The Top 10 Most Shocking Statistics (So Far) from the 2011 MLB Season
From ERA to FB/GB rate to OPS to BABIP, no sport is as driven by statistics as baseball. Furthermore, each stat category holds differing values based on the perspective of each fan.
Personally, for pitchers I look at their K/9 and WHIP as indicators of value. If a pitcher is missing bats while limiting hits and walks, then it follows that he should be successful.
Others may prefer a pitchers K:BB or WAR, but that's what makes baseball so compelling. Find a stat that you think proves a player's worth and another fan will find a stat that refutes it.
The following slides are a collection of stats that have jumped off the page for me as this season is unfolding. Some are disappointing, some encouraging, while others are just downright shocking.
I'm sure you have your own opinions on what stat has surprised this year, so please feel free to let me know in the comment section.
A career .283 hitter who has averaged 30 home runs and 118 runs batted in, Justin Morneau is not having a good start to the season.
He may still be suffering from his 2010 concussion as his production across the board is abysmal. Perhaps the most glaring stat is his .338 SLG%, a full .166 off his career average.
The Twins need their Canadian slugger to shake off the cobwebs before their season is lost.
Admittedly, there were a few clever writers who predicted a significant improvement in Cleveland's record this season compared to 2010. However, the estimation was .500 ball and one step closer to becoming a competitor in the AL Central by 2012 or later.
Instead, The Tribe has been hell bent on proving that these predictions are far too long term by jumping out to a shocking 30-16 record, best in baseball.
Led by a young cast of up and comers that includes Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Matt LaPorta, Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin, Cleveland has made the rest of the league sit up and take notice.
If they can keep up this pace by the All-Star break, the Indians might just be legit.
79 Home Runs
Based on home runs per at-bat, Jose Bautista is on pace for a Barry Bondsian 79-round trippers.
Much has been made about the PED "is he or isn't he," so I won't bother here. However, one of the few articles worth reading on the topic was written by colleague Asher Chancey.
What's so astonishing about Bautista's home-run pace is it seems to be a continuation of the momentum he's been building since late 2009.
Since that time, Jose has steadily increased his slugging percentage, on-base percentage and not coincidentally, his home runs per at-bat.
At some point Jose is due to slow down but it seems that another season of 50-plus home runs is all but assured.
Looking at Jimenez's atrocious stat line for 2011, it's hard to believe that he was actually considered a lock for the Cy Young last year before the All-Star break.
Is this a continuation of his deterioration from last year? After a 15-1 2.20/1.047 first half, Jimenez fell back to earth and went 4-7 3.80/1.299.
This year he's been worse. Jimenez has seen a steep decline in every significant pitching category over the course of his first eight starts. There've been whispers of possible injury or dead arm, so this situation bears watching.
A career .308/.380/.510 hitter, Ramirez has started off the 2011 campaign a very disappointing .219/.294/.325.
His low BABIP of .246, almost a full .100 off his career rate, may point to better things ahead. But when you consider the fact that he's striking out more, walking less and hitting a lot more ground balls, then this may be a harbinger of what his 2011 will look like.
It's difficult to put your finger on just one cause for the team's demise because there are so many.
A league-worst 4.95 team ERA is a good start. Or the fact that no one has struck out less batters than this staff and only three have allowed more hits.
On the other side of the ball, at .233 the Twins have the third-worst team BA in all of baseball as well as the absolute worst run and RBI total.
Finally, in 100 fewer at-bats, short stop Trevor Plouffe has more home runs that Justin Morneau.
53 Home Runs
If you drafted Curtis Granderson in your fantasy league thinking you were getting a 53/117 player, then you are either a genius or a lucky fool.
Granderson is not exactly a light hitting outfielder, having averaged around 25 dingers a year since 2006. However, it looks like he's doing his best Brady Anderson impersonation in 2011.
Outside the obvious stats like SLG%, there isn't a single stat that tells a larger tale as to why he's hitting so many home runs this year, because they have all remained the same: except one.
Granderson's HR/FB ratio is a full 11 points higher than his career 10.4 percent, which indicates an eventual evening out.
Sell high, Mr. Genius.
That's the number of stolen bases that journeyman outfielder Jason Bourgeois was on pace for before being placed on the 15-day DL.
That's almost twice the number Juan Pierre had last season. If Bourgeois accomplished this feat, it would be not only the first time anyone has swiped more than 100 since 1987 (Vince Coleman 109), but would be the fourth-highest total of all time.
Although a drop in his frenetic pace is to be expected, I could still use some cheap steals on my fantasy team, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a speedy recovery.
Originally signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 2000, Nunez was traded to KC for octogenarian Benito Santiago in 2004.
Now he's making a case to be considered one of the best closers in baseball, as he's on pace for a monstrous 61 saves. Only K-Rod's 62 in 2008 is better.
5.73/1.46: 1 No Hitter?
Usually, if a starting pitcher allows six walks while striking out only two batters he's going to need a few lucky bounces to avoid a loss.
Or you end up with a no hitter. Seriously, that actually happened.
Francisco Liriano, while usually a pretty good pitcher, is struggling mightily so far in 2011. His slash line of 5.73/1.46 to go along with career-worst ratios of 6.3 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9 is, in a word, ugly.
I feel like I'm kicking a guy when he's down, but the Twins really are a special brand of awful this season.