Thanks to Richard Chester for providing this fun assortment of odd statistical facts.
In recent weeks there have been several articles posted by Doug and Dr. Doom which have been very deep and thought-provoking. As a change of pace I have decided to submit an article which is not as mentally challenging and somewhat fun (I post regularly on Twitter, so you may have seen some of these items there). Many of these facts have probably never been seen anywhere else, and you may get a kick out of some of them. All stats are for the searchable era.
Notable are the high incidence of one-run scores among the most common game scores. The proportion of games decided by one run is illustrated below together with runs per team game (a spreadsheet with these data is available for download here).
The two data series tend to move in opposite directions, with 1 run games declining when scoring is up, and increasing when runs are harder to come by. It’s notable, however, that in the similar offensive environments of the 1920s to early 1930s and the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, the percentage of 1-run games was noticeably higher (in relative terms) in the earlier period. My hunch is this would be attributable to more home runs being hit in the latter period and the propensity for the long ball to break open close games.
As would be expected, the most unusual number of runs scoring in a single half inning are the highest totals, illustrated below for seasons through 2017.
- The Red Sox are the latest team to score 11 times in an inning, squishing the Fish on August 29th this season.
- On July 31st this season, the Mets scored exactly 3 runs in each of 4 consecutive innings in their 25-4 romp over the Nats. That’s happened only five other times since 1908: by the Yankees on 6-25-30 and 6-30-30; the Dodgers on 8-15-53; the Cards on 8-27-78; and the Red Sox on 6-30-93.
- On June 30 this season, the Red Sox beat the Yankees 11-0, and the next night, the Yanks returned the favor, leading 11-0 after 8 innings of an 11-1 rout. Had New York held onto that 11-0 lead, it actually would not have been the first time that teams had exchanged wins in consecutive games with that score – the Brewers and Reds did so in 2006, on April 22nd and 23rd.
- Perhaps the most bizarre extra-inning line score was this game between the Mariners and White Sox on June 5th, 2013. Scoreless through 13 frames, both teams put up a 5-spot in the 14th before the visiting ChiSox won it with a pair in the 16th.
- On July 17th, 1918 the Cubs defeated the Phils 2-1, scoring singleton runs in the first and 21st innings. The Cubs’ 19 consecutive goose-eggs is the longest streak in a game in which a team scored all of its runs in the first and last innings of a game.
- Looks to me like the Yankees-Twins 2017 wild card game was the first in post-season history with a 3-3 score after one inning.
- 2017 WS game 7 was the 4th WS game with a 5-0 score starting the bottom of the second inning.
- Largest margin of victory on Opening Day was 18 runs as the Yankees defeated the Senators 19-1 on April 13th, 1955, a game that I attended.
Players with a qualifying season in every season played (entire career since 1901). Minimum of 10 seasons.
- 15 seasons – Jake Daubert
- 13 seasons – Bob Johnson, Del Pratt
- 12 seasons – Kirby Puckett
- 11 seasons – Bob Meusel, Wid Conroy
Only Puckett and Johnson from the above list met the modern qualifying standard in each season of 3.1 PA per team game. Going into 2018, Robinson Cano had 13 such seasons but after this year he drops off the list.
Most consecutive seasons with 150+ games played.
The other Billy Williams was also quite the iron man, playing at least 85 games in all 18 of his minor league seasons, including 100+ games 15 times. His only major league service came in the last of those seasons, at age 37.
Tale of the Tape
- Since 1901 there have been 167 players 5’6″ or shorter. 154 of them began their careers before 1959.
- In 1901 25% of all ML players were at least 6 feet tall. In 2017 that percentage was 85%.
- The first really big man with a notable career, Frank Howard launched 10 blasts in only 20 AB during a 6 game home run steak from 5-12-68 to 5-18-68.
Some cool stats about Johnny Sain.
- In 1946, as a batter, he had 0 SO in 104 PA, most seasonal PA for a pitcher in a season without a whiff, and bettered by only 2 position players.
- Sain struck out only once in his first 167 PA; the only player I can find with a longer career start before his second strikeout is Sain’s teammate Tommy Holmes, who struck out once in his first 198 PA.
- Sain’s career rate of striking out once in every 42.8 PA makes him one of only 6 players to play their entire careers (min. 800 PA) since 1901 and record a rate above 40 (Sain pitched to four of the others, and recorded just one strikeout in 93 PA).
Tony Cloninger on 7/3/1966, and Camilo Pascual on 4/27/1965, are the only starting pitchers to hit a GS before they threw a single pitch (making these events in consecutive seasons odder still). Obviously the homers were hit in the top of the first inning. with Cloninger doing so in the game in which he hit a pair of grannies.
The only relief pitcher (and not a position player who came in to relieve) to match Cloninger’s and Pascual’s feat is Early Wynn, then of the Senators in a 9/15/1946 game against the Tigers. His GS came as a pinch-hitter for starting pitcher Roger Wolff in the top of the 5th inning, after which he finished the game and earned the win. As Wolff had allowed three home runs over his 4 innings of work, it makes you wonder whether Sens manager Ossie Bluege had already decided to replace him in the next inning and had Wynn warming in the bullpen as the Sens batted in the fifth. As the inning was a lengthy one (the Tigers had already made a pitching change before Wolff’s spot came up 8th in the inning) perhaps Wynn was already warm and thus was allowed to hit, given the score (Washington was leading 7-3) and his reputation as a good hitting pitcher.
Lou Gehrig (twice), Jimmie Foxx and Todd Helton are the only players to accumulate 100+ 1B, 100+ BB and 100+ XBH in a season. Foxx’s season (1932) was his first of three straight with 40 HR and 100 RBI, a feat unmatched by another Athletic until Khris Davis completed that three-peat this season.
Most GIDP in a rolling 5 year period.
- 150 – Jim Rice (ending 1986)
- 145 – Jim Rice (1985)
- 143 – Jim Rice (1987)
- 137 – Miguel Tejada (2009)
- 132 – Miguel Tejada (2008)
Most 2B in a rolling 5 year period