Author Archive

The “last to play for” All-Star Team

For the most part, major league baseball baseball in the 20th century was very stable, with franchises remaining in the same cities for stretches of 50 consecutive seasons (1903-52) and 29 more (1972-2000) to round out the century. And, the franchise relocations in the 20 intervening years were mainly in response to societal changes, chiefly the westward population movement.

The 19th century, though, was a different matter entirely, with numerous franchise shifts, failed franchises and new leagues starting up and folding. Of the 8 teams in the National League’s inaugural 1876 season, only the Chicago and Boston franchises have remained in operation continuously to the present day. The present-day Cardinals, Reds and Pirates all started in 1882, the Phillies and Giants in 1883 and the Dodgers in 1884. All of the 8 teams of the inaugural American League season in 1901 have remained in operation to the present day.

We don’t often talk about the 19th century game so, just for fun, here’s a look at some of the players and teams of that era. After the jump, an All-Star team composed exclusively of players who were the last to appear in the major leagues among those who played for a defunct or relocated franchise in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Quiz – Champions with a difference (solved)

This quiz concerns league champion teams with an unusual formula for success. Since 1901, these are the only championship teams with a particular characteristic. What is it?

Rk ▴ Year Lg Tm
1 2012 AL Detroit Tigers
2 2008 AL Tampa Bay Rays
3 2003 NL Florida Marlins
4 1995 NL Atlanta Braves
5 1985 AL Kansas City Royals
6 1984 NL San Diego Padres
7 1972 NL Cincinnati Reds
8 1971 NL Pittsburgh Pirates
9 1906 AL Chicago White Sox
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/17/2013.

Congratulations to RJ! He correctly identified these teams as the only pennant winners with every game started by a pitcher in his age 29 season or younger. More after the jump.

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Seth Smith and the (almost) lost art of pinch-hitting

This past season, the Athletics’ Seth Smith passed career milestones for 2000 total PAs and 200 PAs as a pinch-hitter. Among all players meeting both those criteria since 1950, Smith is easily the majors’ most proficient pinch-hitter. Which is ironic, considering that pinch-hitting has declined to record lows, in terms of both frequency of use and the effectiveness of the strategy.

More on the decline of pinch-hitting after the jump.

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Quiz – Journeymen and a HOFer (solved)

What does a HOFer have in common with a bunch of journeymen? (Okay, maybe a few are more than just journeymen).

That’s the question for this quiz involving the only players since 1901 with a particular career quirk. Can you spot it?

Our HHS readers were all over this one. Kudos to Artie Z for being first to articulate the basic idea that the quiz players had all played st least twice on teams in their final season in a city before relocating. The additional criterion which the group expressed in various ways is that only these players have also played for at least 3 different franchises.

More on our peripatetic pros after the jump.

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The Doctor is out – Roy Halladay calls it a career

Roy Halladay retired yesterday after signing a one-day contract with his long-time team, the Toronto Blue Jays. A classy touch by a classy pro.

More on the good Doctor after the jump.

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Quiz – Boxscore Sleuthing (solved)

In 2013, a particular batting feat occurred for the 11th game in the past 10 seasons, in the games shown below. Prior to 2004, this same batting feat had happened only 24 times in major-league history.

What is this unusual batting feat that has become more commonplace (relatively speaking) in recent years?

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt
1 Apr 10, 2013 LAA OAK L,5-11
2 Aug 12, 2011 ATL CHC W,10-4
3 Aug 29, 2009 CHW NYY L,0-10
4 Aug 4, 2009 NYM STL L,7-12
5 Sep 2, 2008 NYY TBR W,7-2
6 Jun 7, 2008 FLA CIN W,8-7
7 May 27, 2008 BOS SEA L,3-4
8 Aug 22, 2007 TOR OAK L,1-4
9 Jul 2, 2007 HOU PHI W,7-5
10 May 3, 2007 TEX NYY L,3-4
11 Aug 28, 2005 CIN PIT W,7-2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com:
Generated 12/9/2013.

Hint: 1994 is the only other season with multiple games

Congratulations to John Autin! He correctly identified that a player recorded his 1000th extra-base hit in each of these games. More on this under-appreciated milestone after the jump.

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The Top 50 Pitchers Since 1950

Who are the best starting pitchers of the past 60+ years? One way to answer that question is using RE24, the measure of how much a pitcher reduces his opponent’s’ run expectancy with each batter faced.

Starting from each of the 24 base-out states (ranging from nobody on, nobody out to to bases loaded, two out), there is an expected number of runs a team will score in the remainder of that inning, based on average hitters facing average pitchers. With the result of each plate appearance, a pitcher is credited with the resulting change in run expectancy (which can be positive or negative) less any runs allowed.

RE24, then, tells you how many runs a pitcher saved or cost his team relative to the average pitcher in the same base-out situations. Over the course of a career, the batters each pitcher faces will collectively approximate an average batter, allowing some reasonable basis for comparing different pitchers (with the possibly large caveat that RE24 does not adjust for park factors, team defense or other factors).

After the jump, the top 50 since 1950.

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Quiz – Pop Gun Hitters (stumped)

All of these players are well known singles hitters. But, among all power-starved batters to play their entire careers since 1901, what career accomplishment distinguishes these retired players?

Bonus: Who is the one active player on pace to join this group?

Howard got the bonus question, and Richard Chester was most of the way there with the solution. But they didn’t quite put all the pieces together. The solution is after the jump.

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Miggy at mid-career

This past season, Miguel Cabrera turned 30 and passed the 350 home run and 1200 RBI milestones, while maintaining a career OPS+ above 150. Only four other players have done the same.

Player HR RBI OPS+ WAR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Jimmie Foxx 429 1520 169 79.7 1925 1938 17-30 1710 7293 6116 1355 2049 346 102 1104 935 .335 .437 .635 1.073
2 Albert Pujols 408 1230 172 81.0 2001 2010 21-30 1558 6782 5733 1186 1900 426 15 914 646 .331 .426 .624 1.050
3 Mel Ott 369 1386 158 80.2 1926 1939 17-30 1864 7808 6544 1332 2061 359 63 1135 566 .315 .419 .558 .977
4 Hank Aaron 366 1216 157 80.0 1954 1964 20-30 1656 7216 6510 1180 2085 351 79 603 655 .320 .376 .567 .943
5 Miguel Cabrera 365 1260 154 54.7 2003 2013 20-30 1660 7126 6218 1064 1995 412 14 799 1201 .321 .399 .568 .967
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/2/2013.

After the jump, more on Cabrera and what might lie ahead for him.

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Quiz – Expansion Era All-Stars (solved)

All of these players are All-Stars who received MVP votes at least once in their careers. Beyond that, they may not appear to share many similarities. Yet, among players to play their entire careers since 1961, these are the only hitters with a certain career accomplishment.

What is this unusual batting feat?

Congratulations to Richard Chester! He correctly identified that, among players who have played their entire careers since 1961, these are the only hitters with a career total for intentional walks more than 50% higher than their GIDP total.

More on this unusual batting quirk after the jump.

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