The MLB playoffs are just about ready to get underway, so baseball is on the cusp of starting its “second season.” Before we get there, let’s take a look back at the just completed regular season. I’ve found a few numbers there that are certainly worth taking note of.
How many players in baseball have gone 40-100 the past two years? The answer is one. He’s also the only player who has, obviously, gone 40-100-100. He’s also the only option in the game, redundancy anyone?, who has gone 40-100-100-10 the past two years. The answer is Curtis Granderson. Sure his average dropped to .232, and his OBP fell to .319, and those numbers aren’t good in any world, but he’s as impressive a counting number performer as there has been in baseball the past two years. Granderson is a faster version of Adam Dunn, you’ll just have to learn how to work around his so-so batting average (Granderson has hit .247 the past four years, so you shouldn’t have been shocked to see his .262 batting average from last season fall).
How many pitchers in the AL won 15 games while striking out 200 batters? You’ve got your standard in Justin Verlander (17, 239), and if you thought of Verlander you most likely also also hit on Max Scherzer (16, 231) who also led baseball with a K/9 mark of 11.08 (that mark allowed Scherzer to post the 19th best single season mark in the history of baseball for a pitcher who tossed at least 162 innings). Given that he is starting the AL Wild Card today you probably also thought of Yu Darvish (16, 221) who had a very successful first season in the States even if he walked too many batters (89 in 191.1 innings). Hopefully you also remember the guy who appears to have a strong shot to win the AL Cy Young Award, the man who tied Jered Weaver for the league lead in wins (20), and that is David Price. The Rays’ lefty won 20 games, struck out 205, posted a 2.56 ERA and had a 1.10 WHIP. So here’s the question. Who is the lone pitcher in the AL to win 15 games and strike out 200 batters who I didn’t mention? The answer can be found below.
Brandon Moss had an amazing run for the A’s to close the year that included a .690 SLG over his last 26 games. When the season was over he had accrued only 265 at-bats, but boy did he use them to great effect. Moss was a tremendous weapon for the A’s as he hit .291 on the year with a .358 OBP and .596 SLG. Moss also drove in 52 runners while scoring 48 times as he had a great season for a guy who struck out nearly a third of the time. The most amazing part of his effort? Let’s look to the home run. Moss hit 21 of them in just 296 plate appearances. No player has ever hit more than 21 homers in under 300 palte appearances. The others who have hit that mark are Art Shamsky (1966), Johnny Blanchard (1961), Kevin Maas (1990) and David Ross (2006). How about that?
The most dangerous “pull” hitter in baseball in 2012 was Giancarlo Stanton, and when you read the numbers I’m about to list your eyeballs might fall out of your head. Stanton hit .507 in the 140 at-bats in which he pulled the ball. That’s 71 hits in 140 at-bats folks. His SLG mark was 1.164. His slugging was 1.164. His OPS? Get out the video game. That number was 1.671. Stanton also hit 24 homers in at-bats when he “pulled” the ball. That number didn’t lead baseball though. The leader in “pull” home runs was none other than Mr. Curtis Granderson who had 37 homers in 201 at-bats.
ANSWER: The fifth pitcher in the Junior Circuit to pull off the 15-200 trick in 2012 is a teammate of one of the other four. Still not able to narrow it down? A hint. He struck out 15 batters in his final start of the season. That man is none other than James Shields who won 15 games with 223 Ks. Shields also won 16 games with 225 Ks last season. Why not keep the good times rolling? How many hurlers in baseball have won 15 games with 220 Ks each of the past two years? The answer is two – Verlander and Shields.
By Ray Flowers