Posted by Andy on May 13, 2010
This plot shows the year-to-year ratios of the active career hits leaders. Please take a look at my recent similar post for strikeout leaders to understand how it's done. Basically, I take the number of hits for the active leader at the end of each season and divide by the total for the year from the previous season.
(click on the image for a larger version)
As with the strikeout chart, the big dips occurs when the active leader retires and the new leader has a much lower total.
A few things to notice:
- The highest point on this graph is in 1953, when Stan Musial registered a ratio of nearly 1.10. This is pretty much an artifact of how the plot works. Between 1952 and 1953, Musial posted 200 hits, running his career total from 2,023 hits to 2,223 hits. When Joe DiMaggio stepped aside after 1951, he left Musial as the active hits leader with a fairly total total. Most other times in baseball history, the active career leader has been around 3,000 hits. So when Musial had that 200-hit season in 1953, he boosted his own career total by about 10% and jumped to the top.
- Jim O'Rourke managed to stay as the active hits leader despite not adding any hits at all from 1894 to 1903. He didn't play in the majors during that time. He came back to play in 1 game in 1904 so he gets credit for being active the whole time and amazingly nobody had a higher total than he did the entire time.
- The plot shows lots of bumps in the last 10 years. This is because of lots of changes in the active hit leaders. After Gwynn took over from Molitor, there was Cal Ripken, Rickey Henderson, Rafael Palmeiro, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey, and the current leader, Derek Jeter.