seventh inning on.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.
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