“As announcers, we use the word unbelievable far too often. This is unbelievable.”–John Sterling, November 1, 2001
Yep, another early morning, another classic game. What I found
unbelievable about that game was that a fan had a sign with the words
“Mr. November” at that game…which didn’t reach midnight until the
tenth inning. Premonition that it would go late?
Nothing last night was truly unbelievable, just highly unlikely. For
example, two 13-1 scores, neither of which were the biggest blowout of
the night (that would be the Cubs’ 19-5 pasting of the Brewers). The
Dodgers pounded the Marlins for that score, and the Pirates crushed the
Mets. In slightly closer affairs, the Diamondbacks closed out April
with their 20th win of the season, beating Houston 8-7, while the Red
Sox (for the second night in a row) and the Nationals walked off with
wins, the latter in 12 innings. 1-run games appear to be somewhat of a
trend this year. The average number of games played to date is 27.8
(BOS, NYY, LAA, OAK, STL, HOU, CIN, SF 29; CWS and NYM 26; other 20
teams evenly split between 27 and 28). In these approximately 27.8
games, the average team has played 8.4 one-run games. In addition, only
Kansas City (3-2 in 1-run games) and Detroit (1-3) have fewer than six
1-run games. In the National League, 74 of the 222 games played thus
far (remember to divide by two when counting the total number of games
played, because each game has two teams). That is precisely one out of
every three games! The worst record in one-run games belongs to
Atlanta, 0-9. Baltimore and Boston have the best such records, 7-2 thus
far. The team with the most 1-run games to date is San Francisco, with
7 wins and 6 losses. I predicted at the beginning of the year that
there would be a number of save opportunities for NL West closers. Sure
enough, while every other division has at least one team with just six
one-run games (or fewer, in the case of the AL Central), no NL West
team has played fewer than eight, and it hosts the only two teams that
exceed ten! (Colorado is 4-7.)
Now, I don’t know if the official monthly awards have been given out yet, but it’s time to name my Monthly award winners for April.
AL Rookie of the Month: A number of promising candidates, as Evan
Longoria has been a revelation for the Rays and Carlos Gomez of the
Twins and Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox are 1-2 in the AL in steals.
However, with a league-leading 11 doubles and an OPS north of .800, my
pick is David Murphy of the Texas Rangers. (I was a little
unsure about this, having heard somewhere that he was a rookie but
having gotten the feeling that he ought to have used up his eligibility
already, so I checked. Combined between Boston in ’06 and ’07 and Texas
at the end of ’07, he had 127 at-bats, just few enough to still be
considered a rookie. Wait, shouldn’t it be based on plate appearances?
NL Rookie of the Month: I’ve previously expressed that I’m a big fan of
Johnny Cueto, but while still good (only his first bad outing on
Tuesday) he hasn’t quite held up to the blazing start he got off to,
and since he is technically eligible and has re-energized the Cubs and their fan base (read this week’s article in Sports Illustrated), I’m going with Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.
AL Pitcher of the Month: An easy choice here: Cleveland Indians starter Cliff Lee.
Last night, he gave up three earned runs in six innings, which were it
his first appearance of the year, would make his ERA 4.50. It wasn’t,
and his ERA is 0.96. Um, whoa. 5-0 record also good.
NL Pitcher of the Month: Another easy pick, as only one starter is 6-0: the always dominant Brandon Webb
of the Arizona Diamondbacks. B-Webb’s 1.98 ERA is sixth-best in the
majors, trailing the aforementioned Lee, Edinson Volquez of Cincinnati,
KC’s Zack Greinke, Ben Sheets of the Brewers and San Francisco’s Tim
AL Player of the Month: How does a team get two of the three awards for
the first month of the year and end up with the worst record?
Outfielder Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers is the pick here,
with 32 RBIs (at least 10 RBIs more than all but one other American
Leaguer, Emil Brown of the Oakland Athletics, who has 25), 6 HRs
(behind only Joe Crede and Carlos Quentin of the White Sox, who have
seven apiece) and a .330 average (fourth in the league, trailing Victor
Martinez, Casey Kotchman and Manny Ramirez). So, what’s wrong with
Texas? Oh, right, the same thing that’s always wrong with Texas:
pitching. They became the last team to hit double-digits in victories
with their tenth last night, an 11-9 slugfest.
NL Player of the Month: At first, I was going to give it to Chipper
Jones, who is not only leading the league with a cosmic .410 batting
average, but also is second in home runs with 8. Then I took another
look at the league leader in that category. Chase Utley of the
Philadelphia Phillies has a league-leading 11 home runs, 85 total bases
and .766 slugging percentage, and his 10 doubles are second only to
Nate McClouth’s twelve. In addition, despite the 50-point difference in
their batting averages, Chipper only has one hit more than Utley–the
difference is that Chipper missed a few games and therefore has 11
fewer at-bats. I definitely like my new choice better. If Utley stays
healthy this year, the Phillies could have three different players win
the MVP in three consecutive years.