The latter half of the MLB season is sure to provide us with some exciting action as we close in on the postseason.
All eyes figure to be on who gets moved at the trade deadline, potentially thrilling MVP and playoff chases and the inevitable shattering of the league’s total home run record. The Twins, Mariners and Brewers also have an opportunity to beat the single-season homer mark by a team, which was set by the Yankees only last year.
Along the way, Stats Perform will be sharing a sample of our unique insights designed to help create new storylines during sports’ biggest moments. STATS Insights leverages nearly 40 years of research experience coupled with advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide detailed sports information before, during and after the world’s largest sporting events.
Here are some of this week’s top storylines generated by STATS Insights:
Shohei Ohtani of the @Angels has now played 162 games as a batter, the equivalent of a full season.
Ohtani is the first player in AL history with 35+ home runs and 15+ stolen bases in his first 162 batting games.#TheHaloWay
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) July 17, 2019
In our Insights Weekly post, we like to put some historical context behind what we find. In this case, there is not much to add. Twenty-seven years and 364 days before July 12, it took the Baltimore Orioles four pitchers to no-hit the Oakland A’s. Skaggs was also born in Woodland Hills, roughly 364 miles south of the Oakland Coliseum.
For the first time since the passing of their teammate, the Angels returned to Anaheim, each one of them donning the number 45 in Skaggs’ honor. It was an emotional night, beginning with the first pitch – thrown by his mother – and ending with all of the Angels placing their jerseys on the mound. In the middle, Taylor Cole and Felix Pena combined to throw the nine hitless innings.
Sometimes it is difficult to comprehend the beauty of sports. They have a way of dumbfounding us through magical moments that just cannot be replicated. We’re proud to have been able to help people appreciate the magnitude and beauty of this no-hitter in a new way through STATS Insights.
The storyline was quickly picked up, spread and written about by players and many media outlets, including ESPN, the Los Angeles Times and MLB.com. This exposure allowed this special moment to be shared with a widespread sports audience, beyond those who watched and followed the game.
The Twins are one of the teams chasing the single-season home run record, and they are doing so with a team that only had one All-Star starter. Minnesota’s dominating performance has been propelled by its “everybody eats” mentality.
Kepler is just another name on a list of players helping the Twins take the AL Central by storm. The 26-year-old outfielder had gone 4 for 4 with three home runs – all off Bauer – in a 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians on June 6 before taking him deep in each of the first two innings on July 13. Here is one of those homers:
Using STATS PASS, we can easily find that Kepler is now batting .351 with five homers in 37 career at-bats versus Bauer. He has a higher batting average against Bauer than any other match-up in which he has at least 15 at-bats.
We certainly expect Kepler to be in the lineup the next time the Twins face Bauer.
Ohtani has not disappointed since arriving last year, at least offensively. While he won’t be able to pitch for a while due to injury, Ohtani’s career OPS+ (value of OPS above league average) is 146.5, meaning he is hitting 46.5 percent better than the average batter. For reference, 2018 NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr. has a career OPS+ of 132.3, leaving him far behind the 2018 AL ROY Ohtani.
Nineteen other AL players have had 35 or more homers and 355 others have had 15 or more steals over their first 162 games, but never before has one achieved both. Three players, however, have done this in the NL (Acuna Jr., Ryan Braun and Adam Dunn).
We will be back next week to highlight more storylines from STATS Insights.