Welcome back from the one-week sabbatical. I hope you missed me.
Today, I come to you with a lesson: Always look it up. I had been using 1,387 as the all-time single-season team strikeout record because that’s the number I was given. That number is wrong. That comes from the 2012 A’s, and is the third worst ever. At second place are the 2001 Brewers with 1,399. That wouldn’t be such a big deal, except for the 2010 Diamondbacks, who top the list with 1,529.
In looking up that number, I found something very interesting, though perhaps not unexpected. The top 29 team strikeout totals have all happened in the current century. In fact, 57 of the top 60 have happened since 2000. The other three teams are from the 1990s. You have to go all the way down to the 1968 Mets at number 76 to find a team that doesn’t fit within the current era.
Now, we have been tracking the Astros and Braves. The Braves will probably end up in the top several, but this kind of thing is so common right now, I’m going to dial back to just tracking the Astros, who are now on pace for 1,535 strikeouts, which would be a record.
I don’t know what to do with Joey Votto. He’s really been slumping and his current times-on-base pace isn’t really worth tracking, but then, he’s Joey Votto. He’s not going to slump all season, so I expect it to go up a bit. I think for now, I’m going to put him on probation. He isn’t officially dropped, but if he doesn’t show me something in the next week, it’s over.
Votto is still worth tracking for the rare combo of leading the league in hits and walks. He’s fourth in hits and only a few off the pace, while maintaining a healthy lead, in walks, with only his teammate Shin-Soo Choo in hailing distance.
Miguel Cabrera keeps being good, but I don’t know if Chris Davis is going to let him lead the league in homers. Obviously, we’ll keep tracking this, but triple crowns are hard. Right now, things stand as they did before with Cabrera tops in average and RBI and Davis second. Davis leads in homers followed by Cabrera.
In the more SABR-friendly stats, Cabrera leads in average and OBP and is second to Davis in SLG. I’ll tel you guess who’s second in average and OBP.
Yu Darvish, you’re slipping. Darvish has been on a comfortable 300 strikeout pace all year, but is now down to just 299 assuming 33 starts. Still plenty of time to make it up, especially in the same division as the Astros.
Well, phooey. Bartolo Colon and Adam Wainwright have both been walking players enough that it would take borderline-impossible control for either of them to break the record. However, I will keep track of both of them as each still has a shot at the 0.786 needed to enter the top-10. Colon currently sits at .996 while Wainwright is hanging out at .786.
Colon has officially dropped himself from K/BB tracking, but Wainwright is still hanging in at 10.7, which is good for second place all-time and within a whisper of Bret Saberhagen‘s 11.0 for best ever.
I thought this week, we’d finally be down to the players I think of as real contenders to strike out 200 times, but looking at the standings, there seems to be one other player we should track. Dan Uggla is on pace for 201 strikeouts. I don’t think he’ll actually do it, but a lot of the season has been played, so I’m officially paying attention. As for our regulars…
Chris Carter, 101 Ks, 230 K pace: Carter is the first player to 100 strikeouts this year. He’s halfway there with a lot more than half of a season to go. The question isn’t so much whether he will reach 200, but whether he will break the single-season record of 223.
Adam Dunn, 83 Ks, 201 K pace: I still can’t believe Dunn, whose slash line is currently .184/.280/.447 is getting playing time. Notably, his .186 BABIP is unsustainably low, so he’s actually due for an uptick. Such a weird season.
Mike Napoli, 95 Ks, 214 K pace: I’m still surprised by Napoli’s presence here, but he’s second in baseball and nearing the 100 mark.
Rick Ankiel‘s major league career might be over, but even if he never plays another game, his 60 strikeouts in 136 plate appearances represent a historic achievement. No major league hitter has ever struck out that much in that many plate appearances.
A couple of good stats were mentioned last time around: Shin-Soo Choois on pace to be hit 41 times this year. That would be the fifth highest total ever.
Matt Holliday is now on pace to ground into 37 double plays this year. That would be the highest total ever.
Both of those numbers are unlikely, but nonetheless fun to keep an eye on.
The list keeps shrinking…
Glory, Hallelujah! He’s done it! Todd Helton doubled and is now tied with Charlie Gehringer for 20th all-time. Now we can finally stop tracking him… What’s that? Wade Boggs is only four away at 19th… Oh, come on (weeping)… I thought it was over… It’s supposed to be over… Why do we both have to turn the key? Fine, fine. We’ll keep him around until this sad husk of a once excellent player drags himself to the end of the season, and one presumes, his career.
Though I realize he’s been a little banged up, I’m surprised that Adrian Beltre hasn’t doubled once in the last two weeks. He still needs 22 more to reach 500.
David Ortiz has moved closer, though, and now sits on 495.
Albert Pujols needs 14 to reach 500.
Torii Hunter has now hit 300 home runs. He has been around long enough to make me feel old. I mean, I was in college when he got his first real shot. Yikes.
Runs batted in:
Albert Pujols now needs 23 to reach 1,500.
Juan Pierre (609) is now 10 steals away from seventh all-time. He’s also six caught-stealings away from fifth all-time.
Michael Bourn needs 14 to reach 300.
Sabathia is now two wins away from number 200.
Andy Pettitte won number 250. He is the 47th pitcher to do that.
Jonathan Papelbon needs 30 to get to 300. It’s starting to look like a tall task.
Ryan Dempster posted his 200th strikeout. You know that feeling you get when a player plays for your favorite teams and really stinks the place up and then goes somewhere else, is immediately good, and you kind of hate him for it and begrudge him all future achievements? This is how I feel about Dempster. He has had a good career, but to me, he’ll always be the guy with the 6.54 ERA in 2003.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who seem to be really, really, really be ready to have a winning season, celebrated their 10,000th win this week. Congratulations Pittsburgh.
Thanks for reading. As always, stats are through Monday’s games. Tell me if I’m missing anything.