News, Analysis & UpdatesApril 9, 2005

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Notes and Numbers from the Season’s First Week

By Arlo Vander

After a long winter, the season is underway, and with a new season comes a whole new batch of stats to look at. Naturally, the numbers don’t mean terribly much at this point (no, Dmitri Young probably won’t crack the 100 home run mark), but that doesn’t prevent baseball fans from poring over box scores in search of interesting statistics. Here are a few that caught my eye recently.

Brave Debut
Tim Hudson had an interesting first four innings as a member of the Atlanta Braves. Facing the Marlins, Hudson allowed ten baserunners (six hits, four walks) but held Florida to just one run on an Alex Gonzalez solo homer. Two double plays started by shortstop Rafael Furcal certainly helped. Hudson pitched a one-two-three fifth before being replaced by Jorge Sosa; the Braves’ bullpen gave up just one run to preserve the win for Hudson.

What Home Advantage?
Heading into Saturday’s games, the Astros were the only team not to have hit one out of the park this season. While Houston failed to hit a round-tripper in three home games, their opponents went yard five times. Despite the lack of home runs, the Astros won two of their first three.

The season didn’t begin according to plan for Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora. After a breakout campaignn in 2004, Mora has just one hit in 21 at bats this year, giving him an average of .048. Last year, Mora hit .361 in April.

Sabermetric Dos…
Carlos Pena has already taken seven free passes this year, while striking out four times. Obviously, it’s early days yet, but this is something that might be worth watching. Improved patience at the plate would be a very encouraging sign, and might mean that the first baseman is ready to take his game to the next level. And for those who consider 27 to be the peak age for hitters: Pena’s birthday is in May.

… And Sabermetric Don’ts
Cliff Floyd and Ryan Freel have both been caught on their first two stolen base attempts. For those of a sabermetric mindset, this means that Floyd and Freel will both have to succeed on their next six SB tries in order for their baserunning to be considered beneficial to their teams.

Triples in Toronto
Four games into the season, four different Blue Jays had already recorded a triple (Orlando Hudson, Reed Johnson, Alexis Rios and Vernon Wells). That’s 18% of all the triples hit in the big leagues so far. Last year, Toronto finished the season with 34 three-baggers.

You Know You’re Good When You Hit .500 and Your Average Goes Down
On Saturday, Ichiro went two for four with a single and a double against the Rangers. His batting average dropped from .533 to .526.

Bat: A+. Glove: Needs Work…
In leagues that count fielding, Dodgers third baseman Jose Valentin has been a mixed blessing. Going into the weekend’s games, he was tied with Brian Giles and Joe Randa for the major league RBI lead with eight, but Valentin also topped all fielders with three errors in eight chances.

Maybe Holds Aren’t Such a Telling Statistic, After All
Of the first six pitchers to collect two holds this year, only Cincinnati’s Ryan Wagner did so while keeping his ERA under 5.40. Wagner has pitched in three games without allowing a run to cross the plate. The other five (Rheal Cormier, Ryan Madson, Ron Mahay, Scott Schoeneweis and Scot Shields) have allowed a combined 13 earned runs in 12.1 innings of work.

Quick Turnaround
The Orioles hit just .125 in the team’s first three games before exploding for 18 hits in a 12-5 drubbing of the Yankees.

This Isn’t How It Was in Houston
After not being caught once in 28 stolen base attempts with Houston in 2004, Carlos Beltran was thrown out by Jason LaRue in his first game as a New York Met.

Not Exactly What Omar Minaya Was Hoping For
In spite of high-priced additions such as Beltran and Pedro Martinez, the Mets are the only team without a win this season. New York was swept by Cincinnati to start the season, and has now dropped two straight to Atlanta.

Arlo Vander is always on the lookout for interesting, meaningful or merely entertaining baseball stats.

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