Stats & Info: Mike Stanton

Cleveland Indians starter Fausto Carmona allowed 10 runs to the Chicago White Sox on Opening Day, then gave up eight runs against them on May 19.
Fausto Carmona
Carmona
His start on Wednesday was far removed from both of those efforts.

Carmona used his sinker to net ground ball after ground ball in the most effective manner possible, coming within two outs of his first complete game of the season in a win that pulled the Indians to within a game of the Detroit Tigers for first place.

Over the last three seasons, Carmona had not had a start in which he induced more than 13 ground balls that were turned into outs. Wednesday, he turned 15 of the 16 grounders he coaxed into White Sox outs.

White Sox right-handed hitters were 12-for-22 against Carmona in his first two starts against them this season. On Wednesday, they were 1-for-17 with all six of his strikeouts. The only ball to leave the infield was Alexei Ramirez’s home run.

One difference for Carmona was in the location of his sinker. He threw nearly half of his sinkers to right-handers on the inner-third of the plate in those first two meetings. On Wednesday, he threw only 10 of his 53 sinkers to righties on the inner-third, choosing to work on the outer-third instead.

Carmona also got three strikeouts with his changeup, giving him seven whiffs with that pitch in his last two starts. He only had six strikeouts with his changeup in his 16 starts prior to that. Carmona threw 20 of 25 changeups for strikes in Wednesday's win.

Carmona’s counterpart, Mark Buehrle, had a rare bad night, with his streak of 18 straight starts of three runs or fewer allowed snapped. Buehrle hadn't allowed more than three runs in a start since April 22.

Elsewhere around the majors

Good Brew
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Milwaukee Brewers, with their 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, became the sixth team since 1900 to win five straight games, scoring three runs or fewer in each one. The last team to do that—the 1972 California Angels (six straight).

Kansas City Kings
The Kansas City Royals edged the New York Yankees, 5-4, despite Curtis Granderson hitting his major-league leading 12th home run against a left-handed pitcher. Royals closer Joakim Soria survived a dicey ninth inning. A check of Baseball-Reference.com showed him to be the first pitcher to earn a save of an inning or less, throwing 40 pitches since Ryan Dempster in 2005.

Cliff Jumping
Cliff Lee used an effective changeup to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks. Our pitch-performance data showed Lee registering five outs with the changeup, despite throwing it only 13 times.

Diamondbacks hitters missed on six of their eight swings against Lee's changeup, matching the most misses Lee has gotten with his changeup in a start in the last two seasons.

Ricky not so fine
Ricky Nolasco set a Florida Marlins record for most runs allowed, giving up 11 in his start on Wednesday night. He broke a mark of 10 previously set six times, including the last such occurrence, by Nolasco in 2009.

Nolasco’s teammate, Mike Stanton, tried to make up for it with a 466-foot home run. It was his fourth home run of at least 450 feet, matching Justin Upton for the most such home runs in the majors.
Mike Stanton’s 24 home runs this season are well behind Jose Bautista for the MLB lead and a good distance away from Lance Berkman for the NL lead.
Mike Stanton
Stanton
But Stanton still has a claim as the man who mashes the most.

Why? Because Stanton has hit 20 home runs this season that went at least 400 feet. That’s not just the most in the majors, it’s three more than anyone else in the league.

Doing the math tells us that 83.3 percent of Stanton’s home runs this season have gone longer than 400 feet. He averages 414.7 feet per homer this season; only Justin Upton (425.6) has a longer average distance.
Vlad Guerrero
Guerrero
But home runs don’t just travel far, they travel high as well – and that’s what Vlad Guerrero did against the Blue Jays. Guerrero’s moonshot reached 149 feet at its apex – the second-highest home run this season. Only Adam Dunn’s 150-footer scraped more sky.

Of course, high doesn’t always mean far. Despite its height, Guerrero’s home run had a distance of just 351 feet. In fact, none of the five tallest homers this season have even traveled a distance of 375 feet.

AROUND THE DIAMOND

-Emilio Bonifacio (26 straight games) and Dustin Pedroia (25) both extended their streaks. The last time MLB had concurrent 25-game hit streaks was September 29, 2005. Jimmy Rollins was sitting on 33 games and Michael Young was at 25. Young broke his streak the next day with an 0-for-4 against the Angels.

-On the other end of the spectrum, Craig Counsell is in an 0-for-41 slump for the Brewers. Elias says that his 41 straight AB without a hit is the longest streak in Brewers history, breaking the record of 38 owned by Greg Vaughn in 1990. It’s also the longest by any player for any team since Todd Zeile went 0-for-44 over the 1996-97 seasons.

-For the first time in team history, the Mets swept a four-game road series from the Reds. The Mets recorded their 32nd road win of the season – already matching their total from last season.

-Josh Beckett had never allowed a home run to the Royals despite tossing 55.2 innings against them in his career. He had also never lost to the Royals – a 6-0 record and 2.26 ERA against them. Both of those changed when Billy Butler homered in the fourth inning and the Royals won 4-3.
While most of the trade market discussion for outfielders has centered around Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence, B.J. Upton's name has joined the conversation.

The tone of the discussion indicates that Upton is considerably less desirable than either Beltran or Pence, but perhaps that’s misleading. When you peel away the fact that he’s underachieved relative to expectations, Upton has been a very valuable player over the last few years (see graph).

Since the start of the 2007 season, Upton has been almost as valuable as Pence and Beltran when you consider both offense and defense, something that Wins Above Replacement does very well.

As teams search for impact bats, the highest profile player available is, perhaps, Beltran. After battling knee injuries the previous two years, the free-agent-to-be finally is healthy and back to producing at a high level. According to Buster Olney, Beltran’s primary suitors are the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox.

So, which of these teams need Beltran the most?

The team that makes the most sense on paper -- both offensively and defensively -- is San Francisco. It’s no secret that the Giants are starved for offense:

• 3.6 runs per game, which ranks 26th in MLB.

• Scored four or more runs in only 43 of 102 games, the second fewest just ahead of the Seattle Mariners.

• 37-6 when scoring at least four runs. Only one team has a higher winning percentage when scoring four or more runs (Phillies, 44-5).

Besides the boost Beltran would provide offensively -- his .910 OPS would be tops on the Giants -- his skills in right field would strengthen the team’s defense. Beltran has saved nine runs this season in right field, the third most in the majors among right fielders. Giants right fielders have cost the team 10 runs this season, which is last in the majors.

What’s more, Beltran has a history of excelling in the postseason. No player in MLB history with at least 75 postseason plate appearances has a higher OPS in the postseason than Beltran’s 1.302.

-- Dan Braunstein, Justin Havens and Lee Singer contributed to this post
Albert Pujols
Pujols
Albert Pujols hit his 428th career home run in the Cardinals' 4-1 win against the Reds. With it, he passed Mike Piazza for 41st on the all-time home run list.

The long ball also happened to be Pujols' 20th of the season. He's the third player in MLB history to hit at least 20 home runs in each of his first 11 seasons, joining Eddie Mathews (14) and Frank Robinson (12).

As Pujols continued to stay hot at the plate (he has three home runs in his last four games), teammate Chris Carpenter continued to put behind him what was a rocky start to the season.

Carpenter won his fourth straight decision (in five starts), posting a 1.66 ERA in that span, a stretch only more noteworthy considering his 1-7 mark in 15 starts to begin the season.

Pujols wasn’t the only player on Saturday to hit his 20th home run.

Mike Stanton
Stanton
In the Florida Marlins' 13-3 win against the Chicago Cubs, Mike Stanton hit home runs No. 19 and 20 to become the 11th player this season to reach 20 home runs.

Stanton is one of five players this season with at least 20 home runs and only one multi-HR game. The others: Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder, Jay Bruce and Nelson Cruz.

Stanton has an average home run distance of 414 feet this season (league average is 395.1 feet) and all but three of his 2011 homers have traveled at least 400 feet.

NOTES FROM THE MOUND

• As a member of the New York Yankees, CC Sabathia (8 IP, ER) is 4-0 in four starts against the Toronto Blue Jays. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sabathia is the second pitcher in franchise history with at least five straight starts of at least 7 innings and one or fewer runs allowed. Steve Kline had six such straight starts in 1972.

Sabathia threw 27 sliders and the Blue Jays swung at 18, missing 10. Hitters were 1-for-11 in at-bats ending with Sabathia's slider, including six strikeouts. He also got the Blue Jays to swing at 10 of 16 sliders out of the strike zone, resulting in four of the strikeouts.

• Elsewhere, Cole Hamels’ struggles against the New York Mets continued. Hamels is just 3-10 in his career against New York and his ERA is nearly a run-and-a-half higher than against the rest of the NL East.

Hamels entered with a 1.54 ERA in his previous 9 starts, but allowed a season-high 7 runs.
Nate Schierholtz
Schierholtz
In a game that featured a combined 36 strikeouts -- a modern-era record for a game lasting 14 innings or fewer -- the San Francisco Giants defeated the San Diego Padres on a walk-off home run by Nate Schierholtz in the 14th inning.

It was his second home run of the game, the first Giants player with a multi-homer game that included a walk-off home run since Bengie Molina did it in April of 2008, also against the Padres.

Schierholtz, who hit his first home run in the fourth inning, became the first Giants player to hit two homer 10 innings apart in the same game since Barry Bonds who did so in September of 2001.

It marked the latest walk-off home run in the history of AT&T Park. In fact you have to go back to 1996 for the last time a Giants player hit a walk-off home run in the 14th inning or later. That was Tom Lampkin, whose three-run home run in the bottom of the 15th inning lifted the Giants to a win over the Florida Marlins.

Speaking of the Marlins they notched a walk-off victory on Mike Stanton's solo home run in the 10th inning to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies. It was Stanton's first career walk-off home run, and a rather special one according to Elias.

At 21, Stanton was the third-youngest player since 1900 to hit a walk-off home run against the Phillies. Eddie Mathews was 20 years old in 1952 when he hit a game-ending homer for the Boston Braves, and Alex Gonzalez was a "younger 21" than Stanton when he did the same for the 1998 Marlins.

While these games provided some late heroics, no game was more exciting on Wednesday than the tilt between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds narrowly escaped with a 9-8 victory in 13 innings -- after holding an 8-0 lead through five innings.

Elias tells us it was the first time in 57 years that the Cardinals lost a game after erasing a deficit of eight or more runs. On July 17, 1954 at the old Busch Stadium, St. Louis rallied from down 9-0 to tie the Giants, but New York won in 11 innings, 10-9.

Elsewhere Around the Diamond:

Jair Jurrjens continued his stellar 2011 campaign with six innings of one-run ball as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Colorado Rockies. Jurrjens heads into the All-Star break with a 12-3 record and a 1.87 ERA. According to Elias he is the first Major League pitcher to head into the break with 12 or more wins and an ERA below 2.00 since Randy Johnson in 2000.

Perhaps more impressive, he is just the third Braves pitcher all-time to have accomplished the feat joining Greg Maddux in 1998 and Tom Glavine in the 1991 season.

Jurrjens is a strong possibility to start for the National League in the All-Star Game, something Maddux and Glavine each did that season.
Atlanta Braves
Dan Uggla is a .354 career hitter at Turner Field. His batting average is the third-best at Turner Field since the ballpark opened in 1997. His .652 slugging percentage at Turner trails only a pair of baseball greats: Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols.

As a rookie last season, Jason Heyward's discipline was highlighted by his ability to not chase pitches in two-strike counts. In those situations, Heyward chased just 31 percent of pitches compared to the league average of 36 percent, according to Inside Edge.

Florida Marlins
The only pitcher with a better FIP over the last two seasons than Josh Johnson's 2.76 is Tim Lincecum, 2.73. (FIP -- Fielding Independent Pitching -- is a measurement for everything a pitcher can control without the help of his defense: strikeouts, walks and home runs.)

Will Mike Stanton continue to struggle at home? Stanton hit .259 in his rookie season, but just .182 at home. He had only nine extra-base hits in 159 home at-bats compared to 35 extra-base hits in 200 road at-bats.

New York Mets
Last season they allowed 12 grand slams but didn't hit one. David Wright will likely become the franchise leader in both RBI and extra-base hits. He needs 70 RBI to pass Darryl Strawberry's team record of 773, and 27 extra-base hits to break Strawberry's record of 469.

Having cut Luis Castillo, the Mets appear to be leaning toward making Brad Emaus their second baseman. Last season, the Mets ranked 15th or 16th in the National League in batting average, OBP and slugging percentage by their second basemen.

Philadelphia Phillies
How much the Phillies will miss Jayson Werth remains to be seen. But, in 2010, the Phillies received more home runs and a higher slugging percentage out of right field than any other team in baseball.

With the acquisition of Cliff Lee, the Phillies have a starting rotation whose top four will rank among the best in baseball in almost every significant statistical category. Cole Hamels (T-4th), Roy Oswalt (6th), Roy Halladay (8th) and Cliff Lee (14th) all rank in the top 14 among active pitchers in career strikeout-to-walk ratio. Lee, the lowest of the four, led the major leagues last season.

Washington Nationals
While Jayson Werth should be an upgrade in right field, the Nats still have significant issues in center. They got a National League-worst two home runs from the position last season and their centerfielders' combined on-base percentage of .303 ranked 13th.

It appears Rick Ankiel will be the Nationals' starting centerfielder on Opening Day. After hitting 25 home runs in 120 games in 2008 with the Cardinals, Ankiel's hit just 17 in 196 games over the past two seasons.

-- Mark Simon contributed to this report
Some notes and stats to wrap up a busy Sunday:

Stanton• Mike Stanton hits 2 HR, is the fourth player since 2000 to reach 20 home runs within his first 81 games, joining Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, and Adam Dunn.

• Albert Pujols has his 38th multi-HR game. He passes Stan Musial for the most multi-HR games in St. Louis Cardinals history.

• The New York Yankees were held to just two hits today, the fourth time this season they've been held to two hits or fewer. That's the most times they've been held to 2 hits or fewer since 1990 (6).

• Ryan Howard has an RBI in five straight games, matching his best streak this season (April 5-10).

Latos• Mat Latos allowed three earned runs in the first three innings, snapping his modern-era record streak of 15 straight starts with five IP and two or fewer ER. It's the first time he's allowed at least three earned runs in a game since allowing three on June 4 vs the Philadelphia Phillies. He hasn't allowed more than three in a start since allowing seven on April 26 vs the Florida Marlins.

Konerko• Chicago White Sox 1B Paul Konerko hits two HR and drives in five runs, giving him 36 and 104 for the season. It's the fourth 35-homer season and fifth 100-RBI season of Konerko's career. In White Sox history, only Frank Thomas has more seasons of 35 HR (seven) or 100 RBI (10).
A young minor league pitcher, who had the opportunity to be teammates with Marlins rookie Mike Stanton for a few days earlier this season, had this to say about the 20-year-old baseball prodigy

"The ball makes a different kind of sound when it comes off his bat."

Wednesday night, that sound was thump, thump, thump, as Stanton had one of those days that is basically unprecedented for someone as young as he is.

With his 5-for-5 day, he became the first player to go 5-for-5 while under the age of 21 since Claudell Washington for the 1974 Athletics and the first ever to go 5-for-5 while also driving in at least four runs. Hank Aaron once had five hits as a 20-year old, but his game wasn't as good as Stanton -- It included an out. But a few Hall of Famers do make a Baseball-Reference.com list of players to do it: Fred Lindstom, Arky Vaughan, and the baseball legend Roberto Clemente.

A new way to evaluate setup men

June, 15, 2010
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Earlier this year, our colleagues in Stats and Information took a crack at redefining the quality start. Our TMI colleague Tom Tango devised a means to evaluate all relievers based on their win probability contributions (shutdowns/meltdowns).

We have our own mission. It’s two pronged. First, we wanted to strictly evaluate setup men. Second, we wanted to separate the dominant ones from the ugly ones. And we wanted a method from which you could look at the newspaper box score and divine the quality of one’s work.

Let’s start by looking at the major league leaders in holds:

Luke Gregerson (16), Mike Adams (16), Scott Downs (16), Kevin Jepsen (15)

Holds is a fine stat, but we wanted to create one that would be a significant upgrade from that.

Behold, the "perfect hold".

Such a hold requires a pitcher to throw at least one inning, not yield a baserunner, and not commit a faux pas along the lines of a wild pitch or balk. This stat allows us to separate the truly dominant relievers from the rest of the pack.

Your 2010 leaders in perfect holds are: Luke Gregerson (12), Mike Adams (10), Daniel Bard (7) and Scott Downs (5)

In terms of pure results, you can't get any better than a perfect hold. But you can be more dominant. So our next mission was to identify the guys who can not only finish you off in the seventh or eighth, but embarrass you in the process.


Essentially our next concoction is a perfect hold with a dominance factor. What do you call a hold in which someone or something grabs on and won’t let go? We call it a “vise grip.”

The vise grip hold meets the following criteria
  • The pitcher got at least two outs
  • The pitcher did not allow a baserunner, nor did he throw a wild pitch or commit a balk
  • The pitcher averaged at least 1.5 strikeouts per inning pitched

Here are your 2010 leaders in vise grips:

Luke Gregerson (4), Joba Chamberlain (4), Hong-Chih Kuo (3), Daniel Bard (3)


But what about the opposite of the vise grip? That’s the guy who comes in, makes a mess, but still maintains a lead. That’s a weak grasp, is it not? We’ll call it the “dead fish.”

A dead fish meets the following criteria
  • The pitcher yielded at least 1.5 times as many baserunners as he got outs.
  • The pitcher didn’t strike anyone out.

Here are your 2010 leaders in dead fish holds:

David Robertson (5), Darren O’Day (4), 10 pitchers tied with 3

Is Mike Stanton the next Brandon Wood?

June, 7, 2010
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Word on the street is that the Marlins have called up power-hitting outfield prospect Mike Stanton, and fantasy owners everywhere are putting in their waiver claims. And with good reason: The kid has 21 home runs in a third of a season Double-A at the tender age of 20. Last year Stanton hit 29 homers between high Class A and Double-A, and the year before that he hit 39 jacks at low Class A. As far as power-hitting prospects go, he's about as good as it gets. Note that I wrote "about as good as it gets," because Stanton isn't perfect. And he has one major flaw that could prevent him from becoming a viable major leaguer.

In 238 plate appearances this year for Jacksonville, Stanton has struck out 53 times. That's 22 percent of the time. For his career he has struck out 26.7 percent of the time, so he has shown a bit of an improvement this year. However, that's still a heck of a lot of whiffs for a minor leaguer. As friend of TMI Kevin Goldstein Tweeted yesterday, "We can all get excited about Stanton being up, but I do fear his numbers are going to look like Rob Deer's for a while."

On the major league level, strikeouts for hitters tend to be overrated, and there are plenty of hitters who have remained productive despite racking up a ton of K's -- Jim Thome, Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard among them. However, when evaluating prospects, strikeouts matter. Because if a guy has trouble making contact against minor league pitching, odds are they're going to have an even harder time squaring up big league arms. For example, Dunn has struck out in 26.5 percent of his plate appearances in the majors. But in the minors he fanned 18.2 percent of the time. The list below is the current top 10 in the majors in strikeouts, and the percentage of the time they fanned in the minors.

MINOR LEAGUE STRIKEOUT PERCENTAGE
Mark Reynolds, 23.1
Justin Upton, 19.7
David Wright, 18.0
Rickie Weeks, 18.7
Adam Dunn, 18.2
Carlos Pena 20.7
Matt Kemp, 18.5
Ryan Howard, 27.2
Austin Jackson, 21.1
Adam Lind, 16.8

These guys fan more than anyone than baseball, and with the exception of Howard, every one of them whiffed less frequently in the minors than Stanton. As Howard has proven, lots of K's in the minors are not prohibitive to success in the majors. However, it's certainly cause for concern. And we've seen many prospects in recent years flame out because their high minor league strikeout rate came back to bite them in the bigs. The most recent example is Brandon Wood, who provides a cautionary tale for those going gaga for Stanton. Wood made lots of noise in the prospect world when he hit 43 homers back in 2005. But he struck 23.3 percent of the time in the minors and his power has never translated while playing for the Angels. He has a .381 OPS for the Angels this year and has struck out in 30.2 percent of his big league plate appearances.

Before you get too excited about Stanton, keep Wood in mind.

Matt Meyers is an associate editor at ESPN The Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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