Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Lesson: the pros already know

The Nats pounded the Marlins last night, and I mean really pounded them. Washington dropped an eleven-spot on the festering Fish. If you need evidence to underscore how far the Marlins have fallen in a very short time, read that previous sentence: the Nats scored in double figures.

How long had it been? I resolved myself to exhaust two minutes of my life looking it up. I "discovered" that it had been a long time---I mean, an extremely long time.

But then I realized I didn't need to look it up: the beat writers already went there. Oh, well.

Notwithstanding St. Barry's strange, slight error (it had been since May 7, not May 11), all the big guys covering the Nats included the factoid that the last time the team had scored in double figures was early May. Rocket Bill Ladson wins the completeness award, noting not only "when" but "how many" (fourth time the Nats have hit double figures).

Since I looked it up, I might as well note a couple useless pieces of trivia:

---> the Nats are 4-7 in "games in which either team has scored in double figures"; and,
---> the Nats' "worst month" in such games was, strangely, their storied "best month"---which would be June, when the Nats went 20-6 overall but 0-2 in the double figure games. Pythagoras says hi.

Anyway, I'm definitely not going to look this up (help me out again, professionals), but I suspect the 11 games in which either side has hit double figures represent a very low figure, relative to the rest of the league. That would make sense, of course, considering the home park, the anemic offense, and the generally solid pitching.


Did you know?

Andruw Jones is considered by many or most BBWAA-types as the late frontrunner for National League MVP honors. Suffice it to say Jones, who sports 51 homers and 128 ribbies, would not win the award based on his batting average.

Quick: When was the last time an MVP batted equal to, or worse than, Jones' current .264 average? [answer below]

Answer: Never! (at least among position players, of course).

The lowest batting average by an MVP on record is Marty Marion's .267 in 1944.


An amazing streak ended last night, as Greg Maddux and the Cubs fell to the Pirates, 5-3, in Chicago. This loss thwarted Maddux's late bid to extend his string of consecutive seasons with at least 15 victories to 18 years.

The practice of crediting "wins" to individual pitchers is, in my estimation, a beknighted one. Nevertheless, Maddux's streak, which began in 1988, is a monument to his greatness and durability. Consider all the top pitchers that have come and gone in the years 1988-2004. (Consider that some top pitchers essentially came and went in just the years surrounding one of those dates, like Teddy Higuera.) Consider that Roger Clemens, an even greater pitcher than Maddux, had:

not one,
not two,
not three,
not four,
not five,
not six, but

seven seasons of fewer than 15 victories between '88 and '04 (and he's working on another one this time around, through no fault of his own, of course).

Maddux's streak is nothing short than amazing, in other words. Of course, there's a reason for that characterization: the 17-season streak is a major league record. It's a shame to see it end.

The streak nearly ended, in 1990, at two seasons. Maddux suffered through a severe mid-summer slump, and then-manager Don Zimmer actually promised to swim "across Lake Michigan" if Maddux ever won another game. Inevitably, he did---and Zimmer fulfilled his promise by swimming across a very small section of the lake.

Great stat re an MVP's batting average. Try telling a Braves fan that Jones isn't as good a fielder as he used to be and see what reaction you get.
So you know: 11 is very low, but not crazy. In 2004 the lowest total was 18 (by the LAD and FLA), but in 2003 the Dodgers had only 12 such games (and San Fran only had 15). A bad hitting team in a pitchers park probably has a good chance of being under 20.

The average for a team appears to be in the upper 20s.

Zimmer swimming? Thanks for ruining lunch for me.
L&E: I know! My boss is a Braves' fan. ;-) (He's still pretty good, though.)
A bad hitting team in a pitchers park probably has a good chance of being under 20

Makes sense, since we're a really bad hitting team in a terrible hitters' park.
At last night's O's game, Jay Gibbons launched a bomb to the right field gap for a two-run homer. It was one of those definite no-doubters.

They gave the measurement at 377. It wouldn't have even hit the warning track at RFK. Scary.
Of course, since Gibbons is 'roiding, he could have hit it farther if he wanted to. ;-)
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