Notes from Games 1 and 2 of the World Series

With the first two games of the 2015 World Series in the books, here are some interesting facts from those contests:

Game 1

  • Alcides Escobar hit first inside-the-park home run in the World Series in 86 years. It was on a first pitch to lead off the first inning. So, how many others have smacked a lead-off first-pitch inside-the-park home run, including the regular season? There’s only one other such event in recorded history, since 1938; Tim Raines did it against the Padres’ Chris Welsh on May 7th, 1981.
  • The game lasted 14 innings, tying the longest record for a World Series game, along with game 2 of the 1916 series and game 3 of the 2005 series. First of which featured another first inning inside-the-park 4-bagger, though not leading off, hit by Hi Myers off of Babe Ruth, who tossed all 14 innings for a complete game win.
  • The Royals’ pitching struck out a combined fifteen Mets hitters. This is tied for the second-most single game mark in World Series history, behind only when Bob Gibson famously punched out seventeen Tigers in game one of the 1968 series.
Rk Date Series Gm# Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO
1 1968-10-02 WS 1 STL DET W 4-0 9.0 5 0 0 1 17
2 2015-10-27 WS 1 KCR NYM W 5-4 14.0 11 4 3 3 15
3 1985-10-24 WS 5 STL KCR L 1-6 9.0 11 6 5 4 15
4 1973-10-14 WS 2 NYM OAK W 10-7 12.0 13 7 7 7 15
5 1963-10-02 WS 1 LAD NYY W 5-2 9.0 6 2 2 3 15
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/30/2015.
  • Matt Harvey struck out an uncharacteristic two in six innings, tied for the fewest single-game mark in his career (June 10th, 2015) .
  • Wilmer Flores became the first player to reach on an error while bringing in the go-ahead run in the 8th inning or later of a World Series game since… when Mookie Wilson made Vin Scully yell “Behind the bag!” I kid you not.
  • Alex Gordon’s game-tying home run was the first to put team on top or tie a game in the 9th inning or later in the World Series since David Freese’s walk-off blast in 2011 game 6, exactly four years preceding this game.

 

Game 2

  • Johnny Cueto set many records with his outstanding two-hit complete game victory. To mention a few…
    • The Dominican right-hander became the first pitcher in twenty years to toss a two-hitter (or better) in the World Series, since Greg Maddux in 1995 game 1.
    • He also joined Roger Clemens in 2000 as the only pitchers to threw more than one eight-plus IP, two or fewer hits outings in a single postseason.
  • Like his colleague Harvey in game 1, Jacob deGrom struck out just two Royals, and that was the fewest single-game record in his big league career, along with 3 other outings.
  • Daniel Murphy has cooled off a bit. Not only has he gone homerless in first 2 games of the World Series, but he’s also struck out twice in each of them. Murphy has had one other multi-K streak in his entire career, spanning over three games from July 2nd to 5th, 2014.

2015 World Series Preview: Game 2

Baseball fans wake up for Game 2 of the 2015 World Series with the same feeling the rest of America has after Thanksgiving dinner, because that’s what this series opener was—a long-awaited celebration that was satisfying on so many levels. It unfolded as expected in certain situations, but with enough surprises to create an epic experience, especially from a stats perspective.

Getty/Doug Pensinger

Getty/Doug Pensinger

Now, let’s look forward to doing it all over again on Wednesday night.

 

Historically Speaking…

  • The New York Mets will attempt to rebound in Game 2, knowing the slim chances they have of overcoming a 2-0 deficit. The 1986 World Series is the only example in franchise history of them losing consecutive games in a postseason series and going on to win it. Anything can happen under these bright lights, but it’s difficult to imagine the nasty Kansas City Royals relievers suffering through that kind of choke job.
  • Most of his management career has been mediocre, but Ned Yost is suddenly a dominant force in October. A Game 2 victory would bring his postseason record as a skipper to 20-8, matching how Casey Stengel started his legendary career. Only Joe McCarthy—20 wins in his first 27 postseason games—excelled more from the get-go.
  • If we extend into extra innings again, it would be the first time since Games 4 and 5 in 2001 that a World Series goes beyond regulation on back-to-back nights.
  • Let’s say Game 2 veers in the opposite direction, with one team routing the other…might we see a position player make World Series history by taking the mound? (h/t to Scott Lindholm for confirming that there’s no precedent) The circumstances are perfect for that kind of novelty, considering the depleted states of both bullpens and limited rest. The Royals have fire-baller Drew Butera at their disposal, while the Mets could lean on Michael Cuddyer’s experience.

 

What to Watch for

  • This season, fastball velocity has been a strong indicator of whether or not Johnny Cueto succeeds or flops in any given start. His highest Game Scores—a 93 on July 7 and a 87 on August 10—came in outings where his four-seamer and sinker both averaged at least 93 mph. The same was true of his ALDS Game 5 masterpiece (8.0 IP, 2 H, 8 K). But when the velocity drops, he’s had trouble generating swinging strikes,. That extends opposing plate appearances and inflates his pitch count in the early innings.
  • In Game 1, most of New York’s offense was generated with the put-the-ball-on-the-ground-and-pray-the-BABIP-gods-are-on-your-side strategy. That’s probably their best option in Game 2, as well. Leaning on Kauffman Stadium’s size and the defensive skills of their outfielders, the Royals only allowed a .558 OPS on fly balls during the season (league average was a .590 OPS).
  • Ned Yost has shown himself to be a big fan of the sacrifice bunt, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him turn to it again versus Jacob deGrom. Swinging for the fences to advance baserunners often ends in disappointment against deGrom, who minimizes solid contact. He ranked 11th-best in MLB this year in limiting the distance of batted balls (min. 300 ABs with batted ball data). There’s also a strong possibility that Terry Collins optimizes his run prevention by starting Juan Lagares in center field.

2015 World Series Preview: Game 1

Tuesday night marks the beginning of a highly anticipated World Series between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals.

It’s going to be Fall Classic first-timers versus a club that has “been there before;” power pitching versus contact hitting; Jim Breuer versus Sung Woo Lee; a mega market versus one of MLB’s tiniest.

High Heat Stats will bring you insight and entertainment throughout the series. Game previews like this will put star—and scrub—performances in historical context, while dissecting the matchups that could determine which team clinches the 2015 title.

 

Historically Speaking…

  • The best run differential for a New York team in the 162-game era—since 1961—belongs to the 1998 Yankees (plus-309). The Mets have thus far outscored their opposition 43-26 in the postseason, a plus-306 run differential if scaled over 162 games.
  • If Bartolo Colon makes an appearance, he’ll be the oldest player (42 years, 156 days) to do so in the World Series since Jamie Moyer in 2008 (45 years, 342 days for his Game 3 start).
  • Prior to NewMatt Harvey-Dark Knight York’s Matt Harvey, Barry Zito (San Francisco Giants, 2012) was the most recent Scott Boras client to serve as starting pitcher for a World Series opener. Prior to him, it was Anthony Reyes of the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals.
  • Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar seeks to become the first player ever to win ALCS MVP and World Series MVP in the same postseason. (The American League began recognizing an ALCS MVP in 1980.)
  • Royals reliever Luke Hochevar will join David Price as the only pitchers to be selected No. 1 overall in the amateur draft and compete in the World Series for their original teams.
  • Six of the 11 pitchers on Kansas City’s active roster weren’t on the team when it won the AL pennant last year.

 

What to Watch for

  • Kansas City’sAlcides Escobar Heat Map Escobar has been an aggressive hitter throughout 2015, but he is taking that to an extreme this October. In 20 percent of his postseason plate appearances, the shortstop has put the first pitch in play. His heat map in these situations comes courtesy of ESPN’s Mark Simon.
  • The Mets used their baserunning to put pressure on the defenses they faced in the NLDS and NLCS, averaging a stolen base per game. With nearly a week to rest their legs leading up the Game 1, that’s a trend we might see continue…especially as Edinson Volquez takes the mound for the Royals. The battery of Volquez and Salvador Perez caught only four of 22 would-be base-stealers this season (81.8% success rate), and Volquez has just one career pick-off.
  • Home run binges have been a huge reason for New York’s second-half ascension, but rallying with the long ball will be a challenge in the series opener. The back end of Kansas City’s bullpen features a rested Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis. A product of both their pitching styles and the spaciousness of Kauffman Stadium, Herrera and Davis are among the least homer-prone relievers, despite heavy workloads. Here’s how they stack up to their AL peers in HR/9 since the beginning of 2014, according to FanGraphs:

AL HR/9, 2014-2015

 

Follow along for ongoing coverage of the World Series!

And HHS has football goodies for you, too!

 

 

Daniel Murphy and Making Contact Count

Daniel Murphy‘s history-making run of 6 consecutive post-season games with a home run is one of this October’s most notable stories.Less well-known, perhaps, is Murphy’s prowess in making contact, ranking 2nd (first in the NL) in making contact on 92% of his swings, and leading all of baseball with a batted ball in play (AB – SO + SH + SF) in 86.8% of his PAs.

But, when you take in this year’s Fall Classic, remember to cast a glance at the Royals’ second baseman too. Ben Zobrist is no slouch himself when it comes to making contact. More on Murphy, Zobrist and contact hitters after the jump.

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Note from Game 4 of the ALCS

Another day, another crazy ALCS game. Here are some notes:

  • Cliff Pennington became the first position player in post-season history to pitch in a game. This excludes, of course, 3 games by Rick Ankiel and 3 by Babe Ruth, all coming before their careers primarily as position players.
  • RA Dickey became the first Blue Jays’ starting pitcher to fail to go at least 2 IP in a playoff game. The previous shortest outing was 2.0 IP, by Todd Stottlemyre in the insane Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.
  • Dickey’s Game Score of 28 was only the 6th-lowest by a Blue Jay in a playoff game. The 5 lower scores were all in the 1991-93 postseasons.
  • The Blue Jays are now 25-25 in 50 all-time playoff games. They are 17-10 in games in which they homered and 8-15 in games without a homer.
  • The Royals’ 14 runs in a franchise high for the playoffs, besting by 3 runs their total of 11 from the Game 7 drubbing of the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series. Interestingly, the Royals went more than 4 years between regular-season games of 14+ runs until finally breaking the mark twice in September of this year.
  • Alcides Escobar set the single-game playoff record for RBI by a Royals’ leadoff batter, with 4. The only other leadoff Royal to have even 3 in a game was George Brett, in Game 3 of the 1978 ALCS.
  • LaTroy Hawkins is closing in on the worst playoff ERA in history. He has a 6.75 ERA over 22 career postseason appearances. Among pitchers with at least 20 games, only Tom Gordon (7.06 in 21 games) and Rick Honeycutt (6.93 in 30 games) are worse.
  • I don’t have good stats on this, but the Royals had 5 hits in 5 plate appearances from the 9-hole last night. That was 3 PAs by Alex Rios and 2 by Paulo Orlando. No single batter has ever had more than 4 hits in 4 PAs from the 9-hole (done by Adam Kennedy, Game 5 2002 ALCS & Spike Owen, Game 6 1986 ALCS) but I’m not sure about 2 combined batters from the 9-hole.
  • Liam Hendriks’ 4.1 IP relief appearance is now the longest in Blue Jays’ post-season history, topping two different 3.2 IP appearances by Dennis Lamp in the 1985 ALCS and one by Todd Stottlemyre in the 1992 ALCS.
  • If you’re paying attention, until yesterday Todd Stottlemyre held (or co-held) the Blue Jays’ post-season records for both shortest starting effort and longest relief effort. AND he saw both records broken in the same game. Weird.

Notes from Game 3 of the ALCS

(Note: we’re still updating the theme on HHS, so please ignore all the silly formatting issues. They will get resolved in the coming days.)

2015 ALCS Game 3: Blue Jays 11, Royals 8

That was quite a game. Here are a bunch of stats:

  • The Royals had lost 31 previous post-season games in franchise history, but none while scoring more than 6 runs (until last night).
  • The Royals were also involved in the last AL playoff game in which the losing team scored 8+ runs–that was the crazy ALWC card last year vs the Athletics that the Royals won 9-8.
  • Teams that hit for a team cycle (all players together have a cycle) are now 144-44 (.766) with this loss by the Royals.
  • Alcides Escobar is just the 8th leadoff batter in post-season history to post 4+ hits in a game his team lost.ALCSG31
  • Teams are now 22-8 in the post-season when their leadoff batter has 4+ hits.
  • Ben Zobrist is just the 4th batter in post-season history to post 3+ doubles in a game his team lost.ALCSG32
  • Teams are now 12-4 in the post-season when one of their players hits 3+ doubles.
  • Toronto’s 11 runs is their most scored in a post-season game, except of course Game 4 of the 1993 World Series, in which they beat the Phillies 15-14.
  • In 41 franchise playoff games before 2015, the Blue Jays had never hit 3 homers in a game. Now they’ve done it twice in 8 playoff games this year.
  • Yesterday’s win put the Blue Jays back above .500 all-time in the post-season, with a record of 25-24.
  • Johnny Cueto is the first starting pitcher in MLB playoff history to allow 8+ ER while pitching 2 innings or less. Two relievers have done it: Steve Reed (CLE, Game 4 1999 ALCS vs BOS) and Jay Witasick (NYY, Game 6 2001 WS vs ARI).
  • The Royals won all 3 Game 3’s they played last year. They’ve lost both Game 3 they’ve played so far this year. Until this year, they hadn’t lost a Game 3 since the 1984 ALCS vs the Tigers.
  • Marcus Stroman’s 12 baserunners is the 2nd-most allowed by a post-season Blue Jays’ winning pitcher. The most was 15, by Juan Guzman in Game 1 of the 1993 ALCS vs the White Sox. Guzman allowed just 2 ER in 6 IP but also walked EIGHT.
  • Incredibly, Kris Medlen’s 5-inning relief appearance was just the 4th-longest post-season relief stint in Royals’ history.ALCSG33
  • Ryan Goins is the first player in Blue Jays’ history to play both 2B and SS in the same playoff game. For all teams, that’s happened only 16 times, although that includes twice this season by Starlin Castro for the Cubs.
  • Liam Hendriks’ 40.50 ERA is the worst for all 36 pitchers to appear in the playoff for Toronto. That includes Gary Lavelle, who has an undefined ERA by facing one batter and giving up a walk but no runs.
  • If you’re curious, most post-season appearances by a Blue Jays pitcher belongs to Duane Ward who had a 4.74 ERA over 19 playoff games. Tom Henke is next, with a 1.83 ERA in 15 games.
  • Cueto recorded only 5 swing strikes in yesterday’s game, but that’s not even the fewest in a game by a Royals’ pitcher this year. Yordano Ventura got just 2 in Game 1 of the ALDS vs the Astros. The Royals have not been good and getting swings and misses this year in general.
  • In the 2015 regular season, the Blue Jays went 4-15 in games when they allowed 8+ runs. Their .211 W-L% was 3rd-best in MLB behind the Giants (5-16, .238) and the Cubs (3-11, .214).
  • The Blue Jays have now had two different starting shortstops (Troy Tulowitzki and Goins) drive in 3+ runs in a playoff game. The only Blue Jay to do that before 2015 was Tony Fernandez, in that infamous Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.

Circle of Greats Redemption Round #10

This Circle of Greats (COG) vote is not to induct anyone into the Circle, but only to select three players who will be restored back to the main ballot after having been previously dropped from eligibility. This tenth and last “redemption round” (we’ve been holding such redemption rounds interspersed among the regular voting rounds every tenth voting round or so) gives voters a chance to reconsider past candidates who have previously fallen off the regular induction ballots.

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Wednesday’s wild 7th inning: believe it or not, it’s déja vu

Wednesday’s final game of the ALDS between Toronto and Texas, particularly the bizarre happenings in the 7th inning, has the makings of a legendary post-season contest. While it has been said that there hasn’t been a post-season game like it before and probably won’t be again, there are more than passing similarities to another October game from a number of years ago, 98 to be exact.

More after the jump on a weird Wednesday in Toronto, and another odd game many Octobers ago.

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