MASTER NOTES: Quiz Time!

One of the few advantages of languishing at the bottom of the league standings is that I have more time to watch and wonder about the games and the players without having to assign everything to my own fantasy team or my competitors’ teams.

After the excitement of April, May got us settled into the groove of the 2018 season. May was an interesting month, with some great performances, some not-so-great performances, and many curiosities. For this edition of Master Notes, I’ve made up a quiz to test how closely you’ve been following the games and the players.

The quiz has 20 questions, which used to be a parlor game before Siri and Alexa and “Hey Google” wrecked it. So to take this quiz, no looking up the answer on baseball-reference.com. The fact that one of us already did all this research wasted more than enough time. The global economy can only endure so much.

Here's how the quiz works: The questions are at the top, then the answers are at the bottom. Not the most original design, but it works. You’ll have to scroll down a little after the questions to see the answers. No peeking. We’re monitoring your performance. Don’t ask how. The details are known only to Ray Murphy and Edward Snowden, and we're not sure about Ray.

The scoring is very simple: If the home batter hits a 27-hop grounder through the legs of the third baseman, it’s a hit. Wait, that’s different scoring. For the quiz, give yourself one point for each correct answer. If you find an egregious error, let me know on my Twitter feed, @patrickdavitt. Better yet, accept the scorer's decision and keep it to yourself.

There are 10 questions about hitters, then seven about starting pitchers and three about relievers. To qualify, a hitter needed 80+ plate appearances (PA). A hundred and seventy-three met the minimum. Starters needed at least four starts, with 137 qualifying, not including Sergio Romo. And relievers needed six appearances, with 214 qualifying. No animals were injured in the preparation of this test.

Here we go... We’ll start with the hitters:

1: Thirty-seven hitters were HBP more than once in the month. The leader had eight. Who was he?

2: Which trio had the higher aggregated OPS in May: Mookie Betts, JD Martinez and Andrew Benintendi of BOS? Or Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion of CLE?

3: JD Martinez had 13 HR for the month to lead baseball, Jose Ramirez had 11, Francisco Lindor and Bryce Harper had 10 each. Which other player had 10 HR in May?

4: Which group amassed more strikeouts? Joey Gallo, Chris Davis and Mike Zunino? Or Andrelton Simmons, Jose Iglesias, Victor Martinez, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Denard Span, Anthony Rizzo, Buster Posey, Miguel Rojas, Wilmer Difo, Martin Prado, Ben Zobrist, Corey Dickerson and Carlos Santana?

5: Mike Trout played in 29 GP and had 127 PA. He led MLB with 30 walks, good for a 24% walk rate. The question is: Is Mike Trout good? No, that’s not the question. The question is which two other hitters had walk rates over 20% in May? HINT: They have the same first name.

6: Billy Hamilton had 4 SB in May. How many players had more? Bonus point: Name one of them. You only get the bonus point if you get the main question right. No cheating. We’re monitoring your performance. Don’t ask how.

7: Isolated Power (ISO) is an underappreciated stat, identifying players with a lot of extra-base hits who might not have a lot of HR. HRs help, of course, as we see in the top-5 ISO hitters for May: Martinez, Ramirez, Betts, Trout and Lindor. Which Washington hitter is next on the ISO list?

8: The hitters at the bottom of the May ISO are mostly names we’d expect, like Mallex Smith and Travis Jankowski, whose ISOs are under .100. But of these sluggers—Chris Davis, Jay Bruce, Marcell Ozuna, Didi Gregorius and Yulieski Gurriel—who is also below the .100 ISO line?

9: Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) is a sabermetric rate statistic for hitters. wRC+ assigns every offensive action a weight that reflects its value in producing runs, and then controls the outcome for current league norms and park effects. A wRC+ of 100 is league-average. Not surprisingly, Mookie Betts led the world in wRC+ for May at 216, with Jose Ramirez, Trout, and Lindor close behind. Only one other hitter had a May wRC+ over 200, and it wasn’t anyone whose name has come up so far. HINT: He plays for one of the worst teams in either league.

10: Which April MVP candidate was May’s last-place finisher in wRC+?

 

STARTERS (minimum four starts)

1: Three starters had ERAs under 1.00 in May. Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander were two. Who was the third?

2: As well, 11 other starters completed May with elite ERAs under 2.00. Among them, second-year ATL starter Sean Newcomb of ATL led the way with 5 wins. Which veteran was in May’s ERA (and WHIP) elite but had no wins?

3: You might have read about this in the Sunday New York Times: Which starter had the highest Command Ratio (K:BB) in May?

4: We don't count wild pitches or hit batsmen in calculating Control or Command Ratios. We probably should. Name one of the three starters who hit at least 5 batters in May.

5: Now name the wild pitch leader, who had 8 WP in the month.

6: Six starters fired complete-game shutouts: Justin Verlander, Miles Mikolas, Gerrit Cole, James Paxton (a no-hitter), Daniel Mengden and Luis Severino blanked their opponents. Which one of the six was the only pitcher to throw a second CG in the month?

7: In what unfortunate stat did Dylan Bundy, Mike Minor, Bartolo Colon, Danny Duffy and Homer Bailey lead all starters in May?

 

RELIEVERS (minimum six appearances)

1: Craig Kimbrel of BOS and Brad Hand (SD) led baseball with 11 saves each in May. Who led in Holds?

2: Seven RPs had 20 or more strikeouts in May. The first six were Josh Hader (27); Brad Hand (22); Amir Garrett and Edwin Diaz (21 each); and Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances (20 each). Who was the seventh reliever with 20 Ks?

3: Which former closer led baseball in “vulture wins” in relief?

The answers are below.

 

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You are getting very sleepy...

 

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Ben met Anna

 

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Made a hit

 

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Neglected beard

 

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Ben-Anna split!

 

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Burma Shave

 

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ANSWERS (finally)

HITTERS

1: May’s HBP leader was Nelson Cruz of SEA, who took eight for the team. Ouch.

2: The CLE trio had an aggregate OPS of 1.123, while the BOS troika notched a combined 1.110. Curiously, both groups had exactly 28 HR.

3: The other member of May’s double-digit HR club was Nomar Mazara of TEX.

4:  Gallo, Davis and Zunino combined for 124 Ks in 306 PA. The larger group together struck out 127 times—in over 1,200 PA. Andrelton Simmons had 125 PA and struck out twice, also drawing 12 walks for an Eye Ratio of 6.00.

5: The two other walk rates over 20% were a couple of Justins—Justin Bour (21%) and Justin Smoak (20%). Eduardo Nunez had 96 PA in 24 games, and didn’t draw a single walk.

6: Fourteen baserunners had 5+ SB to top Hamilton: Mookie Betts (10); Whit Merrifield (8); Mike Trout, Jean Segura, Delino DeShields, and Travis Jankowski (7 each); Mallex Smith and Jose Peraza (6 each); and Jose Ramirez, Christian Yelich, Jose Altuve, Ender Inciarte, Cesar Hernandez, and Kevin Pillar (5 each).

7: The unlikely ISO leader is Matt Adams of WAS. If you said Bryce Harper, I say, “Ha!” If you said “Alexander Ovechkin,” I say, “You might have been watching the wrong sport.” But I can’t blame you. There’s nothing like a Stanley Cup final. And good for Ovie, who did show some pretty decent power.

8: Again, I say “Ha!” It’s a trick question! They all have ISOs below .100. Davis and Bruce are the highest in the group, at .089, which is a point less than Travis Jankowski and four points short of Mallex Smith.

9: The other hitter with a wRC+ over 200 in May was Scooter Gennett of CIN. The 45% hit rate might have played a role.

10: The tail-end Charlie in wRC+ for May was Yankees’ SS Didi Gregorius, who had a 199 wRC+ in April, and a zero in May. From 100 points over league average to 100 points under in 31 days. Baseball is a crazy game.

 

STARTERS

1: The third sub-1.00 ERA belonged to Phillies RHP Jake Arrieta, at 0.90 for May. All while griping about the infield shifts.

2: OAK RHP Trevor Cahill had four starts with a 1.73 ERA (and an 0.81 WHIP), but didn’t record a win. By contrast, Cahill’s rotation-mate Andrew Triggs also had four starts, with a 5.89 ERA and 1.31 WHIP—and he got one win! And since we’re on the topic, Homer Bailey of CIN had a 9.76 ERA and 2.28 WHIP in the month, both second-worst to Matt Moore of TEX, but Bailey got one win in his six starts. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Wins are dumb.

3: In six starts, CLE RHP Corey Kluber had 41 strikeouts... and one walk. You don’t need your smartphone calculator to figure out that’s a Command Ratio of 41.0. The walk was issued in a game in which Kluber also gave up his only two HRs of the month, and took the loss. Had the powerhouse CLE offense scored 4 runs instead of 2, Kluber wins. Losses are dumb, too.

4: Give yourself a point if you named Sean Manaea or Lucas Giolito, both of whom hit six batters, or Chris Sale, who plunked five.

5: Garrett Richards was the "Wild Thing" in May, with those 8 WP in May, three more than runner-up Zack Godley of ARI.

6: The second complete game also belonged to James Paxton, who beat DET 7-2 just two starts after his no-no against TOR. The SEA lefty also had a seven-inning start against OAK with 17 (!) strikeouts.

7: These five starters gave up the most HRs in the month. Bundy served up 13 taters, while the others had nine apiece. Two pitchers—Matt Boyd and Sean Newcomb—had six starts each but kept the ball in the yard the whole month.

 

RELIEVERS

1: The Hold leader was Kimbrel’s penmate Joe Kelly, with 9. Another Red Sox reliever, Matt Barnes, had 8, tied with Will Harris of HOU.

2: The seventh reliever in the 20-K club was Diaz’ SEA penmate Juan Nicasio.

3: Former TEX closer Alex Claudio rang up four vulture wins in the month—the same win total as ace starters Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Aaron Nola and Luis Severino, and more than almost every other starter in baseball. Did I mention wins are dumb?

 

That’s the Master Notes May quiz for ... well, June. Don’t bother telling us how you did. We already know.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.