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2013 Weird and Wacky Team Highlights – AL Edition

As we wait impatiently for the new season, here’s a quick look back at last year and some of the more unusual team accomplishments of that season. And I do mean unusual – chances are you won’t find these stats anywhere but HHS.

More after the jump.

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Stealing home: never with two strikes unless …

Unless you’re a backup catcher with exactly one stolen base in your career. Then it’s a great play … especially if it works.

That’s what happened back in 1982, four hours into this game on what was no doubt a steamy August afternoon in St. Louis. Tom Tango posted a discussion of this play on his website last month, and I thought it might also interest our readers here at HHS.

More after the jump on the rules implications of stealing home with two strikes on the batter.

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Circle of Greats: 1932 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 47th round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG).  This round is for voting on the group of players born in 1932.  Rules and lists are after the jump.

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Circle of Greats 1933 Results: Voters Give a “Hoot” for Gibby

Bob “Hoot” Gibson has been elected as the latest inductee to the Circle of Greats. Gibson was a consistent winner over a 17-year career with the Cardinals, with 20 wins in 5 of 6 seasons (1965-70), 15 wins in 10 of 11 seasons (1962-72) and 12+ wins with a winning record for 13 straight seasons (1961-73). Gibson’s 251 career wins are tops for his generation of pitchers with their entire careers between 1955 and 1980.

As impressive as his career accomplishments are, Gibson is probably most remembered for an iconic 1968 season, and for his dominating post-season performances in three memorable 7-game World Series. More on Bob Gibson after the jump.

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Quiz – Alex Cobb (stumped)

Alex Cobb, the Rays’ young right-hander, has made an impressive start to his major-league career. Among active starters with 300 career IP, Cobb is one of only 11 pitchers with a career HR/9 below 0.75 and a SO/BB ratio above 2.5. His .641 career winning percentage ranks second in that group, behind only Lance Lynn‘s mark of .654.

Cobb also authored a game start that is unique among all major league starts of the past 5 seasons. What is that start and why is it so unusual?

Hint: Prior to Cobb’s start, there had been 6 other such games in this century (since 2000). There were 13 such games for 1990-99, 44 for 1980-89 and 110 for 1970-79.

It appears I’ve stumped the panel, for a change. The unusual thing about Cobb’s game is that his game score was less than the number of batters he faced. Add in 8 innings pitched and it’s the only such game since 2008. With long starts becoming as rare as double-headers, and almost every pitcher usually able to register at least a handful of strikeouts (a big part of game score), these games are really getting scarce. The other matching games are after the jump.

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Quiz – Season Symmetry (solved)

The lists below identify the only players with seasons since 1901 matching different search criteria. The common trait is that all of the search criteria exhibit the same type of symmetry. What is the season symmetry that describes each of these player lists?

List #1 List #2 List #3 List #4 List #5
Reggie Jackson Jason Kendall Kevin Millar Neal Heaton Don Wilson
Mike Cameron Robin Yount Russell Martin Sammy Stewart Steve Rogers
Carlos Lee Dwight Evans Derrek Lee Chuck Rainey Nolan Ryan
Bret Boone Darrell Porter Ellis Burks Paul Splittorff Jim Clancy
Gary Gaetti Richie Hebner Bill Madlock Spud Chandler Joe Niekro
Carlton Fisk Brooks Robinson Bobby Murcer Harry Gumbert Mike Marshall
Jim Rice Johnny Logan Minnie Minoso Ted Lyons Pete Broberg
Frank Robinson Bing Miller Steve Hargan
Eddie Collins

No fooling the panel who made quick work of this one. Congratulations to brp, bstar and David Horwich who teamed up to identify the symmetry as having two or more seasons with identical totals for the same two common counting stats (with appropriate minimum totals). Details are after the jump.

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100 Most Memorable Moments Of The Last Decade-100 & 99

Yakety Sax and Perfect Catch Read the rest of this entry

South Wind Blowing: Return of the Lefty

After a lengthy period in the wilderness, lefties are once again in vogue in the majors. The chart below shows the difference in ERA for left-handed and right-handed pitchers. When lefties have the edge, the bar is brown and for righties the bar is green. 2013 was the 6th straight season that left-handers have outshone righties in ERA, albeit by small margins. Perhaps in consequence, innings for left-handed pitchers (the blue line) are also on the rise.
Pitcher Handedness Results 1950-2013
More on the change in southpaw fortunes after the jump.
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Ralph Kiner, 1922-2014

Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner died Thursday, at age 91. (NY Times obituary; Jayson Stark on the lighter side of Ralph.) Some notes on his playing days:

During his 10-year career (1946-55) with the Pirates, Cubs and Indians, Ralph Kiner led the majors with 369 HRs, 80 more than #2 Stan Musial. He ranked 3rd with his 1,015 RBI (behind Musial and Del Ennis) and 971 Runs (Musial and Pee Wee Reese), and 2nd to Musial in Times On Base and Total Bases.

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Has the game actually changed since the peak of the Steroid Era?

Run scoring and such have dropped since the peak of the Steroid Era, but at least for now, the face of the game remains unchanged. Although homers have dropped off some, three other events–triples, intentional walks, and sac bunts–continue to hurtle towards extinction.

Here’s the simple ratio of HR per game to the sum of those other three events. Suddenly, 2013 is looking more like the offensive peak years of 1999-2000.


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