Stats & Info: Baseball Tonight

Know your analyst: Aaron Boone

April, 6, 2010
4/06/10
4:36
PM ET
Every so often, in this space, we’ll share the interesting tidbits we dig up on some of the baseball analysts we work with here. Hopefully it will give you the chance to get to know them a little better.

We’re guessing that new Baseball Tonight analyst Aaron Boone has already been peppered with 100 questions related to his walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS since stepping into the Bristol campus.

But there’s more to know about that moment than just that his home run won the pennant. Here are five of a statistical nature that we found interesting, via help from Baseball-Reference.com:

Speaking of walk-offs- Boone was a member of the 1999 Reds team, which he says invented the celebratory home plate “bunny hop” that follows a walk-off home run. Boone didn’t bunny-hop that season, but if you include his Game 7 home run, he had seven career walk-off home runs. His brother Bret, father Bob, and grandfather Ray, combined for just six.

Tim Wakefield gave him trouble- Boone was just 1-for-10 against Wakefield, combining his regular season and postseason numbers, and finished 3-for-17 against the Red Sox knuckleballer. After hitting the home run, Wakefield got him out five times in a row, before Boone doubled in the last matchup between them.

He was the right man at the plate- You may have heard this referenced on Baseball Tonight during “Stat Week.” We played with the numbers a little bit to indicate that Boone was the third-most clutch Yankee during his stretch with the team, behind Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter. What this really meant? His clutch rating, as calculated via his Win Probability Added numbers, showed that he performed slightly better in big spots than ordinary ones.

Extra Innings Was His Specialty- Some players may have gotten tired at the end of games, but not Boone. He hit .319 with a .440 on-base percentage and six home runs in 69 extra-inning at-bats.

He’s the only one- Of the 39 players to hit a postseason walk-off home run, Boone is the only one to work as an analyst on Baseball Tonight. And thus he can give you a perspective that the likes of Nomar Garciaparra, John Kruk, Chris Singleton, and our other analysts cannot.

The most foolish baseball question…

April, 1, 2010
4/01/10
12:15
PM ET
Tim Kurkjian is famous around the ESPN offices for coming up with offbeat sports questions and posing them to his colleagues.

In the past, he's asked how many times would an ordinary citizen make contact against 100 Randy Johnson pitches (ZERO!), whether Devin Hester could return a kickoff for a touchdown, if an actual bear stood in his way at the 50-yard line (answers vary), how many shots would we stop in the World Cup penalty kicks session (ZERO, again!) and whether his family could protect a 20-point lead against the current Lakers, with two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Tim's concern for the latter is how his mother would fare trying to box out Pau Gasol ("I've done the math," he says. "We're not winning.")

Today's baseball-related question, asked on "First Take," is a doozy.

Could the Baseball Tonight roster of former players (Nomar Garciaparra, Aaron Boone, Eduardo Perez, John Kruk, and Chris Singleton, with Orel Hershiser pitching, Tim Kurkjian catching, First Take host Jay Crawford in right field, and Karl Ravech in left field) in their current state of physical fitness, protect a 10-run lead against the 2010 Yankees heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.

What's our win probability? Please discuss.

Sure things for 2010

April, 1, 2010
4/01/10
9:00
AM ET
What are the surest things in baseball for 2010?

This question came up in our "Baseball Tonight" meeting on Tuesday, sparked by a recent request from one of ESPN.com’s writers related to Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

Rivera’s streak of 13 straight seasons with at least 25 saves might be the most impressive current streak in baseball (more on Rivera in the very near future on the new ESPNNewYork.com). But we wanted to find some other sure things for the upcoming season.

For that, there’s a nice, free tool, an online baseball encyclopedia called the National Pastime Almanac. Spending a few minutes with its utility, we came up with some other sure things of significance stat-wise for 2010. They’re listed below.



PITCHING
The surest thing for a starting pitcher is that Roy Halladay will win at least 15 games. He’s done that in each of the past four seasons, a total that seems rather puny compared to Greg Maddux’s run of 17 straight from 1988 to 2004.


Only one pitcher has a current streak of three straight seasons with 200 strikeouts: new Yankee Javier Vazquez. Tom Seaver’s record of nine straight seasons seems pretty safe unless Tim Lincecum can stay healthy long enough to pose a challenge.

Looking at things the other way, as long as Livan Hernandez is on a roster, it seems as though we can count on him to lose at least 10 games. Hernandez has done that in 12 straight seasons. In the modern era, only three pitchers have had longer runs.

HITTING
Remember that it took Alex Rodriguez until the final day of the 2009 season to reach 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the 12th straight season, matching Jimmie Foxx for the best run ever. Albert Pujols’ run of nine straight seasons is impressive, more so when you realize it’s the third-best ever.

Pujols and Ichiro also share the longest current stretch of seasons with a .300 batting average, with nine each. Matt Holliday, David Wright and Derek Jeter also would seem to be sure things, but not to that level. They’ve each managed five straight .300 seasons.

Forty stolen bases, a number easily tallied by the likes of Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines in the 1980s, is now such a rarity that only three players have managed that number in consecutive seasons: Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton. If you halve the required minimum to 20 steals, the list fills out a little easier, with a surprise name, Bobby Abreu, at the top.


Abreu stands highest on another list, albeit one of a negative nature. An even surer thing than Abreu stealing 20 bases in 2010 is that Abreu will reach triple-digits in strikeouts. He’s done so in each of the past 12 years.

Abreu’s team, the Angels, may be challenged to reach the surest thing among team marks. They’re one of two teams, along with the Red Sox, to win 90 games in each of the past three seasons. But make the standard merely a winning record, and the Yankees are the standard setters, with 17 straight. Whenever you talk sure things, it always seems to come back to them.

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