Home runs, steals still up through three months

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With June in the books, I wanted to again check out the league-wide scoring trends. All stats courtesy of the wonderful Baseball Reference, of course.

It seems like even the dimmest announcers are coming to grips with the
fact that home runs aren’t truly down this year, but the spike we saw
in April does look like an aberration. While home run rates almost
always rise with the temperatures, there’s been no jump forward so far
this year.

HR/G

April 2009 – 2.10
May 2009 – 2.00
June 2009 – 2.10
Apr-Jun 2009 – 2.06

April 2008 – 1.79
May 2008 – 1.93
June 2008 – 2.13
Apr-Jun 2008 – 1.95

Home runs were up 17 percent over 2008 in April, but just four
percent in May and were down just a tad last month. They’re up six
percent overall.

Here are some more Apr-June HR/G rates:

2000 – 2.56
2001 – 2.30
2002 – 2.01
2003 – 2.14
2004 – 2.15
2005 – 2.06
2006 – 2.22
2007 – 1.96
2008 – 1.95
2009 – 2.06

Given the decline we’ve seen of late, it seems likely that 2009’s
home run totals will finish up closer to those of 2007 and 2008 than
the ones we saw at the beginning of the decade.

On to steals:

SB/G
April 2009 – 1.24
May 2009 – 1.34
June 2009 – 1.27
Apr-June 2009 – 1.29

April 2008 – 1.24
May 2008 – 1.28
June 2008 – 1.13
Apr-Jun 2008 – 1.22

For all of the talk early on about how steals were up, it was only
in June that we saw a real increase over last year. Now we’ll have to
see if it holds up. Last year, steals per game dropped from 1.22 to
1.08 over the final three months. They’re typically is a decline, but
it’s usually not that significant. In 2007, steals increased a bit
after the All-Star break.

Runs per game is where we’ve seen an especially unusual trend this season.

R/G

April 2009 – 9.68
May 2009 – 9.34
June 2009 – 8.75
Apr-Jun 2009 – 9.23

April 2008 – 9.06
May 2008 – 8.94
June 2008 – 9.08
Apr-Jun 2008 – 9.03

Runs, like homers, tend to increase as the season goes along, but
this year, the rate at which people are crossing home plate has fallen
steadily.

Here’s the league OPS by month, going from April through Sept./Oct. for the last five years:

OPS by month

2005 – 739, 747, 767, 757, 741, 743
2006 – 767, 761, 766, 792, 767, 760
2007 – 731, 747, 759, 759, 774, 778
2008 – 733, 736, 750, 762, 759, 756
2009 – 762, 751, 734

If 2009 had started out at 734 in April, moved on to 751 in May and 762
in June, it’d be shaping up as a perfectly typical year. However, it’s
gone the opposite way, which makes me wonder exactly what is in store
for the next three months.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.