Friday, May 13, 2011

Blog fodder from STATS.Inc.

The Los Angeles Angels lead the American League with a .270 batting average, thanks in part to their success with two strikes. The Angels are batting a major league-high .224 in those situations. While major leaguers are batting a collective .173 in two-strike counts, six Angels are hitting higher than .250. Maicer Izturis has 24 two-strike hits, the most in the majors, and Howie Kendrick is second with 22. Among all players with at least 10 hits with two strikes in 2011, Izturis is one of six Angels in the top 30 in batting average:

Highest Batting Average in Two-Strike Counts, 2011
(minimum 10 hits in two-strike situations)

Hitter Hits AVG

1. Jason Bourgeois, HOU 10 .435
2. Casey Kotchman, TB 13 .394
3. Maicer Izturis, LAA 24 .348
4. Matt Holliday, STL 21 .339
5. Pablo Sandoval, SF 12 .324
14. Hank Conger, LAA 11 .289
18. Erick Aybar, LAA 13 .265
24. Torii Hunter, LAA 19 .260
25. Howie Kendrick, LAA 22 .259
27. Alberto Callaspo, LAA 12 .255

The Cardinals’ Matt Holliday is 7-for-17 with two doubles, two homers and three walks in plate appearances that have started with two consecutive strikes. Among the 256 major leaguers who have started 0-2 at least 15 times this season, Holliday’s
.412 average and .500 OBP are the highest.

On Thursday, when the New York Yankees lost an 11-5 decision to the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium, not a single New York batter struck out. It was the first time the Yankees had gone an entire game without striking out since July 8, 2009, when they defeated the Twins during their final trip to the Metrodome. The last time the Yankees lost a game in which they didn’t strike out was a 7-1 defeat in Detroit nearly a decade ago -- on July 19, 2001. The last time they lost at home without striking out was June 17, 1994, in an 8-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Phillies closer Brad Lidge has yet to pitch in 2011, and his replacement, Jose Contreras, has joined him on the disabled list. Still, the Philadelphia Phillies have the highest save percentage among all big league clubs. The Phillies bullpen has converted 11 of 12 save opportunities, good for a 91.7-percent conversion rate. Contreras was 5-for-5 before going down with a sore elbow, and Ryan Madson is 5-for-5in his stead.

April was a difficult month for the Chicago White Sox’s bullpen, which blew six of nine save chances and posted a 5.55 ERA. It looked as though more of the same was likely in May, after White Sox relievers allowed 14 earned runs in the final three days of April, but the bullpen has been much better this month:

White Sox Bullpen, 2011

April 73.0 5.55 .281 9 3-9
May 21.0 1.29 .171 1 2-2

With a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, the Pittsburgh Pirates improved to 18-17, marking the latest point in the season that they’ve been above .500 since they were 23-22 on May 29, 2004. The Pirates, with 18 consecutive losing seasons heading into 2011, have been above .500 in the second half in only two of those 18 seasons -- the last time in 1999. In five of them, the Pirates never were above .500. In fact, they failed to surpass the .500 mark for nearly three full years, from May 2004 until April 2007.

Among the 176 relievers who have appeared in at least 10 games in 2011, only two have yet to allow a first batter they’ve faced to reach base. San Diego’s Mike Adamshas retired all 18 of his first batters, and the Angels’ Rich Thompson has set down 13 in 13 games. First batters have gone 0-for-18 against another Padre, Chad Qualls, though he has given up a walk for a still-stingy .053 opponent OBP. Washington closer Drew Storen has the same opponent OBP, limiting first batters to one hit in 19 at-bats.

No team walks less frequently than the Chicago Cubs, who are averaging one walk per every 14.7 plate appearances. Four Cubs are among the most unlikely major league hitters to draw a walk:

Cubs Hitters – Walk Rates, 2011
(with ranks among 193 qualifiers in MLB)

Darwin Barney 1 per 33.5 PA 188th
Alfonso Soriano 1 per 33.3 PA 187th
Starlin Castro 1 per 31.6 PA 184th
Marlon Byrd 1 per 30.6 PA 183rd

The lowest walk rate among batting qualifiers belongs to Oakland leadoff man Coco Crisp, who has drawn just two walks in 30 games -- an average of one walk per 62.0 plate appearances. As a group, leadoff hitters in the majors are drawing an average of one free pass for every 12.6 PAs, walking nearly five times as often as Crisp.

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