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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
The seven no-hitters for 2012 tied the record for most no-hitters in a season set first in 1990 and then repeated in 1991. Three of the no-hitters in 2012 were perfect games. In 2010, five pitchers tossed no-hitters. This was the first year since 1991 to have at least three no-hitters.  Sabermetricians are asking the following questions: Is there any reason for the sudden surge in no-hitters? Can we expect a repeat performance in 2013 just like 1991 repeated the performance of 1990? Here is the timeline for the 2012 no-hitters.
 
Philip Humber, a starting pitcher for the White Sox, threw the 21st perfect game in Major League history on April 21, 2012 against the Mariners. 
Jered Weaver, pitching for the Angels, threw a no-hitter against the Twins on May, 2, 2012. He came within several inches of losing his no-hitter in the top of the fifth inning when the Twins batter Chris Parmelee lined a ball down the third base line that was barely foul.
Johan Santana, coming back from surgery on his shoulder, pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history against the Cardinals on June 1, 2012. It took Johan 134 pitches to complete the game. , Santana's no-no would have been lost thanks to a Carlos Beltran (the former Met) potential double down the left field line. Instead, despite the liner landing on the chalk line past third base, the drive was ruled foul preserving Johan’s no-no. Considering his 18-month rehab program, the question asked was: Did this 134 pitch outing cause Johan to wind up on the DL ending his season prematurely? What would you have done if you were the manager?
Six Mariner pitchers combined to hurl a no-hitter against the Dodgers on June 8. Kevin Millwood pitched the first six innings and then left the game with a groin injury. Five relievers finished the no-no. Millwood already pitched a no-hitter when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003.  
Matt Cain of the Giants hurled a perfect game against the Astros on June 13, 2012. In hurling his perfect game he struck out 14 Astros. The 14 punch-outs tied Sandy Koufax's 47-year-old standard of most strikeouts in a perfect game. His perfect game was saved by Gregor Blanco’s tremendous catch. This became the 22nd perfect game in Major League history.
Felix Hernandez of the Mariners pitched the third perfect game of the season against the Rays on August 15, 23rd overall in MLB history.
Homer Bailey of the Reds hurled the seventh no-hitter of the season against the Pirates on September 28.
Other notable pitching performances not involving a no-hitter were:
Jamie Moyer, in defeating the Rockies on April 17, 2012, became the oldest player in Major League history to record a win. On April 17 Moyer was 49 years and 150 days old.
Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox pitched a perfect inning against the Orioles by striking out the side on just nine pitches. It was the 47th perfect inning in MLB history.  
R.A. Dickey had the greatest season of any knuckleball pitcher in the history of baseball. His knuckleball was different from all other past knuckleball pitchers because of its velocity and his ability to control it. In spite of the awful season by the Mets, R.A. finished with a 20-6 record and an ERA of 2.73. He led the league with 230 strikeouts. Yes, he won the NL CY Young Award for 2012. R.A. was the first pitcher in MLB history to win a Cy Young having a knuckleball as his primary pitch.

 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Every year baseball records are tied or broken that have held up for decades. Also, players who have never been considered great hitters raise their skill level to accomplish unexpected hitting feats. The rest of this posting looks back at some of these hitting milestones for 2012. One of the problems with writing my book is that baseball records continually change. Please refer to Chapter 16 in my book for different record batting streaks. Here are the 2012 positional players and their outstanding batting feats.

Paul Konerko powered his 400 career home run, becoming just the 48 major leaguer to accomplish this feat. Josh Hamilton had four home runs and 18 total bases in one game. He became the 16th major leaguer to hit four-home runs a one game. His 18 total bases tied the AL record for total bases in one game. The Major League record is 19 total bases held by Shawn Greene. Aaron Hill hit for the cycle twice in one year. He became the first player to hit for the cycle twice in the same season in 81 years. His bi-cycle occurred within 12 days. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, two highly-touted rookies, were called up to their respective teams on April 28, 2012. The Washington Nationals called up 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper to make his major league debut and the Los Angeles Angels recalled 20-year-old center fielder Mike Trout to make his 2012 debut. Harper hit 22 home runs, becoming just the second teenager in MLB history to collect over 20 home runs before his 20th birthday. Tony Conigliaro hit 24 before he turned 20. Trout had a sensational rookie season finishing second in the AL MVP balloting. Trout hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs. He also led the majors with 129 runs and 49 steals. Nelson Cruz had his second 8-RBI night of his career in 2012. His first 8-RBI game occurred in 2011. The record is 12 RBIs in one game last accomplished by Mark Whiten in 1993. Alex Rodriguez tied Lou Gehrig’s 23 career grand slam record. Buster Posey’s second half numbers were off the charts. He batted .385 with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs. Posey would capture the National League batting title with a .336 average leading his Giants to a second World Series title in three seasons. He was voted the NL MVP. Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown by batting .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI to lead in all three categories. The last two players to accomplish the Triple Crown were Carl Yastrzmski in 1967 and Frank Robinson in 1966. Marco Scutaro raised his skill level in the NLCS by batting over .500 and collecting 14 hits during the series. The 14 hits tied the LCS record for most hits in a post-season series. Previously this record was held jointly by Kevin Youkilis (2007), Hideki Matsui (2004), and Albert Pujols (2004). Scutaro also had six multi-hit games, including three hits and a walk in the seventh and deciding game. Pablo Sandoval put on a Ruthian power display In Game 1 of the 2012 World Series. Sandoval hit home runs in his first three at-bats in game1, becoming just the fourth player in major league history to hit three homers in a World Series game. Prior to Sandoval this feat was accomplished only by Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols. Sandoval would end the series with a .500 average and would capture the World Series MVP award as well. Please comment on any player you feel should be cited.

Baseball’s family just lost a great player and true gentleman with the passing of Stan Musial on January 19, 2013. In chapter 18 of my book I compiled a list of the top 10 hitters of all-time. Stan ranked 9 on my list. Bill James ranked Stan 5 with his Black Ink Test and 3 with his Gray Ink Test. Stan “The Stats Man” sadly says goodbye to Stan “The Man” Musial.  


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
Just after the New Year my wife and I had dinner with two couples in Naples, Florida. One couple was Jack and Maryann Dolan. Jack Dolan spent a couple of years as an Associate Producer at ABC-TV sports (1963-65) working under the tutelage of Roone Arledge and with such well-known broadcasters as Jim McKay, Curt Gowdy, Jack Buck, Chris Schinkel, et. al. Naturally, I asked Jack for some baseball stories that would interest my readers. The first story he told me was about going to his first baseball game with his parents. This got me thinking about my first baseball game with my father. I am sure every baseball fan remembers their first baseball game with their parents. Like you, I remember clearly what happened at my first baseball game.
 
Jack Dolan’s story about his first baseball game in his own words goes as follows: “My First MLB Game: Circa summer of 1944 or '45, my parents took me (as a 6 or 7-year old) to my first MLB game at the Polo Grounds (Giants vs. Pirates). My favorite # was 4 and as luck would have it that was worn by Giant RF/Player Mgr. and Hall-of-Famer Mel Ott. My Dad took me down to the railing during pre-game batting practice and (in an era when player/fan fraternizing was allowed and common) shouted for Ott to come over and give me an autograph. He kindly obliged and my Dad asked him to hit a HR for me in the game. About mid-game I found it necessary to go to the bathroom where my mother took me. While taking care of duty in the lav, I heard a loud roar of the crowd outside. Upon returning to our seats, my Dad excitedly told me that Mel had indeed hit a HR for me which I unfortunately never saw. It was still a great memory and put me on the path to a life-long love of the game!”
 
Unfortunately, my story is not as happy as Jack’s story. My father knew very little about baseball and definitely was not a fan. I guess my mother nagged him into taking me to a Yankee game. I was probably close to six years old. It was very hot and humid that day. I asked my father to get me a drink. My father saw a vendor in the next aisle and bought a beverage which was passed across the aisle hand by hand. He then sent his money, hand by hand across the aisle, back to the vendor. It was all the money he had left after buying the tickets. When the drink arrived, to my father’s surprise it turned out to be a glass of beer. My father had thought he was buying a soda. My father’s dilemma was he had no more money and a screaming child demanding a drink. He had no choice but to offer me the beer. I sipped it and it was awful. I probably cried from that point on forcing my father to make an early exit from the game. All I remember about the game was how thirsty I was. Being a parent and grandparent now, I can understand how bad my father must have felt.
 
Now that you read about both of our first baseball games, it is now your turn to tell me about your first baseball game.  Please comment in my blog or send me an email at stan@sandlotstats.com

 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
On New Year’s Day, my wife Tara and I traveled to Sarasota, Florida, to see our good friends, a retired professor and his wife. Vinny had been a colleague of mine at Quinnipiac University for 35 years. My friend greeted me and said we were all invited to a renowned artist’s house. The artist’s name is John-Norman Tuck. After shaking hands with John-Norman, he immediately started talking about my book Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball. It turns out this prominent artist is a huge baseball fan. He then escorted me to another part of the house and just wanted to talk about such things as the Hot Stove League and what I thought about how free agency was going and my thoughts on many of the recent trades and new Ray players. I will talk a little later about the Hot Stove League. As I strolled through his house, I was most impressed with his unique artwork. He told me he has a website http://john-normantuck.com/  that shows many of his art pieces.
 
The discussion returned to baseball. John’s favorite teams in order were the Rays (of course), the Tigers, the Dodgers, and the Giants. These teams became his favorite teams because he lived in their cities for a period of time. He then told me his boyhood idol was Al Kaline, who played for the Detroit Tigers. As a youngster, he adored and idolized Al Kaline. Many years later at a Rays spring training game he spotted Al Kaline. He would finally meet his boyhood idol. He walked up to his hero and told him how much he adored him as a teenager. Unfortunately, the bubble burst. His hero just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. We all have at one time felt the way John-Norman felt at that moment.
 
As we walked back to our wives and friends, John-Norman asked me to be his baseball buddy. He then proposed a contest between the two of us. On April 1, 2013, we would each pick the teams to finish 1 to 5 in each of the six divisions. Last year he told me he picked the Tigers to win the World Series. Yes, he was very close!!! I accepted his challenge. A posting of our choices will appear on April 1, 2013.
 
I mentioned the term Hot Stove League above. The Hot Stove League refers to the 15 week period from the end of the baseball season to the beginning of spring training. The Hot Stove League is not a league but is a term representing all signings and trades negotiated by teams during this period of time. At the half-way point of the Hot Stove League, ESPN conducted a survey to see which teams are most and least improved for the next season. The survey revealed the five most improved are the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Royals, Angels, and Dodgers. Just edged out were the Reds and Nationals. The five least improved for next season include the Marlins, Astros, Rangers, Orioles, and Mets. Just edged out of this dubious honor were the Rockies, Brewers, Mariners, and believe it or not the YANKEES.  For the fans of those teams who have not done very much things can change before spring training. Later postings will follow the future results of the Hot Stove League.
 
As we enter 2013 and all teams start with a 0-0 record, I would like to look back at the fabulous hitting and pitching feats of 2012. The next two postings will address this.
 

 

 

 
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