June 20, 2019

Comments on The SABR Baseball List and Record Book, Part 11

March 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Here is Part 11 of my postings (updated from original posting at my personal blog in 2007) on what I find interesting and worthy of comment while browsing through the 2007 SABR book, The SABR Baseball List and Record Book (available at Amazon). This last installment covers a wide range of areas, including some pitching, fielding, and baserunning.

Remember, unless otherwise stated the lists — and hence my comments — cover statistics through the 2006 season only. 

List #439 is “Lowest Career Batting Average By Opponents (min. 1,500 IP)”. Some of the top names on this list would be obvious guesses: Nolan Ryan (.204), Sandy Koufax (.205), and Pedro Martinez (.209). But then tied with Pedro at .209 is Sid Fernandez — I forgot how good he was. Next is another surprise to me: Andy Messersmith with .212. J.R. Richard is tied with him and is no surprise to me, as he had a dominating short career. Sam McDowell was dominating too, and comes in seventh on this list at .215. Hoyt Wilhelm is next at .216, and then the overpowering Randy Johnson at .217 (through 2006). Rounding out the top-10 is old-timer Ed Walsh at .218. What about Walter Johnson? He comes in 22nd with a .227 mark. Between Walsh and Johnson are such surprises as Mario Soto .220, Bob Turley .220, Orval Overall .223, Jeff Tesreau .223, and incredibly, Jose DeLeon .224. These guys all rate higher in this regard than not only Johnson, but also the likes of all-time greats like Seaver .226, Gibson .228, Gossage .228, Clemens .228, and Feller .231.

List #440 is the similar “Lowest Career On-base Percentage by Opponents (min. 1,500 IP)”. This one shows the great numbers of Pedro Martinez, as he is the only recent pitcher in the top 15. His .270 mark (through 2006) compares favorably to Sandy Koufax with .275 and Juan Marichal at .277.

List #499 is “Fewest Walks per 9 Innings in a Season, since 1893 (min. 1.0 IP per scheduled game)”. Did you know a record was set in 2005? That’s right, Carlos Silva allowed only 0.43 walks per nine innings that year, shattering the old mark of 0.62 held by Christ Mathewson in 1913 and Babe Adams in 1920. Granted not as big of a story as Bonds breaking Aaron’s lifetime HR record, but a record nonetheless.

List #500 is the similar “Most Strikeouts per 9 Innings in a Season, since 1893 (min. 1.0 IP per scheduled game)”. As you’d expect, certain names dominate this list. But what I found striking was just how often Randy Johnson appears, as he has 6 of the top 8 seasons (through 2006). He is tops with 13.41 in 2001, and then has spots 4-8 as well. Second place is Pedro Martinez’s 13.20 in 1999, and third is Kerry Wood’s 12.58 in 1998. But that isn’t all: this list shows the top 37 seasons, and Johnson has 11 of them. Nolan Ryan has seven seasons in the list, and Pedro and Curt Schilling are next with 4 seasons each.

List #504 is “Fewest Base Runners Allowed per 9 Innings in a Season, since 1893 (min. 1.0 IP per scheduled game)”. Pedro Martinez’s 2000 season tops the list with a 7.22 mark. Next is Walter Johnson’s 1913 season at 7.26, and then Addie Joss’ 1908 season at 7.31. In fact, in the top 30 there are only two seasons from the past 30 years: Pedro’s 2000 season and Greg Maddux’s 1995 season which ranks 6th at 7.47. The entire list shown has the top 42, and all the pitchers are guys I’d heard of (and most are big-name stars and hall-of-famers). But one stood out as odd: Roger Nelson who in 1972 posted a 7.89 mark for Kansas City. So I looked him up: He pitched for several teams from 1967-1976, but only twice pitched 100+ innings. One of those seasons was 1972, when he started 19 games, pitched in another 15 in relief, pitched 173.3 innings, had 10 complete games including 6 shutouts, posted an 11-6 record with a 2.08 ERA, and allowed only 120 hits and 31 walks. An impressive season, in a less-than impressive career.

List 510 is “Pitching Triple Crown Winners (Leading league in Wins, ERA, and Strikeouts)”. What pitcher has accomplished this the most often? Grover Alexander. He is the only person to do it in three consecutive seasons, which he did in 1915-1917 for Philadelphia in the NL. Then he did it for Chicago in the NL in 1920 as well. Two pitching greats won the triple crown three times: Walter Johnson and Sandy Koufax. Then there are a few others who have managed the feat twice: Christy Mathewson, Lefty Grove, Lefty Gomez, and Roger Clemens. As Johan Santana led the AL in 2006 with 19 wins, a 2.77 ERA, and 245 Ks, he could one day join this elite crowd.

List 516 is “20 Wins with a Last-place Team” and List 517 is “Highest Percentage of Teams Wins, since 1893”. What jumps out at me on these two lists is the 1972 season of Steve Carlton. He won 27 games for the last place Phillies, which is second all-time on the first list. Then in the second list his season is the only one to make it (40% of higher) since 1922. His season is fifth on this list, at 45.8%, as he won 27 of the team’s 59 wins.

List 530 is “Most Seasons with 20 Wins, 200 Strikeouts, and an ERA below 3.00”. Tops on this list with seven seasons is no big surprise: Walter Johnson. Mildly interesting is that these seasons were consecutive, from 1910 to 1916. But next on the list with six such seasons is Juan Marichal. A great pitcher to be sure, but not who I would have guessed here. After Marichal, there are three pitchers who have done this feat five times. One is old-timer Tim Keefe, the other two all-time greats Christy Mathewson and Roger Clemens.

Lists 545-586 give all-time games, assists, putouts, and so on for each position. I thought I’d summarize an all-time team composed of those players who is best in fielding percentage (minimum 1000 games) by position… again, through 2006 only:

  • 1B: Travis Lee .997
  • 2B: Ryne Sandberg, Tom Herr, Mickey Morandini .989
  • 3B: Mike Lowell .977 (has slipped to .975 through 2008)
  • SS: Omar Vizquel .984 (still at .984 through 2008)
  • OF: Darryl Hamilton .995, Darren Lewis .994, Terry Puhl .993, Brett Butler .993
  • C: Dan Wilson .995
  • P: Don Mossi .990, Gary Nolan .990

Similiarly, lists 588-639 give the best single-season games, assists, putouts, and so on for each position. Here is the lineup for best fielding percentage seasons (min. 125 games, 275 IP for pitcher, and again through 2006 only):

  • 1B: Steve Garvey 1.000 in 1984
  • 2B: Bret Boone .997 in 1997
  • 3B: Don Money .989 in 1974
  • SS: Cal Ripken .996 in 1990
  • OF: Those who have had 1.000 more than once are: Mickey Stanley in 1968 and 1970, Brian Downing in 1982 and 1984, Brett Butler in 1991 and 1993, and Darryl Hamilton in 1996 and 1999.
  • C: Mike Matheny 1.000 in 2003
  • P: Walter Johnson had 1.000 four times: 1913, 1917, 1922, 1924

And then for the worst single-season fielding percentages (since 1946, and through 2006 only):

  • 1B: Dick Stuart .979 in 1963
  • 2B: Luis Alicea .957 in 1996
  • 3B: Butch Hobson .899 in 1978
  • SS: Jose Offerman .935 in 1992
  • OF: Alex Johnson .927 in 1969, Lou Brock .936 in 1966, Lonnie Smith .941 in 1983
  • C: Thurman Munson .972 in 1975
  • P: no list given

List 640 is “Most Career Stolen Bases”. I think Rickey Henderson’s mark of 1406, way out of front of second place Lou Brock at 938, is one of the safer records in the game. The active leader is Kenny Lofton. Through 2006 he had 599, and then had 23 in 2007 so his total of 622 puts him 15th (he didn’t play in 2008, but I’m not aware that he has officially retired yet.) Also worth noting from this list is Barry Bonds’s appearance with 514 and in 32nd place. I hadn’t realized that he is the lone member of the 500-500 club (HR/SB). And even without steroids he would surely have hit 500 HR, so that seems a legit accomplishment.

List 641 is “Highest Career Stolen Base Percentage (Min. 100 Steals)”. When I was growing up some players that I new had very high stolen base percentages were Willie Wilson, Davey Lopes, and Julio Cruz. And sure enough, they appear on this list with 83.3%, 83.0%, and 81.5%, respectively. But currently the all-time best is Carlos Beltran at 88.1%.

List 649 is “Highest Stolen Base Percentage in a Season , since 1951 (min. 20 SB)”. Through 2006, only two have had perfect seasons in this regard. Kevin McReynolds with 21 SB in 1988 and Paul Molitor with 20 SB in 1994. I’ve always heard commentators say what smart baserunner Molitor was — this kind of season is what they are talking about.

List 702 is “Players who Played in at least 10 Seasons for Two Different Teams”. Through 2006, there were three such players, and this makes a great trivia question. I’ll give you the answers at the end of this posting.

List 703 is “Most Years Spent with One Franchise”. There are 24 players who spent 20 or more years with one team (not necessarily their entire careers). Of these 24, 21 are hall-of-famers. Can you name the three that are not? Again, I’ll give the answers at the end of this posting.

Lists 708-715 are of the form “Most Years Together for X Teammates”. For two teammates, the most is 19 by Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker from 1977-1995. Next at 18 seasons are Fred Clarke/Honus Wagner, Joe Judge/Sam Rice, and George Brett/Frank White. For three teammates, there is a three way tie at 15 seasons. First there is Ganter/Molitor/Yount of the Brewers from 1978-1992, then interestingly the other two groups are from the Royals: Brett/McRae/White from 1973-1987 and Brett/White/Wilson from 1976-1990. For four teammates there are two cases of 13 seasons: Fred Clarke/Tommy Leach/Deacon Phillippe/Honus Wagner from 1899-1911, and Gates Brown/Bill Freehan/Willie Horton/Mickey Lolich from 1963-1975. This core group of Tigers makes up the record-setting groups for most years together for five, six, seven, eight, and nine teammates as well.

So… for list 702, the answers are Eddie Collins with the Athletics and White Sox, Charlie Hough with the Dodgers and Rangers, and Carlton Fisk with the Red Sox and White Sox.

And for list 703 the answers are Alan Trammell with 20 seasons for the Tigers, Mel Harder with 20 seasons for the Indians, and Phil Cavarretta with 20 seasons for the Cubs.

This concludes my 11-part series reviewing The SABR Baseball List and Record Book. I hope my comments were interesting and worthwhile for you!

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