Ten factoids and figure-oids that sum up the 2004 season -- so far (all stats through Tuesday):
Although Barry Bonds had been on base 26 percent more (54 times) than the next-closest player in either league (Ronnie Belliard, at 43), he'd still driven himself in as many times (nine) as all his Giants teammates had driven him in.
Bonds: 9 HR in 46 AB. The Expos (all of them): 9 HR in 681 AB.
The Expos were averaging approximately half as many runs a game in their wins (2.0) as the Royals were averaging in their losses (3.9).
The Yankees had scored 36 fewer runs than the Tigers, had a team batting average 92 points lower than the Alex Rodriguez-free Rangers (.313-.221) and were one loss from clinching their first losing April in 13 years. (Last time the Yankees had a sub-.500 April and still made the postseason: 1952, when they went 5-6. Last time the Yankees were more than one game under .500 in April and still made the postseason: Never.)
The Tigers just scored 11 runs in an inning (April 23 vs. Cleveland). Last year, it took them 157 games to score 11 runs in a game.
The Indians' bullpen gave up almost as many earned runs in that inning (11) as the Red Sox bullpen (now up to 24 2/3 straight shutout innings) had allowed all year (14).
Three weeks into the season, the entire Royals' rotation had one win. They don't even want to know that no team in history ever made the playoffs after going as deep into its season as the Royals did before getting its first win from a starting pitcher (Game 13). (Old record: 11 games, by the 1995 Reds.)
The Brewers' starting rotation had more wins (seven) than the Yankees' rotation (six). (As opposed to last year: Yankees starters 83 wins, Brewers starters 39.)
And Armando Benitez -- a man who pitched for three teams last year (Mets, Yankees, Mariners) -- had more saves (10) this season than any of his old teams had wins.
Useless Barry Bonds Information
Of his last 50 trips to the plate through Tuesday, the amazing Barry had been on base (gulp) 39 times. If you took away half the times Bonds had been on base this year, he'd still have a higher on-base percentage than Ichiro Suzuki (.337).
Meanwhile, Bonds is averaging three swings and misses per week. It might put that in perspective to report that last year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Human Fan, Jose Hernandez had five different at-bats in which he swung and missed three pitches in a row. (Which might explain why Hernandez also hit only air with a mind-boggling 230 more hacks last year than Bonds -- 355 to 125.)
We sometimes forget how tough it is for everybody else except Bonds to hit at SBC Park. Well, here's a reminder: Bonds at SBC (through Tuesday): 8 HR in 38 AB. All the other Giants: 6 HR in 344 AB.
Bonds' 245 home runs since he turned 35 are the most in history. But let's put this another way:
This man has hit more home runs just since age 35 than all these Hall of Famers hit in their whole careers: Roberto Clemente, Roy Campanella, Paul Molitor or Kirby Puckett. And he has hit more home runs since then all of these active players have hit in their careers: Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez, Todd Helton or Javy Lopez.
Here's proof that Bonds can literally do the impossible: He just set an NL record by hitting eight home runs during a streak of homers in seven consecutive games. But what was really tough was that he appeared in eight games during that streak of seven consecutive games.
OK, so it's a technicality. (He was intentionally walked in the eighth game, so it counted as a game appeared in but not as a game played for homer-streak purposes.) But it's still supremely Barry-esque that he averaged more than one game per game.
You don't find many guys these days with homer-to-strikeout ratios of almost 2-to-1. But Bonds was at nine homers, five whiffs, through Tuesday. In response to several readers wondering which player in history hit the most home runs in a season of more homers than punchouts, here's the list, according to Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Encyclopedia CD-Rom:
Johnny Mize, 1947 -- 51 HR, 42 SO
Lou Gehrig, 1934 -- 49 HR, 31 SO
Lou Gehrig, 1936 -- 49 HR, 46 SO
Ted Kluszewski, 1954 -- 49 HR, 35 SO
Ted Kluszewski, 1955 -- 47 HR, 40 SO
One loyal reader saw that .500 average next to Bonds' name and wanted to know the latest in a season that anyone in modern times has been batting over .500. But since Bonds walks about six times a night, he hasn't had 50 official at-bats yet -- and Paul Lo Duca batted .500 through his first 50 at-bats just this year. Last player to hit .500 for more than 50 at-bats into a season, according to Elias: Darin Erstad (32 for his first 64 in 2000).
Finally, since we spend all our time talking about the many cool milestones Bonds can reach, we thought we'd toss one more in there: By September, he almost certainly will become just the sixth player in history to reach base 5,000 times: Here is where he stands on that list (counting just hits, walks and HBP):
Useless Jake Westbrook Information
You know baseball is a beautiful sport when someone like Jake Westbrook can step out of the back of the Indians' bullpen and become a walking useless-info factory. But that's what he did last week, starting with one of the most bizarre games of modern times.
If you just looked at the score of the Indians' April 19 game with the Tigers (Detroit 10, Cleveland 4), you'd have no idea. But this was a game in which the Indians' starting pitcher, Jeff D'Amico, faced six hitters and got no outs. And it was a game in which the relievers who followed Westbrook gave up six runs and got three outs.
But in between, Westbrook faced 21 hitters -- and retired all of them. Which didn't merely mean the Tigers were able to score 10 runs in a game in which they went three hours without a baserunner. It meant Westbrook was the first reliever to throw seven perfect innings (that's 7-0-0-0-0-7 in your box scores), according to the Elias Sports Bureau, since Lindy McDaniel unfurled a 7-0-0-0-0-6 line on Aug. 23, 1968.
McDaniel did it in a 17-inning game, though (also against the Tigers, by the way). So to pull it off in nine innings -- especially in a game in which everyone else who pitched allowed 10 runs in a span of three outs -- is an all-time all-timer.
Longest perfect relief stints in between McDaniel and Westbrook, according to Elias:
Casey Cox, Senators -- July 7, 1969 vs. Cleveland (6 2/3-0-0-0-0-1)
John Montague, Mariners -- July 24, 1977 vs. California (6 2/3-0-0-0-0-6)
Westbrook then faced the Tigers again Sunday and retired the first five hitters he faced, leaving him one out from recording 27 straight outs against them. Whereupon, naturally, Carlos Pena homered. (Pena, according to the Detroit Free Press' John Lowe, managed to hit three balls to the outfield that day before any other Tigers even hit one.)
But if you go back to the last out of Westbrook's outing before he first faced the Tigers, he did indeed retire 27 hitters in a row over three games -- a feat which Baseball Prospectus' Keith Woolner has labeled a "hidden perfect game."
Woolner reports, on the Baseball Prospectus site, that nine other pitchers currently in the big leagues have thrown hidden perfect games. That figure counts Pedro Martinez, who retired 30 in a row over two starts in 1999 and also had a 1995 game in which he retired 27 in a row in the same game but lost his perfecto in the 10th.
The others who have done it: Carl Pavano and Luis Ayala (both last year), and Hideo Nomo, Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Rick Reed and Rod Beck over the previous decade. The only two besides Westbrook to do it mostly in relief: Ayala (over nine appearances) and Beck (over five appearances in 1992).
Useless Expos Information
Gotta love those Expos -- unless you pitch for them. At their current rate, they'll score 277 runs this year, get shut out 46 times and finish with a team batting average (.201) 300 points lower than Dontrelle Willis'.
As loyal reader Eric Orns points out, the next-lowest-scoring team in the National League, the Phillies, have scored more than twice as many runs (74) as the Expos (36). And if this keeps up, boy would that be a record.
At this rate, the Phillies would score 666 runs this year -- 389 more than Montreal. And no team has ever even approached a gap between worst and next-to-worst anything like that.
Biggest gap since 1900 between the lowest-scoring team and the next-lowest: 142 runs, between the 1922 Braves (596 runs) and Phillies (738).
And let's just say that if you break any of those Cleveland Spiders' records, it's time to consider another line of work.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, already this year the Expos have become:
The first team since the 1909 Senators to score this few runs in the first 20 games of the season. (Those Senators scored only 35, but at least they knew they'd be playing in Washington next year.)
The first team to avoid scoring five runs in any of its first 16 games since the 1968 White Sox.
And the first team to avoid scoring four runs in any of its first 11 games since the 1977 Phillies.
It took the Expos only 21 games to get shut out six times this year. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have been shut out just five times in their last 211 games.
The Expos were shut out in three of Tomo Ohka's first four starts this year. So if he's interested in pursuing any records for lack of support, he's almost halfway to the prestigious record for most since division play. The holders of that dubious honor, according to Elias, are Randy Jones (1974 Padres) and Tom Murphy (1971 Angels). Both their teams were shut out eight times that season.
And ESPN research guru Jeff Bennett reports that even Les Canadiens did more scoring (44-36) in their first 21 games this season than the Expos. They also got shut out less (6-3).
OK, but at least the Expos have an excuse: They wouldn't know a home game from a home page.
They didn't play their first game in their alleged home city, Montreal, until Game No. 17. That's three games earlier than last year, but it's still bad. According to Elias, the only other team in modern history to go even 10 games into a season before playing a game in its home city was the 1902 Indians, who finally arrived in Cleveland in Game 13. Ah, but they didn't have Youppi to greet them. Now did they?