Seven head-scratching stats from the first two weeks

April 19, 2009 | Luke Jones

More so than any other sport, baseball thrives on statistics and how players and teams stack up to those of yesteryear.

These stats are even more fun in the early stages of the season before the law of averages inevitably settles things down.  After two weeks, here are seven strange stats to ponder about the 2009 baseball season:

1.  To say that Yankees right-hander Chien-Ming Wang is off to a bad start would be an understatement.  Wang’s ERA (34.50) looks more like Dwyane Wade’s scoring average than that of the second starter in the New York Yankees’ rotation.

Wang is 0-3 and might be skipped the next time through the rotation, as he would be scheduled to start against the Red Sox in Fenway on Friday.  Not a good place for righting the ship.

2.  Speaking of the Yankees, they opened the new Yankee Stadium on Thursday, and the media is already discussing how balls are simply flying into the right field seats.

In the first four games at the new stadium (a series split with the Cleveland Indians), 20 home runs were hit, eight of them in the Yankees’ 22-4 loss on Saturday.

In contrast, players are already groaning about the dimensions between the power alleys at Citi Field.  In six games, 10 home runs have been hit at the Mets’ new ballpark.

Players and media are overreacting to such a small sample size of games.  Before anyone starts labeling the new Yankee Stadium as “Coors Field East” or Citi Field as “Petco Park East,” let’s see what the numbers look like in June or July.

3.  Most expected the pitching to be the Orioles’ major weakness, and the club has not disappointed.  Through Sunday, the Orioles had a 6.49 team ERA.

What’s more surprising is four teams in Major League Baseball sported an ERA worse than that.  The Rangers (6.59), Yankees (6.84), Indians (6.88), and Phillies (7.16) all trail the Orioles through the first two weeks of the season.

4.  Though the Orioles’ team ERA may not be the worst in baseball, opponents are hitting .327, good for last in the majors.  The next closest teams are the Yankees and Phillies, who both have allowed opponents to hit .292.

The Orioles need to miss more bats and play better defense to improve this mark–and win more games.

5.  Despite trading for slugger Matt Holliday and bringing Jason Giambi back to the Bay Area, the Athletics have hit only three home runs in 12 games this season, fewest in the majors.

Sixteen players in the American League have more home runs than the Athletics.  Major-league home run leader Carlos Quentin has more than twice as many (7).

The San Francisco Giants are next-to-last in the majors with six home runs.  Is there something in the Bay Area water?

6.  For anyone wondering how the San Diego Padres would fare in the post-Trevor Hoffman era, the answer is quite well so far this season.

New closer Heath Bell has seven saves to lead all of baseball and has not surrendered a run in seven outings.

And Hoffman?  He has yet to throw a pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers after going on the DL with a strained right oblique before the season began.  He’s scheduled to go on a minor league assignment this week before being activated as early as next weekend.

7.  Most people were debating whether the Mets or Phillies would finish atop the NL East, but the Florida Marlins have baseball’s best record with an 11-1 mark in the first two weeks.

The Marlins have a good young rotation led by Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad, and Anibal Sanchez.

The fact that Hanley Ramirez really hasn’t gotten going yet (hitting only .245) should make the Mets and Phillies sweat a little bit more.

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