December 17, 2012

Getting my geek on

My mind has been racing since the news broke about the Angels signing Josh Hamilton.  I began to look at some interesting facts (mostly statistics), ask some big questions and formulate a few predictions.  You could say I decided to get my “geek” on.  The results of that process follows below.

FACT:  The Angels have six players who have hit at least 30 homeruns in a season on their current roster: Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, Vernon Wells, and Kendrys Morales.  QUESTION: How many Angels will hit 30 or more homeruns in 2013?  PREDICTION: Realistically, I can see Pujols, Hamilton, Trumbo and Trout hitting more than 30.  There’s an outside shot that Morales could join that group if he makes progress in coming back to being the player he was in 2009 when he hit 34 homers.  Vernon Wells isn’t likely to get enough playing time to sniff the possibility of that many homers. 

FACT: Chris Iannetta and Howie Kendrick have both hit 18 in a season.  QUESTION: Perhaps the question we should be asking is how many Angels could hit more than 20 homeruns in 2013?  PREDICTION:  I’ll say five (Pujols, Hamilton, Trumbo, Trout, and Morales); although there’s an outside shot that eight (add Iannetta and Kendrick) could, if Peter Bourjos isn’t traded and has a break-out season.

FACT: The statistic that measures “total bases” is somewhat misleading in that it only includes singles, doubles, triples, and homeruns.  I would have thought that walks and stolen bases would be included, but they’re not.  I started thinking about this statistic as it relates to Mike Trout, who figures to cover a lot of bases in 2013.  Trout is often compared to Rickey Henderson, and Henderson’s single season high for total bases in just 285.  Trout had 315 last season; despite missing all of April.  The other player, Trout is often compared to is Mickey Mantle, who led the league in total bases in 1956 with his career high of 376.  Only 29 players have had more than 400 for a season, with the most being 457 by Babe Ruth in 1921.  QUESTION:  Can Mike Trout lead the league in total bases and how many will he have in 2013?  PREDICTION:  As much as I’d like to believe Trout could set some records here – he’s more likely to approach the 350 mark at some point, but there are other records he could assault….

FACT:  The single season record for most runs scored is 198 by Billy Hamilton in 1866 with 198.  Babe Ruth scored 177 in 1921 and Lou Gehrig scored 167 in 1936 and 163 in 1931.  The active player with the most runs scored in a single season is Alex Rodriguez with 143 in 2007.  QUESTION:  How many runs will Mike Trout score in 2013?  PREDICTION: He scored 129 in 2013 and it’s certainly feasible that he can score more than 150 in my opinion and given the lineup that will have Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton hitting behind him, it’s conceivable that he be in the top five for runs scored in a single season (167). 

FACT:  Albert Pujols is currently tied with Stan Musial and Willie Stargell at 28th all time for homeruns with 475. QUESTION:  Where will Pujols rank by the end of the 2013 season?  PREDICTION:  If Pujols hits 35 homeruns he would move up to 24th all-time with 510; which would put him one ahead of Gary Sheffield and one behind Mel Ott.  I predict he will hit 34 (four more than in 2012) and end up typing Gary Sheffield on the all-time list.

FACT:  Mike Trout has the highest single season WAR of any active player (10.7).  QUESTION: Well, the first question those who aren’t sabermetrically inclined is going to ask is what is WAR?  Per  WAR is a single number that presents the number of wins the player added to the team above what a replacement player (think AAA or AAAA) would add. Scale for a single-season: 8+ MVP Quality, 5+ All-Star Quality, 2+ Starter, 0-2 Reserve, < 0 Replacement Level Developed by Sean Smith of  With that in mind, the bigger question is what kind of WAR can Mike Trout put up in 2013?  PREDICTION:  Your guess is as a good as mine; in fact, it’s probably better since I couldn’t tell you how this statistic is computed to save my life, but it's fun to think that Trout could set a record here.

FACT:  Ichiro Suzuki set the single season record for hits in 2004 with 262.  QUESTION:  Could Mike Trout break the record?  PREDICTION:  I’ll say that’s somewhat unlikely, but not highly unlikely.  Look, Mike Trout is going to get a lot of plate appearance if the Angels lineup turns over as often as I think it will, given the lineup and when you consider that Trout is a good hitter, he’s got a shot at making some noise here.  He could certainly eclipse Darin Erstad’s record for most hits in a season by an Angel of 240 in 2000 and given his talent, I’m not about to sell him short.

FACT: Jimmy Rolling holds the single season record for most plate appearances with 778 in 2007.  QUESTION: Could Mike Trout eclipse that record?  PREDICTION:  This is obviously something that’s not in Mike Trout’s control, but given the lineup, he could certainly set a new Angels record; which is currently held by Darin Erstad with 747, which ranks 39th all time.

One of the more intriguing statistics to me (especially since the Angels have Mike Trout) is the statistic that measures power and speed.  The definition: Power/Speed Number 2 x (Home Runs x Stolen Bases)/(Stolen Bases + Home Runs) The harmonic mean of HR and SB. To do well you need a lot of both. Developed by Bill James.

FACT: Alex Rodriguez has the highest score in this category at 43.91.  Mike Trout’s 2012 performance ranks 25th with 37.22 and is the best among any Angels all-time.  It’s also the highest score for 2012.  The list is peppered with guys who have gone 30/30 or better (30+ homeruns and 30 or more stolen bases) Rickey Henderson ranks 4th all-time with a 42.36 and since Trout is often compared to him, I’ll ask the QUESTION:  What will Mike Trout do in 2013?  PREDICTION: If Trout hits 30 homeruns again and steals 60 bases, his score would be 40.  I don’t think that’s unreasonable and there’s a good chance he could do better than that.  A score of 40 would put him 10th all-time.  A-Rod’s score was based on a season where he hit 42 homeruns and stole 46 bases.  Forty homeruns might be within Trout’s reach; however, I’m betting that it’s more likely that his stolen base numbers go up instead.

One of the lists a player doesn’t want to be on is the list of number of times they grounded into a double-play (GIDP).  FACT: Jim Rice holds the record at 36 times and he did that in 1984.  Albert Pujols is tied for 17th on this list with 29 GIDP in 2011.  Howie Kendrick did this an alarming 26 times in 2012 – which tied him for second place last year with Michael Young.  Interestingly, the AL MVP, Miguel Cabrera led the league with 28.  QUESTION:  Are any Angels candidates for this dubious distinction in 2013?  PREDICTION:  Let’s hope not; in fact, let’s predict that no Angel will make the top 5 in 2013.  *Gulp.*

In anticipation of the ball flying out of the ball-park whenever the Angels are on offense in 2013, I thought it would be interesting to see who has led the league in homeruns per at-bats.   FACT: Last year, Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins lead the majors with a homerun every 12.14 at-bats.  Josh Hamilton was third with a dinger every 13.07 at-bats.  Albert Pujols finished second in this category in 2010 and 2009.  In fact he’s been in the top ten, six out of the last nine years.  The single season record holder is Barry Bonds who homered an astonishing once in every 6.52 at-bats.  QUESTION: Will an Angel lead the league in this category in 2013?  PREDICTION:  Given that half the games are played in Anaheim where the ball doesn’t travel particularly well at night, I’d say that’s not likely.  Consider this – Jim Edmonds made the top ten list three times after leaving Anaheim and going to St. Louis.  Troy Glaus is the one recent Angel to make the list and he did that in 2000 with a homerun every 11.98 at-bats.   Note: Albert Pujols is 9th all-time with a homerun every 14.57 at-bats in his career and Troy Glaus is 48th all-time with a round-tripper every 16.91 at-bats.

We could do this all day and given the projected line-up for the 2013 Angels, we might find some areas where the Angels could indeed have a record breaking season.  I guess we'll see, won't we?

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