Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No-Hitter Involvement Since 1956

In case you missed it, last night Angels pitcher John Lackey took a no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth inning at Fenway Park. Unfortunately for Lackey, Dustin Pedroia hit a single to left with one out and the no-hitter was history. If, however, Lackey had managed to hold the Red Sox hitless, it would have been the fifth time Boston catcher Jason Varitek was played in a no-hitter but the first time his team was without a hit.

Varitek has actually appeared in six games where one of the teams did not get a hit, but one of those doesn't fit the no-hitter definition. MLB says, "An official no-hit game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings. In a no-hit game, a batter may reach base via a walk, an error, a hit by pitch, a passed ball or wild pitch on strike three, or catcher's interference."

Thus Devern Hansack's five-inning shutout on October 1, 2006, doesn't qualify as a no-hitter. Neither, too, would games in which the home team is held hitless but wins in 8 1/2 innings thanks to runs scored on walks and/or errors. That's where I quibble with the definition. I can see tossing out no-hitters that didn't reach the ninth inning, but I think 8 1/2 inning games should count as no-hitters. For this post I have included such games in the totals for each player while denoting players who played in those games.

Even last night had been the fifth time Jason Varitek played in a no-hitter, he would still be far back of the record for most no-hitters played in (i.e., showed up in box score - bench players and relievers not making it into the game don't count). That record belongs to Bert Campaneris, who played in eleven no-hitters in his nineteen year career with the Athletics, Rangers, Angels, and Yankees. Six of those eleven times, Campy played for the team that was no hit. Obviously, his team got hits in the other five. I've made lists of the other players to appear in the most no-hitters.

Most Career No-Hitters Played In, 1956-2008
  • Bert Campaneris, 11
  • Reggie Jackson, 9
  • Sal Bando, 8
    Johnny Callison, 8
    Billy Williams, 8
  • Felipe Alou, 7
    Rickey Henderson, 7
    Deron Johnson, 7
    Billy North, 7
    Cookie Rojas, 7
    Pete Rose, 7
    Joe Rudi, 7
    Pete Runnels, 7
    Nolan Ryan, 7
    Tony Taylor, 7
  • Orlando Cepeda, 6
    Delino DeShields, 6
    Jim Gilliam, 6
    Don Kessinger, 6
    Harmon Killebrew, 6
    Willie Mays, 6
    Brooks Robinson, 6
    Ron Santo, 6
    Derrel Thomas, 6
    Leon Wagner, 6
    Tim Wallach, 6
    Claudell Washington, 6
Most Career No-Hitters Played In, Playing for the No-Hit Team, 1956-2008
  • Bert Campaneris, 6
  • Felipe Alou, 5
    Sal Bando, 5
    Johnny Callison, 5
    Reggie Jackson, 5
    Deron Johnson, 5
    Billy North, 5
    Tony Taylor, 5
  • Don Baylor, 4
    Norm Cash, 4
    Orlando Cepeda, 4
    Rickey Henderson, 4
    Jeff Kent, 4
    Harmon Killebrew, 4
    Jerry Lumpe, 4
    Greg Luzinki, 4
    Willie Mays, 4
    Dick McAuliffe, 4
    Don Money, 4
    Jim Northrup, 4
    Tony Oliva, 4
    Joe Rudi, 4
    Norm Siebern, 4
    Leon Wagner, 4
Most Career No-Hitters Played In, Playing for the Hitting Team, 1956-2008
  • Nolan Ryan, 7
  • Jim Gilliam, 6
  • Bert Campaneris, 5
    Jose Cruz, Sr., 5
    Willie Davis, 5
    Ron Fairly, 5
    Paul O'Neill, 5
    Cookie Rojas, 5
    Billy Williams, 5
    Maury Wills, 5
  • Matty Alou, 4
    Reggie Jackson, 4
    Derek Jeter, 4
    Alex Johnson, 4
    Don Kessinger, 4
    Sandy Koufax, 4
    Tino Martinez, 4
    Eddie Mathews, 4
    Freddie Patek, 4
    Brooks Robinson, 4
    Frank Robinson, 4
    Pete Rose, 4
    Pete Runnels, 4
    Ron Santo, 4
    Jim Spencer, 4
    Derrel Thomas, 4
    Jason Varitek, 4
    Tim Wallach, 4

Friday, July 25, 2008

Franchise Vulture Wins

Yesterday's yesterday's tomorrow's tomorrow is today, right? I've put together lists of vulture wins and blown save wins by franchise and here they are. It should be obvious, but teams in two or more cities (San Francisco/New York) or with two or more names (Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos) are combined under the franchise's current identity.

Vulture Wins by MLB Franchise, 1956-2008
(through 7/24/08)
(teams extant in 1956 italicized)
  1. St. Louis Cardinals, 455
  2. Cincinnati Reds, 444
  3. Atlanta Braves, 443
  4. Philadelphia Phillies, 440
  5. San Francisco Giants, 437
  6. Chicago Cubs, 403
  7. Pittsburgh Pirates, 395
  8. Los Angeles Dodgers, 393
  9. Houston Astros, 385
  10. New York Mets, 359
  11. San Diego Padres, 359
  12. Washington Nationals, 354
  13. Oakland Athletics, 343
  14. Chicago White Sox, 334
  15. Cleveland Indians, 334
  16. New York Yankees, 333
  17. Minnesota Twins, 319
  18. Boston Red Sox, 315
  19. Detroit Tigers, 298
  20. Los Angeles Angels, 296
  21. Texas Rangers, 274
  22. Baltimore Orioles, 272
  23. Milwaukee Brewers, 268
  24. Kansas City Royals, 233
  25. Seattle Mariners, 219
  26. Toronto Blue Jays, 200
  27. Colorado Rockies, 198
  28. Florida Marlins, 170
  29. Arizona Diamondbacks, 148
  30. Tampa Bay Rays, 89
Obviously the bottom part of the list is cluttered by expansion teams, but something still jumps out at me. The first American League team doesn't show up until place #13, beneath four National League expansion teams. I suspect most of that is due to the designated hitter. After all, if the pitcher's spot never comes up, then it's easier to leave a reliever in for more than one inning, thus making it much harder for him to pick up a vulture win. It also makes it easier to leave a starter pitching well in a close game on the mound if you don't need to pinch hit for offense.

Blown Save Wins by MLB Franchise, 1956-2008
(through 7/24/08)
(teams extant in 1956 italicized)
  1. New York Yankees, 169
  2. San Francisco Giants, 157
  3. Oakland Athletics, 149
  4. Boston Red Sox, 143
  5. Minnesota Twins, 140
  6. Texas Rangers, 140
  7. Pittsburgh Pirates, 138
  8. Chicago Cubs, 135
  9. Chicago White Sox, 134
  10. Baltimore Orioles, 125
  11. Los Angeles Dodgers, 125
  12. Los Angeles Angels, 124
  13. Cleveland Indians, 122
  14. Atlanta Braves, 121
  15. Cincinnati Reds, 121
  16. Philadelphia Phillies, 114
  17. San Diego Padres, 111
  18. Detroit Tigers, 110
  19. Houston Astros, 110
  20. New York Mets, 107
  21. Milwaukee Brewers, 103
  22. St. Louis Cardinals, 101
  23. Washington Nationals, 97
  24. Kansas City Royals, 95
  25. Seattle Mariners, 84
  26. Toronto Blue Jays, 73
  27. Colorado Rockies, 39
  28. Florida Marlins, 39
  29. Tampa Bay Rays, 29
  30. Arizona Diamondbacks, 23
This list isn't quite as separated by league, but that makes sense. When a closer comes in and blows a save yet still picks up the win, his team most likely regained the lead in their next time at bat. Even if the closer is pinch hit for in his team's next time at bat in NL games, he's still the pitcher of record, so there's no favoring one league over the other in terms of blown save wins by team.

I'm surprised a team like Arizona that's had pretty good success during its time in the majors trails everyone else. I would've expected a team with less wins overall (like Tampa Bay) to be far behind all other teams simply because of a lack of save opportunities. Then again, perhaps Tampa Bay has had more blown saves than Arizona and thus more chances to win those games for their closer(s).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All Hail the Vulture Kings?

As I mentioned yesterday, I've found the career leaders in vulture wins. Bopperland commented on my original vulture win post saying that blown save wins should be kept separate from other vulture wins. After thinking about it for a while, this makes sense. The idea behind a vulture win is that a reliever was in the right place at the right time (whether through a manager's trust in him or a random offensive explosion) to pick up the win. When a guy blows a save and then gets the win, he's essentially created his own win opportunity through failure, whereas other vulture wins are gained simply by coming into the game.

With that in mind, I've separated off blown save wins from my definition of vulture wins. Thus the new definitions look like this:
  • A pitcher is credited with a "vulture win" if he is the winning pitcher, has not blown a save in the game, and satisfies one or more of the following conditions:
    1. He enters a game in relief and pitches at most one inning.
    2. He enters a game in relief, pitches at least one complete inning, and gives up at least as many runs (earned or unearned) as complete innings pitched (i.e. 1 R in 1 2/3 IP, 2 R in 2 1/3 IP).
  • A pitcher is credited with a "blown save win" if he enters a game in a save situation, proceeds to blow the save, and ends up as the winning pitcher.
Although they're not vulture wins, blown save wins are another type of undeserved win. So, in addition to forming leaderboards for career vulture wins and career blown save wins, I've also made a career undeserved wins leaderboard combining the two.

Enough talk, let's turn to the boards!

Most Career Vulture Wins, 1956-2008
(through 7/22/08)
  1. Mike Timlin, 37
  2. Jesse Orosco, 36
  3. Paul Assenmacher, 34
  4. Gene Garber, 34
  5. John Franco, 32
  6. Mike Stanton, 31
  7. Rich Gossage, 29
  8. Rudy Seanez, 29
  9. Dave Weathers, 29
  10. Jeff Nelson, 28
  11. Felix Rodriguez, 28
  12. Willie Hernandez, 26
  13. Todd Jones, 26
  14. Curt Leskanic, 26
  15. Jose Mesa, 26
  16. Mariano Rivera, 26
  17. Trevor Hoffman, 25
  18. Mike Jackson, 25
  19. Dan Plesac, 25
  20. Jeff Reardon, 25
Most Career Vulture Wins by an Active Player, 1956-2008
(through 7/22/08)
  1. Mike Timlin, 37
  2. Rudy Seanez, 29
  3. Dave Weathers, 29
  4. Todd Jones, 26
  5. Mariano Rivera, 26
  6. Trevor Hoffman, 25
  7. Julian Tavarez, 23
  8. Doug Brocail, 22
  9. Tom Gordon, 22
  10. Eddie Guardado, 22
  11. Arthur Rhodes, 22
  12. Alan Embree, 20
  13. Bobby Howry, 20
  14. Scott Linebrink, 20
  15. Braden Looper, 20
  16. Russ Springer, 20
  17. Luis Vizcaino, 20
  18. Ray King, 19
  19. Guillermo Mota, 18
  20. Joe Nathan, 18
  21. Troy Percival, 18
Even with blown save wins separated from vulture wins, there are still a lot of closers and ex-closers on the active list. It's not surprising that there's a lot of setup men as well; they're the type of pitchers a manager would presumably feel safest putting into a tied game.

Most Career Blown Save Wins, 1956-2008
(through 7/22/08)
  1. Rich Gossage, 27
  2. Rollie Fingers, 26
  3. John Franco, 23
  4. Roberto Hernandez, 23
  5. Sparky Lyle, 22
  6. Kent Tekulve, 21
  7. Rick Aguilera, 20
  8. John Hiller, 20
  9. Lee Smith, 20
  10. Dave Righetti, 19
  11. Gary Lavelle, 18
  12. Jeff Reardon, 18
  13. Bruce Sutter, 18
  14. Dan Quisenberry, 17
  15. Mariano Rivera, 17
  16. John Wetteland, 17
  17. Clay Carroll, 16
  18. Bill Campbell, 15
  19. Dennis Eckersley, 15
  20. Doug Jones, 15
  21. Jeff Montgomery, 15
Most Career Blown Save Wins by an Active Player, 1956-2008
(through 7/22/08)
  1. Mariano Rivera, 17
  2. Tom Gordon, 14
  3. Todd Jones, 12
  4. Jason Isringhausen, 11
  5. Francisco Cordero, 9
  6. Trevor Hoffman, 9
  7. Mike Timlin, 9
  8. Billy Wagner, 9
  9. Bobby Howry, 8
  10. LaTroy Hawkins, 7
  11. Matt Herges, 7
  12. Joaquin Benoit, 6
  13. Joe Borowski, 6
  14. Arthur Rhodes, 6
  15. Scot Shields, 6
  16. Chad Bradford, 5
  17. Octavio Dotel, 5
  18. Alan Embree, 5
  19. Francisco Rodriguez, 5
  20. Rudy Seanez, 5
  21. Luis Vizcaino, 5
  22. Dave Weathers, 5
Unsurprisingly, closers dominate this list. Of course, they're generally the guys with the most opportunities to blow saves. The fact that setup men also can blow saves is reflected at the bottom of the active list. The last leaderboard will basically re-hash the names of the preceding lists, but that's okay. I've spiced it up a little by putting each player's career win total in parentheses next to their undeserved win totals.

Most Career Undeserved Wins, 1956-2008
(through 7/22/08)
  1. Rich Gossage, 56 (124)
  2. John Franco, 55 (90)
  3. Jesse Orosco, 49 (87)
  4. Roberto Hernandez, 46 (67)
  5. Mike Timlin, 46 (74)
  6. Rollie Fingers, 45 (114)
  7. Gene Garber, 45 (96)
  8. Paul Assenmacher, 44 (61)
  9. Sparky Lyle, 44 (99)
  10. Kent Tekulve, 44 (94)
  11. Jeff Reardon, 43 (73)
  12. Mariano Rivera, 43 (66)
  13. Lee Smith, 42 (71)
  14. Todd Jones, 38 (58)
  15. Gary Lavelle, 38 (80)
  16. Dan Plesac, 38 (65)
  17. Mike Stanton, 38 (68)
  18. Jose Mesa, 37 (80)
  19. Tom Gordon, 36 (138)
  20. Doug Jones, 35 (69)
  21. Jeff Nelson, 35 (48)
Most Career Undeserved Wins by an Active Player, 1956-2008
(though 7/22/08)
  1. Mike Timlin, 46 (74)
  2. Mariano Rivera, 43 (66)
  3. Todd Jones, 38 (58)
  4. Tom Gordon, 36 (138)
  5. Trevor Hoffman, 34 (54)
  6. Rudy Seanez, 34 (40)
  7. Dave Weathers, 34 (67)
  8. Bobby Howry, 28 (38)
  9. Arthur Rhodes, 28 (77)
  10. Troy Percival, 27 (34)
  11. Doug Brocail, 26 (48)
  12. Francisco Cordero, 26 (30)
  13. Eddie Guardado, 26 (42)
  14. Julian Tavarez, 26 (84)
  15. Billy Wagner, 26 (39)
  16. Alan Embree, 25 (36)
  17. Luis Vizcaino, 25 (33)
  18. Scott Linebrink, 24 (32)
  19. Braden Looper, 24 (55)
  20. Russ Springer, 23 (35)
I'll look at undeserved wins by team and league tomorrow, but suffice it to say that I don't think the AL having fewer vulture wins this year is a fluke.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vulture Wins

Have you ever watched a pitcher throw seven or eight stellar innings before turning the game over to a reliever that coughs up the lead? How about that reliever's team coming back to win the game in their next time at bat? This, of course, would lead to the ineffective reliever picking up the win and the starter's brilliant outing being consigned to the dustbin of no-decisions.

As recent commenter bopperland informed me, there's a term that's started to make its way around baseball circles to describe this sort of win by relief pitchers: vulture win. I believe the term comes from the notion a reliever has swooped in and clutched the win from the rest of his team's pitchers. There are a few places online that talk about vulture wins:
  • Wikipedia: "If the pitcher surrenders the lead at any point, he cannot get a save, but he may be credited as the winning pitcher if his team comes back to win (a so-called vulture win)."
  • "In baseball, a loose term for a relief pitcher getting credited with a Win that he doesn't seem to deserve...the thing about the Vulture Win is that the pitcher basically lucked into it. It's even worse if he gives up a ton of runs but gets the win anyway -- this happens a lot to closers who blow their save opportunities."
  • ESPN: "Vulture wins are a function of opportunity, both in being the pitcher of record when a team takes the lead and of the team's ability to take that lead. While there's an element of luck involved -- being in the right place at the right time -- there's also an element dependent on having enough talent to merit a manager's faith to take the mound in potential vulture situations."
So, vulture wins are generally considered undeserved, but there's no hard definition of what constitutes one.

For example, what if a starter throws six scoreless innings, leaves with the score tied at zero, and a reliever comes in for the final three innings and gets the win in a 1-0 game? What if a starter gives up six runs in five innings and still leaves with the lead before his team's bullpen throws four scoreless innings? Should the starter get credited with a vulture win as the least effective pitcher his team put on the mound that night? What if a reliever comes in with the bases loaded and two outs in a tied game, records the out, and his team wins in the next half-inning? That may have been the biggest moment of the game, so maybe that guy deserves the win after all. What if a reliever comes in an 11-11 game, throws an inning, and his team goes on to win? If no pitcher has been particularly effective in a game, is any pitcher really deserving of a win?

There are a lot of murky situations to muddle through when it comes to vulture wins, but I think it's possible to formulate a general definition. So, here is my definition of a vulture win. Feel free to give feedback if I've overlooked something or I'm way off.
A pitcher is credited with a vulture win if he is the winning pitcher and satisfies one or more of the following conditions:
  1. He enters a game in relief and pitches at most one inning.
  2. He enters a game in relief and gives up at least as many runs (earned or unearned) as complete innings pitched (i.e. 1 R in 1 2/3 IP, 2 R in 2 1/3 IP).
  3. He enters a game in a save situation and blows the save.
This describes almost all relief wins, but let me explain my thinking. The reason I limit condition one to at most one inning is to avoid saddling relievers who go multiple innings keeping the other team within range of a comeback with a vulture win. It's subjective, but I feel as though relievers who go multiple innings have done enough to deserve their win. That said, I feel condition two covers guys who don't pitch particularly effectively in a multiple-inning outing. A pitcher giving up two runs in two innings before his team comes back for him doesn't really deserve the win in my mind (kind of like the old "pitches effectively" phrase in the three-inning save rule). The final condition deals primarily with closers and/or setup men who fail in their only job: nailing down the game. Even if they go multiple innings after the blown save, any win is still stolen from the pitcher the game would've been saved for. Thus, the save blower's win is a vulture win. As I said, if I've missed something obvious or am otherwise in error, let me know.

So, now that I've defined a vulture win, who actually gets them regularly? So far in 2008, twenty-eight pitchers have three or more vulture wins by my definition.

Most Vulture Wins in MLB, 2008
(through 7/22)

Tom Gordon, PHI, 5
Kevin Gregg, FLA, 5

Heath Bell, SDP, 4
Francisco Cordero, CIN, 4
Joel Hanrahan, WSN, 4
Todd Jones, DET, 4
Jon Rauch, WSN, 4
Rudy Seanez, PHI, 4
Scot Shields, LAA, 4
Salomon Torres, MIL, 4
Jamey Wright, TEX, 4

Joe Beimel, LAD, 3
Joaquin Benoit, TEX, 3
Jesse Crain, MIN, 3
Bobby Howry, CHC, 3
Jonathan Papelbon, BOS, 3
J.C. Romero, PHI, 3
Adam Russell, CHW, 3
Duaner Sanchez, NYM, 3
George Sherrill, BAL, 3
Brian Shouse, MIL, 3
Jorge Sosa, NYM, 3
Matt Thornton, CHW, 3
Mike Timlin, BOS, 3
Jose Valverde, HOU, 3
Tyler Walker, SFG, 3
Wesley Wright, HOU, 3
Tyler Yates, PIT, 3

Of the pitchers with four or more vulture wins, Gregg, Cordero, Jones, Rauch, and Torres have spent time as a closer for their team. Also among the four-plus vulture win guys, Gregg, Bell, Hanrahan, Torres, and Wright have at least one relief win that wasn't a vulture win.

While putting the list of individuals together, I couldn't help but notice some teams seemed to have a lot of vulture winners. I thought it might be informative to put together a list of the top vulture winning teams.

Most Team Vulture Wins in MLB, 2008
(through 7/22)

Philadelphia Phillies, 19
Washington Nationals, 14
Boston Red Sox, 13
Florida Marlins, 13
Pittsburgh Pirates, 13
Texas Rangers, 13
Chicago White Sox, 12
Cincinnati Reds, 12
Detroit Tigers, 12
Houston Astros, 12
Milwaukee Brewers, 12
Chicago Cubs, 11
St. Louis Cardinals, 11
Los Angeles Dodgers, 10
Minnesota Twins, 10
New York Mets, 10
Baltimore Orioles, 9
San Diego Padres, 9
Colorado Rockies, 8
San Francisco Giants, 8
Arizona Diamondbacks, 7
Atlanta Braves, 7
Kansas City Royals, 7
Los Angeles Angels, 7
Oakland Athletics, 7
Tampa Bay Rays, 7
New York Yankees, 6
Toronto Blue Jays, 6
Seattle Mariners, 5
Cleveland Indians, 3

Twenty-eight pitchers alone have as many vulture wins as the Indians do. Kind of strange so many American League teams are on the bottom of the list (8 of the last 10). I wonder if that's a common thing. Tomorrow I'm planning on looking at career vulture wins by my definition to see who is the king vulture, so I'll look at teams and leagues from year to year as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

MLB LOB Data Through the All-Star Break

Back in May I wrote about team left on base numbers for the National League. That post explains how I derived the numbers and percentages. Now that it's the all-star break, I thought it'd be a good time to crunch the numbers for both leagues and see which teams are the best at bringing runners around to score.

First up are the left on base percentages for each league. Remember that each team's total baserunners are found by total times on base (through hits, walks, reaching on errors, etc.) minus home runs

2008 NL Team LOB%
(through 7/15/08)
  1. Los Angeles, 58.64%
  2. Pittsburgh, 59.22%
  3. San Francisco, 59.56%
  4. Chicago, 59.72%
  5. Arizona, 60.16%
  6. New York, 60.28%
  7. Houston, 60.61%
  8. Colorado, 60.75%
  9. St. Louis, 60.94%
  10. NL AVERAGE, 60.96%
  11. Milwaukee, 61.20%
  12. Florida, 61.65%
  13. Philadelphia, 61.67%
  14. Washington, 62.04%
  15. Atlanta, 62.09%
  16. Cincinnati, 62.50%
  17. San Diego, 64.62%
2008 AL Team LOB%
(through 7/15/08)
  1. Minnesota, 55.40%
  2. Chicago, 57.52%
  3. Kansas City, 57.60%
  4. Los Angeles, 57.88%
  5. Baltimore, 58.08%
  6. Texas, 58.22%
  7. Boston, 58.43%
  8. AL AVERAGE, 58.77%
  9. New York, 58.78%
  10. Toronto, 59.18%
  11. Cleveland, 59.54%
  12. Detroit, 59.63%
  13. Tampa Bay, 59.95%
  14. Oakland, 61.02%
  15. Seattle, 61.86%
You can find the numbers behind these percentages online here. I've also got information on the percentage of runners in scoring position each team has scored.

One last item of note: so far this season the Cubs have stranded 765 runners on base through 95 games. This puts them on pace to leave 1305 runners on base this season. According to, the record number of runners left on base by an NL team in a season is 1328 by the 1976 Reds. That's one negative record a team probably wouldn't mind setting: after all, you have to get on base (and presumably score) a lot to get a chance to break it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Most Home Runs with Zero Grand Slams

The 2008 Home Run Derby is going on while I put this post together, so it's only appropriate I write about hitters with power. Hitting a grand slam involves more than just a hitter with power. First his team has to load the bases in front of him. That in itself can limit the grand slam numbers of players on bad teams. Of course, it's pretty likely that a guy with 200 or more home runs will have at least one with the bases loaded. That said, I was curious about who had the most career home runs without a grand slam.

It's harder to find information on grand slams by hitters before 1956 (before Retrosheet's play-by-play recaps of almost every game). I used the lists of grand slam records at Baseball Almanac to try and find some information on earlier home run hitters and also tried Googling names of hitters I was unsure about. I narrowed down the list quite a bit but it got harder as I got to players with fewer career home runs. I've made one list of players I know never hit a grand slam (generally guys who played their entire career since 1956) and put the players I'm unsure about in another list. If anyone has information about grand slams hit by players on the second list, let me know.

Most Career Home Runs Hit Without a Grand Slam
(confirmed through Retrosheet data)
  1. Glenn Davis, 190
  2. Ron Kittle, 176
  3. Claudell Washington, 164
  4. Willie Kirkland, 148
  5. Alex Gonzalez, 137
  6. Norm Siebern, 132
  7. Sean Casey*, 130
  8. Bernard Gilkey, 118
  9. Ed Kranepool, 118
  10. Shannon Stewart*, 115
* - active player
Most Career Home Runs Hit Without a Grand Slam
  1. Goose Goslin, 248
  2. Enos Slaughter, 169
  3. Pinky Higgins, 140
  4. Hector Lopez, 136
  5. Jack Fournier, 136
  6. George McQuinn, 135
  7. Ripper Collins, 135
  8. Dale Long, 132
  9. Joe Kuhel, 131
  10. Frank McCormick, 128
EDIT: An anonymous commenter says Goose Goslin hit a home run on June 21, 1932, off Red Ruffing. That leaves Glenn Davis atop the list for sure.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crazy and Wild Pitches

Wild pitches are pretty exciting long as your favorite team is batting. A wild pitch is officially defined as "one so high, so low, or so wide of the plate that it cannot be handled with ordinary effort by the catcher." That doesn't sound so bad as long as there are no baserunners at the time. When there are baserunners, wild pitches mean free bases or, in the worst case for a pitcher, free runs.

It seems this year there's been a lot of wild pitches. Since the start of the 1998 season, only four pitches have reached twenty wild pitches in a season: Matt Clement (23) in 2000, Scott Williamson (21) in 2000, Jose Contreras (20) in 2005, and Freddy Garcia (20) in 2005. Only thirty-eight pitchers have reached 14 or more in a single season since then. A little over halfway through this year, however, four pitchers have already reached double-digits. Those four are Ubaldo Jimenez (13) of Colorado, Manny Parra (11) of Milwaukee, Tim Wakefield (10) of Boston, and Tim Lincecum (10) of San Francisco.

The National League collectively is on pace for 824 wild pitches this season, the most since 2003. The American League is only on pace for 725, actually a decrease from the past two seasons. So, since the AL went and dismissed my idea wild pitches are on an upswing across the board, let's look at potential team records. Through 93 games this season, the Giants have tossed 49 wild pitches. That puts them on pace for a staggering 85 wild pitches this year, the most for an NL team since the Reds went nuts with 96 in 2000 (the '06 Angels and Royals both had 85). As noted, the AL has seen fewer wild pitches and the Royals and Rangers, both with 38 in 94 games, are on pace for "only" 65 this season. That would be the fewest wild pitches by an AL leading team since the 2003 Rays had 65 (the '01 Brewers led the NL with 58).

Houston only has 13 wild pitches in 93 games, putting them on pace for only 23 total this season. That would be the fewest by a major league team since the Mets only had 22 wild pitches in 2002. The AL laggard Oakland A's, already have 18 wild pitches in 93 games, putting them each on pace for 31 wild pitches. The 2005 Indians were the last team in the AL to have fewer than 31 wild pitches in a season.

For fun, I've put together a list of the fifteen pitchers since 1901 who were allowed to throw ten or more wild pitches at a rate of at least one every six innings. That'll be it for the day, as there are more cherries to be picked. :)

Fewest Innings per Wild Pitch in a Season, minimum 10 WP, 1901-2007
  1. Stu Flythe, 1936 Athletics, 16 WP, 39.3 IP - 2.5 IP/WP
  2. Jason Grimsley, 1991 Phillies, 14 WP, 61.0 IP - 4.4 IP/WP
  3. Danny McDevitt, 1962 Athletics, 11 WP, 51.0 IP - 4.6 IP/WP
  4. Jaret Wright, 2003 Padres/Braves, 12 WP, 56.3 IP - 4.7 IP/WP
  5. Storm Davis, 1994 Tigers, 10 WP, 48.0 IP - 4.8 IP/WP
  6. Scott Williamson, 2003 Reds/Red Sox, 12 WP, 62.7 IP - 5.2 IP/WP
  7. Scott Williamson, 2000 Reds, 21 WP, 112.0 IP - 5.3 IP/WP
  8. Richie Lewis, 1994 Marlins, 10 WP, 54.0 IP - 5.4 IP/WP
  9. Mark Guthrie, 2000 Cubs/Devil Rays/Blue Jays, 13 WP, 71.3 IP - 5.5 IP/WP
  10. Tom Candiotti, 1999 Athletics/Indians, 13 WP, 71.3 IP - 5.5 IP/WP
  11. Hector Carrasco, 2000 Twins/Red Sox, 14 WP, 78.7 IP - 5.6 IP/WP
  12. Dave Giusti, 1962 Colt .45's, 13 WP, 73.7 IP - 5.7 IP/WP
  13. Dennis Higgins, 1969 Senators, 15 WP, 85.3 IP - 5.7 IP/WP
  14. Jeff Robinson, 1991 Angels, 10 WP, 57.0 IP - 5.7 IP/WP
  15. Hector Carrasco, 1995 Reds, 15 WP, 87.3 IP - 5.8 IP/WP

Monday, July 7, 2008

Lowest Batting Average for a League RBI Leader

For a little while now I've been meaning to put together a post with records to watch for in the second half of the season. I haven't actually sat down and looked for anything yet for a number of reasons. Luckily, a comment was posted here yesterday by someone with the intriguing nom de plume of Death:
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.
I thought that question was pretty interesting, so I decided to look it up. Howard is now hitting a robust .223 (75 for 337) and his 76 RBI still leads the National League. Below I've listed the fifteen lowest batting averages by a league RBI leader for both the American and National leagues since 1901. I've expanded tied (to three decimal places) batting averages to four decimal places to make the actual order clearer.

Lowest Batting Average by an NL RBI Leader, 1901-2007
  1. Jim Nealon, 1906 PIT, .255
  2. Howard Johnson, 1991 NYM, .259
  3. Andruw Jones, 2005 ATL, .263
  4. George Kelly, 1920 NYG, .266
  5. Bill Dahlen, 1904 NYG, .268
  6. Johnny Bench, 1972 CIN, .2695
  7. Hank Sauer, 1952 CHC, .2699
  8. Darren Daulton, 1992 PHI, .2701
  9. Vinny Castilla, 2004 COL, .271
  10. Mike Schmidt, 1984 PHI, .2765
  11. Matt Williams, 1990 SFG, .2772
  12. Mark McGwire, 1999 STL, .278
  13. Hank Aaron, 1966 ATL, .279
  14. Johnny Bench, 1974 CIN, .2802
  15. Sam Mertes, 1903 NYG, .2805
Lowest Batting Average by an AL RBI Leader, 1901-2007
  1. Harmon Killebrew, 1962 MIN, .243
  2. Cecil Fielder, 1992 DET, .244
  3. Harmon Killebrew, 1971 MIN, .254
  4. Lee May, 1976 BAL, .258
  5. Cecil Fielder, 1991 DET, .2612
  6. Dick Stuart, 1963 BOS, .2614
  7. Del Pratt, 1916 SLB, .267
  8. Tony Armas, 1984 BOS, .2676
  9. Gus Zernial, 1951 CHW/PHA, .2680
  10. Roger Maris, 1961 NYY, .269
  11. Rudy York, 1943 DET, .271
  12. Larry Doby, 1954 CLE, .272
  13. Ken Harrelson, 1968 BOS, .2748
  14. Jackie Jensen, 1955 BOS, .2753
  15. Harmon Killebrew, 1969 MIN, .276
So if Ryan Howard manages to keep on top of the RBI leaderboard without improving his batting average, he'll set a record. His batting average looks as though it will see some improvement however: his BABIP sits at .268 while his line drive percentage of 20.3% suggest his BABIP should be about fifty points higher. Once those hits start falling in, his batting average will improve. Going half a season with such a poor batting average, however, means he would have to have an amazing second half to avoid appearing on the above NL list following the season if he keeps driving in runners.

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.

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.