The year that Tony Gwynn hit .400

Here’s a treat for you. Following is a graph of Tony Gwynn‘s rolling batting average throughout his career for each 162-game period. The first data point is at his 162nd-career game and gives his batting average for his first 162 games.

Click on the image for a slightly larger version.

I’ve labeled many of the high and low points. Right away, you’ll notice that Gwynn hit .402 over a 162-game period ending in 1995. From July 27th 1993 through May 13, 1995, Gwynn appeared in 162 games, and had 704 plate appearances. He had 624 at-bats with 251 hits (.402 BA), as well as 15 HR, 100 RBI, 121 runs scored, a .457 OBP and a .563 SLG.

Other notes about the fabulous Mr. Gwynn:

  • It’s hard not to think of Ted Williams‘ 1941 at this point. That year, Williams batted .406 while leading the league with 37 HR, a .553 OBP, a .735 SLG, and a 235 OPS+. Gwynn was obviously not the same kind of hitter as Williams, never showing that same kind of power. Still over the 1994 season (all of which was encompassed in his .400 season) Gwynn had an OPS+ of 169, his career high. Gwynn also gets high marks for maintaining his average over 624 at-bats. In Williams’ season, he had only 456 at-bats thanks mainly to his very high walk total (and the fact that he didn’t play 162 games.)
  • The lowest “rolling-162” batting average of Gwynn’s career was .290 (actually .28952), which he had after the game on August 1, 1992. His full stat line for the preceding 162, covering back to June 23, 1991, was 702 PAs, 639 at-bats, 8 HR, 51 RBI, 88 runs scored, with a slash line of .290/.348/.388. Decidedly un-Gwynnish, but a “worst” career line that hundreds of ballplayers would gladly take, especially the .348 OBP.
  • Dude closed out his career batting .343 in his final 162 games, slightly higher than his career mark of .338.
  • Those 251 hits Gwynn got over his .400 “season”–that’s an extremely high number. Ichiro had 262 in 2004 (with the benefit of 704 at-bats) and before that the last guy to have so many in a regular season (within a single year) was Bill Terry, with 254 in 1930.

 

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63 Comments on "The year that Tony Gwynn hit .400"

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Scott
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This post is interesting because Tony Gwynn really did have a shot at .400 when he batted .394 during the 1994 strike shortened season. To this day, I still think that Tony had the best shot at hitting .400 after Ted Williams. If it hadn’t had happened, I think he would have done it. It would have been close but Mr. Gwynn would have had a .400 season in my opinion. (Also, I think someone around here should do an article on what could have been with the 1994 strike shortened season if it hasn’t been done already. Many interesting… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
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Also, Matt Williams had 43 HR and was projected to hit 62 over a full season, Griffey Jr had 40 HR. Frank Thomas wasn’t that far away from a .500 OBA (.487), Bonds is the only player to do this since 1957. Thomas was also projected to score 152 runs, the most since 1936. I’m not as positive as Scott that Gwynn would’ve hit .400 in 1994. There is a very strong tendency to “regress to the mean” over a full season, even for great players. The 1994 Padres had 45 scheduled games left, about 28% of the season. Gwynn… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
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Yankees and Expos in the World Series.

Jimmy Key wins 25 games.

Maddux wins 23 with 15 CG and an era under 1.7

Kenny Lofton has 230 hits and 85 steals… and 10 WAR.

Chuck Knoblauch and Craig Biggio have 65 doubles.

Kirby Puckett has 160 RBI.

Jeff Bagwell has 420 Total Bases.

Tristram12
Guest

Sorry, Voomo, but I think Bagwell would have been stuck at 300 Total Bases. He broke his hand the day before the strike, and probably would have been out for the rest of the season.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Ah. Thanks. I’ve purged most of ’94 from my memory. And I was on strike until ’98, so I have a few gaps.

Howard
Guest

Fred McGriff might be in both the 50 and 500 HR clubs and have a better chance at the HOF.

Scott
Guest

One other thing I forgot. Mike Mussina could have won 20 games a lot sooner since he was sitting on 16 wins before the strike happened…

Adam Darowski
Guest

Oh snap. Now I want to go look at 162-game rolling totals for everything. What would each record look like? And how about back into the 19th century when there were much shorter schedules? Very interesting stuff?

Phil
Guest

I seem to recall that McGwire had topped Maris on a rolling-162 basis before 1998; maybe some portion of his ’96 and ’97 seasons?

Doug
Guest

Joey Bats had 64 HR from May 8, 2010 to May 15, 2011 (162 games).

kds
Guest

It is interesting how much up and down there is. BA has more variation than many of the rate stats.

Doing these running totals in terms of 162 team games rather than games played would be closer to our concept of accomplishing something over a season.

topper009
Guest

I think Wade Boggs also hit over .400 for 162 straight games in the late 80s

Richard Chester
Guest

If I have done my work correctly from 6-9-85 to 6-6-86 to Boggs batted .401. He maintained a .400 pace for one more game.

Doug
Guest

I thought Rod Carew might have done it with his blazing start to 1978 after hitting .388 in 1977. Came really close, but the best 162 games I can find is .399 from 5-14-77 to 5-21-78.

Doug
Guest

Ted Williams did hit .400 over a 162 game stretch – .400 even from Sep 11, 1940 to end of 1941.

He hit .409 over 162 games from Sep 15, 1940 to Apr 17, 1942.

Mark
Guest

Wow, that certainly is a jump in performance starting around 1992 (afraid to say anything more!) — seriously though, I’m as altruistic as anyone, especially with such a “good guy” as Gwynn, but it’s hard to ignore that, uh, enhancement.

Adam Darowski
Guest

I truly believe that the run environment went up MLB-wide by 0.48 runs PER GAME simply because Tony Gwynn was enhancing. http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/bat.shtml

Adam Darowski
Guest

WordPress ate my sarcasm tag!

topper009
Guest

They starting using a new ball in 1993 yet everyone on the planet is oblivious to this fact. Instead it is much more likely that the whole league all systematically starting using steroids at the same rate and raised the league wide scoring in 1993…even though Canseco had been juicing up with teammates since the 80s?

bstar
Guest

I could not agree more with this, especially the part where everyone else seems to be oblivious to it.

Jimbo
Guest
Fred Mcgriff would’ve likely had his only 40 homer year in ’94, would’ve cleared 500 home runs, and probably would’ve made the hall of fame (more quickly, I think he’ll get there eventually). Albert Belle would’ve quite possibly done the 50 homers/50 doubles thing (which he did in the strike shortened 95 season also. The only player to ever do it, and he would’dve done it twice. Barry Bonds would’ve had a very high chance of going 40/40 for the first time in his career. Jose Canseco, a 40 homer season for the rangers possibly, giving him 40 homer seasons… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Kirk Gibson also had an odd 1994 season. At age 37, he scored 71 runs from only 382 PAs, an 18.6% rate, 11% better than his next highest rate of 16.8% in his MVP season of 1988.

CursedClevelander
Guest
Speaking of Albert Belle and the 50/50 mark, check out his September/Oct (regular season) of 1995: .313/.420/.929 in 120 PA with 15 BB and 14 K. His BABIP? A mere .203. And the most ridiculous part? 31 hits, 10 2Bs, 17 HRs…and 4 singles. A 27 to 4 XBH to single ratio for the month. Shows what a difference a month can make. In August of the same year, he had a similar OPS in a similar # of PAs, had the same number of XBHs, but had 18 singles and a .348 BABIP. But more to the point, in… Read more »
Howard
Guest

Shucks, Jimbo. I didn’t read the whole thread and made almost exactly the same comment about McGriff (though I speculated he might have hit 50 HRs) in response to an earlier post.

Abbott
Guest

From 4/7/2001 to 4/17/2002, Barry Bonds hit 80 home runs!

topper009
Guest

From 7/24/1927 to 7/30/1928 Babe Ruth hit 71 HRs

John Autin
Editor

Luke Appling, from Sept. 8, 1935 (2nd game) through the end of 1936:
— 162 games, 244 hits in 614 ABs, .397 BA, 101 walks, 146 RBI, 129 Runs, only 6 HRs.

Thought I could get him over the hump, but no.

Shping
Guest
@4 kds: “Doing these running totals in terms of 162 team games rather than games played would be closer to our concept of accomplishing something over a season.” Great point, kds. I’m sure it makes all these interesting calculations even more tedious, but almost everybody needs a day off now and then, and eliminating those rest days does skew the results a little. Still lots of good stuff here tho. It also has me curious: If somebody ever miraculously breaks DiMaggio’s 56-gm hitting streak, or even Rose’s at 44, but does it while overlapping the course of 2 two seasons… Read more »
John Autin
Editor

“how many of us would view that streak as legitimate?”
— I’d guess fans of that player and that team, and people under the age of 30.

e pluribus munu
Guest

I think we’ve actually had a test run, of sorts, Shping. Carl Hubbell broke Rube Marquand’s record of 19 straight wins in 1936/37. A very poopular pitcher, playing for pennant winners in NY – Marquand’s team. How many people think of Hubbell’s 24 rather than Marquand’s 19 when asked what the longest pitcher winning streak is? I think even those who think of Hubbell right away will add, “but he did it over two seasons.”

Shping
Guest

@48 and @53

Hee hee and good examples. Thanks guys. I feel better.

@46

Belive it or not, i’m fairly sure you could also find a 2-year period (or less) where Fielder hit 2 inside-the-park hrs and at least 2-4 triples. My memory is far from perfect, and i’d look it up if i knew how, but i think so.

Shping
Guest

Oops, i meant Prince, and i just noticed you meant Cecil. Nonetheless…

Richard Chester
Guest

Prince Fielder hit IPHRs on 6-17-2007 and 6-19-2008. Just logon to Baseball Reference, search for Fielder and click on his HR log and scroll.

John Autin
Editor

Lefty O’Doul, 4/27/29 through 5/7/30:
— 162 games, 270 hits, 667 ABs, .405 BA, 83 walks, 161 Runs.

In the first 15 games of 1930, he hit .500 with 29 hits — but just 4 RBI.

Phil
Guest

I’ve found a number of rolling-162s where Cecil Fielder did not steal a base.

John Autin
Editor

Harry Heilmann’s luck holds: I can get both his 1921 (.394) and ’25 (.393) seasons up to .399 with the tail ends of the prior years. His 1927 (.398) cannot be improved with games from either side.

Oh, well — at least he did hit .403 in 1923.

Richard Chester
Guest

Heilmann and Hornsby are the only two players with a seasonal average of .393 or more 4 times.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Ed Delahanty also did this if you count 19th century players (.404, .404, .397, .410)).

Richard Chester
Guest

Bill Terry:
From 9-21-29 to 9-27-30, 266 hits.

Doug
Guest

Ichiro had 268 hits from 4-9-2004 to 4-8-2005.

bstar
Guest

Todd Helton had 63 doubles from 6/2/2000 to 5/27/2001.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

He’s no Earl Webb, though (it’s the yahoo-Red Sox fan in me…).

bstar
Guest

Ha, no Helton was no Earl Webb but it would have been really cool to see someone get to 60 doubles for the first time since the mid-30s(he missed by one in 2000).

Jeff
Guest
Does anyone think it was easier to hit in the 30s-60s? I mean have middle infielder become faster? Have center fielders become faster along with entire outfield? Have pitchers developed more pitches with more movement, do managers now take pitchers out in the 6th inning and go to a middle relief and then closer now? All these are huge factors in ones batting average, I have watched tapes of old timers throwing. If you think Tony Gwynn would not have hit 430 when Tedd or Cobbs played your crazy. I played ball and when you where getting your third ab… Read more »
mosc
Guest

See, this post is why I prefer a forum to the newspost style presentation. You can only see Jeff’s comments on the “new post” section while it’s one of the most recent few and the topic could keep going long after it’s off of the front page. We could also search for content easier.

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