Category Archives: Baseball

Today’s Sportstat: June 6, 2019

Seven years without hitting the baseball

I came across this quote a couple of weeks ago. It is attributed to Yankees great Mickey Mantle. According to the “Mick”:

“During my 18 years (in the majors) I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and I walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at-bats a season. That means I played seven seasons without hitting the ball.”

Think about that for a second…. seven years without hitting the ball.

It got me thinking about whether or not Mantle was the only player who might fall into this category. To establish the standard, I looked to see how many players, like Mantle, had more than 1,500 strikeouts and 1,500 walks in their careers. There are six players on this list:

Barry Bonds (1,539 strikeouts, 2,558 walks)

Jim Thome (2,548 strikeouts, 1,747 walks)

Harmon Killebrew (1,699 strikeouts, 1,559 walks)

Mike Schmidt (1,883 strikeouts, 1,507 walks)

Mickey Mantle (1,719 strikeouts, 1,733 walks)

Rickey Henderson (1,694 strikeouts, 2,190 walks)

(Note: Tally up Thome’s strikeout and walk numbers and it adds up to 4,295. Using Mantle’s example, that’s eight and a half seasons without hitting the ball!)

I also wondered how many players had seasons “without hitting the ball,” specifically, how many players had a season where they had more than 150 strikeouts and 150 walks. There is only one player that fits into this category: In 1998, Mark McGwire ended that season with 155 strikeouts and 162 walks, just about a strikeout and a walk each game that season.

If we drop the numbers down to 125 strikeouts and 125 walks in a season, there have been a dozen players who have reached the 125-125 milestone in a season. Three did it in two seasons… Jack Clark, Joey Votto, and McGwire. The other nine players who have done it once: Aaron Judge, Adam Dunn, Bryce Harper, Frank Howard, Jeff Bagwell, Jim Thome, Jim Wynn, Mike Schmidt, and Tony Phillips.

For the record, only one Brewers player ever had a season with 100 or more strikeouts and 100 or more walks in the same campaign, and he did it in three consecutive seasons; Prince Fielder in 2009 had 138 strikeouts and 110 walks, in 2010 he had 138 strikeouts and 114 walks, and in 2011 he had 106 strikeouts and 107 walks.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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Today’s Sportstat: May 30, 2019

Bill Buckner: Underrated, Underappreciated!

The sports world lost another memorable athlete this week when former major leaguer Bill Buckner died on Monday of dementia at age 69. Buckner may not have been the iconic sports personality that was Bart Starr, who preceded him in passing just a few days earlier, but Buckner is certainly attached to one of sports’ most unforgettable moments.

Buckner enjoyed a 22-year career (1969-90) in baseball and had 2,715 hits, a career batting average of .289 with 174 home runs, and he tallied 1,077 runs scored and 1,208 RBI. He was an all-star and a batting champ (in 1980 as a member of the Chicago Cubs). The sad thing is that Buckner is one of those rare athletes who is probably more infamous than famous because of what happened in one game.

As a member of the Boston Red Sox, first baseman Buckner had a Mookie Wilson (New York Mets) groundball go through his legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series that led to a Mets walk-off victory in that game. The Mets went on to win Game 7 and the Red Sox (at that time) were still waiting for their first World Series title since 1918. Buckner’s error, at that time, made him somewhat of a scapegoat for the Game 6 loss, the World Series defeat, and the Red Sox Nation continued woes.

Buckner’s career, however, should not be defined by his fielding gaffe in the ’86 World Series. A 22-year MLB career, .289 average and 2,717 career hits are certainly stats that generate discussion about whether or not Buckner deserves to be in the Hall of Fame… for the record, he appeared on the ballot in 1996 and received only 10 votes.

But I contend that Buckner was a much underrated and underappreciated player. I’m not ready to say he should be in the Hall, but in my mind he was a “hitter’s hitter.” He rarely struck out, rarely walked, and was probably the best example of what youth coaches preach to their young players: “Put the ball in play and see what can happen.”

There are a few stats in Buckner’s stat-line that illustrate this point:

    • Buckner had 15 seasons where he had 400 or more plate appearances and less than 40 strikeouts. That ranks tied for sixth most in baseball history. Tris Speaker tops the list with 18 such seasons.
    • Buckner had 14 seasons where he had 400 or more plate appearances and less than 40 walks. That ranks tied for fifth most in baseball history. Ivan Rodriguez and Tommy Corcoran top the list with 16 such seasons each.
    • If we combine the two stats above, Buckner had 14 seasons where he had 400 or more plate appearances and less than 40 strikeouts and less than 40 walks in that season. That ranks tied for second most in MLB history. Lave Cross tops the list with 15 such seasons.
    • Buckner’s 2,715 career hits ranks him 66th on the all-time list. Of those 66 players with 2,715 or more career hits, Buckner’s 453 career strikeouts ranks as the second fewest of the group and his 450 career walks ranks also ranks as the second fewest among the 66 players.
  • How about this stat… of the players who have more than 10,000 career plate appearances, Buckner is one of only 11 players in history to have less than 500 career strikeouts. The others: Charlie Gehringer, Tony Gwynn, Tris Speaker, Paul Waner, Frankie Frisch, Cap Anson, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, Sam Rice and Nellie Fox. Of these 11 players, only three, Gywnn, Fox and Buckner ended their careers after the 1960’s. Here’s the real eye-opening part of this stat… of the 11, all but Buckner are in the Hall of Fame.

 

Buckner was a unique hitter. If a pitch was in the strike zone, chances are he was swinging and there was a good chance he was making contact and putting the ball in play. He seemed like an “old school” player and one that probably was born later than he should have been… his game seemed to fit more appropriately with those players from the first half of the century, especially when you consider that most of his batting stats with low strikeouts and low walk totals are shared with players from that earlier era.

Here are three more stats that I found interesting about Buckner’s career:

  • He hit 174 home runs. His last home was an inside-the-park HR. It was also the only inside-the-park home run of his career.
  • He had seven seasons where he played in 100 or more games and batted over .300. He is one of 151 players in MLB history to do that.
  • Fifty-one of the 65 players ahead of Buckner on the all-time hits list are in the Hall of Fame.

Bill Buckner, Hall of Famer? The voters certainly did not think so as he appeared only once on the HOF ballot in 1996 (because he did not receive at least 5% of the vote that year, he was taken off the ballot for future consideration). But I think Bill Buckner will one day find his way into the Hall as a future selection of the Veteran Committee. He was clearly one of the most unique and successful hitters of all-time.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sports Stat: May 20, 2019

Most starts by a Brewers pitcher without a complete game

It’s pretty obvious that complete games are a dying breed in baseball. It is rare that a starting pitcher goes nine innings and gets credited with a complete game,

The Brewers are certainly one of those teams that use their bullpen quite a bit during the season. Through games of May 20, the Brewers are one of 17 teams this year that does not have a complete game by one of its pitchers. (In fact, the Brewers last complete game by a pitcher happened in 2017.) There have been only 15 complete games so far in the majors; in 2018, the Cleveland Indians led the majors with five complete games. There were nine of the 30 teams that did not have a complete game in 2018.

Zach Davies, who has been the Brewers most effective pitcher this season with a 5-0 record and a 1.54 ERA, has started 89 games for the Brewers in his career and has yet to have a complete game. This year on May 5 he pitched into the eighth inning in a game against the Mets and finished with 7.2 innings pitched. His career long start is eight innings back on June 1, 2016 in a contest versus the Cardinals, a game that he was the winner.

Davies’ 89 starts for the Brewers without a complete game are the most in team history. Fellow starter this season, Chase Anderson, is close behind with 88 starts for Milwaukee without a complete game.

Here are the nine pitchers in Brewers history who (through games of May 20) have 50 or more career starts with the team without a complete game.

89-Zach Davies
88-Chase Anderson
74-Manny Parra
70-Marco Estrada
62- Chris Narveson
62-Jimmy Haynes
60-Junior Guerra
56-Mike Fiers
54-Shaun Marcum

If we expand this list to all MLB pitchers, there is a distinct Brewers flavor on the list. You noticed that Marco Estrada had 70 starts without a complete game during his career with the Brewers. Well, he actually (currently) holds the record for most starts without a complete game in MLB history with 194 in his career. Following are the MLB pitchers with 150 or more career starts without a complete game.

194-Marco Estrada
188-Bud Norris
170-Wei-Yin Chen
167-Tony Armas
167-Jake Odorizzi
152-Nathan Eovaldi

Chase Anderson is actually 10th of this list with a total of 136 starts without a complete game (88 coming in a Brewers uniform).

Of course, a complete game in the future by any of these pitchers listed above will eliminate them from the list. But for now… it’s interesting to see who is still looking for that elusive complete game. The problem is, however, that complete games are pretty rare these days.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: May 13, 2019

Brewers run producers in extra-inning games

On the last two Saturdays, the Brewers have played an 18-inning game and a 15-inning game.

It got me thinking about which Brewers hitters in their history have statistically been the best when the game goes into extra inning. I looked at three stats: home runs, RBI and batting average.

Here are the Brewers with the most home runs and RBI in extra-inning games played by the Brew Crew, and the players with the highest batting average in those extra-inning contests.

Most career extra-inning home runs for the Brewers in extra-inning games

5-Robin Yount, Geoff Jenkins
4-Prince Fielder, Gorman Thomas, Bill Hall
3-Ben Oglivie, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun, Dave May, Rob Deer, Greg Vaughn

Most career Runs Batted In for the Brewers in extra-inning games

20-Robin Yount
17-B.J. Surhoff
15: Ryan Braun, Gorman Thomas
14-Jim Gantner
12-John Jaha
11-Geoff Jenkins, Jeromy Burnitz
10-Ben Oglivie, Ted Simmons

Highest career batting average for the Brewers in extra-inning games
(Minimum of 25 plate appearances in extra-inning games with Brewers)
.464 Tommy Harper
.448 Jose Hernandez
.440 Casey McGehee
.419 Darryl Hamilton
.382 J.J. Hardy
.368 Fernando Vina
.355 Rick Manning

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: May 6, 2019

Is scoring four runs or more in a game the key to Brewers success?

This past weekend the Brewers won games by the score of 4-3 (Saturday) and 3-2 (Sunday). These victories represent the best of the success the Brewers have had in 2019. Let me explain…

The Brewers 18-inning 4-3 win over the Mets on Saturday gave the Brew Crew a 17-7 record (.708 winning percentage) in games this season when they score four or more runs in a game.

The team’s 3-2 win on Sunday, gave the club a very modest 3-9 record (.250 winning percentage) in games when they score three or fewer runs in a game, but it upped their record to 13-1 (.929 winning percentage) this season when they hold opponents to three or fewer runs in a contest.

Here’s a quick look at the Brewers records in 2019 games when they score four or more runs, three or fewer runs, and when they allow their opponents to score four or more runs in a game, and when they hold the opposition to three or fewer runs in a game.

Brewers score four or more runs in a game (2019): 17-7 .708
Brewers score three or fewer runs in a game (2019): 3-9 .250
Brewers allow opponents four or more runs in a game (2019): 7-15 .318
Brewers allow opponents three or fewer runs in a game (2019): 13-1 .929

The above win-loss records are surprisingly close to what the Brewers records have been in games over the past three seasons. Following are the records in each of the above four categories from 2016-18, the last three seasons.

Brewers score four or more runs in a game (2016-18): 198-75 .726
Brewers score three or fewer runs in a game (2016-18): 56-157 .263
Brewers allow opponents four or more runs in a game (2016-18): 86-182 .321
Brewers allow opponents three or fewer runs in a game (2016-18): 169-50 .772

As that famous baseball philosopher Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh once remarked, “baseball is a simple game… you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.” For the Brewers, that simple statement could be translated to, “score four or more runs in a game and hold your opponents to three runs or less, you’ll win.”

Quite simple, isn’t it?

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp