15 things you might not know about the National League so far in 2018

Here is the follow up list for the National League based of the article I did for the American league here a few days ago, as before I have given one per team.

Please note that a qualified players have to have played the following amounts of time during a season.

Starters – 1 IP per Team game, i.e. 162 IP by the end of this season to qualify

Reliever – 0.25 IP per Team game, i.e. 40.5 IP by the end of this season to qualify

Batters – 3.1 PA per Team game, i.e. 502 IP by the end of this season to qualify

 NL East

Braves – The Braves look set to not have a single reliever get 20+ saves for the first season since 2008.  The start of year ‘closer’ Aodys Vizcaino had picked up 15 by June 16th but injuries have limited him to 3 appearances since then with non between 11th July and 15th September, in his absence A.J. Minter earned himself the role and has made 14 saves so far. Vizcaino returned last weekend which should mean neither will get the chance to get to 20 saves.

PhilliesScott Kingery is just on course to be the qualified hitter with the worst offence for the Phillies since 1995. His wRC+ (weight runs created plus) is at 60, remember that 100 is average, you have to go back to Kevin Stocker who had a wRC+ in 1995. His strikeout rate minus walk rate is the 3rd worst ever and his isolated power is in the bottom 10 for qualified players this year.

Nationals ­– Max Scherzer is set to have the best season by a Nationals pitchers ever and the second best in franchise history (including the Montreal Expos).  Scherzer currently has a fWAR (Win Above Replacement) of 6.8 and an ERA of 2.53 both these are only bested one other Nationals player, Pedro Martinez in 1997, whose fWAR of 8.5 and ERA of 1.9. He stands a chance of passing Pedro is on regard though, he currently has 277 strikeouts and is projected a further 22 in his remaining 3 starts, but a few good outings could get him close to Martinez’s franchise record of 305.

MetsJacob deGrom has a sub 2 ERA, only 261 out of 9,553 qualified starters in the history of the MLB have ever done that over a season. He currently has a losing record (8-9), only 20 of that 261 had a losing record. Of those 20 the last time this happen was 1910, when Ed Walsh went 18-20 with a 1.27 ERA for the White Sox. Which means deGrom may potential do something not seen in over 100 years when the league ERA was 2.77 compared to the 4.15 in 2018.

MarlinsJ.T. Realmuto is set to be a qualified hitter for the 3rd year in a row, the first time for a Marlins catcher, this is much harder to do as a catcher than any other position due to the rotation which most teams do with their catchers. Only 5 look like qualifying this season. Since the introduction of the Marlins there have been only 3 other catchers who had enough at bats to qualify, John Buck (2011), Ivan Rodriguez (2003) & Benito Santiago (1993-1994).

NL Central

Cubs – Currently all 6 qualified Cubs’ batters have above average wRC+, Javier Baez (132), Ben Zobrist (128), Anthony Rizzo (123), Kyle Schwarber (115), Willson Contreras (107) & Jason Heyward (101).  The last time the team had 6+ above average batters was back in 1984 when Bob Dernier, Ryne Sandberg, Gary Matthews, Leon Durham, Ron Cey & Keith Moreland helped the Cubs a 96 win season and trip to the NLCS.

BrewersJosh Hader has thrown 130 strikeouts this season, the most by a relief pitcher, his strikeout rate of 46.9% is also the most by qualified relievers. In achieving the 127th strikeout he passed Corey Knebel’s franchise record of 126 which he set last season and if he picks up 8 more strikeouts before the end of the season he will have recorded the most strikeouts in a season by a relief pitcher since Brad Lidge struck out 157 for the Astros back in 2004.

Cardinals – The Cardinals look set to have one qualified starter this season for the first time since 2002. The man in question is Miles Mikolas, who joined in the free agency after spending 3 stellar season in the Japanese NPB leagues. When last playing in the MLB he had an ERA of 6.44 across 10 starts for the Rangers in 2014, in his 3 years in Japan he posted and ERA of 2.18 and a WHIP 0.99. This season he currently owns a 2.99 ERA and 3.8 fWAR which would give him the best fWAR numbers for a Cardinals starter since Adam Wainwright in 2014.

PiratesStarling Marte has stolen 32 bases so far this season at 73% success rate, he is responsible for 47% of the steals by Pirates this season as they have managed 65 in total. That percentage is the most by one individual in Pirates history, passing Omar Moreno’s 45.9% (96 of 209) in 1980. This is also the highest for this MLB season ahead of Billy Hamilton of the Reds.

Reds Tucker Barnhart is one of 15 qualified players this season who have yet to steal a base, 13 of which haven’t attempted more than once. But Barnhart has been caught stealing 4 times which is joint most since Nick Hundley was caught 5 times in 2010.  If he makes to the end of the season without a stolen base he will become the 16th player in Reds history to have qualified as a batter with zero stolen bases.

NL West

Rockies – In 2017 Trevor Story’s strikeout rate was 34.4% and in 2018 he is on for 26.2%, this reduction of 8.2% is the best by a Rockies hitter with both seasons being qualifying seasons. Since 1900 there have been 8,512 times that a player been a qualified hitter in consecutive seasons, Trevor Story’s year on year strike rate improvement is the 16th best of all-time.

DodgersChris Taylor is on pace to become the Dodger who has the highest strikeout rate in one season, his strikeout rate of 29.4% is higher than the current record of 29.1% from Joc Pederson in 2015. His strikeout rate minus walk rate, 20.6%, is also on course for being a Dodgers records. Despite this he has a wRC (Weighted Runs Created Plus) + of 110 so is still on for an above average season with the bat.

Diamondbacks – Since the inception of the Diamondbacks in 1998 their had been 11 seasons by hitters who have recorded a fWAR or 5 or more, if Paul Goldschmidt holds/improves his current fWAR for the season (5.3) it will be the 12th season. Goldschmidt will own 4 of those 12 season, 2017 – 5.2, 2015 – 7.2, 2013 – 6.  If we were to included pitchers only Randy Johnson has more 5+ fWAR seasons as a Diamondback with 5.

Giants – Only 1 Giants hitter looks set to be a sole qualified player by the end of the season (With Andrew McCutchen being traded to the Yankees), all other teams are set for at least 3 players. Since the turn of the millennium there has been on average just shy of 1 team per year with this low amount of qualified hitters (15 in 18 seasons). This one player is their shortstop Brandon Crawford, who is a reasonable defensive shortstop but a below average hitter for the league (wRC+ – 90). He will join Aubrey Huff from 2011 Giants, Andy LaRoche from 2009 Pirates and Sean Casey from the 2003 Reds as the only 4 players who have a below average offensive output but are the only qualifying player from their team.

Padres – There are currently 3 Padres look set to be qualified hitters but all of these currently have below average wRC+, these are Eric Hosmer (94), Manuel Margot (80) and Freddy Galvis (74). Since the San Diego Padres establishment in 1969 they have always had at least 1 hitter qualify with an above average offensive. That steak may soon come to an end, but Hosmer is doing his best to try and get to 100 wRC+. He has hit for 124 in September so far and if he was to continue that for the last few games he would get very close to 100 for the season.

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