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Jacoby Ellsbury’s historically amazing season

Posted by Andy on August 18, 2011

Jacoby Ellsbury is just killing it this year. He's already got 22 HR, 78 RBI, and 87 runs.

Here the only leadoff hitters (minimum 100 games out of the #1 spot) to reach the same totals as Ellsbury, along with a 130 OPS+:

Jacoby Ellsbury 22 137 78 87 2011 27 BOS 120 547 496 155 31 2 39 78 31 11 .313 .368 .516 .884 *8/D
Grady Sizemore 33 133 90 101 2008 25 CLE 157 745 634 170 39 5 98 130 38 5 .268 .374 .502 .876 *8/D
Hanley Ramirez 29 145 81 125 2007 23 FLA 154 706 639 212 48 6 52 95 51 14 .332 .386 .562 .948 *6/D
Alfonso Soriano 46 135 95 119 2006 30 WSN 159 728 647 179 41 2 67 160 41 17 .277 .351 .560 .911 *7
Darin Erstad 25 137 100 121 2000 26 ANA 157 747 676 240 39 6 64 82 28 8 .355 .409 .541 .951 *78D/3
Craig Biggio 22 143 81 146 1997 31 HOU 162 744 619 191 37 8 84 107 47 10 .309 .415 .501 .916 *4/D
Brady Anderson 50 156 110 117 1996 32 BAL 149 687 579 172 37 5 76 106 21 8 .297 .396 .637 1.034 *8/D
Kirby Puckett 31 141 96 119 1986 26 MIN 161 723 680 223 37 6 34 99 20 12 .328 .366 .537 .903 *8
Brian Downing 28 132 84 109 1982 31 CAL 158 725 623 175 37 2 86 58 2 1 .281 .368 .482 .850 *7
Bobby Bonds 32 151 85 93 1975 29 NYY 145 626 529 143 26 3 89 137 30 17 .270 .375 .512 .888 *98D/7
Bobby Bonds 39 142 96 131 1973 27 SFG 160 738 643 182 34 4 87 148 43 17 .283 .370 .530 .900 *9/8
Bobby Bonds 26 134 78 134 1970 24 SFG 157 745 663 200 36 10 77 189 48 10 .302 .375 .504 .879 *98
Tommy Harper 31 146 82 104 1970 29 MIL 154 692 604 179 35 4 77 107 38 16 .296 .377 .522 .899 *54/789
Eddie Joost 23 137 81 128 1949 33 PHA 144 682 525 138 25 3 149 80 2 1 .263 .429 .453 .883 *6
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/17/2011.

Through 121 Red Sox games, Ellsbury is on pace for 116 runs, 104 RBI, and 29 HR. The only guy on the list to match those totals was Brady Anderson in 1996, and he had the benefit of 43 games batting second, 50 homers, and the possibility of a steroid boost.

Aside from Ellsbury, only Anderson, Puckett, and Sizemore played primarily center field.

He's also younger than the median age of the list above and will probably only get better.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2011 at 10:00 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

140 Responses to “Jacoby Ellsbury’s historically amazing season”

  1. Great blog topic, Andy. First line of blog should have runs (R) after the number 87.

  2. I realized Ellsbury was having a good season, but without the context of your list, Andy, I wouldn't have realized how good.

    Despite all the shortcomings of RBI, I think that may be the most impressive part of his 2011 statistics. What a nice combination of power and run production.

    He must be the unseen key behind a number of Red Sox big innings by driving in the bottom of the order and turning the batting order over without ending the inning.

  3. Thanks for that correction Neil.

  4. Speaking of center fielders who were just kinda good prior to this year: Man oh man, Shane Victorino is crushing the ball this season.

  5. You had me nodding in agreement, Andy -- right up until the last claim: "will probably only get better."

    On a purely actuarial basis, I think it's unlikely that he'll get better:
    -- He turns 28 next month. On that basis alone, the odds are that he has peaked.
    -- He's never had a year remotely like this one, at any level. Ellsbury hit 10 HRs in 259 minor-league games, with an .820 OPS. I have no way of knowing if his 22 HRs this year does or does not represent a new level of ability, but a betting man would have to say no.

  6. It reminded me of Dykstra's 93 season. He had somewhat less power but it also came out of nowhere.

  7. Thanks to Hardy and Mike Flynn at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston for just discussing this post on the rado with Sean McAdam moments ago!

  8. It's a great year, and he's a terrific talent. I'm not sure it's historically amazing, in that you've posted six other years since 1996. It seems that Elsbury is also benefiting from the evolving concept of what a lead-off hitter does. In an earlier era, he would have been moved back in the line up. Then he'd still be having a terrific year, but not at lead off

  9. So, next thing you know, Andy, you will become a guest expert, interviewed on the Hub. Two BR radio personalities in one week! :-)

  10. Mike, keep in mind that the guys on this list did in in a full seasonwhat Ellsbury has done just so far. By the end of the year, he likely will have outpaced just about everybody else here.

  11. On a tangent ... The AL OBP this year is .322 overall, .323 for leadoff hitters. The 1st batter of the game has reached at a .306 clip. Batters leading off innings are at .316.

    Uh ... guys?

  12. @#8 Mike L.
    I agree with the whole "middle of the lineup" argument. Is his 2011 any better than Granderson's? If Gardner and Jetes were batting 8th & 9th (maybe they should have been all year anyway) and Granderson bats leadoff, what do his numbers look like? just saying.....

  13. I have mixed feelings about "leadoff" splits. The better hitters (especially ones with more power) usually bat lower in the order so Ellsbury is being compared against an intentionally depleted sample here. But it makes for fun blog discussion! :-)

  14. Andy: Not running him down. He may surpass any of them in his counting stats. His qualitative numbers, BA, OBA, OPS, OPS+ puts him right in their range, so I was using that as a benchmark.

    Between Ellsbury and all the Jim Rice love going on in other posts, it just may be too much Sawx-love for a Yankee fan to digest...

  15. That Darin Erstad 2000 season always blows my mind every time I see it. Just bizarre.

  16. @5
    JA, I always thought that seasonal hitting peaks extended a bit past 28 years up to around age 30 or so.

    Mike L., your point about the overall balance and strength of the Red Sox lineup being responsible for keeping Ellsbury in the leadoff spot is an interesting one, I think.

    So his numbers would be better suited, on a "normal" team, to what, a number three hitter?

    When you look at Andy's list, there were obviously other hitters with similar seasons whom their managers deemed most valuable leading off for a full season. So I don't know if your point is valid in #8 for that reason.

    It seems nitpicky to say that projecting Jacoby Ellsbury's walk totals for the season will put him at the lower end of the list for walks so that, in that sense, he is not an ideal leadoff hitter.

  17. Wow... Bobby Bonds could have made a killing as a 2 or 4 hitter.

    The '70 Giants had Ron Hunt (281/394/381) as an excellent leadoff option, but he didn't steal bases, so by the standards of the day he wasn't fit for the top of the order. The '73 Giants had Gary Maddox and Gary Matthews - and they each hit first nine times - but usually they were down in the order, while they used Tito Fuentes in the second spot (277/328/358, ugh).

    The '75 Yankees are interesting, in that they commonly went with Frank White, Elliot Maddox, and Bonds in that order for most of April and May. Then they swapped Bonds and White in the order until Bonds got hurt in June.

    It looks like Maddox then got hurt while Bonds was out, and missed the rest of the year - a huge loss (he was at 307/382/394 through 55 games). The Yankees put Bonds back at the top of the order, kept White third (290/372/430), and then Billy Martin settled on Sandy Alomar in the second spot - and in defiance of all logic, he hit much better there (280/321/362) than anywhere else (he was 209/243/262 when Martin moved him).

    This lineup was only used once, and I wonder why - it seems reasonable enough, though it's also no wonder the Yanks went and got Willie Randolph for the next season. Maybe swap Bonds and White at one and two here.

  18. @10 -- Yes, but 7 of those other 13 leadoff seasons had a pitcher batting 9th.

    Bobby Bonds in '73 produced 96 RBI mainly from the leadoff spot, on a team that scored 739 runs (4.56 R/G). Bonds led the team in RBI -- by 20! He drove in 13.0% of his team's runs, scored 17.7%, and had a Run and/or RBI on 30.7% of his team's runs.

    Ellsbury has driven in 12.0%, scored 13.4%, and scored/driven 25.4% of Boston's runs.

    A few other seasons on the list above would also rate better than Ellsbury by the %-of-team-runs method, including Tommy Harper '70 (30.3%, led the team in RBI); Soriano '06 (28.6%); Puckett '86 (29.0%); etc.

    Ellsbury's having a very good, very balanced year, and he's playing great defense. But he's not having a better offensive year than most of the guys on that list.

  19. PS - I realize that Alomar's '75 numbers and Fuentes' '73 numbers are a wash - so, again, ugh - but Alomar so outperformed his prior results after he began batting second, I thought it was interesting to note. He improved to "ugh", which about says it all for the '75 Yanks.

    Incidentally, Bonds was later on traded by the Angels to the White Sox for Brian Downing, who then shows up on this list in 1982. (Interesting and underrated career for him.) Mickey Rivers, who never met a baseball he couldn't swing at, was one half of what the Yanks got back for Bonds once Martin shoved him out the door - and he actually finished third in the MVP vote for the '76 AL champs. (Ed Figeroa also had some good seasons for New York. It actually turns out to have been a net-plus trade for the Bombers.)

  20. JA - I was going to note the same thing. Boston has a .335 OBP out of their number 9 hitters. Is that the best ever?

    I checked some other teams in the DH era that I knew were stacked throughout the lineup, like the 1995 Indians (.293 out of the 9 spot but .369!!! out of the 8 spot - their leadoff and 2 hitters had .330 OBPs, mostly because Vizquel hit 2nd and Lofton was hurt and replaced by Kirby - think about that, Boston is getting the same OBP out of its 9 spot as the 95 Indians got out of their 1-2 spots) and the 1998 Yankees (a .290 OBP out of the 9 spot, but a .342 out of the 8 spot), and even those teams didn't have anything near a .335 OBP out of their number 9 spot.

    Now, the number 8 spot in the Boston lineup is at .268, so that isn't great, but still it's better than having the .329 OBP and .203 OBP that Biggio saw in front of him in the 8 and 9 spots in the order.

  21. Nightfly @17, I know you meant to say Roy White, not Frank White.

  22. @18
    Very nice JA. Looking at the RPG of the player's team for that season is also a quick way of trying to put list members' accomplishments in a comparable context.

  23. LOL, yes I did. 1975 is just a little before my memory, which is much more familiar with Frank than Roy, so I conflated them. I might have done the same thing with Elliot and Garry Maddox, if I hadn't remembered Garry from all those years with the Phillies. ("Two third of the earth is covered by water, and the other third by Garry Maddox.")

  24. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Are Ertsad's 100 RBI in 2000 the record for a "pure" leadoff man (156/157 games batting1st)? Anderson had 110 RBI in '96, but as Andy noted, he batted 2nd 43 times that year.

    I remember that when Nomar (Garciaparra) was a rookie in 1997, a big deal was made out of his 98 RBI batting leadoff (152 of 153 games), and that it was a new record.

    @16/ Neill L. - Ellsbury's OBP (.368) is 16th in the AL, so he's still a pretty good choice as leadoff hitter. Pedroia, solely on OBA (.396), would be a better choice, but someone's gotta bat 1st, and someone's gotta bat 2nd...

    The Red Sox 7-8-9 hitters have actually been pretty decent this year, especially with Reddick and Scutaro posting good OBP's, so Ellsbury's power isn't being wasted too much.

  25. @7 The McAdam interview is here. Ellsbury comes up near the end:

  26. @24
    "- Ellsbury's OBP (.368) is 16th in the AL,.."

    Good point, Lawrence. I guess it doesn't matter if you walk or hit to get on base. Much of Ellsbury's OBP is due to his hitting.

    I probably still have difficulty shaking the notion of an ideal leadoff hitter being someone who works deep into the count, allows his teammates to see a lot of the opposition pitcher's stuff and draws a lot of walks.

    The distorting effect of home runs on a leadoff hitter's stats, particularly runs scored, is a complicated one. I don't think it's a simple answer about whether a high number of home runs would be more productive lower in the order than leadoff, especially in the NL.

  27. @5, 16: Curtis Granderson is 30 this year, and, batting stance/approach change or not, it goes to show that 30 is not too young.....
    @6: Looking back, I think that Dykstra (sadly) was probably juicing. Considering the troubles that he is in now, and the fact that he would do anything to win, and how bulked up he was that year, AND (takes breath) his past history of injury problems with the Phillies before '93......yeah.
    I thought for sure that Rickey Henderson would have been on this list, at least a couple of times. Not enough RBI's though.

  28. John DiFool Says:

    "I have no way of knowing if his 22 HRs this year does or does not represent a new level of ability, but a betting man would have to say no."

    Many hitters have a power surge in their late 20's which represents a new level of ability. Ells has always swung the bat hard, and while his 16.2% HR/flyball rate may seem a little high, Hit Tracker has him at an average of 396 feet/HR, which isn't shabby (and comparable to Papi Ortiz too, esp. in terms of speed off of the bat-103 MPH in both cases).

  29. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    I think it is funny a month ago we had a poll of which we'd rather have on our fictious team, Ellsbury or Gardner. I guess that question is mute. Alfonso Soriano's 2002 season missed by just 1 point of OBP +. I still consider that to be one of the all time greatest 'counting number seasons of all time.
    51 2B, 209 H, 39 HR, 41 SB.
    But I think the Yankees, who to me have been a historical train wreck when it comes to lineups, should have batted Giambi leadoff that year. They had nearly identical Power numbers, except Giambi had a .101 advantage on OBP. I know managers are in love with speed in the leadoff spot, but reaching base 10% more, is really hard to ignore. Bernie Williams also had an OBP of .415 that year to Soriano's .332.
    A recent blog asked why the '61 Yanks would bat Bobby Richardson 1st with his .305 OBP. Idiotic.
    NYC managers are so afraid of the press, they never seem to make common sense decisions. I feel bad for Giradi this year. Not only is he not putting the best lineup or fielders out there, he also has to deal with guys who shouldn't have their current positions, but NYC being what it is, You have to give Jeter and Posada time or you are the bad guy.
    Just wait till an old Juiceless A-rod gets near milestones and can't catch up to the fast ball.
    Mo might not be able to handle the long season either. I know it may just be an aberation, but if he wears down and by the time the playoffs come Robertson, Logan or Soriano are better rested or are a better match for a certain hitter, poor Girardi is stuck - like no other manager in baseball, following that idiotic formula. Just imagine if Robertson is brought in to get the save with Mo on the bench and he gives up the lead, Girardi's gone.

  30. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @26/ Neil L. Says: @24 "{"- Ellsbury's OBP (.368) is 16th in the AL,.."}
    Good point, Lawrence. I guess it doesn't matter if you walk or hit to get on base..."
    "....I don't think it's a simple answer about whether a high number of home runs would be more productive lower in the order than leadoff, especially in the NL."

    Neil L. - The lead-off candidates on any particular team frequently do not come close to what our qualifications are for an _ideal_ leadoff hitter. For example, in 1986, Kirby Puckett as leadoff hitter had less walks than HRs, and he hit 36 HR.
    But his OBA was still very good (.366 - the best on the Twins), and he was #2 in the AL in runs scored (119).

    Would Puckett have been utilized better batting 3rd or 4th? Perhaps, but that would've weakened the leadoff spot.

  31. Rickey '85.
    Better season than any of the above.
    Came up short on RBI due to walking 99 times and having Bobby Meachem in the 9 hole.
    Oh if George had just fired Yogi and hired Billy a week earlier...

  32. @29
    Duke, why is the managerial microscope always on high power in New York City? (capital intentional)

    Would the press and fans chew up and spit out a down-home Casey Stengall today?

    Also @29. Duke, I remember that Gardner vs Ellsbury blog, with quite a bit of heated debate on both sides. Their seasons have diverged considerably since then offensively, although both benefit from playing in monster lineups.

  33. @29,
    Agreed on all points.
    Tell you what, the only, and I mean Only thing that would get me to move back to nyc would to be Mgr or GM of the Yanx. If you and others on this site want to petition for me to get the job, I promise that I will bat Jeter 8th, and do all of the other things that a good saberfella would do.

  34. Great season and yet not even in the top 2 for MVP in his own division.

  35. John Autin Says:

    Voomo, I'd love to sign your petition to run the Yankees, but I already signed one for George Costanza.

    BTW, "Voomo Zanzibar" anagrams to "Razz Nova, I Boom."

  36. John Autin, thou ninja

  37. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @28/ John DiFool says: "...Many hitters have a power surge in their late 20's which represents a new level of ability..."

    John, in particular, Stan Musial, Yaz, and Al Simmons all had big HR surges at age-27 (39, 44, and 36HR respectively). However, all three had established themselves as much better offensive players than Ellsbury before age 27.

    I think Ellsbury's improvement as a hitter is real, but he's unlikely to hold on to all of his newly-found HR power. I'd love to be proved wrong, though.

    @34/Mart - Bautista is probably #1, but whom else would you put ahead of Ellsbury for AL MVP in the AL East? I am not disputing you, just curious. Granderson? Pedroia?

  38. Incidentally - ANOTHER 3-hit game for Boston last night. They probably can't wait to get to Kansas City and face Luke Hochevar tonight - they might surpass that their first time through the order.

  39. Duke at @29. I have to agree with you on all points. What an immense failure the Yankees have been, blundering about with all these horrible conundrums, always making the wrong choices on personnel and line-up placement. It's been close to a century, an endless, Bataan Death March of underachievement.

  40. LOL @39, well done.

  41. Interesting seeing Brian Downing as a leadoff hitter for the '82 Angels. I attended the playoff games at the Big A that year, and painfully remember their collapse in the ALCS, but I'd forgotten Downing was the leadoff man.

    Over his career Downing had significant time in every batting order position except 2nd and 8th, but batting 1st was his most common position, accounting for almost 30% of his career PAs, and almost double the PAs of his next highest batting order position (5th). Downing also had his highest figures for each of BA, OBP and SLG when batting leadoff.

    Downing could certainly take a walk (better than 1 walk per 8 PA for his career) but, nevertheless, leadoff seems something of an unusual fit for Downing given his lack of speed (50 SB, 44 CS for his career). Other thoughts?

  42. John Autin Says:

    Andy, since your full name isn't public, I am limited to: Dyan Nady.

  43. Actually, Jeter is batting .359 since dj3k, so, yeah i think he has to bat in the 2 hole until he retires. Gotta get those sacrifice bunts down in the first inning with the fastest man in baseball on base.

  44. John Autin Says:

    BTW ... July lobby scare: Cubs bar joy yell. Blue Jays cry "lob!"; curse jolly baby.

  45. Richard Chester Says:


    John, if you ever get bored and are looking for something new to do why don't you "join a hunt".

  46. I love how all the speculation about Brady Anderson and steroids is limited to the fact that he hit 50 home runs. Once.
    And then his HR totals went right back to normal. I can almost see his him thinking "Man! What a great year. 50 bombs as a CF! It was fun hitting home runs and being one of the best players in baseball....but it was more fun to be average and unnoticed. I'm going to go back to doing that".

  47. @34

    Or, perhaps, even his own team!


    Heard on SC that it's the first time Boston has had 3 3-hit games in succession ever!

  48. Early in the season you had a thread comparing Jacoby and Brett Gardner.I picked Gardner as the player I rather have based on a slight advantage in OBP.I did qualify my choice by saying one guy might pull away in the future.The future was the rest of this season.

  49. 10 Managers make poor lineups.Look at Ron Gardenhires lineups.

  50. Might it be more difficult as a leadoff batter to reach base?Pitchers probably bear down even harder,especially leading off the game and also leading off innings.Just a thought.

  51. I wish Joost had lived just a little longer so I could call him Eddie "95 and Still Alive" Joost.

  52. Richard Chester Says:


    It was the first occurrence of 3 successive 3-hit games at home for the Red Sox..

  53. @41
    Doug, thanks for reminding me of Brian Downing in the context of leadoff hitters.

    I remember him as being like ...... buff, in an era before steroids. Wasn't he the first ball player to lift weights and bulk up legitimately?

    I guess Downing's career as a leadoff hitter just goes to show that there is no statistically or anatomically typical leadoff hitter. The leadoff spot is defined by who hits there, not by some hypothetical ideal.

  54. @ Atom

    Yeah, I always wondered how he was able to suddenly turn off his super juicing power in 1997.

  55. 54 Perhaps he got scared and quit using.

  56. Though, Brady Anderson consistently had above average offensive numbers in depressed offensive years (like '92, when he was 34% above league average according to fangraphs's wRC+ metric).

    If you look at it, his '96 might be similar to Luis Gonzalez's (and Barry Bonds's) 2001 season, where an already solid hitter maybe just got a little luckier with fly ball %... Maybe?

  57. Yeah definitely, they were testing a lot back then. You're right.

  58. @38
    Nightfly, "any given Sunday" or "that's why they play the game"! If it were a video game or a computer simulation based on numbers, the Red Sox would pound Hochevar 99 times out of a 100. So when you least expect it, Luke Hochevar owns them.

    Will Adrian Gonzalez be back in the lineup? His presence, and Ortiz's to a lesser extent, is hard to overestimate. With Gonzalez hitting in his usual spot, the Red Sox become a different team.

  59. Puckett hit only 4 Hr's in his 2 prior seasons to 86.I remember in Tim McCarvers book(yeah,I read it because of the 86 Mets)he used himas an example for the "juiced ball" theory.I remember thinking the balls were juiced,not the players.

  60. rogerbusby Says:

    Regarding peak power:

    Apologies for lack of HTML - My geekdom only covers baseball, I'm clueless when it comes to technology.

    Percentage of all-time 40 HR seasons by age would indicate raw power peaks at ages 29-30-31 (see comment #34 in conjunction with #16). I'm not sure if I'm splitting hairs, but 27-28 seems to be the "accepted" prime power seasons when, in actuality, it maybe a little later.

    Also, in the land RsBI I doubt any hair is too small.

  61. If he quit using in the off-season of 1996-97, did he simply get much weaker overnight?

    Or, if he started "juicing" in the winter of 1995, did he suddenly become He-Man?

    I want to know the medical science behind it.


  62. rogerbusby Says:

    Wow, B-R knows my weaknesses (HTML) and adjusts accordingly. Has it become self-aware/

  63. I know people who say stuff like "Ibanez is juicing again" when he hits 4 homers in a week - hopefully you guys here will have better insight for me.

  64. Rogerbusby, yeah it automatically inserts links when an HTML address is put into a comment.

    And, thanks for referencing one of my old posts!

  65. @61; Drew, if I remember correctly, Davey Johnson his 43 HR's in his first season in Atlanta, and never hit more than 18 in any other season. Tobacco juice?

  66. @65

    He was probably on a whole load drugs just to make it to the majors, then once he got there he stopped using and hit less well.

  67. load of

  68. Drew-it was his 9th year in the majors, first in Atlanta. He started with the Ohhhhs. Baltimore summers are tough, but somehow I doubt Atlanta's are better.

  69. Anderson's season may have just been a fluke attributed to steroids because of when he did it.Most people pointed to it at the time as due to steroids,it was so unexpected.

  70. Took the drugs to get to Atlanta.

  71. Nash Bruce Says:

    I absolutely remember, I know for a FACT, that it was 1997, reading an advertisement featuring Brady Anderson endorsing some sort of muscle supplement (creatine-type powder?). I'd fallen away from the game, after '94, and in this ad, he is talking about "the game is changing, and I need to lift and gain muscle" or something to that effect, but I also remember the ad mentioning his 50 HR season, and I thought, "wow, where did THAT come form? The game sure is changing."
    Steroids never crossed my mind at that point......

  72. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    I know there are more, and i'd love to hear from anyone who add to this list... but theseare guys who had an out of nowhere power surge than went back to normal.

    Davey Johnson
    1973 – 43 HR/651 – 15.1 HR/PA
    Career – 136/5465 – 40.3 HR/PA
    31.6% of career HRs in ’73 in 11.9% of PA.
    Next highest total 18.
    162 game avg 15

    Paul Lo Duca
    2001 – 25 HR/519 PA – 20.8 HR/PA
    Career – 80 HR/4302 PA – 48.6 HR/PA
    31% of career HRs in ’01 in 12% of PA.
    Next highest total 13.
    162 game avg 12

    Brady Anderson
    1996 – 50 HR/687 PA – 13.7 PA/HR
    Career – 210 HR/7737 PA – 36.8 HR/PA
    23% of career HR in ’96 in 8.9% of PA
    Next highest total 24
    162 game avg 19

    Wade Boggs
    1987 – 24 HR/667 PA – 27.8 PA/HR
    Career – 118 HR/10740 PA – 91.2 HR/PA
    20% of career HR in ’87 in 6.2% of PA
    Next highest 11
    162 game avg 8

    Davey Lopes
    1979 – 28 HR/692 PA – 24.7 HR/PA
    Career 155 HR/7340 PA – 47.3 HR/PA
    18% of career HR’s in 79 in 9.4% of PA
    Next highest total 17
    162 game avg 14

    Darrin Erstad
    2000 – 25 HR/676 PA – 27.1 HR/PA
    Career 124 HR/6615 – 53.3 HR/PA
    20% of career HR in ’00 in 10.2% of PA
    Next highest total 19
    162 game avg 12

    Lou Brock
    1967 – 21 HR/724 PA – 34.4 HR/PA
    Career 149 HR/11235 – 75.4 HR/PA
    14% of career HR in ’67 in 6.4% of PA
    Next highest total 16
    162 game avg 12
    Barry Larkin
    1996 – 33 HR/627 PA – 19 HR/PA
    Career 198 HR/9057 PA – 45.7 HR/PA
    16.6% of career HR in ’96 in 6.9% of PA
    Next highest total 20
    162 game avg 15

    Terry Steinbach
    1996 – 35/571 PA – 16.3 HR/PA
    Career 162/5896 PA – 36.4 HR/PA
    21% of career HR in ’96 in 9.6% of PA
    Next highest total 15
    162 game avg 17

    Benito Santiago
    1996 – 30/533 PA – 17.7 HR/PA
    Career 217/7515 PA – 34.6 HR/PA
    13.8% of career HR in ’96 in 7.1 % PA
    Next Highest total 18
    162 game avg 18

    Ed Sprague
    1996 – 36/670 PA – 18.6 HR/PA
    Career 152/4587 PA – 30.2 HR/PA
    23% of career HR in ’96 in
    Next highest total 22
    23.6% of career HR in ’96 in 14.6% of PA
    162 game avg 20

    Bert Campeneris
    1970 – 22/650 PA – 29.2 HR/PA
    Career – 79/9625 PA – 121.8 HR/PA
    27.8% of career HR in ’70 in 6.7% of PA
    Next highest total 8
    162 game avg 5

    Dale Sveum
    1987 – 25/586 PA – 23.4 HR/PA
    Career – 69/2810 – 40.7 HR/PA
    36.2% of career HR in ’87 in 20.8% of PA
    Next highest total 12
    162 game avg 13

    Kevin Elster
    1996 – 24/596 PA – 24.8 HR/PA
    Career – 88/3225 PA – 36.6 HR/PA
    27.2% of career HR in ’96 in 18.4% of PA
    Next highest total 14
    162 game avg 15

    Rick Wilkins
    1993 – 30/500 PA – 16.6 HR/PA
    Career – 81/2435 PA – 30.0 HR/PA
    37.1% of career HR in ’93 in 20.5% of PA
    Next highest total 14
    162 gamw avg 18

    Brad Fullmer
    2000 – 32/524 PA – 16.4 HR/PA
    Career 114/3065 PA – 26.9 HR/PA
    28% of career HR in ’00 in 17.1% of PA
    Next highest total 19
    162 avg 23

    Mike Paguliro
    1987 – 32/582 PA – 18.1 HR/PA
    Career 134/4317 PA – 32.2 HR/PA
    23% of career HR in ’87 in 13% of PA
    162 game avg 17

    Eddie Yost
    1959 – 21/675 – 32.1 HR/PA
    Career – 139/9175 PA – 66.0 HR/PA
    15.1% of career HR in ’59 in 7.3% of PA
    Next Highest total 14
    162 game avg 11

    Tony Phillips
    1995 – 27/643 – 23.8 HR/PA
    Career – 160/9110 – 56.9 HR/PA
    16.8% of career HR in ’95 in 7% of PA
    Next highest total 19
    162 game avg 12

  73. Richard Chester Says:


    Roger Maris' 61 homers in 1961 represented 22% of his 275 career homers. His 162 game average was 30.

  74. Well Brock had been trending up in Hrs than dropped off for the rest of his career.Sveum I think did it in his first full season and just never hit that well again.Wilkins also just had a big season early than had trouble hitting anything.

  75. Just guesses of course.Davey was in a new league,very good hr hitters park and pitchers didn't have a "book" on him.

  76. How many of those were in pitching rule/mound change ('73? '93?) or "ball change" years ('77, '87)?

    I can't be sure of the years of the rule/strike zone changes, but I know the balls were different in '77 and '87...

    I'm pretty sure they were in the mid-90's, though no one can verify this.

  77. Seriously - look at 1996.

    For those who say Brady "juiced" for ONE YEAR, and then stopped juicing, sending him back to a maximum of 15-20 HR ouput, did all those guys do the same?

  78. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    Tim Belcher did an experiment on a ball from the seventies and a ball from the nineties by dropping them from the same height off a 5 or 6 story building, and the nineties ball repeatedly bounced 6-10 inches higher.
    He did it with dozens of balls. Same out come.
    He dissected some of the balls and found the corks to be the culprit.

  79. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ Drew,

    yeah '96 - Larkin, Stenbach, Sprauge, Santiago and anderson all hit 30+ for the one and only time.
    It was more than juice.
    Its the Year back from the short season and two years from the strike. They wanted butts in the seats - they got em.

  80. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Duke/78, I've heard about stuff like that, and I don't buy it. I *do* believe there's a strong likelihood the ball was "juiced," but I don't think that test would prove it. Where did he get a ball from the '70s? Even if it's been sitting in a box untouched for 30 years, I wouldn't expect it to have the same characteristics as if it had been used when manufactured. The materials have all aged.

  81. [...] They have gotten exactly three base hits in three consecutive games, all against the rival Tampa Bay Rays, though they managed to win the first of them since one of the hits was a three-run home-run courtesy of Jacoby Ellsbury.  (He also homered in the second game of the series, and is having a helluva year overall.) [...]

  82. I'm sure it's been mentioned already since I didn't read all of the comments but the reasons Ellsbury's numbers are so rare seem to be a combination of not only his hitting prowess, but also the rarity of 20+ home run power from the leadoff spot and the strength of the bottom of the 2011 Red Sox lineup that has provided him with all of those RBI opportunities. As mentioned above, there are probably several other guys who would have similar totals this year if they batted leadoff on a good team, but they hit further down in the order (though as I recall, leadoff is the second most important spot in the batting order, so perhaps they should).

  83. When I said that Ellsbury, almost 28, has likely reached his peak, I was referring to all-around performance, not HR production specifically. It's true that power tends to peak a couple of years later.

    I also should have been more specific about the "new level of ability" question. I would not be at all surprised if Ellsbury averaged 15 HRs over the rest of his full seasons. I would be surprised if he averaged over 20.

    I'm aware that many players have had a power surge in their late 20s that did establish a new baseline. However, I'm not aware of many players who hit 20+ HRs in their late 20s after never hitting as many as 10, in multiple full seasons, and then maintained that 20+ level consistently.

    It's often noted that Kirby Puckett went from 4 to 31 in one year, then hit 28 and 24 the next 2 years. But for the next 4 years after that (age 29-32), he averaged just 14 HRs; he didn't reach 20 HRs again until 1993, when HRs spiked throughout the game.

    Another noted surge was by Phil Bradley, who went from 0 to 26 HRs at age 26. But Bradley averaged 12 HRs over his next 4 full seasons, then had his career cut short by injury.

    Wade Boggs famously surged from 8 to 24 HRs at age 29. He never hit more than 11 again.

    Roberto Clemente went from an average of 5 HRs through age 24, to 16 and then 23 at age 26 -- but averaged 12 over the next 4 years. Clemente only had three 20-HR seasons in his career.

    There are a number of guys who averaged single-digit HRs for a few early years, then established a new level of 20+ for several years. But most of those guys surged in their early 20s.

    For every guy you can show me who surged from an established level of less than 10 HRs to more than 20 HRs at age 27 and maintained that level for several years, I'll bet I can find 2 (or more) who had that surge at age 27 and then fell back to a level of less than 20.

    I could be wrong, but I'd like to see it.

  84. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I agree JA. I think this will probably be Jacoby's career year. We can only hope he starts

  85. JA, I don't think you are wrong. Absent chemical help, the mid 20's male has already reached his adult athletic size, so realistically, only improved technique (and maybe a little luck) could make a substantial change in power numbers. Add to that positional influences and expected usage by managers, and players tend to stay in their defined roles. The interesting ones are the juicers-people like Palmeiro, who hit a total of 51 HR's in his first 568 games, bumped it up to 22 and then 26 in his age 26 and 27 years, and then went on a consistent 40 HR per year pace for the next 11 years-through age 38.

  86. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Love to see a former Beaver do well. Let's see if the Boston air pumps ol' Ochocinco up a few notches.

  87. @72.


    - Don Money, 25 HR in 1977, next highest total 17, 162 avg 17
    - Andre Dawson, 49 HR in 1987, next highest total 32, 162 avg 27
    - Barry Bonds, 73 HR in 2001, next highest total 49, 162 avg 41
    - George Foster, 52 and 40 HR in 1977-78, next highest total 30, 162 avg 29

  88. John Autin, sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your criticism about Ellsbury getting better.
    I agree with your assessment of his ability level. My comments were actually directed to his effort and attitude. I think most folks who have seen Ellsbury for his entire major league career would agree that his talent level has been fairly consistent since he first came up, with only perhaps the typical development we see in successful major leaguers of slightly improved batting eye, etc.
    My comments about Ellsbury's numbers have more to do with his attitude. Last year was a disaster after he got run over by Adrian Beltre, insomuch as he didn't follow team directions, complained publicly about their assessment and treatment of his injury ("front and back MRI, remember that!"), and pissed off all his teammates. Now suddenly that this Scott Boras client has 2 years of arbitration eligibility left and he sees the huge Carl Crawford-esque payday waiting for him in the 2013-2014 off-season, he's put it all together, shut his mouth, and played to the fullest of his available talent.
    Although this might be a career year, I would expect that at least the next 2 years will be within 5-10% of the total output from this year.

  89. Also there is quite the parallel between Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon. Both came to the team a handful of years ago and lit the world on fire immediately (or almost immediately). Both became fan favorites because of their early performance and their wild behavior (Papelbon in particular was a bit like an over-the-top version of Johnny Damon or Kevin Millar) and both fell out of favor in Boston as their antics continued while their performance declined. Now in 2011, both guys have shut up, put their heads down, and played hard. Ellsbury's having his best season by far, and Papelbon's K/BB ratio is 65/8 in 50.2 IP this year. He has his best WHIP since 2008 and isn't causing any off-field discussion or problems.

  90. jack fournier? showing no power through 1920 (age 30), surge in '21 with 16 homers. turned it up another notch in '23 for the first of 3 straight 20+ homer seasons. age lessened his power after that, but it was still greater than in the early of his career.

  91. post 90 was @83. first time. greenhorn. what can i say?

  92. joe kuhel 1940 is interesting.

  93. @90. Jbird. Pure speculation: 1920 was Babe Ruth's huge breakout year (54 HR's). Up to that time, the career leader had a total of 138. Ruth changed the psychology of the game.

  94. just a few observations:

    ival goodman '38 pretty impressive power.
    mr. team turned it up big time in '47 when he came to the braves at age 30.
    walker cooper giants '47 (32 years old). never more than 20 'fore or after.
    sid gordon really turned it on at age 30.
    and how 'bout the honker hank sauer?!
    better late than never eddie joost.
    anyone have luke easter's negro leagues stats?
    yost put the power stroke together in '59.

    thanks for having been here for several great years now, br!

  95. @93. youre right on with ruth's impact. '20 wasnt the breakout imo; it was the game changer. '19 was the breakout. either way, im sure the composition of the ball was changing due to owners' appreciation for the revenues which george h's power talent created and the desire to not just limit those revenues to when george played. i looked at nl hr leaders and see that no one really started crushing it until hornsby with 42 in '22. al probably changed the ball 'tween '19 and '20, nl 'tween '21 and '22. anyone know for sure when?

  96. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @89/ Andy says: "Also there is quite the parallel between Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon. Both came to the team a handful of years ago and lit the world on fire immediately (or almost immediately). Both became fan favorites because of their early performance and their {wild behavior}..."

    "... and both fell out of favor in Boston as their antics continued while their performance declined. ..."

    Andy, you are certainly correct that both Ellsbury and Papelbon had great MLB starts and became fan favorites, but as far as "wild behavior", well, the two of them couldn't be more different in personality.

    Papelbon is well-known amongst Red Sox fans for an outgoing, goofy personality. It's pretty much expected and tolerated amongst Red Sox fans. Ellsbury, OTOH, is just as well-known for being a quiet, well-behaved, respectful introvert. The only "interesting" part of his off-field life is his Native-American heritage. The only controversial part of his career so far is how he handled the rehab of his broken rib injuries last year. Since he is fully healed and playing at an MVP-candidate level, that has pretty much been forgotten now.

  97. Lawrence, perhaps I was trying a bit too hard to draw the similarity there--I guess what I meant is that both guys were getting a lot of attention for off-the-field stuff. Ellsbury had been criticized before last year for making some comments that some thought sounded pompous, as if he was already a superstar--it was no big deal but I do remember some criticism. Then it all blew up last year. Whatever the situation, it's now the case that they are both buttoned up as quiet as could be.

  98. 96/97, JA and Lawrence: Papelbon seems to me to be on the cusp. There are a lot of teams out there who have sunk huge bucks into their bullpens, and closers, and the return isn't always linear. While it only takes one GM with a need to sign him to a big dollar contract, you wonder if the entire market isn't going to be reset. I'd go a step further and note the number of really bad contracts out there with declining prima donna's. I think there's going to be a lot more caution in spending. Papelbon is wise to tone down the snarkiness at this point, and hope he gets full value next year.

  99. Richard Chester Says:


    Eddie Yost was traded to Detroit from Washington after the 1958 season, hence the sudden jump in homers.

  100. Wow, now people are calling me JA. That's John Autin. Don't insult him.

  101. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @95/ Jbird says: "@93. youre right on with ruth's impact. '20 wasnt the breakout imo; it was the game changer. '19 was the breakout. either way, im sure the composition of the ball was changing due to owners' appreciation for the revenues which george h's power talent created and the desire to not just limit those revenues to when george played..."

    Jbird, I do not think that Ruth's 1920 HR explosion had much to do with a(n alleged) juiced ball introduced in 1920; I think it was mainly his going from a _very_ tough HR park for Ruth in 1919 (especially for lefties), Fenway Park, to a much better HR park in 1920 in The Polo Grounds.

    In 1919, Ruth had only 9 HR at home, but 20 on the road. However, he hit 4 HR in 11 games at the Polo Grounds. If you extrapolate the new "home" HR totals for the Polo Grounds in 1920, you'd get 25-30. So if you simply add the projected new home and road HRs together, you get 45-50 HR simply by changing home parks. Add that the schedule went from 140 games in 1919 to 154 in 1920, and 54 HRs no longer seems so unexpected.

    Ruth still had a gigantifc advantage over almost all other batters by usually holding the bat at the very end, and swinging hard at almost every pitch, as opposed to the chocking-up and place-hitting style emphasized. That's probably why it took years into the 1920s for other hitters to catch up to his HR totals.

    Another often overlooked factor is that in 1920 the spitball was made illegal (some spitball pitchers were "grandfathered" in), so batters usually had a much cleaner ball to swing at.

  102. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @97/ Andy, I apologize, I did not mean to criticize, only to point out how different Ellsbury and Paps are in personality. If you mean "that both guys were getting a lot of attention for off-the-field stuff", I'd certainly agree with that.

    Also, I'm an avid Red Sox follower, and I honestly do not remember Ellsbury acting and making statements last year that he was already a superstar. That's not quite the same thing as "wild behavior", but I understand where you were going, and why Red Sox fans would be irritated.

  103. Lawrence #102, no worries! I didn't take it as criticism, just as a correct pointing-out of my sloppy language in describing the similarity.

    I wish I could point to a specific reference to Ellsbury--my recollection is that there were a few things he said in that stretch run and playoff run in his first season when he was very impressive.

  104. Andy I failed. But you shouldn't think that I hold you in lower esteem.

  105. @ 94 Jaybird:
    Check out Easter's minor league stats after being released

  106. @90 @91
    Jbird, don't be a stranger in BR from now on.

  107. @101. truly, a lot to take into consideration. so much history. can we tell how many of ruth's 1918 and 1919 homers were out of the park?

    @105. wow! love that '62 season for triple a rochester at age 46.

  108. @106. thanks, neil. i been watchin y'all have the best discussions for a hot minute ('08) and been lookin up stats since i first found br in '06/'07-ish. the mlb site was my preferred in the early but the completeness and streamlinedness of the data which was presented has strongly established br as the leader in my book. i'm not the tech savviest and i dont know much about the sabermetrics which are being referred to these days, so ive been hesitant to join in. but i love baseball. and i figure y'all'll initiate me, right? onward. be well. play ball :O)

  109. John Autin Says:

    I like the cut of that Jbird's jib -- first time out, and he goes all in!

    Couple more y'all's, Jbird, and I'll be calling you my Cajun bro'. :)

  110. John Autin Says:

    @88, Andy -- After reading that number, I'm not sure if you're praising Ellsbury's breakout year, or ripping him for not doing it sooner. Maybe a little of both?

    I don't really follow ballclub penumbrae outside of my Mets, so I don't have a take on Ellsbury's maturity or maturation. I didn't even know about the player/club tension over his injury last year.

    Still, as a general matter, I would defend him against the implicit charge that his fine play this year is motivated by the whiff of big money 2 years away. I mean, I'm sure most players are motivated by money, and why not? -- 'most everyone else is. But as far as cleaning up his act (or however you'd term it) mainly to be ready for the big score, I don't buy it.

    I think a lot of highly gifted people have to go through a difficult maturation process, especially in team endeavors. If Ellsbury has tamed himself somewhat this year, I would guess it has more to do with a sense that his chance at stardom was slipping away -- still a sort of "payoff" motivation, but more generalized than the idea of a big-money contract -- as well as the determination to redeem a disappointing 2010 season, on both a team and individual basis.

    Again, I don't really know anything about Ellsbury's personality or past behavior. But the Red Sox seem to have a very good organization, with an expectation of success and a strong team spirit. It wouldn't be surprising if a young man such as he -- who tasted not only championship champagne but minor folk-hero status within 4 months of his MLB debut -- were to go through a trying period some time later, and come out of it with a new appreciation for the wisdom of his elders and for his good fortune to be where he is. If anything like that has happened with Ellsbury, I say, good for him.

  111. i expect more of the same from ells going forward. he is in prime and take away '10, his improvement appears very natural and acceptable. gaining 20 home run power proficiency at 27 is not so unreasonable and i would not be surprised to a few more 20+ homer seasons, even a potential low 30s season if his advancement is genuine and continues, especially since he's setting up his beltre, i mean contract year.

    @109. its a virginny y'all, not a looziana y'all :O)

  112. @108 @111
    Jbird, your stream-of-consciousness posts are, well ...... refreshing.

    Don't be intimidated, but John Autin is an English major, a wordsmith, and a punctuation expert. :-)

    This is not a gratuitous question, Jbird, because I am Canadian and honestly don't know the answer, but was Virginia part of the South, the North, or half-in-half during the Civil War?

    (The y'all's prompted my non-baseball question.)

  113. Neil, not to step in here, but Virginia split. "Virginia" went South, and native son Robert E. Lee headed the Confederate Army, after turning down the post for the Union. Richmond ended up the Capitol of the Confederacy. But the western part of Virginia-away from the tidewaters, up in the mountains, broke away to form "West Virgina". Jbird, are you a Cavalier, or a Mountaineer?

  114. @113
    Mike L., thanks. Ahhh, now I get the historical basis of the NCAA college nicks. Two states came out of one.

  115. I assumed that Neil's question about Virginia was a joke since it split up. Interesting how times change. If one guessed today which state--VA or WV--was the one that fought against slavery...

  116. @115 Andy. The South was solidly-almost universally Democratic from post- Reconstruction Civil War until the 60's. The first serious break was in 1948, when the Dixiecrats broke with Truman and went for (then Democratic) Sentator Strom Thurmond. By the sixties, and the Democratic Party's association with anti Viet Nam demonstrations and the Civil Rights movement, the Democratic hold on the South was starting to break up. Virginia went with the rest of the South-it moved to the GOP (at one point, its entire congressional delegation was Republican). West Virgina stayed reliably Democratic (of course, Robert Byrd, long time senator, had been a Klan member). In more recent elections, Virginia turned more purple. There are a number of prominent southern Republicans who were former Democrats (including Rick Perry, Strom Thurmond, Richard Shelby, John Connelly). The odd thing is what you hit on- that the demographics and topography that led aristocratic Virgina South and hardscrabble West Virginia North in 1861 have, in recent years, now seem to point in the opposite direction.

    Politics/history and baseball are the world's best two hobbies.

  117. @115
    I won't embarrass myself any further, Andy, by trying to guess the answer to your question, but please bear in mind that in Canadian schools we learn as much about British and European history as American.

    We have had the English-French conflict as part of our history, but never Canadians at war with fellow-countrymen, as in the USA.

    If I asked you a question about the outcome of the Riel rebellion of the 1870's in Canada, would you know the answer? It is an event in our history somewhat comparable to the civil war.

    My point is, that Americans probably know as little about the history of their neighbours as we do about yours.

  118. @117-Neil, none of us meant any harm. And, I'd say you are correct-Americans are taught very little about Canada, beyond Henry Hudson, French and Indian War, Eskimos, and gold in the Yukons. Peace offering from Churchill: "Canada is the linchpin of the English-speaking world. Canada, with those relations of friendly, affectionate intimacy with the United States on the one hand and with her unswerving fidelity to the British Commonwealth and the Motherland on the other, is the link which joins together these great branches of the human family, a link which, spanning the oceans, brings the continents into their true relation and will prevent in future generations any growth of division between the proud and the happy nations of Europe and the great countries which have come into existence in the New World."

  119. Johnny Twisto Says:

    The South was solidly-almost universally Democratic from post- Reconstruction Civil War until the 60's.

    At least in the U.S. Senate, it lasted even into the '70s and '80s, when the segregationists who had been in office from the '50s or '60s finally retired. It really is incredible how there were essentially *no* Republican Senators from the Confederate states for 100 years.

    The Democrats dominated Congress for a good 50 years, but they were practically two parties -- the South, and the New Dealers.

    I hate politics, but I find the history of it very interesting. I wish I knew more about it.

  120. @112. tanks, neil. hope ja and others will not find my casual nature offensive as i mean it not to be.

    @113. bein from virginia proper, ah guess ima cav, right.

    @115 & 116. if youve ever been to either or both, it does, in fact, seem a little bass ackwards. or is that back asswards? ack basswards?

    @116. thanks for the '48 to present data. news to me.

    @118. Louis Riel. Got him at Batoche. In that decisive battle, after running out of ammo, they (Riel and the Metis) fired "sharp objects and small rocks from their guns." What fighting spirit!

    quick parting joke.
    Preface: I love west virginia and west virginianers.

    What do west virginianers do for halloween?

    Pump kin.

    Couldnt help myself. hope at least one person laughs :O)

  121. All those guys who were saying that they'd easily choose Gardner over Ellsbury either huff a lot of paint or don't see how awesome he is. He's got far more power, more speed, and hits for a better average.

    He's established himself as one of those rare players with speed, power, and his defense has gotten much better. He's actually more deserving of the MVP than the other Red Sox being mentioned(Gonzalez's homeruns are becoming rarer and rarer, Pedrioa is underrated, but he's not the MVP of the league or the Red Sox even.) Verlander is now the MVP as far as I'm concerned. No pitcher has had to win EVERY outing to stop losing streaks. And he's also the easy Cy Young choice over Weaver, Sabathia and Beckett now.

    As for the arguing about whether or not Ellsbury made statements that he thought he was a superstar, he once said that he expected much more out of himself early in his career, and also talked about how last season(being hurt and everything else)would be an aberration. Maybe not those exact words, but he showed real confidence and wanted to prove that the doubters who thought he was done were wrong. Much like how Beckett came back and proved everyone wrong that had doubts about him.

  122. By the way, Voomo's comment way back at 31 that Rickey's 1985 was better than any of the seasons on the list here--I tend to agree with that, actually. When I wrote a column for the NYT after Steinbrenner died, I noted that the 1985 Henderson season was the best single-season WAR total for any player during Steinbrenner's ownership tenure. That alone suggests it must have been pretty damn good....better than any Yankee in the 70s, any Mattingly or Winfield season, anybody in the 90s, or A-rod, etc.

  123. @120, I laughed, yes.

    @ Neil, I wasn't trying to make fun of you regarding Virginia. I don't expect anybody not from the US to know anything about US history, just as we Americans tend to know very little about the history of other countries, as Mike points out. My comment was only meant to strike a chord with those familiar with the history of Virginia and West Virginia, as it would be quite an ironic query for those who should be familiar with the history.

    Here's a pre-Civil War map showing the two states combined as they originally were:

  124. @123
    Thanks, Andy. No offense taken.

  125. I'm glad we agree that Rickey's historically astounding '85 season -- one of eighty 10-WAR batter seasons in modern history (and one of just two in that decade) -- was better than anything in the table. :)

    As Bill James wrote at the time, Mattingly won the MVP that year mainly for his historic 145 RBI, but Rickey's 146 runs were waaaaaay more historically significant (not to mention their greater win value). He was the 1st to reach 140 runs since Ted Williams in '49, the 1st other than TW since 1938. Considering the total package Rickey put up that year -- .314/.419/.516, 24 HRs, 72 RBI, 80 for 90 in steals, and excellent defense (2nd in the league in dWAR) -- it's comical that Mattingly took the hardware.

    But at least the voters got it right when Rickey nailed his 2nd 10-WAR season in 1990, making him one of 14 hitters with multiple 10-WAR years.

  126. Richard Chester Says:


    Let's not forget that 56 of Henderson's runs scored came from Mattingly's RBIs.

  127. And let's not forget that 56 of Mattingly's RBIs came from runs that Henderson scored.

    Thanks to those of you who have continued to read the comments on this post!

    Your reward is this piece of info: this week was the most-commented ever on this blog with well over a thousand comments spread amongst the posts by me, Steve, Raphy, Sean, Neil, and JA.

  128. @127
    Andy, great news about the popularity of BR.

    Is there any way of knowing if it (BR) is becoming more "influential" among the great, unwashed masses of on-line, baseball fans?

    The quality and edginess of the blogs have something to do with the volume of responses as well!

  129. Andy, @127, I guess we can all say "our work is done here..."

  130. Mike @129, funny I think it's just beginning.

    Neil @128, your namesake has detailed logs on pageviews for the blog and for the site as a whole, so we have a good sense of how much it has grown. The blog took a giant leap forward last year and has continued to grow this year in terms of pageviews, but of course can always grow more. My sense is that it is still generally "preaching to the choir", i.e. it is read mostly by like-minded folks who think about stats in a similar way to the bloggers. It may never grow beyond that since it's not really designed to appeal to the average baseball fan.

  131. Andy, I'm a little more optimistic than you are. As long as you can keep finding fresh things to write about and different takes on things, people will read it, and suggest others read it. Keep going.

  132. Mike, that's actually what I meant--as more and more people read the blog, it means we have more and more work to do to keep providing good content.

  133. Andy, I was serious. I read a lot of political stuff, left and right, in the Times, WSJ, Washington Post, Barron's, etc. Most of it is written by very smart knowledgeable people (regardless of their ideological bents) who write really well. The forums that follow are almost exclusively junk-people ranting at each other-no new ideas or different insights, repetition of the same accusations, blah blah. There's much less of that in this blog-here there are strong opinions expressed, but the writers find data to back it up, sometimes even things that are counter-intuitive.

  134. @130
    ".... it is read mostly by like-minded folks...."
    Andy, BR does have its little spats, though, from time to time. :-(

    Factor in to this comment my suck-up tendencies, but I believe recruiting John Autin was important this year.

    And, at risk of embarrassing him if he reads this, Kahuna Tuna seems to have a nice blend of accurate research, sense of humor and witing ability also.

  135. [...] How about Brian Downing showing up on another unusual list? Recently he showed up on the list of great seasons by a leadoff hitter. [...]

  136. Detroit Michael Says:

    I don't recall there being any evidence that Brady Anderson used steroids. Obviously, that means we don't know whether he did (in 1996 or in other years) but I don't think we want to start caveating expressly every seasonal performance since Jose Canseco entered the majors.

  137. Andy,

    Can you please tell me why Jack Fournier's given name is listed as John Frank and when I have uncovered several materials with ranges from pre-'27 to 1986 indicating his real name is more likely Jacques. Given his last name, that wouldn't be so unbelievable. Tell me what you think.

  138. I've actually found materials telling us it's Jean Jacques Fournier.

    I also asked a question on a blog which went unanswered. When and for what reason do we not respect the officially released baseball records of the day with regard to Keeler hitting 213 for .381 (officially released by NL President Nicholas Young) in 1898?

    I know baseball rules have changed significantly as time has passed and so have a few stats (Cobb's career average, Hack's disputed RBI, et al). Though, I'm beginning to see that the most ancient history of the game is not accurately archived. If you ever decide to spend resources in this area, please consider including me on the team. In the meantime, anything you can provide me with will be appreciated tremendously as my wheels are turning and I'm thirsting for the knowledge.

  139. There is so great a deal of information available confirming his name is Jacques that it really seems as though "John Frank" is just something someone made up to fill in an empty blank. Do you have references for the information in your databases? I would love to know the source on that one. Anyway... looking forward to hearing what you are able to dig up.

  140. Jbird, I don't know the answer to the Fournier question. I'm sure that Sean has used biographical data from some legitimate source, but that doesn't mean there wasn't an error. My suggestion would be to ask a question via the feedback link.

    As for old-time stats, I know Sean handles them on a case-by-case basis, again going with whatever the best information available is. I think he often relies on Retrosheet, as those guys put in countless hours researching historical boxscores in order to try to get it right.

    Sorry I don't have more concrete answers!