Currently Historic: About this Dickey fellow…by Jason Linden
June 21, 2012
Last week was, I think, a pretty successful debut. A note to those who may have missed it—this is a new feature on THT that will chronicle the achievements of players who are on pace to do something historically good, historically bad, or just historically weird. I want to especially thank those who pointed out interesting and esoteric achievements that I missed. Let's start this week by going over some of those. Once again, all stats are through Tuesday.
Commenter Todd points out that Carlos Beltran just became the eighth member of the 300/300 club. That's pretty neat.
Dave Eberly pointed out that Nyjer Morgan's two RBI in not-quite-everyday playing time are truly abysmal. This is one we'll have to track. Morgan doesn't qualify right now, but if he continues down this path and gets just a little more playing time, he might become the qualified player with the fewest RBI in a season since 1900.
The esoteric stat of the week goes to Textilemonster, who points out that, shortly, Alex Rodriguez will pass Ivan Rodriguez for most hits by a player whose name ends in -ez. ARod is currently four away from a tie.
The player we really need to talk about this week is R.A. Dickey. The two one-hitters he threw this week have placed him at 11 wins. That puts him on pace for 26 (again, that would be the most since Bob Welch in 1990). He is also now in position to make a run at the pitching triple crown. He currently leads the league in strikeouts, wins, and ERA. Have I mentioned that he throws a knuckleball?
I have to put the odds here fairly long, though. It's not that Dickey isn't awesome. He is. It's that 25 wins is a hard row to hoe for even the best of best pitchers. Similarly, it's hard to imagine him continuing to strikeout this many batters. Still, he's entered weekly update territory and we'll track him as long as he merits tracking.
Speaking of merit, it's already time to drop someone from the list. After a strong showing in last week's inaugural column, Josh Hamilton was thoroughly mediocre. In fact, he was so mediocre that he's well off the pace for the things we mentioned last week (400 total bases, 100 extra base hits, 60 home runs). Nor does he seem especially likely to win the triple crown (not that he was ever that likely) now that Adam Dunn—a much more natural home run hitter—has passed him. Add his recent performance to his injury history and it's not looking likely we'll see anything historic from Hamilton this year.
On the flip side of that is Joey Votto whose numbers are even more ridiculous than they were when we last checked in. He has raised his OBP to .490, giving him an even better shot at finishing at or above .500 (accomplished only 19 times). He is also now on pace for 104 extra base hits (up from a 100-pace last week), and now leads in all the saber-triple crown categories (AVG, OBP, SLG). According to Fangraphs' version of WAR, in the last 40 years, only Joe Morgan and Barry Bonds have had seasons of equal or greater production.
Still the most fun record to watch him pursue has to be the doubles record. He's up to 30 now and on pace for 73 (up from 70 last week). The record is 67, so if he does keep up the pace, he'll blow by it.
It's still early in the season, so we can't call any of these things likely (though I'd be just about ready to lay money on the AVG/OBP/SLG trifecta), but Votto is simply playing the game on another level right now. I won't be surprised if he stays close to his current production well into the season. We might be tracking him for a while.
Adam Dunn just keeps on being Adam Dunn. He might actually lead the league in homers this year, which he's never done before, and he's now 12 away from 400. His strikeout rate is exactly the same as it was last week and he is still on pace for an earth-shattering 260 Ks. That is the kind of record that might stand the test of time.
He also continues to have absurd TTO numbers (63.5 percent of his appearances end in a walk, strikeout, or home run) and continues on pace for 443 total TTOs. He is now only 82 Ks away from 2,000. He is racing Alex Rodriguez to become the fifth player to do this. Rodriguez is only 25 away, but I wouldn't count Dunn out. He may well get there first.
Now, who do we need to look at in brief?
Aroldis Chapman has had a rough week and until he puts a dominant string together again, this is the last you'll see of him in this space.
Miguel Cabrera is now nine home runs from 300. Ryan Howard (286) still needs to get on the field.
Ichiro Suzuki, in our first successful prognostication, made it to 2,500 hits this week. Congratulations to Mr. Suzuki. Bobby Abreu (2,421) and Todd Helton (2,407) are going to have to do better if they want to get there this year. I'm giving each a few more weeks and then I'm yanking them.
Alex Rodriguez (1,975 SO, 639 HR and 1,922 RBIs) will join Adam Dunn in the 2,000 K club, but is still a real long shot to make it to 2,000 RBI and pass Mays with 661 homers. We may stop tracking those soon.
Jim Thome now needs only two homers to pass Sammy Sosa for seventh all time.
Abreu (395 SB), Jose Reyes (386), and Jimmy Rollins (384) totaled only one collective steal this week (Rollins swiped that one). They need to get on it if someone wants to get to 400 this year.
At 2,662, Derek Jeter needs only five singles to pass Paul Molitor for 10th all-time on that list. I might spend some time writing about the Jetester next week.
As I said last week, please let me know if I've missed anything. There are interesting things happening in baseball every week. I'm bound to miss something.
Jason has too many irons in the fire. He fancies himself a fiction writer and also writes about the Reds at Redleg Nation, books at Elephants for Bookends, and everything else at The Winesburg Eagle. Email him at winesburgeagle *at* gmail or follow him on Twitter @jasonlinden
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