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Most hits, homers, strikeouts, etc, first 10 seasons: Ichiro, Pujols, and Dunn

Posted by Andy on November 29, 2010

Here's more stuff from reader Joseph T. about numerous records set in the 2010 season for totals in the first 10 years of a playing career.

Ichiro Suzki, Albert Pujols, and Adam Dunn all broke into the (North American) major leagues in 2001, making 2010 their 10th season in the bigs. Unsurprisingly, they show up a lot on the following lists.

All of these lists use the PI season finder for 1st to 10th seasons, and so a cup of coffee is counted as a season. This arbitrarily punishes players who appeared briefly for one or more seasons, giving them many fewer plate appearances to amass the stats to appear on these lists. Unfortunately, that's life.

Most plate appearances, first 10 seasons, all-time:

Rk Player PA From To Age G
1 Ichiro Suzuki 7339 2001 2010 27-36 1588
2 Pete Rose 6941 1963 1972 22-31 1537
3 Richie Ashburn 6838 1948 1957 21-30 1489
4 Albert Pujols 6782 2001 2010 21-30 1558
5 Kirby Puckett 6747 1984 1993 24-33 1538
6 Paul Waner 6729 1926 1935 23-32 1490
7 Wade Boggs 6725 1982 1991 24-33 1482
8 Carl Yastrzemski 6675 1961 1970 21-30 1544
9 Earl Averill 6647 1929 1938 27-36 1486
10 Jim Gilliam 6621 1953 1962 24-33 1493
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 11/28/2010.

Ichiro leads thanks to 1) batting leadoff and 2) rarely missing a game. In his 10 years in the majors, he's played fewer than 157 games in a season just once. Wow.

Most at-bats, first 10 seasons, all-time:

Rk Player AB From To Age G
1 Ichiro Suzuki 6779 2001 2010 27-36 1588
2 Kirby Puckett 6267 1984 1993 24-33 1538
3 Pete Rose 6227 1963 1972 22-31 1537
4 Richie Ashburn 5943 1948 1957 21-30 1489
5 Jimmy Rollins 5941 2000 2009 21-30 1406
6 Hank Aaron 5940 1954 1963 20-29 1511
7 Larry Bowa 5915 1970 1979 24-33 1489
8 Paul Waner 5901 1926 1935 23-32 1490
9 Red Schoendienst 5867 1945 1954 22-31 1434
10 Earl Averill 5854 1929 1938 27-36 1486
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 11/28/2010.

Ichiro makes this one too thanks to have so many plate appearances and such a low walk rate. Notice he also played in more games than any of the other top 10, thanks to his durability.

Most hits, first 10 seasons, all-time:

Rk Player H From To Age G
1 Ichiro Suzuki 2244 2001 2010 27-36 1588
2 Paul Waner 2036 1926 1935 23-32 1490
3 Kirby Puckett 1996 1984 1993 24-33 1538
4 Al Simmons 1996 1924 1933 22-31 1386
5 Wade Boggs 1965 1982 1991 24-33 1482
6 Pete Rose 1922 1963 1972 22-31 1537
7 George Sisler 1916 1915 1925 22-32 1348
8 Albert Pujols 1900 2001 2010 21-30 1558
9 Hank Aaron 1898 1954 1963 20-29 1511
10 Earl Averill 1888 1929 1938 27-36 1486
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 11/28/2010.

There's Ichiro again. In case you hadn't heard, he's had at least 200 hits in every one of his major-league seasons. Pujols is 4th all-time in plate appearances and "only" 8th in hits. His walk rate has a lot to do with that...

Most HR, first 10 seasons, all-time:

Rk Player HR From To Age G
1 Albert Pujols 408 2001 2010 21-30 1558
2 Eddie Mathews 370 1952 1961 20-29 1482
3 Ralph Kiner 369 1946 1955 23-32 1472
4 Adam Dunn 354 2001 2010 21-30 1448
5 Ken Griffey 350 1989 1998 19-28 1375
6 Alex Rodriguez 345 1994 2003 18-27 1275
7 Hank Aaron 342 1954 1963 20-29 1511
8 Ernie Banks 335 1953 1962 22-31 1370
9 Frank Robinson 324 1956 1965 20-29 1502
10 Ted Williams 323 1939 1951 20-32 1421
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 11/28/2010.

Pujols benefits here from playing in a high-offense era (not to mention being an incredibly good player.) Easy math here...he's averaged 40.8 HR for the first 10 years of his career. Wow. Dunn's averaged 35.4 himself, good for #4 on this list.

Most doubles, first 10 seasons, all-time:

Rk Player 2B From To Age G
1 Albert Pujols 426 2001 2010 21-30 1558
2 Joe Medwick 416 1932 1941 20-29 1360
3 Todd Helton 413 1997 2006 23-32 1424
4 Wade Boggs 400 1982 1991 24-33 1482
5 Paul Waner 398 1926 1935 23-32 1490
6 Stan Musial 373 1941 1951 20-30 1370
7 Al Simmons 372 1924 1933 22-31 1386
8 Babe Herman 370 1926 1935 23-32 1379
9 Earl Averill 369 1929 1938 27-36 1486
10 Ted Williams 366 1939 1951 20-32 1421
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 11/28/2010.

Not just a home run hitter, Pujols also leads in doubles. Todd Helton makes it too, albeit Coors-aided.

Most total bases, first 10 seasons, all-time:

Rk Player TB From To Age G
1 Albert Pujols 3580 2001 2010 21-30 1558
2 Hank Aaron 3399 1954 1963 20-29 1511
3 Joe DiMaggio 3304 1936 1948 21-33 1405
4 Al Simmons 3250 1924 1933 22-31 1386
5 Ted Williams 3220 1939 1951 20-32 1421
6 Earl Averill 3174 1929 1938 27-36 1486
7 Stan Musial 3074 1941 1951 20-30 1370
8 Chuck Klein 3071 1928 1937 23-32 1318
9 Willie Mays 3067 1951 1961 20-30 1372
10 Frank Robinson 3063 1956 1965 20-29 1502
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 11/28/2010.

There's Pujols again. It's somewhat surprising that no other recent players make the top 10. Among players active as recent as the year 2000, Helton is at #12, Ken Griffey Jr. is at #16, Jeff Bagwell is at #17, and they are followed later by Ichiro, Alex Rodriguez, and Vladimir Guerrero.

Most extra-base hits, first 10 seasons, all-time:

Rk Player XBH From To Age G
1 Albert Pujols 849 2001 2010 21-30 1558
2 Ted Williams 750 1939 1951 20-32 1421
3 Hank Aaron 740 1954 1963 20-29 1511
4 Joe DiMaggio 734 1936 1948 21-33 1405
5 Todd Helton 728 1997 2006 23-32 1424
6 Earl Averill 715 1929 1938 27-36 1486
7 Stan Musial 706 1941 1951 20-30 1370
8 Al Simmons 702 1924 1933 22-31 1386
9 Lou Gehrig 701 1923 1932 20-29 1232
10 Joe Medwick 699 1932 1941 20-29 1360
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 11/28/2010.

There's that man again. What's striking is how large his lead is here.

Most strikeouts, first 10 seasons, all-time:

Rk Player SO From To Age G
1 Adam Dunn 1632 2001 2010 21-30 1448
2 Pat Burrell 1392 2000 2009 23-32 1428
3 Bobby Bonds 1384 1968 1977 22-31 1416
4 Rob Deer 1379 1984 1993 23-32 1130
5 Mo Vaughn 1262 1991 2000 23-32 1346
6 Reggie Jackson 1237 1967 1976 21-30 1365
7 Pete Incaviglia 1221 1986 1996 22-32 1211
8 Juan Samuel 1208 1983 1992 22-31 1310
9 Dick Allen 1208 1963 1972 21-30 1291
10 Sammy Sosa 1198 1989 1998 20-29 1247
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 11/28/2010.

On a list populated by recent players, Dunn is way, way, out in the lead. In his original email, Joseph surmised that most of these records seem unbreakable. I tend to agree. What do you think?

This entry was posted on Monday, November 29th, 2010 at 12:30 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.

65 Responses to “Most hits, homers, strikeouts, etc, first 10 seasons: Ichiro, Pujols, and Dunn”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Fascinating.

  2. Clearly there was an error with the blog software, or me, or something. I wrote a lengthy post with a lot of stuff and it all got deleted some how. Sorry.

  3. Thanks very much to Neil, who was able to recover the content of this post.

  4. David Allan Says:

    Maybe the most interesting fact to me, is that of all the players on the home run list, 4 played during the steroid era...based on the accusations against users, you'd like the list would be constructed of guys from that time period.

    Just as many of the guy on the list took their first at bat from 1952-1956. So the question then begs, why the spike in that for year period? Bats? Tighter wound balls? Change in ballpark dimensions? A statistical aberration?

    Don't take this as a witch hunt, more as an interesting observation.

  5. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Just as many of the guy on the list took their first at bat from 1952-1956.

    And if you look down the road toward the end of their careers, you see a spate of 500-HR guys. I'm too lazy to look up the data right now -- I've done it somewhere on this blog before -- but in a span of about 7 years (c. 1966-1973) the 500-HR club went from about 4 members to about 11. This was a far more dramatic change than we recently had, yet today all we hear about is how the numbers have been "cheapened." Steroids probably had some impact, but there are so many other factors at play, just as there were when those '50s-'60s guys piled up the HR.

  6. Ichiro also gets the benefit of coming into the majors in his prime at the age of 27. Not a huge asterisk but one nonetheless for me. Dunn is already 28th on the career strikeout list (and will probably be top 15 by next year), with nearly as many as Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson. Check out the list. Did you know that Mike Cameron is top 10? Also, A-Rod is set to break into the top 5 next year and is a decent bet to be the all-time king one day. Unless Jim Thome extends it...he's only 202 off Reggie's all-time record.

  7. @4: Negro League talent spilling into the majors en masse for the first time, and pitchers having trouble adjusting?

  8. I really dislike the term "unbreakable"... We probably won't see a player who hits for as much power as early in his career and as consistently as Pujols, we might never see as prolific and durable a singles hitter as Ichiro. But then again, it's always possible that the player who breaks one of those records is in the minors (or Japan, or Little League) right now.
    With that said, I think it's a safe bet that the first of these records to fall will be Dunn's strikeout "crown." Without looking it up I'd guess Mark Reynolds has a pretty good shot at it if he can continue to hit for enough power to justify an everyday job. Same goes for Ryan Howard.

  9. Johnny Twisto Says:

    In 1950, the MLB HR rate, which had never been above 0.70 per game, jumped to 0.84/game. It would stay at that level or higher for most of the next 16 years. I'm not sure why.

    Integration? If more good black hitters than pitchers entered MLB, which I think is true, the pendulum could swing toward offense. But how much impact could this really have? Of course we had Aaron, Mays, Robinson, Banks. But from 1950-1965, it looks like just 6 of the top 25 HR hitters were black. Just 1 of the top 25 in wins and 2 of the top 25 in Ks were black.

    New ballparks? The Orioles, Braves, A's, Giants, Dodgers, and Twins all moved during the '50s. I'd have to look closer to see the characteristics of the new parks compared to the old ones. Did any other teams open new parks, or make significant changes to existing ones? Triples did fall below .30 per game for the first time in 1951, and have never gone back above it since 1952, so I'd guess that's an indication the parks were getting smaller.

    Changed ball? Who knows? A deadened ball was used during WWII. Was the ball used in 1952 any different than the one used in 1946, or 1936?

  10. Interesting info. It was amazing to see Pujols' location with the all-time greats of the game.

  11. "In his original email, Joseph surmised that most of these records seem unbreakable. I tend to agree. What do you think?"

    That is an interesting conclusion to come to, given that this study demonstrates that every one of these records was broken in the past ten years.

    If they do prove unbreakable, and all of the leaders in these categories came from the exact same 10 year period, there was something very unique about these past 10 years.

  12. BSK, that's a sound conclusion I think, and it may be the case that 1993-2009 was a high offensive peak compared to most of the rest of the time in MLB. It's tough to know what we (or the next generation) will be saying about 1993-2009 come, say, 2030, but that might be it.

  13. In re the steroid era, and whether it is actually an offensive era, we (generalizing, but fairly, I think) focus on HRs and offense, but maybe PEDs are benefiting pitching, too, and we're not looking at the right balance of steroid-influenced skills.

    When I do the "first 10 years" search and use SO/BB as my pitching skill stat (1000 IP minimum), eight of the top 10 are PED era, and 16 out of 20. I think that's incredible, and worth pondering.

    For this, 1988 to present as PED era. This is highly debatable, I understand. Just sayin'.

  14. These lists are fun, but they are heavily biases toward players who do *not* get cups of coffee before their rookie seasons. September call-ups are very common.

    Because of that, I prefer following the age-based leaderboards. (A bit of a bummer that it drops guys like Ichiro from interest, though)

    I don't know how to mine the age-based leaderboards for active players. I know A-Rod has been leading the HR list at his age for a few seasons now. Dunn still leads the K list. Pujols only leads in GIDP, but he's second on the doubles list behind a fading Medwick. He'll have to keep hitting 40 doubles/season to catch Speaker though.

  15. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I don't know how to mine the age-based leaderboards for active players.

    You can do this with the PI. Ask for multiple seasons, "to age X," mark Active players, and choose your stat. Most HR by age 30 among active players (plus Ken Griffey): http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/shareit/ZemFk

  16. Strikeouts in first ten years is most likely to be broken. Mark Reynolds is at 767 after four years, putting him on pace for 1918 in his first ten years. This would crush Dunn by 300 k's, and put him at number seven career after only ten seasons. Of course this assumes he plays full time, healthy, and effectively. But even still this is an underestimate as it factors in his first non-full season. If you use his three full year average of 213 for 9 years and add his first year, you get 2043, or 400 k's more, and 4th all time. It will be interesting to see if he can stay a full time player long enough to do this, but he will only be 31 by the end of his tenth season, not an unreasonable age to reach as a full time player.

  17. Even more interesting about the 4 players on the HR list from the "steroid era" is that three of them - Dunn, Griffey, and Pujols - are presumed by many to be clean.

    On a separate issue, I know we have park factors that help us see past illusions about a player's offensive or pitching numbers, but do we have factors for individual components for hitters? That is, do we have factors for doubles or homeruns (or triples) separately? I can believe that Helton benefited from Coors (which we know inflates general offensive levels, and probably the number of doubles) but was/is Sportsman's Park and Fenway Park "doubles havens"? There are two Cardinals (Medwick and Musial - I know Pujols is a Cardinal but he didn't play in the same stadium) and two Red Sox (Williams and Boggs - who did play in the same stadium) on that doubles list.

  18. Miscellaneous observations:

    Kiner, who held the most HR, 1st 10 seasons record for a few years - his 1st 10 years were also his only 10 years.

    Al Simmons was the 1st 10 seasons leader in doubles, total bases, and extra-base hits until Waner/DiMaggio/Averill passed him, even though he lissed a lot of games in 1927 and 1928 (and fell well short of 150 in two other seasons).

    Averill, like Ichiro, made his debut at 27.

    Lou Gehrig was the 1st 10 seasons leader in extra-base hits even though he only played 23 game in his 1st two seasons. If you do EBH per game, 1st 10 seasons, Gehrig's way out in front of Pujols and the others on the list.

  19. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Artie Z, ESPN publishes component park factors, but they don't go back before this decade: http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor

  20. Where would Ruth rate on these lists if we only looked at his first 10 seasons as a full time hitter? I realize that is cheating a bit, but I'd still be curious to know.

  21. Johnny Twisto Says:

    For the seasons 1919-1928, Ruth would be 1st in HR (450), 2nd in TB (3549), 1st in XBH (860). He would also be 2nd in BB (1269) (Dunn is 8th at 990).

  22. Players who played part of their first 10 years in the 1950's appear on these lists about 22 times, I think ( I kind of estimated, so I could be off a bit), which is fewer than those who played some of their first 10 years in the 1930's.

    Pre 1920: 1 (what's up with this?)
    1920's: 18
    1930's: 25
    1940's: 11
    1950's: 22
    1960's: 18
    1970's: 8
    1980's: 11
    1990's: 15
    2000's: 16

    Because of the "cup of coffee" effect on the list, a number of factors could cause the list to be slanted. If you take out the COC years, I think guys like Cobb and Hornsby make some of the lists.

    1950 to 1965 were the bonus baby years. Some players didn't get "cups of coffee"--they were on the rosters and played if they were good enough, it seems--maybe that helps them on the lists? (Mays lost almost two seasons to the Korean war, however.)

    The players whose first 10 years overlapped 1941-1945, most likely lost seasons to WWII (Williams, Dimaggio, Greenberg, Musial come to mind.)

    Ruth and Gehrig would almost certainly be on more of the top 10 lists, except Ruth was a pitcher his first three years and I think Gehrig played only part time his first three seasons while he finished his college degree.

  23. I guess I could have done that myself...

    Starting with 1918, the first year Ruth played the field (59 games in the OF, 13 at 1B, and 20 games as a pitcher, though I can't ferret out if there is any overlap), his numbers for that 10 year span (1918-1927) are (rank in parentheses):
    407 HRs (2nd, 1 behind Pujols)
    1623 Hs (NR)
    764 Ks (NR)
    319 2Bs (NR)
    817 XBHs (2nd)
    3345 TBs (3rd)

    If we give him the benefit of the doubt and start in 1919, his first year playing the field (almost) everyday, we get:
    450 HRs (1st)
    1701 Hs (NR)
    793 Ks (NR)
    322 2Bs (NR)
    860 XBHs (1st)
    3549 TBs (2nd)

    I realize this gets away from the point of the exercise, and there are plenty of guys we could play with and get some impressive totals, but Ruth's situation was pretty unique. There is a difference between being a great pitcher and not batting and only getting called up for a month at a time to start your career. Anyway you slice it, Pujols still comes out as having the better first 10 years of hitter, at least by these measures. Yikes!

    Also, w/r/t Dunn, his first season was a mere 66 games, so he was one of the guys harmed by the nature of the cutoffs. Obviously, Ichiro and Pujols started from day 1.

  24. Thanks, JT. You beat me to it, and with far less gibberish thrown in. Out of curiosity, do you think 1918 or 1919 is the better starting point for Ruth?

  25. Looking just at HRs, I'm not so sure the CoC guys would really have changed anything, unless they had multiple CoC seasons.

    For instance, only ARods was on a better HR/G pace than Pujols. And he wasn't hampered by CoCs, but by injuries.

    Of course, this ignores guys who didn't even make the top 10, so I guess it's possible, but they would have had to have been pretty prodigious HR producers and had multiple CoC years to make that plausible.

    I just did this quickly, so I can't say for sure if the same holds true for the other stats. The top 10 would probably look somewhat different, but let's not assume it'd be radically different because a guy had 100 or even 200 fewer games over this first 10 years.

  26. dukeofflattbush Says:

    Some one mentioned that the lists 'unbreakability' is unlikely because they all happened this year. Which was my original point. That almost every major stat for First Ten Years of a player's career, was broken at the same time. Remarkable class of '01.
    This may never happen again because of the 'cup of coffee' principal. Few guys jump right into a full starting job, remain uninjured, and preform at peak levels for 10 years.
    This year Heyward put up some good #s as a full time rookie. And if he averages that for 9 more years, he won't make any of those lists except BBs.
    The way the game has changed and the value placed on young arms, I thought this would be pointless for pitchers. Imagine a 17 year old (Fellar) starting today... and being allowed to complete the game. The insanity.

    Thanx Andy

  27. Ruth is hard to figure in at all because he changed the game so much. People didn't really care that much about home runs until he started hitting them.

    And he had his own cup of coffee years, where he was like 17, 18 years old--and even if he had played full time as a batter, he probably wasn't going to be hitting too many HR's.

    No doubt that Pujols will have one of the all time great careers if he stays healthy and plays even 3/4 of what he has for another 5 years.

    Another 150 HR's and another 450 RBI, 1200 TB, 400 Runs, and another 800 hits, give him some amazing numbers, no? Add on a few declining years and he is easily in the top 20 for most categories.

    But I love his work ethic and I think he will put up much better numbers than those because he will work hard to stay in shape and stay healthy.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see 700 HR's and 2000 RBI by the end of his career.

  28. I would love it if the PLAY INDEX allowed one to exclude partial seasons at the beginning and end of a player's career. HINT HINT.

    And while I'm on it, to be able to select league leaders and award winners only. Then you could easily do a search to find out which players led the league in batting and home runs, for example, but didn't win a Silver Slugger. Or all home run leaders with under 100 RBI and other such searches.

    My wish list for 2011.

  29. Ichiro's late career start is a main reason for his domination of these lists. He had no early career years, just came straight into MLB at his peak.

  30. Johnny Twisto Says:

    do you think 1918 or 1919 is the better starting point for Ruth?

    Well, just going by the wording of your question ("full time hitter") I chose 1919 because he played almost every game, even if he was still pitching a lot.

    1918 is one of the more fascinating seasons in history. He may have been the MVP of the league, despite being only a part-time pitcher and part-time batter. (There was no award that season.) He was 24th in IP and 83rd in PA in the AL.

  31. JT-

    Point taken. I suppose the 1918/1919 cutoff would really depend on if we wanted to compare full seasons, which is what Pujols and Ichiro had from minute one, or the more typical start of a players career, like Dunn. Obviously, it's all just theoretical. To my earlier point, no matter which way you cut it, Pujols bests him by these measures. Scary.

  32. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Williams leads in times on base in first 10 seasons. Pújols is third on the list, Ichiro fourth.

  33. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Imagine if Ichiro had guys behind him in the batting order that could hit. . .

  34. @25
    Actually, the lists are quite a bit different when the cups of coffee are removed. You mention A-Rod. A-Rod wasn't injured, he was simply rushed (cost the Mariners some service time, but that's another thread). He hit only 5 HR in his first *two* seasons yet still got out of the gate faster than most because he was playing full time at age 20.

    I played around with some "cup of coffee" cutoff values. Seasons at the beginning of a career that didn't match a certain cutoff would be discarded. Once a player has his first non-COC season, then all future seasons count (unless they're out the *whole* year for a war or in Sisler's case, sinusitus).

    A large cutoff value of 200 PA. This is a bit extreme. All of Ruth's pitching seasons are discarded. All of Killebrew's early seasons two. Thome and Foxx get big boosts as they were brought along slowly.

    Rodriguez 411
    Pujols 408
    Ruth 407
    Killebrew 386
    Foxx 376
    Thome 371
    Mathews 370
    Kiner 369
    Delgado 362
    Gonzalez 357
    Dunn 354
    Banks 351

    If you drop it to 100 PA, then most of those long early tails drop out but still different names in the second half of the top ten:

    Pujols 408
    Rodriguez 381
    Mathews 370
    Kiner 369
    Gonzalez 357
    Dunn 354
    Banks 351
    Griffey 350
    Schmidt 348
    Gehrig 347
    Ramirez 345
    Foxx 343

  35. One other notable thing about the 10 year service mark is that Pujols and Suzuki are now both *officially* eligible to be eligible for the HOF five years after they retire.

    So, one can start entertaining the "bus test". Pujols is probably in already. Suzuki is probably pretty close, too, especially writers give him some sort of credit for his years in Japan.

  36. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I did not realize that this was the first season Pujols has led the league in RBI. And the last two seasons are the first he has led in HR.

    He's led the league in runs scored 5 times; only Ruth and T.Williams have done it more.

    Is it unusual for a .331 hitter to lead the league in batting only once? Seems like it, especially since batting averages have not been that high during his career (it's been the SLG that's high). PI doesn't allow us to look for players with a .331 BA over any 10-year stretch, but I searched for players since 1893 who batted at least .320 in at least 5000 PA through age 30. There are 32 of them, which is more than I feel like checking. Ten of them debuted during the 1920s. Let me limit to a max BA of .340. Now we have 22 players, most of them with BA lower than Pujols. The other 21 players combined for 22 batting titles through age 30. So, considering the bigger league, and with the caveat that I am not controlling for era, it does not seem too surprising that Pujols has only won 1 batting title. (It should be noted he has finished in the top 7 every single season -- perhaps that makes it more surprising, that he is almost always in the race but only won once. Well, whatever.)

  37. @29: What's the excuse for Pujols? or does his being atop this list meet your approval?

  38. dukeofflattbush Says:

    @32

    I never understood why the Mariners bat Suzuki lead-off, I mean, I know why, but he puts so many balls in play, it seems a waste. Batting a hi BB/SB- .400OBP 40/SB guy ahead of him would just give Ichiro a chance at RBIs. He also is a great slap/hit-n-run hitter.
    Another thing is if you set the play index to multiple seasons > 260 TOB, and set the order by fewest runs scored, only 9 players scored fewer runs than Ichiro all time, and they all seem middle of the order guys and only one had speed.
    He does seem misused.

  39. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I seem to recall that he greatly prefers batting leadoff, and resisted when there was some talk of batting him 3rd a few years ago. Since there's probably not that much advantage to be gained from one reasonable lineup over another, it's probably better to keep your best players happy.

  40. Ichiro nearly set the "first-10-years" Hits record in 9 seasons, coming up 6 shy of Paul Waner.

    I happen to think Ichiro is overrated as a hitter, but I don't begrudge him this record just because he came to the majors "fully formed" and playing full-time. A lot of other players did, too:

    -- 126 players have had 600+ PAs in their first season, including 14 Hall of Famers, among them both Waners, Joe D and Teddy Ballgame, and Jackie Robinson, who -- like Ichiro -- debuted late through no fault of his own. In the All-Star era, more than 60% of those players made at least 1 All-Star team.

    P.S. My favorite "first-10-years" record is Rickey Henderson's 794 stolen bases, 306 more than Cobb's first 10 seasons. Before Rickey, there had only been 8 modern seasons of at least 79 SB, by 6 different men; RIckey averaged 79 SB for a decade.

  41. dukeofflattbush Says:

    @4
    When you say only 4 players played during the 'Steroid Era' - I think the myth there is PEDS are going to break all the All-time records. PEDs used incorrectly lead to many injuries and guys either don't have long careers or have lots of partial seasons. (McGwire and Canseco) Both would top those lists if not for the injuries.
    Also PEDs, I suspect lead to MONSTER YEARS, not careers, like seeing Brady Anderson hit 50 HR out of no where.
    With Bonds, it appears he not only was supervised very well on how to use PEDs, but it appears he also amassed most of his outstanding numbers pre-PED speculation. Even if he had a normal age 37-42 drop off, he'd still of been one of the greatest.

  42. @38, Duke -- I doubt that Ichiro would be a good RBI, since so many of his hits are singles and so many of those stay on the infield. In his 10-year career, he has 153 hits with a runner on 2B only; 134 of those hits are singles (thus, a .361 BA but just .427 SLG). Only 41% of his singles have scored the runner from 2B (55 RBI on 134 singles); the AL average last year was 51%.

  43. "RBI producer," I mean to say.

  44. dukeofflattbush Says:

    @ john autin

    When we talked about secondary bases, I think no matter how you tabulate them, Henderson is the king.
    My only knock on his record, and its not really a knock; is the SB is the only stat that you can pad. I'm sure Rickey ran when his team was up or down regardless of score. He also has fewer triples than Jim Rice and a guy with his speed and power with 3000 hits, seems to have a suspect # of 2Bs.
    Don't get me wrong, I'd start every all-century team with him leading off, but I think he definitely pulled up at first when he could of busted it to second on a hit, only to steal the bag one pitch later, the same on doubles.
    Although, if I was managing a guy I was sure could get to second, I may of had him pull up short to just get the pitcher out of the game. But I never heard anyone use that strategy and I never heard any of Rickey's managers mention it.

  45. dukeofflattbush Says:

    @ John Autin,
    The way you first put it, not a good RBI, may be why he only scored 74 times last year. Maybe his teammates thought him not a good RBI either. Just kidding.
    I do agree, he might not get all the guys in, but 1st and third ain't bad either.
    The one thing I am sick of hearing, and I heard it Boggs' whole career as well, is that Ichiro can hit HRs at will.
    Come on.
    If he could, he would.
    Batting practice doesn't show up on the back of baseball cards.

  46. DavidRF-

    I stand corrected. I had accidentally clicked Griffey's name.

  47. If you drop his 51 plate appearances for his COC, Jeter is in the top ten for plate appearances, at bats and hits. Didn't use a spreadsheet, just the stupid old Windows calculator, so findings could be ralphed.

  48. Excluding cups of coffee as a way to make the comparisons fair to those who had COCs struck me as going to far in the sense that it gives these players an advantage in the sense that one might expect the initial X at bats of a career to be below average (although the opposite can also be the case as the league develops a "book" on a hitter or pitch them differently from an established player). Of course, this season comparison for counting stats also gives a slight advantage to players who played in a 162 game season and thus having the opportunity to play in 80 additional games.

    If one wants to be fair to all these groups perhaps the best compromise is to look at the results from the first X number of PA's to start a career (cutoff would likely be in the 6000-7000 range). Though I would concede this is answering a slightly different question.

    Anyway, with all of Pujols' appearance on these lists and my thoughts on the very beginning of a career I decided to look at the first month of Pujols' first season (which as a Cardinals fan, I remember being very good and something I was paying attention to at the time).

    In 102 PAs he finished April with 18 R, 34 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 7 BB (1 IBB), 18 K, 8 GIDP and 3 HBP, which produced .370/.431/.739.

    While he certainly hasn't quite kept up those numbers, they were definitely a harbinger of things to come for his career, as opposed to the fantastic numbers we have seen posted by many players their first months, only to have unexceptional careers.

  49. Johnny Twisto Says:

    When we talked about secondary bases, I think no matter how you tabulate them, Henderson is the king.

    Secondary average is available for players on B-R but I don't think we can see the all-time or seasonal leaders. Anyway, using the Bill James definition of secondary bases (extra bases on hits, BB, SB), Henderson is not the king, but he's certainly royalty. Ruth was .594, Williams .553, Henderson .437 (league average around .250 during his career).

    'm sure Rickey ran when his team was up or down regardless of score.

    I've always wanted to break down his SB during, say, a month in 1982 when he was stealing a base a game and see what the situations were, how much WPA they actually had.

    The one thing I am sick of hearing, and I heard it Boggs' whole career as well, is that Ichiro can hit HRs at will.

    Agree 100%. I'm sure he "could" hit more HR, but at what expense? The guy doesn't even hit a lot of doubles and triples. There is no latent HR hitter hiding in there. If he could hit 30 HR while batting .220, who really gives a damn? Why should that excite us? He is a slap hitter and I assume he is maximizing his talents.

  50. @44, Duke -- I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Rickey played it safe and cost himself some extra-base hits, and I wouldn't defend that sort of behavior.

    Still, he has a 96-SB lead on Vince Coleman for most steals in the first 10 years (794-698), so I think he'd still have that mark even if he'd legged out every XBH he could have gotten.

  51. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Evan, interesting about Pujols's first month. If he had batted .200 that month, I wonder how things might have been different. Remember he had hardly played above A-ball and it was a bit of a surprise for him to make the team out of spring training. How long do they stick with him if he scuffles? He has proven himself to be so talented, I assume it wouldn't have been long before he dominated AAA and earned a trip back to the majors. But of course the Cards were a contending team and even while spending the entire season in the bigs Pujols didn't have a regular position. Who would he have displaced if he was coming back up to the majors and the rest of the team was humming along? Hard to see him losing more than a season, but I could see a slow start costing him most of 2001.

  52. @49, Johnny Twisto -- As a quick-and-dirty substitute for WPA .... In 1982, 61% of Rickey's SB came when the teams were no more than 1 run apart (79 out 130 total). He also had a higher success rate in that situation, 79%, compared to 71% in his other SB attempts.

    By the Leverage index, Rickey was 42-10 in High-leverage situations, 71-23 in Medium-leverage, and 17-9 in Low-leverage.

    My gut feeling is that there's not a lot of padding in Rickey's SB totals, but I don't have a full set of numbers to prove that.

  53. @51, JT -- Interesting question to ponder. My hunch is that Albert would have been given a pretty long leash. First off, he must have had a hell of a spring to win that starting job in just his 2nd pro year; I can't see LaRussa forcing Pujols into the lineup, then bailing on him after a bad month. Also, McGwire didn't play much in the first 2 months (and just 97 games all year), so there was a need for a bopper.

    P.S. Looking at the Cards' 2001 season ... With 50 games to play, they were 57-55, 8 games behind the Cubs. Even after getting hot, they were still 4.5 games back of Houston with 11 games left (the Cubs having collapsed). Yet they finished in a tie for 1st place. (Both teams made the playoffs.)

    Which is why statements made by Jayson Stark and others in the AL MVP debate were so confounding. Stark excused Hamilton's September absence by saying that the Rangers already had the division sewn up. As I see it, an 8.5-game lead with 30 games left is not insurmountable, as several furious finishes in the last decade have shown us. Just this year, the Giants were 6 games behind with 32 to play, yet they finished 2 games ahead of SD.

    I know that the last decade is a relative drop in the bucket of pennant-race data. But after seeing a number of surges & collapses in recent years, I don't put quite so much faith in the projections of Coolstandings et al.

  54. dukeofflattbush Says:

    I wonder if you guys agree if there was/is or could be a strategy to pulling up on first on a marginal double-ish hit, to disturb the pitcher's rhythm.
    I do know some pitchers are visibly disturbed while holding on runners, others seem to rush their delivery to the plate, and have a noticable drop in velocity (1-3 mph).
    You could also argue, the hitter would see more fastballs in a steal situation.
    Just a thought.

    @ Twisto

    A few threads ago, John and I thought of expanding secondary bases to include TB-H+BB+HBP-IBB-CS-GIDP.
    One example I used was Garry Templeton's 1977 season. He had 200 hits with only 79 'extra bases' - he had 28 steals but 24 caught stealing, and a hilarious 12 unintentional walks.
    I wanted to compare him to other hitters from the same year who didn't have near the 'old guard' numbers of Templeton, who hit .322 with 28SBs and 200 Hits.But compared to Joe Morgan, whom only had 150 Hits and a .288 BA, it looked different.
    The numbers I came up with were:
    GT - .135
    JM - .378
    or 87 Extra bases to 244.
    I remember in the Abstract, James used Darrel Evans as the perfect secondary average vs. BA example.

  55. JT,

    I remember the reason given for Pujols' presence on the roster was the injury to Bobby Bonilla, who had been signed as a free agent to play 3B. However, he didn't play 3B to start the season, appearing in the outfield the first bunch of games before moving to a semi-regular stint at 3B. Indeed he bounced around so much that if you look at the Cardinals' team page on B-R, he isn't listed in any position, instead being listed as the first "bench player" with a position of UT, despite leading the team in games with 161, as well as leading the team in R, H, 2B, HR, RBI, BA.

    Something that I have a vague recollection of reading earlier this year as part of Mark McGwire becoming the Cardinals' batting coach, was that McGwire was so impressed with what he saw of Pujols during spring training of 2001 that he made a stink about having him included on the roster to start the season. I'm not sure how much stock I would put in that story, but I have no particular reason to disbelieve its veracity.

    As you stated though, there is certainly a question about how different his career and season would have been had he not begun hitting in the 4th game of the season and made playing him non-optional. Especially considering the reputation that Tony La Russa has for not being patient with young players (though I'm not sure this isn't more reputation than reality).

  56. dukeofflattbush Says:

    Evan,
    DDo you mean McGwire wanted the spotlight for himself or that he believed the young Pujols deserved more fine tuning in AAA?

  57. Duke @56,

    I phrased that poorly and ambiguously. The story I remember reading was that McGwire insisted upon Pujols being included on the roster. It makes McGwire look good in retrospect in the sense that he had the ability to recognize the superior hitting ability of Pujols, but I'm not sure that McGwire would be in a position to make that type of demand.

  58. Would Pujols still have the XBH lead if you replace Williams' 1948-51 seasons with an estimate of his 1941-45 war years (probably best done by averaging 1940-41, 46-47)?

  59. Pujols leads Williams by 99 XBH. That's a huge gap to overcome. I don't see it. 1949 was one of Williams' best seasons. You don't gain anything replacing that. He did break his elbow in 1950 and had an "off year" (OPS+ = 162) in 1951, but I don't think you can extrapolate more than 40-50 more XBH out of that.

    Williams walked a bit more than Pujols so he loses some oppurtunities there. But you also have to give Pujols credit. He matches Williams in ISO for this time period which is pretty incredible.

  60. Mike Felber Says:

    Williams walked a lot more than Pujols, just about 50 % more over a career. That & to a lesser extent the 80 less games afforded by a shorter season really add up. That + what is mentioned in post #59 would give Ted the XBH lead. You do not need ton go as far as his excellent K rate, much better GIDP: look at the OPS +, weighted would be even better, & the least we can say is that though Pujols is definitely an amazing hitter, Williams was clearly absolutely better (at least relative to his time, if you believe the quality of play/pitching has improved a lot. Which it likely has).

    And look at his offensive WAR #s for the 2 years before & after the war. They are his best, & enormous: 10.3, 11.6, 11.2, 10.3. It is likely that he would have been able to maintain about this average for the 3 years in between. He may have only been very good at hitting, but given its importance, & how great he was at it, he is amongst the best ever.

  61. I knew Earl Averil was a HOFer, but I definitely would never have expected him to be represented on many of these lists (XBH and TB especially).

    Other surprises on the lists were Gilliam (PA) and Dunn (#4 HR).

  62. Babe Ruth leads in secondary average with .594? Have you forgotten Barry Bonds? > 2500 BB. > 500 SB. > 3000 extra bases on hits. .600. (Actually .621, I was going to leave it as an exercise for the student.) In 2004, with the ridiculous 232 BB he had 406 secondary bases in 373 AB. Giving a secondary average of 406/373 = 1.088.

  63. Note his age for Earl Averill's first 10 years. And he didn't have to cross the Pacific Ocean. He did not even play in the minors before age 22.

  64. @17, Artie Z -- "was/is Sportsman's Park and Fenway Park 'doubles havens'?"

    Fenway undoubtedly is one of the greatest doubles parks in MLB history. Look at any year's home/road batting & pitching splits for Boston: In 2010, there were 86 more doubles in BoSox home games; in 1980, 100 more; in 1950, 112 more; in 1920, 48 more. (For some reason, this seems to benefit visiting hitters more than the Sox themselves. In 1950, Red Sox pitchers allowed just 74 doubles on the road, but 134 at home.)

    Other ways to measure this:
    -- Per 600 PAs, Wade Boggs averaged 46 doubles in Fenway, 25 everywhere else. Williams hit 61% of his doubles at home; Yaz hit 59% at home. In his 67-double season, Earl Webb hit 39 at home (58%).
    -- From 1990-2010, there were 321 qualifying player-seasons in which over 1/4 of their hits were doubles; 31 of those were by Red Sox, roughly triple their "fair share". The Yankees had just 6.

  65. The spike in HR in the 1950's appears to be mostly integration but also the rise of relief pitching which began in the late 1950's. Through most of the 1950's pitchers interchanged as starters and relievers, even those like Joe Black and Clem Labine. The '54 Giants had Wilhelm and Marv Grissom, but it was about 1959 or 1960 that Chicago newspaperman Jerome Holtzman came up with the "save" statistic. The good starters still went late into games and the era of the seven-inning starter really didn't take hold until the late 1960's, so that may have contributed to hefty home run totals.