Today’s Sportstat: March 28, 2020

The quest to be a career .300 hitter in the majors can be tough

Baseball, more than any other sport, in my humble opinion, is more stats-oriented than the other professional sports. Numbers have always seemed to drive baseball and is a tool by which we evaluate the success or greatness of a player.

Baseball stats are used to label players. A pitcher who reaches 20 wins in a season has achieved a much-desired milestone. The same with a batter who reaches 100 RBI in a season. Even career numbers are a yardstick to how well of a season a player has had.

With that in mind, a .300 hitter in baseball is not only a season milestone to hope for, but a .300 career hitter has a special place in baseball.

But what about a player who plays several seasons in the majors but ends his career with a .299 career batting average… falling one point short of reaching that .300 milestone. How many hitters have experienced that?

Based on research on baseball-reference.com, there are a dozen batters who had 1,000 or more plate appearances in their careers and ended their time in the majors with a batting average one point short of .300.

Here are those players with a career .299 batting average (also noted is the years of their careers). Note: I researched stats from 1901 through 2019.

Harry Rice, 1923-33
Buck Jordan, 1927-38
Sam West, 1927-42
Frank Demaree, 1932-44
Frank McCormick, 1934-48
Carl Furillo, 1946-60
Rico Carty, 1963-79
Bake McBride, 1973-83
Shane Mack, 1987-98
Dante Bichette, 1988-2001
Kenny Lofton, 1991-2007
Matt Holliday, 2004-18

There was another player on this list… Dustin Pedroia. He currently holds a career .299 batting average, but was active in 2019. He has missed good portions of the last two seasons due to injury, but still remains under contract with the Red Sox through the 2021 season.

Let’s balance the “just missed it” list with those players who ended their MLB careers with exactly a .300 batting average. Of players who had 1,000 or more plate appearances, there have been 12 players whose career batting average is right at .300. They are:

Ted Easterly, 1909-15
Cliff Lee, 1919-26
Earl Sheely, 1921-31
Ethan Allen, 1926-38
Wally Berger, 1930-40
Enos Slaughter, 1938-59
Billy Goodman, 1947-62
Pedro Guerrero, 1978-92
John Kruk, 1986-95
Reggie Jefferson, 1991-99
Roberto Alomar, 1988-2004
Michael Young, 2000-13

Similar to the previous list, we had an additional name. Albert Pujols, who has played in the majors from 2001-19, has a career .300 batting average. He is considered a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and is still listed on the Angels roster. Will he end his career with a .300 average?

Taking a look at the Brewers, they have five players who have career .300 or better batting averages with the team (minimum of 1,000 plate appearances). Think you can name all five?

Well, Christian Yelich tops the list with a .327 career average in a Brewers uniform. He is followed by Jeff Cirillo (.307), Paul Molitor (.303), Cecil Cooper (.302) and Kevin Seitzer (.300). Current Brewer player Ryan Braun, who has played his entire career with Milwaukee, has a career batting average of .298. Chances are he would love to not only end his Brewers career above the .300 mark but also have a final career batting average of .300 or better.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: March 26, 2020

NFL draft: When was the last time the Green Bay Packers took these position players in the first round

The National Football League is scheduled to hold its annual draft in late April… barring any delays due to the current health crisis.

Teams will be filling roster spots with young players. But on which side of the ball will teams focus… offense or defense?

The Green Bay Packers have definitely looked to defensive players when it comes to selections in the first round of previous drafts. In fact, of the last 20 NFL drafts, 2000-2019, did you know that the Packers selected 15 defensive players in the first round to only five offensive players?

Here’s a quick look at the number of first rounders the Pack has chosen at various offensive and defensive positions since 2000.

OFFENSE
Quarterbacks: 1
Running Backs: 0
Wide receivers: 1
Tight Ends: 1
Tackles: 2
Guards: 0
Centers: 0

DEFENSE
Def. Tackles: 3
Def. Ends: 3
Linebackers: 4
Corner Backs: 1
Safeties: 2
Defensive Backs (no designation of CB or Safety): 2

The last offensive player the Packers chose in the first round was in 2011 when they selected Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod. He played in 20 games for the Packers in his four-year NFL career, starting only one game for the team in his career.

Following is the last position player the Packers chose in the first round and the year they were drafted.

OFFENSE
Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, 2005
Running Backs: Darrell Thompson, 1990
Wide receivers: Javon Walker, 2002
Tight Ends: Bubba Franks, 2000
Tackles: Derek Sherrod, 2011
Guards: Aaron Taylor, 1994
Centers: Bob Hyland, 1967

DEFENSE
Def. Tackles: Kenny Clark, 2016
Def. Ends: Datone Jones, 2013
Linebackers: Rashan Gary, 2019
Corner Backs: Jaire Alexander, 2018
Safeties: Darnell Savage, 2019
Defensive Backs (no designation of CB or Safety): Ha Ha Clinton Dix, 2014

So in which direction will the Packers go this season? If history is any indication, look for a player on the defensive side of the ball. But then again, they could tab an offensive player in the first round for the first time since 2011.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: March 23, 2020

Truth or fiction? LeBron James is leading the NBA in assists

One of the more interesting storylines in the NBA this season has been LeBron James and his assist numbers. Yes, that is LeBron James leading the NBA in assists per game, 10.6, and most assists this season with 636.

To put this in perspective, James has never led the league in assists during his 17-year career, however, he has seen his name in the Top 10 in several seasons. His 10.6 assists per game this year is the highest of his career (his previous high was 9.1 assists per game in 2017-18) and his 636 assists this season is 111 shy of his career mark of 747 in 2017-18, but if the NBA season had not been put on hold due to COVID-19 there’s a good chance he would have exceeded that number this season.

Let’s not forget that James is doing all this at the age of 35 (he turned 35 on December 30).

Let’s dig a little deeper into James’ assists numbers for this season.

  • If he ends this season with 10 or more assists per game, he will become only the second player in NBA history to average 10 or more assists in a season at age 35 or older. The other player is Steve Nash who averaged 11.0 assists per game at age 35, 11.4 at age 36 and 10.6 at age 37. The only other player to average 9.0 or more assists in a season at age 35 or older was Jason Kidd in 2009-10 when he averaged 9.1 assists per game at age 36.
  • With 636 assists and 1,344 points this season, James becomes the fourth player in NBA history to have 600 or more assists and 1,000 or more points in the same season at age 35 or older. Lenny Wilkins did it in 1972-73, John Stockton did it in 2001-02, Steve Nash did it twice, in 2009-10 and 2010-11, and James this season.
  • There have been 98 players in league history who have totaled 600 assists and 1,500 points in a season (any age). James and Lenny Wilkens are the only two players on this list to reach these numbers at age 35 or older; both were 35. The youngest on the list is Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks who in his rookie season this year has amassed 653 assists and 1,549 points. He is 20 years old.
  • Oscar Robertson holds the league record for most seasons with 600 assists and 1,500 points in the same season. He did it 10 times in his Hall of Fame career. Gary Payton, Isiah Thomas and Russell Westbrook each had six such seasons and Stephon Marbury had five.
  • The Bucks have had two players reach 600 assists-1,500 points in the same season. Oscar Robertson did it in 1970-71 when he had 668 assists and 1,569 points. The other player was Sam Cassell in 1999-2000; in that season he had 729 assists and 1,506 points.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: March 21, 2020

Wins and complete games are not always compatible

If you spend any time following baseball, you know that the complete game is becoming a stat of the past. Let’s take a look at a set of numbers where the compatibility of wins and complete games does not match.

Since 2000, there have been six MLB pitchers who have won 20 or more games in a season but did not have a complete game that year. Just last season Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros ended the year with 20 wins yet he did not have a complete game in 2019.

Here is a look at those six pitchers in baseball history with 20 wins and no complete games in that season.

Roger Clemens, 2001, New York Yankees, 20 wins-no complete games
Mike Mussina, 2008, New York Yankees, 20 wins-no complete games
Max Scherzer, 2014, Detroit, 21 wins-no complete games
J.A. Happ, 2016, Toronto, 20 wins-no complete games
Blake Snell, 2018, Tampa Bay, 21 wins-no complete games
Gerrit Cole, 2019, Houston, 20 wins-no complete games.

The Brewers in their history have had six pitchers who have won 15 or more games in a season without a complete game. They are:

2005: Chris Capuano, 18 wins
2011: Zack Greinke, 16 wins
2012: Yovani Gallardo, 16 wins
2014: Wily Peralta, 17 wins
2017: Zach Davies, 17 wins
2018: Jhoulys Chacin, 15 wins

There is a flipside to this stat. There have been several pitchers who have had 10 or more complete games in a season yet had less than 10 victories in that year. Of course, that has not happened in more than 30 years. In fact the last pitcher to have 10 or more complete games with less than 10 wins was Jack Morris with the Detroit Tigers. He had six wins and 10 complete games in ’89.

The Brewers have two pitchers that fit into this category. In 1974 Clyde Wright had nine wins for the Brew Crew and 15 complete games; in ’85, Danny Darwin had eight wins and 11 complete games for the Brewers that campaign.

The pitcher with the most complete games in MLB history with less than 10 wins is Howard Ehmke (you say you don’t remember him?). In 1925 with the Boston Red Sox, Ehmke has nine wins with 22 complete games that season.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: March 14, 2020

 

Brewers Trivia: How well do you know the team?

With professional sports on a sort of hiatus because of the Coronavirus, there’s not much stat analysis to write about. How about a little trivia?

Here’s three trivia questions for Brewers fans. Try to read the questions and guess the answers before skipping down to the answers.

  1. Three Brewers players played 1,000 or more games with the team but never made it on an all-star team while with the Brewers. Can you name the three?
  2. Name the Brewers managers who have been named Manager of the Year in either the American League or National League.
  3. From 2011 to 2019, there were nine different players who were the Opening Day starting first baseman for the Brewers. How many of the nine can you name?

Answer #1: Jim Gantner tops the list of most games played in a Brewers uniform without ever making the all-star team as a member of the Brew Crew. Gantner played 1,801 games with the Brewers but did not play in an All-Star Game. Charlie Moore (1,283 games with the Brewers) and B.J. Surhoff (1,102 games with the Brewers) are the other two players. Surhoff did play in the 1999 All-Star Game as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

Answer #2: Trick question. The Brewers have never had one of their managers finish first in the voting for a Manager of the Year Award. There have had four Brewers managers who finished second in the voting for the award: Tom Trebelhorn (1987), Phil Garner (1992), Ron Roenicke (2011) and Craig Counsell (2018 and 2019).

Answer #3: Opening Day starting first basemen for the Brewers: 2011-Prince Fielder, 2012-Mat Gamel, 2013-Alex Gonzalez, 2014-Lyle Overbay, 2015-Adam Lind, 2016-Chris Carter, 2017-Eric Thames, 2018-Ryan Braun, 2019-Jesus Aguilar.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp