Welcome back kids. Lots of new stuff this week. I hope I keep finding this many interesting things to track and that they all happen.
It is very early in the season, still. For evidence of that, we need look no further than Yu Darvish. Last week, he was on pace for 334 strikeouts. This week, he struck out six in his one start and now he’s on pace for 315. He is still absolutely worth tracking, but at this point in the season, there can still be wild swings in a player’s pace.
Speaking of wild swings, last week, Bartolo Colon walked three batters, and thus quadrupled his walk total. He’s now only a few hundredths ahead of Adam Wainwright for the lead league in walks per nine innings and not especially close to the record. I’ll certainly keep an eye on him and probably track him for a few more weeks, but if he has another week like this, his time in this column will come to an end.
Last week, I dropped Joey Votto because his walk totals were falling off. Then I noticed that he’s on pace to reach base 352 times this year. Do you know how many times a modern player has reached base 350 times? Five. Babe Ruth three times, Ted Williams once, Barry Bonds once. That’s the list. Even 330 has been done only 21 times, so Votto could fall of his current pace a bit and still be in pretty historic territory. We’ll see, of course, but at this point in the season, I’ll track just about anything, and this is a neat number.
Speaking of tracking anything, you may recall that someone, I think his name is Miguel Cabrera, won the triple crown last year. As I write this, he leads the league in batting average and RBIs and is fifth in homers. Long way to go, certainly, but that would be very cool.
Strikeout tracking, week 4…
Chris Carter, 66 Ks, 238 K pace: He just keeps on missin’. It’s early, of course, but he might break the all-time single-season record (223).
Rickie Weeks 51 Ks, 192 K pace: Weeks picked up his rate a bit this week and continues to be a part of the Brewers’ disastrous start to the season.
Adam Dunn, 54 Ks, 203 K pace: Adam Dunn has really turned it on lately. Good news for his playing time and our list.
Will Middlebrooks, 49 Ks, 176 K pace: Middlebrooks seems to be finding his way a bit. Unless he picks it up, this is the last you’ll see of him.
Pedro Alvarez, we are done with you. You just aren’t striking out enough.
Rick Ankiel, 42 Ks, 151 K. Ankiel is having such an interesting season. He’s latched on with his second team now, he actually seems to be playing a bit more and he’s striking out nearly half the time. I don’t have a good read on the rest of his season, yet. But in a month or so, I might have to spend some real time on him. This may be a singularly unique season, as he’s providing enough power to be an above average hitter despite the absurd strikeout level.
The Astros, now several weeks without the aforementioned Rick Ankiel, are striking out a little less. Still, their 1,566 pace looks to put the record of 1,387 to shame.
Something I haven’t mentioned yet, but probably should, is that the Braves are also striking out a ton. Their pace is for 1,476 strikeouts. We may well see the two teams with the most strikeouts ever this season.
The weekly list has grown a bit…
Listen, Todd Helton, you have 573 doubles. 574 will put you in the top-20. Come on, man, just give us one more already.
Adrian Beltre needs 26 to reach 500. I thought his chances were borderline to start the year, but he’s put himself in a good position and I like his chances.
Last year, I initially missed David Ortiz‘s pursuit of 400 homers and this year, it seems, I’ve missed his pursuit of 500 doubles. I really enjoy Ortiz, so there’s no prejudice here, just bad luck. Anyway, he has 491 and should cross 500 soon.
Albert Pujols needs 18 to reach 500 and 31 to get into the top 20. And you know what’s odd? I can imagine him not even getting to 500 this year. I mean, he probably will, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he finished a few homers short, would it? Since 2009 his homer totals have declined steadily: 47, 42, 37, 30. A 25-homer season would put him right at 500, and it seems like a real possibility that this won’t happen. Time catches everyone.
Prince Fielder hit one homers this week and needs 31 to reach 300.
THT editor-in-chief “Sockless” Joe Distelheim brought Torii Hunter to my attention this week. Hunter has 298 homers and should reach 300 any moment, despite his lack of power thus far this season.
I’m going to stop tracking Todd Helton’s quest for 1,000 extra-base hits. Sometimes, I find it amazingly hard to change my view of certain players. When I started the column this season, the idea that Todd Helton might not manage the 30-odd extra-base hits he needed to get to 1,000 seemed absurd. Todd Helton rolls out of bed and hits a double. He has six seasons of more than 70.
But, you know, there just doesn’t seem to be much left in the tank. If he goes on a tear and gets close, I’ll pick him back up, but for now, it’s time to let it drop.
Runs batted in:
Albert Pujols now needs 41 to reach 1,500.
Juan Pierre now has 604 steals. He is currently 18th all-time. George Davis is 15 away, but certainly reachable in the next few months. He still needs one more failed attempt to reach 200.
Michael Bourn is just going for it. A couple of steals this week and now he needs only 19 to reach 300.
CC Sabathia is still hanging out at 195.
Jonathan Papelbon needs 35 to get to 300. That’s going to be a tall task, but it’s certainly possible. Especially if Boston keeps winning like this.
Ryan Dempster got on the horse this week. He now needs only 19 strikeouts to reach 2,000. That should happen sometime in the next few weeks.
Andy Pettitte is just two walks away from 1,000 now.
Pittsburgh continues to come on strong. The Pirates won five games this week and now need only 13 to reach 10,000. It’s looking like that will happen sometime in early-to-mid June.
Thanks for reading. As always, stats are through Monday’s games. Tell me if I’m missing anything.