Stats & Info: Rickey Henderson

Today’s Trivia: Want to feel old? Los Angeles Angels starter Tyler Chatwood was born 16 days too soon to be the first pitcher born in the 1990s. Who was the first pitcher born in the 1980s to appear in an MLB game?

Quick Hits: Let’s take a look at some surprising league leaders so far this season.

• Howie Kendrick leads the majors with five HRs off of left-handed pitchers. That’s three more than he had last season.

Sean Rodriguez
Rodriguez
• Your MLB leader in triples? Sean Rodriguez with three. Though he’s hitting just .206, six of his seven hits this season have been for extra bases.

• Jonny Gomes leads the league with five home runs in day games, one more than he had last season.

• Juan Pierre has been caught stealing five times already. The last time an AL player was caught more in April? 1988, when both Rickey Henderson and Mark McLemore were caught six times.

• Billy Butler has already been intentionally walked five times, just three shy of his career high. Over the past 50 years, the most intentional walks for an AL player in April is seven (Ken Griffey Jr. in 1993 and Travis Hafner in 2007).

• Teammates Ryan Raburn (25) and Austin Jackson (24) have struck out more than any other hitters. Combined, those two have more strikeouts than 22 of the other 29 outfields in baseball.

A.J. Burnett
Burnett
• A.J. Burnett already has six wild pitches. Over the past 50 years, only three AL pitchers have had more in April: Ricky Romero in 2010, Jaime Navarro in 1997 and Bobby Witt in 1986.

• Clay Buchholz has allowed six home runs, after allowing seven all last season. But that’s not even the more surprising number in the AL. Erik Bedard’s seven home runs allowed are the most in the majors. He’s never allowed more than 19 in a season.

• David Price has already hit four batters, most in the majors and one shy of his career high.

• Brad Thomas has pitched just 6 2/3 innings, but has still allowed the most sac flies this season (5).

Trivia Answer: In April 2001, CC Sabathia became the first pitcher born in the 1980s to appear in a game.

Chasing history in the AL West

September, 15, 2010
9/15/10
4:29
PM ET
Today’s Trivia: Paul Maholm takes the hill for the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday holding the team-lead in strikeouts with 90 (Side note: 34 pitchers had more than that before the All-Star break). Not having a 100-K pitcher is a bit more common than you might think. In fact, it happened five times last decade, including last season to the Washington Nationals. Which brings us today’s trivia question: Which pitcher led the Nationals in strikeouts last season?

The standings might say otherwise, but there’s always something to play for – in this case, history. In the first of a series of divisional breakdowns, here’s some statistical minutiae to keep an eye on in the closing weeks. First the AL West.

Los Angeles Angels
    Bobby Abreu
  • Bobby Abreu needs one stolen base for 20 on the season. That would give him 12 straight seasons of 15 HR and 20 SB, extending his own record streak. Barry Bonds (10 straight) has the next longest such stretch.
  • Brandon Wood’s .397 OPS would be the lowest for a player with 200 plate appearances since Frank O’Rourke posted a .325 OPS for the 1912 Boston Braves. Wood is just below Tony Pena Jr.’s .398 for the Kansas City Royals in 2008. Wood’s .185 on-base percentage would be the seventh lowest since 1900 for players with 200 PA.
  • With 56 strikeouts and only four walks, Wood would have the most strikeouts for a player with fewer than five walks since Rob Picciolo (63 K, 2 BB) of the 1980 Oakland A’s.
Oakland A’s
  • Both the Seattle Mariners and A’s do not have a player with 15 home runs. The difference is that the A’s leader Kevin Kouzmanoff (14 HR) has been missing time with a back injury. The last AL team without a 15-HR player was the 1992 Angels, who were led by Gary Gaetti’s 12.
  • If Daric Barton (100 BB, 88 K) stays below 100 strikeouts, he’d be the first American League player since Rafael Palmeiro to do that in a season with over 100 walks. Since Palmeiro’s 2002 campaign, 16 players have done this, but all were in the National League. With only eight HR, Barton would be the first to do this with fewer than 10 HR since Rickey Henderson in 1996.
  • How does a pitcher with only 98 strikeouts have the lowest opponent OPS in the AL since Tim Hudson in 2003? There just might be some luck involved for Trevor Cahill. The .224 BABIP against Cahill is the lowest against a qualifying AL pitcher since opponents had a .212 BABIP against the Detroit Tigers Jeff Robinson in 1988. Not only was that Robinson’s only season with a sub-3.00 ERA, but his next best was 4.73.
Seattle Mariners
    Franklin Gutierrez
  • With Franklin Gutierrez currently leading the team with 56 RBI, the Mariners could become the first team since the 1983 Cincinnati Reds without a 60 RBI player in a non-strike shortened season. That Reds squad was led by Ron Oester’s 58 RBI.
  • Russell Branyan only has 56 RBI to go with the 24 home runs he’s hit between the Cleveland Indians and Mariners. He’s safe though. The fewest RBI for a player with 25+ HR is 54 by Ron Gant when he played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Angels in 2000. The AL “record” is shared by Fred Lynn (1988 Orioles/Tigers) and Marcus Thames (2008 Tigers) with 56.
  • Mariners designated hitters are batting just .190 at the plate this season. Over the last 35 years, the only AL team to hit below the Mendoza Line at DH was the Texas Rangers (.197) in 1988. Larry Parrish was the most frequent DH on that squad.
Texas Rangers
  • Left-handed hitters are batting just .136 against C.J. Wilson. That’s the second lowest for a qualifying AL starter over the last 35 years. In 1995, lefties hit just .129 against Randy Johnson. The difference is that Johnson only faced 92 lefties that season, while Wilson has done battle with 156.
  • If he doesn’t suit up again in the regular season, Josh Hamilton will finish with 21 home runs and .395 batting average at home. Over the last 50 years, the only other AL player to hit .390 with 20 HR at home was Albert Belle for the 1994 Indians.
  • Elvis Andrus has 145 hits, but only 17 have gone for extra bases. The last player with over 150 hits in a season with 17 of fewer extra base hits was Kirby Puckett in 1984. Only 17 of his 165 hits were no singles.
James Shields
Key Matchups: Alex Rodriguez (.208) and Mark Teixeira (.143) have been baffled by James Shields in the past. However, no one compares to Curtis Granderson. His .077 average is lowest for anyone that Shields has faced at least 20 times. Granderson’s struggles are notable for the fact that he usually struggles against right-handed pitchers. In fact, against righties not named James Shields, he has a .289 career average compared to .216 against southpaws.

Chad Billingsley has an 0.61 in 29 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, good enough for a 2-0 record in four starts. In fact, Billingsley has tossed 23 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings against San Francisco. Both Juan Uribe and Pablo Sandoval are 0-for-10 against him in 2010. Uribe was 5-for-10 entering the season.

Trivia Answer: With 92 strikeouts, Jordan Zimmermann led the 2009 Nationals, despite making only one appearance after the break. Washington’s Tyler Clippard (97) had already eclipsed that total while pitching solely in relief.

1st Pitch: Pitches are piling up

June, 24, 2010
6/24/10
12:30
PM ET
Quick Hits: With the epic Nicolas Mahut-John Isner tennis match shattering all sorts of records at Wimbledon, let’s take a look at which MLB players are working hard this season (numbers via STATS LLC).
  • Mahut and Isner combined for 1,894 strokes in Wednesday’s portion of the fifth set. That’s more than the total number of pitches thrown by a pitcher this season. Dan Haren leads the majors with 1,761 pitches thrown this season, 81 more than the next pitcher (Chris Carpenter).
  • Ubaldo Jimenez leads the majors with 110.5 pitches per outing. Since 2006, the only pitcher that has topped that number is Justin Verlander, who averaged 112.5 last season.
  • Wade Davis is averaging 18.2 pitches per inning, which would be the highest for a qualifying pitcher since Ian Snell’s 18.3 in 2008.
  • Jered Weaver is averaging 4.3 pitches per batter faced, which is just shy of Clayton Kershaw’s average from last season and the third highest rate over the last 10 years for a qualifying starter.
  • No one has seen more pitches than Dustin Pedroia, in part because only Martin Prado and Rickie Weeks have more plate appearances. Pedroia has faced 1,449 pitches. That puts him on pace to see 3,215 pitches this season. Since 1988, no batter has faced more than Bobby Abreu’s 3,159 in 2005.
  • Even though he swings less often than the average player, Pedroia also leads the majors in swings with 616. He’s on pace for 1,367 swings, just shy of Ryan Howard’s 2009 league-leading total of 1,385.
  • Brett Gardner leads the majors with 4.53 pitches per plate appearance. That would be the highest average since Rickey Henderson’s 4.55 in 1997.
Today’s Trivia: When was the last time two starting pitchers threw at least 13 innings in the same game? Who were the pitchers?

Today’s Leaderboard: Having issued more walks than any other team, it’s no surprise that the Brewers are throwing a lot of pitches. They average more pitches per game (158.0) and per inning (17.7) than any other team. The Rangers throw more pitches per plate appearance (4.0) than any other team. Contrast that with the Twins, who throw the fewest in all three categories.

Key Matchups: Manny Ramirez has traditionally fared better against lefty pitchers, but that has not been the case against Scott Kazmir. Ramirez is just 7-for-44 (.159) with 14 strikeouts against the Angels’ southpaw. That’s Manny’s lowest batting average against any of the 54 pitchers that he’s faced at least 30 times.

Alex Rios is 0-for-10 in his career against Derek Lowe. The only pitcher he has faced more without a hit is Mariano Rivera (0-for-13). Meanwhile, Lowe has actually faced three hitters more times without allowing a hit. It’s a pretty impressive group: Barry Bonds (0-for-11), Mark Teixeira (0-for-12) and Jason Bay (0-for-15).

Trivia Answer: On August 27, 1976, both Catfish Hunter and Frank Tanana tossed 13 scoreless innings before finally giving way to the bullpens. The Yankees wound up scoring five runs in the 15th to beat the Angels. No one has had an outing of 12 innings or more since Charlie Hough in 1986.

The gift of the Rajai

March, 24, 2010
3/24/10
10:37
AM ET
Rickey Henderson was known to say some…interesting…things throughout his career.

"I wish they had told me (about steroids). My God, could you imagine Rickey on 'roids? Oh, baby, look out!"

"Speeches and me don't get along sometimes. It is kind of like putting a tie too tight on my neck. I'm going to do whatever feels right."

And my personal favorite, when Rickey called Padres GM Kevin Towers looking for a job:

"Kevin, this is Rickey, calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball."

But when Rickey Henderson declared that A’s outfielder Rajai Davis could steal 75-80 bases this year, nobody laughed. Instead, many wondered if he could.


Davis’ big hold-up is getting on base and getting playing time and since he’s slated to start this year, the latter might not be an issue. The big question is this:

If given the opportunity, should he even try?

Davis is a career 77.5 percent base stealer (93-120) and in 2009 he was successful 77.4 percent of the time. Of the players with 40+ steals last year, Davis ranked fourth in percentage behind Jacoby Ellsbury (85.4%), Michael Bourn (83.6%) and Carl Crawford (78.9%). However, Davis’ percentage could have been even better if it weren’t for a risky tendency.



Davis’ no-fear attitude on the base paths make a quest for 75 steals more of a likelihood given the opportunity, but the risk is obviously there. So is the risk worth it?

Davis scored 18 times after stealing a base last year and while each steal might not have directly contributed to the run, for our purposes, let’s just assume they did. Davis got caught 12 times in 2009, so right there you can see his successes slightly outweigh his failures.

To get more analytical, Davis ranked 6th in EqSBR (Equivalent Stolen Base Runs) in 2009 at 2.63. According to Baseball Prospectus, EqSBR is defined as the number of theoretical runs contributed by a baserunner above what would be expected given the number and quality of their baserunning opportunities. Ellsbury led EqSBR in 2009 with a 7.06 rating and Figgins, the reigning caught stealing co-champ, had an EqSBR of -3.35.

And while the following might be circumstantial evidence, it is pretty interesting. In 2009, the A’s went 27-12 (.692) when Davis stole a base and 48-75 (.390) when he didn’t.

So should Davis try to live up to Rickey’s expectations? As long as he can keep the positives from outweighing the negatives, then yes. If those caught stealing numbers start to add up though, Davis should probably rethink his tendencies, particularly running against lefties.

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