Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ichiro Suzuki and Roger Maris set season records. But how good were they?

Ichiro Suzuki and Roger Maris each broke single season records, which seemed unbreakable and which had stood for decades.  Both records were totals, not averages.

George Sisler had set the record for most hits with 257 in 1920.  That record stood 84 years.  In 2004 Ichiro Suzuki got 262 hits playing a schedule with five percent more games: 162 to 154.

Sisler also led the old American League in 1920 in:
- games 154
- AB 631
- batting average (BA) .407
- total bases (TB) 399

Suzuki also led the American Conference in 2004 in:
- plate appearances (PA) 762
- AB 704
- BA .372
- intentional bases on balls (IBB) 19

Sisler had his personal best BA in 1922: .420.

On base average (OBA):
Sisler .449; personal best 1922: .467
Suzuki .414, his personal best

OPS+:
Sisler 182 personal best
Suzuki 130 personal best

OPS+ career:
Sisler 125
Suzuki 112

1920 OPS+ >=150 and Qualified for league batting title:


Rk Player OPS+ Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Babe Ruth 255 1920 25 NYY AL 142 616 458 158 172 36 9 54 137 150 80 3 5 14 14 .376 .532 .847 1.379 *978/31
2 George Sisler 182 1920 27 SLB AL 154 692 631 137 257 49 18 19 122 46 19 2 13 42 17 .407 .449 .632 1.082 *3/1
3 Shoeless Joe Jackson 172 1920 32 CHW AL 146 649 570 105 218 42 20 12 121 56 14 7 16 9 12 .382 .444 .589 1.033 *7/9
4 Tris Speaker 172 1920 32 CLE AL 150 674 552 137 214 50 11 8 107 97 13 5 20 10 13 .388 .483 .562 1.045 *8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/23/2013.

2004 OPS+ >=130 and Qualified for league batting title:


Rk Player OPS+ Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Travis Hafner 162 2004 27 CLE AL 140 576 482 96 150 41 3 28 109 68 7 111 17 0 6 11 3 2 .311 .410 .583 .993 *D3
2 Vladimir Guerrero 157 2004 29 ANA AL 156 680 612 124 206 39 2 39 126 52 14 74 8 0 8 19 15 3 .337 .391 .598 .989 *9D
3 Melvin Mora 155 2004 32 BAL AL 140 636 550 111 187 41 0 27 104 66 0 95 11 6 3 10 11 6 .340 .419 .562 .981 *5/6D
4 Manny Ramirez 152 2004 32 BOS AL 152 663 568 108 175 44 0 43 130 82 15 124 6 0 7 17 2 4 .308 .397 .613 1.009 *7D
5 David Ortiz 145 2004 28 BOS AL 150 669 582 94 175 47 3 41 139 75 8 133 4 0 8 12 0 0 .301 .380 .603 .983 *D3
6 Carlos Guillen 143 2004 28 DET AL 136 583 522 97 166 37 10 20 97 52 3 87 2 3 4 12 12 5 .318 .379 .542 .921 *6
7 Gary Sheffield 141 2004 35 NYY AL 154 684 573 117 166 30 1 36 121 92 7 83 11 0 8 16 5 6 .290 .393 .534 .927 *9D/5
8 Erubiel Durazo 138 2004 30 OAK AL 142 578 511 80 164 35 1 22 88 56 9 104 9 0 2 7 3 2 .321 .396 .523 .919 *D/3
9 Ivan Rodriguez 137 2004 32 DET AL 135 575 527 72 176 32 2 19 86 41 6 91 3 0 4 15 7 4 .334 .383 .510 .893 *2/D
10 Hideki Matsui 137 2004 30 NYY AL 162 680 584 109 174 34 2 31 108 88 2 103 3 0 5 11 3 0 .298 .390 .522 .912 *7/8
11 Eric Chavez 134 2004 26 OAK AL 125 577 475 87 131 20 0 29 77 95 10 99 3 0 4 21 6 3 .276 .397 .501 .898 *5/7
12 Mark Teixeira 131 2004 24 TEX AL 145 625 545 101 153 34 2 38 112 68 12 117 10 0 2 6 4 1 .281 .370 .560 .929 *3/9D
13 Alex Rodriguez 131 2004 28 NYY AL 155 698 601 112 172 24 2 36 106 80 6 131 10 0 7 18 28 4 .286 .375 .512 .888 *5/6
14 Jorge Posada 131 2004 32 NYY AL 137 547 449 72 122 31 0 21 81 88 5 92 9 0 1 24 1 3 .272 .400 .481 .881 *2
15 Miguel Tejada 131 2004 30 BAL AL 162 725 653 107 203 40 2 34 150 48 6 73 10 0 14 24 4 1 .311 .360 .534 .894 *6
16 Aaron Rowand 130 2004 26 CHW AL 140 534 487 94 151 38 2 24 69 30 1 91 10 5 2 5 17 5 .310 .361 .544 .905 *89
17 Ichiro Suzuki 130 2004 30 SEA AL 161 762 704 101 262 24 5 8 60 49 19 63 4 2 3 6 36 11 .372 .414 .455 .869 *9/D
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/23/2013.
_______________________________

Babe Ruth hit 29 home runs in 1919 playing his final season with the Boston Red Sox to set the season record.  The Babe broke his own record three times playing for the New York Yankees:
1920 54; home park: Polo Grounds
1921 59; home park: Polo Grounds
1927 60; home park: Yankee Stadium

Ruth held the record 42 years until Roger Maris broke it in 1961.  As with the record for most hits, the new record was set in a season with five percent more games: 162 to 154.

Ruth also led the old American League in 1927 in:
Runs 158
BB 137
SO 89
OBA .486
SLG .772
OPS 1.258
OPS+ 225

Maris also led the old American League in:
Runs 132
RBI 141
TB 366

1927 OPS+ >=150 and Qualified for league batting title:


Rk Player OPS+ Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Babe Ruth 225 1927 32 NYY AL 151 691 540 158 192 29 8 60 164 137 89 0 14 7 6 .356 .486 .772 1.258 *97
2 Lou Gehrig 220 1927 24 NYY AL 155 717 584 149 218 52 18 47 175 109 84 3 21 10 8 .373 .474 .765 1.240 *3
3 Harry Heilmann 180 1927 32 DET AL 141 596 505 106 201 50 9 14 120 72 16 2 17 11 5 .398 .475 .616 1.091 *9
4 Al Simmons 172 1927 25 PHA AL 106 457 406 86 159 36 11 15 108 31 30 1 20 10 2 .392 .436 .645 1.081 *87/9
Generated 8/23/2013.

1961 OPS+ >=150 and Qualified for league batting title:

Rk Player OPS+ Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Mickey Mantle 206 1961 29 NYY AL 153 646 514 131 163 16 6 54 128 126 9 112 0 1 5 2 12 1 .317 .448 .687 1.135 *8
2 Norm Cash 201 1961 26 DET AL 159 673 535 119 193 22 8 41 132 124 19 85 9 2 2 16 11 5 .361 .487 .662 1.148 *3
3 Jim Gentile 187 1961 27 BAL AL 148 601 486 96 147 25 2 46 141 96 5 106 11 0 8 12 1 1 .302 .423 .646 1.069 *3
4 Roger Maris 167 1961 26 NYY AL 161 698 590 132 159 16 4 61 141 94 0 67 7 0 7 16 0 0 .269 .372 .620 .993 *98
5 Harmon Killebrew 162 1961 25 MIN AL 150 656 541 94 156 20 7 46 122 107 6 109 3 0 5 11 1 2 .288 .405 .606 1.012 *35/7
6 Rocky Colavito 157 1961 27 DET AL 163 708 583 129 169 30 2 45 140 113 2 75 2 2 8 14 1 2 .290 .402 .580 .982 *79
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/23/2013.

Among the six AL players in 1961 who hit at least 40 HR, all except Killbrew had career highs and
Killbrew had a career high to that point in his career.  Maris did not even have the best home run to at bats ratio on his own team; Mickey Mantle did.  In 1961 the AL expanded from 8 to 10 teams.  But before you go all Does Rico Petrocelli make us stupid?, consider that in 1960 Maris hit 26 home runs on the road without Mantle batting behind him most of that season.  In 1961 Maris hit 30 HR at home, 31 on the road.  In 1927 Ruth hit 32 on the road.
___________________________________


The Maris record has already been broken several times during the steroid era.  I won't get into that here.  The Suzuki record is not likely to be challenged much less broken.  Since 1903 250 hits in a season has been achieved only seven times, once each by seven different players.


Rk Player H Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Ichiro Suzuki 262 2004 30 SEA AL 161 762 704 101 24 5 8 60 49 19 63 4 2 3 6 36 11 .372 .414 .455 .869 *9/D
2 George Sisler 257 1920 27 SLB AL 154 692 631 137 49 18 19 122 46 19 2 13 42 17 .407 .449 .632 1.082 *3/1
3 Bill Terry 254 1930 31 NYG NL 154 708 633 139 39 15 23 129 57 33 1 19 8 .401 .452 .619 1.071 *3
4 Lefty O'Doul 254 1929 32 PHI NL 154 732 638 152 35 6 32 122 76 19 4 13 2 .398 .465 .622 1.087 *79
5 Al Simmons 253 1925 23 PHA AL 153 697 654 122 43 12 24 129 35 41 1 6 7 14 .387 .419 .599 1.018 *8
6 Chuck Klein 250 1930 25 PHI NL 156 721 648 158 59 8 40 170 54 50 4 13 4 .386 .436 .687 1.123 *9
7 Rogers Hornsby 250 1922 26 STL NL 154 704 623 141 46 14 42 152 65 50 1 15 17 12 .401 .459 .722 1.181 *4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/23/2013.

Ichiro Suzuki is the only player to reach 260 hits and the only player since 1930 to reach 250 hits.  Here are those seven again, this time sorted by OPS+:


Rk Player OPS+ H Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Rogers Hornsby 207 250 1922 26 STL NL 154 704 623 141 46 14 42 152 65 50 1 15 17 12 .401 .459 .722 1.181 *4
2 George Sisler 182 257 1920 27 SLB AL 154 692 631 137 49 18 19 122 46 19 2 13 42 17 .407 .449 .632 1.082 *3/1
3 Lefty O'Doul 160 254 1929 32 PHI NL 154 732 638 152 35 6 32 122 76 19 4 13 2 .398 .465 .622 1.087 *79
4 Chuck Klein 159 250 1930 25 PHI NL 156 721 648 158 59 8 40 170 54 50 4 13 4 .386 .436 .687 1.123 *9
5 Bill Terry 158 254 1930 31 NYG NL 154 708 633 139 39 15 23 129 57 33 1 19 8 .401 .452 .619 1.071 *3
6 Al Simmons 149 253 1925 23 PHA AL 153 697 654 122 43 12 24 129 35 41 1 6 7 14 .387 .419 .599 1.018 *8
7 Ichiro Suzuki 130 262 2004 30 SEA AL 161 762 704 101 24 5 8 60 49 19 63 4 2 3 6 36 11 .372 .414 .455 .869 *9/D
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/23/2013.

Suzuki has by far the lowest OPS+.  Suzuki also has the lowest BA and OBA.

Both Suzuki and Maris are flawed record setters.  Even though OPS+ is somewhat biased in favor of slugging over on base average, it still gives a reasonable approximation of a batter's achievement.  Maris leads Suzuki in their record breaking seasons in OPS+ 167 to 130.  That is substantial.

From 1903 through 2012 there have been 200 player seasons with OPS+ at least 175.  This includes multiples by some players.  There have been 47 seasons with OPS+ at least 200.  And four seasons of 255 or higher: top three Barry Bonds, then Ruth.

Maris with 167 is tied for number 320.

Suzuki with 130 is well below number 1,600.

For comparison with three other modern batters with high BA but not a lot of HR:
Wade Boggs: 174; seven seasons 140 or higher
Rod Carew: 178; nine seasons 132 or higher
Tony Gwynn: 169; nine seasons 132 or higher

Suzuki is not close even to them.  He'll be elected to the Hall of Fame but he should not be.  The 4,000 hit thing will help as will his very odd batting style, which seduces some into ignoring his singles heavy numbers.  Suzuki simply does not contribute that much as a batter.

Maris hit 100 home runs in his first two seasons with the Yankees, and each season led the AL in RBI  and edged out Mantle for AL MVP.  In his third Yankee season Maris hit 33 HR with 100 RBI.  That's it.  Clearly Maris should not be elected to the Hall of Fame.

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