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In Search of Obscure Statistics: Stathead supplies infinite potential for Rockies research

Patrick Lyons Avatar
February 25, 2022

As much as some curmudgeonly folks like to point at analytics as ruining the modern game of baseball, there a countless other reasons why the rise of statistics in the public domain have actually made the sport all the more palatable.

For all the flaws of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), it helps give context to what we think our eyes see. Rather, it tells what our eyes cannot see.

Voters for the 2000 National League MVP Award saw Todd Helton as the fifth-best player despite the fact those more sabermetrically inclined to point him being the best when viewing WAR, according to both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.

One of the greatest modern tools researching such statistics either for personal research, winning a bar bet or learning an entirely innocuous fun fact for social media is a feature on the aforementioned Baseball Reference known as Stathead.

While Stathead does cost $8 per month, it is entirely worth it when realizing the countless hours that could be spent locating not only the greatest seasons by players across different generations, but also the answers to a slew of remarkable questions.

Which pitcher has the longest active streak of quality starts? (Atlanta’s Max Fried, 12) 

Who hit the most triples by an Oklahoma-born player? (Hall of Famer Paul Waner, 191)

Which batter has slugged the most 0-2 pitches for a home run? (Albert Pujols, 29)

It’s with this eye for baseball triviality that begs to be explored in the context of the Denver Nine, our very own Colorado Rockies

MOST CONSECUTIVE QUALITY STARTS

Ubaldo Jiménez, 15 in 2009-10

If we’re talking about a pitching record, there’s a good chance Jiménez holds the mark. 

A quality start – six or more innings pitched and three or less earned runs – seems like a low bar, but it’s a good indicator of length and performance for a starting pitcher.

It may equate to a modest 4.50 ERA, but that’s in a worse case scenario. Increase the outing by an inning or decrease the runs allowed and it starts to look a lot better.

July 13, 2010; Anaheim, CA, USA; National League pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies delivers a pitch during the first inning of the 2010 All Star game at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Jiménez closed out the 2009 season with six innings and one earned run against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the road in his final start before the postseason.

He proceeded to begin 2010 with 14 consecutive quality starts, a record to open a season. In the process, he also racked up a QS in nine consecutive road start, another high-mark for the franchise. 

MOST CONSECUTIVE QUALITY STARTS AT HOME

Aaron Cook, 7 in 2010

Humidor or no humidor, pitching at Coors Field is a tough task. The ballpark may no longer be the most homer happy confine in all of MLB (it’s fifth in all of MLB over the last three seasons), but it does have the largest park factor due to the preponderance of singles, doubles and triples that dink and dunk into the largest outfield in all of the Senior Circuit.

That modest 4.50 ERA of a quality start actually becomes quite impressive when it’s at 2001 Blake Street. 

Over a seven game stretch at home from Apr 14 to July 1, Cook pitched to a 2.64 ERA. Jiménez started a similar streak on Apr 11 before stopping at five following a rare performance against the Toronto Blue Jays.

HIGHEST BA IN 0-2 COUNT, Min 30 PA

Jeffrey Hammonds, .378 in 2000

Hammonds came over from the Cincinnati Reds in Oct 1999 with RHP Stan Belinda for the beloved OF Dante Bichette before departing just as quickly as he appeared at the end of the 2000 season. 

In his lone season with Colorado, Hammonds made the All-Star team alongside 1B Todd Helton and 3B Jeff Cirillo.

Of course, Helton had a higher batting average on the 0-2 offering that season at .471, and an eye-popping 1.324 OPS, but ended up at .210 for his career on the whole.

MOST HR IN 0-2 COUNT, Single Season

Nolan Arenado, 4 in 2015

In 2021, only C.J. Cron and Garrett Hampson hit a pair of home runs on an 0-2 offering. Charlie Blackmon hit three in the same season on two occasions (2015 and 2019) while Jayhawk Owens had the same trifecta in 1995 with only nine at-bats.

Aug 25, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado hits an RBI double in the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The record for most in a year goes to the Sandblaster in his breakout season. Arenado entered 2015 with 28 long balls in 244 games. Thanks in part to four home runs on 0-2 pitches, he went on to lead the NL with 42 homers and 130 RBI, earning a top 10 finish in MVP voting for the first of five consecutive seasons.

MOST HR IN 0-2 COUNT, Career

Larry Walker, 13

When down to the final strike and four pitches away from the salvation that can be a base on balls, a defensive swing to simply put bat on ball is often a common strategy. In the modern game though, such approach is no longer in vogue as players don’t change their approach much based on the situation quite as much as in the past (see: launch angle revolution and the three true outcomes). 

It may not come as a shock that Walker holds this record, but the results of everyone behind him may. 

The Hall of Famer homered every 23 at-bats on the 0-2 pitch, setting the franchise mark in less than 100 ABs than runner-up Nolan Arenado and his 12 homers. Charlie Blackmon has 11, but in 169 more ABs. 

Fourth on the list is Todd Helton, who had nine in a record 527 ABs that ended on that fateful third pitch when behind in such a count.

For his career, Walker actually homered more frequently on the 0-2 offering than on a 2-2 pitch. Outside of his tenure with the Rockies, he was simply outside his prime, going deep only twice in 206 ABs in that scenario. 

Denny Neagle, 1 in 2000

Mrs. Neagle’s boy doesn’t get enough press around these parts anymore… I wonder if there’s a reason for that. 

Rookie Lance Davis of the Cincinnati Reds had a shutout into the fifth inning before his catcher, Kelly Stinnett, threw a ball into center field trying to pick off fellow backstop Sal Fasano at second. Fasano scored all the way from second base and shutout was gone.

Two pitches later on the 0-2 offering, Neagle did the improbable and yanked one to right field for his first of what would be two home runs on the year. 

It was only the second of its kind for a Rockies’ pitcher in franchise history behind Marvin Freeman’s feat in 1995 against Chicago Cubs’ RHP Kevin Foster.

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