Modern baseball is unlike any version ever seen. Whether or not it is accurate to call this the post-steroid era, the 2013 season is historic in several ways.
Players are striking out at the highest rate in the history of baseball, batting for the lowest average since 1989, getting on base at the lowest clip since 1972 and walking at the lowest rate since the mound was lowered in 1969. Oh, and as far as we know, pitchers are doling out fewer intentional walks than ever before.
Within the new game, several players are in the midst of historic seasons. With the All-Star Game just eight days away, we take a look at the most exemplary statistics of the year.
Manny Machado is on pace to break the single-season doubles record.
With 39 doubles in 89 games, Machado is on pace for 71 doubles this season with the Baltimore Orioles. The record is 67, set by Earl Webb in 1931. In his first full MLB season, the 21-year-old has proven himself one of the best players in the game, batting .312 and playing phenomenal defence at the hot corner.
Everything about Miguel Cabrera.
Let’s see, he is threatening to win baseball’s first back-to-back Triple Crown with a stranglehold on the batting title and a league-best 90 RBI. The only man in his way is Chris Davis, who leads Cabrera in home runs 33-28. Consider the fact that one year after winning the Triple Crown and the MVP award, he is hitting for a higher average and is on pace for more home runs, RBIs, runs scored, walks and total bases. If Cabrera keeps his RBI pace he will finish with 170, the most since Jimmie Foxx’s 175 RBI in 1938.
Max Scherzer’s record remains flawless.
If weathermen simply told us “hot” or “cold” everyday, we would know as much about the weather and a pitcher’s win-loss record tells us about his ability to pitch. Either way, it is still pretty awesome that Scherzer has taken the bump for Detroit 17 times this season and has yet to blame himself for a loss. His 13-0 mark is the first since Roger Clemens started 14-0 in 1986 with the Boston Red Sox.
Hisashi Iwakuma’s WHIP is absurdly low.
Walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP), is a popular statistic used to measure a pitcher’s efficiency on the mound. With a 0.88 WHIP, the Seattle Mariner is performing an incredible level. If the season ended today his WHIP would be the 29th lowest ever. We’re talking Sandy Koufax, Cy Young, Greg Maddux territory. Whenever your numbers keep company with a bunch of Hall of Famers and late 1800’s pitchers, you are doing something right.
Clayton Kershaw’s ERA could be the lowest since 2005.
Not since Roger Clemens in 2005 has a starting pitcher finished a season with a sub-2.00 ERA. The two-time reigning National League ERA leader, Kershaw has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 17 of his 19 starts. His 1.89 ERA comfortably leads the NL. What’s most frightening for opposing hitters is that the 25-year-old pitcher is continuing to improve in his sixth big league season.
Chris Davis is slugging historically well.
Davis’ .712 slugging percentage matches the best years by the poster boys of the steroid era, the game’s greatest dead ball era players, and Albert Belle’s percentage the year he got suspended for corking his bat. Mixed feelings about such company aside, if the season ended now his slugging percentage would be the 27th highest of all time. Davis’ transformation from a caricature of the modern game’s big hitter/whiffer archetype into one of its most feared hitters coincided with his adoption of a batting drill Miguel Cabrera uses as well. Why isn’t every player in the game doing this drill?
Yu Darvish is striking batters out a blistering pace.
Only Randy Johnson, Kerry Wood and Pedro Martinez have struck batters out at a higher rate than Darvish is this season. His 11.8 K/9 headlines a host of pitchers with astronomic strikeout numbers. In an era that no longer sees the strikeout as massive failure, power pitchers are thriving, none more than the second-year Japanese import. At his current rate, Darvish would need to pitch 228 innings to become baseball’s first 300 K pitcher since 2002.
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