The 2012 baseball regular season was one of excitement and surprises. Only part of the story is what was seen from game to game, and taking a closer look at numbers can bring even more richness to what transpired over the past six months. I love statistics, particularly when they are within the context of baseball, and while completely useless, there are all sorts of interesting numbers from this past year that elaborate on another great season. Just a few that I found include:
***Knuckleball pitchers are known for their inability to hold base runners, as evidenced by the Niekro brothers, Charlie Hough, Tom Candiotti, and Tim Wakefield, who allowed a combined 2,000 stolen bases during their illustrious careers. By comparison only 7 players even attempted to steal against R.A. Dickey this season, with only 4 (Everth Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Dexter Fowler, and Jose Reyes) being successful.
***The Minnesota Twins weren’t very good, going 66-96, but when they won, more often than not it was because of star Joe Mauer. The catcher played in 59 of those wins, hitting a blistering .433 with 7 home runs, 63 RBI, and a Bondsian .520 OBP.
***Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was a strikeout machine, fanning an unbelievable 16.7 per nine innings. Even more impressive were his 120 total strikeouts, which were 18 more than team ace Tim Hudson, despite pitching in 116.1 fewer innings.
*** Kimbrel failed to record a strikeout in only 7 of his 63 games. Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was even better, failing to punch out at least one hitter in only 6 of his 68 games
***Fernando Rodney was nearly unhittable as the Tampa closer, posting a 0.60 ERA on the year. He only strengthened as the season wore, on, allowing just 1 earned run after the All Star Break; good for a 0.25 ERA in his final 36 games.
***Orioles’ slugger Mark Reynolds made the most of playing the majority of his games in the AL East. In divisional games (61) he hit .255 with 17 home runs and 42 RBI. In his other 74 games he slumped to just .191/6/27.
***Adam Dunn turned out to be pretty predictable, striking out (222), walking (105), or homering (41) in 56.7% of his plate appearances.
***The Colorado Rockies had the worst team ERA in the majors at 5.22. They were so putrid that only one pitcher, Jeff Francis (113), even cracked 100 innings on the year.
***The Boston Red Sox were 43-32 when rookie Will Middlebrooks played, and 26-61 in all other games.
***The Pittsburgh Pirates starting outfield of Alex Presley, Andrew McCutchen, and Jose Tabata combined for 137 RBI, which were only 9 more than outfielder Josh Hamilton had all on his own in 710 fewer at bats.
***J.D. Martinez led the Houston Astros with 55 RBI, which is the lowest number to lead a team since catcher Tom Haller drove in 53 with the 1968 Los Angeles Dodgers.
***Mike Trout stole an impressive 49 bases, while getting thrown out just 5 times. The Mariners had his number, as they nabbed him 3 times. By contrast, Trout stole 15 bases in 16 attempts in just 18 interleague games.
*** The last time Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched without walking at least one hitter was July 11, 2010, against the Toronto Blue Jays- a streak of 32 consecutive games.
***Clayton Kershaw hasn’t allowed 10 hits in a game since July 22, 2008 against the Rockies, during his rookie season- meaning his current streak stands at 142 consecutive games. In fact that game marks the only time he has allowed double digits hits in his career.
***The last time Justin Verlander went less than 5 innings in a game was June 22, 2010, when he lasted 2 innings in an 8-5 loss to the New York Mets. Since then he has made 85 consecutive 5+ inning starts.
***Although he only hit 9 home runs on the year, San Diego Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin led the majors in average homer distance, with an impressive 427.1 feet per blast. His stats were padded by a 485 foot bomb he hit against the Trevor Cahill and the Diamondbacks on July 2nd.
Much of the beauty of baseball is that behind every statistic there are a hundred stories that can be told. These stories spawn debate and discussion, and are a prime reason why fans are so drawn to the game and constantly seeking new ways to interpret what they have seen. These numbers may be relatively useless in the grand scheme of things, but they are part of the lifeblood of the game, and that makes them worthwhile to many.
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