Stats & Info: ESPN Stats & Info

Injury derails Tanaka's rookie season

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10

AP Photo/Tony DejakMasahiro Tanaka’s rookie season will be on hold due to a partially torn ligament in his throwing arm.
The partially torn ligament in Masahiro Tanaka’s throwing arm derails what’s been a solid rookie season for the New York Yankees ace.

Tanaka’s season has been a successful one: 2.51 ERA, 135 strikeouts to 19 walks in 129 1/3 innings, and the Yankees have won 13 of his 18 starts.

But Tanaka hadn’t pitched well of late, going 1-3 with a 4.25 ERA. And maybe more telling, his strikeout rate dropped 10 percentage points in that span, to 19 percent after he posted a 29 percent strikeout rate across his first 14 starts.

One of the big differences? Tanaka has had less success getting batters to swing at pitches out of the strike zone.

• In his first 14 starts, Tanaka induced an average of 23 swings at pitches out of the strike zone per game. In his past four starts, he’s averaging a little more than 18. His two games with his fewest number of swings at pitches out of the zone have come in his past four starts.

• In his first 14 starts, 39 percent of Tanaka’s pitches out of the zone resulted in swings – the highest rate among starters in MLB. Since that point, he ranks a good-not-great 15th among starters.

• In his first 14 starts, batters hit .121 with two strikes, and 52 percent of his plate appearances that reached two strikes ended in a strikeout. In his past four, batters are hitting .260 with two strikes, and only 42 percent of his plate appearances that reached two strikes have ended in a strikeout.

• Perhaps because of this, he’s being forced to throw more strikes – and batters had more success against pitches in the strike zone. He threw 44 percent of his pitches in the zone in his first 14 and 48 percent since. In his first 14 starts, he allowed 23 hard-hit balls on pitches in the strike zone per 100 at-bats; in his past four, he’s averaged 33 hard-hit balls per 100 at-bats.

The injury is yet another blow to the Yankees starting rotation.

Of the pitchers on the Yankees starting rotation on Opening Day, all but Hiroki Kuroda are on the disabled list. CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda are all on the 60-day disabled list.

Top stats to know: Pirates at Cardinals

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9

AP Photo/J Pat CarterSince making his major league debut, Gregory Polanco has reached base safely in 24 of his 27 games.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals play the third game of their four-game series tonight at Busch Stadium (8 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). The Cardinals won the first two games of the series with consecutive walk-off home runs.

Here are some storylines our broadcast crew will touch upon tonight.

Pirates Starting Pitching

After play on June 20, the Pirates were 35-38 and nine games out of first in the NL Central. Since that time, Pittsburgh has won 12 of its past 17 games to move within 4½ games of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Pittsburgh was expected to start Gerrit Cole, but he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a tight lat muscle. Cole has pitched well against the Cardinals in his career, with a 2.16 ERA in four career starts (two in the regular season, two in the postseason).

Expected to take his place is Brandon Cumpton, who will be recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. Cumpton has made nine starts for the Pirates this season and has gone 3-2 with a 4.61 ERA. He has one career start against St. Louis, a 6-0 Pittsburgh win on July 30, 2013, in which he threw seven shutout innings.

Lance Lynn’s Fastball

This season, Lance Lynn is using his fastball 78.6 percent of the time. Only Bartolo Colón (81.7 percent) uses the pitch more.

Last year, Lynn was second in the majors in the stat, but he has increased his usage this season.

Gregory Polanco Channeling His Inner Barry Bonds

Since his MLB debut on June 10, Polanco has reached base safely in 24 of his 27 games. Included in that was an 11-game hitting streak to begin his career, the longest such streak in franchise history.

Overall, the start of his career is eerily similar to that of another Pirates outfielder -- Barry Bonds.

Matt Holiday Struggles

Matt Holliday is having one of the worst seasons of his career. His batting average (.260), slugging percentage (.375) and at-bats per home run (64.6) are the lowest in his career, while his on-base percentage (.366) is his worst since 2005, his second year in the majors.

ESPN HR Tracker derby dream team

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesYoenis Cespedes will attempt to defend his 2013 Home Run Derby title.

The Gillette Home Run Derby (Monday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN) captains Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista will announce their teams this evening on the 6 p.m. ET edition of "SportsCenter." The ESPN Home Run Tracker team put together the lineups it would most like to see, using data from every home run hit this season.

American League

Yoenis Cespedes
Yoenis Cespedes hit a total of 32 home runs in last year’s Home Run Derby, eight more than any other contestant. Target Field has a shorter power alley in left-center field than Citi Field (377 feet vs. 385 feet), although it does have a slightly longer distance to the foul pole (339 feet vs. 335 feet).

Of Cespedes’ 32 homers in last year’s derby, 26 were hit to the left of center field.

Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz leads the majors with 28 home runs. He also has 19 homers off fastballs this season, four more than any other player.

Cruz has hit 2.1 miles worth of home runs this year, which leads the majors. He's also shown some of the most raw power in baseball, being tied for fourth in the American League with five homers of at least 425 feet.

Jose Abreu
Jose Abreu has 27 home runs, second-most in MLB behind Nelson Cruz. Abreu is one of three players to hit two or more miles worth of home runs this year.

David Ortiz
David Ortiz is one of four players to hit a 475-foot home run this season. Ortiz’s 482-foot homer on April 22 traveled 119.9 mph off the bat, the highest for a home run this year.

Ortiz has 16 homers of at least 400 feet this season, tied for fourth-most in the league. The only players with more than Ortiz are Edwin Encarnacion (injured), Mike Trout (has already declined derby consideration) and Giancarlo Stanton.

National League

Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton’s average home run to this point in the season has traveled 423.8 feet, the longest of any player with at least 10 homers. Stanton’s average is no sample-size fluke either: His 21 homers are the most of the 11 players averaging at least 410 feet per home run.

Stanton has nine homers this year that traveled at least 425 feet, most of any player in the league. Stanton has five 450-foot home runs; no one else in the league has more than two. Stanton has more 450-foot home runs than any other team in MLB.

Michael Morse
Michael Morse has eight 425-foot home runs, two 450-foot home runs and an average distance of 420.5 feet. All of those are second in the league behind Giancarlo Stanton.

Morse ranks in the top 10 in the National League in average distance, speed off the bat and apex among players with at least 10 home runs.

Justin Upton
Justin Upton has hit four 440-foot home runs, trailing only Stanton and Morse for the most in the majors. His 477-foot homer on April 10 is the fourth-longest in baseball this season and the longest at Turner Field since September 2010.

Ian Desmond
The shortest of the 15 home runs hit by Ian Desmond this year was calculated at 387 feet, making him the only player who has hit at least 15 homers that all traveled at least 375 feet. His average home run distance is 416.4 feet, the fifth-longest in the majors (mininum 10 HR).

Desmond’s 462-foot shot on April 21 is the second-longest home run recorded at Nationals Park since ESPN began tracking home runs in 2006.

Oakland's Fourth of July Fireworks

July, 5, 2014
Jul 5
The Oakland A’s pulled off a stunning trade Friday night reportedly acquiring pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs for a package including shortstop Addison Russell, the third-ranked prospect in baseball at the beginning of the season, according to ESPN’s Keith Law.

That gives the Athletics, already owners of the best record in baseball and lowest ERA in the American League, arguably the most formidable rotation in the game, featuring five of the top 34 qualifiers for the ERA title.

Support for Samardzija

Samardzija lost seven of nine decisions for the Cubs this season despite having an ERA of 2.83 that ranks him 10th in the NL among qualifiers. That’s mainly because the Cubs were giving him just 2.41 runs of support on offense, which ranked 49 of those same 50 qualifiers in the Senior Circuit.

Offensive firepower shouldn’t be as much of a problem in the East Bay as it was on the North Side. In fact, the A’s have the highest-scoring offense in baseball, averaging 5.0 runs per contest, a full run more than the 21st-ranked Cubs

Don’t Forget about Hammel

Jason Hammel’s ninth major league season has been his best by far. The former Ray, Rockie, Oriole (and now Cub) has career-bests in ERA (2.98), K/9 (8.6), WHIP (1.02) and Opp BA (.222).

He returns to the AL where he has a career ERA of 5.00 in five seasons, but has always pitched well in Oakland. He’s 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five games (two starts) in his new home stadium.

Could be a Cubs Coup

With the acquisition of Russell, Chicago now has six of the top 71 position prospects according to Law’s preseason ranks. Russell was Oakland’s only prospect ranked in the top 100.

Top stats to know: Rays at Tigers

July, 4, 2014
Jul 4

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsVictor Martinez’s 21 home runs this season are only four short of his career high (25 in 2007).
The Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers play the second game of their four-game series tonight (7 ET, ESPN/WatchESPN). We take a look at some of the things the broadcast crew will talk about.

Rays' offense on the rebound?
Tampa Bay is averaging only 3.76 runs per game this season, which ranks 26th in MLB and 14th in the AL. Since scoring 4.96 runs per game in 2009, Tampa’s scoring has gone down every season.

Tampa Bay’s offense has been especially anemic on the road this season. But the Rays are 6-2 on their current road trip and the offense appears to be making some progress.

Pitching matchup
Alex Cobb takes the ball for the Rays. He started the season off strong with a 1.89 ERA over his first three starts but has been inconsistent since coming off the DL in late May (5.16 ERA in eight starts). While Cobb has been up and down at times, he has the fourth-highest ground-ball rate in the American League (56.5 percent).

Expect to see plenty of changeups from Cobb. He throws it 32 percent of the time, the second-highest rate in the majors (with a minimum of 10 starts). Miguel Cabrera is hitting .412 against changeups this season, the third-highest rate in the AL.

For the Tigers, Drew Smyly looks to bounce back from the shortest start of his career. He allowed four runs and eight hits in only 2 1/3 innings Sunday against the Astros. Smyly had pitched well before that with a 1.44 ERA in his previous four starts.

Hail to Victor
Since July 1 last season, Victor Martinez leads the majors in hitting (.347). He already has 21 home runs this season, just four short of his career high (25 in 2007).

Despite the power, Martinez has the lowest swing-and-miss rate in baseball this season (8.2 percent). He is one of five hitters to miss on less than 10 percent of swings this season, and the other four have combined for six home runs.

Longoria lacking power
Evan Longoria has seen his power numbers fall off this season. His 10 homers would be his fewest before the All-Star break in any first half in which he played at least 25 games.

His slugging percentage has dropped to a career-low .390, which ranks 108th among 167 qualified hitters. Notable players with a higher slugging percentage include light-hitting speedsters Dee Gordon (.412), Alcides Escobar (.410) and Billy Hamilton (.400).

Kershaw at the top of his game

July, 4, 2014
Jul 4

ESPN Stats & InformationClayton Kershaw (top right) is in a league of his own this season.

Clayton Kershaw carries a career-best 28-inning scoreless streak into his start Friday against the Rockies, the longest single-season streak by a Dodgers pitcher since Orel Hershiser’s MLB-record 59-straight scoreless innings in 1988.

While Kershaw has been arguably baseball’s best pitcher for years, he’s taken his game to another level so far this season, as Buster Olney noted in his column Thursday.

Kershaw entered this season as one of only three pitchers in National League history to win at least three consecutive ERA titles (Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux).

While it’s hard to fathom we hadn’t seen Kershaw’s best yet, Kershaw has substantially improved nearly every aspect of his game so far this season. Consider:

• He has struck out 34.7 percent of the batters he's faced this season (1st in MLB), compared to a career high is 27.2 percent in 2011.

• Kershaw has walked only 3.6 percent of the batters he's faced (6th in MLB), well below his career best is 5.7 percent in 2013.

• He is throwing 70.8 percent first-pitch strikes (2nd in MLB), nearly six percentage points above his career high of 64.9 percent in 2013.

• 59.8 percent of the balls in play against Kershaw have been ground balls (2nd in MLB); his career high is 48 percent in 2008.

• He has induced whiffs on 30.3 percent of the swings against him (2nd in MLB), versus a career high of 25.8 in 2012 and 2013.

• And Kershaw has induced hitters to chase on 37.1 percent of his pitches outside the strike zone (2nd in MLB), six percentage points above his career high 31.1 percent in 2013.

Perhaps most notable among Kershaw’s development is the increase in ground balls. From 2008-13, Kershaw ranked 86th among 145 qualified starters in ground-ball rate (43.9 percent).

Among pitchers with 70 innings this season, he ranks second. His current combination of high strikeouts, low walks and lots of ground balls is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent years.

Since batted-ball data became available in 2002, there have been 1,138 individual seasons by qualified pitchers. He’s currently just eight innings short of qualifying due to his early-season injury, but Kershaw’s strikeout rate (34.7 percent) would rank first, his walk rate (3.6 percent) tied for 28th and his ground-ball rate (59.8 percent) 28th among those 1,138 pitcher seasons.

The highest strikeout rate by a pitcher with a ground-ball rate as high as Kershaw is 22.9 percent (Brandon Webb in 2003). See the scatter chart at the top of the article to see how unusual his season has been.

While some regression is likely, if Kershaw finishes near these totals we’ll be witnessing a level of performance unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

Top stats to know: Yankees at Twins

July, 4, 2014
Jul 4

Andrew Fielding/USA TODAY SportsDerek Jeter has 24 career hits on July 4, most among active players.
The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins play the second game of their four-game series this afternoon (3 ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN). We take a look at some of the things the broadcast crew will talk about.

The Shift Report
New York has shifted 503 times so far this season, trailing only the Houston Astros, who have shifted 764 times.

Last season, the Yankees shifted a total of 475 times. In fact, since 2010, the Yankees have increased their use of the shift.

As for Minnesota, it has used the shift 202 times this season. While that’s near the middle of the pack (16th overall), it’s already more shifts than they had in the last four seasons combined (189).

Pitching Matchup
The Twins are the second team that Chase Whitley will face for the second time this season.

When he faced the Toronto Blue Jays for a second time (June 23), he allowed 8 runs in 3⅓ innings.

Whitley has thrown five or fewer innings in seven of his nine starts this season.

That has helped tax the bullpen - only two teams – Tampa Bay (4,883) and Miami (4,800) - have had more pitches thrown by relievers this season than the Yankees (4,706).

For Minnesota, Kyle Gibson will take the mound at Target Field, a place he has enjoyed pitching. This season, Gibson is 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA at home, compared to 3-5 with a 5.54 ERA on the road.

Among qualified starters this season, Gibson’s home ERA is the second-lowest in the majors, trailing only Julio Teheran (1.22).

Gibson has been able to get opposing hitters to chase nearly a third of the pitches he throws outside the strike zone.

That’s fourth best among qualified starters in the American League.

• Derek Jeter is 24-for-69 (.348) in his career on July 4. That’s the most Independence Day hits by any active player.

• Brian Dozier has 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases in the Twins first 84 games, putting him just off pace for a 30-30 season. He’s the only player in the majors to reach 15-15 so far this season. No Twins player has ever recorded a 30-30 season.

Power by Scherzer, bats too much for Rays

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
Thanks to Max Scherzer and an early power display, the Detroit Tigers opened up a four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays with an 8-1 win.

Scherzer dominates
Max Scherzer fell three outs short of the second complete game of his career, but he might have been even more dominant than he was in his shutout on May 12.

Scherzer allowed only two hits and one walk in his eight innings. It was only the second time in his career that he allowed three or fewer baserunners while recording at least 21 outs. He had an identical line – 8 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 7 K – against the Cleveland Indians last May.

He did it with a much more effective fastball than over the last month. While posting a 4.81 ERA in June, he threw fastballs at least half the time in every game and 27 percent of his heaters were up in the zone. On Thursday, under half of his pitches were fastballs and on 19 percent were up.

Due to the better location, opposing hitters were only 1-for-14 with four strikeouts against his heater. During June, opponents hit .263 against his fastball.

It was Scherzer’s fourth straight win against the Rays after going 0-2 in his first three starts against Tampa Bay.

It was over when...
The Tigers scored five runs in the first inning. The Rays have been held to four or fewer runs in each of their last 19 meetings against Detroit.

According to Elias, that’s the longest streak in the American League since 1996-98, when the New York Yankees held the Toronto Blue Jays to four or fewer runs in 23 straight meetings.

Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter all hit home runs in the first inning. The Tigers are just the sixth team to hit three homers in an inning this season and the second to do so in the first (the other is the Los Angeles Angels on April 13 against the New York Mets).

Trout, Springer powerful in June

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
June was another notable month when it came to home run hitting, particularly to a couple of players who couldn’t stop hitting long home runs.

HR Hitter of the Month: Mike Trout
Mike Trout hit seven home runs in June, including a career-long 489-foot blast off off Jason Vargas at Kauffmann Stadium on June 27.

The other three longest home runs hit this year were all in April - Giancarlo Stanton hit a 484-foot shot on April 4 at Marlins Park; David Ortiz recorded a 482-foot home run on April 22 at Fenway Park; and Justin Upton hit a 477-foot round tripper on April 10 at Turner Field.

Trout’s 489-foot home run is the longest home run by an American League player since the beginning of ESPN HR Tracker in 2006, and the sixth-longest overall.

Trout’s average career home run distance is 415.2 feet. He trails only Justin Upton (417.5 feet) in average home run distance since 2006 (min. 50 HRs).

His two longest career home runs have come in Kansas City – 489 feet on June 27, 2014 and 463 feet on May 23, 2013.

The Home Run Tracker team compared Trout’s home run to Bo Jackson’s first career home run (hit on Sept. 15, 1986), which was calculated at 495 feet. Both of which were hit at Kauffman Stadium.

Trevor Ebaugh

Shortest HR of the Month: Chris Davis
On June 17, Chris Davis hit a 319-foot home run off the base of the left field foul pole in Tropicana Field, the shortest home run of the season (not including inside-the-park HRs). Of the nine home runs hit 320 feet or shorter since 2009, Davis’ was the only one that was not hit at Fenway Park.

Other Notable Performances: Hanley Ramirez, George Springer and Jose Abreu

Hanley Ramirez
On June 8, Hanley Ramirez drove a Jorge De La Rosa fastball 472 feet at Coors Field. Not only was it a career long for Ramirez, it was the longest home run by a Dodger since the beginning of Home Run Tracker in 2006.

Prior to this home run, the longest by a Dodger was 461 feet by Manny Ramirez on April 22, 2009.

George Springer
On June 24, George Springer hit a 465-foot home run off Aaron Harang at Minute Maid Park, tied for the second longest home run hit in Houston since 2006. Lance Berkman had the two others (473 feet on June 8, 2008 and 465 feet on July 26, 2006).

Springer also led the month of June in average HR Distance (minimum 5 home runs).

Trevor Ebaugh

Jose Abreu
Jose Abreu led the major leagues with 10 home runs in the month of June and set a record by reaching 25 career home runs faster than anyone in MLB history (67 games). That broke the mark of 72 games set by the Tigers’ Rudy York.

Top stats to know: Rays at Yankees

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30

US PresswireChris Archer is 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees.
The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees begin a three-game series tonight in the Bronx (7 ET, ESPN/WatchESPN). Here are some storylines our broadcast crew will touch upon.

Matchup to Watch: Yankees Righties vs Chris Archer
Last season, righties hit .176 off of Chris Archer, the fourth-lowest rate among pitchers with at least 20 starts.

However, this year has been a different story as righties are hitting over .300 against him.

For what it’s worth, Archer is 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees, one of five pitchers to win each of his first four starts against New York and allow no more than two runs in any of them, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Scoring Drought
Both the Yankees and Rays have struggled scoring runs this season. New York is averaging 4.04 runs per game (11th in the AL), and are 9-25 this season in games when it scores three or fewer runs.

As for the Rays, they are scoring only 3.79 runs per game, second-fewest in the American League (ahead of only Houston, at 3.76 runs per game).

In fact, since averaging 4.96 runs per game in 2009, the Rays scoring offense has gone down every season.

Misc. Notes
• Tampa Bay is 11-7 since June 11 (tied with Detroit for the second-best record in the AL).

• Tampa Bay has won 8 of the last 10 games in New York, outscoring the Bronx Bombers by 2 and a half runs per game.

• Evan Longoria loves facing the Yankees. His 26 HR are the most he’s hit against any team and tied with Carlos Pena for the third-most among active players (David Ortiz leads with 41).

• Mark Teixeira has homered in four of his last eight games (he hit only two home runs in his previous 25 games).

• Rookie Yangervis Solarte was hitting .336 with 4 HR and 23 RBI over his first 34 career games. However, over his last 35 games, Solarte is hitting only .190 with 2 HR and 7 RBI.

Trout and Abreu hit long homers

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels hit a first-inning homer against the Kansas City Royals. His 489-foot homer is the longest hit in Kauffman Stadium since ESPN began tracking homers in 2006, and it is the longest hit there since Travis Hafner hit one 481 feet on April 15, 2012.

It is the longest by an American League player since ESPN began tracking home runs in 2006. The second-longest is 488 by Edwin Encarnacion on Sept. 1, 2012.

Trout's homer is also the longest by an Angel since ESPN began tracking home runs in 2006. The second-longest was Vladimir Guerrero, who hit one 484 feet on July 30, 2006.

Trout's home run is the longest of his career by 26 feet, is his fifth career home run of 450 feet or more and is the longest home run in MLB since Giancarlo Stanton hit one 494 feet on Aug. 17, 2012.

Abreu goes deep (twice)
Trout wasn't the only star hitting long homers on Friday. Jose Abreu hit two home runs for the Chicago White Sox in their win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

It was Abreu's fourth multihomer game this season, his first since April 27.

Abreu now has 25 home runs in 67 games. He's the fastest player to reach 25 homers in MLB history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Only one other player in MLB history -- Mark McGwire in 1987 -- has had more home runs as a rookie before July 1.

Abreu's fifth-inning home run traveled 428 feet. It is the seventh home run this year that he has hit 425 feet or more, which is tied for second-most in MLB and leads the American League.

Abreu's two homers were two of four allowed by R.A. Dickey, the first time he has allowed that many homers in a game since 2006.

2014 NBA Draft recap

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27

Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsAndrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker went at the top of this year's draft.
The 2014 NBA Draft is in the books. Here are the stats you need to know about the top seven picks.

No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins became the 2nd Canadian-born player to be drafted No. 1 overall, joining Anthony Bennett last season. There are now three Canadian-born top-5 picks in the common draft era, and all are on the Cavaliers (Wiggins, Bennett, Tristan Thompson).

Wiggins also joins Danny Manning, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1988, as the only players in Kansas history picked first overall.

No. 2 Milwaukee Bucks – Jabari Parker
Parker became the sixth Duke player drafted in the top five since 1999.

He should be an immediate help for the Bucks in the post. Milwaukee averaged 5.9 post-up points per game, 27th in the league. Parker averaged 3.6 post-up points per game on 55.4% shooting.

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid
Embiid gives the 76ers a good two-way post player. On offense he shot 55 percent on post-ups this season, best in the Big 12 (minimum 50 plays).

In the last 15 games he played with Kansas, Embiid held opponents to 29% shooting in the post.

No. 4 Orlando Magic - Aaron Gordon
Gordon is the fourth Arizona player drafted in the top five in the common draft era, joining Mike Bibby, Sean Elliott and Derrick Williams.

The Magic also pick up the youngest player in this draft class. Gordon does not turn 19 until September.

No. 5 Utah Jazz – Dante Exum
Exum joins Kyrie Irving and Andrew Bogut as the only Australian-born players picked in the top five in the common draft era.

The only other international point guard drafted in the top 10 was Ricky Rubio.

No. 6 Boston Celtics – Marcus Smart
Smart is the highest drafted Oklahoma State player since Bryant Reeves in 1995.

The last time the Celtics took a point guard this high in a draft was in 1997 when they drafted Chauncey Billups third overall.

No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers – Julius Randle
Last season the Lakers ranked last in both defensive and offensive rebounding percentage. Enter Randle, who led the nation with 24 double-doubles last season.

How prolific was Randle? The only freshman in Division I history to ever record more double-doubles in a season was Michael Beasley, who had 28 for Kansas State in 2007-08.

Top stats to know: Blue Jays win on error

June, 25, 2014
Jun 25

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesJose Reyes scored the winning run after Yankees 3B Yangervis Solarte
The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays played one of the more exciting games of the night at Rogers Centre. Here are the top three stats to know about the game.

Buehrle settles for no decision
Early in the game, it looked like Mark Buehrle would coast to his 11th win of the season, which would tie Masahiro Tanaka for most in the majors. Through five innings Buehrle gave up four hits and no runs, but things fell apart in seventh inning as the Yankees would eventually tie things up at 6-6.

The no decision leaves Buehrle's lifetime record against the Yankees at 1-11. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his .083 win percentage against the Yankees is the second-worst by any pitcher all-time (minimum 15 starts). The only pitcher who had less luck against the Bronx Bombers was Red Ruffing (1-16).

The Captain goes yard
Derek Jeter homered for the second time this season to get the Yankees on the board in the sixth inning.

Jeter’s two home runs have come on nearly identical pitches. Both were on the inside part of the plate, both were against left-handers (Buehrle and Hector Santiago) and both were on cutters.

Both of Jeter's home runs have also come on the road. He hasn't hit a home run at Yankee Stadium since July 28, 2013, his only homer last season.

Blue Jays walk-off win via error
Toronto walked off in the ninth inning when Yangervis Solarte fielded Melky Cabrera’s sacrifice bunt and threw wildly, allowing Jose Reyes to score. It marked the second time this season the Blue Jays won a game on a walk-off due to the opposition committing an error after fielding a bunt.

The other occurrence came on May 28 when the Tampa Bay Rays Juan Carlos Oviedo fielded an Anthony Gose bunt and threw wildly, allowing Kevin Pillar to score.

NBA Draft: Specialists can be found late

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
The 2014 NBA Draft has been touted as one of the best in years. However, just like every year, there are prospects who are projected to go late first round or second round as specialists. We highlight a few players who may fit this category.

Glenn Robinson III
According to Dean Oliver’s advanced projection model, Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III ranks favorably. Robinson excelled on defense this past season, holding opponents to 32 percent shooting in man-to-man defense. That ranked in the 84th percentile of the 434 players with at least 200 plays. With a recent emergence in players who play defense and make 3-pointers, Robinson could follow the footsteps of players like Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard.

K.J. McDaniels
Clemson's K.J. McDaniels has received praise from scouts for his athletic prowess, which helps make him a force in transition. According to Synergy Sports Tech, he averaged 1.47 points per transition play last season, the second-best rate (min. 50 plays) among players from the Big-7 conferences (AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC).

Like Robinson, McDaniels was also a defensive stalwart, holding opponents to 32 percent shooting (84th percentile).

Perhaps a similar comparison can be made to Corey Brewer of the Timberwolves. Brewer trailed only James Harden and LeBron James with total transition points during the regular season, while holding opponents to 40.4 percent shooting.

Deonte Burton
Deonte Burton, a point guard from Nevada, was a masterful pick-and-roll ball handler, a quintessential play in the pro ranks. According to Synergy Sports Tech, he scored 1.07 points per play as the pick-and-roll ball handler, second best in the NCAA last season of 68 players with at least 150 plays.

Perhaps more impressive is that Burton committed a turnover on five percent of his plays as the pick-and-roll ball handler, trailing only San Diego State’s Xavier Thames.

Patty Mills is a player who had similar success as the pick-and-roll ball handler in the NBA this season. Not only was he taken late in the second round, he ranked behind only LeBron James and Kevin Durant in points per play among the 74 players with at least 200 such plays and had the lowest turnover percentage.

Jarnell Stokes
Rebounding has translated well from college to the professional ranks and Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes is one of the best offensive rebounders in this year’s draft. He grabbed 4.2 offensive rebounds per game last season, most in the SEC and third in the nation. He rebounded 15 percent of his team’s missed shots when on the court and averaged an SEC-leading 3.2 second-chance points per game.

Jordan Hill and Reggie Evans are a couple of NBA players who are having long careers as offensive rebounders. Among 90 players who had at least 100 offensive rebounds last season, only Andre Drummond had a higher offensive rebounding percentage than Stokes did in college.

Aaron Craft
Aaron Craft from Ohio State has a reputation for being a menace on the defensive end, and his numbers support that claim. He forced a turnover on 20 percent of his opponents’ possessions, the best rate among Big-7 conference players (minimum 200 plays). He generated a turnover percentage of at least 18 percent every season of his four-year career.

Ray McCallum, who was drafted in the second round by the Kings in 2013, also forced a turnover on 20.1% of opponents’ possessions in a man defense in the 2012-13 season. Craft will look to have a similar defensive impact as McCallum did toward the end of the season for the Kings. McCallum wasn’t as disruptive in his rookie season as he was in college, but he still held the opponents to 39 percent shooting, which ranked in the 81st percentile among 276 players who faced at least 300 plays.

NBA Draft: Who do analytics rate best?

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
There has been a huge analytics movement lately in the NBA – 23 of the 30 teams have analytics departments.

Some, but not all, advanced stats translate well from college to the NBA. Which ones translate the best?

Rebound percentage is the percentage of available rebounds a player grabs while he’s on the floor.

Among big men in the last five NBA Drafts, the top three in rebound percentage in their final college season have an NBA career rebound percentage better than 15 percent – Kenneth Faried, DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson.

The five worst players are nowhere near a 15 percent rebound percentage. Four of those five players have never even started a game in the NBA.

None of the 10 worst big men on this list have an NBA rebound percentage higher than 15 percent.

Rebound percentage is even telling for guards. The bottom 10 guards include Tyshawn Taylor, Peyton Siva, Marquis Teague, Jon Diebler, Doron Lamb, John Jenkins and Jimmer Fredette.

Which 2014 draft prospect had the best rebound percentage this season among Chad Ford’s top 50? Michigan’s Mitch McGary, who played in just eight games this season. Not far behind were Joel Embiid, Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle and Jarnell Stokes.

The prospects that don’t measure well in rebound percentage are Semaj Christon, Nik Stauskas, Tyler Ennis and Spencer Dinwiddie, all of which grabbed fewer than six percent of available rebounds. The big man in Chad Ford’s top 50 who ranks the lowest is Patric Young.

Assist percentage is the percentage of teammates’ field goals a player assists on while he’s on the floor.

Among guards and wings in the last 5 NBA Drafts, eight of the top 10 in assist percentage in their final college season have started in the NBA.

The 10 non-post players picked in the lottery over the last five years with the worst assist percentage in their final college season could all be considered busts. They include Shabazz Muhammad, Derrick Williams, Anthony Bennett, Al-Farouq Aminu and Xavier Henry.

Some of the top wings include Klay Thompson, Paul George, Chandler Parsons, Lance Stephenson and Kawhi Leonard.

Which 2014 draft prospect had the best assist percentage this season among Chad Ford’s top 50? UCLA’s Kyle Anderson. Elfrid Payton and Tyler Ennis were close behind.

DeAndre Daniels and Noah Vonleh had the worst assist percentage among the top 50. The worst guards in this category were Andrew Wiggins and James Young.

Steal percentage is the percentage of opponents’ possessions while a player is on the court that result in that player getting a steal.

Among guards in the last five NBA Drafts, the top four in steal percentage in their final college season have started the majority of their NBA games -- Iman Shumpert, Michael Carter-Williams, Dion Waiters and Victor Oladipo. Not far below them are Paul George, Norris Cole and Kenneth Faried.

Among all players in the last five NBA Drafts, the worst five players in steal percentage combined for just 20 NBA starts this season.

Which 2014 draft prospect had the best steal percentage this season among Chad Ford’s top 50? UCLA’s Jordan Adams, just ahead of Marcus Smart.

Doug McDermott had the lowest steal percentage, with just eight steals all season. The worst among guards was Nik Stauskas.

Player Efficiency Rating or “PER” is an overall rating of a player’s per-minute statistical production. The NBA average is 15 every season.

In the last five NBA Drafts, six of the top nine players in PER in their final college season have an NBA career PER greater than 15. Of the bottom 10 on that list, nine of the 10 players have an NBA career PER less than 15.

The top 10 includes Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving.

The bottom 10 includes Josh Selby, Marquis Teague, Malcolm Lee and Daniel Orton.

Which 2014 draft prospect had the best PER this season among Chad Ford’s top 50? Doug McDermott, followed by NC State’s T.J. Warren.

The lowest PER among the top 50? Zach LaVine, followed by James Young.