The calendar has flipped to June. All teams are approaching the 60 game mark. Believe it or not, the season is already 35% complete.
With over 850 games in the books, it’s safe to say that small sample sizes are a thing of the past. Players who got off to fast starts have faded back to career norms. Teams that came blazing out of the gates (hello Colorado) are starting fall back in line.
But not all of them.
Here are ten shocking stats through a third of the MLB season.
1. The Tampa Bay Rays are the worst team in the American League
You read that right. After losing a 7th straight game last night, the Rays are now 23–35 and have dropped below the Houston Astros in the standings. Nothing has gone right so far. The normally outstanding David Price has looked normal, injuries have hurt the rotation, new closer Grant Balfour has been borderline terrible, and the offense has been non-existent. You might recall that I picked them to win the World Series this year. Oops.
2. Justin Verlander looks more like John Danks than Justin Verlander
Seriously. Through 12 starts the former Cy Young and MVP winner is shockingly mortal. He ranks 26th in the AL with a near-career-worst 3.99 ERA, and 39th with a career-worst 1.44 WHIP. After striking out around 9.0 batters per 9 innings in each of the last 5 seasons, his K/9 this year is a mere 6.5. Is this a blip or the beginning of the end?
3. The third best pitcher in all of baseball is Dallas Keuchel
At least according to WAR it is. The Astros pitcher got off to a strong start and has somehow been able to maintain it. With a 3.0 WAR, he trails only Johnny Cueto and Yu Darvish. He is 6-3 with a 2.70 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 64 K.
4. The Kansas City Royals have just 25 HR as a team
That number is so low that Edwin Encarnacion almost matched it in May alone. Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz has 20 on his own. The lack of power is one of the main reasons why the Royals fired their hitting coach earlier this week. Dreadful.
5. J.P. Arencibia is even worse than last year
After putting up one of the worst offensive seasons in the history of the game and being released by Toronto, Arencibia caught on with Texas with hopes of resurrecting his career. It didn’t turn out that way. The Rangers needed to see only 60 AB before sending him to the minors, as JPA managed a paltry .182 OBP and a -0.9 WAR. Poor guy.
6. Dee Gordon has 34 stolen bases
The LA Dodgers have played 59 games, meaning Gordon is on pace for 93 steals in 2014. No major league player has eclipsed the 90 steal plateau since Rickey Henderson in 1988, and nobody has topped 100 since Vince Coleman the year before. If Gordon can continue to get on base, those numbers are in his radar.
7. Carlos Gonzalez has a WAR of -0.5
Gonzalez has been one of baseball’s best overall players in each of the past four seasons, averaging 27 HR and a .926 OPS. This season he has been subpar, hitting .258 with a .763 OPS and only 8 HR. The -0.5 WAR makes him the fifth worst player in the National League, ahead of the equally disappointing Matt Kemp (-0.9 WAR).
8. Only 5 of the 15 AL teams have a positive run differential
Normally you would expect at least 7 or 8 to be on the plus side, but that isn’t the case this year. Even weirder is the fact that Toronto is the only team in the AL East, and Detroit the only team in the AL Central to be above 0. Oakland has an unreal +115 differential through 57 games.
9. The San Diego Padres have a team OBP of .283
If you’re looking for a reason why the Padres have scored a major league low 187 runs, this would be it. For context, in terms of players, a .283 OBP ranks 158th of 174 qualified players. The Padres have four players in the bottom 15: Will Venable (.280), Everth Cabrera (.279), Yonder Alonso (.248), and Jedd Gyorko (and MLB-worst .217). That is almost like have a full team of Arencibia’s!
10. Edwin Encarnacion has 0 (ZERO!) intentional walks
That’s right – zero. Even when he was in the middle of one of the hottest hitting streaks in baseball, even when he was literally matching Mickey Mantle this past May, he wasn’t given an intentional pass. Not even once. Even with journeyman Juan Francisco or .230 hitting Brett Lawrie batting behind him. What’s crazier is that Jose Bautista, hitting in front of Edwin, was issued an intentional walk to get to Edwin! Think about that.