Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 2, 2011
BASEBALL: How to Score Runs

What does it take to score runs? Well, getting on base is Job #1. But once you're on base, not everybody scores at the same rate. Among players who reached base (counting errors) at least 3500 times since the dawn of modern offenses in 1920, here's the 20 guys who scored most often:

Babe Ruth1972443844.4%
Lou Gehrig1888427444.2%
Charlie Gehringer1774407543.5%
Kenny Lofton1528352743.3%
Alex Rodriguez1824421843.2%
Jimmie Foxx1751411142.6%
Johnny Damon1643389142.2%
Al Simmons1507357242.2%
Frankie Frisch1511359242.1%
Sammy Sosa1475351242.0%
Rickey Henderson2295550341.7%
Willie Mays2062495941.6%
Steve Finley1443353540.8%
Lou Brock1610400140.2%
Hank Aaron2174540440.2%
Derek Jeter1769441640.1%
Mel Ott1859464840.0%
Goose Goslin1483373939.7%
Craig Biggio1844467939.4%
Mickey Mantle1676426839.3%

There's no single common thread here. Most of these guys played on good offenses and/or in good offensive times, in particular in lineups with a lot of high OBPs. Many of them were excellent at getting to scoring position on their own, whether by power (Ruth, Gehrig) or speed (Rickey, Brock). Others, like Mickey and A-Rod, had both great power and, in their younger years, excellent speed. (Obviously, you could re-run this with adjustments for HRs and the like to see who scores from where they start).

Now, the bottom ten:

Edgar Martinez1219369433.0%
Willie McCovey1229373532.9%
Buddy Bell1151351832.7%
Luke Appling1319406432.5%
Mark Grace1179365032.3%
Ron Santo1138353532.2%
Harold Baines1299404332.1%
Brooks Robinson1232391631.5%
John Olerud1139367931.0%
Rusty Staub1189416528.5%

No surprise here: Rusty is the slowest of a slow lot, and only McCovey - who played in a low-scoring era - had great power in this group. This is why Rusty is not in the Hall of Fame, despite being arguably a good enough hitter to be in there, compared to other guys with similar longetivity. Here's the rest of the list:

Barry Bonds2227569639.1%
Ken Griffey1662425939.0%
Eddie Mathews1509388538.8%
Bernie Williams1366352538.8%
Frank Robinson1829472838.7%
Paul Molitor1782462238.6%
Tim Raines1571407638.5%
Ivan Rodriguez1354352138.5%
Roberto Alomar1508392538.4%
Vada Pinson1366355738.4%
Jeff Bagwell1517395438.4%
Mike Schmidt1506393338.3%
Paul Waner1627428138.0%
Andre Dawson1373363037.8%
Ted Williams1798475737.8%
Manny Ramirez1544408537.8%
Jim Thome1566414937.7%
Vladimir Guerrero1328352037.7%
Robin Yount1632434337.6%
Lou Whitaker1386369237.5%
Chipper Jones1561419337.2%
Reggie Jackson1551417937.1%
Gary Sheffield1636441237.1%
Dave Winfield1669450137.1%
Brett Butler1359367936.9%
Roberto Clemente1416384236.9%
Luis Aparicio1335363536.7%
Dwight Evans1470400736.7%
Rafael Palmeiro1663454436.6%
Ernie Banks1305357036.6%
Stan Musial1949535236.4%
Joe Morgan1650454436.3%
Cal Ripken1647454636.2%
Bobby Abreu1412390736.1%
Billy Williams1410391336.0%
George Brett1583440336.0%
Al Kaline1622451235.9%
Luis Gonzalez1412394235.8%
Dave Parker1272356035.7%
Omar Vizquel1432402235.6%
Todd Helton1329375735.4%
Julio Franco1285365135.2%
Pete Rose2165616835.1%
Nellie Fox1279367234.8%
Frank Thomas1494429234.8%
Fred McGriff1349391834.4%
Eddie Murray1627472734.4%
Willie Randolph1239361434.3%
Darrell Evans1344395534.0%
Ozzie Smith1257370733.9%
Tony Gwynn1383409433.8%
Richie Ashburn1322392333.7%
Mickey Vernon1196355433.7%
Chili Davis1240368633.6%
Brian Downing1188353533.6%
Rod Carew1424425533.5%
Harmon Killebrew1283383733.4%
Carl Yastrzemski1816544233.4%
Eddie Yost1215367033.1%
Wade Boggs1513457633.1%
Tony Perez1272384833.1%

UPDATE: Here's the top 20 and bottom ten if you remove homers from both runs and times on base. Top 20, which drops the Babe way down the list:

Kenny Lofton1528352713041.2%
Charlie Gehringer1774407518440.9%
Frankie Frisch1511359210340.4%
Johnny Damon1643389123138.6%
Rickey Henderson2295550329738.4%
Lou Brock1610400114937.9%
Lou Gehrig1888427449336.9%
Al Simmons1507357230736.8%
Derek Jeter1769441624036.6%
Paul Waner1627428111336.3%
Brett Butler135936795436.0%
Tim Raines1571407617035.9%
Craig Biggio1844467929135.4%
Goose Goslin1483373924835.4%
Paul Molitor1782462223435.3%
Steve Finley1443353530435.3%
Luis Aparicio133536358335.2%
Roberto Alomar1508392521034.9%
Babe Ruth1972443866534.6%
Omar Vizquel143240228034.3%

Bottom 10, which puts McCovey and Harmon Killebrew below Rusty:

Ernie Banks1305357051225.9%
John Olerud1139367925525.8%
Frank Thomas1494429252125.8%
Tony Perez1272384837925.7%
Harold Baines1299404338425.0%
Fred McGriff1349391849325.0%
Ron Santo1138353534224.9%
Rusty Staub1189416529223.2%
Willie McCovey1229373552122.0%
Harmon Killebrew1283383757321.8%
Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:29 PM | Baseball 2011 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Um...Ty Cobb?

Posted by: DodgerDan at December 3, 2011 11:15 AM

I've just run the pre-1920 guys. Cobb actually comes in a little under 40% for his career if you back out the HRs, but then he had an enormously long career with a ton of times on base.

But you'll see when I run the leaderboard that the #1 guy is way ahead of Lofton.

Also FYI, Frisch's career averages with and without HRs are the same if you include his career through 1919; Ruth's are a bit lower in both categories.

Posted by: Crank at December 3, 2011 6:17 PM

Someone once cracked back in the day that the two slowest runners in baseball were Rusty Staub and Richie Zisk.

Where would Zisk figure in this list?

Posted by: DubiousD at December 9, 2011 2:52 PM
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