April 26, 2017

Triple Crown, plus OBP, plus more?

December 29, 2008 by · 4 Comments 

The 2008 edition (37th volume) of The Baseball Research Journal (available only to SABR members) had a couple of good articles on the baseball Triple Crowns, one by Bill Nowlin and one by John E. Daniels. The article by Nowlin, titled The OBP Triple Crown, discussed who the Triple Crown winners would have been had on-base percentage been substituted for batting average. Others have done similar exercises, creating alternate triple crown listings using an assortment of statistical measures. But Nowlin’s article in particular got me thinking about the seasons where a player led the league — or was amongst the leaders — in the most categories.

Nowlin starts with 1903, and notes that since then there have been 12 triple crown winners. But if you substitute OBP for Avg, there would have been 22. For one thing Babe Ruth would have won it five times. Ted Williams would have captured a third crown. And the most recent winner would no longer be Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, as the feat would have occured five times since then: Willie McCovey (1969), Harmon Killebrew (1969), Dick Allen (1972), Mike Schmidt (1981), and Barry Bonds (1993).

Three players would lose their triple crowns by substituting OBP for AVG, namely Foxx (1933), Medwick (1937), and Mantle (1956). If you add in Nap LaJoie’s 1901 season, in which he won the standard triple crown and the OBP title too, that gives us 10 seasons when a player led the league in all four categories:

  • 1901 Nap LaJoie
  • 1909 Ty Cobb
  • 1922 Rogers Hornsby
  • 1925 Rogers Hornsby
  • 1933 Chuck Klein
  • 1934 Lou Gehrig
  • 1942 Ted Williams
  • 1947 Ted Williams
  • 1966 Frank Robinson
  • 1967 Carl Yastrzemski

And that got me thinking: what single-season has the highest Black Ink or Gray Ink score? These measures don’t actually include OBP, though they do include total walks. Even so, it would be an interesting ranking I think. So I went over to Baseball-Reference.com, assuming I’d find the answer there. But I can’t seem to locate single-season Black Ink or Gray Ink numbers, or an all-time single-season leaderboard for these measures (they only list career totals it seems). If you can find this analysis online somewhere, please let me know.

Short of that, I thought I’d start down this path by seeing which major statistics the above ten seasons led the league in — beyond already impressive HR, RBI, AVG, and OBP. So here is what I’ve found:

  • 1901 Nap LaJoie
    HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, R, H, TB, D
     
  • 1909 Ty Cobb
    HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, R, H, TB, SB
     
  • 1922 Rogers Hornsby
    HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, R, H, TB, D
     
  • 1925 Rogers Hornsby
    HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, TB
     
  • 1933 Chuck Klein
    HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, H, TB, D
     
  • 1934 Lou Gehrig
    HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, TB
     
  • 1942 Ted Williams
    HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, R, TB, BB
     
  • 1947 Ted Williams
    HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, R, TB, BB
     
  • 1966 Frank Robinson
    HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, R, TB
     
  • 1967 Carl Yastrzemski
    HR, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, R, H, TB

Often these seasons were also best in their league in various newer statistics such as Batting Wins, Win Shares, Adjusted Batting Runs, OPS, Power/Speed, and others. But at that point it starts to get a bit redundant, so I wanted to stick with the standard stats that everyone knows about.

Again, I’d be really interested in learning the top 20 or so single-season black-ink and gray-ink seasons if someone has this info. The above seasons would rate highly, but perhaps some other seasons, that barely missed the actual triple crown, but that led in other key categories, would out-rank some of these ten?

Comments

4 Responses to “Triple Crown, plus OBP, plus more?”
  1. I have yet to get into reading my copy of BRJ, but I must say this is very cool stuff. I don’t think Black Ink or Gray Ink have single season calculations published anywhere, probably due to the intent of those metrics. But now you have me thinking of how to determine what a “Hall of Fame season” is numerically. Hmm….

  2. lar says:

    Tom,

    Thanks for the post. I read it yesterday and found it pretty interesting. I had never heard of the Black-ink/Grey-Ink tests.

    In fact, I found it interesting enough that I took it on myself to come up with a list of best Black-ink seasons (I haven’t done Grey-Ink yet, as that’s a little bit harder). Take a look: http://wezen-ball.blogspot.com/2008/12/black-ink-test.html

    Thought you’d be interested.
    lar

  3. Tom Stone says:

    Matt — glad you enjoyed my posting. And you definitely are thinking as I am — what is a “Hall of Fame” season, or at least, what is a “truly great” season. I think that something like gray-ink done on single seasons would be an interesting indicator of this, and a fair way to compare seasons between players across eras.

    lar — thanks VERY much for your posting and doing the SQL work necessary to get at least the best Black-Ink single seasons. Very cool. Definitely let me know if you are able to do the same for Gray-Ink too. A few years ago, when my SQL was less rusty, I would have tackled this myself. :-)

  4. Bill Nowlin says:

    You should write up the “grey ink/blank ink” information for SABR. I’m sure the new publications director would find it an interesting addition to the dialogue. He’s encouraging brief submissions, so it needn’t be a long one.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!