Stats & Info: Jim Leyland

Leyland changed the game in Detroit

October, 21, 2013

Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesJim Leyland announced he is stepping down after eight seasons as Tigers manager.
Jim Leyland announced he is stepping down as the manager of the Detroit Tigers, just two days after they were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. Leyland, who had the most wins among baseball active managers this past season, retires with 1,769 career wins, 15th–most in MLB history.

Nine of the 14 men ahead of him on the all-time wins list are in the Hall of Fame, and four of the other five are not yet eligible.

Leyland led the Tigers to four postseason appearances in eight seasons after the franchise made just four in its previous 60 seasons combined before he took over. The Tigers made the postseason in each of the past three seasons, just the second such streak in franchise history (1907-09).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s one of just seven managers to win a pennant in both leagues, as he led the Florida Marlins to the World Series title in 1997 and won AL pennants with the Tigers in 2006 and 2012. Four of the other six men are in the Hall of Fame, and one who isn’t is Tony LaRussa.

He’s one of just six men to win the Manager of the Year award in both leagues and one of five to win the award at least three times (LaRussa and Bobby Cox each won it four times).

Leyland won 700 games with the Tigers, third-most in franchise history. It’s the best eight-season stretch for the franchise since they won 713 games from 1966-73.

Finding a winning manager for the Tigers could be tricky. The last man other than Leyland to complete a season above .500 in Detroit was Sparky Anderson in 1993.

Leyland retires with the fourth-most postseason wins in MLB history, behind Joe Torre, LaRussa and Cox, and the seventh-best postseason win percentage (min. 50 games managed).

The Tigers' success under Leyland came with some disappointment. The Tigers were just the sixth team to make three straight LCS appearances without a World Series title in that span. Leyland was the manager for one of the other teams to do that -- the 1990-92 Pittsburgh Pirates.

And during his tenure, the Tigers had three major award winners -- two MVPs (Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera) and a Cy Young winner (Verlander). No other team had more since 2006.

Top stats to know: Tigers win AL Central

September, 26, 2013
The Detroit Tigers lived up to preseasons expectations for the team coming into the regular season and clinched their third straight AL Central title tonight on Wednesday night.

The Tigers will be going to three straight postseasons for the second time in team history, the first time since 1907 to 1909.

Top stars
Miguel Cabrera followed up his Triple Crown season with another amazing year. He has a higher batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage than he did last season, the same number of home runs and only two fewer RBIs.

Cabrera is currently hitting .345 with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs. If he finishes with a batting average of at least .340, he’d be the fourth player with multiple seasons with that average and those home run and RBI totals. The other three are Babe Ruth (seven times), Lou Gehrig (four) and Jimmie Foxx (three).

Max Scherzer surpassed Justin Verlander as staff ace. He’s 21-3 this season (oddly, he’ll likely be the first pitcher to finish with a win-loss mark of exactly 21-3 since Fred Goldsmith of the 1880 Chicago White Stockings, a team now known as the Cubs).

If that was his last appearance of the regular season, then his .875 win percentage will be the best single-season mark for anyone in Tigers history with at least 15 decisions in a season.

Unsung Heroes
The Tigers got big performances this season from a pair of well-seasoned veterans, Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez. Neither was needed to carry the team with Cabrera and Prince Fielder leading the way, but each provided very strong offensive support.
Torii Hunter

Hunter changed his approach from one that was less pull-happy and more intent on spraying the ball all around the field. The result was an .802 OPS that was almost identical to what he’d averaged in the first 16 years of his career.

Martinez ran into some tough luck early in the season, when he rated well in hitting the ball hard, but the results weren’t there. Eventually they came. He has the highest batting average in the major leagues since July 1 (.369).

Circle This Game
The biggest Tigers win of the season may have been their comeback victory over the Cleveland Indians on August 5. Trailing 2-0 in the ninth inning against Chris Perez, the Tigers rallied for four runs, capped by an Alex Avila three-run homer.

This was the ninth win in what was a 12-game winning streak that expanded the Tigers division lead from three games to seven games.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Night
Jim Leyland notches his third consecutive division title with the Tigers, joining Tony La Russa and Whitey Herzog as the only managers to win at least three division titles with two different teams since the Divisional Era began in 1969.

The Tigers are also the first team to win a division clincher on the road by a 1-0 score. It’s the second time the Tigers clinched a division with a 1-0 win since baseball went to divisional play in 1969. They also did so in 1987.

Felix rides soft stuff to perfect ending

August, 15, 2012
Maybe it was worth it to buy Seattle Mariners season tickets after all.

Felix Hernandez tossed the first perfect game in the history of the Mariners franchise and the sixth no-hitter overall this season, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 on Wednesday afternoon. Not only was Hernandez's performance dominant in its own right, but it marked yet another remarkable chapter in the history of perfect games and, specifically, the 2012 season.

Felix Hernandez
In tossing the 23rd perfect game in MLB history, Hernandez made more than just Mariners history. This season is now the first in MLB history with three perfect games. The only other instances of multiple perfect games in a season are 1880 and 2010.

It also is the first time in MLB history that there have been two perfect games in the same stadium in the same season. In fact, only three other stadiums have had two perfect games thrown in them in their history, let alone one season (Dodger Stadium, Oakland Coliseum and Yankee Stadium).

Wednesday also marked the second instance in MLB history of three no-hitters being thrown at one park/stadium in one season, joining Sportsman’s Park in 1917.

2012: The Year of the No-No
The six no-hitters thrown this season place it behind only 1884, 1990 and 1991 for the most in a single season. There were seven thrown in both 1990 and 1991, and a record eight thrown in 1884.

The Mariners also became the first team in MLB history to have both a combined no-hitter and a complete-game no-hitter in the same season, while Hernandez (Venezuela) became the second player born outside the United States to throw a perfect game, joining Dennis Martinez (Nicaragua) in 1991.

How Did Hernandez Do It?
He had his breaking stuff working Wednesday; his 25 swing-and-misses on breaking pitches are the most by anyone since 2009. Hernandez also used all four of his pitches to get 27 outs against the Rays but increased his off-speed usage to its highest total of the season -- 59 percent of pitches.

Hernandez worked in the lower third of the zone for most of the game, throwing half his pitches in the lower third of the zone and below. Hernandez used the breaking balls on 42 of the 57 pitches, gaining 15 outs with 11 strikeouts, including six strikeouts on pitches out of the zone.

He also ramped it up when it counted most, averaging a season-high 93.2 mph with his fastball. With the perfect game becoming more of a reality, Hernandez picked up the pace of the heater later in the game, averaging 92.2 in innings one through three, 93.5 in innings four through six and 94.3 in the final three frames, including eight pitches of 95 mph or faster.

Rays Play the Victim
Continuing to dive into the realm of statistical oddities, the Rays have been no-hit five times since the franchise's inception in 1998, more than any other team. They also have been no-hit four times since 2009 alone, making them the only team to be no-hit more than once over the past four seasons.

And of the 23 perfect games in MLB history, six have come in the past four seasons. That means that 26 percent of the perfect games in MLB history have come in the past four seasons. There have been 137 seasons of major league history, meaning the past four seasons represent less than 3 percent of all MLB seasons played.

To top it off, Joe Maddon is the first manager (winning or losing) to get ejected from a perfect game. The previous manager to get ejected from a game in which his team got no-hit was Jim Leyland of the Tigers, who did so in Matt Garza's no-hitter for the Rays on July 26, 2010.

Lou Piniella by the numbers

August, 22, 2010
The Chicago Cubs' Lou Piniella managed the 3,548th and final game of his career Sunday, a 16-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Piniella finishes with 1,835 wins as a manager, 14th on the all-time list. The only eligible manager with more wins who is not in the Hall of Fame is Gene Mauch (12th with 1,902 wins).
As a manager, Piniella is one of:
• Two men (Dick Williams being the other) to win at least 90 games in a season with four different teams. Piniella did it with the Yankees, Reds, Mariners and Cubs.

• Three Cubs managers to make consecutive playoff appearances (2007-08).

• Four to win Manager of the Year honors in both the American and National leagues (La Russa, Cox and Leyland are the others).

• Five to be named Manager of the Year at least three times, along with Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox (4 each), and Dusty Baker and Jim Leyland (3 each).

• In Piniella’s final game in the dugout, the Braves' Mike Minor became the second pitcher this season with at least 12 strikeouts within the first three games of his career (the Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg being the other). Minor's 12 K’s ties the franchise record for the most in a start by a rookie.

• FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: Atlanta's lead-off hitter Omar Infante and No. 2 hitter Jason Heyward each hit two home runs against the Cubs. It's the first time in since 1900 that the top two hitters in the Braves' lineup each had a multi-HR game in the same game.
• With his win at home over the Nationals, the Philadelphia Phillies Roy Oswalt remains perfect in seven starts at Citizens Bank Park (7-0, 2.03 ERA). Oswalt is now 31-7 in 48 career starts in the month of August. That’s a win percentage of .816, the best among active pitchers who have made at least 45 starts.

• The St. Louis Cardinals' Jaime Garcia shut out the San Francisco Giants, 9-0. He's the first left-handed Cardinals rookie to throw a shutout since Bud Smith's no-hitter against the Padres in September of 2001.

• The San Diego Padres' Adrian Gonzalez has now hit at least 25 home runs in each of the last four seasons. The only other player with such a streak in team history is the late Ken Caminiti. Gonzalez is on the verge of also becoming the Padres’ all-time leader in home runs. He now has 155, one shy of Phil Nevin for second in franchise history and is eight shy of Nate Colbert’s team record of 163.

• In the Chicago White Sox's 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Royals, Bobby Jenks pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. It’s the third time in Jenks’ career that he pitched three innings of relief and the first since Sept. 9, 2005.

• Dallas Braden allowed three earned runs in six innings in the Oakland Athletics' 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the 15th straight quality start by an A’s pitcher, extending the longest streak in Oakland history.

1st Pitch: Pirates futility streak poised to continue

August, 20, 2010
Today’s Trivia: A Pittsburgh Pirates loss tonight would be loss No. 82 for the team, assuring them of an 18th straight losing season – an historic record across the four major sports. Flash back to 1992, the last time the Pirates had a winning year. Here’s your three-part trivia question:

Which manager (still managing today) led them to a 96-66 record that year?

Which pitcher (still pitching today) went 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA for them that year?

Which batter (now MANAGING today) managed just a .196 BA for them before being released in May?

Quick Hits: More on the Pirates and their amazing string of futility:

In the 17 seasons of the Pirates' drought, the New York Yankees have NEVER had a losing season. In fact, in a tremendous coincidence, the last time the Yankees had a losing season was the last time the Pirates had a winning season – 1992.

The Atlanta Braves have finished with only two losing seasons during that span, both of them happening in the last five years (2006 and 2008).

One big change for the Pirates between the winning season of 1992 and the losing season of 1993? No Barry Bonds. A free agent, Bonds left for the San Francisco Giants and the Pirates haven’t topped .500 since.

But if you’re going to call it “The Bonds Curse” you might need to call it “The Drabek Curse” too. Doug Drabek finished fifth in Cy Young voting for that 1992 Pirates team, then bolted in free agency to the Houston Astros. Unlike Bonds, Drabek was never the same. He never reached the 15 wins or 2.77 ERA he had with the 1992 Pirates.

How about a milestone to cap it off: during the streak of futility, the Pirates have lost 1,599 games – tonight would be loss No. 1,600. Johan Santana has a .663 career win percentage, best of any active pitcher. For Santana to rack up as many losses as the Pirates have in their losing span, he’d have to pitch and get a decision in every single game for more than 29 straight regular seasons (4,744 games).

Finally, during the Pirates' losing span, Pittsburgh fans have been used to counting down the days until the NFL and NHL seasons start. In those 17 years, the Steelers have 13 winning seasons and two Super Bowl wins. The Penguins also have 13 winning seasons and a Stanley Cup.

Today’s Leaderboard: We’re dedicating today’s leaderboard to the unofficial MLB leaders in bouncing back from a team slump this season. The award thus far goes to the Cincinnati Reds, who shook off getting swept at home by the St. Louis Cardinals by simply running off two sweeps of their own. That continues a trend all year for the Reds. They’ve only been swept four times, but each time, they’ve bounced back to either sweep or win their next series.

Since 2000, the longest team win streak after getting swept (min. three-game sweep) belongs to the Boston Red Sox, who reeled off 12 straight in June 2006 on the heels of getting swept in Minneapolis.

Key Matchups: Of all the pitchers in MLB whom Jimmy Rollins is familiar with, would you guess that Jason Marquis is his biggest nemesis? There are 23 pitchers that Rollins has faced at least 35 times, including such aces as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez. But it’s Marquis whom Rollins has the lowest BA (.139) and slugging percentage (.167) against.

Brian Duensing has to be psyched to throw against the Angels tonight – he’s faced nine of them in his career and they’ve had little-to-no success. Those batters, from Bobby Abreu to Reggie Willits, are a combined 4-22 (.182 BA) with three strikeouts against Duensing. None of them have an extra-base hit off him.

Every Cardinal who bats against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner will be making his first career plate appearance against Bumgarner. So let’s take a look at what might be in the scouting report: he’s even better out of the stretch. Bumgarner has buckled down and pitched better when runners are on base this season – a .319 opponents BA with the bases empty and just a .208 with runners on.

Trivia Answer: Current Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland was at the helm of that 1992 Pirates team.

Current Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield had that blistering record and ERA, finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting.

And current Arizona Diamondbacks manager (and former MVP) Kirk Gibson had a cup of coffee with the Pirates that season. He was released and then temporarily retired before signing with the Tigers for the next season to begin the twilight of his playing career.