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Can Jay Bruce be the first ever?

Posted by Sean Forman on May 29, 2008

At least the first in the retrosheet-era. Since 1956, no player with more than 50 career AB's has ever had a batting average of more than .300 after every at bat of their career. With his 3 for 3 start, Bruce has a shot at doing this and could even survive an 0 for 6 tonight.

There are lots of guys with 5 or fewer AB's who qualify, but these are the players with at least 5 AB's followed by the lowest BA they had at the end of any game, who also got a hit in their first career plate appearance. (a couple of them I suppose could have had a 1 for 3 followed by a 1 for 3 with a hit in their last at bat, but I'm not going to check all of them).


| name_common       | first_game | ABs  | min_BA   |
+-------------------+------------+------+----------+
| Tom Wiedenbauer   |          1 |    6 | 0.666667 |
| Luis Silverio     |          1 |   11 | 0.545455 |
| Joaquin Arias     |          1 |   11 | 0.500000 |
| Nick Bierbrodt    |          1 |    8 | 0.500000 |
| Ron Blazier       |          1 |    6 | 0.500000 |
| Dusty Wathan      |          1 |    5 | 0.500000 |
| Chad Santos       |          1 |    7 | 0.428571 |
| Domingo Martinez  |          1 |   22 | 0.409091 |
| Glenn Williams    |          1 |   40 | 0.400000 |
| Hal Haydel        |          1 |    6 | 0.400000 |
| Don McCormack     |          1 |    5 | 0.400000 |
| Charlie Montoyo   |          1 |    5 | 0.400000 |
| Andy Sonnanstine  |          1 |    5 | 0.400000 |
| Gene Krug         |          1 |    5 | 0.400000 |
| Gene Stechschulte |          1 |    5 | 0.400000 |
| Orlando Isales    |          1 |    5 | 0.400000 |
| Gary Johnson      |          1 |    8 | 0.375000 |
| Keith McDonald    |          1 |    9 | 0.333333 |
| Harry Fanok       |          1 |    6 | 0.333333 |
| Mike Adamson      |          1 |    6 | 0.333333 |
| John Upham        |          1 |   13 | 0.300000 |
| Danny Boone       |          1 |   10 | 0.300000 |
| Juan Pierre       |          1 | 4778 | 0.299785 |
| Joe Hall          |          1 |   47 | 0.295455 |
| Dave Magadan      |          1 | 4159 | 0.286430 |
| D.T. Cromer       |          1 |  104 | 0.285714 |
| Daric Barton      |          1 |   72 | 0.285714 |
| Derrick Gibson    |          1 |   49 | 0.285714 |
| Brandon Harper    |          1 |   41 | 0.285714 |
| Bill Spanswick    |          1 |   14 | 0.285714 |
| Craig Stansberry  |          1 |    7 | 0.285714 |
| Brad Lidge        |          1 |    7 | 0.285714 |
| Kal Daniels       |          1 | 2338 | 0.282609 |
| Rudy Pemberton    |          1 |  134 | 0.281250 |
| Mike Redmond      |          1 | 1937 | 0.279547 |
| Frank Ernaga      |          1 |   43 | 0.279070 |
| T.J. Tucker       |          1 |   36 | 0.277778 |
| Butch Alberts     |          1 |   18 | 0.277778 |
| Jeff Stone        |          1 |  941 | 0.276890 |
| Adam Wainwright   |          1 |   68 | 0.274510 |
| Scott Livingstone |          1 | 1533 | 0.274074 |
| Gene Clines       |          1 | 2328 | 0.273256 |
| Fred Andrews      |          1 |   29 | 0.272727 |
| Joel Hanrahan     |          1 |   14 | 0.272727 |
| Chris Michalak    |          1 |   11 | 0.272727 |
| Jose Alvarez      |          1 |   11 | 0.272727 |
| Bo Hart           |          1 |  309 | 0.271845 |
| Craig Wilson      |          1 |  372 | 0.270548 |
| Kevin Millar      |          1 | 3906 | 0.269939 |
| Manny Jimenez     |          1 | 1003 | 0.268657 |

If you want to include rounding error, Juan Pierre actually sneaks across the .300 threshold. Now this doesn't mean that no one has ever done it.

Here are the possible guys. These are the players who had a .300 or higher average at the end of every season of their career. If anyone has what they did in their first at bat we could winnow this list by quite a lot I suspect. Some day we'll have gamelogs for all of these guys and can really go to work on it.

| name_common         | ABs   | min_BA   |
+---------------------+-------+----------+
| Ross Barnes         |  2392 | 0.359114 |
| Levi Meyerle        |  1443 | 0.355509 |
| Cal McVey           |  2513 | 0.345802 |
| Pete Browning       |  4820 | 0.340884 |
| Paul Waner          |  9459 | 0.333228 |
| Dale Alexander      |  2450 | 0.331020 |
| Riggs Stephenson    |  4508 | 0.328378 |
| Ted Williams        |  7706 | 0.327434 |
| Nap Lajoie          |  9589 | 0.325714 |
| Jimmie Foxx         |  8134 | 0.325301 |
| Cap Anson           | 10277 | 0.325000 |
| Stan Musial         | 10972 | 0.324903 |
| Joe DiMaggio        |  6821 | 0.323391 |
| Mike Donlin         |  3854 | 0.323308 |
| Earle Combs         |  5746 | 0.322528 |
| Jimmy Bannon        |  1433 | 0.320307 |
| Chuck Klein         |  6486 | 0.320074 |
| Tuck Turner         |  1496 | 0.319519 |
| Willie Keeler       |  8591 | 0.318471 |
| Doc Prothro         |   600 | 0.318333 |
| Bill Everitt        |  2842 | 0.317382 |
| Earl Averill        |  6353 | 0.316944 |
| Lip Pike            |  1983 | 0.316761 |
| Lloyd Waner         |  7772 | 0.316392 |
| Arky Vaughan        |  6622 | 0.315888 |
| Cuckoo Christensen  |   514 | 0.315175 |
| Dick Cox            |   832 | 0.313702 |
| Bob Fothergill      |  3269 | 0.313059 |
| Ed Morgan           |  2810 | 0.312811 |
| Joe Medwick         |  7635 | 0.312411 |
| Dale Mitchell       |  3984 | 0.312249 |
| Walter Thornton     |   519 | 0.312139 |
| Johnny Mize         |  6443 | 0.312122 |
| Deacon White        |  6624 | 0.311896 |
| Taffy Wright        |  3583 | 0.311192 |
| Roger Connor        |  7794 | 0.311174 |
| Irv Waldron         |   598 | 0.311037 |
| Barney McCosky      |  4172 | 0.310966 |
| Ginger Beaumont     |  5660 | 0.310757 |
| Honus Wagner        | 10430 | 0.310303 |
| Joe Sewell          |  7132 | 0.310000 |
| Jim Bottomley       |  7471 | 0.309597 |
| Bob Meusel          |  5475 | 0.309224 |
| Al Simmons          |  8759 | 0.308081 |
| Dick Porter         |  2515 | 0.307753 |
| Johnny Frederick    |  3102 | 0.307544 |
| Lou Gehrig          |  8001 | 0.307368 |
| Jim O'Rourke        |  8505 | 0.306931 |
| Johnny Pesky        |  4745 | 0.306639 |
| Heinie Manush       |  7654 | 0.306548 |
| Ernie Orsatti       |  2165 | 0.306236 |
| Chick Stahl         |  5069 | 0.304991 |
| Smead Jolley        |  1710 | 0.304678 |
| Mel Ott             |  9456 | 0.304146 |
| Ross Youngs         |  4627 | 0.304000 |
| Mickey Cochrane     |  5169 | 0.303797 |
| Richie Ashburn      |  8365 | 0.303665 |
| Del Bissonette      |  2291 | 0.303536 |
| Sam Thompson        |  5984 | 0.303150 |
| Jim Burns           |   727 | 0.303030 |
| Harvey Kuenn        |  6913 | 0.302618 |
| Elmer Flick         |  5597 | 0.302428 |
| Cecil Travis        |  4914 | 0.302326 |
| Ben Chapman         |  6478 | 0.302254 |
| Sam Rice            |  9269 | 0.302149 |
| Dave Orr            |  3289 | 0.301887 |
| Homer Summa         |  3001 | 0.301566 |
| George Wright       |  2875 | 0.301565 |
| John Stone          |  4494 | 0.300380 |
| Wally Berger        |  5163 | 0.300195 |

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008 at 3:17 pm 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.

6 Responses to “Can Jay Bruce be the first ever?”

  1. kingturtle Says:

    Finally I get to share a stat I came up with that's been waiting for the proper discussion.

    Barry Bonds had 16 consecutive years in which his year-end lifetime slugging average was higher than it was the year before. It is because he started his career as a lead-off hitter, and ended his career in the steroid era. Nevertheless, I don't think there is any other player who comes close to such a streak.

    1989-.458
    1990-.479
    1991-.485
    1992-.503
    1993-.526
    1994-.537
    1995-.541
    1996-.548
    1997-.551
    1998-.556
    1999-.559
    2000-.567
    2001-.585
    2002-.595
    2003-.600
    2004-.611

  2. smokedphish Says:

    whoa i love that tidbit about barry bonds, really interesting thanks!

  3. Kosuke Fukodome was 3 for 3 in his first game and his lowest BA at the end of a game was .294, last week. That was the only game where he ended below .300. He was close to .300 a few times, and I haven't checked whether he went below .300 in the middle of a game.

  4. On the first list, I'll bet Fatty McDonald has the highest slugging percentage, with 3 homers (his only 3 big league hits) in 9 at bats. Of course, guys like Esteban Yan probably do have a higher lifetime slugging percentage.

  5. At the end of the Reds/Yankees game on June 20, Bruce was 29 for 96, for a batting average of .302.

    On 6/21 he was 1 for 4, with the hit in his final at bat. So after his first at bat he was 29/97, for a batting average of .299. After his next two at bats his batting averages were .296 and .293. He ended the game at 30 for 100, so he has still had a batting average of at least .300 at the end of every game of his career. According to the first table above, no one with more than 50 at bats has done this since at least 1956, either, unless we let Juan Pierre round up. But since he's sitting at .301 right now, that seems likely to change soon, too.

  6. Bruce is at .296 at the end of June 25. Oh well...