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Are doubles on the decline for power hitters?

Posted by Andy on October 28, 2007

In one of Steve's posts, a short discussion started on whether power-hitters are getting fewer doubles these days than they used to.

I just put together a few bits of data to look at that.

First, here are all the players since 1990 to have at least 40 HR and 30 2B in a season:

 Year Number Players Matching
+----+------+-----------------------------------------+
 2007      2 Alex Rodriguez / Prince Fielder
 2006      4 Alfonso Soriano / Albert Pujols / Carlos Beltran / Travis Hafner
 2005      6 Mark Teixeira / Albert Pujols / Adam Dunn / David Ortiz / Derrek Lee / Manny Ramirez
 2004      6 Adam Dunn / Adrian Beltre / Albert Pujols / Jim Edmonds / Manny Ramirez / David Ortiz
 2003      5 Alex Rodriguez / Carlos Delgado / Jim Thome / Albert Pujols / Frank Thomas
 2002      5 Lance Berkman / Shawn Green / Rafael Palmeiro / Jason Giambi / Barry Bonds
 2001     10 Alex Rodriguez / Luis Gonzalez / Shawn Green / Troy Glaus / Rafael Palmeiro / Sammy Sosa / Todd Helton / Barry Bonds / Phil Nevin / Manny Ramirez
 2000      9 Carlos Delgado / Todd Helton / Troy Glaus / Frank Thomas / Jeff Bagwell / Sammy Sosa / Tony Batista / Richard Hidalgo / Alex Rodriguez
 1999      7 Jeff Bagwell / Vladimir Guerrero / Rafael Palmeiro / Chipper Jones / Shawn Green / Carlos Delgado / Manny Ramirez
 1998      7 Albert Belle / Rafael Palmeiro / Ken Griffey / Alex Rodriguez / Mo Vaughn / Juan Gonzalez / Manny Ramirez
 1997      6 Jeff Bagwell / Tino Martinez / Ken Griffey / Andres Galarraga / Larry Walker / Mike Piazza   1996      9 Gary Sheffield / Vinny Castilla / Andres Galarraga / Albert Belle / Ellis Burks / Todd Hundley / Brady Anderson / Ken Caminiti / Juan Gonzalez
 1995      2 Albert Belle / Dante Bichette               1994      0
 1993      4 Barry Bonds / Ken Griffey / Frank Thomas / Juan Gonzalez
 1992      0
 1991      1 Jose Canseco
 1990      1 Ryne Sandberg

So here you see what I mean. In the early 1990s, before the big offensive explosion, it was very rare. Then it picked up a lot of steam in the late 1990s, peaking at 10 players in 2001. Since then, though, it's dropped back off. Next year, I again expect the number to be fairly small.

Now, here is a graph that incorporates all the rest of the data I want to show. I just did some very simple PI searches, such as for season with 40 or more doubles and an OPS+ of 150 or greater.

So check it out:

So the red line is all seasons of 40+ doubles since 1980. Blue line is the same, but with the added restriction that the player needed an OPS+ of 120, and green line is OPS+ of 150.

The first thing you notice is the huge explosion since 1996 in 40+ double season. That's not news--we all knew that already. But believe it or not, the real break comes between the 1989 and 1990 season. From 1980 to 1989, there were 49 seasons with at least 40 doubles. Of those, 35 had an OPS+ of at least 120 (71.4%.) From 1990 to 2007, however, there were 311 seasons with 40 doubles and just 193 (62.1%) with an OPS+ of 120. If you work off the assumption that players with an OPS+ over 120 are generally power hitters, then the data suggests that a smaller percentage of the 40+ 2B seasons are coming from power hitters.

Raising the bar to an OPS+ of 150 is where it really gets interesting, though. From 1980 to 1989, 15 out of 49 of the 40+ 2B seasons had an OPS+ of 150 or better (30.6%) whereas since 1990, just 62 out of the 311 seasons of 40+ 2B have sported an OPS+ of 150 or better (19.9%.)

Now, an OPS+ of 150 is pretty stellar. Really, only the top power hitters achieve such a mark. The fact that fewer and fewer of the 40+ 2B seasons come from 150+ OPS+ guys tells you that it's probably true that power hitters are hitting fewer doubles these days.

By no means is this a thorough or exhaustive study. I just wanted to demonstrate the ability of the PI to give some quick data towards almost any question.

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 28th, 2007 at 9:19 am and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Are doubles on the decline for power hitters?”

  1. OscarAzocar Says:

    When you gave the first list you didn't take into account that the total number of 40 homer guys is changing. Here is a slightly different list. 2006 and 2007 don't score so highly on this list.

    Year 40+ HR 40HR/30DB PCT.
    2001 12 10 0.833333333
    1993 5 4 0.8
    2004 9 6 0.666666667
    2005 9 6 0.666666667
    2002 8 5 0.625
    2000 15 9 0.6
    1996 16 9 0.5625
    1997 11 6 0.545454545
    1998 13 7 0.538461538
    1999 13 7 0.538461538
    1990 2 1 0.5
    1991 2 1 0.5
    1995 4 2 0.5
    2003 10 5 0.5
    2007 5 2 0.4
    2006 11 4 0.363636364
    1992 2 0 0
    1994 2 0 0

  2. OscarAzocar Says:

    When you look at the percentage of 30+ Homerun guys who also have 30+ doubles, 2007 seems to be right in the middle:
    Year pct
    2001 82.50%
    2004 74.29%
    2002 74.07%
    2000 68.18%
    1998 62.50%
    2003 60.71%
    2007 60.00%
    2005 59.26%
    1991 58.33%
    1996 57.14%
    2006 54.55%
    1993 52.38%
    1999 52.27%
    1997 48.39%
    1995 42.86%
    1990 41.67%
    1992 40.00%
    1994 30.00%

  3. ToddCoffeyCuffLinks Says:

    Thanks Andy.

  4. yoshinyapapa Says:

    david ortiz sure hit a lot of doubles this year.

  5. That comment is without merit, as we're only talking about trends. Ortiz also hit a lot of doubles because he lost his HR power for much of the year due to a knee injury. If anything, that strengthens our point that it seems to be all about HR OR doubles now, but not both so much.