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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Home Run Proficiency Career

Babe Ruth
In 1895, the year Babe Ruth was born, 6' 3", 220 pound Roger Connor at age 37 hit 8 home runs (HR) for St. Louis in the National League (NL) and passed 5' 11", 175 pound Harry Stovey, the first batter to hit 100 HR, for the most HR in a career.  Connor finished the season with 126, four more than Stovey.  Connor retired after playing 22 games in 1897 with 138 HR, a record he held until Ruth hit 59 HR in 1921 and finished that season with 162 HR.

Our evaluation of HR hitting has remained primitive to the present.  The simple method that I have been using recently is a big improvement over totals.  Here are the top four HR hitters based on count:

Rk Player HR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Barry Bonds 762 1986 2007 21-42 2986 12606 9847 2227 2935 601 77 1996 2558 688 1539 106 4 91 165 514 141 .298 .444 .607 1.051 *78/D9 PIT-SFG
2 Hank Aaron 755 1954 1976 20-42 3298 13941 12364 2174 3771 624 98 2297 1402 293 1383 32 21 121 328 240 73 .305 .374 .555 .928 *9783D/45 MLN-ATL-MIL
3 Babe Ruth 714 1914 1935 19-40 2503 10620 8399 2174 2873 506 136 2213 2062 1330 43 113 2 123 117 .342 .474 .690 1.164 971/83 BOS-NYY-BSN
4 Willie Mays 660 1951 1973 20-42 2992 12496 10881 2062 3283 523 140 1903 1464 192 1526 44 13 91 251 338 103 .302 .384 .557 .941 *8/39675 NYG-SFG-TOT-NYM
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/5/2013.

We all know these numbers: 762, 755, 714, 660.  But how many of us know these:
 9,847
12,364
 8,399
10,881

Those are the at bats (AB).  Using the two together we get a much better insight into the relative achievements.  Even better insight is gained with my home run proficiency method, which simply subtracts the player's HR and AB from the league total and divides league HR by AB to get the league HR rate for all the other batters.

(P-(L-P))/((L-P)
In this equation each letter represents (HR/AB) for either the player or the league minus the player.  The result is the number of times the player's HR rate is better than all the other batters in that league that season.

Season numbers have been in recent posts, labeled X in associated spreadsheets.  This post takes that season data and aggregates for a career number (Y) weighted of course by AB per season.  For data through 2011 there are 771 batters with at least 100 career HR.  Sorted by Y (career home run proficiency), number one was Babe Ruth, number 771 was Wade Boggs.

Click link to view data.  There are tabs for :
- top 50 or so
- bottom 50 or so
- 493 HR or 50 HR in a season

- Retired 1903-1928
- Retired 1929-1953
- Retired 1954-1979
- Retired 1980-1999
- Active after 1999

As was seen in the season data there is a clear trend toward more HR hitting by all batters, which reduces the proficiency factor in more recent decades.

First let's see where the top four ranked among all 771 batters with at least 100 career HR.

1. Ruth 7.8 times more proficient than the other batters when he played
30. Bonds 1.84
41. Aaron 1.64
53. Mays 1.5

Note: In a recent post I showed that Mays was a better HR hitter than Aaron by examining their common peak seasons (1954-1968) on the road but not in each others parks.  My guess is that Aaron has an edge for their entire careers because:
- Mays missed two seasons in the Army
- Aaron got a late career boost playing his home games in Atlanta (1966-1974)
- Aaron experienced an inexplicable surge in his HR proficiency at an age when sluggers generally decline: age 37 career best, age 39 second best.

Top 11 of the 771 includes three guys named Williams:

qryBattingHRrateCareerTotals
First Last Y
Babe Ruth 7.84119299220552
Gavvy Cravath 4.55287306249984
Lou Gehrig 3.51675697407194
Jimmie Foxx 3.25037513563742
Cy Williams 3.13367633515654
Harry Stovey 2.98974641578546
Mel Ott 2.96061715403917
Ken Williams 2.90745879478981
Hank Greenberg 2.80947802011959
Hack Wilson 2.68388413055675
Ted Williams 2.64056124469667

Now let's see the career rank for modern season HR record holders.

1. Ruth 7.8
2. Gavvy Cravath 4.56
18. Mark McGwire 2.3
30. Bonds 1.84
68. Sammy Sosa 1.37; He held the record briefly during the season, so what the heck, you're curious, right?
135. Roger Maris 1.01

493 HR or 50 HR in a season (43 batters):

qryBattingHRrateCareerTotals
First Last Y
Babe Ruth 7.84119299220552
Lou Gehrig 3.51675697407194
Jimmie Foxx 3.25037513563742
Mel Ott 2.96061715403917
Hank Greenberg 2.80947802011959
Hack Wilson 2.68388413055675
Ted Williams 2.64056124469667
Johnny Mize 2.46237701258111
Ralph Kiner 2.325441451065
Mark McGwire 2.31202210507171
Mike Schmidt 2.29192247376923
Willie McCovey 1.93267986717054
Harmon Killebrew 1.86478286445436
Barry Bonds 1.83914088593434
Mickey Mantle 1.77401631775621
Hank Aaron 1.6362542084195
Ryan Howard 1.61415267178781
Willie Mays 1.50161322816385
George Foster 1.49079992585632
Reggie Jackson 1.45146892664544
Frank Robinson 1.40778300065197
Sammy Sosa 1.37011977189588
Eddie Mathews 1.35001169379752
Jim Thome 1.34485800097992
Prince Fielder 1.29479526926014
Cecil Fielder 1.26565486773925
Ernie Banks 1.22268236971851
Albert Belle 1.19682403686368
Alex Rodriguez 1.1825268797646
Ken Griffey 1.15329156234718
Fred McGriff 1.1355931491646
Manny Ramirez 1.13451205105933
Frank Thomas 1.10495669767812
Roger Maris 1.09110324304376
Greg Vaughn 1.0120948124869
David Ortiz 0.971306443398467
Gary Sheffield 0.93247459821661
Jose Bautista 0.875580298079811
Andruw Jones 0.863558533275092
Rafael Palmeiro 0.812138043268096
Eddie Murray 0.758648640212588
Luis Gonzalez 0.30034328096535
Brady Anderson 0.0548450575301493

Cecil and Prince Fielder are neck and neck.

Notable sluggers not on that list and their rank among the 771:

24. Joe DiMaggio 2.043
67. Albert Pujols 1.4
174. Stan Musial .96
330. Carl Yastrzemski .6
_______________________________

Batters retired before 1903:

qryBattingHRrateCareerTotals
First Last Y
Harry Stovey 2.98974641578546
Roger Connor 1.35904072873369
Mike Tiernan 1.33722473016188


Batters retired 1903-1928

qryBattingHRrateCareerTotals
First Last Y
Gavvy Cravath 4.55287306249984
Tilly Walker 2.60390833633276
Jack Fournier 1.80530167803463
Sam Thompson 1.63960726987351
Dan Brouthers 1.49241208567265
Irish Meusel 1.25910322798581
Ty Cobb 1.18325545675517
Honus Wagner 1.06337078971399
Hugh Duffy 0.991659511462082
Ed Delahanty 0.954915940575368
Jimmy Ryan 0.933099452727171
Tris Speaker 0.901729597955839
Zack Wheat 0.720072475649976

Note: Frank Home Run Baker played from 1908-1922 and retired with 96 HR.

Batters retired 1929-1953:
78 batters hit at least 100 HR.  Four had Y > 3.  16 Y > 2; DiMaggio was #16.
Top 11:

qryBattingHRrateCareerTotals
First Last Y
Babe Ruth 7.84119299220552
Lou Gehrig 3.51675697407194
Jimmie Foxx 3.25037513563742
Cy Williams 3.13367633515654
Mel Ott 2.96061715403917
Ken Williams 2.90745879478981
Hank Greenberg 2.80947802011959
Hack Wilson 2.68388413055675
Charlie Keller 2.49678463371142
Johnny Mize 2.46237701258111
Rogers Hornsby 2.44773695512855


Batters retired 1954-1979 (165 batters):
Top 14

qryBattingHRrateCareerTotals
First Last Y
Ted Williams 2.64056124469667
Ralph Kiner 2.325441451065
Harmon Killebrew 1.86478286445436
Mickey Mantle 1.77401631775621
Gus Zernial 1.71781071017312
Dick Allen 1.68203370144784
Hank Aaron 1.6362542084195
Hank Sauer 1.56930457802638
Vern Stephens 1.5647764724648
Frank Howard 1.52411277512819
Willie Mays 1.50161322816385
Al Rosen 1.50084005969308
Frank Robinson 1.40778300065197
Eddie Mathews 1.35001169379752


Batters retired 1980-1999 (211 batters):
Top 10

qryBattingHRrateCareerTotals
First Last Y
Mike Schmidt 2.29192247376923
Dave Kingman 2.17009588073119
Willie McCovey 1.93267986717054
Bob Horner 1.89406084390857
Willie Stargell 1.87557650472496
Darryl Strawberry 1.73596628418227
Ron Kittle 1.52435868893314
George Foster 1.49079992585632
Johnny Bench 1.47737031158564
Reggie Jackson 1.45146892664544


Batters active after 1999  (303 batters):
Top 15

qryBattingHRrateCareerTotals
First Last Y
Mark McGwire 2.31202210507171
Barry Bonds 1.83914088593434
Ryan Howard 1.61415267178781
Albert Pujols 1.39366384919872
Sammy Sosa 1.37011977189588
Jim Thome 1.34485800097992
Jose Canseco 1.31122794441868
Prince Fielder 1.29479526926014
Adam Dunn 1.27559006087993
Juan Gonzalez 1.2291672186237
Mark Reynolds 1.20588963468537
Albert Belle 1.19682403686368
Eric Davis 1.18807801078555
Alex Rodriguez 1.1825268797646
Ken Griffey 1.15329156234718

In a future post I'll take the percentage difference per season from their career number for the top career HR hitters to look for trends such as improvement late in a career and will create graphs.

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