From Opening Day to Game No. 162, the 2016 Major League season will run for 183 days. Sunday was the 92nd day of that grinding schedule, meaning the league has reached the chronological midpoint.During that just-completed first half, plenty went according to expectations, including the Cubs getting off to a
From Opening Day to Game No. 162, the 2016 Major League season will run for 183 days. Sunday was the 92nd day of that grinding schedule, meaning the league has reached the chronological midpoint.
During that just-completed first half, plenty went according to expectations, including the Cubs getting off to a strong start, Clayton Kershaw continuing to dominate and Mike Trout putting up his usual excellent numbers.
But one of the things that makes baseball so fun to follow over the course of those wild 183 days is the sport's unpredictability. So before turning our attention to the second half, here are 10 of the of the most surprising stats the season has provided thus far.
1. David Ortiz's wRC+: 184
Weighted runs created-plus measures a player's overall production at the plate while adjusting for ballpark and league, and by its calculations, Ortiz was MLB's best hitter during the first half of his farewell tour. In fact, it wasn't especially close, with Trout ranking second at 170 (100 is average).
While Ortiz has a long track record of success, the 184 is also a career best that is coming at age 40. There are only two other hitters in their 40s playing this season (Alex Rodriguez and fellow pleasant surprise Ichiro Suzuki), and in baseball history, the record for a qualifying 40-plus player is Willie Mays' 157 wRC+ from 1971. With 19 homers, Ortiz also is within range of Darrell Evans' record 34 from 1987.
2. Combined batting average for Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos: .346
Before the season, it would have been a shock to learn the Nationals would have the NL's two leading hitters at the halfway point -- especially when neither of them is Bryce Harper. Murphy (.348), who hit between .281 and .291 in each of the previous four seasons for the Mets, signed a relatively modest three-year, $37.5 million contract with Washington in January. Ramos (.343), meanwhile, entered this year as a career .268 hitter, including .229 during a rough 2015 campaign. Neither player has offered up an empty average, as both rank in the top 10 in the Majors in wRC+, and they aren't even Washington's only surprising hitters (see the recent exploits of Danny Espinosa).
3. Jake Lamb's slugging percentage: .607
That mark leads the NL and trails only Ortiz in the entire league, and it comes from a low-profile, 25-year-old D-backs third baseman. Lamb was on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list prior to last season but came into 2016 with a career line of .254/.314/.382 over 144 games. He smacked his 19th homer of the season on Sunday and owns an OPS of better than 1.000 against right-handed pitchers.
4. Adam Duvall's home runs: 22
Most of the names near the top of MLB's home run list this season are familiar ones -- and then there's Duvall, a 27-year-old who had hit eight homers in 55 career games coming into 2016. Duvall, picked up by Cincinnati from San Francisco in last July's Mike Leake trade, went deep twice in his first 21 games, through May 2. But since leaving the yard against his former team the next day, Duvall leads the Majors in homers, putting him within two of the overall lead.
5. Difference between the ERAs of Steven Wright and David Price: 2.32
This offseason the Red Sox committed $217 million to Price, a former Cy Young Award winner and last year's American League ERA champion. Meanwhile, the club is paying Wright roughly the league minimum, as the 31-year-old knuckleballer entered 2016 with 11 big league starts to his credit. And yet it's Wright whose 2.42 ERA trails only Cleveland's Danny Salazar in the AL, while Price's 4.74 mark puts him in the bottom third in the league. Price also has served up more than twice as many homers (15 to six), though the two pitchers' FIPs are almost identical (3.58 vs. 3.61).
6. Justin Upton's wRC+: 73
When the Tigers signed Upton to a six-year, $132.75 contract (with a post-2017 opt-out) this offseason, they were getting a 28-year-old slugger had posted a .273/.354/.477 line since his first full season in 2008. During that time, he never produced a wRC+ below 108, reaching 120 and mashing at least 26 homers in three straight. Yet in his Detroit debut, Upton has eight long balls and entering Sunday ranked 159th of 167 qualified hitters in wRC+, not far behind fellow premium free agent Jason Heyward (77).
7. Bartolo Colon's home runs: One
More than 400 different players have homered this season, including 10 pitchers, but it's hard to argue that any of them were less likely to do so than Colon. In 267 career plate appearances, Colon has hit .094/.101/.119 with no walks and 133 strikeouts, and when he faced the Padres' James Shields on May 7 in San Diego, he had two extra-base hits, both doubles. Then, somehow, Colon became the oldest player in history to go deep for the first time, doing so about two weeks shy of his 43rd birthday.
8. Michael Fulmer's WAR: 3.2
The 23-year-old Tigers righty didn't make his Major League debut until April 29 and posted a 6.52 ERA over his first four starts. Despite that, here is the complete list of AL pitchers with more wins above replacement this season, according to Baseball-Reference: Salazar and Chris Sale. In eight starts since May 21, Fulmer has allowed three runs on 23 hits over 51 1/3 innings, good for a 0.53 ERA and .133 opponent average.
9. Jose Altuve's slugging percentage: .568
Listed at 5-foot-6 and 165 pounds, the Astros second baseman doesn't look much like a power hitter, and only three years ago he slugged .363 with five homers over a full season. Altuve's power numbers have trended upward since, but they have busted out to an entirely different degree in 2016. The 26-year-old's slugging percentage ranks just outside the top 10 in MLB, right near those of Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo and Trout. His .217 isolated power ranks in the top 50, and his 14 homers are one shy of last year's career high.
10. Fernando Rodney's ERA: 0.29
Sure, relief-pitcher performances fluctuate wildly all the time. But Rodney is 39 years old, and it was just last August that he was designated for assignment by the Mariners after posting a 5.68 ERA and blowing six of 22 save chances over 54 games. Rodney did bounce back late in the season with the Cubs but still landed a modest one-year, $2 million deal with San Diego as a free agent. After Rodney allowed one run and went 17-for-17 in save chances in 28 games with the Padres, the contending Marlins gave up a prospect to add him to their bullpen last Thursday.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.