A few thoughts at the start of this Opening Week, mere hours away from the first Red Sox game of 2016:
- Doubles, a traditional tool of the Red Sox, were scarce in 2015. In April last season the Sox had just 22, the fewest in the first month of play since 1981. For the entire season the 2015 Red Sox had the fewest road doubles of any any team in baseball for the second year in a row. Contrast that with the 2013 club’s 158 road doubles, the 4th most in MLB.
- The Marlins Dee Gordon and Phillies/Blue Jays Ben Revere hit .333 last season on the road, good for the best road AVG in baseball (minimum 200 at-bats). They were followed by Buster Posey (.330), Joey Votto (.326), and one-time Red Sox Yoenis Cespedes (.320). The best Red Sox road AVG was .291 by Xander Bogaerts, ranked 32nd of all MLB players. David Ortiz‘ 22 home runs on the road last season tied him with Nolan Arenado for 3rd most in baseball. Big Papi has the most career doubles of any active player (584).
- Travis Shaw has a healthy .435/.458/.696 slash line in 23 career at-bats vs the Red Sox Opening Day rival Indians, all coming last year. For the past five seasons (minimum 100 at-bats), Dustin Pedroia is 40-for-130 (.308), good for the 10th best mark against Cleveland in that time. The Mariners Kyle Seager is 46-for-121 (.380), the best AVG against The Tribe in that time.
Monday’s game, weather permitting, will the first time the Red Sox have opened a season against the Indians in Cleveland. The other three times (1979, 1977 and 1962) were at Fenway. Since 1980 the Sox are 46-48 at Progressive Field (what was called Jacobs Field until 2008)
- Game time temperature is forecasted to be 35ºF on Opening Day in Cleveland. The Red Sox are 4-6 in games played under 40ºF since 2000. The last game they played in such cold conditions was April 27, 2012 against the White Sox in Chicago. Boston won 10-3. Cold weather suited Paul Konerko just find. The three-time All-Star collected the most hits (32) since the year 2000 in 111 “cold plate” appearances of under 40ºF. The picture here, incidentally, is a snowy Progressive Field on Opening Day in 2007.
- Last year there were 68 major league players with 50+ walks, the lowest such tally in the past 20 years. In 1999 there were 139 such players.
- Alex Rodriguez leads many categories among active players, including home runs per at-bat. On average, he’s gone yard once every 15.05 ABs. David Ortiz is 5th among actives with a 16.11 rate. Interestingly, Hanley Ramirez and Sox newcomer Chris Young are 35th and 37th among actives in this category, averaging a round-tripper every 24.18 and 24.56 ABs, respectively. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire dominated this category with Bonds belting HRs every 6.52 at-bats in 2001, the best single season rate ever recorded. McGwire’s career average of 10.61 ABs per HR eclipsed the longstanding record of Babe Ruth (11.76).
- The Red Sox are 51-49 in 100 years of Opening Day games. Over those 100 games, their most runs scored are 15 (in 1973). Six times they were shut out (most recently in 1976). Twice in the past hundred years they’ve smacked a club-best 5 home runs on the first day of the season, including last year’s opening in Philadelphia (and in 1965).
- Monday marks the anniversary of Red Sox Hideo Nomo‘s no-hitter against the Orioles in 2001, the earliest no-hitter in MLB history, the first no-hitter in Camden Yards history, and the first MLB game called by a subdued Don Orsillo,