July 26, 2017

Fun With Retrosheet: Nelson Cruz Made Me Do It

October 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Normally, I try to find someone else to blame for suggesting one of these posts, but this silly one is all mine. After noticing that Nelson Cruz had seven RBIs in the eleventh innings of Texas’ playoff series with the Tigers, I wondered what player had the most extra-inning HRs and RBIs in a season from 1948 to 2010. And then I decided I might as well look at who holds the record in each inning. Here are the HR leaders by inning:

INN Player            Year  Team   HR    AVG   OBP   SLG
  1 Alex Rodriguez    2001 TEX A   18   .371  .438  .818
  2 Willie Mays       1954 NY  N   13   .395  .430  .926
    Ron Cey           1980 LA  N   13   .402  .500  .853
    Richard Hidalgo   2000 HOU N   13   .330  .427  .807
  3 Roger Maris       1961 NY  A   15   .365  .422 1.014
  4 Albert Belle      1996 CLE A   13   .431  .494 1.000
    Mark McGwire      1998 STL N   13   .471  .571 1.333
    Jim Thome         2002 CLE A   13   .377  .478  .948
  5 Sammy Sosa        1998 CHI N   12   .344  .382  .938
  6 Ryan Howard       2006 PHI N   13   .346  .448  .877
  7 Todd Hundley      1996 NY  N   11   .290  .357  .871
  8 Jim Wynn          1967 HOU N   14   .386  .411 1.014
  9 Tony Batista      2000 TOR A   10   .375  .435  .982
 EX Charlie Maxwell   1960 DET A    5   .353  .421 1.235
    Nelson Cruz       2010 TEX A    5   .667  .700 2.333

Now our data is only 100% complete back to 1956 and the lists above and below will certainly look very different once we extend our reach before 1948, but hopefully this is of some interest despite these limitations.

Once I wrote these words, I realized that we do know at least what inning each home run was hit in, even if we are missing the play-by-play data for the game. So I went and generated the all-time leaders for each inning and only one old-timer replaced an entry above: Jimmie Foxx hit 12 seventh-inning homers back in 1932.

I had assumed that Mays had such a low HR/RBI ratio above was because hit fourth in 1954 and so frequently led off the second inning, but he actually hit sixth more often than any other place that year. And the same goes for Ron Cey in 1980 and Richard Hidalgo in 2000.

Once you get past the first two innings, I think the law of small sample sizes takes over, although it does appear that hitting well in extra-innings isn’t something new for Nelson Cruz. And despite his reputation for hitting well on Sundays, Charlie Maxwell hit his extra-inning home runs in 1960 on Tuesday, Friday (two) and Saturday (two).

And the RBI leaders:

INN Player            Year  Team  RBI   AVG   OBP   SLG
  1 Ted Kluszewski    1954 CIN N   44  .412  .490  .863
    Juan Gonzalez     2001 CLE A   44  .353  .367  .741
  2 Butch Hobson      1977 BOS A   28  .294  .364  .606
  3 Jackie Jensen     1954 BOS A   34  .371  .434  .800
  4 Manny Ramirez     2005 BOS A   29  .361  .452  .792
  5 Albert Pujols     2006 STL N   37  .525  .633 1.148
  6 Orlando Cepeda    1961 SF  N   31  .333  .367  .762
  7 Rafael Palmeiro   1999 TEX A   28  .433  .525  .925
    Sammy Sosa        2001 CHI N   28  .433  .535  .970
  8 Jim Wynn          1967 HOU N   30  .386  .411 1.014
  9 Alex Rodriguez    2007 NY  A   21  .452  .549 1.095
 EX Tim Wallach       1982 MON N   11  .353  .333  .824
    Juan Gonzalez     1991 TEX A   11  .370  .414  .667

Nowadays teams have access to all sorts of arcane data (although probably not quite this arcane), but I wonder if Jim Wynn would have been intentionally walked more than once in the eighth inning during 1967 if anyone had known how well he was hitting in that frame. Sadly, this “talent” was short-lived. In 1968, he hit .233 (with an OPS of .724) in the eighth inning.

I also thought that one of these ninth or extra-innings leaders would have been on the list of players with the most walk-off RBIs in a season, but I was wrong. The following players lead with six each:

Rodney Scott      1979 MON N
Cory Snyder       1987 CLE A
Wally Joyner      1989 CAL A
Andre Ethier      2009 LA  N

Rodney Scott knocked in all of 42 runs that year, but six of them ended games. Go figure.

Despite hitting 30 home runs, Hobson often hit eighth for the Red Sox in 1977 and it didn’t hurt that two of the team’s better hitters, Carlton Fisk and George Scott usually hit in the fifth and sixth slots. As a result, the team got their most runs scored out of the sixth place in the batting order.

How unusual was that? If I may be excused a brief digression here, how often do teams get their most runs scored out of the different spots in the batting order? Since there’s probably no point to doing this without going overboard, I decided to look at how often each team from 1918 to 2010 got the most at-bats, runs, hits and so on, from each spot in the batting order. Here’s the inevitable chart:

POS   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB IBB   SO HBP   SH  SF   SB   CS
  -    0   0   0   0   0   0    0   0 464    0   0    0 559    0  208
  1 1531 827 637 293 752  45    1 428  42   60 372   55  50 1171 1120
  2  381 359 414 312 397  55    8 145   5   38 305  323 105  287  229
  3   60 486 561 558 339 535  469 528 285   77 298   28 465  256  118
  4   12 267 267 384 157 933 1156 557 418  163 315   12 372   59   45
  5    0  40  77 245 132 279  278 171 144   81 211   18 191   64   81
  6    0   4  24 108  70  96   59  61  74   64 175   14  76   65   86
  7    0   1   4  58  55  35   10  29  62   57 151   17  84   42   57
  8    0   0   0  25  55   5    3  64 490   29 120   50  62   22   19
  9    0   0   0   1  27   1    0   1   0 1415  37 1467  20   18   21

The first row in the chart (the “-” row) is for the years when that particular stat didn’t exist.

What this chart means, for example, is that during those years, 1531 teams got the most at-bats out the leadoff spot in the batting order; 381 got the most at-bats out of second place, and so on. The surprising thing to me are the 12 teams that got their most at-bats out of the cleanup spot. The last team to do this was the 2009 Anaheim Angels,

Here are the last (and in some cases only) teams to have had some of the weirder team leaders. If there was a particular player most responsible for the team’s appearance on the list, he is listed in parenthesis.

Year Team
1987 OAK A  7th place hitters led team in runs scored
2006 ARI N  7th place hitters led team in hits
1982 DET A  9th place hitters led team in doubles (Alan Trammell)
1918 WAS A  9th place hitters led team in homers
1976 CHI A  8th place hitters led team in RBIs
1977 CHI A  9th place hitters led team in walks (Jim Essian)
1987 MIL A  2nd place hitters led team in intentional walks (Robin Yount)

Admit it. When you noticed that one team got more home runs from their ninth-place hitters than any others, you figured that it had to be from the DH-era. But in 1918, the Senators got half of all their home runs (okay, were only talking about a grand total of four) from their last-place hitters. One was hit by Walter Johnson and the other by Nick Altrock. Altrock’s homer came in the final game of the season and is discussed in some detail in my review of 1918.

Here are the single-season leaders in first-inning intentional walks:

Player            Year  Team   AB  BB IBB   AVG   OBP   SLG
Barry Bonds       2004 SF  N   47  42  24  .319  .645  .574
Willie McCovey    1969 SF  N   73  25  11  .342  .510  .603
Barry Bonds       2003 SF  N   61  23  11  .344  .529  .557
Willie McCovey    1970 SF  N   82  29  10  .280  .465  .585
Barry Bonds       1993 SF  N   53  20   9  .283  .480  .547
Barry Bonds       2006 SF  N   50  21   9  .340  .554  .660
Barry Bonds       2002 SF  N   87  32   8  .379  .557  .759
Willie McCovey    1971 SF  N   49  15   7  .306  .455  .469
Ryan Howard       2006 PHI N   66  21   7  .242  .430  .455
Barry Bonds       2007 SF  N   53  16   7  .377  .529  .792

I’m seeing a definite pattern here.

And here are the career extra-inning leaders:

Player              AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI   BB  IBB   SO  SB  CS   
Willie Mays        290*  53*  84* 11   6* 20*  42   55   26   40   6   2  
Pete Rose          283   43   83  19*  2   2   27   66   30   32   7   1  
Frank Robinson     250   45   76   7   1  16   44*  60   23   49  12   5  
Barry Bonds        195   48   51   9   3  11   28   90*  42*  38  15   2  
Reggie Jackson     202   27   41   8   0  10   21   39   12   68*  6   2  
Tim Raines         223   44   76  11   1   3   23   50   24   16  29*  0  
Lou Brock          253   33   77   8   2   5   27   35   14   48  15  12*

It turns out that we are missing play-by-play for two of Willie Mays’ extra-inning home runs. So he actually hit 22. This will of course affect his other extra-inning stats as well. And since one of those homers came with a man on, adding those will also bump Frank Robinson out of the top spot in RBIs. The games we are missing were on June 4, 1955 and July 4, 1955.

Rickey Henderson was second with 27 extra-inning stolen bases and he also had a phenomenal success rate, getting caught only once.

And finally, I showed the single season walk-off RBI leaders above. Here are the career leaders (at least for the period covered by our play-by-play data):

Frank Robinson     27
Dusty Baker        25
Rickey Henderson   22
Roberto Clemente   21
Pete Rose          21
Manny Mota         20
Tony Perez         20
Ted Simmons        20
Andre Dawson       20
Lou Whitaker       20

The above was originally posted by Tom Ruane at Retrosheet.org.

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!