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Fun Facts From the First Week of 2022 Baseball

We're officially one series into the 2022 MLB season, and, as is typical of baseball, we've got some wacky things to discuss.

Joey Votto's Popup Galore

If there's one thing Joey Votto's known for besides his TikTok account, it's his incredible bat. Since breaking into the league in 2007, he's been one of the best hitters out there.

One thing Joey Votto has done better than anyone else is avoid popping out on the infield. His 1.7% IFFB rate is the second-lowest since 2007, and the person ahead of him hasn't played since 2016 (Ryan Howard).

Votto is also famous for taking 6829 PAs to pop out to 1B and has only done it one more time since.

Before this season, he had also never popped out to the pitcher. Never.

So, of course, the 17 PAs he had during the opening series included a popout to 1B and his first-ever popout to a pitcher.

Tim Kurkjian was super excited about the latter fact, too:

Seiya Ball? Don't Swing

Seiya Suzuki had an impressive opening series in his first season in the States. The Japanese standout, who signed with the Cubs this past offseason after eight seasons in Japan, hit .375/.538/.750 in his 13 PAs. Pretty great, but that wasn't the crazy thing. This was:

This 3.8 chase rate is by far the best in the league, and has led to Suzuki drawing 4 BBs in just 3 games. Barry Bonds might be hiding in terror.

Steven Kwan. That Is All.

Right before the season began, popular baseball YouTuber, Foolish Baseball, posted 5 players he liked on his Foolish Bailey channel. One of the 5 was a player who had yet to suit up on an MLB field before.

And that player was Steven Kwan.

It's only been 3 games, but so far, it looks like Foolish Baseball was right on the mark.

In 14 PAs, Kwan is hit .800(!), with 2 doubles and 3 walks, giving him an absurd .800/.857/1.000 (395 wRC+) and a 0.6 fWAR in just the first series. This is a 30 WAR/150 pace.

He's also 1 of 4 batters who have yet to swing and miss (as of the end of the first weekend of baseball).

Steven Kwan. Holy cow.

(EDIT: On Monday, after I completed this, he went 1-3 with 2 BBs and a bases-clearing triple.)

Spencer Strider, Oh My God

Admittedly, this is because I'm a Braves fan, but I can't stop thinking about what Spencer Strider did on Thursday.

Strider's already had a meteoric rise. After missing 2019 due to Tommy John, Strider was only able to pitch in 4 games for Clemson in 2020 before the season's cancellation.

The Braves believed in him enough to draft him in 4th round that year and started him off in low-A Augusta in 2021. He pitched in all 4 levels of the minors last season and even pitched in two games for the big league club at the end of the season.

What he didn't do? Record his 1st K.

He took care of that, and then some on Thursday night.

He took over in the 7th with the Braves down 6-1. This is what he did:

Not only did Strider record his 1st K, but he also struck out 5 of the 6 batters he faced. All 5 were on his fastball, and they were all really, really fast.

And have to see his pitching slashline: 0.00/-1.94/-1.21. Yes, his FIP and xFIP are negative.

Joey Gallo's Very Bad, No Good Weekend (Was Very Unlucky)

For the casual Yankees fan, Joey Gallo is the worst, most overrated player in existence. But I have a feeling they might change their minds in a month or so.

While Gallo's .100/.308/.100 slashline is ugly to look at, Gallo got very, very unlucky.

Let's start with this flyout.

This might look like a casual flyout, but it was most certainly not. I'll let David Adler explain why:

Gallo made contact that previously had a 1.000 XBA, only for it to fall for an out.

And this wasn't the only misfortune. Of course, Gallo's K% is its usual high self, but he's put a ball in play 6 of his 13 PAs (4 Ks and 3 BBs). His wOBA was .230, categorized as "awful" by FanGraphs.

His xwOBA? .542, 90th percentile in all of baseball. In fact, if you looked at his Baseball Savant Page, you wouldn't think you were looking at a player who failed to record an extra-base hit over the first series of games.

These are 5 facts that really stood out to me over the weekend, but I know I missed some.

You can comment below or @ us on Twitter @theleftycatcher to let us know about the ones we missed.


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