MLB's Top 10 Most Surprising Stats of 2009

Bryan CurleyCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2010

Because lists seem to be so popular (hey, they’re easy to read), and because I have an unhealthy obsession with stats, I thought I’d put the two together.

I present to you the Top 10 Most Surprising Stats of 2009.

Each of the stats from the list below come from 2009, and most of them even surprised me when I stumbled upon them. It’s by no means an exhaustive list; there are a lot of stats out there I didn’t even get to while making this, but I assure you my search was expansive. If you’ve got anything to add, just leave a comment.

So without further ado, the Top 10!

10. Mike Pelfrey had six balks in 2009 . To put this in perspective, no one else has had more than four in a single season since Arizona’s Brian Anderson had five in 2002. The league leader every other season has had four, so six is a pretty sizable 50 percent increase. No one has been this bad since good ol’ Chris Michalak, who recorded six balks splitting time between Texas and Toronto in 2001.


9. Miguel Tejada has led the entire league in GIDP four times in the last six seasons. With 29 GIDP in 2009, Tejada once again reclaimed the crown as Man Most Likely to Produce Two Outs with One Swing of the Bat. In the only two seasons he didn’t lead the league, he finished T-eighth (2007) and T-second (2005).

In the last 10 years, only four players have grounded into more than 27 double plays in a single season: Paul Konerko (28 in 2003), Brad Ausmus (30 in 2002), Ben Grieve (32 in 2000), and Magglio Ordonez (28 in 2000). Tejada has done that three times since 2006.


8. Brad Lidge actually converted 93.8 percent of his save chances at home. We all know Lidge had a historically bad season, but what you may not have known is that Lidge was actually a pretty successful closer at home. He converted 15-of-16 save chances (1 BS, 93.8 percent) at Citizen’s Bank Park versus 31-of-42 save chances (11 BS, 73.8 percent) on the road.

Granted, his ERA at home was still an awful 6.10, but it’s the result that matters, right?


7. Seven of the top 10 finishers in OPS were first basemen. Everyone knows that first base is the deepest position as far as batting talent goes, but it’s amazing just how deep it is. In the last 10 years, there has only once been more than four players at any one position in the top 10 for OPS (five first basemen in 2005), so seven in 2009 is insane.


6. As a team, the Los Angeles Dodgers finished 2009 with an opponents’ average of .233 . Due in large part to the league’s best bullpen and Clayton Kershaw’s dominance, the Dodgers’ .233 OBA was the lowest of any team in the last 10 years. It also marked the third time they led baseball in this category over the same span.


5. Mark Teixeira developed an interesting walk trend in 2009. He walked 17 times in March/April, 10 times in May, 17 times in June, 10 times in July, 17 times in August, and 10 times in September/October. Notice a pattern?


4. Mark Hendrickson allowed 15 stolen bases without anyone caught stealing…and he’s a lefty! As a Red Sox fan, I grew tired of watching Brad Penny allow stolen base after stolen base (only 3-of-31 caught stealing), but Hendrickson was arguably worse. Only two other pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched failed to record a single runner caught stealing: Hiroki Kuroda (0-of-10) and Sean West (0-of-3).

On top of that, Hendrickson was the only lefty in the bottom 10 for CS%. Let’s cut Hendrickson a little bit of slack, though. Baltimore was 27th in the league in CS%, so clearly their catchers weren’t doing a great job either.


3. The bottom five teams in sacrifice hits in all of baseball were from the AL East. Yes, you read that correctly. New York, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Boston, and Baltimore finished 26th through 30th, respectively, in sacrifice hits. The American League has always been known as a more free-swinging league, but an entire division representing the bottom five is astounding.


2. Prince Fielder was the only player in the league to play in every one of his team’s games. To once again put this in perspective, this was the first time only one player has played every game for his team since before 1960. I stopped looking back year by year at that point because I was starting to find conflicting data, but my point has already been made.


1. Joe Mauer was the 2009 AL MVP, but no player had a larger effect on whether his team won or loss than B.J. Upton. Don’t believe me? Check out the stats:


Joe Mauer Twins W74.377156211.077
Twins L64.35213343.974
B.J. Upton Rays W78.318114728.906
Rays L66.1470814.414


With zero HR and only eight RBI in all Rays' losses, Upton was far from the best player in the AL, but perhaps he was the most valuable .

For the original article and more of this totally awesome fantasy baseball analysis, check out Baseball Professor .