Tag Archives: Ted Williams

What If We Changed the Triple Crown to AVG/OBP/SLG?

Just having some fun today with baseball history, I went looking for a list of players who’ve accomplished the feat of having a season in which he held the batting, on-base and slugging titles.

The list is pretty incredible–and exclusive. Rogers Hornsby had seven of these years, though it was mostly dominance of a weak National League. His counterparts in the AL, like Cobb and Ruth, had other batting title champs to worry about, like George Sisler and Eddie Collins.

The thing I found most fascinating was the separation between the tradition triple crown and this one. No players have accomplished the traditional triple crown since 1967 Yaz. In this triple crown, not only has it been accomplished as recently as last year, but there were lots of years filled in. George Brett’s 1980 season and Larry Walker’s 1999 season. Barry Bonds, of course, made the list twice.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s your modern Triple Crown winners:

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under MLB, MLB history

Damn! Can Jason Heyward keep this up?

Jason Heyward’s slash stats, as of this morning, are .293/.413/.624.  That’s a 1.037 OPS.  He’s 20 years old.  He’s not old enough to drink yet, but he can mash the crap out of the ball.

For your information, only nine players in MLB history have posted an OPS greater than .950 before their age 21 season (since 1901).

1911 Joe Jackson
1929 Jimmie Foxx
1929 Mel Ott
1930 Mel Ott
1930 Hal Trosky
1939 Ted Williams
1940 Ted Williams
1953 Eddie Mathews
1955 Al Kaline
1996 Albert Pujols

And only two did it in their first season: Pujols and Williams.  Williams and Pujols both started every day upon their first call-up and both OPS’d above .950.

Even if you lower the standards to first year and under age 21, you have to dip all the way down to 200 plate appearances before you see another player (Willie McCovey, 1959).

I’d say that it’s because Heyward’s on a hot streak, but looking over his game performance, is it?  He’s yet to post a multi-homer game; he’s yet to even post a multi-extra base hit game, aside from April 15 when he had two doubles.  His BABIP is in line.  In fact, the only thing that’s slightly skewed is his K-rate, which should lower as he learns the difference between AAA and majors pitching through the season.

You know, we get all in a huff about prospects, but every once in a while, there’s a really great prospect who’s talked about all the way up and performs to that ability.  I don’t know if Heyward is that prospect, but he’s making a good case for himself right now.

We’re still a ways off from the end of the season.  That’s a testament to just how great Pujols and Williams were, but maybe we’re in the midst of watching something great.


Since last writing about the possibility of the Marlins breaking the all-time team strikeout record, the Marlins have fallen a little bit in the race. They’re still averaging 8.1 Ks per game, but a new contender has risen.  They have 260 strikeouts in 29 games, good for a 8.96 K-rate and that would put them well above the 1,400 mark.

They are the Arizona Diamondbacks.  And in their division is Ubaldo Jimenez, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum.  Gonna be hard to not get K’d a lot.

I’ll keep you posted.

Leave a comment

Filed under MLB, MLB history, prospects

An important point about steroids and the dreaded “era”

Yes, you heard it today by now, Mark McGwire admitted to steroid use.  This isn’t that important, a reporter spotted andro in his locker years ago and andro is an anabolic steroid that was not illegal when he was taking it.  He also admitted to taking HGH.  But someone made a great point today and I can’t remember where I read it.

After all is said and done about the “steroid era,” wherever we decide it began and ended, all the stats will be adjusted for in the minds of fans just as the stats of the deadball players are today.  I mean, what do you think of when you think of a .400 hitter?  Nap Lajoie?  Ty Cobb?  Nope.  Ted Williams, right?  Right.  Maybe it’s better that way.  There were certainly some athletes who cheated directly and there were other athletes who bent-but-didn’t-break the rules.  There were also some athletes who cheated and didn’t become successful.  But all hitting, across the boards, has been better since 1993.  It’s probably not a fluke.  It might not even have to do anything with the players taking steroids, but it’s been fun to watch, so why not accept it?

Thought that was maybe the most salient point of the afternoon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Deadball era, MLB, MLB history, steroid era

Let’s remember Hank Aaron for a moment

Hank Aaron.  Photo c/o maxwellmusze

It’s tough to be sandwiched between Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds in the all-time career home run records, but that’s where Hank Aaron is now.  For some reason, 714 still resonated well after Aaron broke the record and while 755 was recognized by casual fans, it’s not quite such an honored record since Bonds hit 756.  (Guess people just wanted to forget it happened).

Aaron’s career wasn’t so amazing for one particular year, but rather a long, steady peak of domination, like a lower altitude Himalayas.  For 15 years, between 1955 and 1970 (ages 21-36), he played at least 147 games and had elite production every year–a 160 OPS+ in that time.  Willie Mays is pretty much the only player to play with such a sustained peak in that era; he had a 163 OPS+ between 1954 and 1969, but Mays’ production was not quite as good after that 15th year.  So that’s pretty amazing.

But where Mays falls off after that, Hank kept going: between 1971 and 1974, ages 37-40, Hank had a OPS+ of 164.

Now this is where Hammerin’ Hank gets really interesting: his age 37 year, in 1971, was maybe his finest year.  He hit 47 home runs with 22 doubles and three triples (how’d he do that?).  He hit .327, had a .410 OBP and slugged–get this–.669, a 1.079 OPS.  Only Bonds and Ruth had better age 37 seasons.

Not only that, but he pretty much repeated the feat in 1973 at age 39: .301 BA/.402 OBP/.643 SLG.

Hank is also one of three players ever to have an OPS over 1.000 at 39 or older in a minimum of 400 plate appearances:

Barry Bonds, 2004 (39), 1.422
Barry Bonds, 2007 (42), 1.045
Hank Aaron, 1973 (39), 1.045
Ted Williams, 1958 (39), 1.042

Not bad company right there.

You’ll notice that IsoD (obp – ba) in his age 37 and 39 years is pretty sweet; .100 for an IsoD indicates elite patience and usually great pitch selection.  That’s a quality that’s seen in basically all hall of famers, but the reason I point this out is Hank didn’t have this as a skill earlier in his career.  Ages 21-27 (’55-’61), his IsoD was .052, about average, maybe a little below. Ages 28-32, it rose to .069, above average.  Ages 33-38, .085.  Almost none of that is because of intentional walks–Hank had almost as many in his 21-27 seasons as he did 33-38. He learned how to become a better hitter.  That almost never happens.

Let’s look at some other things that make Aaron truly amazing. Hank had five years in which he OPS’d more than 1.000: 1959, 1962, 1969, 1971 and 1973.  The two things that immediately pop out to me is none between 1962-69, which was a heavy pitcher’s era, but also Hank’s prime.  Barry Bonds was fortunate to have maybe the greatest hitter’s era of all time right smack dab in the middle of his prime and post-prime, so I wonder what happens if Bonds puts up 200 home runs between 1995 and 2000 and not 235.

Hank’s age 40 season wasn’t bad, but as soon as he turned 41, the carriage turned back into a pumpkin.  The slugging dropped off and so did the batting average, but what a career.  Pretty much nobody before Aaron had the same length of peak and nobody after until Barry Bonds. (Note! Some might point out Ted Williams, but Williams didn’t often play more than 500 PAs in the second half of his career due to varying reasons.)

Among his hall of fame peers, Hank’s career isn’t as flashy as, say, Babe Ruth’s or Barry Bonds’ or Willie Mays’ or Ted Williams’.  No seasons with more than 45 home runs; no seasons with a slugging percentage over .669; no seasons with a WARP3 over 10.2; no seasons with a wOBA over .466. The latest stat on fangraphs is a pretty good indicator of this too–weighted Runs Created+, which measures how many runs a player added for his team as based on weighted On Base Average ((OBP*2 + SLG)/3).  At the top of wRC+ is Babe Ruth (204), followed by Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, and so on.  In the middle of page one is Aaron, between Mark McGwire and Dan Brouthers.  But Aaron did that in almost 4,000 more at bats than Ruth and almost 5,000 more than Williams.

Obviously it’s hard to compare players across eras, but Aaron played in perhaps the hardest one.  The playing field was completely integrated and he played during the toughest pitching era in the post-dead-ball era.

I think we can all agree on one thing, though: there’s more than one way to have an amazing career than a great peak at 27 and a graceful decline after 32.  Aaron was maybe the first great example of this.

Leave a comment

Filed under 500 home run club, MLB, MLB history