7/1/2013 10:00 A.M. ET
Trends show telling signs at halfway point
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
Before tweeting became a verb, trending meant something different, too. And in baseball, the sport with a marathon schedule that has a certain mathematical timeliness to it, midseason trends always have shown quite a bit about how things might turn out in the end.
With the halfway point met in a mythical sense with July 1 showing up on the calendar, and literally met just this past Friday when the schedule surpassed the midpoint of the 2,340-game schedule, a few trends can go a long way toward telling how the season might go from here.
With that in mind, here's what's trending so far in 2013:
We're at 4.24 runs per game in the Majors right now, a figure that would be the lowest since 1992's 4.12 if it managed to hold up for another half of the season. A recent downward trend in runs scored saw a slight uptick in 2012 to 4.32 after hitting 4.28 in '11, but runs -- for the moment -- are back down toward that '92 ebb. How that figure holds up as the weather gets hot and baseballs start flying out of ballparks with more regularity, we'll have to wait and see.
One aspect of pitching dominance in recent years has been mysteriously absent after being so frequent in recent years: the no-hitter. Oh, there have been lots of close calls and plenty of reason to believe it could happen any day from any number of pitchers, but the no-no count is zero for 2013.
By this time last year, there were five of the seven no-hitters that would be thrown in the season. In 2011, it was two of the three. In 2010, it was four of six already in the books by now.
Ah, maybe we've just gotten spoiled.
There was Stephen Strasburg, a sensation as soon as he landed on the Major League mound in 2010 and into '11. In '12, it was Bryce Harper bursting onto the scene, along with the full-fledged arrival of Mike Trout. This year, another supernova of an introduction to the Majors is at hand with the arrival of Yasiel Puig, setting records seemingly by the day as he takes his first swings in Dodgers blue.
With Puig and the excellent mound debuts of teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Cardinals' Shelby Miller, there is yet another amazing array of talent making its way to the forefront in the first half.
Until the Blue Jays took an L on Sunday, the American League East had everyone at or over .500 at the same time. If the Jays manage to get back over .500, the division will be headed for uncharted territory -- there have been only 11 days of play in the last 25 years when all teams in an AL division have been over .500 after 75 games, according to STATS.
With Toronto's offseason changes beginning to pay off, it's reasonable to think the AL East could have all five teams at or over .500 deep into the summer -- and for more than 11 days.
One constant when it comes to the Triple Crown: There's always some guy who comes along in one of the categories to muck it all up for the player who excels at all three.
What we're seeing in the American League this season as Miguel Cabrera tries to become the first back-to-back Triple Crown winner in history is that he has another player who's challenging him in all three. As of July 1, Cabrera leads with a .373 average and 82 RBIs, while standing second to the Orioles' Chris Davis with 25 homers. But Davis is proving to be anything but a one-trick pony, ranking second in average at .332 and second in RBIs with 80, while pulling away in homers with 30.
All that we really know now: If one doesn't pull off a Triple Crown, they'll probably have the other guy to blame.
What happened last September to then-A's right-hander Brandon McCarthy has been all too familiar in 2013. McCarthy suffered a skull fracture when hit with a liner last September, and we've seen a few more incidents of pitchers being hit with batted balls in the first half.
Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ was struck by a line drive at Tropicana Field on May 7, and he's just now making his way back toward the Major League mound. Rays right-hander Alex Cobb was struck in the head on the very same mound 39 days later, and the Giants' Chad Gaudin went on the DL when he was struck in the forearm with a line drive.
The shift of the Houston Astros to the American League, giving each league 15 teams, did more than just affect a couple of divisions and one team. It created the first schedule in which Interleague Play is an everyday occurrence, what with the uneven number of teams in each league leaving one pair of teams from each league needing a dance partner.
The 2013 schedule has included the first Interleague game on Opening Day and a week featuring home-and-home series between traditional rivals, and it will end with American League teams handling different rules as they vie for playoff spots in September.
So far -- and it's early with not every team having the same number of Interleague games -- the Pirates have been hot against the AL at 11-3 and the Rays have gone 9-1 to lead the AL vs. the NL.
Already, Max Scherzer's perfection has made history. By starting the 2013 season at 12-0, he became the first pitcher to start a season with that many consecutive wins since 1986. He can match Ron Guidry's 1978 season with a 13-0 start this week, and if successful, can take on Roger Clemens' 14-0 start in 1986. Dave McNally (1969) and Johnny Allen (1937) are the only 15-0 men.
But Scherzer doesn't have the market cornered on perfection so far. Arizona's Patrick Corbin and Boston's Clay Buchholz, currently on the DL, both stand at 9-0, so they might make their way up the charts of the unblemished as well.
The Majors have seen a major uptick in extra-inning games, with 130 of them already and only half the season in the books. It certainly looks like this season could make a run at the record set in 2011, when 237 games were played beyond the regulation nine. According to STATS, the highest percentage of games going into extra innings was 11 percent in 1965, and this season is hovering a little below 10 percent.
Another aspect of the games going long this season is that they've been going really long. There have been eight games of 15 innings or more, and STATS says that's on pace to come close to the 19 games of that length in 1976.
How many games go late as the season wears on into the summer remains to be seen. But the 2013 season already has gone into overtime when it comes to establishing some impressive trends. But nobody really knows how it'll all turn out because we're only ...
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.