Retrosheet


Fun With Retrosheet Data

By Tom Ruane

Or not, as the case may be.

From time to time, I will do a small (and sometimes not so small) piece of baseball research utilizing Retrosheet's data and post the results to SABR-L, Retrolist or both. Since I haven't been able to find a way to get these posts formatted correctly (gmail or yahoo don't seem to know about typewriter fonts) or to include links into Retrosheet's web-site, I thought it might be a good idea to collect the disparate pieces into one place, with the formatting and links added.

Once I started to do this, the original article quickly got too big and so I created a second one: Fun With Retrosheet Data, the Sequel.

I hope at least some of this is of general interest and, as always:

Thanks for your patience.

What's New

The week of 2011-9-25:

Come-From-Behind Batting Champions, An Update (September 26, 2011)
The week of 2011-9-18:

Best Career Hitters By Lineup Position (September 18, 2011)
Come-From-Behind Batting Champions (September 23, 2011)
Best Career Marks By Park (September 24, 2011)
The week of 2011-9-11:

Best/Worst Month for a Team's Pitchers (September 14, 2011)
More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About 1-0 Games (September 15, 2011)
Best Hitters By Lineup Position (September 16, 2011)
The week of 2011-9-4:

Most Strikeouts Between Hits Allowed... And Then Some (September 5, 2011)
Batters Supporting Starting Pitchers (September 10, 2011)
2011-9-4:

The initial release, including:

Most Blown Saves Combo (June 3, 2009)
Pitcher Match-Ups (July 16, 2010)
Consecutive Starts With Ks >= IPs (July 17,2010)
Consecutive Starts With IPs >= Hits (July 19, 2010)
Expected Pitcher Match-Ups (July 21, 2010)
Pitcher versus Team (July 22, 2010)
Two .400 Hitters on a Team (May 3, 2011)
Parity Comes to MLB (May 29, 2011)
Easy schedule runs (July 15, 2011)
Starting Infields, Then And Now (August 24, 2011)
Most At-Bats With the Bases Loaded (August 25, 2011)
Palindromic At-Bat Line (August 27, 2011)
Bases-Loaded Plate Appearances (August 31, 2011)
Double-Digits In Strikeouts and Hits Allowed (September 3, 2011)

Most Blown Saves Combo

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 077533) and Retrolist (#8994) on June 3, 2009.

In light of the recent news over Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte breaking Dennis Eckersley and Bob Welch's "record" for most saves by a pitching combo, I thought it might be interesting to see who holds the record for the most blown saves by a pitching combo, at least during the Retrosheet era. Here's what I found:

11 John Montefusco/Gary Lavelle - 1975(3) 1978(5) 1979(2) 1980(1)
   Bruce Hurst/Bob Stanley - 1982(1) 1983(5) 1984(2) 1985(1) 1988(2)
10 Earl Wilson/Dick Radatz - 1962(3) 1964(4) 1965(2) 1966(1)
   Vida Blue/Rollie Fingers - 1972(1) 1974(3) 1975(1) 1976(5)
   Doc Medich/Sparky Lyle - 1973(2) 1974(3) 1975(1) 1979(2) 1980(2)
   John Candelaria/Kent Tekulve - 1977(1) 1980(2) 1981(1) 1982(3) 1983(2) 1984(1)
   Ron Darling/Jesse Orosco - 1983(1) 1984(3) 1985(3) 1986(2) 1987(1)
 9 Larry Jackson/Lindy McDaniel - 1959(1) 1960(3) 1961(1) 1962(3) 1964(1)
   Don Drysdale/Ron Perranoski - 1961(1) 1963(1) 1964(4) 1965(1) 1966(1) 1967(1)
   Ken Holtzman/Phil Regan - 1968(4) 1969(1) 1970(2) 1971(2)
   Don Sutton/Jim Brewer - 1969(5) 1970(1) 1971(2) 1974(1)
   Bob Moose/Dave Giusti - 1970(2) 1972(2) 1973(4) 1975(1)
   Randy Jones/Rollie Fingers - 1977(3) 1978(1) 1979(4) 1980(1)
   Ron Guidry/Rich Gossage - 1978(3) 1979(1) 1980(1) 1981(1) 1982(3)
   Ron Guidry/Dave Righetti - 1984(2) 1985(2) 1986(2) 1987(1) 1988(2)
   Tom Gordon/Jeff Montgomery - 1989(2) 1990(3) 1991(1) 1992(1) 1993(1) 1995(1)
   Roger Clemens/Jeff Reardon - 1990(3) 1991(3) 1992(3)

Now this only includes those games for which we have play-by-play data so we may be missing a couple from the early years.

The highest single-season mark is 6 by Mike Moore and Matt Young in 1986. All 6 of those occurred in a 19-start stretch starting on July 9th.

And where's the saves top two rank:

 5 Bob Welch/Dennis Eckersley - 1989(2) 1991(1) 1993(1) 1994(1)
 5 Andy Pettitte/Mariano Rivera - 1995(1) 1997(1) 2003(1) 2007(2)

Pitcher Match-Ups

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 080810) on July 16, 2010.

While I was writing my article on the 1940s, I noticed that Whit Wyatt and Mort Cooper faced each other five times in 1942. I wondered if that was a lot and did a quick study to see what pitchers faced each other the most times in a season. I ended up not using what I found in my article, but thought that the subscribers to this list might be interested in some of the results.

So... here are the pitchers who faced each other the most times in a season:

 # Year Pitchers
13 1877 Tommy Bond (BOS N) and Terry Larkin (HAR N)
12 1878 Tommy Bond (BOS N) and Will White (CIN N)
12 1878 Tommy Bond (BOS N) and Terry Larkin (CHI N)
12 1877 Tommy Bond (BOS N) and Jim Devlin (LOU N)

This is pretty much what you would expect, since there were only six teams in the NL during 1877 and 1878 and the same pitcher usually started almost every game. Tommy Bond, for example, started all but four of Boston's games in 1877 and 1878.

Here are the last time there were 5-11 matchups between the same pitchers in a season:

 # Year Pitchers
11 1878 Terry Larkin (CHI N) and The Only Nolan (IND N)
10 1886 Mickey Welch (NY N) and Jim McCormick (CHI N)
 9 1891 Amos Rusie (NY N) and Bill Hutchinson (CHI N)
 8 1890 Amos Rusie (NY N) and Adonis Terry (BRO N)
 7 1959 Lou Burdette (MIL N) and Robin Roberts (PHI N)
 6 2004 Adam Eaton (SD N) and Jeff Weaver (LA N)

The seven matchups between Burdette and Roberts were notable in that they were the most in the majors since 1891.

By the way, the last time two pitchers met at least five times with one of the teams winning all of the games was in 1961 when Whitey Ford started against Don Mossi five times and the Yankees won them all. Ford only picked up the win in two of the games, however.

I also looked at what pitchers were involved in the lowest scoring matchups. Of the pitchers with at least five games in a season against one another, the pairs involved in the lowest scoring games were:

 # Year  Runs Pitchers
 5 1908    17 Christy Mathewson (NY N) and Andy Coakley (CIN N)
 5 1916    18 Babe Ruth (BOS A) and Walter Johnson (WAS A)
 5 1903    19 George Mullin (DET A) and Casey Patten (WAS A)
 7 1884    28 Old Hoss Radbourn (PRO N) and Charlie Buffinton (BOS N)
 5 1914    20 Walter Johnson (WAS A) and Rankin Johnson (BOS A)

Radbourn beat Buffington three times in the space of six days that August by a combined score of 6-0.

Rankin Johnson jumped to the Chicago Whales of the Federal League that summer, no doubt to get away from Walter Johnson, who had defeated him three times (all shutouts) by early July.

And finally, I looked at what pitchers faced each other the most times over the course of their careers. Here are the most common matchups:

  # First Last Pitchers
 40  1880 1887 Jim McCormick (20) and Mickey Welch (18)
 39  1871 1877 Al Spalding (33) and Bobby Mathews (6)
 39  1871 1876 Al Spalding (24) and Dick McBride (12)
 37  1871 1876 Al Spalding (26) and George Zettlein (11)
 36  1880 1889 Mickey Welch (26) and Pud Galvin (9)

The number in parenthesis are the number of games won by each pitcher's team. Here are the most matchups since 1900:

  # First Last Pitchers
 23  1903 1916 Mordecai Brown (12) and Christy Mathewson (11)
 21  1952 1964 Warren Spahn (14) and Bob Friend (7)
 21  1915 1927 Pete Alexander (14) and Lee Meadows (7)
 19  1902 1908 Jack Chesbro (9) and Doc White (8)
 18  1950 1960 Robin Roberts (11) and Don Newcombe (7)

Consecutive Starts With Ks >= IPs

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 080818) on July 17, 2010.

With his start last night, Stephen Strasburg has now begun his major league career with eight consecutive starts where his strikeouts have been greater than or equal to his innings pitched. I was wondering how unusual that was and, at least during the Retrosheet Era, there were three other pitchers who managed to do this. Here they are:

 # Pitcher        Year  IP    SO
 8 Herb Score     1955  64    78
10 Dwight Gooden  1984  58.1  80
18 Kerry Wood     1998 114.1 167

But what about the longest streaks at any point in a starting pitcher's career? Here they are (again, since 1920):

 # Pitcher        Year(s)    IP    SO
20 Dwight Gooden  1984-1985 150.1 196
19 Randy Johnson  1999      148.0 206
19 Randy Johnson  2001      134.1 205
18 Kerry Wood     1998      114.1 167
17 Pedro Martinez 1999-2000 125.1 201
16 Pedro Martinez 1997-1998 118.2 164
15 Pedro Martinez 1999      111.2 161

After beginning his career with a streak of ten games, Dwight Gooden had three straight starts with fewer strikeouts than innings pitched before starting that streak of twenty straight games. His record in those three games was 2-0 with two earned runs allowed in 24 1/3 innings.

Finally, here are the longest streaks if we also include relief appearances (and for the purposes of this study, I am ignoring any outings in which the pitcher failed to retire a batter):

 # Pitcher        Year(s)    IP    SO
38 Brad Lidge     2004-2005  42.2  77
30 Eric Gagne     2003-2004  34.1  57
26 Billy Wagner   1999-2000  28.1  43
23 Jose Valverde  2006       28.1  46
22 Chad Fox       1997-1998  27.2  41
22 Billy Wagner   2001       21.0  34

Strasburg's streak reached nine games before ending on August 10th.

Consecutive Starts With IPs >= Hits

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 080850) on July 19, 2010.

After my previous post, Cappy Gagnon suggested I do a similar study of pitchers with the most consecutive starts where his innings pitched was greater than or equal to his hits allowed.

Here are the top streaks I found (since 1920):

 # Pitcher        Year(s)    IP     H
29 Hal Newhouser  1945      260.0 194
25 Gaylord Perry  1973-1974 225.1 138
23 Luis Tiant     1967-1968 195.1 110
23 Gaylord Perry  1972      211.0 140
22 Nolan Ryan     1974-1975 191.2 108
22 Pedro Martinez 1999-2000 171.0  99
21 Bob Turley     1954-1955 168.1 100
21 Greg Maddux    1992      166.1 107
21 Jason Bere     1993-1994 131.2  92
20 Tom Seaver     1971-1972 170.0 104
20 Nolan Ryan     1972-1973 167.2  90
20 J.R. Richard   1979-1980 166.0  85
20 Mike Scott     1986      155.2  95

And list of consecutive starts that meet our criteria from the start of their careers:

 # Pitcher        Year(s)    IP     H
18 Pete Alexander 1911      174.2 128
13 Burt Hooton    1971-1972  98.0  61
12 Butch Wensloff 1943      104.1  71
12 Rick Ankiel    1999-2000  69.0  51
11 Vic Raschi     1946-1947  89.1  70

Yes, that Butch Wensloff. And I know I said that these lists were since 1920, but we also have the 1911 NL and so have the start of Alexander's career as well.

Here are the longest streaks if we include relief appearances:

 # Pitcher           Year(s)    IP     H
44 Rafael Soriano    2007-2009  46.1  20
36 Joe Nathan        2007-2008  37.2  22
31 Hal Newhouser     1945      261.2 194
31 Keith Foulke      2003       36.1  15
28 Billy Wagner      2005       28.1  11
28 Brad Lidge        2007-2008  28.0  13
28 Jeff Zimmerman    2001       29.2  11
26 Vincente Romo     1968       65.1  31
26 Francisco Cordero 2007       24.2   7

Zimmerman's streak was still going at the end of his career and Romo's streak came at the beginning of his.

And here's the flip side of the coin, the pitchers with the most consecutive starts with hits greater than or equal to innings pitched:

 # Pitcher           Year(s)    IP     H
22 Jaime Navarro     1999-2000 113.0 176
21 Dutch Henry       1923-1927 122.1 177
21 Art Nehf          1925-1927 114.0 169
21 Vern Kennedy      1940      129.2 183
21 Bill Lee          1975-1977 110.2 155
21 Livan Hernandez   2007-2008 123.1 186
20 Clarence Mitchell 1928-1929 154.2 205
20 Phil Collins      1931-1932 134.0 204

Those were the last 22 starts of Navarro's career.

If you include relief outings, here's the updated list:

 # Pitcher           Year(s)    IP     H
23 Slim Harriss      1926-1927 115.2 160
23 Les Sweetland     1930      108.2 181
23 Vern Kennedy      1940      135.0 189
23 Hap Collard       1930       93.1 161
22 Tommie Sisk       1964       28.0  56
21 Livan Hernandez   2007-2008 123.1 186
20 Paul LaPalme      1951-1952  42.0  69
20 Zach Duke         2007-2008 110.0 166

Both of the 1930 pitchers on this list (as well as Phil Collins above) helped the Phillies that year allow nearly 1200 runs. For Collard, those were the last games of his career. On June 5th, he allowed only seven hits in a complete game victory, raising his record to 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA. His ERA over his last 23 games was 8.58.

Expected Pitcher Match-Ups

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 080875) on July 21, 2010.

Last week I wrote a post listing the most frequent pitcher matchups in major league history. Today, I'd like to look at this from a slightly different angle: what pitchers should have faced each other the most often? So I went through and determined the expected number of matchups for each possible pair of starting pitchers (all 690,550 of them). It's probably best to see how I did this by looking at an example.

In 1949, Don Newcombe started 31 of the Dodgers 156 games, meaning that he had a 31/156 (.1987) chance of starting any single game. The Dodgers played the Braves 22 times that year, giving Newcombe a total of 4.372 expected starts against them (22 x .1987). Warren Spahn started 38 of the Braves 157 games. So if you multiply the chance of him starting a random Braves game 38/157 (.2420) by the number of Newcombe's starts that we calculated earlier, you end up with their expected matchups that year: 1.058.

If you repeat this exercise for every year both pitchers were in the National League (1949-51 and 1954-60), you end up with a total of 9.57 times they were expected to meet during their careers. How often did they actually meet? Twice. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First, here are the highest number of expected match-ups:

 #   First Last Pitchers
40.26 1871 1877 Al Spalding and Bobby Mathews
37.29 1871 1876 Al Spalding and Dick McBride
35.99 1871 1876 Dick McBride and Bobby Mathews
33.90 1879 1885 Pud Galvin and Jim McCormick
32.99 1871 1876 Al Spalding and George Zettlein

This time around, the first and last columns indicate the first and last years in which the two pitchers could have faced each other. Like the similar list in my previous post, this one is dominated by National Association pitchers. The top five since 1900:

 #   First Last Pitchers
15.51 1948 1965 Warren Spahn and Robin Roberts
14.88 1967 1987 Phil Niekro and Don Sutton
13.71 1951 1965 Warren Spahn and Bob Friend
13.22 1900 1910 Christy Mathewson and Vic Willis
13.16 1902 1915 George Mullin and Eddie Plank

Without beating this approach to death, I would like to provide two more lists. Here are the pitchers who faced each other more often than you would expect:

Act   Exp    Diff First Last Pitchers
 23   9.89  13.11  1903 1916 Mordecai Brown and Christy Mathewson
 40  28.90  11.10  1880 1887 Jim McCormick and Mickey Welch
 17   6.84  10.16  1905 1913 Christy Mathewson and Lefty Leifield
 19   8.85  10.15  1901 1909 Jack Chesbro and Doc White
 14   3.86  10.14  1945 1954 Preacher Roe and Herm Wehmeier

And the "least" list:

Act   Exp    Diff First Last Pitchers
  7  15.10  -8.10  1884 1892 Pretzels Getzien and Mickey Welch
  2   9.57  -7.57  1949 1960 Don Newcombe and Warren Spahn
  4  11.17  -7.17  1912 1926 Pete Alexander and Wilbur Cooper
 11  18.02  -7.02  1880 1887 Tim Keefe and Jim McCormick
  5  11.94  -6.94  1912 1926 Hooks Dauss and Walter Johnson

I'm not sure why Mickey Welch kept ducking Pretzels Getzien, but Warren Spahn was well-known for avoiding Brooklyn during the mid-1950s. From 1954 to 1957, he pitched only 3 2/3 of his 1081 1/3 innings against the Dodgers.

Pitcher versus Team

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 080885) on July 22, 2010.

Yesterday, I mentioned that Warren Spahn only faced Don Newcombe twice in his career. But of course Spahn's managers weren't ensuring that their ace lefty avoided Newcombe. No, they didn't want Spahn pitching against Brooklyn's predominately right-handed hitting lineup.

Which got me to wondering which pitchers faced other teams both more and less than you'd expect. I computed the expected number of starts against each team the way I described in my previous post.

Let's start with the highest number of starts against a single team:

  #  First Last Team  Pitcher
115   1942 1965 STL N Warren Spahn
108   1942 1965 NY  N Warren Spahn
105   1907 1927 DET A Walter Johnson
100   1939 1963 NY  A Early Wynn
 99   1907 1927 CHI A Walter Johnson
 96   1911 1930 CIN N Pete Alexander
 96   1912 1933 PIT N Eppa Rixey
 95   1942 1965 CIN N Warren Spahn
 95   1942 1965 PIT N Warren Spahn
 94   1907 1927 NY  A Walter Johnson

This is not too surprising. Walter Johnson and Warren Spahn played all or most of their careers in one eight-team league and started 666 and 665 games, respectively.

And the highest number of expected starts:

  #    First Last Team  Pitcher
 96.41  1907 1927 DET A Walter Johnson
 96.29  1907 1927 STL A Walter Johnson
 96.05  1907 1927 CHI A Walter Johnson
 95.65  1907 1927 CLE A Walter Johnson
 94.84  1907 1927 NY  A Walter Johnson
 93.52  1907 1927 BOS A Walter Johnson
 93.25  1907 1927 PHI A Walter Johnson
 91.53  1942 1965 PIT N Warren Spahn
 91.45  1942 1965 BRO N Warren Spahn
 91.35  1942 1965 PHI N Warren Spahn
 91.12  1942 1965 CHI N Warren Spahn
 90.76  1942 1965 STL N Warren Spahn
 90.57  1942 1965 CIN N Warren Spahn
 90.00  1942 1965 NY  N Warren Spahn

Again, since most teams played each of their opponents about the same number of times, this makes sense.

So which pitchers faced a team much more than you'd expect?

Act   Exp   Diff  First Last Team  Pitcher
 64  38.02  25.98  1944 1954 STL N Preacher Roe
115  90.76  24.24  1942 1965 STL N Warren Spahn
 45  21.77  23.23  1898 1918 BOS A Nick Altrock
 49  26.71  22.29  1941 1954 STL N Dave Koslo
 78  55.75  22.25  1948 1964 CLE A Billy Pierce
 70  48.03  21.97  1953 1966 LA  N Bob Buhl
 92  70.13  21.87  1901 1917 DET A Eddie Plank
 76  55.36  20.64  1948 1964 NY  A Billy Pierce
 47  26.37  20.63  1937 1952 STL N Ken Heintzelman
 54  34.76  19.24  1939 1949 CHI N Rip Sewell

For eight of these pitchers we have box scores for their entire careers. Here's how they did against those teams compared to the rest of their opponents:

Pitcher         Team     W   L   ERA           W   L   ERA
Preacher Roe    STL N   28  20  3.70  Others  99  64  3.34
Warren Spahn    STL N   64  41  3.00         299 204  3.11
Dave Koslo      STL N   24  21  3.60          68  86  3.67
Billy Pierce    CLE A   37  29  3.13         174 140  3.29
Bob Buhl        LA  N   30  21  3.00         136 111  3.67
Billy Pierce    NY  A   25  37  3.94         186 132  3.13
Ken Heintzelman STL N   19  22  3.99          58  76  3.92
Rip Sewell      CHI N   36  19  2.84         107  78  3.64

The only righties on the list, Buhl and Sewell, were also the only ones who pitched much better against these teams, but I'm not sure how significant this is. For one thing, it seems clear that Pierce pitched a lot against the Yankees and Indians because they were the two other strongest teams in the league, not because he dominated them. Roe, Spahn, Koslo and Heintzelman all pitched left-handed and were probably spotted against the Cards to neutralize Musial and Slaughter, among others.

The pitchers who seemed to avoid certain teams:

Act   Exp   Diff  First Last Team  Pitcher
 21  47.71 -26.71 1953 1966 CIN N Bob Buhl
 17  42.71 -25.71 1908 1920 PHI N Slim Sallee
 66  91.45 -25.45 1942 1965 BRO N Warren Spahn
  9  32.52 -23.52 1952 1962 BRO N Vinegar Bend Mizell
 15  37.48 -22.48 1923 1937 BOS A Rube Walberg
 18  39.90 -21.90 1952 1963 BRO N Harvey Haddix
 52  72.67 -20.67 1901 1917 CLE A Eddie Plank
  5  25.66 -20.66 1937 1944 CIN N Cliff Melton
  7  24.79 -17.79 1941 1956 PIT N Johnny Schmitz
 38  55.53 -17.53 1948 1964 WAS A Billy Pierce

We've seen four of these pitchers on the other list, which is what you'd expect (if you pitch more against one team, you've got to pitch less against others). Again, we've got the complete careers covered for eight of these. This should look familiar:

Pitcher         Team     W   L   ERA           W   L   ERA
Bob Buhl        CIN N    4  12  5.59  Others 162 120  3.43
Warren Spahn    BRO N   24  37  3.28         339 208  3.07
V.B. Mizell     BRO N    1   6  6.32          89  82  3.76
Rube Walberg    BOS A   10   9  3.11         145 132  4.24
Harvey Haddix   BRO N    7   7  3.64         129 106  3.63
Cliff Melton    CIN N    4   3  2.05          82  77  3.47
Johnny Schmitz  PIT N    4   5  3.42          89 109  3.56
Billy Pierce    WAS A   21  13  2.88         190 156  3.30

Both Buhl (the only righty) and Mizell pitched poorly against the teams they avoided. And I'm guessing that Pierce missed out on facing the old Senators because his managers didn't want to waste him on such a weak team.

Two .400 Hitters on a Team

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 082888) and Retrolist (#10111) on May 3, 2011.

After 29 games, both Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman of the Cardinals are batting over .400. This got me to wondering about the last time (or times) a team had two players hitting .400 or more at least thirty games into a season (only counting players with at least 3.1 plate appearances per game played).

Here's what I came up with since 1918:

Games    Date     Team   Players
  30   5- 5-1997  ATL N  Jeff Blauser (.406/.308) Michael Tucker (.400/.283)
  30   5-21-1932  NY  A  Tony Lazzeri (.422/.300) Bill Dickey (.404/.310)
  35   5-30-1931* PHI A  Mickey Cochrane (.417/.349) Al Simmons (.403/.390)
 101   8- 4-1930  PHI N  Chuck Klein (.405/.386) Lefty O'Doul (.400/.383)
  30   5-17-1927  PHI A  Ty Cobb (.417/.357) Al Simmons (.413/.392)
  35   5-23-1926  NY  A  Joe Dugan (.414/.288) Bob Meusel (.400/.315)
  82   7-11-1925  DET A  Ty Cobb (.410/.378) Harry Heilmann (.404/.393)
  31   5-26-1924  BOS A  Ike Boone (.402/.337) Joe Harris (.402/.301)
  56   6-12-1921  DET A  Harry Heilmann (.429/.394) Ty Cobb (.401/.389)
  49   6-13-1921  STL N  Rogers Hornsby (.413/.397) Austin McHenry (.404/.350)

* - after the first game of a double-header.

The second number in parenthesis following each player's name is his final batting average that year.

Parity Comes to MLB

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 083165) and Retrolist (#10160) on May 29, 2011.

In looking at the standings the other day, I noticed that there didn't seem to be many great or terrible teams so far this year, especially in the AL, where most of the teams are within a couple of games of .500. This got me to wondering if this was out of the ordinary or simply something I hadn't noticed before. To investigate this, I determined the difference between each team's wins and losses after their first fifty decisions and calculated the average difference to determine league parity.

Here are the seasons with the smallest average difference after fifty decisions:

Year Teams   Diff
1959    16   4.50
1944    16   4.88
1968    20   4.90
1975    24   5.00
1947    16   5.12
2011    30   5.27
1974    24   5.33

And here are the years with the least parity:

Year Teams   Diff
1876     8  19.25
1884    28  15.86
1875     7  15.71
1879     8  14.50
1883    16  14.00
1872     2  14.00

And the same list since 1900:

Year Teams   Diff
1907    16  13.00
1953    16  12.00
1911    16  11.62
1906    16  11.12
1955    16  11.12
1931    16  11.00

I also decided to look at parity by league. Here are the leagues with the greatest parity after 50 decisions:

Year LG Teams   Diff
1944 AL     8   2.50
1959 AL     8   3.00
1974 AL    12   3.00
1947 AL     8   3.50
1915 NL     8   3.75
1932 NL     8   3.75
1968 NL    10   3.80
1926 NL     8   4.25
1943 AL     8   4.25
1983 AL    14   4.29
2011 AL    14   4.29

And the leagues since 1900 with the least parity:

Year LG Teams   Diff
1907 NL     8  15.25
1903 NL     8  13.50
1906 NL     8  13.00
1946 AL     8  12.75
1913 AL     8  12.75
1955 AL     8  12.50
1909 NL     8  12.50

So the current year is nothing too earth-shaking, but I was hoping some might find this interesting anyway.

Easy schedule runs

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 083495) on July 13, 2011.

Gary Collard, noting that the Rangers entered the All-Star break by playing 16 of 19 games against last place teams, wondered what the record was for most consecutive games versus over and under .500 teams.

I thought it might be interesting to look at four groups:

1) under .400,
2) under .500,
3) over .500 and
4) over .600.

Here's what I found:

1) Starting on August 11, 1885, the Chicago White Stockings played a record 23 straight games against opponents with a winning percentage under .400. During the streak, they played only Buffalo, Detroit and St. Louis. It ended when they faced Boston (which entered the game with a none-too-impressive winning percentage of .406). Chicago went 20-2-1 during the streak.

The longest such streak since 1900 is nineteen and it was done four times:

Team   Year  Start-End     Record
NY  N  1904  9-3 to 9-17   15-3-1
NY  A  1929  5-17 to 6-4   11-8
CAL A  1966  4-30 to 5-18  11-8
SF  N  2004  5-21 to 6-10  13-6

2) The Chicago White Sox played 51 straight games against losing teams from May 27 to July 10, 1966. The streak ended when they hosted the third-place Indians in the first game following the All-Star break. Ironically, the Sox went only 22-28-1 while playing losing teams, and 45-32 afterwards. No teams are close to their streak, the second longest being a run of forty straight games by the San Francisco Giants in 1986. It ran from July 3rd to August 17th and, like the White Sox, the Giants had a losing mark (19-21) while it lasted.

3) The top five teams with the most consecutive games played against winning teams:

#  Team   Year  Start-End     Record
52 NY  A  1991  7-16 to 9-8   19-33
51 WAS A  1916  7-11 to 8-31  22-28-1
50 BOS A  1908  7-2 to 8-29   25-25
48 PHI A  1908  7-7 to 8-29   21-25-2
48 WAS A  1908  7-7 to 8-29   22-23-3

At the end of the streak by the 1916 Senators, the only other team in the AL with a losing record was the 27-94 Philadelphia Athletics. And the three streaks from 1908 are due to the practice of scheduling long road and home trips between the eastern and western teams. In 1908, all of the western teams had winning records.

4) The longest stretch of games against teams with a winning percentage higher than .600 was 27 by the Philadelphia Quakers in 1884. From May 20th to June 19th, they went 6-21 against Boston, Providence and New York. Entering the games of May 20th, those three teams had a combined record of 37-5. Philadephia had been in fourth place at the start but was in seventh place at the end of the run.

The record since 1900 is 21, by the 1998 Tigers from April 3rd (which was the first game of the second series of the year) to 30th. Given how early in the season it was, a few more wins here and there might have short-circuited the streak, but Detroit went 5-16 in the games.

Starting Infields, Then And Now

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 083863) and Retrolist (#10306) on August 24, 2011.

John Matthew was wondering when the last time a complete infield started for two different teams. I couldn't find any examples between 1918 and 2010. Last two teams that started three-quarters of the same infield was the 2008 Mets (April 12th) and the 2005 Marlins (April 13th) with Delgado, Castillo and Easley at first, second and short. They missed at third with Wright (Mets) and Lowell (Marlins). The dates in parenthesis correspond to the first time that particular infield started a game that season.

Other teams with a three-quarter match include:

2007 STL N and 2003 ANA A (Kennedy- 2B, Spiezio - 3B and 1B, and Eckstein - SS)
2006 LA  N and 2000 SF  N (Kent - 2B, Mueller - 3B and Martinez - SS)
2004 MIL N and 2003 ARI N (Overbay - 1B, Spivey - 2B and Counsell - 3B)
2004 STL N and 2002 PHI N (Mabry - 1B, Anderson - 2B and Rolen - 3B)
2003 SF  N and 1997 COL N (Galarraga - 1B, Young - 2B and Perez - SS)
1991 PHI N and 1988 SD  N (Kruk - 1B, Ready- 2B and Thon - SS)
1981 SF  N and 1980 HOU N (Leonard - 1B, Morgan - 2B and Cabell - 3B)
1981 SF  N and 1980 HOU N (Bergman - 1B, Morgan - 2B and Cabell - 3B)
1981 OAK A and 1978 NY  A (Johnson - 1B, Doyle - 2B and Stanley - SS)
1979 NY  A and 1971 CLE A (Chambliss - 1B, Nettles - 3B and Stanley - SS)
1974 MON N and 1967 LA  N (Fairly - 1B, Hunt - 2B and Bailey - 3B)
1973 DET A and 1970 WAS A (Howard - 1B, Rodriguez - 3B and Brinkman - SS)
1973 HOU N and 1970 CIN N (May - 1B, Helms - 2B and Stewart - 3B)
1962 NY  N and 1958 LA  N (Hodges - 1B, Neal - 2B and Zimmer - 3B)
1961 LA  A and 1958 WAS A (Aspromonte - 2B, Yost - 3B and Bridges - SS)
1961 STL N and 1956 NY  N (White - 1B, Schoendienst - 2B and Spencer - SS)
1952 DET A and 1951 BOS A (Dropo - 1B, Hatfield - 3B and Pesky - SS)
1938 BOS A and 1935 PHI A (Foxx - 1B McNair - 2B and SS, and Higgins - 3B)
1933 CIN N and 1930 STL N (Bottomley - 1B, High - 3B and Adams - SS)
1928 BOS N and 1925 STL N (Hornsby - 2B, Bell - 3B and Cooney/Freigau - SS)

The teams fielding the exact same starting outfields:

1977 SEA A and 1976 CAL A (Stanton, Collins and Lopez)
1971 CHI A and 1970 WAS A (Reichardt, Stroud and Maye)
1953 PHI A and 1950 CHI A (Zernial, Philley and McGhee)
1953 STL A and 1952 DET A (Lenhardt, Groth and Wertz)
1932 CIN N and 1929 STL N (Hafey, Douthit and Roettger)

Most At-Bats With the Bases Loaded

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 083866) and Retrolist (#10308) on August 25, 2011.

In today's game with the A's, the Yankees had 16 plate appearances with the bases loaded (and finished with a ML record three grand-slams). I wondered if this was a lot and so looked through all the play-by-play files that Retrosheet has released. Among those games (all 115688 of them), this ties the Red Sox on April 7, 2006 for the most. No other team had more than 13 plate appearances with the bases loaded. Of course, there are many games we are missing, but I thought this might be interesting anyway.

Here's the top 8 (not including 2011):

PA     Game     Team   Score
16  2011- 8-25  BY  A  22- 9
16  2006- 4- 7  BOS A  14- 8
13  1959- 4-22  CHI A  20- 6
13  1962- 6-28  LA  A  19- 7
13  1985- 9- 1  CHI N  15- 2
13  1995- 6- 8  CAL A  10- 8
13  1998- 7-31  OAK A  12- 2
13  2004- 7-26  OAK A  14- 5
13  2007- 6- 8  FLO N  14- 8

Palindromic At-Bat Line

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 083877) on August 27, 2011.

Stew Thornley was wondering about the frequency of palindromic at-bat lines (where the at-bats for a team's lineup are the same backwards and forwards). This is not that uncommon, having happened 1065 times from 1918 to 2010. It happened 18 times in 2010, the last being on September 9, 2010 when Kansas City's lineup had 4 4 4 3 4 3 4 4 4 at bats.

A few interesting cases:

   Date     Team   Line
 8-27-1999  NY  A  3 5 4 0 4 4 4 0 4 5 3
 5-30-1985  DET A  2 4 1 2 3 4 3 2 1 4 2
 9- 6-1922  NY  N  2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

And on April, 20, 1983 both the Rangers (5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5) and Orioles (4 4 4 4 3 4 4 4 4) had palindromic (although not very interesting lines).

Bases-Loaded Plate Appearances

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 083896) and Retrolist (#10326) on August 31, 2011.

It is well-known that Roger Maris was not intentionally walked once during his record-setting 1961 season. What is less well-known is that none of his 61 home runs that season were hit with the bases loaded. This is not too surprising, considering that he got up only twice all season with the sacks jammed. Much of this had to do with the fact that he hit third most of the year, but it didn't help that manager Ralph Houk batted his two worst-hitting regulars, Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek, at the top of the lineup.

The top three spots in the lineup are the worst when it comes to batting with the bases loaded. The data from Retrosheet's released PBP games (1921-22 NL, 1948-1955 incomplete and 1956-2010 complete):

Pos       BL     TOT     BL%
  1    19828 1111402   1.784
  2    19784 1085451   1.823
  3    18970 1059960   1.790
  4    23597 1036153   2.277
  5    28059 1012065   2.772
  6    30038  986448   3.045
  7    26398  959627   2.751
  8    24819  931815   2.664
  9    25853  903716   2.861

But even taking into account his place in the batting order and the poor on-base percentages of the hitters in front of him, Maris' number of plate appearances with the bases loaded was extremely low. Among those with 500 or more plate appearances, here are the lowest marks:

Player            Year Team    BL   PA  MIS     BL%
Billy Williams    1962 CHI N    2  699    0    0.286
Roger Maris       1961 NY  A    2  698    0    0.287
Luis Castillo     2003 FLA N    2  676    0    0.296
Rusty Staub       1969 MON N    2  673    0    0.297
Omar Vizquel      2005 SF  N    2  651    0    0.307
Rafael Palmeiro   1989 TEX A    2  632    0    0.316
Hubie Brooks      1983 NY  N    2  624    0    0.321
Bobby Adams       1952 CIN N    2  544  150    0.368
Manny Sanguillen  1975 PIT N    2  537    0    0.372
Tony Oliva        1968 MIN A    2  528    0    0.379
Bob Watson        1971 HOU N    2  514    0    0.389
Billy Williams    1967 CHI N    3  712    0    0.421

"MIS" contains the number of plate appearance in the season for which we are currently missing play-by-play data.

Although they didn't make the cutoff, the most plate appearances in a season for which we have data for a player without getting up even once with three runners on was 373 by Tom Veryzer for the 1977 Tigers (Marv Staehle was one behind with 372 for the Expos in 1970). And Paul Molitor got up only once with a chance at a grandslam in 458 chances with the Brewers in 1990.

By comparison, Manny Mota of the Dodgers got up with the bases loaded in 20% of his 60 plate appearances in 1976. Among players with 500 plate appearances, here are those with the highest percentage with the bases loaded:

Player            Year Team    BL   PA  MIS     BL%
Vern Stephens     1950 BOS A   45  588  105    7.653
Vern Stephens     1949 BOS A   41  647   65    6.337
Jason Varitek     2007 BOS A   32  518    0    6.178
David Segui       2000 TEX-CLE 39  634    0    6.151
Sam Chapman       1949 PHI A   31  513  161    6.043
Pedro Feliz       2004 SF  N   32  531    0    6.026
Jorge Posada      2006 NY  A   32  545    0    5.872
Scott Brosius     2000 NY  A   30  519    0    5.780
Jason Varitek     2003 BOS A   30  521    0    5.758
Manny Trillo      1975 CHI N   34  613    0    5.546
Paul Sorrento     1996 SEA A   30  542    0    5.535
Brian McCann      2007 ATL N   30  552    0    5.435
Walt Dropo        1950 BOS A   28  519   90    5.395

The top percentages among players with 400-499, 300-399, 200-299 and 100-199 plate appearances:

Player            Year Team    BL   PA  MIS     BL%
Benito Santiago   2003 SF  N   33  434    0    7.604
Pete Incaviglia   1993 PHI N   26  402    0    6.468
Mike Greenwell    1987 BOS A   29  456    0    6.360
Julio Becquer     1960 WAS A   24  312    0    7.692
Greg Dobbs        2007 PHI N   27  358    0    7.542
David Bell        2003 PHI N   24  348    0    6.897
Daryle Ward       2001 HOU N   17  235    0    7.234
Lee May           1980 BAL A   17  239    0    7.113
Wil Cordero       1996 BOS A   15  213    0    7.042
Hal McRae         1972 CIN N   12  105    0   11.429
Ramon Martinez    2007 LA  N   15  147    0   10.204
Julio Zuleta      2001 CHI N   12  118    0   10.169

Here are the career leaders (3000 plate appearances minimum):

Player               BL    PA   MIS     BL%
Vern Stephens       157  3302  3939    4.755
Jason Varitek       245  5589     0    4.384
Carl Furillo        244  6167   855    3.957
Jorge Posada        265  6763     0    3.918
Rey Ordonez         133  3407     0    3.904
Jeff Francoeur      128  3444     0    3.717
Robinson Cano       137  3732     0    3.671
Todd Benzinger      114  3106     0    3.670
Adam Everett        110  3003     0    3.663
Sam Mele            116  3168   629    3.662

The leaders with a 100 and 1000 plate appearance minimum:

Player               BL    PA   MIS     BL%
Roy Halladay         15   136     0   11.029
Julio Becquer        49  1027     0    4.771

And the career trailers:

Player               BL    PA   MIS     BL%
Bobby Adams          33  3237  1294    1.019
Chuck Hinton         58  4455     0    1.302
Vince Coleman        80  5970     0    1.340
Ron LeFlore          68  4872     0    1.396
Wally Backman        52  3708     0    1.402
Willie Stargell     127  9027     0    1.407
Tom Veryzer          44  3098     0    1.420
Billy Williams      152 10519     0    1.445
Ellis Valentine      49  3392     0    1.445
Shannon Stewart      90  6205     0    1.450

The most career at-bats without a bases-loaded plate appearance was 399 by Bob Martyn.

It should be obvious that players on good hitting teams get up in these situations a lot more than those on poor hitting teams. Here is a list of the teams with the highest percentage of plate appearances with the bases loaded along with their runs scored per game.

Year Team      BL    PA   MIS   BL%     G    R   R/G
1950 BOS A    227  5416   906  4.191  132  890  6.74
1948 BOS A    199  4791  1493  4.154  118  677  5.74
1948 PHI A    153  3873  2176  3.950  101  439  4.35
1949 BOS A    221  5670   583  3.898  141  795  5.64
1993 DET A    249  6505     0  3.828  162  899  5.55
1949 PHI A    176  4616  1433  3.813  118  575  4.87
2006 NY  A    245  6455     0  3.796  162  930  5.74
2000 SF  N    241  6418     0  3.755  162  925  5.71
2005 BOS A    239  6403     0  3.733  162  910  5.62
2004 SF  N    241  6466     0  3.727  162  850  5.25
2007 BOS A    239  6426     0  3.719  162  867  5.35
1951 BOS A    229  6213     0  3.686  154  804  5.22

Note: the games (G) and runs scored (R) columns only count those games with play-by-play data.

And here is the flip-side:

1972 CAL A     68  5640     0  1.206  155  454  2.93
1957 KC  A     69  5655     0  1.220  154  563  3.66
1981 TOR A     49  3887     0  1.261  106  329  3.10
1983 SEA A     76  5907     0  1.287  162  558  3.44
1966 STL N     79  5964     0  1.325  162  571  3.52
1976 MON N     82  5996     0  1.368  162  531  3.28
2002 DET A     81  5920     0  1.368  161  575  3.57
1973 CLE A     86  6179     0  1.392  162  680  4.20
1967 CIN N     87  6015     0  1.446  162  604  3.73
1966 CHI A     88  6021     0  1.462  163  574  3.52
1921 PIT N     87  5947     0  1.463  154  692  4.49
1999 ANA A     91  6132     0  1.484  162  711  4.39

The teams on these two lists don't have a lot of overlap, with only the two highest scoring teams on the second list (the 1921 Pirates and 1999 Angels) scoring more runs than the lowest scoring team (the 1948 Athletics) on the first.

Double-Digits In Strikeouts and Hits Allowed

Originally appeared on SABR-L (Item# 083917) and Retrolist (#10330) on September 3, 2011.

Normally strikeout pitchers are also difficult to hit, but on August 30th, CC Sabathia struck out ten batters in the first five innings only to give up his tenth hit with one out in the next frame. That got me to wondering about the quickest any pitcher ever reached double-digits in both strikeouts and hits allowed.

So I looked at all of Retrosheet's released play-by-play accounts. These now cover 118475 games (complete from 1956-2010, missing 65 to several hundred games each year from 1948-1955, as well as about 2/3 of the NL games from 1921 and 1922).

What did I find? Well, here is the list of the quickest pitchers to do this:

Player           Team   Date       IP    H SO   IP   H  R ER BB SO DEC
Scott Sanderson  CHI N  6- 5-1987   5   10 10   5.1 11  2  2  0 10 L
Joey Hamilton    SD  N  7-28-1996   5   11 10   5   12  7  7  4 10 L
Curt Schilling   BOS A  4-18-2005   5   11 10   5   11  5  5  2 10 W
Juan Marichal    SF  N  4-24-1964   5.1 10 10   9   13  5  5  3 13 W
Chris Bosio      SEA A  4-18-1993   5.1 10 11   6   10  6  6  2 12 ND
David Cone       NY  A  9-13-1998   5.1 10 10   5.2 10  4  4  2 11 L
Bartolo Colon    ANA A  6- 4-2005   5.1 10 10   6   10  5  5  1 11 W
CC Sabathia      NY  A  8-30-2011   5.1 10 10   6   10  2  2  2 10 W
Jimmy Haynes     OAK A  8-18-1998   5.2 10 10   5.2 11  4  4  1 10 W
David Wells      TOR A  6-11-2000   5.2 10 10   7   12  3  3  2 11 ND
Brandon Webb     ARI N  7-15-2007   5.2 10 10   5.2 11  4  3  2 10 L

I have included both his innings pitched, hits and strikeouts at the point he first reached ten or more in both categories as well as his final line for the game.

Men were men back in the 1960s and Juan Marichal completed his game, reaching thirteen in both categories. No other pitcher on the list above made it past the seventh inning, but then again, all of the other games took place during the last twenty-five years, when pitchers weren't expected to throw 150 or more pitches in a game.

Leaving aside how quickly they did it, how common has it been for a pitcher to rack up ten or more strikeouts and hits allowed? From 1918-2010, it happened 320 times. Here are the pitchers who did it the most often:

Player            #    First         Last
Bob Gibson        9   9- 7-1962    10- 4-1972
Dazzy Vance       8   5- 2-1923     7- 4-1931(1)
Jim Bunning       8   5-21-1957     9-24-1966
Steve Carlton     7   6-27-1969     8-29-1983(1)
Randy Johnson     7   9-28-1990     9-19-2003
Gaylord Perry     6   9- 1-1967     4-20-1982
Mickey Lolich     6   9-14-1969     8-24-1974
Juan Marichal     5   4-24-1964     6-11-1967
Sam McDowell      5   8- 5-1965     7- 6-1970
Bert Blyleven     5   9- 5-1971     7-13-1985
Mark Langston     5   4-12-1987     6-20-1990

Three pitchers in the 10-10 club combined for thirty or more hits allowed plus strikeouts:

Player           Team   Date       IP    H  R ER BB SO
Tom Cheney       WAS A  9-12-1962  16   10  1  1  4 21 W
Dazzy Vance      BRO N  5- 2-1923  10   15  6  6  4 15 ND
Randy Johnson    SEA A  6-24-1997   9   11  4  4  0 19 L

Most Strikeouts Between Hits Allowed... And Then Some

After writing the post on pitchers who had a lot of strikeouts and hits allowed, I was wondering which pitchers had the most strikeouts between hits allowed. For this study, I only looked at games from 1956-2010 so the results below aren't conclusive, but hopefully some will find them interesting anyway.

Here are the pitchers since 1956 with 20 or more strikeouts between allowing hits:

Pitcher           SO  IP    Start         End 
Nolan Ryan        27  16.1  1973- 7-15    1973- 7-19
Mike Scott        24  17    1986- 9-20    1986-10- 2
Nolan Ryan        22  14    1973- 5-12    1973- 5-19
Bryan Harvey      21  10.2  1989- 8- 6    1989- 9- 8
Nolan Ryan        21  13.1  1990- 6- 6    1990- 6-16
Nolan Ryan        20  14.1  1973- 8-29    1973- 9- 3
Nolan Ryan        20  11.1  1991- 5- 1    1991- 5- 8
Billy Wagner      20   9    1999- 5-20    1999- 6-12
Pedro Martinez    20  10    1999- 9-10    1999- 9-15
Eric Gagne        20  11.2  2003- 7-27    2003- 8-17

It's probably not too surprising that Nolan Ryan dominates this list, since he struck out more men and pitched more no-hitters than anyone else. His first two entries on the list include his two no-hitters from 1973, games in which struck out 17 and 12. His last streak from that year doesn't feature a no-hitter but does contain a one-hitter where the only hit of the game came with one out in the top of the first. His other two entries on the list contain his sixth and seventh no-hitters, 14 and 16-strikeout performances, and were thrown when the pitcher was 43 and 44-years-old.

One other no-hitter was critical to a pitcher making this list, Nolan Ryan's teammate Mike Scott's pennant-clinching victory over the Giants in 1986, while the remaining starting pitcher above, Pedro Martinez, started his streak during a 17-strikeout one-hitter against the Yankees.

And here is the other end of the spectrum, the pitchers with more than 30 hits allowed between strikeouts:

Pitcher            H  IP    Start         End 
Rick Langford     40  18.1  1983- 5- 4    1984- 9- 9   
Lew Burdette      37  24    1961- 5-23    1961- 6-10   
Bob Shaw          35  28.1  1960- 8- 7(2) 1960- 8-27   
Milt Pappas       34  21.2  1973- 7-29(1) 1973- 8-28   
Glenn Abbott      34  25.1  1984- 5- 5    1984- 7-27(2)
Wilbur Wood       33  18.2  1978- 7-13    1978- 8- 4   
Scott Bailes      32  16.1  1988- 7-10    1988- 7-28   
Bill Swift        32  18    1988- 8- 6    1988- 8-31   
Bob Stanley       31  14.2  1979- 7-22    1979- 8-14   
Lary Sorensen     31  24.2  1980- 6-16(1) 1980- 7- 2   

Unlike the first list, this one will change dramatically once we include the years before 1956, since the strikeout rates were much lower then. Rick Langford streak covered two injury-plagued years as he tried to recover from throwing 28 complete games as a member of the 1980 Oakland A's. By contrast, Lew Burdette's run came in the middle of an 18-win season, although he did lead the league in hits, runs and earned runs allowed. Bob Stanley's entry on the list above also occurred during a successful season, although it occurred during a five-start winless streak in the middle of a 16-win campaign. Milt Pappas was less than a year removed from his no-hitter (and near perfect game) when he started his streak, part of a career-ending run of fourteen straight starts in which he failed to strike out more than two batters. Their appearance on this list also signaled the end of the line for Glenn Abbott and Wilbur Wood.

And while I was (sort of) on the subject, I figured it might be interesting to look at the most strikeouts between walks. Here are the pitchers with more than 40:

Pitcher           SO  IP    Start         End 
Curt Schilling    56  44    2002- 5-13    2002- 6- 8   
Greg Maddux       53  71.2  2001- 6-20    2001- 8-12   
Pedro Martinez    49  42.1  2000- 8- 2    2000- 9- 4   
Dennis Eckersley  47  51.2  1989- 8-22    1990- 6-12   
Koji Uehara       46  38    2010- 7-19    2011- 4-15
John Smoltz       45  39    2003- 7-24    2004- 6-11   
Eric Gagne        43  29    2002- 5- 4    2002- 7- 3   
Javier Vazquez    43  54.2  2005- 4-25    2005- 6- 9   
Bret Saberhagen   41  47.2  1994- 5-10    1994- 6-13   
Greg Maddux       41  51.1  1995- 6- 3    1995- 7-13   
Luke Gregerson    41  33    2010- 4-14    2010- 6-20   

This is an impressive group of players, with NL Pitchers of the Year (Curt Schilling and Greg Maddux), Cy Young Award Winners (Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux), and All-Star relievers (Dennis Eckersley and Eric Gagne).

For a much less impressive list, here are the most walks between strikeouts:

Pitcher           BB  IP    Start         End 
Mike Chris        20  11.2  1982- 5-19    1982- 9- 4   
Lance Rautzhan    17   4.1  1979- 4-23    1979- 6- 3   
Mark Wohlers      17   4.1  1998- 6- 9    1998- 8- 5   
Bill Parsons      16   6.2  1973- 4-17    1973- 5-16   
Mike Parrott      16  18.1  1979- 4-27    1979- 5-11   

Chris and Rautzhan were fringe pitchers who battled control problems throughout their short careers. Rautzhan broke his streak by striking out two batters in his final major league appearance. Wohlers, on the other hand, had been a top relief pitcher who was in the middle of a two-year bout with the Steve Blass disease. Speaking of Blass, at the same time the Pirate's right-hander was mysteriously losing his ability to throw the ball over the plate, Bill Parsons, a promising 24-year-old pitcher coming off consecutive 13-win seasons, was doing the same for the Brewers. Had he been a more prominent player, a pitcher's sudden lack of control could be known today as the Bill Parsons' disease. Mike Parrott was the most successful pitcher on the list above, moving into the starting rotation in the middle of his streak, on his way to the best season of his short career, a 14-12 mark with a Mariners team that lost 95 games.

And, since the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, the most hits between walks:

Pitcher            H  IP    Start         End 
Bill Fischer     100  84.1  1962- 8- 3    1962- 9-30   
Greg Maddux       79  71.2  2001- 6-20    2001- 8-12   
Paul Byrd         64  49    2007- 4-26    2007- 6- 6   
Greg Maddux       64  60.2  2007- 7-28    2007- 9-18   
Randy Jones       59  69    1976- 5-17    1976- 6-22   
Tom Morgan        57  51    1958- 4-16    1958- 8-14   
Rick Mahler       57  44.2  1988- 5-17    1988- 6-12   
Bob Tewksbury     57  56    1993- 6-15    1993- 7-22   

Fischer's streak lasted until the final inning he pitched in 1962. He followed up his first walk in nearly two months by throwing his first wild pitch in over three months. The second streak was also in second place on an earlier list. Maddux's other entry, as well as those by Byrd and Jones, came during the last winning season of their careers. After walking two batters in his first start of the season, Tom Morgan was moved into the bullpen and didn't walk another man for nearly four months. And the two batters he walked in that game were the last of his season. Rick Mahler's run came during an early season 7-game winning streak that left him with a 7-4 mark. Unfortunately, he finished the season by winning only 2 of his last 16 decisions.

Finally (and I'm sure those of you still paying attention saw this coming), the most walks between hits:

Pitcher           BB  IP    Start         End 
Dave Morehead     15   8.1  1964- 9- 2    1964- 9-30(2)
Steve Barber      14  11.1  1967- 4-23(1) 1967- 5- 5   
Felix Heredia     13   5.2  1998- 4-25    1998- 5-10   
Bill Laxton       12  13    1974- 7-20    1974- 8-12   
Brian Williams    12   9    1996- 9-21    1997- 6-11   
Dave Coggin       12   9    2002- 7-20    2002- 8- 3   
Dontrelle Willis  12   7    2007- 9-30    2008- 4- 5   

Morehead's streak included a start against the Angels during which he was removed in the bottom of the third inning while pitching a no-hitter after walking his fourth batter of the inning and seventh of the game. And Barber owes his appearance on this list to a combined no-hitter, which he lost when two of his ten walks came around to score in the top of the ninth inning.

Batters Supporting Starting Pitchers

In a broadcast a few days ago, a Yankee announcer mentioned that Robinson Cano had hit 12 home runs this year in games started by Ivan Nova. This got me to wondering about the record (at least from 1918-2010) for the most HRs, RBIs and so on for a batter in games started by the same pitcher. And that got me to wondering about career records as well. The career mark for the most at-bats by a batter in games started by the same pitcher should have been obvious, but I must admit to being a little surprised.

Before I get rolling I would like to say that I don't think any of what follows is particularly significant. Players may notice that some players seem to hit better or worse for a particular starting pitcher, but I think it's most likely random. I seriously doubt that any batter is changing his approach at the plate because of their team's starting pitcher that day. There may be reasons for a batter to do better or worse in these situations. If the weather behaves and the schedule is stable, it's possible that a pitcher could line up against a series of good (or bad) pitchers in a row. And on occasion a pitcher (think Warren Spahn and Brooklyn) may avoid playing in a park or against a team. But, once again, almost all of what follows is random variation.

One more thing: while working on this piece, some of it seemed familiar. So I apologize in advance if someone else has done a similar study in the past. It happens.

Okay. First things first, here are the batters who have the most home runs in a season during games started by a single pitcher:

Batter           Pitcher          Year Team     G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG
Hack Wilson      Pat Malone       1930 CHI N   35  136  52   9   0  20  58  .382  .481  .890
Mo Vaughn        Tom Gordon       1996 BOS A   34  137  49   2   0  19  48  .358  .447  .788
Ken Griffey      Jeff Fassero     1997 SEA A   34  130  48   7   0  18  41  .369  .458  .838
Mike Schmidt     Steve Carlton    1976 PHI N   35  136  38   4   1  17  37  .279  .381  .699
Javy Lopez       Russ Ortiz       2003 ATL N   30  113  45  10   0  17  33  .398  .430  .938
Barry Bonds      Russ Ortiz       2001 SF  N   32  109  34   4   2  17  32  .312  .476  .853

Hack Wilson's entry above also represents the most RBIs. In second place is the 50 runs Al Simmons drove in when Lefty Grove was the starting pitcher in 1929. Helped by Mo Vaughn, Tom Gordon got the best run support on the staff of the 1996 Red Sox. The team scored an average of 7.18 runs in his 34 starts, compared to only 4.41 in teammate Roger Clemens' games, which goes a long way to explaining why Gordon was able to post a better won-lost record (12-9 to 10-13) despite an ERA nearly two runs higher. And despite his .853 slugging percentage for Ortiz, Bonds actually hit slightly higher for the other Giant starters.

And here are the batters who hit the highest percentage of their homers (ten minimum) for a single starter:

Batter           Pitcher          Year Team     G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR TOT   PCT
Gus Bell         Murry Dickson    1951 PIT N   34  139  53  12   2  10  16  .625
Carlos Beltran   Pedro Martinez   2005 NY  N   28  110  32   2   0  10  16  .625
Julio Franco     Jason Bere       1994 CHI A   24   95  37   5   1  12  20  .600
Brooks Robinson  Mike Cuellar     1970 BAL A   39  146  46   7   0  10  18  .556
Johnny Blanchard Whitey Ford      1961 NY  A   18   54  16   0   0  11  21  .524
Don Baylor       Dave Righetti    1983 NY  A   27  110  43   9   1  11  21  .524

Julio Franco's 20 home runs in 1994 represented his career high. His next highest mark was 15, or only three more than he hit in Bere's starts that year.

The leaders in hits, doubles and triples:

Hits:
Batter           Pitcher          Year Team     G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG
George Sisler    Urban Shocker    1922 STL A   35  139  71  15   4   3  30  .511  .564  .741
Rod Carew        Dave Goltz       1977 MIN A   37  151  71  14   7   1  24  .470  .515  .675
Joe Sewell       George Uhle      1923 CLE A   44  163  69  15   3   1  46  .423  .515  .571
Charlie Jamieson George Uhle      1923 CLE A   43  185  68  10   4   1  22  .368  .435  .481
Buck Weaver      Red Faber        1920 CHI A   38  158  66  13   1   1  23  .418  .446  .532

Doubles:
Batter           Pitcher          Year Team     G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG
Johnny Frederick Watty Clark      1929 BRO N   38  156  58  21   2   7  24  .372  .413  .667
Joe Medwick      Bob Weiland      1937 STL N   34  137  50  20   1   7  34  .365  .396  .679
Gee Walker       Tommy Bridges    1936 DET A   34  140  54  19   1   4  28  .386  .399  .621

Triples:
Rogers Hornsby   Bill Doak        1920 STL N   36  142  57  13   9   2  37  .401  .441  .662
Max Carey        Wilbur Cooper    1923 PIT N   38  158  47   8   9   2  18  .297  .343  .500
George Brett     Rich Gale        1979 KC  A   31  135  51   8   9   5  30  .378  .421  .681

Unlike the HR lists, these will be very different once we have data extending back further than 1918. For example, Chief Wilson (at least according to my back-of-the-envelope calculations) hit thirteen triples in games started by Howie Camnitz of the Pirates in 1912. And in 1883, Chicago White Stockings third-baseman Ned Williamson had to have hit more than 21 of his league-leading 49 doubles in support of at least one of his team's two starting pitchers.

Gee Walker hit 55 doubles for the 1936 Tigers, despite missing 20 games that season, including four of Tommy Bridges starts. Charlie Gehringer hit 60 doubles that season to lead the league. It was the sixth (and last) time that a player would hit as many as 60 doubles in a season and, at least according to at-bats per doubles, he was only the second most prolific doubles-hitter on his own team. Buck Weaver missed Red Faber's last start in 1920. Two days earlier, he had been one of the White Sox players suspended as a result of the conspiracy to throw the 1919 World Series.

The leaders in the batting average (minimum 75 plate appearances):

Batter           Pitcher           Year Team     G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG
Rogers Hornsby   Johnny Stuart     1924 STL N   19   69  45  10   2   4  19  .652  .714 1.029
Bill Terry       Clarence Mitchell 1930 NY  N   16   72  43   6   1   5  18  .597  .613  .917
George Sisler    Urban Shocker     1922 STL A   35  139  71  15   4   3  30  .511  .564  .741
Stan Musial      Al Brazle         1948 STL N   23   91  46   9   4   8  22  .505  .559  .956
Don Mattingly    Dennis Rasmussen  1984 NY  A   22   93  47   8   0   2  20  .505  .520  .656

And slugging percentage:

Batter           Pitcher          Year Team     G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG
Barry Bonds      Jason Schmidt    2002 SF  N   24   68  33   8   1  10  29  .485  .657 1.074
Carlos Pena      Andy Sonnanstine 2007 TB  A   22   69  26   3   0  15  35  .377  .551 1.072
Manny Ramirez    John Burkett     2002 BOS A   21   79  38   9   0  12  26  .481  .544 1.051
Babe Ruth        Waite Hoyt       1926 NY  A   28   91  40   8   2  14  35  .440  .568 1.033
Rogers Hornsby   Johnny Stuart    1924 STL N   19   69  45  10   2   4  19  .652  .714 1.029
Rogers Hornsby   Allen Sothoron   1925 STL N   20   75  37   6   3   9  25  .493  .582 1.013

After Carlos Pena, the next fewest games for a player hitting 15 or more homers in a pitcher's starts was 25, by Sammy Sosa, who hit 16 homers to support rookie Kerry Wood for the Cubs in 1998. And Ruth's 1926 statistics do not include the four home runs he hit with Hoyt starting in that year's World Series, including three in one game.

Here are the batters with the biggest positive difference between their slugging percentage with and without the pitcher starting for their team:

Batter           Pitcher          Year Team     G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG  SEAS   DIFF
Carlos Pena      Andy Sonnanstine 2007 TB  A   22   69  26   3   0  15  35  .377  .551 1.072  .627 (+.446)
Sid Gordon       Clint Hartung    1949 NY  N   23   91  37  11   1  11  25  .407  .471  .912  .505 (+.407)
Manny Ramirez    John Burkett     2002 BOS A   21   79  38   9   0  12  26  .481  .544 1.051  .647 (+.404)
Darrell Evans    Frank Tanana     1985 DET A   19   69  25   2   0  12  25  .362  .457  .913  .519 (+.394)
Chris Burke      Andy Pettitte    2006 HOU N   23   70  28  10   0   6  17  .400  .450  .800  .418 (+.382)

And the biggest negative difference:

Batter           Pitcher          Year Team     G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG  SEAS   DIFF
Jason Bay        Oliver Perez     2004 PIT N   22   70   6   0   0   0   3  .086  .214  .086  .550 (-.464)
Harmon Killebrew Bert Blyleven    1970 MIN A   24   82  14   2   0   0   4  .171  .327  .195  .546 (-.351)
Ralph Kiner      Preacher Roe     1947 PIT N   21   77  16   4   0   1   6  .208  .330  .299  .639 (-.340)
Ralph Kiner      Murry Dickson    1950 PIT N   21   75  10   3   0   2   7  .133  .323  .253  .590 (-.337)
Carlos Beltran   Pedro Martinez   2006 NY  N   19   69  12   3   0   1  14  .174  .289  .261  .594 (-.333)

Yes, that's the same Carlos Beltran who a year earlier had hit over 60% of his home runs in Pedro's starts.

A brief digression before we move on to the career lists. The appearance of George Uhle in two of the entries on the "most hits" lists got me to wondering about the pitchers who got the most support from all of their teammates. So here is a short list showing the pitchers who teammates got the top marks in various categories (with a minimum of twenty starts for the averages):

CAT  Pitcher          Year Team    G   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG   RPG
  R  George Uhle      1923 CLE A  44 1542 295 502  97  24  15 274  .326  .407  .449  6.70
     Carl Mays        1921 NY  A  38 1392 294 456  79  27  33 271  .328  .395  .494  7.74

  H  George Uhle      1923 CLE A  44 1542 295 502  97  24  15 274  .326  .407  .449  6.70
     Carl Mays        1921 NY  A  38 1392 294 456  79  27  33 271  .328  .395  .494  7.74

 2B  George Uhle      1922 CLE A  40 1374 229 427 109  24   6 210  .311  .379  .438  5.72
     George Uhle      1923 CLE A  44 1542 295 502  97  24  15 274  .326  .407  .449  6.70

 3B  Wilbur Cooper    1923 PIT N  38 1321 166 377  51  37  10 150  .285  .331  .403  4.37
     Wilbur Cooper    1924 PIT N  35 1228 194 376  48  36  14 180  .306  .355  .438  5.54

 HR  Whitey Ford      1961 NY  A  39 1367 218 372  52   8  67 207  .272  .342  .469  5.59
     Freddy Garcia    1999 SEA A  33 1138 202 326  51   9  66 197  .286  .369  .521  6.12

RBI  George Uhle      1923 CLE A  44 1542 295 502  97  24  15 274  .326  .407  .449  6.70
     Carl Mays        1921 NY  A  38 1392 294 456  79  27  33 271  .328  .395  .494  7.74

AVG  F. Fitzsimmons   1930 NY  N  29 1065 233 373  52  22  28 218  .350  .398  .519  8.03
     Ray Benge        1930 PHI N  29 1093 196 375  64   5  29 183  .343  .400  .490  6.76

OBP  Schoolboy Rowe   1940 DET A  23  810 170 263  58  17  22 156  .325  .409  .520  7.39
     George Uhle      1923 CLE A  44 1542 295 502  97  24  15 274  .326  .407  .449  6.70

SLG  Curt Schilling   2004 BOS A  32 1166 219 363  86   7  60 216  .311  .383  .551  6.84
     Jamie Moyer      1997 SEA A  30 1062 218 339  66   3  52 214  .319  .395  .534  7.27

RPG  Chuck Stobbs     1950 BOS A  21  775 171 243  46   6  29 170  .314  .402  .501  8.14
     F. Fitzsimmons   1930 NY  N  29 1065 233 373  52  22  28 218  .350  .398  .519  8.03
     Monte Pearson    1936 NY  A  31 1165 249 364  77  21  34 233  .312  .399  .502  8.03
     Monte Pearson    1939 NY  A  20  719 156 226  39  13  26 144  .314  .406  .513  7.80

Once again, these will look very different when we have data prior to 1918. Even the HR record will fall, since Larry Corcoran started the majority of the White Stockings' games in 1884, when the team played their games in homer-friendly Lake Front Park. The bad news is that the extremely short right-field fence there caused him to lead the league in home runs allowed with 35, setting a major league record that would last until 1948. The good news is that his teammates supported him with 70 of their own in his home starts. So even if he wasn't the beneficiary of a single road homer that season (and I didn't check), he still would eclipse Whitey Ford's mark above.

On to the career marks. Here are the batters who have hit the most career home runs in support of a pitcher:

Batter           Pitcher         First Last   G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG
Mike Schmidt     Steve Carlton    1972 1986 432 1491 384  61   6 105 280  .258  .375  .518
Eddie Mathews    Warren Spahn     1952 1964 416 1507 402  69  13  95 268  .267  .378  .519
Jimmie Foxx      Lefty Grove      1925 1941 331 1218 403  61  19  92 286  .331  .430  .639
Mickey Mantle    Whitey Ford      1953 1967 369 1256 376  59   9  92 243  .299  .419  .580
Harmon Killebrew Jim Kaat         1959 1973 379 1338 359  48   5  91 266  .268  .389  .516
Babe Ruth        Waite Hoyt       1919 1930 265  921 337  66  18  86 256  .366  .495  .757
Eddie Mathews    Lew Burdette     1952 1963 317 1182 347  44  13  86 229  .294  .398  .571
Babe Ruth        Herb Pennock     1919 1933 271  920 324  57  10  85 247  .352  .499  .713
Willie McCovey   Juan Marichal    1960 1973 359 1177 352  50  12  84 233  .299  .414  .576
Willie Mays      Juan Marichal    1960 1972 365 1307 385  52  15  83 237  .295  .388  .548

These are all batters who hit at least 500 home runs and played on one team for a long time with a top starting pitcher.

And here are the career leaders in other categories (400 plate appearances minimum for the averages):

CAT  Batter            Pitcher         First Last   G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG
  H  Richie Ashburn    Robin Roberts    1948 1959 406 1620 482  54  18   7 121  .298  .384  .366
     Nellie Fox        Billy Pierce     1950 1961 358 1457 450  54  18   7 135  .309  .362  .385

 2B  Charlie Gehringer Tommy Bridges    1930 1942 295 1152 383  91  16  36 200  .332  .410  .533
     Lou Brock         Bob Gibson       1964 1975 347 1453 443  85  21  21 116  .305  .352  .436

 3B  Edd Roush         Dolf Luque       1918 1926 194  734 255  43  28   7  99  .347  .398  .511
     Sam Rice          Walter Johnson   1918 1927 251 1038 346  59  26   4 137  .333  .385  .452
     Bill Terry        Carl Hubbell     1928 1936 254  998 351  59  26  13 143  .352  .406  .502
     Earl Averill      Mel Harder       1930 1939 254  973 337  65  26  40 184  .346  .426  .590
     Willie Davis      Claude Osteen    1965 1973 304 1255 353  51  26  16 134  .281  .305  .402

RBI  Mel Ott           Carl Hubbell     1928 1943 373 1341 389  64  15  79 305  .290  .405  .537
     Jimmie Foxx       Lefty Grove      1925 1941 331 1218 403  61  19  92 286  .331  .430  .639

AVG  Paul Waner        Erv Brame        1928 1932  89  358 144  29   8   8  56  .402  .470  .595
     Chuck Klein       Phil Collins     1929 1933  95  393 157  29   6  22  99  .399  .457  .672

OBP  Barry Bonds       Jason Schmidt    2001 2006 118  340 114  22   2  38  95  .335  .546  .747
     Ted Williams      Willard Nixon    1950 1958 115  381 142  32   4  27  86  .373  .514  .690

SLG  Barry Bonds       Russ Ortiz       1998 2007 123  399 138  24   3  52 113  .346  .492  .812
     Babe Ruth         Carl Mays        1918 1923 136  482 181  43  13  43 156  .376  .501  .786
     David Ortiz       Curt Schilling   2004 2007  91  350 124  24   2  41  99  .354  .446  .786

Once again, few of the entries above are really surprising. These are all top hitters being paired, except in the averages categories, with star pitchers. Since being teammates for a long time was a prerequisite for racking up impressive counter stats, I got to wonder which batters had the most at-bats with a single starting pitcher. By now, many of you have probably figured out the answer, but here's the list:

Batter            Pitcher          First Last   G   AB   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG
Warren Spahn      Warren Spahn      1946 1965 641 1820 356  57   6  33 183  .196  .237  .288
Steve Carlton     Steve Carlton     1965 1986 669 1717 346  49   6  13 140  .202  .222  .260
Red Ruffing       Red Ruffing       1924 1947 538 1631 442  84  11  32 217  .271  .305  .395
Richie Ashburn    Robin Roberts     1948 1959 406 1620 482  54  18   7 121  .298  .384  .366
Greg Maddux       Greg Maddux       1986 2008 708 1587 271  35   2   5  84  .171  .190  .205

It turns out that the only player a pitcher can count on being in all of his games is himself. It's surprising that Richie Ashburn had more at-bats in Robin Roberts' starts than Roberts himself. Red Ruffing, an excellent hitting pitcher, hit 84 doubles in his starts, only one behind Lou Brock, who was second on the "most doubles" list above.

In case you're wondering why the game column doesn't exactly match the number of the games started by each pitcher, it only includes those games where the pitcher actually got to the plate.

Best/Worst Month for a Team's Pitchers

Cy Morong told me something recently that I hadn't heard before: during September, 1969, the New York Mets' pitchers allowed only three home runs in over 270 innings pitched. He wondered if any other teams had months like this. I got to wondering about that as well, so I went and figured home run allowed rates (per nine innings) in each month for all the teams from 1920 to 2010. Here is a list of the fewest and most during each decade (with a minimum of 150 innings):

        ----------- Fewest -----------     ------------ Most ------------
Decade   Month Team    IP   HRA  HRA/G      Month Team    IP   HRA  HRA/G
 1920s  9-1921 CIN N  217     0  0.000     6-1928 BOS N  218    37  1.528
 1930s  9-1935 CIN N  234     1  0.039     6-1939 PHI A  244    42  1.549
 1940s  6-1943 PIT N  269.2   3  0.100     6-1949 CIN N  232.1  33  1.278
 1950s  9-1954 BAL A  188     2  0.096     8-1957 CIN N  261.2  50  1.720
 1960s  9-1969 NY  N  272.1   3  0.099     7-1962 KC  A  253.1  56  1.990
 1970s  9-1974 CAL A  234     6  0.231     8-1977 SEA A  243.1  55  2.034
 1980s  5-1981 HOU N  273     5  0.165     6-1987 BAL A  246.2  50  1.824
 1990s  4-1992 BOS A  169     4  0.213     4-1994 MIN A  220.2  49  1.999
 2000+  9-2008 TOR A  231     9  0.351     7-2004 SEA A  239    55  2.071

Since 1935, only the 1954 Orioles had a lower HRA rate than those 1969 Mets. I'm not sure if it's significant or not, but the majority of the teams on the "fewest" list were from September and the "most" list featured twice as many teams from June as the next highest months. Four other teams since 1920 allowed only a single home run in a qualifying month. Three of them were from 1920 (the Pirates in May, the Reds in July, and the White Sox in September) and the Reds again, in June, 1927.

The record for the most home runs allowed in a month was 57 by the Kansas City Athletics in May, 1964. Three teams allowed 56, the one on the list above as well as the Colorado Rockies in both July, 1999 and August, 2002.

Of course, never one to leave well enough alone, I thought I'd generate a similar list for hits allowed. Here it is:

        ----------- Fewest -----------     ------------ Most ------------
Decade   Month Team    IP     H    H/G      Month Team    IP     H    H/G
 1920s  5-1920 BRO N  253   199  7.079     7-1925 BOS A  256.1 383 13.447
 1930s  5-1935 NY  N  234   185  7.115     9-1930 PHI N  232.2 384 14.854
 1940s  5-1943 DET A  245.2 172  6.301     7-1940 STL A  247.2 340 12.355
 1950s  9-1958 DET A  241   174  6.498     7-1954 PHI A  261.2 341 11.729
 1960s  5-1968 CLE A  265.1 160  5.427     7-1961 CHI N  256.1 324 11.376
 1970s  5-1972 CLE A  202   142  6.327     7-1970 STL N  256.2 328 11.501
 1980s  4-1981 OAK A  190   128  6.063     8-1988 NY  A  258.2 352 12.247
 1990s  4-1991 BOS A  163   125  6.902     4-1994 MIN A  220.2 312 12.725
 2000+  9-2010 SF  N  232.1 151  5.849     4-2006 MIN A  205   276 12.117

Only the 1968 Indians and 2010 Giants had a month with less than six hits allowed per nine innings. The Indians used five starting pitchers in May of 1968 and they all pitched well:

Pitcher          G  GS  CG SHO  IP     H   HR   R  ER  BB  SO   W   L    ERA
Stan Williams    6   4   2   1  35.2  20    2   5   3   6  32   3   1   0.76
Luis Tiant       7   7   6   3  60    35    3  10   7  17  58   5   2   1.05
Sonny Siebert    6   6   4   2  48    23    0   8   7  22  34   4   1   1.31
Sam McDowell     7   7   5   1  61    39    4  16  10  21  76   5   2   1.48
Steve Hargan     6   6   2   1  43    33    3  11  11  15  25   2   2   2.30

Even in the Year of the Pitcher, this was quite a performance. One thing to note in this era of bloated pitching staffs: those five pitchers accounted for all but 17.2 of the innings pitched during that month.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Year of the Hitter was not kind to the Phillies' pitchers. In September of 1930 they set the high-water mark since 1920 for the most hits allowed per game with 14.854. The second most? Those same Phillies during July with 13.759. The 452 hits they allowed that month (in 295.2 innings) was the most in a month over the last 91 years. In fourth place (with 424 hits) was their effort in August.

One more list and then I promise to stop. Strikeouts:

        ----------- Fewest -----------     ------------ Most ------------
Decade   Month Team    IP    SO   SO/G      Month Team    IP    SO   SO/G
 1920s  7-1922 BOS A  265.2  42  1.423     5-1924 WAS A  202   107  4.767
 1930s  5-1930 CIN N  237    41  1.557     6-1933 NY  A  269.1 175  5.848
 1940s  9-1944 CIN N  318    67  1.896     6-1946 DET A  229   173  6.799
 1950s  7-1951 PHI A  278.2  65  2.099     8-1959 LA  N  234.1 193  7.413
 1960s  7-1969 SD  N  230    90  3.522     7-1968 CLE A  249   227  8.205
 1970s  4-1977 MIL A  153    49  2.882     9-1971 NY  N  268   234  7.858
 1980s  8-1981 MIL A  198    56  2.546     4-1987 HOU N  189.2 181  8.589
 1990s  4-1990 OAK A  177.2  71  3.597     8-1998 HOU N  263.1 272  9.296
 2000+  8-2003 DET A  260   119  4.119     8-2002 CHI N  265.1 286  9.701

Given how much this aspect of the game has changed over the last 90 years, it is perhaps easy to overlook the 1959 Dodgers. At the end of that season, the team owned five of the top seven highest monthly rates since 1920: August (shown above), September (7.396), July (7.031), May (6.640) and April (6.618). Only the Phillies that May (6.730) and the 1946 Tigers (also shown above) prevented them from sweeping the top five spots. Of course, the 1960s revolutionized the strikeout and by the end of that decade, the Dodgers' top month from 1959 would be only the 37th highest.

The 1998 Astros were the first team to average more than a strikeout an inning over the course of a month. They were led by a rent-a-pitcher, Randy Johnson (61 strikeouts in 46 innings) and Shane Reynolds (51 strikeouts in 40.2 innings). At the close of the 2010 season, that 1998 Astros team was still on the list of highest averages since 1920. Five of the top seven places, however, were held by Cubs teams from the last decade:

 Month Team    IP    SO   SO/G
 8-2002 CHI N  265.1 286  9.701
 9-2006 CHI N  248.1 263  9.532
 8-1998 HOU N  263.1 272  9.296
 5-2001 CHI N  245   253  9.294
 8-2003 ARI N  252.1 256  9.131
 8-2003 CHI N  250   253  9.108
 4-2001 CHI N  213   215  9.085

The 2001-2003 editions of the Cubs were led by Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, while their performance in September of 2006 was an example of strikeout by committee. Fifteen different Cub pitchers had ten or more strikeouts that month, with only Rich Hill having more than two dozen.

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About 1-0 Games

Joe Posnanski recently wrote a column about 1-0 games. Now there probably isn't a better sports columnist/blogger/whatever than Joe working today, but something (perhaps a sense of restraint) caused him to restrict his study to the last fifty years and complete games. Well, restraint has never been my strong suit, so I decided to look at 93 years (1918-2010) of all 1-0 games. Of course, even with this expanded range, we are still missing most of the Deadball Era, which was the mother-lode of 1-0 games. Still, hopefully some of what I found will be of interest.

Let's start with a list of the players with the most 1-0 games pitched:

Player           First Last   G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Hoyt Wilhelm      1952 1969  34  1  1  1 27  7  55.1  29  1  4  14  47  3  4
Nolan Ryan        1970 1992  30 30 14 11  0  0 243.1  90  1  7 103 274 14  9
Fergie Jenkins    1967 1982  26 26 19 11  0  0 216.2 127  2 11  50 163 12 13
Bert Blyleven     1971 1989  26 26 24 15  0  0 232   156  1  8  46 191 15 10
John Franco       1984 2005  26  0  0  0 20 11  28.1  16  0  3  13  20  2  3
Greg Maddux       1987 2008  26 26 12 11  0  0 220.1 114  1  3  36 148 16  3
Walter Johnson    1918 1926  25 22 21 17  3  0 230   132  0  7  38 116 17  7
Tom Seaver        1967 1985  25 25 14  8  0  0 220.1 114  3  8  47 178 10  8
Steve Carlton     1968 1985  25 25 14 12  0  0 214.1 123  1  8  55 164 12  9
Jim Bunning       1957 1971  24 24  8  4  0  0 198   113  6 15  46 157  6 15
Gaylord Perry     1964 1983  24 24 17 12  0  0 216.2 126  1  7  41 129 13  8
Don Sutton        1967 1986  24 23 11  9  1  0 205.1 123  2  7  47 155 10  7
Trevor Hoffman    1993 2009  24  0  0  0 20 16  24.1  22  1  2  10  22  1  3

I have eliminated the runs allowed column above, since in 1-0 games runs allowed are almost always equal to games lost. I say "almost" because of the game between the Yankees and White Sox on June 20, 1940. The game was apparently won by Chicago on a run-scoring double by Bob Kennedy with one out in the bottom of the eleventh. The Yankees, however, protested a ruling earlier in the game on a disputed catch, and less than two weeks later, the protest was upheld and the game declared a no-decision. The statistics for the game, except for Johnny Rigney's win and Monte Pearson's loss, counted. And that's how Pearson gave up a run in a 1-0 game with no defeat to show for it.

It's not too surprising that a reliever pitched in the most 1-0 games given the lack of complete games in the last couple of decades, but I didn't expect it to be one who pitched back in the days when men were men and pitchers liked to finish what they started. Wilhelm did start one of these games and it was the best one of his career, a no-hit win over Don Larsen and the Yankees.

Nolan Ryan made the most 1-0 starts during these years, completing 14 of 30 games, setting highs in walks and strikeouts along the way. Blyleven completed 24 of his 26 starts and allowed the most hits. Here are the leaders in 1-0 wins:

Player           First Last   G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Walter Johnson    1918 1926  25 22 21 17  3  0 230   132  0  7  38 116 17  7
Dean Chance       1962 1971  22 22 16 13  0  0 185.2  91  1  5  63 133 16  5
Greg Maddux       1987 2008  26 26 12 11  0  0 220.1 114  1  3  36 148 16  3
Bert Blyleven     1971 1989  26 26 24 15  0  0 232   156  1  8  46 191 15 10
Nolan Ryan        1970 1992  30 30 14 11  0  0 243.1  90  1  7 103 274 14  9
Gaylord Perry     1964 1983  24 24 17 12  0  0 216.2 126  1  7  41 129 13  8
Fergie Jenkins    1967 1982  26 26 19 11  0  0 216.2 127  2 11  50 163 12 13
Steve Carlton     1968 1985  25 25 14 12  0  0 214.1 123  1  8  55 164 12  9
Sandy Koufax      1960 1966  14 14 10 10  0  0 117    58  1  3  21 124 11  3
Jerry Koosman     1968 1985  22 20 11  9  1  0 177   114  0  3  40 124 11  4

It's sort of incredible that Walker Johnson is at the top of this list, considering we are missing the bulk of his career. The years we are missing include 71 of his 110 shutouts and he still had 17 of these wins, all of them complete games. Greg Maddux has the highest winning percentage among pitchers with at least ten wins. The most wins for any undefeated pitcher is seven and it's been done three times:

Tex Hughson       1943 1947   7  7  7  7  0  0  63    22  0  0  16  42  7  0
Zane Smith        1985 1992   9  7  5  5  0  0  64.2  30  0  0   8  34  7  0
Johan Santana     2004 2010   7  7  1  1  0  0  53.1  26  0  0  10  61  7  0

Here are the loss leaders:

Player           First Last   G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Jim Bunning       1957 1971  24 24  8  4  0  0 198   113  6 15  46 157  6 15
Fergie Jenkins    1967 1982  26 26 19 11  0  0 216.2 127  2 11  50 163 12 13
Robin Roberts     1948 1965  20 19 13  7  1  1 158.1 103  3 10  33  78  7 11
Si Johnson        1931 1946  14 14 10  4  0  0 120.2  79  1  9  29  40  4 10
Bob Gibson        1959 1975  20 19 15  9  1  0 165   105  3  8  41 132  9 10
Bert Blyleven     1971 1989  26 26 24 15  0  0 232   156  1  8  46 191 15 10

One pitcher lost as many as seven 1-0 games without a win:

Player           First Last   G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Ken Johnson       1962 1967   8  7  1  0  1  1  52    29  2  5   9  39  0  7

And the leaders in 1-0 saves:

Player           First Last   G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Trevor Hoffman    1993 2009  24  0  0  0 20 16  24.1  22  1  2  10  22  1  3
Troy Percival     1996 2004  14  0  0  0 13 13  15     3  0  0   4  16  0  0
Mariano Rivera    1998 2010  17  0  0  0 16 13  19.1   9  0  1   4  18  2  1
Dave Smith        1982 1990  16  0  0  0 15 12  15.1   4  0  1   2  11  1  1
Lee Smith         1982 1993  20  0  0  0 19 12  22.2  11  0  0   6  20  1  0

So much for the career records. Here are the pitchers from 1918 to 2010 who set the single season marks for most 1-0 games pitched:

Player            Year Team    G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Bullet Joe Bush   1918 BOS A   8  7  6  5  1  0  65    34  0  1  18  28  5  2
Wilbur Wood       1968 CHI A   8  0  0  0  4  2   9     3  0  0   3   2  1  1
Mike Adams        2010 SD  N   8  0  0  0  0  0   8     4  0  0   1   9  1  0

The tops in innings pitched:

Player            Year Team    G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Walter Johnson    1918 WAS A   7  5  5  4  2  0  69    42  0  3  10  30  4  3
Bullet Joe Bush   1918 BOS A   8  7  6  5  1  0  65    34  0  1  18  28  5  2
Dean Chance       1964 LA  A   7  7  5  5  0  0  58    33  0  1  18  51  6  1

I discussed Johnson's 1918 season in another article, but his seven 1-0 games included wins of eighteen and fifteen innings.

In addition to the two pitchers listed above, two others had five 1-0 wins:

Player            Year Team    G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Walter Johnson    1919 WAS A   6  6  6  5  0  0  57    38  0  1  11  26  5  1
Carl Hubbell      1933 NY  N   5  5  5  5  0  0  54    29  0  0   3  36  5  0

Hubbell's season also included an eighteen-inning complete game win.

Three pitchers had five 1-0 saves, including two in 2010:

Player            Year Team    G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Troy Percival     2002 ANA A   5  0  0  0  5  5   5     1  0  0   2   5  0  0
Heath Bell        2010 SD  N   6  0  0  0  6  5   6     6  0  1   2   8  0  1
Carlos Marmol     2010 CHI N   6  0  0  0  6  5   6     1  0  0   5  11  0  0

Vida Blue tied Dean Chance's mark of 51 strikeouts:

Player            Year Team    G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Vida Blue         1971 OAK A   5  5  4  2  0  0  47    24  0  2   6  51  2  2

His no-decision that year was one of the greatest games of his MVP season, with 17 strikeouts in 11 scoreless innings. Before the Oakland pitchers were done, they had fanned 26 Angel batters. Two of them, Tony Congliaro and Billy Cowan combined to go 0-16 with 11 strikeouts. Conigliaro was ejected from the game following his fifth strikeout and retired from baseball later that night.

And finally, three pitchers had five 1-0 losses in one season:

Player            Year Team    G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H HR ER  BB  SO  W  L
Roger Craig       1963 NY  N   5  5  4  0  0  0  41    33  1  4   8  19  0  5
Jim Bunning       1967 PHI N   6  6  3  1  0  0  50.2  25  1  5  10  41  1  5
Fergie Jenkins    1968 CHI N   6  6  2  0  0  0  47    28  1  5  12  41  0  5

Craig went 5-22 for an awful Mets team, but Bunning had a winning record (17-15) and Jenkins won twenty games despite losing all five of these games.

Best Hitters By Lineup Position

Cliff Otto pointed out that Jacoby Ellsbury has a chance to lead the American League in both total bases and extra-base hits while batting primarily out of the lead-off spot this season. How rare would that be? Well, the short answer is that only two players since at least 1918 have led in both categories while hitting first, but a total of ten players have led in at least one. Here they are:

                              -------- Overall --------   ------- Lead-Off --------
Player            Year Team     H   XB   TB  2B  3B  HR     H   XB   TB  2B  3B  HR
S. Stirnweiss     1945 NY  A  195   64* 301* 32  22  10   190   63  295  31  22  10
Zoilo Versalles   1965 MIN A  182   76* 308* 45  12  19   182   76  308  45  12  19
Felipe Alou       1966 ATL N  218   69  355* 32   6  31   177   58  288  29   5  24
Tommy Harper      1970 MIL A  179   70* 315  35   4  31   177   69  312  34   4  31
Bobby Bonds       1973 SF  N  182   77  341* 34   4  39   161   70  304  32   3  35
Juan Samuel       1987 PHI N  178   80* 329  37  15  28   106   49  198  23   9  17
Brady Anderson    1996 BAL A  172   92* 369  37   5  50   117   63  252  26   2  35
Alfonso Soriano   2002 NY  A  209   92* 381  51   2  39   201   89  368  49   2  38
Grady Sizemore    2006 CLE A  190   92* 349  53  11  28   189   92  348  53  11  28
Alfonso Soriano   2006 WAS N  179   89* 362  41   2  46   159   79  318  38   2  39

That got me to wondering about the high-water marks in a variety of statistical categories for players hitting in each lineup spot. For the lists below I will be considering only the statistics for the player while they were batting in that place in the order.

So here are the single-season leaders from 1918 to 2010:

Hitting first:
Player            Year  Team   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Maury Wills       1962 LA  N 164* 695  130  208  13  10   6   48   51    1   57   2   7   4  104  13  .299   .347   .373
Willie Wilson     1980 KC  A 157  701* 131  229  28  15   3   49   28    3   79   6   5   1   79  10  .327   .357   .422
Rickey Henderson  1985 NY  A 141  546  145t 172  28   5  24   72   99    1   65   3   0   5   80  10  .315   .420   .516
Craig Biggio      1997 HOU N 156  614  145t 191  37   8  22   80   83    6  105  34   0   6   47  10  .311   .418   .505
Ichiro Suzuki     2004 SEA A 150  666   98  251* 21   5   8   58   46   19   59   3   2   3   33  11  .377   .418   .459
Craig Biggio      1999 HOU N 159  638  123  188  56*  0  16   73   88    9  106  11   5   6   28  14  .295   .386   .458
Earle Combs       1927 NY  A 151  648  136  231  36  23t  6   65   62        31   2  12       15   6  .356   .414   .511
Dale Mitchell     1949 CLE A 136  598   78  191  16  23t  3   53   39    2   11   0   2        8   2  .319   .361   .438
Alfonso Soriano   2006 WAS N 131  541  102  159  38   2  39*  81   58   14  130   7   2   2   38  16  .294   .368   .588
Darin Erstad      2000 ANA A 156  675  121  239  39   6  25  100*  64    9   82   1   2   4   28   8  .354   .409   .541
Eddie Yost        1956 WAS A 142  503   94  119  17   2  11   54  150*   8   79   8   9   1    8   5  .237   .418   .344
Ichiro Suzuki     2002 SEA A 151  628  107  199  27   8   8   49   65   25*  60   5   3   5   30  15  .317   .383   .424
Bobby Bonds       1970 SF  N 153  651  132  198  36  10  26   77   75    7  184*  2   0   2   48  10  .304   .377   .510
Ron Hunt          1971 MON N 112  396   70  120  17   2   5   36   44    1   27  46*  6   2    3   6  .303   .430   .394
Morrie Rath       1919 CIN N 138  537   77  142  13   1   1   16i  64        24   0  23*      17      .264   .343   .298
Johnny Temple     1959 CIN N 149  598  102  186  36   6   8   67   72    2   39   2  11  13*  14   3  .311   .380   .431
Rickey Henderson  1982 OAK A 144  532  118  143  24   4  10   51  116    1   94   2   0   2  130* 41* .269   .400   .385
Wade Boggs        1988 BOS A  91  349   79  133  28   4   3   35   72   10   19   1   0   4    1   2  .381*  .484*  .510
Kal Daniels       1987 CIN N  74  285   63   96  21   1  22   47   45    8   48   0   1   0   18   7  .337   .427   .649*

Now there's a lot of information packed into this chart, but hopefully it all makes sense. A "*" indicates a single-season leader; "t", a tie for the lead; and "i", that the data is incomplete. For the average categories, 300 plate appearances are required to qualify.

The two players on the list above with the fewest stolen bases are Ron Hunt and Wade Boggs, but since they are also the two players with the highest on-base percentages, it's clear that the Expos and Red Sox didn't mind having their bases clogged with slower runners at the top of the order.

Ellsbury currently has 86 RBIs when batting lead-off, so he has an outside chance of catching Erstad's mark, but he isn't close in any of the other categories.

Hitting second:
Player            Year  Team   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Felix Millan      1975 NY  N 162* 676   81  191  37   2   1   56   36    2   28  12  17   2    1   6  .283   .329   .348
Aaron Hill        2009 TOR A 158  682* 103  195  37   0  36  108   42    1   98   5   1   4    6   2  .286   .330   .499
Red Rolfe         1937 NY  A 154  648  143* 179  34  10   4   62   91        53   1   1        4   2  .276   .366   .378
Lloyd Waner       1929 PIT N 151  662  134  234* 28  20   5   74   37        20   9  18        6      .353   .395   .479
Paul Waner        1932 PIT N 149  612  106  212  62* 10   8   80   53        23   2   8       13      .346   .400   .520
Jake Daubert      1922 CIN N 147  580  112  203  13  22* 12   68   52    1   20   3  27   3   13  17  .350   .404   .510
Eddie Mathews     1959 MIL N 145  582  117  180  16   8  46* 114t  78    1   70   3   3   2    2   2  .309   .392   .601
Alex Rodriguez    1998 SEA A 145  623  115  194  32   5  38  114t  41    0  110   9   3   4   42  11  .311   .360   .562
Joe Morgan        1973 CIN N 151  572  115  164  34   2  25   78  109*   3   61   4   3   4   67* 15  .287   .402   .484
Tony Gwynn        1992 SD  N 127  519   77  165  27   3   6   41   46   12*  16   0   0   3    3   6  .318   .371   .416
Dan Uggla         2007 FLA N 147  591  110  146  48   3  31   87   65    0  158* 12   4  11    2   1  .247   .328   .496
Ron Hunt          1969 SF  N 121  460   70  121  22   3   3   39   46    0   45  25* 12   3    9   2  .263   .360   .343
Ray Chapman       1919 CLE A 113  431   75  130  23  10   3   31i  31        38   3  51*      18      .302   .353   .422
Mark Loretta      2004 SD  N 146  590  104  197  43   2  15   71   55    3   39   8   4  15*   5   3  .334   .389   .490
Charlie Hollocher 1922 CHI N 152  592   90  202  37   8   3   70   57         5   5  32   5   19  29* .341   .401   .446
Lefty O'Doul      1929 PHI N 101  417  100  168  24   2  21   76   53        12   4  11        2      .403*  .475*  .621
Alex Rodriguez    1996 SEA A 123  523  128  194  44   1  33  107   54    1   88   4   6   7   14   3  .371   .429   .648*

The only other second-place hitter with more than ten intentional walks was also Tony Gwynn, who was given eleven free passes in 1984. And whereever Ron Hunt hit in the batting order, he always got hit by a lot of pitches.

Hitting third:
Player            Year  Team   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Jim Rice          1978 BOS A 163* 677  121  213  25  15  46  139   58    7  126   5   1   5    7   5  .315   .370   .600
Vernon Wells      2003 TOR A 161  678* 118  215  49   5  33  117   42    2   80   7   0   8    4   1  .317   .359   .550
Babe Ruth         1921 NY  A 152  541  177* 204  44  16  59  171* 144        82   4   4       17  13  .377   .511   .845
George Sisler     1922 STL A 140  583  133  243* 42  17   8  104   48        13   3  16       50  19  .417   .464   .588
Charlie Gehringer 1936 DET A 154  641  144  227  60* 12  15  116   83        13   4   3        4   1  .354   .431   .555
Heinie Manush     1928 STL A 149  618   99  232  47  20t 13  105   35        16   0  19       16   4  .375   .409   .579
Stan Musial       1946 STL N 156  624  124  228  50  20t 16  103   73        31   3   2        7      .365   .434   .587
Mark McGwire      1998 STL N 152  506  128  150  20   0  69* 145  162   28  155   6   0   4    1   0  .296   .469   .745
Babe Ruth         1923 NY  A 152  520  151  205  45  13  41  130  170*       94   4   3       17  21  .394   .546   .767
Albert Pujols     2009 STL N 158  565  123  185  45   1  46  134  115   44*  64   9   0   8   16   4  .327   .443   .655
Mo Vaughn         2000 ANA A 148  569   83  153  29   0  31  102   73    9  168* 14   0   4    2   0  .269   .364   .483
Jason Kendall     1998 PIT N 103  374   66  121  22   2   7   56   37    2   39  23t  1   7   18   3  .324   .410   .449
Chase Utley       2008 PHI N 128  484   90  141  35   2  29   89   48    9   81  23t  1   6    9   1  .291   .378   .552
Eddie Collins     1923 CHI A 140  500   89  182  22   5   5   67   84         8   4  39*      49  29  .364   .459   .458
Andre Dawson      1983 MON N 154  622  100  186  35   9  32  111   36   11   78   8   0  18*  25  10  .299   .336   .539
Sam Rice          1920 WAS A 153  626   83  211  29   9   3   82   39    0   23   4  18   0   63* 30* .337   .380   .427
Rogers Hornsby    1922 STL N  94  394   92  172  31  11  30  101   31    3i  27   0   8   1    9  10  .437*  .477   .799
Barry Bonds       2002 SF  N  78  223   71   84  14   2  30   64  109   32   27   8   0   0    3   1  .377   .591*  .861*

It seems a little odd seeing Jason Kendell as a number three hitter, but a dozen or so years ago he was the best hitter the Pirates had. And as incredible as Hornsby's 1922 performance above was, Barry Bonds had an OPS in 2002 from the third spot that was more than 175 points higher.

Hitting fourth:
Player            Year  Team   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Justin Morneau    2008 MIN A 163* 623   97  187  47   4  23  129   76   16   85   3   0  10    0   1  .300   .374   .499
Al Simmons        1932 PHI A 154  670* 144  216  28   9  35  151   46        76   1   0        4   2  .322   .367   .548
Lou Gehrig        1936 NY  A 155  579  167* 205  37   7  49  152  130        46   7   3        3   4  .354   .478   .696
Joe Medwick       1937 STL N 156  633  111  237* 56  10  31  154   41        50   2   1        4      .374   .414   .641
Joe Medwick       1936 STL N 155  636  115  223  64* 13  18  138   34        33   4   3        3      .351   .387   .577
S. Jackson        1920 CHI A 145  569  105  218  42  20t 12  122   56        14   7  16        9  12  .383   .445   .591
Rogers Hornsby    1920 STL N 149  589   96  218  44  20t  9   93   60        50   3   8       12  15  .370   .431   .559
Jim Bottomley     1928 STL N 148  576  123  187  42  20t 31  136   70        54   3  17       10      .325   .401   .628
Hack Wilson       1930 CHI N 155  585  146  208  35   6  56* 191* 105        84   1  18        3      .356   .454   .723
Barry Bonds       2004 SF  N 139  371  127  135  27   3  45  101  226* 115*  41   9   0   3    6   1  .364   .608*  .817
Ryan Howard       2007 PHI N 137  517   93  139  26   0  46  132  104   34  197*  5   0   7    1   0  .269   .392   .586
Andres Galarraga  1998 ATL N 151  553  103  168  27   1  44  121   63   11  146  25*  0   5    7   6  .304   .396   .595
Stuffy McInnis    1923 BOS N 154  607   70  191  23   9   2   95   26        12   0  37*       7   8  .315   .343   .392
Juan Gonzalez     2001 CLE A 140  532   97  173  34   1  35  140   41    5   94   6   0  16*   1   0  .325   .370   .590
Eric Davis        1986 CIN N  89  304   73   91  13   2  22   57   52    5   75   1   0   2   58*  8  .299   .401   .572
Edd Roush         1920 CIN N 105  407   62  146  14  13   4   75   32        16   2  16       29  17t .359   .408   .486
Ross Youngs       1921 NY  N 137  499   90  163  24  17   3  104   72    1i  46   1   9   9   21  17t .327   .406   .461
Bill Terry        1930 NY  N 107  439   94  180  31  10  15   90   33        21   0  13        6      .410*  .451   .629
Babe Ruth         1920 NY  A  99  320  113  126  24   8  39  103  100        57   3   3       13   9  .394   .541   .884*

The Reds of the late 1980s had a core of young players that included Barry Larkin, Eric Davis and Kal Daniels. Daniels appeared on the first of our lists, setting the mark for the highest slugging percentage among lead-off batters in 1987, and Davis cracked the clean-up list courtesy of his 58 steals in only 89 games a year earlier. For a moment, it looked like Daniels and Davis might someday give Cincinnati the first pair of 40-40 teammates.

Stuffy McInnis might look out of place above, with his two home runs and 37 sacrifice hits, but the Braves that year had the weakest hitters in the league and someone had to bat fourth. It was also 1923 and the longball was still only just catching on around the majors. Two homers was actually a pretty good showing for McInnis; he had hit a total of only six the previous nine years.

Hitting fifth:
Player            Year  Team   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Robin Ventura     1998 CHI A 157* 585   84  154  30   4  21   91   79   15  109   1   1   3    1   1  .263   .350   .436
Carl Furillo      1950 BRO N 150  607*  99  186  30   6  18  102   40    5   37   5   3        8   3  .306   .354   .465
Jimmie Foxx       1932 PHI A 154  585  151* 213* 33   9  58* 169* 117        96   0   0        3   7  .364   .470   .749
John Olerud       1993 TOR A 144  500  101  182  50*  2  21   97  107   30   58   7   0   7    0   2  .364   .477   .598
Hi Myers          1920 BRO N 135  506   74  153  31  19*  2   66   27        49   1  33        9  10  .302   .339   .451
Norm Cash         1961 DET A 156  531  117  191  22   8  40  131  122*  19   84   9   2   2   11   5  .360   .485   .657
Barry Bonds       1993 SF  N 120  404   96  139  29   4  31   86  100   33*  60   1   0   5   22   9  .344   .471   .666
Ed Sprague        1996 TOR A 153  571   87  141  35   2  35   97   60    3  141* 12   0   6    0   0  .247   .328   .499
Don Baylor        1986 BOS A 137  501   76  119  20   1  24   79   49    6  100  31*  0   5    3   4  .238   .340   .425
Stuffy McInnis    1920 BOS A 134  510   48  154  19   2   2   69   18        18   2  39*       6  10  .302   .328   .359
Barry Bonds       1991 PIT N 143  491   94  146  26   5  24  115  101   25   70   4   0  13t  43  13  .297   .412   .517
J.T. Snow         2000 SF  N  87  322   49   99  21   2  11   69   34    4   77   4   0  13t   0   1  .307   .367   .488
Ben Chapman       1931 NY  A 130  523  107  167  26  10  16  113   66        64   4   6       56* 22  .319   .400   .499
Bernie Friberg    1924 CHI N 136  477   64  133  18   3   4   78   65        51   5  21       18  26* .279   .371   .354
Lou Gehrig        1930 NY  A  85  326   95  143  28  12  29  111   58        38   3   7        8   8  .439*  .527*  .865*

You're probably wondering just how great the top of the 1932 Athletics lineup must have been if Jimmie Foxx hit no higher than fifth. Well, Al Simmons batted cleanup and you can see his record on the previous list: 216 hits, 35 homers, 151 RBIs. Not bad. Mickey Cochrane hit third and was considered one of the games top stars. The real puzzler was in the top two spots, where Connie Mack had players like Max Bishop, Doc Cramer, Mule Haas and Dib Williams share the duties. Even with Bishop getting his normal 100+ walks and Cramer hitting well over .300, the team still got below average production out of the first two spots in the lineup. Not that it mattered all that much: they still scored nearly 1000 runs and a few dozen or so more wouldn't have been enough to close the gap between them and the championship New York Yankees.

Similarly, it's hard to see the logic behind Bob Shawkey's decision to bat Tony Lazzeri clean-up and Lou Gehrig fifth for most of 1930. Gehrig hit a ton out of the five spot, but that was probably just a coincidence, and as soon as Joe McCarthy took over as New York's manager, he moved Gehrig back to his usual place and had Ben Chapman bat fifth instead. Today, someone with Chapman's offensive profile would have been put at the top of a lineup without much thought, but in addition to all of his stolen bases, he hit the third most home runs on the team that year and so batted behind Ruth and Gehrig instead.

During his time with the Pirates, Barry Bonds had hit primarily lead-off and fifth. He didn't settle into the clean-up spot until his last year there and even then he would move between fourth and fifth depending upon the opposing starter. So what happened when he signed the big contract with the Giants before the 1993 season? He batted fifth.

Hitting sixth:
Player            Year  Team   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Joe Sewell        1921 CLE A 154* 572  101  182  36  12   4   93   80        18  11  20        7   6  .318   .412   .444
H. Kelly          1922 NY  N 149  584*  94  192* 31   8  17  105   32    1   64   3   7   7   12   3  .329   .363   .497
Troy Glaus        2000 ANA A 134  473  102* 135  34   0  39*  85   93*   5  143*  1   0   0   11   8  .285   .404   .605
Hank Greenberg    1934 DET A 114  441   89  148  48*  5  18  102   50        70   1   8        9   5  .336   .404   .590
Howie Shanks      1921 WAS A 136  498   80  156  23  17*  6   66   53        35   2  23       11   9  .313   .382   .464
Glenn Wright      1925 PIT N 135  539   86  170  28   9  16  110t  27        27   0  13        2   7  .315   .348   .490
Tony Lazzeri      1926 NY  A 148  565   76  154  26  14  17  110t  52        96   2  16       16   7  .273   .336   .458
Ken Singleton     1983 BAL A 136  460   49  130  21   3  16   75   92   18*  74   1   2   2    0   2  .283   .402   .446
Jason Kendall     1997 PIT N  98  337   47  104  26   3   5   38   28    1   36  22*  1   5   10   5  .309   .393   .448
Lu Blue           1925 DET A 128  451   76  140  16   7   3   85   71        22   3  30*      19   4  .310   .408   .397
Jim Piersall      1956 BOS A 125  476   62  139  28   4  13   78   40    1   38   1   8  10*   6   7  .292   .342   .450
Garry Maddox      1978 PHI N  85  308   27   87  15   1   6   35   27   10   45   2   1   2   24*  3  .282   .342   .396
Austin McHenry    1921 STL N 122  470   72  170  33   6  12   89   30    3i  43   2   9        5  19t .362   .402   .534
Denver Grigsby    1924 CHI N 108  377   52  112  17   2   3   41   28        46   5  11        8  19t .297   .354   .377
Riggs Stephenson  1929 CHI N  99  365   63  136  30   5   9   81   54        15   4  11        8      .373*  .459   .556
Roy Cullenbine    1946 DET A  74  242   50   88  17   0  14   45   63        27   1   0        3      .364   .497*  .607
Walker Cooper     1947 NY  N  77  298   48   98  15   5  26   89   16        25   2   3        1      .329   .367   .674*

This is the first lineup spot where the leader in games played was not from the 162-game era. All this means is that the back end of the modern lineup is not nearly as stable as the front end.

Either baseball people didn't know that Roy Cullenbine had hit .364 when batting sixth in 1946 or they weren't nearly as superstitious back in the good old days as we've been led to believe, because the next year Cullenbine hit second, third and seventh. He had no at-bats at all from his happy spot in the order. And his batting average fell from a career-high .335 to a career-ending .224. No one seemed to notice that Cullenbine also hit 24 home runs or walked 137 times in 1947. By some modern metrics (like WAR), he was one of the ten most valuable position players in the league that year, but by one traditional metric that mattered a whole lot at the time (batting average), he was one of the worst.

The 2000 Anaheim Angels had one of the most productive first and sixth-place hitters in history (Darin Erstad and Troy Glaus) and still finished with the third-best offense (and record) in their four-team division.

It seems a little odd seeing Jason Kendell as a number six hitter, but a dozen or so years ago....

Hitting seventh:
Player            Year  Team   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Jackie Tavener    1926 DET A 156* 533   65  141  22  14   1   58   52        53   1  28        8   7  .265   .331   .364
Charlie Grimm     1922 PIT N 151  582*  65  172  28  14   0   78   42    2   15   3   6   4    6  10  .296   .344   .392
Pinky Higgins     1933 PHI A 150  560   85* 177* 34* 12  13   98   61        53   2   5        2   7  .316   .385   .489
Charlie Grimm     1921 PIT N 146  550   61  150  21  17*  6   66   29    1   36   2  10   3    6   6  .273   .310   .405
Howard Johnson    1987 NY  N 124  437   68  117  17   1  28*  81   61   14   90   5   0   2   23   7  .268   .362   .503
Ken Keltner       1938 CLE A 143  550   84  153  31   9  25  111*  32        69   3   7        4   3  .278   .321   .504
Willie Kamm       1925 CHI A 144  485   76  134  31   2   6   84   83*       31   4  36       10  12  .276   .386   .386
Ed Herrmann       1972 CHI A  94  296   20   76   6   0   9   35   38   18*  28   3   0   4    0   0  .257   .343   .368
Bo Jackson        1988 KC  A  89  327   50   82  11   2  18   45   19    3  102t  1   1   2   24   5  .251   .292   .462
Jose Hernandez    2002 MIL N  76  263   41   74  12   1  13   36   29    2  102t  2   0   1    1   2  .281   .356   .483
Chet Lemon        1983 DET A 112  380   59   91  15   4  20   55   40    1   50  14*  1   4    0   4  .239   .331   .458
Topper Rigney     1922 DET A 155  536   68  161  17   7   2   62   68        44   1  38*      17   8  .300   .380   .369
Ray Knight        1986 NY  N  85  297   34   79  14   2   8   48   34    2   42   3   1   8t   2   0  .266   .339   .407
Rey Quinones      1989 PIT N  54  195   18   43   9   0   3   27   11    1   32   1   3   8t   0   2  .221   .256   .313
Shawon Dunston    1991 CHI N  82  297   38   80  14   4   8   28   14    2   41   0   3   8t  12   3  .269   .295   .424
Cliff Heathcote   1923 CHI N  94  318   38   82  12   3   0   21   21        21   2  10       28* 11  .258   .308   .314
Cliff Heathcote   1924 CHI N  73  241   43   71  13   5   0   28   19        14   1   8       20  15* .295   .349   .390
Charlie Grimm     1923 PIT N 103  380   62  137  19  11   6   68   27        28   0   5        4   5  .361*  .403   .516
Harlond Clift     1935 STL A  74  249   54   85  15   2  10   49   54        23   2   4        0   2  .341   .462*  .538
Gabby Hartnett    1930 CHI N 102  385   65  137  23   3  26   93   43        46   1  11        0      .356   .422   .634*

As we approach the bottom of the lineup, we start seeing smaller numbers and more partial years. Charlie Grimm made the list in three successive years. In the last, he had his batting average over .400 in late May, earning him an eight-week promotion to sixth-place. By then, his average had dropped to .360 and he was moved back down to seventh. Given his relatively low spot in the batting order, you might think that the Pirates that year had an historically great offense, but Grimm was actually one of their better hitters. Among the regulars, he had the highest batting average and only Clyde Barnhart had a higher OPS.

Harlond Clift had a pretty extreme split in 1935. Here is his batting both in and out of the seventh spot:

               G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Seventh       74  249   54   85  15   2  10   49   54        23   2   4        0   2  .341   .462   .538
Not Seventh   63  226   47   55  11   2   1   20   29        16   4   1        0   1  .243   .338   .323

Most of those other at-bats were while leading off so either this is simply a coincidence or Clift really didn't like hitting first.

Hitting eighth:
Player            Year  Team   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Tommy Thevenow    1926 STL N 156t 563*  64  144  15   5   2   63   27        26   1  17        8      .256   .291   .311
Ed Brinkman       1971 DET A 156t 515   39  119  18   2   1   37   43    7   54   7   6   5    1   4  .231   .296   .280
Wally Schang      1921 NY  A 132  422   77t 134  30   5   6   55   80*       35   6   6        7   4  .318   .433   .455
Billy Myers       1939 CIN N 144  483   77t 135  15   6   9   53   67        85   0  21        4      .280   .367   .391
Jim Levey         1932 STL A 150  559   59  156* 30   8   4   62   21        47   4  11        6   4  .279   .310   .383
Steve O'Neill     1919 CLE A 123  396   45  115  35t  7   2   23i  50        20   5  10        4      .290   .377   .429
Steve O'Neill     1920 CLE A 126  413   53  134  35t  5   2   45   60        31   3  12        2   3  .324   .414   .448
Eddie Ainsmith    1919 DET A 106  356   42   98  17  12*  3   18i  42        30   1  12        9      .275   .353   .416
Del Crandall      1955 MIL N 114  383   48   93  15   2  22*  55   34   11   49   1   5   5    0   0  .243   .303   .465
Babe Dahlgren     1939 NY  A 143  527   71  125  18   6  15   89*  57        53   2  13        2   3  .237   .314   .380
Adolfo Phillips   1967 CHI N 140  443   65  119  19   7  17   70   79   29*  92   6   5   2   24   9  .269   .385   .458
Ron Karkovice     1993 CHI A 127  399   59   91  17   1  19   52   29    1  125*  6  11   4    2   2  .228   .288   .419
Dave Valle        1993 SEA A 122  382   45  101  18   0  13   63   46    4   52  16*  6   4    1   0  .264   .364   .414
Tim Foli          1982 CAL A 128  444   44  113  13   2   2   52   12    1   19   2  22*  6    1   4  .255   .274   .306
Dick Hall         1954 PIT N  76  255   30   62   8   3   2   24   28    6   38   0   0   9t   3   1  .243   .308   .322
Dale Berra        1984 PIT N 124  403   27   88  13   0   7   46   31    7   68   1   5   9t   1   3  .218   .270   .303
Freddie Patek     1977 KC  A 138  446   67  118  21   6   5   57   37    2   77   5  13   7   52* 12  .265   .323   .372
Freddie Patek     1976 KC  A 131  405   54   98  18   3   1   43   49    5   58   2  13   6   46  14* .242   .323   .309
Marv Owen         1934 DET A  85  305   44  106  18   6   3   53   39        20   3   4        2   1  .348*  .427   .475
Johnny Bassler    1924 DET A 120  375   43  129  20   3   1   67   62        11   3  12        2   1  .344   .441*  .421
Jesse Barfield    1985 TOR A  86  288   55   84  16   7  16   53   38    4   76   4   0   2    9   6  .292   .380   .562*

Most of the players on this list were weak-hitting infielders or catchers. Dahlgren, of course, was Lou Gehrig's replacement at first and although he hit poorly, especially for a first-baseman, his statistics don't look so bad near the bottom of the order.

Jesse Barfield hit eighth in 1984 against most righties and was usually moved up to fourth or fifth in the lineup against left-handers. Which is unusual, because he really didn't have much of a platoon differential that year.

Hitting ninth:
Player            Year  Team   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Alfredo Griffin   1983 TOR A 160* 525*  60  131  22   9*  4   47   26    0   44   3  11   3    8  11  .250   .287   .349
Harold Reynolds   1987 SEA A 157  517   72t 145  31   8   1   34   38    0   34   2   8   5   59* 19* .280   .329   .377
Kevin Elster      1996 TEX A 146  479   72t 123  30   2  21*  92*  50    1  130   2  15  11*   4   1  .257   .323   .459
Gary Disarcina    1998 ANA A 146  511   68  149* 37*  3   2   53   20    0   43   8  11   3   10   7  .292   .327   .387
Brian Downing     1975 CHI A 135  411   56  100  11   1   7   41   73*   4   74   3  11   6   13   4  .243   .357   .326
Ozzie Guillen     1990 CHI A 157  515   61  144  21   4   1   58   25    8*  37   1  15   5   13  17  .280   .311   .342
Benji Gil         1995 TEX A 127  413   35   91  20   3   9   46   26    0  146*  1  10   2    2   4  .220   .267   .349
Einar Diaz        2001 CLE A 104  333   37   91  24   1   4   44   11    0   36  13*  7   0    1   2  .273   .322   .387
Mark Belanger     1975 BAL A 132  392   38   86   9   1   3   27   33    0   50   0  21t  0   12   2  .219   .280   .270
Bob Boone         1982 CAL A 126  422   34  104  16   0   4   50   33    2   32   0  21t  5    0   2  .246   .298   .313
Bob Meacham       1985 NY  A 129  396   58   84  14   1   1   34   43    1   87   5  21t  2   22   7  .212   .296   .260
Roberto Kelly     1989 NY  A 108  354   55  117  17   3   6   41   31    1   70   4   5   0   32  11  .331*  .391*  .446
Trot Nixon        1999 BOS A  99  313   58   90  20   5  15   49   46    0   52   3   2   8    2   1  .288   .376   .527*

These are all American League players from the DH era. I was a little surprised that the 1989 Yankees, a team with an average offense, could afford to bat Roberto Kelly ninth most of the year. On the other hand, whenever they moved him out of that spot, he pretty much stopped hitting, posting a .184/.275/.299 line elsewhere.

Just about all the offenses in the league that year were average. The Yankees' 698 runs scored ranked seventh (out of 14 teams) in the league. Had they scored nine fewer runs, however, they would have ranked eleventh and fourteen more runs would have moved them into a tie for fourth. That got me to wondering if this offensive parity was at a historic level that year. Here's the list of the leagues with the smallest average difference between each team's runs scored per game and the league average:

Year  LEAG TEAMS    DIFF
1974    AL    12   .1213
1915    NL     8   .1501
1958    NL     8   .1605
1989    AL    14   .1813
1989    NL    12   .1848
1918    AL     8   .1897
1983    NL    12   .1948
1915    FL     8   .1988

So the 1974 American League can boast of having the most consistently mediocre offenses. And the leagues since 1900 with the greatest disparity:

Year  LEAG TEAMS    DIFF
1931    AL     8   .7623
1930    AL     8   .7468
1950    AL     8   .7308
1921    AL     8   .7219
1932    AL     8   .7132
1901    NL     8   .6990
1929    AL     8   .6894
1948    AL     8   .6597

But I digress. Here's what the ninth place list looks like if we exclude all games with the DH:

Player            Year  Team   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO HBP  SH  SF   SB  CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Cesar Izturis     2008 STL N  87* 284*  32*  71*  8   3   1   19   23*   1   18   4   3   1   11*  5t .250*  .314*  .310*
Red Ruffing       1928 BOS A  53  115   12   38  13*  1   2   18    3        12   0   6        0      .330   .347   .513
Erskine Mayer     1918 2 tms  28   79    9   15   1   5*  0    7    6        17   0   4        0      .190   .247   .329
Wes Ferrell       1931 CLE A  44  113   24   37   6   1   9*  29t  10        19   0   2        0      .327   .382   .637x
Wes Ferrell       1935 BOS A  64  140   25   49   4   1   7   29t  20        14   0   8        0      .350   .431   .543
Smoky Burgess     1967 CHI A  38   30    2    5   0   0   2    6    7    4t   2   0   0   0    0   0  .167   .324   .367
Rick Monday       1983 LA  N  34   25    1    6   1   0   0    3    6    4t  10   0   0   0    0   0  .240   .387   .280
Kurt Bevacqua     1985 SD  N  23   18    2    4   1   0   0    4    5    4t   5   0   0   1    0   0  .222   .375   .278
Dave Hansen       2001 LA  N  46   37    4    8   5   0   0    4   11    4t  10   0   0   1    0   0  .216   .388   .351
Daryle Ward       2007 CHI N  37   31    1    8   3   0   0    4    7    4t   8   0   0   0    0   0  .258   .395   .355
Wilbur Wood       1972 CHI A  49  125    8   17   0   0   0    7    6    0   65*  0  13   0    0   0  .136   .176   .136
Jason Kendall     2008 MIL N  42  145   16   42  12   1   0   15   12    0   12   6*  1   1    2   2  .290   .366   .386
Urban Shocker     1926 NY  A  41   76    6   13   1   0   0    4   10        20   2  20t       0      .171   .284   .184
Urban Shocker     1927 NY  A  31   54    6   13   1   0   0   10    7        12   3  20t       0      .241   .359   .259
Steve Rogers      1983 MON N  36   82    5   12   1   0   0    2    1    0   27   1  20t  0    0   0  .146   .167   .159
Roy Oswalt        2006 HOU N  32   66    3   10   1   0   1    8    4    0   15   0  20t  0    0   0  .152   .200   .212
Javier Vazquez    2009 ATL N  37   68    6   12   3   0   0    3    3    0   14   0  20t  0    0   0  .176   .211   .221
Bob Keegan        1954 CHI A  31   74    5    8   2   1   0    6    4    0   10   0   1   4t   0   0  .108   .146   .162
Warren Spahn      1959 MIL N  39  103   11   24   1   0   2    8    3    0   28   0   1   4t   0   0  .233   .245   .301
Denny Lemaster    1964 MIL N  38   67    2    9   1   0   0    6    4    0   25   1   7   4t   0   0  .134   .184   .149
Juan Pierre       2009 LA  N  50   61   10   17   1   1   0    2    6    0    5   2   3   1    1   5t .279   .357   .328
Walter Johnson    1925 WAS A  36   97   12   42   6   1   2   20    3    0    6   1   6   0    0   1  .433x  .455x  .577

Izturis owes his appearance atop several of these categories to Tony LaRussa, who decided to bat his pitcher eighth much of 2008 (and during other years as well). I was surprised that Izturis' 87 games played was the highest, since several relievers have pitched in more than 90 games, but it turns out that they often appear lower in the batting order. For example, in Mike Marshall's record-setting 1974 season, he entered the game in the last spot only 70 times.

Izturis ended up leading in all the average categories by default, since no other player had even 200 plate appearance in the final spot. If you lower the bar to 100 plate appearances, "x" marks the leaders.

Best Career Hitters By Lineup Position

After my last post, a few of you might have seen this one coming. What follows are a series of charts of career leaders in various offensive categories by lineup position. Once again, this covers all games played from 1918 to 2010.

Hitting first:
Player               G     AB     R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI    BB  IBB    SO  HBP   SH   SF    SB   CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Rickey Henderson  2886* 10793* 2244* 3020* 507   66  293* 1100* 2140*  56  1649*  94   29   66* 1384* 331* .280   .401   .420
Pete Rose         2313   9500  1524  2924  517*  95  117   803  1048  132   746   70   25   47   125  101  .308   .379   .419
Earle Combs       1072   4516   941  1470  236  127*  46   490   546        209   10   51         77   55  .326   .399   .465
Ichiro Suzuki     1561   6711  1038  2222  255   71   89   552   449  152*  676   45   27   29   379   88  .331*  .375   .430
Craig Biggio      1564   6334  1128  1800  426   32  181   686   704   54  1059  182*  35   41   238   82  .284   .370   .447
Brett Butler      1858   7253  1198  2091  250  109   46   501   992   19   792   31  111*  45   483  231  .288   .374   .372
Max Bishop        1220   4385   949  1191  231   34   41   368  1131        435   28   94         40   47  .272   .424*  .368
Alfonso Soriano    770   3339   573   960  221   13  197   457   224   40   742   41    5   19   161   49  .288   .338   .538*

The notation is pretty much the same as in my last post: "*" means the batter led in that category; "t", that he tied for the lead. For average categories, a 1000 plate appearances minimum was used. If the leader had less than 2000 plate appearances, the leader with at least 2000 is marked with an "x".

Rickey Henderson's domination in this category was not surprising. He came to the majors as a leadoff hitter and stayed there his entire career. The role of a leadoff hitter (fast, gets on base) hasn't really changed much over the last few decades and Henderson fit that description even as his skills began to erode late in his career.

Hitting second:
Player               G     AB     R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI    BB  IBB    SO  HBP   SH   SF    SB   CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Nellie Fox        1713*  6941*  974* 2025* 275   81*  26   568   549   19   150  113* 161   40    53   54  .292   .352   .366
Billy Herman      1262   5147   783  1553  325*  61   38   517   478        290   18  124         41       .302   .363   .411
Ryne Sandberg     1223   4934   814  1437  237   51  186*  601   430   32   717   16   22   34   204   54  .291   .348   .473
Derek Jeter       1270   5188   939  1627  268   35  133   656*  525   16   876   83   51   22   195   41  .314   .384   .456
Joe Morgan        1136   4238   762  1145  205   41  112   428   787*  19   465   23   34   29   349   77  .270   .385   .417
Tony Gwynn         899   3643   557  1231  197   33   57   352   276   60*  169   11   18   14   120   54  .338   .385   .457
Jay Bell          1335   5172   853  1417  284   50  135   576   607   14   962*  38  139   38    68   44  .274   .352   .427
Mule Haas          745   3041   532   914  183   37   35   342   272        206   10  175*         4   12  .301   .360   .420
Omar Vizquel      1567   6180   924  1714  279   47   50   597   637    4   643   29  159   64*  263   92  .277   .344   .362
Ozzie Smith       1533   5962   849  1600  253   45   15   510   673   22   374   16  159   42   404*  98* .268   .342   .333
Lefty O'Doul       335   1327   304   482   85   13   45   179   158         40    9   18         13       .363*  .434*  .549
Ellis Burks        275   1071   230   331   62   13   68   193   124    1   207    9    6    3    27   12  .309   .384   .582*
Wade Boggs         644   2534   426   859  158   12   38   317   372   16   208    4    9   26     8    6  .339x  .421x  .456
Alex Rodriguez     502   2084   430   667  138   11  118   391   192    2   371   25   13   17   104   25  .320   .381   .567x

The role of a number two hitter is less well-defined than that of the lead-off batter and almost all of these hitters moved around in the lineup, with the fast ones spending time batting first (or even eighth) and the ones with power sliding down into the third, fourth or fifth spot.

Hitting third:
Player               G     AB     R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI    BB  IBB    SO  HBP   SH   SF    SB   CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Stan Musial       2225*  8534* 1584  2875* 597* 149* 383  1509  1256  136   485   40   31   35    65   25  .337   .423   .576
Babe Ruth         1744   6116  1645* 2112  347   90  553* 1628* 1574*       974   29   74         84   97  .345   .481   .703x
Albert Pujols     1238   4627   965  1538  341   12  341   975   758  213*  499   60    0   47    72   27  .332   .429   .632
Ken Griffey       2017   7731  1374  2240  414   34  530  1514  1044  207  1390*  71    5   81   155   50  .290   .376   .558
Minnie Minoso     1105   4156   734  1252  215   63  113   672   516   22   348  123*  51   33   137   98  .301   .392   .465
Eddie Collins      965   3573   607  1204  172   47   21   490   572         89   18  173*       189   82  .337   .431   .429
George Brett      1907   7349  1151  2266  486   91  250  1207   848  185   667   24    6   97*  138   60  .308   .377   .501
Cesar Cedeno      1071   4109   640  1187  250   30  125   577   394   56   515   33   13   44   363* 102* .289   .352   .456
Rogers Hornsby     846   3275   731  1262  259   58  170   720   440    3   248    9   90    1    31   32  .385*  .459   .656
Ted Williams      1541   5446  1296  1870  352   39  388  1289  1445  116   500   31    1   17    19   13  .343   .482*  .636
Mark McGwire       376   1283   303   366   50    1  166   355   355   59   382   13    0   13     3    0  .285   .441   .714*

Babe Ruth and Ken Griffey are the only batters with 500 or more home runs at a single lineup position. Power hitters tended to move from year to year between third, fourth and fifth in the order.

Hitting fourth:
Player               G     AB     R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI    BB  IBB    SO  HBP   SH   SF    SB   CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Eddie Murray      2041*  7675* 1148  2233* 391   26  348  1340   996  181  1001   15    1   88*   80   29  .291   .370   .485
Lou Gehrig        1545   5790  1392* 1998  376  107  383* 1512* 1125*       508   32   55         74   83* .345   .454   .645
Joe Medwick       1413   5764   951  1879  410*  87  160  1083   329        422   20   35         32       .326   .364   .511
Jim Bottomley     1525   6028   988  1883  390  122* 183  1158   535        485   31  147*        47   15  .312   .371   .509
Barry Bonds        852   2581   656   819  160   12  242   615   954  359*  376   39    0   25    89   18  .317   .503*  .670
Fred McGriff      1826   6719  1001  1935  335   16  364  1224   974  140  1363*  27    1   56    51   29  .288   .378   .505
Carlos Delgado    1393   5052   916  1448  353   12  347  1112   847  148  1191  127*   0   66     9    5  .287   .398   .567
Eric Davis         602   2103   385   588   96   11  115   392   316   35   536   14    2   19   165*  28  .280   .374   .500
S. Jackson         301   1150   192   421   76   36   20   217   125         25   11   39         21   12  .366*  .433   .547
Babe Ruth          541   1842   466   629  131   38  148   488   442        271   14   28         37   20  .341   .472   .695*
Ted Williams       459   1604   387   577  124   23   95   386   418    4   132    7    4    1     4    4  .360x  .494   .643

Babe Ruth and Ted Williams also appeared on the previous list.

Hitting fifth:
Player               G     AB     R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI    BB  IBB    SO  HBP   SH   SF    SB   CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Harry Heilmann    1090*  4096*  726* 1453* 292*  77* 111   762*  455        268   20  132*        59   32  .355*  .422   .545
Jimmie Foxx        828   3022   672   986  179   52  203*  738   540*       468    3   49         26   33  .326   .429*  .621*
Barry Bonds        533   1809   360   550  115   12  108   371   373   90*  269   13    1   26   142*  46  .304   .421   .560
Pat Burrell        608   2151   321   545  119    9  122   409   369   24   599*  13    0   20     2    3  .253   .363   .487
Don Baylor         821   2976   456   777  131    9  122   445   286   41   426  121*   4   39    85   36  .261   .346   .434
Robin Ventura      929   3355   511   909  172    9  159   615   534   81   577   11    8   42*   16   20  .271   .369   .470
Bob Meusel         747   2904   434   908  219   47   75   600   209        337    9   92         78   62* .313   .361   .498

Barry Bonds was walked intentionally more than any other fourth and fifth-place batter. Of course, intentional walks didn't exist during Harry Heilmann and Jimmie Foxx's day, but it is surprising how few players spent a long time hitting fifth.

In order to get some idea of how the top players moved around the lineup, here is a chart of all the players from 1918-2010 with at least 2500 starts along with the percentage of their starts at each lineup position:

Pete Rose         3437  66.9  23.5   9.4   0.0   0.1   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0
Carl Yastrzemski  3228   0.0   0.2  61.3  26.0   7.2   4.4   0.6   0.3   0.0
Hank Aaron        3173   0.0   2.7  56.8  37.4   1.7   0.8   0.5   0.0   0.0
Cal Ripken        2982   0.0   0.3  51.8  10.2  17.5  13.1   5.7   0.9   0.3
Eddie Murray      2973   0.0   0.0   8.8  68.6  16.5   3.1   3.0   0.0   0.0
Rickey Henderson  2890  99.5   0.1   0.3   0.0   0.1   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0
Barry Bonds       2848  15.4   0.9  35.5  29.6  18.3   0.2   0.1   0.0   0.0
Stan Musial       2843   0.0   1.4  78.0  11.9   6.4   2.3   0.0   0.0   0.0
Dave Winfield     2830   0.0   0.2  21.6  51.8  21.0   3.7   1.4   0.2   0.0
Willie Mays       2821   2.3   4.3  68.4  15.3   4.0   4.1   1.5   0.2   0.0
Robin Yount       2815   9.4  38.0  19.9  10.6   5.4   2.6   6.2   4.9   3.1
Brooks Robinson   2790   3.5   0.2   9.5  19.4  24.2  24.7  14.0   4.6   0.0
Craig Biggio      2723  57.3  27.5   8.3   0.0   1.2   1.3   0.7   3.7   0.0
Rafael Palmeiro   2713   0.4  10.1  34.6  34.6  16.8   2.9   0.5   0.0   0.0
Omar Vizquel      2696  10.5  57.5   0.1   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.7   9.2  22.0
Frank Robinson    2680   0.2   3.9  32.9  52.4   8.3   1.5   0.7   0.0   0.0
George Brett      2662   5.0   5.4  71.5   6.9   4.0   2.8   0.6   2.4   1.5
Paul Molitor      2650  59.2   5.0  32.7   0.5   0.2   1.2   0.5   0.6   0.0
Reggie Jackson    2646   0.0   3.7  27.2  44.1  12.4   9.9   2.2   0.5   0.0
Al Kaline         2630   0.0   3.8  55.4  30.4   3.5   6.2   0.8   0.1   0.0
Harold Baines     2579   0.0   0.0  43.2  19.2  20.4  11.0   5.2   1.0   0.0
Ken Griffey       2545   0.2   2.7  79.1   8.9   6.3   2.1   0.7   0.0   0.0
Luis Aparicio     2539  50.3  33.1   0.1   0.0   0.0   0.7   4.5  11.3   0.0
Mel Ott           2538   0.5   1.1  27.6  46.7  20.3   3.5   0.4   0.0   0.0
Rusty Staub       2509   0.2   3.4  45.0  30.1  11.5   6.4   2.8   0.6   0.0
Gary Sheffield    2507   0.4   3.0  68.7  19.3   3.7   3.2   0.8   0.4   0.5

Rickey Henderson is the only player with more than 80% of his starts at one position.

Hitting sixth:
Player               G     AB     R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI    BB  IBB    SO  HBP   SH   SF    SB   CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Charlie Grimm      894*  3351*  381   962* 177*  27   30   443   240        172   14  120*        26   10  .287   .337   .383
Tony Lazzeri       751   2791   423*  803  154   55*  83   502*  346        390    8   62         85   40* .288   .368   .472
Graig Nettles      859   2983   386   750  105   12  143*  423   350   33   393   20    3   28    14   11  .251   .331   .438
Gene Tenace        675   2126   317   518   88    9  105   329   459*  29   453   39   12   18    17   26  .244   .385   .442
Ed Bailey          505   1719   223   451   60    6   84   277   266   37*  279   12   10   18    11   12  .262   .362   .451
Jorge Posada       629   2222   345   645  147    3  115   420   364   29   523*  25    0   14    10    8  .290   .394x  .514x
Bill Freehan       473   1674   188   425   67   10   58   191   160   13   220   49*   9   11     5    9  .254   .335   .410
Benito Santiago    687   2542   287   676  110   17   89   347   149   16   484   13   12   31*   39   21  .266   .306   .428
Garry Maddox       736   2745   320   783  132   24   55   326   131   33   320   10   12   27   104*  37  .285   .317   .411
George Selkirk     278    962   199   314   59   16   50   254   190         99   16    9         26   13  .326*  .445*  .577*
Bill Dickey        499   1839   246   564   94   21   61   347   204         67    9   11         12   10  .307x  .379   .480

New York Yankee players from the 1920s and 1930s hold the career marks for most caught stealing from the fourth (Lou Gehrig), fifth (Bob Meusel) and sixth (Tony Lazzeri) spots. And Babe Ruth was only six away from making it a clean sweep of slots three through six.

Hitting seventh:
Player               G     AB     R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI    BB  IBB    SO  HBP   SH   SF    SB   CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Charlie Grimm      979*  3623*  440* 1098* 169*  70*  44   520*  255    3   181   12   62    7    26   29  .303   .350   .425
Javy Lopez         454   1582   191   457   70    7   84*  260    85   14   258   24    3   13     1    7  .289   .332   .501
Jimmy Dykes        784   2681   327   728  144   27   32   385   359*       290   35   66         22   21  .272   .365   .381
Clay Dalrymple     527   1566   112   367   44   13   31   169   216   50*  198   13   33   13     1    8  .234   .330   .338
Jose Hernandez     469   1510   197   402   65   10   68   229   130   14   474*   8    8    8    13   13  .266   .326   .458
Chet Lemon         445   1496   226   400   80   15   60   195   159   11   245   36*   6   10     6   19  .267   .350   .461
Ossie Bluege       778   2691   352   724  116   29   19   362   319        204   32  104*        58   30  .269   .353   .355
Ken Reitz          770   2828   206   735  153    8   43   323   112   35   334   24   19   29*    5    8  .260   .291   .365
Lance Johnson      362   1308   175   375   38   40    5   121    94   13    73    3    5    4    84*  23  .287   .335   .388
Cliff Heathcote    290    929   116   257   42   14    1    88    58         53    4   24    1    60   37* .277   .322   .355
Robinson Cano      247    961   134   324   72    9   27   132    51    8   104    4    2    6     3    8  .337*  .371   .515*
Gene Tenace        281    806   129   204   28    2   45   139   190   12   184   22    2    9     6    5  .253   .405*  .460
Bill Dickey        562   2012   259   666  121   30   46   375   169         82    5   28         12    9  .331x  .384   .490
Willie Kamm        627   2112   291   613  130   30   14   331   321        162    8   87         45   33  .290   .386x  .400
Gabby Hartnett     602   2086   288   628  124   27   75   356   241        227   12   43          8    1  .301   .377   .494x

Charlie Grimm is the leader in games, at-bats and hits from both the sixth and seventh spots in the batting order. Gene Tenace and Bill Dickey also make an appearance on both lists.

Hartnett has the highest slugging percentage among both seventh and eighth-place hitters (1500 plate appearance minimum).

Hitting eighth:
Player               G     AB     R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI    BB  IBB    SO  HBP   SH   SF    SB   CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Al Lopez          1484*  4499*  449  1163* 145   36   35   487*  463        395    9   77         32    1  .259   .329   .330
Jim Hegan         1459   4349   502*  993  172*  42*  81   466   415   64   694*   4   65   13    15   22  .228   .295   .343
Del Crandall       833   2642   299   644   92   11  109*  352   256   88   266   11   32   25    11   11  .244   .310   .411
Rick Ferrell       954   2939   319   789  147   19    6   341   470*       150    4   45          9    8  .268   .370   .338
Leo Cardenas       767   2563   267   670  101   24   39   257   232   91*  468   10   25   18    12   20  .261   .323   .365
Jason LaRue        417   1280   142   292   65    4   45   161   126   33   380   52*  12   10    11    3  .228   .320   .391
Ray Schalk         997   3038   359   786  123   24    7   344   395        208   28  117*        67   26  .259   .349   .322
Mike Matheny       774   2483   222   601  119    4   41   279   186   52   492   29   41   27*    4   10  .242   .299   .343
Freddie Patek      693   2160   264   519   86   21   17   233   208   27   329   14   58   21   158*  52* .240   .308   .323
Spud Davis         550   1492   130   478   82    4   29   207   142        101    7   26          0       .320*  .382   .439
Wally Schang       536   1532   244   456   78   25   18   199   315        152   22   36         23   10  .298   .424*  .416
Gabby Hartnett     456   1419   191   429   99   11   61   279   177    0   165    9   24    1    12    3  .302   .383   .517*
Johnny Bassler     701   2113   236   651   92   13    1   299   405         70   10   88         10    6  .308x  .422x  .365
Earl Smith         628   1847   191   557   90   18   42   291   202   11    85   11   39    2    15    7  .302   .373   .438x

Catchers dominate this list. It seemed that batting a catcher last, even a good hitting catcher, was fashionable in the first few decades of the live ball era. I thought it might be interesting to look at the percentage of starts by position in each of the lineup spots for the 1920s. Here's the list:

POS   1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th   9th
P     0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0 100.0
C     0.1   0.9   1.3   1.7   4.1   9.9  15.1  66.9   0.0
1B    5.7   6.2  11.1  26.4  21.0  16.4  11.3   2.0   0.0
2B   14.5  22.5  14.7   6.8   8.6  12.5  15.6   4.8   0.0
3B    8.4  18.4   8.1   6.2  15.0  19.0  18.5   6.3   0.0
SS   12.3  18.0   1.8   4.2   4.7  11.4  28.5  19.0   0.0
LF   15.4   8.3  18.9  25.2  18.7  10.8   2.6   0.2   0.0
CF   26.8  13.9  20.0  12.9  12.9   9.5   3.7   0.4   0.0
RF   16.9  11.8  24.1  16.7  14.9  10.7   4.7   0.3   0.0

And a similar table for the 1980s:

POS   1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th   9th
P     0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0 100.0
C     0.2   1.9   1.1   5.9   9.6  15.3  27.3  26.7  12.0
1B    1.9   6.6  23.3  26.7  17.7  14.1   7.6   1.9   0.3
2B   22.7  25.3   5.5   0.7   2.6   5.4  10.6  16.7  10.5
3B    5.1  11.5  10.8  10.3  13.4  17.2  17.0  10.6   4.1
SS    9.1  16.8   6.4   1.6   1.4   3.6   8.3  30.8  22.0
LF   19.6  10.1  16.2  14.4  17.5  12.3   6.8   2.3   0.8
CF   33.8  14.8  13.8   6.1   7.6   8.1   7.8   5.4   2.6
RF    5.7  10.8  17.1  17.5  18.6  14.9   9.9   4.3   1.3
DH    3.6   4.1  10.8  31.3  21.5  16.9   8.6   2.5   0.7
Hitting ninth:
Player               G     AB     R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI    BB  IBB    SO  HBP   SH   SF    SB   CS   AVG    OBP    SLG
Ozzie Guillen     1185*  3940*  459* 1053* 170*  45*  21   405*  124   14*  290    2   97   37*   83   72* .267   .287   .349
Rick Dempsey       766   2084   261   496  107    6   42t  216   247*   0   337   12   31   17     7    9  .238   .320   .356
Mike Bordick       763   2387   265   617  102   11   42t  278   215    1   315   28   52   23    35   30  .258   .324x  .363
Lefty Grove        613   1366   119   202   27    5   15   121   104        594*   2  103          1    1  .148   .209   .208
Gary Disarcina     858   2957   369   791  153   16   23   296   127    0   239   32t  58   16    41   36  .268x  .303   .353
Einar Diaz         408   1301   147   349   75    4   14   119    55    0   129   32t  24    4    15    7  .268   .313   .364
Tom Glavine        674   1319    90   245   25    2    1    90    99    0   328    2  215*   3     1    0  .186   .243   .210
Julio Cruz         433   1297   171   309   44   10   11   127   157    1   183    6   11   15    96*  27  .238   .320   .313
George Uhle        641   1310   166   379   57   19    9   161    98        108    4   34          6    8  .289*  .341   .382
Wes Ferrell        489   1088   168   306   52   12   38   192   119        172    0   40          2       .281   .352*  .456*
Greg Gagne         660   1961   243   503  109   17   39   213   103    1   381   11   40   19    56   34  .257   .295   .389x

Weak-hitting middle-infielders and catchers from the DH-era top most of the categories here, although some pitchers manage to lead in strikeouts, sacrifice hits as well as the average categories.

Come-From-Behind Batting Champions

Trent McCotter sent me a note yesterday pointing out that Matt Kemp has very nearly closed a recent 19-point gap in the NL batting race as part of his three-prong effort to capture the triple-crown. Which got us to wondering about the largest deficits overcome by batting champions. Since 1918, here they are:

Days
ToGo    Gap     Date     Leader               AVG     Champion             AVG
   1  .0042  10- 2-1976  Ken Griffey        .3375     Bill Madlock       .3333
   2  .0065   9-27-1935  Joe Vosmik         .3514     Buddy Myer         .3449
   4  .0103   9-25-1935  Joe Vosmik         .3514     Buddy Myer         .3411
   6  .0097   9-22-1958  Pete Runnels       .3235     Ted Williams       .3138
   8  .0086   9-23-1944  Bob Johnson        .3286     Lou Boudreau       .3200
  10  .0105   9-19-1935  Jimmie Foxx        .3513     Buddy Myer         .3408
  11  .0116   9-18-1926  Eddie Brown        .3351     Paul Waner         .3235
  12  .0138   9-17-1926  Eddie Brown        .3339     Paul Waner         .3201
  13  .0138   9-21-1925  Tris Speaker       .3902     Harry Heilmann     .3764
              9-14-1931  Chuck Klein        .3448     Chick Hafey        .3309
  14  .0217   9-13-1931  Chuck Klein        .3437     Chick Hafey        .3220
  16  .0271   9-11-1931  Chuck Klein        .3437     Chick Hafey        .3166
  22  .0235   9-12-1925  Tris Speaker       .3888     Harry Heilmann     .3653
  28  .0262   9- 7-1981  Richie Zisk        .3542     Carney Lansford    .3280
  29  .0219   9- 2-1967  Frank Robinson     .3307     Carl Yastrzemski   .3088
  32  .0220   9- 1-1976  Hal McRae          .3515     George Brett       .3296
  33  .0307   8-25-1931  Bill Terry         .3484     Chick Hafey        .3176
  36  .0388   8-22-1931  Chuck Klein        .3465     Chick Hafey        .3077
  39  .0403   8-19-1931  Bill Terry         .3485     Chick Hafey        .3082
  42  .0343   8-18-2002  Mike Sweeney       .3552     Manny Ramirez      .3209
  43  .0339   8-17-1968  Tony Oliva         .3041     Carl Yastrzemski   .2702
  44  .0499   7-20-1918  Heinie Groh        .3608     Zach Wheat         .3109
  47  .0600   7-17-1918  Heinie Groh        .3649     Zach Wheat         .3049
  50  .0829   7-14-1918  Heinie Groh        .3659     Zach Wheat         .2830

In general, the missing days are very similar to the previous entries (same players, similar or smaller gaps).

One thing I should point out right at the beginning is that I used the modern standards for qualifying for these kinds of things. So if you go looking for Paul Waner's name at the top of a list of 1926 NL batting average leaders in most reference works, you'll find him listed behind four part-time players who, while they did manage to appear in at least 100 games, wouldn't come close to meeting the current criteria of 3.1 plate appearances per game. So if this kind of historical revisionism bothers you (and I know it drives some people crazy), whenever I use the words "batting title," "batting champion" or the like, please pretend that I substituted a phrase like "batting average leader by modern standards" instead.

And one more thing I should point out is that this batting-average-centric post is in no way an endorsement of that particular measurement. People do care about batting average out of line with its importance, and when it looks like someone might be able to win the first triple crown since 1967, people perhaps care more about batting average (and RBIs) than reason tells them they should.

Now where were we?

Bill Madlock went 4-4 on the last day of the 1976 season to overtake Ken Griffey, who was sitting out the game. Once word of Madlock's preformance reached the Reds, the right-fielder was rushed into the game only to strike out in his two at-bats. Of course, that is only the record since 1918. On the last day of the 1910 season, Nap Lajoie got eight straight hits, most of them very questionable, against the Browns in a double-header to make up a .0078 deficit and slip past Ty Cobb. It's a famous story and doesn't need retelling here, but one of the outcomes of those hits gifted to Lajoie on the last day of the 1910 season was that Ty Cobb was officially credited with two more hits than he actually had. Which means that major league baseball picked the wrong hit by Pete Rose to celebrate and he actually broke Cobb's hit record three days earlier.

Ted Williams went 12-19 in his final four games of 1958 to raise his average fourteen points and win his last batting title. At the time, it must have been heart-breaking for teammate Pete Runnels. After all, Williams had already led the league in batting average six times; how many chances was Runnels going to get? The story had a happy ending, however, partly because of a rule change. After the games of September 25, 1960, Runnels had a .317 average. This was higher than anyone in the American League except Ted Williams, who had picked up the last two singles of his career that day to boost his average to .318. Up to that point, he had played in 111 games that year, more than enough to qualify for the title by the standards of the 1920s or 1930s. Fortunately for Runnels, the rules had been changed in the meantime, and Williams' 383 plate appearances at the end of that day were not close to qualifying. So Williams played in only two more games, hitting a homer in his final at-bat, and Runnels had the first of what would turn out to be two batting crowns.

Bob Johnson played in three straight All-Star games during the Second World War, each time representing a different team, and seemed poised to lead the AL in average in 1944 when Lou Boudreau strung together six straight multi-hit games to overtake him in the final week. Johnson had a pretty good year in 1945 as well, but he had the misfortune of playing left-field for the Red Sox, who had a pretty good left-fielder returning from the war, and he was released.

Tris Speaker was hitting .391 when he was hit by a pitch on August 20, 1925. The injury relegated him to occasional pinch-hitting duty the rest of the way. While he was sidelined, Harry Heilmann had a hot streak for the ages. It began on September 13th with four hits, and ran through a six-hit day that closed out season. During those final 21 games, Heilmann had 46 hits in 83 at-bats, good for a .554 average. Speaker could only sit back and watch while his lead evaporated, disappearing for good only on the last day of the season.

Chuck Klein and Bill Terry were in the midst of a close batting race at the end of the day on September 5, 1931. Klein had a one-point lead, but he also had one serious disadvantage. His team, the Phillies had just completed their last home game of the season, and Klein was only a great hitter within the very friendly confines of Baker Bowl. So things were looking up for Bill Terry and, sure enough, Klein slumped during that final road-trip, his average dropping ten points to finish at .337. But Terry still ended up in an incredibly close batting race, it just didn't include Chuck Klein. Chick Hafey, who was hitting under .300 as late as July 26th, wasn't even among the league leaders until he collected 27 hits in 39 at-bats during a 12-game stretch in September. Hafey had a slim lead entering the final day of the season, but he almost lost it entirely when he went 2-8 in the final double-header. Terry couldn't take advantage, however, going 1-4 to finish at .3486 to Hafey's .3488. Had Hafey one more or Terry one less at-bat, the results would have been reversed. The Giants attempted to play one more game that day, but it was called due to darkness in the middle of the fourth with New York ahead 6-0. I'm not sure whether Terry had collected a hit before the game ended, but a single hit in two at-bats would have also given him the title.

Most of these are stories of a hitter who got incredibly hot down the stretch. But in the case of Richie Zisk, it's a story of a hitter going extremely cold. Despite hitting over .300 twice early in his career with the Pirates, I doubt many thought of Zisk as a .354 hitter, his average at the end of play on September 7, 1981. The pendulum would swing back the other way after that, however, and a .174 average over the final four weeks dropped his average over forty points, below Carney Lansford, Tom Paciorek, and four others.

I pointed out in another article how the 1918 baseball season almost came to a close in late July. Heinie Groh probably wished it had, since it would have meant a batting crown, albeit in an abbreviated season. Instead, he stuggled in August while Zach Wheat finished off a 26-game hitting streak that raised his average from .275 to .334 and helped him narrowly edge Edd Roush (Groh slipped down to third) for the title. In that same article, I also discussed a host of "what-ifs" that might have given Roush the title instead.

Carl Yastrzemski makes two appearances on the list above, coming from far behind to take batting titles in consecutive years. He used strong final months of the season to win both. The first gave him the American League's first triple crown since 1966, and the second spared the league the embarrassment of a season without a .300 hitter. I wondered if Yastrzemski had a habit of hitting well in the final month of the season, but his career splits show that he actually hit better during June.

During 2002, both Mike Sweeney and Manny Ramirez missed at least a month of the season with injuries, making it somewhat easier for Ramirez to close the 34 point gap that existed on August 18th. As a matter of fact, two big games helped Ramirez raise his average 25 points in a week, and that, combined with a huge September, was enough to bring him his only batting title.

And finally, Hal McRae and George Brett's battle for the batting championship is well-known today for the controversy surrounding Brett's decisive hit in his final at-bat. After the game (actually, even during the game), McRae accused Minnesota Twins' manager Gene Mauch of ordering left-fielder Steve Brye to play too deep, permitting Brett's fly-ball to fall (and eventually be scored an inside-the-park home run). Which brings us full circle, since those questionable hits that Lajoie received back in 1910 supposedly were the result of Browns' manager Jack O'Connor ordering his third-baseman, rookie Red Corridon, to play too deep.

Come-From-Behind Batting Champions, An Update

John Pastier was wondering (among other things) about the record for the most days leading the league in batting average without winning the title. Here's the list:

Player             Year  LED  DNL  DNQ  First   Last
Pete Reiser        1942  131   36    0   5-11   9-24
Lenny Dykstra      1990  125   37   10   5-11   9-14
Larry Walker       1997  124   57    0   4-10   9-19
John Kruk          1992  117   64    0   4- 7   8-27
Tony Cuccinello    1945  115   18   34   5- 1   8-27
Jimmie Foxx        1929  110   63    0   4-17   9-12
Tommy Holmes       1945  106   61    0   4-22   8-31
Mike Piazza        1996  105   77    0   5-26   9-25
Stan Musial        1958  104   63    0   4-23   9-11
Jeff Burroughs     1978  100   78    0   4-27   9- 6

Where LED is the number of days leading the league, DNL the number of days not leading the league, DNQ the number of days not qualifying (again, by modern standards), and First and Last contain the first and last dates they led the league.

And the flip side, the leaders who were in front of the pack for the fewest days.

Player             Year  LED  DNL  DNQ  First   Last
Harry Heilmann     1925    2  165    7   6- 5  10- 4
Ellis Burks        1996    4  177    0   9-26   9-29
Ted Williams       1958    4  152    9   9-13   9-28
Lou Boudreau       1944    5  153    8   9-27  10- 1
Buddy Myer         1935    5  158    3   8-13   9-29
Enos Slaughter     1942    5  162    0   4-23   9-27
Willie Mays        1954    6  161    0   9-20   9-26
Lew Fonseca        1929    8  166    0   9-29  10- 6
Chick Hafey        1931    8   17  110   9-19   9-27
Paul Waner         1926    9   92   66   9-21   9-29

We discussed some of these in the original article and of course, some of the entries on each list are paired. So when Foxx faded down the stretch in 1929, Fonseca eventually grabbed the title, Reiser lost his lead at the end of 1942 to Slaughter, and Piazza was passed by Ellis Burks in 1996,

John also wondered about the closest three-way batting races. Between 1918 and 2010 (and once again, using the modern standard of 3.1 plate appearances per game), the closest races:

Year League   Gap    Players
1991     NL  .00213  Tony Pendleton (.31911)  Hal Morris (.31799)     Tony Gwynn (.31698)
2003     AL  .00268  Bill Mueller (.32634)    Manny Ramirez (.32513)  Derek Jeter (.32365)
1976     AL  .00275  George Brett (.33333)    Hal McRae (.33207)      Rod Carew (.33058)
1935     AL  .00323  Buddy Myer (.34903)      Joe Vosmik (.34839)     Jimmie Foxx (.34579)
1944     AL  .00325  Lou Boudreau (.32705)    Bobby Doerr (.32479)    Bob Johnson (.32381)
1940     NL  .00335  Stan Hack (.31675)       Johnny Mize (.31434)    Jim Gleeson (.31340)

Note: this does not include the 1931 NL race, which officially included three batters within a single percentage point. One of these, however, was Jim Bottomley, who appeared in only 108 games and would not have qualified under modern standards.