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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

DiMaggio's hitting streak: part 2

See previous post and supporting data:

DiMaggio's hitting streak.  Tuesday, May 3, 2011

As I understand the simulations mentioned in the previous post, DiMaggio was far from the most likely batter to set the record for a hitting streak: getting at least one hit in consecutive games.  Ty Cobb was most likely.  No kidding.  Who wouldn't suspect that?  Ichiro Suzuki was the most likely to have a long hitting streak in the last decade: lots of AB and hits, few walks, speed, many ground balls, lefty batter.   Ichiro, didn't do it.  Jimmy RollinsLuis Castillo and Chase Utley did.  Go figure.

Why DiMaggio?  Joe hit the ball hard, often (only 13 strike outs in 1941) and he seldom walked, although in 1941 he walked 76 times, second only to his 80 in 1950.  Joe's next fewest number of strike outs were 20 in 1939 when he had his highest BA: .381, tops in AL.

Here are the longest MLB streaks:

1. Joe DiMaggio 56 1941
2. Willie Keeler 45 1896-1897
3. Pete Rose 44 1978
4. Bill Dahlen 42 1894
5. George Sisler 41 1922
6. Ty Cobb 40 1911
7. Paul Molitor 39 1987
8. Jimmy Rollins 38 2005-2006
9. Tommy Holmes 37 1945
10. Gene DeMontreville 36 1896-1897
11. Fred Clark 35 1895
11. Ty Cobb 35 1917
11. George Sisler 35 1924-1925
11. Luis Castillo 35 2002
11. Chase Utley 35 2006
16. George McQuinn 34 1938
16. Dom DiMaggio 34 1949
16. Benito Santiago 34 1987

However, even though Cobb and George Sisler are the only two batters to have two MLB streaks of at least 30 games, it was Joe DiMaggio who set the record here on planet earth.

Joe DiMaggio 1936 at-bat while Hank Erickson is catching
by (National Chicle) (National Chicle) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I'm a numbers guy.  I'm not smart enough to do regression analysis but I'm pretty good with arithmetic and I understand and appreciate the type of study that attempts to deal with such an unusual record.  However, sometimes the people who do them lose their common sense.  It makes me wonder if they have ever played baseball or only watched.

They deny that protection in the batting order exists using the same type of method: running 10,000 simulations, including all batters in the order when simple common sense dictates that protection only applies to the 3 and 4 batters, maybe to 5 as when rocket scientist Jim Leyland batted Barry Bonds fifth in Pittsburgh in 1990, 1991, 1992 (28%), 1993.  Who thinks 5 protects 4?  Maybe but not that much.  After 5 batters become increasingly less efficient, especially against the opposing starting pitcher that day.

They deny that clutch and choke exist.  Here on planet earth it's pretty obvious, especially in individual sports like golf and tennis whose former athlete TV analysts like Johnny Miller and John McEnroe can hardly conceal their contempt when a player is CHOKING!  In 1978 Red Sox first baseman George Scott famously stated that choke is not his vocabulary as the Red Sox blew a 14 game lead to the Yankees.  CHOKE!  Everybody chokes.  The merit is in not letting it get the better of you and conquering it more times than not.  Same with clutch: overcome adversity more often than succumbing.

If there is nothing heroic in sports, why watch?  Just to see which random event occurs that day?  Just watch for car crashes outside your window or if you can't wait, watch NASCAR.  How pathetic.  Just do it the old fashion way: retreat to Strat-O-Matic and roll dice in your room all day.

In real life it's Joltin' Joe DiMaggio who holds the record.  Give the man credit for doing something that by your own reckoning he was not likely to do.

Now some analysis.

Among the top 18 streaks listed above we can toss out those in the Bronze Age, i.e., before 1903 when AL joined NL and made foul balls strikes, a rule I think should be eliminated.  That leaves:

1. Joe DiMaggio 56 1941

3. Pete Rose 44 1978

5. George Sisler 41 1922
6. Ty Cobb 40 1911
7. Paul Molitor 39 1987
8. Jimmy Rollins 38 2005-2006
9. Tommy Holmes 37 1945

11. Ty Cobb 35 1917
11. George Sisler 35 1924-1925
11. Luis Castillo 35 2002
11. Chase Utley 35 2006
16. George McQuinn 34 1938
16. Dom DiMaggio 34 1949
16. Benito Santiago 34 1987

I would also ignore Tommy Holmes because it was during World War II and many players were in the military.

As mentioned in the previous post, note Joe's younger brother Dom, tied for number 16.  Maybe there's something in their upbringing.  NoteAugust 9 - Dom DiMaggio's 34-game hitting streak is on the line against Vic Raschi and the New York Yankees. Hitless in his first four at bats, Dom hits a sinking line drive in the eighth inning that his brother Joe catches at his shoetops. The Boston Red Sox win 6–3 to move 5½ games behind the Yankees. Dom had started his streak after going hitless against Raschi.

Dom DiMaggio's 34 game hitting streak went from June 29 through August 7 1949.  Dom pinch ran but did not bat in Cleveland July 18.  Dom was hitless in one game following his streak and then hit in each of the next nine games.  Dom was hitless in one game preceding his 34 game streak following hits in four games.  Dom DiMaggio hit in 47 of 49 games.

The earliest game logs in baseball-reference.com are for the 1919 season, so I cannot do much with Cobb's two streaks in 1911 and 1917.  I decided to look at four of the top seven hitting streaks:

1. Joe DiMaggio 56 5/15 - 7/16 1941
3. Pete Rose 44 6/14/ - 7/31 1978
5. George Sisler 41 7/27 - 9/17 1922
7. Paul Molitor 39 7/16 - 8/25 1987

Molitor's streak started the same day of the year that DiMaggio's ended.  They provide a pretty nice spread in time.  Plus, DiMaggio and Molitor were righty batters with similar spread stances and quiet hands, Rose was a switch hitter and Sisler a lefty.

Rose and Molitor (34 of 39) batted leadoff.  Sisler batted third.  DiMaggio batted fourth

Defensive positions:
DiMaggio CF
Sisler 1B
Rose 3B 41 of  44, LF in one, 3B-OF in two
Molitor DH

DiMaggio, Sisler and Rose each struck out 5 times; Molitor 22.  Sisler has six sacrifice "hits" (back then stats did not differentiate between bunts and flies), Rose and Molitor two each; DiMaggio, of course, had none.  Rose had the only sacrifice flies: two.

Sisler  .45402298850575
Molitor  .41463414634146
DiMaggio .40807174887892
Rose  .38461538461538

Sisler  4.24390243902439
Molitor 4.2051282051282
Rose  4.13636363636364
DiMaggio 3.98214285714286

Sisler  1.92682926829268
Molitor 1.74358974358974
DiMaggio 1.625
Rose  1.59090909090909

Sisler seemed the most likely to continue his streak, Rose the least likely.

BA season (career):
Sisler .420 (.340)
DiMaggio .356 (,325)
Molitor .353 (.306)
Rose .302 (.303)

DiMaggio's streak is 27% longer than Rose's.  How many records are that much greater than the runner up?

DiMaggio played 139 games in 1941.  His  56 game hitting streak was 40.3% of those games.  During DiMaggio's hitting streak Joe had  these percentages of doubles (37.2% 16 of 43) , triples (36.3% 4 of 11), home runs (50% 15 of 30), total bases (46% 160 of his AL leading 348).  Here are his streak and non-streak averages:

BA: .408 .320
OBP: .459 .420
SLG: .717 .591
OPS: 1.177 1.012

Since randomness and luck have been attributed to DiMaggio's streak, what about these streaks being even longer?  I looked at the games preceding and following each of the four streaks examined for one game interruptions that could have extended them.

Sisler previous 1 hitless game following a four game streak.
Sisler followed with two hitless games.  Sisler's streak could have been 46.

Rose previous: 2 of 3 hitless games.
Rose followed: 2 of 3 hitless games; 4 hits in that game.  Could have added two games: 46.

Molitor previous: 1 game following a three game streak.
Molitor followed: 3 of 4 hitless games.  Molitor's streak could have been 43.

DiMaggio previous: two hitless games.
DiMaggio followed with one hitless game, then hits in the next 16 games, then hitless in an August 3 doubleheader loss to the St. Louis Browns.  A big fat go figure.

Of these four DiMaggio alone could have extended his streak substantially: to 73 games ... with a little luck in that famous game in Cleveland when he was robbed on two bullets hit to third.  I guess that didn't come up in the simulations, all 10,000 of them.  DiMaggio's stats in those 73 games, including the one that was hitless, included 73 Runs, 73 RBI,  20 homers, 120 hits, 33 BB, 6 SO, .408 BA.  Joe always said he was lucky to be a Yankee.

1 comment:

Alan said...

I just discovered your blog today. A Fatal Error. As a fan and an active 60-year-old senior softball player, I expect to lose a lot of valuable work time following your posts. Great job on the discussion of DiMaggio's streak. I can't wait to read more. Thanks.