Monday, August 27, 2007

Gimme That Old Time Contact Hitting

Today some records involving guys who didn't strike out at all in a season. I set the parameters for this search to be the years 1913-2007 since some (or maybe all) teams are missing batting strikeouts totals for previous years (though, oddly, they have pitching strikeouts recorded).

First up, we need guys to get on base. Let's look at the most walks by anyone who didn't strike out. I'd do OBP, but there aren't many plate appearances in these seasons, but we'll get to that.
  1. Lloyd Waner, 12, 1941
  2. Manny Mota, 10, 1977
  3. Merl Combs, 9, 1949
  4. Davy Jones, 9, 1913
  5. Steve O'Neill, 8, 1928
Since it's the olden days of baseball, we'll need someone to bunt our leadoff guy into scoring position. Let's look at the sacrifice hits leaders. Not surprisingly, there's a number of pitchers at the top, though third baseman Manuel Cueto is up there too:
  1. Johnny Sain, 10, 1946
  2. Manuel Cueto, 5, 1914
  3. Oscar Zamora, 4, 1975
  4. Jim Middleton, 4, 1921
  5. 14 tied with 3
Now we want a guy with a little pop in his bat. Doubles sounds like a good way of measuring that, huh?
  1. Lloyd Waner, 5, 1941
  2. Bill Sherdel, 5, 1925
  3. Biff Pocoroba, 4, 1979
  4. Eddie Murphy, 4, 1919
  5. 10 tied with 3
Our cleanup hitter should be able to smack one out of the park. The list is a little skimpy but here it is nonetheless:
  1. Terry Steinbach, 2, 1986
  2. Carson Bigbee, 2, 1926
  3. 61 tied with 1
Okay, so the chances of a home run are not so good. Maybe our fifth batter should be a guy who is good at knocking runs in. How about those RBI-men:
  1. Johnny Sain, 17, 1946
  2. Johnny McCarthy, 12, 1941
  3. Lloyd Waner, 11, 1941
  4. Willie Jones, 10, 1947
  5. Bill Rariden, 10, 1920
Let's be goofy and say we want speed from the six spot. Here's our stolen base kings:
  1. Larry Lintz, 31, 1976
  2. Herb Washington, 29, 1974
  3. Don Hopkins, 21, 1975
  4. Matt Alexander, 13, 1979
  5. Matt Alexander, 10, 1980
Surprise, surprise, the designated runners of the 1970's top the list. Ah, well, maybe they can swing the bat, too. Assuming they do get on base, who do we want to make sure they run in front of? Let's look at the GIDP leaders:
  1. Bob Garbark, 5, 1938
  2. Dave Hajek, 3, 1996
  3. Al Richter, 3, 1951
  4. Willie Jones, 3, 1947
  5. Stan Galle, 3, 1942
  6. Lloyd Waner, 3, 1941
  7. Red Lynn, 3, 1939
Our eight hitter needs to get on base to clear the pitcher's spot. Let's look at hits leaders:
  1. Lloyd Waner, 64, 1941
  2. Johnny Sain, 28, 1946
  3. Bill Rariden, 25, 1920
  4. Tony Lupien, 17, 1945
  5. Roy Spencer, 17, 1926
  6. Eddie Murphy, 17, 1919
Finally, rather than looking up pitchers, let's look up why these lists tell us next to nothing about the talents of the men therein. Plate appearances leaders:
  1. Lloyd Waner, 234, 1941
  2. Bill Rariden, 108, 1920
  3. Johnny Sain, 104, 1946
  4. Bill Sherdel, 79, 1925
  5. Carson Bigbee, 72, 1926
So maybe the no-strikeout squad would be pretty bad, after all.

5 comments:

Zeyes said...

So maybe the no-strikeout squad would be pretty bad, after all.

Well, that's easy enough to figure out. Just take guys off the top of the PA leader list until you've put together a whole team season worth of plate appearances, say 6200 PA, and total up their production. ;)

Zeyes said...

Hmm, I suppose I shouldn't be so lazy, and actually figure it out myself:

233 players had 14+ PA for a total of 6034 PA - going to 13+ PA increases the total to 6463 in 266 players, which is a bit high for a low-offense "team", so I'll go with 14+. Anyway, those 233 player-seasons combine for a line of .243/.302/.299, with 22 HR, 460 RBI, 68 SB, 21 CS, and 150 SH.

Excluding pitchers, there are 320 player-seasons with 9+ PA (including 164 seasons from the previous set), totalling 6116 PA, with a line of .246/.310/.305, 25 HR, 465 RBI, 106 SB, 33 CS, and 110 SH. Hmm, basically the same.

TheJay said...

Cool, thanks. It might be interesting to just look up the top player at each position by PA and see what happens if you take their 20 PA or whatever and turn it into a 162 game season. It'd be pointless and not at all representative of their skills but probably amusing.

Zeyes said...

Heh, intriguing idea. Dropping out everybody with less than 20 PA, and then limiting it to those players who actually logged most of their games in the field (rather than just PH'ing), how about this team:

P Tom Baker 1935 - 20 PA, .474/.500/.526
C Josh Bard 2004 - 23 PA, .421/.478/.684
1B Guy Sturdy 1924 - 22 PA, .429/.455/.476
2B Don Blasingame 1955 - 23 PA, .375/.545/.438
3B Bobby Brown 1946 - 29 PA, .333/.429/.375
SS Rabbit Maranville 1918 - 42 PA, .316/.381/.368
OF Jose Cruz 1970 - 22 PA, .353/.500/.412
OF Sam Rice 1918 - 25 PA, .348/.400/.391
OF Davy Jones 1915 - 55 PA, .327/.400/.367

I've put the emphasis on their career main positions (in case they actually had a career beyond that one season) in slotting them in; e.g. Brown had 5 games at short and 2 at third that year, but he was mainly a 3B overall.

You're the math major, feel free to figure out a lineup and approximate team run totals for a full season. :)

TheJay said...

Using Dave Pinto's Lineup Analysis tool and their data from that season you get...

Best Lineup:
Blasingame
Bard
Rice
Baker
Sturdy
Jones
Brown
Maranville
Cruz

...good for 7.319 runs per game, or 1187 runs in a 162 game season assuming they all play every day.

Of course, batting a pitcher cleanup probably isn't too smart.

Using their career numbers you get:

Best (reasonable) Lineup:
Sturdy
Rice
Bard
Brown
Cruz
Maranville
Blasingame
Baker
Jones

Giving you 4.690 runs per game, or 760 in a season. To stretch the limits of credibility even further, using Baker's career Runs Allowed per IP and stretching it to 1400 innings (roughly 162 games), we find he'd give up 882 runs in the season. That would give the team a pythagorean winning percentage of 70-92.