Stats of the week: Judge, Elly, Soto make HR history

September 29th, 2023

Here’s our weekly look at 10 mind-blowing notes from the last week in baseball (Sept. 22-28).

All rise: Aaron Judge had his second three-homer game of the season on Friday, becoming the first player in Yankees history with two such performances in a season. Judge can max out at 107 games this year. His 37 home runs are the second-most by a player in a season in which he played fewer than 110 games, behind only 1995 Mark McGwire’s 39 (104 games).

Big win: The Brewers clinched a playoff spot on Friday, and did so in decisive fashion, winning by 15 runs. That was tied with 2018 Cleveland for the third-largest win by a team on the day they clinched a playoff spot, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only the 2001 Braves and 1996 Yankees had bigger such wins, by 17 runs each. Rowdy Tellez pitched the ninth, becoming the first position player to finish a game on the mound for a team the day they clinched a playoff spot.

Save on the resume: Michael Lorenzen recorded a save for the Phillies on Sunday, after throwing a no-hitter earlier this season. He became the 10th pitcher to throw an individual no-hitter and record a save in the same season (since saves became official in 1969), according to Elias. He joined 2014 Tim Lincecum, 2010 Matt Garza, 1993 Chris Bosio, 1980 Jerry Reuss, 1976 John Candelaria, 1973 Nolan Ryan, 1973 Jim Bibby, 1973 Phil Niekro and 1969 Bob Moose.

Next-level stretch, continued: With his six scoreless innings on Monday, Blake Snell has 186 strikeouts and just 19 runs allowed in his last 23 starts. He’s the first pitcher with at least 170 strikeouts and fewer than 20 runs allowed in a 23-game span (since 1901). Snell has a 1.20 ERA in his last 23 starts. The only other pitchers with an ERA that low in a single-season 23-start span (since ER official in both leagues in 1913)? 1968 Bob Gibson, 1915 Grover Alexander, 1914 Walter Johnson and 1914 Dutch Leonard.

An absolutely crushed homer: Elly De La Cruz hit two home runs on Tuesday, the second of which had a 119.2 mph exit velocity. That’s the Reds’ hardest-hit batted ball tracked by Statcast (since 2015). He’s one of just six players with at least one homer at 119 mph or harder tracked by Statcast (including postseason), along with Giancarlo Stanton (five such HR), Judge (two), Ronald Acuña Jr., Manny Machado and Kyle Schwarber.

Soto homers: Juan Soto hit two homers on Tuesday and rides a 30-game on-base streak into the weekend. He now has 17 career multi-homer games, tied with Mel Ott and Bob Horner for third-most before turning 25, behind only Eddie Mathews (19) and Hal Trosky (18). Soto now has 160 career home runs, tied for seventh-most before turning 25, behind only Mathews (190), Ott (176), Jimmie Foxx (174), Mickey Mantle (173), Ken Griffey Jr. (172) and Alex Rodriguez (172).

Cole Train: Gerrit Cole put an exclamation point on his 2023 campaign on Wednesday, throwing a two-hit shutout. He became the first Yankee with multiple shutouts allowing two hits or fewer in a season since David Wells in 1998. It was Cole’s ninth start this season of at least six innings with three or fewer hits allowed. That’s the most such starts in a season in Yankees history.

Another new club: Ronald Acuña Jr. stole his 70th base of the season on Wednesday, making him the first and only member of the 40-homer, 70-stolen base club. Of course, his totals have been unprecedented since 30-60 (and even 29-59). His 70 stolen bases are second-most by a Braves player in a season since 1900, trailing only 1991 Otis Nixon’s 72.

Historic leadoff spot production, times two: Acuña’s 41 homers are the most out of the leadoff spot in a season. Mookie Betts has 39, tied for second-most out of the leadoff spot in a season, with 2019 George Springer and 2006 Alfonso Soriano. But that’s not all. Betts is up to 106 RBIs, the most RBIs out of the leadoff spot in a season (RBI official since 1920). Acuña is right behind with 105, next on the list. We’re going to see numbers this season that we’ve never had atop the order from multiple players.

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 91 straight series without being swept, a streak they’ll carry into 2024. 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).