By Marc Lawrence — The 2021 MLB starts this Thursday and ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian is on the scene like white on rice.
The venerable reporter has laid out his top observations on the season ahead with arcane stats, wild coincidences, and names that randomly connect.
Among the 30 things he calls out, one per team, that excite him the most about this season are…
The best pitcher ever named Shane had a historic season in 2020. Shane Bieber became the only pitcher ever to have a winning percentage (.889) and strikeout-per-nine-innings rate (14.2) that high, and an ERA (1.63) that low in a season of 75 innings pitched. Better yet, like last year, he’s added another pitch to his repertoire.
Dynamic shortstop Bo Bichette might become the first player to sign a $100 million contract before he plays 100 games in the big leagues…
In an era in which seemingly everyone hits a home run, second baseman Nick Madrigal had 35 hits last year – and 32 were singles. Hooray. Someone who still values a hit. Thirty times since 1900 has a player had 175 singles in a season. Only Ichiro (twice) has ever had 200 singles in one season. By year’s end, Madrigal will have more singles than Elvis.
Max Scherzer calls Miguel Cabrera “the greatest hitter ever to walk this planet.” And with 13 more home runs and 134 more hits, Cabrera will become the sixth player to join the 500-homer club and the 3,000-hits club.
The young pitching in the Miami rotation is electrifying, led by Sixto Sanchez. For more of Kurkjian’s takes, click here.
When ordering from today’s Elite 8 round menu, you can take Gonzaga from Column A, who won 26 straight games by double-digit margins and is 6-0 SUATS against Pac-12 foes coming off a win of 5 or more points.
Or choose USC from Column B, knowing that No. 4 or worse seeds with a .742 or better win percentage facing No. 1, 2, or 3 seeds in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tourney are 14-1 ATS.
The answer likely lies inside the fortune cookie.
Grinding Out The Profits
The Atlanta Hawks are 10-1 ATS on Tuesdays versus Western Conference foes.
The Phoenix Suns are 2-10 ATS as home chalk against Atlanta’s Southeast Division, and 3-10 SUATS at home on Tuesdays.
Connect the dots.