I’m not a statistics guy myself — math is hard, yo — but I’ve long considered myself a fellow traveler in much the same way that guys like Timothy Leary and Wavy Gravy hung around a lot of rock bands in the 60s without making any music. I’m totally down with the statheads even if I can’t do a thing that they do.
So I’m pleased to read that Max Scherzer — one of my favorite pitchers simply because he strikes out a ton of dudes yet doesn’t seem like a fascist — is a big stats geek. No, he’s not redefining the field or anything, but as a pitcher he’s really aware of the advanced metrics and has, to some extent, used them to refine his game.
Sure, he has struggled until recently and got sent down to Toledo, but that’s about talent — command is a talent, by the way, not an intellectual exercise — but any time I read about ballplayers who look at the advanced stats, I see a guy who seems genuinely interested in wanting to improve his game, and you have to dig that.
UPDATE: We write a lot of damn posts here at HBT. So many that I didn’t remember the fact that Aaron gave statty props to Scherzer just last August before writing this.
Crap. I shouldn’t have admitted that. If I had gone all day without anyone else reminding me that this is basically a repeat, I could save myself a lot of work in 2011 just writing what I’ve written in 2010. Of course, maybe by then people won’t remember this post admitting that either . . .
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.