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.

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64 Comments on "Quiz – Enigmatic Hitters"

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Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

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

John Autin
Editor

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?

Doug
Guest

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

Richard Chester
Guest

And fewer than 100 runs scored.

Richard Chester
Guest

With 502 or more PA.

John Autin
Editor

Richard gets the RBI! 🙂

Richard Chester
Guest

John: You really made it easy for me.

John Autin
Editor

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.

John Autin
Editor

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%.

John Autin
Editor

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.

e pluribus munu
Guest

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.

John Autin
Editor

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

Doug
Guest

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.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

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).

Doug
Guest
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… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

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.

John Autin
Editor

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.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Tim Raines scored “only”
91
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
89
times in the same lineup while getting on base 50 fewer times, and going 36/15 as a thief.

Artie Z.
Guest
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… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
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… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

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

Jimbo
Guest

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

Hartvig
Guest
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… Read more »
Doug
Guest

John/Richard,

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

Richard Chester
Guest

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.

e pluribus munu
Guest

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

e pluribus munu
Guest
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,… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest

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?

e pluribus munu
Guest

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.

Doug
Guest

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.

e pluribus munu
Guest

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.

mosc
Guest

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.

Richard Chester
Guest

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.

mosc
Guest
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… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
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… Read more »
mosc
Guest
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… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
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… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
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,… Read more »
mosc
Guest

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.

Mike L
Guest

Thought this was interesting, and old BR Blog post

http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/865

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

John Autin
Editor

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.

John Autin
Editor

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.

Mike L
Guest

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

John Autin
Editor
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… Read more »
John Autin
Editor

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.)

Ed
Guest
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… Read more »
Nick Pain
Guest

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.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

#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).

Nick Pain
Guest

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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