Each week, Big League Stew stat doctor Alex Remington will bring you a few baseball numbers you need to know.
The run differential ranking of the AL West-leading Texas Rangers. Through 56 games, they've scored only 14 more runs than they've given up, by far the worst total of any division leader, and trailing four teams in the AL East, four teams in the NL East, three teams in the NL West, two teams in the NL Central, and one team in the AL Central. Similarly, their .536 winning percentage is 13th among all major-league teams, and far worse than any other division leader. But because the AL West is the weakest division in baseball, the Rangers' meager numbers are enough for them to hold onto a tender half-game lead.
The number of nine-game streaks the Atlanta Braves have been on this season — a nine-game losing streak from April 21 to April 29 and a nine-game winning streak from May 26 to June 3. The string of victories is tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the longest winning streak of the season, while and they qualify for the second-longest losing streak of the season, as both the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks have lost 10 straight. But of all of those teams, the Braves are the only one in first place. It has been quite a year of remarkable highs and lows in Atlanta thus far.
The Tampa Bay Rays' record on the road, best in the majors by a healthy margin. (Second-best is the remarkable Toronto Blue Jays, who are 16-11 on the road and are tied with the Boston Red Sox for third in the toughest division in the world.) On the flip side, the Rays are just 15-12 at home, a mark lowlighted by a home sweep by the Red Sox in late May — the only time the Rays have been swept all year. The Rays will probably improve at home soon, though. From 2008-2009, they were 109-53 at Tropicana Field, one of the best home marks in the majors. If they start winning more frequently at home and continue their dominance on the road, they could easily go wire to wire.
The major-league leading GIDP total of the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins, the team that plays like Robert Duvall's character in A Family Thing: "I was small, but I made up for it by being slow." They have a fairly commanding lead on GIDP right now, but tied for second with 60 are the last-place Baltimore Orioles and fourth-place Kansas City Royals. Maybe they should just rename themselves the Minnesota Twin Killings.
The St. Louis Cardinals' major-league leading ERA. Obviously, Albert Pujols(notes) is the most dangerous Cardinal, but the Cardinals' pitching staff has collectively been far more potent than the Redbirds' offense. Chris Carpenter(notes) and Adam Wainwright(notes) finished 2-3 in the Cy Young voting last year, and they've picked up where they left off; amazingly, rookie Jaime Garcia(notes) and 32-year old Brad Penny(notes) have been just as good. Penny is currently injured, as he was for much of 2008, but Cardinals fans shouldn't worry. He's a Brad Penny — he always turns back up.
The opposing hitters' OPS for Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers. Right now, batters are hitting .284/.348/.485 against the D-Backs — another way of saying that is that the Diamondbacks' beleaguered pitching staff turns the average hitter into Yogi Berra. (Yogi hit .285/.348/.482 for his career.) They can score a lot of runs in the desert, but they can't seem to do anything to keep them off the board. It's no surprise that they're leading the majors in runs allowed. And no wonder that Diamondbacks fans are watching Brandon Webb's(notes) every move with bated breath.
The number of days that Mike Leake(notes) spent in the minor leagues. Considering his 5-0 start, 2.22 ERA, and more or less acknowledged status as the staff ace given Johnny Cueto's(notes) struggles, he may be the single reason that the surprising Reds are currently sharing control of the NL Central with the Cards. If he can just stay healthy, he also has a good chance to be one of the best players ever to skip the minor leagues and go straight to the majors: Darren Dreifort shouldn't be too hard to top, nor should Xavier Nady(notes) and Pete Incaviglia. Bob Horner had a couple great seasons at the start of his career but was out of the majors by the time he was 30, so if Leake can remain a solid pitcher for another decade, he may be able to overtake Horner, too.