Welcome to “Marty's Musings,” my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide to an analytic look at the previous week in MLB and a preview of some of this week's starting pitching matchups.
In this week’s Musings, we take a look at some of the astounding and record-setting numbers from this year and prepare ourselves for the postseason. It all starts on Tuesday night when the Yankees painfully and predictably defeat the Twins in the AL Wildcard game.
Playoffs by the numbers
Twins v. Yankees, Wild Card
5.7 - fWAR for Yankees de facto ace, Luis Severino. While Corey Kluber and Chris Sale get all the Cy Young press, Severino has quietly been one of the best pitchers in the American League. He will be taking the hill against a man on the other side of his career journey, Ervin Santana.
26 - Game improvement for the Twins, who last year lost an absurd 103 games in 2016. Regardless of how this one-game playoff goes, this season was a success compared to any expectations in the Twin Cities. They are the first team in baseball history to turn around a 100-loss season into a playoff berth the following year.
0 - Outs recorded in Dellin Betances’s last outing of the regular season. He came into the game against the Blue Jays on Friday night, and walked a batter and gave up a hit before Joe Girardi called on someone else. Betances’s confidence and effectiveness are in question entering the wild card game, which makes for an interesting dynamic for a skipper that likes to mix and match.
87 - season wRC+ for the Rockies, who will not benefit from the thin air of Coors Field this game. The Rockies had their ups-and-downs, but overall, they did not have the potent offense one might expect from a lineup that includes Nolan Arenado.
3 - Home runs allowed by Archie Bradley over the course of over 70 relief innings. Bradley is really the DBacks secret weapon not only in this game, but if Arizona makes it to the NLDS too, where he could serve as an Andrew Miller-type fireman.
4 - Consecutive games the Astros posted at least 11 runs last week. The Astros destroyed the Rangers in Arlington, then continued their dominant bats to Boston where they took three out of four (though the last game was more formality than real baseball game).
2 - Times in his career that Chris Sale allowed four homers, including his final start of the 2017 season. He is still in the Cy Young conversation with Corey Kluber, but Sale had a rough time in his last regular season start against Toronto, where he gave up five runs in five innings.
6 - Playoff relief appearances for David Price, who could be an interesting asset in the Red Sox bullpen. Price can make everyone in Boston forget about his ineffective and injury-plagued 2017 regular season with some fireworks in the playoffs.
Yankees/Twins @ Indians
10.1 - Strikeouts per nine innings for the Cleveland Indians, who are the only team ever to post a collective K/9 over 10. This is a team with an incredible rotation and bullpen.
1 - Games since August in which Corey Kluber has given up more than two earned runs. Kluber has been phenomenal all season, and is exactly the type of starting pitcher who can drive a team to the World Series. (Just ask the 2016 Indians.)
56 - Doubles for Jose Ramirez, the most doubles in baseball since Nomar Garciaparra and Garrett Anderson hit 56 in 2002. His 56 drove him to a breakout 2017 season, in which he not only set the team doubles record, but led all position players in fWAR.
0 - Teams over .500 in the NL East. That helped a good team (the Nationals) look dominant, and run away to a division title. Washington will be up against the defending champs, against whom they went 4-3 against this season.
2 - Games under .500 at the all star break for the Cubs, who came out in the second half on fire, finishing with a .662 winning percentage over that period. Few people thought the Brewers would hold onto the division, but the Cubs are entering the playoffs coming off a red-hot 19–10 September.
Rockies/Diamondbacks @ Dodgers, NLDS
104 - Wins by the Dodgers, who despite their late-summer woes, and an unexpected 11-game losing streak, ended up with the best record in baseball. They are on the west coast, and often overlooked despite being at the top of all MLB payrolls, but the Dodgers should be the odds-on favorite of this unpredictable tournament.
17-21 - The Dodgers’ record against their possible playoff opponents. Despite their success against the rest of the league, LA finished the year under .500 against both Arizona (8-11) and Colorado (9-10).
Other news in numbers
6105 - Home runs this season, the most ever for any MLB season. Whether it’s a juiced ball, a tighter seam, air temperature changes… whatever: the longball is back and it’s livelier than ever.
40 - Pitchers used by the Mariners over the course of 2017. No team has used more than 40 pitchers in one season. The Mariners lack of success is, at least in part, a consequence of the instability.
5.14 - The Mets rotation’s earned run average this season, the worst in the history of the franchise. The team entered the season a slight underdog for the division, but the triumvirate of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey that was supposed to destroy opposing lineups fell apart, with deGrom one of the only bright spots on the team.