Friday, November 30, 2007

AL 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.

This post is similar to the last one using FIP. Using the ERA for each team's starters in games they started, I took the top 33 starts to determine the ERA for the #1 spot in the rotation, then the next 33 for spot #2, the next 32 for spot #3, the next 32 for spot #4, and the final 32 to find the #5 spot ERA for each team and then averaged those across all teams to get the league numbers. The STDEV column again gives an idea of how "even" a team's rotation was across all spots.

2007 AL Rotations and Rotation Spots by ERA

Cleveland Indians4.
Boston Red Sox4.213.143.884.424.755.150.78
Los Angeles Angels4.223.003.423.974.986.191.29
Toronto Blue Jays4.243.723.773.884.146.421.15
Oakland Athletics4.292.983.774.114.527.241.62
Minnesota Twins4.333.334.004.244.695.620.85
Chicago White Sox4.473.513.774.285.385.770.99
New York Yankees4.573.524.
Detroit Tigers4.683.474.574.824.995.930.88
Baltimore Orioles4.863.203.654.915.609.042.31
Kansas City Royals4.873.653.824.535.607.881.73
Seattle Mariners5.163.964.314.455.997.951.66
Tampa Bay Devil Rays5.203.483.905.785.967.751.73
Texas Rangers5.504.455.115.335.707.060.97

Despite the traditional thought that moving to the AL entails an increase in ERA, American League starters managed to post an ERA that was 0.03 lower than their NL counterparts (click here for the NL data in a new window). The American League total ERA was a little bit higher, but that was because AL relievers weren't quite as good as NL relievers, at least in terms of ERA. Interestingly, the #1 starters in each league came out to a 3.46 ERA. The #3 starters' ERA was also the same and the other three spots were very close.

Now to give the numbers context by seeing which pitchers fit in each spot:

AL #1 Starters (~3.46 ERA or below), 20+ starts
  • John Lackey, 33 starts, 3.01 ERA
  • Fausto Carmona, 32, 3.06
  • Dan Haren, 34, 3.07
  • Erik Bedard, 28, 3.16
  • C.C. Sabathia, 34, 3.21
  • Josh Beckett, 30, 3.27
  • Johan Santana, 33, 3.33
  • Jeremy Guthrie, 26, 3.44
  • Scott Kazmir, 34, 3.48 (it didn't feel right to exclude him since the next 20+ game starter had a 3.63 ERA)
AL #2 Starters (~3.95 ERA), 20+ starts
  • Brian Bannister, 27 starts, 3.87 ERA
  • Curt Schilling, 24, 3.87
  • Shaun Marcum, 25, 3.91
  • Jered Weaver, 28, 3.91
  • Felix Hernandez, 30, 3.92
  • Joe Blanton, 34, 3.95
  • Dustin McGowan, 27, 4.08
  • Andy Pettitte, 34, 4.09
AL #3 Starters (~4.52 ERA), 20+ starts
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka, 32 starts, 4.40 ERA
  • Chad Gaudin, 34, 4.42
  • Steve Trachsel, 25, 4.48
  • Paul Byrd, 31, 4.59
AL #4 Starters (~5.14 ERA), 20+ starts
  • Jeremy Bonderman, 28 starts, 5.01 ERA
  • Mike Mussina, 27, 5.16
  • Kevin Millwood, 31, 5.16
  • Julian Tavarez, 23, 5.22
AL #5 Starters (~6.81 ERA), 15+ starts
  • Cliff Lee, 16 starts, 6.38 ERA
  • Bartolo Colon, 18, 6.41
  • Robinson Tejeda, 19, 6.61
  • Horacio Ramirez, 20, 7.16
Not really any surprises, though it is worth noting the Orioles actually had two ace-level pitchers and a #3 pitcher, but not much else (see their #5 ERA above). The Mike Mussina-Chris Capuano analogy from yesterday seems pretty apt, since Capuano was also a #2 in FIP but fell to #4 in ERA.

I'll finish this up, as I did yesterday, with a recap of the "league average" rotation:
  1. Jeremy Guthrie/Scott Kazmir
  2. Joe Blanton
  3. Steve Trachsel
  4. Mike Mussina/Kevin Millwood
  5. Robinson Tejeda

AL 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.

Back in October I wrote a post breaking down the average rotation and rotation spot in the National League by FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching (link goes to the definition at The Hardball Times). Since I never did a corresponding post for the American League, I figured I'd take care of that today.

By focusing only on outcomes for which a pitcher is solely responsible and taking defense out of the equation, FIP isn't influenced by the quality of a team's defense in the same way other pitching statistics, notably ERA, may be. As I said in the NL post, "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 FIP equation I use and methodology for determining the FIP for each rotation spot on a team is detailed in the other post but the quick explanation is it's a weighted average of each team's starts where the #1 spot is calculated by averaging the 33 best starts by FIP, #2 is the next 33, #3 is the next 32, and so on to total 162 games. For the Orioles, taking Erik Bedard's 28 starts with a 3.15 FIP and 5 Jeremy Guthrie starts with a 4.39 FIP gives you 3.34 as the FIP for the #1 spot in the Baltimore rotation.

In the table below, SFIP stands for the FIP put up by each team's starters based on the sum of the raw data. The #1-#5 columns are obviously the FIP for the corresponding spot in a team's rotation and the league values are the average of all teams. The final column, STDEV, is the standard deviation of each team's rotation which gives you a sense of how "even" it is. A high standard deviation coupled with a mediocre ace spells bad news.

2007 AL Rotations and Rotation Spots by FIP

Los Angeles Angels4.013.333.483.944.425.160.74
Cleveland Indians4.153.103.784.164.605.450.88
Boston Red Sox4.
Oakland Athletics4.243.463.654.354.755.530.84
Tampa Bay Devil Rays4.343.413.824.404.855.650.88
Minnesota Twins4.343.783.934.204.645.370.64
New York Yankees4.403.753.824.014.366.931.34
Toronto Blue Jays4.473.523.844.524.956.411.13
Chicago White Sox4.473.694.224.354.875.500.69
Seattle Mariners4.613.674.284.674.955.890.82
Baltimore Orioles4.713.344.544.925.216.221.05
Detroit Tigers4.783.894.174.645.226.411.00
Kansas City Royals4.803.924.294.615.056.881.16
Texas Rangers5.214.514.634.955.556.600.86

The AL as a league did better than the NL in terms of starter FIP, winning 4.47 to 4.61, despite an extra hitter in the lineup to draw walks and hit home runs. The Rangers join the Marlins and Nationals as the only teams with a SFIP over 5.00, though Washington did have a higher number than Texas. The only rotation spot in which the NL bettered the AL was #5, by a 0.10 margin. I guess the senior league can take solace in the fact they have "better" bad pitching.

I want to put these numbers into context like I did for the National League by finding pitchers that performed close to each rotation spot's average.

AL #1 Starters (3.60 FIP or below) , 20+ Starts
  • Josh Beckett, 30 starts, 3.04 FIP
  • C.C. Sabathia, 34, 3.10
  • Erik Bedard, 28, 3.15
  • Kelvim Escobar, 30, 3.35
  • Scott Kazmir, 34, 3.41
  • Joe Blanton, 34, 3.46
  • John Lackey, 33, 3.50
  • Roy Halladay, 31, 3.51
  • Dan Haren is the closest to the average with a 3.66 FIP in 34 starts.
AL #2 Starters (~4.04 FIP), 20+ Starts
  • Justin Verlander, 32 starts, 3.95 FIP
  • Gil Meche, 34, 3.98
  • Mike Mussina, 27, 4.00
  • Jered Weaver, 28, 4.02
  • Jeremy Bonderman, 4.15
AL #3 Starters, (~4.43 FIP), 20+ Starts
  • Brian Bannister, 27 starts, 4.36 FIP
  • Jeremy Guthrie, 26, 4.39
  • Miguel Batista, 32, 4.50
  • Kevin Millwood, 31, 4.51
  • Nate Robertson, 30, 4.58
AL #4 Starters (~4.86 FIP), 20+ Starts
  • Brandon McCarthy, 22 starts, 4.75 FIP
  • Boof Bonser, 30, 4.75
  • Odalis Perez, 26, 4.77
  • Jose Contreras, 30, 4.78
  • Edwin Jackson, 31, 4.84
  • Shaun Marcum, 25, 4.90
  • Daniel Cabrera, 34, 4.97
  • Jeff Weaver, 27, 5.03
AL #5 Starters (~5.93 FIP), 10+ Starts
  • Chad Durbin, 19 starts, 5.76 FIP
  • Kyle Davies, 11, 5.94
  • Tomokazu Ohka, 10, 5.95
  • Jae Seo, 10, 5.96
  • Casey Fossum, 10, 6.10
  • Robinson Tejeda, 19, 6.15
  • Mike Maroth, 13, 6.35
  • Kei Igawa, 12, 6.66
Mike Mussina is kind of like the AL's version of Chris Capuano, a starter who appeared to drastically underperform his FIP. Other than that, I can't say there's many surprises on these lists, though it is kind of sad that the Rangers' best starter was only an average #3 pitcher.

Jae Seo and Casey Fossum appearing at the bottom of the list reminds me of a curious trivia item: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were the only major league team to have every pitcher that started a game for them end with at least ten starts for them. Scott Kazmir (34), James Shields (31), Edwin Jackson (31), Andy Sonnenstine (22), Jason Hammel (14), J.P. Howell (10), Jae Seo (10), and Casey Fossum (10) combined for the team's 162 starts.

I'll end the post by recapping the league average rotation by FIP:
  1. Dan Haren (3.66 FIP)
  2. Jered Weaver (4.02 FIP)
  3. Jeremy Guthrie (4.39 FIP)
  4. Edwin Jackson (4.84 FIP)
  5. Kyle Davis (5.94 FIP)
Tomorrow look for the same sort of post using ERA in place of FIP just for fun.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hitters with 80+ More BB Than K in a Season Since 1901

Contact hitters don't strike out often. Patient hitters are adept at drawing walks. A hitter who can combine both skills is going to be pretty valuable. Of course, being very good at both is pretty rare. Below are the only 44 times since 1901 that a hitter has drawn 80+ more walks than strikeouts in a single season. Why did I use eighty and not some other number? Simply because it didn't make the list too long.

I find it interesting that, given the fact Joe Sewell didn't even reach double digits in strikeouts in most seasons of his career, the only time he shows up is one year he did. Lou Boudreau's 1948 season is pretty impressive. Also, given the number of guys on the list that played in the late forties, perhaps it's no wonder the league K:BB ratio dipped so much as I alluded to yesterday (or perhaps it just made it easier for them to make the list).

The fact Barry Bonds leads the list by so much brings up a good point: there are no IBB numbers for most of the players on the list on (I believe 1955 is when they start). Therefore I didn't want to take Bonds off the list without knowing if Williams would be similarly affected, so I just left it. If you're such a threat teams want to walk you instead of trying to strike you out, that's its own reward I suppose. Bonds just missed placing on the list again in 2007 with 132 free passes against 54 strikeouts. No one else was even close.

Barry Bonds200423241191.362.609.8121.422
Barry Bonds200219847151.370.582.7991.381
Ted Williams194114727120.406.553.7351.287
Ted Williams194716247115.343.499.6341.133
Ted Williams194916248114.343.490.6501.141
Ted Williams194615644112.342.497.6671.164
Ferris Fain195013326107.282.430.402.832
Eddie Stanky194514842106.258.417.333.751
Ted Williams195413632104.345.513.6351.148
Ted Williams19511444599.318.464.5561.019
Arky Vaughan19361182197.335.453.474.927
Luke Appling19491212497.301.439.394.833
Lu Blue19291263294.293.422.429.852
Lou Gehrig19351323894.329.466.5831.049
Ted Williams19421455194.356.499.6481.147
Eddie Stanky19501445094.300.460.412.872
Eddie Collins19151192792.332.460.436.896
Charlie Gehringer19381132192.306.425.486.911
Wade Boggs19881253491.366.476.490.965
Johnny Evers19101081890.263.413.321.734
Barry Bonds20031485890.341.529.7491.278
Jim Sheckard19111475889.276.434.388.822
Lou Boudreau194898989.355.453.534.987
Augie Galan19451142787.307.423.441.864
Elmer Valo19491193287.283.413.404.817
Joe Sewell1923981286.353.456.479.935
Roy Cullenbine19471375186.224.401.422.823
Ted Williams19481264185.369.497.6151.112
Ferris Fain19491365185.263.415.339.754
Elmer Valo19521011685.281.432.407.839
Tris Speaker1920971384.388.483.5621.045
Max Bishop19291284484.232.398.316.713
Mickey Cochrane19331062284.322.459.515.974
Lou Gehrig19361304684.354.478.6961.174
Charlie Gehringer19401011784.313.428.447.875
Barry Bonds20011779384.328.515.8631.379
Arky Vaughan19381042183.322.433.444.876
Luke Appling19351224082.307.437.389.826
Mickey Cochrane1935961581.319.452.450.902
Eddie Stanky19461375681.273.436.352.788
Johnny Pesky19491001981.306.408.384.792
Ralph Kiner19511375780.309.452.6271.079
Ferris Fain19531082880.256.405.345.750
Joe Morgan19751325280.327.466.508.974

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Highest WHIP in Season, 40+ Appearances in Relief

A stat that helps tell the story of a pitcher's effectiveness is WHIP, or Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched. This is kind of like on base percentage for a pitcher, since it tells you how many baserunners he allows in an average inning. Obviously, it's advantageous to have as low a WHIP as possible, since no baserunners means less opportunity to allow runs.

Below is the list of the twenty highest WHIP's put up by relievers appearing in 40+ games, since 1901. I'm defining a reliever as a pitcher making 80% or more of his appearances in relief so a few swingmen may show up on the list.

Highest WHIP in a Season by a Reliever in 40+ Appearances

1Mike Flanagan199234.72.1068.055.77
2Franklyn German200344.72.0606.045.98
3Mike Holtz200235.02.0575.406.31
4Dick Welteroth194995.32.0567.366.07
5Rob Murphy199057.02.0536.325.32
6Vic Darensbourg199934.72.0488.835.65
7Danny Graves200538.72.0436.526.98
8Paul Assenmacher199933.02.0308.185.44
9Tony Fossas199822.72.0295.963.86
10Kevin Wickander199334.02.0296.097.02
11Frank Biscan194898.72.0276.115.12
12Shawn Camp200740.02.0257.205.25
13Ron Davis198658.72.0119.205.89
14Bryan Hickerson199548.32.0078.575.50
15Pedro Borbon200041.71.9926.486.46
16Jim Poole199749.31.9867.115.49
17Joe Grahe199443.31.9856.655.16
18Brian Bruney200546.01.9787.435.29
19Kevin Gryboski200531.01.9685.525.20
20Jim Todd197981.01.9636.566.45

The only pitcher with a decent FIP is Tony Fossas, but I'm almost positive that's because he was a LOOGY (Lefty One-Out GuY) by that time, although the fact he only gave up one home run didn't hurt. Dick Welteroth has one of the worst K:BB ratios I've seen, striking out 37 strikeouts while walking 89 batters. It may not entirely be his fault; the American League as a whole put up one of the worst K:BB ratios as a league in their history in 1949.

To wit, here's a chart I quickly put together using the total bases on balls and strikeouts for each season available on (click to enlarge the image in a new tab/window):

Not only is it evident the AL in 1949 saw more walks relative to strikeouts, you can also see the pitching-dominant year of 1968 in the chart as well, in climax of the upswing following 1949. Pretty crazy stuff going on in the junior circuit.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Strikes Percentage, Active Players with 200+ IP

Today I want to look at the active players with 200 or more career innings pitched that throw the lowest percentage of strikes. On baseball-reference the data for this goes back only to 2000, so it's hard to make a general conclusion beyond throwing more strikes would probably help these guys. Of course, the range of the sample is between 56.3 and 70.1%, so it's not like they're far beyond gone.

Here are the thirty-nine (out of 347) active pitchers with 200+ IP below 60.0% strikes thrown for their career:

  • John Parrish, 56.3%
  • Victor Zambrano, 57.4%
  • J.C. Romero, 57.7%
  • Daniel Cabrera, 58.2%
  • Dennys Reyes, 58.2%
  • Jim Brower, 58.5%
  • Seth McClung, 58.6%
  • Jamey Wright, 58.6%
  • Mike MacDougal, 58.8%
  • Jorge de la Rosa, 58.8%
  • Scott Willamson, 58.8%
  • Chad Billingsley, 58.9%
  • Justin Miller, 58.9%
  • Victor Santos, 58.9%
  • Zach Day, 58.9%
  • Shawn Chacon, 59.0%
  • Julian Tavarez, 59.0%
  • Lance Cormier, 59.1%
  • Brandon Duckworth, 59.1%
  • Russ Ortiz, 59.1%
  • Jaret Wright, 59.2%
  • Mike Wood, 59.4%
  • Rick Ankiel, 59.4%
  • Tom Glavine, 59.5%
  • Derrick Turnbow, 59.5%
  • Jesus Colome, 59.6%
  • Dewon Brazelton, 59.6%
  • Sean Douglass, 59.6%
  • Clay Hensley, 59.7%
  • Jorge Julio, 59.7%
  • Colby Lewis, 59.7%
  • Tony Armas, Jr., 59.8%
  • Kyle Davies, 59.8%
  • Ron Villone, 59.8%
  • Todd Wellemeyer, 59.8%
  • Jay Witasick, 59.8%
  • Edwin Jackson, 59.9%
  • Jason Jennings, 59.9%
  • Nate Cornejo, 59.9%

Tom Glavine is the best pitcher on the list by far, but keep in mind this is only the part of his career since the millennium. Russ Ortiz and Jason Jennings are the only others with over 1000 innings since 2000. I also set it to look for only active players, so I'm not sure why Nate Cornejo, Sean Douglass, Dewon Brazleton, and Zach Day show up; they could be bouncing around the minors somewhere, I suppose.

I might as well list the highest strikes percentages on the list as well. Taking 66.7% (two thirds strikes) and 200 IP as the minimum, here are the top fifteen active hurlers in terms of highest strikes percentage:
  • Rafael Betancourt, 70.1%
  • Curt Schilling, 69.3%
  • Mariano Rivera, 68.5%
  • David Wells, 68.4%
  • Paul Byrd, 68.4%
  • Josh Towers, 68.1%
  • John Smoltz, 68.0%
  • Roy Oswalt, 67.8%
  • Scott Baker, 67.7%
  • Jon Lieber, 67.4%
  • Trevor Hoffman, 67.2%
  • Chad Bradford, 67.1%
  • Mike Timlin, 67.0%
  • Greg Maddux, 67.0%
  • Eddie Guardado, 66.9%
A lot of decent pitchers show up here, as you'd expect. Josh Towers certainly throws strikes, but he hasn't found the success nearly everyone else on the list has. Ditto Scott Baker, though he's certainly got a couple years yet to develop.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Consecutive Games with a Loss

Say what you will about the sometimes-odd way baseball assigns wins and losses, there's no one in baseball that wants an "L" next to his name in the box score. All the way back in August, I posted about Chris Capuano's streak of starts without his team winning. Though he currently stands at eighteen consecutive starts without the Brewers winning the game, he at least picked up some no decisions in that stretch. Below are players that weren't so lucky. I'm going to mix it up a little by listing the pitchers tied for second on the list and then I'll give some background on top guy before revealing his name at the end.

A streak of seven or more straight appearances with a loss has happened seventy-eight times since 1957. Of those, forty-six streaks were seven games long. The last seven game streak was put up by Jose Contreras from June 24, 2007 until July 31, 2007. Twenty streaks ended at eight games, with Hideo Nomo from May 13, 2004 to September 1, 2004 being the most recent. If anyone's wondering, the longest streaks of Capuano's career were four games each and both occurred during 2007.

Here are the eleven players with losses in nine consecutive appearances with their ERA and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) listed, too, just for fun:
  • Sidney Ponson, 5/22/2004 to 7/4/2004, 6.87 ERA, 5.11 FIP
  • Mike Maroth, 9/22/2002 to 5/1/2003, 4.92 ERA, 3.66 FIP
  • Andy Benes, 9/6/1993 to 4/19/1994, 4.37 ERA, 4.15 FIP
  • Dennis Rasmussen, 6/26/1991 to 8/9/1991, 5.50 ERA, 5.26 FIP
  • Juan Berenguer, 8/24/1981 to 10/2/1981, 4.92 ERA, 5.12 FIP
  • Brian Kingman, 8/12/1980 to 9/25/1980, 5.29 ERA, 6.17 FIP
  • Mike Morgan, 6/11/1978 to 7/24/1979, 6.46 ERA, 6.09 FIP
  • Jeff Byrd, 8/11/1977 to 9/27/1977, 6.65 ERA, 5.76 FIP
  • Denny McLain, 5/18/1971 to 6/26/1971, 6.13 ERA, 6.35 FIP
  • Mickey Lolich, 5/23/1967 to 7/15/1967, 5.82 ERA, 4.28 FIP
  • Chuck Stobbs, 4/16/1957 to 5/24/1957, 8.08 ERA, 6.03 FIP
Denny McLain's appearance is kind of sad. Less than three years after winning 31 games for the Tigers, gambling problems and increasingly erratic behavior had derailed his career. The Mike Morgan on this list is the same Mike Morgan that pitched for the Diamondbacks as recently as 2002. Brian Kingman is the second-most recent pitcher to lost 20 games in a seaon; Mike Maroth is the most recent, having lost 21 for the Tigers in 2003. Interestingly, Maroth had the best nine-game stretch of the players on the list, at least in terms of FIP. Tigers batters gave him a total of seventeen runs over the nine games he lost.

The longest streak of losses in consecutive appearances is held by a pitcher with a career 134-116 record and a 3.80 career ERA. Despite being only 5'11" and 172 lbs., the righthander was durable, giving his team 179 or more innings for nine straight seasons from 1983 through 1991. Despite his consistency, he only received votes for the Cy Young Award in one season, his 20-11, 2.79 ERA 1984 campaign. After that year, however, his ERA only dipped below 4.00 twice, in 1988 and 1990. His career after 1984 resembles Jeff Suppan's, but just a bit better. He never left the American League but he did pitch for four different franchises. He started four games in the postseason in his career, going 2-2 with a 2.51 ERA, and got a ring with the Orioles in 1983, the same year he led the league in shutouts with five. He was the player traded from the Orioles to the Red Sox in 1988 for an outfielder named Brady Anderson and a pitcher named Curt Schilling.

Who is this mystery RHP? Mike Boddicker.

From September 9, 1987 to May 14, 1988, Boddicker couldn't buy a win pitching for the Orioles. Though he finished 1988 with the Red Sox, compiling a 3.39 ERA for the entire season, his won-loss record was a middling 13-15, largely thanks to the eight straight losses with which he opened the season. Given the fact he closed out 1987 with five consecutive losses, he set the bar very high with his thirteen straight defeats. Though he didn't pitch very well, as his 5.61 ERA and 4.76 FIP can attest, the Orioles gave him only twenty runs of support in his thirteen games, six of them in one game.

Mike Boddicker may not be mentioned much when records are discussed but I'm sure this is one record he doesn't mind being hidden away as part of baseball's minutiae.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Consecutive Games with 1+ Home Run Allowed

Pitchers hate giving up home runs. Not only does it mean the score of the game changes and momentum swings to the other team, but it's also the only sure way to increase your ERA as opposed to someone else's (at least for relievers). The most home runs allowed in a single season is currently fifty by Bert Blyleven in 1986. In baseball history, only 404 pitchers have given up 30 or more home runs in one season.

I want to look at the most consecutive games giving up at least one home run. It's likely the higher numbers will be held by starting pitchers simply because they throw more innings than relievers and relievers face fewer batters in every game. As a result, I'll make two lists: one for starters and one for relievers. The lists only cover years since 1957 since that's how far back retrosheet's data (used in the Baseball-Reference Play Index) goes.

Most Consecutive Games with a Home Run Allowed by a Starting Pitcher
  1. Bert Blyleven, 9/8/86 to 6/10/87, 20 games, 36 HR allowed during streak
  2. Curt Young, 6/3/87 to 9/26/87, 19 games, 28 HR
  3. Ramon Ortiz, 5/1/05 to 7/17/05, 15 games, 22 HR
  4. Mark Leiter, 4/17/96 to 7/4/96, 15 games, 19 HR
  5. John Thomson, 5/17/02 to 8/3/02, 14 games, 18 HR
  6. Dennis Rasmussen, 7/10/86 to 9/29/86, 14 games, 18 HR
  7. Dick Tidrow, 9/10/73 to 5/26/74, 14 games, 19 HR
  8. Orlando Pena, 7/3/64 to 9/7/64, 14 games, 19 HR
  9. Edgar Gonzalez, 8/29/04 to 4/28/07, 13 games, 18 HR
  10. Runelvys Hernandez, 10/2/05 to 8/10/06, 13 games, 18 HR
  11. Steve Parris, 7/31/02 to 5/6/03, 13 games, 21 HR
  12. Steve Trachsel, 5/25/99 to 7/30/99, 13 games, 20 HR
  13. Dave Johnson, 5/23/90 to 7/23/90, 13 games, 17 HR
Tidrow, Pena, and Gonzalez all made relief appearances between their starts, so they may not necessarily belong on the list. If you take them out you're left with a convenient top ten list.

Most Consecutive Games with a Home Run Allowed by a Relief Pitcher
  1. Pete Smith, 5/21/95 to 5/19/97, 6 games, 7 HR
  2. Jay Hook, 6/27/61 to 7/22/61, 6 games, 7 HR
  3. Roman Colon, 5/19/06 to 6/12/06, 5 games, 5 HR
  4. Ron Mahay, 5/9/02 to 5/23/02, 5 games, 6 HR
  5. Jason Standridge, 8/22/01 to 05/16/02, 5 games, 6 HR
  6. Mike Trombley, 7/11/99 to 7/21/99, 5 games, 5 HR
  7. Dave Stevens, 7/12/96 to 8/12/96, 5 games, 5 HR
  8. Eric Plunk, 7/31/91 to 9/3/91, 5 games, 5 HR
  9. Mark Williamson, 7/25/90 to 8/4/90, 5 games, 5 HR
  10. Pete Filson, 4/27/86 to 9/8/87, 5 games, 6 HR
  11. Doug Corbett, 8/15/86 to 9/1/86, 5 games, 5 HR
  12. Bob Stoddard, 8/9/83 to 8/22/83, 5 games, 6 HR
  13. Tom Hall, 8/18/74 to 9/17/74, 5 games, 5 HR
  14. Bob Heffner, 5/14/65 to 7/10/65, 5 games, 6 HR
  15. Lee Strange, 6/22/64 to 7/17/64, 5 games, 5 HR
  16. Julio Navarro, 5/3/64 to 5/21/64, 5 games, 6 HR
  17. Luis Arroyo, 7/8/62 to 7/22/62, 5 games, 5 HR
  18. Tom Gorman, 7/7/57 to 8/2/57, 5 games, 5 HR
The italicized players had starts between their relief appearances, so they might not belong on the list. It looks like 1986-1987 was a tough year for starters and relievers in the home run department.

The player with the longest active streak is Victor Santos who gave up home runs in seven straight appearances with Cincinnati and Baltimore. To break it up into the categories here, he has allowed at least one home run in his last four relief appearances and last three starts.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Most PA in a Season, No Extra Base Hits

It's hard to play baseball for a long time as a position player and not get at least one extra base hit. Even if it's a home run off the sweet spot of the bat or a hustling bloop double, a player's line for a season generally won't be full of zeros in the 2B, 3B, and HR column. Unless, of course, they're one of the many pitchers that don't hit well, but they're in their own little universe (and don't count for these lists). Today I have two lists of players that didn't manage to get extra base hits after all. The first is the most PA in a season from 1901 to 1919 (the dead-ball era) and the second shows the most PA in a season from 1920 to the present.

Most PA in a Season, No Extra Base Hits, 1901-1919:
  1. Jack O'Connor, 184 PA, 1906
  2. Mike McNally, 151, 1916
  3. Bill Stumpf, 143, 1912
  4. Otis Lawry, 137, 1916
  5. Gene Good, 135, 1906
  6. Bill McKechnie, 129, 1913
  7. Grover Land, 119, 1910
  8. Bill Carrigan, 118, 1906
  9. Mike Massey, 114, 1917
  10. Dave Shean, 110, 1919
Most PA in a Season, No Extra Base Hits, 1920-2007:
  1. Dwain Anderson, 144 PA, 1973
  2. Dave Nelson, 137, 1969
  3. Pat Corrales, 135, 1972
  4. Mike Gallego, 132, 1995
  5. Bob Swift, 118, 1951
  6. Paul Casanova, 113, 1974
  7. Frank Baumholtz, 112, 1956
  8. Doc Ferrell, 112, 1933
  9. Tom Egan, 109, 1974
  10. John Simmons, 107, 1949
The way I took pitchers out was to say anyone who appeared in over 50% of their games as anything but a pitcher counts. Oddly, Lynn Nelson, a righthanded starting pitcher for the 1938 Philadelphia Athletics showed up on my 1920-2007 list. Some investigation revealed he pitched in 32 games but batted in 67, meaning he showed up 35 times as a pinch-hitter. He had 119 plate appearances without an extra base hit that season, so it seems weird he'd continually be used. Looking back one year to 1937, however, you see he had a .354/.387/.549 line in 120 PA, including 4 home runs (and 6 games in left field), so I guess they were hoping it wasn't a fluke. Unfortunately, he never hit that well again.

For the curious: Chris Heintz, a Twins catcher, had the most PA without an extra base hit in 2007 with 61.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States and while everyone is enjoying their turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, watching football and/or doing their own personal family traditions, I thought now was an apt time to pass along this website I found linked on another blog I enjoy. It's called FreeRice and their FAQ can explain their better than I can, but essentially they have a vocabulary game you can play and for every word you correctly define, ten grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program. If nothing else, it's pretty fun to learn what some weird words mean. The highest level I've reached is 38 (you start at a certain level, move up one level when you get three words in a row correct and move down one level when you get one wrong - after a while you stabilize at your personal level).

Tomorrow, I'll get back to posting irreverent lists about weird records. Have a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the early-morning sales tomorrow if that's your thing -- if you have to work really early at some of those stores, hopefully the rest of your day goes well and tomorrow isn't too rough.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lineups for the (Dark) Ages

Who Needs Offense?

Most teams throughout baseball history have built with at least functional offenses. That makes this post kind of disingenuous because no self-respecting GM would intentionally sabotage his team's offense like this (well, most wouldn't) whether because he's ambitious for a title or simply to save his job. I have to admit I'm not that aware of the defensive reputations of most of the guys in this post so it's possible this "team" would be a defensive juggernaut, but even so it likely won't help if they can't score.

Now that every position has been hit with the list of the most futile seasons qualifying for the batting title, I want to use a fun, little tool to play around with the guys atop each list. Dave Pinto, the former chief researcher for Baseball Tonight and current full-time baseball statistics/blogging guru, has a widget on his site, Baseball Musings, that calculates the optimal lineup for a given set of players based on their on base percentage and slugging average. You can find the Lineup Analysis tool here, as well as links to check out and read up on how it was created. There are two models available for the Lineup Analysis and I will use the 1959-2004 option since it spans more time that guys on my lists played.

To create the Lineups for the (Dark) Ages, or LDA, I will take the top player on each list and put them in the Lineup Analysis tool. There will be four LDA total: a general one along an AL setup with the worst DH, a general one along NL lines with the worst P, an AL-only one taking the worst AL seasons, and an NL-only one taking the worst NL seasons. Finally, I'll take a look at a post-2000 futility lineup (for this lineup, I will use the 1998-2002 model for the Lineup Analysis).

General AL LDA

Defensively, the General AL LDA would look like the following:
  • C: 1967 Jerry Grote - .195/.226/.253
  • 1B: 1920 Ivy Griffin - .238/.281/.274
  • 2B: 1937 Del Young - .194/.235/.231
  • 3B: 1933 Art Scharein - .204/.269/.244
  • SS: 1968 Hal Lanier - .206/.222/.239
  • LF: 1946 George Case - .225/.280/.295
  • CF: 1968 Del Unser - .230/.282/.277
  • RF: 1941 Stan Benjamin - .235/.266/.325
  • DH: 1984 Ted Simmons - .221/.269/.300
  • P: Probably bleeding in the bullpen
Ted Simmons deserves a better end to his career. Simmons and Benjamin are the only players that slugged .300 or more. Ick. After entering it into the tool, we're the optimal lineup is:
  1. Griffin
  2. Case
  3. Simmons
  4. Unser
  5. Benjamin
  6. Lanier
  7. Young
  8. Grote
  9. Scharein
Griffin and Unser can be interchanged and the team will still only be expected to score 2.122 runs per game (~344 in a full season). There's not much wiggle room between "best" and worst (1.928 RPG, ~312 in a full season):
  1. Grote
  2. Lanier
  3. Griffin
  4. Young
  5. Scharein
  6. Case
  7. Simmons
  8. Unser
  9. Benjamin
For comparison, the five starters that started the most games for the Padres (best ERA in the NL) in 2007 gave up 367 runs in their starts.

General NL LDA

Defensively, the team remains the same, except we now have a pitcher and Ted Simmons is cast aside. Swingman Ron Herbel gets the call today, complete with his .000/.041/.000 batting line. Replacing Simmons in the Lineup Analysis with Herbel's line, we get this optimal lineup:
  1. Griffin
  2. Case
  3. Grote
  4. Unser
  5. Benjamin
  6. Young
  7. Scharein
  8. Lanier
  9. Herbel
Again, Griffin and Unser are interchangeable and you'll still score 1.447 RPG (~234 R in a year). There is almost twice the range between best and worst (roughly 0.4 instead of 0.2), since the following lineup scores an estimated 1.067 RPG (~173 per year):
  1. Grote
  2. Herbel
  3. Scharein
  4. Lanier
  5. Young
  6. Unser
  7. Case
  8. Griffin
  9. Benjamin
Who knows, maybe Herbel was a great bunter and they could eke out runs small ball style with him bunting Grote over the 9 out of every 40 times at bat he gets on base.


Defensively, our all-futile team now looks like this:
  • C: 1984 Bob Boone - .201/.242/.262
  • 1B: 1920 Ivy Griffin - .238/.281/.274
  • 2B: 1968 Horace Clarke - .230/.258/.254
  • 3B: 1933 Art Scharein - .204/.269/.244
  • SS: 1933 Jim Levey - .195/.237/.240
  • LF: 1946 George Case - .225/.280/.295
  • CF: 1968 Del Unser - .230/.282/.277
  • RF: 1920 Nemo Liebold - .220/.316/.281
  • DH: 1984 Ted Simmons - .221/.269/.300
Simmons holds the dubious honor of being the only .300 slugger, though Case comes close. Liebold is the only guy to get on base at above a .300 clip. Here's the Lineup Analysis' take:
  1. Liebold
  2. Case
  3. Griffin
  4. Unser
  5. Simmons
  6. Levey
  7. Clarke
  8. Boone
  9. Scharein
This setup gives you an estimated 2.306 RPG (~374 per year), our best lineup so far. The worst lineup, clocking in at 2.130 RPG (~345 per year), is as follows:
  1. Boone
  2. Levey
  3. Griffin
  4. Clarke
  5. Scharein
  6. Unser
  7. Case
  8. Liebold
  9. Simmons
Go figure, bury the only guys that can slug and/or get on base at all deep in the lineup and you don't score. Hmh.


Our team shifts defensively again while welcoming a few new faces to the fold:
  • C: 1967 Jerry Grote - .195/.226/.253
  • 1B: 1920 Charlie Grimm - .227/.273/.289
  • 2B: 1937 Del Young - .194/.235/.231
  • 3B: 1932 Wally Gilbert - .214/.252/.274
  • SS: 1968 Hal Lanier - .206/.222/.239
  • LF: 1986 Vince Coleman - .232/.301/.280
  • CF: 1944 Dain Clay - .250/.290/.292
  • RF: 1941 Stan Benjamin - .235/.266/.325
  • P: 1964 Ron Herbel - .000/.041/.000
Wally Gilbert, Vince Coleman, and Dain Clay had a couple of American Leaguers ahead of them on the respective lists so despite Herbel in the lineup they might actually help the offense. Not that it helps much when your optimal lineup is still only giving you 1.527 RPG (~247 per year):
  1. Coleman
  2. Clay
  3. Gilbert
  4. Grimm
  5. Benjamin
  6. Lanier
  7. Young
  8. Grote
  9. Herbel
Maybe Coleman's speed once he's on the bases would help the team scratch out a couple runs every once in a while. Certainly that speed is wasted if you turn to the 1.121 RPG (~182 per year) worst lineup:
  1. Grote
  2. Herbel
  3. Gilbert
  4. Lanier
  5. Young
  6. Clay
  7. Grimm
  8. Coleman
  9. Benjamin
Sheesh, that was fun.

Post-2000 LDA

It's time to turn to the offensively bad recent players. The Post-2000 Lineup for the (Dark) Ages lines up like this on defense:
  • C: 2002 Einar Diaz - .206/.258/.284
  • 1B: 2005 Darin Erstad - .273/.325/.371
  • 2B: 2002 Brent Abernathy - .242/.288/.311
  • 3B: 2002 Vinny Castilla - .232/.268/.348
  • SS: 2002 Neifi Perez - .236/.260/.303
  • LF: 2002 Roger Cedeno - .260/.318/.346
  • CF: 2000 Marquis Grissom - .244/.288/.351
  • RF: 2002 Jeromy Burnitz - .215/.311/.365
  • DH: 2005 Scott Hatteberg - .256/.334/.343
Sheesh, 2002 was a spectacular year for bad hitting, I guess. Running those guys through the Lineup Analysis tells us we could expect 3.377 RPG (~547 per year) from the optimal lineup:
  1. Hatteberg
  2. Erstad
  3. Cedeno
  4. Grissom
  5. Burnitz
  6. Castilla
  7. Perez
  8. Diaz
  9. Abernathy
That's not a very encouraging list. The worst lineup gives you 3.073 RPG (~498 per year) from this arrangement:
  1. Perez
  2. Diaz
  3. Burnitz
  4. Abernathy
  5. Grissom
  6. Hatteberg
  7. Cedeno
  8. Erstad
  9. Castilla
Castilla, Grissom, and Perez can switch around and give you the same result. What's scary is that if you switched Diaz and Erstad and probably Castilla and Abernathy and you have the lineup a manager faced with those choices would probably use, for better or worse. Man, I feel bad for that guy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lowest OPS by a P in a Season Since 1920

Pitchers can't hit. Well, as with any sweeping generality, there are some exceptions, but for the most part pitchers walk into the box and wander back to the dugout shortly thereafter. To keep the search similar to the rest of the positions, I only looked at pitchers since 1920. I adjusted the minimum plate appearances drastically, however, to reflect the fact pitchers that bat don't usually play every day. To make the list, a pitcher now must have made 50 or more plate appearances during the season. This obviously is equivalent to a pitcher making twenty-five starts in which he bats twice which superficially seems like a decent cutoff point.

Here are the one-dimensional pitchers:

Ron Herbel1964SFG54.
Doug Davis2004MIL71.
Mark Redman2003FLA66.
Aaron Harang2005CIN78.
Carl Willey1961MLN58.
Ron Herbel1965SFG52.
Bill Wight1950CHW75.
Ben Sheets2005MIL53.
Hank Aguirre1962DET80.
Les Tietje1934CHW63.
Al Leiter2003NYM60.
Bob Rush1949CHC69.
Jose DeLeon1991STL51.
Mario Soto1980CIN54.
Jim Brillheart1927CHC52.
Bob Buhl1962MLN/CHC85.
Dan Spillner1974SDP50.
Don Carman1988PHI71.
Bob Friend1965PIT78.
Rickey Clark1967CAL60.

There's some pretty bad hitters on this list. Bob Buhl holds the record for most at bats in a season without a hit (70) in 1962 -- Herbel and Wight had 47 and 61 at bats, respectively, in their .000 average seasons. Buhl was the only one of the list to be hit by a pitch that year; he also was the only one with a sacrifice fly. Don Carman and Bob Friend led all players on the list with three hits each in their season, while Les Tietje had the only extra base hit (a double). As a whole, the twenty guys on the list (well, nineteen, given Herbel's repeat) put together a composite line that looks like this:
  • 27.5 years old, 1280 PA, 1138 AB, 27 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 28 BB, 530 K, 1 HBP, 112 SH, 1 SF, 1 SB, 1 CS, .024/.048/.025, .073 OPS
Ick. Those twenty players are the only ones ever to put up an OPS under .100 in 50+ PA. Two hundred eighty-two more pitchers had an OPS under .200. Forty-two of the sub-.200 seasons have occurred since 2000, with Ben Sheets (.134), Doug Davis (.154), Tom Gorzelanny (.169), and Matt Belisle (.193) joining the club (in some cases, again) this year.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lowest OPS by a DH in a Season Since 1973

Same old story 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 as a designated hitter.

The Top 20:

Ted Simmons1984MIL532.221.269.300.569
Alvin Davis1991SEA528.221.299.335.634
Dave Parker1991CAL/TOR541.239.288.365.653
Mitchell Page1979OAK539.247.323.335.658
Gerald Perry1990KCR512.254.313.361.674
Scott Hatteberg2005OAK523.256.334.343.677
Dave Kingman1986OAK604.210.255.431.686
Hank Aaron1975MIL543.234.332.355.687
Deron Johnson1975CHW/BOS621.239.300.388.688
Carl Yastrzemski1981BOS390.246.338.355.693
Ruben Sierra1996NYY/DET587.247.320.375.695
Alex Johnson1973TEX663.287.322.377.699
Lee May1978BAL590.246.286.414.700
Tommy Davis1974BAL673.289.325.377.702
Reggie Jackson1984CAL584.223.300.406.706
Andre Thornton1985CLE514.236.304.408.712
George Bell1992CHW670.255.294.418.712
Rico Carty1979TOR512.256.322.390.712
Darrell Evans1988DET522.208.337.380.717
Paul Molitor1998MIN559.281.335.382.717

This list has a lot of good players on the downside of their careers on it. Mitchell Page and Gerald Perry are the only two players under the age of thirty to appear and besides them, only five others were under the age of thirty-five. There's also no repeats which suggests the players stopped being everyday players (whether through injury or age) and/or teams found they simply had better options at designated hitter.

Since they are the only two guys on the list under thirty, we might as well look at Page and Perry.

Mitchell Page was a one-time Rookie of the Year candidate (who may have been robbed: compare his rookie stats to 1977 winner Eddie Murray's) that essentially disappeared after his age-28 season in 1980. He played four more years but never got more than 100 at bats in a season. He played the role of Angels player "Abascal" in the movie Angels in the Outfield and spent time as a coach for the Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, and Washington Nationals before being granted a leave of absence from his position as hitting coach for the Nationals this past May.

Gerald Perry also is a hitting coach in the major leagues, plying his trade for the Mariners, Pirates, Athletics and, currently, the Cubs. He only spent one season in the American League, depriving him of a chance to appear on the Lowest OPS by a DH more than once. He was a first baseman for most of his playing career.

Only 83 seasons by a DH ended with a below-.800 OPS. Ten of those have occurred since 2000 with Scott Hatteberg's 2005 obviously the lowest. Here are the rest of the guys:
  • Edgar Martinez, 2004, .727
  • Carl Everett, 2005, .746
  • Greg Vaughn, 2001, .766
  • Brad Fullmer, 2001, .770
  • Jose Vidro, 2007, .775
  • Randall Simon, 2002, .779
  • Aubrey Huff, 2007, .779
  • Raul Ibanez, 2005, .791
  • Dmitri Young, 2005, .796
Obviously, Vidro and Huff take the cake as the worst DH's of 2007. To really cherry-pick and make them look bad, they have the 29th and 31st worst seasons ever by OPS of DH's under age 35 qualifying for the batting title. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lowest OPS by a RF in a Season Since 1920

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 right field.

The Top 20:

Stan Benjamin1941PHI508.235.266.325.591
Nemo Liebold1920CHW480.220.316.281.597
Dave May1974MIL515.226.273.325.598
Mike Hershberger1964CHW510.230.308.290.598
Max Marshall1943CIN555.236.287.313.600
Mike Hershberger1965KCA541.231.289.312.601
Cliff Heathcote1923CHC431.249.298.308.606
Cory Snyder1989CLE518.215.251.360.611
Ron Fairly1967LAD554.220.295.321.616
Tommy Thompson1934BSN369.265.300.318.618
Earl McNeely1928SLB552.236.299.319.618
Johnny Barrett1943PIT329.231.316.303.619
Don Mueller1956NYG474.269.290.333.623
Adam Comorosky1934CIN491.258.315.312.627
Tommy Griffith1924BRO531.251.300.330.630
Mike Hershberger1967KCA537.254.314.317.631
Ron Northey1942PHI433.251.300.331.631
Chuck Workman1944BSN473.208.287.344.631
Steve Finley1990BAL513.256.304.328.632
Lou Finney1935PHA434.273.307.329.636

Mike Hershberger is the only repeat offender, showing up three times. He had a career OPS of .644, a number that was better than only twenty-six single seasons. Over the entire time period, 105 seasons had an OPS under .700 but only four of these took place since 2000. These players are the futile four:
  • Jeromy Burnitz, 2002, .676
  • Terrence Long, 2003, .678
  • Bobby Higginson, 2003, .689
  • Roger Cedeno, 2003, .698
The lowest OPS put up by a qualifying right fielder in 2007 was the .724 put up by rookie (barely) Delmon Young of the Devil Rays. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting anyway, so I guess it didn't have a big impact on the perception of him as a player.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Young Pitchers

Today was going to be the conclusion of the "Lowest OPS..." series, but with the unfortunate passing of Cincinnati Reds pitcher and broadcaster Joe Nuxhall, I wanted to look at pitchers that debuted in the major leagues before their eighteenth birthday.

On, a player's age during a given season is considered to be their age on June 30th of that year. This means a player like Geoff Jenkins, who turned 33 on July 21, 2007, was considered to be 32 all year. I bring this up because I may miss a couple players who debuted early in the season (as 17-year-olds) and turned 18 before June 30, making it look like they debuted during their age-18 season. A cursory check indicates no one fell through the cracks this way but, like always, if you think I'm in error, let me know.

Here are the pitchers since 1901 that debuted before their 18th birthday, sorted by the most games pitched through their age-17 season:
  • Jim Derrington, 1956-1957, 21
  • Carl Scheib, 1943-1944, 21
  • Bob Feller, 1936, 14
  • Bob Miller, 1953, 13
  • Art Houtteman, 1945, 13
  • Rogers McKee, 1944-1945, 5
  • Ron Moeller, 1956, 4
  • Chuck Stobbs, 1947, 4
  • Larry Dierker, 1964, 3
  • Claude Osteen, 1957, 3
  • Mike McCormick, 1956, 3
  • Joey Jay, 1953, 3
  • Dave Skaugstad, 1957, 2
  • Jay Dahl, 1963, 1
  • Stover McIlwain, 1957, 1
  • George Werley, 1956, 1
  • Harry Macpherson, 1944, 1
  • Joe Nuxhall, 1944, 1
  • Charlie Osgood, 1944, 1
  • Chris Haughey, 1943, 1
  • Lefty Weinert, 1919, 1

Friday, November 16, 2007

Who wants to go back to 1986?

I thought this might be interesting to people that read my blog. The Sporting News is putting on a re-enactment of the 1986 season using people from different blogs, radio shows and even a major leaguer or two as the general managers for each team. The goal, obviously, is to do as well as you can on the season and to avoid placing worse than your team did in real life. They simulate games using Strat-o-Matic and it's gone pretty well so far.

Head over to the official site for the league to peruse standings, box scores, and even recaps with snarky headlines. Rob Deer just had a three homer game, so there's no better time to check it out.

Lowest OPS by a CF in a Season Since 1920

Center fielders usually have a lower OPS than corner outfielders. Generally this is because they are slap hitters that rely on speed rather than power to get around the bases. There have been some exceptions in baseball history, but it's safe to assume the average quarterback in the outfield is a lesser hitter (in terms of OPS) than the players on either side of him.

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 center field.

The Top 20 list:

Del Unser1968WSA690.
Gary Pettis1988DET512.
Jim Busby1952CHW/WSH589.236.273.305.578
Dain Clay1944CIN391.
Bill Virdon1964PIT511.
Brian McRae1992KCR592.223.285.308.593
Mike Kreevich1941CHW484.232.289.305.594
Max Carey1926PIT/BRO483.231.294.300.594
Ray Powell1920BSN666.225.282.314.596
Dain Clay1946CIN502.228.318.280.598
Johnny Rucker1944NYG622.244.275.325.600
Gerald Young1989HOU620.233.326.276.602
Omar Moreno1982PIT706.245.292.315.607
Darren Lewis1995SFG/CIN527.250.311.297.608
Rick Manning1983CLE/MIL615.246.292.316.608
Willie Davis1965LAD595.238.263.346.609
Omar Moreno1983HOU/NYY592.244.284.330.614
Ken Berry1965CHW518.218.268.347.615
Juan Beniquez1976TEX526.255.315.301.616
Fred Brickell1931PHI563.253.316.305.621

A lot of the guys on this list changed teams during the season. I wonder if their original teams were sick of them not hitting well or if their reputation as defenders was such they were coveted.

Since 1920, 66 seasons were put up with a .650 OPS or lower. If you expand that to .700 or below, the number jumps up to 239. Only two players since 2000 had an OPS below .650, but 21 were between .650 and .700 -- since I didn't post yesterday, I'll make it up by putting the whole darn list up. :)
  • Marquis Grissom, 2000, .639
  • Endy Chavez, 2003, .648
  • Doug Glanville, 2001, .660
  • Willy Taveras, 2005, .666
  • Peter Bergeron, 2000, .669
  • Willy Taveras, 2006, .671
  • Jeremy Reed, 2005, .674
  • Juan Pierre, 2002, .675
  • Corey Patterson, 2002, .676
  • Scott Podsednik, 2004, .677
  • Juan Pierre, 2005, .680
  • Doug Glanville, 2000, .681
  • Alex Sanchez, 2003, .682
  • Chris Singleton, 2000, .683
  • Juan Pierre, 2007, .684
  • Tike Redman, 2004, .684
  • Bernie Williams, 2005, .688
  • Terrence Long, 2002, .688
  • Endy Chavez, 2004, .689
  • Corey Patterson, 2007, .690
  • Darin Erstad, 2001, .691
  • Jay Payton, 2004, .693
  • Tom Goodwin, 2000, .698
Obviously, Juan Pierre had the lowest OPS (.684) among center fielders this past season. Who even knew Corey Patterson was playing enough anymore to qualify for the batting title?

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?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lowest OPS by a 3B in a Season Since 1920

Same old, same old -- 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 at third base.

Art Scharein1933SLB522.
Eddie Mayo1943PHA533.
Wally Gilbert1932CIN450.
Brooks Robinson1975BAL539.
Don Wert1968DET589.
Travis Jackson1936NYG496.
Lou Chiozza1937NYG468.
Aurelio Rodriguez1974DET608.222.255.306.561
Tommy Thevenow1935PIT425.238.261.304.565
Bob Kennedy1942CHW442.
Milt Stock1924BRO607.
Clete Boyer1964NYY554.218.269.304.573
Scott Brosius1997OAK526.203.259.317.576
Aurelio Rodriguez1969CAL606.232.272.307.579
Bob Aspromonte1963HOU514.214.276.306.582
Terry Pendleton1986STL626.239.279.306.585
Bubba Phillips1963DET502.246.276.310.586
Lee Handley1946PIT456.
Charlie Deal1920CHC512.240.285.304.589
Terry Pendleton1985STL602.240.285.306.591

Some notables appear on this list. The National League MVP in 1991, Terry Pendleton, shows up twice, early in his career. On the other side of the coin, Brooks Robinson shows up high on the list in a season at the end of his career. Aurelio Rodriguez shows up twice in the top twenty and two more times in the top 25. Rodriguez had a career OPS of .626 -- since 1920 only sixty third basemen have finished with seasons below that.

Third basemen have hit better recently: only twelve players have put up seasons with an OPS under .700:
  • Vinny Castilla, 2002, .616
  • Jeff Cirillo, 2002, .629
  • Cal Ripken, 2001, .637
  • Mike Lowell, 2005, .658
  • Tony Batista, 2003, .663
  • Aramis Ramirez, 2002, .666
  • David Bell, 2005, .671
  • Scott Brosius, 2000, .673
  • Aaron Boone, 2005, .677
  • Eric Hinske, 2004, .687
  • Brandon Inge, 2007, .688
  • Joe Randa, 2001, .693
Inge, obviously, had the lowest OPS among third basemen in 2007.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lowest OPS by a SS in a Season Since 1920

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.

As with second basemen, shortstops have traditionally hit very poorly. That means we should see some pretty bad numbers on the list again. Qualifiers remain the same: the player must have qualified for the batting title during the season while playing 75% or more of his games at shortstop.

Hal Lanier1968SFG518.
Jim Levey1933SLB567.
Skeeter Webb1945DET449.
Hal Lanier1967SFG557.
Tim Johnson1973MIL510.
Bobby Mattick1940CHC464.
Leo Durocher1937STL520.
Ivan DeJesus1981CHC460.
Alfredo Griffin1990LAD502.
Billy Hunter1953SLB604.
Skeeter Webb1944CHW540.
Tommy Thevenow1931PIT441.
Hal Lanier1969SFG537.
Mark Belanger1968BAL531.
Ozzie Smith1979SDP649.
Otto Bluege1933CIN323.
Whitey Wietelmann1943BSN591.
Skeeter Newsome1936PHA508.
Zoilo Versalles1967MIN626.
Alfredo Griffin1981TOR414.

Only one member of the Boston Braves appears on the list. Hal Lanier appears on this list three times after showing up once on the second basemen list. He just really couldn't hit.

There have been 153 seasons of an OPS under .600 by a shortstop since 1920. Four of them have occurred since 2000: Neifi Perez in 2002 (.563), Angel Berroa in 2006 (.592), Cesar Izturis in 2003 (.597), and Clint Barmes in 2006 (.599). The lowest shortstop OPS in 2007 was the .621 put up by Omar Vizquel.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lowest OPS by a 2B in a Season Since 1920

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.

Second baseman have traditionally hit very poorly. That means we should see some pretty bad numbers on the following list. Qualifiers remain the same: the player must have qualified for the batting title during the season while playing 75% or more of his games at second base.

Del Young1937PHI386.
Horace Clarke1968NYY607.
Billy Ripkin1988BAL559.
Sparky Anderson1959PHI527.
Freddie Maguire1931BSN544.
Roy Schalk1944CHW654.
Doug Flynn1981NYM343.
Rabbit Maranville1933BSN532.
Tommy Helms1970CIN605.
Jose Lind1992PIT506.
Hal Lanier1965SFG556.
Sandy Alomar1973CAL519.
Connie Ryan1943BSN531.212.301.249.550
Burgess Whitehead1941NYG429.
Jimmy Jordan1936BRO419.
Cookie Rojas1968PHI650.232.248.306.554
Mike Champion1977SDP546.
Rodney Scott1981MON402.205.308.250.558
Len Randle1976TEX597.
Rocky Bridges1953CIN477.

Those are some pretty bad seasons. Once again, there are a number of Boston Braves on the list. Boston's erstwhile National League team has seen three second basemen, five first basemen and two catchers on the three lists. So, out of the sixty players listed so far, ten of them played for Boston -- it's not hard to see why that team hardly ever had a good season.

Getting back to solely second basemen, players have put sixty seasons with an OPS under .600 since 1920. Only one player since 2000 has done it -- barely. Brent Abernathy put up a .599 OPS for Tampa Bay in 2002. Finally, the worst OPS by a qualifying second baseman in 2007 was Ray Durham's .638 for the Giants.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lowest OPS by a 1B in a Season Since 1920

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.

The qualifier for making the list is the player must have qualified for the league batting title during the season (rules throughout history are here) and he must have played at least 75% of his games during the season as a first baseman.

Here is the table of the twenty lowest seasons by OPS for a 1B since 1920:

Ivy Griffin1920PHA508.
Charlie Grimm1920PIT581.
Buddy Hassett1940BSN485.
Howie Schultz1947BRO/PHI430.223.263.319.582
Johnny Sturm1941NYY568.239.293.300.593
Joe Kuhel1943CHW617.213.319.284.603
Johnny Walker1921PHA443.258.278.329.607
Mike Squires1981CHW334.265.312.296.608
Charlie Grimm1933CHC413.247.290.320.610
Art Mahan1940PHI591.244.297.318.615
Jim Bottomley1935CIN423.258.294.323.617
Phil Todt1927BOS571.236.280.337.617
Walter Holke1921BSN621.261.284.337.621
Dick Siebert1943PHA594.251.295.328.623
Dick Siebert1942PHA642.260.291.333.624
Wes Parker1968LAD534.239.312.314.626
Elbie Fletcher1937BSN605.247.321.308.629
Earl Sheely1931BSN586.273.319.314.633
George McQuinn1946PHA556.225.317.316.633
Buck Etchison1944BSN348.214.292.344.636

There have been ninety-eight seasons by first basemen since 1920 with an OPS under .700 and only one has occurred since 2000: Darin Erstad put up a .273/.325/.371 line, good for a .696 OPS, as a first baseman for the Angels in 2005.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Lowest OPS by a C in a Season Since 1920

I want to start to looking at some of the worst seasons by position since 1920. The reason I choose that year is because it's considered the start of the "live ball" era, a time in which home runs and hitting for power became an integral part of baseball and offense took off. Since baseball before 1920 was less focused on hitting for power and more on moving runners over, there's not much point in making a list of poor hitting position players from the early 1900's to compare to players today.

With that in mind, here's the lowest seasons by catchers with 350+ plate appearances in a season since 1920. I chose 350 because it's roughly the 3.1 PA/G necessary to qualify for the current league batting title scaled down to roughly 113 games, a number that accommodates the numerous days off full-time catchers require:

Jerry Grote1967NYM367.
Bob Boone1984CAL468.
Mickey Grasso1952WSH394.
Barry Foote1975MON410.
Jim Sundberg1983TEX423.
Matt Walbeck1994MIN359.
Paul Casanova1969WSA408.
Buck Rodgers1965CAL461.
Mickey O'Neil1924BSN382.
Alan Ashby1979HOU370.
Jim Sundberg1975TEX540.
Einar Diaz2002CLE351.
Sammy White1957BOS370.
Jake Gibbs1968NYY460.
Al Lopez1937BSN378.
Randy Hundley1972CHC387.
Ed Herrmann1976CAL/HOU352.
Mike Ryan1966BOS400.
Joe Azcue1965CLE371.
Jake Early1942WSH394.

That's the twenty lowest OPS seasons for catchers with 350+ PA. There are seventy-four such seasons with an OPS below .600, nine of which have occurred since 2000:
  • Einar Diaz, 2002, .542
  • Mike Matheny, 2001, .580
  • Brad Ausmus, 2006, .593
  • Brad Ausmus, 2003, .594
  • Yadier Molina, 2006, .595
  • Bengie Molina, 2000, .596
  • Chris Snyder, 2005, .598
  • Brandon Inge, 2002, .599