The 2017 regular season featured 4,860 team games, more than 185,000 plate appearances, more than 42,000 base hits and more than 22,000 runs.Over the course of this marathon, from April to October, just about anything that could happen did happen. Usually, it happened many times.But that's not true of everything.
The 2017 regular season featured 4,860 team games, more than 185,000 plate appearances, more than 42,000 base hits and more than 22,000 runs.
Over the course of this marathon, from April to October, just about anything that could happen did happen. Usually, it happened many times.
But that's not true of everything. Indeed, there were some feats that happened only once. Blink, and you might have missed them.
Here is a look at 10 players -- five position players and five pitchers -- who did something just one time during the 2017 regular season.
Caught stealing: Byron Buxton, Twins
It was almost impossible to throw out Buxton in 2017, as he was successful on 29 of his 30 steal attempts. The Minnesota speedster joined Carlos Beltran (2001 Royals) and Brady Anderson (1994 Orioles) as the only players on record to attempt at least 30 steals in a season and be caught just once.
So what did it take for the Orioles to nab Buxton on May 23? First, catcher Welington Castillo recorded his third-fastest pop time of the season, according to Statcast™, at a well-above-average 1.88 seconds. Second, Buxton slid past the bag after appearing to initially beat the throw. And finally, veteran shortstop J.J. Hardy savvily applied the tag as he used his foot to block Buxton's hand from getting back to the base.
Home run on 3-0 count: Joey Votto, Reds
Of the record 6,105 home runs this season, just 32 (0.5 percent) came in a count that often leads to an automatic take. Just five players smacked multiple 3-0 big flies, and Votto was one of 22 who did it once, crushing a meaty Jeff Hoffman heater to center at Coors Field on July 3.
Renowned for his patience and strike-zone judgment, Votto led the Majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage (.454). But when Votto gets his pitch, he's anything but passive. There were 152 hitters in 2017 who saw at least 10 pitches within the strike zone on 3-0 counts, according to Statcast™, and Votto's 62.1 percent swing rate on those offerings (18-of-29) was third highest, behind Nelson Cruz (65 percent) and Hanley Ramirez (63.6 percent).
Barrel: Dee Gordon, Marlins
Gordon's elite speed made him an attractive acquisition for Seattle this offseason, and it helps make up for the lack of pop in his bat. That is summed up well in terms of barrels -- a Statcast™ term for a batted ball with a combination of exit velocity and launch angle ideal for generating extra-base hits.
Gordon put 566 balls in play in 2017, trailing only Ender Inciarte. Yet he was not one of the 453 players, including five pitchers, to have multiple barrels. And unfortunately for Gordon, while MLB batters posted an .826 average on barrels in '17, his lone barrel became a long out. On May 23 at Petco Park, Gordon crushed a Luis Perdomo fastball with a 98.4-mph exit velocity and 26-degree launch angle, but Manuel Margot chased down the 391-foot drive just in front of the wall in dead center field.
Sacrifice bunt: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
There was a record-low 925 sacrifice bunts in 2017, and less than half of those came from position players. That trend makes it all the more surprising that Arenado voluntarily gave up an out during a season in which he hit .309/.373/.586 with 87 extra-base hits (third in MLB).
Arenado's sacrifice, on June 27 at San Francisco, was his first since Aug. 12, 2014. Coming in the top of the 13th inning in a 3-3 game, it moved the potential go-ahead run to second base, but the Rockies didn't score and lost in the 14th. While it's possible that Arenado actually was attempting to bunt for a hit, that's also something he has done successfully just twice in his career. Still, of the 11 players to homer more times than Arenado (37) this past season, none was credited with a sacrifice.
Triple: Edwin Encarnacion, Indians
Cleveland signed Encarnacion last winter for his power, which he showed off on July 2 at Detroit, where he clubbed a Chad Bell pitch at 103.4 mph and with a 27-degree launch angle. According to Statcast™, batted balls with those specifications go for home runs more than eight of every 10 times.
However, Encarnacion hit this ball to center field at spacious Comerica Park, where a drive projected at 416 feet isn't quite long enough. But when the ball cleared -- then caromed away from -- center fielder Michael Mahtook, Encarnacion was able to cruise in for his first three-bagger since May 7, 2014. In the past three seasons, Encarnacion's 205 extra-base hits are 26 more than any other player with no more than one triple.
Complete game: Bartolo Colon, Twins
After defying the aging curve for years, the 44-year-old Colon posted a 6.48 ERA across 28 starts for the Braves and Twins in 2017. Still, there were some magic moments. Take an Aug. 4 game against the Rangers at Target Field, where Colon overcame three early runs to help the contending Twins to an 8-4 victory.
The savvy veteran needed only 106 pitches (78 strikes) to toss nine innings, becoming the oldest American League pitcher to log a nine-inning complete game since 45-year-old Nolan Ryan did so on July 4, 1992. Of the 44 other starting pitchers to finish a game in 2017, only the Dodgers' Rich Hill (37) did so at age 35 or older.
Pickoff: Jonathan Lester, Cubs
Yes, Lester picked off the Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman at first base in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, but in terms of the regular season, the lefty recorded just one pickoff. That came on June 3 at Wrigley Field, as the Cardinals' Tommy Pham took a huge lead off first and was caught when Lester suddenly flipped the ball to Anthony Rizzo.
Pham admitted afterward he didn't think Lester would throw the ball, and for good reason. Through all of his many successes on the mound, Lester has worked around a well-known issue of throwing to bases, recording just two total pickoffs since the beginning of 2012 (both coming in '15).
Extra-base hit allowed with two strikes: Dellin Betances, Yankees
Although he sometimes struggled with control, Betances held opponents to a .141 batting average and .215 slugging percentage this past season. Hitters had almost no chance once they had two strikes on them, posting an .060 average and striking out 100 times in 149 at-bats. Betances' .067 two-strike slugging percentage allowed led the Majors.
Somehow, former Yankees teammate and current Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano avoided the usual fate on July 21 at Safeco Field. Down 1-2 to Betances, he took a 99.3-mph fastball off the inside corner and shot a ground ball down the right-field line for a double.
Barrel allowed: Brad Ziegler, Marlins
In an era of hard-throwing, strikeout-heavy relievers, Ziegler's 83.1-mph average fastball velocity was MLB's slowest, and he managed just 26 strikeouts in 47 innings. On the other hand, the veteran submariner had one of the game's best ground-ball rates (65 percent) and an average exit velocity allowed of less than 85 mph. Put those together, and you get few opportunities to do damage.
Among all pitchers who allowed no more than one barrel in 2017, Ziegler generated more than twice as many balls in play (163) as anyone else. Only Braves catcher Tyler Flowers cracked the code, walloping a changeup a projected 434 feet on June 17 at SunTrust Park, according to Statcast™. The result also was the only homer served up by Ziegler in his 47 innings.
Inherited runner scored: Jorge De La Rosa, D-backs
One big challenge many relievers face is extricating starters from jams, and the 36-year-old lefty did a phenomenal job of that. De La Rosa tied a rather obscure single-season record -- set by the Astros' Wilton Lopez in 2010 -- for the highest percentage of inherited runners stranded (minimum 25 runners). Of the 33 men on base when De La Rosa came into a game, 32 were left there (97 percent).
The lone exception came on Aug. 18, when the Twins' Jorge Polanco slapped an RBI single through a drawn-in infield to plate Buxton, who had reached against Arizona starter Zack Godley. However, in the postseason, De La Rosa exceeded his regular-season total by allowing two inherited runners to score over three appearances.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.