Shouldn't there be some reasonable minimum amount of playing time?
There is precedent for a player being voted Rookie of the Year (RoY) with little playing time. Recently departed Hall of Famer Willie McCovey had only 219 plate appearances (PA) in 1959 but was voted RoY. However, McCovey didn't make his major league debut until July 30, 1959. So McCovey played regularly. He just came up late. 100 PA per month times 6 months = 600 PA, way more than the 502 now required in a 162 game schedule. In 1959 the schedule was still 154 games. OPS+ didn't exist in 1959 but we now know that McCovey had 188 in 1959. Hank Aaron led the National League for qualifying batters in OPS+ with 182.
Batting: OPS+ 152
Pitching: ERA+ 126
Good but not astonishing. But look at Ohtani's PA and Innings Pitched (IP):
PA (needed to qualify for leading league: 502): 367 (73%)
IP (needed to qualify for leading league: 162): 52 (32%)
Plus, Ohtani played 82 games as Designated Hitter (DH) and 10 as a pitcher. Ohtani did not play any other fielding position. We might tolerate players in their 30s being DH but Ohtani was only 23 years old.
So the real question: why even consider Ohtani?
Yankee third baseman Miguel Andujar had 606 PA. That's 21% above the 502 minimum. And Andujar had OPS+ 126. Oh, Andujar played 149 games, 132 started at third base.
Yesterday I received this from my friend Cliff:
I've read a couple of things recently on why no one compiles a season BA
of .40 any more. It occurred to me that they are missing an important
point- the season is longer now than it was in 1941 or the 1920s. The
more games you play or the more ABs you have, the harder it is to have a high BA. If you look at the three highest season BAs since 1942,
you've got Tony Gwynn, who played 110 games, George Brett, in 117 games,
and Ted Williams in 1957, in 132 games. Even in 1941 Williams missed 11
games. Since the season was expanded in 1961, there have been 61
hitters who qualified for the title and had a BA of at least .35, and 42
of them played fewer than 155 games. Wade Boggs was a bit of an outlier
since he played 161 and 155 games in his top two BA seasons.
Ignoring the lack of a third zero, this is a good point.
Bigger deal in 1941: hitting .400 or hitting in 56 consecutive games? Friday, September 30, 2016
The stats above show that a .400 BA had been done a dozen times before 1941 in the modern era, which is generally traced back to 1901. It had only been 11 years since the previous .400 hitter.
Since 1941 the same number of batters had hit at least .370: 13.
There are two sets of data in that post for players who qualified for the league lead, for which Ohtani had only 73% . Here they are again but sorted ascending on AB:
|8||Shoeless Joe Jackson||571||.408||641||1911||23||CLE||AL||147||126||233||45||19||7||83||56||42||8||6||41||.468||.590||1.058||*98|
Ted Williams in 1941 played 143 of 154 games. His AB are low because he walked 147 times, the only .400 hitter on this list with more than 100 BB. In other words, Ted Williams showed up for work and worked.
Among the more recent list for players with BA at least .370, 6 of the 13 had fewer than 471 AB. But the lowest PA was 506, way more than Ohtani's 367.
Rod Carew had 27% more AB than George Brett but his BA (.388) was only two points lower. Tony Gwynn had the highest BA (.394) but the second lowest AB in that season; Carew had 32% more AB than Gwynn in 1994.
To quote my friend again:
The more games you play or the more ABs you have, the harder it is to have a high BA.
So if Ohtani had played more his performance would likely have not been as good. If I were voting for RoY, I would not consider Shohei Ohtani.
Should Ohtani be on the All Star team? Saturday, June 2, 2018