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The most average batters of all time

Posted by Andy on February 6, 2008

Following up on my post a while back about pitchers, here are batters with a lifetime OPS+ between 99 and 101, ranked by most career plate appearances.

  Cnt Player              **PA**  OPS+ From  To   Ages   G    AB    R    H   2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  IBB  SO  HBP  SH  SF GDP  SB   CS   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  Positions Teams
+----+-----------------+---------+----+----+----+-----+----+-----+----+----+---+---+---+----+----+---+----+---+---+---+---+----+---+-----+-----+-----+-----+---------+-----------+
    1 Bill Buckner        10033     99 1969 1990 19-40 2517  9397 1077 2715 498  49 174 1208  450 111  453  42  47  97 247  183  73  .289  .321  .408  .729 *379D     LAD-CHC-TOT-BOS-KCR
    2 Pee Wee Reese        9470     99 1940 1958 21-39 2166  8058 1338 2170 330  80 126  885 1210   3  890  26 157  19 176  232  45  .269  .366  .377  .743 *65       BRO-LAD
    3 Tony Fernandez       8793    101 1983 2001 21-39 2158  7911 1057 2276 414  92  94  844  690  48  784  64  67  61 161  246 138  .288  .347  .399  .746 *654/D    TOR-SDP-TOT-CIN-NYY-CLE-TOR-TOT
    4 Jay Bell             8525    101 1986 2003 20-37 2063  7398 1123 1963 394  67 195  860  853  25 1443  57 159  58 165   91  60  .265  .343  .416  .759 *64/53D   CLE-PIT-KCR-ARI-NYM
    5 Lloyd Waner          8326     99 1927 1945 21-39 1993  7772 1201 2459 281 118  27  598  420   0  173  26 108   0  57   67   0  .316  .353  .393  .746 *87/945   PIT-TOT-PHI-PIT
    6 Willie McGee         8188    100 1982 1999 23-40 2201  7649 1010 2254 350  94  79  856  448  58 1238  15  30  46 157  352 121  .295  .333  .396  .729 *897/3D6  STL-TOT-SFG-BOS-STL
    7 Charlie Jamieson     7488    101 1915 1932 22-39 1779  6560 1062 1990 322  80  18  552  748   0  345  35 145   0   0  131 110  .303  .378  .385  .763 *79/813   WSH-TOT-PHA-CLE
    8 Bret Boone           7432    101 1992 2005 23-36 1780  6683  927 1775 366  28 252 1021  552  32 1295  69  55  73 168   94  53  .266  .325  .442  .767 *4/5D     SEA-CIN-ATL-SDP-SEA-TOT
    9 Gee Walker           7211     99 1931 1945 23-37 1784  6771  954 1991 399  76 124  997  330   0  600  44  66   0  82  223  70  .294  .331  .430  .761 789/5     DET-CHW-WSH-CLE-CIN
   10 Tommy Harper         7164    101 1962 1976 21-35 1810  6269  972 1609 256  36 146  567  753  30 1080  35  76  31  87  408 116  .257  .338  .379  .717 7958D/43  CIN-CLE-SEP-MIL-BOS-TOT-BAL
   11 Jason Kendall        7098    100 1996 2007 22-33 1682  6225  897 1848 327  31  71  615  588  36  538 218  18  49 149  162  77  .297  .375  .394  .769 *2/79D    PIT-OAK-TOT
   12 Curt Flood           6958    100 1956 1971 18-33 1759  6357  851 1861 271  44  85  636  444  22  609  52  72  33 117   88  73  .293  .342  .389  .731 *8/5749   CIN-STL-WSA
   13 Phil Garner          6860     99 1973 1988 24-39 1860  6136  780 1594 299  82 109  738  564  74  842  34  67  59 131  225 105  .260  .323  .389  .712 *45/6     OAK-PIT-TOT-HOU-SFG
   14 Eddie Joost          6783     99 1936 1955 20-39 1574  5606  874 1339 238  35 134  601 1043   2  827  33 101   0  83   61  31  .239  .361  .366  .727 *64/53    CIN-BSN-PHA-BOS
   15 Garry Maddox         6775    100 1972 1986 22-36 1749  6331  777 1802 337  62 117  754  323  60  781  36  25  60  99  248  92  .285  .320  .413  .733 *8/79     SFG-TOT-PHI
   16 Juan Samuel          6664    101 1983 1998 22-37 1720  6081  873 1578 287 102 161  703  440  38 1442  74  27  42  81  396 143  .259  .315  .420  .735 *48/D3975 PHI-TOT-LAD-CIN-DET-TOR
   17 Hubie Brooks         6476    100 1980 1994 23-37 1645  5974  656 1608 290  31 149  824  387  62 1005  38  12  65 163   64  56  .269  .315  .403  .718 956/D347  NYM-MON-LAD-NYM-CAL-KCR
   18 Billy Goodman        6446     99 1947 1962 21-36 1623  5644  807 1691 299  44  19  591  669   7  329  29  89  15 121   37  30  .300  .376  .378  .754 435/796   BOS-TOT-CHW-HOU
   19 Cesar Tovar          6177    100 1965 1976 24-35 1488  5569  834 1546 253  55  46  435  413  23  410  88  73  34  58  226 108  .278  .335  .368  .703 87549/D6321 MIN-PHI-TEX-TOT
   20 Mark Loretta         6057    100 1995 2007 23-35 1518  5370  722 1598 286  22  72  566  506  17  554  68  56  57 142   46  34  .298  .362  .399  .761 *4635/D71 MIL-TOT-SDP-BOS-HOU
   21 Art Fletcher         6039    100 1909 1922 24-37 1533  5541  684 1534 238  77  32  675  203   0  348 141 154   0   0  159  28  .277  .319  .365  .684 *6/54     NYG-TOT-PHI
   22 Max Flack            5905    101 1914 1925 24-35 1411  5252  783 1461 212  72  35  391  474   0  253  32 147   0   0  200  71  .278  .342  .366  .708 *97/8     CHI-CHC-TOT-STL
   23 Terry Steinbach      5896    101 1986 1999 24-37 1546  5369  638 1453 273  21 162  745  418  31  938  48  15  46 176   23  22  .271  .326  .420  .746 *2/D3597  OAK-MIN
   24 Carlos Baerga        5895    100 1990 2005 21-36 1630  5439  731 1583 279  17 134  774  291  41  580  73  26  66 158   59  24  .291  .332  .423  .755 *45/36D   CLE-TOT-NYM-BOS-ARI-WSN
   25 Rich Aurilia         5705    100 1995 2007 23-35 1452  5192  702 1435 278  21 174  688  412  17  781  23  36  42 124   22  17  .276  .330  .439  .769 *6543/D   SFG-TOT-CIN-SFG

It's interesting that Bill Buckner comes out on top. I've always thought of him as an average player--not in a negative sense, but as a guy who might not have been the most talented or athletic, but who ground it out and ended up being pretty productive. He's the only guy on this list to play 1B or 3B as his primary position, which isn't surprising since others with this many PAs would probably be above an OPS+ of 101.

Rather, this list is populated by shortstops and second basemen primarily, which again is not that surprising. For years, these were positions from which little offensive production was expected, and therefore guys at these positions who got an OPS+ of 100 were probably fairly far above average for a 2B or SS, and therefore got a lot more career PAs.

There are lots of other interesting things about this list, but I won't go into too much more detail.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2008 at 6:55 pm 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.

10 Responses to “The most average batters of all time”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Of course most of these players were at least pretty good, not just average. Anyone who looks "average" over a long professional career must have had many seasons in their prime in which they were above-average.

  2. my vote for most average manager would be for Wilbert Robninson. Outside of interim guys, I think you should agree!

  3. I agree that there are a lot of good players in that bunch, even Buckner, but there is something to be said for their averageness, year-to-year as well as overall. Sure, none of these guys were ALWAYS in the 95-105 OPS+ range, and a lot of them were above-average defenders or baserunners, but for the most part you look at their numbers and see a lot of slightly above average years, followed by a few below average decline years.

    That's the cool thing about a lot of these guys, especially Buckner. Offensively, he didn't really have many above average seasons, he didn't really have a huge peak. His best year was in the strike-shortened '81 season.

    There are definiely not many full seasons in there where you see huge numbers (Harper '70, McGee '85, Boone & Aurilia '01). Jason Kendall started out pretty strong but has probably the worst decline stretch of any of these "average" guys.

  4. Maybe Buckner was subconsciously trying to be memorable in '86.

  5. I guess Buckner did have a fairly horrible end of career. Why did they keep him around so long in K.C.?

  6. David in Toledo Says:

    He may have been a very nice man, and his brother was a bigtime hitter. But Lloyd Waner on the inside of the HoF, and Tim Raines on the outside?

  7. Taking this in the other direction (least average batters of all-time), I was curious to know how many times anyone had a lifetime batting average at one point in their entire career higher than Cobb's final lifetime batting average of .366. So I went through year by year, starting at http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/leaders_18_bat.shtml , and I looked at batting average in the "Up to and including" column.

    Only two players ever ended a season with a lifetime average higher than .366. Can you name them? I'll answer it in my next post.

    By the way, I did the same thing for lifetime slugging average. Did you know that no one in the history of baseball (with at last 75 games played) had a lifetime slugging average at any point in their career higher than Ruth's lifetime mark of .690? In fact, no one comes close. Ted Williams peaked at .647 at age 27; Gehrig peaked four times at .643 at ages 28, 31, 33 and 34; Foxx peaked at .640 at age 26. Ruth peaked at .710 at AGE 35!!

  8. Willie Keeler had a lifetime average of .385 at ages 25 and 26, .384 at age 27, .381 at age 28, .376 at age 29, .371 at age 30, and .366 at age 31.

    Joe Jackson had a lifetime average of .393 at age 22, .387 at age 23, and .377 at age 24. At age 25 he batted .308 for the season, dragging him down to .365.

    By the way, Cobb peaked at at .373 at age 35 (the same age Ruth peaked at his highest slugging average.) So Joe Jackson hold the record for the highest lifetime batting average at the end of a season.

  9. [...] 7164 101 1962 1976 21-35 ... PHI-TOT-LAD-CIN-DET-TOR 17 Hubie Brooks 6476 100 1980 1994 23-37 ...http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/archives/485earthquake.usgs.gov/research/hazmaps/products_data/Puerto-Rico-VI/&ltb&gt...&lt/b&gt... 2500 21.0000 [...]

  10. [...] Player **PA** OPS+ From To Ages G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPhttp://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/archives/485Human or Pet Cremains Incorporated Into Art from Ashes?? Exquisite ...May 21, 2008 ... Media [...]