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Friday, August 22, 2014

FG: Ben Revere and the Emptiest Batting Average Ever

Commenters point out that, if Revere’s current stats hold up, he will join only two other post-1900 players with lower wOBA than BA, and 49 others with a 2.1% or lower walk rate.

To look for players to compare to [Ben] Revere historically, I looked for other player seasons… which had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title with a batting average at least as high as Revere’s but a walk rate and isolated slugging (slugging minus batting average) below his… In fact, since 1900 (it’s not worth going earlier because seasons were much shorter then), the only player with at least 400 plate appearances that had as high of a batting average with as little other hitting value is … Ben Revere. That’s it…

If you disregard his sub-par defense (especially compared to what you would expect from a guy with his speed), Revere really isn’t a terrible offensive player. If you took away all of his steals and instead turned that many singles into doubles, he’d have a slugging percentage around the league average. The problem is, a single followed by a steal isn’t as valuable as a double because it doesn’t advance runners on base, so his value would really be something less than that of a player with league-average slugging. Even if he posts a batting average way above the mean in any given season, he never walks or gets extra-base hits, so he has to sustain that mark against all kinds of luck and defensive factors in order to give the Phillies even passable offensive value. It’s a game that the Phillies seem interested in playing, and it’s defensible because of his obviously high average and stolen base totals, but I’m just not sure if they’re going to win that way.

The District Attorney Posted: August 22, 2014 at 02:06 PM | 59 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: ben revere, phillies, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. BDC Posted: August 22, 2014 at 02:28 PM (#4777283)
Tommy Thevenow of the 1933 Pirates hit .312 with an ISO a good bit lower than Revere's, and drew only three walks – albeit in only 262 plate appearances.

There are a number of other seasons with ISO and walk rate at least as bad as Revere's, some of them with terrible batting averages. I guess the BAs aren't relatively as empty, but they're like a smaller package that is just as empty :)

Player             PA  ISO BB Year   BA
Doug Flynn        485 .043  8 1982 .225
Ben Revere        473 .055 10 2014 .311
Bobby Sturgeon    453 .049  9 1941 .245
Rob Picciolo      446 .057  9 1977 .200
Alfredo Griffin   442 .057  4 1984 .241
Jesus Alou        436 .055  9 1968 .263
Tim Foli          349 .048  5 1983 .252
Paul Casanova     335 .056  7 1968 .196
Angel Salazar     332 .041  6 1987 .205
Jimmie Wilson     267 .048  4 1923 .262
Tommy Thevenow    262 .028  3 1933 .312
Pepe Frias        255 .034  4 1980 .242 


EDIT: I guess another way of putting that is that if you have to hit so powerlessly and draw so few walks, a .311 batting average is the way to go :)

   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 22, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4777304)
I've always nominated Ozzie Guillen as the poster boy for this. 264/287/338.

And 169-108 SB-CS. Oofa.
   3. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 22, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4777306)
A look at Guillen's comps may provide some more examples:

1.Alfredo Griffin (940)
2.Joe Tinker (926) *
3.Billy Jurges (915)
4.Bill Russell (912)
5.Roger Peckinpaugh (899)
6.Phil Rizzuto (891) *
7.Roy McMillan (891)
8.Art Fletcher (891)
9.Marty Marion (889) **
10.Don Kessinger (888)

** Deserving Hall of Famer!!

   4. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 22, 2014 at 02:52 PM (#4777310)
R Belliard 221/270/259
   5. Batman Posted: August 22, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4777320)
George Maisel hit .310/.334/.338 in 1921. Maisel had seven doubles, two triples, and 11 walks in 431 PA.
   6. kthejoker Posted: August 22, 2014 at 03:18 PM (#4777322)
Speaking of empty stats and Ozzie Guillens atrocious SB rate, what's the lowest SB rate for guys with 300 steals? 200?
   7. stanmvp48 Posted: August 22, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4777325)
Jesus Alou's presence on that list is especially impressive since he was a corner outfielder and a bad one. Not a base stealer either.
   8. Batman Posted: August 22, 2014 at 03:21 PM (#4777326)
Rod Carew (65.4% and 353 SB) and Minnie Minoso (61.2% and 205) are the worst for the time when we have CS stats.
   9. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 22, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4777359)
In 1977, Barry Bonnell managed an OPS+ of 83 while hitting .300 (.300/.368/.339)

Felix Fermin posted an 85 one year despite hitting .317
   10. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 22, 2014 at 04:01 PM (#4777364)
I first remember realizing that a player might not be a good hitter even though they were batting .300 when watching Rey Sanchez in 2002.
   11. BDC Posted: August 22, 2014 at 04:03 PM (#4777367)
Jesus Alou's presence on that list

The NL hit .243 in 1968, of course, so I wondered if it was possibly an OK year for Alou despite that empty .263. Nope. He was at -9 RBat and an OPS+ of 78. Nor was it a matter of him having a niche as a pinch-hitter then, because that year he batted .222 in the role. He wouldn't become an elite pinch-hitter till several years later.
   12. Steve N Posted: August 22, 2014 at 04:11 PM (#4777370)
I see this in the article, "If you disregard his sub-par defense". My impression was that Revere is an above average center fielder with a weak arm. Overall a plus defender.
   13. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 22, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4777378)
. My impression was that Revere is an above average center fielder with a weak arm. Overall a plus defender.


his fielding numbers on both BBREF and Fangraphs are pretty bad since joining the Phils... my impression is that Revere is just another data point in favor of the idea that Ruben Amaro is really bad at judging talent, the guys he lets go are better/have more left in the tank than the guys he extends, the guys he brings in are not as good as the players they are being brought in to replace
   14. stanmvp48 Posted: August 22, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4777385)
Alou: career OPS+ of 86 with no defensive value and < 50% SB percentage. And he got 4577 PAs.

The 1969 Houston team was one of my favorites. Outfielders hit 44 home runs. Jim Wynn hit 33 of them.
   15. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 22, 2014 at 04:43 PM (#4777399)
Who is the player who got the most PA with <10 WAR? <5 WAR? BobM?
   16. Batman Posted: August 22, 2014 at 05:03 PM (#4777413)
Doc Cramer had 9927 PA and 8.4 WAR and Joe Quinn had 7352 PA and 4.6 WAR. Alfredo Griffin gets an honorable mention for 2.9 WAR in 7331 PA.

For oWar only, Quinn had 7352 PA and 5.4 oWAR. The most PA with less than 5 oWAR is also the guy with less than 0 oWAR- Tim Foli, 6573 PA and negative .7.
   17. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: August 22, 2014 at 05:03 PM (#4777414)
That's weird...just now I was putting together an (ahem) "All-Star" team of players with negative career WAR and at least 4,500 PA:

Walter Holke, 1B (1914-25)
Pete Suder, 2B (regular for the Philly-to-KC A's)
Ken Reitz, 3B (1972-82)
Chris Gomez, SS (1993-2008)
Bob Kennedy, LF (1939-57; only player here with negative oWAR and dWAR)
Jerry Morales, CF (1969-83)
Tommy Dowd, RF (played for the 1899 Cleveland Spiders (!!))
Jack Boyle, C (19th century catcher; probably deserves a medal for that alone)
Tommy Thevenow, DH (never really a DH, of course, but has an oWAR of -8.1)

Cub Stricker, Frank O'Rourke and Don Gutteridge, UT (who cares?)

These players had nearly 60,000 MLB PAs -- or roughly 120 batting slot/seasons -- and "contributed" minus 22 WAR. (Or to put it another way, they combined to have Mookie Wilson's career in reverse.)

   18. SG Posted: August 22, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4777422)
All players with at least 5000 PA and 10 or fewer WAR.

Rk             Player   PA WAR/pos From   To   Age
1          Doc Cramer 9927     8.4 1929 1948 23
-42
2       Don Kessinger 8530     8.9 1964 1979 21
-36
3     Alfredo Griffin 7331     2.9 1976 1993 18
-35
4        Dave Philley 7004     7.4 1941 1962 21
-42
5        Cookie Rojas 6871     9.3 1962 1977 23
-38
6      Dante Bichette 6856     5.5 1988 2001 24
-37
7           Ivy Olson 6632     5.6 1911 1924 25
-38
8       Deron Johnson 6619     6.2 1960 1976 21
-37
9            Tim Foli 6573     5.5 1970 1985 19
-34
10       Howie Shanks 6424     8.5 1912 1925 21
-34
11       Jose Guillen 6418     6.2 1997 2010 21
-34
12    Willie Montanez 6407     1.5 1966 1982 18
-34
13      Alex Gonzalez 6248     9.0 1998 2014 21
-37
14    Bill Wambsganss 6107     3.8 1914 1926 20
-32
15        Luke Sewell 6044     3.8 1921 1942 20
-41
16       Ed Kranepool 5997     4.4 1962 1979 17
-34
17      Jose Vizcaino 5918     7.0 1989 2006 21
-38
18     Rafael Ramirez 5887     5.9 1980 1992 22
-34
19          Joe Dugan 5880     9.3 1917 1931 20
-34
20       Leo Durocher 5829     5.1 1925 1945 19
-39
21       Wally Gerber 5828     4.0 1914 1929 22
-37
22   Bobby Richardson 5780     8.1 1955 1966 19
-30
23        Ski Melillo 5537     0.2 1926 1937 26
-37
24     Rollie Hemsley 5511     3.7 1928 1947 21
-40
25        Neifi Perez 5510     2.6 1996 2007 23
-34
Rk             Player   PA WAR
/pos From   To   Age
26        Omar Moreno 5481     9.3 1975 1986 22
-33
27    Jeffrey Leonard 5476     9.7 1977 1990 21
-34
28       Joe Pepitone 5475     9.7 1962 1973 21
-32
29         Pete Suder 5474    
-1.5 1941 1955 25-39
30     Tommy Griffith 5448     7.3 1913 1925 23
-35
31        Jim Spencer 5408     2.7 1968 1982 21
-35
32        Tony Womack 5389     2.3 1993 2006 23
-36
33   Kitty Bransfield 5377    10.0 1901 1911 26
-36
34        Tommy Helms 5337     8.3 1964 1977 23
-36
35          Jim Hegan 5320     3.7 1941 1960 20
-39
36           Hi Myers 5316     8.8 1909 1925 20
-36
37       Luis Polonia 5296     9.0 1987 2000 23
-36
38      Derrel Thomas 5268     6.6 1971 1985 20
-34
39      Jimmie Wilson 5257     9.2 1923 1940 22
-39
40         Otto Knabe 5252     9.5 1905 1916 21
-32
41      Juan Beniquez 5151    10.0 1971 1988 21
-38
42        Chris Gomez 5148    
-1.3 1993 2008 22-37
43   Mickey Morandini 5135     9.7 1990 2000 24
-34
44   Juan Encarnacion 5095     8.7 1997 2007 21
-31
45     Keith Moreland 5082     3.3 1978 1989 24
-35
46          Ken Reitz 5079    
-3.2 1972 1982 21-31
47        Bob Kennedy 5065    
-2.1 1939 1957 18-36
48    Frankie Gustine 5040     8.0 1939 1950 19
-30
49         Lou Finney 5034     2.2 1931 1947 20
-36 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/22/2014.
   19. BDC Posted: August 22, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4777428)
Jesus Alou flourished, as I noted, as a pinch hitter in his 30s: .272 career as a pinch hitter, .283 from 1971 on. He basically had two careers, one as a starter for reasons known best to nobody, and another as a pretty creditable role player. Over four-fifths of his many PAs came in his first "career."
   20. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: August 22, 2014 at 06:03 PM (#4777450)
And now, the flip side...fewest MLB PA with:

1 WAR: Mike Stanton (26/1.1); non-pitcher: Kristopher Negron (88/1.0)
5 WAR: Don Larsen (652/6.2); non-pitcher: A. J. Pollock (767/6.4)
10 WAR: Lorenzo Cain (1,239/10.5)
15 WAR: Josh Donaldson (1,536/15.6)
20 and 25 WAR: Mike Trout (2,048/26.3)
30 WAR: Andrew McCutchen (3,668/31.5)
35 WAR: Evan Longoria (3,974/38.4)
40 WAR: Charlie Keller (4,604/42.5)
45 WAR: John McGraw (4,940/49.6)
50, 55 and 60 WAR: Joe Jackson (5,695/62.3)
65 and 70 WAR: Johnny Mize (7,370/71.0)
75 WAR: Joe DiMaggio (7,673/78.2)
80 WAR: Roger Connor (8,847/84.1)
85, 90 and 95 WAR: Alburt Pujols (9,099/96.2)
100 to 125 WAR: Rogers Hornsby (9,480/127.0)
130 to 160 WAR: Babe Ruth (10,622/163.0)
   21. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 22, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4777465)
Who is the player who got the most PA with <10 WAR? <5 WAR? BobM?


Play Index now has WAA

The player with the most plate appearances and negative WAA is Bill Buckner, 10,037 and -17.4
close behind him is Doc Cramer, 9927 and -22.8

Cramer's BBEF comp list is interesting, he had 8.5 career WAR, his comps averaged 46.1
they all had a higher (raw) OPS than him, they all played in lower scoring run environments except for Lloyd Waner (so they all had a pretty hefty OPS+ advantage)

   22. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: August 22, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4777471)
Fun with numbers...even if Trout can keep up his incredible pace, he'd still fall short of Hornsby's (barely) or Ruth's numbers with the same amount of PA. To get to 163 WAR, Trout would need over 12,700 PA -- more than 2,000 more than Ruth, and a number only 8 players in history have reached. If Trout managed to match Rose's 15,890 PA, he'd have 203 WAR...and pretty much every other record, too!
   23. Batman Posted: August 22, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4777479)
To get to 163 WAR, Trout would need over 12,700 PA -- more than 2,000 more than Ruth
And then Trout would have to pitch 1200 innings.
   24. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: August 22, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4777480)
I'm so glad my Twins traded this guy away. Because otherwise, he'd still be out there playing everyday!
   25. Walt Davis Posted: August 22, 2014 at 07:11 PM (#4777500)
While we are sort of on the topic, there are 4 players with at least 8000 PA and a WAA between -1 and 1 -- i.e. the ultimate average players:

Soriano
Carlos Lee
Lee May
Templeton

C Lee barely wins the PA battle with 8787.
   26. shoewizard Posted: August 22, 2014 at 07:32 PM (#4777507)
oWAR, minimum 5000 PA. Only 6 players negative.....with an oh so appropriate "leader" in negative oWAR at this PA threshold

Rk              Player oWAR   PA From   To   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS        Pos
1          Neifi Perez 
-3.8 5510 1996 2007 .267 .297 .375 .672   *64/H5D2
2          Ski Melillo 
-3.6 5537 1926 1937 .260 .306 .340 .646     *4/5H6
3          Bob Kennedy 
-3.2 5065 1939 1957 .254 .309 .355 .665   957H/834
4            Ken Reitz 
-2.0 5079 1972 1982 .260 .290 .359 .649     *5/H64
5           Pete Suder 
-1.3 5474 1941 1955 .249 .290 .337 .627   *456/H39
6             Tim Foli 
-0.7 6573 1970 1985 .251 .283 .309 .593 *6/45H387D
7         Hughie Critz  2.1 6412 1924 1935 .268 .303 .352 .656      
*4/H6
8            Jim Hegan  2.3 5320 1941 1960 .228 .295 .344 .639       
*2/H
9          Jim Spencer  3.1 5408 1968 1982 .250 .307 .387 .694     
*3DH/7
10        Leo Durocher  3.2 5829 1925 1945 .247 .299 .320 .619     
*6/4H5
11      Rollie Hemsley  3.3 5511 1928 1947 .262 .311 .360 .671   
*2H/7398
12          Lou Finney  3.8 5034 1931 1947 .287 .336 .388 .723   93H78
/45
13         Luke Sewell  4.0 6044 1921 1942 .259 .323 .341 .665  
*2/H39745
14         Ed Brinkman  5.3 6642 1961 1975 .224 .280 .300 .580    
*6/H547
15            Hod Ford  5.6 5385 1919 1933 .263 .316 .337 .652    
*64/H53
16     Alfredo Griffin  5.7 7331 1976 1993 .249 .285 .319 .604    
*6/H4D5
17        Ed Kranepool  5.8 5997 1962 1979 .261 .316 .377 .693    
*3H79/8
18       Everett Scott  5.8 6380 1914 1926 .249 .281 .315 .596     
*6/H54
19         Omar Moreno  5.9 5481 1975 1986 .252 .306 .343 .649    
*8H/97D
20   Aurelio Rodriguez  6.0 7085 1967 1983 .237 .275 .351 .626   
*5/H64D3
21       Alex Gonzalez  6.1 6248 1998 2014 .245 .290 .395 .685     
*6/H35
22         Tony Womack  6.1 5389 1993 2006 .273 .317 .356 .673   469H
/78D
23         Rey Sanchez  6.3 5246 1991 2005 .272 .308 .334 .642    
*64/H5D
24         Tommy Helms  6.6 5337 1964 1977 .269 .300 .342 .642    
*45H/6D
25     Willie Montanez  6.7 6407 1966 1982 .275 .327 .402 .729   
*38H/9D7 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/23/2014.
   27. bjhanke Posted: August 23, 2014 at 01:25 AM (#4777611)
Tommy Thevenow has one of the weirdest careers ever. He had a couple of years as the Cardinal backup shortstop, but was given full-time play in 1926. He hit .256, with 2 homers and 15 doubles in 608 AB - and finished FOURTH in the MVP voting. Really. Everyone thought he had the hottest glove around. The Cardinals had picked up Rabbit Maranville, who was not finished, but just stashed him in the minors as an injury replacement or something. Well, in 1927, Thevenow was REALLY bad. Could not get his batting average over .200. The Cards turned to the 20-year-old Heinie Schuble, who was, if anything, worse than Thevenow. Maranville got a few games in there.

In 1928, the team hired Bill McKechnie as manager. Most of you know that McKechnie was the most successful ever of the absolutely glove-crazy managers. He looked at the young Thevenow. He looked at the young Schuble. He gave the starting job to Rabbit Maranville, who was in his 30s and hit .240, but whose glove wasn't a mirage. Thevenow got traded and then spent the next decade in the majors, playing very badly, but apparently able to convince people that his glove really was that hot, which it wasn't. He may have had the worst career of anyone who played a whole decade. I have no idea at all what his managers thought they were seeing, but I do know that I'll take McKechnie's opinion of a glove over just about anyone's. - Brock Hanke
   28. bjhanke Posted: August 23, 2014 at 01:29 AM (#4777612)
Also re: #20. Babe Ruth does not have the fewest PA with a WAR of 130-160. He had 163 WAR, which is too many. So, who actually DOES have the fewest PA for 130-163 WAR? There can't be that many contenders, not at that level. - Brock again.
   29. PreservedFish Posted: August 23, 2014 at 03:38 AM (#4777621)
While we are sort of on the topic, there are 4 players with at least 8000 PA and a WAA between -1 and 1 -- i.e. the ultimate average players:

Soriano
Carlos Lee
Lee May
Templeton


There should be consideration for consistency. All of these guys had good starts and bad endings.
   30. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 23, 2014 at 07:35 AM (#4777638)
Also re: #20. Babe Ruth does not have the fewest PA with a WAR of 130-160. He had 163 WAR, which is too many.

I believe the qualification was "fewest PA with at least X WAR," and Ruth was the winner for each value between 130 and 160.
   31. bobm Posted: August 23, 2014 at 09:21 AM (#4777649)
[29]

For single seasons, From 1901 to 2014, (requiring WAA_bat<=1, WAA_bat>=-1 and At least 400 plate appearances), sorted by greatest Seasons matching criteria

                                        
Rk              Name Yrs From   To   Age
1      Harold Baines  13 1983 1999 24-40
2        Jimmy Dykes  12 1921 1936 24-39
3       Paul Konerko  11 1999 2012 23-36
4      Michael Young   9 2002 2011 25-34
5         Derrek Lee   9 1998 2011 22-35
6         Todd Zeile   9 1990 2000 24-34
7        Gary Gaetti   9 1982 1997 23-38
8        Chili Davis   9 1982 1999 22-39
9    Chris Chambliss   9 1972 1983 23-34
10         Lou Brock   9 1962 1979 23-40
11   A.J. Pierzynski   8 2001 2013 24-36
12     Luis Gonzalez   8 1994 2006 26-38
13   Gregg Jefferies   8 1990 1998 22-30
14      Omar Vizquel   8 1989 2006 22-39
15      B.J. Surhoff   8 1988 2001 23-36
16       Paul ONeill   8 1988 2000 25-37
17     Tom Brunansky   8 1983 1992 22-31
18       Frank White   8 1976 1989 25-38
19          Dan Ford   8 1975 1983 23-31
20      Bill Madlock   8 1974 1987 23-36
21         Bob Boone   8 1973 1989 25-41
22     Jose Cardenal   8 1965 1975 21-31
23      Willie Davis   8 1963 1976 23-36
24       Bill Virdon   8 1955 1965 24-34
25      Willie Jones   8 1949 1959 23-33
Rk              Name Yrs From   To   Age
26     Mickey Vernon   8 1941 1958 23-40
27     Pinky Higgins   8 1935 1943 26-34
28          Al Lopez   8 1930 1943 21-34
29     Pinky Whitney   8 1928 1936 23-31
30     Marty McManus   8 1925 1934 25-34
31       Bing Miller   8 1921 1931 26-36
32     Everett Scott   8 1914 1922 21-29
33      George Burns   8 1914 1927 21-34
34      Eddie Foster   8 1913 1921 26-34
35      Jimmy Austin   8 1909 1918 29-38


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/23/2014.
   32. bobm Posted: August 23, 2014 at 09:28 AM (#4777652)
For single seasons, From 1901 to 2014, (requiring WAR_bat<=1, WAR_bat>=-1 and At least 400 plate appearances), sorted by greatest Seasons matching criteria

                                        
Rk              Name Yrs From   To   Age
1      Charlie Grimm  10 1920 1933 21-34
2         Doc Cramer   9 1933 1945 27-39
3     Dante Bichette   8 1991 2001 27-37
4      Don Kessinger   8 1966 1978 23-35
5        Brad Ausmus   7 1996 2006 27-37
6       Manny Trillo   7 1975 1984 24-33
7    Willie Montanez   7 1973 1980 25-32
8       Bill Buckner   7 1973 1987 23-37
9        Jim Spencer   7 1969 1977 22-30
10    Don Gutteridge   7 1937 1945 25-33
11      Howie Shanks   7 1912 1923 21-32
12         Ivy Olson   7 1911 1922 25-36
13       Juan Pierre   6 2002 2011 24-33
14      Mark Loretta   6 1997 2007 25-35
15         J.T. Snow   6 1993 2005 25-37
16       Eric Karros   6 1992 2002 24-34
17         Ken Reitz   6 1973 1980 22-29
18      Cookie Rojas   6 1966 1975 27-36
19       Tommy Davis   6 1961 1975 22-36
20       Luke Sewell   6 1926 1937 25-36
21   Bill Wambsganss   6 1916 1925 22-31
22    George Stovall   6 1907 1915 29-37
23         Hal Chase   6 1905 1917 22-34


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/23/2014.
   33. bfan Posted: August 23, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4777721)
Just so I am clear with this, players who have high batting averages but do not walk or hit for power are not good (or are at least over-valued), no matter how many hits they accumulate-is that the accepted common wisdom? Players who do that and occupy a hitting position (corner infielder and corner outfielder) should be scorned even more.
   34. BDC Posted: August 23, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4777730)
Just so I am clear with this, players who have high batting averages but do not walk or hit for power are not good (or are at least over-valued), no matter how many hits they accumulate-is that the accepted common wisdom? Players who do that and occupy a hitting position (corner infielder and corner outfielder) should be scorned even more

At the risk of answering a rhetorical question, no, not at all. The common wisdom greatly values OBP, and OBP doesn't care how you reach base.
   35. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 23, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4777732)
And yet Revere still has the 4th highest OPS+ in the Phillies' everyday starting lineup. Of course when the team's OPS+ is 88, that's not saying much.
   36. BDC Posted: August 23, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4777741)
I got curious: fifteen seasons since 1969 with ISO under .120 and walk rate under 8%, ranked by highest OBP. Nobody dassn't scorn these seasons. What am I saying, this is BBTF, scorners gonna scorn :)

Player             OBP  ISO oWAR Rbat BB  PA Year   BA
Ichiro Suzuki     .414 .082  6.1 35.7 49 762 2004 .372
Ichiro Suzuki     .396 .080  5.4 17.3 49 736 2007 .351
Placido Polanco   .388 .118  4.9 23.3 37 641 2007 .341
Ichiro Suzuki     .386 .113  4.4 21.3 32 678 2009 .352
Ichiro Suzuki     .381 .107  6.1 29.9 30 738 2001 .350
Tony Fernandez    .379 .104  4.5 12.7 51 642 1987 .322
Willie McGee      .373 .094  4.7 17.5 48 665 1990 .324
Jose Altuve       .372 .105  4.8 18.2 30 563 2014 .334
Ralph Garr        .372 .099  4.0 18.6 30 693 1971 .343
Rod Carew         .369 .062  4.8 12.7 43 591 1972 .318
Matty Alou        .369 .080  4.9 18.6 42 746 1969 .331
Thurman Munson    .366 .111  5.7 25.7 45 661 1975 .318
Steve Sax         .364 .072  4.5 15.8 52 717 1989 .315
Derek Jeter       .362 .113  4.2 13.5 45 740 2012 .316
Willie Wilson     .357 .095  5.9 18.6 28 745 1980 .326 


I went down to 15 so I could get Jeter on the list. That's usually good for another three pages of comments.
   37. bobm Posted: August 23, 2014 at 04:17 PM (#4777786)
For single seasons, For 2013, (requiring H>=172), sorted by greatest Offensive WAR

                                                                                       
Rk             Player oWAR   H WAR/pos Year  Tm   G  PA HR  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
1          Mike Trout  9.7 190     8.9 2013 LAA 157 716 27 110 136 .323 .432 .557  .988
2      Miguel Cabrera  9.2 193     7.5 2013 DET 148 652 44  90  94 .348 .442 .636 1.078
3    Andrew McCutchen  7.3 185     7.9 2013 PIT 157 674 21  78 101 .317 .404 .508  .911
4       Robinson Cano  6.8 190     7.6 2013 NYY 160 681 27  65  85 .314 .383 .516  .899
5      Josh Donaldson  6.6 174     8.0 2013 OAK 158 668 24  76 110 .301 .384 .499  .883
6      Matt Carpenter  6.1 199     6.0 2013 STL 157 717 11  72  98 .318 .392 .481  .873
7    Paul Goldschmidt  6.0 182     7.3 2013 ARI 160 710 36  99 145 .302 .401 .551  .952
8          Joey Votto  5.8 177     6.4 2013 CIN 162 726 24 135 138 .305 .435 .491  .926
9       Adrian Beltre  5.8 199     5.4 2013 TEX 161 690 30  50  78 .315 .371 .509  .880
10       Hunter Pence  4.8 178     3.9 2013 SFG 162 687 27  52 115 .283 .339 .483  .822
11     Dustin Pedroia  4.8 193     6.6 2013 BOS 160 724  9  73  75 .301 .372 .415  .787
12    Freddie Freeman  4.7 176     5.4 2013 ATL 147 629 23  66 121 .319 .396 .501  .897
13         Jed Lowrie  4.4 175     2.3 2013 OAK 154 662 15  50  91 .290 .344 .446  .791
14         Adam Jones  4.1 186     4.1 2013 BAL 160 689 33  25 136 .285 .318 .493  .811
15    Jacoby Ellsbury  4.1 172     5.7 2013 BOS 134 636  9  47  92 .298 .355 .426  .781
16        Jean Segura  3.3 173     3.5 2013 MIL 146 623 12  25  84 .294 .329 .423  .752
17     Prince Fielder  3.3 174     2.0 2013 DET 162 712 25  75 117 .279 .362 .457  .819
18      Daniel Murphy  3.3 188     1.5 2013 NYM 161 697 13  32  95 .286 .319 .415  .733
19        Eric Hosmer  3.1 188     3.6 2013 KCR 159 680 17  51 100 .302 .353 .448  .801
20       Torii Hunter  2.7 184     1.7 2013 DET 144 652 17  26 113 .304 .334 .465  .800
21       Martin Prado  2.5 172     2.8 2013 ARI 155 664 14  47  53 .282 .333 .417  .750
22      Manny Machado  2.4 189     6.4 2013 BAL 156 710 14  29 113 .283 .314 .432  .746
23     Alexei Ramirez  2.2 181     2.5 2013 CHW 158 674  6  26  68 .284 .313 .380  .693
24    Victor Martinez  1.5 182     1.8 2013 DET 159 668 14  54  62 .301 .355 .430  .785
25        Jose Altuve  1.4 177     1.2 2013 HOU 152 672  5  32  85 .283 .316 .363  .678
Rk             Player oWAR   H WAR/pos Year  Tm   G  PA HR  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
26      Nick Markakis  0.3 172    -0.3 2013 BAL 160 700 10  55  76 .271 .329 .356  .685


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/23/2014.
   38. Walt Davis Posted: August 23, 2014 at 06:43 PM (#4777843)
Just so I am clear with this, players who have high batting averages but do not walk or hit for power are not good (or are at least over-valued), no matter how many hits they accumulate-is that the accepted common wisdom? Players who do that and occupy a hitting position (corner infielder and corner outfielder) should be scorned even more.

As BDC notes (see, that saves you one coke right there), even if we leave aside defense and baserunning, this isn't strictly true. Well, it's difficult to assess whether "over-valued" holds.

We can summarize it this way -- it is hard to hit 300 and not be a useful player with the bat ... but it's near impossible to hit 330 and not be a useful player with the bat. (With a caveat on the late 20s and 30s when everybody hit 330) As also noted, OPS (or RC) doesn't particularly care what the "shape" of your slash line is, it's just what your OBP and SLG are. Fancier offensive measures will provide even greater reward to OBP.

Assuming that hitting 330 practically guarantees an OBP of at least 360 and a SLG of at least 400, then using the RC=OBP*SLG*PA formula, a guy hitting 330 is essentially guaranteed to produce at least .144 runs per PA. That would have been a bit below average in the 2001 AL, well above average at the moment.

Of course very few guys can hit 330 consistently.
   39. McCoy Posted: August 23, 2014 at 07:03 PM (#4777846)
Take a look at Alex Sanchez in 2004. He had a .322 BA in 352 PA, only walked 7 times and had a .386 SLG. He was 5.5 runs below average with the bat.

Or look at Wilton Guerrero in 2001. A .338 BA in 147 PA, only walked 3 times and had a .408 SLG. He was 1.5 runs below average with the bat.

An even crazier line is the one put up by Curt Davis in 1939. He had a .381 BA in 115 PA, walked only 3 times and had a ISO of .076. Despite the .381 BA in a league that averaged .272 his bat was worth just 3 runs above average. Though I think anyone would take that out of a pitcher.
   40. McCoy Posted: August 23, 2014 at 07:09 PM (#4777847)
There have bee 12 players who had at least a .310 BA in 100 PA with an OBP that is 5% or less better than their BA and an ISO below .100. They have done -4.5 runs per 600 PA.
   41. Walt Davis Posted: August 23, 2014 at 09:23 PM (#4777893)
Yes, you can achieve the "near impossible" if you walk once every 50 PA like Sanchez and Guerrero (and Revere).

In the expansion era, there have been 17 qualified seasons with a walk rate of 1 per 45 PA or worse -- assuming Revere hangs on. Of those, Revere actually leads with a 315 BA followed closely by Baerga 1994 (strike season and a big ISO) and Mickey Rivers 1976 at 312 (120 ISO). Rivers (14) and Baerga (12) lead the Rbat race, Dunston did it twice while being average (good ISO) and Revere is 5th with -1 Rbat so far. Outside of that top 5, all but one of the remaining was either a SS or a C. The worst among the guys who managed at least a 295 BA was Deivi Cruz at -6 Rbat although he showed decent power. (After Dunston's 296, the next highest BA is 284 so that's a real gap.)

Knock it down to 1 BB per 30 PA and you pick up more good BAs but still only 4 over 220 -- Puckett 1988 at 356, Rivers twice (333, 326) and Templeton 1977 at 322. Among the ones who hit at least 295 (now an arbitrary cutoff), Puckett 1984 was horrific (-16 with a 296/320/336 line and then the next worst is Fermin 1994 at -6.5 (bad for a strike year) then Cruz. Other than Puckett, Revere is the worst non SS-C. Still, out of the 29 seasons, 21 were average or better.

Of course selection bias -- if Alex Sanchez had produced more, he'd have gotten more playing time so my looking at qualified seasons is biased towards guys who did OK. So 250+ PA, 295+ BA, 30+ PA per BB ... 56 expansion seasons, 40 average or better, 45 within -1 run or better. Among the 12 who hit 320 or better, Sanchez is the only one below -1 run.

Probably have to nominate Ricky Jordan as the most embarrassing on the list. Playing mostly 1B/LF off the Phils 1992 bench, Jordan put up a line of 304/313/417. That still somehow comes out to 5 runs above average in 284 PA ... or about average for a 1B which just seems wrong (mathematically, aesthetically and morally).
   42. BDC Posted: August 24, 2014 at 09:09 AM (#4778031)
Yay Walt! I will happily owe the occasional Coke to keep learning so much from your posts.
   43. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 24, 2014 at 03:26 PM (#4778167)
One of my favorite stats that I was introduced to by Bill James back in the 1980s was secondary average (the sum of extra bases on hits, walks, and stolen bases expressed on a per-at-bat basis). James explains in the 1986 Abstract that it "could not be described as an analytical tool", and I understand that, but it always seemed to me to be a handy guide for determining which players were making offensive contributions that were not reflected in their batting average. It really helped me to understand the difference between the Rickey Hendersons and the Lloyd Waners of the world. Does anybody use secondary average any more? An example like Revere's would seem a perfect example to use it...
   44. DavidFoss Posted: August 24, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4778249)
@43
Does anybody use secondary average any more?

I don't know who uses it, but its still around. bb-ref has a column for it in their "Advanced Batting" table.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2014-advanced-batting.shtml

Top 5 in MLB are

Stanton .459
Encarnacion .439
Trout .425
McCutchen .422
(Tie)Bautista .415
(Tie)CSantana .415

Bottom 5:

Hechavarria .127
Cozart .133
Jeter .135
LeMahieu .144
Revere .144
   45. The District Attorney Posted: August 24, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4778250)
Amusingly, James just wrote an article for his pay site the other day focusing on secondary average, probably the first thing he's written about it in decades.
Secondary Average doesn’t resonate the way that it used to because people don’t take Batting Average so seriously anymore.  When fans evaluated hitters primarily by their batting averages, Secondary Averages were a really useful concept.   Since fans no longer rely on batting averages in the way they once did, Secondary Averages are less relevant, so whereas I used to write about this every year, I no longer do.   The highest Secondary Average ever (400 or more plate appearances) was 1.088, by Barry Bonds in 2004, whereas the lowest ever was .034, by Mike Slattery in 1884.   Bonds in that one season was the only player over 1.000, and the lowest since 1900 was .062, by Hal Lanier in 1968.    Lanier, with 486 at bats, had 14 doubles, one triple, no homers, 12 walks and 2 stolen bases.

The steroid era kind of ruined the stat, Secondary Average, because phenomenal numbers became commonplace.  Before 1990, if you had a .400 Secondary Average, that was terrific.  In 1989 there were 11 major league regulars (400 or more PA) who had secondary averages of .400 or higher, led by Jack Clark at .521; Clark and Rickey Henderson were the dominant Secondary Average guys of that era.   Then in 2000 you have 40 players over .400, led by Bonds at .648 and Giambi at .586. . ..Mark McGwire must have been hurt that year, because he was always in the .600-.700 range as well, sometimes higher.  When you destroy the norms you destroy the stat.  If there were 20 no-hitters in a season a no-hitter would lose its significance.   If a player hits .400 in the next decade that will be a wonder, but if 20 players hit .400 in the next decade that would be a travesty.   The steroid era made a travesty of the norms in Secondary Average.
He goes on to demonstrate that SA correlates well with runs scored/RBI.
   46. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 25, 2014 at 03:23 AM (#4778384)
Thanks.
   47. AROM Posted: August 25, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4778430)
Not just an empty .300, but Revere might actually win the batting title. Now that Tulo is done and won't qualify, Revere is tied at .314 with Justin Morneau.

Not quite 1968, but getting there. Nobody else is above .305.

On secondary average: I generally liked the idea, but it's a problem to me that it puts walks and steals into the numerator, but uses at bats as the denominator. Maybe that's just a nerdy nitpick.
   48. AROM Posted: August 25, 2014 at 09:47 AM (#4778433)
Also re: #20. Babe Ruth does not have the fewest PA with a WAR of 130-160. He had 163 WAR, which is too many.


I see Ruth might be qualified based on the wording of the question, but it's pretty easy to figure out. Only Mays, Aaron, Cobb, Speaker, and Wagner are in the 130-160 range. So, Wagner.
   49. The District Attorney Posted: August 25, 2014 at 09:58 AM (#4778449)
Similarly, try to look shocked that "Ryan Howard Could Have One of the Worst 100 RBI Seasons Ever".

He has 685 OPS, 91 OPS+. Only four guys have had 100 RBI and OPS below 700; 11 have had 100 RBI and OPS+ 90 or below.
   50. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 25, 2014 at 10:40 AM (#4778483)
He has 685 OPS, 91 OPS+. Only four guys have had 100 RBI and OPS below 700


He's batted with 393 runners on base, tied for tops in the MLB with Casey McGehee

He's hitting better with runners on than not (.185/.258/.279 with no one on)

even so he's not nearly as good (in 2014) as driving in runners as Ryan Braun, but Braun has batted with just 240 runners on
   51. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4778496)
He's batted with 393 runners on base, tied for tops in the MLB with Casey McGehee


How does he do this? What a phenomenon.
   52. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 10:55 AM (#4778499)
How does he do this? What a phenomenon.

Clearly, Howard is making his teammates better. His ability to knock them in inspires them to get on base. What a leader!
   53. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2014 at 11:03 AM (#4778510)
It almost seems like it's true! He's 44th in the league in PAs. And you would never expect him to have so many baserunners if you just looked at his lineup. Yet he dominates this statistic year after year.
   54. AROM Posted: August 25, 2014 at 11:34 AM (#4778537)
Only four guys have had 100 RBI and OPS below 700


One of the 4 is Joe Carter and his San Diego year. Tony Batista is probably another.

11 have had 100 RBI and OPS+ 90 or below


This is a bit tougher, since OPS+ is park adjusted. For all I know Vinny Castilla drove in 100 runs with a 270/320/500 line in Coors and it worked out to less than a 90.
   55. AROM Posted: August 25, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4778544)
It almost seems like it's true! He's 44th in the league in PAs. And you would never expect him to have so many baserunners if you just looked at his lineup. Yet he dominates this statistic year after year.


Exactly. He's batting behind Revere (.333 OBP), Rollins (.318) and Utley (.349). That's not bad, considering there are so many sub .300 OBPs around the league, but it's hard to see how that results in league leading opportunities.

Somebody should check and make sure Phillie fans aren't sneaking onto the bases before Howard bats.
   56. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 25, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4778576)
Clearly, Howard is making his teammates better. His ability to knock them in inspires them to get on base. What a leader!


Phillies are getting a .343 OBP from their leadoff men, 4th in the league, league is at .324, (Stl, Miami and Wash are 1,2,3)

Phillies are getting a .327 OBP from their leadoff men, 8th in the league, league is at .327, (La, Col & Cincy are 1,2,3)(Stl and Miami are 12 & 13, Wash is 5th at .334- but basically after 2 batters Stl's and Miami's OBP lead is gone)

phillies third place hitters are at .344 (league is .358)

What's going on? lineup spots 1-3 the Phillies have an OBP only about 2 points better than league 1-3, so how does Howard bat with more runners than anyone else?
1: The league is averaging 41 homers through slots 1-3, the Phillies have 10 (Why is that important? To see how may baserunners Howard has- homers from guys batting in front of him take runners OFF base before they reach Howard)
2: League 1,2,3 batter average 172 RBI, Phillie's 1,2,3 guys have driven in 142 (This overlaps with #1 obviously, 10 of the RBI difference is the RBI from 1,2,3 driving themselves in with a HR)
3: League 1:2:3 batters average 31 GDPs, Phillies have 20 (that gives Howard 11 extras runners on base)
4: League 1:2:3 batters average 16 CS, Phillies have 12 (that gives Howard 4 extras runners on base)

It's kind of funny but aside from OBP all the little things like that just happen to lineup in a direction that favors Howard batting with men on base, Phillies 1:2:3 batters have a little better OBP than average, they hit fewer HRs than average, drive in fewer runners than average, get caught stealing less than average and ground into fewer DPs than average.
   57. PreservedFish Posted: August 25, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4778602)
#56 - thank you for this post. I was trying to wrap my head around it. Nicely explained.
   58. AROM Posted: August 25, 2014 at 01:45 PM (#4778685)
Yeah. Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun are getting on base a lot more than the top Phillies hitters, but they have driven themselves in 42 times, not to mention the other hitters they take off the bases. So Pujols, despite playing more than Howard, does not have as many RBI opps. Albert batting 3rd instead of 4th also a factor there.
   59. The District Attorney Posted: August 28, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4780986)
NL batting race not for the ages
Revere would easily be the "worst" batter to win a batting title... The worst five in [OPS+], via Baseball-Reference.com:

[Dick] Groat, 1960: 110
[Pete] Runnels, 1960: 114
Billy Goodman, 1950: 117
[Willie] Wilson, 1982: 118
Freddy Sanchez, 2006: 119

Revere's OPS+ is 96 -- below league average.

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