Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Only "Ghost" in MLB History?

One of the cool things about Baseball-Reference's search function is you can look for nicknames as well as given names. Apropos of Halloween, I decided to look up "ghost" and see what happened. It turns out that only one player in major league history had a nickname with "Ghost" in it, and he's already been mentioned on this site.

Jo-Jo Moore, a New York Giants outfielder from 1930-1941, was nicknamed "The Gause Ghost." He came from Gause, Texas, so the origin of part of the nickname is obvious. I don't know where the ghost part comes from, but his BR Bullpen (Baseball-Reference's wiki) page states:

Moore was known to be a first-ball hitter, and some opposing managers would fine their pitchers if they threw Moore a strike on the first pitch.

He is listed by Bill James as the # 77 left-fielder of all time.

Pretty interesting stuff. Happy Halloween and hopefully everyone stays safe trick-or-treating.

UPDATE: jsackmann points out Oliver "Ghost" Marcelle was a famous Negro Leaguer.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Most Career Games Pitched, No Wins

This post is similar to the previous one but rather than looking for players with no decisions, its focus is players with zero career wins. Some of the names overlap, but there's been a fair amount of winless pitchers to throw in a lot of games. Of the 2,408 pitchers with zero career wins, there are twenty-two that have appeared in forty or more games. A number of these guys are still active, so the list will be fluid next season.

With that in mind, here are the winless wonders. As with yesterday, active pitchers are bolded:

Ed Olwine8089.21LHP
Juan Alvarez8060.15LHP
Chris Britton6366.13RHP
Franquelis Osoria6175.26RHP
Erik Plantenberg6142.10LHP
Terry Felton55138.116RHP
Frank Fanovich55105.05LHP
Rob Mallicoat5153.22LHP
Jeff Kaiser5052.02LHP
Ross Powell4853.15LHP
Mike Kinnunen4851.20LHP
Bob Moorhead47119.23RHP
John Lamb4766.12RHP
Erik Schullstrom4660.00RHP
Mike Burns4552.00RHP
Steve Sinclair4534.13LHP
Marcos Carvajal4257.02RHP
Scott Forster4232.01LHP
Brad Voyles4068.14RHP
Ron Tompkins4050.02RHP
Carmen Cali4034.11LHP
Chad Bentz4029.23LHP

Though I didn't bold his name Chad Bentz pitched this season for the Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent league team featuring other ex-major leaguers like Quinton McCracken, Brian Boehringer, and Matt Perisho, among others. It's not inconceivable that he'd be able to catch on again in some team's minor league system and the fact he's lefthanded makes it that much more probable.

Another interesting name is Terry Felton. Despite support from Brooks Robinson, Felton was released after going 0-13 for the Twins in 1982. He never appeared in the majors again and holds both the record for most career losses without a win with 16 (Steve Gerkin and Charlie Stecher are the only winless others to lose as many as ten) and the record for most losses in a season without a win with 13.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Most Career Games Pitched, No Decisions

Shortly after the season ended, I noted Trever Miller had set a single-season record for most games pitched without a decision. Today I want to look at the career leaders for most games without a win or a loss.

There have been thirty-one pitchers in baseball history to appear in 20+ games without moving their career record off 0-0. Overall, 1,417 pitchers have appeared in at least one game without a career decision.

UPDATE (2/11/13): There are now 35 pitchers who have appeared in 20+ games without a decision.  The table below has been updated through 2012.  The active contenders (pitched in majors or minors in 2012) are bolded:

Erik Plantenberg6142.1LHP
Mike Kinnunen4851.2LHP
Erik Schullstrom4660.0RHP
Greg Jones3847.2RHP
Allen McDill3834.2LHP
Tom Qualters3452.2RHP
Mike Neu3346.0RHP
Dae-Sung Koo3323.0LHP
Harry Shuman3050.2RHP
Dustin Richardson2916.1LHP
Mike Hinckley2823.1RHP
Scott Watkins2721.2LHP
Eulogio de la Cruz2732.0RHP
Don Rowe2654.2LHP
Wayne Schurr2648.1RHP
Tim Kubinski2525.0LHP
Roberto Vargas2524.2LHP
Ron Diorio2520.1RHP
John Anderson2444.2RHP
Lee Hancock2432.1LHP
Brad Boxberger2427.2RHP
Jose Valdez2426.0RHP
Norm McRae2234.1RHP
Jose Cecena2226.1RHP
Chris Hatcher2225.0RHP
David Sanders2224.0LHP
Rick Kester2140.2RHP
Doug Piatt2134.2RHP
Jim Morris2115.0LHP
Takahito Nomura2113.2LHP
Rommie Lewis2223.2LHP
Lester Oliveros2223.0RHP
Aaron Taylor2021.1RHP
Reynaldo Garcia2020.0RHP
Kevin Tolar2017.2LHP

I wonder if Erik Plantenburg knows he set a major league record during his career? Speaking of Erik's, it's kind of weird that both the LHP and RHP records for career decisionless games were set by guys with the first name Erik. There have only been nine major league players (seven pitchers) named Erik, so that's almost unbelievable.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Most Boring Records in Sports

Let's expand from just baseball today and enjoy this list of "The Most Boring Records in Sports."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fewest Innings Pitched in a Season, 200+ Hits Allowed

In 2007, forty-three pitchers allowed 200 or more hits while on the mound. Eighteen of them had fewer than 200 innings pitched. David Wells had the lowest IP total, giving up 201 hits in 157 1/3 innings for San Diego and Los Angeles. He managed to avoid having the highest H/9 IP total of the forty-three, as his 11.50 was edged out by Scott Olsen (226 hits in 176 2/3 IP => 11.51 H/9 IP).

Forgetting about the H/9 IP numbers for now, I was curious to find out which pitcher gave up more than two hundred hits in the fewest innings pitched. I looked at the years 1901-2007 in order to avoid the myriad rule changes and schedule havoc of the nineteenth century. Twenty-six pitchers since 1901 have given up over 200 hits in less than 160 innings. Here they are, for your reading pleasure:

Jack Knight1926206142.2
Dick Coffman1935206143.2
Jim Walkup1937218150.1
Jack Russell1932207152.2
Claude Willoughby1930241153.0
Dennis Martinez1983209153.0
Dutch Henry1930211155.0
Lefty Weinert1923207156.0
Joe Mays2005203156.0
Ernie Wingard1927213156.1
Jeff Fassero1999208156.1
Whitey Glazner1924210156.2
Bill Trotter1939205156.2
Clise Dudley1929202156.2
Jack Bentley1925200157.0
Herb Pennock1929205157.1
David Wells2007201157.1
Jesse Barnes1926204158.0
Jake Miller1928203158.0
Mark Hendrickson2003207158.1
Ed Whitson1985201158.2
Chubby Dean1940220159.1
Jeff Weaver2003211159.1
Huck Betts1935213159.2
Mike Paxton1979210159.2
Jaime Navarro1999206159.2

Unsurprisingly, almost all of these seasons took place during the two most batter-friendly eras in baseball history: the 1920's-1930's and the late 1990's through today.

I didn't list them all, obviously, but a pitcher gave up 200+ hits in less than 200 IP 701 times since 1901. There have been 4,588 total 200+ hits allowed seasons since the AL came into existence that year.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lowest SO/9 While Qualifying for ERA Title

This is pretty out there, but I figured I'd try and take a look at starting pitchers who didn't strike out many batters. I figured the easiest way to do this was to examine pitchers qualifying for the ERA title. For those unfamiliar with Rule 10.22(b) of the Official Rules, which establishes the minimums for individual pitching champions, a pitcher must throw "at least as many innings in league championship games as the number of games scheduled for each club in his club’s league that season." Thus in most seasons, the minimum is 162 innings. I'm not sure if this is what MLB does, but has its own method for determining the minimum requirement in strike years (i.e., 1981 & 1994). That site uses the average number of games played by teams in the league during that season.

I also only looked at seasons since 1961. Those familiar with baseball history will note that was the first year of expansion. I wanted to keep a sense of the "modern game" (as in lots of strikeouts) in the list and by going further back in history, the top of the list becomes
clogged with guys from the 1940's and 1950's. I guess it's kind of arbitrary but I think that's alright. After all, it saves the lowest SO/9 figures from 1940-1959 as an entry for a rainy day. :)

To recap, the qualifiers are that the pitcher must have qualified for the ERA title in a season since 1961 to make the list. I included ERA for fun to see if the fact they didn't strike many batters out impacted their overall line. Most of the pitchers on the list had quite good ERA's. Here are the twenty-four seasons with 2.50 SO/9 or below:

Nate Cornejo2003194.7462.134.67
Ross Grimsley1977218.3532.183.96
Steve Kline1972236.3582.212.40
Bill Lee1978177.0442.243.46
Ed Lynch1983174.7442.274.28
Clyde Wright1973257.0652.283.68
Mike Caldwell1983228.3582.294.53
Tommy John1984181.3472.334.52
Bob Stanley1979216.7562.333.99
Paul Splittorff1980204.0532.344.15
Bill Lee1979222.0592.393.04
Lary Sorensen1979235.3632.413.98
Ken Holtzman1976246.7662.413.65
Bill Swift1988174.7472.424.59
Glenn Abbott1981130.3352.423.94
Paul Hartzell1979163.0442.435.36
Jim Barr1979163.0442.433.53
Dave Rozema1978209.3572.453.14
Mike Flanagan1989171.7472.463.93
Jim Palmer1981127.3352.473.75
Lary Sorensen1980195.7542.483.68
Clyde Wright1974232.0642.484.42
Tommy John1983234.7652.494.33
Lary Sorensen1978280.7782.503.21

I wonder if Nate Cornejo realized he did something that hadn't been done for 14 years (Flanagan's 1989 was the second most recent season on the list). To put his numbers in more context with recent baseball history, only four other qualifying pitchers had less than 3.00 SO/9 since 1990: Bill Gullickson (2.60, 1992), Kirk Rueter (2.65, 2004), Ricky Bones (2.78, 1993), and Mark Knudson (2.99, 1990). Note that 1,456 seasons qualifying for ERA titles have been recorded in that time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lowest SLG by a DH, minimum 400 PA

I meant to post this yesterday but was attacked by some computer gremlins. Now that they're taken care of I want to turn attention to designated hitters who weren't good at hitting for power. A number of the guys on the lowest batting average and lowest on base percentage lists kept their jobs because they were capable of mashing the ball. By looking at the lowest slugging percentages, we should be able to find the designated hitters that were, essentially, slap hitters.

I'm going to make this a pretty long list, simply because giving the lowest thirty seasons for slugging percentage also gives you all the seasons of .400 or below. (EDIT: After reading the comments on the link Baseball Think Factory gave this entry, I realized I forgot to detail qualifiers for the list. The following are players who appeared in at least 75% of their games on the season as a designated hitter according to the B-R Play Index. Sorry for the confusion.):
  1. Ken Singleton, 1984, .289
  2. Carlos May, 1976, .333
  3. Mitchell Page, 1979, .335
  4. Alvin Davis, 1991, .335
  5. Billy Williams, 1976, .339
  6. Hank Aaron, 1975, .355
  7. Tommy Davis, 1975, .357
  8. George Bell, 1993, .363
  9. Greg Luzinski, 1984, .364
  10. Dave Parker, 1991, .365
  11. Gates Brown, 1973, .366
  12. Reggie Jefferson, 1993, .372
  13. Tommy Davis, 1974, .377
  14. Tony Oliva, 1975, .378
  15. Ken Singleton, 1982, .381
  16. Paul Molitor, 1998, .382
  17. Edgar Martinez, 2004, .385
  18. Jeff Burroughs, 1983, .387
  19. Al Kaline, 1974, .389
  20. Willie Horton, 1978, .389
  21. Rico Carty, 1979, .390
  22. Dwight Evans, 1990, .391
  23. Harold Baines, 1992, .391
  24. Tommy Davis, 1973, .391
  25. Andre Thornton, 1986, .392
  26. Don Baylor, 1987, .392
  27. Jose Vidro, 2007, .394
  28. Hal McRae, 1981, .396
  29. George Brett, 1992, .397
  30. Deron Johnson, 1973, .400
It's not altogether surprising so many of these seasons took place in the 1970's and 1980's. Slugging percentage league-wide was lower than fans today are accustomed to: in the first ten seasons of the DH, AL slugging percentage topped .400 all of three times. The AL slugging percentage hasn't dropped below .400 since 1992. That makes Seattle special in a dubious way; the Mariners are the only team to have a full-time DH since 2000 make the list, and they did it twice (Martinez in 2004 and Vidro in 2007)!

Regardless of the time he played in, Ken Singleton's all-time low mark is perversely impressive. It's hard to slug .289 and get 400 PA in a season, much less without playing impressive defense to back it up. Opening the search to all positions since 1973, only 144 players amassed 400+ PA in a season while slugging lower than .300. They were preponderantly shortstops, with the rest mainly second basemen and catchers. To show how rare it is, consider that 6,614 seasons of 400+ PA have been recorded since 1973. In either case, rare or not, the fact the second-lowest finisher had a .333 slugging percentage makes Singleton's mark stand out even more. I would say he holds one of the esoteric "unbreakable" records.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lowest OBP by a DH, minimum 400 PA

This is along the same lines as the last post, only now I'm using on base percentage because it's a better measure of how a player avoids making outs. The restrictions are the same: 400+ PA and 75+% of games as a DH.

For fun, I'll list the top (bottom?) twenty seasons:
  1. George Bell, 1993, .243
  2. Dave Kingman, 1986, .255
  3. Ken Singleton, 1984, .286
  4. Lee May, 1978, .286
  5. Dave Parker, 1991, .288
  6. George Bell, 1992, .294
  7. Lee May, 1979, .297
  8. Alvin Davis, 1991, .299
  9. Reggie Jackson, 1984, .300
  10. Jeffrey Leonard, 1989, .301
  11. Eddie Murray, 1994, .302
  12. Willie Horton, 1978, .303
  13. Andre Thornton, 1985, .304
  14. Josh Phelps, 2004, .304
  15. Dave Parker, 1989, .308
  16. Dave Kingman, 1985, .309
  17. Reggie Jefferson, 1993, .310
  18. Sammy Sosa, 2007, .311
  19. Carl Everett, 2005, .311
  20. George Brett, 1993, .312
George Bell and Lee May are the only two players in MLB history to post an OBP under .300 in more than one season as a full-time DH.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lowest AVG by a DH, minimum 400 PA

This was the idea that led to my long post about designated hitters. I wanted to see which players at an offensive position had managed to put up the worst batting averages in a single season. Certainly batting average is not the best way to measure a player's offense but it's fun to see guys with low averages (so long as their not on your team, I suppose).

Baseball-Reference's Play Index doesn't separate statistics from a season into statistics by position, so in order to get full-time DH's I merely had it look for players that spent 75% or more of their games played at DH. I may have missed a couple players, but when coupled with the 400 PA qualifier, the 75% restriction means I should have caught all the guys whose role was to fill the DH slot pretty much every night.

Here are the ten seasons by designated hitters with averages at .230 or below:
  1. Dave Kingman, 1986, .210
  2. Billy Williams, 1976, .211
  3. Gorman Thomas, 1985, .215
  4. Ken Singleton, 1984, .215
  5. Jonny Gomes, 2006, .216
  6. George Bell, 1993, .217
  7. Alvin Davis, 1991, .221
  8. Reggie Jackson, 1984, .223
  9. Greg Vaughn, 1995, .224
  10. Andre Thornton, 1986, .229
The highest OPS put up by any of those guys was .780 by Gorman Thomas. Ken Singleton had the only sub-.600 season, winding up with .575.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Designated Hitters

I don't know about you, but whenever I picture a designated hitter, it's a thunderfooted, lumbering, home run masher. David Ortiz plays well into the conventional thinking of a quality DH. The thing is, however, not all DH's are home run hitters. In fact, especially on bad teams, many times the DH is just whatever position player on the team needed a day off defensively. To wit, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays this year used 13 different designated hitters, with Greg Norton leading all players with 46 starts.

In order to try and verify the perception of designated hitters as pure mashers, I decided to use the league splits (Example: 2007 Major League splits) at to get data on DH performance since the DH rule was enacted in 1973. Since National League teams don't have to plan a roster spot for the designated hitter, I decided only to look at American League numbers. Since the advent of interleague play, the non-DH numbers are slightly skewed due to pitchers batting, but the effect shouldn't be too drastic.

First, let's look at the traditional, though flawed, measure of batting average to compare designated hitters to the rest of the league:

(click image to enlarge)

Alright, so we can see that traditionally designated hitters hit for a lower average than the rest of their AL counterparts. This seems to support the idea that DH's aim to hit for power rather than average. Note the sharp dropoff in 1985; this isn't the last time we'll note that particular season.

Now let's turn our attention to a hitter's main goal: avoiding outs. On Base Percentage helps us here, as it's a measure of a player's ability to, well, get on base and avoid outs.

(click image to enlarge)

Here we can see that designated hitters generally have been better at getting on base than the rest of the AL. This is especially apparent in the mid-to-late 1990's. Interestingly, for the first decade after the DH rule took effect the players in the DH role did not really distinguish themselves from the rest of the league. This graph also shows the mysterious dip in 1985.

So designated hitters get on base more than the rest of the league. Woohoo. If they really are so good at driving the ball, it should show up in their slugging percentages. Let's take a look:

(click image to enlarge)

So, every year since 1973 has seen slugging percentages by DH at least equal to the rest of the league. In many cases, designated hitters slugged much better than the rest of the league. It's beginning to become repetitive, but the one season the rest of the league caught up to their DH's was...1985! This chart confirms the idea of designated hitters being better than average at mashing the ball. In fact, the last two charts show the overall superiority of players used as DH's at hitting in general. Using OPS, or On Base plus Slugging, a metric giving a quick-and-dirty yet useful approximation of a hitter's value, we can see the value of designated hitters.

(click image to enlarge)

As we can see, and as we gathered from the last two charts, designated hitters have a higher OPS than the rest of the league virtually every season. The only expection, obviously, was 1985. What exactly went on that year, anyway?

Baseball-Reference also has an interesting split statistic called tOPS+. This statistic compares how DH's compare to the numbers for the whole league. Anything over 100 means they were better than the rest of the league in terms of OPS, while anything less than 100 means they were worse. You might say this chart is a re-hashing of the last one, but it gives an impression of the degree to which DH's were better than the rest of the league. Finally, tOPS+ has a pretty simple formula for this chart: 100*((DH_OBP/AL_OBP) + (DH_SLG/AL_SLG) - 1).

(click image to enlarge)

It turns out that ever since roughly 1991 those DH's have been much better than the rest of the league. The expansion year (for the NL) in 1993 saw a dip in DH dominance, but other than that the designated hitters have exceeded 110 every season. Who could have figured that 1985 was the only year since 1973 that DH's were worse than the rest of the league? Anyone?

To recap, we've determined that DH's generally hit for worse average (swinging for the fences?), get on base more (walked because they represent a power threat?), slug better, and put up higher OPS numbers than the rest of the league. If they truly are swinging for the fences because they're home run hitters, might it show up in their strikeout percentage (strikeouts over at bats)? I think it might, but let's appeal to the chart:

(click image to enlarge)

Well, well, well, it turns out these guys are free swingers. While strikeout percentage overall has gone up since 1973, it's gone up faster for designated hitters. For the last dozen years, one out of every five at bats by a designated hitter has been a strikeout (as opposed to two out of eleven for the rest of the league). Pretty neat stuff.

Finally, there's one more statistic that might tell us whether designated hitters are swinging for the fences. I'm referring to home run percentage, or home runs over at bats. This should give us a final clue to the power displayed by designated hitters. Here we go:

(click image to enlarge)

So, perhaps obviously, it turns out that designated hitters do hit home runs at a higher percentage than the rest of the league. Just eyeballing it, it seems as though the HR% for the average DH is 4/3 that of another average position player. That's pretty cool.

I may have just spent a significant amount of time telling the world what it already knew: designated hitters are better hitters than the rest of the American League. It took some time for patience and/or other on-base skills to develop, but the slugging percentage, strikeouts and home runs were always there. If nothing else, I hope this lengthy post brought the fact designated hitters in 1985 suffered a dip in numbers compared to the rest of the league. I'm not really sure why that is, but in hopes someone sees something, I'll list below the batting lines for every player to spend 50 or more games at DH in 1985. Thanks for reading this marathon entry!

Ron Kittle27CHW57.250.305.526.831
Hal McRae39KCR105.264.355.459.814
Jeff Burroughs34TOR74.267.377.433.810
Gorman Thomas34SEA133.215.330.451.781
Don Baylor36NYY140.232.332.432.764
Cliff Johnson37TEX103.264.337.425.762
Larry Sheets25BAL93.262.323.418.741
Mike Easler34BOS130.259.320.411.731
Reggie Jackson39CAL52.196.335.387.722
Roy Smalley32MIN56.244.348.372.720
Ted Simmons35MIL99.265.325.390.715
Dave Kingman36OAK149.233.301.404.705
Andre Thornton35CLE122.235.301.400.701
Jorge Orta34KCR85.263.310.384.694
Al Oliver38TOR59.253.276.376.652
Len Matuszek30TOR52.220.265.319.584

The only thing that struck me as curious was Reggie Jackson's bizarre split as RF/DH (.286/.378/.555 in 325 PA vs. .196/.335/.387 in 206 PA). He spent slightly more time as a designated hitter late in the season but overall his starts are pretty mixed up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Most Saves in First Season

Quick! Name the nine players to record 20+ saves in the first season of their career! A hint: they all debuted after 1960. Okay, maybe that's not a real hint, but saves are a more recent phenomenon in baseball history. Generally veteran relievers are given the first crack at being the closer for a team but every once in a while a rookie gets the call. Here are the aforementioned nine 20+ saves first season players:
  1. Kazuhiro Sasaki, 37, 2000 Seattle Mariners
  2. Billy Koch, 31, 1999 Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Takashi Saito, 24, 2006 Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Dick Radatz, 24, 1962 Boston Red Sox
  5. Huston Street, 23, 2005 Oakland Athletics
  6. Doug Corbett, 23, 1980 Minnesota Twins
  7. Ken Tatum, 22, 1969 California Angels
  8. Salome Barojas, 21, 1982 Chicago White Sox
  9. Doug Bird, 20, 1973 Kansas City Royals
The leader in first-season saves for 2007 was Joakim Soria of the Kansas City Royals with 17. Only five other pitchers recorded one or more: Hideki Okajima (5), Sean Gallagher (1), Edwar Ramirez (1), Joba Chamberlain (1), and Marcus Gwyn (1).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NL Rotations by ERA for 2007

EDIT: Upon further review, I don't like the way I originally came about these numbers. For some reason, I had simply averaged each team's FIP in each spot for the league numbers. A smarter way to do it would be to treat the entire league as one giant rotation and determine the top 20% of starts (generally around 518 for the NL and 454 for the AL) for spot #1, etc. It makes no sense to penalize the league average rotation because the top 15 pitchers are clustered on, say, 8 teams. This tends to lower the value for #1 starters and raise the value for #5 starters while leaving the middle guys generally unchanged. I've changed the numbers in the tables to reflect the new method. The "average" rotations at the end are the same as before. Sorry for the mistake.

A few days ago I had a post detailing rotations and average starters in the National League using FIP. Today I want to change gears, take off the beginner-sabermetrician's hat, and return to the commonly cited ERA. I admit, when I hear the phrase, "he's a #4 starter," I quantify that in terms of ERA and I would guess most of you do, too. ERA was the statistic used in the article that started me thinking about this "analysis" and it's common enough that I figured it would be worth a look today. I think the most interesting thing to take away from this exercise is the difference between perception of back of the rotation starters and their actual numbers.

As I did for the FIP table, each rotation spot is figured out the same way for each team (33 starts for #1, then 33, 32, 32, 32). Obviously I use ERA instead of FIP so for the Brewers, the #1 spot calculation looks like:
(6*2.06+17*3.74+10*3.82)/33 = 3.46 -- Carlos Villanueva, Yovani Gallardo, and 10 of Sheets' starts combine for the #1 slot.
The columns are similar to my last post: SERA is the cumulative starter ERA for the team and STDEV is the standard deviation of the starting rotation spots. Who would have thought, going into the year, the two NL teams with the most "even" rotations would be Chicago and Milwaukee? Ah, but enough of the preview, take a look at the table:

San Diego Padres4.112.543.154.124.627.161.78
Chicago Cubs4.193.803.913.954.135.490.70
Arizona Diamondbacks4.
San Francisco Giants4.243.383.864.094.475.700.88
New York Mets4.403.473.724.054.486.981.42
Los Angeles Dodgers4.433.033.584.245.356.631.44
Atlanta Braves4.453.113.324.185.527.231.72
Milwaukee Brewers4.553.464.244.815.165.200.73
Colorado Rockies4.583.804.214.334.876.060.87
Houston Astros4.713.214.444.755.266.291.13
Cincinnati Reds4.863.734.214.585.298.081.72
Philadelphia Phillies4.913.354.225.085.806.611.28
Pittsburgh Pirates5.023.763.955.115.857.411.50
St. Louis Cardinals5.043.574.114.865.697.531.55
Washington Nationals5.113.564.464.685.777.821.63
Florida Marlins5.584.645.135.215.817.671.18

A #4 starter in the NL this past season would have been above-average if he'd put up a 5.00 ERA. Similarly, a team would have to count its lucky stars if their #5 starter did the same. I mentioned it last time, but this table really points out how hapless Florida's starters were: only 37 starts all year were made by a pitcher ending up with an ERA (as a starter) of 5.00 or under.

As in the FIP post, here are the pitchers who threw ace-level or better in 20 or more starts (~3.46 ERA):
  • Jake Peavy, 34 starts, 2.54 ERA
  • Brandon Webb, 34, 3.01
  • Brad Penny, 33, 3.03
  • John Smoltz, 32, 3.11
  • Chris Young, 30, 3.12
  • Roy Oswalt, 32, 3.19
  • Tim Hudson, 34, 3.33
  • Chad Billingsley, 20, 3.38
  • Cole Hamels, 28, 3.39
  • Moving on to the #2 starters (~4.04 ERA):
    • Noah Lowry, 26 starts, 3.92 ERA
    • Carlos Zambrano, 34, 3.95
    • Tim Lincecum, 24, 4.00
    • Aaron Cook, 25, 4.12
    FIP liked Lincecum, placing him among the aces, but he slides to #2 status here. You can't be too disappointed for the rookie, though.

    Continuing the journey to #3 starters (~4.52 ERA):
    • Jason Marquis, 33 starts, 4.43 ERA
    • Tom Glavine, 34, 4.45
    • Jay Bergmann, 21, 4.45
    • Barry Zito, 33, 4.55
    • Justin Germano, 23, 4.56
    • Wandy Rodriguez, 31, 4.58
    It's far too easy, but I'm guessing this is not what the Giants signed Barry Zito for.

    Now we're into the hinterlands: #4 starters (~5.17 ERA):
    • Woody Williams, 31 starts, 5.06 ERA
    • Jamie Moyer, 32, 5.15
    • Dontrelle Willis, 35, 5.17
    • Chris Capuano, 25, 5.20
    • Dave Bush, 31, 5.20
    Not good news for Brewers fans here. At least you can say Moyer and Williams were showing their age, but it's never good when twenty-something starters struggle so much.

    The final stop on the ERA track, those disturbingly bad #5 starters (~6.77 ERA). I've got to go down to 15+ starts for this, as most teams won't put up with such mediocrity for long.
    • Kip Wells, 26 starts, 6.27 ERA
    • Adam Eaton, 30, 6.29
    • Tony Armas, 15, 6.40
    • Jason Jennings, 18, 6.43
    • Rick Vanden Hurk, 17, 6.81
    Those are some unpleasant numbers. His poor season didn't stop Vanden Hurk from being a celebrity guest at the clinching game of the Dutch Championship Series.

    To recap, the average NL starting rotation would be akin to this list:
    1. Cole Hamels
    2. Tim Lincecum
    3. Barry Zito
    4. Dontrelle Willis
    5. Rick Vanden Hurk
    Fold the Marlins into the Giants and you're 80% there!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Most Saves in Final Season

Just what you wanted: another post in the "Most X in Final Season" series. This time I'm focusing on saves. I figure good relievers tend to hang on a while and closers generally remain closers until they retire, right?

Turns out this isn't often the case. In baseball history, only eleven men recorded as many as twenty saves in their final season. I suppose that makes sense, considering how many players on the top 100 active players in total saves are no longer closers. Roberto Hernandez, Troy Percival, Jose Mesa, Eddie Guardado, Tom Gordon, Mike Timlin, and Antonio Alfonseca appear in the top twenty alone. Oops, bad call on my part.

Here are the eleven players, with their final season saves totals:
  • Robb Nen, 43
  • Jeff Shaw, 43
  • Tom Henke, 36
  • Todd Worrell, 35
  • John Wetteland, 34
  • Mike Henneman, 31
  • Rick Aguilera, 29
  • Steve Olin, 29
  • Mike Williams, 28
  • Jeff Zimmerman, 28
  • Randy Myers, 28
The curious thing to me is how the dropoff from William, Zimmerman and Myers to Rollie Fingers and Russ Christopher (both 17) is so dramatic. Not one single player has recorded 18-27 saves in his final season? Weird.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Trever Miller Record Update

In mid-September I wrote about Trever Miller's chase for a season record. At the time, Miller had 74 appearances with a 0-0 record. The previous record for most games in a season without a win or loss had been 48 games pitched by Scott Aldred for the 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Since the season is over, I thought it made sense to confirm that his final season total of 76 games in the official new record. Interestingly, Manny Delcarmen of the Boston Red Sox placed third on the all-time list by throwing in 44 games this year without a decision. Ron Villone also joined the all-time top ten this year by tying for ninth with 37 "decisionless" appearances.

Friday, October 12, 2007

NL Rotations by FIP for 2007

EDIT: Upon further review, I don't like the way I originally came about these numbers. For some reason, I had simply averaged each team's FIP in each spot for the league numbers. A smarter way to do it would be to treat the entire league as one giant rotation and determine the top 20% of starts (generally around 518 for the NL and 454 for the AL) for spot #1, etc. It makes no sense to penalize the league average rotation because the top 15 pitchers are clustered on, say, 8 teams. This tends to lower the value for #1 starters and raise the value for #5 starters while leaving the middle guys generally unchanged. I've changed the numbers in the tables to reflect the new method. The "average" rotations at the end are the same as before. Sorry for the mistake.

There are a number of different things to get out of the way before the meat and potatoes of this post. Most importantly, the idea for this fun little exercise came from the article "How Good Is Your #4 Starter?" by Jeff Sackmann and the follow-up "More Fun With Rotation Numbers." He used ERA to calculate his numbers and I will have another post soon utilizing ERA. For this post, however, I am using FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching. FIP attempts to measure a pitcher's worth through the outcomes for which he is directly responsible during a game: home runs, hit batsmen, bases on balls, and strikeouts. In this way, defense largely is taken out of the equation. Thus, FIP is not affected in the same way ERA would be for a pitcher if he had eight David Ortiz's on the field with him.

The formula I use is (HR*13+(BB+HBP)*3-K*2)/IP + 3.2 = FIP. In actuality, the constant should be slightly larger than 3.2, depending on the league, but since I don't know exactly how much larger, I used 3.2 for simplicity's sake. Since it affects everyone in the NL, no one is given an unfair advantage.

In order to determine the numbers for each team's rotation spots, I figured the ideal rotation would give a team 33 starts by their #1 and #2 pitchers and 32 starts by the other three (San Diego and Colorado both had an extra start by their #3 starter for my calculation). Using this idea, I took the weighted average of the team's top 33 starts by FIP to determine the FIP for rotation spot #1, and so on for the other four spots.

Example, to determine the #1 spot for the Brewers, I would see that Yovani Gallardo had 17 starts with a 3.49 FIP, Manny Parra had 2 starts with 3.87 FIP and Ben Sheets had 24 starts with a 4.07 FIP. Sheets' starts are split between the #1 and #2 spot and you get
  • #1 FIP = (17*3.49+2*3.87+14*4.07)/33 = 3.76
Therefore the Brewers got a 3.76 FIP from their "#1 spot."

The SFIP column stands for "Starter FIP" for each team, i.e., the FIP put up only by starting pitchers in games they started. The NL averages were computed by simply taking the average of each team's FIP in each spot. The NL FIP was computed by applying the FIP formula to the raw numbers of HR, HBP, BB, K and IP throughout the league. The STDEV column is the standard deviation of the team's five rotation spots. The smaller the number, the closer together the five spots are and the more "even" a team's rotation is. This is fallible, in the sense that a team with a great ace will appear to have an uneven rotation even if the #4 and #5 starters really aren't that bad.

Finally, as Jeff said in his follow-up article:
These calculations don't hold the key for any breakthrough new approach to roster construction, but they do illustrate some of the ways in which good (or lucky) teams are different from bad ones.
Now that the explanation is out of the way, on to the table!

San Diego Padres3.822.803.383.544.375.671.11
Los Angeles Dodgers4.223.593.904.024.375.550.76
San Francisco Giants4.283.553.774.434.815.030.64
Milwaukee Brewers4.363.764.134.374.515.080.49
Chicago Cubs4.544.064.264.524.695.320.48
Pittsburgh Pirates4.543.914.184.524.765.780.72
Cincinnati Reds4.543.674.454.534.556.290.96
Arizona Diamondbacks4.583.194.164.745.346.021.09
Atlanta Braves4.593.183.425.175.406.701.47
New York Mets4.593.804.294.724.825.540.65
Colorado Rockies4.673.964.324.645.075.540.62
Houston Astros4.793.574.215.345.475.610.90
Philadelphia Phillies4.863.764.584.985.206.110.86
St.Louis Cardinals4.913.704.764.885.136.420.97
Florida Marlins5.
Washington Nationals5.414.455.155.525.786.430.74

I guess the old adage "pitching wins championships" didn't hold especially true in the NL this year as Chicago and Arizona were the only teams to be much above league average in FIP from their starters and they were still very close to the mean. Another thing I noticed that kind of surprised me was how mediocre Florida's starters were. Granted a team losing 90 games generally won't have very good starters in the first place, but I was shocked to find out they only got 37 starts all season from a pitcher winding up with an ERA below 5.00 as a starter (27 from Sergio Mitre, 6 from Anibal Sanchez and 4 from Ricky Nolasco). Furthermore, they only got 42 starts from a pitcher with an FIP under 5.00. That's perversely impressive.

Regardless, simply seeing the numbers might not strike your fancy. Let's look at which starters came closest to each rotation spot's average, in order to give some context.

First, here are the starters that were "aces" (3.69 or lower FIP) in 20 or more starts:
  • Jake Peavy, 34 starts, 2.80 FIP
  • John Smoltz, 32, 3.17
  • Brandon Webb, 34, 3.20
  • Chris Young, 30, 3.39
  • Tim Hudson, 34, 3.42
  • Greg Maddux, 34, 3.54
  • Roy Oswalt, 32, 3.55
  • Brad Penny, 33, 3.59
  • Tim Lincecum, 24, 3.59
  • Aaron Harang, 34, 3.67
No real surprises, though it must be unsettling for batters in the NL West to see that rookie Tim Lincecum shows up as an ace already (note: Yovani Gallardo made 17 starts with a 3.49 FIP, so he was good as well).

Let's see who fits the mold as a #2 starter (~4.25 FIP):
  • Chris Capuano, 25 starts, 4.16 FIP
  • Tom Gorzelanny, 32, 4.20
  • Rich Hill, 32, 4.28
  • Oliver Perez, 28, 4.30
It's tough for a Brewers fan to see that Capuano was actually better than an average #2 starter by FIP, but there it is. His struggles could very possibly be a combination of bad luck and poor defense behind him inflating his numbers. Regardless, the other names on the list are not very surprising as all three pitchers had good seasons.

Our #3 starters (~4.69 FIP):
  • Paul Maholm, 29 starts, 4.56 FIP (everyone between Maholm and Davis had less than 20 starts)
  • Doug Davis, 33, 4.68 FIP
  • Micah Owings, 27, 4.78
  • Braden Looper, 30, 4.79
Doug Davis nailed the middle-of-the-rotation niche and it makes sense. He eats innings and nibbles too much on the corners to be good, but he gets the job done most nights.

Alright, we're headed to the back half of the rotation. The #4 starters (~4.98 FIP):
  • Jason Marquis, 33 starts, 4.94 FIP
  • Jamie Moyer, 32, 5.00
  • Anthony Reyes, 20, 5.02
  • Dontrelle Willis, 35, 5.09
Jason Marquis has always been kind of middling. Moyer gave you about what you could expect from a 44-year-old soft-tosser. Reyes is young and struggling, while Willis continued sliding further from the dominance he showed in 2005. Is he sick of playing in Florida or is his delivery no longer fooling hitters the way it did?

Finally, we've reached the land of the damned--er, I mean the #5 starters (~5.83 FIP):
  • Livan Hernandez, 33 starts, 5.73 FIP
  • Byung-Hyun Kim, 22, 5.76
  • Adam Eaton, 30, 5.93
  • Mike Bacsik, 20, 6.38
Unsurprisingly, not many pitchers this bad made more than 20 starts. Other than Bacsik, only Joel Hanrahan (11) and Jo-Jo Reyes (10) reached double-digits for starts with an FIP over 6.00. Tim Stauffer had the worst FIP, putting up a 12.85 in 7 2/3 IP in his two starts for the Padres. Five HR, 6 BB, 6 K and an HBP will do that to a pitcher. Wilfredo Ledezma and J.A. Happ also scored above 10.

To recap, the National League average rotation would look like this:
  • Aaron Harang
  • Rich Hill
  • Doug Davis
  • Jamie Moyer
  • Byung-Hyun Kim/Adam Eaton
The Mets' rotation was pretty close to league average across the board, as well.

I'll be putting up a similar post using ERA soon. I think this sort of number-crunching is interesting, if not especially useful.

2007 Three-Inning Saves Updated

Regular readers may remember my post of August 21 in which I listed the thirteen three-inning saves (see Rule 10.19(d)(3)) of the season to that point. I figured I should update the list to reflect the three such saves after that date.

The full list of three-inning saves in 2007:
  1. Kevin Gregg, 4/22, Florida vs. Washington
  2. Brandon Duckworth, 4/28, Kansas City at Seattle
  3. Willie Eyre, 5/4, Texas vs. Toronto
  4. Aquilino Lopez, 5/12, Detroit at Minnesota
  5. Brian Shouse, 6/15, Milwaukee at Minnesota
  6. Chad Durbin, 6/24, Detroit at Atlanta
  7. Ryan Madson, 7/8, Philadelphia at Colorado
  8. Ron Mahay, 7/17, Texas at Oakland
  9. Sean Gallagher, 7/18, Chicago vs. San Francisco (4 innings)
  10. Matt Wise, 7/19, Milwaukee vs. Arizona
  11. Joel Peralta, 7/29, Kansas City vs. Texas
  12. J.D. Durbin, 8/7, Philadelphia vs. Florida
  13. Carlos Villanueva, 8/20, Milwaukee at Arizona
  14. Marcus Gwyn, 8/21, Los Angeles (AL) vs. New York (AL)
  15. Wes Littleton, 8/22 (Game 1), Texas at Baltimore
  16. John Ennis, 8/26, Philadelphia vs. San Diego
If you're interested, I saved the Play Index report listing every three (or more) inning save since Opening Day 2000. You can see it here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Most Times 100+ BB Allowed in a Single Season

In 2007, three pitchers gave up 100 or more walks (two were Daniel Cabrera and Carlos Zambrano - without looking it up, can you name the last?). Since 1901, 762 individual seasons featured 100+ bases on balls allowed. Only three of these seasons have featured 200 or more walks allowed: Bob Feller's 1938 and Nolan Ryan's 1974 and 1977. I was curious about who held the record for most 100+ BB seasons in a career, so I looked it up.

The twenty-four men with five or more seasons of 100+ BB:
  1. Nolan Ryan, 11
  2. Bobo Newsom, 10
  3. Bob Feller, 9
  4. Sam McDowell, 8
  5. Early Wynn, 8
  6. Allie Reynolds, 8
  7. Hal Newhouser, 7
  8. Wes Ferrell, 7
  9. Bobby Witt, 6
  10. Mark Langston, 6
  11. Phil Niekro, 6
  12. Mike Torrez, 6
  13. Bob Lemon, 6
  14. Kirby Higbe, 6
  15. Tommy Bridges, 6
  16. Bump Hadley, 6
  17. George Mullin, 6
  18. Tommy Byrne, 5
  19. Phil Marchildon, 5
  20. Johnny Vander Meer, 5
  21. Ken Chase, 5
  22. Vern Kennedy, 5
  23. Jimmy Ring, 5
  24. Earl Moore, 5
There are six active pitchers with two or more such seasons:
  1. Russ Ortiz, 4 (most recent: 2004)
  2. Randy Johnson, 3 (1992)
  3. Carlos Zambrano, 2 (2007)
  4. Daniel Cabrera, 2 (2007)
  5. Victor Zambrano, 2 (2004)
  6. Chan Ho Park, 2 (2000)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Most K in Final Season, Since 1901

In keeping with the final season theme but returning to the mound, I took a look at pitchers' strikeouts in their last year. Only one hurler topped 200 strikeouts in his final season and he managed to get past 300 as well (he had almost twice the K's of the second place guy!). He, of course, was Sandy Koufax. Looking at the rest of the list, only ten players struck out 120 or more their last year, and only thirty-seven passed the century mark.

The list of those with 120+ K:
  1. Sandy Koufax, 1966, 317
  2. Chuck Finley, 2002, 174
  3. Britt Burns, 1985, 172
  4. Kevin Tapani, 2001, 149
  5. Mike Sirotka, 2000, 128
  6. Lefty Williams, 1920, 128
  7. Larry Jackson, 1968, 127
  8. Pete Dowling, 1901, 124
  9. Ramon Garcia, 1997, 120
  10. John ":-)" Smiley, 1997, 120
Fun Fact: lists Pete Dowling's age in 1901 as 99. He must be the definition of "ageless lefty."

Here are the older-than-35 players to strike out more than 100 (a nice round number) K in 2007:
  1. John Smoltz (40) - 197
  2. Andy Pettitte (35) - 141
  3. Jamie Moyer (44) - 133
  4. Miguel Batista (36) - 133
  5. Orlando Hernandez (41) - 128
  6. Jose Contreras (35) - 113
  7. Tim Wakefield (40) - 110
  8. Greg Maddux (41) - 104
  9. Curt Schilling (40) - 101
  10. Woody Williams (40) - 101
Bonus Fun Fact: Sixty-six pitchers age 35 or older struck out at least one batter this season.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Most RBI in Final Season

Whatever your feelings are regarding RBI as a tool for judging players, you have to appreciate players that are put in the position to knock in baserunners and deliver often. While it's true certain players put up gaudy RBI totals without getting on base, more often than not players with high RBI totals aren't terrible.

To keep with the theme of the two posts prior to yesterday's, here are the only fourteen players with 80 or more RBI in their last season:
  1. Dave Orr, 1890, 124
  2. Joe Jackson, 1920, 121
  3. Happy Felsch, 1920, 115
  4. Albert Belle, 2000, 103
  5. Kirby Puckett, 1995, 99
  6. Dave Kingman, 1986, 94
  7. Joe Wood, 1922, 92
  8. Bill Joyce, 1898, 91
  9. Ecky Stearns, 1889, 87
  10. Charlie Ferguson, 1887, 85
  11. Perry Werden, 1897, 83
  12. Ed Konetchy, 1921, 82
  13. Rebel Oakes, 1915, 82
  14. Jack O'Brien, 1890, 80
Eight of the players had their final season in the twentieth century, though two of those (Jackson and Felsch) were banned from baseball in their prime. Only 228 players in baseball history collected as many as 50 RBI in their final season.

Here are players age 35 or older to collect 50 RBI in 2007:
  • Raul Ibanez (35), 105
  • Chipper Jones (35), 102
  • Jim Thome (36), 96
  • Frank Thomas (39), 95
  • Sammy Sosa (38), 92
  • Jorge Posada (35), 90
  • Manny Ramirez (35), 88
  • Carlos Delgado (35), 87
  • Garret Anderson (35), 80
  • Gary Sheffield (38), 75
  • Ray Durham (35), 71
  • Luis Gonzalez (39), 69
  • Barry Bonds (42), 66
  • Matt Stairs (39), 64
  • Ivan Rodriguez (35), 63
  • Kevin Millar (35), 63
  • Melvin Mora (35), 58
  • Paul Lo Duca (35), 54
  • Jim Edmonds (37), 53
  • Gregg Zaun (36), 52
  • Omar Vizquel (40), 51
  • Brian Giles (36), 51
  • Mark Grudzielanek (37), 51
  • Tony Clark (35), 51
  • Craig Biggio (41), 50

Monday, October 8, 2007

Highest BA, OBP under .300

I've always kind of liked these guys: players with batting averages very close to their on base percentages. I wouldn't want them on my team necessarily, but I enjoy their inability or unwillingness to take walks.

With that in mind, I looked up the top batting averages in a single season (since 1871) with 400+ PA (to allow for catchers not playing every day) and an on base percentage under .300. Only those seasons featuring batting averages over .275 are listed (22 of 1,959):

Charlie Carr1903.281.296
Ivan Rodriguez2007.281.294
Harry Swacina1914.280.297
Dave Foutz1886.280.297
Ozzie Guillen1993.280.292
Don Kolloway1946.280.293
Johnny Estrada2007.278.296
Damaso Garcia1980.278.296
Joe Hornung1883.278.291
Hal Chase1917.277.296
Wayne Nordhagen1980.277.294
Hick Carpenter1885.277.295
Tom Burns1886.276.298
Ron Coomer1998.276.295
Ivan Rodriguez2005.276.290
George Wright1879.276.299
Brian Hunter1996.276.297
Bengie Molina2007.276.298
Rafael Ramirez1988.276.298
Larry Bowa1974.275.298
Jerry Denny1883.275.291
Bill Buckner1973.275.297

I find it interesting three 2007 catchers (Rodriguez, Estrada, and Bengie Molina) made it onto the list.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Most Home Runs in Final Season

Given that home runs have increased since the 19th century, unlike wins by a single pitcher, this record applies to all of baseball history. After looking at pitching wins, I wanted to look at the most proficient final-season home run hitters. Only twelve players have ever hit more than twenty home runs in their final season. Here's the list:
  1. Dave Kingman, 1986, 35
  2. Mark McGwire, 2001, 29
  3. Ted Williams, 1960, 29
  4. Hank Greenberg, 1947, 25
  5. Jack Graham, 1949, 24
  6. Roy Cullenbine, 1947, 24
  7. Albert Belle, 2000, 23
  8. Kirby Puckett, 1995, 23
  9. Phil Nevin, 2006, 22
  10. Paul O'Neill, 2001, 21
  11. Will Clark, 2000, 21
  12. Dave Nilsson, 1999, 21
Ted Williams was the only player on the list over 40 (he was 41) and Dave Nilsson was the only player under 30 (he was 29). The average age of the players was 35.2. Will Clark and Phil Nevin were the only two on the list to play for more than one team in their last year.

Here's the players age 35 or older in 2007 to hit 20+ home runs:
  • Jim Thome (36 years old) - 35
  • Ken Griffey (37) - 30
  • Chipper Jones (35) - 29
  • Barry Bonds (42) - 28
  • Frank Thomas (39) - 26
  • Gary Sheffield (38) - 25
  • Carlos Delgado (35) - 24
  • Raul Ibanez (35) - 21
  • Sammy Sosa (38) - 21
  • Matt Stairs (39) - 21
  • Jeff Kent (39) - 20
  • Manny Ramirez (35) - 20
  • Jorge Posada (35) - 20
I don't know if any of them will retire this offseason, but they'd obviously join the list if they do.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Most Wins in Final Season since 1901

I was playing a historical baseball game today and came across a pitcher named Britt Burns. He threw for the White Sox in the 1980's until traded at the age of 26 to the New York Yankees. Before he threw a pitch in the Big Apple, a chronic hip condition forced him into retirement. In 1985, his final season, he recorded 18 wins. That made me curious as to what pitchers put up the most wins all-time in their final seasons.

Here's the list of all the guys to put up 15 wins or more in their last season:
  • Sandy Koufax, 1966, 27
  • Lefty Williams, 1920, 22
  • Henry Schmidt, 1903, 22
  • Eddie Cicotte, 1920, 21
  • Britt Burns, 1985, 18
  • Chief Johnson, 1915, 17
  • Paul Derringer, 1945, 16
  • Hugh Bedient, 1915, 16
  • Ed Doheny, 1903, 16
  • Ted Lewis, 1901, 16
  • Mike Sirotka, 2000, 15
  • Larry French, 1942, 15
  • Monty Stratton, 1938, 15
  • George Kaiserling, 1915, 15
  • Jay Hughes, 1902, 15
  • Win Mercer, 1902, 15
Lefty Williams and Eddie Cicotte were two of the infamous Black Sox. Henry Schmidt came to Brooklyn from the Pacific Coast League in 1903 and after his 22-win season decided he didn't like life east of the Mississippi. He packed his bags, headed west, and never threw a pitch in the major leagues again. His 22 wins place him tied for fifth among first-season pitchers since 1901 so I guess he's the only guy to appear in the top 5 for most wins in both his first and last season.


I think Ron Darling is growing on me. I usually tune out announcers, but I find his ability to refer to baseball in the terms of the mid-1990's (California Angels, Mile High Stadium, etc.) charming. That said, if he's done with TBS come the end of the Cubs-Diamondbacks series, I won't be upset.

As for this blog, I've got a few ideas based on things I've already posted that I will be compiling and writing about. I'm not sure exactly when they'll be ready, but soon. I've also got a couple of ideas for regular posts, so those will be up shortly. I'm getting things organized and I should have regular updates again soon. In the meantime, if you're interested in the Brewers' won-loss record broken down in far too many ways, check out my recent diary on Brew Crew Ball.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

It's not 1996 anymore

Anyone watching the Cubs-Diamondbacks game may be familiar with this, but TBS analyst Ron Darling used an interesting analogy in the seventh inning. Describing Carlos Marmol's delivery, he compared its deceptiveness to that of "Frankie Rodriguez, the California Angel." Kind of makes you wonder how much baseball he's watched since his last game in 1995.


The playoffs start today. Woo hoo! Since 1903, 59611 batters have gotten themselves out via strikeout, fly out, ground out, etc. I can only hope the media keeps track of what player makes the coveted 60000th out as a batter.

Who made the first out in the 1903 postseason? That would be Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Ginger Beaumont, flying out to center field on a pitch from Boston ace Cy Young.

Another example of the cool things you can find out via Baseball-Reference's Play Index: The last postseason out made in Polo Grounds history was a fly ball to left field off the bat of Vic Wertz on September 30, 1954.

Here's the last players to make an out for each of this year's playoff teams.
  • Arizona Diamondbacks - David Dellucci, 4-3 groundout, 10/5/2002
  • Boston Red Sox - Edgar Renteria, 4-3 groundout, 10/7/2005
  • Chicago Cubs - Paul Bako, fly ball to left, 10/15/2003
  • Cleveland Indians - Juan Gonzalez, 5-3 groundout, 10/15/2001
  • Colorado Rockies - John Vander Wal, strikeout swinging, 10/7/1995
  • Los Angeles Angels - Chone Figgins, 6-3 groundout, 10/8/2004
  • New York Yankees - Robinson Cano, 4-3 groundout, 10/7/2006
  • Philadelphia Phillies - Jim Eisenreich, fly ball to center, 10/23/1993

Monday, October 1, 2007

Most PA, SLG under .300

A comment on Brew Crew Ball talking about Joey Gathright made me think of this. The Royals speedster put up a .292 slugging percentage in 445 plate appearances for Tampa Bay and Kansas City in 2006 and I thought it'd be interesting to see who has the record for most plate appearances in a season slugging under .300.

The record is higher than I figured, with nine seasons topping 700 PA:
  1. Sandy Alomar, 1970, .293 SLG, 735 PA
  2. Donie Bush, 1914, .295, 721
  3. Roger Metzger, 1972, .259, 715
  4. Ozzie Smith, 1980, .276, 712
  5. Tom Brown, 1892, .285, 712
  6. Don Kessinger, 1968, .287, 707
  7. Woody Williams, 1944, .289, 707
  8. Ossie Vitt, 1916, .295, 705
  9. Donie Bush, 1915, .283, 703
1,377 players qualified for their league's batting title while slugging under .300. I doubt any won it. Here's another list, this time of the top ten career PA leaders slugging under .300:
  1. Mark Belanger, 1965-1982, 6602 PA, .280 SLG
  2. George McBride, 1901-1920, 6235, .264
  3. Bud Harrelson, 1965-1980, 5516, .288
  4. Sandy Alomar, 1964-1978, 5160, .288
  5. Cub Stricker, 1882-1893, 5083, .294
  6. Al Bridwell, 1905-1915, 4928, .295
  7. Roger Metzger, 1970-1980, 4676, .293
  8. Rabbit Warstler, 1930-1940, 4611, .287
  9. Ossie Vitt, 1912-1921, 4486, .295
  10. Tommy Thevenow, 1924-1938, 4484, .294
The active career leader is Greg Maddux with 1750 (slugging .208). The position player leader is 37-year-old catcher Alberto Castillo with a career slugging percentage of .297 in 1173 PA.

Thanks for Playing, Maybe Next Time You'll Hit

The objective of a batter in baseball is to get on base. Most often one accomplishes this by putting the bat on the ball and getting a base hit. Sometimes, though, guys like Laynce Nix pop up for short time on an MLB roster and put up an 0-for-the-year line. They generally don't have that many plate appearances (Nix had 12), but they're still interesting.

Unsurprisingly, the top players in plate appearances for a season with no hits are pitchers. Here's the only five to ever reach 50 PA without a hit:
  1. Bob Buhl, 85 PA, 1962
  2. Bill Wight, 75, 1950
  3. Ernie Koob, 57, 1916
  4. Ron Herbel, 54, 1964
  5. Karl Drews, 54, 1949
Brett Tomko led all players this year by going hitless in 37 plate appearances.

Let's throw pitchers out of the mix and get an idea of the most hapless position players in a single season. Here's the only guys at or above 25 PA.
  1. Hal Finney (C), 35 PA, 1936
  2. Larry Littleton (OF), 27 PA, 1981
  3. Don Slaught (C), 26 PA, 1997
  4. David Ortiz (DH/1B), 25 PA, 1999
The interesting thing about Finney is he didn't even manage to draw a walk or be hit by a pitch in 1936. He managed to drive in three runs and score three runs despite the .000 AVG, OBP and SLG. Fred Tauby (1937), Harry Redmond (1909) and Cliff Carroll (1888) are the only three other position players in major league history to reach even 20 PA without getting on base. Laynce Nix's 12 plate appearances this year tie him, with ten others, for the 28th most by a position player without getting on base in history.

Harry Redmond is atop the career leaderboard for most PA with an OBP of .000, but let's look at the list of guys who simply didn't get hits. Here's the players with 20 or more career PA sans hits:
  1. Larry Littleton, 27
  2. Mike Potter, 24
  3. Cy Wright, 21
  4. Harry Redmond, 20
Minor league veteran Josh Labandeira has a chance to join the list as he went 0-for-14 in 2004 for Montreal but still plays (he was in Albuquerque this year for the Marlins).

To finish off this entry, the player with the lowest career batting average above .000 was Skeeter Shelton, a Yankees centerfielder in 1915 who put up a 1-for-40 career line. He had a .025 average, a .071 OBP (2 walks), and a .025 SLG to give him a whopping .096 OPS.