Sunday, December 26, 2010

More Than 200 Hits, Less Than 81 Runs - Ichiro's Season in Perspective

A couple of days ago, this space featured a post about how Ichiro Suzuki scored only 74 runs even though he had 214 hits and was on base 262 times (not including the times he hit into a force out and was on base). This remarkable feat of having that many hits and scoring that few runs has happened only ten times in major league history. Jayson Stark put Ichiro's season in perspective by noting that Ichiro scored 74 runs on 214 hits and was outscored by Mark Reynolds (79 runs) even though Reynolds had 115 fewer hits. To further put this feat in perceptive, or simply just to celebrate its silliness, here are the ten times a batter got 200 or more hits and scored 80 or fewer runs:

  1. Michael Young - Texas Rangers (2007). Young had 201 hits that season and walked 47 times. He was hit by the pitch 5 times. He stole 13 bases, hit nine homers, a triple and had 37 doubles. Yet he only scored 80 times. Ian Kinsler scored 16 more runs on that team than Young despite getting on base 55 times less that season and playing 26 less games. The Rangers scored 816 runs that season and Young only scored 9.8% of them.
  2. Garrett Anderson - California Angels (2003). 2003 was a bad season for the Angels. But it was a good year for Anderson. He had 201 hits, walked 31 times and remarkably, never got hit by a pitch. But for his 231 times on base, he only scored 80 runs. What makes Anderson's season all the more remarkable is that he hit 29 homers, led the league with 45 doubles and had 4 triples. Yet, he only scored 51 times in the 202 times he was on base and didn't hit a homer. How can you be on third or second 49 times and only score 51 non-homer times!?
  3. Steve Garvey - Los Angeles Dodgers (1980). Garvey played 163 games in 1980 (every game) and had 200 hits. He had 26 homers and 27 doubles (and a triple) and was on base 239 times and only scored 78 runs. Take away the homers and he scored 52 times in 213 times on base. Crazy. The Dodgers only scored 663 runs that season but still finished in second place. Davey Lopes, Ron Cey and one other player on that team outscored Garvey.
  4. Joe Sewell - Cleveland Indians (1925). Sewell had 204 hits that season, 64 walks and was hit by four pitches. He had 37 doubles and a triple to go along with one homer. That's 272 times on base and he scored 78 runs. That wasn't a bad hitting team either. They had four guys in the line up that hit over .300 including Tris Speaker who hit .389. Sewell's teammate, Charlie Jamieson was on base 242 times that season and scored 109 runs. Sewell still made it to the Hall of Fame just like Ichiro will. If you want a stat to pull out at a party, try Sewell. He stuck out only 114 times in his 14 year career. One of the most amazing stats of all time.
  5. Kirby Puckett - Minnesota Twins (1989). Puckett had a great season in 1989. He hit .339 with 215 hits. He was on base a total  of 268 times. Puckett hit 45 doubles, 4 triples and 9 homers and stole 11 bases. Still, he managed to score only 75 runs. In what must have been a frustrating season, the 1989 Twins were second in the Americna League in batting, on base percentage and slugging and Puckett STILL led the team in scoring with those measly 75.
  6. Ichiro Suzuki - Seattle Mariners (2010). You already know the gory details here. The Mariners scored only 513 runs all season. At least Ichiro scored a higher percentage of his team's runs than Young did.
  7. Willie Montanez - Giants and Braves (1976). Montanez played 163 games that season in what was hit best campaign. He had 206 hits, 36 walks and was hit by a pitch once. That's 243 times he was on base and he scored only 74 times. He hit 26 doubles, 2 triples and had 11 homers that season. Montanez played 14 seasons with nine different teams. He led the league in grounding into double plays twice with 26 (including this year in question). He did one other triva worthy feat. In 1975, he drove in 101 runs despite hitting only ten homers.
  8. Felipe Alou - Atlanta Braves (1968). 210 hits, 48 walks, 37 doubles, 5 triples, 11 homers and 4 HBP and he only scored 72 runs despite 262 times on base. He stole 11 bases so he was in scoring position a lot! 1968 was the famous year of the pitcher with makes Alou's season all that much more remarkable. The Braves scored only 514 runs that season despite Hank Aaron, Joe Torre, Felix Millan and Alou all having solid seasons.
  9. Eddie Brown - Boston Braves (1926). 201 hits, 23 walks, 2 HBP, 31 doubles, 8 triples, 2 homers. 226 times on base and he scored only 71 times. "Glass Arm Eddie" only played seven seasons and 1926 was his best though he did hit over .300 in four of his seven seasons. The Braves were a bad team and scored only 624 runs in 1926 despite three batters hitting over .300.
  10. George Sisler - Boston Braves (1929). Gorgeous George Sisler spent his entire Hall of Fame career with bad teams. The 1929 Braves were a terrible team. They did manage to score 684 runs. As for Sisler, that season, at the age of 36, he had 205 hits and walked 33 times. He hit 40 doubles and 8 triples and he was hit by 4 pitches. Despite all those times on base, he scored 67 runs that season despite three .300+ hitters in the line up. The funny thing is that earlier in his career, Sisler, who hit .406 and .420 in his two greatest seasons, scored over 120 runs several times. But not in 1929.

As you can see from the above list, what Ichiro Suzuki did in 2010 is not unique, but it's certainly rare. He joins a pretty cool collection of players that bore the frustration of what it was like to be stranded on base over and over again.

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