Monthly Archives: March 2013

Opening Day Nuggetpalooza!

Opening-Day-2013

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s at least one nugget on each of the 2013 openers:

* – Rangers at Astros

– Houston has lost six straight openers and 7 of their last 8.

– Texas has homered in 10 straight openers, which is a club record. The Rangers have not opened up on the road since 2008, but they’ve lost 8 of their last 9 road openers, dating back to 1994.

* – Red Sox at Yankees

– New York has opened at home 11 times since 1986, winning all 11 games.

– The Yankees have homered in their last 14 straight openers, the longest such streak in MLB history:

14 – Yankees (1999-2012)
10 – Rangers (2003-2012)
10 – Reds (1963-1972)
8 – Braves (1954-1961)

Since 1920, the Red Sox have opened their season against the Yankees in New York 13 times and have gone 3-10, never scoring more than four runs in any of those games. The three wins came in 1935 (1-0), 1964 (4-3), and 1970 (4-3).

* – Marlins at Nationals

– This will be just the sixth time the Marlins have opened on the road and they’re 1-4 in their first five such games with their only win coming at Washington in 2007.

– Washington has allowed 9+ runs in three of their last six opening day home games.

* – Padres at Mets

– San Diego has opened on the road five times since 2004 and have gone 3-2, hitting 10 home runs in those games.

– Since 1971, the Mets have opened at home 22 times and are a ridiculous 19-3 in those games. They’ve allowed an average of 2.9 runs per game in those 22 games. That figure includes two openers in which they allowed 12 and 15 runs. Take those out, and the average drops to 1.8.

* – Cubs at Pirates

– The Cubs have hit .297 in openers in the 2000’s, the second highest mark in that span:

.304 – Cardinals
.297 – Cubs
.291 – Rays
.289 – Yankees

– Pittsburgh has opened up at home 13 times since 1979 and have managed just four wins in those games.

* – Rockies at Brewers

– Colorado has won four of the last five times that they’ve opened up on the road.

– Milwaukee lost despite 10+ hits in their 2009, 2010, and 2012 openers. Prior to 2009, they were 13-2 when they collected 10 or more hits in their opening game.

* – Angels at Reds

– The Reds have not been shut out in their opener since 1953, a stretch of 59 straight years. The other longest current streaks without being shut out in their opening game:

59 – Reds (1953)
49 – Mets (1963)
40 – Rangers (1972)
36 – Red Sox (1976)
32 – Yankees (1980)

Note this: The Phillies, Pirates, and Braves were all shut out last season in their opening game. Over the last 33 seasons, SOMEBODY has been shut out in their opener every season except 1999.

* – Tigers at Twins

– The Twins have not pitched a shut out (individual or combined) in an opener since 1970, the longest current streak in the majors:

42 – Twins (1970)
38 – Cubs (1974)
36 – Blue Jays (never)

– Detroit has opened their season against the Twins four times since 1996 and lost all four games.

* – Royals at White Sox

– From 1977 through 1983, the Royals opened the season on the road five times and clubbed multiple homers in all five of those games. Since then, they’ve played 12 such openers, hitting one homer in six and going homerless in six.

– This is just the eighth time since 1988 that the White Sox have opened the season at home, but they are 6-1 in their previous seven.

* – Giants at Dodgers

– In the Dodgers’ 26 opening day games at home since 1960, they’ve managed to hit more than one home run exactly once (1999).

* – Phillies at Braves

– The Braves’ .239 average in openers since 2000 is the third lowest in the league:

.198 – Mariners
.207 – A’s
.239 – Braves

* – Mariners at A’s

– Seattle has not collected 10 or more hits in an opener since 1998, a streak of 14 straight openers. Tied with the 1974-1987 Braves for the longest such streak ever.

* – Cardinals at Diamondbacks

– The Diamondbacks have hit 2+ home runs in their last five openers, tying the longest such streak ever (at least since 1916). The other team to hit multiple homers in five straight openers was the 1953-1957 Brooklyn Dodgers.

– Since 1995, the Cardinals have hit .318 when in opening day road games, the highest such average in that span in such games:

.318 – Cardinals
.306 – Cubs
.297 – Tigers

* – This is more of a clip-and-save note as the A’s open at home this year: Oakland has opened on the road three times since 2000 and have been shut out all three times.

Enjoy all the baseball!

Stats: Escaping jams – The other side of squanders

Yesterday, we examined which teams were prone to squandering their scoring opportunities last season (a squander is defined as an inning in which no runs are scored despite putting a runner in scoring position with no outs). Today, we’ll find out which teams’ pitchers were able to “wiggle off the hook”, the other side of an offensive squander.

Here are all 30 teams, ranked by how often they were able to escape jams (RISP, none out) without any runs scoring in 2012:

Def Squander 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only did the Red Sox allow opponents’ the most RISP/no out innings of any team in the American League and the second most in the majors (Colorado, 238), Boston rarely was able to escape the jams without damage as opponents failed to score only 26% of the time, third lowest/worst in the majors.

For those of you still wondering what sorcery it was that allowed Oakland to make the playoffs last season, part of that story can be found in the table above. Only one AL team allowed fewer RISP/no outs innings than the A’s (Tampa Bay, 173), and Oakland escaped a whopping 43.6% of those without allowing any runs. If I’m an A’s fan, this makes me awfully nervous heading into 2013 because duplicating that would appear to be an awful lot to ask.

At home, Boston’s “escapability” was even worse, as opponents’ failed to score in just 24% of their opportunities, tied for the lowest/worst home squander rate in the majors:

Def Squander 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s look at one last thing. If you can’t escape a RISP/no outs jam without allowing a run, the next best thing is limiting the damage. Here’s how often all 30 teams were able to allow no more than one run in those opportunities:

Def Squander 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My take away from this table is that four of the five teams that were best at limiting the damage to one run or less made the playoffs in 2012.

Comments?¬† Suggestions? Something you would like to see in a future post? Leave a comment here. Or shoot me an email (gary@nuggetpalooza.com). Or call me out on Twitter (@nuggetpalooza). I’d love to hear from you.

Big thanks to Baseball-Reference for making this research possible!

Stats: Squanders of promising innings

Let’s take a break from Red Sox Reviews today and examine squanders of promising innings:

We’ve all done it. You’re favorite team puts runners in scoring position with nobody out, then fails to score. And you think, “Man. It seems like they squander these chances ALL THE TIME. More than any team in the league, I’m SURE of it!”

Squander

 

 

 

 

 

So let’s take a look at squanders and see who REALLY lets those run scoring opportunities slip away. I defined an opportunity (i.e. a promising inning) as any inning in which a team puts runners in scoring position with no outs, then I checked to see how many runs they scored in those innings.

Last season, teams put a runner in scoring position with no outs in 6,015 innings and failed to score in 1,921 of those innings, a squander rate of 31.9%. Here is a team by team squander rate summary (ranked from highest to lowest squander rate):

Off Squander 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, if you’re a fan of the Diamondbacks, then YOUR conclusions about how Arizona no doubt leads the league in squander rate were correct as they failed to score in 37% of their promising innings. Note that the Indians led the league in total squanders with 82, thanks to 21 more opportunities than Arizona. Their squander rate (36.3%) was second highest in the league.

The Red Sox ranked fourth in the majors with 221 opportunities, but their 34.4% squander rate (6th worst) likely cost them several wins over the course of the season.

Boston actually suffered through a streak of SEVEN straight squanders in July, failing to convert opportunities in the 7th and 9th innings on July 8 against the Yankees heading into the break, then going 0-for-5 over July 13, 14, 15 against the Rays after the break. It was the second longest such streak in the majors last season. The Indians had a streak of eight straight squanders in August.

Who had the longest streak of cashing in opportunities without a squander? The Orioles scored in 17 straight opportunities in September. Three teams (Kansas City, Philadelphia, Texas) had streaks of 15 straight. Boston’s longest such streak was 11 games. Four teams (Yankees, Twins, Padres, Braves) never cashed in more than eight straight chances.

Notice that the Yankees’ squander rate (36.1%) was third highest in the majors, which is fairly awful, but when they did cash in, they tended to cash in big, scoring three or more runs in almost a quarter of their opportunities, the highest big inning rate in the league:

Off Squander 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Sox’ squander rate on the road last season was 39.3%, the second highest rate in the league:

Off Squander 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at which teams pitching staffs and defenses were able to wiggle out of jams. Let’s call them the “Squander Enablers”.

 

 

 

 

Red Sox Reviews: Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront

In today’s installment of Red Sox Reviews, take a look at some neat nuggets on two pitchers expected to be in the rotation when the 2013 season starts, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront:

CLAY BUCHHOLZ

p-535927-clay-buchholz-baseball-card-2008-topps-6-national-baseball-card-day-boston-red-sox-r-aw-47317* – From mid-July through mid-August last season, Buchholz had a streak of seven consecutive starts with a “game score” of 58 or better (3-1, 2.03 ERA, 53 IP, 35 H in that stretch). He became just the seventh Red Sox pitcher to have such a stretch of seven games or more since 1950, joining Pedro Martinez (who holds the club record with a streak of 13 straight), Roger Clemens, Luis Tiant, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, John Tudor, and Jose Santiago.

Note this: No other Red Sox starter had such a streak longer than three games last season.

* – From 2007 through 2011, opposing hitters went just 12-for-76 (.158) on “clutch ground balls” (ground balls with two outs and runners in scoring position). Then in 2012, they went 7-for-25 (.280).

* – Over the last three seasons, 35 of the 44 home runs (77%) allowed by Buchholz have come with nobody on base, the second highest solo shot percentage in the majors in that span (min. 40 home runs allowed):

78.4% – Jeremy Hellickson
77.3% – Clay Buchholz
75.6% – Ivan Nova
75.0% – Roy Halladay

Note this: Other interesting solo shot percentages in that three-year span include Josh Beckett (58.3%), Jon Lester (54.2%), Daisuke Matsuzaka (42.9%), John Lackey (58.3%), Felix Doubront (64.3%).

* – Buchholz is one of only five pitchers ever to have two starts in which he allowed five or more home runs (last year against the Yankees and 2009 against Toronto). Two of the other four to have multiple five-dinger starts were Red Sox pitchers (Tim Wakefield, Beckett) while the other two were Jeff Weaver (both came against the Red Sox) and Pat Hentgen (against the Red Sox and Indians).

* – In his career, Buchholz has faced 30 batters in road games with the bases loaded and has not struck out any of them. Since 1973, 21 different Red Sox pitchers have faced 30 or more such batters and all of them have at least three punch outs in that situation. The highest strikeout percentage among Red Sox hurlers in that situation (min. 30 such batters faced) belongs to Pedro Martinez (35%; 13-of-37). Here are the lowest (same minimum):

0.0% – Clay Buchholz (0-of-30)
5.2% – Bob Stanley (6-of-115)
9.1% – Bill Lee (3-of-33)
9.1% – Bob Ojeda (3-of-33)

FELIX DOUBRONT

felix-doubront* – After failing to strike out 10 or more batters in any of his first 30 career starts, Doubront fanned 11 and 10 in his final two outings last September. The rest of the Red Sox staff managed only one start of 10+ strikeouts during the entire 2012 season.

Note this: Doubront became just the fourth left-handed starter to strike out 10 or more in consecutive starts for the Red Sox, joining Jon Lester (2009 and 2010), Bruce Hurst (three times over 1985-1986 span), and Mickey Harris (1941).

* – Doubront received 6.5 runs of support per 27 outs while he was in the game last year, the third highest mark in the majors last season (min. 150 innings pitched):

6.5 – Scott Diamond, MIN
6.5 – Lance Lynn, STL
6.1 – Felix Doubront, BOS
6.1 – Gio Gonzalez, WAS
6.1 – Derek Lowe, CLE/NYY

* – Doubront allowed four home runs to batters in the leadoff spot in the order last year. Only three pitchers allowed more: Detroit’s Justin Verlander (7), Baltimore’s Tommy Hunter (6), and Houston’s Bud Norris (5).

* – Yankees’ all-star second baseman Robinson Cano does not have a hit against Doubront in 14 career plate appearances. It’s his second most appearances without a hit against any pitcher:

18 – Pedro Martinez (0-for-17)
14 – Felix Doubront (0-for-11)
11 – Gio Gonzalez (0-for-9)
10 – Daniel Bard (0-for-8)

* – In 29 starts last year, Doubront never walked (or hit) the opponent’s first batter of the game. He became the just the fourth Red Sox starter in the last 20 years to start 25 or more games and never issue a free pass or HBP to the first batter, joining David Wells (2005), Derek Lowe (2002), and Danny Darwin (1993).

Check back soon for more Red Sox Reviews!

 

Red Sox Reviews – David Ortiz

Today’s installment of Red Sox Reviews first looks at another member of the Red Sox who missed a significant¬† portion of last season due to injury, designated hitter David Ortiz:

ortiz card* – Ortiz faced 47 full counts in 2012 and struck out in only three of them, once every 15.7 such plate appearances, the highest/best rate in the AL:

15.7 – David Ortiz, BOS
13.0 – Ben Revere, MIN
12.0 – Jemile Weeks, OAK

Here’s the thing: Over the 15 previous seasons since Ortiz broke in, only five AL players had a lower/worse career strikeout rate in such situations than Ortiz’ rate of one strikeout every 4.2 full counts (min. 800 full counts faced):

3.4 – Jim Thome
3.9 – Jorge Posada
4.0 – Nick Swisher
4.0 – Carlos Delgado
4.0 – Manny Ramirez

* – Ortiz’ put up an OPS of 1.245 against the “best” lefties last season (left-handed pitchers who faced 200+ batters and put up an ERA below 4.00), the highest in the AL (min. 50 such PA):

1.245 – David Ortiz, BOS (.403 avg; 6 HR in 70 PA)
1.093 – Cody Ross, BOS (.328 avg; 6 HR in 67 PA)
1.045 – Adam Dunn, CHW (.238 avg.; 10 HR in 84 PA)
1.033 – Billy Butler, KC (.353; 6 HR in 99 PA)

* – Ortiz hit .455 (15-for-33) with four home runs and a 1.538 OPS in the second inning of games last season, the highest such OPS in the majors (min. 35 such PA):

1.538 – David Ortiz, BOS
1.350 – Salvador Perez, KC
1.249 – Austin Jackson, DET

Note this: As the cleanup hitter for the Red Sox, if Ortiz batted in the second inning, he generally led off the frame, so despite 15 hits and 10 for extra bases, he had only six RBI in the second inning. Four of those RBI were Ortiz himself on home runs.

* – Ortiz went 17-for-43 (.395) with six home runs on Mondays last season. His 1.350 OPS on Mondays was the highest in the majors (min. 50 Monday PA):

1.350 – David Ortiz, BOS
1.246 – Dustin Pedroia, BOS
1.194 – Matt Holliday, STL
1.185 – Buster Posey, SF

Want to make a comment or suggestion? Feel free to leave it here or find me on twitter (@Nuggetpalooza). Thanks for reading and check back often for more!

Thanks to the wonderful site Baseball-Reference for their help in researching these statistics.

Red Sox Reviews – Will Middlebrooks

Next up in the Red Sox Reviews series is third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who’s rookie season in 2012 was cut short by a wrist injury. He’s a big key to the Red Sox’ hopes in 2013.

13-t-will-middlebrooks* – In 286 plate appearances last season, Middlebrooks pounded out 29 extra-base hits including 15 home runs. His .509 slugging percentage made him just the third Red Sox player ever to slug .500+ in 250 or more plate appearances in his rookie season:

.609 – Ted Williams, 1939
.530 – Tony Conigliaro, 1964
.509 – Will Middlebrooks, 2012

Note this: Only four other rookie third basemen ever have done it:

.634 – Ryan Braun, 2007
.539 – Bob Horner, 1978
.531 – Evan Longoria, 2008
.525 – David Wright, 2004
.509 – Will Middlebrooks, 2012

* – Middlebrooks had 65 at bats last season where he fell behind 0-and-2, but he managed to hit .277 with five home runs and a .523 slugging percentage, the highest such slugging percentage in the majors last season (min. 50 such at bats):

.523 – Will Middlebrooks, BOS
.511 – Jose Reyes, MIA
.492 – Jonathan Lucroy, MIL

Note this: They’ve tracked that stat since 1988 and only one rookie has put up a higher slugging percentage after 0-and-2 counts than Middlebrooks in those 25 seasons (min. 50 such AB): James Loney, who slugged .563 after 0-and-2 counts for the Dodgers in 2007.

Note this too: Middlebrooks’ .523 slugging after 0-and-2 counts ranks third by a Red Sox in the 25 years that the stat has been tracked (same min.):

.588 – Trot Nixon, 2003
.538 – Jose Canseco, 1995
.523 – Will Middlebrooks, 2012
.510 – Manny Ramirez, 2001
.491 – Mike Greenwell, 1995

* – Although Middlebrooks put up respectable numbers on the road (.297 average, six home runs, .826 OPS), he struck out 34 times and walked just twice away from Fenway, the most strikeouts by any Red Sox non-pitcher with two or fewer walks ever:

34 – Will Middlebrooks, 2012 (2 walks)
22 – Mike Benjamin, 1997 (1 walk)
20 – Don Demeter, 1966 (1 walk)
18 – Bob Montgomery, 1975 (2 walks)

Note this: At Fenway, Middlebrooks struck out 36 times, but coaxed a much more respectable 11 walks.

* – Middlebrooks didn’t debut until May, and he collected 30 hits before the month of May was out, becoming just the 25th rookie since 1950 to get 30 or more hits in the first month in which he appeared. The other Red Sox on that list include Walt Dropo, who holds the record for hits in a debut month with 40 in May, 1950, and Shea Hillenbrand, who had 34 hits in April, 2001.

Note this: Only three rookies since 1950 have hit more home runs in the first calendar month in which they appeared than Middlebrooks’ six: Dropo (10), Albert Pujols (8; April, 2001), and Alvin Davis (7, April, 1984).

* – Of Middlebrooks’ 15 home runs, two-thirds (10) came with runners on base. Since 1974, it was just the eighth time that a Red Sox player has hit 15+ home runs and had two-thirds or more come with runners on base:

76% – Kevin Youkilis, 2011 (13-of-17)
72% – Kevin Youkilis, 2008 (21-of-29)
71% – Manny Ramirez, 2005 (32-of-45)
70% – Nick Esasky, 1989 (21-of-30)
69% – Bill Buckner, 1985 (11-of-16)
68% – Jim Rice, 1984 (19-of-28)
67% – Dwight Evans, 1988 (14-of-21)
67% – Will Middlebrooks, 2012 (10-of-15)

* – Middlebrooks’ .478 average in the fifth inning last season (11-for-23) was the highest in the majors (min. 25 PA):

.478 – Will Middlebrooks, BOS
.469 – Ryan Braun, MIL
.433 – Daniel Murphy, NYM

Note this: It was the second highest fifth inning average by a Red Sox player in a season since 1950 (same minimum), trailing only Ted Williams, who hit .543 in the fifth in 1955, going 19-for-35 with seven home runs.

Be sure to check back often for the next installment of Red Sox Reviews!

 

Red Sox Reviews: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

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First up in the Red Sox Reviews series is catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who strikes out a lot, hits a lot of home runs, and sports the longest last name in the history of major league baseball.

* – 23 of Saltalamacchia’s 25 home runs came as a catcher in 2012, the third most ever by a Red Sox backstop:

26 – Carlton Fisk, 1977
24 – Jason Varitek, 2003
23 – Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 2012
22 – Rich Gedman, 1984
22 – Jason Varitek, 2005

* – Saltalamacchia struck out a career high 139 times in 2012, the most ever by a Red Sox catcher (13 more than Jason Varitek in 2004). In addition, he fanned once every 3.22 plate appearances, not only the lowest/worst mark ever by a Red Sox catcher, but the second lowest mark by ANY catcher since they began tracking the stat in 1913 (min. 400 PA):

3.03 – Kelly Shoppach, 2008 Indians
3.22 – Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 2012 Red Sox
3.30 – Miguel Olivo, 2009 Royals
3.34 – Mike Napoli, 2012 Rangers
3.40 – Gary Alexander, 1978 A’s/Indians

* – Salty had six home runs and a .973 OPS in June, the best single month of his career in both categories (min. 10 PA).

* – Salty hit just .205 on the road last season but clubbed 13 homers away from Fenway. It’s the second lowest road average by a player with 10 or more road home runs in club history:

.186 – Tony Armas, 1983 (19 home runs)
.205 – Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 2012 (13 home runs)
.206 – Lu Clinton, 1963 (12 home runs)
.213 – David Ortiz, 2009 (10 home runs)

Note this: The lowest road average in a single season in the majors by a player with 10 or more road homers is .165, by Rob Deer of the 1991 Tigers, who went just 38-for-230, but 13 of those 38 hits were home runs.

* РSaltalamacchia entered the 2012 season having batted in the 5th lineup spot just three times in his career, but he was 3-for-3 in those chances. Then last season he went 0-for-19 in the 5th spot, becoming just the third major leaguer to go hitless  in 19 or more at bats in one of the top five spots in the order since they began tracking the stat in 1974. The other two: Kelly Johnson (0-for-21 as #2 hitter for the 2009 Braves) and Darren Reed (0-for-19 as the #5 hitter for the 1992 Expos and Twins).

Note this: The most hitless at bats from a single lineup spot in a season (by a non-pitcher) is 0-for-39, by Andujar Cedeno of the 1994 Astros. Runner-up: Marty Castillo of the 1985 Tigers, who went 0-29 from the #8 spot.

* – Salty’s .107 average with two strikes was easily the lowest by a Red Sox since they began tracking the stat in 1988 (min. 200 such PA):

.107 – Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 2012
.130 – Jason Varitek, 2009
.131 – Mark Bellhorn, 2004
.143 – Jason Bay, 2009

* – On full counts in 2012, Saltalamacchia went an abysmal 2-for-48 (.042), the lowest such average in a single season in the 25 seasons that they’ve tracked the stat (min. 40 such AB):

.042 – Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 2012 Red Sox (2-for-48)
.043 – Darrell Evans, 1988 Tigers (2-for-46)
.048 – Jeremy Reed, 2005 Mariners (2-for-42)
.048 – Juan Samuel, 1988 Phillies (2-for-42)

Note this: Salty now has a .107 career average on full counts, easily the lowest such average in the league in that same span (min. 150 such AB):

.107 – Jarrod Saltalamacchia (20-for-188)
.134 – Jack Cust (48-for-359)
.147 – Mark McGwire (91-for-617)

Thanks for reading!

Next up later this week… third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

 

A new place for my stuff!

With a tip of the hat to the late George Carlin, I’ve found a new “place for my stuff”. Just in time for the new baseball season, I’ll be posting my stats nuggets here for the forseeable future.

Check back often, because next week I’ll be starting my Red Sox Reviews, with stats nuggets on each returning Red Sox player.

So if you enjoyed my work over the last four and a half years at WEEI.com, set your bookmarks, follow @nuggetpalooza on twitter, and tell your friends!