Baseball Esoterica

September 21, 2005

Most Unlikely Hitting Streak Ever?

Last night, as Elias reported, Jimmy Rollins became the third player to advance a 25+ game hitting streak with two outs in the ninth. Wow. But here at Baseball Esoterica, we like to take things a step further. To me, that factoid begged the question: what were the chances of Rollins continuing it? How unlikely was it, really?

If he was the scheduled third batter of the inning, then it's actually no big deal. In that case, he would have had approximately a 25.9% chance (percentage of plate appearances with a hit), or 1 in 4. Not that high, but certainly nothing to get excited about.

But that's not what happened. He was scheduled fifth up. His chances still weren't that great--two of the first four guys had to get on and then he had to get a hit...around a 1 in 13 shot.

But then the screws were turned...the first two batters made outs. And the next two guys up were Mike Leiberthal and Michael Tucker, both with sub-par OBPs of .327 and .315, respectively. So at this point, as Rollins sat in the dugout, he must not have been very hopeful, even without his calculator handy. If he did have it, though, he'd know that he only had a 1 in 37 shot at continuing his hitting streak! (.327 * .315 * .259 = .0267 = 2.67%). So wouldn't you know it, both Lieberthal and Tucker walked, and then Rollins singled!

I wonder what the most unlikely scenarios have been for continuing a long hit streak? Both of the other two who did this, Paul Molitor and Marquis Grisson, were due up third in the ninth, so it wasn't them.

NB: Yes, I know I didn't consider the pitcher's OBP against or park factors or whatnot...just keeping it simple.

Extra Esoterica:
  • Rollins was only batting .262 going into streak, which must be one of the lowest starting points for a 25+ gamer, especially this late in the season. Earlier this year, Jose Reyes began a 20-game streak with a .258 average.
  • Rollins is even streaky in his streaks! Observe: Before his current streak, Rollins went 17 games without hitting in more than a two in a row. Before that stretch? A 10-game streak.


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