Acuña blasts, Mexico City mashing & more great stats from this week

May 4th, 2023

Here’s our weekly look at 10 mind-blowing notes from the last week in baseball (April 27-May 3).

Abrams ties franchise record: 22-year-old CJ Abrams hit a grand slam last Thursday for the Nationals, tying an age-related record for a franchise that’s had its fair share of notable young sluggers. At 22 years and 206 days old, Abrams tied for the youngest player in Nationals/Expos franchise history with a grand slam, with Ryan Zimmerman on April 22, 2007.

Mexico City mashing: On Saturday in Mexico City, the Padres and Giants combined for seven 440-plus-foot homers. That’s the most combined 440-foot home runs in a game in the Statcast era, according to research by MLB’s Jason Bernard. The prior most was four in four different games, all at Coors Field. The two teams combined for 11 homers total, two shy of the record for a single game, from 10 different players. That's tied for the most players with a home run in a game in MLB history, with the D-backs at Phillies on June 10, 2019, and Mets at Phillies on Aug. 24, 2015, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Kershaw continues to dazzle: On Saturday, Clayton Kershaw went seven scoreless with two hits allowed and no walks. It was his 62nd career scoreless start of seven innings, the second most by a Dodger since 1900, trailing only Don Sutton’s 63. In addition, Kershaw recorded his 66th career start of at least seven innings with three or fewer hits allowed, tying Tom Seaver for fourth most such starts since 1900. The only pitchers with more in that span are Nolan Ryan (134), Roger Clemens (80) and Randy Johnson (78).

Rays’ turnaround seventh inning: The Rays were held hitless through six innings on Saturday before Wander Franco led off the seventh with a homer. They went on to score 10 runs in the frame, the second most by a team that was being no-hit through six-plus innings in the inning in which they broke up the bid, in the expansion era (since 1961), per Elias. The only team with more was the Blue Jays on Sept. 11, 2021, with 11 runs in the top of the seventh after six no-hit innings by the Orioles’ Keegan Akin.

Historically strong AL East: The AL East’s .623 winning percentage in April was the third highest by a division in a calendar month, minimum 70 games, behind only the 2001 AL West’s July (.648) and the 2002 AL West’s August (.625). But of course, those were four-team divisions, meaning that the 2023 AL East’s April was the highest for a five-team division in a month. The prior record for a five-team division in a month? That would be the ‘22 AL East again, at .619 last June.

Walk-offs abound: Alex Verdugo hit a walk-off homer on Monday for his third walk-off hit in the Red Sox first 30 games. That’s tied for the most by a player in his team’s first 30 games of a season since RBI became official in 1920, with Andruw Jones (1999) and Bobby Bonds (1973), according to Elias. If we expand to walk-off RBI, not just hits, Joe Crede (2004) joins the list.

Bryce is back: Bryce Harper returned to the Phillies’ lineup on Tuesday, just 160 days post-surgery. That’s the quickest return from Tommy John Surgery, per Jon Roegele’s database. The prior fastest returns at the MLB level were Tony Womack’s 182 days, Jay Buhner’s 207 days and Carl Crawford’s 221 days.

Speaking of Bryces: Another Bryce stood out Tuesday, too. The Mariners’ Bryce Miller’s 5 1/3 perfect innings tied for the second-longest perfect bid by a starter in his MLB debut in the expansion era (1961), behind only Nick Kingham’s 6 2/3 perfect innings on April 29, 2018, per Elias. Miller had 10 strikeouts and no walks, tied with Johnny Cueto on April 3, 2008, for the second-most strikeouts with no walks in a pitcher’s MLB debut since at least 1901, behind only Stephen Strasburg’s 14 on June 8, 2010.

More long homers for Acuña: Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a 448-foot home run on Monday and a 461-foot home run on Wednesday. Acuña now has eight 460-plus-foot homers in his career, tied with C.J. Cron for second most in MLB since the start of 2018, behind only Trevor Story (nine). He has 26 career 440-plus-foot home runs, including the playoffs. That’s two more than anyone else in MLB since the start of 2018 (including playoffs).

More Sho-stopping: With 13 strikeouts on Wednesday, Shohei Ohtani now has 13 games with at least 10 strikeouts since the start of last season, two more than anyone else in MLB in that span. He’s also hit 41 home runs in that span. He reached 500 career strikeouts with his 13th of the night. Along with his 134 career home runs, he’s just the second player with 500 strikeouts as a pitcher and 100 home runs hit, joining Babe Ruth (501 K, 714 HR). Ohtani reached 500 strikeouts in just 388 2/3 IP, the second-fewest innings to reach 500 career strikeouts as a starting pitcher behind only Corbin Burnes’ 365 IP, per Elias.