Just the Stats: Three Things to Watch for this MLB Season

The following statistics are completely true pieces of information. Use them at your own risk. Results may vary. 

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Will Home Runs Keep Leaving the Park?
We saw a home run rate in 2016 as high as we did since 2000, everyone’s favorite steroid-era campaign (and a year in which Pedro Martinez put up a 1.74 ERA (and 291 ERA+)). There was an average of 1.16 home runs per game in 2016, a big jump from 0.86 home runs per game in 2014. As pitching converges closer to the Three True Outcomes (home run, walk, strikeout), we may see more home runs leaving ballparks near you in 2017.

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Will Anyone Supplant Clayton Kershaw as the Best Pitcher in Baseball?
It’s remarkable when you can only make 21 starts, throw a non-qualifying 149 innings, and still finish fifth in Cy Young voting. Call Clayton Kershaw remarkable and you’re insulting his baseball ability. This is a man who posted a 15.64 K/BB ratio in 2016 and has no signs of slowing down in 2017, giving the Dodgers seven innings in an Opening Day win. If there’s anyone who can knock him off the top rung, it’s division rival, Madison Bumgarner. The NL West will be fun per usual.

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Sleeper Teams for the World Series
Everyone’s looking at the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians to pace their leagues for the second-consecutive season, and as exciting as that may be, let’s look at a couple other teams who can make some noise – the Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers. Despite having never won a playoff series, the Nationals are in a position to win the NL East again, as are the Rangers in the AL West. These two teams are riding young stars – the Nationals’ Bryce Harper and the Rangers’ Rougned Odor – and have the pitching to back up powerful offenses.

Matt Tardiff is the resident stathead at Chin Music Pod and thinks that Opening Day at Fenway Park is better than Christmas. To call him out on his blasphemy, follow him on Twitter @StatTardiff.

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