Thursday, July 3, 2008

Most PA in a Season, OBP < AVG

Last week, St. Louis Cardinals blog Fungoes wrote about players in Cardinals history with a lower on base percentage than batting average in a season. It seems weird, but since the formula for OBP is (H+BB+HBP)/(AB+BB+HBP+SF), having a higher batting average than on base percentage is possible if you have more sacrifice flies than walks and HBP's. (EDIT: Zeyes points out my error in the comments: you need two to three times as many SF as BB+HBP.)

Sacrifice flies have only been recorded in the major leagues since 1954 so it would be impossible for a player before then to have an OBP less than their batting average. Since that date, however, 160 players have pulled off the feat in a season. The highest number of plate appearances in a season on the list is 131 (Eddie Bowman, 1963). As might be expected then, most on the list are pitchers who don't bat very much and aren't generally known for plate discipline. However, the occasional position player (including Bowman) also shows up.

Only twenty-three players have eighty or more plate appearances in a season with an on base percentage less than their batting average. I've listed them below, as well as the players on the list for their 2007 season.

RankNameYearTeamPAABHSFAVGOBPPosition
1Ernie Bowman1963SFG131125232.184.181IF
2Rob Picciolo1977CAL128119241.202.200IF
3Fernando Valenzuela1980LAD116109241.220.218P

Catfish Hunter1965OAK116105232.219.215P
5Tony Cloninger1961MLN114105172.162.159P
6Mike Cuellar1959BAL113103122.117.114P
7Steve Carlton1965PHI112102253.245.238P
8Jim Bunning1955PHI10999121.121.120P
9Sam McDowell1961CLE10492161.174.172P
10Fernando Valenzuela1980LAD10397211.216.214P
11Jim Adduci1983MIL9794253.266.258LF
12Pedro Ramos1955WSH9688211.239.236P

Rick Reuschel1972CHC9686191.221.218P
14Randy Jones1973SDP9486151.174.172P
15Bobby Clark1979CAL9390191.211.209OF
16Mario Soto1977CIN9287181.207.205P
17Phil Niekro1964ATL9187171.195.193P
18Bob Forsch1974STL8876131.171.169P

Ray Moore1952BAL8884181.214.212P
20Midre Cummings1993PIT8785191.224.221OF
21Billy Beane1984OAK8279191.241.238RF
22Fergie Jenkins1965CHC8067101.149.147P

Ron Reed1966ATL8073132.178.173P

As I mentioned above, two players joined the full list of players last year. Livan Hernandez had a line of .213/.211/.267 in 79 PA for Arizona and Wladimir Balentien had a line of .667/.500/2.000 in a whopping four plate appearances for Seattle.

Only two players are on pace to join the list so far this year. One is Orioles hurler Garrett Olson with his .333/.250/.333 line in five plate appearances. Since interleague play is over, he is unlikely to hit again this year, barring a trade. The other player who may join the list is Arizona outfielder Alex Romero. In 38 major league plate appearances, Romero has a .229/.222/.286 line. He currently finds himself in AAA but may yet find his way back to the big club. Just another quirky thing to keep track of in the second half of the season.

4 comments:

Zeyes said...

Mindless math nitpick:

Not merely more SF than BB+HBP, but more SF than (AB / H - 1) * (BB + HBP), i.e. roughly two to three times as many, depending on batting average.

Theron Schultz said...

Yeah, I'll go with the old "I was tired" excuse. Thanks for the correction.

Death said...

Ryan Howard is on pace to lead the NL in RBIs with an abysmal .220 batting average. Do you have any idea what the record is for the lowest batting average while leading his league in RBIs for the season? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty comical that Billy Beane is on that list.