Monday, October 2, 2006
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Monday's game was only the seventh start of Brett Favre's career in which the Packers did not score a touchdown. However, four of those games have been since the start of last season, against the Lions and Ravens last season and against the Bears in the season opener this year.
• The Packers have allowed at least 24 points in each of their first four games this season -- the first time they have done that since 1986, when they allowed at least 24 points in each of the first five games of the season en route to a 4-12 finish.
• Donovan McNabb threw two touchdown passes and ran for two others in the Eagles' 31-9 win over the Packers on Monday Night Football. He's only the third player in Eagles history to both run and throw for at least two touchdowns in a game. Ron Jaworski did it in 1977 and Bobby Thomason did it in 1957.
• Remember all of the preseason predictions that power numbers would fall throughout the majors this year? Tell that to Ryan Howard (58 home runs), David Ortiz (54), and, well, everyone else (short of Jason Tyner) who played this season.
The average number of home runs hit in a big-league game rose from 2.06 in 2005 to 2.22 in 2006, which is an increase of 7.4 percent. That represents the greatest single-season increase in homers on a per-game basis since the rate increased from 2.08 in 1998 (the season in which Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris' long-standing single-season record) to 2.28 in 1999 -- an increase of 9.3 percent.
Additionally, the average number of runs scored in a major-league game rose from 9.18 in 2005 to 9.72 this season -- an increase of 5.8 percent. That was also the largest single-season increase since the 1998-to-1999 period saw a 6.2-percent jump.
• Six pitchers shared the National League lead in wins: Carlos Zambrano (16-7), Derek Lowe (16-8), Brandon Webb (16-8), Brad Penny (16-9), John Smoltz (16-9) and Aaron Harang (16-11). That was the lowest win total for a league leader in MLB history, with the exception of the strike-shortened 1981 and 1994 seasons.
The previous lowest league-leading win total in a full season was 18 by Rick Sutcliffe in 1987 (NL), Jim Perry and Chuck Estrada in 1960 (AL), and Whitey Ford, Bob Lemon and Frank Sullivan in 1955 (AL).
• Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou were each let go by their teams Monday. Both managers reached the postseason in 2003, their first season with the Cubs and Giants, respectively, but neither returned to the postseason in any of the next three seasons.
Over the last 50 years, only one other manager made the postseason in his first year with a team but then managed that club for at least three more seasons without making it back to October baseball. John McNamara won the NL West with the 1979 Reds, but they were swept by the "We Are Family" Pirates in the NLCS and then did not return to the postseason with the Reds, who let McNamara go in the middle of the 1982 season with Cincinnati 34-58.
• The Cubs went 89-73 in 2004, Baker's second season in Chicago, but they were the only major league team to decrease by at least 10 wins in each of the next two seasons, to 79-83 in 2005 and 66-96 this season. The Cubs had not decreased by at least 10 wins in two straight seasons since World War II, when they lost the 1945 World Series after having a 98-56 record, then, as teams returned to full strength after the war, dropped to 82-71 in 1946 and 69-85 in 1947.
• The Indians finished 78-84 despite outscoring their opponents by 88 runs over the course of the season. That's the best run-differential in major league history for a team with a losing record. The previous best was plus-77, by the 1955 Reds, who went 75-79.
• David Ortiz led the American League in home runs with 54, 10 more than the player with the next most, Jermaine Dye (44). The last time a player led his league by at least 10 home runs was in 1997 when Ken Griffey Jr. hit 56, a total of 12 more than the runner-up, Tino Martinez (44).
• Ortiz and Ryan Howard each led their league in both home runs and RBIs this season. Since 1973, when Willie Stargell and Reggie Jackson each led their league in both homers and RBIs, the only other left-handed batters to lead their league in both categories were Barry Bonds in 1993 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997.
• Rookies Francisco Liriano (12-3, .800) and Chuck James (11-4, .733) led the AL and NL in winning percentage, with each player qualifying with the minimum amount of decisions needed to be considered. The only other season in which rookies led the AL and NL was 1947, when the Giants' Larry Jansen (21-5, .808) and the Yankees' Spec Shea (14-5, .737) led their leagues.
• Brian McCann was 24-for-51 with two out and runners in scoring position this season, a .471 batting average. The last time a National League player had such a high average in at least 40 at-bats in those situations was in 1969, when Pete Rose went 32-for-64 (.500).
• Grady Sizemore led the major leagues in extra-base hits with 92 but hit "only" 28 home runs. That's the fewest home runs for the player who led the majors in extra-base hits since 1980, when Robin Yount led with 82 extra-base hits and hit 23 homers.