Quiz – 1982 (solved)
Since I hit you with such a nasty quiz yesterday, here’s one I think will be easier.
Below are the 1982 season lines for 3 players. They are the only players from that season with a particular season batting accomplishment that can be described by (some of) the common batting totals shown. What is this seasonal batting feat?
Hint: among expansion-era players (seasons since 1961), the same feat was accomplished only 3 times before 1982, and also only 3 times after 1982, all by different players.
Congratulations to Bix! He identified the players in the quiz as those with a lot of sacrifice bunts, despite having a bit of pop in their bats – a rare combination indeed in the modern game. It wasn’t always thus – more after the jump.
Here are the seasons since 1961 for players with 5+ SF, SH at least 3 x SF, and more HR than SF.
Roy Smalley’s 1978 season is tied for the second most HR for a live-ball season with more SH than HR. The only season with more was Rogers Horsnby with 21 HR and 25 SH in 1928.
To generalize further, there have been just 76 seasons since 1961 with 5+ HR and 15+ SH. That compares to 417 such seasons from 1920 to 1960. Here’s the breakout by decade.
- 1920-29 – 277
- 1930-39 – 86
- 1940-49 – 29
- 1950-59 – 25
- 1960-69 – 9
- 1970-79 – 24
- 1980-89 – 16
- 1990-99 – 12
- 2000-09 – 13
- 2010-13 – 2
Evidently, old habits die hard with dead-ball tactics persisting into the early days of the live-ball era. Similarly, those same tactics failed to return immediately in the run-starved late 1960s, but did make a muted comeback (if you can call it that) in the following decade.
Overall, the trend is probably what you would want to see – giving up an out for a base should be a tactic practiced with great discretion, not something you would want Babe Ruth doing 21 times, as happened in the 1930 season. Still, one wonders whether it might be better to make greater use of the tactic in true one-run situations like tied in the 9th and extras or even, perish the thought, tied in the 8th. What say you?
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