Retrosheet


Fun With Retrosheet Data, Episode 7

By Tom Ruane

A while back, I started collecting my Retrosheet posts in a place on the web-site. This series eventually grew to encompass several articles. Here are the others:

Fun With Retrosheet Data
Fun With Retrosheet Data, the Sequel
Fun With Retrosheet Data, Episode 3
Fun With Retrosheet Data, Episode 4
Fun With Retrosheet Data, Episode 5
Fun With Retrosheet Data, Episode 6

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

Thanks for your patience.

A note on the scope of the data presented in these articles:

As of this writing, the data used in these articles does not include any of the Negro Leagues that are now considered by MLB to be part of the "Major Leagues" as of December 2020. These leagues are the Negro National League from 1920 to 1931 and 1933 to 1948, the Eastern Colored League from 1923 to 1928, the 1929 American Negro League, the 1932 East-West League, the 1932 Negro Southern League, and the Negro American League from 1937 to 1948.

This omission is not in any way a reflection upon the major league status of those leagues (or for that matter any additional leagues that may come under the Major League umbrella in future years), only that I did not have access to data associated with these leagues while I was researching and writing these articles. In light of this, any data presented in this article, as well as my use of the term "major leagues," should be viewed in light of this omission.

List of Articles (starting with most recent)

ERA Qualifiers and the Number of Batter-Pitcher Matchups (November 7, 2021)
Fun With Batting Orders (August 5, 2021)
Most Consistent Pitchers (May 11, 2021)
The Most Homogeneous Batting Orders (May 6, 2021)
Most Consistent Hitters (April 25, 2021)
Pitchers Doing Random Things In The Most Consecutive Games (February 2, 2021)
Players Doing Random Things In The Most Consecutive Games (January 24, 2021)
Extra-Inning Season and Career Batting Records (October 19, 2019)
Extra-Inning Single Game Batting Records (September 29, 2019)
Second (and third) Generation Major League Players (September 14, 2019)
Perhaps the Most Improbable Comebacks From 1901 to 2018 (May 13, 2019)
Runs Produced By The Most and Fewest Hits (September 12, 2018)
Changes In Pitch Outcomes: 1988-2016 (July 2, 2017)
Fun with a Team's OPS (June 20, 2016)
A Look at Run Differentials (June 18, 2016)
Starting Pitching Lines (May 24, 2015)
The Greatest Incomplete Starts (May 20, 2015)
Most Surprising Pitching Performances (July 5, 2014)
Both Starting Pitchers Making MLB Exits (May 26, 2014)
Both Starting Pitchers Making MLB Debuts (May 19, 2014)
The Age of Starting Lineups (May 5, 2014)
Hot Starts to Careers, the Pitching Edition (April 29, 2014)
Hot Starts to Careers, the Batting Edition (April 28, 2014)
Hard to Hit Pitchers (April 5, 2014)
Unique Batting Lines (August 26, 2012)
Come-From-Behind Wins and Losses (July 8, 2012)
A Tour of Team Pitching Logs (July 7, 2012)
A Tour of Team Batting Logs (July 5, 2012)
Consecutive Winless Starts (June 23, 2012)
Low-Hit Clusters (June 19, 2012)
When Winning Streaks Collide (June 14, 2012)
Defensive Juggling (May 8, 2012)
Incomplete Games By Position (April 8, 2012)
A Look at Triple-Crown Leaders (December 19, 2011)
Do Only Slow Runners Ground into a Lot of DPs? (December 15, 2011)
The Homering-est Teammates (and Multiple Debuts) (December 12, 2011)
Multiple Hitting Streaks (November 29, 2011)
The Most Exciting Games (October 28, 2011)
League Leaders With the Fewest Games Played (October 14, 2011)
Nelson Cruz Made Me Do It (October 15, 2011)
Players With The Highest Percentage of Post-Season Homers (October 7, 2011)
Doubling Their Home Runs (September 27, 2011)
Top Hitting Streaks By Batting Order and Defensive Position (September 27, 2011)
Come-From-Behind Batting Champions, An Update (September 26, 2011)
Best Career Marks By Park (September 24, 2011)
Come-From-Behind Batting Champions (September 23, 2011)
Best Career Hitters By Lineup Position (September 18, 2011)
Best Hitters By Lineup Position (September 16, 2011)
More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About 1-0 Games (September 15, 2011)
Best/Worst Month for a Team's Pitchers (September 14, 2011)
Batters Supporting Starting Pitchers (September 10, 2011)
Most Strikeouts Between Hits Allowed... And Then Some (September 5, 2011)
Double-Digits In Strikeouts and Hits Allowed (September 3, 2011)
Bases-Loaded Plate Appearances (August 31, 2011)
Palindromic At-Bat Line (August 27, 2011)
Most At-Bats With the Bases Loaded (August 25, 2011)
Starting Infields, Then And Now (August 24, 2011)
Easy schedule runs (July 15, 2011)
Parity Comes to MLB (May 29, 2011)
Two .400 Hitters on a Team (May 3, 2011)
Pitcher versus Team (July 22, 2010)
Expected Pitcher Match-Ups (July 21, 2010)
Consecutive Starts With IPs greater than or equal to Hits (July 19, 2010)
Consecutive Starts With Ks greater than or equal to IPs (July 17,2010)
Pitcher Match-Ups (July 16, 2010)
Most Blown Saves Combo (June 3, 2009)

Players Doing Random Things In The Most Consecutive Games

I've spent a lot of time over the last six weeks or so generating discrepancy files1 for the early Deadball Era, work that has required me to compare long columns of numbers associated with each player's batting, pitching and fielding logs. That is even more exciting than it sounds, and while I was doing this, I got to wondering what player had exactly four (or three or two or--you get the idea) at-bats in the most consecutive games. So I promised myself that once I was done with the discrepancy files, I was going to find the answer to that question, at least as it relates to major league baseball since 1901, and that once I knew the answer, I would write an article about it. And so this is that article.

Now people familiar with these articles of mine already know what to expect, but if you're new here, what follows will be a series of arcane and at times silly tables interspersed with some explanatory text. My only hope in presenting these is that some of it ends up being interesting (in a dull sort of way). Most of this verges dangerously close to a parody of what can be done with a mountain of easily accessible data and no sense of restraint. And almost all of it would not have been possible twenty or so years ago, before Retrosheet started making play-by-play and boxscore data freely available to the public. Well, some of it would have been possible with an enormous amount of effort, but as you'll quickly see below, the fruits of all that work would have been a meager return on a decade or more of your available free time.

Now that that's out of the way, one ground-rule: unless otherwise mentioned these streaks do not span seasons. So the player with the most consecutive games with no at-bats is not a DH-league relief pitcher (with apologies to Jose Mesa).2

Let's start with at-bats. Here's the list:

AB Streak  Player               Start        End
 0   92    Herb Washington    4- 4-1974    10- 1-1974
           Pedro Feliciano    4- 7-2010    10- 2-2010
 1   37    Bill Taylor        4-13-1955     7-10-1955
 2   13    Brett Myers        7-10-2010     9-13-2010
 3   13    Todd Cruz          7-15-1980     8- 7-1980
 4   20    Fred McGriff       6-29-1996     7-22-1996
 5   12    Red Schoendienst   6-21-1945     7- 1-1945(2)
 6    4    Quilvio Veras      7-10-1997     7-13-1997
 7    2    Done 21 times, last by Ben Revere in 2014.
 8+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

One thing that surprised me was that there was a single record-holder for each number of at-bats from one through six. Going into this, I figured there would be, say, four or five players who had exactly three at-bats in twelve consecutive games or some such, but that wasn't the case.

With the exception of Herb Washington, Oakland's pinch-running specialist who went the entire 1974 season without an at-bat, and Pedro Feliciano, the Mets short-stint left-handed relief specialist, you could not have predicted the appearance of anyone on this list. Okay, Giant fans of a certain age might have guessed that left-handed pinch-hitting specialist Bill Taylor, who walked only once in 1955, might have held the single at-bat mark, but the rest of the list is a crap-shoot. I was surprised that a pitcher held the two at-bat mark, but Brett Myers was remarkably consistent in 2010, coming within a single out of finishing the sixth inning in all of his starts that season while, since he was pitching in the modern era, completing only two.

Bill Taylor ended his string with the only sacrifice fly of his season on July 16th or it could have gone on until July 26th, when he was announced as a pinch-hitter only to be replaced when the opposing manager brought in a lefty reliever. He had only himself to blame for being pulled, having struck out in all five of his previous career at-bats against lefties. And of course, the next time he faced one, he homered.

A similar chart for runs scored:

 R Streak  Player               Start        End
 0   94    Salomon Torres     4- 3-2006    10- 1-2006
 1   12    Jimmie Foxx        5-13-1932     5-23-1932
           Marv Rackley       8-11-1948     8-25-1948
           Johnny Groth       8-14-1950     8-25-1950
           Mike Schmidt       6-17-1976     6-28-1976
 2    7    Don Baylor         6-28-1979     7- 4-1979
 3    3    Done 18 times, last by Jeff DaVanon in 2003.
 4    2    Done 8 times, last by Hunter Pence in 2016.
 5+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

As above, the first entry on the list encompassed an entire season. Had Torres pitched in the AL, he could've bumped Herb Washington and Pedro Feliciano out of the top spot on the at-bat list as well. Don Baylor hit seven home runs during his streak, and added two more the game after it ended. Jimmie Foxx was also one of the 18 players with three straight games of three runs scored, doing it in August 1939. I was kind of surprised that no one since 1901 has scored three runs in more than three consecutive games.

On to the hit chart:

 H Streak  Player               Start        End
 0   92    Herb Washington    4- 4-1974    10- 1-1974
           Pedro Feliciano    4- 7-2010    10- 2-1974
 1   16    Ted Sizemore       6- 1-1975     6-18-1975
 2   11    Tony Perez         8- 8-1973     8-20-1973
 3    6    George Brett       5- 8-1976     5-13-1976
 4    4    Milt Stock         6-30-1925     7- 3-1925
 5    2    Hi Myers           8-21-1917     8-22-1917
           Roberto Clemente   8-22-1976     8-23-1976
 6+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

I suppose it's not too surprising that a player without an at-bat in 92 games would also not have a hit. Salomon Torres managed a hit in his five at-bats in 2006, removing him from another top spot. Hi Myers got more than his share of chances to get his back-to-back 5-hit games, getting his fifth hit in the tenth inning on August 21 and in the twenty-first inning the next day. In that last game, Carson Bigbee had six hits and Jim Hickman five. To be fair, Clemente also benefited from extra opportunities in his games as well, getting his fifth hit in the first game in the sixteenth inning.

The first of the extra-base hit charts:

2B Streak  Player               Start        End
 0  122    Rafael Belliard    4- 6-1988    10- 2-1988
 1    9    Bo Bichette        7-31-2019     8- 8-2019
 2    3    Done 11 times, the last by  in 2019.
 3    2    Joe Dugan          9-24-1920     9-25-1920
           Earl Sheely        5-20-1926     5-21-1926
           Carl Reynolds      7- 3-1929     7- 4-1929(1)
           Red Schoendienst   6- 5-1948     6- 6-1948(1)
           Hank Majeski       8-27-1948(1)  8-27-1948(2)
 4+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

I think it's pretty amazing that even a poor-hitting middle-infielder like Belliard could get only four extra-base hits in 286 at-bats--all of them triples. Bo Bichette started his double-a-game run in his third career game. He also hit four homers, and unlike his father didn't play his home games in Coors Field.

Since I mentioned discrepancy files at the beginning of this article, I should point out that Earl Sheely is credited with hitting 40 doubles in 1926, but we think he should have 41, since it appears as if a double credited to Bill Hunnefield on August 14th should have gone to Earl instead. Had he played in the NL, that extra double would have given him sole ownership of the league lead, but over in the AL, he would still have been a mile behind George Burns, who had eclipsed 41 doubles on July 24th on his way to a record 64.3

And no one has hit as many doubles in a single day since 1901 as Hank Majeski did during the double-header in the chart above, but Art Griggs came close with five in a double-header on the last day of the 1918 season. It would also be the last day of Griggs' major league career. He added two singles in the second game, but his seven hits that day weren't enough to convince Detroit to keep him on once Harry Heilmann returned from military service in 1919.

The triples chart:

3B Streak  Player               Start        End
 0  163    Todd Zeile         4- 2-1996     9-29-1996
 1    4    Done 13 times, the last by Nomar Garciaparra in 2003.
 2    2    Elmer Flick        7- 6-1903(2)  7- 7-1903
 3+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

Lots of hitters have completed seasons without hitting any triples. Todd Zeile's season above was the middle of three straight without a triple. He played for two teams in 1996 and managed to become the only player to appear in as many as 163 games without a three-base hit. The next year, he played 160 games without tripling. If you permit streaks to span seasons, Mark McGwire once went 1398 games between triples, a span of more than eleven years.

I was surprised that no one has had back-to-back games with two triples since 1903. Six players have hit a total of four in back-to-back games, but all but Flick have done that with a three/one split.

HR Streak  Player               Start        End
 0  162    Jimmy Barrett      4-14-1904    10- 8-1904
           Juan Pierre        4- 2-2007     9-30-2007
 1    8    Dale Long          5-19-1956     5-28-1956
           Ken Griffey        7-20-1993     7-28-1993
 2    3    Gus Zernial        5-13-1951(2)  5-16-1951
           Frank Thomas       8- 1-1962     8- 3-1962
           Lee May            5-24-1969     5-28-1969
           Jeff DaVanon       6- 1-2003     6- 4-2003
 3+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

Once again, Barrett and Pierre make the chart because they played the most games in their homer-free seasons. The only thing surprising is that the two seasons were 103 years apart. Barrett's Tigers played ten tie games in 1904, making the length of his season look oddly modern. Once we get past those two and into the players who actually homered their way onto the list, many of the names and their streaks are well known. The outlier, of course, is Jeff DaVanon. These were the only multi-homer games in his career, and apart from that June, he never hit more than two home runs in any one month.

Don Mattingly, who shares the record with Long and Griffey for the most consecutive games with at least one home run missed making the list above because on two occasions he hit a pair.

Next up: RBIs:

RBI Streak Player               Start        End
 0   97    Jack Reed          5- 1-1963     9-28-1963
 1   10    Frank White        6-10-1983     6-21-1983
 2    5    Done 10 times, the last by Josh Hamilton in 2008.
 3    4    Done 6 times, the last by Frank Catalanotto in 2005.
 4    3    Lou Gehrig         8-29-1931     8-31-1931
           Travis Hafner      5- 1-2006     5- 3-2006 
 5    2    Done 17 times, the last by Nelson Cruz in 2019.
 6    2    Rusty Greer        8-22-1997     8-23-1997
           Geoff Jenkins      4-28-2001     4-29-2001 
 7+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

This only covers 1920 to 2020 since RBIs are unofficial and somewhat incomplete prior to that.

For the first time, the top entry on the list doesn't represent a player's entire season, but it comes close. Jack Reed, normally a late-inning defensive replacement, got into the game early on April 24th when Roger Maris injured his left hamstring in the second inning. Reed then proceeded to hit a double and a triple, the last driving in his first run of the season, and the last of his major league career. He is most known today for the role he played in the longest game in Yankee history, which I wrote about elsewhere.

Frank White was in a mild slump during his string of single-RBI games, going 8-36 (.222) with an OPS under .600. In one hitless three-game stretch, only sacrifice flies kept his streak intact.

Lou Gehrig came within one RBI in the first game of the September 1st double-header of knocking in four runs in five straight games. Those games were part of six straight with a homer, including three grand-slams.

Just a few more, starting with walks:

BB Streak  Player               Start        End
 0  106    Mike Marshall      4- 8-1974    10- 1-1974
 1   15    Chipper Jones      8-20-1999     9- 5-1999
 2    6    Jack Clark         7-29-1987     8-10-1987
           David Justice      9-25-1991(1)  9-29-1991
           Barry Bonds        6-22-2004     6-27-2004
 3    4    Mickey Mantle      7- 2-1957     7- 4-1957
 4    2    Don Hurst          7- 3-1928(2)  7- 4-1928
           Max Bishop         7- 8-1934(1)  7- 8-1934(2)
           Babe Young         6-29-1941     6-30-1941
           Eddie Stanky       8-29-1950     8-30-1950
           Pete Runnels       8-14-1959     8-15-1959
 5+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

Mike Marshall, during his record-setting season with the Dodgers, had more opportunities to walk that you might expect of a relief pitcher, with 36 plate appearances. Salomon Torres, who is tied for the second-most relief appearances in a season, pitching 32 years later, had only 5 plate appearances.

David Justice walked three times in the game before his streak began, but Barry Bonds topped that by walking four times in the first game after his. For Bonds, that was one of seven games that year with four or more walks.

Roy Cullenbine, the player who had one or more walks in 22 consecutive games in 1947, the longest since at least 1901, doesn't appear on the list above, much as Joe DiMaggio doesn't appear on this list.

SO Streak  Player               Start        End
 0  115    Joe Sewell         5-19-1929     9-19-1929
 1   15    Bruce Dal Canton   5-10-1971     7-31-1971
 2    7    Dick Ellsworth     7-20-1968     9- 3-1968
           Dave Kingman       7- 6-1972     7-12-1972
           J. Saltalamacchia  6-26-2008     7- 5-2008
           Melvin Upton       8- 2-2016     8- 8-2016
           Miguel Sano        8-17-2019     8-24-2019
 3    5    Jorge Soler        8-12-2020     8-17-2020
 4    2    Done 15 times, the last by Matt Davidson in 2018.
 5+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

This only covers 1914 to 2020 since strike out data is unofficial and largely incomplete prior to that.

Joe Sewell's ability to make contact is well-known. He struck out only four times in 1929, but he had two other seasons (1924 and 1931) with an even lower strikeout rate.

Bruce Dal Canton's run of single strikeout games could have been even longer had he not been shelved for a month with shoulder problems after it had reached fifteen. He never got to bat the rest of the year, making three relief appearances and two brief starts.

Miguel Sano actually hit pretty well in his seven games listed above. Despite striking out in nearly half of his at-bats, he also managed to hit two doubles and four homers in those seven games.

Despite not appearing above, Aaron Judge set the current mark in 2017 with 37 games in a row with at least one strikeout (38 if you count his appearance in that years All-Star game). When the streak started on July 9th, he was leading the AL with 30 homers and was hitting .330 with a 1.149 OPS on his way to an historic rookie season. What followed was a six-week slump (his slash-line4 during these games was .176/.333/.351) that was largely forgotten when he rebounded to hit 13 home runs in his last 19 games.

SB Streak  Player               Start        End
 0  163    Justin Morneau     3-31-2008     9-30-2008
 1    7    Honus Wagner       8- 4-1904     8-12-1904
           Josh Devore        7-27-1911     8- 5-1911
           Clyde Milan        4-24-1913     5- 3-1913
           Davey Lopes        9- 2-1976(2)  9- 9-1976
           Ron LeFlore        6- 8-1980(1)  6-14-1980
 2    4    Jose Altuve        6-26-2014     6-29-2014
 3    2    Done 12 times, the last by Leonys Martin in 2013.
 4+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

If you let the streak span seasons, Jesse Orosco replaces Morneau in the first row, with no career stolen bases in 1252 games pitched. If you eliminate pitchers, he is replaced by Cecil Fielder, who was playing in his 1097th game when he swiped the first bag of his major league career on April 2, 1996.

Except for Justin Morneau (obviously) and Leonys Martin, all of the players above stole at least 50 bases in their season. Clyde Milan's streak would have been two games longer had he stolen one less base on May 5th.

Bert Campaneris set the mark since 1901 by stealing at least one base in twelve straight games, and in the last six of those he stole a single base, just missing being included on the list above.

That's probably more than enough for now. For those of you who think this has been a pointless exercise, focused primarily on statistical anomalies, I don't necessarily disagree, but in my defense, there are a host of tables (intentional walks, sacrifice hits/flies, caught stealing and catcher interference) that I didn't include. So it could have been worse.

Notes:

1Discrepancy files attempt to document instances where the game by game data on our site differs from more official accounts (either official league dailies or ICI accounts). A random sample is here.

2Jose Mesa may or may not be the record-holder if you allow the streak to span seasons. I just picked him because I know he was playing in his 868th game when he got his first major league at-bat.

3A record that was eclipsed five years later by Earl Webb. Unlike Webb, who had more than half of his career doubles in his record season, George Burns had three other years with more than forty doubles, including 51 in 1927.

4For the non-stat nerds out there, a slash line is simply batting average / on-base percentage / slugging percentage.

Pitchers Doing Random Things In The Most Consecutive Games

This is a lot like my previous article, but with pitchers. I wasn't going to do this originally, but then I figured it wouldn't hurt to look at the data, and right off the bat saw that two different pitchers once failed to retire a batter in five consecutive games and decided that this was a story that simply had to be told.

As before, these are single-season streaks, although I will occasionally note if there were longer ones that span seasons.

With a few exceptions, I'm only going to show instances where the longest streak happened once, the thinking being that if more than one player managed to do something, it couldn't have been extraordinary enough to merit a place here. So if you see an elided value on occasion, that's why. And you'll also notice that I've changed the way I display the date ranges. Since I'm only dealing with streaks within a single season, it seemed silly to repeat the year. And besides, as several sharp-eyed readers politely pointed out, I had quite a few typos where the years didn't match.

So without further ado, the innings pitched chart:

IP  Streak   Player             Start  -  End
 0      5    Joey Eischen       7- 6     7-17-2005
             Trever Miller      4-17     4-28-2011
 0.1   13    Tim Byrdak         5- 4     5-22-2012
 1     65    Greg Holland       4- 9     9-29-2013
 1.1    5    Sean Doolittle     9- 6     9-15-2013
 1.2    5    Brad Voyles        5-31     6-10-2002
 2     10    Lindy McDaniel     4-18     5-11-1965
 3      9    Daniel Norris      8-11     9-25-2019
 3.1    4    Rich Monteleone    6- 1     6-12-1993
 4      5    Alex White         8- 7     8-25-2012
 4.2    4    Clint Zavaras      8-24     9-19-1989
 5.2    4    Jake Westbrook     4-16     5- 3-2003
 6      8    Luis Perdomo       8- 2     9-10-2017
 7      8    Jacob deGrom       8-17     9-25-2019
 7.2    3    Philip Humber      5-26     6- 7-2011
 8     10    Bill Carrick       7- 4     8- 5-1901(2)
 9     14    Noodles Hahn       8- 5     9-28-1902
             Bill Bernhard      4-29     7- 6-1903(1)
13      2    Harry Coveleski    7-20     7-24-1916
13.1+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

I like this one because of what it tells us about how pitching usage has changed in the last decade or so. Had the two pitchers at the top come in the 1930s (to pick an older decade), it would have been surprising that a manager kept them around after they'd gotten hammered over and over again. But Joey Eischen and Trevor Miller were LOOGYs (lefty one-out guys), which for the most part meant that they'd simply failed to retire their one guy five times. Not good, but not career- (or at least season-) ending bad. Miller faced only five batters and Eischen six during their out-free appearances and in one of his games, Eischen intentionally walked the only batter he faced.

Another more successful LOOGY has the longest run of appearances lasting a third of an inning. In those games, Tim Byrdbak walked the first batter he faced on May 4th before retiring thirteen straight in as many games, six of them by strikeout.

Greg Holland's near season-long string of single-inning appearances show the morphing of the closer role into a ninth-inning specialist. After closing 2013 with his streak intact, he entered the opening game of the 2014 season with the scored tied and one out. There were men on first and third and the first batter he faced singled to end the game. He then assumed his customary role of being on the mound at the start of the ninth and proceeded to finish that inning in 46 of his next 47 appearances.

Lindy McDaniel was in the Cubs' bullpen in 1965, back when two-innings were a reasonable day's work for a middle-reliever. He pitched 129 innings in relief that year, and while it was only the second-most on his team (behind closer Ted Abernathy's' 136 1/3 innings), it is more relief innings that any pitcher has thrown in a year since 1986.

By the time we get to Daniel Norris' run of three-inning games, the chart starts to deal almost exclusively with starting pitchers. Norris started all of the games referenced above and was restricted to three innings by design. In seven of the nine games, he allowed one run or less. Not surprisingly, this didn't help his won-loss record, as barring shortened games, starting pitchers can only lose outings of less than five innings. So despite a respectable 3.33 ERA in those nine starts, he went 0-4.

A (hopefully) brief digression. Here are the shortest and longest average outings by starting pitchers since 1901:

  Shortest        Longest
  IP   Year       IP   Year
 4.783 2020      8.301 1902
 5.179 2019      8.297 1904
 5.361 2018      8.219 1901
 5.512 2017      8.211 1903
 5.645 2016      8.004 1905
 5.787 2007      7.982 1906
 5.807 2008      7.806 1907
 5.810 2015      7.696 1918
 5.814 2009      7.695 1908
 5.824 2006      7.632 1909

Clearly 2020 is an outlier, for a variety of reasons, but there's been a steady but significant drop in how long a starting pitcher is allowed to stay in the game. Here are the teams with the shortest average outings:

  IP   Year Team
 3.852 2018 TB  A
 4.092 2020 DET A
 4.100 2020 BOS A
 4.194 2020 ATL N
 4.204 2019 ANA A
 4.256 2020 TOR A
 4.300 2020 TB  A
 4.335 2019 TB  A
 4.391 2019 TOR A
 4.450 2020 BAL A

The last two years dominate this list. Only two teams from years earlier than 2019 crack the top 32 spots, the 2012 Rockies, in 20th place, and the 2018 Rays, at the top. The Rays that year basically divided their starting rotation into two groups: Cy Young award winner Blake Snell and everyone else:

                AVG    GS   IP     ER    W    L    ERA
Blake Snell    5.828   31  180.2   38   21    5   1.89
The Others     3.384  131  443.1  217   14   31   4.41
Relief Crew                824.1  378   55   36   3.79

The pitchers behind Blake in the rotation were almost exactly league average pitchers (AL starters had a 4.39 ERA in 2018), but were only allowed to record on average ten outs per game. Not coincidentally, Tampa Bay's Ryan Yarbrough pitched the most innings in relief (118.2) since Duane Ward in 1990. Unlike Ward, who pitched 73 games out of the pen, Yarbrough pitched only 32 times in relief, and the average length of his relief outing (3.7 IP) was longer than the average length of the non-Blake starters. He was usually the second pitcher into the game and was treated as if he were a second starting pitcher. But since he wasn't the starting pitcher, he was eligible to win any time he inherited a lead and his team didn't lose it. As a result, he went 14-4 in relief, winning as many games in his 32 relief outings as all of the non-Blake starters won in 131 games.

By the way, no pitcher with at least 30 relief appearances pitched more innings per outing than Yarbrough. The only other pitcher who averaged 3.5 innings or more per relief appearance was Bob Stanley in 1982, who pitched 168 innings in 48 games. The pitcher who retired the fewest batters per outing was LOOGY Randy Choate who pitched 27 1/3 innings for the Cardinals in 2015, but took 71 games to do it. Chaote also set a record that year by failing to retire a batter in 20 games. The runner-up is Sean Runyanr with 17 games without an inning pitched in 1998.

Getting back to the innings pitched chart, Alex White in 2012 was an early version of Daniel Norris and came within one out of having a nine-game run when he was removed with 2 outs in the top of the fourth on August 31st. He didn't pitch poorly, with an ERA of 3.60 in the 20 innings, and emerged from the streak with a best-case record of 0-0.

Four times in a five-game span in 2011, Phillip Humber got within one out of finishing eight innings for the first time in his career only to get taken out. In his second start of 2012, he got two outs in the eighth again, but this time not only completed the game but completed a perfect game. It would be the last time he would pitch past the seventh inning in his career.

The six, seven, eight and nine inning streaks all reflect an understanding of just how far it was reasonable to expect a hurler to go into the game. Perdomo was routinely taken out after six innings regardless of how he was pitching and only pitched into the seventh on three occasions that year. DeGrom, coming off one Cy Young Award season and on his way to another, was allowed to finish the seventh but went past that barrier only once in 2019. DeGrom held his opponents scoreless in eight starts that year, but didn't take the mound in the eighth in any of them.

And the eighth and ninth inning entries reflect a time when a pitcher was expected to finish what he started. As soon as I saw that Bill Carrick had a long run of eight-inning starts in 1902, I knew he had been on a long, unpleasant road trip full of complete game losses. And sure enough, his only home game was an eight-inning relief stint while the only other game he didn't lose was a complete-game tie. Both Noodles Hahn (12-2) and Bill Berhnard (11-3), on the other hand won the lion share of their fourteen straight nine-inning complete games. Bernhard started his in the second start of his season and only a 2 1/3 inning relief outing prevented it from reaching seventeen before a badly broken finger on his pitching hand ended his season in late July.

So much for the innings pitched chart. I promise to pick up pace.

Next up: the longest streaks of games started, complete games, games finished, saves, wins and losses (I told you we were picking up the pace).

    Streak   Player             Start  -  End
GS:    49    Wilbur Wood        4-15    10- 1-1972
CG:    37    Bill Dinneen       4-16    10-10-1904(1)
SHO:    6    Don Drysdale       5-14     6- 4-1968
GF:    59    Mike Williams      4- 3     9-25-2002
SV:    24    John Wetteland     5-31     7-14-1996
W:     15    Rube Marquard      5- 7     7- 3-1912(1)
L:     13    Lum Harris         7-31(1)  9-30-1943

John Wetteland opted for free agency after the 1996 season and was replaced as the Yankees' closer by Mariano Rivera. Were it not for two brief relief appearances, Marquard's record would have been 19 and begun on opening day. Once his streak was broken, he lost his next three, going 7-11 the rest of the year. Walter Johnson also had a lengthy winning streak that year, one that reached 16 before he was given a controversial loss on August 26th, when he was charged with the inherited runners who scored the tying and go-ahead runs for the Browns. The issue of whether that game should have ended his winning streak became moot when he lost his next four games as well.

  H Streak  Player             Start  -  End
  0   20    Randy Choate       4-25     6-13-2011
  1   11    Jim Mecir          7-27     8-31-2002
  2    8    Mike MacDougal     9- 6     9-27-2009
  3    6    Sam Leever         8-20     9- 5-1910(1)
  4    6    Dave Lemanczyk     6-11(1)  7-27-1975(1)
  5    7    Joe Engel          8- 4     9- 2-1913
  7    7    Wilbur Wood        6-20     7- 9-1972(1)
  8    6    Larry Jackson      5-14(1)  6- 5-1967
  9    7    Togie Pittinger    8-27     9-23-1904
 10    5    Bob Stanley        5-19     6- 8-1987
 13    3    Bill Hubbell       8-30(1)  9- 7-1921(2)
 14    3    Jack Taylor        4-19     4-27-1901
 15+   1    No one has had more than one of these in a row.

We've already talked about Randy Choate's role as a left-handed one-out guy. Here is his line for those 20 hitless games:

 IP    H  R ER BB SO HBP
  8.2  0  0  0  2 12   1

His streak ended in the second game of the July 15th double-header with the Phillies when, after retiring the first two batters he faced, Placido Polanco doubled.

And most of what remains in the chart (as well as most of the ones below) are simply statistical curiosities. That's not an apology, since statistical curiosities are sort of the point of this (and the last) article.

  R Streak  Player             Start  -  End
  0   38   Craig Kimbrel       6-14     9- 8-2011(1)
  2    7   Cy Morgan           6-11     7-21-1908(2)
  4    7   Pat Mahomes         6- 4     7- 5-1994
  7    4   Ed Doheny           6-13     6-27-1901(1)
 11    2   Jamie Moyer         8- 9     8-14-2000
 12+   1   No one has had more than one of these in a row.

So to reiterate, the missing rows indicate that there were multiple pitchers with the same streak. In the case of the run chart, 3 different pitchers allowed a single run in 7 straight games, 7 different pitchers allowed 3 runs in 6 straight games, and so on.

Kimbrel's scoreless streak reached 39 innings by the time it ended. It came within a single out of tying Brad Ziegler's record for the longest scoreless streak by a relief pitcher. Ziegler set the mark from the start of his career, not allowing a run until his 30th major league game.

If you look at scoreless games across seasons, Ryan Pressly tops Kimbrel's mark with 40 straight games from August 15, 2018 to May 20, 2019.

 BB Streak  Player             Start  -  End
  0   33   Yimi Garcia         6- 7     9-28-2015
  2    9   Jamey Wright        5- 1     6-13-2006
  3    8   Ed Willett          8-22(1)  9-27-1913(2)
  6    4   Wilson Alvarez      5-18     6- 4-1993
  8    3   Nolan Ryan          5-10     5-19-1974(1)
  9+   1   No one has had more than one of these in a row.

Yimi Garcia pitched 34 consecutive innings without a walk in 2015, which is far from the longest among relief pitchers, that being the 49 1/3 straight walk-less innings Tom Morgan pitched between his two walks in his first game of 1958 and the two he walked 32 games later on August 14th1.

Dennis Eckersley has the longest multi-season string of games without a walk with 41 from August 17, 1989 to June 10, 1990.

 SO Streak  Player             Start  -  End
  0   21   Randy Choate        7- 7     8-24-2009
  1   12   Aaron Heilman       8-30    10- 2-2010
  2    8   Mychal Givens       5-29     6-22-2019
  3    6   Chris Stratton      6- 6     7- 3-2018
  4    7   Bob Turley          8-10(2)  9-12-1958
  6    6   Whitey Ford         7-20(2)  8-13-1958
  8    5   Bob Gibson          4-13     5- 6-1969
 12    4   Randy Johnson       6-19     7- 5-1998
 15    2   Pedro Martinez      5- 7     5-12-1999
 16    2   Dwight Gooden       9-12     9-17-1984
 17+   1   No one has had more than one of these in a row.

Once again, Randy Choate didn't pitch a lot of innings in those 21 games. I showed his composite line in his hitless games above, so here is the same for these:

 IP    H  R ER BB SO HBP
  9.1 16  9  9  2  0   0

In case you were wondering which was better for a pitcher to avoid: hits or strikeouts.

Not surprisingly, this isn't close to being the most consecutive relief innings pitched without a strikeout. That mark is held by Benny Frey who failed to strike out a single batter in his last 29 1/3 relief innings in 19332. If you allow streaks to span seasons, he nearly doubles that mark to 57 1/3 innings from August 26, 1933 to April 18, 1935.

Whitey Ford and Bob Turley both turned joined the list above while pitching for the 1958 Yankees, and for a few days that August their streaks overlapped.

HBP Streak  Player             Start  -  End
  0   99   Mike Marshall       4- 8     9-21-1974
  1    7   Jamey Wright        7-24     8-25-2001
           Pedro Martinez      5-28     7- 1-2004
  4+   1   No one has had more than one of these in a row.

Jamey Wright hit two batters in the games both before and after hitting a single batter in seven straight games. It was part of his record-tying (at least since 1901) ten consecutive games with a hit batsman. Casey Fossum also did it in 2005.

 WP Streak  Player             Start  -  End
  1    8   Jaime Cocanower     6-14     7-25-1985
  4    2   R.A. Dickey         5-24     7-30-2017
  5+   1   No one has had more than one of these in a row.

 BK Streak  Player             Start  -  End
  1    5   Steve Carlton       5-21     6-10-1979
  3+   1   No one has had more than one of these in a row.

I don't have much to add to these last two charts. Steve Carlton is not just the major league career leader in committing balks, he has twice as many as the next person on the list, Bob Welch. The league-leading eleven balks Carlton was charged with in 1979 was a career high, but he led or tied for the NL lead on seven other occasions as well. He had a total of four balks in his first nine seasons. Something must have changed then in either the way he was holding runners on base or in the way umpires viewed his pickoff move, because he averaged more than six balks a year over his next fifteen seasons.

Before leaving, I did want to point out that this and the preceding article are based upon Retrosheet's box score and play-by-play data from 1901 to 2020. I selected that starting point because at present 1901 is as far back as their data goes, not because of any lack of interest in 19th century baseball. When earlier years are available, I will use them, and I suspect the charts above will look quite a bit different than they do now.

Notes:

1There are people out there who insist that a pitcher who gives up a lead-off homer before retiring the side without further damage, ends that inning with an active streak of 0 scoreless innings since the inning, properly speaking, wasn't scoreless. And while they have a point, this introduces a painful level of complexity to what should be a joyous endeavour, leading to questions such as: "What if the pitcher was removed after the home run--would the reliever get credit for a scoreless inning?" Or: "What if the pitcher was taken out after retiring the first two batters and the reliever gives up a run?" And so on and so on. So when I talk about consecutive inning streaks, I really mean the number of outs recorded between events divided by three.

2Note that these are consecutive RELIEF appearances. Benny Frey started games during the streak, and struck out batters in those games (well, not a lot of batters), and for the purpose of his relief streak these games are ignored.

Most Consistent Hitters

First, a disclaimer: this post isn't actually about Retrosheet data, since it only deals with seasonal data which Retrosheet licenses from Pete Palmer. But despite that, hopefully what follows is mildly interesting.

Second, another disclaimer: there is at least a decent chance that something very similar to what I am about to do has been done before, and if so, probably better than I am about to do it. If so, my apologies. In my defense, I did do a few Google searches before proceeding.

So with those out of the way, recently I've been spending more time than is good for me looking at statistical data associated with the Deadball Era as part of writing Retro-Reviews of those years. And in my travels, I noticed that Christy Mathewson was a very consistent hitter from 1901-1905, at least when it came to at-bats and hits, going in succession: 28-130, 26-130, 28-124, 30-133 and 30-127. And so I decided to measure that consistency to see if this was really anything unusual.

My methodology was simple: look at each five-year period in each player's career and determine the variance of a statistic (ignoring the range if the mean was less than some threshold--needed to eliminate all the DH-era pitchers with their extremely consistent batting stats of all zeroes). Then divide the variance by the mean. And finally, generate a bunch of dull tables until everyone is fast asleep.

So I started with at-bats. Here are the players with the most consistent number of at-bats over a five-year period (with a minimum average of 60):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5
Albert Pujols      2001    0.001 590.8   590 590 591 592 591
Mike Cameron       1999    0.026 540.8   542 543 540 545 534
Billy Williams     1965    0.034 642.2   645 648 634 642 642
Pete Rose          1974    0.036 657.8   652 662 665 655 655
Tom Seaver         1969    0.043  92.0    91  95  92  89  93
Bobby Abreu        2000    0.054 577.4   576 588 572 577 574
Sam Crawford       1907    0.065 584.8   582 591 589 588 574
Rocky Colavito     1961    0.068 592.2   583 601 597 588 592
Dennis Martinez    1989    0.068  71.0    72  68  72  74  69
Christy Mathewson  1901    0.073 128.8   130 130 124 133 127

I eliminated overlapping ranges above, including two other Billy Williams ranges (starting in 1964 and 1966), a Tom Seaver range from 1968-1972, and one from Sam Crawford starting in 1908. So Mathewson wasn't even the most consistent pitcher, but at least he did (just barely) make the top ten.

And yes, Billy Williams was by far the most consistent hitter, at least with regard to at-bats over a seven-year period:

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7
Billy Williams     1964    0.034 641.7   645 645 648 634 642 642 636
Rudy York          1941    0.095 582.7   590 577 571 583 595 579 584
Prince Fielder     2006    0.115 578.4   569 573 588 591 578 569 581
Steve Garvey       1974    0.134 646.1   642 659 631 646 639 648 658
Sam Crawford       1906    0.144 581.1   563 582 591 589 588 574 581

Here are the most consistent hit totals (with a minimum average of 15):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5
G. Van Haltren     1891    0.018 178.0   180 179 179 175 177
Rob Ducey          1988    0.025  16.0    17  16  16  16  15
Mark Grace         1995    0.033 181.0   180 181 177 184 183
George Gore        1883    0.040 134.2   131 134 138 135 133
Bobby Abreu        2001    0.044 172.0   170 176 173 173 168
Fred Pfeffer       1886    0.052 128.6   125 133 129 128 128
Fred McGriff       1997    0.054 158.8   156 160 164 157 157
Nick Markakis      2007    0.067 186.0   191 182 188 187 182
Albert Pujols      2006    0.069 183.6   177 185 187 186 183
Lou Brock          1969    0.070 196.6   195 202 200 193 193

There were no overlapping entries this time around. Pujols is still on the list, but for the five-year period immediately following the one on the previous list. Mathewson drops out of the top ten, down to 16th place. The most interesting thing to me was the appearance of Rob Ducey. I'd expected that any player who collected between 15 and 17 hits for five straight years would have had to have been a pitcher, not a reserve outfielder. Ducey spent most of 1988, 1990 and 1991 playing for the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League, but still managed to play enough with the parent club to collect his 16 or 17 hits each season.

And here is the list for both at-bats and hits (where we average the two results, applying the same minimums):

Player             Year      Var    Means         Y1      Y2      Y3      Y4      Y5
Bobby Abreu        2001    0.063 579.8 172.0   588-170 572-176 577-173 574-173 588-168
Rocky Colavito     1961    0.075 592.2 165.2   583-169 601-164 597-162 588-161 592-170
Christy Mathewson  1901    0.076 128.8  28.4   130- 28 130- 26 124- 28 133- 30 127- 30
Rudy York          1942    0.104 581.0 156.6   577-150 571-155 583-161 595-157 579-160
Steve Garvey       1976    0.105 644.4 199.6   631-200 646-192 639-202 648-204 658-200
Mike Cameron       1999    0.127 540.8 138.6   542-139 543-145 540-144 545-130 534-135
Allie Reynolds     1948    0.133  80.6  15.0    83- 16  78- 17  81- 15  76- 14  85- 13
Nellie Fox         1955    0.134 630.2 192.8   636-198 649-192 619-196 623-187 624-191
Carl Hubbell       1932    0.156 110.6  24.0   108- 26 109- 20 117- 23 109- 26 110- 25
Evan Longoria      2013    0.163 617.6 163.8   614-165 624-158 604-163 633-173 613-160

This time I removed overlapping ranges (with the starting years) for: Abreu (2000). York (1941), Garvey (1974 and 1975), and Nellie Fox (1954). And this time Christy Mathewson moves up to third place, justifying this exercise.

As you might expect, Garvey leads the pack by quite a bit over a seven-year stretch:

Player             Year      Var    Means         Y1      Y2      Y3      Y4      Y5      Y6      Y7
Steve Garvey       1974    0.129 646.1 201.1   642-200 659-210 631-200 646-192 639-202 648-204 658-200
Nellie Fox         1953    0.204 629.4 191.9   624-178 631-201 636-198 649-192 619-196 623-187 624-191
Bobby Abreu        2000    0.225 574.7 172.1   576-182 588-170 572-176 577-173 574-173 588-168 548-163
Lou Brock          1968    0.229 646.4 194.4   660-184 655-195 664-202 640-200 621-193 650-193 635-194
Rudy York          1941    0.249 582.7 153.1   590-153 577-150 571-155 583-161 595-157 579-160 584-136

Next up: lists for the three flavors of extra-base hits, starting with doubles (5 doubles minimum):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5
Adrian Beltre      2011    0.007  32.6    33  33  32  33  32
Rick Leach         1986    0.018  13.4    14  13  13  14  13
Kip Selbach        1898    0.020  28.2    28  28  29  29  27
Pablo Sandoval     2011    0.022  25.8    26  25  27  26  25
Brayan Pena        2009    0.023  10.4    10  10  11  10  11
Home Run Baker     1914    0.024  23.2    23  23  24  24  22
Del Ennis          1953    0.024  23.2    22  23  24  23  24
Dave Rader         1972    0.027  15.0    14  15  16  15  15
Terry Turner       1912    0.029  14.0    14  13  14  14  15
Perry Werden       1890    0.030  21.4    22  20  22  22  21

This time, the only overlapping range was Beltre's starting in 2012 (he hit 31 doubles in 2016).

The triple list (2.5 triples minimum):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5
Jake Beckley       1891    0.000  19.0    19  19  19  19  19
Mickey Doolin      1910    0.000   6.0     6   6   6   6   6
Don Kolloway       1942    0.000   4.0     4   4   4   4   4
Sherry Robertson   1946    0.000   3.0     3   3   3   3   3
Ben Zobrist        2013    0.000   3.0     3   3   3   3   3
Duke Farrell       1890    0.019  12.6    12  13  13  13  12
Germany Smith      1891    0.028   5.8     5   6   6   6   6
Richie Ashburn     1953    0.029   8.4     9   8   9   8   8
Sam Rice           1924    0.029  14.0    14  13  14  14  15
Jackie Brandt      1959    0.031   5.2     5   6   5   5   5

Zobrist actually hit three triples in a season in six consecutive years, while Don Kolloway and Lee Lacy hit either three or four triples in a season for eight straight years:

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8
Don Kolloway       1941    0.050   3.8     3   4   4   4   4   4   3   4
Lee Lacy           1978    0.071   3.5     4   3   4   4   3   3   3   4
Joe Pepitone       1962    0.083   3.0     2   3   3   3   4   3   3   3
Fred Schulte       1927    0.104   5.9     5   6   5   5   7   6   7   6
Fred Clarke        1901    0.134  13.9    15  14  15  11  15  13  13  15

On to home runs (back to a 5 minimum):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5
Fred Lynn          1983    0.007  22.8    22  23  23  23  23
Adam Dunn          2005    0.016  39.6    40  40  40  40  38
Cal Ripken         1983    0.024  26.4    27  27  26  25  27
Yadier Molina      2006    0.026   6.2     6   6   7   6   6
Curt Walker        1925    0.026   6.2     6   6   6   6   7
Orlando Cabrera    2005    0.029   8.4     8   9   8   8   9
Bill Virdon        1957    0.029   8.4     8   9   8   8   9
Gil McDougald      1954    0.031  13.0    12  13  13  13  14
Brandon Phillips   2009    0.035  18.4    20  18  18  18  18
Duke Snider        1953    0.035  41.4    42  40  42  43  40

Those with overlapping ranges (with the starting years): Dunn (2006), Lynn (1982 and 1984), and Walker (1924). Given Lynn's two overlapping entries, it's not too surprising that he tops the seven-season list:

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7
Fred Lynn          1982    0.055  22.9    21  22  23  23  23  23  25
Curt Walker        1923    0.070   5.9     5   5   6   6   6   6   7
Fred McGriff       1988    0.090  34.6    34  36  35  31  35  37  34
Cal Ripken         1982    0.092  26.1    28  27  27  26  25  27  23
Brian McCann       2008    0.102  21.7    23  21  21  24  20  20  23

Combining all three forms of extra-base hits (with the same minimums for each):

Player             Year      Var        Means           Y1        Y2        Y3        Y4        Y5
Frank Robinson     1956    0.249  29.0   5.4  33.0   27- 6-38  29- 5-29  25- 6-31  31- 4-36  33- 6-31 
Sam Crawford       1907    0.281  32.8  16.0   5.8   34-17- 4  33-16- 7  35-14- 6  26-19- 5  36-14- 7 
Dolph Camilli      1936    0.283  27.2  11.2  25.6   29-13-28  23- 7-27  25-11-24  30-12-26  29-13-23 
Tony Pena          1982    0.285  26.0   2.6  12.2   28- 4-11  22- 3-15  27- 2-15  27- 2-10  26- 2-10 
Babe Ruth          1926    0.297  28.4   7.2  51.2   30- 5-47  29- 8-60  29- 8-54  26- 6-46  28- 9-49 
Hunter Pence       2008    0.305  30.6   4.2  24.2   34- 4-25  26- 5-25  29- 3-25  38- 5-22  26- 4-24 
Del Unser          1973    0.320  17.8   3.2  11.2   20- 4-11  18- 5-11  18- 2-10  19- 4-12  14- 1-12 
Ian Desmond        2012    0.321  30.6   2.6  22.0   33- 2-25  38- 3-20  26- 3-24  27- 2-19  29- 3-22 
Harry Heilmann     1925    0.323  42.0   9.0  13.0   40-11-13  41- 8- 9  50- 9-14  38-10-14  41- 7-15 
Ivan Rodriguez     2002    0.336  32.2   3.2  16.2   32- 2-19  36- 3-16  32- 2-19  33- 5-14  28- 4-13 

With the only duplicate being Frank Robinson's 1957-1961 range.

The runs scored list (minimum 10):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5
Erick Aybar        2009    0.029  69.0    70  69  71  67  68
Asdrubal Cabrera   2015    0.032  66.8    66  65  66  68  69
Dick Higham        1873    0.034  58.0    57  58  56  59  60
Bill Dahlen        1901    0.037  68.8    69  67  71  70  67
Rafael Palmeiro    1998    0.039  98.6    98  96 102  98  99
Frank Thomas       1991    0.040 105.2   104 108 106 106 102
John Anderson      1902    0.041  62.2    60  65  62  62  62
Jack Powell        1898    0.044  14.4    15  13  15  14  15
Fred Luderus       1914    0.048  54.6    55  55  52  57  54
Everett Scott      1916    0.054  39.8    37  40  40  41  41

There were no overlapping entries.

The RBI list (minimum 10):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5
Chipper Jones      1996    0.020 109.8   110 111 107 110 111
Johnnie LeMaster   1979    0.035  29.6    29  31  28  30  30
Fred Pfeffer       1889    0.036  77.0    77  80  77  76  75
Muddy Ruel         1924    0.048  54.6    57  54  55  52  55
Amos Strunk        1913    0.052  46.0    46  45  45  49  45
Jack Burns         1931    0.054  70.2    70  70  71  73  67
Heinie Groh        1920    0.055  48.4    49  48  51  48  46
Bobby Abreu        2003    0.056 103.2   101 105 102 107 101
Christy Mathewson  1908    0.056  11.4    11  12  10  12  12
Leo Durocher       1928    0.059  31.4    31  32  32  29  33

I removed overlapping lists for Muddy Ruel (1923), Bobby Abreu (2005) and Johnnie LeMaster (1980), the players in the top three spots of the six-season list:

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6
Muddy Ruel         1923    0.041  54.5    54  57  54  55  52  55
Bobby Abreu        2004    0.055 103.0   105 102 107 101 100 103
Johnnie LeMaster   1979    0.056  30.0    29  31  28  30  30  32
Bobby Murcer       1971    0.089  92.3    94  96  95  88  91  90
Chipper Jones      1996    0.094 108.5   110 111 107 110 111 102

And Abreu tops the list if you add in a seventh season:

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7
Bobby Abreu        2003    0.052 102.7   101 105 102 107 101 100 103
Bobby Murcer       1971    0.092  91.9    94  96  95  88  91  90  89
Chipper Jones      1997    0.155 106.7   111 107 110 111 102 100 106
Joe DeMaestri      1953    0.163  36.6    35  40  37  39  33  38  34
Don Kessinger      1970    0.167  41.0    39  38  39  43  42  46  40

The walks list (minimum 10):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5
Heinie Manush      1931    0.004  35.8    36  36  36  36  35
Elmer Flick        1901    0.015  52.0    52  53  51  51  53
Ichiro Suzuki      2004    0.020  49.2    49  48  49  49  51
Bill Bradley       1900    0.021  26.2    27  26  27  25  26
Ron Santo          1966    0.025  95.0    95  96  96  96  92
George Bell        1988    0.032  32.4    34  33  32  32  31
Fred Clarke        1898    0.032  50.0    48  49  51  51  51
Rich Aurilia       2002    0.038  36.2    37  36  37  37  34
Max Carey          1913    0.039  57.6    55  59  57  59  58
Leon Durham        1982    0.040  66.4    66  66  69  64  67

I removed duplicates for Bill Bradley (1901) and Elmer Flick (1902).

The strikeouts list (minimum 10):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5
Dan McGann         1902    0.019  29.8    30  30  29  31  29
Jim Delsing        1951    0.027  38.6    39  37  39  38  40
Aubrey Huff        2007    0.029  88.8    87  89  87  91  90
Robb Quinlan       2004    0.030  27.0    26  26  28  27  28
Mike Scioscia      1988    0.031  30.8    31  29  31  32  31
Gil Hodges         1955    0.034  90.4    91  91  91  87  92
Larry French       1930    0.035  16.2    17  15  16  17  16
Johnny Damon       2001    0.042  70.8    70  70  74  71  69
Nellie Fox         1958    0.046  12.2    11  13  13  12  12
Eddie Plank        1909    0.047  17.0    16  18  17  18  16

There were no overlapping entries.

The stolen bases list (minimum 6):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5
Lu Blue            1926    0.019  12.4    13  13  12  12  12
Cap Anson          1886    0.029  28.0    29  27  28  27  29
Jake Daubert       1917    0.036  11.0    11  10  11  11  12
Fred Tenney        1904    0.039  16.6    17  17  17  15  17
Josh Hamilton      2008    0.050   8.0     9   8   8   8   7
Bing Miller        1922    0.062  10.4    10   9  11  11  11
Stan Hack          1935    0.075  16.0    14  17  16  16  17
Jack Tobin         1921    0.078   7.2     7   7   8   6   8
Carl Yastrzemski   1962    0.078   7.2     7   8   6   7   8
George Wood        1887    0.089  19.8    19  20  18  20  22

Lu Blue had an overlapping entry that tied for the most consistent starting in 1927. He stole 13 bases in 1931, the same as in 1926. And I also removed Carl Yastrzemski's entry starting in 1961.

That's all for now. I suspect that at some point, I will do something similar for pitching statistics, but I'm sure there's no rush.

The Most Homogeneous Batting Orders

I know I threatened to do something having to do with consistent pitching statistics next, but then I thought of an even sillier subject.

On August 24, 1905, the Boston Americans beat the Cleveland Naps 8-6 in eleven innings. Cy Young won the game in relief while the losing pitcher, Bill Bernhard went the distance, giving up ten hits to go along with the eight runs. In looking over the boxscore, I noticed that eight different players scored for Boston, and nine different players got hits. The first eight batters in the lineup had five at-bats each and the two pitchers in the ninth slot (Bill Dinneen in addition to Young) had four at-bats between them. It seemed to be an unusually homogeneous batting order.

But was it? In order to answer that question (and who among us hasn't wondered about the level of homogeneity of a team's lineup?), I decided to compute the variances of each team's at-bats, runs and hits (sorry, this is 1905 so no RBIs) by batting order position. The idea being that the lower the sum of these three variances, the more similar the batting order. Note that when more than one player appeared in the same batting order (like the two players batting ninth in the game above), I will combine their stats to form a single line.

So here are the characteristics of each of the three variances with a value less than 0.5:

  Var   Differences
0.0000  None
0.0987  +1 or -1 (One number differs by one)
0.1728  +1,+1 or -1,-1 (Two numbers differ by one in the same direction)
0.2222  +1,-1 (Two numbers differ by one, cumulative difference 0)
        +1,+1,+1 or -1,-1,-1 (Three numbers differ by one in the same direction)
0.2469  +1,+1,+1,+1 or -1,-1,-1,-1 (Four numbers differ by one in the same direction)1
0.3210  +1,+1,-1 or -1,-1,+1 (Three numbers differ by one, cumulative difference +/-1)
0.3951  +1,+1,+1,-1 or -1,-1,-1,+1 (Four numbers differ by one, cumulative difference +/-2)
        +2 or -2 (One number differs by two)
0.4444  +1,+1,-1,-1 (Four numbers differ, cumulative difference 0)
        +2,+1 or -2,-1 
0.4691  +2,+1,+1 or -2,-1,-1 

So since every slot in Boston's batting order had five at-bats except one with four (Var=0.0987), and each scored a run except the one who didn't (Var=0.0987), and each had a single hit except the one with two (Var=0.0987), the sum of these variants is 0.2963.

Before we try to determine just how unusual this game was, it should be clear that, if we restrict ourselves to looking at the games with a sum less than 0.500 (and we will actually be restricting ourselves more than that), we will only see values that are a combination of the nine listed above.

Here are the # of games in the lowest variant groups (combined variants of 0.35 or lower) from 1901 to 2020 along with the first game we encountered in the group that scored 0, 1, 2 ,... runs.

  VAR   Cnt      Date        Team    AB  R  H  AB-VAR  R-VAR  H-VAR
0.0000   27   05-05-1904     PHI A   27  0  0  0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
0.0988   65   05-02-1904     BOS A   27  0  1  0.0000 0.0000 0.09882
0.1728   32   07-01-1902     BAL A   27  0  2  0.0000 0.0000 0.17283
              04-21-1997     PIT N   36  2  9  0.0000 0.1728 0.0000
0.1975  162   08-02-1902     WAS A   28  0  1  0.0988 0.0000 0.0988
              06-18-1924     BRO N   36  1  8  0.0000 0.0988 0.0988
0.2222   69   07-15-1901     STL N   27  0  0  0.2222 0.0000 0.00004
0.2469   13   09-14-1903(2)  STL N   14  0  0  0.2469 0.0000 0.00005
              04-06-2013     TEX A   36  4  9  0.0000 0.2469 0.0000
0.2716  267   05-12-1901     PIT N   34  1  9  0.1728 0.0988 0.0000
              06-11-1901     NY  N   17  0  2  0.0988 0.0000 0.1728
              08-11-1925     NY  A   36  2 10  0.0000 0.1728 0.0988
0.2963   33   08-24-1905(2)  BOS A   44  8 10  0.0988 0.0988 0.0988
              07-21-1914     STL A   19  1  1  0.0988 0.0988 0.0988
0.3210  313   08-31-1901(2)  CLE A   19  0  3  0.0988 0.0000 0.2222
              05-26-1907     NY  A   15  1  0  0.2222 0.0988 0.0000
              05-04-1981     MIN A   36  3  8  0.0000 0.2222 0.0988
              06-11-1987     BAL A   36  6 10  0.0000 0.2222 0.0988
              08-25-2016     TEX A   33  9  8  0.2222 0.0000 0.0988
0.3457  392   09-27-1901(2)  CIN N   25  0  2  0.1728 0.0000 0.1728
              09-23-1905(1)  NY  A   32  1  9  0.2469 0.0988 0.0000
              09-12-1929     PHI A   36  4 10  0.0000 0.2469 0.0988
              09-22-1967     NY  A   36  2  7  0.0000 0.1728 0.1728
              09-28-2004     CLE A   36  5 10  0.0000 0.2469 0.0988

So Boston's score that day of 0.2963 put them in a 33-way tie for 636th place, which may not sound like much, but this is out of 401,312 scores and it's the lowest score by any team scoring more than four runs.

I'm sure pretty almost everyone can guess what almost all of the games with a variance of 0.000 look like: 27, 0, 0. And of the 27 games since 1901 with a perfect match in every spot in the order, all but one has that line. The exception? The game played by the Red Sox on April 6, 2014 when they got shut out on nine hits by three Milwaukee pitchers and every spot in their order had one hit in four at-bats. I was surprised that out of all the games played since 1901, there has only been one in which the players up and down the order all went 1-4 without scoring a run.

Obviously, a well-pitched game has a better chance of getting a lower score than a slugfest. With apologies in advance for the overly large table, here are the lowest variances for games with zero to thirty runs:

  VAR  Runs      Date        Team    AB  R  H  AB-VAR  R-VAR  H-VAR
0.0000    0   05-05-1904     PHI A   27  0  0  0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
0.1975    1   06-18-1924     BRO N   36  1  8  0.0000 0.0988 0.0988
              04-19-1970     SD  N   27  1  1  0.0000 0.0988 0.0988
              09-10-1999     NY  A   27  1  1  0.0000 0.0988 0.09886
              08-03-2018     NY  A   27  1  1  0.0000 0.0988 0.09887
0.1728    2   04-21-1997     PIT N   36  2  9  0.0000 0.1728 0.00008
0.3210    3   05-04-1981     MIN A   36  3  8  0.0000 0.2222 0.0988
0.2469    4   04-06-2013     TEX A   36  4  9  0.0000 0.2469 0.0000
0.3457    5   09-28-2004     CLE A   36  5 10  0.0000 0.2469 0.0988
0.3210    6   06-11-1987     BAL A   36  6 10  0.0000 0.2222 0.0988
0.3704    7   09-07-1941(1)  CIN N   37  7 10  0.0988 0.1728 0.0988
              05-23-1988     TOR A   35  7  8  0.0988 0.1728 0.0988
0.2963    8   08-24-1905(2)  BOS A   44  8 10  0.0988 0.0988 0.0988
0.3210    9   08-25-2016     TEX A   33  9  8  0.2222 0.0000 0.0988
0.4444   10   06-28-1935(1)  DET A   38 10 11  0.1728 0.0988 0.1728
0.5185   11   05-31-1995     CIN N   41 11 17  0.2469 0.1728 0.0988
0.6173   12   08-09-1936(2)  CIN N   45 12 20  0.2222 0.2222 0.1728
              07-03-1967     CHI N   34 12  9  0.1728 0.2222 0.2222
0.7407   13   04-13-1984     DET A   44 13 16  0.3210 0.2469 0.1728
              07-17-1999     LA  N   40 13 14  0.2469 0.2469 0.2469
0.6667   14   09-17-2003     ATL N   44 14 19  0.0988 0.4691 0.0988
0.8395   15   08-10-1937(1)  WAS A   38 15 12  0.3951 0.2222 0.2222
              07-05-2019     MIN A   42 15 20  0.2222 0.4444 0.1728
0.8889   16   07-04-1951(2)  PIT N   34 16 17  0.1728 0.3951 0.32109
0.7160   17   05-29-1992     MIN A   36 17 16  0.4444 0.0988 0.1728
0.9877   18   07-14-1997     BOS A   46 18 21  0.3210 0.4444 0.2222
0.9630   19   04-24-1906     BOS A   50 19 20  0.2469 0.3210 0.3951
1.4568   20   04-07-2018     PHI N   42 20 20  0.6667 0.3951 0.3951
1.4568   21   09-20-2018     OAK A   44 21 22  0.7654 0.4444 0.2469
1.4074   22   06-19-2000     NY  A   47 22 19  0.3951 0.6914 0.321010
2.1481   23   07-10-1943     BRO N   43 23 20  0.3951 1.1358 0.6173
1.8272   24   08-25-1979     CAL A   52 24 26  0.6173 0.6667 0.5432
2.0741   25   07-31-2018     WAS N   50 25 26  0.9136 0.3951 0.7654
2.8148   26   08-12-1948(2)  CLE A   55 26 29  0.7654 1.2099 0.8395
2.6173   27   07-07-1923(1)  CLE A   43 27 24  1.5062 0.4444 0.6667
3.1852   28   07-06-1929(2)  STL N   53 28 28  0.5432 0.7654 1.8765
3.6790   29   04-23-1955     CHI A   54 29 29  0.4444 1.7284 1.5062
2.6173   30   08-22-2007(1)  TEX A   57 30 29  0.4444 1.3333 0.8395

With the exception of the first (zero) row, where I only show the first, every game with the same variance for that run value is displayed.

Looking only at regulation-length games, here are the ones with the highest variances (from zero to nine runs scored as well as the one with the highest variance regardless of score):

  VAR  Runs      Date        Team    AB  R  H  AB-VAR  R-VAR  H-VAR
3.3086    0   07-12-1926     CHI N   31  0  7  1.8025 0.0000 1.5062
4.0741    1   05-27-1911(1)  NY  A   35  1 10  1.8765 0.0988 2.0988
4.2963    2   08-05-1923     DET A   31  2  8  2.0247 0.1728 2.0988
5.6543    3   09-22-1970     OAK A   33  3 10  2.2222 0.4444 2.9877
5.2593    4   05-28-1922     STL A   32  4 10  3.1358 0.4691 1.6543
5.0864    5   09-09-2014     SF  N   33  5 11  0.8889 0.9136 3.2840
5.2840    6   05-06-2008     HOU N   34  6 12  1.2840 1.5556 2.4444
6.4198    7   05-31-1974     HOU N   33  7 13  3.1111 1.0617 2.2469
5.5309    8   06-12-1984     LA  N   33  8 10  1.1111 1.4321 2.9877
6.0000    9   08-27-1997     LA  N   42  9 18  1.3333 1.5556 3.1111
8.1728  TOP   07-30-1917     DET A   45 16 21  0.4444 3.5062 4.2222

In the first game in the list, the high variance is caused because Sparky Adam collected four of the team's seven hits, while Cliff Heathcote had no at-bats in the second slot because of his three walks and a sacrifice. In the case of the Tigers game in 1923, Ty Cobb and Harry Heilmann combined for all but one of the team's eight hits, while both Fred Haney and Johnny Bassler had only one at-bat each due the Haney's three sacrifices and Bassler's three walks. In the Dodgers 1997 game, four of the players had a combined 21-9-15 line with the other five finishing at 21-0-3. And in the regulation game with the highest variance, Ossie Vitt, Ty Cobb and Tommy Veach each had five hits and combined to score twelve runs. Here how they did compared to the next best hitters that day and then the worst:

Cobb and Co.     17  12  15
Rest of 1-6      13   2   6
Bottom third     15   1   0

If you include extra-inning games, that Tigers' game drops down to a distant second place, replaced by a game that truly needs no introduction:

  VAR  Runs      Date        Team    AB  R  H  AB-VAR  R-VAR  H-VAR
8.7160   17   07-10-1932     CLE A   83 17 33  1.9506 1.4321 5.3333

And finally, here are the highest variances in regulation games for at-bats, runs and hits:

           VAR     Date        Team    AB  R  H  AB-VAR  R-VAR  H-VAR
ABs     4.2716  05-22-1996     CIN N   27  4  4  3.7778 0.2469 0.2469
Runs    7.8519  08-15-2015     BOS A   47 22 26  1.2840 4.4691 2.0988
Hits    6.9630  06-22-1938     CHI A   41 16 17  0.9136 1.7284 4.3210

In a classic case of Two out of the Three True Outcomes, the third, fourth and fifth place hitters in the 1996 game combined for eleven walks and a strikeout. In the second entry above, the bottom four slots in the batting order scored eighteen runs. And finally, four White Sox hitters were responsible for all but one of the team's seventeen hits, including six by Hank Steinbacher.

I'm sure that's more than enough for now.

Notes:

1In games where plate appearances equal at-bats (so no walks, hit batters, sacrifices or catcher's interference), a team's at-bat variance must be either:

0.0000 (ninth spot makes the last out), or
0.0997 (first or eight batter makes the last out), or
0.1782 (second or seventh batter makes the last out), or
0.2222 (third or sixth batter makes the last out), or
0.2469 (fourth or fifth batter makes the last out),

unless someone bats out of turn during the game.

2These first two games represent back-to-back starts by Rube Waddell. On May 2nd, he shut out Boston on one-hit, and on May 5th, Cy Young pitched a perfect game to defeat him.

3Another Rube Waddell game. This was his first home game as an Athletic and Rube pitched a two-hit shutout, striking out thirteen without walking a batter.

4Christy Mathewson's first no-hitter.

5Red Ames' no-hit major league debut.

6Boston's Pedro Martinez strikes out 17 Yankees and gives up only one hit, a homer by Chili Davis. The only other base runner is Chuck Knoblauch. who is hit by a pitch leading off the game.

7Boston's Rich Porcello strikes out 9 Yankees and gives up only one hit, a homer by Miguel Andujar. The only other base runner is Brett Gardner. who is hit by a pitch leading off the game.

8This game, as well as the next two, are games in which every spot in the batting order went 1-4 and no player scored more than one run. The weird thing is there has never been a game like this where a single run was scored.

9Ralph Kiner had been suspended prior to the game, but apparently the Pirates never got the memo, because he played and hit a grand-slam in the third inning and a three-run homer in the fourth before the game was called in the middle of the sixth. The Reds protested the game to no avail.

10From here on out we are dealing with very small sample sizes. The number of games in each row:

Runs  Games
  22     34
  23     25
  24     15
  25      6
  26      8
  27      1
  28      1
  29      3
  30      1

Most Consistent Pitchers

This is a companion piece to my earlier article on the most consistent hitters. So if you've gotten this far, I'm assuming there's at least a chance you'll find some of what follows interesting.

So as before, I going to take a series of statistics and compute their variance over some number of years. In all of these charts, if a pitcher appears more than two times, the shortest and longest ranges will be shown along with a note indicating the elided rows. But before we get started, I'd like to show just how many ranges were have. Obviously, the longer the range, the fewer the candidates (since a pitcher has to have pitched in at least that many years to be considered. So here are the number of entries for each range:

Length       1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9    10    11    12    13    14    15    16    17    18    19    20    21    22    23    24    25
# Ranges 44724 34731 27712 22345 18052 14510 11590  9200  7193  5545  4197  3127  2267  1616  1127   767   527   362   245   160   103    60    33    18     8

By the 25-year range, the only pitchers still in the running are Charlie Hough, Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Jamie Moyer and Nolan Ryan.

Let's start with wins shown over ranges of 5 to 20 years (if different, the leaders with an average of 10 or more, and 20 or more are also shown):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12 Y13 Y14 Y15 Y16 Y17 Y18 Y19 Y20
Steve Howe         1985    0.000   3.0     3   3   3   3   3
Steve Howe         1987    0.000   3.0     3   3   3   3   3
Warren Spahn       1957    0.008  21.2    21  22  21  21  21
Mark Buehrle       2009    0.011  12.8    13  13  13  13  12  13
Steve Howe         1983    0.039   3.1     4   3   3   3   3   3   3
Hal Schumacher     1936    0.043  12.4    11  13  13  13  13  12  12
Mark Buehrle       2008    0.074  13.4    15  13  13  13  13  12  13  15
Greg Maddux        1994    0.129  17.4    16  19  15  19  18  19  19  17  16  16
Warren Spahn       1947    0.315  20.1    21  15  21  21  22  14  23  21  17  20  21  22  21  21  21  18  23
Greg Maddux        1988    0.251  17.0    18  19  15  15  20  20  16  19  15  19  18  19  19  17  16  16  16  13  15  14
Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12 Y13 Y14 Y15 Y16 Y17 Y18 Y19 Y20

Steve Howe also led all pitchers over 6 years (starting in 1985). During his 6 straight three-win seasons, Howe pitched in 204 games and went 18-13 with 32 saves.

Warren Spahn also led pitchers with 20 or more wins over 6 to 8 years (starting in 1956), all pitchers over nine years (starting in 1953), and 20 or more over 10 to 11 years (starting in 1953), 12 years (starting in 1949 and 1950), 13 to 15 years (starting in 1949), and 16 years (starting in 1948).

Before generating these lists, I'd expecting Spahn to be the most consistent 20-game winner in history. For example, over a 10 year stretch, the top six entries are all overlapping ones from Spahn:

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10
Warren Spahn       1953    0.139  20.5    23  21  17  20  21  22  21  21  21  18
Warren Spahn       1954    0.139  20.5    21  17  20  21  22  21  21  21  18  23
Warren Spahn       1952    0.313  20.1    14  23  21  17  20  21  22  21  21  21
Warren Spahn       1949    0.325  20.2    21  21  22  14  23  21  17  20  21  22
Warren Spahn       1950    0.325  20.2    21  22  14  23  21  17  20  21  22  21
Warren Spahn       1951    0.325  20.2    22  14  23  21  17  20  21  22  21  21
Kid Nichols        1890    0.489  29.8    27  30  35  34  32  27  30  31  31  21
Eddie Plank        1902    0.642  20.8    20  23  26  24  19  24  14  19  16  23
Christy Mathewson  1905    0.683  26.4    31  22  24  37  25  27  26  23  25  24

Greg Maddux also led all pitchers over 10 years (starting in 1995), 11 years (starting in 1994), 12 years (starting in 1993), 13 years (starting in 1992), and 14 to 19 years (starting in 1988),

The last entry above for Mark Buehrle cover the last 8 years of his career.

Losses shown over 5 to 20 years (if different, the leaders with an average of 5 or more, and 10 or more are also shown):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12 Y13 Y14 Y15 Y16 Y17 Y18 Y19 Y20
Steve Trout        1984    0.000   7.0     7   7   7   7   7
Rich Garces        1997    0.000   1.0     1   1   1   1   1   1
Carl Hubbell       1930    0.012  11.8    12  12  11  12  12  12
Carl Hubbell       1929    0.017  11.7    11  12  12  11  12  12  12
Jack McDowell      1988    0.024   9.6    10   9  10  10  10   9  10   9
Stan Coveleski     1916    0.036  13.4    13  14  13  12  14  13  14  14
Todd Jones         1997    0.056   4.4     4   4   4   4   5   4   5   5   5
Stan Coveleski     1916    0.081  13.7    13  14  13  12  14  13  14  14  16
Jim Kaat           1962    0.173  12.1    14  10  11  11  13  13  12  13  10  14
Mike Cuellar       1966    0.208  10.9    10  11  11  11   8   9  12  13  10  12  13
Doyle Alexander    1972    0.222   8.6     8   8   9   8   9  11  10   7  11   7   7   8
Jack Powell        1898    0.268  16.5    15  19  17  19  17  19  19  14  14  16  13  16
Milt Pappas        1958    0.251  10.1    10   9  11   9  10   9   7   9  11  13  13  10  10
Todd Jones         1994    0.214   4.3     2   5   3   4   4   4   4   5   4   5   5   5   6   4
Livan Hernandez    1998    0.261  12.4    12  12  11  15  16  10  15  10  13  11  11  12  12  13
Jack Powell        1898    0.365  16.3    15  19  17  19  17  19  19  14  14  16  13  16  11  19  17
Milt Pappas        1958    0.372  10.2    10   9  11   9  10   9   7   9  11  13  13  10  10  14   7  12
Don Sutton         1971    0.475  10.4    12   9  10   9  13  10   8  11  15   5   9   9  13  12  10  11  11
Doyle Alexander    1971    0.308   8.7     6   8   8   9   8   9  11  10   7  11   7   7   8   6  10  10  10  11
David Wells        1988    0.703   7.7     5   4   6  10   9   9   7   8  14  10   4  10   8   7   7   7   8   7   5   9
Don Sutton         1968    0.711  11.1    15  18  13  12   9  10   9  13  10   8  11  15   5   9   9  13  12  10  11  11
Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12 Y13 Y14 Y15 Y16 Y17 Y18 Y19 Y20

Three pitchers, Garces in the two overlapping streaks and Pat Neshek, lost a single game in five straight years. Garces went 20-6 during his six years with a single loss, including a 19-3 mark from 1999 to 2001.

Todd Jones also led all pitchers over 10 years (starting in 1995 and 1996), and over 11 to 13 years (starting in 1995).

Doyle Alexander also led all pitchers over 15 to 17 years (starting in 1972).

Don Sutton also led pitchers with 10 or more losses over 18 and 19 years (starting in 1970).

Carl Hubbell's streak of losing either 11 or 12 games for 7 straight seasons ended when he went 26-6 in 1936. His record over those 7 years was 134-82.

So combining them, gives us the most consistent win-loss records over 3 to 12 years (with an average of more than one win and loss):

Player             Year      Var    Means       Y1    Y2    Y3    Y4    Y5    Y6    Y7    Y8    Y9   Y10   Y11   Y12
Red Ruffing        1937    0.005  20.7- 7.0   20- 7 21- 7 21- 7
John Smoltz        1989    0.072  13.8-11.8   12-11 14-11 14-13 15-12
Milt Wilcox        1979    0.037  12.0-10.0   12-10 13-11 12- 9 12-10 11-10
Milt Wilcox        1978    0.062  12.2-10.3   13-12 12-10 13-11 12- 9 12-10 11-10
Mark Buehrle       2008    0.130  13.1-11.0   15-12 13-10 13-13 13- 9 13-13 12-10 13-10
Warren Spahn       1954    0.156  20.5-12.1   21-12 17-14 20-11 21-11 22-11 21-15 21-10 21-13
Warren Spahn       1954    0.167  20.2-12.3   21-12 17-14 20-11 21-11 22-11 21-15 21-10 21-13 18-14
Mark Buehrle       2004    0.264  13.4-10.4   16-10 16- 8 12-13 10- 9 15-12 13-10 13-13 13- 9 13-13 12-10 13-10 15- 8
Player             Year      Var    Means       Y1    Y2    Y3    Y4    Y5    Y6    Y7    Y8    Y9   Y10   Y11   Y12

Mark Buehrle also led pitchers over 10 years (starting in 2006), and 11 years (starting in 2004). And his last entry covers the last 12 years of his career.

Games pitched leaders for 6 through 14 year ranges:

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12 Y13 Y14
Jose Quintana      2014    0.000  32.0    32  32  32  32  32  32
Jose Quintana      2013    0.004  32.1    33  32  32  32  32  32  32
James Shields      2008    0.007  33.4    33  33  34  33  33  34  34  33
James Shields      2009    0.007  33.4    33  34  33  33  34  34  33  33
James Shields      2008    0.007  33.3    33  33  34  33  33  34  34  33  33
Jon Lester         2009    0.009  32.1    32  32  31  33  33  32  32  32  32  32
Jon Lester         2008    0.013  32.1    33  32  32  31  33  33  32  32  32  32  32  31
Greg Maddux        1996    0.025  34.1    35  33  34  33  35  34  34  36  33  35  34  34  33
Warren Spahn       1948    0.061  38.6    36  38  41  39  40  35  39  39  39  39  38  40  40  38

Jon Lester also led over 11 years (starting in 2008). His last entry on the list above extended to 2019 and ended when the shortened 2020 season resulted in him pitching in only 12 games

Greg Maddux last range extended to the end of his career and started after the strike-shortened 1994 and 1995 seasons reduced his games in those years to 25 and 28 games.

Since these are all durable starting pitchers, I thought I'd raise the minimum to an average of 50 games to show the consistent relief pitchers (5 through 12 year ranges):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12
John Wetteland     1996    0.006  62.0    62  61  63  62  62
John Wetteland     1995    0.014  61.7    60  62  61  63  62  62
Lee Smith          1985    0.035  64.6    65  66  62  64  64  64  67
Lee Smith          1982    0.126  66.0    72  66  69  65  66  62  64  64  64  67  70  63

John Wetteland's last entry began in a strike-shortened season and extended to the end of his career.

Lee Smith also led over 8 to 11 years (starting in 1983) and his last entry was ended by the 1994 strike.

Complete games are next. Here are the leaders in the 5 to 12 year ranges:

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12
Wilbur Cooper      1918    0.038  27.4    26  27  28  29  27
Wilbur Cooper      1919    0.038  27.4    27  28  29  27  26
Wilbur Cooper      1917    0.113  26.4    23  26  27  28  29  27  26  25
Red Ruffing        1932    0.201  21.0    22  18  19  19  25  22  22  22  20
Red Ruffing        1931    0.200  20.8    19  22  18  19  19  25  22  22  22  20
Warren Spahn       1953    0.273  20.7    24  23  16  20  18  23  21  18  21  22  22
Warren Spahn       1952    0.263  20.6    19  24  23  16  20  18  23  21  18  21  22  22

This list doesn't show Mark Portugal, who had one complete game each year from 1990 to 1996.

Wilbur Cooper also led over 6 to 7 years (starting in 1918).

Red Ruffing's last entry covers his first 10 full seasons with the New York Yankees.

Warren Spahn led the NL in complete games in the last 7 years of the streaks shown above.

Games saved over 5 to 9 years, this time only showing those averaging 5 saves or more a year (otherwise Cal McLish's seven straight seasons with one save from 1956 to 1962 would dominate the list):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9
Aroldis Chapman    2012    0.093  36.2    38  38  36  33  36
Randy Moffitt      1973    0.193  12.8    14  15  11  14  11  12
Lee Smith          1983    0.193  31.8    29  33  33  31  36  29
Jonathan Papelbon  2006    0.223  36.7    35  37  41  38  37  31  38
Lee Smith          1983    0.311  30.9    29  33  33  31  36  29  25  31
Jonathan Papelbon  2006    0.366  36.1    35  37  41  38  37  31  38  29  39

Innings pitched shown over 5 to 12 years (if different, the leaders with 100 or more are also shown):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1    Y2    Y3    Y4    Y5    Y6    Y7    Y8    Y9   Y10   Y11   Y12
Cody Allen         2014    0.017  68.3    69.2  69.1  68.0  67.1  67.0
Matt Cain          2008    0.023 219.9   217.2 217.2 223.1 221.2 219.1
Cody Allen         2013    0.022  68.6    70.1  69.2  69.1  68.0  67.1  67.0
Mark Buehrle       2010    0.063 203.7   210.1 205.1 202.1 203.2 202.0 198.2
John Wetteland     1994    0.060  63.1    63.2  61.1  63.2  65.0  62.0  66.0  60.0
Frank Viola        1984    0.092 253.1   257.2 250.2 245.2 251.2 255.1 261.0 249.2
David Robertson    2010    0.103  64.2    61.1  66.2  60.2  66.1  64.1  63.1  62.1  68.1
David Robertson    2010    0.136  64.8    61.1  66.2  60.2  66.1  64.1  63.1  62.1  68.1  69.2
Santiago Casilla   2007    0.390  54.8    50.2  50.1  48.1  55.1  51.2  63.1  50.0  58.1  58.0  58.0  59.0
Mark Buehrle       2005    0.527 208.7   236.2 204.0 201.0 218.2 213.1 210.1 205.1 202.1 203.2 202.0 198.2
Alan Embree        1997    0.573  56.3    46.0  53.2  58.2  60.0  54.0  62.0  55.0  52.1  52.0  52.1  68.0  61.2
Warren Spahn       1952    0.685 273.2   290.0 265.2 283.1 245.2 281.1 271.0 290.0 292.0 267.2 262.2 269.1 259.2
Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1    Y2    Y3    Y4    Y5    Y6    Y7    Y8    Y9   Y10   Y11   Y12

John Wetteland's entry covers the last 7 years of his career.

Mark Buehrle also led all pitchers with 100 or more innings over 8 and 9 years (starting in 2006), and led all pitchers over 10 years (starting in 2006). And his last entry covers the last 11 years of his career.

Hits Allowed shown over five to twelve years (if different, the leaders with 100 or mores are also shown):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12
Mike Munoz         1995    0.026  53.2    54  55  52  53  52
Bartolo Colon      2001    0.043 218.4   220 219 223 215 215
Kyle Gibson        2014    0.088 178.8   178 186 175 182 177 175
F. Rodriguez       2003    0.130  50.4    50  51  45  52  50  54  51
Mike Boddicker     1984    0.243 221.0   218 227 214 212 234 217 225
Troy Percival      1995    0.157  39.6    37  38  40  45  38  42  39  38
Tom Seaver         1971    0.269 211.0   210 215 219 199 217 211 199 218
Troy Percival      1995    0.265  39.3    37  38  40  45  38  42  39  38  33  43
Tom Seaver         1967    0.438 214.0   224 224 202 230 210 215 219 199 217 211 199 218

Kyle Gibson's streak ran up until the shortened 2020 season limited him to 12 games,

Troy Percival also led all pitchers over 9 years (starting in 1995), and his last entry covers the first 10 years of his career.

Tom Seaver also led all pitchers with 100 or more over 9 years (starting in 1970), and over 10 years (starting in 1967), and all pitchers over 11 years (starting in 1968). His last entry covers the first 12 years of his career.

Runs Allowed shown over 5 to 12 years (if different, the leaders with 50 or more are also shown):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12
Kevin Correia      2009    0.015  89.8    92  89  90  89  89
Frank Tanana       1987    0.070 103.3   106 105 105 104  98 102
Frank Tanana       1986    0.190 103.1    95 106 105 105 104  98 102 110
CC Sabathia        2004    0.178  89.8    90  92  83  94  85  96  92  87  89
CC Sabathia        2003    0.184  89.3    85  90  92  83  94  85  96  92  87  89
Billy Wagner       1998    0.307  18.5    19  14  19  19  21  18  16  17  22  22  17
Mike Mussina       1997    0.454  91.2    87  85  88 105  87 103  86  91  93  88  90
Billy Wagner       1997    0.356  18.9    23  19  14  19  19  21  18  16  17  22  22  17
Mike Mussina       1997    0.451  90.7    87  85  88 105  87 103  86  91  93  88  90  85

Frank Tanana also led all pitchers over 7 years (starting in 1987), and his last entry covers the final 8 years of his career.

Mike Mussina's last entry covers the final 12 years of his career.

Walks shown over 5 to 12 years (If different, the leaders with 40 or more, and 100 or more are also shown):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12
Dave Smith         1987    0.033  19.6    21  19  19  20  19
Burt Hooton        1976    0.043  61.6    60  60  61  63  64
Tommy Bridges      1932    0.226 112.2   119 110 104 113 115
Zack Greinke       2013    0.101  43.0    46  43  40  41  45  43
Tommy Bridges      1931    0.212 111.5   108 119 110 104 113 115
Larry Jackson      1962    0.214  58.4    64  54  58  57  62  54  60
Hal Newhouser      1943    0.285 105.9   111 102 110  98 110  99 111
Dave Smith         1984    0.101  19.6    20  17  22  21  19  19  20  19
Mark Buehrle       2006    0.255  46.8    48  45  52  45  49  45  40  51  46
Hal Newhouser      1941    1.719 107.3   137 114 111 102 110  98 110  99 111  81
Mark Buehrle       2004    0.333  46.5    51  40  48  45  52  45  49  45  40  51  46
Early Wynn         1950    2.004 103.6   101 107 132 107  83  80  91 104 104 119 112
Santiago Casilla   2007    0.419  22.1    23  20  25  26  25  22  25  15  23  19  22  20
Larry Jackson      1957    0.443  58.9    57  51  64  70  56  64  54  58  57  62  54  60

Dave Smith also led all pitchers over 6 years (starting in 1986), and 7 years (starting in 1984).

Larry Jackson also led all pitchers with 40 or more over 8 years (starting in 1961), and his entries extend to the end of his career.

Mark Buehrle also led all pitchers over 10 years (starting in 2005).

Hal Newhouser also led all pitchers with 100 or more over 8 to 9 years (starting in 1942).

Santiago Casilla's streak goes to the end of his career.

Strikeouts shown over 5 to 12 years (if different, the leaders with 100 or more, and 150 or more are also shown):

Player             Year      Var  Mean    Y1  Y2  Y3  Y4  Y5  Y6  Y7  Y8  Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12
Jon Garland        2002    0.046 112.0   112 108 113 115 112
Dizzy Dean         1932    0.054 194.0   191 199 195 190 195
Jeff Suppan        2002    0.104 110.2   109 110 110 114 104 114
Matt Cain          2006    0.297 175.8   179 163 186 171 177 179
Cole Hamels        2010    0.321 205.1   211 194 216 202 198 215 200
Ray Kremer         1924    0.367  63.2    64  62  74  63  61  66  58  58
Andy Benes         1991    0.429 171.8   167 169 179 189 171 160 175 164
Mike Timlin        1996    0.661  53.6    52  45  60  50  52  47  50  65  56  59
Cole Hamels        2007    1.094 197.7   177 196 168 211 194 216 202 198 215 200
Jason Frasor       2004    0.804  53.9    54  62  51  59  42  56  65  57  53  48  46
Jeff Suppan        1999    1.498 107.5   103 128 120 109 110 110 114 104 114  90  80
Andy Benes         1990    1.613 162.9   140 167 169 179 189 171 160 175 164 141 137
Dan Plesac         1988    0.950  57.2    52  52  65  61  54  47  53  57  76  61  55  53
Tommy John         1967    2.235 115.3   110 117 128 138 131 117 116  78  91 123 124 111
Don Sutton         1966    2.413 185.3   209 169 162 217 201 194 207 200 179 175 161 150

Jeff Suppan also led all pitchers over 7 years (starting in 2001), pitchers with 100 or more strikeouts over 8 years (starting in 2000), all pitchers over 9 years (starting in 1999), and pitchers with 100 or more over 10 years (starting in 1999).

Cole Hamels also led pitchers with 150 or more over 9 years (starting in 2008).

Ray Kremer's streak covers the first 8 years of his career.

James Frasor's streak covers all but the last year of his career.

Fun With Batting Orders

When I wrote my original Retro-Review of 1914, one of the things I looked at was the best and worst team performances by batting order position. Here is what I wrote back then:

Begin (sort of) old stuff.

Here are the teams with the weakest hitters (in terms of OPS) in each spot in the batting order (along with the player with the most plate appearances there) from 1914 to the present:

    Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  PAs Player           Pos
1st 1969 SD  N  675  51 132 23  3  3  29  35   1 115  3  7  3  15 12  .196  .237  .252  .489  305 Jose Arcia       2B/SS
2nd 1916 BOS A  591  55 115 15  5  0  40  38      53 15 49     14     .195  .261  .237  .498  284 Jack Barry       2B
3rd 1917 NY  A  584  70 121  8  5  0  38  70      41  1 27     29     .207  .293  .238  .531  310 Fritz Maisel     2B
4th 1992 CAL A  640  61 128 19  1 16  74  29   5 113  4  2  5   6  6  .200  .237  .308  .545  287 Hubie Brooks     DH
5th 1988 STL N  639  63 136 23  1  7  62  40   5  85  3  5  6  11  4  .213  .260  .285  .545  247 Terry Pendleton  3B
6th 1967 CHI A  599  48 115 17  2  4  54  42   1 104  6  6  6   7  6  .192  .250  .247  .497   90 Ken Berry        OF
7th 1914 WAS A  537  47  96 12  6  1  25  42      78  7 22     17     .179  .247  .229  .476  349 George McBride   SS
8th 1918 PHI N  432  23  81  5  1  0  22  35      35  2 14      9     .188  .252  .204  .455  239 Bert Adams       C
9th 1964 HOU N  517  22  59  7  1  1  12  28   0 194  4 24  1   0  0  .114  .165  .137  .303   83 Ken Johnson      P

I'm sure this list will look quite a bit different once we include the rest of the Dead Ball Era, but I was still surprised at the number of post-expansion teams on the list. Two of those, however, were from the second Dead Ball Era.

And although it doesn't have anything to do with 1914, I suppose I ought to show the list of the teams with the highest OPSs by lineup spot:

    Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  PAs Player           Pos
1st 1996 BAL A  667 149 192 42  3 45 103  98   6 106 18  5  6  23  9  .288  .390  .562  .953  485 Brady Anderson   CF
2nd 1999 NY  A  651 148 233 43  9 28 102  94   4 114 10  3  5  17  9  .358  .443  .581 1.024  677 Derek Jeter      SS
3rd 1921 NY  A  552 182 208 45 17 60 171 144      82  4  5     17 13  .377  .509  .846 1.355  693 Babe Ruth        LF
4th 2004 SF  N  484 138 175 39  3 48 120 233 115  59  9  0  4   7  2  .362  .571  .752 1.323  609 Barry Bonds      LF
5th 1932 PHI A  588 152 214 33  9 58 169 117      96  0  0      3  7  .364  .470  .747 1.216  702 Jimmie Foxx      1B
6th 1995 CLE A  516  94 170 37  1 31 102  98   5 115  8  0  1   6  6  .329  .443  .585 1.028  354 Jim Thome        3B
7th 2003 ATL N  613  92 189 41  6 36 112  45   6 105  5  0  3   1  5  .308  .359  .571  .930  272 Vinny Castilla   3B
8th 1995 CLE A  511  79 148 26  1 27  92  66   5  95  2  1  6   2  1  .290  .369  .503  .872  252 Paul Sorrento    1B
9th 1994 CLE A  412  65 132 25  2 16  52  28   0  58  1  6  1  14 10  .320  .364  .507  .872   97 Alvaro Espinoso  IF

Although Vinny Castilla and Alvaro Espinoso have the most plate appearances in the slots above for the Braves and Indians, the teams owe their spot on the list to the other players who appeared there, in particular, Javy Lopez for the 2003 Braves and Sandy Alomar for the 1994 Indians.

End old stuff.

I added some statistical categories to the chart that weren't in my 1914 review. I also added the number of plate appearances for the leader in that batting order slot (PAs) to provide an indication of how stable the team's lineup was (at least when it came to that place in the order). So while you'd expect the leader for the bottom of the 1964 Houston Astros order to be low (since all the pitchers will typically bat ninth), it does show that the awful performance by the 1967 White Sox number seven hitters was a failure by committee.

So as expected, the "worst" list is quite a bit different once you add in the data for 1901 to 1913:

    Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  PAs Player           Pos
1st 1969 SD  N  675  51 132 23  3  3  29  35   1 115  3  7  3  15 12  .196  .237  .252  .489  305 Jose Arcia       2B/SS
2nd 1908 STL N  598  52 113 13  3  1  17  26      58  1 30     17     .189  .224  .226  .450  375 Chappy Charles   IF
3rd 1917 NY  A  584  70 121  8  5  0  38  70      41  1 27     29     .207  .293  .238  .531  310 Fritz Maisel     2B
4th 1992 CAL A  640  61 128 19  1 16  74  29   5 113  4  2  5   6  6  .200  .237  .308  .545  287 Hubie Brooks     DH
5th 1910 CHI A  557  48  97 15  5  1  40  43      76  6 28     24     .174  .241  .224  .465  154 Chick Gandil     1B
6th 1906 PHI N  539  43 108 15  3  0  46  29      46  3 26     18     .200  .245  .239  .485  359 Mickey Doolin    SS
7th 1908 STL N  517  29  97 11  4  1  19  25      58  4 19     16     .188  .231  .230  .461  137 Bobby Byrne      3B
8th 1909 BRO N  527  24  81  9  2  1  21  16      73  1 20      6     .154  .180  .184  .364  373 Bill Bergen      C
9th 1964 HOU N  517  22  59  7  1  1  12  28   0 194  4 24  1   0  0  .114  .165  .137  .303   83 Ken Johnson      P

Two of the entries above are not only from the same year (1908), but from the same team: the St. Louis Cardinals, an outfit that scored the fewest runs per game (2.42) in major league history (ignoring two Union Association teams that played only 9 and 18 games).

If you include the short-season results from 2020, the 3rd and 7th worst spots change:

    Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  PAs Player           Pos
3rd 2020 TEX A  227  20  33  3  3  3  19  16   0  60  3  0  7   1  0  .145  .206  .225  .430   48 I. Kiner-Falefa  3B/SS
7th 2020 CLE A  206  18  28  6  0  5  24  21   0  71  2  2  4   1  2  .136  .219  .238  .457   59 Domingo Santana  RF/LF

And yes, those plate appearance numbers for Kiner-Falefa and Santana are really low, even for a season as short as 2020.

Adding in the 1901-1913 data doesn't do anything to change the "best" list, but including more recent data gives us a new leadoff leader:

    Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  PAs Player           Pos
1st 2018 BOS A  665 159 221 59  6 38  99  93   8 113  9  0  6  34  9  .332  .418  .611 1.028  608 Mookie Betts     RF

And if we also count the 2020 60-game results, we get this addition:

    Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  PAs Player           Pos
8th 2020 NY  N  208  35  67  8  2 12  43  17   0  56  5  0  3   4  2  .322  .382  .553  .935   68 Andres Gimenez   IF

So much for updating my previous work. But what interests me this time are the best and worst players relative to the average of the team's OPS. Were there any teams, to take an extreme example, where the ninth-place hitters had the highest OPS? Or the third-place hitter the lowest?

So without further ado, here are the two teams where the ninth slot in the order had the highest OPS on the team:

Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  PAs Player           Pos
1980 MIN A  542  77 158 30  7 12  65  38   0  69  2 18  7   7  5  .292  .336  .439  .775  161 John Castino     3B
1984 MIL A  536  60 156 29  6  4  51  44   3  61  2 11  3   9  8  .291  .345  .390  .735  181 Rick Manning     CF

These both hail from leagues with designated hitters, which make them less interesting. So here are the best performances by ninth-place hitters if we ignore leagues with the DH:

Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS Ratio  PAs Player           Pos
1915 BOS A  489  56 119 26  4  6  61  59   0 124  2 33  0   1  0  .243  .327  .350  .677 1.004   98 Rube Foster      P
1918 BOS A  397  38  97 13  5  2  39  41   0  63  2 13  0   3  0  .244  .318  .317  .636  .985  118 Carl Mays        P
1904 DET A  538  52 121 12  7  2  24  24   0  60  2 15  0   5  0  .225  .261  .284  .545  .953  156 Charley O'Leary  SS
2015 CHI N  561  68 135 30  2 15  60  44   0 162  4  7  1   7  3  .241  .300  .381  .681  .953  437 Addison Russell  2B/SS
1910 CHI A  507  41 101 14  8  0  39  30   0 117  2 21  0   6  0  .199  .247  .258  .505  .943  144 Ed Walsh         P
1917 BOS A  517  39 117 18  7  2  44  36   0  91  2 22  0   0  0  .226  .279  .300  .579  .920  133 Babe Ruth        P
1901 CHI A  472  74 115 14  7  6  56  48   0  46  2 16  0  13  0  .244  .316  .341  .657  .914  131 Roy Patterson    P

The Ratio is the OPS divided by the average of all nine slots. So anything over 1 is better than average for the team that year, and as you can see, that happened exactly once, courtesy of Rube Foster and Babe Ruth. One strange thing is that Babe Ruth only had 27 plate appearances while batting last in 1918, and so that Red Sox entry is primarily due to the work of Carl Mays and Bullet Joe Bush. And while Roy Patterson had the most plate appearances in the ninth slot for the 1901 White Sox, they owe their place on the chart above to Nixey Callahan and Clark Griffith.

Since pitchers typically bat last and are the weakest hitters, despite having the fewest plate appearances, the batters in the ninth spot usually have more strikeouts than any other. It's happened 1789 out of the 1885 non-DH teams since 1901 (or 94.9% of the time). Here are some unusual team leaders in various categories (including DH leagues):

CAT PL  Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  PAs Player           Pos
 AB 5th 1914 STL N  596  71 158 29 12 10  58  31      69  5  9     18     .265  .307  .404  .711  597 Chief Wilson     RF
  R 7th 1985 OAK A  571 103 160 22  2 29  87  62   7 114  3 10  4   9  7  .280  .352  .478  .830  169 Mike Heath       C
 2B 9th 1982 DET A  547  68 142 33  3  8  57  49   0  60  0 14  7  19  8  .260  .317  .375  .692  439 Alan Trammell    SS
        2018 BAL A  552  62 125 33  3 10  53  31   0 162  8  5  3  13  1  .226  .276  .351  .628  223 Caleb Joseph     C
 HR 9th 1904 CHI A  493  45  96 12  1  4  29  37     109  3 17      6     .195  .255  .247  .503  123 Nick Altrock     P
        1915 BOS A  489  56 119 26  4  6  61  59     124  2 33      1     .243  .327  .350  .677   98 Rube Foster      P
        1915 WAS A  513  37  93 14  6  3  37  34     118  2 15      2     .181  .235  .250  .484  136 Walter Johnson   P
        1918 WAS A  459  29  87 11  5  2  45  25     100  3 17      1     .190  .236  .248  .485  145 Walter Johnson   P
 BB 9th 1977 CHI A  519  83 141 24  3 15  73  88   1  69  2 11  7   3  6  .272  .375  .416  .791  352 Jim Essian       C

So only once since 1901 has the fifth spot in the lineup led the team in at-bats, or the seventh spot has led the team in runs, and so on.

It probably goes without saying that none of the teams on the home run list above hit more than a couple each season. Despite having fewer plate appearances than Nick Altrock, Frank Owen hit two home runs out of the ninth-spot for the 1904 White Sox, and they were the only two of his career. And one of the two home runs hit by the 1918 Senators was a gift to Nick Altrock during a season-ending farce in Washington. Here's how the Washington Post described it:

"Nick made the freakiest home run in the history of baseball when he got his turn at bat with two out in the eighth. McAvoy took Watson's place in the box, and did everything but hit the ball for the comedian. Nick fouled off two and then hit one that didn't have enough speed to break a pane of glass over first base. Watson made no effort to field it, and Jamieson turned a couple of somersaults before he retrieved the ball. He threw to second and Nick neglected the formality of touching the middle sack or the far corner either. Catcher Perkins made no effort to take the throw at the plate, and when Billy Evans called Nick safe it went for a home run to send the crowd into near hysterics."1

Here are some surprising (at least to me) team last-place finishes:

CAT PL  Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  PAs Player           Pos
  R 2nd 1982 DET A  690  65 180 28  4 12  69  35   2 105  0  7  6  12  9  .261  .294  .365  .659  314 Enos Cabell      1B/3B
        2015 BOS A  663  67 183 35  6  6  59  68   0 109  3  5  6  13  3  .276  .343  .374  .717  286 Dustin Pedroia   2B
  H 1st 2001 BAL A  650  85 125 25  3 13  61  77   3 120 10  7  1  25  7  .192  .287  .300  .587  416 Brady Anderson   LF/RF
    3rd 2020 TEX A  227  20  33  3  3  3  19  16   0  60  3  0  7   1  0  .145  .206  .225  .430   48 I. Kiner-Falefa  3B/SS
 SB 1st 1922 BRO N  656  85 168 32  7  5  48  53      17  2 16      2  9  .256  .314  .349  .663  362 Ivy Olson        2B/SS
        1929 CLE A  625  98 170 37  8  1  49  74      43  3 14      4 19  .272  .352  .362  .713  359 Charlie Jamieson LF
        1939 BOS N  652  85 179 26  5  4  41  47      37  1  7      1  4  .275  .324  .348  .672  259 Debs Garms       OF/3B
        1975 CIN N  678 118 218 50  4  8  78  90   8  52 11  1  1   2  1  .322  .409  .442  .851  764 Pete Rose        3B/LF

So Brady Anderson went from being one of history's greatest lead-off hitters in 1996 to one of the worst five years later.

Pete Rose actually didn't steal any bases in 1975. He started every game that season in the lead-off spot for the Reds, but the two stolen bases out of that slot in 1975 were turned in by Dave Concepcion, who replaced Rose on defense in the top of seventh on September 12th, singled in the bottom of the eighth and then stole second and third before scoring on Dan Driessen's double.

On eight occasions, the third slot in the batting order has had the lowest OPS, and on six occasions, the fourth slot finished last. All of these were in leagues with the DH.

Relative to the team's average OPS, here are the best and worst batting slots (not counting 2020) since 1901:

The best:
PL  Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS Ratio  PAs Player           Pos
1st 1905 STL A  631  85 188 26 13  7  30  62   0  30  7  9  0  29  0  .298  .367  .414  .781 1.366  598 George Stone     LF
2nd 1911 CHI N  597 123 189 31 22 19  95  89   0  70  4 19  7  31  0  .317  .405  .538  .942 1.330  497 Frank Schulte    RF
3rd 1923 NY  A  523 151 206 46 13 41 132 170   0  94  4  3  0  17 21  .394  .545  .767 1.312 1.680  697 Babe Ruth        LF/RF
4th 2004 SF  N  484 138 175 39  3 48 120 233 115  59  9  0  4   7  2  .362  .571  .752 1.323 1.660  609 Barry Bonds      LF
5th 1932 PHI A  588 152 214 33  9 58 169 117   0  96  0  0  0   3  7  .364  .470  .747 1.216 1.486  702 Jimmie Foxx      1B
6th 1942 NY  A  566  88 184 35  5 21 113  81   0  87  0  7  0  12  5  .325  .410  .516  .925 1.256  524 Joe Gordon       2B
7th 1979 MON N  583  79 180 39  2 26  86  39  10 110  2  6  2   7  2  .309  .353  .516  .869 1.200  509 Larry Parrish    3B
8th 1981 TEX A  355  45 116 20  1  7  46  42   5  50  2  3  2   3  2  .327  .399  .448  .847 1.217  170 Jim Sundberg     C
9th 1980 MIN A  542  77 158 30  7 12  65  38   0  69  2 18  7   7  5  .292  .336  .439  .775 1.108  161 John Castino     3B
The worst:
PL  Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS Ratio  PAs Player           Pos
1st 1933 STL A  651  65 124 15  6  2  41  52   0  56  2 15  0   5 11  .190  .252  .241  .494  .728  451 Art Scharein     3B/SS
2nd 1927 CHI N  622  82 141 18  5  2  40  53   0  60  1 44  0   4  0  .227  .288  .281  .570  .765  331 Woody English    SS
3rd 1991 MIL A  663  80 164 24  7  6  99  50   4  83  1  8 15  14  9  .247  .295  .332  .627  .858  213 B.J. Surhoff     C
4th 2009 KC  A  631  72 133 23  2 13  71  54   1 157  8  0  3   3  0  .211  .280  .315  .596  .824  254 Mike Jacobs      DH
5th 1982 TOR A  608  70 129 22  2  8  46  54   3 108  2  3  2  11  9  .212  .278  .294  .572  .820  107 Barry Bonnell    LF/CF
6th 1936 NY  N  617  47 132 14  2  6  73  28   0  63  1 13  0   0  0  .214  .249  .272  .522  .714  333 Travis Jackson   3B
7th 1902 CLE A  503  52  97 17  4  0  40  47   0  26  0 12  0   9  0  .193  .262  .243  .504  .700  505 John Gochnaur    SS
8th 2015 CHI N  592  35  88 16  1  6  29  29   3 225  0 16  3   5  1  .149  .188  .209  .397  .555   73 Jake Arrieta     P
9th 1951 NY  N  547  31  71  6  2  4  34  29   1 146  1 39  0   2  2  .130  .175  .170  .345  .454  122 Sal Maglie       P

Note the dramatic difference between these and the earlier best/worst list. The Deadball Era, for example, had six of the nine worst lineup spots and were absent from the "best" list. Once you look at their performance relative to their team's performance, we have one entry on each list.

While Woody English had the most plate appearances batting second for the 1927 Cubs, Eddie Pick is most responsible for their place on the list above, as he hit .171 with a .508 OPS in 201 plate appearances hitting second.

And much like Addison Russell's appearance on the best #9 hitters on an earlier chart, the Jake Arrieta-led group of horrible eighth-place hitters for the 2015 Cubs is due a manager (this time Joe Maddon) batting his pitcher eighth for a couple of years. So how often was this kind of thing done?

Here are the most plate-appearances by pitchers in the first seven lineup spots (the ones not listed all had less than ten):

PL   PAs Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS Ratio  PAs Player           Pos
4th   59 1919 BOS A  483 104 148 35 14 28 118 106   0  61  6  6  0   8  0  .306  .437  .611 1.048 1.539  513 Babe Ruth        LF/P
      45 1918 BOS A  444  55 118 35 10  5  65  69   0  50  5 13  0  12  0  .266  .371  .423  .794 1.231  314 Babe Ruth        OF/P/1B
6th   30 1953 BOS A  584  77 154 32  6 11  65  44   2  68  5  6  0   4  2  .264  .321  .396  .716 1.004  206 Tom Umphlett     CF
      23 1952 BOS A  583  73 142 30  2 15  75  52   4 104  4  1  0   8  5  .244  .310  .379  .689  .980  143 Dick Gernert     1B
7th   72 1956 PIT N  554  41 131 23  4  7  53  36   5  90  2 16  5   3  2  .236  .283  .330  .613  .900  107 Jack Shepard     C
      36 1954 WAS A  577  34 145 20  6  2  55  51   7  63  2  4  2   1  2  .251  .313  .317  .630  .937  257 Ed FitzGerald    C
      30 1916 WAS A  527  53 128 21  8  0  48  56   0  65  8 30  0  16  0  .243  .325  .313  .638 1.025  266 John Henry       C

With the exception of the 1956 Pirates, who simply batted poor-hitting pitchers seventh, these all featured pitchers who didn't hit like their brethren, including Babe Ruth (the 1918-1919 Red Sox), Walter Johnson (the 1916 Senators), Mickey McDermott (the 1952-53 Red Sox and the 1954 Senators), Mel Parnell and Willard Nixon (the 1952-53 Red Sox). For most of major league history, there was a similar story with pitchers batting eighth. Here is the breakdown by decade of teams with pitchers getting 50 or more plate appearances batting eighth since 1901:

     190x 191x 192x 193x 194x 195x 196x 197x 198x 199x 200x 201x
#       4    0    0    0    0    1    0    0    0    1    5   16

The four instances during the Deadball Era all involved either good-hitting pitchers or poor-hitting catchers. The next time this happened was with the 1957 Kansas City Athletics, under the guidance of manager Lou Boudreau, who had his pitchers, regardless of hitting ability, bat eighth during the first few months of the season. After him, no manager would try that strategy again on even a modest scale until Tony LaRussa with the 1998 St. Louis Cardinals.

Here are all the teams with 100 or more plate appearance by pitchers in the eighth spot in the order:

PAs Year Team   Manager(s)
162 1904 DET A  Ed Barrow  Bobby Lowe
159 1957 KC  A  Lou Boudreau
191 1998 STL N  Tony LaRussa
116 2007 STL N  Tony LaRussa
379 2008 STL N  Tony LaRussa
137 2009 STL N  Tony LaRussa
192 2010 STL N  Tony LaRussa
134 2015 CIN N  Bryan Price
340 2015 CHI N  Joe Maddon
124 2017 CHI N  Joe Maddon
209 2018 CIN N  Bryan Price  Jim Riggleman
107 2018 CHI N  Joe Maddon
111 2018 NY  N  Mickey Callaway

After his experiment in 1998 with batting his poorest hitters eighth, LaRusso abandoned the strategy until he dusted it off in 2007 before going all in during 2008. He would toy with this novelty off and on for two more years before (mostly) giving it up during his last year at the helm of the Cards. Joe Maddon and Bryan Price rediscovered it in 2015, followed by Jim Riggleman and Mickey Callaway three years later.

Since I've been talking about eighth and ninth-place hitters, I thought I'd show the records in a number of offensive categories for non-DH leagues for these two slots. First, eighth-place:

CAT Tot Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS Ratio  PAs Player           Pos
 AB 611 1970 SF  N  611  51 141 17  2  3  61  41  10  68  2  5  4   2  3  .231  .280  .280  .560  .742  460 Hal Lanier       SS
  R 100 1930 STL N  569 100 169 38 10  5  77  53      37  2 13      5  0  .297  .359  .425  .784  .933  365 Charlie Gelbert  SS
  H 189 1934 DET A  564  88 189 30  8  5  86  70      51  4  8      6  4  .335  .412  .443  .855 1.074  351 Marv Owen        3B
 2B  47 1931 CHI N  572  74 172 47  7  4  84  64      50  0  9      2  0  .301  .371  .428  .799 1.024  221 Charlie Grimm    1B
 3B  15 1903 BOS A  491  63 111 15 15  5  51  36      49  4 17      7     .226  .284  .348  .633  .903  357 Lou Criger       C
        1921 CIN N  527  46 146 19 15  3  63  44      27  4 10      6  6  .277  .337  .387  .724 1.035  187 Irv Wingo        C
        1929 PIT N  586  59 163 23 15  1  84  36      38  2 13      2  0  .278  .322  .374  .696  .879  349 C. Hargreaves    C
 HR  30 2019 ARI N  544  78 124 27  1 30  88  86  16 158 12  2  3   5  1  .228  .344  .447  .791 1.050  291 Carson Kelly     C
RBI 112 1938 NY  A  575  84 152 32 11 18 112  63      77  1  5     11  3  .264  .338  .452  .790  .978  410 Joe Gordon       2B
 BB 111 1929 STL A  481  77 124 20  7  6  66 111      32  7 11      3  5  .258  .404  .366  .770 1.056  277 Wally Schang     C
        1947 BRO N  516  72 123 16  4 11  67 111      65  1  2      4  0  .238  .374  .349  .723  .970  270 Pee Wee Reese    SS
IBB  33 1967 CHI N  523  80 134 21  8 19  79  90  33 109  8  6  2  25 10  .256  .372  .436  .808 1.167  535 Adolfo Phillips  CF
 SO 225 2015 CHI N  592  35  88 16  1  6  29  29   3 225  0 16  3   5  1  .149  .188  .209  .397  .555   73 Jake Arrieta     P
 SB  37 1914 NY  A  521  53 118 16  3  0  40  61      77  3  7     37     .226  .311  .269  .580  .971  193 Luke Boone       2B
        1977 PIT N  556  64 148 28  7  5  47  68  22  96  5  7  4  37 13  .266  .349  .369  .718  .969  209 Omar Moreno      CF

While Luke Boone did have the most plate appearances for the 1914 Yankees, Fritz Maisel stole more than half of the bases in the eighth slot that year.

And ninth:

CAT Tot Year Team    AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS Ratio  PAs Player           Pos
 AB 586 1929 PIT N  586  60 123 24  8  7  74  24   0  94  1 11  0   1  0  .210  .242  .314  .556  .703  114 Erv Brame        P
  R  82 1911 PHI A  550  82 129 14  3  2  52  23   0 108  3 23  0   7  0  .235  .269  .282  .551  .731  152 Jack Coombs      P
  H 152 2008 STL N  569  71 152 19  4  2  40  43   3  57  5  8  4  17  8  .267  .322  .325  .647  .832  315 Cesar Izturis    SS
 2B  30 2009 CIN N  526  44  97 30  2  7  41  31   1 179  3 56  2   3  1  .184  .233  .289  .522  .737   76 Bronson Arroyo   P
        2015 CHI N  561  68 135 30  2 15  60  44   0 162  4  7  1   7  3  .241  .300  .381  .681  .953  437 Addison Russell  2B/SS
        2019 SF  N  550  55 107 30  2 13  50  39   0 253  2 18  1   2  1  .195  .250  .327  .577  .834   70 M. Bumgarner     P 
 3B  14 1921 PIT N  541  56 102 14 14  0  33  25   0  96  3 21  0   3  3  .189  .228  .266  .495  .694  131 Wilbur Cooper    P
 HR  22 2019 ARI N  562  62 105 16  1 22  72  34   3 220  5 27  1   6  1  .187  .239  .336  .576  .764   60 Robbie Ray       P
RBI  81 1930 STL N  545  72 129 23  1  7  81  37   0 150  1 38  0   1  0  .237  .286  .321  .608  .723   98 Bill Hallahan    P
 BB  72 1960 CHI A  483  43  86 10  2  3  51  72   5 139  3 30  6   2  1  .178  .285  .226  .511  .694   98 Early Wynn       P
IBB   8 1967 CHI A  525  28  80  6  2  4  38  27   8 152  5 26  3   1  2  .152  .200  .194  .394  .649  106 Gary Peters      P
        1975 MON N  545  38 102  9  1  4  36  56   8 159  1 27  3   1  4  .187  .263  .229  .492  .744   92 Steve Rogers     P
        1983 LA  N  546  37  98 14  1  8  44  23   8 158  1 35  1   0  2  .179  .214  .253  .466  .674  105 F. Valenzuela    P
 SO 271 1968 NY  N  548  26  71  6  0  4  23  25   0 271  1 20  1   2  1  .130  .169  .162  .331  .560  101 Tom Seaver       P
 SB  31 2015 CIN N  566  48  96 13  2  4  36  27   0 178  4 16  3  31  6  .170  .212  .221  .433  .616  226 Billy Hamilton   CF
        2018 CIN N  554  72 119 17  7  6  37  48   0 174  1 14  3  31  6  .215  .277  .303  .580  .801  412 Billy Hamilton   CF

I'm starting to think that showing the player with the most plate appearances doesn't work so well for this chart. A few examples why: Madison Bumgarner did not hit any doubles for San Francisco in 2019, but Pablo Sandoval hit ten in just 48 at-bats while batting ninth; Robbie Ray didn't hit any home runs for Arizona in 2019, but teammates Carson Kelly and Kevin Cron combined to hit nine in just 57 at-bats out of the ninth spot that year; and it will probably surprise no one that Steve Rogers and Fernando Valenzuela weren't walked intentionally even once during the years above.

Next, I wanted to look at batting order stability. What teams continually tinkered with their lineups throughout a season, and which ones settled on a lineup and stuck to it? Obviously injuries (and talent) play a large role in this. A manager without a lot of established talent on his hand might spend an entire season looking for a combination that worked.

So what I did was determine the percentage of a team's total plate appearances that were taken by the players who appeared most often in each of the nine positions in the batting order. First, I looked at the hundred most and least stable teams (at least by this measurement) and broke them down by decade. In other words, is baseball getting more or less stable over the last 120 year?

        190x 191x 192x 193x 194x 195x 196x 197x 198x 199x 200x 201x
Most      16   23   19   19    1    2    4    7    2    5    2    0
Least      2    2    0    1    4    9   15    8    4    7   16   32

Clearly, managers are shuffling around their batting orders, if not their personnel, much more than they used to. Here are the ten most and least stable lineups. The most stable:

Year Team   Tot  Reg   Pct    W   L  PL
1903 BOS A 5351 4399  .822   91  47   1
1906 CHI N 5763 4731  .821  116  36   1
1917 CHI A 5876 4568  .777  100  54   1
1925 CHI A 6168 4766  .773   79  75   5
1912 BOS A 5876 4509  .767  105  47   1
1933 NY  A 6071 4643  .765   91  59   2
1927 NY  A 6220 4738  .762  110  44   1
1934 STL A 5923 4503  .760   67  85   6
1902 PHI A 5272 3990  .757   83  53   1
1921 BOS N 5984 4524  .756   79  74   4

Obviously, it's easier to stick with the same lineup when you have a great one to begin with, but I thought it was interesting that the 1934 Browns did the same with a losing team.

The most stable lineup from this century is the 2007 Detroit Tigers, in 71st place at .680. And to find one after 2009, you need to go down to the 2012 Chicago White Sox, tied for 154th place at .639.

The least stable:

Year Team   Tot  Reg   Pct    W   L  PL
2019 SF  N 6170 1439  .233   77  85   3
2008 OAK A 6138 1494  .243   75  86   3
2018 NY  N 6177 1542  .250   77  85   3
2018 SF  N 6113 1526  .250   73  89   4
1980 MIN A 6130 1540  .251   77  84   3
2018 TB  A 6194 1558  .252   90  72   3
2018 LA  N 6358 1630  .256   92  71   1
1976 MON N 5992 1545  .258   55 107   6
2014 SD  N 5904 1531  .259   77  85   3
2012 HOU N 6012 1572  .261   55 107   6
1902 NY  N 5021 1330  .265   48  88   8

I turned the top-ten into a top-eleven list to include at least one team from before the start of divisional play in 1969. Of course, the 1902 Giants were a special case, with John McGraw moving himself along with some of his Baltimore Orioles teammates to the Giants in the middle of the year. And people who have been paying closer attention than I have to the last few seasons might know the reason why four teams from 2018 are among the seven least stable since 1901.

Next, I thought I'd show what the most and least stable teams look like, broken down by each spot in the order. For each of those, I've given the breakdown of plate appearances by defensive position along with the player with the most.

The most stable team since 1901:

Year Team PL   P   C  1B  2B  3B  SS  LF  CF  RF  DH  PH  PAB Player           Pos
1903 BOS A 1   0   0   0   0   0   0 652   0   0   0   0  643 Patsy Dougherty  LF
1903 BOS A 2   0   0   0   0 636   0   0   0   0   0   0  582 Jimmy Collins    3B
1903 BOS A 3   0   0   0   0   0   0   0 628   0   0   0  328 Chick Stahl      CF
1903 BOS A 4   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0 613   0   0  611 Buck Freeman     RF
1903 BOS A 5   0   0   0   8   0 589   0   0   0   0   0  588 Freddy Parent    SS
1903 BOS A 6   0   0 583   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0  583 Candy LaChance   1B
1903 BOS A 7   0   0   0 557   0   8   0   0   0   0   0  563 Hobe Ferris      2B
1903 BOS A 8   0 538   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0  10  357 Lou Criger       C
1903 BOS A 9 507   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0  22  144 Cy Young         P

It would be an understatement to say that manager Jimmy Collins liked a fixed lineup. With the exception of the double header on September 26th, (where the shortstop and second-baseman swapped positions), Collins' lineup had the same progression of defensive positions in every game: LF, 3B, CF, RF, SS, 1B, 2B, C and P. The nine players listed above made a combined total of two plate appearances all year in a batting order position other than their regular one. And when third-place hitter Chick Stahl was out for two months, Collins put his substitute, Jack O'Brien, into the third slot in the order, despite O'Brien being a significantly poorer hitter than Stahl.

The least stable:

Year Team PL   P   C  1B  2B  3B  SS  LF  CF  RF  DH  PH  PAB Player           Pos
2019 SF  N 1   0   0 141 282   0  46  55  46 172   0  16  200 Joe Panik        2B
2019 SF  N 2   0 101 169  56   6  29 165  35 151   5  24  171 Mike Yastrzemski LF/RF
2019 SF  N 3   1 196  83   4 283   2  62  39  15   9  27  202 Evan Longoria    3B
2019 SF  N 4   1 193 196   4 153   0 133   0   4   5  10  164 Brandon Belt     1B/LF
2019 SF  N 5   0 100  28  21 171 147  38 130  25  10  14  147 Brandon Crawford SS
2019 SF  N 6   1  18  19  34  61 165  69 176  97   8  25  219 Kevin Pillar     CF/RF
2019 SF  N 7   0  17  38  49   8 172  72 164 108   9  14  172 Brandon Crawford SS
2019 SF  N 8   6  55  12 205   8  92  62  72  96   0  25   94 Joe Panik        2B
2019 SF  N 9 278  14  14  30   6  14  25  12  13   0 204   70 M. Bumgarner     P

And finally, I mentioned above that the awful showing by the 1967 White Sox number seven hitters was a failure by committee. But what about teams that hit well by committee? Ignoring strike-shortened seasons (and 2020), here are the five batting order slots with the highest OPS where no one player contributed more than 200 plate appearances:

Year Team PL  AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS PAs Player
1930 STL N 6 621 106 214 40 15 15 134  42   0  54  4 10  0   4  0  .345  .390  .530  .920 196 George Watkins
1996 MIL A 6 627  98 188 43  4 37 130  57   8 122  4  2  5   1  5  .300  .359  .558  .918 191 Matt Mieske
1928 PIT N 6 574  99 204 27 12 10 109  59   0  38  3 23  0  11  0  .355  .418  .497  .915 165 George Grantham
1975 BOS A 6 593  96 183 35 11 25 118  67   7  82  4  3  5   7 11  .309  .380  .531  .911 173 Carlton Fisk
1939 STL N 7 571  78 188 43  7 18 103  52   0  51  1 20  0   9  0  .329  .386  .524  .910 164 Don Gutteridge

Here's a look at the players who contributed more than ten plate appearances to three of the teams above. First, the 1930 St. Louis Cardinals:

Player            AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
George Watkins   188  33  71 11  4  6  45   6      16  1  1      1     .378  .400  .574  .974
Charlie Gelbert  142  24  47  8  6  1  27   9       9  2  5      1     .331  .379  .493  .872
Showboat Fisher  121  23  44 12  2  5  32  16       9  0  3      1     .364  .438  .620 1.058
Ernie Orsatti     69  14  26  5  2  1   8   6      11  1  0      1     .377  .434  .551  .985
Homer Peel        54   5   8  1  0  0   8   2       1  0  1      0     .148  .179  .167  .345
Ray Blades        27   3   9  2  1  1   5   2       6  0  0      0     .333  .379  .593  .972

Next, the 1996 Milwaukee Brewers:

Player            AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
Matt Mieske      171  20  49 14  2  8  34  16   2  30  1  0  3   0  4  .287  .346  .532  .878
Jose Valentin    159  24  41 11  1 11  32  14   4  42  0  1  0   1  1  .258  .318  .547  .865
John Jaha        124  23  40  3  1 10  29  12   0  24  1  0  0   0  0  .323  .387  .605  .992
Marc Newfield     70   8  23  9  0  1  11   1   0   9  1  0  2   0  0  .329  .338  .500  .838
Dave Nilsson      42  10  15  3  0  5  14   4   1   4  0  0  0   0  0  .357  .413  .786 1.199
Jeff Cirillo      28   9  12  2  0  1   6   5   0   2  1  0  0   0  0  .429  .529  .607 1.137
Turner Ward       19   2   4  0  0  1   3   3   0   7  0  1  0   0  0  .211  .318  .368  .687

And finally, the 1975 Boston Red Sox:

Player            AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  IB  SO HP SH SF  SB CS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
Carlton Fisk     152  26  52  8  2  7  35  18   2  22  2  0  1   3  2  .342  .416  .559  .975
Dwight Evans     106  21  32  6  4  6  24  12   0  14  2  0  1   2  2  .302  .380  .604  .984
Rico Petrocelli   97  11  26  6  0  1  16  15   1  12  0  0  0   0  0  .268  .366  .361  .727
Cecil Cooper      85  17  37  7  3  8  20   6   4  10  0  0  0   1  2  .435  .473  .871 1.343
Juan Beniquez     28   3   9  1  0  0   3   0   0   3  0  2  1   1  0  .321  .310  .357  .667
Bob Montgomery    27   2   4  2  0  0   4   1   0   5  0  0  0   0  1  .148  .179  .222  .401
Bernie Carbo      27   7   8  2  0  1   4   6   0   6  0  0  0   0  2  .296  .424  .481  .906
Rick Miller       20   1   4  0  0  0   5   3   0   4  0  0  0   0  2  .200  .304  .200  .504
Tony Conigliaro   15   3   1  1  0  0   1   3   0   1  0  0  1   0  0  .067  .211  .133  .344

Notes:

1J.V. Fitz Gerald, "Griff's Men Break Even To Finish Third In League Race As Baseball Suspends." The Washington Post. September 3, 1918. Page 8.

ERA Qualifiers and the Number of Batter-Pitcher Matchups

In 1957, the Kansas City A's had no pitchers qualify for the ERA title. If we use the modern criteria of at least one inning pitched for each scheduled game (and ignore teams that didn't either finish or start a season), it was a first in major league history. It would not happen again until the 1995 St. Louis Cardinals. Here is a capsule summary of how often this has occurred throughout major league history:

Year(s) - #
1871-1994 - 1
1995-1998 - 4
1999-2005 - 0
2006-2011 - 2
2012-2015 - 3
2016 - 2
2017 - 5
2018 - 5
2019 - 4
2020 - 6

So it happened twelve times up through 2016 and twenty times from 2017 to 2020. Here are the first ten teams without any qualifiers:

Year Team    IP    Closest pitcher(s)
1957 KC  A  145.1  Ned Garver
1995 STL N  137.1  Mark Petkovsek
1996 OAK A  161.1  Don Wengert
1997 OAK A  134    Don Wengert
1998 STL N  161.2  Kent Mercker
2006 TB  A  144.2  Scott Kazmir
2009 CLE A  152    Cliff Lee
2012 COL N  113    Jeff Francis
2013 HOU A  153.2  Lucas Harrell
                   Dallas Keuchel
2015 COL N  149    Jorge de la Rosa

The fewest innings pitched for the team leader in a 154 or 162 game schedule was 102.1 by Trevor Cahill for the 2019 Angels .

Here are the average number of times a pitcher faced the same batter in a game, along with the percentage of the batters he faced only once:

Years       All       Starters     Relievers
         BFP   %1      BFP   %1     BFP   %1
1920s   2.489 34.1   3.086 15.3   1.459 66.6
1930s   2.447 35.6   3.082 15.3   1.438 68.0
1940s   2.347 38.8   3.008 16.3   1.367 72.1
1950s   2.126 45.6   2.842 18.4   1.273 78.1
1960s   1.985 49.9   2.755 17.0   1.175 84.6
1970s   2.066 46.6   2.868 13.0   1.198 82.9
1980s   1.955 49.4   2.812 10.3   1.154 85.9
1990s   1.834 55.0   2.774  8.3   1.080 92.5
2000s   1.762 57.9   2.730  6.9   1.047 95.5
2010s   1.695 59.6   2.636  6.8   1.037 96.5

The 1920s data starts with 1926 and I'm not including 2020 since they played that season with minor-league length double-headers and artificially shortened extra-inning games due to the addition of magical runners at the start of each half-inning, two things that would tend to reduce these kinds of things a small amount.

Here is the drop-off since 2014, along with the data for the 1930s:

Years       All       Starters     Relievers
         BFP   %1      BFP   %1     BFP   %1
1930s   2.447 35.6   3.082 15.3   1.438 68.0
2014    1.751 57.8   2.712  5.3   1.030 97.2
2015    1.709 59.1   2.649  6.5   1.031 97.1
2016    1.672 60.2   2.606  6.5   1.033 96.9
2017    1.642 60.9   2.562  6.7   1.036 96.6
2018    1.598 62.4   2.483  8.9   1.046 95.8
2019    1.568 63.6   2.432 10.6   1.057 94.9

Each year since 2015 has set a new low for the fewest times each pitcher has faced the same batter. But something is strange: the percentage of batters facing a starter only once was much higher during the 1930s than it is today, even with the uptick since 2018. Here is the breakdown of the number of batter-starter matchups since the 1920s:

Years     1     2     3     4    5+
1920s   15.3  14.8  25.0  36.6   8.2
1930s   15.3  14.8  25.3  36.3   8.3
1940s   16.3  15.4  26.6  35.0   6.6
1950s   18.4  18.1  28.9  30.5   4.1
1960s   17.0  20.4  34.9  25.8   2.0
1970s   13.0  19.1  37.9  27.9   2.0
1980s   10.3  21.7  45.4  21.8   0.9
1990s    8.3  22.1  53.7  15.8   0.2
2000s    6.9  23.2  60.0   9.9   0.0
2010s    6.8  28.3  59.6   5.4   0.0

Here are the teams with the highest percentage of starters facing a batter only once:

Year Team     1     2     3     4    5+
2018 TB  A  34.5  34.0  30.4   1.1   0.0
2019 TB  A  26.7  35.6  37.0   0.7   0.0
1945 STL N  23.7  14.1  20.1  37.4   4.6
1958 LA  N  23.2  22.4  27.6  24.7   2.2
1957 NY  N  22.9  20.7  28.8  24.4   3.4

Ryne Stanek started 56 times in 2018 and 2019 and here is his record as a starter in those years:

   G  GS  CG SHO   IP     H    R  ER  BB  SO   W   L    ERA
  56  56   0   0   83    57   27  25  31 102   0   3   2.71

I found it kind of amazing that in his 56 starts his team only went behind to stay on three occasions. His career high in innings pitched (up through 2020) is two.

And finally, here is a similar chart with the number of batter-pitcher match-ups for relief pitchers:

Years     1     2     3     4    5+
1920s   66.6  23.1   8.3   1.8   0.2
1930s   68.0  22.4   7.7   1.7   0.2
1940s   72.1  20.3   6.3   1.2   0.1
1950s   78.1  17.2   4.0   0.7   0.0
1960s   84.6  13.4   1.8   0.2   0.0
1970s   82.9  14.7   2.2   0.2   0.0
1980s   85.9  12.8   1.2   0.1   0.0
1990s   92.5   7.1   0.4   0.0   0.0
2000s   95.5   4.3   0.2   0.0   0.0
2010s   96.5   3.3   0.2   0.0   0.0

As expected, there has been a steady decline in the number of longer relief outings.