Top 10 Most Shocking Statistics of the 2010 MLB Season (So Far)
In 2009, the Milwaukee Brewers' second baseman Rickie Weeks missed all but 37 games of the Brew-Crew's season. It was the fifth straight injury-shortened season of Weeks' career–out of five career seasons–and at the age of 26 it was beginning to look as though Weeks may never arrive.
Fast forward to 2010 and a shocking change has occurred. Weeks has missed only one game, leads the National League in plate appearances and at-bats, and is on pace to hit 30 home runs after never having hit more than 16 in any previous season.
What's more, through 118 games, Weeks league-leading PAs and ABs also represent career highs. But it gets better: With 11 more games played and nine more runs scored, Weeks will have set career records in games, PAs, ABs, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, and total bases.
And oh by the way, he's done all of this while also leading the league in being hit by a pitch. Pretty sturdy for an ordinarily injury-proned guy.
With the season Weeks is having in mind, let's have a look at the Top 10 Most Shocking Statistics from the 2010 Season.
10. Yovani Gallardo's ERA
Yovani Gallardo has a 2.97 ERA pitching in one of the most pitcher-hostile environments in baseball.
Yes, the Ballpark in Arlington and Coors Field are worse hitter parks than Miller Park. But no team does more to undermine their pitchers than the Milwaukee Brewers (okay, maybe the Astros and Orioles, but let's stay on task).
The Brewers currently allow the third-most runs per game in baseball, and only the Orioles have allowed more hits on the season.
No other Brewers starter has an ERA below 4.50, and two of them–Manny Parra and Chris Narveson–are well over 5.00. Of six Brewers to start six or more games, only Gallardo is allowing less than a hit per inning pitched.
Meanwhile, Yovani is striking out 9.9 batters per nine innings, allowing a comparatively-paltry 8.1 hits per nine, and has the team's only two complete games and shutouts.
And, Gallardo is 6-1 with a 2.33 ERA on the road.
If Yovani Gallardo pitched in Florida, St. Louis, San Francisco, or San Diego, we'd be talking Cy Young Award.
9. Mat Latos' Road Record
Since moving into Petco Park, the San Diego Padres have built their pitching staff around guys who could look great at Petco and survive on the road. And so it was with Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Brian Lawrence, et al.
And so, for that matter, it is with Clayton Richard, Wade LeBlanc, and Jon Garland.
But Mat Latos, in his first full year as a starter at the tender age of 22, has a road ERA of 2.40 in 14 road starts, compared with a home ERA of 2.19 in just eight home starts.
Wanna know why the Padres have surprised everyone in baseball in 2010?
8. Cole Hamels' 7-9 Record
In 2008, Cole Hamels truly arrived on the scene for the Philadelphia Phillies, enjoying a breakout year and leading the team to a World Series Championship.
In 2009, Hamels basically took the year off. He never got his stuff under control and never got consistent at any point during the season. During the playoffs he famously announced, much to the chagrin of his teammates and the ire of his fans, that he just couldn't wait for the season to be over.
In 2010, Hamels is getting something of a karmic payback for his 2009 season. Cole has been "on" since about the middle of May; in 110.1 innings pitched since May 16th Hamels has a 2.85 ERA, a .225 batting average against, and 108 strikeouts to go with only 31 walks.
But to look at his record—7-9 overall and 4-7 during that stretch—you'd think Hamels was having a bad year.
One can only hope that Hamels and his offense will get on the same page before October.
7. Ivan Rodriguez's Double Plays
This has been a fabulous year for the old "GDP" statistic, which is not "Gross Domestic Product" but rather "Grounded into Double Play."
Billy Butler has 25 double plays in 116 games; Wilson Valdez has 15 in only 274 plate appearances; and in an otherwise resurgent season, Adrian Beltre is on a terrific pace in Boston.
But the most GDP-tastic player of 2010 is, without a doubt, Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge leads the National League in GDP with 21 despite having played only 84 games (316 PAs).
Since the GDP became a statistic in the 1930's, only two players have ever finished a season with over 20 GDP and less than 350 plate appearances: Eddie Williams in 1995 and Chris Cannizzaro in 1971.
And, oh by the way, Pudge's next GDP will move him into a tie for second place all time with Hank Aaron, and he only needs 23 more (about a season's worth) to tie Cal Ripken, Jr., for the most all time.
6. Alex Rodriguez's RBI
It is no insult to Alex Rodriguez or the New York Yankees to acknowledge that A-Rod is having a down year. He is on pace to set career lows in a wide variety of statistics, including batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, and runs scored.
He's not on pace to set a career low in RBI though. In fact, with 97 RBI through Sunday's games, he currently...leads all of Major League Baseball?!?!?!
It's true. Despite having the worst year of his career, A-Rod is currently leading guys like Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Josh Hamilton in RBI.
In fact, only Cabrera, with 95, is really even close to A-Rod.
The crazy thing is that A-Rod has had some amazing seasons–2005, 2000, 2003–in which he didn't sniff the RBI title. That he would win it in 2010 is kinda shocking...
...and probably says as much about the season Robinson Cano is having as much as anything.
5. Joakim Soria's Saves
Nine major league pitchers currently have 29 or more saves on the season.
Eight of them—Heath Bell, Rafael Soriano, Brian Wilson, Neftali Feliz, Francisco Cordero, Matt Capps, Billy Wagner, and Jonathan Papelbon—are very much in the playoff hunt.
One of them—Joakim Soria—leads the AL and is tied for second in the major leagues with 33 saves for a team that has won only 49 games.
Other than Todd Jones, who tied for the AL lead in saves in 2000, the last player from a losing team to lead the AL in saves outright was, sadly, Dan Quisenberry of the Kansas City Royals.
Quite a history those folks in KC are putting together.
4. Ichiro Suzuki's Runs Scored
Ichiro Suzuki keeps plugging along here in America, and 2010 looks like it will be his tenth season (out of 10) with 200 or more hits.
But check this out:
With 50 runs scored at present, Ichiro is currently on pace to finish the year with more than 200 hits but less than 70 runs scored.
The only other player to accomplish that feat in the history of Major League Baseball was George Sisler, who did it in 1929 for the 56-98 Boston Braves.
3. Jose Bautista's 36 Home Runs
It is difficult to encapsulate all the reasons that Jose Bautista's 2010 numbers are, to put it mildly, improbable.
First of all, consider the man. In six major league seasons, Bautista's career high for home runs was 16, and he'd hit between 13 and 15 in three other years.
Bautista's career high for slugging coming into this season was .420; this year his slugging percentage is .594.
Second of all, consider the league. Bautista has 36 home runs and will almost certain hit more than 40, with an outside shot at 50. No other American Leaguer has gotten to 30 yet, and only five other hitters in the AL even have 25 at this point.
This comes on top of the fact that no AL hitter has topped 40 home runs since 2007, a period of over two seasons.
It's almost like a secret memo went around the American League that instructed all of the AL's best home run hitters to stop hitting home runs so they could make the steroid issue disappear, and no one gave the memo to Bautista.
But Bautista is no one-trick pony. He is also third in the AL in RBI, and currently leads the league in both bases on balls and outfield assists.
2. Cliff Lee's Strikeout-To-Walk Ratio
Okay, here's a little baseball history for you.
The single-season record for best strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB) was set by Bret Saberhagen in 1994. That was, of course, a strike-shortened year, but Bret did manage to pitch 177 innings, so whatever. His record stands at 11.0 (143K/13BB).
The second place finisher is also the third place finisher: In 1883 and 1884, Jim Whitney of the Boston Beaneaters (now Atlanta Braves) posted a 9.86 K/BB and a 10.00 K/BB in consecutive seasons. In 1883, he pitched 514.0 innings and struck out 345 batters; the following year he pitched "only" 336.0 innings and struck out 270 batters.
Of course, in 1883 you needed eight balls to draw a walk, and in 1884 you needed six. Oh, and batters were allowed to call for "high" or "low" balls, but whatever. Point being, the game was different back then.
The fourth through ninth place finishers on this list are Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez twice, Greg Maddux, and two 19th century pitchers.
Only Whitney and Saberhagen have ever finished the year with a ratio over 10-to-1, and neither of those seasons were seasons that compare to the modern day standard of baseball.
What's the point of all this?
Cliff Lee's current K/BB is 15.22-to-1, on the strength of 137 strikeouts and nine walks!
But wait: Of his nine walks, two of them have been intentional.
What Lee is doing is simply unfathomable. It defied all logic, it beats all odds, it sets a new paradigm.
It defies words.
1. Buster Posey's...Everything.
What in the name of Kevin Maas is going on here?
No wait, I take it back; Kevin Maas was never this good.
There were four players picked ahead of Buster Posey in the 2008 MLB Draft. Two of them are struggling through their first season in the majors in 2010, and the other two are deep in the minors.
The fifth overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft was Matt Wieters, the wunder-kind catcher that Baseball America ranked as the top prospect in all of baseball heading into the 2009 season.
Wieters is currently hitting .242 with a .690 OPS.
Meanwhile, Posey has become San Francisco's best hitter overnight. After ripping apart Triple-A for the first half of the season, Posey arrived in San Francisco and was so apparently-ready that the Giants traded away Bengie Molina; you just don't trade away a Molina brother unless you're sure about what you have.
And the Giants are sure.
In 68 major league games, Posey had nine home runs, 14 doubles, 43 RBI, and 35 runs. He is hitting .337 with a .386 on-base percentage and a .902 OPS.
But he ain't just a hitter.
Posey has also thrown out 16 out of 39 would-be base-stealers, for a 41 percent caught-stealing rate. His 16 caught-stealings are eighth in the National League, and he has only started 37 games at catcher. Amongst qualifying catchers, Yadier Molina leads the league with a 48 percent caught-stealing rate; Posey would be fourth if he qualified.
This guy looks to be the real deal: a real live, fully-formed hitting-and-defense catcher.
And he's only 23 years old.
It is simply the most shocking thing to happen to Major League Baseball in 2010.