Top 15 facts, figures from memorable season

Top 15 facts, figures from memorable season

In what has become a year-end tradition, MLB.com takes a look back at the top storylines of the year -- the Top 15 for 2015.

It's time to officially close the books on 2015, but before we do just that, let's take one last look back at the season that was.

From the Royals snapping a three-decade World Series drought, to a 260-pound designated hitter leading his team in triples, to a pitcher recording the lowest ERA in 20 years and not winning the Cy Young Award, the '15 season offered plenty of lasting memories.

In honor of 2015 drawing to a close, the following is a look at 15 of the most interesting facts and figures from this past season and postseason. It was by no means an easy task to limit the list to only 15 tidbits, but that's what the calendar called for.

Without further ado, here's the statistical recap of the year that was in Major League Baseball.

1. The Royals won their first World Series in 30 years, thanks largely to the fact that they scored a postseason-record 51 runs in the seventh inning or later. That staggering amount shattered the previous record of 36 such runs, held by the 2002 Angels.

Royals win WS 30 years apart

2. The Cubs hit a postseason-record six home runs in Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals. Not only did they set the single-game postseason home run record, but five of the six home runs came from players 26 years old or younger. That made them just the third team -- in either the postseason or regular season -- to have five players, all 26 or younger, hit a homer in the same game.

3. The percentage of pitches thrown at 95 mph or higher jumped significantly to 9.1 percent in 2015. To put that in perspective, the percentage of 95-mph pitches had fallen somewhere between 4.8-6.9 percent in each of the previous seven seasons. The Mets played a key role in that increase, logging the highest percentage of 95-plus-mph pitches, at 22.1 percent -- while no other team reached 15 percent. The lowest percentage of 95-mph pitches belonged to the A's, who had only 1.3 percent of their pitches (301 of 23,497) clock in at 95 mph or higher.

4. Astros slugger Evan Gattis finished the year with a team-leading 11 triples. That alone is a bewildering statistic, considering he had only one triple in 213 career games entering last season, but it becomes even more perplexing when factoring in that, despite legging out 11 triples, he did not steal a single base. He was the first player since Dale Long in 1955 to record at least 11 triples and zero stolen bases in the same season. Though he has plenty of time left to swipe a bag, Gattis' 12 career triples are currently the second-most for any player who never stole a base, behind only Russ Nixon (19).

Gattis records 11 triples in '15

5. Padres starter Andrew Cashner made history on June 1 against the Mets, when he became the first pitcher to record both double-digit strikeouts and hits allowed in fewer than five innings pitched. Yet after not occurring once in 115 years of Major League games, it would take less than 24 hours to happen again -- in the same exact ballpark involving the same two teams, no less. One night after Cashner struck out 12 and allowed 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings against New York, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard struck out 10 and allowed 10 hits in only four innings against Cashner's Padres. It hasn't happened again.

6. Max Scherzer tossed not one, but two no-hitters in his debut season with the Nationals. In doing so, he joined Nolan Ryan (1973), Virgil Trucks (1952), Allie Reynolds (1951) and Johnny Vander Meer (1938) as the only pitchers to throw multiple no-hitters in the same regular season. That said, the manner in which Scherzer recorded his first no-hitter -- a June 20 gem against the Pirates -- put him in even rarer company. That's because Scherzer came within one out of a perfect game before hitting Jose Tabata with a two-out pitch in the bottom of the ninth. He's one of only two pitchers, along with the Giants' George Wiltse (1908), to lose a perfect game on a hit by pitch with two outs in the ninth inning -- and only the 13th pitcher overall to lose a perfecto against the 27th hitter.

Scherzer's no-hitter

7. Cole Hamels tossed a no-hitter of his own this season, making history by becoming the first player to be traded in-season immediately after throwing a no-hitter. The only other pitcher to be traded after throwing a no-hitter in his previous start was Bert Blyleven, who threw a no-hitter in his final start of the 1977 season before being traded in the ensuing offseason. In fact, Hamels is one of only three pitchers -- along with Cliff Chambers (1951) and Edwin Jackson (2010) -- to throw a no-hitter and be traded at any point in that same season.

Hamels fans 13 in no-hitter

8. Take your pick when it comes to Zack Greinke stats. The now-former Dodgers ace racked up a 1.66 ERA, the lowest in the Majors since Greg Maddux (1.63) in 1995. The most dominant stretch in his historic season came from June 18-July 26, when he pitched 45 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, marking the fourth-longest such streak since 1961. To further put Greinke's dominance in perspective, consider that the 43 runs he allowed all season were less than the number of runs allowed by 71 different pitchers before the All-Star break.

While Greinke posted the lowest individual ERA in 20 years, the Cardinals registered the lowest team ERA in 27 years. Despite losing ace Adam Wainwright to injury on April 25 -- with the exception of his return for three innings in September -- St. Louis' pitching staff finished the year with a 2.94 combined ERA, the lowest since the 1988 Mets put up a 2.91 ERA.

9. Cubs ace Jake Arrieta had a historic campaign of his own, turning in the most dominant second-half by a pitcher in Major League history. His 0.41 ERA from Aug. 1 until the end of the regular season was by far the lowest from August onward in Major League history. In fact, the second-lowest ERA in that span, Spud Chandler's 0.83 ERA in 1943, was more than double Arrieta's record-setting mark. Arrieta continued to make history in the posteason, becoming the first pitcher to tally double-digit strikeouts and no walks in a postseason shutout when he struck out 11 and walked none in Chicago's NL Wild Card Game victory over the Pirates.

Best Breakout Player: Arrieta

10. Chris Sale led the American League with 274 strikeouts, while also tying Pedro Martinez's record by striking out 10 or more batters in eight consecutive starts from May 23-June 30. Yet despite tying a record held by one of the all-time greats, Sale had his share of tough luck during the streak. In two of those eight starts, Sale did not get a win despite striking out 12-plus hitters and allowing no more than one run in at least eight innings pitched. The rest of the Major Leagues had three such combined outings all season (Stephen Strasburg, Corey Kluber and Chris Archer).

11. Meanwhile, the Rockies were the only team in the Majors to not have a starting pitcher record at least 10 strikeouts in any game this season. In fact, every other team recorded at least two such games. Colorado also trailed the Majors in that category in 2014, when they had only one such outing (Jorge De La Rosa). By contrast, the Indians have led the Majors in 10-strikeout starts in each of the last two years, compiling 38 such starts to Colorado's one.

12. David Ross turned in one of the most unusual game logs of the season on July 26, when the Cubs' catcher entered the game to pitch a scoreless top of the ninth inning before then leading off the bottom half with a home run. As if that wasn't strange enough, that would prove to be the only home run Ross would hit in 182 plate appearances this season. In other words, the 14-year veteran catcher finished the year with more scoreless innings pitched (two) than home runs (one).

Ross' perfect 9th

Ross, however, wasn't alone when it came to position players making noise on the mound in 2015. On June 16, three position players -- Jeff Francoeur (Phillies), Jake Elmore (Rays) and Nick Franklin (Rays) -- all pitched for their respective teams, marking the first time that three non-pitchers pitched on the same day since Aug. 29, 1979. It then took only 24 hours to happen again, as Ryan Raburn (Indians), David Murphy (Indians) and Alexi Amarista (Padres) all took the hill the very next night. Amarista also homered in that contest, meaning he and Ross both pitched and homered within the same game in 2015 -- an accomplishment that hadn't been accomplished by a position player since 2009 (Nick Swisher).

13. It's only fitting, in what seemingly became the year of position players pitching, that Blue Jays utility infielder Cliff Pennington became the first true position player to pitch in a postseason game. Pennington took over on the mound with the Jays trailing the Royals, 14-2, in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series. He ultimately faced three hitters, meaning he faced more batters than he did pitchers -- he had only two plate appearances -- in the postseason.

14. Mets prospect Steven Matz took the Major Leagues by storm not only with his arm, but also with his bat in his big league debut. Along with allowing only two runs over 7 2/3 innings in his highly anticipated June 28 debut, Matz went 3-for-3 with four RBIs at the plate. In doing so, he became the first pitcher with four RBIs in his MLB debut, and only the 11th player since 1914, regardless of position, with at least three hits and four RBIs in his debut. Amazingly, three of those 11 debuts -- Matz, Joey Gallo and Mark Canha -- came this season.

Must C: Amazin' Matz debut

15. Astros ace Dallas Keuchel went 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his 18 home starts this past season. In doing so, he became the first pitcher to go undefeated at home with at least 14 wins in one season. The previous record for most home wins without a loss in one season was 13, a mark held by Tex Hughson (1944) and Dave Ferriss (1946).

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.