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Fun with small sample sizes, Jon Niese edition
Part of the new charm of Opening Day is the wave of "on-pace" references that flood social media.
For instance, the Nationals' Bryce Harper hit a pair of homers to lead the Nationals to victory, which naturally led to predictions of a 324-homer season. The Yankees got drubbed by the Red Sox, putting them on track for the game's first 0-162 campaign. And Mets' third baseman David Wright swiped two bases, meaning that Billy Hamilton and Rickey Henderson might want to start looking over their shoulders.
But my favorite on-pace projection belongs to Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese. Sure, he allowed just two runs in 6 2/3 innings on Monday against the Padres to win his Opening Day. However, it's what he did at the plate that lands him in elite on-pace company. No pitcher in baseball helped his own cause more than than Niese, who finished 2-for-2 with a walk an RBI and a run scored.
Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin got a hit on Monday, as did the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, who hit a solo homer against the defending-champion Giants. But only Niese. a career .158 hitter, collected multiple hits among the Opening Day pitchers.
For one day, everything seemed to go right for the Mets.
Niese became only the third pitcher to collect multiple knocks on Opening Day, joining Tom Glavine in 2006 against the Nationals and Craig Swan in 1980 against the Cubs. For Niese, Monday's big day at the plate was just the fourth multi-hit game in his career.
Niese woke up on Tuesday with a slash line of 1.000/1.000/1.000, putting him on-pace for the greatest offensive season ever. See, aren't small sample sizes fun?