With Monday’s 9-4 victory at Cleveland, the Royals extended their AL Central lead to eight full games — their largest lead in the three-division era. Kansas City has been as much as 43 games out of first place (in 2005), and has led in the second half only twice in that span (2003, 2014).
With an American League-leading record of 59-38, the Royals are in uncharted territory. Kansas City needs to win only half its remaining games to post its first 90-win season since 1989, and it appears headed for its second straight trip to the postseason. The Royals traded for Reds ace Johnny Cueto on Sunday, solidifying their rotation in an attempt to return to the World Series.
Data via Baseball-Reference; shows qualifying pitchers only
Pedro Martinez, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, was unparalleled at his peak. After joining the American League in 1998, Martinez threw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title six times; he finished first in four of those years and second in a fifth. Only twice since 1995 has a pitcher led the field in ERA by at least 1.00: Martinez in 1999 (by 1.37), and Martinez in 2000 (by 1.96).
Data via Baseball-Reference.com
Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio will all be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend, composing one of the most memorable classes of recent years. Per JAWS, a metric that combines career and peak value to measure Hall of Fame worthiness, Johnson and Martinez are the first two players with scores of 70+ to be inducted simultaneously since Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson in 1982. (The average Hall of Fame player generally has a score around 55.) The above chart shows JAWS scores for all players elected by the BBWAA since the modern era of voting began in 1966.