5 extremely wacky 'on pace for' stats

July 29th, 2020

This is a season unlike any other, in just about every way possible. But maybe the weirdest thing about it -- for people who have grown up on the expansive marathon of the regular season -- is just how short it truly is. Sixty games! Sixty games is a blip; sixty games is a cough. This 60-game season has led many amateur statisticians and sabermetricians to fall back on the 2.7 quotient. Every stat any player comes up with after 60 games, you can multiply it by 2.7 and get what it would be in a “full” season. How many homers does a player need this season to pass Barry Bonds’ record for most homers in a season? 27. How many RBIs to pass Hack Wilson? 71. And so on.

But if we’re going to do that with 60 games, sheesh, why not do it with five? After all, after 13-15 games every year in a normal season, we all make the “Tuffy Rhodes is on pace to break Bonds’ record!” jokes. In a shortened portion of a shortened season, why not go fully nuts with it?

So we’ll look at the most absurd projections we can make at this point of the season. It might seem absurdly early -- and it is, of course. But everything is absurdly early at this point. We’re basically almost to May in a normal season. So let’s project away! Why not? In the words of my colleague Mike Petriello … embrace the weird.

1) is on pace for a career high in homers
The most homers Cruz hit in a season was in 2015, when he smashed 44 for the Mariners. He had 41 last year. But with three homers in his first four games, he’s on pace for … 45 this year! (In a 162-game season, he would obliterate Bonds’ record by nearly 50 homers.) That’s just ahead of Jesus Aguilar’s 40-homer pace (two in three games). In full five game seasons, two players -- the Pirates’ Colin Moran and the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo -- have three homers, putting them on pace for 36 this year … and a mere 97 in a full season.

2) is the new Rickey Henderson
In five games, Pham -- perpetually one of the most unappreciated players in baseball -- has turned up his speed to absurd levels. He has four steals already, putting him on pace for 48 for the shortened season and on the precise trajectory that Henderson was on when he stole 130 bases in a full season. That 45-steal pace for the shortened season, by the way, would be more bases than any Major Leaguer has stolen in a full season since Dee Gordon swiped 60 in 2017.

3) is in Dave Kingman/Mark Reynolds land
The Braves phenom is off to a wretched start, hitting just .143 with one double and no homers in his first five games. Making contact is the major problem: He has struck out 12 times in those five games. Needless to say, this would be a record. That would be 144 strikeouts in 60 games (which is only 44 strikeouts fewer than he had in 2019, a year when he already struck out a ton, 35th in baseball history) and, in a full 162-game season, would add up to 389 strikeouts. That would be 165 more than Reynolds’ 2009 record of 223.

4) Seriously, is off to an amazing start
Fletcher doesn’t have any homers, and only two doubles, but he’s a superpowered Ichiro in every other way. In 22 plate appearances, he has 10 hits and four walks, for an OBP of .609. No one else in baseball is even close to that number … a .609 number I now feel obliged to note is the exact OBP Bonds had in 147 games in 2004.

5) is making K-Rod quake
Jiménez has made an All-Star team -- which makes people forget that coming into this season, he only has 12 career saves. Detroit’s closer now has 15, after three this year, which puts him on pace for 36 for the season. That’s 97 for a full season, by the way, which would shatter Francisco Rodriguez’s record of 62. Rest your arm, Joe!