First, just as an appetizer, a random muse...This past off-season, one of the moves Billy Beane made that proved to be a winner was to take a chance on injured star Frank Thomas. There was no question about The Big Hurt's talent, and he was affordable because it was anybody's guess whether he could do, post-injuries, what he had done healthy. What if...What if Beane had decided that "injured stars" was the risk he could exploit? What if he had signed Frank Thomas to DH and Nomar Garciaparra (.342 AVG, .412 OBP, 12 HR, 56 RBI) to play 1B? Can you imagine? <dies>
I left out Mike Piazza (.295 AVG, .352 OBP, 14 HR, 43 RBI), because we couldn't DH Thomas and Piazza, and Piazza is a really lousy catcher now, so we couldn't have signed all three guys anyway. But it's interesting to note that all three of those major question marks--all much discussed on AN in January--have turned out to be more like exclamation points. A far cry from the Ron Gant and Eric Karros experiments, eh?
OK, now the main course. It's time for today's game of "Are You Surprised?" Read each fact and answer honestly whether or not you knew it/would have guessed it/or are maybe surprised to hear it...
- The A's are the only AL West team that has a winning record at home.
- The Minnesota Twins have the 6th best record in the major leagues.
- The Devil Rays and Orioles have as many road wins as the Twins have--17.
- 9 out of the 16 National League teams are within 5 games of the .500 mark.
- Of the only 11 of 30 teams that have winning records on the road, three are in the AL West--one of them is the A's.
- As "dramatically bad" as the Royals may seem, they have actually lost only 5 more games than the Devil Rays have--while the Pirates and Royals each have 62 losses.
- The A's have one more triple than Jose Reyes has--and 5 fewer stolen bases.
- Danny Haren has struck out more batters than Barry Zito has (101-97), but he has walked less than half as many (28-62).
- Barry Zito has pitched 138 innings and allowed 12 HRs, while Esteban Loaiza and Kirk Saarloos have combined to pitch 143.2 innings--and allow 26 HRs.
- Despite averaging less than an inning per appearance, Kiko Calero has struck out at least one batter in 15 of his last 20 appearances--over which time his ERA is 0.47.