2017 Team Highlights: AL Edition

As the 2017 season heads into the home stretch, here’s a look at some of the junior circuit’s more unusual team accomplishments, both good and bad. More after the jump.

AL West

The Astros have a shot at becoming the first team with 10 players having 15 home runs, needing just one more from Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, and three by Josh Reddick. Houston could also have 6 players record a qualified season (modern definition) with 120 OPS+, tying the record held by four teams, most recently the 2009 world champion Yankees. Super utility man Marwin Gonzalez has already become the first player with two seasons of 15+ games at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and the outfield; both of those seasons (the other was in 2015) featured 15+ games in LF, making them the only seasons since 1901 with 15+ games at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and any one outfield position.

The Rangers already have 9 players with 15 home runs, tying the record set by the 2005 Rangers, 2005 Indians and 2012 Yankees. Unlike the Astros, it’s pretty unlikely that the Rangers will break that tie. But, they could become the first team with eight 20 home run players, breaking the mark of 7 held by 5 teams, including that same 2005 Rangers’ club. If outfielder Nomar Mazara reaches 20 dingers (he needs three more), he would join teammate Rougned Odor to give the Rangers two players with two 20 home run seasons aged 23 or younger, accomplished previously only by the 1978-79 Braves with Dale Murphy and Bob Horner.

The Angels are challenging for a wildcard spot with only one batter (you know who) with 115 OPS+ in 400+ PA, and no pitchers with 115 ERA+ in 100+ IP. No such team has previously qualified for the post-season.

The Mariners are also in the wildcard hunt, despite already using 17 different starting pitchers, a franchise record (and tied with the 1969 Seattle Pilots for the city record). No such team has previously qualified for the post-season.

For the second year in a row, Oakland has gone to a greybeard to fill in a rotation otherwise composed principally of pitchers in their twenties. Last year it was Rich Hill, and this year 36 year-old Chris Smith got the job after Sonny Gray departed for the Yankees. One more start for Smith will make him the oldest pitcher since Connie Marrero in 1950 to start 10 games in his first season with a start, and the oldest ever to do so among those with prior major league experience.

AL Central

The Indians need two more home runs from Michael Brantley (due to return from injury in mid-September) and one from rookie Bradley Zimmer to field a lineup with the principal starter at each position (including DH) having double-digit home runs. Only the 1998 and 2012 Yankees, and 2004 Rangers have previously accomplished the feat, with an honorable mention to the 2000 Orioles with 10+ homers from players at each position, but one of those (first baseman Chris Richard) not the principal starter.

The Royals have two players (Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon) on pace to post a qualified season (modern definition) with OPS+ under 60, a first for an expansion era team. Gordon currently has fewer total bases than games played, a feat previously accomplished in a qualified season by only eight live ball era outfielders (most recently, Gregor Blanco in 2008), all of them in the expansion era.

Minnesota already has 5 players aged 25 or younger with 100 games played, the most since their 1985 club that two years later claimed a World Series title. By the end of the season, the Twins could have 10 players (any age) with 100 games and 400 PA, a new franchise record.

Detroit has fielded only one position player in his age 24 season or younger, third baseman Jeimer Candelario who played one game in August after his acquisition from the Cubs. That one game is almost the fewest for such Tiger players in the first 125 games of the season (i.e. before September call-ups); only the 1960 and 1969 Tigers had no such players, as their only under-25 position players those years were September call-ups Dick McAuliffe (1960) and  Wayne Redmond (1969).

The White Sox have no pitchers with more than 7 wins, and none currently on the roster with more than 3 wins. This will be just the second Sox team without a double-digit game winner and first since 1948. One more start by Mike Pelfrey and three by James Shields will give Chicago four age 30+ pitchers with 20+ starts (the most since 1958), including three aged 33 or older (tied for the most since 1934). Somehow, I don’t see this team matching the 1958 club by taking the pennant next year.

AL East

The Red Sox have so far used 10 different players at third base, one short of the franchise record set in 2000. The 1901 Pirates, 1972 Athletics and 2015 Dodgers are the only teams to win a pennant or division while fielding as many as 10 third basemen.

For the fourth season in a row, the Yankees may have no more than one player reach 30 doubles (Chase Headley this year; Didi Gregorious just pushed his total to 25, so he could still join Headley). If Didi doesn’t make it, this would be the first four-peat for New York since running off six such seasons from 1978 to 1983 (even with a full season in 1981, Dave Winfield would very likely have been the Yankees’ only 30 double man that year).

The RaysBrad Miller is currently the franchise’s first player with a season walking in 17% of 350+ PAs. Unfortunately, Miller’s current .186 BA will easily eclipse Jim Wynn‘s 1976 mark of .207 for the lowest BA in such a season.

The Orioles have had their starters pitch fewer than 60% of the team’s innings, a franchise record low, and 10th lowest mark among all teams since 1913. Not surprisingly, the starters’ 5.58 ERA is more than three-quarters of a run higher than the overall team ERA, also a franchise record high deviation, and second worst among all teams since 1913.

The Blue Jays‘ starters have also struggled, with an ERA currently 0.99 runs higher than one season ago. That ERA jump threatens to eclipse the franchise record one season rise of 1.00, set in 1999 after Roger Clemens‘ departure from Toronto. The year-over-year record that will almost certainly fall is starters’ W-L%, currently 196 points lower than last season’s gaudy .617 mark; Toronto’s largest previous one season change was a positive one, jumping 106 points from 1981 to 1982, the latter season highlighted by Dave Stieb and Jim Clancy combining for 78 starts, over 550 IP, 30 CGs and 8 shutouts.

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no statistician but
Guest

Astros vs Rangers: All those guys on both teams with double digit HRs, but Astros: BA .284 (1st in league), OPS+ 127; Rangers BA .248 (11th), OPS+ 98. Ranger 2nd baseman Odor—I’m not touching this one—has 28 HRs and an OPS+ of 69. If that’s not some kind of record it has to be close.

Richard Chester
Guest

Currently the lowest OPS+ for a batter with 28+ HR is 81 by Tony Batista (32 HR) in 2004.

Doug
Guest

And the most HR with OPS+ under 70 is 21 by J.P. Arencibia (59 OPS+) in 2013.

Most with OPS+ under 80 is 26 by Aaron Hill (78 OPS+ in 2010) and by Tony Batista (73 OPS+ in 2003).

aweb
Guest

As a Jays fan, that all 4 of those guys played for the Jays when they “did” it…retrospective ouch.

Doug
Guest

Aweb, guess you can also cringe knowing that Kevin Pillar is now just the second CFer with consecutive seasons of 35 doubles and OBP below 0.333. The first (and leader with 3 such seasons total) was Vernon Wells in 2009-10.

Doug
Guest

Good add-on nsb.

Quantity or quantity with quality.

David P
Guest

What I find interesting is that the Yankees are currently 9 games below their Pythagorean record (not counting last night’s game which isn’t yet in BR).

Not sure a Yankees teams has ever finished that far below their Pythagorean record. And (if memory serves me correctly), they’ve played above their Pythagorean record for something like 22 or 23 of the past 24 seasons.

e pluribus munu
Guest

The 1966 Yankees were also 9 games under their Pythagorean level. Apart from that, the closest was 8 games under in 1975.

Doug
Guest

In last night’s game against Toronto, Tiger third baseman Nick Castellanos hit a grand slam and started a round-the-horn triple play.

I’m going to guess he’s the first player to do those two things in the same game.

Joe
Guest

Pujols famously did it in his first college game.

Doug
Guest

Actually, Castellanos was in right field yesterday, so it was “only” a team feat for the Tigers to get a GS and TP in the same game.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Tim Anderson and Matt Davidson of the White Sox have BB/K totals of 13/135 and 17/145, respectively.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Only Mike Zunino of the 2014 Mariners has had 17 or fewer walks and 125 or more strikeouts in a season.

Davidson and Anderson’s K/BB ratios are currently 8.53 and 10.38. If they maintain that rate, they would become the first teammates with at least 100 strikeouts and 8 or more whiffs per walk.

oneblankspace
Guest

The White Sox have set a team single season record for most homeruns leading off the game, including the bottom of the 1st when at home.

Doug
Guest

The Astros have 23 such home runs this year and last. Previous team record in any two year period was 14.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Jordan Montgomery is working on joining some company that is both elite, and a sign of the times. He’s the 16th pure rookie under the age of 25 to have a SO/9 over 8.5 (with 135+ innings). Only twice was it done before 1984. 2017 … Montgomery 2015 … Carlos Rodon 2015 … Noah Syndegaard 2013 … Jose Fernandez 2011 … Michael Pineda 2007 … Tim Lincecum 2003 … Brandon Webb 2001 … Roy Oswalt 2001 … CC Sabathia 1999 … Tim Hudson 1998 … Kerry Wood 1986 … Bobby Witt 1984 … Clemens 1984 … Gooden 1969 … Tom… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Griffin led the majors with 9.6 SO/9 in his rookie season. Pitched almost 1500 IP in his career, but never reached 8.0 SO/9 again. Wildness was his issue with 4.6 BB/9 for his career and only one qualified season below 4.0 BB/9.

David P
Guest

50+ career home runs, more home runs than walks:

Bill Schroeder (61 HRs, 58 BB)
Todd Greene (71, 67)
Rougned Odor (86, 84)
Jonathan Schoop (88, 76)

Interesting that two of them are active AL second basemen. Of course, Odor is right on the borderline. But Schoop? He’s in a league all of his own.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Gary Sanchez has now played 161 games in his career.

50 HR
125 RBI
352 TB

Doug
Guest

Only Rudy York (55) and Mark McGwire (51) have more home runs over first 162 career games.

125 RBI is T-14th most over first 162 games. Only expansion era players above Sanchez are Braun (134), Pujols (133) and Longoria (131).

352 TB ranks T-15th. Only expansion era players with as many are Braun (401), Garciaparra (373), Abreu (366), Pujols (364) and Cepeda (352).

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

How do you search for that? If it is possible with the P-I, I’ve not found it.

Doug
Guest

Game Finder, First 162 games of career. With something (HR, RBI, TB or whatever) greater than or equal to 1.

Then sort the search result by the something. One caution: you may need to look at multiple pages as the original sequencing is by no. of games (Sanchez was on the second page for no. of games for TB, even though he made the top 15 for TB in aggregate).

no statistician but
Guest

Not to be finicky, but Orlando Cepeda’s first 162 games played occurred before expansion by a couple of years.

Doug
Guest

True enough. But I still think it’s fair to call him an expansion era player.

David P
Guest

Tyler Olson has pitched in 20 games and given up 0 runs.

Current seasonal record for most appearances with 0 runs allowed was set by Eric Gunderson in 1994 with 14 games.

Granted Olson is a LOOGY so he’s only thrown 13.1 innings in those 20 appearances. But he’s not too far from the seasonal record for most innings pitched with 0 runs allowed. That record – 18 innings – is famously held by Karl Spooner who threw 2 complete game shutouts at the end of 1954 for the Dodgers.

e pluribus munu
Guest
I imagine Spooner holds all sorts of records as a result of those two games: most K’s in the first two games or 18 IP (27); fewest XBH (0); highest average Game Score in first two games (90.5) . . . perhaps fewest hits in first 18 IP for a starter (7). His better game was the first, and it was against the pennant winning Giants, but the race was over and Durocher pulled key starters like Dark and Mays after a few innings (I wonder whether Mays ever gave way to a pinch runner again in his career), so… Read more »
Daniel Longmire
Guest

David, Harry Coveleski pitched 20 scoreless innings as a rookie for the 1907 Phillies. All of those were in relief.

David P
Guest

Daniel – My comment was related to runs allowed. Coveleski did indeed give up 2 runs in his rookie season, albiet of the unearned variety.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Ah, thanks for clarifying; I searched for ER allowed out of habit.

Longest scoreless seasons of any kind, other than Spooner’s sizzling start:

15.1 – Bob McClure, 1975 Royals
15.0 – Dave Ford, 1978 Orioles
15.0 – Vicente Palacios, 1990 Pirates
14.0 – Evan Scribner, 2016 Padres
13.1 – Ken Brett, 1980 Royals
13.1 – Olson

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Ubaldo Jimenez has tossed 129.2 IP with a 6.80 ERA. Just 14 other hurlers have thrown that many innings with an ERA of 6.80 or higher, and only 7 exceeded 150 IP.

This is another recent phenomenon: four seasons happened from 1930-37, then the rest have occurred since 1994.

David P
Guest

In addition to their 19 game winning streak, the Indians have an 18 game streak of giving up 4 of fewer runs. There are 2 other teams with 18 game streaks, two with 20 game streaks, and one 23 game streak. One of the 20 game streaks took place in 2002 though the A’s don’t appear to be the team with that particular streak.

David P
Guest

Actually this doesn’t seem to be correct. What I wrote above is what the PI showed me a few days ago. But now it’s showing me that this streak doesn’t rank in the top 20 all time and that the longest is 29 games.

David P
Guest

With two doubles last night, Jose Ramierz has just the 12 season of 50-5-25. Others to pull off the feat include:

Gehrig (1927)
Klein (1930, 1932)
Greenberg (1934, 1940)
Medwick (1937)
Musial (1953)
Berkman (2001)
Tejada (2005)
Sizemore (20006)
Holliday (2007)

Daniel Longmire
Guest

David, you of all people should know that this comment is right up my alley!

Quiz time for all readers: Ramirez hit his 27th home run last night; there have been only eight 50-5-30 seasons, and just two since Musial (him again) did it in 1953. Can you guess them? Also, one player reached those marks on two separate occasions…who was he?

Daniel Longmire
Guest

You have a 50/50 chance of guessing the second question correctly. 🙂

David P
Guest

Well since I extracted the data above, I “should” know the answer. But I didn’t look that closely.

I’m pretty sure that Sizemore is one of them. And that Tejada isn’t. I’ll go with Berkman as the other since Musial.

As for who did it twice, that would have to be either Klein or Greenberg. I’m pretty sure one of Greenberg’s seasons was less than 30 home runs. So that would make Klein the answer.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

It was actually Berkman and Holliday who pulled it off. Holliday had 6 triples! You are correct that Klein was the two-timer.

By the way, Charlie Blackmon how has 33-14-35. Those 82 extra-base hits in the lead-off spot are the most ever for a National League batter. All but one of his 93 RBI have occurred while in the #1 position, a total which is also an NL record.

Perhaps a savvy P-I user could find the most runs batted in for each batting order in both leagues?

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Thanks, Doug! Very interesting how two-thirds of the records were set in the 1920s and 30s, and only four have happened in the past half-century. Perhaps managers changed their batting orders less often in the old days?

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

Leo Durocher: the all-time leader in an offensive category. Never thought I’d see it.

e pluribus munu
Guest

There are many umpires who would not have been surprised in the least.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

2016 Yankees’ pitchers who are succeeding on other teams:

Andrew Miller
2.7 WAR
56 IP
0.808 WHIP
12.9 SO/9

Anthony Swarzak
2.5 WAR
67 IP
1.000 WHIP

Blake Parker
1.7 WAR
62 IP
0.855 WAR
11.5 SO/9

Richard Bleier
1.3 WAR
56 IP
1.196 WAR

Ivan Nova
1.2 WAR
174 IP

Nick Goody
1.0 WAR
51 IP
1.071 WAR
12.1 SO/9

Tyler Olson
0.9 WAR
22 Appearances /15 IP / zero runs

Kirby Yates
0.2 WAR
52 IP
1.154 WHIP
14.0 SO/9

James Pazos
0.1 WAR
52 IP
11.0 SO/9

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Luis Severino.
Throws 100 with a knee-buckling slider… and has command.

Currently at 218 SO and 49 BB.
That is 4.45 SO/W

Age 23 or younger, most strikeouts while also posting a SO/W greater than 4.2:

253 … Jose Fernandez
248 … Clayton Kershaw
245 … Mark Prior
218 … Luis Severino (and counting)
218 … Noah Syndergaard
205 … Tom Seaver

166 … Syndergaard
161 … Jim Merritt
144 … Roy Oswalt
144 … Francisco Liriano
126 … Roger Clemens
125 … Sammy Ellis

no statistician but
Guest
The citing in Doug’s chart of Babe Dahlgren as having the most RBIs from the eighth spot in AL history in the year 1939 may not mean much to people unfamiliar with Dahlgren or 1939 or the team he played for. Dahlgren was a journeyman first baseman who failed to stick with the BoSox after a year as a starter—they acquired Jimmie Foxx—and was sent down where he tore up minor league pitching and eventually resurfaced with the Yankees in 1938 as a back-up for Gehrig. In 1939, of course, the disease named after him took down the Iron Horse,… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

Even those familiar with the history can enjoy a timely retelling, nsb, and for fans like me, who grew up looking at the Yankees as the baseball equivalents of Genghis Khan, the idea of the same team with Gehrig healthy has always been like a disaster movie screenplay. But I do think that despite its great strength, the lineup included two weak spots, with Crosetti a bit less productive than Dahlgren (though, of course, one would expect more offense from a first baseman than a shortstop). The other six made up for it!

no statistician but
Guest
Another thing about those ’39 Yankees: 7 players with 80+ RBIs and 7 with 80+ runs scored. Crosetti made up for his weak bat with dWAR of 3.0 and 109 runs. Somehow I thought I had a trivia fact that they were matched by another team in having 7 guys with 80 or more RBIs (in 1894 Baltimore had 8 over 90—but that was the year of the craziness), but it was just 6, none of them with 100. I’m pretty sure this NL team holds the post-1900 record up to the steroid era, but I haven’t checked beyond to… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Lowest OBP with 30+ homers:

.253 … Rougned Odor (current)
.254 … Tony Armas
.255 … Dave Kingman

.272 … Tony Batista
.273 … Cory Snyder
.284 … Kingman
.285 … Kingman
.286 … Kingman

Note: Adam Duvall’s current .294 ranks 14th on the list

Ken
Guest

Last night (9-22) Lorenzo Cain of the Royals got a -23% WPA for a single. It was top of the 9th, KC trailed the White Sox 7-6, one out and a runner on second. On Cain’s single, the runner was out at home, then Cain got thrown out trying to advance to second, which ended the game. This has to be one of the largest negative WPA values ever for a single. Unfortunately I don’t see an easy way to search for such a thing in Play Index.

e pluribus munu
Guest
Maybe it would be better to say that the Royals received -23% WPA on the play, rather than Cain. As I understand the way B-R calculates WPA (N.B.: I don’t), the play would be broken into three components: WPA for Cain’s single, WPA for lead-runner Merrifield running into an out, WPA for subsequent lead-runner Cain running into an out. Cain should have received positive WPA for the hit (which, in itself, would have led to first & third with one out) and, probably, a larger negative WPA for a game-ending baserunning mishap — but not much larger, as it would… Read more »
Ken
Guest
I agree that Cain was given too much negative WPA on this play, but while WPA is a good stat, it isn’t always fair. As I understand it, B-R calculates it for a batter by taking the probability of the team winning after his plate appearance minus the probability before, with the exception of stolen bases and CS. So advancements on WP, PB, errors etc are all credited to the batter, as well as any base runner advancements from a hit, walk, or out. And the batter will get docked if any runners are thrown out trying to advance, like… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
It’s rare for anyone to spot a new extreme on a relatively obscure stat in real time, Ken, You’ve done it for the Royals, and, given Cain’s margin there, maybe for MLB. Even if the stat isn’t really fair, that’s impressive! I think you’re right about the way B-R calculates WPA, though the explanation I recall didn’t actually limit lead runner WPA credit to SB/CS cases, but seemed to give them as examples without spelling out what else would or wouldn’t count. The Jackson example seems even more egregious than Cain’s. Jackson hit a timely single and did nothing else… Read more »
Kahuna Tuna
Guest

August 27, 1986: Padres’ Tim Flannery bats against Mets’ Doug Sisk with one out in the bottom of the 11th, Mets leading 6-5, Garry Templeton on second. Flannery singles up the middle. CF Lenny Dykstra throws out Templeton at home, and then C John Gibbons gets up and throws out Flannery trying to advance to third. Game over. WPA for the play is -0.27. It’s the only WPA value lower than Cain’s since 1969 on a game-ending single.

Doug
Guest

Great find, KT.

e pluribus munu
Guest
Second Doug’s praise, Tuna. I assume, but am not entirely sure, that the greater shift of adds in Flannery’s case was because had SD scored twice, the game would have been over, while had KC scored twice in Cain’s case, the bottom of the 9th could have reversed those results. Would I be right to assume that there is no effect on WPA because Cain made it to 1B but not 2B, while Flannery (somehow) made it from 1B to 2B, but not to 3B? If there were, we’d have the conundrum of Flannery being, in one sense, penalized more… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

Oh. I see I typed “adds.” Odd.

Richard Chester
Guest

My interpretation is that in 2017 that if the home team is ahead by 1 run in the top of the 9th and the visitors have a runner on 2nd with 1 out, the home team has a 77% chance of winning. The game ended on Cain’s single and the WPA for the play becomes 100 -77 = 23% for the home team and -23% for the visitors. It does not matter how the play progressed. If Cain had hit into a line drive DP to end the game the visitor’s WPA is still -23%

e pluribus munu
Guest

I see the result the same way, Richard. The issue raised by Ken’s post, though, is whether Cain should be “charged” with the full negative WPA, given that his batting effort produced positives as well as negatives, and the negatives were not a direct result of his batting effort. If WPA is to be used as a measure for player evaluation (as is suggested by its inclusion in individual player stats), as opposed to play evaluation, assigning Cain (or Jackson, Gagne, Flannery, etc.) negative WPA for a clutch hit would be a distortion.

Richard Chester
Guest

After tonight’s (9-26-2017) game Aaron now has 122 BB and 204 SO for a total of 326. The ML record is 327 set by Adam Dunn in 2012.

Richard Chester
Guest

Aaron Judge now has 328 BB + SO, a new ML record. He has 378 BB + SO + HR, second only to Mark McGwire’s 387 in 1998.

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

According to the Yankees blog “Yanks Go Yard,” on Sept. 11 Jacoby Ellsbury passed Pete Rose to become the all-time leader in times reaching base on catcher’s interference (30).

e pluribus munu
Guest
KT, I’m not sure if anyone else is still tracking this thread – maybe you should repost this where it can get more attention: I think it’s very interesting. The CI (B-R abbreviates it as XI) stat seems to have been kept since 1930. I can find no CI leaderboards or league totals, and can’t really tell how frequent these calls are, but clearly they are generally quite rare: some major players (e.g., Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, Barry Bonds, Cal Ripkin) never drew a CI call in their careers. I checked a couple of lesser players who thrived on making… Read more »
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