Visual Trivia

I don’t know if this will work, but lets try.
The following graph represents a unique career statistic.

Which player? Which Stat? and What makes it  unique?

Visual Quiz



Congrats to Josh who identified the stat and Ed who identified the player as Hal Lee.  Lee is the only player since 1916 with at least 2500 PA with at least 50% coming from the 6th slot in the batting order.


Visual Trivia — 57 Comments

    • HA! The first reaction I had was Francisco Llariano average number of innings per game without a walk. Or David Cassidy’s career. Both may amuse only me

    • well, if we’re looking for somebody with 9 years of MVP win shares without actually winning the thing it can’t be that long a list. Rivera has 9 years with MVP votes but never got near 60%.

    • I tried Boggs as well, who was last on the top 200 list for career MVP win shares (meaning 200th). He’s also got the 9 years and his 1.2 total looks close (although probably high), but he peaked at 41%

    • Let me rephrase.
      The number of data points is extremely significant.
      The scale is a significant aspect and approximating the sum of the values may start to point you in the right direction.

      • So they add up to 1.00… that means we’re looking at a 9 year career which had about 63% of something’s total career accumulation in one year?

    • There are 9 data points and the sum of the y-values looks like it equals 1.0. It could be the proportion of a counting stat on an inning-by-inning basis. How does that sound?

  1. The inning in which a starting pitcher was removed in 2012 or the inning in which the first drunk on-field streaker is tased in Citizens Bank Park.

  2. @13 @14

    The following graph represents a unique career statistic.

    Which player? Which Stat? and What makes it unique?

    Those don’t meet the criteria.

    It is not related to innings. If it was there would have to be at least one more point for extra-innings.

  3. Position in the batting order. I think we are looking for someone who hit 6th about 63% of the time, making him likely a good hitter, but on a loaded team. I’ll guess it is someone like Yogi.

    • Hey, Josh and oneblankspace:

      Yogi batted mostly fifth early in his career and cleanup behind Mickey in the Fifties, hardly ever batted sixth. Why would you bat him sixth?

      • It wasn’t whether I would have batted him sixth, I was just brainstorming on my commute home for someone who would have been good enough to be a middle of the order bat but maybe the 3rd or 4th best hitter on the team and not be someone who would be at the top of the order. Obviously, the logic failed as I was way off.

        • One of the more irritating thing about advanced stats is how they make it too easy to pass judgment on the performance of players the stat hunter is not very familiar with. Which catcher finished in the top ten in his league the most times in HR and RBI? Bench? No. Piazza? No. Carter? No. Fisk? No way. Berra? Yep.

          In other words, playing against his contemporaries, and he couldn’t play against anyone else’s, he outperformed all these more recent backstoppers in two essential batting categories, and no one prior to him, Cochrane, Hartnett, Dickey, or his NL contemporary Campanella, comes close.

          • I’m not sure I understand your point. I never questioned whether Berra was a great hitter or not. But the guy also probably played with a lot more great players than most people (or at least players having great seasons), playing with guys like Mantle, Maris, DiMaggio. In his time with the Yankees, he won 3 MVPs, but also played with 8 (Mantle 3, Maris 2, DiMaggio 1, Rizzuto 1, Howard 1), so there were a lot of times he may have been the 3rd, 4th or 5th best hitter on the team. Also, Fangraphs has his as the 5th best C in terms of WAR, behind Bench (better D), Fisk (played much longer), I-Rod (better D), and Carter. It is no shame to be behind those guys.

          • Why top ten NSB? For example, Bench led the league in homeruns or RBIs a combined 5 times. Berra never led the league in either category.

          • Incidentally, “top-10-in-league” comparisons are always skewed towards pre-expansion players. Bench and Carter played in a 12-team league; Fisk 12-14 teams; Piazza 14-16 teams.

            All of Yogi’s “top 10” rankings came in an 8-team league. Which is not intended to denigrate him at all; it’s just a fact.

            Yogi was a great hitting catcher. I don’t think he was the equal of Piazza or Bench.

          • Replies:

            Josh—My point had nothing to do with yours, actually. I just stuck it in this thread at this point as a follow up to my previous comment.

            Ed and JA—I wasn’t trying to overvalue Yogi; I was simply suggesting that he was actually a force to be contended with in his time, something that seems to be unclear anymore to too many people. Batting cleanup on the most successful pennant run of them all while playing behind the plate at a superior level is meaningful generally and specifically, even if it was done by a short squat ugly-looking guy who mangled the language.

            JA: I get your point about the top ten comparison, re pre and post expansion. No way to adjust that absolutely, but if we make a guess that finishing fourth in an eight team league means finishing about sixth in a 12 team league, Berra comes out with eight top ten finishes in both categories, a drop of one in each, which would put him one ahead of Bench both ways. Carter had seven in HR, six in RBI. Piazza had 7 and 5. Fisk 3 and 2. No question Bench was the best at peak, with his five league leading totals.

          • During Berra’s early years, 1947 to 1958, the Yankees won 10 pennants in 12 years. Credit for that success is usually attributed to DiMaggio, Mantle, Rizzuto, Raschi, Reynolds, Lopat, Ford and Berra. However there were other teams in the AL who had outstanding outfielders, shortstops and pitchers. The one position that separated the Yankees from the others was behind the plate. Berra was far and away the best of the catchers, giving the Yankees a strength where every other AL team was weak. His stats show him to be light years ahead of all the other catchers. He had more HR, R, and HR than the next two catchers combined. I have my doubts about WAR but nevertheless his WAR is more than that of the next 4 catchers combined.

          • Bench also led the entire decade of the ’70s in RBI. That’s just such a headscratching stat…has another catcher ever even approached leading a decade in any major offensive category?

            Yes, yes, I know, he played on great teams and played a lot of games at other positions. Still…

          • Reply to #30: Catchers who made the top 10 for a decade were Berra in the 50s with a third place finish and Bill Dickey in the 1930s with a ninth place finish.

          • Thanks, RC, I just saw that about Yogi, too. In fact, he was only 30 RBI or so away from also leading his decade in runs batted in. Only Hodges and Snider bested him in the ’50s.

            I’ve got to admit, now that I look at it further Berra’s accomplishment may be a tad more impressive than Bench’s because almost all of Yogi’s games in the ’50s were as a catcher. Bench at least got some “days off” from catching by playing in the outfield or at first every fifth day.

          • Let’s have a snarky comment:

            Yogi falls far behind Bench in one department, wives, having been married to his one and only for 64 years and counting. Johnny is on #4 and counting.

            Does this matter? If life is more than baseball it does a little, at least.

          • bstar @33 — Yogi did have about 500 more defensive innings behind the plate in the ’50s than Bench had in the ’70s. He really was even more of an iron man back there than Bench, which is saying something.

            But cutting to the chase:

            – Bench had 89% of his RBI and 90% of his HRs in the ’70s as a catcher.

            – Yogi had 90% of his RBI and 89% of his HRs in the ’50s as a catcher.

            – As a catcher, Bench had 2 more RBI and 32 more HRs in his decade.

            So, in my eyes, what with competing in a 12-team league, Bench’s “round-decade” RBI crown is still more impressive than Yogi’s near-crown.

            P.S To say that Bench “played in the outfield or at first every fifth day” overstates his time spent facing the “right” way. Bench had 88% of his PAs in the ’70s while catching.

          • Richard @29 — I’m 100% for giving Yogi a big slice of the credit for those 10 Yankee pennants from 1947-58. And the dearth of other good AL catchers in that period is quite interesting.

            Still … To say that other AL teams had outstanding outfielders really glosses over the dominance of Mickey Mantle, no?

            Mantle had 4 of the top 9 AL WAR seasons in that period and was 2nd in total AL WAR (with 12 more than Berra) — even though he only played in 8 of the 12 seasons.

            In those 8 seasons, the difference between Mantle and the next-best AL player at any position — one Ted Williams — was over 2 WAR per year.

          • Reply to #37: I did mean to imply that there were other outfielders better than Mantle, just excellent outfielders in general.

          • @36 John A – I have to disagree that Berra was more of an iron man than Bench. By starting Bench’s clock at 1970, you’ve cut out ’68 and ’69, the years Bench caught the most. If instead you compare Bench’s 10 year peak of 68-77 to Berra’s peak of 50-59, Bench actually caught more innings (11405 to 11280). Granted, Bench had the advantage of playing when there were 8 more games a year. If you adjust for that then Berra probably has an advantage, but it’s a slight one at best.

            11405 11280

          • Continuation of #39:

            Whoops,I did it again. It should read “I did not mean to imply…”

          • Ed @40 — I agree with you. I was simply accepting the premise of comparing them in a given round decade, and was addressing only those decades.

          • I can’t shut up today.

            As to there being a dearth of good AL catchers in the fifties, that wasn’t so apparent at the time. 1) There was still a hangover of the view that catching wasn’t a hitting position, so Jim Hegan got a lot of press for handling the monster Cleveland rotations—Feller, Lemon, Wynn, Garcia, Score, with Mossi and Narleski in the bullpen. 2) Sherm Lollar actually had a pretty fair career. 3) Clint Courtney was impossible not to like. He wore glasses under the mask, but was so tough and pugnacious that he had two nicknames, Scrap Iron and the Toy Bulldog.

            As to the outfielder question, Mantle and anybody else, Minnie Minoso is the name that comes to my mind, not Ted Williams, as the closest full-time competitor decade long, although he wasn’t particularly into home runs. 1952-55 Williams started only 238 games, 109 in 1956. Kaline, of course for the last half of the Fifties.

            if you asked Jim Piersall who was the best he would probably have suggested that a guy with the initials J.P. might be in the running. In fact, he did suggest it in a post-game interview with Jack Brickhouse once.

          • One way to look at dominance in a position is to measure how long a player was the career leader in a stat.

            Looking at WAR, here’s how it goes for catchers.

            John Clapp........1883-1884.. 2 years
            Charlie Bennett...1885-1913..29 years
            Roger Bresnahan...1914-1927..14 years
            Wally Schang......1928-1933.. 6 years
            Mickey Cochrane...1934-1938.. 5 years
            Gabby Hartnett....1939-1942.. 4 years
            Bill Dickey.......1943-1959..17 years
            Yogi Berra........1960-1976..17 years
            Johnny Bench......1977-????..36+ years

            Currently, the WAR leader among active catchers is Joe Mauer at 37 WAR, a bit over half of Bench’s 72.3 total. Would seem Johnny is destined to hold his crown for quite a few more years to come.

          • @36 JA
            It looks like I was fooled by the amount of games played at a position other than catcher by Bench in the early seventies without realizing that a lot of those games he may have just pinch-hit and played an inning or two non-squatting instead of full starts out there. I’ll have to look at it again.

            I HAD spent the night pondering some of nsb’s thoughts that Yogi may have been Bench’s equal.

            Also, the raw totals of RBI for these two catchers in those two different decades were almost identical: Yogi 997, Bench 1013 if memory serves. Both are really impressive accomplishments.

            The ’70s title belonging to Bench has fascinated me since I first heard it. I think Reggie Jackson would be the best guess, and then you probably consider Stargell and Tony Perez. Winfield, Schmidt, George Foster (three straight RBI crowns) got started too late to compete.

            I just think if you stopped people on the street, and talked to some pretty hardcore fans out there, they would bypass Bench for consideration as the leader for the ’70s since he was a catcher. It really underscores how team-dependent the stat really is, I suppose (Big Red Machinist Tony Perez was second).

            Thanks for pointing out the facts you did, though!

          • One more comment re: Bench. He led his league in both HR and RBI for two separate years. Has any other catcher in MLB history led his league in both categories even once? It doesn’t appear so.

            Bench also owns the single-seasons RBI record for catchers with his 148 total in 1970. Roy Campanella had 142 in 90 fewer at-bats in ’53.

          • Looks like Bench is the only catcher to ever lead the league in homeruns. And the only other catchers to lead the league in RBIs are Campanella, Gary Carter and Daulton. (I’m not familiar with some of the pre-1920 names so I may have missed someone).

          • Carter and Daulton did it once, but Bench led his league in RBI three times (’70, ’72, ’74). In fact, Bench led all of baseball in RBI those three years.

          • #25/Josh,

            Yogi Berra the 5th best catcher ever? I’m not buying it – almost every single serious ranking I’ve seen has either Bench or Berra at #1,and the other one at #2.

            Granted, commonly accepted MLB positional ratings can sometimes be quite wrong – witness Pie Traynor as the best third baseman 40-50-60 years ago, and George Sisler’s high ranking at first, behind just Gehrig/Foxx until 25/30 years ago.

            As for his ranking as a hitter with the Yankees – all-time greats DiMaggio or Mantle were on the team the _entire time_ Berra was, so it’s no disgrace being 3rd-best on the team.

            As for the other catchers ranked ahead of Berra,I do not worship solely at the alter of WAR, so I will not reference it in my discussion below:

            -BENCH: I’ll give you him, though there are compelling arguments for Berra over Bench (consistency, durability)

            -FISK: as with Bench above, I think you’re underestimating the value of durability and consistentcy. Fisk missed large chunks of seasons a number of times (six seasons of less than 105 games through ago 40), and also had several off-years.

            Berra had over a decade (1948-1959) where he was both durable and excellent (never less than 119 games played or a 109 OPS+). He got MVPvotes every one of those years.

            -I-ROD: Berra was a slightly better hitter, and I don’t give I-Rod a big advantage in defense – while he was unquestionably great at throwing out base-stealers, there’s a lot more to defense than that,and I-Rod wasn’t that outstanding at the other stuff.There were more than a few pitchers over his career who prefered that someone else catch him.

            -CARTER – pretty close to Berra, but I think Berra was more consistently excellent and had a longer peak than Carter

            I don’t have more statistical evidence because B-R stopped working for me halfway through this.

      • I said a catcher who is not Yogi. My comment was made after Raphy said it was not Yogi; trying to think of a position good enough to get 2500 PA but not (often) rise higher than 6th, catcher came to mind. As it turns out, it was a left fielder.

  4. Some interesting stuff re: batting order:

    1) Charlie Grimm has the most career PAs for both the 6th and the 7th spot!
    2) Harry Heilmann has the most PAs in the 5th spot and it’s not even close. Heilmann batted fifth 5,493 times; Ernie Banks is second with 4,068.
    3) Active players don’t appear anywhere near the top of the leaderboard for positions 4-9. Here’s the highest ranking for each of those positions by an active player:

    4th: Carlos Lee (38th)
    5th: Torii Hunter (51st)
    6th: Pierzynski (44th)
    7th: Alex Gonzalez (67th)
    8th: Henry Blanco (56th)
    9th: Brandon Inge (36th)

  5. “Twinkletoes!”

    Of all the batters with 1,000 (searchable) PAs in the 6th spot, George Selkirk has the highest tOPS+ (i.e., ratio of OPS in that spot to career OPS).

    Selkirk, an excellent hitter from 1934-40, batted .326/1.022 when hitting 6th (which he did in 1/3 of his career PAs), compared to .290/.883 overall, for a 131 tOPS+.

    In any given year, he never batted 6th more than 68% of his PAs, but he almost always hit better there.

    In 1939, Selkirk (148 OPS+), DiMaggio (184) and Keller (143) formed one of 6 outfields in modern history that all had OPS+ at least 140 and 400+ PAs.

    In 1937, Selkirk was having a career year through June — .347/1.135, with 17 HRs and 54 RBI in 53 games — when he broke his collarbone in Shibe Park and was out for 5 weeks. He still managed to lead the team in Runs & RBI during the WS win.

    The ’37 Yankee lineup was unusually stratified: 5 regulars had OPS+ ranging from 69 to 96, all with 400+ PAs (including wretched leadoff man Crosetti) — but they still led the majors at 6.2 runs per game. The other 5 regulars — full-timers Gehrig, DiMag and Dickey, plus half-time OFs Selkirk and Henrich — all had OPS+ over 140.

  6. Taking a slight tangent, looking at the stats of an all-time great like Berra really puts into perspective how great of a season Buster Posey had last year. Posey’s triple slash line of .336/.408/.549 was better than Berra’s best on every count, and Berra only once hit more total bases than Posey’s 291. All this while playing in the league’s worst park for hitters. Only 8 more World Series titles and 13 years of sustained excellence to go!

  7. On a Yankee tangent … I’ve finally gotten around to reading “Pinstripe Empire.” Only 1/3 of the way through, but man, what a great job by Marty Appel.

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