Baseball Esoterica

March 30, 2006

2005 Flashback II – Scarily Bad (And Good) Baserunning

Just a quick follow-up to my previous post on Doubles and Homers, in which I listed the players who hit at least 40 more two-baggers than round-trippers. So, as a proper Esotericist, you must have been asking yourself, "Well, what about the opposite situation?" Well, funny you should ask. Here are those with 35 or more homers than doubles.
Name              Year    2B  HR Diff
Mark McGwire 1998 21 70 49
Sammy Sosa 1998 20 66 46
Roger Maris 1961 16 61 45
Mark McGwire 1999 21 65 44
Barry Bonds 2001 32 73 41
Sammy Sosa 1999 24 63 39
Harmon Killebrew 1964 11 49 38
Mickey Mantle 1961 16 54 38
It's interesting, if unsurprising, that Maris and Mantle from the '61 home run chase as well as McGwire and Sosa from the '98 and '99 editions all make the list. McGwire is the king, though. He hit 20 more homers than doubles eight times in his career. Killebrew tops the under-50HR group with crazy-low total of 11 doubles. Interestingly, Maris actually hit more doubles (34) than home runs (33) in '62.

A couple of Honorable Mention seasons:
Name          Year  2B  HR Diff
Dave Kingman 1982 9 37 28
Mark McGwire 2001 4 29 25
Kingman actually led the league in homers in '82, while compiling an astonishingly miniscule nine 607 trips to the plate! McGwire? Well, 2001, his last season, was just a bizarre (and shortened) year for him.

Robles and Runnels
No, that's not the newest online fantasy game, it brings us to today's topic. 2005 saw some historic stolen base futility. Imagine attempting to steal for the first time and getting caught. And then the second time, too. And then the third and fourth time. I'd think you would get discouraged, or (at least, if I were the manager) that you would get a big fat don't-even-run-on-a-hit-and-run red light! But apparently Jim Tracy had unbelievable faith in rookie Oscar Robles and let him run into a ball-filled glove eight times! Robles' 0-for-8 was the second worst o-fer of all time, next to his friend in futility (and alliteration) Pete Runnels' 0-for-10 fiasco in 1952 (he definitely did not put the "Run" in Runnels :). This followed an 0-for-3 rookie campaign for Runnels, meaning he began his career by being thrown out each of the first 13 times he tried to steal (and maybe worse)! Hopefully, Robles won't follow in his, ahem, footsteps and better Runnels' career 42% (37-for-88) stolen base percentage. For the record, the only other SB shutout of that magnitude was turned in by Jose Offerman in 2000, who was also 0-for-8.

Just a hair behind Robles was Angel Juan Rivera, whose pathetic 1-for-10 effort was also historic. Check out the 10% club:
Name           Year SB  CS  SB Pct
Zeb Terry 1921 1 13 7.1%
Eddie Yost 1957 1 11 8.3%
Jose Vizcaino 1994 1 11 8.3%
Bobby Doerr 1939 1 10 9.1%
Juan Rivera 2005 1 9 10.0%
Soup Campbell 1941 1 9 10.0%
Hod Ford 1924 1 9 10.0%
Eddie Mayo 1948 1 9 10.0%
Elliott Maddox 1980 1 9 10.0%
I love these kinds of lists: some notable names mixed in with Hod Ford, Soup Campbell, and Eddie Mayo. Man, what was Vizcaino thinking in '94?

The Good Guys
There was also some historic and near historic base-stealing in 2005, including a much-larger-than-usual number of near-perfect seasons. Check it out.
Player             SB   CS   SB Pct
Jason Bay 21 1 95.5%
Johnny Damon 18 1 94.7%
Reggie Sanders 14 1 93.3%
Willie Bloomquist 14 1 93.3%
Mike Cameron 13 1 92.9%
Vladimir Guerrero 13 1 92.9%
Joe Mauer 13 1 92.9%
Craig Biggio 11 1 91.7%
Emil Brown 10 1 90.0%
There were a total of nine 10+ SB near perfect seasons, the most ever. The previous high was eight in 1995. As many of you know, Kevin McReynolds set the record for a perfect season in 1988, going 21-for-21. But did you know that Paul Molitor nearly matched him in 1994 with a 20-for-20 mark (and then went 12-for-12 the next season!)?

Additionally, Alfonso Soriano finished a fabulous 30 out of 32. Here's where Soriano fits in with history with other 30-base stealers since 1920.
Name            Year  SB  CS  SB Pct
Brady Anderson 1994 31 1 96.9%
Carlos Beltran 2001 31 1 96.9%
Max Carey 1922 51 2 96.2%
Doug Glanville 1999 34 2 94.4%
Amos Otis 1970 33 2 94.3%
Jack Perconte 1985 31 2 93.9%
Alfonso Soriano 2005 30 2 93.8%
One last flashback tomorrow, and then come back and celebrate Opening Day (woo-hoo!) Esoteric-style with some Fun With Meaningless Stats!

Extra Esoterica
Between 2000 and 2004, Carlos Beltran was an unbelievable efficient stolen base machine, giving catchers fits in both leagues. In that five-year span, he
AVERAGED 34 steals and only 3 times caught!! That's an almost unfathomable 162-for-177 (91.5%)!!! Sometime this season, I will try to find out if, or, rather, by how much, this is a record.


  • I think I've seen a column on Beltran before and how those five years were a record. But now I can't remember where. Might've been ESPN. Might've been Aaron Gleeman. Ah well.

    You don't have to be fast to steal bases. Just smart. For example, not running when Kenny Rogers is pitching to Pudge Rodriguez.

    By Blogger TheBentKangaroo, at 8:37 PM  

  • And yeah, that's another column if you haven't done it. Best pitchers at holding runners. If I recall, there has been seasons where Rogers had just one or two attempts on him for the entire year.

    By Blogger TheBentKangaroo, at 8:38 PM  

  • I agree with you about speed. For example, Rickey Henderson's record 130 SBs in '82 were more or less negated by his 42 times caught. Too much attention is given to SB totals rather than SB Pct. Exhibit B: Scott Pods 59-for-82, Alfonso Soriano 30-for-32...I bet most would choose Pods.

    Unfortunately, there are no SB Against stats in the Lahman database. Something like SB Attempts per 100 baserunners for a pitcher or a pitcher/catcher duo would be interesting.

    By Anonymous esoteric eric, at 3:31 PM  

  • I think I've seen a column on Beltran before and how those five years were a record

    Get More Details

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:47 PM  

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