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Marty's Musings, August 10th: This week's look beyond the box score

The Jays and Mets are on fire and MiLB crowns a new home run king.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

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.

The Royals continue to expand their lead in the American League Central, while the Mets and Blue Jays look like the hottest teams in all of baseball. We have a real-life Crash Davis as we crown a new MiLB home run king, and he's probably someone you don't even know. It's all in this week's Musings.

Here are this week's Numbers Beyond the Box Score:


Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

10 - Number of wins in 11 games for the Toronto Blue Jays since trading for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo has yet to start a game the Jays have lost, the only defeat came August first in a 7-6 loss at home against the AL-leading Royals.

3 - Game sweeps against divisional rivals by both the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays. The Astros are in the midst of a rough road trip in which they were swept by the Rangers three games and lost three out of four to the lowly Athletics. They remain in front of the Angels by only a half game. The Jays outscored the Yankees 10-1 in a three game sweep in the Bronx. It is the first Toronto sweep in New York since 2003, and Saturday and Sunday represented the first time the Yankees were shut out in consecutive games since May of 1999.

433 - Minor League home runs by Mike Hessman, who set the record for most home runs by a minor league player. Hessman is little-known to most fans, as he's only appeared in 109 major league games for the Braves, Tigers and Mets. He hit below the Mendoza line (a .188 career average) but is in the MiLB record books as the home run champ. The 37-year-old may be calling it quits after the season.

99.4 - Percentage chance per FanGraphs, the Royals have of making the playoffs this season. Kansas City has the largest lead of any division leader; they are ahead of Minnesota by 11.5 games and lead the AL with a 66-44 record. Only the Cardinals have more wins (St. Louis is 71-40).

16 - Home runs allowed by Masahiro Tanaka already in 2015. His home run rate is the highest it has been in his major league career; he gave up two homers in his first six games, but since then has given up 13 in the next nine starts, including a Josh Donaldson blast on Sunday.

101 - Corey Kluber's pitch count on Sunday in a complete game against the Twins. He came within one pitch of a 'Maddux' but was dominant the entire game (if you are not familiar with the Maddux, the phrase was coined by Jason Lukehart and is a complete game shut out thrown in fewer than 100 pitches). Kluber went the distance, gave up only one run on three hits; he struck out ten batters and only walked one. Greg Maddux himself had 13 such games in which he completely shut down his opponents in an dominating and efficient manner; it doesn't get much closer than what Kluber did on Sunday.

79 - Game score by Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg, who had the fourth-best game score of his career on Saturday. Stras looked like he was in old form Saturday; he struck out 12 and walked zero in a dominant seven- inning effort against the Colorado Rockies. The Nationals have been trending downward recently and trail the Mets by 1.5 games. If they want to get back on top the National League East, a renaissance from Strasburg would be a huge help.

5 - Earned runs given up by Zack Greinke before he recorded an out against the hot Philadelphia Phillies. Greinke had been as dominant as any pitcher in the game, giving his teammate Clayton Kershaw a good run for his money. The Dodgers won the game 10-8 in a slugfest, and Greinke did settle in after a putrid first inning. His final line was six innings, six runs, eight strikeouts and two walks. The Phillies are 16-5 since the All Star break. Philly had such a terrible first half, they still would have to go 36-14 just to finish at .500.

What to Watch

Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Noah K. Murray - USA Today Sports

With the reload of several teams trying to take a divisional crown, no lead is safe (except for perhaps the Royals'). The Blue Jays look poised to challenge for the American League East and the Angels, Astros and Mets acquired some nifty pieces to help get them over the hump and into the playoffs. This week several pitchers will be making their debuts with their new teams and both Tuesday and Friday feature must-watch games between two potential AL and NL Cy Young candidates, respectively.

Monday, August 10

Luis Severino (NYY) v. Carlos Carrasco (CLE)

Luis Severino made his major league debut last week when he went five innings and gave up one earned run on only two hits. He struck out seven and walked zero in a loss to the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees go up against an inconsistent Carlos Carrasco who is coming off two complete games which followed up a disastrous outing in which he went four innings and gave up six runs against the White Sox.

Wednesday, August 12

Gerrit Cole (PIT) v. Michael Wacha (STL)

The Pirates continue to win against good teams and bad alike, yet cannot seem to gain any ground against a St. Louis team that rarely loses a series. With nine games left head-to-head, this series will be one of three that may end up deciding the Central. A series win by the Cardinals would bide more time, though provided the PIrates do not sweep the series, it would not be all that damaging to their lead. The Pirates remain five games behind the Red Birds and have their ace going up against Michael Wacha who has a 2.92 ERA and a 3.18 FIP.

Thursday, August 13

Stephen Strasburg (WAS) v. Ryan Vogelsong (SF)

The Nats find themselves in a mid-August wild card battle with the Giants a game and a half ahead of them. Strasburg had his most dominant start of the season last week and looks to build on his excellent outing against the Giants. Veteran 38 year old Ryan Vogelsong has had a terrible season so far, having amassed a negative fWAR (-0.4). He may be the cure needed to get the Nats bats out of their dog-days of summer slump.

Friday, August 14

Ivan Nova (NYY) v. David Price (TOR)

A redux of this past weekend's series in the Bronx, the Jays host the Yankees in a big-time American League East showdown. David Price has been absolutely ridiculous since joining the Jays posting a .60 ERA and a 2.57 FIP in 15 innings (two starts). In Nova's last start against the Jays on Saturday he made one huge mistake to Justin Smoak that was smoked for a grand slam.

Saturday, August 15

Chris Archer (TB) v. Colby Lewis (TEX)

Neither Tampa nor Texas is out of the wild card hunt. A sweep by either team can make it more of an uphill battle for the other. Chris Archer was looking like a mid-season favorite for Cy Young, and has been excellent in his last four starts where he went at least six innings and did not allow more than two runs. Colby Lewis' 112 ERA- and 101 FIP- is slightly worse than league average, but the Rays offense is not one with much firepower.

*All matchups and pitching probables as of Sunday evening

Ed's Note: an earlier edition had an incorrect fact (or an actual factoid) that has been correctly omitted.


Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score and a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.