Welcome to another 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.
This week we heard about of the biggest corporate espionage case baseball has ever seen, some, shall we say, irregularities with the All Star Game votes, a lovable/villainous Alex Rodriguez joined elite company, and Max Scherzer delivered another gem, though this one had a little more flair; it's all in this week's installment of Marty's Musings.
Here are this week's Numbers Beyond the Box Score:
Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
4 - Years since Jeff Luhnow has worked for the St. Louis Cardinals, who were implicated in a corporate security breach scandal in which Cardinals' employees worked their way into the Astros' proprietary database. This is the biggest case of corporate espionage in the history of baseball and has the potential to have huge repercussions among St. Louis brass depending on who knew what was happening within the organization.
28 - Number of batters faced by Washington Nationals' ace Max Scherzer in his no-hitter on Saturday against the Pirates. Scherzer was nearly perfect, and retired 26 straight before hitting Jose Tabata with an inside breaking ball with two outs in the ninth inning. Scherzer retired the next batter and handed the Buccos their ninth no-hitter in franchise history.
65,000,000 - Number of ballots Major League Baseball said will not be counted towards the All-Star Game total due to voting irregularities and supposed fraud. Apparently it isn't incredibly difficult to vote as many times as you wish. To date, the American League team consists of eight Kansas City Royals and Mike Trout. Somehow this includes the league's worst hitter, Omar Infante, who may not even be on the Royals by the time the mid-summer classic arrives. (shameless self promotion - it's time to change the All-Star Game format).
5 - Consecutive games with 12 or more strikeouts for White Sox ace Chris Sale. Only Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson have struck out that many over consecutive starts. Sale has been the best pitcher in the American League and has struck out at least ten batters in seven of his last eight starts. He has a 2.74 earned run average and a 2.24 xFIP.
68 - Number of games it took the Houston Astros to get to 40 wins. Last year it took Houston 95 games to reach the 40 mark. The Astros are in first place in the American League West and recently called up rookie Carlos Correa, who already has hit three home runs in first 50 plate appearances and has already amassed close to one win above replacement.
35.2 - Innings of consecutive shutout ball by the Pirates pitching staff. Francisco Cervelli was behind the plate for 56.2 shutout innings. The Pirates still trail the Cardinals in the Central and got swept in a three-game series against the Nationals this weekend.
393 - Number of runs scored by the Toronto Blue Jays this year, which is 67 more runs scored than the second-best Yankees. 67 runs separate number one from number two, but there is the same separation between number two and the team in 27th, the Milwaukee Brewers. You can read more about the sad state of the Toronto pitching in this recent article by Eric Garcia McKinley.
6 - Position players who pitched in blow-outs last week. Highlighted by two innings of nearly 50 pitches by Jeff Francoeur, position players combined for 5.1 innings in six different games. On Tuesday night Nick Franklin and Jake Elmore both pitched for the Rays against the Nationals in a 16-4 thumping in Tampa.
412 - Number of wins by manager Ned Yost, who passed Whitey Herzog as the Royals all-time leader in managerial wins. Yost was reportedly on the hot seat (or wobbly chair) over the past couple years, but Kansas City had what seemed to be an unlikely World Series run and has followed it up as one of the best teams in the American League.
What to Watch
Photo Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Monday, June 22
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) v. Tsyoshi Wada (CHC)
Kershaw continues to underperform his peripherals but his 2.13 xFIP and nearly 12 strikeouts per nine may prove to be a lethal combination against a young, swing-happy Chicago Cubs team. This will be Kris Bryant's first foray against the southpaw and should make for a fun matchup. Meanwhile, Wada is coming off his best performance of the season where he went seven shutout innings against the Indians. In his previous starts Wada could not finish the sixth inning.
Tuesday, June 23
David Price (DET) v. Danny Salazar (CLE)
Cleveland's defense has been their Achilles' Heel in 2015, and the Tigers are having a rough go of it trying to catch up with the Royals and surprising Twins. David Price has already amassed a 2.5 fWAR, and in two of his last three starts went the distance and gave up a combined one run. Danny Salazar labored a bit in his most recent start, but his electric stuff cannot be denied. He has an 11.2 strikeout per nine and a 2.84 xFIP.
Tuesday, June 23
Jesse Chavez (OAK) v. Chi Chi Rodriguez (TEX)
The Rangers have been one of the biggest American League surprises of late, and as of this writing stand five games above .500. Chi Chi Rodriguez in his last three starts (innings pitched / earned runs): 8.1/2, 7/1, 9/0. Despite the basement-dwelling Athletics problems, 31 year old Chavez has been terrific with a 2.52 earned run average and a 2.75 fielding independent pitching. Chavez has already been worth two wins above replacement.
Wednesday, June 24
Shelby Miller (ATL) v. Doug Fister (WAS)
The Braves were projected to be one of the worst teams in the National League and although they are hovering around the .500 mark, they are only two games out of first place. Shelby Miller has been extremely effective despite limited strikeouts. His 1.99 earned run average is quite a bit lower than his 3.96 xFIP, but his 50 percent ground ball rate has helped prevent significant damage. Doug Fister has yet to find his groove in 2015, but plenty of people are expecting the Nationals to go on a tear as the weather heats up.
Thursday, June 25
Jacob deGrom (NYM) v. Taylor Jungmann (MIL)
deGrom has been must watch tv of late. In his last six starts, he has gone at least seven innings and give up two runs or fewer. The Mets have trouble hitting and are an adventurous team in the field, but their pitching is keeping them close in a tight National League East. The Brewers meanwhile are hovering around 20 games under .500 and are probably getting ready to sell off pieces that could include Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez.
Friday, June 26
Max Scherzer (WAS) v. Aaron Harang (CIN)
Scherzer is at the top of his game right now, having posted a game score of 100 and 97 in his past two outings. He's fresh off a no hitter (which was ridiculously close to a perfect game) and is facing the most putrid offense in the majors. Scherzer has allowed only two baserunners over his last two games; that's 18 innings, no runs, one hit, 26 Ks and one hit by pitch.