Great Moments in Strat – July 2014

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            We have reached the halfway point of my replay, which uses the best hitting cards from 1999-2001, combined with the worst pitching cards from the same period. Purists have been cringing at the unprecedented offensive explosion that the season has brought. Those fans who have been paying attention have been treated to an action-packed year, full of incredible feats and close pennant races.
            Through the All-Star Break, a total of 1,318 games, we have seen an incredible 4,871 home runs, a jaw-dropping 3.7 per game. Three teams have already popped 200 round-trippers (Rockies, Giants and Mariners), and every team has at least 121. Every team in Major League Baseball is currently on pace to at least tie its team single-season home run record. The MLB batting average sits at a record .314, and the per-game scoring average is 14.88 runs per game. Doubles, triples and stolen bases are up sharply as well. The MLB ERA is a slow-pitch softball-like 6.94, as no team has better than a 5.69 ERA (The Braves, the only team under 6.00).
            Ten players already have at least 40 bombs, led by Barry Bonds, who has an amazing 55! Mark McGwire is second with 48. Ken Griffey Jr. leads the AL with 47. Perhaps more amazing than that are the exploits of Darin Erstad. Erstad has broken Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak record, set in 1941. The streak is still going, as Erstad has hit in a whopping 61 consecutive games! As for hitting leaders, Todd Helton leads the way, with a .448 average, and Mike Sweeney leads the AL with a .433 average (Erstad is next on the list, at .413). Helton also leads the majors in RBI, with 150. Rickey Henderson’s stolen base record of 130 looks as if it will also fall, as Luis Castillo already has 86 thefts. On the pitching side, Kevin Brown leads the majors with a 3.79 ERA, followed by Pedro Martinez’s 3.90. They are the only two pitchers below 4.00 for the season.
            The pennant races add to the excitement. Only two division leaders have leads of more than 2 games. In the NL West, the first and last place teams are separated by just 7 games. The best record in the majors belongs to the Cleveland Indians, at 57-30. Right behind them sits the best story in baseball in the first half, the Kansas City Royals. Most experts picked the Royals to finish 4th or 5th in the AL Central, but the Royals sit at 57-31, just a half-game behind the Indians. The best record in the NL belongs to the Atlanta Braves, at 54-37. The NL wild-card race has been really close, with the top seven teams separated by just 5 1/2 games.
Donald Gordon, Montclair, CA
To view the full league stats and standings from Donald’s simulated season, click here.