With a few days before the “real” post-season begins (somehow, the wild card games still seem like game 163 to me), here’s a look back at the season that was, team by team. I’m guessing there may be a few surprises along the way.
More after the jump.
The Blue Jays had two players (Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson) with 40 home runs, 100 RBI and 100 runs scored to become the second Toronto team and 21st for any franchise with such a tandem. Bautista became the 11th player with four or more seasons of 35 home runs and triple-digit runs, walks and RBI, but only the second (after Jeff Bagwell) with all of those seasons aged 29 or older. Bautista leads the majors in home runs, runs and walks since 2010, and is second in RBI and OPS.
Notwithstanding my poke at the wild-card game, the Yankees did indeed make the playoffs and did so despite only a 10-16 finish, better only than the 9-17 close for the 2010 squad (wild-card qualifier, lost in ALCS) and the 2000 team (AL East and WS champs), among Yankee post-season qualifiers. This year’s team was the first in franchise history with 30 home runs from two players (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira) aged 35 or older.
The Orioles had two players (Chris Davis, Manny Machado) with 100 runs scored from 30 doubles and 35 home runs, matching the 1996 squad for the franchise high. Two players is also the record for any team, as Baltimore becomes the 26th club (20th since 1993) with such a duo, a tandem first achieved by the 1929 Cubs with Rogers Hornsby and Hack Wilson.
The Rays‘ center-fielder Kevin Kiermaier produced 42 WAR Fielding Runs, the most ever at any position (if you haven’t seen Kiermaier play, you should). Ben Zobrist is the only other Ray with even 25 WAR Fielding Runs in a season. This was the first Tampa Bay team without a 75 RBI player, and only the second with nobody scoring 75 runs.
Red Sox DH David Ortiz became the 27th member of the 500 home run club, joining Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams and Manny Ramirez as players to reach that milestone with Boston. Ortiz also became the 17th player to have nine seasons of 30 HR and 100 RBI, but the first with three such seasons aged 37 or older.
The Royals had four regulars (Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Kendrys Morales, Mike Moustakas) with a qualified 120 OPS+ and fewer than 25 home runs, the most in franchise history. Only the 2013 NL champion Cardinals and 1964 Braves (who finished 5th) had five such players (with the modern qualifying standard) among live ball era teams.
The Twins were in the playoff hunt until the final weekend, despite no pitchers with 12 wins, nor with 15 starts and a 110 ERA+, matching the 2013 squad (that lost 96 games) as the only such Twin/Senators teams. Rookie Tyler Duffey became only the second pitcher (the first was Bert Blyleven) to start for the Twins in each of his first 10 career games and allow no more than 20 total runs over that stretch (not bad for someone who was lit up for 6 tallies in his debut outing).
The Indians‘ Corey Kluber became the first Tribe hurler to post a W-L% under .400 in a 200 strikeout season. Kluber is only the ninth such pitcher since 1901, but the fourth in the past three seasons. He’s also only the second pitcher (after Steve Carlton in 1973) to lead his league in either losses or complete games in such a season. Cleveland also had two players (Yan Gomes, Brandon Moss) with 100 strikeouts in fewer than 400 PA, joining Houston as the 8th and 9th such teams since 1901, all but one since 2012.
The Tigers had two pitchers (Anibal Sanchez, Alfredo Simon) with 25 starts and ERA+ below 80, the fourth time for Detroit (all since 1990), tied with the Senators/Twins (all before 1961) for the most for any franchise. Detroit also had ten players with 15 doubles, tied with four other Bengal teams (all since 1999) for the most in franchise history.
The White Sox had four players (Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, Adam LaRoche) with 130 strikeouts, breaking the franchise record of three players set … last season. Abreu joins Albert Pujols as the only players with 30 home runs and 100 RBI in each of the first two seasons of a career.
The Rangers‘ 35 year-old Colby Lewis posted career best results for Wins, W-L% and IP as he and the Padres’ James Shields became the 11th and 12th live ball era pitchers to record a .650 W-L% in a 200 IP season with ERA+ below 95. For the first time since 1976, Texas had two pitchers (Chi Chi Gonzalez, Derek Holland) with a CG and shutout in no more than 10 starts (the pitchers making the other 142 starts this season managed a collective 3 CGs and one shutout).
The Astros had 13 players with 9 home runs, the most on one team in major league history. Jose Altuve collected 200 hits and 35 stolen bases to join Rod Carew as the only middle infielders to do so in back-to-back seasons. Houston had two 19-game winners (Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh) with a .700 W-L%, the 24th such team of the live ball era (including the 1927 Yankees, the only post-1920 team with three such hurlers). In the Astros’ version of “Spahn and Sain, and pray for rain”, their next highest win total was the 7 W’s by closer Luke Gregerson (not a good sign, for your starters or your closer).
The Angels had two players (Albert Pujols, Mike Trout) bat under .300 with 40 home runs and 90 RBI, to join the Blue Jays and Rockies as the fourth, fifth and sixth teams since 1901 (all since 1969) with such a duo. Trout turned in his fourth season with 8 oWAR, twice as many as any other player thru age 23. Trout’s career totals of 37.6 WAR and 647 strikeouts are both the most for any any player through age 23, edging out Ty Cobb‘s 36.0 WAR and easily surpassing Justin Upton‘s 573 whiffs.
The Mariners‘ Nelson Cruz became the 10th player (and first Mariner) aged 34 or older to bat .300 with 40 home runs and 90 RBI, and the second (after Andres Galarraga) to do so in his first season with a new team (surprisingly, half of those ten players, including Cruz, had not posted such a season before age 34). Felix Hernandez became the fifth pitcher since 1893 to record ten 190 IP seasons aged 20-29. His 143 career wins thru age 29 are second only to Milt Pappas‘s total of 150 W’s, among pitchers without a 20 win season over that period of their careers.
The Athletics had two players (Billy Burns, Brett Lawrie) with fewer than 30 walks in a qualified season, tied for the most by an A’s team in a full-length season since 1946 (the other time, in 2010, that that happened in the Billy Beane era again involved two players who had not been brought up in the A’s organization). Burns is also the first A’s rookie to record 25+ walks and not exceed his stolen base total.