Putting the ball in play – Anti-TTO specialists

HHS reader Paul E recently identified that Adam Dunn is on pace to obliterate the record for the highest season total of strikeouts and walks, believed to be Mark McGwire‘s 317 (162 BB, 155 SO) in 1998, one of only a handful of seasons above 300. Dunn, though, is currently on pace for 133 BB and 260 SO, perilously close to the 400 mark.

Strikeouts and walks are two of the TTOs (three true outcomes – HRs are the third), so named because a batter’s PA does NOT result in a batted ball being put into play (at least not so that the defense can do anything about it). McGwire’s total in 1998 for all of the TTOs was 387, a mark that Dunn, barring injury, is certainly likely to challenge, if not surpass.

But, what about the opposite end of the spectrum – which hitters have accumulated the lowest TTO totals? I’ll take a look after the jump.

Here are the seasons (min. 502 PA) since 1901 with 15 or fewer of each of the TTOs.

Rk Player Year HR SO BB OPS+ PA Age Tm Lg G R H 2B RBI BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Woody Jensen 1935 8 14 15 104 657 27 PIT NL 143 97 203 28 62 .324 .344 .429 .773 *7/9
2 Stuffy McInnis 1924 1 6 15 83 611 33 BSN NL 146 57 169 23 59 .291 .311 .360 .671 *3
3 Stuffy McInnis 1922 1 5 15 84 582 31 CLE AL 142 58 164 28 78 .305 .325 .389 .715 *3
4 Irish Meusel 1919 5 13 15 115 548 26 PHI NL 135 65 159 26 59 .305 .327 .411 .738 798
5 Lave Cross 1904 1 9 13 113 639 38 PHA AL 155 73 176 31 71 .290 .310 .379 .689 *5
6 Charlie Hickman 1902 11 15 15 158 564 26 TOT AL 130 74 193 36 110 .361 .387 .539 .926 *37/41
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/31/2012.

So, Stuffy McInnis looks to be our winner, with TTO totals of 21 and 22 (followed closely by Lave Cross at 23) to go with predictably poor OPS+ scores below 85. But, look at those other seasons – pretty decent OPS+, especially for Charlie Hickman, whose 1902 season included leading the AL in hits and total bases, 2nd in HR and RBI, and 3rd in OPS+ and WAR (but not good enough for the Boston Americans, who sold Hickman to Cleveland in early June).

Of course, none of those seasons has come in the past 75 years, so let’s adjust our parameters a touch. Here are the players since 1925 with 15 or fewer HRs and 20 or fewer walks and strikeouts.

Rk Player Year HR SO BB OPS+ PA Age Tm Lg G R H 2B RBI BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Don Mueller 1955 8 12 19 90 640 28 NYG NL 147 67 185 21 83 .306 .326 .393 .720 *9
2 Don Mueller 1953 6 13 19 96 502 26 NYG NL 131 56 160 12 60 .333 .360 .404 .764 *97
3 Emil Verban 1945 0 15 19 77 635 29 STL NL 155 59 166 22 72 .278 .304 .342 .645 *4
4 Emil Verban 1944 0 14 19 62 538 28 STL NL 146 51 128 14 43 .257 .287 .293 .580 *4
5 Frank McCormick 1938 5 17 18 113 671 27 CIN NL 151 89 209 40 106 .327 .348 .425 .773 *3
6 Buddy Hassett 1937 1 19 20 94 595 25 BRO NL 137 71 169 31 53 .304 .334 .387 .721 *3/879
7 Woody Jensen 1936 10 19 16 88 731 28 PIT NL 153 98 197 34 58 .283 .305 .404 .709 *7/8
8 Woody Jensen 1935 8 14 15 104 657 27 PIT NL 143 97 203 28 62 .324 .344 .429 .773 *7/9
9 Homer Summa 1928 3 15 20 78 549 29 CLE AL 134 60 143 26 57 .284 .319 .365 .684 *9
10 Bing Miller 1925 10 14 19 106 525 30 PHA AL 124 78 151 29 81 .319 .355 .485 .841 *973
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/31/2012.

We’ve added a few more seasons, but still none in the past 50 years. Take a look at Woody Jensen’s 1936 season and his league-leading 731 PAs. Adding his 6 HBPs to his TTO totals, he put the ball in play 680 times, but apparently not with great effect (even with 197 hits) as evidenced by his 88 OPS+. In fact, only Frank McCormick’s 1938 season with 113 OPS+ and a league-leading 209 hits looks worth writing home about.

Another tweak of our selection criteria. Here are seasons since 1950 with 15 or fewer HR and 25 or fewer walks and strikeouts.

Rk Player Year HR SO BB OPS+ PA Age Tm Lg G R H 2B RBI BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Ozzie Guillen 1997 4 24 22 62 527 33 CHW AL 142 59 120 21 52 .245 .275 .337 .612 *6
2 Felix Fermin 1993 2 14 24 67 514 29 CLE AL 140 48 126 16 45 .263 .303 .317 .619 *6
3 Tim Foli 1982 3 22 14 60 528 31 CAL AL 150 46 121 14 56 .252 .273 .308 .581 *6/45
4 Tim Foli 1980 3 23 19 72 540 29 PIT NL 127 61 131 22 38 .265 .296 .327 .623 *6
5 Glenn Beckert 1972 3 17 23 77 510 31 CHC NL 120 51 128 22 43 .270 .304 .344 .648 *4
6 Glenn Beckert 1971 2 24 24 108 570 30 CHC NL 131 80 181 18 42 .342 .367 .406 .773 *4
7 Glenn Beckert 1969 1 24 24 78 582 28 CHC NL 131 69 158 22 37 .291 .325 .341 .666 *4
8 Felipe Alou 1969 5 23 23 86 509 34 ATL NL 123 54 134 13 32 .282 .319 .345 .663 *89/7
9 Bobby Richardson 1963 3 22 25 76 668 27 NYY AL 151 72 167 20 48 .265 .294 .330 .624 *4
10 Vic Power 1963 10 24 22 88 578 35 MIN AL 138 65 146 28 52 .270 .297 .384 .682 *34/5
11 Nellie Fox 1963 2 17 24 72 582 35 CHW AL 137 54 140 19 42 .260 .299 .306 .605 *4
12 Vic Power 1960 10 20 24 93 624 32 CLE AL 147 69 167 26 84 .288 .313 .395 .707 *3/65
13 Vic Power 1956 14 16 24 107 559 28 KCA AL 127 77 164 21 63 .309 .340 .447 .787 *34/7
14 Don Mueller 1955 8 12 19 90 640 28 NYG NL 147 67 185 21 83 .306 .326 .393 .720 *9
15 Don Mueller 1954 4 17 22 109 657 27 NYG NL 153 90 212 35 71 .342 .363 .444 .807 *9
16 Don Mueller 1953 6 13 19 96 502 26 NYG NL 131 56 160 12 60 .333 .360 .404 .764 *97
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/31/2012.

The seasons just get worse. Only 3 seasons over 100 OPS+, and to do that you have to hit .342 or show some pop with 14 HR.

But, we’re still looking for recent years. Here are the players since 1987 with 15 or fewer HRs and 30 or fewer walks and strikeouts.

Rk Player Year HR SO BB OPS+ PA Age Tm Lg G R H 2B RBI BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Jeff Keppinger 2008 3 24 30 71 502 28 CIN NL 121 45 122 24 43 .266 .310 .346 .657 *65/43
2 A.J. Pierzynski 2004 11 27 19 86 510 27 SFG NL 131 45 128 28 77 .272 .319 .410 .729 *2
3 Ozzie Guillen 1997 4 24 22 62 527 33 CHW AL 142 59 120 21 52 .245 .275 .337 .612 *6
4 Gary Disarcina 1997 4 29 17 54 583 29 ANA AL 154 52 135 28 47 .246 .271 .326 .597 *6
5 Ozzie Guillen 1996 4 27 10 64 528 32 CHW AL 150 62 131 24 45 .263 .273 .367 .640 *6/7
6 Carlos Baerga 1996 12 27 21 72 544 27 TOT ML 126 59 129 28 66 .254 .293 .381 .674 *43/5
7 Brian Harper 1993 12 29 29 107 573 33 MIN AL 147 52 161 26 73 .304 .347 .425 .772 *2/D
8 Felix Fermin 1993 2 14 24 67 514 29 CLE AL 140 48 126 16 45 .263 .303 .317 .619 *6
9 Jose Lind 1992 0 29 26 55 507 28 PIT NL 135 38 110 14 39 .235 .275 .269 .544 *4
10 Brian Harper 1992 9 22 26 109 546 32 MIN AL 140 58 154 25 73 .307 .343 .410 .753 *2/D
11 Brian Harper 1990 6 27 19 107 509 30 MIN AL 134 61 141 42 54 .294 .328 .432 .760 *2D/53
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/31/2012.

Looks like Brian Harper is the only player who can be consistently successful (or, at least, above average)  hitting this way.

And, for our lifetime achievement awards, here are the players with the most 15-30-30 TTO seasons.

Rk   Yrs From To Age  
1 Stuffy McInnis 8 1911 1924 20-33 Ind. Seasons
2 Everett Scott 6 1919 1924 26-31 Ind. Seasons
3 George Burns 6 1916 1925 23-32 Ind. Seasons
4 Ivy Olson 6 1912 1922 26-36 Ind. Seasons
5 Nap Lajoie 6 1901 1915 26-40 Ind. Seasons
6 George Sisler 5 1917 1927 24-34 Ind. Seasons
7 George Cutshaw 5 1917 1922 30-35 Ind. Seasons
8 Lave Cross 5 1902 1906 36-40 Ind. Seasons
9 Bill Buckner 4 1974 1980 24-30 Ind. Seasons
10 Glenn Beckert 4 1967 1972 26-31 Ind. Seasons
11 Bobby Richardson 4 1959 1966 23-30 Ind. Seasons
12 Don Mueller 4 1950 1955 23-28 Ind. Seasons
13 Emil Verban 4 1944 1947 28-31 Ind. Seasons
14 Eddie Brown 4 1925 1928 33-36 Ind. Seasons
15 Pie Traynor 4 1922 1929 23-30 Ind. Seasons
16 Brian Harper 3 1990 1993 30-33 Ind. Seasons
17 Tim Foli 3 1979 1982 28-31 Ind. Seasons
18 Vic Power 3 1956 1963 28-35 Ind. Seasons
19 Woody Jensen 3 1935 1937 27-29 Ind. Seasons
20 Lloyd Waner 3 1933 1938 27-32 Ind. Seasons
21 Ski Melillo 3 1929 1934 29-34 Ind. Seasons
22 Freddie Lindstrom 3 1928 1932 22-26 Ind. Seasons
23 Freddy Leach 3 1928 1931 30-33 Ind. Seasons
24 Jimmy Welsh 3 1925 1928 22-25 Ind. Seasons
25 Bing Miller 3 1925 1928 30-33 Ind. Seasons
26 Buck Weaver 3 1917 1920 26-29 Ind. Seasons
27 Edd Roush 3 1917 1927 24-34 Ind. Seasons
28 Art Fletcher 3 1917 1919 32-34 Ind. Seasons
29 Tom Jones 3 1906 1909 29-32 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/31/2012.

Some new names, including a few HOFers. So, while not recommended, a select few can succeed with this approach to hitting.

Finally, I was curious how low l would have to go in PAs to get a season with single digits in all TTOs.

Rk Player PA HR SO BB OPS+ Year Age Tm Lg G R H 2B RBI BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Ossee Schrecongost 376 2 8 9 105 1902 27 TOT AL 97 50 117 17 52 .327 .345 .402 .747 *23/8
2 Emil Verban 363 0 2 8 73 1949 33 CHC NL 98 38 99 11 22 .289 .309 .327 .635 *4
3 Malachi Kittridge 283 0 7 8 70 1904 34 WSH AL 81 11 64 7 24 .242 .266 .268 .534 *2
4 Lloyd Waner 274 1 5 5 94 1930 24 PIT NL 68 32 94 8 36 .362 .376 .427 .803 *8
5 Tommy Thevenow 262 0 5 3 89 1933 29 PIT NL 73 20 79 5 34 .312 .320 .340 .660 *4/65
6 Jimmy Archer 262 0 9 9 77 1914 31 CHC NL 79 17 64 9 19 .258 .284 .310 .595 *2
7 Jack Bentley 256 2 4 5 63 1926 31 TOT NL 78 19 63 12 27 .258 .273 .357 .630 *3/1
8 Larry Milbourne 247 2 6 9 55 1978 27 SEA AL 93 31 53 6 20 .226 .254 .295 .549 564D
9 Bill Cunningham 244 2 9 7 100 1922 27 NYG NL 85 37 75 15 33 .328 .350 .437 .787 *8/75
10 Jesus Alou 232 2 9 5 83 1974 32 OAK AL 96 13 59 8 15 .268 .288 .332 .620 D9/7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/31/2012.

And, there you have it. Only Ossee Schrecongost at the top of the list qualified for the batting title. Ossee was a catcher with 10 seasons ranging from 239 to 453 PAs, all but one a 15-30-30 season (he had one season with 31 Ks). For Ossee’s career of over 3000 PAs, his TTO total was 256, which Adam Dunn may surpass with just his strikeouts this year.

 

 

 

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33 Comments on "Putting the ball in play – Anti-TTO specialists"

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Yippeeyappee
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Why does HBP fall outside of the TTO spectrum? Because that would make it FTO?

John Nacca
Guest

Any post with Malachi Jeddidah Kittridge in it is a special one!

Hartvig
Guest

Good old Malachi was new to me. He must have been pretty good defensively to put up a semi-decent WAR with a 16 year career OPS+ of 56.

Ozzie was one name I immediately thought of. I was a little surprised not to see Alfredo Griffin but he struck out too often to qualify.

Richard Chester
Guest

It looks like McGwire’s total of 317 BB + SO is the record. It’s easy to find on PI. To get 317 a player has to have at least 159 BB or SO. Run PI with BB=> 159 and sort by SO and add the numbers of each player. Then run PI with SO => 159 and sort by BB and add the numbers. Three other players have exceeded 300, Cust with 308, Dunn with 306 and 303 and Howard with 306.

Ed
Guest

Talking about the Three True Outcomes, Dunn could lead the AL in all three this year. As we know, he’s leading in walks and strikeouts. He’s also tied for 2nd in homeruns, 4 behind Hamilton. This could be the new triple crown!!!

BTW, I know I asked before about players who lead in both walks and Ks and there were a handful who had done that. But what about adding in home runs? Could Dunn be the first to lead in all three?

Hartvig
Guest
The Babe did it in 1923, 24, 27 & 28. KIllebrew did it in ’69. Mike Schmidt did it in 1983. Foxx made a run at it a few times and Mark McGwire was close a couple of times. Gavvy Cravath was close in 1915. When I say close I mean they finished like first, first and second or third or first, second & second or something like that. In most of the cases I looked at they were at least 10 walks or strikeouts or more away from the first place finisher so it’s not like a couple of… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

Hack Wilson led in all three in 1930. In 1941 Dolf Camilli led in HR and SO and was 2nd in BB.

Richard Chester
Guest

Hartvig: Killebrew did not lead the league in so in 1969

Other guys who came close:
Dolf Camilli lost the HR championship in 1939 by 2 HR.

Hank Greenberg was 5 SO behind the leader in 1938.

Frank Howard was 10 SO behind the leader in 1970.

Ed
Guest

Thanks Hartvig, Richard and No Statistician.

Hartvig
Guest

My bad.

Looks like jumping from page to page, I got the RBI/BB columns somehow mixed up on him.

no statistician but
Guest

Mickey Mantle, 1958:

42 HR, 129 BB, 120 SO.

kds
Guest

Mcgwire 1998 had 162 BB and 155 SO, not the other way around. The walks were a NL record, beating Bonds, who got the record back later. But I mean come on, he set a league record that year in an important category and you don’t even remember?!

e pluribus munu
Guest
Doug, These are neat tables, and they highlight the reason why some players, like Little Poison, have seen their reputations plummet with new approaches to statistics. But the general mediocity of anti-TTO specialists is really built into the stat. Success in TTO is a product of adopting the Ruthian trade-off of SO for long hits, including HRs – success in that Two-True trade breeds BBs (though obviously, some players are better than others at adding patience and sharp judgment to intimidation to induce them). The result is that a good TTO record yields two positives in return for a negative… Read more »
BSK
Guest

HEY EVERYONE! Been a while…

Is there a way to figure out the “ideal” range for TTO? It seems pretty clear that an obscenely high TTO is better than an obscenely low one. But where is the ideal one, based on the total OPS+ of the guys in that given range?

birtelcom
Editor

Inspired by Doug’s post, I’ve run an Excel spreadsheet on TTO percentages (the percentage of a hitter’s PAs that were strikeouts, walks or homers). In the expansion era (1961-2011), it looks like the lowest TTO percentage seasons by hitters with at least 502 PAs have been:

Matty Alou (PIT, 1970) 6.82%
Tim Foli (NYM/PIT, 1979) 7.24%
Tim Foli (CAL, 1982) 7.386%
Nellie Fox (CHW, 1963) 7.388%
Bobby Richardson (NYY, 1963) 7.485%

In the six-division era:
Ozzie Guillen (CHW, 1996) 7.77%
Gary Disarcina (ANA, 1997) 8.58%
Ozzie Guillen (CHW, 1997) 9.49%
Juan Pierre (LAD, 2007) 9.60%
Juan Pierre (CHN, 2006) 9.73%

Timmy Pea
Guest

Rickey Weeks has some interesting TTO numbers!

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

#30/e pluribus munu –

Sorry to be so cryptic but, “You mean that 3′ 7″ batters are the new market ineficiency?” is a takeoff/satire on the Moneyball phrase c. 2003 “Hitters who get on base (high OBA) are the new market inefficiency”, implying that OBA was undervalued in the free-agent market. Sorry for the confusion.

I was just trying to be needlessly clever.

e pluribus munu
Guest

I hope that we’re not going to limit cleverness to the needful kind. I wouldn’t have a thing to say.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Not true, you have plenty of useful AND clever things to say here.

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