The All-Star teams have been announced and most clubs have reached the midway point of their schedules, making this the perfect time for the midseason edition of Diamond Digits. We're looking back at some of the biggest on-field numbers so far, and taking a glance at some players who want to duplicate what they've accomplished ... and others who would like to forget about the first three months.
Dodgers' winning percentage from May 7 to July 3, the games Manny Ramirez missed while serving an MLB-imposed 50-game suspension for failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs.
The first major star to be so disciplined by baseball, Ramirez's absence not only didn't kill the Dodgers' hopes in the NL West, as expected by some onlookers, an NL-best 29-21 record without Ramirez actually enabled Joe Torre's bunch to extend the division lead by one game. The biggest help to L.A.'s fortunes was veteran Juan Pierre, displaced by Ramirez's arrival last season, but when needed this season led the NL in stolen bases with 21 in those 50 games, posting .318/.381/.411 averages. Four AL teams, the Yankees (32-19, .627), Red Sox (31-19, .620), Angels (31-20, .608) and Rays (31-20, .608) posted better records over that same span, but the Dodgers hardly hiccupped, and now with one of the game's most feared right-handed sluggers back in the lineup, are hands-down favorites to win the NL.
Ballparks that allowed fewer home runs all of last season than the new Yankee Stadium has already surrendered this season.
Whether it's the structure, the wind pattern or even the curse of CC Sabathia's contract, the new ballpark in the Bronx has been by far the easiest place to go yard, with 139 batters circling the bases in the 41 games played there through the July 4 holiday weekend. That's 18 more than the second-biggest hitters' park (the Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington) had in 45 games, and 55 more than were hit through the same number of games played at the old stadium across the street last season. That 139 is also just one home run short of the total number of combined round-trippers at the new CitiField in Queens and Boston's Fenway Park this season. An average of 3.39 home runs per game puts the new park within reach of the big leagues' home run heaven, Coors Field in Denver, which in 1999 played host to 303 home runs in 81 games, an average of 3.74 per game.
Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals
There's no debate: This year, Pujols is clearly the best hitter in the majors and nobody's even close. The categories that the St. Louis first baseman leads the majors in are virtually endless, including home runs (31), RBIs (82), runs scored (66), slugging percentage (.739), on base percentage (.460), extra-base hits (51), go-ahead RBIs (22) and intentional walks (29), to name a few. Playing on a team that has seen 15 rookies suit up already this season, Pujols has been the driving force behind the Cardinals' ascent to first place in baseball's most evenly matched division. Unless he succumbs to injury or an unprecedented slump, he's a virtual lock for the NL MVP Award.
Zack Greinke, SP Royals
He's cooled off of late, but even a few shaky outings can't take away from what was a truly incredible first half for the Royals right-hander. Tied for the major league lead with 10 wins, Greinke also leads the bigs with a 2.00 ERA. He pitched five complete games including two CG shutouts. In nine of his 17 stars he allowed one run or less, in 13 he yielded two or fewer earned runs all while not allowing more than nine hits in any contest. And only Joel Piniero, Dan Haren and Roy Halladay have lower walks per nine inning ratios than Greinke's 1.41-to-1.
Chris Davis, 1B, Rangers
It's difficult to hit a good man when he's down, and Davis was just sent to the minors, but Davis was a candidate for worst stats of the week more often than not, earning him this dubious distinction. Before being optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, Davis hit just .202, second worst among AL qualifiers to Oakland's Jason Giambi. He managed to hit 15 home runs, but was on pace to break the major league record for strikeouts with 114 in just 258 at-bats. Davis also placed last in the majors with a .256 on-base percentage, the lowest for a qualifier since Twins infielder Matt Walbeck's .246 in the strike-shortened 1994 season.
Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees
A two-time 19-game winner, Wang has been absolutely lost on the mound this year, allowing 45 earned runs in 42 innings for a 9.64 ERA while taking two trips to the disabled list. His nadir came in April when he surrendered 23 earned runs in his first 5 2/3 innings, spanning three outings.