Early Season Tidbits

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 CespedesLucas DudaAsdrubal 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?

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34 Comments on "Early Season Tidbits"

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Paul E
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As hot as Kingman was in 1976, I believe Mike Schmidt had 8 HR’s after 9 Phillies’ games

Kerry W
Guest
With today’s game, St. Louis swept Pittsburgh with three identical scores of 2-1. A team beating the same team 3 times in a row by the same score is fairly rare, having happened only 27 other times (assuming my scanning of Retrosheet data is correct). It’s the sixth time that same score was 2-1. The last time was ATL over PHI over 3 games ending Sep. 20, 2015 (one of the other 2-1 sets of scores). Only one team has won 4 games in a row by the same score, San Diego in 4 games ending June 7, 2008 (another… Read more »
Kerry W
Guest

Oops, make that 25 times before this, I accidentally counted a couple of instances where 3-game sequences with the same score of two teams overlapped, but were not all against each other.

richard chester
Guest

Kerry: how far back in time does your search go?

Kerry W
Guest

I went back to 1901 using the game logs at Retrosheet.

Kerry W
Guest
As a follow-up, the most games in a row a team has won or lost by the same run difference is 7. The Cubs won 7 in a row by one run on June 6-12, 1927, against the Braves (1 game), Dodgers (4 games), and Giants (2 games). The Senators lost 7 in a row by one run on May 21-29, 1919, against the Browns (3 games), White Sox (3 games), and Yankees (1 game). All other instances with at least five in a row with the same difference (10 other times) have been one run differences, except for a… Read more »
David P
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On April 12th, Jordan Montgomery made his MLB debut for the Yankees. His battery mate that day was Kyle Higashoika, who was making his first MLB start (Higashoika was used the night before as a defensive replacement or else it would have been his MLB debut as well).

Quite strange for an all-rookie battery to be used in the 8th game of the season, with both basically making their MLB debuts.

no statistician but
Guest
In that game the Yankees scored eight runs on eight hits, something I noted at the time as being fairly rare—not just scoring as many runs as hits but scoring a lot of runs on the same number of hits. Can anyone elaborate on this phenomenon? How rare is it for, say, seven hits or more to produce seven runs or the hit equivalent over seven? What is the greatest number of runs scored with this proviso? I realize that walks come into play here (the Yanks had five in that game), so here’s a different question: what is the… Read more »
Doug
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Here are the number of such games since 1913, when scoring exactly these number of runs: 8 runs – 501 games 9 runs – 466 games 10 runs – 456 games 11 runs – 390 games 12 runs – 345 games 13 runs – 276 games 14 runs – 195 games 15 runs – 157 games 16 runs – 139 games 17+ runs – 258 games So, it’s about 4 or 5 times a year for 8-10 runs, dropping to less than two times per year at 14 runs or more. The most runs in such a game is also… Read more »
Brendan Bingham
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nsb: Not a direct answer to your question, but… It’s a fairly rare event that a team leaves no runners on base in a game. The White Sox did so in Tuesday’s game against the Yankees, but I believe it’s the first such game this season (in more than 200 games, i.e., more than 400 team-games). The White Sox scored all runners who reached base. Here’s how: 3rd inning: Leury Garcia, solo HR 7th inning: Tim Anderson, single; Melky Cabrera, ROE; Avisail Garcia, 3-run HR A team can also wind up with no LOB for the game through a combination… Read more »
Doug
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The starting battery both playing their first career game in the first 10 games of the season has happened four times since 1913, including on Apr 6 this year when the Reds started William “Rookie” Davis (yes, that’s his nickname) on the mound with Stuart Turner behind the plate. The other times were:
– Apr 30, 1995: Rockies, Juan Acevedo and Jorge Brito
– Apr 14, 1967: Red Sox, Billy Rohr and Russ Gibson
– Apr 15, 1942: Indians, Ray Poat and Otto Denning

Mike L
Guest

Interesting there’s never been a late-in-the season call up pair.

Paul E
Guest

I might be mistaken, but McNally and Ettchebarren(sic) debuted on 9/26/1962 and the result was a CG, 2 hit, 3-0 victory for the Orioles over Kansas City – I believe both were 19 years old?

Mike L
Guest

That’s a great find. Etchebarren played in two games to finish the season. He was back in the Minors for all of 1963 and 1964, was a September call-up in 1965, and played in 5 games, wasn’t full time until 1966. McNally pitched that one game in 1965, and then never went back to the minors.

Paul E
Guest

“That’s a great find.”
Honestly, I may have seen it on this site (or perhaps another) several months ago. I couldn’t recall initially, thinking it was Palmer or Milt Pappas, but did recall Etchebarren and was able to find it in his game logs.
But, absolutely incredible that two 19 year olds could figure so prominently in a ML game – that they debuted in, no less.

Mike L
Guest
On a hunch, I looked up Greg Maddux’s first game (Astros/Cubs). http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN198609020.shtml Amazing game. Astros took a one run lead in 9th, Cubs tied it, then seven scoreless innings, then Astros scored 3 in top of the 17th, Cubs matched it in bottom of 17th, Maddux came in to pinch run, then gave up winning run in top of the 18th. 17 Pitchers. Nolan Ryan and Jamie Moyer started–two of the oldest pitchers of all time. Also, Larry Andersen who pitched until he was 41, Danny Darwin (42), Maddux himself (42). The position players had Davey Lopes (42) and Jose… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

In his first start 5 days later, Maddux goes 9 for the win at Cincinnati surrendering 11 hits and 3 BBs in an 11-3 blowout. Nowadays, they’d take him out after 6 innings because he was 20 years old.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CIN/CIN198609070.shtml

Paul E
Guest

Is it safe to assume that is THE Bobby Darwin of Twins CF fame? I believe the Dodgers convertd him to the OF. I didn’t know he had made the majors as a pitcher

Doug
Guest

The very same. Darwin had this one start for his majors debut, then had 3 relief appearances for the Dodgers 7 years later, and then became an outfielder two years after that. Darwin also posted a 46-56 record in the minors from 165 games (127 starts), 824 IP and a 3.92 ERA.

Darwin’s brief major league pitching career wasn’t memorable but he managed to retire Hank Aaron, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Alex Johnson (among others) the only time he faced them, and didn’t surrender a home run to anyone.

Doug
Guest

I was only looking for battery debuts within the first 10 games of the season. The complete list for any point in the season has 17 more occurrences, the youngest of which was the McNally/Etchebarren battery mentioned below (the next youngest was Early Wynn (19) and Al Evans (22) for the Senators on Sep 13, 1939).

Of the 21 games, only two did not occur in Apr, Sep or Oct. Those were Jing Johnson and Doc Carroll for the A’s on Jun 27, 1916 and Leo Magnum and Johnny Grabowski for the White Sox on Jul 11, 1924.

Mike L
Guest

Yes, I see that now.

David P
Guest

Thanks Doug! Was obviously wondering about that, but wasn’t sure it was possible to search via the PI.

Richard Chester
Guest

In last night’s game against the Pirates, all 3 Yankees runs scored without the benefit of an RBI. That’s the most such runs scored by them, tied with 5 other of their games.

David P
Guest

Josh Hamilton was released by the Rangers and needs another knee surgery. Assuming his career is over (which seems like a good assumption), he’ll have the fewest career PAs (4350) of any position player to win an MVP (previous low was Kevin Mitchell with 4.696).

Daniel Longmire
Guest

The Astros’ Chris Devenski has begun the season in notable fashion: 5 consecutive relief appearances with 3 or more strikeouts in each of them. That has not been done since 2006 (Joaquin Benoit), and is tied for the second-longest streak to start a year; the record is 6.

no statistician but
Guest

Looking for strange?

Look at the Rockies after 18 games. Tenth in the league in runs scored, first in runs allowed, 7-0 in one run games, 12-6 record.

David P
Guest

This is old news but it’s so incredibly weird that I had to share it. In high school, Madison Bumgarner, dated a girl named…wait for it…Madison Bumgarner!!! How is that even possible???

https://www.si.com/sportsman/2014/12/09/madison-bumgarner-sports-illustrated-sportsman-profile

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