Craziest stats of the week: The Mad-Max cometh

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Mo Castillo
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Starting pitcher Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals
This guy is pretty nuts. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Have you ever been watching a baseball game, and suddenly someone in the broadcast booth will make mention of a random statistic or milestone that leaves you saying, “What?!” or “Is that real?” In a sport which relies so much on quantifiable, tangible numbers and (in recent years) advanced analytics, crazy stats appear more often than not.

Keeping track of these stats is not only helpful for your overall knowledge and acumen, but they can also assist in fantasy, especially when it comes to playing matchups and making (or not making) potential waiver wire pickups.

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With that said, let’s run down some of the wildest stats of the week.

Note: All stats derived before Sunday night’s Atlanta-Mets game

Max Scherzer: The man broke his nose

So we know Max Scherzer is really, really good. He’s the cream of the fantasy-pitcher crop. He’s having another excellent season this year. He’s probably the frontrunner for NL Cy Young. Yet, on June 18, in a freak batting practice accident, Scherzer was nailed square in the face after laying down a failed bunt. Fantasy gamers rostering their beloved Scherzer suffered a scare when it was discovered that he broke his nose. Would he miss his start the next day? Would he need substantial time to heal, maybe even an IL stint?

Nope. Not Mad Max. Sporting a cringeworthy but also supremely badass bruised face, Scherzer not only pitched the very next day — he dominated: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 10 K, 0 ER. One can only imagine the pain in his face, yet he pushed through, and this past week Scherzer delivered two more unreal performances.

On June 25 against Miami, Scherzer went eight innings, allowed just one earned run and struck out 10. He became the first pitcher in Expos/Nationals history to win and strike out at least nine batters in five consecutive starts (H/T: @JonHeyman). Then, because why not, Scherzer got it done again on Sunday, silencing the Tigers (his former team) to the tune of 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, and a whopping 14 strikeouts, so make that six consecutive starts. He also became the ninth pitcher in MLB history with at least 10 starts in which he’s struck out 14 or more hitters (H/T: @MLBRandomStats).

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I know it seems like I’m going on and on about Scherzer, so let me just end with a quote from Fred Zinkie regarding the Nationals ace: “... Even when his luck evens out, he will still be outstanding. In fact, I consider him the No. 1 fantasy starter from this point forward.

Ketel Marte is here

We are witnessing a breakout here with the 25-year-old D-backs infielder. For the season Marte is hitting a sweet .309/.357/.571 with a .928 OPS. He will be an All-Star for the first time in his career, starting at second base for the National League. It’s been a great year for Marte and an even better week:

  • On June 26, Marte had a seven-straight multi-hit-game streak end, tying Luis Gonzalez for the all-time D-backs record (H/T: @MLBStats).

  • Marte was batting a preposterous .649 during a 10-game hitting streak that ended on June 28. He had four games with 3+ hits during that span.

  • He has 20 homers, 51 RBI, and 55 runs scored this year.

For a guy who was drafted on average with the 249th pick in Yahoo leagues, that’s a pretty good first half.

Fernando Tatis Jr. joins history (at 20 years old)

Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of the prime examples of the exciting young potential the San Diego Padres possess. The highly touted prospect has only played 48 MLB games, but to say he’s made an impact has been an understatement. This week alone, the kid stole three bases and hit three homers. He became only the second rookie shortstop in the history of MLB to hit 10 home runs and steal 10 bases in the first half of the season (Nomar Garciaparra did it first in 1997 — H/T: @MLBStats). Tatis Jr. is making a statement as a potential perennial 20-20 threat, so one can expect his 2019 ADP of 213 to skyrocket next season.

Did anyone see DJ LeMahieu coming?

If you somehow did, then take a bow. Remember when people used to say that LeMahieu couldn’t hit outside of Coors Field? That the Yankees were settling on him since they weren’t willing to pay for Manny Machado? Those takes aren’t looking too hot right now.

Forget the big names in the Yankee lineup. Forget all the home runs. The case can be made that not only is LeMahieu the Yankees MVP so far this season, but he is also one of the few legitimate threats to an AL MVP award that seems destined for Mike Trout this season. Crazy? Well, let’s look at what LeMahieu has been up to the past couple of days:

  • Before Sunday’s game, LeMahieu hit .607 with 13 RBI in his last seven games.

  • Before Sunday’s game, he hit .446 in his last 15 games with 18 RBI.

  • He’s currently on a 14-game hitting streak and a six-game multi-hit streak.

  • For the season, he’s slashing .345/.392/.534 with a .925 OPS.

  • His batting average has been under .300 just four times this season.

LeMahieu has been a driving force behind a successful Yankees team that at one point looked more like an IL-chart than a roster.

The Baltimore Orioles did something really significant (in a good way)

The Baltimore Orioles are ... not good. They are last in the American League East, a whopping 30.5 games back from the Yankees. They have the worst record in baseball. They are in the bottom six of most team-batting stats, and dead-last in pitching. Outside of guys like Trey Mancini and Hanser Alberto, this team isn’t exactly a fantasy bounty either.

Yet, this past week, they did something pretty incredible — something worth noting. The Orioles became the first team in history to post back-to-back shutout victories while also scoring 13+ runs in both games (13-0 vs. Cleveland on both June 28 and June 29). The Orioles then went and lost, 2-0, on Sunday, but that two-game spurt goes to show you that anything can happen in baseball, in both fantasy and reality.

The quiet production of Kevin Newman

We’ve talked about perennial greats like Max Scherzer. We’ve talked about upstarts like Ketel Marte and DJ LeMahieu. Now let’s talk about a 25-year-old rookie who only has 86 major league games under his belt. A player who nearly was the odd man out in a Pirates team trying to give time to its more touted prospects and youngsters. A man who is rostered in just 34% of Yahoo leagues. A man who received the Scott Pianowski stamp of approval this week.

That man is Kevin Newman.

As fantasy gamers, we don’t care where the production is coming from — we just want the numbers. Well, Newman has been putting up some solid ones of late, especially in batting average. For the season, Newman is slashing .327/.372/.482 with a .855 OPS. He’s not gonna wow you with power or speed, but his BB% (6.6) and his K% (13.2) before Sunday’s 0-for-4 performance are playable in any league.

Newman just wrapped up a 19-game hitting streak, which qualified as the longest by a Pirates rookie since 1900. Batting leadoff ahead of the likes of Starling Marte and Josh Bell, fantasy gamers could do way worse at shortstop than Newman.

Which other crazy stats stuck out to you this week?

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