News, Analysis & UpdatesFebruary 2, 2005


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Fun with Numbers

By Arlo Vander

Stats! Stats! Stats! Can any baseball junkie ever get enough statistics? To help get those juices flowing as we head toward spring training and a brand new season, let’s take a look at a few numbers that happened to catch my eye, covering topics ranging from Mark Buehrle’s stamina to Tadahito Iguchi’s remarkable upswing at the plate.

Power Outage?
Giants 1B/3B/OF Pedro Feliz had a breakout season in 2004, raising his average and on-base-percentage from .247 and .278, respectively, the previous year to .276 and .305, both career highs. Nonetheless, there was no corresponding improvement in his OPS score, which dropped from .793 to .790.

Slow Start
Just a reminder to fantasy owners with Steinbrenner-esque patience to keep those April and May stats in perspective: Last year, Mark Teixeira, mired in a 4-for-36 slump, had a .185 average in mid-May. This year, he’s a very hot commodity in fantasy drafts…

Unfamiliar Surroundings
Sammy Sosa, heading to Baltimore in exchange for Jerry Hairston, Jr. and minor leaguers Dave Crouthers and Mike Fontenot, has played just one of his 2138 career big league games at Camden Yards. The 44 parks, ranging from the Tokyo Dome (two games) to Wrigley Field (917), in which Sosa has played more games than in his new home just might be a record. If you can find a player with more appearances in 45 or more parks than at the home field of a team he was traded to, send me an email.

Speaking of New Homes…
Carlos Beltran’s career average at Shea Stadium is a not-so-mighty .176, including a dismal .111 last season. Fortunately for Beltran – not to mention his fantasy owners – that mark is based on just six career appearances in Queens.

And Staying on the Subject…
Ecstatic about Shawn Green’s 2005 outlook now that he’s leaving cavernous Dodger Stadium for Arizona? Before you award him next year’s MVP, keep in mind that Green’s average was 26 points higher at home than on the road last year, and his OPS 28 points higher.

Yet Another Argument in Favor of Natural Grass
Of the four teams that played their home games on turf last season, two, Montreal and Toronto, finished at the bottom of their division. A third franchise, namely Tampa Bay, only escaped the cellar by narrowly edging turf-team Toronto. The only exception to this pattern of futility was Minnesota, The Twins wound up winning the AL Central by nine games.

Then Again, Maybe These Guys Should Lose the Lawn
The Baltimore Orioles, whose retro-style home field features natural grass, hit over .300 as a team when playing on artificial surfaces.

Tired? Who’s Tired? He’s Just Getting Warmed Up…
When going beyond 105 pitches last year, Mark Buehrle’s WHIP was a paltry 0.55, less than half of his season total of 1.26.

Late Bloomer
In 2002, Tadahito Iguchi, who joins the White Sox after eight seasons in Japan’s Pacific League, highest single-season average was an unspectacular .261. In the following two years, he hit .340 and .333.

The Odds for Stolen Bases
More Iguchi numbers: In the last two odd-numbered years, the talented infielder stole an average of 43 bags per season. In 2002 and 2004, on the other hand, he averaged less than 20 a year. A good omen for 2005?

Time to Invest in Bullpen Help
Thanks to the strong play of a rotation led by Jason Schmidt, the San Francisco Giants finished the 2004 season tied for eighth in the majors in ERA in the first six innings at 4.19. From that point on, the Giants ranked 23rd with a 4.51 mark.

Overlooked Defense?
Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada gets lots of credit for his hitting prowess, but few observers noticed that he led all AL shortstops with 118 double plays turned last season. On the other hand, Tejada also made 24 errors, and his fielding percentage dropped to .971, his lowest total since 1998.

Wasted Opportunities
Tampa Bay was last in the league in on-base percentage with the bases loaded last season at a mere .211. That’s a full .109 lower than the team’s total OBP for the season.

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

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