Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lowest OPS by a LF in a Season Since 1920

This is where the current system I'm using seems to break down a little. Corner outfielders are generally assumed to be interchangeable. Heck, Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel spent the 1920's alternating between right field and left field during every season. That means more players may slip through the cracks. However, I'm not entirely sure how to avoid that short of setting up another list later that simply lists players that spent 75% of their games in the outfield, regardless of position. Unfortunately that may also be skewed by poor-hitting, speedy center fielders. For now, I'll just keep making the lists in the same way as I have been, with the disclaimer that it's possible players have slipped through the cracks. Hopefully the numbers are bad enough that it gives a representative picture of mediocrity anyway.

So with that in mind, here is the standard intro:

As for all the positions: the explanation of why I chose to look at seasons since 1920 can be found here. The short story is I wanted to avoid the low-power years of the deadball era while compiling lists of poor-hitting position players.

Qualifiers also remain the same: the player must have qualified for the batting title during the season while playing 75% or more of his games in left field.

George Case1946CLE528.
Brian Hunter1999DET/SEA589.232.280.301.581
Vince Coleman1986STL670.232.301.280.581
Don Buford1972BAL485.206.326.267.593
Ron LeFlore1981CHW369.246.304.300.604
Morrie Arnovich1940PHI/CIN383.250.305.301.606
Maurice Van Robay1942PIT362.232.298.311.609
Vince Coleman1994KCR477.240.285.340.625
Jeffery Leonard1988SFG/MIL569.242.276.352.628
Gil Coan1948WSH565.232.298.333.631
Carlos May1974CHW604.249.306.334.640
Al Spangler1964HOU505.245.311.334.645
Red Schoendienst1945STL597.278.305.343.648
Vince Coleman1989STL624.254.316.334.650
Duffy Lewis1920NYY407.271.320.332.652
Lou Piniella1973KCR553.250.291.361.652
Vince Coleman1988STL679.260.313.339.652
Hal Lee1933PHI/BSN527.244.300.353.653
Luis Polonia1993CAL637.271.328.326.654

My first impression is that Vince Coleman shows up a heck of a lot. Four times in the top twenty and five times in the top twenty-five makes him the Aurelio Rodriguez of this list. Coleman had a bunch of speed, so it's interesting to think how many bases he would have stolen if only he'd gotten on base at even an average rate (not to mention avoided tarps...too soon?)

Coleman's career OPS was .669 - only twenty-eight qualifying seasons by left fielders featured an OPS below that (and, as mentioned, Coleman had five of those). As it is, an OPS under .700 has been turned in only sixty-five times. Five of those have taken place since 2000:
  • Roger Cedeno, 2002, .664
  • Carl Crawford, 2003, .671
  • Rickey Henderson, 2000, .673
  • Scott Podsednik, 2006, .683
  • Chuck Knoblauch, 2001, .690
Podsednik's celebrated homer-less 2005 gave him an OPS of exactly .700, so it's not like he had a fluke year. The lowest OPS put up by a left fielder in 2007 was Shannon Stewart's .739 for Oakland. Shockingly, in his age 28 season Jason Bay was only six points above that number -- how long has it been since he represented Canada in the world home run derby?

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