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.

The Cubs will soon announce a five-year contract extension for Theo Epstein

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 27: Theo Epstein (R), President of Operations for the Chicago Cubs, talks with head football coach Jim Harbaugh of the University of Michigan before the game between the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Carrie Muskat of MLB.com just tweeted that the Cubs will soon announce a five-year contract extension for president Theo Epstein. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that it’s worth in excess of $50 million.

He’s earned it. When he took over the Cubs in October, 2011 the Cubs were a last place team with an aging roster and a front office that was several years behind the state of the art in every conceivable way. Last year the Cubs made the playoffs and this year they are baseball’s best team by a large margin and the franchise looks poised to continue its success for some time.

So, yeah, I’d say locking Theo up is a good idea.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday’s action

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 21:  Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz #11 of the Boston Red Sox throws to a Baltimore Orioles batter in the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 21, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox will once again attempt to clinch the AL East after failing to do so on Tuesday night. They can seal the division with a win against the Yankees or a Blue Jays loss to the Orioles on Wednesday evening.

Clay Buchholz will take the hill for the BoSox against Yankees right-hander Bryan Mitchell in a 7:05 PM EDT start at Yankee Stadium. Buchholz hasn’t exactly been Mr. Reliable this season, holding a 5.00 ERA with an 87/53 K/BB ratio in 133 1/3 innings. However, he has been in three of four starts since returning to the rotation earlier this month. Over those four starts, he owns a 3.97 ERA and a 15/8 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, at the Rogers Centre, the Jays will send out Francisco Liriano against the Orioles’ Chris Tillman in a 7:07 PM EDT start. Liriano has been much improved since coming to the Jays from the Pirates, so the Orioles will have their hands full.

As for Wild Card action, the Royals can be eliminated if they lose to the Twins or if the Orioles beat the Jays. The Yankees can be eliminated by losing to the Red Sox and the Orioles defeating the Jays. In the National League, the Marlins can be eliminated by losing to the Mets or the Giants beating the Rockies.

The rest of Wednesday’s action…

Arizona Diamondbacks (Shelby Miller) @ Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez), 7:05 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ New York Yankees (Bryan Mitchell), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Jake Arrieta) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jameson Taillon), 7:05 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Francisco Liriano), 7:07 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Zach McAllister) @ Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer), 7:10 PM EDT

New York Mets (Seth Lugo) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Urena), 7:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Adam Morgan) @ Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz), 7:10 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Ervin Santana) @ Kansas City Royals (Jason Vargas), 7:15 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Chase Anderson) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell) @ Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez), 8:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Anthony DeSclafani) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Mike Leake), 8:15 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray) @ Los Angeles Angels (Alex Meyer), 10:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Jose De Leon) @ San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo), 10:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood) @ San Francisco Giants (Jeff Samardzija), 10:15 PM EDT