Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 25, 2009
BASEBALL: Never Out

Since the question came up in the comments to yesterday's post on 500-out seasons, I checked and there have been 67 seasons since 1871 in which a player made fewer than 300 outs in a season of 502 or more plate appearances (list here). Only two of those made less than 250 outs: John McGraw with 243 outs in 1899, and Barry Bonds with 244 outs in 2004. Unsurprisingly, this tracks OBP pretty closely. The top 13 seasons (275 outs or less) include two by McGraw, three by Bonds, two by Tris Speaker, three by Ted Williams and one each by Mickey Mantle, Frank Chance and Billy Hamilton. However, the seasons by McGraw, Hamilton and Chance are all from years when caught stealing data was not collected, and one assumes that McGraw with 73 steals, Hamilton with 54 and Chance with 38 would all have had a significant number of CS (those years and Speaker's also predate GIDP data).

Besides Bonds, the seasons from this decade on the list? Chipper Jones in 2008, and Manny Ramirez in 2000 & 2002.

Speaking of GIDP, Ichiro has hit into only one double play all year. Entering last night's action, that was one GIDP in 636 plate appearances for a player who:

-Is 35 years old
-Strikes out in barely more than 10% of his plate appearances (65 K)
-Hits the highest percentage of ground balls in the AL (56.4%)
-Unlike NL leadoff men, does not bat behind the pitcher

Amazing.

UPDATE: Since 1939, the first year we have GIDP data for both leagues, 17 players have finished a season of 502+ plate appearances with 1 or 0 GIDP; Ichiro, Curtis Granderson and Michael Bourn could make it 20. The only guys to make it with no GIDP? Craig Biggio, Dick McAuliffe, Pete Reiser and Rob Deer. Biggio in 1997 had 744 plate appearances with no DPs. I looked to see how long his streak was, but he hit into one on Opening Day in 1998.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:43 AM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

-Unlike NL leadoff men, does not bat behind the pitcher

Seems to me you'd be easier to double up if you had some fatass pitcher loafing down to second base ahead of you. I must be missing something.

Posted by: spongeworthy at September 25, 2009 11:12 AM

Hard to hit into a lot of double plays batting behind a guy with a .150 OBP. Gotta have baserunners. There's a reason Jim Rice set the record when he was hitting behind Wade Boggs and Dwight Evans.

Posted by: Crank at September 25, 2009 11:17 AM

Is Ichiro a Hall of Famer, based solely on his MLB career?

Posted by: A.S. at September 25, 2009 12:17 PM

I rthink you need at least a 10 year career. That said, yeah he should be in the HOF.

Posted by: dch at September 25, 2009 1:28 PM

You have to play ten MLB seasons to be eligible for the HOF and this is Ichiro's ninth. Say he has a career-ending injury on opening day 2010 and thus meets the bare service minimum to be eligible.

He's a Hall of Famer. His HOF Monitor score is 199; apart from some of the steroid guys, everyone in that range is either already in the HOF or is an obvious future HOFer.

His OPS+ is "only" 118 but he's really a far better offensive player than most 118 OPS+ guys because of his speed on the basepaths and because he just never hits into a double play. He's been an AS and a GG every season of his career. He holds several important MLB records including the single-season record for hits. He's a lock.

Posted by: Chris at September 25, 2009 1:31 PM

I'd say yes, and I'd give him the benefit of the doubt for playing 7 years of high-level baseball in Japan. And I think by the time he's through, there will be no question. Counting between the US and Japan, he already has over 3300 hits. He's now the only player in MLB history to have 9 consecutive 200-hit seasons. I do think he's more valuable than his OPS given that (1) a high % of it is batting average, which does matter, and (2) as noted, his speed and not making extra outs. Add in durability, consistency and outstanding defense, and that's a Hall of Famer.

Posted by: Crank at September 25, 2009 1:35 PM

"Besides Bonds, the seasons from this decade on the list? Chipper Jones in 2008"

I know that shouldn't shock me, but wow. I knew he had a good year, but sheesh. Outs are precious. Larry is, weird as it sounds, probably undervalued.

On Ichiro, with the durability he's had so far, what's to stop him from playing into his early 40s, and at a reasonably high level? Has anyone ever seen anything from him about competitiveness or intent to retire? So, he's got the record, of 9 straight seasons of 200+ hits, and let's say he goes another 3 seasons of that, plus another 3 of 150 hits. That'd put him at (2020 plus 600 plus 450, carry the 1) 3,070, plus his Japan hits. It's not outside the realm of possibility.

Posted by: Linus at September 25, 2009 2:08 PM

Gotta have baserunners.

Duh-urr, ya do? Ya, I guess ya do.

Durrrr.

I've asked dumber questions...

Posted by: spongeworthy at September 25, 2009 4:48 PM

Unless Ichiro goes back to Japan after this season, he's a Hall of Famer. I think he belongs, but he also excells at things the voters tend to over-reward. High average, low-walk singles hitters like Carew, Gwyyn, and Clemente tend to be much more highly regarded than guys like Tim Raines who get on base just as much but have lower averages.

Posted by: Jerry at September 25, 2009 8:08 PM

I think Ichiro is a Hall of Famer. For many reasons.

And -- like Kirby Puckett -- he's one of those rare, rare players who truly seem to bring more to the table than the stats indicate.

Maybe that's an illusion, but it's how I see it.

I suppose Pete Rose, Nolan Ryan, Aparicio are examples of others in that category.

Posted by: Mike at September 27, 2009 10:03 AM

From 1967 to 1970 Dick McAuliffe had 1,928 at bats and grounded into only 5 doubleplays. McAuliffe's zero streak started on Opening Day 1968. In his last at bat in 1967 (10/1/67 game 2) at home versus the California Angels representing the tying run McAuliffe bounced into a 4-6-3 (Knoop to Fregosi to Mincher) doubleplay to end the Tigers season one game behind Boston. The Red Sox were crowned A.L. champions after that doubleplay (the Angels @ Tigers game finished after the Twins @ Red Sox game). George Brunet got McAuliffe to bounce into the Mombo Tombo Two doubleplay to earn his only save of the season.

Posted by: Yetijuice at September 27, 2009 11:09 AM

I was a little surprised to see Rob Deer on the DP list, until I remebered he had decent speed, rarely made contact, and when he did make contact it frequently left the yard. He also played on some free-swining Tigers teams, so he probably didn't have many runners on in front of him either.

Posted by: Paul H. at September 28, 2009 10:51 AM

Deer also didn't hit many ground balls because he was always swinging for the fences. His career ground out / air out ratio is very low at just 0.56 (whereas the MLB average historically is about 0.8.)

Another reason Ichiro rarely gets doubled up is that a lot of teams don't even bother lining up in double play depth when he comes to bat with a runner on first. It's not worth it because he still gets down the line really well and he can burn you with his directional hitting. You're better off playing him straight up.

Posted by: Chris at September 28, 2009 2:02 PM
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