You Are Here > Baseball-Reference.com > Blog >

SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all B-R content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing B-R blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Baseball-Reference.com » Sports Reference

For more from Andy and the gang, check out their new site High Heat Stats.

Andruw Jones, Carlos Pena, and OPS+ over 100 with a low batting average

Posted by Andy on December 31, 2010

Over the last 30 seasons, only 17 players have had at least two years in which they had and OPS+ of 100 or better while batting no higher than .230:

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Rob Deer 4 1984 1996 23-35 Ind. Seasons
2 Russell Branyan 3 2002 2006 26-30 Ind. Seasons
3 Gary Roenicke 3 1984 1987 29-32 Ind. Seasons
4 Carlos Pena 2 2009 2010 31-32 Ind. Seasons
5 Andruw Jones 2 2009 2010 32-33 Ind. Seasons
6 Jay Buhner 2 1999 2001 34-36 Ind. Seasons
7 Kevin Roberson 2 1995 1996 27-28 Ind. Seasons
8 Greg Vaughn 2 1992 2003 26-37 Ind. Seasons
9 Dean Palmer 2 1992 2001 23-32 Ind. Seasons
10 Jerry Willard 2 1991 1994 31-34 Ind. Seasons
11 Mark McGwire 2 1991 2001 27-37 Ind. Seasons
12 Mickey Tettleton 2 1986 1990 25-29 Ind. Seasons
13 Ron Kittle 2 1984 1985 26-27 Ind. Seasons
14 Greg Brock 2 1983 1984 26-27 Ind. Seasons
15 Darrell Porter 2 1981 1985 29-33 Ind. Seasons
16 Jerry Manuel 2 1981 1982 27-28 Ind. Seasons
17 Tom Brunansky 2 1981 1983 20-22 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/31/2010.

Andruw Jones and Carlos Pena both joined the club this past year. This list is comprised of a lot of familiar names of guys who were mashers but didn't get on base a lot otherwise.

A couple of surprising names stick out, though. Jerry Willard makes it by virtue of having very few plate appearances in the seasons in question, totaling just 20 times at the plate in 1991 and 1994. One home run each season put his OPS+ over 100.

Gary Roenicke is also a surprise, and in his case it's a bunch of walks that helped him make the list. His OBP was about 120-130 points higher than his BA in his 3 seasons that make this list, pushing his OPS+ over 100.

This entry was posted on Friday, December 31st, 2010 at 3:40 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.

43 Responses to “Andruw Jones, Carlos Pena, and OPS+ over 100 with a low batting average”

  1. Incidentally, this post was inspired by another tidbit from Joseph T., who had this to say about Jones:

    Andruw Jones seemed a lock for some astronomical numbers at age 29. He has since hit .212/.312/.412 for a 88 OPS+ over the last 4 years. He is still young, but maybe the biggest waste of talent of all time.

  2. In 2 of Roenicke's 3 years on this list, power was also a big factor in pushing his OPS+ over 100. In 1985, for example, he hit 15 HRs in 274 PAs; among players with 200+ PAs, Roenicke ranked 8th in HR rate and 10th in ISO that year.

    P.S. Just for laughs, here's Roenicke's line from the 1983 ALCS:
    3 games, 10 PAs, 5 walks, 1 HBP, 3 for 4, HR, double, 4 runs, 4 RBI, no strikeouts, and an OPS of 2.650. (And in his other 11 postseason games? -- 3 for 28, no walks, 8 Ks, no HRs, and 1 RBI.)

  3. Good theme, but I'd rather see the list with some kind of PA minimum. I won't deny that I can be fascinated by a season of 1 for 5 with a walk and a triple -- if he was a pitcher, or a 40-year-old rookie, or it was his only season, or something like that. Otherwise, it's clutter. (Besides, I'm trying to blot out all thoughts of Jerry Manuel.)

    Also, a trivia question: Name the only 2 players to qualify for the batting title with BA 110. Their names are not on the list above. Hint: The names they were known by have the same first & last initials (No P-I searching, please.)

  4. My trivia question got garbled -- text interpreted as html code, I guess. So here it is again:

    Name the only 2 players to qualify for the batting title with a BA of .220 or lower and an OPS+ of 110 or higher.

  5. BTW, Carlos Pena set a new OPS+ record for a qualifying sub-.200 hitter, coming in at 102 this year. Mark Reynolds set the corresponding NL record at 98, also this year. For raw OPS with a sub-.200 BA, Reynolds set the mark at .753 this year, with Pena 2nd at .732. No other qualifier has ever topped .700.

  6. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Does anyone remember for how many years the Dodgers signed Jones for in 2008? and if they know if the Dodgers are on the hook for any of it?

    I think teams should implement a reverse arbitration for certain players. 2008 turned out to be Jones' highest salary. I'm not saying he wasn't injured or his skills hadn't already begun to slip, but he definitely stopped caring about his weight about 5 years before that. I just think players have an obligation to 'maintain' their skills, especially after signing a big term deal like that.
    If you all remember when Ron Gant injured himself on a dirt bike, the Braves tore up his contract, and he sat out a year unpaid. I just think the same should apply for a player whom allows his off the field habits to erode his skills. Jones was caught up in a call girl service out of Atlanta and had a rep for late nights.
    I think the same should apply if a player tests for PEDs. I think more than a few guys inflated their numbers before testing got rigid, signed long deals, and now are underperforming. I guess my best example would be - Manny last year in LA. Once his positive test came back, LA would of been well with in their rights to void that contract.

  7. dukeofflatbush Says:

    PS

    It is amazing that Mark Reynolds does not make this list.
    Last year .198 -- 98+

  8. dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ # 5 John,

    If you take Rob Deer's '89-91 seasons; 1582 PA, .199 BA, 101 OPS+. He was a qualifier every year.

  9. Gene Tenace is the first player I thought of, but of course he doesn't meet the "last 30 years" requirement.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/tenacge01.shtml

    Three times he did it (1974,78,80), plus he came close twice more with a .233BA in 1977 and 1981 (only 174 PAs in 1981)

  10. @6, Duke, re: Andruw Jones's contracts:

    LA signed him for $36 million over 2 years, covering 2008-09. They released him after 1 year, still owing him about $22 million, to be paid over 6 years. After his release, the Rangers signed him to a minor-league deal for 2009 at $500K, with performance bonuses worth $1 million. The White Sox signed him to the same deal for 2010; not sure if he reached any bonuses in either year. (All contract information per ESPN, which in turn cited AP.)

    Duke, could you clarify your beef about Jones's performance of his LA contract? Yes, news sources say he reported to spring training 2008 overweight; yet you note that "he definitely stopped caring about his weight about 5 years before that." Furthermore, when the Dodgers signed him, he was coming off a poor year, both offensively and (by his past standards) defensively; he'd had periodic clashes with Bobby Cox over hustling; and he was on the wrong side of 30. How about a little caveat emptor here? I think most commentators outside of Dodgertown raised an eyebrow at that deal.

    Also, Jones had 2 separate stints on the D.L. in 2008 covering more than 2 months total. Maybe his conditioning contributed to those injuries, but we can't know.

    I am no Andruw apologist; I'm not even an Andruw fan. And I do think a player under contract has an ethical obligation to keep fit enough to perform at a high level. But as far as LA voiding his contract, I don't think that was ever a real possibility, and I doubt they even considered it seriously. I don't know the details of the Basic Agreement, but I'm pretty sure there's a general fitness clause; however, other than contracts that had specific weight clauses (beyond the Basic Agreement), I'm not aware of any that were ever voided or even challenged because the player reported out of shape. Whatever the reasons, clubs seem very reluctant to go down that road; they just bite the bullet and hope the guy plays himself into shape. Had the Dodgers tried to void the deal -- at its very outset -- and failed, they would have wound up in a very awkward position with Andruw; and remember, they wanted him and had high hopes for him, no matter how naively.

    I would like to see clubs be a little less timid about pursuing legal recourse in certain situations. such as when Frankie Rodriguez violently assaulted his girlfriend's father in a stadium hallway, after a home game, in view of various people including Mets family members. Had the Mets followed through with their initial intent to (essentially) void his contract, I thought they would have had some chance of winning, and that the potential gain (in both money and public relations) would have been well worth the risk of losing, given that K-Rod's standing with the Mets' fan base could hardly get any worse than it is already. Instead, they compromised, on terms pretty favorable to K-Rod.

    And I really wish that any club had ever tried to void a contract after a player tested positive for PEDs. But alas, the clubs have been "wink-wink" complicit in PED use all along.

  11. By the way, I wonder how many people realize that in 2010, Andruw Jones -- despite the .230 BA -- actually raised his career OBP, OPS and OPS+? Only slightly, but he did.

    P.S. Amusing satirical news story from Sons of Steve Garvey:
    http://www.sonsofstevegarvey.com/2009/03/details-of-andruw-jones-contract-emerge.html

  12. Soundbounder -- I had the same thought about Fury Gene Tenace, before remembering the "last 30 years" limit. Perhaps the list could be named in his honor.

    BTW, Tenace is half the answer to my trivia question @4 above -- care to shoot for the other half?

  13. P.S. on Tenace -- Only 13 players in modern history have a career OPS/BA ratio higher than Tenace did (min. 3000 PAs). Only 2 of those players batted .280 or higher: Barry Bonds (.298) and Babe Ruth (.342). Four of those players are active: Pena, Adam Dunn, Jim Thome, and Russell Branyan.

    Another random trivia question:
    Roughly 75 hitters have been inducted into the HOF on the basis of their MLB playing careers since 1890. Name the non-HOF player (retired & rejected) whose first 6 seasons, compared to those of the HOFers, would have ranked:
    -- 7th in Total Bases;
    -- 10th in RBI (just ahead of Henry Aaron);
    -- 13th in HRs (tied with Mike Schmidt); and
    -- 11th in Doubles (just ahead of Stan Musial).

    Hints: He was a 4-time All-Star (yes, that is a bit of a hint), he played a prime defensive position, and he went hitless in 18 career World Series at-bats.

  14. @12 John,
    My first guesses for your trivia question #4 were Darrell Evans (1988) and Graig Nettles (1984), both low BA/high OPS+ type of players. They were close, but their BA's were too high.
    Then I thought maybe Dave Kingman snuck in there once, but no such luck. But Kingman led me to Bill Melton, and eventually Gorman Thomas. In 1985 Thomas hit 215 with an OPS+ of 112.

  15. @13 John,

    It's Wally Berger

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bergewa01.shtml

    My first guess was Vern Stephens, then a few other players from 1930-60 with Dale Murphy-type careers. Hal Trosky led me to Berger on the similarity scores.

  16. @6 and 10 -

    I find the possible contract nullification and player misrepresentation (via PED use) issue fascinating.

    Not just in PED cases, too, but Jeff Kent's whatever that injury was, Gant's dirt bike (which @6 cited), the clubs can attack the contract or not based simply on future value.

    I would suspect in cases like F-Rod, where the illegality and moral ground is more cut and dry (battery is less complicated than PEDs), the Mets can simply decide based on the player: do we want him in spite of the legal issue. For F-Rod, they might be more or less willing to withstand the legal woes and retain the player merely for his remaining value, whether for the team or as trade bait.

    But in the case of PEDs, the issue is infinitely more complicated and impossible to parse consistently. I would suspect that clubs like LA (with Manny as a good example), if the club feels they signed a player based unwittingly on PED numbers, but got a clean non-PED player (for PED dollars), they might just feel it's better to pay it out, complete the bargain, and NOT attack the contract (and the players union). Instead, just shield the club better in future contracts with sharper language or more incentive-laden deals (and run the increased risk that the player you want will go to another club to avoid the incentive-rich contract).

    With PEDs, there's just no way to assess future player value v. contract value without an enormous mess. And it's not as if this isn't an issue clubs are dealing with already, over the past 8+ years. How do we, clubs, sign players and avoid player fraud while also understanding that guys are still randomly clean and dirty based on incomplete (non-HGH) testing programs and increasingly complex drug cocktails? It's impossible.

    Andruw Jones and a hundred other players in the past 8-10 years have had huge PED-ish seasons in free agent years, taken the PED contract that follows, and then seemingly gone clean (or clean-er). (G. Matthews, M. Benard, A. Beltre, B. Boone...). More still have had entire PED careers, signed a final, big contract, then gone clean.

    I guess my point is, I would suspect the clubs are just gonna eat it for a while. Ride out the weirdness and contract frustrations that follow, and hope to write some better language for future deals.

  17. [...] is quite a sad thing indeed. Not really having anything to do with this, but Baseball-Reference posted a blog that puts Jones on the list of hitters with at least two years of 100+ OPS+ and a batting average [...]

  18. Just to confirm ... Soundbounder correctly answered both trivia questions: The answers to #4 were Gene Tenace and Gorman Thomas, while the answer to #13 was Wally Berger, who still shares the first-year HR record of 38 (along with Frank Robinson). The next time someone hits 30+ HRs in his first year and the Cooperstown hype begins, remember Wally Berger, Jimmie Hall and Pete Incaviglia....

  19. John Autin Says:

    @16, Zack -- It's just my opinion, but Andruw Jones's 2005 season doesn't say anything to me one way or another about PED use. Other than the HR spike -- hitting 51 against a previous career high of 36 -- everything else about that year was right in line with his prior seasons. The .263 BA and .347 OBP were within a few points of his career average. His 136 OPS+ was just 9 points above his previous high.

    I've been naive about PEDs before, but just looking at the stat lines, it seems like a very normal "career year" to me. And since I'm not aware that he's ever tested positive, I'm not jumping to any conclusions about that HR spike. Of course it's possible that he started juicing that year; but there are plenty of guys from the pre-PED era that suddenly topped their career high in HRs by 42%, and 28 is a prime age to do that sort of thing. It's also possible that he was using all along.

    Going beyond your comment ... I just read a speculative article on Bleacher Report on the subject of Jones and steroids. The argument was pretty flimsy, boiling down to three things: (1) timing (Jones broke in just when PEDs were becoming rampant), (2) an early decline in base-stealing (20+ SB each year from 20-24, no more than 11 after that), and (3) a rapid decline after age 30.

    As to timing, well, sure, given what we know about PED prevalence in recent years, it would be naive to presume every player innocent until proven guilty -- but unless you think that a great majority of players used PEDs, the timing of Jones's career alone is a weak hook to hang a case on.

    The author's claim that "By the age of 26, ... Jones had completely lost the speed element of his game" is just ignorant. Speed is a lot more than base-stealing, and Jones was still a very good defensive CF from age 26-29, ranking between 3rd and 8th in NL defensive WAR each year. And Jones was never really a speed burner to begin with; he topped out at 27 SB, and his 73.6% success rate during his first 4 full years was about average. Given his body type (he always had some "baby fat"), an early decline in his SB numbers is nothing unusual.

    The author himself admits that these first two points are "ludicrously circumstantial." Ultimately, his entire argument hinges on Jones's sharp decline after age 30. And this is where he really loses me. Aren't PEDs commonly suspected when a player does maintain a high level of performance into his mid- and late-30s? Granted, 31 is not 36 -- but then again, throughout baseball history, many top players have seemed to get old overnight in their early 30s: George Sisler, Rogers Hornsby, Hack Wilson, Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx, Wally Berger, Vern Stephens, Duke Snider, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Orlando Cepeda, Ron Santo, Vada Pinson, Bobby Bonds, Cesar Cedeno, Tim Raines, Ryne Sandberg, Ruben Sierra, Junior Griffey.... It's far more common than some people believe.

    Also, I don't think the decline in Jones' performance after 29 is quite as steep as some do. His combined OPS+ from age 30-33 is 88, including one abysmal season in which he had 2 long D.L. stints. His OPS+ through age 29 was just 116. He wasn't a great hitter to begin with -- so a drop-off that is significant, but well within normal range, leaves him below average. And don't forget that his OPS+ last year was 119 -- better than 6 of his 10 seasons from age 20-29. His story isn't over just yet.

    When I look at the arc of Andruw Jones's career, my snap judgment is that he was content to live off his natural talent. He never seemed to have the drive for greatness; as a hitter, he never reached the heights that were forecast. (Even that 51-HR year, taken as a whole, was not a great offensive season.) When I look at the years 2007-08, I see a somewhat immature player who had a bad season in his walk year, was disappointed that the only team (and only manager) he'd ever played for didn't want to pay him top free-agent dollars, took the easy money from LA but wasn't mentally prepared to put his all into bouncing back, got fat over the winter, got off to a bad start and then got hurt.

    Virtually all players have a decline in physical skills by age 30. Many can compensate for the loss in hand-eye coordination, etc., through study and smarts and a commitment to training. I don't really see Andruw as that kind of player, so I'm not all that surprised by his decline. The narrative makes sense to me when viewed through the conventional lens of baseball history; it doesn't need a PED decoder ring. But neither would I would be shocked to find out that he did use.

  20. John, I appreciate your analysis, though not I'm always in agreement, it is always a pleasure to read.

  21. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Aren't PEDs commonly suspected when a player does maintain a high level of performance into his mid- and late-30s??

    No, no, for some players PEDs help maintain production, but for others they cause an early decline. For some they help you come back from injuries, but for others they cause injuries. Remember, the important thing is to decide first whether the player used, and then use his career path, whatever it is, to support that.

  22. Mike Felber Says:

    I immediately thought of Graig Nettles, but he had only 1 qualifying year. His WAR is listed as basically HOF level, & though Darrel Evans is listed as his "most similar", Nettles & DWIGHT Evans have virtually identical WARS, the former rated more highly on defense, Dewey better offensively in similar length careers. D.E. More consistent, with Nettles arguably a slightly higher peak.

    Does anyone see much daylight between the two?

  23. @ John Austin

    I think you must be making up stories here. The only time Andruw and Bobby didn't see eye to eye about "hustling" was way back in 1998-99. Andruw played with some serious injures in 2007, and it is still clueless to me as to why the Dodgers would give him a contract like that coming off his worst season. I know Andy has a beef with anybody not on his beloved Phillies, but to call Andruw the "biggest waste of talent all-time" seems kind of harsh. Andruw was Andruw, not Willie Mays or Ken Griffey Jr. Last year he proved he can still play at a high level, but he hurt his neck and his numbers took a hit. You guys need to spend less time playing arm-chair scout and actually watch the game and look over the numbers. Andruw is still in the top 3 in all time defensive WAR.

  24. BG -- It seems to me that you've seized on one statement in my long post -- that Andruw "had periodic clashes with Bobby Cox over hustling" -- and, because you believe that only happened back in 1998-99, you presume to tell me that I should "actually watch the game and look over the numbers."

    That doesn't strike me as an especially thoughtful critique.

    Maybe I'm wrong about how often or how recently Cox upbraided Jones about hustling. But I have watched a lot of Braves games over a lot of years, and no one can tell me that Andruw didn't have those issues more recently than you say, whether or not Cox called him out for it -- and you can Google "Andruw Jones hustle" or "Andruw Jones lazy" to see just how many others have expressed that opinion. Surely you won't deny that he put on weight in 2007-08, to the detriment of his game. In any case, the conflict with Cox over hustling was but one small item in my post.

    I'm not sure what your point is in mentioning Andruw's poor 2007 season before getting the big deal from the Dodgers, since I expressed the same incredulity over LA's contract offer.

    Overall, I don't get your criticism of my position. I defended Andruw against PED suggestions; I pointed out that he still had great defensive value for several years after he stopped stealing bases; I noted that his awful 2008 with LA was at least partly due to the multiple injuries he suffered that year; and I mentioned (in more than one post) that he had a bounce-back offensive year in 2010.

    I also called it as I see it with regard to the arc of Andruw's career: He didn't progress much, as a hitter; and as a hitter, he was generally overrated in his prime. What he did at age 21 is basically a snapshot of his career to date. Since he didn't have any significant injuries through age 29, I think it's fair to wonder if a lack of progress might reflect a lack of commitment to excellence.

    As to his defense, I said only good things -- although obviously it has gone sharply downhill in the past 4 years. It's a bit of a stretch to say that "last year he proved he can still play at a high level" -- he did have offensive value, but none with the leather.

    Also, while Andy doesn't need me to defend him, he is not the one who called Andruw "the biggest waste of talent" -- take another look @1 above.

    So before you start telling people how to watch or analyze the game, I think you ought to read things a little more carefully. Also, it would be nice if you spelled my name correctly.

  25. @20, Kelly -- Thank you very much for the compliment.

    @21, Johnny Twisto -- "Your theories intrigue me, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter."

  26. Mike Felber Says:

    Sarcasm is well done in #21 J.T., yet I think that 'roids do give faster recovery for injuries-as they do for training, & much more hormones to put on muscle-& greater endurance over a long season. Also, after a while you might get stereotypical injuries, generally joint related. But even with modern training, you do not see the 'double peak" where guys have their best years again, but more so, starting in their mid 30's or even later.

    Completely different question: whaddyouseguys done thunk a hypothetically exactly average man genetically would achieve as a position player in MLB, IF he was well motivated & groomed from earliest years for it? Assume that he would be able to start regardless of skills-what would you guess would be, say, his best year OPS +? Like a typical pitcher? Much better, 50? Approaching 100? Worst player ever level?

  27. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Not sure if I'm interpreting your question correctly. Are you asking about a person with average skills among the worldwide population? I think no matter how much he trained and how much he played, he'd be fortunate to get a few hits in his best year. MLB players are off the charts in terms of talent. I don't think anyone without that innate ability can work their way into an MLB career.

  28. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #18/ John Autin Says: "... while the answer to #13 was Wally Berger, who still shares the first-year HR record of 38 (along with Frank Robinson)...."

    John, you mean the NATIONAL LEAGUE rookie HR record, right? - Mark McGwire holds the overall MLB record, with 49 HR in 1987.

    #19/ excellent analysis of Andrew Jones' career; I too regard him as someone who was very good very young,but didn't progress to the "all-time great" category, since he seemed to coast on his natural ability, and not really work at improving as a hitter.

    #26/ "whaddyouseguys done thunk a hypothetically exactly average man genetically would achieve as a position player in MLB, IF he was well motivated & groomed from earliest years for it? Assume that he would be able to start regardless of skills-what would you guess would be, say, his best year OPS +? Like a typical pitcher? Much better, 50? Approaching 100? Worst player ever level?"

    Someone who was average baseball talent-wise for the entire male population wouldn't be able to justify batting regularly in the lowest-level minor league, let alone MLB. As Bill James has pointed out a number of times, baseball talent is N_O_T normally distributed across the general population; it is on the very very very very far right of the curve, consisting of a tiny fraction of 1% of the population.

    Your theoretical "normal" male, if given enough plate appearances and a little luck, MIGHT hit a little better than the very worst pitcher who batted more than a few times (such as Hank Aguirre). He'd be as close to the "automatic out" as possible; he'd make Ray Oyler look like Ichiro...

  29. The MLB talent level is so far beyond what we think it is.

    I was a decent player in HS and we had a good hitting team. My senior year we faced a pitcher who later made it to the Minor Leagues. The details are a little foggy, but I remember he threw a one-hitter against us. I don't think any ball was hit out of the infield (the one single was a ground ball). Just fouling a ball off was a big deal. He probably struck out 15-16 of us in a 7 inning game.

    Granted it was just one game and we never faced him again but it was no contest.

    Years later I was working with a guy who went to his school. Turns out he never really got beyond Single-A. I think he was called up to Double-AA, but was sent back to Single-A within a month or so after getting repeatedly shelled. He was out of baseball by the age of 23-24 and it wasn't because of an injury.

    So here is a guy who was extremely far ahead of us in talent yet he barely made a ripple in the Minors.

  30. John Autin Says:

    @28, Lawrence Azrin -- No, I haven't made McGwire an "unperson." I'm aware that he holds the MLB Rookie record. But Berger and Robinson still share the first-year record, which was my phrasing.

    McGwire had 58 PAs (with 3 HRs) in his first season, which kept him officially a rookie in in '87.

  31. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #30/ John Autin Says: "@28, Lawrence Azrin -- No, I haven't made McGwire an "unperson." I'm aware that he holds the MLB Rookie record. But Berger and Robinson still share the first-year record, which was my phrasing. McGwire had 58 PAs (with 3 HRs) in his first season, which kept him officially a rookie in in '87."

    John, OK I see your point distinguishing between "rookie" and "first-year" players; I guess I think of these terms interchangeably, with "first year" meaning "first FULL year". Point taken.

  32. The vast majority of major-league baseball players are the very best players to EVER play for their own high schools and/or home towns, with obvious exceptions being certain cities such as San Pedro de Macorís that have produced many major-leaguers.

  33. dodgerdave Says:

    Why isn't Dave Kingman on this list?

  34. Dodgerdave,

    Dave Kingman isn't on this list, because he only has one season like this in the last 30 years, which was the time cut-off for the search. However, Kingman is likely the "King" of this distinction in recent memory. Although Rob Deer did it 4 times, two of those times were cheap, in that he only had 32 and 50 plate appearances. Although, you have to hand it to Deer, in that over the course of his career, he fits the category - .220 BA with OPS+ of 109.

    Kingman accomplished this feat in 4 seasons with at least 400 PA. What's even more interesting is that if you expand the criteria slightly to .240 BA with OPS+ of 90 and above, Kingman's totals balloon to 10 seasons, which is why he is probably without parallel in recent history. As a final note, none of these seasons were cheap either, as he had at least 351 PA in each of them.

  35. Mike Felber Says:

    Alright thanks for your input guys. i agree in general about the distribution of talent. My only possible quibble is to remind you that the hypothesis involves someone groomed from birth for baseball. Though yes, there is only so much you can do with average hand eye coordination & reflexes. Aguirre had a -38 OPS for his career.

    Anybody think our average man, trained by the best, whose life's mission was hitting-could have a + OPS + for a few or any years?

  36. John Autin -
    As a Braves fan, I completely agree with your assessment. Andruw came up as a 19 year old, peaked early and then his body became worn down by the constant pounding it took in CF and then of course, he put on weight and let himself go.

    PEDs could have been in play, but then again I suspect 70% or more took some sort of PED back in the Steroid Era.

    In Andruw's last year with the Braves, I remember him looking so bad on pitches and just hacking at whatever was thrown (like Francoeur) and then it would almost be like he didn't care when you looked at his expressions. He hit .222 with 26 HR and 94 RBI that year I believe, and he could have easily driven 194 if he hadn't GIDP so often. Really sad to see him regress like that.

    Then inexplicably the Dodgers gave him that gaudy contract...still trying to figure that one out...

    As far as wasting talent is concerned, I'm not so sure about that...people just forget that he was so young when he came up that by the time he was 30 the downhill slide was inevitable...

  37. dukeofflatbush Says:

    @704Brave,

    To say Jones aged naturally is just plain silly.
    Jeter, turning 37 and having a down year, is aging.
    Saying the guy fell off a cliff because he started playing young, is ridiculous. Saying he ran himself down because he played a hard CF is even more ridiculous.
    Saying CF is that much more taxing on the body than a corner outfield position, is silly.
    Outside of catching, all positions have different skill sets, but comparable wear and tear. COMPARABLE.
    And to say Andruw Jones' fall off was natural is hogwash. He was 30. He had access to the greatest fitness, diet, trainers, coaches etc.
    Does everyone forget the Atlanta based Golds Gentlemen's Club and the athletes caught up in that scandal.
    In sworn affidavits, sources placed Jones having intercourse with a dancer on the dance floor of the club, in full view of the public. And it was the wee hours of game night. I'm sure that wasn't the only instance of bad behavior and bad decision making on Jones' part.

  38. Johnny Twisto Says:

    There's a lot more running in CF than corner OF. That's why CFs play CF. It's ridiculous to think it wouldn't be more taxing. You think 2Bmen turning the pivot have similar wear to 1Bmen? That doesn't make any sense.

    I won't argue that Jones couldn't have done more to keep in shape. I have no idea what he did. But I think he has the type of body which is prone to get heavy. It would be a lot harder for him to stay in shape, let alone slim.

    And honestly, who cares about him banging some girl on the dance floor? What the hell does that have to do with anything? I'm sure 95% of MLB players stay out until the wee hours on occasion. Jones played 160 games a year so it seems to me he was ready to go by game time regardless how lucky he got the previous night.

  39. @37 DukeFlatbush

    Not every player has a bellcurve type career that gradually tapers off in their late 30's. Some players are done or decline hard at a much earlier age. And it isn't because of a character flaw or injuries.

    Mike Marshall- not a great player, but solid through much of his 20's. He declined sharply at 30-31 and was done.
    Roberto Alomar hit a brick wall at 33
    Corey Snider was washed up at 30.
    Larry Hisle was done at 30
    Ruben Sierra stayed in the game till age 40, but he was not the same player after age 30.
    Johnny Callison was washed up at age 31
    Dale Murphy was having a HOF career that declined sharply after age 31.

    The list goes on an on. There are plenty of players who were All Stars at age 27-28 then declined hard and were sometimes out of the game, or bench players by age 31-32.

  40. dukeofflatbush Says:

    God Forbid, but Roberto Alomar is purported to have Aids. Two woman are suing him for knowingly infecting them with the HIV virus. That might come into play in why he tailed off.
    Rueben Sierra was said by two very good managers (Torre & LaRussa) to be the stupidest player they had ever come across (village idiot!). I think his baseball IQ was hidden by his raw talent and once that began to slip, he was just average.
    Corey Snider? Larry Hisle?
    Really.
    Andruw Jones had a shot at being one of the best who ever played.
    Johnny Callison?
    Jones was hitting post season HRs as a teenager.

    @ JT
    I meant that a CF and 1B have a reasonable amount of comparable wear and tear, all things considered. It is a non contact sport. Of course one is more taxing than another, but playing Centerfield does not end your career after 1600 Games, especially not your bat.
    Its not like in football, where a half back carrying the ball 30 times a game should be mentioned in the same breath as a 3rd down wide out.
    I know a CF has more ground to cover etc, but to say that is enough to derail his career at his prime is foolish. What about Mays? Mantle?
    Did playing CF at an elite level shorten Griffey's #'s and games?
    I'm sure.
    Was he virtually done at thirty? NO!
    Andruw Jones doesn't even look like the same guy he was in his 20's.
    And the Andruw Jones' quip about his late night shenanigans was just a counter point to an earlier comment about a player's responsibility to honor his contract by staying in shape.

  41. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Well, no, Griffey was never the same player after he turned 30. Mantle wasn't the same after 32 or so. And the reason the elites are the elites is both because of how well they played and how long they lasted at that level. Jones wasn't Mays...well, no kidding.

    I'm not saying playing CF is automatically going to wear a player down after a certain amount of time, but it will have an impact. How it affects each individual player will vary, based on numerous factors. Jones played 160 games a year, probably had the type of body predisposed to getting thick, was never an elite hitter, and perhaps didn't work out as hard as he could. And other factors we can never know for certain. Add it up and he is where he is. If he was a workout maniac, maybe he would still be an All-Star. Or maybe he would have only staved off the decline for another year. Who knows? Dale Murphy also played CF 160 games a year and as far as I know didn't have any bad habits. Yet he suddenly collapsed. It happens. I don't think anyone can know exactly why it happens. All these guys are so talented, it doesn't necessarily take that much actual decline to manifest itself as a collapse. If all MLBers are in the 99th percentile of baseball ability, a little hiccup in ability is magnified in comparison to one's peers. Some players are able to adjust, some aren't.

  42. Mike Felber Says:

    Those last 3 sentences are very incisive Johnny. And whether they have the nuanced skills to adjust, or by how much, is the question. Still, I think staying in excellent shape compared to "civilian", or adequate, shape often makes a large difference. One reason many more players tended to decline earlier, even though there was not the overall average talent, athleticism, full integration...Is that they did not have very effective training to maintain muscle, balance, agility, etc...

    Mantle both mistreated himself with carousing/alcohol, & had continual debilitating injuries. It is a wonder he could be so good with these issues, from childhood 1st, & then "drainpipe-gate" ending his 1st campaign. His power & speed were unprecedented, let alone his switch hitting.

  43. @40 Duke of Flatbush,

    Nearly everything you said about Andruw Jones could also be said about Dale Murphy. He had two MVPs; was considered one of the best; gold gloves etc. His career nosedived after age 31. And you can't blame it on some tabloid story about sex in a club, or having HIV, or being called the stupidest player by both Torre and LaRussa.

    You also wrote:
    "Andruw Jones had a shot at being one of the best who ever played."
    If you frame something in that context you can make anyone look like a complete failure. Lots of players have shots, and some succeed for longer periods than others.