MLB: Five Perplexing Facts You Never Knew

The game of baseball is hands down the most statistically advanced sport we know today. With so much coverage, you would think we would know everything by now. However, there are some MLB stats that just blow your mind.

The wave of statistical analysis in the game of baseball has been a widely discussed topic. Traditionalists of the game dismiss its relevance, believing we should stick to more conventional stats like home runs and wins. However, the new age of baseball analysts have been exploring the true talents of MLB players, as now we have a more in-depth look on value. Twenty years ago a player that hit more than 40 home runs was a hot commodity – now those same guys are only valuable if they have a high Wins Above Replacement.

Along with this wave of new statistics has arrived a more in-depth look at stats we know and love. Some of these stats seem to be no-brainers; others are absolutely perplexing. Regardless, today we are looking at five perplexing facts in baseball that you may have not known.

Here’s a big shout out to High Heat Stats and Ryan Spaeder; these guys are two of the smartest baseball minds our community has. Links to their Twitter accounts can be found here and here.

1. Joey Votto is a lot better than you think.

As of May 13, 2016, Joey Votto had only popped up 15 times in his entire career. I cannot tell you how many times he has popped since then, but I am sure it is a very small amount. What I can tell you is at the time of this tweet Joey Votto had just over 4,000 career plate appearances. The number I came up with – 4,095 – results in Votto’s pop-up rate to be 0.3663 percent of plate appearances – or once in every 273 plate appearances.

2. Chris Carter really does strike out a lot.

Sure, it may not be fair to compare Chris Carter to perhaps the best pure hitter of all time, but the fact that he has struck out this many times is staggering. Carter has struck out over twice as many times as Tony Gwynn while having 24.6 percent as many at bats. In fact, Chris Carter is third all-time in strikeout percentage of batters with 2,000 or more plate appearances.

3. Barry Bonds was easily the most feared batter, ever.

It is a well-known fact that Barry Bonds leads all-time in intentional walks with 688 (Albert Pujols being second with 302). However, this shows how feared Bonds really was in his prime, and how little the intentional walk is used. Despite the fact that one of the worst teams in baseball led in intentional walks, it is unbelievable that one player doubled the current leading team.

4. Nolan Ryan was fantastic for a very long time.

Mariano Rivera is regarded as the best closer of all-time and had the most consistent longevity we have ever seen. Despite that, old man Nolan Ryan still accounted for better career numbers than the Sandman. In fact, since 2011 Clayton Kershaw has thrown 5 and 1/3 more innings than Ryan did after turning 40, and still has 16 fewer strikeouts.

5. Mike Trout is truly amazing.

Mike Trout has played for five seasons, while the game of baseball has been played for over a century. In those five seasons Mike Trout has done something that only 0.46 percent of players have done in their entire careers: steal 143 bases and slug 168 home runs. The only players I could find on this list were Barry Bonds and Mickey Mantle, so if you want a full list you know where to go.

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