10 Definitely Interesting, Possibly Helpful MLB Notes for April 4, 2016
Every day while doing MLB DFS research, I invariably stumble across some unexpected nuggets of information that are occasionally helpful, but always interesting in one way or another. Here are 10 for Monday, April 4, 2016.
1. In 2015, there were 854 instances of a pitcher allowing two home runs in a single game. Jake Arrieta allowed two total home runs in the entire second half of the season.
2. At some point, you’ll read about targeting a high-strikeout pitcher against the Cubs, since they led the league in strikeouts last season. And it’s true – their 24.5 K% was the worst in the league (as was their 24.2 K% in 2014). But I’m betting they won’t get the three-peat. This offseason, they added two full-time regulars in Ben Zobrist (10.5 K%, ninth-best rate in MLB) and Jason Heyward (14.8 K%, ranked 12th among outfielders). If any of the Cubs’ young, strikeout-prone core – Kris Bryant (30.6 K%), Jorge Soler (30.0 K%), Addison Russell (28.5 K%), Kyle Schwarber (28.2 K%) – improve their K-rates, the Cubs might (might) just finish outside the bottom five in K% this year.
4. Fortunately, Teheran is at home for his Opening Day start, as the Braves host the Washington Nationals on Monday. Unfortunately, Bryce Harper plays for the Washington Nationals. The same Bryce Harper who ended 2015 with a .461 wOBA, the highest single-season mark since Barry Bonds roided his way to a .537 mark in 2004. Oh, and one more “unfortunately” for Teheran: unfortunately, Harper is left-handed. Teheran allowed a .386 wOBA to lefties last year, the fifth-worst mark in MLB.
5. Last season, in his first 18 games as a pro, Reds starter Raisel Iglesias had six games of 8+ strikeouts. In the past three years, only one player has had more such games as a rookie, and it happens to be another pitcher on today’s slate: the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka, who fanned eight or more on nine occasions as a rookie in 2014. If you go further back into baseball history, you’ll find a few other notables who, like Iglesias, had six games of 8+ punchouts in their first 18: Brandon Webb (2003), Nolan Ryan (1968), Don Sutton (1966), and by far the weirdest member of the list, Tim Hudson (1999).
6. In case you’re thinking about targeting only Twins’ lefties against Orioles righty Chris Tillman, think again. Tillman’s 1.75 HR/9 allowed to right-handed hitters last year was the highest mark in the majors. Brian Dozier (who hit 21 of his 28 HRs against righties), Trevor Plouffe (16 of his 22), and Miguel Sano (14 of his 18) are all decent bets to homer in Camden Yards on Monday.
7. There have been 11 rookies in baseball history to hit 18 or more HRs in under 350 PAs in their rookie year (Adam Dunn, George Springer, Justin Morneau, Josh Hamilton, and Ryan Howard are some other notables). Miguel Sano leads all of those players with a .385 OBP. Unfortunately, he leads them in Ks, too, with 119.
8. Giancarlo Stanton had 8 of the 10 hardest-hit balls of the 2015 season, according to MLB.com’s StatCast, the fastest being a 120.3 mph single off the Dodgers’ Mike Bolsinger on May 12. Only two of the eight hits were home runs.
9. Last season, Hanley Ramirez hit 10 home runs in April…and 9 the rest of the season.
10. Zack Greinke posted an 86.5% strand rate last year, which was the lowest mark since 2000 when Pedro Martinez had an 86.6 LOB% in his Cy Young campaign. Greinke’s .229 BABIP last year was second-lowest in the majors. You have to go all the way back to 1968 to find another pitcher to match both of those numbers. In that season, Bob Gibson had…a .229 BABIP and 86.5% strand rate. That year, nicknamed “The Year of the Pitcher,” Gibson had a 1.12 ERA (lowest in the live-ball era) and won the NL MVP (the last time a pitcher won the award before Kershaw won it in 2014) and Cy Young awards. He somehow still lost nine games that year (further proof that pitcher wins don’t matter), but even so, his season was dominant enough that the next year, the “Gibson rules” were put in place in order to increase hitting. With the new rules, MLB lowered the pitching mound by 5 inches (from 15 to 10) and reduced the strike zone.
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Four days into April, and my goal of blogging every day this month hasn’t fallen apart…yet. Click here to read my MLB DFS glossary, and click here to read my “Switch Hitter Index,” where I highlight the matchups MLB’s switch hitters are best suited for.
Good luck this MLB season!