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Sunday 22nd Oct 2017

If any of you got through childhood without being called a name, it can only be assumed that you were home-schooled. Today, there’s much more focus on kids being the victims of a bully, but in my day it was more like a right of passage. When I was about ten years old (in the heyday of The Mickey Mouse Club on TV), classmates started calling me “Donald Duck” and it bugged me to such an extent that I started asking teachers and friends to call me “Billy” (which seemed like a cool name). Of course, that lasted as long as it took for my Dad to find out.

In 1984, when I started playing Rotisserie Baseball, it seemed like a good opportunity to exorcise those demons from childhood and my team became “Donald’s Ducks.” Now, after 25+ years, I wear the moniker as a badge of honor and if you’re looking for me on eBay, the ID is “Rotisserieduck.” The flip side of the equation, however, is that the longer you play Fantasy Baseball, the more apt you are to be called “Nerd”, “Geek”, "Dork" or some other non-manly noun. According to one definition, a Nerd is an “Intelligent, single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit.” All I can say to that is…guilty as charged!

So every November, with pocket-protector firmly in place, I eagerly await the arrival of the annual Bill James Handbook. It is 550 pages of statistics, statistics and more statistics to get me through until Pitchers and Catchers report. And, despite my reasonably extensive baseball knowledge, I’m always pleasantly surprised to find so many tidbits that take my ego down a notch. So here are some random observations from the first glance through this year’s book…

  • David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman were both much better defensive players than 3B NL Gold Glove winner Chase Headley
  • Mike Trout, Denard Span, Craig Gentry and Austin Jackson were all better centerfielders than AL Gold Glove winner Adam Jones
  • •Over the last three seasons, Brendan Ryan has saved his team more runs (67) on defense than any other player in the Majors
  • •In 2012, Rickie Weeks cost his team more runs (-30) on defense than any other player in the Majors
  • •Mike Trout was the best base runner in the Majors with a rating of +51 bases and Carlos Santana was the worst at -45 bases…Oye Como Va
  • Chone Figgins is the only active player to have gone from first to third on a single at least 50% of the time (52%)…Prince Fielder is last at 10%
  • Chase Utley is the only major leaguer who has scored from second on a single 75% of the time…Brian McCann is last at 32%
  • Kyle Lohse was 16-3 in 2012 but gave up more line drives (156) than any pitcher in baseball
  • Phil Hughes was 16-13 but gave up more flyballs (282) than any other pitcher
  • •The five best pitchers in throwing first-pitch strikes (0-1 counts) were Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Lohse, Justin Verlander and R.A. Dickey
  • Jake Peavy took 169 hitters to a 3-ball count and walked only 49 of them…Yu Darvish took 168 hitters to a 3-ball count, but walked 89 of them
  • Martin Prado had the most productive outs (48) of any hitter in baseball…Josh Reddick had the most unproductive outs (106)
  • Aroldis Chapman’s average fastball velocity was 97.7 MPH…Kelvin Herrera’s was 98.5
  • •Other than Adrian Gonzalez (who was traded to the NL), the highest AL Batting Average w/RISP belonged to John Jaso (.378)
  • Josh Hamilton led the AL in RBI percentage (47.69), Swing and Miss percentage (36.0) and First Swing percentage (47.0)
  • Steve Lombardozzi hit .600 with the bases loaded in 2012
  • Garrett Jones led the NL in RBI percentage (44.08)
  • Giancarlo Stanton hit the longest home run of 2012 (494 feet)
  • Joel Peralta led the Majors in Holds (37)
  • •R.A. Dickey threw 2,418 pitches that were less than 80 MPH
  • •Of all active pitchers, Joe Nathan has the lowest career Opponent Batting Average (.204)…Mariano Rivera is 2nd at .210
  • To say that this is just the tip of the iceberg would be an understatement…I haven’t even looked at the 270 pages of individual player career stats. Bring on December and January, the stat geeks are ready!

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