2017 Team Highlights: NL Edition

A companion to my earlier piece on AL teams, here is a rundown of unusual team accomplishments in the senior circuit. More after the jump.

NL West

The Dodgers won 35 of their first 60 games of the season, a nice .583 clip, but shifted into another gear for their next 60, going 51-9 (.850). Those 51 wins over that stretch are the most in any season since at least 1913 (I did a spot check of the 1906 Cubs; they went 46-12-2 for games 61-120, but were 37-2 for games 101-139). Two pitchers (Clayton KershawAlex Wood) with 20 starts and 150 ERA+ ties the franchise record set in 1957 (Don DrysdaleJohnny Podres) and equaled in 2015 (Kershaw and Zack Greinke). Hands up if you guessed that Koufax and Drysdale did it at least once!

The D-Backs have almost wrapped up a wildcard berth on the strength of their starting pitching that has consumed almost two-thirds of their IP (66.0%), the fourth best result in the majors this season. The rotation includes five pitchers with 20 starts and 120 ERA+, and four with 140 ERA+; the latter mark is a live ball era first, and the former has also been achieved since 1920 only by the 1942 Tigers.

For the Rockies, it’s a tale of two halves of the season, going 44-26 over their first 70 games, but only 31-39 since. Colorado will shortly have two players (Nolan ArenadoCharlie Blackmon) with 80 extra-base hits, tied with 34 other teams (incl. three Rockies teams) for the most on one club. If both reach 90 XBH (a stretch but not inconceivable, as Arenado needs 12 more, and Blackmon 13), the Rockies would match the 1927 Yankees (you know who the players were) as the only teams with two such players. Blackmon needs one more double and one more triple to record the twelfth 30/15/30 season (2B/3B/HR), but only the second (after Jimmy Rollins in 2007) of the expansion era.

The Padres will record their 7th straight losing season, their longest streak of mediocrity since a 9-year run (1969-77) starting from the franchise’s inception. San Diego’s typically anemic offense is sporting four players with 350 PA and more strikeouts than hits, matching last season’s club, and marking the fifth straight year with at least three such players (the Astros with four seasons, and Nats with three, are the only other teams with more than two such seasons in the last five).

The power surge that has swept through the majors this season somehow missed San Francisco, as the Giants‘ current total of 112 HR is easily the lowest in the majors, 24 fewer than the next-to-last Pirates. But, that’s not really news, as the Giants are poised to record their fifth season of the last 10 with only one 15 home run man, something that had previously occurred in the expansion era only in the strike season of 1981, and in 1975 (when no Giant had 15 dingers).

NL Central

It took a while, but the Cubs are finally looking more like the team that scorched the NL last season en route to a world championship. Taking a 43-45 record into the A-S break, Chicago has rebounded with a 34-18 second half to move 5 games clear of the pack with three weeks left in the season. What has held the Cubs back this year and may ultimately prove their undoing is a reliance on older pitchers who, as is their wont, haven’t been able to match their performance of a year ago. Currently, Chicago has turned to pitchers aged 31 or older for 53.3% of the team’s innings, their highest level since World War II and far ahead of the 2016 level of 43.3% that itself is the sixth highest mark since 1946.

The surprising Brewers have hung tough all season but a 9-18 slide coming out of the A-S break may ultimately deny them the NL’s second wildcard berth, The Brewers have a decent shot at having three qualified batters (Eric ThamesTravis ShawDomingo Santana) aged 30 or younger with 120 OPS+ and 25 home runs, a trio seen in Milwaukee only three times previously, most recently in their division-winning 2011 season. On the mound are three under-30 pitchers (Jimmy NelsonChase AndersonZach Davies) with 20 starts and (currently) 115 ERA+, the most in franchise history. Things are looking up for the Brew Crew!

The Cardinals are keeping pace with the Brewers thanks to a 20-12 run since Aug 5. Eight Redbirds should reach 20 doubles, with an outside shot at tying the franchise record of 9 players if Aledmys Diaz gets a call-up (he needs four more). If Jedd Gyorko can get over a hamstring strain, seven of the eight have a decent shot at also reaching 200 total bases; that would tie the long-standing franchise record established in 1930 and not equaled since 1953.

The Pirates should finish the season with all of their games started by pitchers in their age 30 season or younger. It would be the 11th such season for the franchise since 1901, seven of them between 1995 and 2011. Like those seven seasons, this one will likely be a losing campaign; Pittsburgh’s only winning seasons with a starting corps all aged 30 and under came in 1971 and 1972.

Cincinnati has a shot at having a franchise record-tying 5 players with 25 home runs and 100 OPS+, with Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett both needing just one more blast, and Adam Duvall (103 OPS+) and Scott Schebler (105) needing to stay above the century level. The last time the Reds had five such mashers was not in the Big Red Machine days but, rather, as the Redlegs in Frank Robinson‘s 1956 rookie season.

NL East

It’s been almost three months since the Nats last lost three games in a row. That’s what happens when three of your rotation men (Gio GonzalezMax ScherzerStephen Strasburg) are sporting a 150 ERA+. Those three qualified seasons almost match the franchise total of four for all seasons before this one. Three such pitchers who, like the Washington trio, are also posting a .700 W-L% has happened only once before, on the 1906 Cubs with Mordecai BrownJack Pfiester and Ed Reulbach.

Miami‘s massively talented outfield all stayed healthy this season and will all crest 4.0 WAR, just the eighth outfield to do so with all aged 27 or younger. (Quiz: which outfield did this twice?) The ageless Ichiro Suzuki has reinvented himself, at age 43, as an elite pinch-hitter, batting .289 in that role with 26 pinch-hits. Ichiro’s next PH appearance will set a new major league record for the most in one season; he needs three more pinch-hits to break John Vander Wal‘s 1995 major league record of 28 in one season.

Just two years removed from their pennant-winning season, the Met front office reached the conclusion that the window of opportunity for the present group had closed. After blowing up the team mid-season, it will be a very different club that takes the field next year. Met watchers, though, have seen this movie before; one year removed from a pennant, the 1987 club used 7 different pitchers for 12 or more starts, a total not equaled until this season with 7 pitchers having already made 13 starts.

The Braves have been better this season but their methods continue to baffle this observer. For the second year in a row, Atlanta will give 45% of its PAs to players aged 31 or older. The Braves have done this before, in 2002-03, 1999-2000, 1969-70 and 1948-50, but all but two of those teams were winners, and six of the nine made the post-season. Losing with older players just doesn’t make any sense; much better to get the same result but develop your younger talent at the same time.

For a team taking a different approach from the Braves, look no further than Philadelphia. The results haven’t been pretty this season, but only one Phillie regular is older than 27. Five of those 27-and-under players will reach 25 doubles this season, one less than the franchise record set by the 2001 club. Oddubel Herrera should post 40 doubles, a level not reached by a Phillie outfielder aged 25 or younger since Del Ennis in 1948.

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42 Comments on "2017 Team Highlights: NL Edition"

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Voomo Zanzibar
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I’ll try to make sense of the Braves method: C – Flowers/Suzuki. Both have hit well, and having veterans at Catcher makes sense if there’s not a G Sanchez ready to go. 2B – Brandon Phillips. They got him for next-to-nothing, and once Ozzie Albies was ready B-Phil was jettisoned. 3B – Adonis Garcia. Has had only 167 PA, as they’ve been figuring out what they have with Camargo, Peterson, and Ruiz. LF – Matt Kemp. They got him in a bad-contract trade for Hector Olivera. RF – Nick Markakis. He is an average and dependable player. Ronald Acuna should… Read more »
Doug
Guest
Thanks Voomo. I guess if you don’t think your youngsters are ready, then you stick with what you have. But, if that was my view, my bias would be towards giving those youngsters the chance prove me wrong. I can see keeping Markakis as a character guy (though he would be far more valuable to a contending team), and Flowers as a veteran catcher. But, why even trade for Kemp? Even if another team is paying for him, he’s only helping (a little bit) with his bat, and costing you a lot (according to dWAR) with his glove. I should… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

I mostly agree with you on Kemp. Perhaps the logic was, we can pay for this guy who we’ve determined is worthless, or roughly the same amount of money for this greatly flawed player whose might hit like it is 2011 again.

They were on the hook for (looks like) 32 million for Olivera. And they’re hemmorhaging about 50 mil for Kemp.
But they unloaded about 10 million worth of Jim Johnson and Bronson Arroyo when they got Olivera
(but they gave up Alex Wood).

Yeesh. It’s a big drawn-out mess.

David P
Guest

In retropsect, they probably would have beeb better off releasing Olivera and absorbing his salary. But hindsight is 20-20 and I’m sure they were gambling on a Kemp bounceback.

As for Doug’s other point, the problem with letting the youngsters play is that you start their FA clock before you may want it to start. And if it turns out that they’re not ready (but will be later on), then you’ll lose them sooner than you had to.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Max Scherzer is currently 6th all-time in lowest H/9 for a season. 5.2606 … Nolan Ryan 5.2955 … Luis Tiant 5.3064 … Nolan Ryan (age 44) 5.3088 … Pedro Martinez (greatest season ever?) 5.3257 … Ed Reulbach (almost identical IP and H to Pedro) 5.5514 … Max Scherzer (current) 5.5682 … Dutch Leonard (0.96 ERA, age 22) 5.6522 … Carl Lundgren 5.7065 … Sid Fernandez (age 22!) (4th best career mark, behind Ryan, Kershaw, and Koufax) 5.7398 … Tommy Byrne (125 hits, 179 walks !) _________________________ Seasons with Walks more than 1.4* Hits (sorted by IP): 196 .. Byrne 109… Read more »
David P
Guest

Meanwhile Corey Kluber is leading the AL in Hits/9 and W/9. No AL pitcher has led in both categories since Walter Johnson in 1913. Other AL pitchers to pull off the feat include Adie Joss (1908) and Cy Young (1901). In the NL, it’s been done by Juan Marichal (1966), Ray Prim (1945), Carl Hubbell (1934), and Christy Mathewson (1909). Hmmm…which one does NOT belong with the others???

Doug
Guest

Prim logged only 165.1 IP that season, but that was almost half of his career workload. Pitched almost 3000 minor league innings.

Prim was 38 that season and is the oldest of the pitchers to accomplish this double. He pitched for the Cubs in the ’45 WS and remains the oldest NL pitcher to start game 4 of the WS.

no statistician but
Guest
The 1956 Redlegs—I remember that team well from when I was a kid, and it wasn’t Frank Robinson’s team then, Doug, but big Ted Klu’s. They came out of nowhere after 11 consecutive losing seasons to go down to the wire with the Dodgers and Braves in a three team race. Ed Bailey and Smokey Burgess combined for 40 HRs out of the catcher’s position, and George Crowe put up 10 subbing at first for Big Ted. This was the year Kluszewski started having the back problems that sank his career, and although his 35 dingers failed to match the… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

Good recollection, nsb. With his uniform sleeves cut off so his enormous biceps could show, Kluszewski looked like a different species. It was hard to imagine he could have an injury. Where I live now, he’s remembered as a football star.

David P
Guest

With today’s loss, the Dodgers now have a 10+ game win streak and a 10+ game losing streak within the same season.

Has any other team pulled that off?

e pluribus munu
Guest

I was just logging on to ask that question, David, although I was going to add the wrinkle of multiple 10 game winning streaks.

Richard Chester
Guest

1953 Yankees came close. 18 game winning streak, 9 game losing streak.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Thanks for referencing my earlier note on Charlie Blackmon, Doug. He now has 31 doubles, 34 home runs, and is still stuck on 14 triples.

Only 8 players have had a 35-15-35 season, and no one since Stan Musial in 1948 has managed the feat. Just two collected more than Blackmon’s current total of 13 stolen bases: Babe Ruth (17) and Chuck Klein (20).

David P
Guest

Gehrg in 1927: 52-18-47.

Wow!

Daniel Longmire
Guest

David, Ruth edges him out by two (119 to 117) with 44-16-59 in 1921, the most ever.

Klein had 100+ extra-base hits twice in his career: 1930 (107) and 1932 (103). There have been a mere 15 player-seasons that reached the century mark in XBH, and only two other players reached the plateau twice: Lou Gehrig (1927 and 1930), and another underrated hitter, Todd Helton, who did it back-to-back in 2000-01.

no statistician but
Guest
Off on a tangent—well, not even a tangent. B-R’s list of recently deceased players has highlighted the name of Tom Wright. Who? Spent nine years in part or whole with four AL teams as a pinch hitter-outfield sub, 1948-1956. Missed three years, ages 19-21, due to WWII, but when he got back, wow: .380 BA in class C 1946, .325 in AA 1947, .307 in AAA 1948, a league leading .368 in AAA 1949 with an OPS of .988 playing beside Piersall who managed .271/.674. Wright went up to the bigs to stay in 1950 at age 26, while Piersall… Read more »
David P
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Thanks for sharing NSB! I always enjoy reading about these obscure players.

He actually has a SABR bio and want jumped out at me is that the Red Sox originally tried to assign him to a team in Canton, OH which just happens to be my hometown. But Wright didn’t want to go that far from home so they sent him to Florence, SC instead.

http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/567542f2

Mark
Guest

May I take a crack at the quiz question? I think I stumbled into it…

Oakland A’s, 1980 and 1981:

Rickey Henderson, (ages 21, 22): 8.8, 6.6
Dwayne Murphy (25, 26): 6.9, 4.4
Tony Armas (26, 27): 5.9, 4.2

Thanks for letting me play, longtime reader of the site (since way before the switch to HHS, even), keep up the great work!

Doug
Guest

You’ve got it Mark.

Thanks for being a loyal reader.

Mark
Guest
Thanks Doug! I hope this doesn’t clutter the post (or your time!) too much more, but as good a place as any, since it’s also quiz-related… Have certain quiz posts been broken out of the main RSS feed? I noticed when in the middle of the Don Baylor “regular” post it referenced back to a quiz involving Baylor that I hadn’t seen, and sure enough, there’s also that whole “PLAYER STATS QUIZ” menu up there now, with others I’d been missing in recent weeks/months (this all comes from a place of just not wanting to miss a single piece of… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Glad you like the quizzes, mark. I started posting them on the alternate page, as they tended to have more limited appeal than the regular articles on the main page.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Here’s a fabulous Metropolitans stat:

It is possible that Jose Reyes will be the Metsies only qualifying hitter.

Asdrubal Cabrera will get there barring injury in the next 72 hours, but jeepers what a nightmare of a season.

DeGrom will being their only qualifying pitcher, and nobody else is even close.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Them Metsies is amazin, that’s for sure. How about this: there’s a good likelihood that Rhys Hoskins, who came up on August 10, will wind up the season leading Phillie position players in WAR. He had a lousy game today, but when it started he was only 0.1 off the pace of the two leaders: Herrera and Hernandez (who also had pretty bad games today).

Jimbo
Guest

Ichiro since July 5th, 96 PA’s…

.341 BA
.432 OBP
.427 SLG

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Remarkable; talk of his demise was greatly exaggerated.

Ichiro does not have enough plate appearances (205) for a qualified age-43 season (310), according to Baseball Reference. If he did, his batting average would be one point below Pete Rose for 10th all time, and amazingly, his slugging percentage (.344) would rank ninth.

Doug
Guest
Ichiro is now the first player with 100+ PH appearances in a season, but is still looking for those two more pinch-hits (he is hitless in his last 8 PH PA’s) to tie John Vander Wal’s season record. In total, Ichiro has played 130 games this season to become the first player to do so each season aged 40-43, and joining Pete Rose as the only players to play 75% of their team games in each of those seasons (Pete’s 121 games played in 1984 is fractionally below 75% of 162, but above 75% of 160; I’ve used the latter… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest
Don’t know where to post this so I’ll do it here. On Twitter, Highheatstats posted a request concerning the highest 7 year peak period of WAR. I did an analysis using fWAR and the results are posted below showing all 7 year periods of at least 62.0 fWAR. The Year Ending column is the final year of the 7 year period. Year WAR Ending ….. Player 76.8 ….. 1926 ….. Babe Ruth 76.5 ….. 1927 ….. Babe Ruth 75.8 ….. 1924 ….. Babe Ruth 74.5 ….. 1929 ….. Babe Ruth 74.2 ….. 1925 ….. Babe Ruth 73.3 ….. 1932 …..… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

The word “Year” should appear above the word “Ending”.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Richard, did you exclude pitchers for a reason? At least Cy Young, Walter Johnson, and several 19th century pitchers would make the list.

Richard Chester
Guest

I should have mentioned that I did it for position players only. I will do pitchers.

Richard Chester
Guest

I made the search for pitchers but the results were a bit strange. I extract my database from Fangraphs and I make a quick spotcheck with BR for some of the players. I saw that Fangraph produces significantly lower values of WAR for pitchers (Johnson, Mathewson, Grove, etc.) in the early part of the 20th century providing results that I do not confidence in. Accordingly I have decided to not publish the results.

e pluribus munu
Guest

My own spotcheck on B-R, filing through the leaderboard for pitching WAR only, yielded only Cy and Walter, Kid Nichols, John Clarkson, and Pud Galvin. Pete Alexander was very close, and when I add in his B-R batting/fielding WAR he gets to 61.9 for his initial seven years.

Richard Chester
Guest

Here are Walter Johnson’s WAR values for 1910 to 1919, BR value first, then Fangraphs.

11.2/9.6
8.5/5.9
13.5/9.3
14.6/8.5
11.9/7.8
11.2/8.2
9.7/8.8
6.8/6.7
10.2/6.5
10.5/6.8

Doug
Guest

One year the two (BR and FG) are really close, and another within one WAR. But, the rest – those are big differences!

e pluribus munu
Guest
Late in life, Confucius said, “Give me a few more years to learn, fifty or so, and I could avoid big mistakes.” At roughly the same age, my feeling is that with a few more years of study, fifty or so, I could understand bWAR and fWAR. But since those extra years aren’t currently on offer, I’m just going to offer up some big mistakes. It seems to me that one reasonable aim of any WAR system should be to develop a metric that will place pitcher and hitter WAR in a universe where the two types of players can… Read more »
Kahuna Tuna
Guest

On Closing Sunday, Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo hit his fourth triple of the season. Four interesting things about this:

1) All other major-league pitchers combined to hit three triples in 2017.
2) Perdomo is the first major-league pitcher since Robin Roberts, 1955, to hit four triples in a season.
3) Perdomo ties Dixie Howell (1957 White Sox) and Rick Wrona (1994 Brewers) for the most hits in a season, five, that were all for extra bases.
4) Perdomo, 2017, is the first player with four or more triples whose triples account for as many as half of his total base hits,

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

The 2017 Padres also are the first team with an actual W-L percentage more than 70 percentage points greater than its Pythagorean W-L percentage to finish with an actual W-L percentage below .500. (Actual record 71-91, .438; Pythagorean record 59-103, .366.) The 2017 Padres’ 72-percentage-point discrepancy is the ninth highest since 1901.

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