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Season-Long Hitting Streaks

Posted by Raphy on January 31, 2010

In 2009, Xavier Nady had a short, but  interesting season. Due a major elbow injury, Nady only appeared in 7 games. However, Nady recorded a hit in every game he played. Here is Nady's gamelog for the season:

Rk Gtm Date Tm Opp Rslt Inngs PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO GDP
1 1 Apr 6 NYY @ BAL L,5-10 CG 5 4 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1
2 2 Apr 8 NYY @ BAL L,5-7 CG 4 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 3 Apr 9 NYY @ BAL W,11-2 CG 5 5 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
4 5 (1) Apr 11 NYY @ KCR W,6-1 GS-8 4 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
5 6 Apr 12 NYY @ KCR L,4-6 CG 4 4 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
6 7 Apr 13 NYY @ TBR L,5-15 CG 4 4 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
7 8 Apr 14 NYY @ TBR W,7-2 GS-8 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 1/30/2010.

Of course, this made me wonder about the uniqueness Nady's season. Has a player ever had a longer season-long hitting streak? Please note that I am not using the official definition of hitting streak. To qualify for this list, a player must have hit in every game that he appeared, regardless of whether or not he came to bat.

To answer this question (since 1954), we need to compare the results of two PI searches and see where they overlap. Since 1954 there have been 701 occasions in which a player started a season with a hit in his first 7 games. The longest such streak belongs to Edgar Renteria, who hit in his first 23 games in 2006. Obviously, sifting through this list would be extremely time consuming. However, if  we can figure out which of these player's streaks represent their entire season, we  would have our answer. From 1954-2009, 10,908 players played between 7 and 23 games in a season, but only 182 of those players had at least as many hits as games played.  With a little help from Excel,  we can compare the 701 streaks with the 182 seasons and find that there were  four  players whose season starting hitting streaks were as many games as their entire season. Nady was one, here are the others (with links to their gamelogs):

Glenn Williams 2005 (13 games): The only 13 games of Williams's career all included a hit. As mentioned in his BR- bullpen page and easily confirmed with PI, Williams's has the most AB of any player with career BA of at least .400.

Rafael Bournigal 1993 (8 games): Bournigal's second season as a September call-up was much more successful than his first.

John Castino 1984 (8 games): The last 8 games in the career of the 1979 AL Rookie of the Year. Castino, whose career ended prematurely due to chronic back pain, has the 8th highest OPS+ (or 7th, depending if Mike Hessman plays again) among players with at least 30 PA  in their final season.

9 Responses to “Season-Long Hitting Streaks”

  1. BSK Says:

    If I understand your logic correctly, you are only capturing streaks for guys who started opening day. What about players who came up mid-year or otherwise missed the start of the season? Or did I miss something in the explanation?

  2. Raphy Says:

    The "to start season" option in the streak finder, includes games that began the player's season. It doesn't matter whether his season started in April or September. (If you're only looking for games in the beginning of a season, that option is available in the game finder section.)

  3. BSK Says:

    Gotcha. Duly noted.

  4. Pete Ridges Says:

    That PI page for Glenn Williams (17 for 40: .425) is only post 1901. For what it's worth, Herb Goodall was 19 for 48 (.422) in his brief career in 1890.

    Incidentally, records like this may be best written as "most hits with an average of .400+": it would be disappointing if a player missed the list because he didn't make enough outs.

    This is one of those cases where the single-season record is [much] bigger than the career record: George Sisler was 257 for 631 (.407) for the 1920 St Louis Browns.

  5. mebejoe Says:

    Check out Bob Hazle, who appears to hold the record for most hits, 54, in 1957, batting .403, without qualifying for the batting title. It was the last season he ever played. His OPS+ was over 200, I think. I always wonder what the story is behind these types of players.

  6. mebejoe Says:

    Ooops; my mistake. Hazle did play again. And not too well in 1958.

  7. eorns Says:

    Wow, Hazle's OPS's were 21, 209, 60. That's just insane.

  8. JDV Says:

    For Bob Hazle, it looks like a timing issue. In July of '57, Braves center fielder Bill Bruton was lost for the season with a knee injury. A couple weeks later, Hazle was called up and given a chance. He hit so well that the Braves moved a guy named Hank Aaron from right field to center field, and Hazle manned right field the rest of that championship season. The following spring, Bruton was back healthy, Aaron went back to right field, and Hazle was the odd man out.

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