The propensity of strikeouts in baseball has made a lot of headlines this year as has the tendency of batters to take pitches. As I was putting together a draft of this article, it struck me that nearly every seasonal achievement I’m tracking involves walks, strikeouts, or both. They really are dominating the story this year. Correspondingly, I would like to put out a special call for achievements that don’t have to do with walks or strikeouts. If you notice something, and I’m missing it, let me know. Now, onto your regularly scheduled column…
Joey Votto slumped badly this week. That will happen from time to time. He’s now on pace to reach base “only” 327 times. I’m going to keep tracking him because, frankly, if that’s his pace after an especially bad week, it’s almost bound to go up.
We also started tracking Votto’s quest to become the fifth player to lead the league in walks and hits. Barring something crazy, Votto is going to lead the league in walks. He led the league last year despite missing 50 games with a knee injury. The challenge will be collecting enough hits. He’s currently second to Jean Segura who, I have to believe, will come back to earth a bit more yet.
Miguel Cabrera, boy what a player. He continues his triple crown quest. He currently leads the league in average and RBIs, but is second to Chris Davis in homers. Davis, remarkably, is second in average and RBIs. So, we have the same two batters in first and second place in all three triple crown categories. Cabrera is also leading the AL in OBP while Davis leads in slugging. They’re pretty much monopolizing the leader boards to the point that I have to start tracking both.
I don’t, however, expect it to last. Davis is a good player, but I don’t think he’s in Cabrera’s league as a hitter. That’s not an insult. As I discussed last week, Cabrera and Votto are pretty much the only two names in the best-hitter debate. I am also open to being proven wrong. if Davis keeps this up, he certainly becomes part of the equation.
Yu Darvish fell just a little off last week’s pace, but is still on pace to strike out 305. Even if his pace continues to fall, Darvish has an ace in the hole. The Rangers face the Astros 13 more times this year. The Astros, you may remember, are trying very, very hard to break the single-season team strikeout record. Obviously, the vagaries of the pitching rotation could keep him away from them, but it seems likely that he’s good for two to four starts against the Astros.
It is time to start tracking another pitcher’s walks per nine innings. Bartolo Colon continues to display amazing control with his .512 rate, meaning that if he pitched back-to-back complete games, you’d expect to see one walk. But there is also Adam Wainwright, who is so out of his mind right now that Joe Posnanski wrote about it. Wainwright is currently walking .607 batters per nine.
On a related note, we have another stat to track for these two: K/BB ration. Adam Wainwright is striking out 14 batters for every batter he walks. That would break Bret Saberhagen‘s 1994 record by three full Ks. Colon is coming in at 10.5 K/BB. That would be could for second best ever (or third if Wainwright keeps it up).
Strikeout tracking, week four…
Chris Carter, 82 Ks, 225 K pace: Carter is now almost halfway to 200 strikeouts and barring injury is starting to seem like a lock to cross the threshold sometime early in September.
Rickie Weeks 61 Ks, 176 K pace: I think it might be time to bid farewell to Weeks, who never really felt like he belonged on this list.
Adam Dunn, 72 Ks, 208 K pace: Dunn just keep running out there while providing almost no value. One more year, Sox fans. One more year. Still, we would be down to tracking Dunn and Carter as our only real 200-K threats, but for…
Mike Napoli, 80 Ks, 220 K pace: I know, right? I didn’t see this coming either. Napoli does have some relatively high strikeout totals in his past, but they are masked by his catcher status. This year, he is playing mostly first, and thus playing every day. So we might have something here.
Rick Ankiel, 56 Ks, 154 K pace (43 percent K-rate). As noted last week, though he isn’t playing enough to realistically challenge the 200-K mark, Ankiel is now in unheard of territory; no player has ever been given this much playing time while striking out this often. I’m just interested to see how far he’ll go.
The Astros and Braves are still on track to break the team strikeout record of 1,387. The current Astros pace is 1,550. The current Braves pace is 1,472. I’ll have to look into this, but I wonder how likely it is that this season sees the most strikeouts ever by all teams combined.
The list shrinks a little more this week. That will happen as we get deeper into the season…
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Todd Helton didn’t double this week and still sits just outside the top-20 list.
Adrian Beltre did double once and needs 22 more to reach 500.
David Ortiz still needs seven more to reach 500.
Albert Pujols still needs 17 to reach 500. There really couldn’t be a much more straightforward decline than that of Pujols. Since 2009 when he was 29, his OPS has gone like this: 1.101, 1.011, .906, .859, .723. I wonder, in hindsight, if many of us were just blinded by the lofty heights he’d achieved. That .906 in 2011 is still really awesome and seemed like a “down” Pujols year at the time, but it’s 200 points under his peak and more than a hundred points under his career average. Imagine a player falling from .901 to .706. You can bet a lot more people would take that seriously and no one would be rushing to give that player a mega-contract.
Torii Hunter still sits one homer shy of 300.
Runs batted in:
Pujols now needs 34 to reach 1,500.
Juan Pierre (605) stole a base this week and is now 14 steals away from seventh all-time.
Michael Bourn did not steal a base and still needs 16 to reach 300.
Andy Pettitte started his 500th game. You know, if he hadn’t missed some of the time he’s missed, he’d really be closing in on some impressive numbers. CC Sabathia (395) and Bartolo Colon (386) continue to pitch every five days or so.
Sabathia had a very nice start and moved up to 196 wins.
Andy Pettitte has 249 wins. Don’t know why I haven’t been paying attention to that, but I should be.
Jonathan Papelbon needs 32 to get to 300.
Ryan Dempster struck out six last night. He’s now five short of 2,000.
Pettitte did it. He walked three batters on Monday and passed the 1,000 mark.
The Pirates slowed down this week, winning only three games. They are now four short of 10,000. Soon, very soon.
Thanks for reading. As always, stats are through Monday’s games. Tell me if I’m missing anything. Also, Currently Historic will be taking a break next week. Try not to be too upset. This time apart will be good for both of us. I’m sure you can get along fine for just a little bit without me.