- Dumb Luck Wins
- Tough Luck Losses
- Out Prevention Percentage
- Infield Outs Prevented
Celebrating Pi Day Double-Digit Sac Bunts and Intentional Walks in the Same Year
Many players have appeared in only one MLB season, but most of those received only cups of coffee. This post deals with players who played just 1 season but received significant playing time in that year.
Overall, I found 22 players (7 pitchers and 15 hitters) who had a large amount of playing time in their only seasons. All of them qualified for either the ERA title or the batting title. As you might expect from the fact that none of them ever played in MLB again, most of them were quite bad; only 7 of the 22 posted a WAR above 0, and only one had a WAR above 2.
Note: these lists only include players since 1901 in the American or National Leagues (i.e., no Federal Leaguers).
First up, the pitchers:
|4||Tommy de la Cruz||191.1||1.8||1944||32||CIN||34||20||170||45||65||3.25||108|
Most of the players on this list got just one season mainly because of poor performance, but for Henry SchmidtSteve Blass
Easily the best season on the list by ERA+ is Tommy de la Cruz
Now let’s look at the hitters. These are all the players who qualified for a batting title in their only season, minus those who got fewer than 400 PAs (thanks to weird qualification rules).
By far the most notable name on either list is Sparky Anderson
Amazingly, Irv Waldron
The best season on the list belongs to Buzz ArlettBabe Ruth
Amazingly, 6 of the 15 position players on the list above played for the Phillies. One other played for the Philadelphia A’s, while 2 more played for the Pirates, which means that Pennsylvania players make up 60% of the list. Add that to the 2 Phillies and 1 Philadelphia Athletic on the pitchers’ list, and we’ve got 8 Phillies and 12 Pennsylvanians out of 22 total one-year wonders. I have no explanation for this.
There are some fantastic nicknames on the list: Dutch, Sparky, Buddy, Goat, Moon, Ham, and Buzz. By the way, what is it about guys named Ham? There’s one on each list. And that’s out of just 6 major leaguers with Ham for a first name.
One reason for the preponderance of nicknames is that there are no Expansion Era players on either list. Only 2 of the 22 players (Anderson and Gair Allie
I’d guess that there hasn’t been a player to qualify for the list in the past 50+ years because MLB has become more uniform and stable. With standardized, affiliated minor leagues and a general consistency of approach in major-league team offices, it’s just not very likely that one team will find a player worthy of regular playing time and that no other team will even give that player a shot. If a player today is promising enough to qualify for a batting or ERA title, they’ll get another MLB chance even if that qualifying season is a disaster. And if they’re not good enough to get a second chance, their first chance is unlikely to be all that substantial.
Tagged with: Art Mahan batting title Bob Maier Buddy Blair Buzz Arlett Dutch Schliebner Ed Smith ERA title Ernie Sulik Gair Allie Goat Anderson Ham Iburg Ham Schulte Henry Schmidt Irv Waldron Jim Bivin Johnny Johnston Johnny Sturm Moon Mullen one-year careers one-year wonders Orie Arntzen Pennsylvania Philadelphia pre-Expansion eras qualified seasons Scotty Ingerton short careers Sparky Anderson Tom Fisher Tommy de la Cruz World War II
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
For more about the site or the author, read the About page
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