December: when the 2014 post-season evolves into the pre-2015 hot stove period. Before that switch, sales let’s recall key regular season performances overlooked once the playoffs started. The Dodgers led both leagues in runners-in-scoring position (RISP) hitting average, usa sale batting .286 as a team. The Cardinals’ Matt Holliday was individual leader, health with a .361 risp; ex-Pirate, new Blue Jay Russell Martin finished right behind, with a .360. Another Cardinal, catcher Yadier Molina, turned in the top caught-stealing mark; he threw out just under half of would-be base thieves, 47.7 percent. In the AL, Orioles reserve catcher Caleb Joseph rang up 40.4 percent of runners who tried stealing on him. The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig led NL outfielders with 15 assists. That was second overall, however, to Yoenis Cespedes, who threw out 16 while playing left field for Oakland, then Boston. Who knew Cuban players were such strong-armed guys?
There are significant, but little-noticed stats on the political field as well. Just a little over a third of eligible voters went to the polls in November, 36 percent. Whites accounted for 75 percent of those who went to bat; only 12 percent of blacks went to the balloting plate, down from the mid-teen rate when Skipper Obama was running. WashPost’s official scorer Chris Cillizza assembled the following additional numbers from Election Day exit polls: the Dems beat Team GOP in the women’s-vote race by four percentage points. They had a 13-point margin in the 2008 presidential race and won by 11 points in 2012. The latest single-digit stat is clearly not a good sign for the Dems. White voters gave Team GOP a 22-point margin over the Dems. That’s a big win, but it loses clout because it’s slightly down from what it was four years ago. Possibly more significant, however, is this stat: Latinos voted at a 34-percent rate for Team GOP, up two points from what it was four years ago.
The outlook for the Dems in state houses is even bleaker than that at the federal level. Vox’s Ezra Klein runs down the post-election numbers: “ Democrats control the state legislatures in only 11 states, while Republicans control 30 (the remainder have one chamber held by Democrats and another by Republicans). Similarly, Republicans hold 31 governorships to the Democrats’ 18. Democrats don’t have enough traction in the states for it to be a powerful engine of policy innovation. Their bench is weak.”
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Shock-Time: The trade of Oakland’s Josh Donaldson to Toronto for Brett Lawrie and three prospects is a Billy Beane-engineered shocker, the off-season’s major mystery. It’s also a genuine heart-breaker for Donaldson, who expressed his disappointment feelingly: “The guys in that clubhouse are my brothers, the coaches are my father figures.” (quoted by SF Chronicle’s Susan Slusser)
Upgrade: Why the Blue Jays now think they’re the class in the AL East: “Toronto’s No. 3-4-5 of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Donaldson is as good as any in the game. They combined to hit 98 home runs last season, and with Jose Reyes in the leadoff spot, the Blue Jays will put pitchers in high-leverage situations from the first inning on. This ultimately could mean wearing down starters early…and changing the dynamics of a game.” — MLB.com’s Richard Justice
Upgrade 2: The Mariners can now claim to be competitive with the Angels at the top of the AL East: the signing of Nelson Cruz for four years and $57 million (close to twice X four his one-year 2014 salary with the Orioles) says Seattle is ready to be reckoned with.
Looking for Relief: Let’s call it a purse-off: the Yankees and Dodgers vying to add Andrew Miller to their relief corps. The Yanks, meanwhile, have lots of competition for their closer David Robertson; he, like Miller is likely to command a four-year deal from whomever.
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