I stumbled upon MLBNetwork's League Leaders, and I have to say, it was quite an eye opener. I won't get into the merits of the various statistics, because that's a whole other post, but for those of you that like this stuff, here are some of the more interesting tidbits from last night's show. (All stats are as of Monday morning.)
* When will Kevin Youkilis start to get recognition as the amazing player he is? He was in the top five in a lot of offensive categories, including runs scored (most in the league), OPS, and OPS+ (first in the league). I think most Sox fans see Youk as a great asset, but most of us don't see him as in the same category as a Mark Teixeira, Josh Hamilton, or Evan Longoria. He is on par with those players, and ahead of many of them in important ways. Let's show Youk some LOVE!
* Old friend Justin Masterson is tops in the league with 173 ground ball outs. We saw that firsthand in Cleveland last week, but I don't begrudge Masty some success. Baseball's never seen a nicer guy.
* The Red Sox are third in MLB against lefthanded pitching, and first in the American League. They also come in first in arguably the most important offensive category: runs scored. Unfortunately, the Yankees and Rays are second and third, so this catfight for the division isn't going to end any time soon.
* Joe West may have had a point way back after Opening Day.. Not about the Sox and Yankees being a "disgrace to the game," but that their games are just a bit lengthy. The Red Sox have the longest average game times of any team in baseball, with 3:07, and the Yanks come in at just a minute shorter with 3:06. It's not mistake that two of the best teams take the longest to play, however, and someone should inform West.
* To go along with length, David Oritz is tops in pitches seen per plate appearance, making the pitcher toss an average of 4.53 pitches every time he steps to the dish. Similarly, Dustin Pedroia has seen more pitches in 2010 than any other player, with 1409, more than 20 more pitches than his next closest competitor. Of course, seeing a lot of pitches is part of making every at-bat a battle, and wearing down starters quickly in order to get to the inferior pitching in the bullpen.
* For all the clutch hitting woes experienced by the Red Sox early in the season, they've obviously bounced back, led by third baseman Adrian Belte. Beltre leads the league in batting average with runners in scoring position, batting .392 in such situations.
* I know we were all freaking out about holding baserunners on, but in the American League, a high success rate for opposing teams corresponds with a good record, and vice versa. The two teams who are best at controlling the running game are Toronto and Oakland, in fourth and third place, respectively. The three teams who let opponents run wild on the basepaths are all fighting for first, in the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels (in that order).
* As for that heralded "run prevention" thing? Marco Scutaro is tied for first in most outs recorded, with 221, while Captain Intangibles himself, Derek Jeter, must content himself with second place. Maybe those unnecessary pirouettes make him sleep better at night.
Yes, I know statistics aren't everything. They are, however, an important part in the evaluative process. I know I can't get enough information about my team, and I know some of you are the same way. I can highly recommend MLBNetwork's League Leaders if this stuff interests you: Monday nights at 10PM... You can bet I'll be watching!