Three weeks may be
too soon into the season to define a trend, but not to hatch conspiracy
theories. People are buzzing about a noticeable explosion of offense. Through
Sunday, home runs were up 8% and runs 7% from last year's full-season figures.
Surprising names such as the Tigers' Chris Shelton and the Devil Rays' Ty
Wigginton (right) were atop the homer leader boards, and the 2.44 homers per
game this year exceeds the record rate set in 2001 (2.25), the height of the
wants to talk about the hitters being juiced," Astros first baseman Lance
Berkman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week. "Nobody really thinks
about the pitchers [stopping steroid use]." Another theory, which surfaces
whenever offense increases, is that the ball is livelier. One of those
theorists, an AL manager, says that fly balls are carrying farther and even
pop-ups are going higher. Muses one AL executive, "You don't think [ MLB]
would juice the ball so the Steroid Era numbers don't look so [anomalous]?"
The sample size is too small to draw any definitive conclusions--except, sadly,
that there are a lot of cynics out there.
FIVE OF A KIND
Last week Pedro
Martinez (201--84) became the 106th pitcher to win 200 games. Next are Curt
Schilling (196--131) and Kenny Rogers (193--131), who have nearly identical
won-lost records. However, Rogers (left) has never won 20 games (Schilling has
done so three times), and his 4.21 ERA (Schilling's is 3.40) would put him in
the company of Earl Whitehill (4.36), Jamie Moyer (4.16), David Wells (4.06)
and George Uhle (4.00) as the only 200-game winners with ERAs of 4.00 or
?Credit Red Sox
manager Terry Francona for refusing to be a slave to convention: He brought his
closer, Jonathan Papelbon, into a tie game on the road last Friday. Boston lost
to the Blue Jays in 12 innings, but Francona made the right move by getting his
best relief arm into the game in the eighth inning rather than saving him for a
lead that never came.
?How much better
is the AL than the NL? One AL team ran a statistical analysis that put the
difference at 10 wins, meaning a .500 team in the AL would win 91 games in the
?Here's one rival
G.M.'s early observation on Barry Bonds (right), who was homerless in 30 at
bats before hitting his first of the year, in Colorado last Saturday:
"There's a lack of fluidity to his swing. The two quickest bats of this era
have been [Gary] Sheffield and Bonds. I don't see that. I don't see that
explosion and the swiftness through the zone. He's a little stiff, mechanical,
from the waist down because of the knee."
by Baseball Prospectus