This post takes a look at some of the more unusual happenings this season, some you may have heard about, but hopefully more that you haven’t (at least not until now). More after the jump.
Wil Myers hit for the cycle on Apr 10, only the 12th time since 1913 a player has cycled in his team’s first 10 games of the season (Gee Walker of the Tigers is the only player to cycle on opening day, on Apr 20, 1937 against Cleveland). Myers is only the second Padre to cycle, and the first was only two years ago, by Matt Kemp against the Rockies on Aug 14, 2015 (who knew that Tony Gwynn never cycled?). But, this wasn’t the only big game for Myers, who led the majors in slugging and OPS through the first 10 games of the season.
The Mets had three players (Yoenis Cespedes, Lucas Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera) with four hits in their 14-4 drubbing of the Phillies on Apr 11. It was only the second time in Mets history that three players had recorded four or more hits, the first coming on July 4, 1985 with Wally Backman, Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter doing the honors (the Mets also had four other players with three hits, part of a 28 hit attack against the Braves in a crazy 16-13 win in 19 innings).
Philadelphia’s thrashing at the hands of the Mets came only 3 days after the Phillies had pummeled the Nationals by a 17-3 count. It was the fourth searchable 17+ run eruption for the Phillies in the first 10 games of the season, trailing only the White Sox (8) and Yankees (6) (the 1993 Tigers are the only team with two such games among their first 10). The Athletics and Browns/Orioles share the franchise record for getting pounded by 17+ runs in the first 10 games of the season, each with 6 such searchable games.
Yoenis Cespedes‘s 6 home runs and 32 total bases are both the second highest totals by a Met outfielder over his team’s first 10 games. The records belong to Dave Kingman with 7 bombs and 34 totals bases in 1976 (Kingman played 106 games in right field that year, 74% of his career total for that position and 85 more than in any other season).
For the second year in a row, no player stole 3 bases in a game over the first 10 games of the season, something that hadn’t happened in consecutive seasons since 1999-2000. The last player with two such games among his team’s first 10 was 33 year-old Chuck Knoblauch, playing his final season for the Royals in 2002 (those were the first 3 stolen base games for Knoblauch in 5 seasons, and two of only nine such games for his career).
Toronto has begun the season 1-9, the worst ever start for a team that appeared in the previous season’s ALCS, and matching the mark set by the 1998 Marlins among NLCS participants from the preceding season. Among the Blue Jay defeats was a 2-0 loss to the Brewers on Apr 12 with Marcus Stroman the hard luck losing pitcher, the first Toronto starter to lose a complete game at home since Roy Halladay in 2009.
The Mariners, Toronto’s expansion cousins, have hardly been any better, getting out of the gate at only 2-8. Three combined wins by the two teams over their first ten games is a new low, eclipsing their twin 2-8 starts 39 seasons ago in 1978.
The Marlins’ Wei-Yin Chen was removed from his start against the Mariners on Apr 18, despite allowing no hits or runs in 7 IP (he had thrown exactly 100 pitches). It was the fourth time in just over a year (this season and last) that a pitcher had been removed from a potential no-hitter after 7+ IP. There were only four such games in the 19 prior seasons (1997-2015), and one of those was Francisco Cordova getting pulled after 9 innings and 121 pitches on July 12, 1997.
Houston’s Luke Gregerson blew the save in allowing 6 runs, all earned, to the Royals on Apr 8. His resulting 162 ERA for this outing is tied (with many others) for the second highest non-infinite searchable result by a reliever in the first 10 games of the season; the only larger early season single game ERA is a 189 score (7 ER in 0.1 IP), first recorded by the A’s Tex Hoyle on Apr 29, 1952, and matched by three others from 1997 to 2002. Three relievers have an early season appearance allowing 6 earned runs without recording an out, all from 1993 to 1999.
Three relievers finished a game pitching at least an inning and striking out each batter faced. That’s the 18th time in 22 years with as many as three such games, but a big decline from the last 3 seasons that saw 7, 6 and 8 such relief appearances (there are only two seasons before 1996 with three or more such games in the first ten games of the season). Only one of those three games this season was a save, again a big drop from the last three years that saw 4, 5 and 4 such saves.
Through 10 games of the season there were 2474 strikeouts, almost identical to the 2466 whiffs over the same period last year. Also like last year, both teams struck out at least once in each of those 150 games (in the 20 seasons since the last expansion in 1998, there have been only 8 team games without a strikeout out of 6000 over the first 10 games of the season, the last coming in 2011). The most efficient strikeout performance was by the Blue Jays on April 13, with one strikeout for every 5.3 strikes thrown, whiffing 15 Oriole batters despite throwing only 80 pitches for strikes.
In contrast, home runs over the first ten games are up substantially from 2016, with 334 this year, a 10.6% jump from last season. The number of team games with a home run has shown a similar increase, with 202 such games, 9.2% more than last year. Despite the home run surge, scoring is only up 1%, with 13 more runs scored this year over the first 10 games of the season, and the proportion of batters putting the ball in play (including homers) actually declined, down 0.55% from 2016 to 68.3%. The power bump, though, may be related to a slowdown in the pace of play with the first 150 games averaging 3:10, 8 minutes longer than last year. Only 10 games (6.7%) were completed in less than 2½ hours, about the same as the 9 such games last year, while the number of 3 hour games climbed to 63.3%, up from 60.7% last season.
To close, here’s a couple of nuggets from a game I took in last week. Evan Gattis delivered a bases clearing, two out, pinch-hit double against the Mariners on Apr 11, good for a .401 WPA. It was his third career .400 WPA game when appearing only as a pinch-hitter, the most among active players. And Mariner shortstop Taylor Motter drilled three doubles, matching his season total from 2016; it was only the 9th searchable game of 3+ doubles when batting 9th for the losing team.
What has caught your eye this young season?