Wow. That didn’t take long did it?
A sub-par first few weeks and a couple of really bad games is all it took for people to go overboard. Panic mode has officially set in amongst the Blue Jay fanbase – only 18 games in!
“Fire Dwayne Murphy!” the fans are saying. “He’s the hitting coach and we can’t hit!”
“Send down Thames! Call up Snider! Trade Arencibia! Bring up d’Arnaud!” they say.
“Bautista is washed up! Two fluke years in a row sold us. This is how he really is!” they say.
I’ve written several columns already preaching patience. It’s early, I keep saying. But it doesn’t seem to matter.
So instead of preaching to the choir again, I’ll try something different. I wrote a column like this last year to try and distract fans from Toronto’s early struggles, so I thought I’d do it again. Hopefully this really brings home just how early the season actually is.
Calm down – here are 10 shocking statistics from early in 2012:
8.5 – Number of games back the LA Angels are of Texas right now – biggest deficit in the majors. For a team that added C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols and was the pick of many to be the best team in the AL, they certainly look awful. A 6-12 record has them dead last in the AL West. The fact that they’re under .500 can be rectified in time, but an 8.5 game deficit? That is a subsantial hill to climb. One of the biggest reasons for the start is….
0 – Home runs by Albert Pujols. The biggest signing of the offseason, and one of the greatest players in the history of the game is off to a dreadful start. 113 American League players have hit at least one HR, but not Albert. And it’s not as if he’s hitting well in other categories to make up for it. His .222 batting average is T-71st, his .601 OPS is 75th (behind Adam Lind!!!), and his 71 OPS+ is T-73rd…with Chone Figgins. Albert will come around, but this is not the start the Angels were envisioning.
14 – Wins by the Washington Nationals. We all knew the Nats were much improved this year, but not this much. Their .778 winning percentage only trails Texas, and they have already opened up a 2.5 game lead on Atlanta in the NL East, and lead the Phillies by 5.5 already. Why are they so good? Well…..
1.71 – ERA of Washington’s starting rotation. That number is crazy, and is 0.77 lower than the second place Cardinals. Washington’s starters also lead baseball in hits allowed (71), HR allowed (3), walks (22), WHIP (0.84 (!)), and K/BB (4.68). Crazy, crazy good numbers.
.420 – Batting average of Derek Jeter. The 75-year old Yankee is off to one of the best starts of his career. He leads the league in hits with 34, has recorded a base hit in 17 of 18 games this season (including 15 in a row), and has recorded 11 multi-hit games thus far. There’s no way that can last, is there?
Speaking of no way that can last…
24.00 – K/BB ratio of Texas Rangers starter Colby Lewis. That’s right: 24 strikeouts and only 1 walk. Lewis pitched 26.2 IP over 4 starts, so it’s not like the sample size is tiny. For a guy with a career K/BB rate of 2.21, including a 3.02 mark last year, it’s a number that is bound to fall substantially. But still, pretty impressive.
29 – Strikeouts by Adam Dunn. That Dunn leads baseball in strikeouts is not surprising. He is a classic strikeout player who has lead the league in K’s three times before . What’s shocking is the sheer number of strikeouts he is racking up this year. 29 K’s in only 18 games has him on pace for 261 for the season, which wouldn’t only shatter the previous record – it would absolutely pulverize it.
Staying with the White Sox…
.952 – OPS for Alex “Who Gives a F*#k” Rios. The former Jay is off to a terrific start, with a .362 average and 7 extra base hits. No word yet on how many times he’s refused to give an autograph to a young kid…
7 – OPS+ of Miguel Olivo. For those unfamiliar with the stat, OPS+ adjusts a player’s OPS to the park and the league in which he plays. 100 is the league average. Anything over 150 is excellent, and anything less than 75 is poor. Miguel Olivo’s OPS+ thus far in 2012 is 7. SEVEN. Olivo has been a decent hitter in his career so one would expect his .164 / .177 / .197 / .374 slash line to improve. But for now, he is sitting on 7. For reference purposes, if he somehow manages to keep that for the entire year, it woud be the second worst OPS+ ever, behind Bill Bergen’s 1909 mark of 1. Horrendous!
3 – Number of Blue Jays who lead their position in fielding. Using the Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average stat, Yunel Escobar leads all AL shortstops (and all players) at +8, Kelly Johnson leads all second basemen at +6, and Brett Lawrie leads all AL 3B at +5. Throw in 31 double plays turned (which leads the league by a mile), and that shows just how good Toronto’s D has been. Now if only the O could catch up…