Statistics can prove anything, but more often than not, they mean nothing. I enjoy bits of trivia, not because I want to win a bet with my friends, but because they can shed light on trends and highlight new things. As a baseball fan and sports junkie, I love hearing something and saying, "Wow, I never knew that."
Keeping that in mind, here are a collection of stats, facts, and notes about your American League playoff teams, thanks to Elias Sports Bureau, SABR, press officers, and media reps. Enjoy the information overload.
New York Yankees
The Yankees enter postseason play as a Wild Card team for the fourth time (also 1995, 1997 and 2007), but they have never advanced to the ALCS when entering the playoffs in this fashion. However, if they sweep the Twins, it is pretty good news for Joe Girardi's men because the Yanks have won the World Series each of the three times they have swept in the division series.
The Men With the Golden Gloves
The Yankees led the majors with a .988 fielding pct., their best mark ever for a season. 2B Robinson Cano (.996) and SS Derek Jeter (.989) became the first set of teammates to finish a season as the fielding leaders at SS and 2B (in either league) since Omar Vizquel/Roberto Alomar for Cleveland in 2001, and the first Yankees to accomplish the feat since Phil Rizzuto/Jerry Coleman in 1949.
The Yankees’ primary infielders in 2010 (Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez) combined for a .994 fielding percentage. Their 27 combined errors were the fewest or any Major League team at those positions.
Home Field Advantage
The Yankees became the second team among baseball’s current 30 franchises, to advance to the postseason in each of the first two seasons in their current stadium, joining Atlanta (1997-98 at Turner Field).
Rising to the Occasion
Derek Jeter has reached base safely via hit, walk or hit by pitch in 48 of 53 career Division Series games, and 122 of his all-time record 138 career postseason contests.
Lance Berkman owns a .321 (34-for-106) career postseason batting average, the fourth-highest mark among all active players, and he has hit safely in 11 of his 12 career postseason games, including 10 straight from Game 3 of the 2001 NLDS through Game 4 of the 2004 NLCS.
According to Elias, Jorge Posada is the first player to catch at least one game with the same team in 16 straight seasons, since Johnny Bench with Cincinnati (17 consecutive seasons, 1967-83).
Starting off on the Right Foot
Manager Ron Gardenhire is the first manager to guide his team into the postseason in six of his first nine seasons as a Major League Manager. Sparky Anderson and Earl Weaver did it in five of their first eight seasons.
New Ballpark, New Fortunes?
The Twins are the 13th team to go to the playoffs in their first year in a new ballpark. They join the 2009 and 1923 Yankees, 2006 Cardinals, 2000 Giants, 1997 Braves, 1995 Rockies, 1989 Blue Jays, 1970 Pirates and Reds, 1912 Red Sox, 1911 Giants, and 1909 Pirates.
Francisco Liriano is making his first career postseason start Wednesday night, and he becomes the fourth different Twins pitcher to make a Game 1 start in the ALDS following Brad Radke, Santana three times, and Brian Duensing. Speaking of Liriano, he did not allow a home run in 96.1 consecutive innings pitched from May 20-Aug.18. It was the second-longest streak in Twins history, behind Bert Blyleven’s 99.0 innings from 1974-1975.
Tampa Bay Rays
A Bizarre Playoff Rule Change?
On Monday the American League approved a change to the Tropicana Field ground rules, effective for the 2010 postseason. Under the new rule, a batted ball that strikes either of the two upper catwalks, lights or suspended objects above fair territory, is a dead ball (and no pitch). Previously, balls that struck the upper catwalks, lights or suspended objects above fairground, were in play.
David Price is featured on the cover of today's playoff issue of Sports Illustrated. He is the third Ray (first by himself), to be featured on the magazine’s cover – Carl Crawford was on the cover as a cartoon with the Yankees on May 26, 2008, and Rocco Baldelli shared the cover with Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies on November 3, 2008.
The Rays became the second Major League team since 1900 to score 800 runs (802) while hitting .250 or less (.247). The other team was the 1991 Tigers (.247, 87 runs). In addition, the Rays 1,292 strikeouts were the most ever by an AL or NL team that advanced to the postseason. Want more junk? How about the fact that the Rays were the only Major League team in 2010 to have five pitchers qualify for the ERA title (minimum 162 IP).
Crawford is That Good
No player in the modern era since 1900 has matched his combination of homers (19), triples (13), batting average (.307) and stolen bases (47).
Rookie Dropping the Signs
Rookie John Jaso batted leadoff in 45 games, 41 as catcher. According to Baseball Reference, only two players in history have started as many games catching and batting leadoff in one season since 1901. Jason Kendall and Rollie Hemsley are the others.
Pena's Mendoza Line Power
Carlos Pena's .196 average was lowest among all hitters who qualified for the batting title in 2010. It was the lowest by a player since Rob Deer hit .179 in 1991 for Detroit. His 28 homers rank third all time among players who hit under .200 in a season, joining Mark McGwire (.187/29 in 2001) and Mark Reynolds (.198/32 in 2010.)
Winner, Winner, Clinching Dinner
Texas clinched the division in its 154th game of 2010, the earliest that the Rangers have ever won a division title or sealed a playoff spot. The Rangers won the division by a club-record nine games, one game better than the previous largest margin from 1999.
A Long, Long Wait
Michael Young is appearing in his first postseason in his 10th year in the major league. He has appeared in 1,508 career regular season games, second most of any active player without a playoff appearance. The leader is Randy Winn (1,717 games) for those who care.
A First Time For Everything
Today's game was the Rangers first postseason game on turf, in a dome, or in the daytime. It was also their first postseason game anywhere other than old Yankee Stadium or Rangers Ballpark, and it was the first time the opposing managers were anyone other than Johnny Oates and Joe Torre.
Wanted: Experienced Help
There are five Rangers who have appeared previously in postseason play. Darren Oliver is the only one to do it with the Rangers, when he appeared in the 1996 ALDS. He joins Jeff Francoeur (2005, Braves); Vlad Guerrero (2004, '05, '07, '08, and '09, Angels); Cliff Lee (2009, Phillies); and Bengie Molina (2002, '04, '05, Angels).