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Nontraditional Batters

Posted by Raphy on January 27, 2009

Traditionally,  certain types of players have been cast for specific positions in the batting order (speedy leadoff hitter, contact #2 hitter etc.).  Here are some players who bucked the trend. All lists are 1956-2008.

Disclaimer: This is by no means meant to be worst of list. To make this list a player has to play a tremendous amount of games hitting in a  particular slot in the batting order.  Additionally,  players who get their stats in bunches, as I suspect was the case with Billy Williams,  will be penalized as well. Nevertheless, I thought that it would still be fun to take a look.

Most games in a season batting leadoff, but not recording a stolen base.

 Pete Rose         1975   162 Ind. Games
 Chuck Schilling   1961   150 Ind. Games
 Dave Cash         1975   149 Ind. Games
 Pete Rose         1973   148 Ind. Games
 Pete Rose         1976   147 Ind. Games
 Pete Rose         1971   146 Ind. Games
 Pete Rose         1978   146 Ind. Games
 Don Kessinger     1969   146 Ind. Games
 Pete Rose         1968   145 Ind. Games
 Don Kessinger     1968   145 Ind. Games
 Pete Rose         1969   144 Ind. Games

Usually, the Batting Game tool  is not perfect for searches like this, because it doesn't take into account playing time and games with multiple occurrences. However, when a player can go an entire season, play every single game and get shutout in them all, then you know he is the champ.  In 1975 Pete Rose did just that. 162 games leading off  and not 1 stolen base.  In fact for his career Rose averaged 8.75 stolen bases per 162 games leading off.

Most games batting second and recording at least 1 strikeout.

 Dan Uggla         2007    95 Ind. Games
 Jay Bell          1999    93 Ind. Games
 Jay Bell          1993    91 Ind. Games
 Royce Clayton     2004    90 Ind. Games
 Lou Brock         1964    90 Ind. Games
 Phil Bradley      1985    89 Ind. Games
 Dwight Evans      1982    87 Ind. Games
 Alex Rodriguez    1998    86 Ind. Games
 Dwight Evans      1984    86 Ind. Games
 Robby Thompson    1989    85 Ind. Games

If you look further down the list Jay Bell's name pops up a few more times. For his career,  Bell averaged over 116 strikeouts per 162 games from the #2 hole.

Most games batting third without knocking in a runner.

 Carl Yastrzemski  1975   110 Ind. Games
 Billy Williams    1968   110 Ind. Games
 Dale Murphy       1986   109 Ind. Games
 Billy Williams    1967   107 Ind. Games
 Tony Gwynn        1989   106 Ind. Games
 Ryan Zimmerman    2007   105 Ind. Games
 Carl Yastrzemski  1963   105 Ind. Games
 George Brett      1976   105 Ind. Games
 Carl Yastrzemski  1968   104 Ind. Games
 Cal Ripken        1984   104 Ind. Games

If you click on the link, you'll see that two names dramatically  jump out from this search Carl Yastrzemski and Billy Williams.  Yastrzemski averaged 91 RBI per 162 games  as a number 3 hitter in his career. Williams's average was 100.5 per 162.

Most games batting fourth without hitting a homerun.

 Joe Torre         1969   141 Ind. Games
 Bobby Murcer      1973   141 Ind. Games
 Bob Watson        1973   140 Ind. Games
 Justin Morneau    2008   140 Ind. Games
 Ron Santo         1963   139 Ind. Games
 Greg Luzinski     1982   139 Ind. Games
 Joe Torre         1971   138 Ind. Games
 Alex Johnson      1970   138 Ind. Games
 Bobby Bonilla     1989   138 Ind. Games
 Bobby Bonilla     1991   138 Ind. Games

The two names that appear most often on this list are Joe Torre and Bobby Bonilla.  For his career Torre hit 20.25 home runs per 162 games batting fourth.   Bonilla's career was a mixed bag. In all he hit  26.39 home runs per 162 games batting fourth.

I'm going to leave it at that. If anyone wants to pick it up, I'd be interested to see what you come up with.  One word of caution: This doesn't work well on the career level. There are players who are so good at what they do that they dominate the playing time at their batting order postion and then by default finish at the top of the zero games as well. For example, the player with the second most career 0 SB games from the leadoff slot is Rickey Henderson.   So try it with single seasons, I think that the top few names are revealing.

4 Responses to “Nontraditional Batters”

  1. bravesfan513 Says:

    Interesting thing I found out while playing with batting orders. Cesar Izturis set an NL record last year (since 1956 anyway) with 87 games batting ninth in the order. That crazy Tony LaRussa...

    That list has a lot of pinch hitters and relief pitchers in it. If you switch it to just starters batting 9th, Izturis leads by a lot, with 81. Jason Kendall is second with 46, which he did last year with the Brewers. Then you have Phil Niekro and other pitchers who started a lot of games.

    If you switch it to non-pitchers, you basically have Izturis, Kendall, and a bunch of other people who played for Tony LaRussa in 1997, 1998, and 2008. Jack Wilson started and hit 9th 25 times for the Pirates last year...I didn't know that.

  2. TheGoof Says:

    Obviously, you can win with the "untraditional" player. Rose (leadoff) and Yaz (third spot) top their lists with their 1975 performances, when both took their teams to the World Series. And Brett, Brock and Bonilla also took their teams to the postseason in years on that list. Of course, there are plenty of examples of untraditional lineups that faltered...

  3. Jgeller Says:

    How about them Rays this past season, Iwamura led off with 143 games without a steal. Meanwhile they had 3 20+ SB guys in their lineup at other spots.

  4. whiz Says:

    Regarding the clean-up hitters with many non-HR games, in many cases they were still the best slugger on the team (sadly), or at least they were first or tied for first for HR on their team: Torre, Murcer, Morneau, Santo, Bonilla in '89. Torre had a monster year in '71 and was MVP.

    For the other cases, Johnson was first on his team in OPS, and the others were second in OPS on their team that year. In Luzinski's case he lead the team in 2B by far.