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.
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.
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.
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 Rays‘ Brad 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.