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Sunday, August 17, 2014

OBP >= .500: some astonishing numbers!

In only 14 seasons since 1903 have batters had an On Base Percentage (OBP) greater than or equal to .500, which, of course, is an average, not a percentage.

OBP: ((H+BB+HBP)/(AB+BB+HBP+SF)

These seasons were also addressed in the previous post in a different context:

Sacrifice Fly should be removed to normalize historical data.  Saturday, August 16, 2014

Rk Player OBP Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA SLG OPS Pos
1 Barry Bonds .609 2004 39 SFG NL 147 617 373 129 135 27 3 45 101 232 120 41 9 0 3 5 6 1 .362 .812 1.422 *7/HD
2 Barry Bonds .582 2002 37 SFG NL 143 612 403 117 149 31 2 46 110 198 68 47 9 0 2 4 9 2 .370 .799 1.381 *7/DH
3 Ted Williams .553 1941 22 BOS AL 143 606 456 135 185 33 3 37 120 147 27 3 0 10 2 4 .406 .735 1.287 *7H/9
4 Babe Ruth .545 1923 28 NYY AL 152 697 522 151 205 45 13 41 130 170 93 4 3 17 21 .393 .764 1.309 97/83
5 Babe Ruth .532 1920 25 NYY AL 142 616 458 158 172 36 9 54 135 150 80 3 5 14 14 .376 .847 1.379 *978/3H1
6 Barry Bonds .529 2003 38 SFG NL 130 550 390 111 133 22 1 45 90 148 61 58 10 0 2 7 7 0 .341 .749 1.278 *7/DH
7 Ted Williams .526 1957 38 BOS AL 132 547 420 96 163 28 1 38 87 119 33 43 5 0 2 11 0 1 .388 .731 1.257 *7/H
8 Babe Ruth .516 1926 31 NYY AL 152 652 495 139 184 30 5 47 153 144 76 3 10 11 9 .372 .737 1.253 *79/H3
9 Barry Bonds .515 2001 36 SFG NL 153 664 476 129 156 32 2 73 137 177 35 93 9 0 2 5 13 3 .328 .863 1.379 *7/DH
10 Ted Williams .513 1954 35 BOS AL 117 526 386 93 133 23 1 29 89 136 32 1 0 3 10 0 0 .345 .635 1.148 *7/H
11 Babe Ruth .513 1924 29 NYY AL 153 681 529 143 200 39 7 46 124 142 81 4 6 9 13 .378 .739 1.252 *97/8H
12 Mickey Mantle .512 1957 25 NYY AL 144 623 474 121 173 28 6 34 94 146 23 75 0 0 3 5 16 3 .365 .665 1.177 *8/H
13 Babe Ruth .512 1921 26 NYY AL 152 693 540 177 204 44 16 59 168 145 81 4 4 17 13 .378 .846 1.359 *78/13
14 Rogers Hornsby .507 1924 28 STL NL 143 642 536 121 227 43 14 25 94 89 32 2 13 5 12 .424 .696 1.203 *4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/16/2014.


Barry Bonds August 26, 2006
by Kevin Rushforth via Wikimedia Commons
It seems like more time has passed but ten years ago Barry Bonds broke his own record and became the only batter with OBP of at least .600.  That was aided by opposing mangers completely abdicating any form of decision making and simply going on the conventional wisdom that they would not be fired for walking Bonds.  Buck Showalter once ordered Bonds walked with the bases loaded.  In 2004 Bonds had 232 BB, 120 of which were intentional; this is a sad commentary on those managers.  In 1923 Babe Ruth walked 170 times, which was the record until 
Bonds walked 177 in 2001, then 198 (68 intentional) in 2002.  So, in my opinion, the top two seasons are skewed but they are still astonishing.  I'd like to say they were accomplishments but standing still and doing nothing is not an accomplishment.

Williams and Mantle in 1957 were the only batters to do it in the same season; it was also in the same league, so Mantle is the only one to not lead the league in OBP.  Williams beat Mantle across the board in averages in 1957 and even in home runs (HR) in fewer at bats (AB).

What's astonishing about these 14 seasons by only five batters is how versatile they were.  Mantle and Hornsby did it only once and they have the lowest OBP.  Ruth 5, Bonds 4, Williams 3.  Williams was at .499 in his two triple crown seasons: 1942 and 1947.

In half of the seasons the batter led in HR, nine times at least 41, under 30 only twice, three times setting new HR records:
1920 Ruth 54
1921 Ruth 59
2001 Bonds 73.

Only Williams in 1954 and 1957 had fewer than 100 Runs but eight times batters led the league, including Ruth's record 177 in 1921.

Not surprisingly their RBI suffered: five under 100, including Williams twice under 90.  But four seasons led, all by Ruth.

Only Hornsby led in Hits: 227; he also is the only one with fewer than 100 BB: 89, which still led.  Williams is the only one to not lead in BB, Mantle's lone 1957 victory over Williams.

All had fewer than 100 SO but Ruth twice led the league.  Williams the fewest: 27 in 1941.

Mantle, the only switch hitter, was the only one not Hit By Pitch (HBP).  Only Bonds was in double figures and had the top four totals, all more than twice anyone else but Williams.

Only Ruth, all four times, and Hornsby had any SH.  This was addressed in the previous post and is probably a function of the scoring rules in the 1920s, which were both dumb and in flux. Among these 14 seasons before 1954 SF was null.

Ground into Double Play (GDP) was null in the 1920s.  Williams is the only one in double figures.

Williams stole two bases (SB) in 1941, none in 1954 (no attempts) and 1957.  Ruth had the most: 17 but in those seasons he was caught stealing (CS) 21 and 13 times.  Mantle is next: 16 SB, 3 CS.  Bonds has good numbers.  Hornsby: 5 SB, 12 CS.  I guess managers didn't pay much attention in the 1920s.

Surprisingly, only six of 14 led in batting average (BA).  Obviously, only one could lead in 1957: Williams .388, Mantle .365.  Bonds had the two lowest BA in the two seasons with his lowest BB among his four seasons; but Bonds led in BA the years he had those ridiculous BB totals:
2004 .362, 232 BB
2002 .370, 198 BB.

11 of the 14 had BA at least .362.  Hornsby and Williams over .400.  Ruth next with .393 with only 3 of those suspect SH, so his BA is solid and with null SF.  Ruth did have 10 SH in 1926, so his 184/495 (.3717) could really be 184/505 (.3643).

Perhaps the most astonishing thing is that all but Mantle led in slugging average (SLG).  11 of 14 at least .731!  Four at least .812.  Lowest OPS: Williams 1954: 1.148.

All in all: wow!

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