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Loney Snaps Homerless Streak: 45 Games, 161 At-Bats

Posted by John Autin on May 28, 2011

Dodgers 1B James Loney hit his 2nd HR of the year tonight, off Javier Vazquez.

What next? -- the McCourts reconcile?

Now that he's (ahem) "out of his slump," let's have a look at the worst qualifying seasons by a 1B in the live-ball era:

OPS+ of 75 or less by a qualifying 1B, 1920-2011

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 Ivy Griffin 47 1920 23 PHA AL 129 508 467 46 111 15 1 0 20 17 0 49 11 13 0 0 3 3 .238 .281 .274 .555 *3/4
2 Adam LaRoche 54 2011 31 WSN NL 43 177 151 15 26 4 0 3 15 25 0 37 0 0 1 2 1 0 .172 .288 .258 .546 *3
3 Johnny Walker 54 1921 24 PHA AL 112 443 423 41 109 14 5 2 46 9 0 29 3 8 0 0 5 0 .258 .278 .329 .607 *3/2
4 Howie Schultz 56 1947 24 TOT NL 116 430 404 30 90 19 1 6 35 21 0 70 1 4 0 11 0 0 .223 .263 .319 .582 *3
5 Johnny Sturm 58 1941 25 NYY AL 124 568 524 58 125 17 3 3 36 37 0 50 3 4 0 10 3 5 .239 .293 .300 .592 *3
6 Charlie Grimm 59 1920 21 PIT NL 148 581 533 38 121 13 7 2 54 30 0 40 4 14 0 0 7 8 .227 .273 .289 .562 *3
7 Buddy Hassett 60 1940 28 BSN NL 124 485 458 59 107 19 4 0 27 25 0 16 0 2 0 14 4 0 .234 .273 .293 .566 *39
8 Phil Todt 61 1927 25 BOS AL 140 571 516 55 122 22 6 6 52 28 0 23 3 24 0 0 6 2 .236 .280 .337 .617 *3
9 James Loney 63 2011 27 LAD NL 51 196 181 9 43 6 0 1 14 12 3 20 1 0 2 3 2 0 .238 .286 .287 .573 *3
10 Aubrey Huff 67 2011 34 SFG NL 48 199 181 13 39 10 0 4 23 15 3 41 0 0 3 8 2 1 .215 .271 .337 .608 *39/7
11 Ray Schmandt 67 1922 26 BRO NL 110 429 396 54 106 17 3 2 44 21 0 28 1 11 0 0 6 6 .268 .306 .341 .647 *3
12 Daric Barton 68 2011 25 OAK AL 48 207 175 20 36 11 0 0 12 28 3 35 2 0 2 4 1 1 .206 .319 .269 .587 *3
13 Jim Bottomley 68 1935 35 CIN NL 107 423 399 44 103 21 1 1 49 18 0 24 2 4 0 11 3 0 .258 .294 .323 .617 *3
14 Walter Holke 68 1921 28 BSN NL 150 621 579 60 151 15 10 3 63 17 0 41 2 23 0 0 8 11 .261 .284 .337 .621 *3
15 Pete Rose 69 1983 42 PHI NL 151 555 493 52 121 14 3 0 45 52 5 28 2 1 7 11 7 7 .245 .316 .286 .602 *39/7
16 Pete Runnels 69 1957 29 WSH AL 134 536 473 53 109 18 4 2 35 55 5 51 2 1 5 7 2 3 .230 .310 .298 .608 *354
17 Roy Leslie 69 1922 27 PHI NL 141 567 513 44 139 23 2 6 50 37 0 49 0 17 0 0 3 7 .271 .320 .359 .679 *3
18 Harley Boss 70 1933 24 CLE AL 112 470 438 54 118 17 7 1 53 25 0 27 1 6 0 0 2 5 .269 .310 .347 .657 *3
19 Walter Holke 70 1925 32 TOT NL 104 353 318 35 86 13 4 2 37 20 0 18 0 15 0 0 1 3 .270 .314 .355 .669 *3
20 Les Scarsella 71 1937 23 CIN NL 110 354 329 35 81 11 4 3 34 17 0 26 1 7 0 10 5 0 .246 .285 .331 .617 *37/9
21 Enos Cabell 72 1981 31 SFG NL 96 413 396 41 101 20 1 2 36 10 0 47 1 4 2 6 6 7 .255 .274 .326 .600 *35
22 Whitey Lockman 72 1957 30 NYG NL 133 502 456 51 113 9 4 7 30 39 3 19 2 2 3 3 5 5 .248 .308 .331 .639 *37/98
23 Eddie Waitkus 72 1951 31 PHI NL 145 664 610 65 157 27 4 1 46 53 0 22 0 1 0 8 0 3 .257 .317 .320 .636 *3
24 Jack Burns 72 1931 23 SLB AL 144 621 570 75 148 27 7 4 70 42 0 58 1 8 0 0 19 12 .260 .312 .353 .664 *3
25 Walter Holke 72 1922 29 BSN NL 105 424 395 35 115 9 4 0 46 14 0 23 1 14 0 0 6 8 .291 .317 .334 .651 *3
26 Kevin Young 73 1993 24 PIT NL 141 508 449 38 106 24 3 6 47 36 3 82 9 5 9 10 2 2 .236 .300 .343 .643 *3/5
27 Mickey Vernon 73 1948 30 WSH AL 150 619 558 78 135 27 7 3 48 54 0 43 1 6 0 17 15 11 .242 .310 .332 .641 *3
28 Art Mahan 73 1940 27 PHI NL 146 591 544 55 133 24 5 2 39 40 0 37 1 6 0 10 4 0 .244 .297 .318 .615 *3/1
29 Earl Sheely 73 1931 38 BSN NL 147 586 538 30 147 15 2 1 77 34 0 21 2 12 0 0 0 0 .273 .319 .314 .633 *3
30 Justin Morneau 74 2011 30 MIN AL 43 178 165 12 38 11 0 2 13 11 0 27 2 0 0 5 0 0 .230 .287 .333 .620 *3/D
31 Darin Erstad 74 1999 25 ANA AL 142 638 585 84 148 22 5 13 53 47 3 101 1 2 3 16 13 7 .253 .308 .374 .683 *37/8D
32 Tony Lupien 74 1948 31 CHW AL 154 700 617 69 152 19 3 6 54 74 0 38 0 9 0 3 11 7 .246 .327 .316 .643 *3
33 Charlie Grimm 74 1933 34 CHC NL 107 413 384 38 95 15 2 3 37 23 0 15 0 6 0 16 1 0 .247 .290 .320 .610 *3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/28/2011.

Five current seasons on that list.  It's early yet, but it's getting pretty late for Adam LaRoche, Aubrey HuffDaric Barton, Loney and Justin Morneau.

How about that Johnny Sturm? He gets one season in the big leagues, starting at 1B for the Yankees, ending the 2-year tenure of Babe Dahlgren; sullies the sainted Lou Gehrig's position even more than Dahlgren did; and winds up a World Champion.

Sturm is the only one of the past players here whose team won it all. Pete Rose made it to the Series.

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 28th, 2011 at 1:02 am and is filed under Announcements, Home Runs, Streak Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

25 Responses to “Loney Snaps Homerless Streak: 45 Games, 161 At-Bats”

  1. JA, a mega-interesting list. Thank you.

    A quick response is that Justin Morneau is more likely to come off this list than Aubrey Huff, IMO.

    Need more time to mull over the details .....

  2. 24 of 33 seasons are 1957 or earlier.

    Would seem there once was a different perception of the kind of player who needed at first base.

    I'll throw one out there - was it that before "modern" gloves, it wasn't just anyone who could reliably catch every throw at first. And, therefore teams were more willing to sacrifice some offense to have a guy who could make all those putouts at first? Just a thought. Any ideas?

  3. John Autin Says:

    @2, Neil L. -- I'm starting to wonder about Morneau. I need to read up more on players who have missed a serious chunk of time with a concussion. There definitely been some players who never regained their old level.

    P.S. Don't write off LaRoche just yet. He's a famously slow starter; check out his career monthly splits:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=larocad01&year=Career&t=b

    LaRoche's career BA in April is .208; before the All-Star Break, .246; after the break, .295. I don't know why it would be so, but this is his 8th full season and it's pretty consistent.

  4. dodgerdave Says:

    Actually, there are five guys up there for 2011 alone. LaRoche, Huff, Loney, Barton, and Morneau.

  5. John Autin Says:

    @2, Doug -- I agree with that in general, which is why I drew the 1920 cutoff. Not just because of the glove, but also because in the dead-ball era there was so much more bunting and more plays on the infield; a good defensive first baseman was considered vital. (When Babe Ruth chose his all-time team, he named defensive wizard Hal Chase at 1B, not Larrupin' Lou Gehrig.) I think that view started to shift during the '20s and was pretty much "out" by the '30s, when there were lots of burly, slugging 1Bs.

  6. John Autin Says:

    @4, Dodgerdave -- Thanks for the correction; I'll fix the post.

  7. Nash Bruce Says:

    @3 JA- I agree. In my mind, frankly, he's not a factor anymore. And, I say this, in the context of baseball, and not the larger 'game' of life. Some things are more important than baseball. But, on the baseball end of things, the Twins have done just fine without him, when he has missed large amounts of time, in the past few years.
    I wish that they could have traded him, for some prospects, or even pitching. In a greater sense, I wish him well in the bigger world that follows, outside of baseball.

  8. DoubleDiamond Says:

    I see that both of the first basemen that I mentioned recently as ones who had batted lead-off for Phillies pennant-winning teams, Eddie Waitkus and Pete Rose, are both on the list. Rose is actually listed for a different year, although the Phillies also won the pennant that year, with Rose mostly not hitting in the top spot.

    When I saw Rose's name in this list, I wondered if I'd see others who had played other positions, particularly those not usually associated with power hitting, but had moved to first later in their careers, but none stood out right away.

  9. rogerbusby Says:

    How about Charlie Grimm's symmetry? First season as a regular and last season as a regular. And he squeezed out a very nice career in between. From what I've read ("Veeck As In Wreck"?) he was about as good a guy as a team could have around.

  10. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Waitkus had suffered a major off-field injury a year or two earlier. (I won't go into details here, but I'm sure you can find details of it elsewhere.) This may havve affected his on-field performance.

    A bit off-topic here - I just discovered that I've been posting from one of my computers (the one I'm on now) with an incorrectly-typed email address. I just fixed it. I hope it hasn't affected my standing here.

  11. DoubleDiamond Says:

    I just realized that Waitkus is listed here for 1951, not 1950.

  12. Too late, Loney. Between half my fantasy team being on the DL and my other half being one- or zero-dimensional, I am done. Done. Thanks a lot, James.

  13. John Autin Says:

    @12, Fireworks -- Just curious: What were you expecting from Loney this year? Are you in a deep, NL-only league?

    BTW, I stopped doing fantasy baseball a few years ago b/c I couldn't take the frustration. So, you have my sympathy. But when my buddies start to relate their roto dramas, I cut them off with, "You know that it's all luck, right?"

  14. John Autin Says:

    @9, Rogerbusby -- Grimm was also a very successful manager, too, as you probably know. His full major & minor league managerial record can be seen in the middle of this page:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=grimm-001cha

  15. I would venture that Morneau is more likely to be on this list at the end of the year than the others, actually, but that's because it's a list of qualifiers, and he's the only one who will get all season to snap out of a slump. The others will almost certainly be replaced if they suck this bad all year.

  16. Seeing Adam LaRosche's name up there reminds me that there is a lack of quality French ballplayers in MLB.

  17. @15
    Carl, thanks for the post.

    Are you saying the Twins will continue to put Justin Morneau in the starting lineup despite his lack of productivity?

  18. @ 17

    The Twins are already out of contention for the season. They're a small market team on the hook for Morneau to the tune of $14 million dollars for this year and the following two seasons. Unless there's a medically justifiable reason (post-concussion syndrome?) to put him on the long-term DL (where maybe they have insurance for his contract- I don't know) I would imagine that they not only give Morneau ample opportunity for the remainder of this season but for a good portion of the next to bounce back & justify that contract.

  19. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    Seeing Darin Erstad on this list is sort of strange.
    He only played 78 games at 1st that season, but pulled off a 3.2 dWAR with only a −1.4 oWAR. Then in '00, puts together an offensive season for the ages, with 240 hits and 25 HRs, while getting a gold glove for left field, and 2.9 dWAR.
    BTW, he is the only guy to have 3 seasons of > 2.9 dWAR seasons.

  20. John Autin Says:

    @19, Duke -- Good points about Erstad's defensive prowess in the OF. Makes it all the more puzzling that he spent so much time at 1B. I can understand that the Angels had a full OF when he came up, with Edmonds in CF. But after Erstad had 4 strong OF seasons in a row (2000-03), averaging 2.4 dWAR, he shifted back to 1B exclusively for 2004-05, though he was only 30 at the time. Did he have a leg injury or something? I forget.

  21. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ John Autin,

    Great to have you blogging.
    About Erstad, I think I remember reading that he had found out his wife was 'seeing someone' while he was on the road. Obviously not fun to hear about for anyone, but Erstad took it very badly. The Angels were very protective of him, but I think it took an emotional toll he never recovered from.
    He also was involved with a supposedly 'dirty play' - that is somewhat topical. I believe during an inter-league game, he plowed into the Braves catcher, Johnny Estrada, when he clearly conceded the plate, plus there was no throw.
    Estrada never fully recovered after being highly touted by the Braves. And the Braves acted as if they were looking for retribution, but never got a chance.

  22. John Autin Says:

    @21, Dukeofflatbush -- "And the Braves acted as if they were looking for retribution, but never got a chance."

    That's the most concise analysis of the 1991-2005 Braves I've ever read! :)

  23. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ JA

    I can't think of the season, but it was during their Buffalo Bill's-esque run, after a Brave was hit in the top of an inning, Terry Pendleton, just past his prime, stormed off the field after the Braves pitcher did not retaliate.
    I watch a lot of baseball, but have never seen the likes of that.
    Pendleton didn't even have that much to say after the game and wasn't chastised by Brave brass. Odd all the way around.
    I remember at the time thinking that Pendleton was old school, and I had quite a bit of admiration for him for standing up for his teammates and sticking with the culture of the game that he believed in. But, lately especially after the Buster Posey incident, and the aforementioned Estrada/Erstad collision, plus a recent beaning, that resulted in facial fractures, I wonder how much of that 'culture' really belongs in the game today.
    I realize that it is a man's game and there is emotions on the field, but to ruin a career or even ruin a season, especially someone as important to a club as Posey is to the Giants, does not seem right.
    I remember the Jeter play of a few years ago, when he tried to take an extra base on an uncovered third, and the Blue Jay catcher hustled up the line to cover third and collided with a sliding Jeter and dislocated his shoulder. That was a play that seemed completely accidental and sportsmanlike, just with unfortunate consequences. Thank god Jeter took his time rehabbing and did not rush back and ruin his career.
    I just think the Posey play could of been avoided. The player bore down on Posey and lowered his shoulder on the first base side, causing maximum impact. I though he could of slid more effectively and less dangerously.
    Just curious on your take on the whole contact side of the sport and the current rules.

  24. John Autin Says:

    @23, Duke -- Thoughtful comment. My take:

    I'm no big fan of collisions at home plate or anywhere else. If a rule could be written that would minimize such collisions, without fundamentally changing the nature of tag plays, I would be in favor of it. I'm just not sure exactly what the rule would be.

    I presume the rule would have to start with a goal of preventing the catcher from blocking the plate. OK, that's admirable; but then, exactly where should he position himself so that he can make the tag? And what happens in those bang-bang plays when the throw arrives at the same moment as the runner -- and what if the catcher can't field the throw without crossing in front of the plate, blocking the runner's path? This last factor seems like a big problem in coming up with a rule that restricts the catcher's movement on tag plays.

    As for the runner's responsibility under a new rule, I presume the goal would be to prevent him from slamming into the catcher, as long as he can touch the plate without doing so. But the exact language for that would also be tricky. As we saw with the Posey play, it all happens so fast, and the catcher is often moving towards the plate when the player has to decide on his approach; the runner has to make up his mind before the catcher has necessarily reached his final position. I think most people who've seen the replay would say that the runner could have slid to the outside of the plate, to avoid the body contact. But what if he slides and Posey manages to get his body in front of the plate, or (in particular) his shin-guarded leg? That's a dangerous situation for the runner, too.

    I can't see a way to write a rule that doesn't place a tremendous burden of judgment on the home plate umpire, who already has a tough job of finding a position that lets him see simultaneously the catcher's tag and the runner's contact with home plate. Is it fair or wise to give him the added responsibility of judging whether both parties have complied with a new set of restrictions?

    And if that burden is not placed on the umpire, what then? -- would the enforcement be handled post facto by the league reviewing videotape? If so, is it fair to judge the players' actions during a split-second of decision and execution, by reviewing a videotape in super-slow-motion? And what might the penalties be? And how to prevent the judgment from being affected by whether or not either party got injured on the play?

    It's a big fat can of worms. The only way I can think of to change the rule without unleashing a nightmare of detail is to make all plays at the plate force plays. I can't tell yet what I think of that wild notion.

  25. @ John Autin

    I have/had Morales, Utley, Lidge, Cruz, Zimmerman, and Longoria, among others. So I had no options at 1B but was hoping for something solid from Loney. That's what I get for missing the draft and ending up with a guy that, until he proves otherwise in the future, has ruined his career celebrating a walk-off homer (hyperbole, I know). Anyway, my pitching wasn't too terrible and I've made good moves there (Colon!) but my offense is just terrible. My goal is just to get out of the second division.