Welcome to this week's edition of ‘Marty's Musings, my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the prior week and the upcoming matchups to watch, identifying numbers that are generally not found in a standard box score. These figures will speak to the latest trends, news and information around Major League Baseball, keeping you informed with what's happening around the league. Last week's column was a hit, so let's get started.
Here are this week's ‘Numbers Beyond the Box Score':
Brake Swihart during spring training. Credit: Kim Klement: USA Today Sports.
2 - Number of victories for the New York Mets in their last 19 games at home versus the Nationals. Last week the Mets were the toast of New York, but after losing three out of four to their divisional rivals, the Nats finally are stringing together big wins. Washington won two of their three games 1-0, indicating that perhaps with a little less sequencing help, the Mets would not have come away with only one victory.
10 - In a row won by the Houston Astros. The ‘stros are tied with the Cardinals for the most wins in baseball and currently atop the American League West. Houston is currently 18-7 and off to their best start in franchise history. The team seems to have emerged from their basement dwelling ways, and have started 2015 so well perhaps people will move past the Brady Aiken saga sooner than anticipated.
18 - AAA Games played by Red Sox catching prospect Blake Swihart. The Red Sox plan was to give Swihart additional time in Pawtucket to better get a feel for calling games and working behind the plate. On Friday night, an errant pitch by Tommy Layne hit both Mark Teixeira (who was fine) and Boston's defense-first backstop who managed to break a finger and will require surgery. Swithart time came earlier than expected in Boston, and it will be a challenge for him to mitigate the issues with a starting staff that currently has a 3.93 xFIP but an ugly 4.92 ERA.
-43 - The Brewers run differential through the first month of the season. Everyone expected the Phillies to be bad and the Twins to be lousy, but even though few people expected Milwaukee to win the division, they have been terrible on all sides of the ball. They have the worst record in baseball and currently sit in last place at 6-18.
660 - Home runs by Alex Rodriguez, who tied Willie Mays with a late-inning blast at Fenway Park on Friday night. Embroiled in a standoff with Yankee management (who somehow think ARod isn't giving them marketing at present...) Rodriguez has been the power catalyst for the Yanks through their first 24 games, and has helped them reach first place in the division.
142 - The Los Angeles Dodgers non-pitcher wRC+ through April. The Dodgers' offense looks like a formidable force amidst hot starts from Adrian Gonzalez (222 wRC+) and Yasiel Puig (144 wRC+). They lead the league in wOBA at .361 and are two games ahead of the Padres in the National League West.
51 - Number of roster moves so far in 2015 by the Dodgers and Rays.. The Dodgers are playing well, despite the AAA-MLB shuttle being run nearly daily, meanwhile the Rays are only one game above .500 and have a -3 run differential. Each team is hoping for stability, but the Rays will have some additional and welcome transactions with the upcoming return of Matt Moore and Alex Cobb.
88 - Swings and misses by Corey Kluber, leading the majors. Kluber's 4.62 ERA belies his effectiveness in limiting contact and the longball. His 2.99 FIP and 3.02 xFIP, combined with his striking out a batter per inning show that he has essentially been continuing what he was doing in his 2014 Cy Young campaign. Additionally, his current 63 percent strand rate is about ten percent lower than his career average.
What to Watch
Lance Lynn; Credit: Jeff Curry, USA Today Sports
Wednesday, May 6
Jon Lester (CHC) v. Lance Lynn (STL).
Lester's first base yips have been a story over the last month, but the Cubs showdown with their divisional foes and face Lance Lynn for the second time this season. In his first outing, Lynn threw six innings giving up only one run and striking out nine. He was outdueled by Jake Arrieta who tossed seven scoreless.
Thursday, May 7
Collin McHugh (HOU) v. Hector Santiago (LAA)
The Astros are the only team in the AL West over .500, and are being led by McHugh and Dallas Keuchel. In his last 12 starts dating back to last year, McHugh is 10-0 with a 2.08 ERA, .97 WHIP and 73 to 11 strikeouts to walks. Santiago has gotten off to an odd 2015. His ERA- is 83 but his FIP- is an unimpressive 121.
Friday, May 8
Mike Pelfrey (MIN) v. Trevor Bauer (CLE)
The preseason darling Indians have gotten off to a horrendous start and with a 9-15 record, are seven games behind the division leading Tigers. Cleveland needs to take advantage of weak teams like the Twins, and Bauer is the perfect guy to light a spark. Bauer had a tough time striking out the contact-happy Royals, but should be able to shut down a Twins team with a collective 81 wRC+ and 21% strikeout rate (fifth worst in the AL).
Sunday, May 10
Sonny Gray (OAK) v. Felix Hernandez (SEA)
Gray set a bit of history with his win over the hapless Rangers on Sunday. Gray managed to accomplish a rarefied feat, striking out ten while walking seven batters, The Last pitcher to win a game in which he walked seven and had double digit Ks was in 2000, when Chuck Finley did it to the Mariners (another fun fact: the only other pitcher in A's history to walk seven and strike out ten was Bobby Shantz in 1952, who tossed 14 innings, gave up a solo shot and had a 1.1 WPA for the game). On the other side, King Felix surpassed Jaime Moyer for the most inning pitched in Mariners history. He has yet to lose a game or give up more than three runs in an outing, though his shortest start was against the A's on April 12, when he went only five innings striking out one.
Editor's Note: Roster moves for the Dodgers & Rays changed to 51 to reflect all moves through Monday, May 4.