Notable Numerals: Mat Latos, Bengie Molina and More

Now that the All-Star break has come and gone, it’s time to get geared up for the 2nd half of the 2010 season. The 2nd edition of Notable Numerals touches on a few of the league’s best pitchers, a tough offensive struggle and some rare and impressive feats. I am constantly amazed by the power of statistics and the amount of information a number can tell us about a player. Enjoy!

ERA for Mat Latos in his last 4 starts. The young San Diego pitcher allowed 14 earned runs in 4 starts in April and sat with a 6.20 era and a 1-2 record, until he gradually began to turn his season around. He put together an excellent May at 4-1 with a 1.54 era and after allowing 7 earned runs in 3 starts to begin June, he has been lights out. He has allowed just 1 earned run in his last 4 starts and has compiled 28 strikeouts while allowing only 18 hits. On the season, Latos sits at 10-4 with a 2.45 era for the 1st place San Diego Padres.

The best part of the Mat Latos story however, is his apparent injury to his oblique that was caused by attempting to hold back a sneeze. A sneeze? Really? GM Jed Hoyer claims this is a real injury and isn’t part of his master plan to rest Latos and not over-extend him this season, but it’s pretty tough to believe considering Hoyer made his plans to place Latos on the DL public a few weeks ago. Apparently Hoyer learned a few tricks on how to rest pitchers down the stretch from Theo Epstein when with the Red Sox, who is the master at inning limits and other restrictions on pitchers.

Either way, Latos has the potential to be a star for the next few years and the Padres aren’t going to risk his health. His stuff is top-notch and he is under the tutelage of pitching coach Darren Ballsley who has been the Padres hitting coach for 7 seasons and has helped develop many top arms, such as Jake Peavy (2007 NL CY Young).

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Strikeouts for Mark Reynolds in 87 games this season. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ 3rd baseman has made a career out of hitting home runs and striking out, but even from him, he is striking out at a ridiculous pace. Reynolds currently is on pace to set personal records in the category of K’s per game (1.46) and percentage of at-bats that result in a K (42%). Reynolds is also on pace to have another monster home run year as he has hit 20 in 87 games, but with his horrible .215 average, it is no wonder why the D-Backs are 25th in batting average in the league and sit 6th overall in home runs. It’s also no surprise that the D-Backs are last in the NL West, 20.5 games back.

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Of the 289 occurrences of a player hitting for the cycle have had a grand slam as the home run. This weekend, catcher Bengie Molina hit for the cycle against the Boston Red Sox and became the 289th person to complete such a feat. The more impressive part of the accomplishment is that he hit a grand slam as his home run, making him only the 8th person in history to do so. As if that wasn’t enough, Molina became the 1st catcher in the history of the game to hit for the cycle with a grand slam as his home run.

The rarity of his feat may get overlooked with the unbelievably high number of pitching no-hitters and perfect games thus far in 2010. Molina’s is the 2nd cycle this season (Jody Gerut on May 8th), but certainly one of the most unlikely in the history of the game. Molina has just 6 triples in 4,672 at-bats in his career since his debut in the majors in 1998, so the likelihood of him just hitting a triple is astronomically low, forget putting it together with a single, double and grand slam in 4 at-bats on Saturday.  For years Molina has been one of the few consistent back-stops in the game, so it’s nice to see him finally get some well-deserved spotlight time.

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Teams that have less complete games than Roy Halladay in 2010. At age 33, the active leader in complete games, Roy Halladay, is on pace to shatter his previous season high. On 3 occasions (2003, 2008 and 2009) Halladay has finished with 9 complete games, but his record could be in jeopardy this season. After 20 starts, Halladay sits with 7 complete games, 3 of which were shutouts. Assuming he remains healthy, will likely start 12-14 more times this season and could easily eclipse his previous high.

Halladay has been the model of consistency in the league for years. This season, he has gone 7+ innings in 16 of his 20 starts and has struck out 131 in 154 innings. Halladay currently sits 5th in baseball in era at 2.40 and is a 10-game winner for the 7th time in his career. Being a Red Sox fan, I saw plenty of Halladay over his 12 years with the Toronto Blue Jays and all I can say is that I’m glad he’s in the NL.

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Carlos Quentin’s slugging percentage over the last 21 games. After hitting .234 with 5 home runs in April and May, Carlos Quentin has been a power machine. Quentin has hit 8 home runs in 26 games in June and has 6 already in July. His last 21 games have included 4 multi-home run games and 9 multi-hit games for the Chicago White Sox. Since May 8th, Quentin has raised his slugging percentage .163 points to an strong .517 and has been the spark-plug keeping the White Sox in 1st place, ahead of the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins who are breathing down their necks.

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Home runs allowed by Chris Carpenter in 20 starts this season. The fact that Chris Carpenter has allowed 15 home runs on the year is not incredible on its own, but when you factor in his 10-3 record and 3.16 era, it’s a wild stat. The only other 10+ win pitcher who has allowed 15 home runs is Carl Pavano of the Minnesota Twins and his era sits at 3.48. Generally pitchers who allowed lots of home runs are not the best candidates for a lot of wins and a low era, but Carpenter show’s his ability to work around big hits and the great run support the Cardinals give him.

One of the aces of the St. Louis Cardinal’s staff, Carpenter had an amazing comeback season in 2009, after pitching in just 5 games over the 2007 and 2008 seasons due to injury. He finished 17-4 with a 2.24 era in 28 starts, while allowing just 7 home runs all season. Carpenter still keeps putting up the W’s despite his high home run count and the Cardinals currently sit at 51-41. 0.5 games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds for 1st place in the NL Central.

Brian Phair – BoSox Injection – Notable Numerals

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Topics: Arizona Diamondbacks, Bengie Molina, Boston Red Sox, Carl Pavano, Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox, Chris Carpenter, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Jake Peavy, Jody Gerut, Mark Reynolds, Mat Latos, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, NL Central, NL West, Notable Numerals, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, San Diego Padres, St Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays

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