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.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.