Past TimesDecember 04, 2007
Odd and Interesting American League Stats of 2007
By Al Doyle

Never mind the league leaders. For me, the unusual and sometimes freakish statistics are the most interesting part of baseball's numbers game.

Every year has a new crop of goofy and fun stats. Here are some of the best from the 2007 American League season.

Lots of Ks in Tampa Bay: Seven Devil Rays position players finished the season with more than 100 strikeouts, while shortstop Brendan Harris just missed the century mark with 96 whiffs.

B.J. Upton leads the not so magnificent seven with 154 Ks in just 474 at-bats. That pace was exceeded by Jonny Gomes' 126 strikeouts in 348 ABs. We'll gladly take Carlos Pena's 142 Ks in exchange for his team record 46 home runs ,121 RBI, 103 walks and .411 OBP.

Rookie Delmon Young's 127 Ks and 26 walks shows he has some big holes in his game, which he will get to work out in the Metrodome after last week's six-player deal with the Twins. Japanese third baseman Akinori Iwamura had 114 whiffs in his major league debut, while talented Carl Crawford went to strike three 112 times.

Ty Wigginton rounds out the list. He had 73 Ks with the Rays before a traded to the Astros. The infielder's 40 strikeouts in Houston gives him 113 for the season. With 1324 Ks as a team, the Rays led the major by nearly 100 whiffs over the second-place Padres (1229).

.188 sure looks great: Journeyman infielder and AAA veteran Jorge Velandia entered the season with a .151 lifetime average in 150 career games, which gave him the (ahem) honor of having the lowest career mark of anyone who appeared in at least 150 games.

A September call-up with the Rays, Velandia took advantage of his first major league opportunity since 2003. An 8 for 13 start propelled Velandia to a .320 performance (16 for 50) and a 37-point jump in his lifetime average. Newfound power and run production led to Velandia's first two big league homers and 11 RBI. Now that he has blown by Bill Bergen (.170 career) and Ray Oyler (.175), it's .200 or bust for Velandia.

No power? No problem!: With just 123 homers as a team, the Angels were 12th in the league and 28th in the majors. Vladimir Guerrero was the only player to exceed the 20 mark with his 27 bombs. The power shortage didn't prevent the Angels from going 94-68, which ties L.A. with the Yankees for the thrid bestrecord in the majors in 2007.

Still aiming for double digits: Howie Kendrick's nine walks in 267 ABs in 2006 might have been attributed to rookie inexperience, but the Angels second baseman was even less selective in 2007. The highly touted Kendrick's .322 average was no surprise, but just nine more free passes in 338 ABs lowered his OBP to .347.

Teammate Guerrero is often singled out for his lack of patience, but Vlad's 71 walks was the second best season of his career. He had 84 BBs with the Expos in 2002.

Midwestern power outage: Only four Twins players had more than seven home runs in 2007. Justin Morneau led Minnesota with 31 bombs, and Torii Hunter's 28 HRs will be sorely missed. Michael Cuddyer (16) and Jason Kubel (13) also reached double digits, but the rest of the roster combined for just 30 four-baggers.

One Twin exceeded preseason power expectations. Outfielder Jason Tyner has two homers in 3059 minor league at-bats and none in his first 1220 big league ABs, but he connected against Indians pitcher Jake Westbrook on July 28.

Making his hits count: Twins DH/LF Rondell White went just 19 for 109 (.174) with 4 HR and 20 RBI.

Dreadful: Nick Punto put up one of the worst offensive seasons ever by a third baseman. His .210 (99 for 472) average, 1 HR and 25 RBI looks like a 1960s stat line for light-hitting shortstops such as Dal Maxvill or Bobby Wine, but runs were much scarcer then. Punto's .271 slugging percentage and .291 OBP was an obstacle the Twins couldn't overcome.

The ultimate Moneyball/Billy Beane player: Even though he wasn't called up until May 4, A's DH/OF Jack Cust still led the American League in strikeouts (164) and came in second in walks (105). He also came through with 26 HR and 82 RBI in 395 ABs. Add a .256 average to the walks, and Cust ended 2007 with a .408 OBP.

Spreading the power around: A team leader with 25 home runs is below average in this swing for the fences era. Victor Martinez topped the Indians with that modest number in 2007, but the team has sufficient slugging thanks to Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore (24 each) along with 21 homers apiece from Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Garko.

Based on Hafner's past performance, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect 35 bombs from Pronk in 2008, so Cleveland should be in good shape offensively.

Where's the run production?: Emil Brown led the Royals with just 62 RBI. Brown needed 366 at-bats to pace Kansas City. Alex Gordon and Mark Teahen tied for second with 60 RBI in 543 and 544 ABs respectively. Those kind of numbers might have sufficed in the slap-hitting war years (1942-45), but definitely not in 2007.

Mr. Consistency (unfortunately): Former Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash has spent parts of five seasons in the majors. His batting averages of .143, .142 (15 for 106), .193, .161 and .111 give Cash a .167 lifetime mark (60 for 359). Add in 111 strikeouts and 20 walks for a .223 OBP.

A big improvement: Corey Patterson has cut his strikeouts from 118 in 451 at-bats in 2005 to 65 in 461 ABs. The speedy Orioles outfielder still chases too many bad pitches, as evidenced by his 21 walks in 2007. On the bright side, Patterson was 37 for 46 (.804) in stolen bases.

See you on the DL: Only one Rangers player - shortstop Michael Young - appeared in more than 130 games in 2007.

How the mighty have fallen: The White Sox have gone from world champions to losers in just two years. While the team's bullpen (except for reliable Bobby Jenks) played a major role in the collapse of 2007, a weak offense also hampered the south siders.

Five players with 20 to 35 homers - way too many of them solo shots - didn't make up for a .246 team average and .318 OBP. Jim Thome led the Sox with his .275 average. The team's 693 runs scored was last in the AL despite 180 bombs, which was good for second place in the league.

He should know better: After 17 seasons in the majors, Ivan Rodriguez should have figured out when to take a pitch or two by now. Instead, the Tigers catcher had just nine walks and a career-high 96 strikeouts in 502 at-bats. Pudge's .281 batting average was just 13 points lower than his .294 OBP.

Not a typical first baseman: Despite his size, Sean Casey's numbers often look more like a middle infielder than a slugger. He hit just 4 HR in 453 ABs with the Tigers in 2007, and Casey's 54 RBI is meager for a slugger's position.

Casey hit .312 but had just 9 HR and 58 RBI in 529 ABs with the Reds in 2005. He split 2006 between the Pirates and Tigers and hit .272 with 8 HR and 59 RBI.

Hacking away: The Mariners walked just 389 times in 2007. The main culprits were shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (15 BB in 536 AB, .289 BA, .308 OBP) and catcher Kenji Johjima (15 BB in 485 ABs, .287 BA, .322 OBP). Jose Vidro's 63 walks led the team and made him (relatively speaking) Seattle's version of Eddie "The Walking Man" Yost.