Good day fellow baseball fans! Time to check in on our little baby – the 2021 season – as we are just about at the end of the first quarter.
By winning 7 of their last 10, the Chicago White Sox have improved to 21-13 which is now the best record in all of baseball. The Giants own the next-best record at 22-14.
Earlier in the season I was writing about how the Royals were shocking everyone and racing ahead to baseball’s best record – they have now lost 10 straight games and have fallen to 3 games below .500 … so forget about that.
It appears Mike Trout is going to suffer through another disappointing team season in which his elite talent is wasted in LA. The Angels’ roster contains arguably the two best players in baseball and they can never finish above 4th place.
In the National League we have 3 surprise teams ahead in their respective divisions. The New York Metropolitans are 18-13 and one of just two teams above .500 in what is supposed to be a loaded NL East division.
The St Louis Cardinals shatter expectations every season and win with a 40-year-old catcher and a bunch of scrubs no one has ever heard of. The Cards are in first place at 22-15 while the Brewers are just 2 games back at 20-17.
Out West you would think either the Dodgers or Padres have to be in 1st place, right? Those are the only two teams that ever get talked about. Neither can claim the top spot, however. The San Francisco Giants lead the National League with a 22-14 record and a 2-game lead over the 2nd-place Padres.
Because baseball deals with so many averages, placing too much stock on stats early in the season can skew our perceptions. Once we get into May and regulars have recorded over 100 plate appearances, we can begin to trust the numbers.
Back by popular demand, this piece explores what is going on around the MLB by explaining the significance of standout numbers and stats. Today, our By the Numbers features large amounts of losses, the winningest team in baseball, and a team that is literally (not literally) burning holes in the pockets of its supporters.
The number of losses by the Major League-leader in losses – the 12-24 Detroit Tigers.
Detroit is pretty awful this season. Each year we keep predicting baby steps for this franchise. Nothing too crazy, maybe a 70-win season or even 75 if we’re very optimistic.
The rebuild has to end at some point, right? Well maybe not. In-season turnarounds are always possible but Detroit is currently on pace to win 54 games in 2021. That would put their record at 54-108.
So what is wrong with this team? How are they so terrible? Let’s start with the offense – Detroit ranks dead last in the American League (3rd in the MLB) in runs scored (3.4 per game).
The Tigers’ .217 team batting average is tied for 26th in the league and Detroit is one of just 6 teams in baseball with a team on-base percentage south of .300.
The Tigers don’t draw many walks (20th in the league in walk rate) and strike out way too much – posting the highest K rate in the league by a large margin.
Ok, so offense is not Detroit’s forte – what about the pitching? Well … it’s not good either. Detroit’s team ERA of 5.02 is the 3rd-worst in the MLB and their WHIP of 1.46 ranks the same.
That’s pretty rough. The Tigers allow an average of 1 and ½ baserunners per inning and lack the K rate necessary to get out of these jams. Tigers pitching owns a K rate of just 20.1% this season – dead last in the MLB.
The Tigers strike out more than any team while hitting but can’t reciprocate when they take the mound. I wonder how AJ Hinch feels right now?
The number of wins by the MLB wins-leading Oakland Athletics (23-15).
Oakland began the 2021 season on a horrendous note – losing their first 6 games. The no-attention-span Gen Z crowd probably wrote this team off after the first week.
Out of nowhere, the A’s are now in first place in the AL West and own the second-best record in the American League (but the most wins in the MLB).
The A’s rely on the longball offensively – hitting just .219 as a team which ranks 25th in the Majors. Oakland’s 47 homers are tied for 5th in the MLB – behind just the Braves, Blue Jays, Reds, and Yankees.
A poor team batting average but lots of homeruns keep Oakland anchored in the middle of the pack runs-scored wise – 16th in the league.
You would think the A’s must have a dominant pitching staff to carry their mediocre offense but they don’t. Oakland ranks 15th in the league in team ERA (4.02) and 16th in WHIP (1.26).
The A’s strike out opposing hitters at a 22.9% rate (tied for 20th in the MLB) but own a 7.3% walk rate (2nd-lowest in baseball).
Overall, the A’s have good-not-great pitching and a pretty mediocre offense. Defensively, Oakland is not great either – ranking 16th in team Def.
So how are the A’s the winningest team in baseball? Winning close contests, that’s how. Oakland has won 9 of their games by just 1 run (tied for the most in the league). The A’s have lost just 3 of these 1-run games – making their record 9-3 in close contests.
Is this sustainable? Probably not. Oakland needs to improve on the field before some of these close games start going the other way.
The amount of money the Minnesota Twins have lost $100/game moneyline bettors this season – the largest deficit (by far) of any team in the league.
The Twins were projected to finish either first or second in the AL Central but are currently just 1 game up on the lowly Tigers for worst record in the MLB.
At 12-22, Minnesota is winning at a 35.3% clip despite receiving average odds of -132. This is the perfect storm for massive losses – short odds and a bad record.
Byron Buxton, Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Arraez have been Minnsota’s best hitters this season. Buxton is en fuego – a legit MVP candidate with a .370/9/17/5sb line but is currently out with a hip injury.
Soon-to-be-41-year-old Nelson Cruz is having another stellar campaign – posting a .303 batting average with a team-high 9 dingers and 22 RBIs. 9 home runs is good for 3rd-most in the Majors while 22 RBIs puts Cruz 27th.
Twins pitching has been pretty awful in 2021. Jose Berrios is holding down his ace status atop the rotation with a 3-2 record, 3.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 10.0 K/9.
Michael Pineda is following suit with a 2-1 record, 2.43 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 8.6 K/9. After this, things go downhill quickly.
JA Happ has an ERA in the 4s, Kenta Maeda has an ERA in the 5s, Matt Shoemaker is in the 6s. In the bullpen, closer Alex Colome has more runs allowed than innings pitched and owns a 5.27 ERA with 3 losses and just 2 saves.
Minnesota’s offense is good but not good enough to carry a limp pitching staff. The Twins average 4.7 runs of offense each game but allow 5.1 runs – 3rd-most in the American League.