There are always what-ifs, but this year had some odder ones than usual.
The LA Dodgers, the best team in baseball based on Pythagorean W-L, need to win a one-game wild card battle against a damned good pitcher (Adam Wainwright) to make the real playoffs. Breaks of the game. They won one less game than the best in baseball, but the only team that won more games happens to be in the same division. To make matters even worse, even if they win that playoff, the Boys in Blue will have to face the top-seeded Giants, and will not have Scherzer available for a while, since he would need to rest after starting the wild-card game.
The Toronto Blue Jays didn’t make the playoffs at all. In fact, they finished fourth in their own division, despite the facts that (1) their record was good enough to win the NL East, and (2) their ratio of runs scored to runs allowed was the fifth best in baseball, better than six of the teams that are still in the hunt.
Some long-ball achievements:
- Marcus Semien set the record for most home runs by a second baseman in a season (45)
- Salvador Perez set the record for most home runs by a catcher in a season (48)
- Vlad Guerrero set the record for the most homers by a player aged 22 or younger (48)
- Shohei Ohtani – what can you say? The record for home runs in a season by a player with 20 or more pitching appearances was set by Babe Ruth with 11 homers in a season in which he was 13-7 as a pitcher. Ohtani hit 46. So he kinda passed that 11 mark. And his W-L record was 9-2!
Add an asterisk here: Ruth is no longer in second place because the Negro League records are now officially part of the major league archive. In 1922, Bullet Rogan was 14-8 on the mound and hit 15 homers for the Kansas City Monarchs. Rogan is a Hall of Famer who led the team in home runs, pitching wins and stolen bases that year! According to baseball-reference.com, Rogan finished his career with a .698 winning percentage as a pitcher with a 2.65 ERA. In his spare time, he batted .338 with power.
Sidebar here: the record for a full-time pitcher is 9 homers in a season, held by the great Wes Farrell, in a season in which he pitched 27 complete games! In the years when Babe Ruth was a full-time pitcher, he never hit more than four homers. He maxxed out at 136 at bats in those years, and it was the dead ball era, so four homers was a helluva year! The Bambino was, however, the best left-handed pitcher in the league and won the ERA crown one year, so he kept busy.