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Ranking MLB's Most Absurd Early-Season Stat Paces

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2014

Ranking MLB's Most Absurd Early-Season Stat Paces

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    Brian Kersey/Getty Images

    One of the best parts of the first few weeks of every MLB season is the players who get off to absolutely ridiculous startsand the stat lines that accompany them.

    While a 10-game hot streak would go largely overlooked if it happened in August, it's hard to ignore a batter stepping into the box with a .600 batting average or a pitcher with a 20.0 K/9 mark when the season is just getting underway.

    What follows is a fun look at seven guys who are currently on pace to break significant records this season, ranked 1-7 based on how impressive their current pace is.

    The odds are incredibly high that none of these guys actually wind up breaking said records, or even come close by the time the season wraps up, but there's no sense worrying about a minor detail like that in April.

     

    Note: All stats and projected "on-pace" numbers courtesy of CBSSports.com player pages.

7. Strikeouts (Hitter): Garrett Jones, Miami Marlins

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Current Number: 17

    Current Pace: 250

    MLB Record: 223 (Mark Reynolds, 2009)

     

    Analysis

    Looking to improve what was the worst offense in baseball last season, the Miami Marlins added a handful of veteran hitters, including Garrett Jones on a two-year, $7.75 million deal to be the primary first baseman.

    The 32-year-old has averaged 473 at-bats with 20 home runs, 70 RBI and 108 strikeouts per year over the past four seasons. He has a chance to top 500 at-bats for the first time since 2010, and while that will likely result in solid run production numbers, he could blow past his career high of 123 strikeouts in process.

6. Strikeouts Per 9 Innings: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Current Number: 14.8

    Current Pace: 14.8

    MLB Record: 13.4 (Randy Johnson, 2001)

     

    Analysis

    Stephen Strasburg already has a pair of solid seasons under his belt, but he has yet to reach his full potential and truly turn in a dominant all-around season. He's not off to the best start this year, going 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA through his first three starts, but he's whiffed 28 batters in just 17 innings.

    That puts him on pace for the best K/9 mark of all time, and would top the MLB-best 11.9 mark that Yu Darvish posted last year by a decent margin. To keep up his current pace over 200 innings, Strasburg would need to strike out 329 batters this season, so there's a good chance Randy Johnson will be holding onto his record.

     

    *Note: Randy Johnson has seven of the 11 best single-season K/9 marks all time. Just thought that stat was worth throwing out there, because wow.

5. Home Runs: Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Current Number: 5

    Current Pace: 81

    MLB Record: 73 (Barry Bonds, 2001)

     

    Analysis

    After struggling to establish himself as a viable everyday player, and even winding up demoted to Triple-A back in 2011, Pedro Alvarez finally broke through with a big season last year.

    Granted he still hit only .233 and he struck out an NL-high 186 times, but he was also one of the most feared sluggers in the league, tying Paul Goldschmidt for the NL title with 36 home runs and driving in an even 100 runs. The 27-year-old is never going to win a batting title, but there's legitimate 40-HR power here, and he could make a run at that number this season.

4. Total Bases: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Current Number: 32

    Current Pace: 466

    MLB Record: 457 (Babe Ruth, 1921)

     

    Analysis

    Provided he can stay on the field, Carlos Gonzalez has established himself as one of the most productive players in all of baseball over the past few seasons. He's off to a great start again this season, and his 32 total bases currently puts him just ahead of pace to top Babe Ruth's record 1921 season.

    Ruth had 204 hits that year, including 44 doubles, 16 triples and 59 home runs, a full 40 bases better than his second most productive season. It's pretty unlikely that Gonzalez eclipses the record, but he could hold on and lead the league, something he has already done once in his career when he had 351 total bases in 2010.

3. RBI: Chris Colabello, Minnesota Twins

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Current Number: 14

    Current Pace: 226

    MLB Record: 191 (Hack Wilson, 1930)

     

    Analysis

    Chris Colabello has been one of the best stories of the 2014 season so far, as the longtime Can-Am League player finally broke into the big leagues as a 29-year-old last season, and has run with an opportunity at extended playing time this year.

    He managed a grand total of 17 RBI over 160 at-bats last season, and already has 14 through just 39 at-bats this year. That total is padded greatly by a six-RBI game against the Chicago White Sox on April 3. Chances are he won't reach the 100-RBI mark this season, with sporadic playing time and hitting in a below-average Twins lineup, but he should not be completely written off as a fluke either.

2. Hits: Emilio Bonifacio, Chicago Cubs

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Current Number: 20

    Current Pace: 324

    MLB Record: 262 (Ichiro Suzuki, 2004)

     

    Analysis

    Bought out and released by the Kansas City Royals at the beginning of the offseason, Emilio Bonifacio not only found a home on the Chicago Cubs but he has been out of his mind to kick off the new season.

    The best numbers of his career came in 2011, when he hit .296 and tallied 167 hits over 565 at-bats while playing for the Florida Marlins. If he can wind up with a similar stat line before all is said and done this year, the Cubs would no doubt be very pleased.

1. Strikeouts (Pitcher): Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Current Number: 30

    Current Pace: 540

    MLB Record: 513 (Matt Kilroy, 1886)

     

    Analysis

    Felix Hernandez has been fantastic through his first three starts of the new season, going 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA and 0.75 WHIP, but the most impressive number is his 30 strikeouts through 21.1 innings of work.

    That currently puts him on pace for a ridiculous 540 strikeouts, which shockingly would give him the all-time record by only 27 punchouts. It's worth noting that he registered a career-best 9.5 K/9 last season, but it's probably safe to assume he won't quite keep up his current pace.

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