Birthday homers, Statcast standouts among 10 wild stats from the week

September 15th, 2023

Here’s our weekly look at 10 mind-blowing notes from the last week in baseball (September 8-14).

Birthdays are important, part one: On his 40th birthday on Sunday, Joey Votto had the farthest-hit ball across MLB. He became the ninth player since 1900 to homer on his birthday at age 40 or older. He joined Alex Rodriguez in 2015, Chipper Jones in 2012, Jim Thome in 2011 (41st birthday), Tony Phillips in 1999, Wade Boggs in 1998, Darrell Evans in 1988 (41st), Joe Morgan in 1983 and Bob Thurman in 1957.

What a game: The Yankees were held hitless by the Brewers through 10 1/3 innings on Sunday before Oswaldo Cabrera hit a double. They went on to win two innings later on a Kyle Higashioka double. The Yankees became the fourth team to break up a no-hit bid in the 11th inning or later, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They joined the Mets on June 14, 1965, in the 11th against the Reds' Jim Maloney; the Braves on May 26, 1959, in the 13th against the Pirates' Harvey Haddix; and the Pirates on Aug. 1, 1906, in the 11th against the Dodgers' Harry McIntire. Each of those teams held hitless through at least 10 innings went on to win the game.

Historic leadoff spot production: Mookie Betts hit his 12th leadoff homer of the year on Monday, which tied for the second-most in a season, behind only Alfonso Soriano’s 13 in 2003. It was Betts’ 39th home run overall, which is tied with George Springer in 2019 and Soriano in 2006 for the most out of the leadoff spot in a season. But that’s not all. Betts is up to 103 RBIs, tied with Charlie Blackmon in 2017 for the most RBIs out of the leadoff spot in a season (since RBIs became official in 1920).

JULIOOO: Julio Rodríguez slugged his 30th home run of the season on Monday, and he already had 36 stolen bases at that point. He became just the fourth player with a 30-30 season in his age-22 season or younger, joining Ronald Acuña Jr. in 2019, Mike Trout in 2012 and Alex Rodriguez in 1998. Julio and Alex are also the only two Mariners to record a 30-30 season -- at any age.

Standing ovation: Trea Turner has been on another level since early August, hitting .378 and slugging .797 since the Phillies began a homestand on Aug. 4 -- one he entered on the heels of three straight hitless games. Over a 13-game stretch through Tuesday, he hit 11 home runs. He became the third Phillies player with at least 11 homers in a single-season 13-game span, joining Ryan Howard in 2006 and Mike Schmidt in 1976. Turner is the second shortstop with such a span, joining Troy Tulowitzki in 2010.

Birthdays are important, part two: With his home run on Tuesday, Freddie Freeman has now homered on his birthday in four seasons, as has Votto with his on Sunday. That’s one shy of the most birthdays a player has homered on. Only six players have homered on five of their birthdays: Al Simmons, Alex Rodriguez, Todd Helton, Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds and Mike Trout.

Statcast standout -- Nolan Jones: On Friday, Nolan Jones had an outfield assist clocked at 100.7 mph. Then on Monday, he had one at 102.7 mph. That was the fifth-fastest-tracked OF assist in the regular season under Statcast (2015) and fastest since Jackie Bradley Jr. in 2018. On Wednesday, Jones hit a 452-foot home run, his fifth this season of at least 450 feet. That’s the third-most 450+ foot homers by a rookie in a season under Statcast. Only Pete Alonso in 2019 and Aaron Judge in 2017 had more, with eight each.

Six straight: The Braves clinched the NL East on Wednesday, marking their sixth consecutive division title. The team has won 23 division titles overall, three more than any other franchise since divisions were established in 1969. Next on that list are the Yankees and Dodgers with 20 each, though the latter will likely clinch their 21st soon.

Crushed: Yordan Alvarez hit a 117.7 mph home run on Wednesday. That is the Astros’ hardest-hit base hit of any kind and Houston's third-hardest-hit batted ball under Statcast, behind sharp grounders from Carlos Correa (118.2 mph, April 8, 2016) and Alvarez himself (117.9 mph, Sept. 6, 2019). Alvarez has 10 of the Astros' 12 hardest-hit homers since ‘15, including the playoffs, along with each of the top five.

And still unswept: Teams enter each series trying to win the series, but even just avoiding being swept is worth noting. To that end, the Orioles have now gone 86 straight series without being swept, entering the weekend. That’s the third-most consecutive series of multiple games without being swept, per Elias. They trail only the 1942-44 Cardinals (125) and 1903-05 Giants (106).