Quiz – Enigmatic Hitters

Here is a list of mainly better hitters, including batting champions and several current and future HOFers.

Since 1920, what is the seasonal feat that only these hitters have accomplished before the age of 30?

Congratulations to John Autin and Richard Chester! They teamed up to identify these players as the only under 30 hitters since 1920 with a season scoring less than 100 runs despite a .400+ OBP and 25 or more steals. Here is the list.

64 thoughts on “Quiz – Enigmatic Hitters

  1. 1

    All of them had at least one pre-30 season with a fabulous SB/CS%……….

  2. 3
    John Autin says:

    Randolph limits any HR threshold to 7, while Jefferies limits a triples requirement to just 3. So those are probably out. Feels like a .400 OBP and 25 SB are involved, though.

    May we inquire as to the approximate number of components in this seasonal accomplishment?

  3. 4
    Doug says:

    You already have two of them, JA. One more to go.

  4. 5
    Richard Chester says:

    And fewer than 100 runs scored.

  5. 8
    John Autin says:

    What surprised me in looking for this answer was that the first two criteria — qualified .400 OBP and 25+ SB (since 1920, by age 29) — brought in only 34 guys. And if you put the SB requirement up to 40 and drop the age restriction entirely, only 23 guys have done that since 1920, with Henderson (9) and Morgan (6) the only ones to do it more than thrice.

  6. 10
    Doug says:

    Well done, John and Richard.

    These are indeed the only under 30 players since 1920 with a season (502 PA) scoring fewer than 100 runs despite a .400+ OBP and 25 or more steals. Carew did this 3 times in succession, plus a fourth time at age 32. Only Tris Speaker has more (at any age) with 5 such seasons, all in the dead-ball period.

    Perhaps the most surprising season is Tim Raines in 1986, with only 91 runs despite a league-leading BA and OBP figures and stealing 70 bases in 79 attempts. By comparison, playing next to him in the Expo outfield was Mitch Webster who, in essentially the same playing time (19 fewer PAs), had an OBP 58 points lower and was only 36 for 51 in steals, yet had an almost identical total of 89 runs scored.

    • 14
      Richard Chester says:

      If you check his stats page you can see that Carew scored more than 100 runs just once in his career despite 6 seasons of .400+ OBP.

      • 16
        Doug says:

        Yes, I did see that – it gave me the idea for this post. 🙂

        I suspect Carew’s underwhelming stolen base success rate might have had something to do with that. For the 8 seasons 1973-80, his lowest OBP was .395 and he stole over 250 bases, but at only a 70% success rate.

        • 28
          seth says:

          I only remember Carew as an Angel. It seems he should have scored over 100 runs more than he should have, was the Twins offense around him that weak? I seem to remember him not being aggressive on the bases, but a handful of games on TV 30 years ago isn’t really enough to make that call with any certainty.

          I don’t pretend to get all the math going on here this site, but I love the bits I do get.

          • 29
            Lawrence Azrin says:

            I compared Rod Carew to Wade Boggs for how often they were amongst the league leaders in runs scored, as they are each other’s most similar batters:

            – both were in the Top-10 7 times
            – Carew beats Boggs in times in the Top-5 in runs scored, 5 to 4
            – Boggs led in runs scored twice, Carew once (coincidentally, the high for both was 128)

            So even though Boggs scored 100 or more runs seven times and Carew only did that once, I don’t think it’s that peculiar. Carew scored 85 to 98 runs 7 times; this is probably a combination of the lower offensive environment, along with Carew missing some games almost every year (he averaged 148 games/year in the seven years I mentioned above).

            Roberto Clemente scored 100 runs or more three times, Kaline and Gwynn only did it twice. I wouldn’t read too much into it.

  7. 11
    John Autin says:

    Since I have the attention of two elite P-I masters, tell me if you know of reasonably efficient way to find the player with the highest percentage of his team’s runs scored (or any other stat).

    I have a not-so-well-known guy with 18.3% of his team’s runs. I’ve been poking around among the individual high-run seasons and the lowest-scoring seasons, but haven’t found anyone else over 18.2%.

    • 12
      Doug says:

      I’ve wanted to do exactly that so often. All I’ve come up with is creating a table in Excel of team stats, then searching the table by year and club to calculate the percentages for a separate list of season player stats.

      But, I presume you probably already thought of that.

      • 27
        Richard Chester says:

        I figured out a way to get results but it’s a bit complicated to explain. You have to search one team at a time and set an arbitrary cut-off point for the percentage. I ran the Boston Red Sox and searched for a percentage of 18% or higher. I found Babe Ruth in 1919 with 18.3% and Ted Williams in 1942 with 18.5%.

        • 33
          Richard Chester says:

          For the Yankees there were Ruth with 18.9% in 1920, 18.7% in 1921, 18.2% in 1928, George Stirnweiss in 1944 with 18.5% and Bobby Murcer in 1972 with 18.3%.

    • 13
      John Autin says:

      I should have known that Ruth would own this mark. I made the mistake of dismissing him after checking his two years of 160+ runs. I think his highest percentage of team runs came in 1920, 158 out of 837, 18.9%.

      Back to obscurity you go, Bob Bescher.

      Still would like to know if you can think of an efficient way to search for such things.

      • 15
        Doug says:

        Craig Biggio had 18.8% (146 of 777) of the Astros runs in 1997.

        Ricky Henderson had 19.4% (89 of 458) of Oakland’s runs in the 1981 strike season.

        • 23
          John Autin says:

          Thanks, Doug. I’m glad Ruth doesn’t hold that mark, after all. Here’s a new leader, and another notable:

          – Tim Raines, 1983, 19.6% (133/677)
          – Sammy Sosa, 2001, 18.8% (146/777)

          • 25
            Lawrence Azrin says:


            See my comment #24 (Burt Shotton).

            If we extend this back pre-1901, I considered Billy Hamilton, but there were just too many R/G scored in the mid-1890s.

          • 30
            Doug says:

            Another one over 19% is:
            – Topsy Hartsel, 1901, 19.2%, 111/578

      • 20
        e pluribus munu says:

        Bescher has emerged from obscurity before. He was headline news in 1962 as Wills’ SB level approached the post-1900 NL record – Bescher had owned it for 50 years.

        • 22
          John Autin says:

          Wow — I didn’t realize that Bescher was the only NL player with 68+ SB in the years 1900-61. Thanks, epm.

          • 31
            Doug says:

            From 1930 to 1955, the NL had only 8 seasons of 30+ SB, and none over 37 SB. In the AL for the same years, there were 21 seasons of 30+ SB, including 9 seasons over 37, with a high of 61.

            In the war years (1942-45), the AL had 8 seasons of 30+ SB (incl. 5 over 40, and 3 over 50), while the NL high was just 28 SB.

    • 24
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      Burt Shotton, 1913 St Louis Browns – 19.9% of his team’s runs scored:
      105 runs/528 team runs = 19.9%

      It was an excellent season, but by no means extraordinary:
      – 99 walks (led AL)
      – 105 runs scored (4th)
      – 263 times reached base (3rd)
      – .405 OBA (6th)
      – 3.0 Adjusted Batting Wins (7th)

      The Browns didn’t even score the fewest runs that year in the AL, it was the White Sox (they “beat” the Browns, 3.18 to 3.41 R/G).

      • 32
        Doug says:

        Odd goings on with the Dodgers’ managers in the late 1940s.

        – Leo Durocher had been the Dodgers manager for 8 seasons (1939-46), winning the 1941 pennant and finishing 2nd in 1946
        – Leo was gone in 1947, replaced by Clyde Sukeforth who lasted all of two games (both of which he won) before being replaced by Burt Shotton, who led the Bums to the pennant
        – Then Shotton is gone in 1948 and Durocher is back, only to be let go after an indifferent 35-37 start. After 1 game under Ray Blades (which he won), the Dodgers go back to Shotton who finishes 48-33
        – Shotton is back to stay in 1949, winning another pennant, and then places 2nd in 1950, just two games behind the Whiz Kid Phils
        – Dodgers go to Chuck Dressen for 3 seasons (and 2 pennants) 1951-53, and then let him go
        – After spitting out successful managers like sunflower seeds, the Dodgers then go the next 43 seasons with just two managers, Alston and Lasorda

        • 34
          Richard Chester says:

          Doug: Durocher was suspended by Commissioner Chandler for the 1947 season for associating with gamblers. Shotton was his replacement for the year. Durocher took back his old job for the 1948 season.

        • 35
          John Autin says:

          Dressen tried to leverage his 1952-53 pennants into a 3-year contract from O’Malley. Goodbye, Chuck; hello, Walter and the famous 23-year string of one-year contracts.

  8. 17

    Tim Raines scored “only”
    runs in 1986 while leading the league in Times on Base, BA, and OBP, having 54 XBH, and being +61 on the bases (70/9).

    Mitch Webster scored
    times in the same lineup while getting on base 50 fewer times, and going 36/15 as a thief.

    • 44
      Artie Z. says:

      Webster had one advantage that Raines didn’t – Webster had, for a good portion of the season, Tim Raines batting right behind him. While not a power hitter, a .330/.420/.470 hitter can (1) at least extend the inning and (2) actually drive in runs if he hits 3rd and has guys on base in front of him (like Webster was). Raines hit 1st for 70 games (mostly the 1st half of the season) and 3rd for 75 games (mostly the 2nd half of the season). Raines for the 1st half had (essentially – I’m looking for who mainly hit in those spots) Webster, Dawson, and Brooks as the 2-3-4 hitters behind him. Webster hit .259 with 5 HRs (still a .351 OBP which is why he scored 44 runs in the first half), Dawson .272 with 14 HRs, and Brooks .333 with 14 HRs. Tim Wallach hit 5th most of the time, and in the 1st half he hit .268 with 14 HRs.

      Raines, for the record, had .332/.337 AVG splits and .407/.420 OBP splits. In the second half of the season, when Raines hit 3rd, Webster essentially had Raines, Dawson, and Wallach hitting behind him (Brooks was injured mid-season). In the second half Dawson hit .294 with 6 HRs, Wallach hit .177 with 4 HRs, and the 6th spot combo of Andres Galarraga (who hit only 2 HRs the 2nd half of the season), Vance Law, Wayne Krenchiki, and Tom Foley – well, the names suggest they didn’t do that much (the 1986 Expos bench was really weak – no wonder Schatzeder was used as a pinch-hitter).

      So looking at lineup construction Webster always had a .330 hitter (Brooks 1st half, Raines 2nd half) either 1 or 2 spots behind him. Raines had Webster and Dawson in the first half and then Dawson and the fell off a cliff version of Wallach hitting 1 and 2 spots behind him. Why Raines and Webster scored about the same number of runs makes some sense once batting orders are taken into consideration.

      Granted, other than perhaps putting Raines and Brooks closer together in the lineup the first half of the season (maybe Raines-Webster-Brooks-Dawson or Webster-Raines-Dawson-Brooks) I don’t think there was much that could have been done with the lineup that would have propelled Raines over 100 runs scored. The Expos didn’t have much power on that team – Raines’ SLG trailed only Brooks’ half season (.569) and Dawson’s .478 (Raines was at .476). Mike Fitzgerald was at .282/.364/.440 but was buried in the 7th and 8th spots in the lineup and only played 73 games as it was.

      • 45
        John Autin says:

        Artie — Interesting breakdown. Here’s something else I think is interesting, although I don’t think it advances the analysis:

        – Webster was on 2nd when a teammate hit a single 18 times, and scored 14 (thrown out once).
        – Raines was on 2nd when a teammate hit a single 30 times, but scored just 17 (thrown out once).

        It’s actually a small edge for Raines in runs, but the interesting thing is the scoring rate — 78% for Webster, 57% for Raines (far below his career rate of 66%).

        There’s no reason to think Raines wasn’t running as well that year; he did swipe 70 bags with just 9 CS. So it suggests that the direction and velocity of hits with Raines on base was significantly different than with Webster on.

        But how that might contribute to Webster having a higher rate of scoring per time on base over all, I have no clue.

        • 47
          Doug says:

          For Raines, 9 of those 30 times (30%) came with two outs. Raines scored 6 times, advanced to 3rd twice, and was thrown out at home once. Still only 67%.

          For Webster, it was 7 of 18 times (39%) with 2 outs. Webster scored every time.

  9. 18

    Biggio’s only season of this (un)accomplishment was ’94.
    88 runs in 114 games.

  10. 19
    Jimbo says:

    Wow I would’ve never guessed Willie Randolph had 63 career WAR.

    • 26
      Doug says:

      Neither would I. Hall of Stats has him as an easy qualifier at 123.

      Between his first and last seasons, only once was Randolph below 2 WAR (1.9 in 1988) and only once did he have negative dWAR.

      Randolph had an early WAR peak (age 23-25), and ranks 11th in a tightly bunched group for 2nd base WAR in first 6 seasons (notice how these guys were all keepers – most played for just one team and nobody for more than two).

      Rk Player WAR/pos From To Age G PA BA OBP SLG OPS Tm
      1 Joe Gordon 33.3 1938 1943 23-28 888 3785 .278 .364 .482 .846 NYY
      2 Chase Utley 33.0 2003 2008 24-29 735 3126 .298 .375 .526 .901 PHI
      3 Chuck Knoblauch 29.8 1991 1996 22-27 857 3857 .306 .391 .417 .808 MIN
      4 Bobby Grich 28.7 1970 1975 21-26 642 2729 .261 .371 .403 .774 BAL
      5 Frankie Frisch 28.5 1919 1924 20-25 745 3317 .321 .369 .445 .814 NYG
      6 Roberto Alomar 28.3 1988 1993 20-25 914 4032 .297 .364 .416 .780 SDP-TOR
      7 Eddie Collins 27.1 1906 1911 19-24 560 2312 .331 .397 .435 .832 PHA
      8 Ian Kinsler 26.7 2006 2011 24-29 773 3446 .275 .355 .469 .824 TEX
      9 Dustin Pedroia 26.0 2006 2011 22-27 715 3201 .305 .373 .463 .837 BOS
      10 Tony Lazzeri 25.9 1926 1931 22-27 849 3647 .306 .381 .483 .864 NYY
      11 Willie Randolph 25.8 1975 1980 20-25 727 3113 .274 .375 .366 .742 PIT-NYY
      12 Snuffy Stirnweiss 25.2 1943 1948 24-29 807 3608 .275 .365 .384 .749 NYY
      13 Ryne Sandberg 23.4 1981 1986 21-26 790 3447 .287 .337 .431 .768 PHI-CHC
      14 Pete Rose 22.8 1963 1968 22-27 908 4054 .302 .358 .423 .781 CIN
      15 Billy Herman 22.3 1931 1936 21-26 752 3464 .316 .366 .419 .785 CHC
      16 Bill Doran 21.8 1982 1987 24-29 782 3375 .276 .360 .385 .745 HOU
      17 Robinson Cano 21.4 2005 2010 22-27 894 3732 .309 .347 .489 .836 NYY
      18 Del Pratt 20.5 1912 1917 24-29 905 3758 .282 .332 .396 .728 SLB
      19 Robby Thompson 20.0 1986 1991 24-29 855 3371 .257 .327 .401 .728 SFG
      20 Orlando Hudson 19.6 2002 2007 24-29 758 3031 .278 .343 .430 .773 TOR-ARI
      Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
      Generated 11/21/2012.
  11. 21
    Hartvig says:

    I thought it a little odd that Kiki Cuyler made the list in the high scoring 20’s on a team that was 3rd in the NL in runs scored and that hit .287 overall.

    The most excusable reason is that he did only appear in 117 games that season because he wasn’t in the starting line-up at the beginning of the season.

    It also appears that everyone else on the team with an OPS+ above 100 either hit in front of him at the number 3 spot (which makes sense because they were above 100 because of the O part of the equation) or in the number 8 spot (which does not).

    In spite of their relatively high team batting average and their being 3rd in the league in runs scored- they seemed to be a relatively punchless bunch, finishing 3rd from the bottom in homers and doubles, Their 44 home runs were less than half of what the top 2 teams produced and 50% fewer than another 3 teams had. They did however lead the league in triples which offset the other 2 issues some- they actually had the 3rd best slugging percentage in the league. In OBP they were only sixth.

    The guys hitting behind Cuyler had OPS+’s of 96, 100, (86/58 split between 2 players) and 92. That probably goes a long way towards explaining why Cuyler didn’t score 100 runs even on a team that was 3rd in the league in scoring.

    But why did they finish 3rd in the league in scoring then?

    The first reason seems to be that they did a good job of putting the guys actually getting on base at the top of the lineup (with one exception but he had a history of getting on base in previous seasons).

    But the biggest reason seems to be that they not only stole a lot more bases than anyone else did (44 more than the #2 team and nearly double what everyone else did) but they did so far, far more effectively than everyone else did as well. They were successful in almost two-thirds of their attempts (only 1 other team was over 60% and then just barely) and almost everyone else was about at 50% and some were even below.

    It does look like manager Bill McKechnie did a good job in constructing his lineup that season.

  12. 36
    Doug says:


    Thanks for filling in the gaps on the Dodger maneuverings. Do you know why the change from Shotton to Dressen?

    • 37
      Richard Chester says:

      According to my research Walter O’Malley became majority owner of the Dodgers after the 1950 season and he wanted no part of Shotton or GM Branch Rickey. They were both fired.

      • 39
        e pluribus munu says:

        Sorry to duplicate your note, Richard. I was composing my longwinded one when you shot back your efficient reply.

    • 38
      e pluribus munu says:

      Doug, Shotton’s departure coincided with Branch Rickey’s. Shotton had become Rickey’s all-purpose loyalist. He hadn’t wanted to replace Durocher in ’47, but Sukeforth and Blades (Durocher’s coaches) refused to unseat their guy. He’d come back in ’48 under very odd circumstances: Horace Stoneham wanted to unload his manager, Mel “Nice Guys Finish Last” Ott, and figured he’d get permission to hire Shotton from Rickey. Rickey was fed up with Leo “Nice Guys Finish Last” the Lip and persuaded Stoneham to take him off his hands, since he knew he could return to Shotton. (All this is described in Leo’s book, “Nice Guys Finish Last,” with, I am sure, bloodless objectivity.)

      To say Shotton’s ‘50s Dodgers lost the pennant by two games is misleading: they were on the verge of taking a ninth-inning lead on the Whiz Kids and forcing a playoff on the last day of the season when a bad baserunning call shut down their rally. They lost in the tenth. When O’Malley replaced Rickey, he brought in his own choice of manager, Dressen, whom he unchose as John has described.

      • 40
        no statistician but says:

        According to Bill James, it wasn’t bad base-running but a brilliant and daring defensive play by Richie Ashburn that killed the rally, “the most crucial and the most famous play of of the 1950 season.”

        You a Dodger fan by any chance, epm?

        • 41
          e pluribus munu says:

          Indeed I was, nsb: a Brooklyn fan. Not old enough to remember ’50, but I adopted the Dodgers’ painful history a few years later. Ashburn’s throw is justifiably famous – James says he was playing in for the play at the plate – but Milt Stock was fired for waving Cal Abrams in, and that seems to me the bottom line.

    • 42
      Doug says:

      Thanks everybody for the historical account.

      If the excuse to get rid of Shotton was that baserunning blunder, amazing that Dressen survived the 9th inning meltdown at the Polo Grounds the next year.

      It would seem, then, that the Dodgers were possibly just a few plays away from 5 straight pennants. And, in exactly the same seasons as the 5-peat Yankees.

      • 43
        e pluribus munu says:

        Exactly. They went to the last inning or the Series from ’49 through ’53 and came away with zero rings to add to their four previous Series losses. That’s what made coming back in the ’55 Series such an insane pleasure in Brooklyn.

        But it was Stock who was fired for the Ashburn play. Shotton’s departure was, as Richard wrote, a function of ownership change.

  13. 46
    mosc says:

    we need some more traditional statistical analysis on here. How about some correlation math? What stat has the highest correlation with runs? I’m betting on HR. I suppose you’d need to turn all accumulating stats into rate stats. Still, should be doable.

    • 48
      Richard Chester says:

      I did some quick and dirty research. From 1936 to 1939 Frank Crosetti of the Yankees averaged 11 HR and a .346 OBP, which just about met the AL averages for those years. Nevertheless he was 5th overall in total runs scored for that time period. Why? He led off and hit ahead of guys like DiMaggio, Gehrig, Dickey, Selkirk and Keller.

      • 49
        mosc says:

        It probably takes something that extreme to really raise your run total. The guy hitting behind you obviously has an effect. More so if you’re an OBP guy yourself. That’s a cherry picked example though. There are plenty of leadoff hitters above semi-decent hitters (hard to be better than that compared to DiMaggio, Gehrig, and Dickey) who finish fairly low in runs every year. I gave the example of ichiro in an earlier thread, how about 2004 vs 2005. The entire Mariners offense fell apart in 04 despite ichiro’s staggering 262 hits and career best 414 obp. Ichiro managed 101 runs (bad players behind, right?). The next year he would drop off dramatically, .069 ba and .064 obp, even take 30 less at bats. Yet his run total went up 10%. Why? He had career highs in power. 15 HR and 12 3B for a very un-ichiro like .133 ISOP. Richie Sexson adds some power behind him in the 4 spot (that’s a pretty big stretch from 1) but otherwise pretty much the same inept mariners offense.

        I think the correlation between guys ahead of you and RBI’s, as well as guys behind you and runs, is weaker than people make it out to be. Clearly there is some correlation but I think the analysis would show they’re not the best indicators. Both stats are probably best correlated with guys who hit lots of home runs. The thought of a top-10 HR hitter being anywhere near average run scorer or run producer is unimaginable to me (live ball era).

        • 50
          John Autin says:

          mosc, I don’t think Runs correlate so directly with HRs as you might expect.

          Here are the 27 guys with 30+ HRs last year:

          Rk AB R HR ▾ BA OBP SLG
          1 Miguel Cabrera 622 109 44 .330 .393 .606
          2 Curtis Granderson* 596 102 43 .232 .319 .492
          3 Josh Hamilton* 562 103 43 .285 .354 .577
          4 Edwin Encarnacion 542 93 42 .280 .384 .557
          5 Ryan Braun 598 108 41 .319 .391 .595
          6 Adam Dunn* 539 87 41 .204 .333 .468
          7 Giancarlo Stanton 449 75 37 .290 .361 .608
          8 Adrian Beltre 604 95 36 .321 .359 .561
          9 Josh Willingham 519 85 35 .260 .366 .524
          10 Jay Bruce* 560 89 34 .252 .327 .514
          11 Robinson Cano* 627 105 33 .313 .379 .550
          12 Chris Davis* 515 75 33 .270 .326 .501
          13 Adam LaRoche* 571 76 33 .271 .343 .510
          14 Carlos Beltran# 547 83 32 .269 .346 .495
          15 Ike Davis* 519 66 32 .227 .308 .462
          16 Adam Jones 648 103 32 .287 .334 .505
          17 Josh Reddick* 611 85 32 .242 .305 .463
          18 Alfonso Soriano 561 68 32 .262 .322 .499
          19 Mark Trumbo 544 66 32 .268 .317 .491
          20 Chase Headley# 604 95 31 .286 .376 .498
          21 Andrew McCutchen 593 107 31 .327 .400 .553
          22 Pedro Alvarez* 525 64 30 .244 .317 .467
          23 Prince Fielder* 581 83 30 .313 .412 .528
          24 Corey Hart 562 91 30 .270 .334 .507
          25 Jason Kubel* 506 75 30 .253 .327 .506
          26 Albert Pujols 607 85 30 .285 .343 .516
          27 Mike Trout 559 129 30 .326 .399 .564

          The group average: 34 HRs, 89 Runs. The average of the top 10 in HRs: 40 HRs, 95 Runs.

          • 51
            mosc says:

            JA, thanks for the post! I think you have to turn them into rate stats to see better what I’m talking about. I think the best correlation with runs would be at bats, but that’s kind of cheating. Obviously guys with low at bats are not going to be high in runs and guys with big at bat numbers are going to have measurably better runs. Because of that, you have to remove at bats from the equation before looking at correlation by converting everything into rate stats.

            Clearly there are other factors. Trout is faster than trumbo, hits earlier in the lineup, and is on base more.

          • 55
            John Autin says:

            mosc @51 — I took your suggestion and looked at HRs and Runs in terms of PAs.

            First, I took the top 60 qualifying seasons in HR rate for the last 5 years. These guys all homered at a rate of at least 35 HRs per 650 PAs.

            Then I calculated their collective HRs and Runs per 650 PAs.

            They averaged 39 HRs and 96 Runs per 650 PAs — less than 2.5 Runs per HR.

            For every Pujols, there’s a Dunn; he appears 4 times in this group, averaging 83 runs per 650 PAs.

            Just for fun, I also looked at the 60 highest qualifying OBPs of the last 5 years. Of course, there’s some overlap, but anyway … The high-OBP guys averaged a mere 28 HRs per 650 PAs (11 less than the top HR guys), but 97 Runs (1 more).

          • 57
            John Autin says:

            Further to my #55 — I looked at the same rates for 1958-62, 50 years before the first study period.

            I took the top 60 player-seasons in HR rate. (To get 60 players, I had to lower the rate threshold from 35 to 32 HRs per 650 PAs.)

            As a group, the top HR hitters of 1958-62 averaged 39 HRs — same as the recent group — but 101 Runs per 650 PAs, or +5 in comparison.

            The run environment for 1958-62 was a tiny bit lower than for 2008-12.

            It may be too small a sample to draw conclusions, but if it means anything, it may be that the top HR guys of the past were more likely to be the best all-around hitters and to hit in the top half of the lineup than are the recent guys.

            HRs in our day are more distributed throughout the lineup, and that affects the relationship between HRs and Runs. In 1960, 37% of all HRs came from the #3-4 spots in the order, and only 16% from the #7-8 spots. In 2010, those figures were 33% and 19%, respectively.

          • 62
            mosc says:

            So you think being among the league leaders in OBP is a better indication of runs scored than being among the league leaders in home runs? Your analysis seems to indicate they are similar, partly because quite a few players will be on both lists.

    • 52
      Mike L says:

      Thought this was interesting, and old BR Blog post


      take a look at Brook Jacoby, Rick Wilkins, and Larry Parrish

      • 53
        John Autin says:

        Larry Parrish was hitting 7th for those ’79 Expos, who had a very balanced attack — 86+ RBI from #3 through #7 in the order. The team had a below-average OBP, but high power. All in all, Parrish did well to get 82 RBI. Their production from the #7 spot was easily the best in the league, across the board — RBI, Runs, HRs, everything. And Parrish hit very well with RISP. There just weren’t man RBI chances left after the high-power, mediocre-OBP #5-6 hitters were done.

      • 54
        John Autin says:

        Jacoby hit anywhere from 4th to 8th, mainly 6th-7th. But he hit his best out of the 8 hole — ludicrous rates, a .397 BA and 11 HRs in 73 ABs … producing just 18 RBI. That was a ridiculously inefficient offense — 187 HRs, but 70% of them with nobody aboard. And of course, our old friend was hitting cleanup, with his 32 HRs and .304 OBP.

        • 56
          Mike L says:

          What a bizarre trade Atlanta made: Jacoby and Brett Butler for Len Barker. Barker was shot by the time he got to Atlanta, Butler produced 44 career WAR after the trade, and Jacoby was a two time all star and a solid player

          • 58
            John Autin says:

            Braves made that trade — Barker for players to be named later — on August 28, 1983, as their once-large division lead was almost all gone. Butler, 26 at the time, had just completed his first full season, with so-so results. He had been a 23rd-round draft pick.

            Jacoby was more highly regarded, I think, but even he took another full year to blossom.

            Atlanta did need a SP, and Barker was a 27-year-old who’d won 2 strikeout titles in the previous 3 years.

            I’m just trying to put it in context, not defending it. When you look at Butler’s minor-league stats — career .338 BA and .461 OBP — you wonder why the Braves didn’t have more faith, even after his poor first trial in ’82. But in those days, there was less belief in the correlation of minors-to-majors performance.

          • 59
            John Autin says:

            On a tangent … Out of 74 players with 300+ steals in the expansion era, Brett Butler’s 68% success rate is next-to-last — and it’s by far the lowest of the 16 guys with 500 SB in this era. (Next-worst is 75% by Juan Pierre.)

          • 60
            Ed says:

            Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders (which I perused online) provides some details of the Barker trade, though ironically it’s pretty clear that at least some of what Neyer says isn’t true.

            Neyer says that the identity of the three players traded to Cleveland – Butler, Jacoby and Rick Behenna – was supposed to be a secret because all three were major leaguers and the Braves would be keeping them till the end of the season. (Jacoby wasn’t in the majors at the time of the trade and Behanna wasn’t kept by the Braves till the end of the season). Anyway, Neyer says that the identity of the three players was leaked and that petitions began to circulate around Atlanta asking the Braves to substitute someone else for Butler. Obviously the petitions weren’t successful.

          • 61
            Nick Pain says:

            Butler is one of just four players to have a season of 100+ runs, 100+ BB’s, and 25+ CS. The other three are Rickey (twice), Cobb, and Eddie Collins. Cobb and Rickey had over 90 SB’s also; Collins and Butler under 50. Also, Butler was 34 at the time, the others were 28 or younger.

  14. 63
    Lawrence Azrin says:

    #61 – If “caught stealing” stats were kept further back in MLB history, I am sure there would’ve been more players and seasons added to your club of 100+ runs, 100+ BB’s, and 25+ CS. A prolific base stealer such as Billy Hamilton probably got caught stealing a number of times.

    Pre-1920 in MLB, there were only seven seasons of caught stealing being recorded, and in all seven the leader had more than 25 CS. Plus, there was 1926 – 1950 in the NL (though no one in the AL had more than 23 CS those years).

    • 64
      Nick Pain says:

      Good point Lawrence. On the other hand, according to the PI, there were only 59 seasons of 100+ BB’s 1920 or earlier, though almost half of them had at least 35 SB’s. There certainly would have been some additions to the previous list. You mentioned “Sliding” Billy Hamilton, whose ridiculous 1894 season I’m sure would qualify. I mean, c’mon, those are video game numbers.

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