Today’s Sportstat: April 23, 2020

Is Ben Wallace the worst free throw shooter in NBA history?

Ben Wallace was a four-time All-Star and was first team All-Defense in the NBA five times. He twice led the league in rebounding and was second on two more occasions. In his 16-year NBA career with five different franchises, he was known as a tenacious rebounder and defender. He was, however, a terrible free throw shooter… maybe the worst in league history.

Of all players who attempted 500 or more career free throws, Wallace had a career free throw percentage of .414, the worst among those players. He never made 50% (or higher) of his free throws in a season, and actually had six seasons where his free throw percentage was under .360.

Here’s a look at the 12 players who had career free throw percentages under .500 (minimum of 500 career free throws attempted).

Ben Wallace, 1997-2012, .414
Lou Amundson, 2007-16, .444
Chris Dudley, 1988-2003, .458
Andre Drummond, 2013-20, .461
DeAndre Jordan, 2009-20, .474
Eric Montross, 1995-2002, .478
Steven Hunter, 2002-10, .485
Greg Kite, 1984-95, .486
Ken Bannister, 1985-91, .492
Darvin Ham, 1997-2005, .494
Dan Gadzuric, 2003-12, .498
Adonal Foyle, 1998-2009, .499

If we drop the minimum attempts to 100 career free throw attempts, there are four players who had a worse career free throw percentage than Wallace. Kim Hughes (1977-81) had a career .333 percentage from the charity stripe, followed by Joey Dorsey (2009-15) .375, Lorenzo Wlliams (1993-2000) .377 and Jerome Lane (1989-93) .379.

Of all Bucks players who attempted 500 or more career free throws with the team, Dan Gadzuric is/was by far the worst free throw shooter. He had a career .504 percentage in free throws with the Bucks. He is followed by John Henson .572, Andrew Bogut, .574, Alton Lister, .575 and Ervin Johnson, .586.

Of Bucks players with a minimum of 100 free throw attempts with the team, Joel Przybilla tops the list as the worst free throw shooter with a .419 percentage.


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Today’s Sportstat: April 18, 2020

Looking for longevity and durability in the NFL Draft? It will likely come from later round draft choices

The NFL Draft is this coming week and teams are looking to find just the right college players to add to their rosters.

The short-term goal for each NFL team is to have a draft where most if not all these draft choices can make the team and contribute in some way, shape or form. The long-term goal might be to draft a player or two who can become a mainstay for the franchise for years to come and be a player who provides longevity and durability as an NFL player.

You would think that the drafted players who most likely would have long careers in the NFL would be players drafted in the early rounds… those are the best college players, the cream of the crop.

History, however, tells us otherwise. Players drafted in the first round are not always the players who stay in the league a long time and play in triple-digit career games.

To prove my point, I looked at the last several college drafts going back to 2000. I looked at each year’s draft and found which player in that draft played the most career games of those players drafted that year. Here’s an example:

  • In the 2000 NFL Draft, defensive end Courtney Brown was the overall number one pick in the draft by the Cleveland Browns. He played a total of 61 games in his NFL career. The player from that draft who played the most career NFL games was punter Shane Lechler who was a fifth round choice (#142 pick overall) of the Oakland Raiders. He played 286 career games in the league.

Before you raise your hand and say, “Sure, kickers drafted are going to last a lot longer in the league than non-kickers,” I’ll admit you’ll have a good point. But that was not the case in every year.

Here are the players from each draft year (2000-2014) who have played in the most career NFL games from their draft class. I have also listed the number of NFL games each number one selection from that year played in his career.

2000: Shane Lechler, punter (5th round, #142 pick), 286 career games
Number One pick: Courtney Brown, 61 career games

2001: Drew Brees, QB (2nd round, #32 pick), 275 career games
Number One pick: Michael Vick, QB, 143 career games

2002: Julius Peppers, defensive end (1st round, #2 pick), 266 career games
Number One pick: David Carr, QB, 94 career games

2003: Jason Whitten, TE (3rd round, #69 pick), 255 career games
Number One pick: Carson Palmer, QB, 182 career games

2004: Larry Fitzgerald, WR (1st round, #3 pick), 250 career games
Number One pick: Eli Manning, QB, 236 career games

2005: Dustin Colquitt, punter (3rd round, #99 pick), 238 career games
Number One pick: Alex Smith, QB, 166 career games

2006: Sam Koch, punter (6th round, #203rd pick), 224 career games
Number One pick: Mario Williams, DE, 158 career games

2007: Mason Crosby, K, (6th round, #193 pick), 208 career games
Number One pick: JaMarcus Russell, QB, 31 career games

2008: Brandon Carr, DB (5th round, #140 pick), 192 career games
Number one pick: Jake Long, tackle, 104 career games

2009: Kevin Huber, punter (5th round, #142 pick)/Thomas Morstead, punter (5th round, #164 pick) each 174 career games
Number one pick: Matthew Stafford, QB, 149 career games

2010: Ndamukong Suh, DT (1st round #2 pick) 158 career games
Number One pick: Sam Bradford, QB, 83 career games

2011: Cameron Jordan, DE (1st round #24 pick), 144 career games
Number One pick: Cam Newton, QB, 125 career games

2012: Mitchell Schwartz, tackle (2nd round #37 pick)/Russell Wilson, QB (3rd round #75 pick)/Demario Davis, LB (3rd round #77 pick) each 128 career games
Number One pick: Andrew Luck, QB, 86 career games

2013: Cordarelle Patterson, WR (1st round #29 pick)/Duron Harmon, DB (3rd round #91 pick) each 111 career games
Number one pick: Eric Fisher, tackle, 102 career games

2014: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DB (1st round, #21 pick)/Jarvis Landry, WR (2nd round, #63 pick) each 96 career games
Number One pick: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, 75 career games.

If we go to the 2015 draft, there are five players drafted that year who have played in the maximum number of career NFL games since that year, 80. None of those five were drafted in the first round of that ’15 draft.

Even the 2016 draft has a similar result: Nine players drafted in the ’16 draft have played the maximum of 64 career games in their four-year career in the NFL. Of those nine, none were drafted in the first round.


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Today’s Sportstat: April 13, 2020

23 stats you may not know about… Ted Simmons

When he is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame later this year, Ted Simmons will become the seventh player to wear a Brewers jersey to become a Hall of Famer. The other Hall of Fame players with ties to the Brewers: Hank Aaron, Rollie Fingers, Trevor Hoffman, Paul Molitor, Don Sutton and Robin Yount.

Simmons was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers from 1981-85. He played in 665 games for the Brew Crew, collecting 666 hits, 66 HR, 394 RBI and batting .262.

Since he wore number 23 throughout his playing days, here are 23 stats you may not know about Simmons and his Hall of Fame career.

  1. Simmons ended his career with 2,472 hits and 248 home runs. He is one of 65 players in MLB history to have 2,400 hits and 240 HRs in a career. Of those 65 players, Simmons becomes the 39th to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
  2. He played 21 seasons in the majors, 13 with St. Louis, five with the Brewers and three with Atlanta.
  3. He was born in Highland Park, Michigan. Of all players born in Michigan who played in the majors, Simmons ranks second in career hits with 2,472 (behind fellow Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer) and third in home runs with 248, behind Kirk Gibson and John Mayberry who each hit 255. He ranks first on the list of Michigan-born ballplayers in MLB career games played with 2,456.
  4. Simmons was an eight-time All-Star. He was 2-for-10 in those games with one RBI.
  5. Seven times in his career he finished in the Top 20 in league MVP voting. His highest finish was sixth in the voting for the 1975 National League MVP.
  6. Simmons had 2,472 career hits, but did not have a season where he hit 200. The most hits he had in a season were 193 in 1975 with the Cardinals.
  7. His career high for home runs was 26 in 1979 with the Cards. His second-best year was 23 he hit for the Brewers in 1982.
  8. The best year for RBIs was in 1983 when Simmons drove in 108 with the Brewers. Three times in his career he had 100 or more RBIs in a season.
  9. Simmons twice led the league in intentional walks… in 1976 and 1977 with the Cards.
  10. He never played in a post-season game during his career with the Cardinals. He appeared in 17 post-season games with the Brewers in 1981 and 1982.
  11. The only positions Simmons did not play in his MLB career were pitcher, second base, shortstop and centerfield.
  12. He made 233 pinch-hit appearances, but was never a pinch-runner in a game.
  13. Simmons had 2,472 hits in 2,456 career MLB games. Of all players who played in 2,400 or more career games in the majors, Simmons is one of only 65 players to have more hits than games played.
  14. Simmons played 1,218 home games and 1,238 away games in his career. He had more HRs (132-116) in road games and had a higher batting average (.291-.279) in road games.
  15. Simmons highest monthly career batting average was in July. He hit .298 in July during his 21-year career.
  16. When his team won, Simmons’ batting average was .338. When his team lost, his career average was .233.
  17. He batted .301 in extra innings.
  18. The most career homers he hit versus one team were 23 each against the Pirates and Cubs.
  19. Simmons batted .300 or better in seven seasons. He was one of 157 players to accomplish that in a career. Cap Anson tops the list with 24 seasons with a batting average of .300 or better. Ty Cobb is second with 21 seasons at .300 or better.
  20. Most of Simmons plate appearances took place when he was batting clean-up. Of his 9,685 career plate appearances, Simmons had 5,296 of them from the fourth spot in the batting order.
  21. Simmons batted only .216 in his first season with the Brewers (1981). He batted .214 in five games in 1969 and .196 in his final season (1988 with the Braves), the lowest batting average seasons in his career.
  22. A switch-hitter, he hit a HR from both sides of the plate in a game three times.
  23. Simmons was first eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. He received less than 5% of the votes that year and was taken off the ballot. He was eventually voted in this year by the Veterans Committee.


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Today’s Sportstat: April 10, 2020

1,000-yard rushers in the NFL… by age

If you follow the NFL, you probably hear a lot about the need to establish the run game and have a solid defense. It all sounds well and good, but let’s be realistic… today’s game depends more on quarterbacks and receivers than running backs.

NFL runners who reach 1,000 yards for the season are still a well-sought-after milestone in today’s game. In 2019, there were 16 running backs that surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark. If we look back over the past 50 years of the NFL (since 1970), there have been 613 times in those 50 years that a running back had a 1,000-yard season.

(Note: lists a player’s age for the season as the age of that player on December 31 of that year.)

But in looking at the age of these 1,000-yard rushers since 1970, there is a very distinct pattern: Most of these players have been in the 24-26 age range. In fact, 269 of the 613 1,000-yard rushers (43%) since that ’70 season (the first year of the AFL-NFL merger) was either 24, 25 or 26 years of age in that milestone season.

Looking at the 16 players who reached 1,000 yards rushing last season, 14 of the 16 were under the age of 26. The breakdown from last year: 30 years old (1), 29 (1), 25 (4), 24 (4), 23 (3), 22 (2) and 21 (1).

Here’s a look at the age of the 613 players who reached 1,000 yards rushing since 1970.

Age   # of runners
35               1
34               1
33               3
32               6
31               12
30               25
29               42
28               59
27               74
26               90
25               89
24               90
23               68
22               41
21               12

In case you were wondering, John Riggins is the oldest running back to have a 1,000-yard rushing season. He did it twice, at 34 years of age and at 35. The 33-year-olds were Frank Gore, Franco Harris and Adrian Peterson.

The twelve 21-year-olds on the list are: Josh Jacobs (2019), Saquon Barkley (2018), Ezekiel Elliott (2016), Todd Gurley (2015), Marshawn Lynch (2007), Clinton Portis (2002), Jamal Lewis (2000), Edgerrin James (1999), Rashan Salaam (1995), Marshall Faulk (1994), Jerome Bettis (1993) and Barry Sanders (1989).


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Today’s Sportstat: April 5, 2020

Inside the stats of Eric Rasmussen’s baseball career

In all my years of doing sports stats articles, columns and blogs, I have written about some of my fellow Racine, WI natives who went on to play professional sports. I have done stat pieces on Shane Rawley, Duane Kuiper, Caron Butler and Jim Chones, to name a few.

I recently realized that I have never written a sports stats piece on another Racine, WI athlete: baseball player Eric Rasmussen. He and I attended the same junior college (he was there a couple years before I got there) and played for the same JC coach, Pat Daugherty, as did Shane and Duane. Eric, a right-handed pitcher, had an eight-year Major League Baseball career from 1975-83. He had a 50-77 record with five career saves and a 3.85 ERA.

In doing research on Eric’s career, I discovered some really interesting numbers. And it’s not a stretch to say that he pitched in a different era of baseball, and that he was certainly the last of a breed that no longer exists in baseball. Here’s a few stats on “Ras’s” career that you might find interesting:

  • Eric in one of only 58 pitchers in MLB history that ended their careers with 10 or more shutouts in less than 150 starts. In fact, Eric is the last pitcher to retire with less than 150 starts and 10 or more shutouts. He had 12 shutouts in his career and 144 pitching starts. Only five pitchers since 1970 retired from the game with 10 or more shutouts and less than 150 starts. In addition to Eric, there was Jim Bouton (11 shutouts, 144 starts), Steve Arlin (11 shutouts, 123 starts), Tom Phoebus (11 shutouts, 149 starts) and Joe Sparma (10 shutouts, 142 starts).
  • Eric is one of 496 pitchers in MLB history to have 12 or more shutouts in his career. Complete games and shutouts are much more of a rarity in today’s game. Consider this: Since 2000, only 15 pitchers have amassed 10 or more shutouts and all 15 started 200 or more games. The pitchers with the most shutouts since 2000: Roy Halladay, 19, Clayton Kershaw, 15 and Tim Hudson, 13.
  • Eric is one of 411 pitchers who had 10 or more shutouts in his career and five or more career saves.
  • In 1979, Eric had three shutouts and three saves on his end-of-the-year stat line. Since 1901, 285 pitchers have had three or more shutouts and three or more saves in the same season. The last time it happened, however, was 37 years ago. In 1983, Neal Heaton had seven saves and three shutouts, and Bryn Smith had three shutouts and three saves that same season.
  • Eric pitched a shutout in his MLB debut on July 21, 1975. Since 1905, there have been 69 pitchers who tossed a complete game shutout in their debut start in the majors. The last pitcher to do this was Andy Van Hekken for the Detroit Tigers on September 3, 2002.
  • Eric’s Wikipedia page states that he is the only pitcher in MLB history to pitch a shutout in both his American League and National League debuts. As noted above, he pitched a shutout in 1975 in his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals against the San Diego Padres and then in his American League debut with the Kansas City Royals in 1983, Eric pitched a shutout.
  • He is one of 30 MLB pitchers born on March 22. Of those 30, he is tied for fifth for most career wins with 50.
  • He is one of 122 MLB pitchers born in Wisconsin. His 50 career wins is 18th most of the 122.

Some pretty interesting stuff!



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