Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 14, 2009
BASEBALL: Trivia Question of the Day

Name the only post-1900 player to score 300 runs over his last 3 seasons in the major leagues.

The feat was done 4 times in the 19th century: Jim McTamany, who ended his career when the American Association went out of business, scored 369 runs in 1889-91; Hall of Famer John Ward scored 338 runs in 1892-94; Mike Griffin scored 325 runs in 1869-98, and the 19th century's best third baseman, Bill Joyce, scored 321 runs also in 1896-98. There are a variety of reasons why careers tended to end abruptly back then, in these cases generally due to economics (guys like Ward and Joyce could make better money doing something else). But can you name the lone post-1900 player to hang it up after averaging 100 runs scored a year for his last 3 years? Answer below the fold.


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Joey Cora scored 90 runs in 1996, 105 in 1997, and 111 (a career high) in 1998 before leaving the game at age 33. Cora came to mind as the Mets signed his brother Alex Cora, who will be 33 this season. Alex is coming off a fine year in which he had a .371 OBP for the Red Sox, but in 9 years as a semi-regular/bench player he's had OBPs below .315 six times and below .300 four times, and like his brother, getting on base is his only offensive skill. Color me unimpressed.

Yeah, I was surprised too that it wasn't someone more obvious - Albert Belle and Joe Sewell both got pretty close (292 runs for Belle), and Ray Chapman, Kirby Puckett and Joe Jackson all had a fair number of runs, but Jackson had missed time in 1918 for World War I.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:33 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Well, I'd certainly never have gotten that. My first guess was Albert Belle, and I considered Puckett or Clemente.

Posted by: Jerry at January 14, 2009 9:28 PM

I was going with Gehrig, lest we forget how good he was, check out his lines again

http://www.baseball-reference.com/g/gehrilo01.shtml

Posted by: bensdad00 at January 15, 2009 12:34 AM

Barry Bonds?

Posted by: Mike at January 15, 2009 7:38 AM

Wow, that's amazing, if true. Are you sure? How did you research this? I just checked a dozen names that came to mind.

Separately, it is really surprising how few games per season Ted Williams played after returning from Korea.

Posted by: largebill at January 15, 2009 9:58 AM

Another laugh that comes from this bit of trivia. Alex Cora (Joey's brother) has 303 runs scored in his 11 year career compared to Joey's 306 for last three years.

Posted by: largebill at January 15, 2009 10:04 AM

largebill - I noticed it in Cora's records, and baseball-reference.com's Play Index lets you search for the last, last two, last three, etc. seasons of a career - i went through everyone who had 75 or more runs scored in their last year, 107 or more in either of their last two, or 120 or more in either of their last three (do the math, you have to land in one of those buckets to get to 300).

That's a good catch on Alex.

Posted by: Crank at January 15, 2009 10:55 AM

Gehrig actually cleared 400 runs scored in his last three real seasons, but the fact that he scored two runs in 1939 took him off the list.

Posted by: Jerry at January 15, 2009 11:14 AM

I'm not sure I would call Bill Joyce the best third baseman of the 19th century. He certainly could hit. But, first of all, he only played 4-5 full seasons (as best I can reckon) and I would think that the "best" would play more. Second, by all accounts, he was a brutal third baseman at a time when third was considering a key defensive position. His range was nearly nothing. The Diamond Mind Baseball computer game ranks him with Poor range on their all-time players edition and they almost never rank a player with Poor range at his primary position. Second, he once made 107 errors in a season. True, they made more errors back in those days and that was his worst season for errors, but if you trust DMB his error rate was about 20% higher than average third baseman. He makes Bobby Bonilla look good in comparison.

I'm not sure who the best third baseman of the 19th century was but I would think it would be John McGraw or Denny Lyons or Lave Cross or, if he qualifies, Jimmy Collins.

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