Friday, April 24, 2009

Two or Fewer Total Bases

After going 1 for 4 in tonight's game, Jason Kendall of the Brewers is hitting .143/.245/.167. He's got six hits (five singles and a double), five walks, and one hit by pitch. His lack of power is well-known around baseball, thanks in large part to his 6 HR in 2453 plate appearances since leaving Pittsburgh. So far this season Kendall has played in thirteen games and has had fewer than two total bases in each.

I'm sure he'll manage to hit three singles, a double and a single, or even a home run at some point, but it might take a while. So that thought made me curious about the longest streak of games with two or fewer total bases to start a season, especially among starters.

Given that he's both punchless and a catcher, Kendall isn't likely to pinch-hit much. I'm not that interested in a list that includes pinch-hitters anyway, because I don't think a guy should be penalized for not hitting pinch-hit triples or home runs very often. Therefore I've looked only at games where the player in question had two or more plate appearances. Obviously, a triple or home run could be overlooked, but that's okay.

As usual, this covers players from 1954 to the present.

Most Consecutive Games with Two or Fewer Total Bases to Start a Season
(minimum 2 PA in each game)
So not only does Kendall have months to go to match Amaro, he's got a ways to go before he reaches his dad's mark. Fans who were around in the 1970's no doubt recognize lefthanded knuckleballer Wilbur Wood. He actually started 49 games in 1972 but was pulled before batting twice in three of them.

It's been nearly two decades since someone went 45 games into the season without 3+ total bases in a game, though, so let's look at a list of players since 2000. Unsurprisingly, the list is littered with pitchers, so I'm going to drop them.

Most Consecutive Games with Two or Fewer Total Bases to Start a Season
(since 2000; minimum 2 PA in each game)
Jason Kendall reached 28 games to start the 2007 season, one year after going 23 games without three total bases. Two doubles and a single in the second game of last season messed up the trend, but 2009 might still be his year.


Bopperland said...

I have forever wondered about the allure of Jason Kendall. Sure you could overlook a glaring offensive deficiency for some other aspect of his performance, but I am at a loss to find it. Ex-MLB catcher Doug Mirabelli had a BA hovering around the Mendoza Line in his latter years, but his value as the personal catcher for Wakefield was what counted. Would you credit Mirabelli for leading the Sawx to the Series titles? Not likely, but they would not have made it without him. Can't say that about Kendall.

Theron Schultz said...

He always draws raves from pitchers and other team folks about handling the staff so well, but I don't know. Over last year and this year he hasn't managed to get Manny Parra past looking confused and scared on the mound, so meh.

After a while you start perversely hoping he doesn't hit because slugging under .200 for a season would be funny. That could just be me though. :)