Seven Signs of the Apocalypse: MLB Edition

Welcome to the last day of the world.

Perhaps this could’ve been avoided if we just looked at the signs, spelled out cleanly and neatly for us by the anomalies found in the 2012 MLB season.

1. The record for most perfect games in a single season was broken by Felix Hernandez.
Prior to 2012, MLB had seen, at most, two perfectos in a year’s worth of games. In 1880, the Worcestor Ruby Legs’ Lee Richmond and Providence Grays’ Monte Ward pitched perfect games within a week of each other, while 2010 saw Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden accomplish their feats within the same month.

This year, Philip Humber no-hit the Mariners in April, striking out 9 and finishing his masterpiece with a dubious called strike to Seattle’s Brendan Ryan. Two months later, Matt Cain finished the first perfect game in Giants’ history, fending off the Astros with a record-setting 14 strikeouts and the highest Game Score of the season (101). Finally, the Mariners struck back in August with Felix Hernandez’s perfect game, a franchise first as he retired 27 Rays on 12 strikeouts and 113 pitches.

2. James Shields held the highest Game Score for a complete game loss since 1980.
Shields pitched the game of his career on October 2, 2012, when he posted 15 strikeouts and a GS of 94 during his two-hitter against the Orioles. In the 4th inning, Baltimore’s Chris Davis pulled a home run to center field, accounting for the only run of the game in Tampa Bay’s 1-0 collapse.

3. On the last day of the season, the Oakland A’s clinched the AL West division title. It was their first day in first place all season.

4. R.A. Dickey became the first knuckleballer in MLB history to earn a Cy Young Award.
Before Dickey, just five knuckleballers had received consideration for the Cy Young: Tim Wakefield, Joe Niekro, Phil Niekro, Wilbur Wood, and Bob Purkey.

5. Tim Lincecum tanked.
Following five seasons of a sub-4.00 ERA, two Cy Young awards, and a World Series championship, Lincecum fell apart.

His ERA shot from 2.74 to 5.18, while his bWAR dropped from 3.9 in 2011 to -2.1 in 2012. Over 33 starts and a 10-15 record, he logged his lowest inning and strikeout totals—186 and 190, respectively—since his rookie season in 2007.

Equally as inexplicable, Tim found his footing in the bullpen during the Division Series, posting an ERA of 1.42, striking out 8 batters, and allowing 3 hits and a run over 6.1 IP.

6. The Mariners stockpiled 21 runs against the Texas Rangers in a single game.
While high-scoring games are no stranger to MLB—six games of 21+ runs have appeared in the last five years—this was the first such game won by a last-place team in at least two seasons.

7. The World Series showcased the AL and NL MVPs for the first time since 1988.
2012 World Series –

Buster Posey: 4 H, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 5 SO in 16 PA
Miguel Cabrera: 3 H, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO in 16 PA

1988 World Series –

Kirk Gibson: 1 HR, 2 RBI in 1 PA
Jose Canseco: 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB, 5 SO in 22 PA

Coincidentally, 1988 marked the debunking of another end of the world theory, this time purported by NASA engineer Edgar Whisenant. While nothing came of the rapture, scheduled between September 11 and 13, the Dodgers pitched a two-hitter and the Expos walloped the Cardinals 14-2 during the short window of gloom and doom.

What statistical feat had you stocking up on emergency supplies and hunkering down in your basement this year?

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65 Comments on "Seven Signs of the Apocalypse: MLB Edition"

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Jim Bouldin
Guest

“What statistical feat had you stocking up on emergency supplies and hunkering down in your basement this year?”

Astros winning a game in July by sending only 25 men to the plate, for only the second time in MLB since 1919, just a couple of days after some of us had been discussing the rarity of such a feat right here. It was right then and there that I knew that all those old Twilight Zone shows were factual and we were all in big trouble.

Library Dave
Guest

“What statistical feat had you stocking up on emergency supplies and hunkering down in your basement this year?”

The Astros winning a game.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor

Good stuff, Ashley. Amazing that, even in a nightmare season, Lincecum struck out more than a batter per inning. Year of the strikeout.

I think all of this pales in comparison to the Orioles winning 93 games with 31.9 total fWAR. The Red Sox finished 24 games behind them with 34.5 fWAR. Two Orioles were worth as many as three wins. In contrast, seven Rangers were worth at least three wins, and the team earned 50.4. The Rangers finished with the same record and lost to Baltimore in a one-game playoff.

no statistician but
Guest

Bryan:

I realize that your comment is only half serious, but all the same, your conclusion seems to be this: since advanced stats are the supreme and only arbiter of explaining what goes on in baseball, the only way to account for deviation from them is to question the phenomenon, not the means of measurement. The flaw is never in the methodology—some occult force has thrown things out of kilter. The end of the world must be nigh!

Jim Bouldin
Guest

The lack of a thorough discussion of the Orioles’ success in close games this year, and consequent implications for near-term global security, really detracts from the site. Let’s get to it…:)

e pluribus munu
Guest

Don’t tempt Fate, Jim.

John Autin
Editor

Sticking with a theme of things that never ever happened before, I’ll go with this one:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYN/NYN201206010.shtml
(“Johan has done it!”)

RJ
Guest

I was fairly sure the world was going to end when I heard revelations of a Giants left-fielder being mired in a drugs scandal. Couldn’t believe my ears.

Ed
Guest

For the first time in their history, the Indians lost 90+ games three times in a four year period.

Oh wait, maybe that’s not a sign of the Apocalypse. Maybe that’s just a sign of being an underfunded, poorly managed franchise.

BryanM
Guest

meanwhile, on another planet .. the San diego State Aztecs joined the Big East football conference. Top that , MLB.

Ed
Guest

And people wonder why Americans are geographically challenged!

nightfly
Guest

Between that and Boise State, it’s best to just call it the Big East of Hawaii Conference.

Ed
Guest

They also practice “new math” in college football…the Big Ten has 12 teams and the Big Twelve has 10 teams!

kds
Guest

No problem, a football team has 11 players on the field at one time, so on average they are correct. Maybe they should just arrange a trade.

Jim Bouldin
Guest

One team and eleven pretenders Ed.

Uh oh, now I’ve done it.

no statistician but
Guest

Except, with Maryland and Rutgers, it’s going to be 14.

nightfly
Guest

They also drive on parkways and park in driveways! MADNESS.

Doug
Guest

And the very first NL West winner was … the Atlanta Braves, a geographic anomaly that lasted for 24 years.

RJ
Guest

Atlanta is at the very least west of a few Central teams, for example Detroit, a fact astounded me when I first heard it (disclaimer, I am not from the US).

Doug
Guest

Yes, and Miami is west of Pittsburgh.

RJ
Guest

Geography! I recently tripped up some of my friends my asking them the largest city in the UK east of London. Due to the generally westward slant of Britain’s coastline, that actually leaves you with very little at all east of the capital. As you can tell, I’m fun at parties.

But uh, baseball… Any future European MLB franchises can play in the NL Eaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssst.

Richard Chester
Guest

And Atlanta is west of all of South America.

Doug
Guest

RJ,

My guess is Norwich, unless Brighton is east of London (it’s real close, but I’m going to say Brighton is west of Greenwich).

kds
Guest

I always liked that Reno is west of L.A.

RJ
Guest

@25 Doug Ding ding ding! Norwich is indeed correct. Not just a baseball quiz expert eh?

@22 Richard Chester That too is pretty remarkable.

Jim Bouldin
Guest

Conference bylaws stipulate only that you must be east of the International Date Line

Jim Bouldin
Guest

oops, nightfly beat me to that concept

Doug
Guest
Other unusual signs: – First time two perfect games are pitched in same ballpark in same season – First trio of 2500 hit teammates (Ichiro, A-Rod, Jeter) in 84 years (last was Cobb/Collins/Speaker on 1928 As) – First teammates (Ichiro, Jeter) in 84 years with 10+ seasons of 175 hits (last were Sisler/Rice on 1928 Senators, and Cobb/Collins/Speaker on 1928 As) – First teammates (A-Rod, Jeter) in 74 years to reach 500 doubles in same season (last was Simmons and Goslin on 1938 Senators) – Only 2nd time that 3 players (A-Rod, Jeter, Pujols) reach 500 doubles in same season,… Read more »
Doug
Editor

Further re: Ichiro and Jeter.
– First time with teammates having 12 or more 175 hit seasons, and 7 or more 200 hit seasons
– First time since 1936 Tigers (Simmons, Gehringer) with teammates having 5 or more 200 hit seasons

John Autin
Editor

The 2012 Rockies were the first team in modern history with no pitcher logging at least 130 innings. Jeff Francis led them with 113 IP.

Doug
Guest

The 2012 Rays were just the second AL pitching staff, and the first of the DH era to record more strikeouts than hits allowed. The 1968 Indians were the first team to do this.

The 2012 Nationals were the 7th NL team to do this, following the 2003 Cubs, 2003 and 2009 Dodgers, and 2009 to 2011 Giants. The 2011 Braves recorded identical strikeout and hits allowed totals.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

“[Branch] Rickey took me aside for ten pitches and taught me how to throw a knuckleball. . . Against Pittsburgh that day I threw 96 knuckleballs . . .” – Bob Purkey

John Autin
Editor
Cool quote, Voomo, so I went looking for the rest of the story. In the Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, Purkey is quoted from 1962: “The tail end of last year [so 1961], I hit a bad streak where nothing was working. I came up to a game against Pittsburgh determined to get myself back in the groove or shake up the hitters. Seven years before, Mr. Rickey took me aside for ten pitches and taught me how to throw a knuckleball. I’d been fooling around with it ever since, but I didn’t have the confidence in getting it over. Against… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Interesting bit about the five catchers. The two main guys, Zimmerman and Edwards, were both first-year rookies. Their regular catcher from ’56-60, Ed Bailey, was traded to SF on April 27th for Don Blasingame and Bob Schmidt (their 4th catcher, who had led the league in errors-as-catcher the year before). Looks like they went after Blasingame because they started the season without a definitive 2nd baseman. Billy Martin was the 2nd sacker in ’60, and he was sold to the Braves in the offseason. The 5th catcher, Darrell Johnson, was purchased from Philly on August 14th. Not clear what they… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Edwards was in fact a solid prospect who went on to have a nice career.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=edward002joh

Doug
Guest

RJ,

I knew about Norwich just because, many moons ago, I was tramping around Europe and journeyed from Amsterdam to England by ship. The vessel docked at a port close to Norwich.

BryanM
Guest

Ah, yes, the old summer of love drug route … Amsterdam to “a port close to Norwich ” as I recall, the obligatory swim of the last half mile could be quite cold.

RJ
Guest

Ah, that makes sense. East Anglia is not otherwise especially known for its international tourism/worldwide fame.

In other news, I believe it is now the 22nd of December in all time zones, so doomsday averted! Though I am going to call the apocalypse back on at the first sniff of an Adam Dunn strikeout-free game next year.

Hartvig
Guest
Great post and even better comments. In addition to the usual interesting statistical tidbits we also get some excellent baseball history, some really fascinating geographical information and some really funny end-of-the-world asides. Well done all. I would only add that you may wish to consider Early Wynn when you’re talking about Cy Young award winners who threw a knuckleball. He didn’t use it near as often as most of the other guys but then Dickey didn’t throw it all the time either and neither did Purkey even after Rickey taught him the pitch. And that 21 run outburst from Seattle… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

When the Rangers scored 30 runs on 8-22-07 it represented 3.68% of their seasonal total of 816 runs scored. When I have more time later today I may do some more research.

Richard Chester
Guest

On 7-27-18 the Cardinals scored 22 of their 454 runs for 4.85%. That year they scored 18.28% of their runs in just 6 of their 131 games.

Ed
Guest
Nice find Richard! Oddly the Cardinals 22 run explosion was the back of a doubleheader in which they got shutout in the first game. The explosion started against Harry Heitmann, who gave up 4 runs without retiring a single batter. It was Heitmann’s first and only major league game. He was relieved by future HOFer Burleigh Grimes who gave up 8 runs in 6 innings. The final pitcher of the day was one-time 30 game winner Jack Coombs. Coombs was basically at the end of his career. Coombs gave up 10 runs (9 earned) in 3 innings. BTW, the shutout… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

For a second there it looked like Harry Heilmann. It turns out that Heitmann is one of 152 pitchers to face 4 or fewer batters in his career. Many of those 152 were position players pitching in emergencies or as stunt appearances. BTW I don’t know if that 4.85% is the record.

Ed
Guest

The Cardinals were also shut out in the game before the doubleheader. That shutout was tossed by Bob Steele only only threw 4 shutouts in his career. So in back-to-back games, the Cardinals were shutout by two pitchers who combined for only 5 shutouts in their careers.

RJ
Guest

I suspect that is the record Richard. I’ve been trawling for a while and have found only a couple of others over 4%, namely:

-The 1906 Boston Americans, who hit 19 of their 463 runs in one game agianst the Senators on April 24, for 4.10% of their total.

-The 1909 Senators, whose miserly tally of 380 runs over the season meant that 16 against the St Louis Browns on September 18 was enough for 4.21% of their total.

Doug
Editor

That 4.85% for the Cardinals is perhaps a bit misleading in that the 1918 season was cut short. For a full schedule, the Cards would probably have scored something in the neighborhood of 530 runs. At that output, a 22 run outburst would have been about 4.15% of their season runs, in the same territory as the 1909 Senators game RJ found @47.

A couple of 4% games outside of the deadball era.
– 1955-04-23, White Sox over As 29-6
– 1978-06-26, Blues Jays over Orioles 24-10

Doug
Editor
There has also been a game where both teams scored over 3% of their season’s runs. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN197905170.shtml On May 17, 1979, the Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 at Wrigley. The Phils took a quick 7-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Cubs came right back with 6 in the bottom half. After batting in the fourth, the Phils were well ahead again at 17-6, but after the 6th the Cubs had stormed back to make a game of it at 21-19, and finally tied it up at 22 with 5 singles to score 3 runs in the… Read more »
Timmy Pea
Guest
Would some stats person out there have a conversation with me about Jack Morris? I’m trying to get my brain around the fact that Morris could not “pitch to the score”, but hitters could magically give him more run support than other starting pitchers. Over the course of a long career it would seem to me that Morris’ run support would trend the same as others. Is his run support calculated per start or per inning? Without looking I seem to remember Sparky Anderson liked to leave Morris in the game longer than most pitchers stay in the game today… Read more »
Timmy Pea
Guest

Hey Timmy, what you’re not seeing is that hitters on Morris’ team used to “hit to the score”. Whenever Jack pitched, they were able to give him more run support than every other pitcher in the history of baseball.

Brooklyn Mick
Guest

According to B-R/Splits/Run Support his teams averaged 3.4 runs per game. Is that really more than any other pitcher in baseball history?

Ed
Guest

Brooklyn Mick: Where do you get 3.4 from? When I look at Morris’ splits, it just shows how many times he got 0-2, 3-5, or 6+ run support. I don’t see any bottom line figure. And this article says it was 4.9:

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/19794/jack-morris-big-gain-and-bigger-problems

Brooklyn Mick
Guest

Ed, 0-2, 3-5, and 6+ pretty much covers the gamut of run support. His run support split indicates that the figures encompass all 527 of his games started (excludes 22 innings of relief work). In his games started his teams scored 1779 runs in 527 starts. The math comes out to 3.385 runs scored in support per game. I rounded it to 3.4.

In the article you shared, Christina Kahrl stated that “Morris got the best run support within this small peer group, with 4.9 R/G.” Maybe she’s wrong?

Brooklyn Mick
Guest

I must be misinterpreting the numbers. An article at Baseball Prospectus states that Morris did indeed get 4.94 in run support, defined as “runs scored while the starter is the pitcher of
record.”

4.94 sounds like a ton, but throughout the course of his career, his teammates got 4.85 in run support. Not much difference, but obviously he played for some good offensive teams and got some good run support.

My main point is how Timmy validates the assertion that:

“Whenever Jack pitched, they were able to give him more run support than every other pitcher in the history of baseball.”

Ed
Guest
Brooklyn Mick: Not sure where you’re getting the 1779 runs from but that’s definitely not correct. Here’s Morris yearly run support starting in 1979: 1979: 5.3 1980: 4.5 1981: 5.4 1982: 4.2 1983: 4.8 1984: 5.1 1985: 4.6 1986: 5.5 1987: 5.3 1988: 4.4 1989: 3.5 1990: 4.9 1991: 5.0 1992: 5.6 1993: 4.3 1994: 6.5 You can see the ’94 numbers here for example: http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL/1994-starter-pitching.shtml I listed run support per game started (RS/GS). There’s also run support per 27 outs while the pitcher was in the game (RS/IP). Though since Morris averaged a lot of innings per start, those… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest
Brooklyn Mick: Morris gave up 1815 runs during his career and given his 254-186 W-L record it’s a sure bet his teams scored many more runs than that. Also the interpretation of the Run Support chart for Morris’ (or anyone else’s) career seems open to question. The total number of runs in that chart is equal to the number of runs he gave up as shown in the chart entitled Pitching Role just above the Run Support chart (1779 runs). Also the Run Support chart shows Morris with 138 starts in which his teams scored 0-2 runs but with 486… Read more »
Brooklyn Mick
Guest
Ed
Guest

Okay. The 1779 runs isn’t run support. It’s the # of run Morris allowed as a starter. If you add in the 36 runs he gave up as a reliever, you get the 1815 runs that Richard Chester references in post 57.

bstar
Guest

Brooklyn Mick, just click on “More Stats”, the tab next to Standard Pitching on Morris’ player page. Scroll down to “Starting Pitching” and in that table you’ll find RS/GS and RS/IP for Morris, both yearly and career totals. As Ed says, both of those career numbers are 4.9

Richard Chester
Guest

Here are the RS/GS numbers for some Morris contemporaries;
Martinez……4.4
Welch………4.3
Ryan……….3.8
Tanana……..4.4
Hough………4.2
Blyleven……4.2
Viola………4.3
Stieb………4.5
Clemens…….4.7
Sutcliffe…..4.7
Guidry……..4.8

Brooklyn Mick
Guest
Thanks Ed, Richard, and bstar. Looks like I was looking in the wrong place. Morris’s 4.9 RS/GS of 4.9 is a half a run more than the 4.4 MLB Avg during the span of his career. If the MLB Avg was 4.4, I wonder what the AL Avg was, given the DH. Was it 4.5? 4.6? Are people selling Morris short because he got good run support? He played on some pretty good offensive teams in some good hitting ballparks, but he still had to pitch in those same ballparks. As for Timmy’s claim that Morris got the most run… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest
I suspect that Timmy was being facetious about the whole “more run support than anyone in history” thing. Just a quick glance at the Tigers record during Morris’s time with the team shows that they scored more than 800 runs 3 times between 1979 & 1990 (the period when Morris was a full-time starter) and came close 2 other times. The 1993 Jays also scored over 800 runs. These were all 162 game seasons. During Lefty Grove’s 9 years in Philadelphia they scored over 800 runs 8 times and 3 of those were over 900. During his time in Boston… Read more »
Brooklyn Mick
Guest

Ahh…there goes Timmy being facetious.

In the case of Morris, I think the whole “more run support than anyone in history” is repeated so often that many people tend to take it at face value.

I watched Morris’s entire career, and during that time I considered him to be one of the elite pitchers of his era, and I still do.

Yet, at the end of the day I think he comes up a bit short in terms of HOF candidacy.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
Somewhat related to the Jack Morris/HOF discussion- One of the big drawbacks in a HOF discussion about any particular player, is that supporters of that particular player take it as a major major insult to both them and that player, if you do not also support the HOF candidacy of that particular player. There are dozens upon dozens of MLB players who had long, distinguished, outstanding careers, were big stars, won important awards, but despite all that, haven’t gotten serious support for the HOF. That’s not an insult to them, they were still outstanding players, worthy of great admiration for… Read more »
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