Quiz – Curious Connection (solved)

These batters are connected by dint of a certain career batting accomplishment that only they have achieved since 1946. What is it?

  1. Joe Medwick
  2. Bob Elliott
  3. Del Ennis
  4. Stan Musial
  5. Joe Adcock
  6. Dick Groat
  7. Hank Aaron
  8. Dave Winfield
  9. Eddie Murray

Hint: Derek Jeter could be the next player to make this list.

Congratulations to RJ! He correctly identified that these are the only players since 1946 who were active leaders in career GIDP without leading the majors in that category in any season. More after the jump.

Since GIDP were consistently recorded starting in 1933, these are the active career leaders in GIDP, showing also when each was the seasonal major-league leader.

Career Season
Ernie Lombardi 1933-47 1933-34, 1938
Joe Medwick 1948 none
Bobby Doerr 1949-51 1947, 1949
Bob Elliott 1952-53 none
Sid Gordon 1954-55 1951
George Kell 1956 1944
Del Ennis 1957-58 none
Stan Musial 1959-63 none
Joe Adcock 1964-66 none
Dick Groat 1967 none
Hank Aaron 1968-76 none
Brooks Robinson 1977 1961
Carl Yastrzemski 1978-83 1962, 1964
Rusty Staub 1984-85 1977
Ted Simmons 1986 1973
Jim Rice 1987-89 1982-85
Dave Winfield 1990-95 none
Eddie Murray 1996-97 none
Cal Ripken 1998-2001 1996
Julio Franco 2002-07 1986, 1989
Ivan Rodriguez 2008-11 1999
Miguel Tejada 2012-13 2006, 2008-09

Derek Jeter, who has never had a season leading the majors in GIDP, currently ranks 3rd in career GIDP among active players, but is only 5 behind Miguel Tejada and only three behind previous seasonal leader Paul Konerko. If he stays healthy, I would expect Jeter to play considerably more than either of the players ahead of him, so he could well be on this list by season’s end.

37 thoughts on “Quiz – Curious Connection (solved)

  1. 1
    Steven says:

    A base hit in their final ML at-bat?

  2. 3
    John Autin says:

    “achieved since 1946” — Since Medwick only played through 1948, am I right to conclude that your cutoff takes in only the year in which they reached some final total(s), rather than the entire period during which those were amassed?

    • 5
      Doug says:

      The cutoff refers to the time the career achievement occurred.

      But, the career achievement includes a player’s entire career, not just the portion after 1946.

  3. 4
    John Autin says:

    Clusters of games played, probably means nothing: 4 guys with 2,900+ games, and 5 with 1,900 but less than 2,000. And Jeter in between with 2,602. I’m flailing.

  4. 7
    Richard Chester says:

    Does it have anything to do with not receiving many BB?

  5. 9
    bstar says:

    I can’t get anywhere on the quiz, but two interesting things about one of the quiz players, Bob Elliott.

    His total of 131 walks in 1948 is the highest seasonal total for any player who only had one season over 100 walks without having another (his second-best BB total was 90).

    Also: I never would have guessed him, but Bob Elliott led the National League in hits (1563) during the 1940s.

    • 10
      Doug says:

      And RBI too, by a healthy margin (8% more than 2nd place Bill Nicholson, 19% more than 3rd place Dixie Walker).

    • 12
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      The 1940s as a decade have some unexpected leaders in almost every category, since a lot of the best players, such as DiMaggio, Williams, Mize, missed three full years (1943-45) due to WWII. Several missed _more_ than three years (Feller, Greenberg).

      Rogers Hornsby (2085/20s) and Pete Rose (2045/70s) are the only two to have 2000+ hits in a specific decade.

      • 13
        Richard Chester says:

        Elliott and Marty Marion are the only 2 players with 100+ games played in each of the 10 years of the 40s. Elliot had the most total games played for both leagues with 1455.

      • 29
        bstar says:

        LA: Ichiro had 2030 hits in the 2000s. And he only played nine of the ten years in that decade (2001-2009).

        I thought I knew everything about my boy Dale Murphy, but I don’t recall knowing he led the NL in hits in the ’80s. Murph’s total of 1553 is the lowest decade-leading total for either league since Jake Daubert paced the NL in the 1910s with 1535 hits.

  6. 11
    RJ says:

    Anything to do with grounding into lots of double plays?

  7. 15
    Luis Gomez says:

    Is it when they became the all time leaders in GIDP?

  8. 18
    Mike L says:

    Doug, why 1946 instead of 1948, and boy, that Ernie Lombardi could really fly….

    • 19
      Doug says:

      No reason other than post-WWII is a convenient cutoff point.

      If I use 1901 or 1920 or 1946 or 1961, those are natural cutoff points that people recognize, which is better (I think) than picking another year that will get people wondering “Why then?”

  9. 20
    John Autin says:

    Durn. Thought I had something, along the lines of, these guys were the active GIDP leader without ever having more than 25 in a season, whereas all the other active leaders had a season of 26+.

    But Winfield had one year of 30.

  10. 22
    Luis Gomez says:

    They were the all time leaders in GDIP without leading his league in any season.

  11. 23
    RJ says:

    I think have it. They were all the active leaders without ever leading the MAJORS in a single season (something that doesn’t show up easily on the player page).

  12. 26
    RJ says:

    On the subject of Joe Medwick, I suspect his leading the league in 12 categories in 1937 is a MLB record. I found three others who tie him: Rogers Hornsby (1921), Stan Musial (1946) and Ted Williams (1949). (There is Ross Barnes with 14 categories in 1873 in the National Association.) Medwick’s achievement stands out as unusual though, given the paucity of black ink throughout the rest of his career.

    • 28
      Richard Chester says:

      If you count Caught Stealing, Snuffy Stirnweiss led the AL in 12 categories in 1945.

      • 30
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Snuffy’s 18.3 WAR for his first three seasons is 7th all-time.

        23.6 Ted Williams
        20.8 Mike Trout
        20.7 Albert Pujols
        20.0 Even Longoria
        19.0 Paul Waner
        18.4 Eddie Mathews

        Only Trout had less PA
        (by a lot)

        • 31
          RJ says:

          I was wondering what to make of Stirnweiss’ impressive start to his career, coming as it did during the war years of 1944-45. The following article seems to think that he was the real deal during those seasons, even adjusting for the quality of competition:

          http://www.hardballtimes.com/snuffy-stirnweiss/

          • 34
            John Autin says:

            I’ll need a lot of selling on Stirnweiss, although I haven’t read the article yet.

            Two things stand out to me:

            1) He was an ordinary hitter in his last two years at Newark, age 22-23. This was 1941-42, before the big wave of players going in the service. He did swipe an amazing 73 bags in 1942, but in batting, he was nowhere near the leaders in important stats.

            2) In his two big MLB seasons, 1944-45, he was an outstanding hitter — but far more successful against the weaker teams.

            For those two years combined, out of 51 players with 500 PAs against sub-.500 teams, he had the 2nd-biggest BA edge (compared to overall stats) and the 3rd-biggest OPS edge.

            Detroit had the AL’s best pitching in those years. Stirnweiss hit .265/.768 against them, compared to .314/.855 overall. The Browns were #2 in pitching those two years; his OPS was .111 less against them than overall.

            And of course, his batting fell off dramatically as soon as the boys came home. He was still a good hitter for a shortstop, but below average overall.

            I think there’s a lot of evidence that he fattened up on sub-MLB-caliber pitching.

          • 35
            bstar says:

            The article isn’t that convincing, John. (IMHO)

          • 37
            John Autin says:

            I think that H.T. article on Stirnweiss used a fatally flawed method.

            He shows that Snuffy’s drop-off from 1943-45 to 1946-47 was vastly greater than that of a control group, and concludes that Snuffy’s decline was thus more suggestive of “a genuinely huge peak and sudden decline that just happened to coincide with the war and its end,” rather than just feasting on weak competition.

            In fact, very few hitting stars at 25-26 have a steep and permanent decline thereafter, absent an injury. But that’s the least of the study’s problems.

            The control group was “the 18 players who were actively performing as offensive stars all through the period–at least one outstanding full season in 1941-42, and in 1943-45, and in 1946-47.”

            By definition, that group is profoundly different from Stirnweiss, who was not a star either before or after the war. So how can their performance illuminate his?

            Although I haven’t studied the question, I would not be surprised to find that the greatest percentage gains from the lowered wartime talent level were reaped by the more ordinary players, rather than by stars.

            There are other little issues in the control group. For instance, Stan Musial: The method compares Musial’s OPS+ for 1943-44 (Stan missed ’45) against what he did in 1941-42 and 1946-47. Indeed, Musial’s wartime spike is much less than Snuffy’s.

            But in 1941-42, Musial was strictly platooned. He did not hit southpaws well at that point, and he faced very few of them. That artificially inflates his OPS+. In subsequent years, he was not platooned. Thus, his true improvement in batting numbers for 1943-44 is greater than what’s shown by OPS+.

            Then, for 1946-47, his OPS+ was only slightly down from wartime. But now we’re comparing ages 25-26 against 22-23. His natural growth curve mitigates the effect of stronger competition.

            Sure, that’s only one of 18 players. But without controlling for age, the study is bound to be affected by the very nature of who was and wasn’t taken by the service. The batting stars of 1944-45 were far older, on average, than a typical period. So their gains from the drop in talent would be mitigated by their own ageing curve.

            I’m afraid I still see Stirnweiss as a solid MLB player whom wartime made look like a star.

        • 32
          Richard Chester says:

          The first game I remember seeing occurred in 1947. I remember nothing about the game but I do recall an event which took place before the game. There was a 60-yard dash between Stirnweiss (who was probably the fastest runner in the AL after George Case) and footballer Buddy Young. Young was a star halfback for the University of Illinois and later starred in the All-America Football Conference and the NFL. At 5-foot-4 he was one of the smallest players. Of course Young won, he was the current world record holder for the distance. He got $500 for the effort.

          Stirnweiss led the ML in stolen bases in 1944-1945 with 88. Going into the final day of the 1945 season he was trailing Tony Cuccinello for the batting title, .306 to .308457. Cooch’s double-header was rained out so his average remained frozen. Stirnweiss was 3 for 5 in his final game raising his BA to.308544, giving him the title by the smallest margin ever. The official scorer helped him by changing a ruling from an error to a hit. Stirnweiss thus became the only batting champ to lead the league in hitting on only the last day of the season.

        • 33
          Voomo Zanzibar says:

          Almost identical spread for pitchers:

          22.0 Dwight Gooden
          21.7 Vean Gregg
          21.6 Pete Alexander
          21.0 Tom Seaver
          19.1 Ted Higuera
          18.8 Eddie Rommel
          18.6 Curt Davis
          18.3 Eddie Plank and Tommy Thomas
          __________

          Gregg and Alexander did that in the same years 1911-1913.

          For the rest of their careers:

          3.1 Gregg
          95.4 Grover

  13. 36
    jajacob says:

    Quick scan of Konerko reveals he has the most PA’s with less than 10 SB and Triples. The next one has only 5939 PA’s.

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