Saturday morning, we took a look at the 20 “dumbest” individual stats of 2016. That is to say, if someone told you back in the spring that certain players would have a certain stat they currently do, most people would have called that person dumb.
Now it’s time we shift over the teams. Here are the 10 most ridiculously dumb team stats so far in what has been a glorious 2016 season.
These are in no particular order. Draw conspiracy theories at will.
Texas Rangers record in one-run games
They are 30-8 in one-run games and that’s an MLB record winning percentage in such contests. That, in and of itself, is worthy of inclusion here. After all, no one could predict one-run records. Records in one-run games generally would be hovering around .500. Even the Chicago Cubs this season are 20-20 in one-run games. That doesn’t mean they are bad at them. That’s normal. It’s one of the reasons this Rangers run is worth note.
Another? If there really were one way to attempt a prediction on great one-run records, I would think that having a great bullpen would be part of the equation. In fact, that should probably the most important part. Only the Rangers rank 27th in baseball in bullpen ERA.
What a weird, wild and wacky stat, this one-run record. But let’s get even more nuts.
The Rangers have nine walk-off losses. NINE! And they still have the best record in baseball history in one-run games.
How about nine more like this one? Let’s rock!
Cubs run prevention
Heading into the season, the Cubs were hailed by many as the best team in baseball. They are the best team in baseball. I feel like most people thought the back-end of the rotation and the bullpen would be the potential weak spots, with the offense still having enough firepower to carry them through any pitching woes.
Instead, the Cubs sport the best team ERA in baseball at 3.10. It’s not particularly close. Their rotation ERA lead is an utter bloodbath, as they sit at 2.88 with the Nationals checking in at second with a 3.48 ERA. They have three pitchers in the rotation with a shot to take home the Cy Young with a strong finish while John Lackey and Jason Hammel have had dominant stretches. Hammel is even 9-1 with a 1.77 ERA at home.
This isn’t all the pitchers, however, which is why I called this section “run prevention.” The defense is showing up as the best in baseball history by one metric (for the full explanation, I’ve already covered it).
The Cubs do have a high-powered offense that can strike with a crooked number at any time, but their best asset this season has been preventing their opponents from scoring.
St. Louis Cardinals home runs
It should be mentioned that the most powerful team in baseball is the Baltimore Orioles . We covered several aspects of that on Friday night. It’s just that we knew the Orioles were going to hit a ton of home runs this season, even if not this many.
The surprising team on the home run front is the Cardinals, though.
The 2014 Cardinals ranked dead last in the NL with just 105 home runs. Last season they vaulted all the way up to 11th in the NL with 137. This time around? They are pacing the entire Senior Circuit with 192.
Perhaps most amazing here is how much it’s spread out. The team leaders are Brandon Moss and Jedd Gyorko with 25 each. Then there are seven players with 11-20 home runs. Nine players in double digits but none with more than 25! That’s awfully fun.
Oh, one more thing about that …
Cardinals pinch-hit home runs
So we’ve already established that the Cardinals’ home run barrage is ridiculous, but there’s an aspect to it that is even more interesting. They have 14 pinch-hit home runs this season. That is tied for the all-time MLB record with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks and 2001 San Francisco Giants . Only 36 teams in MLB history have managed to get to double digits in pinch-hit homers.
Since this is more an anomaly than something that is predictable, there’s no way anyone saw this coming — much less from a team that was bad at hitting home runs last season.
Milwaukee Brewers stolen bases
The 2015 Brewers ranked 15th in baseball with 84 steals. This season they pace the majors with 152. Swiping easily more than one bag per game, they are on pace to finish with the second-highest total in franchise history.
Most team steals in Brewers history:
1. 1992, 256 steals
2. 2016, on pace for 183
3. 1987, 176 steals
4. 1969, 167 steals
5. 1989, 165 steals
Again, it looks like they are going to end up in second with a lot more than twice as many thefts as last season.
The main sources? Jonathan Villar , who was acquired for basically nothing from the contending Houston Astros last offseason, has 51. Utility man Hernan Perez , who only had five steals last season, has 27. Finally, rookie Keon Broxton , who came over in a nondescript deal last December, has 21.
Toronto Blue Jays rotation ERA/IP
The Blue Jays ranked 12th in the majors in rotation ERA last season, but that was with 11 Cy Young caliber David Price starts. This time around, they entered the season with the following rotation:
Marcus Stroman – Actually a pretty good bet to be very good and many liked him to be an ace, but he still only had 24 career big-league starts under his belt.
R.A. Dickey – Forty-one years old, 3.95 ERA since joining the Blue Jays.
Aaron Sanchez – Only 11 career starts, had previously been much more effective out of the bullpen.
J.A. Happ – Had previously posted a 4.39 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Blue Jays.
Marco Estrada – Was coming off a very good season, but it was a huge bounce-back from a terrible 2014 in the NL and was out of whack with his FIP (3.13 ERA, but 4.40 FIP).
Sure, there was promise for the rotation to be good enough to win the division again, thanks to an other-worldly offense. It’s just that the rotation was the big question mark heading into the season.
Instead, the Blue Jays lead the American League in rotation ERA (3.76), thanks in part to the excellent work of possible Cy Young candidate Happ and the All-Star Sanchez. Even more ridiculous are the facts that 1) Stroman has been underperforming expectations and 2) the Blue Jays lead the majors in innings pitched by starting pitchers (842 innings). They are preventing runs and going deep. So much for their question mark.
New York Mets with RISP
Hitting with runners in scoring position numbers are often used incorrectly. Past performance isn’t an indicator of a player’s mental capacity to hit in different situations, generally, nor does it have predictive value in terms of how a player will hit in this situation moving forward. We’ll see large fluctuations with teams and players from year to year to prove as much.
The stat doesn’t have zero value, however. It can tell the tale of how we got here. If a team is having trouble scoring runs despite getting runners on base at a reasonable clip, it’s likely the culprit is a sub-par average with runners in scoring position.
The Mets this season have been remarkably awful with runners in scoring position. The league average line with runners in scoring position is .259/.340/.416. The Mets? Buckle your seatbelts, because this might make you jump:
The overall team line for the Mets is .242/.311/.413, so they have really shrunk in RISP situations. Maybe Saturday night was their turning point? They won 3-1, on the strength of a two-RBI single from Curtis Granderson.
Boston Red Sox batting average
We could look at almost any aspect of the Red Sox’ robust offense here, but let’s zero in on the old-school batting average. The Red Sox hit, as a team, .244 in 2014. Last year they hit .265. This year? They boast an MLB-best .286 average.
The league-average slash line?
The Red Sox?
A bounce-back from Hanley Ramirez teamed with a breakout from Jackie Bradley Jr. and some stellar hitting from the likes of Mookie Betts , David Ortiz , Xander Bogaerts , Dustin Pedroia and new catcher Sandy Leon have made this a wrecking crew.
Los Angeles Dodgers number of starting pitchers used
On Sunday, the Dodgers will use their 15th starting pitcher of the season. No other team has used more than 14. The other teams at 14 are bad ( Atlanta Braves , Cincinnati Reds , San Diego Padres ). The Dodgers are in first place. The other first place teams have used seven (Blue Jays), eight ( Cleveland Indians ), nine (Cubs and Washington Nationals ) and 11 (Rangers).
It makes sense that most good teams would have a lower number of starters used, because more starters means injuries and underperformance are the two main factors in starting pitcher changes. That the Dodgers have used more than anyone and sit in first place is — you guessed it — delightfully dumb.
Orioles stolen bases
Not only have the Orioles stolen the fewest bases in baseball at 15, it’s a far cry from last season’s total of 44. Past that, it’s an all-time franchise low. Oh, and here we go …
Lowest team stolen base totals since 1901:
1957 Senators, 13
2016 Orioles, 15
1960 A’s, 16
1949 Cardinals, 17
1972 Detroit Tigers , 17
1953 Browns, 17
The lowest total since 2000 other than these Orioles is 30 and that belongs to this season’s Cardinals. Otherwise it’s the “Moneyball” 2005 A’s with 31.
Six of the lowest 11 team stolen base totals since 2000 right now belong to 2016 (O’s Cards, Mets, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners ). Surely some will rise, but they are stealing less than one base every three games, so it likely won’t rise much. The stolen base is way down this season and might merit a deeper look here once the dust settles. I’m filing it away, I tell ya.
So there you have it. What else could be included? Feel free to take part.
Source: CBS Sports / The 10 most ridiculous team stats of the 2016 MLB season so far