Stats & Info: MLB

Top stats to know: Giants dominate Pirates

October, 2, 2014
Oct 2
The San Francisco Giants seem to be at their best when they’re faced with an elimination scenario.

And they have a pitcher who seems unfazed by any situation or opposing fan base.

The Giants won their seventh straight such game, shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-0 behind Madison Bumgarner in the National League wild-card game on Wednesday night.

The Giants advance to face the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series, which begins Friday in Washington.

Elias Sports Bureau stat of the night
The Giants’ seven straight postseason wins when facing elimination match the Kansas City Royals for the longest streak all-time. Both streaks are active, as the Royals extended their streak on Tuesday.

Bumgarner’s big night
Bumgarner became the third pitcher to notch a shutout with at least 10 strikeouts in a winner-take-all postseason game, joining Sandy Koufax (for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Minnesota Twins in the 1965 World Series) and Justin Verlander (for the Detroit Tigers against the Oakland Athletics in the 2012 American League Division Series).

It was the fifth shutout by a Giants pitcher in any postseason game since the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958, the first since Tim Lincecum dominated the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS.

He’s one of three Giants pitchers to throw at least seven scoreless innings, with at least eight strikeouts. Bumgarner has two such games (he did it in the 2012 World Series against the Tigers). Hall-of-Famer Christy Mathewson and Lincecum have one each.

Bumgarner cruised through much of the game against a Pirates team that ranked 27th in the majors in batting average against left-handed pitchers, finishing it in 109 pitches.

He threw only 28 pitches through the first three innings, the fewest he has ever thrown through three complete innings of any game in his career.

Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison, who hit .315 during the regular season, was 2-for-4. The rest of the Pirates were 2-for-28.

Difference-maker: The Brandons
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford and first baseman Brandon Belt combined for seven RBIs.

Crawford became the first shortstop in postseason history to hit a grand slam. He’s the second Giants player to hit a grand slam in a winner-take-all postseason game, joining Buster Posey, who had one in the 2012 NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds. There have been only three other such grand slams in postseason history (two by the Boston Red Sox and one by the New York Yankees).

Crawford had no home runs in 56 career at-bats against Pirates pitchers prior to Wednesday.

Belt had three career RBIs in 40 regular-season at-bats against the Pirates and matched that total in this game.

The two combined to make some fun history. It’s the third time in postseason history that teammates with the same first name (or at least the name they go by) had at least three RBIs in a postseason game. The others were Jack Barry and Jack Coombs for the 1910 Philadelphia Athletics and Tito Landrum (actual first name, Terry) and Terry Pendleton in the 1985 NLCS for the St. Louis Cardinals.



Top stats to know: Royals win an epic one

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
Sal Perez went from potential goat to baseball hero in the span of a couple of at-bats.
Welcome to the baseball postseason.

Welcome to a postseason that begins with one of the sport’s all-time epic games, which ended on Salvador Perez’s 12th-inning walk-off hit for the Kansas City Royals. it went just past the glove of the top-fielding third baseman in baseball this season, Josh Donaldson of the Oakland Athletics (who led major league third basemen with 20 defensive runs saved.

That capped a rally from four runs down in the eighth and a run down in the 12th. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that it made them the first team to come back from four or more runs down in the eighth inning or later to win a winner-take-all postseason game.

This was only the second time a winner-take-all postseason game ended in the 12th inning or later. The other was in 1924 of the World Series when the Washington Senators made Walter Johnson a winner. Legend has it that a ball hit a pebble and bounced over the head of the New York Giants third baseman for the winning hit in the 12th.

It was the first walk-off hit in a postseason winner-take-all game since Nyjer Morgan had one for the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Perez was 0-for-5 in the game prior to that at-bat, with a key strikeout in the eighth inning. He had only one regular-season walk-off hit in his career, against the team the Royals will face next, the Los Angeles Angels. Both the strikeout and hit came against pitches out of the strike zone (as you can see in the image above). Perez chased pitches out of the strike zone more than any hitter in the American League (42 percent of the time).

Welcome to the postseason, Christian Colon, who had the tying hit and scored the winning run. Colon had played in only one of the Royals 24 regular-season games since Sept. 3 due to a broken finger.

Welcome to the postseason, Eric Hosmer, who started the 12th-inning rally with a triple off the left-field fence. Hosmer had only one triple in the 2014 regular season. He became the fourth player to reach base at least five times in his postseason debut, joining Alan Trammell (1984 Tigers), Frank Thomas (1993 White Sox) and Johnny Damon (2001 Athletics).

Welcome to the postseason, Brandon Finnegan, who pitched 2 1/3 innings of relief to extend the game in extra innings. Finnegan was the Royals first-round pick in this year’s draft after pitching in the College World Series for TCU. He was the only first-round pick from the 2014 draft to pitch in the majors this season.

Welcome to the postseason for a different style of baseball, in which speed can overcome power. The Royals tied a postseason single-game record with their seven steals, matching the mark set by the 1907 Cubs and the 1975 Reds.

They overcame a one-man show from Athletics slugger Brandon Moss, who had two home runs and an Athletics record five RBIs. He's only the second player in postseason history to have five RBIs in a loss, joining Milt Thompson of the 1993 Phillies (in a 15-14 loss to the Blue Jays).

Overall, it's a heck of a welcome back to the postseason to the Royals. By our count it was 10,565 days and 42 minutes between postseason wins for them.


Top stats to know: Giants vs. Pirates

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
The Pittsburgh Pirates closed the 2014 season as one of the hottest teams in baseball. The San Francisco Giants ran hot and cold through much of the season but managed to hang on to a wild-card spot. They hope to draw upon their past postseason successes when they visit the Pirates on Wednesday.

Here are some of the key stats our broadcast crew will be talking about, with first pitch scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN Radio.

Volquez among the best the past two months
The Pirates are riding the hot hand (or hot arm) of starting pitcher Edinson Volquez in their biggest game of the season.

In his last 10 starts this season, Volquez was 5-0 with a 1.36 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, with only three home runs allowed in 66 innings pitched.

Volquez has not faced the Giants this season but faced them five times last season with the San Diego Padres, posting a 6.08 ERA. Among those with good career numbers against him are Brandon Belt (8-for-18 with a home run), Pablo Sandoval (6-for-13 with three doubles) and Buster Posey (5-for-9 with two doubles).

Madison Bumgarner multi-talented
Giants starter Madison Bumgarner has a good postseason pedigree. He’s 3-2 with a 3.79 ERA in his career in the postseason, including 15 scoreless innings in the World Series.

Bumgarner pitched very well away from AT&T Park in 2014. He was 11-4 with a 2.22 ERA in road starts this season. The 11 wins tied Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright for the most in the majors. The ERA ranked sixth best.

In addition to being one of the game’s top pitchers, Bumgarner was arguably baseball’s best hitting pitcher this season.

That’s a little odd considering he entered the season with a .138 career batting average and two home runs in 224 at-bats. He hit .258 with four home runs (and 27 strikeouts) in 66 at-bats in 2014 (he’s a more likely threat to get a hit than Volquez, who was 2-for-53 this season).

Bumgarner’s four home runs were the most by a Giants pitcher since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. He has shown the ability to go deep against pitches on the inner half and outer half of the plate.

Pirates secret weapon: Josh Harrison
The star of stars for the Pirates is center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who followed up his MVP season of 2013 with a similar output in 2014, leading the NL with a .952 OPS.

But one of the players who came out of nowhere to spark the offense in a big way was utility man Josh Harrison, who settled in at third base after Pedro Alvarez struggled.

Harrison finished second in the NL with a .315 batting average (including .345 against left-handed pitching), had 58 extra-base hits, 18 stolen bases and an .837 OPS. He also had 14 defensive runs saved, with eight in 72 games at third base.

Giants secret weapon: Joe Panik
The Giants have gotten really good postseason production in the recent past from their second basemen, so when Marco Scutaro lasted only five games upon his return to the team in July, there was cause for concern.

But the play of second baseman Joe Panik, upon his recall from Triple-A, alleviated that. Panik hit .305 in 73 games and closed the season with 13 hits (and a .333 batting average) in his last nine games.

The Giants played eight other players at second base this season. They combined to hit .180.

History of note: Hot in postseason, hot at home
The Giants have won seven straight postseason games, the longest postseason winning streak in franchise history.

The Pirates were 51-30 at home, tied with the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals for the best such record in the National League.


Top stats to know: AL wild-card preview

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
It took the Kansas City Royals 29 years to make it back to the postseason after they won the 1985 World Series.

So it figures the guy they have to beat to advance to the ALDS is one who could be considered their ultimate kryptonite.

The Oakland Athletics looked like they would be the top team in baseball a couple months ago, but they’ve since sputtered to the finish. On Tuesday, they’ll try to prove they’re the team that started the season, not the one that finished it. They'll be fighting some history, though -- they're 0-6 in winner-take-all postseason games with Billy Beane as general manager.

Here’s a look at some of the key statistical storylines for this year’s AL Wild Card Game.

Jon Lester owns the Royals … and the postseason
The Athletics traded their cleanup hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, at the trade deadline to get the pitcher they felt was best suited for a game such as this: left-hander Jon Lester.

Lester had a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts with the Athletics. He’s 9-3 with a 1.84 ERA in his career against the Royals (best in MLB), including 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA against Kansas City this season. He no-hit the Royals in 2008.

Lester also has a 1.97 ERA in 11 career postseason starts, and he’s 4-1 with a 2.37 ERA all-time when facing James Shields, the pitcher on the mound for the Royals on Tuesday.

James Shields: Better away from home?
The Royals traded their top prospect, Wil Myers, to get Shields prior to the 2013 season, with the hope he’d pitch in a game such as this.

Interestingly, Shields has not had a lot of success in his home ballpark the past two seasons. He’s 7-12 with a 3.95 ERA at Kauffman Stadium since the start of the past season and 20-5 with a 2.52 ERA elsewhere.

Shields is 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA in six career postseason starts.

He is, however, coming in hot. He has a 2.14 ERA in his past six starts. Opponents are hitting only .199 against him in that span.

He also has a 2.03 ERA in his past four starts against the Athletics.

Royals difference-maker: Outfield defense
The Kansas City offense isn’t one that scores a lot of runs, so the Royals will likely need to keep this game low-scoring. Their outfield defense is capable of making a big impact in that regard.

Royals outfielders led the major leagues this season with 46 Defensive Runs Saved.

Left fielder Alex Gordon accounted for 27 of those, the fourth most DRS of anyone in the major leagues and the most by a left fielder. Lorenzo Cain, who can play center or right field, depending whether the Royals play Jarrod Dyson or Norichika Aoki, ranked just behind Gordon with 24.

The Royals excel at making the great play. They led the majors with 40 Web Gems. Gordon’s 13 were one shy of the major-league lead shared by his teammate, Alcides Escobar, and Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.

Athletics difference-maker: Josh Donaldson
The Athletics lineup features one of the best players in the game in third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson ranked second to Mike Trout in Wins Above Replacement in the American League this season (7.4). He did that on the strength of power-hitting (29 home runs) and defense (20 Defensive Runs Saved).

Donaldson hit 18 home runs in road games this season, a total that ranked fourth in the American League.

X factor: A guy hitting .120?
In infielder Jayson Nix, Royals manager Ned Yost has an interesting player at his disposal, if he chooses to use him.

Nix was 10-for-83 in the regular season, but he is a .308 hitter with three home runs in 26 at-bats against Lester. The home runs all came on fastballs, two of which were 94 mph or faster.

Did you know? Long waits
Each team has a story about a long drought. The Royals haven't been to the playoffs since 1985, when they won the World Series. They had the longest MLB stint without a postseason appearance prior to clinching a spot this past week.

For the Athletics, Adam Dunn will finally make his postseason debut. Dunn has played in 2,001 regular-season games, the most of any active player without a postseason appearance. The Elias Sports Bureau notes the most recent player to play in more before making his postseason debut was Hall of Famer Billy Williams, who played in 2,368 before he played for the Athletics in the 1975 ALCS.


Kernels: Regular season in review

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
•  Four-strikeout games: Often called the "golden sombrero", the past eight seasons have been the most prolific in history for these games, and the 170 this year shattered last year's mark of 154. Prior to 2007, there had been only one season with over 100, Giancarlo Stanton, George Springer, and Javier Baez led the way with five such games each; the only known player with more in a season was Phillies All-Star Dick Allen who had seven in the famous 1968 "Year of the Pitcher."

• Corey Kluber of the Indians collected 11 strikeouts in his final start on Friday to finish with 269, two shy of David Price for the major-league title. Both pitchers threw 11 games this season with 10 or more whiffs; across the majors there were 209 total this season. That number has increased for nine straight years, and is more than double the 99 from 2005.
•  Our favorite sign of offense being down: This season brought us seven occurrences of a nine-run inning, most recently by the Cardinals on August 30, but no team got to double digits in the entire season (that's over 43,000 innings!).

The last season without a single 10-run frame was 1958.

•  Twenty-two hitters reached on catcher's interference this season. Paul Goldschmidt was this year's champion at getting the call, with four awards. Tim Federowicz, Carlos Corporan, and Jason Castro each committed the error twice. Notice that Castro and Corporan are both Houston Astros, and you find that they took home the team title. It's their most in a season since 1983.

•  Twelve runners this year were hit by batted balls, the most since 2009. At least nobody made the mistake twice, although Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals was hit on May 27 and then hit the batted ball that struck Matt Carpenter on September 4.

•  Six batters played an entire game with zero at-bats this season, again the most since 2009. Matt Joyce posted the year's only five-walk nine-inning game, while Andrew McCutchen became only the sixth player in the live-ball era with zero at-bats, two walks, and two hit-by-pitches in a game. (And also the first of the six to be thrown out stealing.)

•  Adrian Beltre's bottom-of-the-9th shot on Thursday gave the Texas Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Athletics in the opener of the season's final series. It was the Rangers' first (and only) walk-off homer of 2014. We'd been waiting; since September 2 when the Mariners finally hit one, Texas had been the only team without a walk-off homer. It's the first time that all 30 teams hit at least one since the 2003 season. Overall there were 224 walk-offs this season, 15 less than last year.

•  Samuel Deduno registered his first career hit on Saturday; it was also the first hit by an Astros pitcher all season. Two teams-- Seattle and Oakland-- saw their pitching staff draw an 0-for-the-season; the Mariners haven't had a pitcher hit since June 2012 (Hector Noesi). Hurlers hit just 15 home runs the entire season, with Madison Bumgarner chipping in four including the only two grand slams. That's the fewest pitcher homers in a season since 1994 when there were seven. Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta both tripled on Wednesday, the first day with two pitcher triples since July 26, 2003, when Jason Isringhausen and Elmer Dessens did it.

•  Michael Cuddyer of the Colorado Rockies posted the only cycle of the 2014 season, but this is a shout-out to the 279 players who didn't get one. That's the number of "near-cycles" this season-- three of the four needed hits. As expected, the vast majority of those (204 in this case) needed the triple. Fifty-one players went single-double-triple but didn't homer, 16 needed the double, and eight needed the single-- including Chris Owings of the Diamondbacks who did it twice!

He's the first player to have two missed-by-the-single games in a season since Gregg Jefferies in 1988. The overall leaders in near-cycles were Miguel Cabrera and Anthony Rendon who each had five. Yoenis Cespedes missed once each by the homer, double, and single, but never needed the triple. He's the first player to do that in a season since Alex Gordon's rookie year in 2007.

•  If it seemed like the score 1-0 came up a lot this year, it did. Sixty-nine games were decided by that score, 21 more than last year and the most in a season since 1976. The Rays and Reds both played ten 1-0 games, and the Rays tied the Cardinals for most in the majors by winning six of them.

And the most memorable "first time since" note of the week? The Kansas City Royals are in the postseason for the first time since 1985. See you then.



Top stats to know: Jeter ends career with hit

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28

AP Photo/Chris O'MearaDerek Jeter's final totals leave him with a lot to smile about.
Derek Jeter’s esteemed major league career came to an end with an infield single in his second at-bat against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

After a great deal of celebration, his final statistical totals can be entered into the record books.

The most noteworthy of those are:

• Jeter finishes with 3,465 hits, the sixth-most in major-league history, the most by a player whose primary position was shortstop, and the most for a player on the New York Yankees. His 1,923 runs scored (coincidentally the same number as the year in which Yankee Stadium opened) rank ninth-most all-time.

• The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the 3,465 hits rank fourth-most by a player for one team, trailing only Ty Cobb (3,902 for the Tigers), Stan Musial (3,630 for the Cardinals) and Hank Aaron (3,600 for the Braves).

• Jeter is also the Yankees' all-time leader in games played (2,747), at-bats (11,195), runs, doubles (544), and stolen bases (358). He’s played in more different seasons in pinstripes (20) than any other player, and his 12-year run as Yankees captain is the longest in team history.

• Jeter is also the postseason’s all-time leader in games played, hits and runs scored.

• Jeter finished with 149 hits this season. He had 17 150-hit seasons in his career, tied with Aaron for fourth-most, one shy of the all-time mark, held by Pete Rose, Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb.

• The last hit against Clay Buchholz was noteworthy statistically in that it pushed Jeter’s career batting average from .30945 to .30951, which is rounded up to .310

Jeter is one of 13 players to record at least 3,000 hits and hit at least .310 for his career. The others are Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Roberto Clemente, Stan Musial, Paul Waner, Eddie Collins, Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie, Cap Anson, Cobb and Speaker.

Top stats to know: Zimmermann's no-hitter

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28

For the second straight season, the final Sunday of the regular season featured a no-hitter, although it took a phenomenal defensive play to finish it.

Jordan Zimmermann threw the season’s fifth no-hitter and the first for the Nationals since the franchise moved to Washington, D.C. The last pitcher to throw a no-hitter for a team from the city was Bobby Burke for the 1931 Senators against the Boston Red Sox.

Zimmermann threw it against the Marlins, who got a no-hitter from Henderson Alvarez on the final Sunday of the regular season last season against the Detroit Tigers. Alvarez was the losing pitcher in this game.

This was also the second time in three seasons in which there was a no-hitter on Sept. 28. Homer Bailey threw one against the Pittsburgh Pirates on this date in 2012.

The Nationals join the 1975 Athletics as the only teams to throw a no-hitter on the last day of the season and then go on to the playoffs. The 1975 Athletics finished with the best record in the American League but were swept in three games in the ALCS. The Nationals finish the regular season the best record in the National League and will start with a best-of-five NLDS in their first playoff series.

How he won
Zimmermann got 19 swings and misses, the second-most in any start of his career and one shy of his career high, 20 against the Brewers on June 24, 2014.

He got six strikeouts with his breaking pitches, tying a career high. Seven of the strikeouts came on pitches in the lower third of the strike zone or below, tied for the most in any start in his career.

Zimmermann threw 23 first-pitch strikes to the 29 hitters he faced. All 10 of his strikeouts came after being ahead in the count, 0-1.

Zimmermann also chipped in a pair of hits, joining Tim Lincecum as pitchers to have two hits in a no-hitter this season. According to Elias, the last one before Lincecum was Rick Wise (who hit two home runs) in a no-hitter for the 1971 Phillies.

Elias also notes that 15 different players had a putout or an assist in the game, the most by any team in a no-hitter.

Play of the game
Steven Souza, inserted as a defensive replacement for Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth inning and playing only his fourth major league game in left field, made arguably the play of the season to end the game, a sprinting, diving catch in left field.

It's not the only notable defensive play to come late in a no-hitter:
  • Sept. 16, 1960 -- Johnny Logan makes a terrific play on a ground ball off Warren Spahn's glove, throwing out Bobby Malkmus for the final out of a no-hitter for the Braves against the Phillies.
  • April 15, 1987 -- Robin Yount makes a diving catch on Eddie Murray's line drive to center field for the final out of Juan Nieves' no-hitter for the Brewers against the Orioles.
  • July 28, 1994 -- Rex Hudler's slicing line drive is caught on a terrific diving play by Rusty Greer for the first out of Kenny Rogers' perfect game for the Rangers against the Angels.
  • July 10, 2009 -- With one out in the ninth, Aaron Rowand makes an incredible catch in center field on a ball hit by Edgar Gonzalez to record the second out of the ninth inning in Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter for the Giants.
  • July 23, 2009 -- DeWayne Wise, inserted as a defensive replacement in center field, robs Gabe Kapler of a home run for the first out in the ninth inning to preserve Mark Buehrle's perfect game for the White Sox against the Rays.
Did you know?
This was the sixth no-hitter to be thrown on Sept. 28. Elias notes that this date is tied with April 27 and Sept. 20 as the dates with the most no-hitters, the most recent of which before Sunday was Bailey for the Reds against the Pirates in 2012.

And since the baseball world always comes full circle, the first of those was thrown by a pitcher named Ed Cushman for the Milwaukee Brewers of the now-defunct Union Association in 1884.

The team against which that no-hitter was thrown was the original Washington Nationals.


Royals end longest active playoff drought

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26

AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhAlcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer and the Royals are in the playoffs for the first time since 1985.
The Kansas City Royals beat the White Sox 3-1 on Friday, to clinch the team's first postseason appearance since winning the World Series in 1985.

Kansas City ended the longest active playoff drought in any of the major North American leagues. The Blue Jays now have the longest current streak of playoff absences, going 21 straight seasons, counting 2014.

A new experience
Of the 36 players on the Royals active roster, only 15 were alive when Kansas City previously made the playoffs, including three of Friday's starting hitters (Nori Aoki, Alex Gordon, Omar Infante).

The postseason will be a new experience for most of the team. Only five active Royals have previous playoff experience: Infante, Wade Davis, Raul Ibanez, Jayson Nix and James Shields.

One of a kind
The Royals made the postseason with a unique offensive profile. Barring an unprecedented offensive explosion in the season's final two games, the Royals will finish last in the majors in both walks and home runs.

They'll be the sixth playoff team that finished last in walks and the eighth playoff team that was last in home runs. But Kansas City is the first team ever to reach the postseason when finishing last in the majors in both categories.

The Royals batters are also last in MLB in strikeouts, and they put the ball in play on 43 percent of their swings, the highest rate in the majors.

It's been a while
While the Royals may host at least a wild-card game, they shouldn't fear hitting the road. With two games left, Kansas City has won 46 road games this season, third-most in team history and most since 1980, when the Royals reached the World Series after setting the team record with 48 road wins.

Kansas City has won 88 games this season, the most for the franchise since 1989.

Jeter walk-off continues strong finish

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26

Elsa/Getty Images Derek Jeter celebrates after his game-winning hit in the ninth inning on Thursday.
Derek Jeter ended his final home game in dramatic fashion: with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Derek Jeter
It was his seventh career walk-off hit and his first since 2007. Jeter is the fourth Yankee with a walk-off hit in his 40s, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, joining Raúl Ibañez and Hall of Famers Johnny Mize and Enos Slaughter.

Elias also tells us that Jeter joined Hal Morris as the only players in the Expansion Era (since 1961) to play at least 10 years and have a walk-off hit in his final home game.

Jeter got a chance to be the hero only after David Robertson surrendered two home runs in the top of the ninth. Robertson has allowed two home runs in a game three times in his career, and all three were against the Orioles.

In addition to the walk-off, Jeter is finishing his career well, with a hit in eight of his past nine games, including five multihit games. Thursday was his first game with three RBI since Aug. 25.

He needs three more hits to reach 150 this season, which would make him the fourth player in MLB history with 18 seasons of 150 hits.

Jeter concludes his home career ranking first in Yankees history in numerous home categories, including games, at-bats, hits, runs, doubles and steals.

Top stats to know: Jeter's final home game

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25

AP Photo/Bill KostrounDerek Jeter has one more day of baseball in Yankee Stadium to think about.
Derek Jeter has called Yankee Stadium (both of them) home in some respects for nearly 20 full seasons. The relationship between Jeter and the most famous baseball ballpark will come to an end tonight when the Yankees conclude their home schedule against the Baltimore Orioles.

Jeter’s history in that hallowed home is noteworthy in many respects. It was home to many of his most famous moments. But beyond the moments, Jeter also put up very impressive numbers in the Bronx. Here’s a quick runthrough.

• Jeter has a .313 career batting average in games played in the Yankee Stadiums.

Among players with at least 2,000 at-bats at the ballparks known as Yankee Stadium, Jeter ranks tied for fifth-highest, trailing the Hall of Fame quartet of Babe Ruth (.349), Lou Gehrig (.329), Earle Combs (.326) and Joe DiMaggio (.315).

• Jeter’s .313 average in the Bronx ballparks matches that of another iconic, lifelong Yankees player - Don Mattingly.

• Jeter played at the original Yankee Stadium from 1995 to 2008. The Elias Sports Bureau found out no other player in major-league history batted .320 or higher, with at least 100 homers and at least 100 steals at any particular stadium like Jeter did.

• Jeter's career statistics at the original Yankee Stadium included a .322 batting average, 106 home runs and 152 stolen bases. He holds the record for most career hits there with 1,274. He has 450 hits at the new Yankee Stadium, 28 behind leader Robinson Cano.

• Jeter's first homer at Yankee Stadium didn't come until his 39th game there (June 5, 1996 off Toronto's Pat Hentgen). It took him nine plate appearances (two games) to homer at the new Yankee Stadium.

• Jeter's first home game was on June 2, 1995, against the Angels. They lost (and Baltimore won) to drop into last place in the AL East, where they more-or-less remained for the rest of the homestand. Until May 2008, those had been the only non-April games (when everyone's 0-1) that Jeter ever played with the Yankees in last place.

• Jeter had 22 four-hit games at home. The most recent came on July 9, 2011 against the Tampa Bay Rays when he went 5-for-5, including the 3,000th hit of his career.

• The Captain never struck out four times in a home game.

• Jeter has played five home games on his birthday (June 26) and had a hit in all of them. He joins Bob Meusel (1920-30) as the only Yankees who can say that, and one of Meusel's birthdays was a doubleheader.

• Jeter played his 1,000th and 2,000th career games at home, hitting a home run in both of them. Elias notes that only one other player in the modern era can say that: Jim Rice .

• Jeter has six regular-season walk-off hits. The only Yankees player with more in the last 20 seasons is Alex Rodriguez with seven.

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
The swing that produced Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit.
• Jeter hit .332 with 12 home runs and 107 hits in 80 postseason home games (roughly the equivalent of half a major league season).

• Jeter’s 107 postseason hits in his home park are 48 more than the player with the next-most (Bernie Williams), which is logical given that Jeter’s entire career came in the wild card era.

But Jeter’s 1.34 postseason hits per home game ranks fourth-best among those who played in at least 20 postseason home games. He trails Steve Garvey (1.52) and Hall of Famers Frank Frisch (1.36) and George Brett (1.35)

• Jeter has hit only two walk-off home runs in his career, one in the regular season against the Red Sox in 2005 and one in the postseason against the Diamondbacks in 2001 (the one that earned him the “Mr. November” nickname).

• Jeter joins the battery of Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada as the only players to have been on the field at two different Yankee Stadiums when the Yankees won a World Series.

• Derek Jeter's last game at Yankee Stadium will be the first he's ever played there with the Yankees eliminated from postseason contention.

• Taking into account average yearly home attendance figures for the Yankees and Jeter’s home games played per year, approximately 60 million tickets have been sold for games in which Jeter played in the Bronx.

•  Jeter has played in games lasting approximately 278,000 minutes at Yankee Stadium, combining regular season and postseason. That's more than 193 days of baseball.

• The Yankees are 863-520 in regular season homes games that Jeter has started (.624 winning percentage). They are 50-30 (.625 winning percentage) in the 80 postseason home games he started.

Stats to know: Kershaw's dominant season

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
It was only appropriate that Clayton Kershaw was the winning pitcher on the day the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the National League West by beating the San Francisco Giants. Kershaw was triply dominant, winning with his arm (one run in eight innings), his glove (helping his NL-best Defensive Runs Saved total with a behind-the-back play) and his bat (hitting his first career triple).

No one has been more dominant on the mound this season. In fact, no one has been this good in quite some time.

Without further ado and with the help of the Elias Sports Bureau, here are five fun Kershaw tidbits to ponder as his regular season comes to an end.

Kershaw is the first pitcher to win 21 starts within 27 games in a season in 134 years. The only other pitcher to do that was Fred Goldsmith of the 1880 Chicago White Stockings (who became the Cubs). Goldsmith finished 21-3 that season. No one else would go exactly 21-3 in a season until Max Scherzer did so last season and Kershaw did so in 2014.

Kershaw finishes with a 1.77 ERA. He will become the first pitcher to lead the major leagues in ERA in four straight seasons.

Kershaw will join Ron Guidry of the 1978 New York Yankees as the only pitchers in the modern era with 20 or more wins, a sub-1.80 ERA and a win pct of .875 or better.

Kershaw has had two winning streaks of seven or longer this season. The only other pitcher to do that in the divisional era (since 1969) is Justin Verlander of the 2011 Detroit Tigers.

Kershaw will be the leading contender to win the NL MVP this season. Only three pitchers have won the NL MVP since the end of World War II-- Don Newcombe in 1956, Sandy Koufax in 1963 and Bob Gibson in 1968.

Next stop for Kershaw: the postseason.


Gordon's slump a puzzler

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
Royals manager Ned Yost has been faced with a conundrum of late- where to put slumping leftfielder Alex Gordon in the team’s starting lineup. Gordon has had a rough September. He was 0 for 1 albeit with two walks batting sixth in the Royals’ loss to the Indians on Wednesday night. He appeared to start to shake off the slump with two hits, including a double on Tuesday, but this is still a worry heading into the season’s final days.

What’s odd about this slump isn’t that Gordon is swinging wildly. He’s not. His walk rate is 16 percent since Sept. 2, well above the nine percent rate prior to that this season. In fact, his chase rate (how often he swings at pitches out of the zone) is a hair lower during the skid (21 percent than it was before (24 percent).

Gordon's issue is missing hittable pitches. He’s 11 for 69 in his last 21 games and 10 for 52 (.192 batting average) in at-bats ending with a pitch in the strike zone in that span.

Gordon’s sweet spot within the strike zone is in its lower half. But after averaging a hit for every 8.4 pitches seen in that area for much of the season, he has only three hits on 87 pitches thrown there during this 21-game stretch.

Regardless, the Royals will let Gordon try to get through this, knowing that he hasn’t taken his offensive slump into the field with him.

Gordon had a diving catch and an assist on Wednesday night. He leads left fielders with 26 Defensive Runs Saved this season, double the amount of the next-closest player.


Hughes oh-so-close to bonus, record

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24
The Minnesota Twins defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-1 Wednesday afternoon, two teams long eliminated from postseason contention.

But there were two developments worth noting.
Twins starter Phil Hughes was pulled after a 66-minute rain delay with the Twins three outs from a win.

Hughes has a career-high 209 2/3 innings pitched this season, which wouldn’t be particularly notable but for a clause in the contract he signed last offseason that would award him a $500,000 bonus if he pitched 210 innings.

But the financial matter doesn’t tell the whole story of this unique situation.

Hughes finished with five strikeouts and no walks, giving him 186 strikeouts and 16 walks this season, an amazing transformation from a pitcher whose career strikeout-to-walk ratio was not even 3-to-1.

Hughes' 2014 ratio of 11.6-to-1 would set an all-time major league record for a pitcher who qualified for his season’s ERA title, breaking the mark set by Bret Saberhagen for the New York Mets (11-to-1 in 1994).

However, if Hughes were to pitch again in the hopes of attaining the 1/3 of an inning that would net him the bonus, he’d be running the risk of falling short of the record.

Were Hughes to walk one more batter and not strike anyone out, his ratio would dip to 10.9, one-tenth of a point shy of the record.

But the chances of that would seem slim. In his past eight starts, Hughes has 52 strikeouts and only one walk.

The biggest difference for Hughes this season is that he has followed the Twins' philosophy, espoused by manager Ron Gardenhire, of attacking the strike zone.

His percentage of pitches in the zone was 52 percent from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, it's 60 percent, with the primary component of the change being his fastball (which went from a 57 percent "in the strike zone" rate to 65 percent).

Hughes has also made the most of his cutter, which he has used much more frequently this season. Hitters have chased it at a 34 percent rate in 2014, as the pitch often looks like a strike but makes a late cut out of the zone.

It will be interesting to see what Twins management does, given the situation. The Twins have four games remaining, and Hughes was not scheduled to start any of them.


Top stats to know: Giants at Dodgers

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24

Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesClayton Kershaw has thrown 4 shutouts vs. the Giants since 2010, twice as many as any other pitcher.
The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers conclude their season series tonight (10 ET, ESPN and WatchESPN). The teams split their first 18 meetings of the year, but the Dodgers have won six of the eight since the All-Star break.

What’s a win worth?
With a victory tonight, the Dodgers will clinch the NL West title, becoming the first team in the divisional era (since 1969) to defend its division after trailing by at least nine games at any point.

The Giants can make postseason play with a win or a loss by the Milwaukee Brewers (who are playing at Cincinnati at 7:10 p.m. ET). San Francisco has made only two playoff appearances since 2004, but both times (2010, 2012) they went on to win the World Series.

History on the line when Kershaw takes the mound
Clayton Kershaw enters his final start of the regular season with an MLB-best 1.80 ERA, well ahead of the next-closest pitcher (Chris Sale, 2.17).

As long as Kershaw allows seven earned runs or fewer tonight, he will become the first pitcher in MLB history to lead baseball in ERA four straight seasons. He can allow more than seven, but innings pitched start to come into play.

For context, Kershaw has allowed more than seven earned runs in only two of his 208 career starts. He has allowed seven earned runs in his past five starts combined.

In addition, he has the chance to become the second pitcher in baseball history to win 21 or more in 27 or fewer games over a full season.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only pitcher to accomplish that was Fred Goldsmith of the 1880 Chicago White Stockings.

In 25 career appearances against the Giants, Kershaw has a 1.44 ERA. According to Elias, that is tied for the lowest career ERA by a pitcher against a single opponent in the past 100 years (minimum 20 starts). Sandy Koufax had a 1.44 ERA against the Mets.

Let’s go by the numbers and look at Kershaw in September/October:

2.00: Kershaw has a 2.00 career ERA in September/October during the regular season, the lowest by any pitcher in the live ball era (since 1920) with at least 200 career innings.

.783: In 32 career starts, Kershaw is 18-5 in the two months, good for a .783 win percentage. That’s the second-best by any pitcher with 30 September starts in the live ball era, behind only Russ Meyer’s .810 from 1946 to 1956.

1.14: Kershaw saves a special brand of dominance for the Giants. In six career September/October starts against the Giants, he is 5-1 with a 1.14 ERA, averaging just shy of eight innings per start.

Quick hitters
• Today is the anniversary of the final game played at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn (1957). In that game, Danny McDevitt pitched a five-hit shutout as the Dodgers beat the Pirates 2-0.

Interestingly enough, the Pirates stayed in town and also closed down the Polo Grounds the following weekend. Both the Giants and Dodgers moved west after the 1957 season.

• Tim Hudson is 0-3 with a 9.92 ERA in four September starts. In his first 26 starts this season, he went 9-9 with a 2.90 ERA.

• The Dodgers lead the NL in steals, something they haven’t done for a full season since 1970. They also lead the league in walks. The previous occasion they led the NL in walks was 1961.

• Yasiel Puig has punished the Giants this year, hitting .317 (20-for-63) with a .973 OPS in 16 games. Nine of Puig’s 20 hits against the Giants have gone for extra bases.

Top stats to know: Royals at Indians

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24

Jason Miller/Getty ImagesManager Ned Yost has the Royals on the verge of their first postseason berth since 1985.
The Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians wrap up their season series tonight (7 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). The teams have split 18 meetings so far, but the Royals have won two straight and with a win tonight can eliminate the Indians from playoff contention.

Let’s take a look at some stats to know heading into tonight’s game.

On the road again
The Royals are playing their final two series of the season on the road (after tonight’s game they finish with a four-game series at the White Sox), which is good news for them.

The Royals are one of the better road teams in baseball this season, posting a 44-32 mark away from Kauffman Stadium. This ties them with the Orioles for the third-best road mark in the majors, behind only the Dodgers (49-32) and Angels (45-32).

Offensively challenged
The Royals have a very distinct offensive profile: they don’t walk, they don’t hit home runs, but they also don’t strike out.

It would follow, obviously, that no team in baseball has a larger percentage of its swings turn into balls in play (43 percent). For context, the MLB average is 40 percent.

As mentioned, the Royals currently rank last in the majors in both walks and home runs. No team has finished last in baseball in both walks and home runs and still made the playoffs.

Late-game magic
The Indians have 11 walk-off wins this season, tied with the Marlins and Padres for the most in all of baseball.

In addition, Cleveland has won 20 games in their last at-bat, behind only the Athletics (22) and Marlins (21). Their 38 comeback wins trail only the Angels (45), Pirates (41), Orioles (40), Tigers (40) and Yankees (39).

Quick hitters
• Alex Gordon is typically the measuring stick for the Royals offense. As he goes, so does the team. In wins this season, Gordon is hitting .292 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs. In losses, he’s hitting .229 with four home runs and 18 RBIs.

• Ned Yost will manage his 771st game with the Royals tonight, passing the late Dick Howser for most games ever as Royals manager. Of the 15 who managed at least 100 games with the Royals, Yost's win percentage of .481 is ninth-best.

• The Indians have three players with at least 20 homers this season (Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana). It’s the first time they’ve had three 20-HR hitters since 2008 (Jhonny Peralta, Kelly Shoppach and Grady Sizemore).

• Michael Brantley will look to record his second 15-game hitting streak of the season tonight. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only Indians player over the last 20 seasons to record two different hitting streaks of at least 15 games is Roberto Alomar, who did so in 2000.