Baseball Esoterica

March 27, 2006

2005 Flashback I – Doubles and Homers

What better way to start off 2006 than with…one last look at last season. Yes, this is the stuff I was promising at the end of last season, but, well, better late than never.

Brad Wilkerson and Marcus Giles hit a lot of doubles in 2005, with 42 and 45, respectively. But, contrary to what you’d think (like everything I ever write about, come to think of it!) they had below-average power, with only 11 and 15 homers. With both of these guys hitting 30 more doubles than homers, it got me thinking…is that historically significant? So I went back the ol’ players database and came up with the following list of seasons with the largest double/homer discrepancy, and it turns out that 30 is not exactly historic. Since 1950*, there have actually been 18 seasons of 40 or more doubles than homers.
Player              Year  2B  HR  Diff
Mark Grudzielanek 1997 54 4 50
Wade Boggs 1989 51 3 48
George Kell 1950 56 8 48
Brian Roberts 2004 50 4 46
Jeff Cirillo 2000 53 11 42
Dave Cash 1977 42 0 42
Ferris Fain 1952 43 2 41
Pete Rose 1980 42 1 41
Lou Brock 1968 46 6 40
Jody Reed 1990 45 5 40
Ozzie Smith 1987 40 0 40
Craig Biggio 1999 56 16 40
Chuck Knoblauch 1994 45 5 40
Wade Boggs 1988 45 5 40
Matty Alou 1969 41 1 40
Pete Rose 1975 47 7 40
Grudzielanek takes this one hands down. You know, it’s tough to hit 54 two-baggers and not even slug .400, but Grudzie did it, slugging only .384 that historic year. But that’s not all. He also tallied more doubles than RBIs, an even rarer feat. Since 1950, this has only been done 10 times (min. 400 AB).
Player             Year  2B  RBI   Diff
Frank Baumholtz 1953 36 25 11
Mark Grudzielanek 1997 54 51 3
Billy Hatcher 1990 28 25 3
Ron Hunt 1972 20 18 2
Jody Reed 1989 42 40 2
Frank Taveras 1980 27 25 2
Don Blasingame 1959 26 24 2
Mickey Morandini 1997 40 39 1
Eric Young 2002 29 28 1
Eric Young 2001 43 42 1
Grudzie almost takes this one, too. But a dude named Frank Baumholtz destroys the comeptition in this bizarre category. Just how is it possible to bat .306 with 159 hits--including 36 doubles and a league-average .778 OPS--and only drive in 25 runs all year? His few stolen bases and unimpressive runs scored totals tell me that he probably wasn’t a leadoff hitter. Too bad we don’t have the batting-with-men-on-base splits for the Fifties! And by the way, in true Esoteric style, he never came close to duplicating that “magical” season (his second best was 19 doubles and 30 RBIs in 1948).

As usual, we ended up a ways away from where we started. You just never know where the Esoterica will take you! Tune in next time for some top-notch--and some decidedly lower-notch--baserunning from 2005. It was a delightfully Esoteric year in both directions!

*1950 is somewhat arbitrary, but when comparing home run stats, I prefer modern-day comparisons.

Extra Esoterica
Oddly, four years after his landmark 1997 campaign, Grudzielanek's put up only 21 two-baggers, but "exploded" for 13 dingers (a difference of only 8!), both career extremes for a full season.

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