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Players With the Most Good-Hitting Part-Time Seasons JunkStats Year In Review: All Qualified Hitters Ranked by OPP
While researching another project, I ran across a fascinating season by a player named Sparky Adams. In 1931, he led the NL with 46 doubles but slugged just .390. How common is it for players to hit 40+ doubles with a SLG below .400?
Overall, since 1901, there have been 32 such seasons by 26 different players. So that’s about one every 3.5 years, making this a fairly rare feat but not a shocking one.
Here are the seasons with the most doubles while maintaining that sub-.400 SLG. A bold number indicates a league-leading total:
Grudzielanek’s 54 doubles in 1997 is the second-most all-time by a player who hit 4 or fewer home runs. (The record is an astonishing 64 doubles, set by George Burns
Jody Reed kind of dominates the list, having 3 qualifying seasons. No other player has had 3 seasons with 40+ doubles and a sub-.400 SLG, though several–Pete Rose, Eric Young (Sr.), Dave Cash, and Warren Cromartie–have done it twice. Even more impressive is that Reed did it in 3 consecutive years, posting nearly identical numbers from 1989 through 1991. Unfortunately, his doubles total dropped off severely in 1992, to just 27; without those extra two-baggers, he was basically a replacement-level player. In later seasons, he topped out at 22 doubles and was never an above-average regular again.
Let’s look at this odd type of season from the opposite perspective. Here are the lowest slugging percentages by players with 40+ doubles:
Here, Rose ties with the phenomenally named Bill Wambsganss at .354. Rose’s feat is a bit more impressive, however, because he hit one more double than Wambsganss and because his isolated power (ISO) was a minuscule .072. Seriously, that year Rose had 42 doubles but just 1 triple and 1 homer. That’s by far the most doubles in a season for any player with that few triples and homers. Billy Jurges
Some of the 40+ double, sub-.400 SLG seasons didn’t make either leaderboard above. Here’s a list of those seasons:
- Ira Flagstead (1928), 41 doubles, .392 SLG
- Cesar Cedeño (1971), 40 doubles, .398 SLG
- Dave Cash (1975), 40 doubles, .378 SLG
- Warren Cromartie (1977), 41 doubles, .395 SLG
- Mariano Duncan (1992), 40 doubles, .389 SLG
- Robin Yount (1992), 40 doubles, .390 SLG
- Eric Young (2000), 40 doubles, .399 SLG
- Julio Lugo (2004), 41 doubles, .396 SLG
- James Loney (2010), 41 doubles, .395 SLG
Before I researched this topic, I assumed that most of the seasons would be ones with particularly low batting averages, but this did not turn out to be the case. Out of all 32 qualifying seasons, only Bert Niehoff and Jack Graney (both in 1916) had batting averages below .263. Two players–Dave Cash in 1975 and Ozzie Smith in 1987–even hit .300! Obviously, it’s hard to have a sub-.400 slugging while hitting .300, but what I didn’t think about is that more hits usually means more doubles. As long as the extra hits are singles, a player’s slugging won’t go up too far.
Getting a lot of plate appearances turned out to be the biggest help in achieving this feat. Only 1 player–Ira Flagstead in 1928–had fewer than 600 plate appearances (he had 587). The player topped 700 PAs in more than 1/3 of the seasons.
In 2011, no one came particularly close to joining this club. Maicer Izturis had the most doubles of any sub-.400 SLG player (he slugged .388), but he was still 5 doubles short of 40. The lowest SLG by any 40-double hitter was Billy Butler’s .461.
I’m not sure who I’d bet one to be the next member of the 40+-double, sub-.400 SLG club. Loney might not ever get the PAs to hit 40 doubles again. Izturis may have peaked at 35 doubles. If Michael Bourn weren’t so dang fast, he’d be a good bet–he had 34 doubles, 10 triples, and a .386 SLG in 2011. Convert some of those triples to doubles and he’d have qualified.
In the end, if I had to guess, I’d say Mets second baseman Justin Turner. He hit 30 doubles last year in 487 plate appearances while slugging just .356. Give him 600+ PAs and he’d be close to 40 doubles at that pace, and there’s plenty of room for his SLG to go up and still qualify. Plus, it just feels right to pick a second baseman. For one thing, the abbreviation for that position the same as the one for a double (2B). For another, historically speaking, second base has been the most common position in this club.
What do you think? Leave a comment or tweet me if you have a guess for the next player to qualify.
Tagged with: Bert Niehoff Bill Wambsganss Billy Butler Billy Jurges Brian Roberts Carl Lind Cesar Cedeño Dave Cash Doubles Eric Young George Burns good bad seasons Ira Flagstead Jack Graney James Loney Jimmy Rollins Jody Reed Julio Lugo Justin Turner Maicer Izturis Mark Grudzielanek Mickey Morandini Orlando Cabrera Ozzie Smith Pete Rose Robin Yount Slugging Sparky Adams Tony Fernandez Warren Cromartie
This blog is devoted to the invention and use of unusual baseball statistics. These Junk Stats are designed to reveal the not-so-meaningful quirks that make baseball so fascinating.
JunkStats is written by Jacob Peterson, who also writes for the Braves blog Talking ChopBeyond the Boxscore
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