Sunday, February 8, 2009

Positional Hitting Over Time (Part 2)

Part 1 was a few weeks ago (you can scroll down to see it). I looked at the slugging percentage (SLG) divided by the league average for all 8 every day fielding positions. Here I look at how many players in each decade were among the top 100 or 200 seasons at each position in offensive winning percentage (OWP). OWP is a Bill James stat that says what a team's winning percentage would be if it had a lineup of 9 identical players who all hit alike and they gave up an average number of runs. Since I got the data from the Lee Sinins Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, it is park adjusted. The PA minimum was 400.

The first table is the top 100. The second table has the top 200. After the tables is a little discussion then there are two more tables. In those tables I adjust the figures to account for the different number of teams in baseball at different times.

One general comment is that using the Sinins database, a player is listed at the position he played the most. Jimmy Dykes is a SS in a year he only plaed 60 games there. It might be better to only use seasons with 100+ games at a position. Maybe if I get time someday I will do that. Then guys like Dykes could be put into the utiltiy category. Musial had 3 at 1B, 1 in LF, 1 in CF and 4 in RF. He gets lost in the shuffle and deserve to be remembered because he is Polish.

1B-In the teens, the only one in the top 100 was Jack Fournier in 1915. As you might guess, Gehrig(7) and Foxx (6) dominate in the 1930s. Greenberg and Mize had 2 each. In the 1950s, the only one is Musial (he also appears as CFer in 1952). Thomas (6), McGwire (5) and Bagwell (3) are the big names that caused the surge in the 1990s.

2B-The first three decades are dominated by guys like Lajoie (9), Collins (10) and Hornsby (9). Hornsby had another in 1931 (and 2 at 3B in the teens). Then there is a big drought in the 1940s through the 1960s. Joe Morgan (6) and Rod Carew (3) are the big names in the 1970s. But Mike Andrews has one, too! In the 1990s, Alomar and Biggio each had 4.

SS-Honus Wagner has 9 in the first decade (and 2 in the teens plus 1 in RF in decade 1). Wagner has 9 of the top ten all-time. The only 2 in the 1920s were Dykes and Joe Sewell. Arky Vaughn has 6 in the 1930s (plus 2 in the 1940s). Boudreau leads with 4 in the 1940s. In the 1980s it was Trammell (4), Ripken (3) and Yount (3). Larkin had 5 in the 1990s. AROD has 2 in the 1990s and 6 in the 2000s (plus 3 at 3B). Jeter has 2 in each decade.

3B-In the teens, Baker has 4. But Hornsby has 2 more. The drought from the 1920s-1940 is incredible (maybe defense was considered more important). One of the few is actually Mel Ott in 1938 (he played 113 games at 3B). Mathews has 6 in the 1950s (and 2 in the 1960s), with Rosen getting 3. Minnine Minoso got 1! (68 games, more than either LF (44) or RF (42)). Dick Allen leads the 1960s with 4, Santo had 3. Schmidt had 3 in the 1970s and 5 in the 1980s. Brett was 2 & 3. Boggs had 5 in the 1980s (and 1 in the 1990s). Randy Ready had 1 in the 1980s. Chipper Jones had 5 in the 2000s and 2 in the 1990s. AROD has 3 in the 2000s.

LF-Not counting Bonds, Ruth and Ted Williams, Rickey Henderson has the highest ever for a LFer (.859, 1990). The only two from the teens are Sherry Magee and Ruth, who has 3 in the 1920s. Williams has 7 in the 1940s (he missed 3 years in the military, remember!) and 7 in the 1950s (missing 2 years to the military and in 1959 he had 331 PAs (although OWP = .555)). Keller had 4. 2 of the 5 in the 1960s are Carl Yastrzemski. Boog Powell is one! But intersting how the 1960-80s are light. Bonds has 9 in the 1990s and 6 in the 2000s.

CF-Besides Mantle, Cobb, Speaker and DiMaggio, the best ever was by Cy Seymour (.825, 1905). Cobb has 10 in the teens (and 3 in RF in decade 1) and Speaker has 7. DiMaggio has 4 in the 1940s and 2 in the 1930s. Maybe it is no surprise how incredible the 1950s are. Mantle had 8 and Mays had 5 (missing 2 years). Snider and Doby each had 3. Then there is the Musial season and one for Tito Francona. Mays had 6 in the 1960s while Mantle had 4. Aaron and Kaline each had 1. Then we have quite another drought. Griffey had 4 of those all in the 1990s. I can't imagine any reason for this. Has defense become more important for CF?

RF-In the first decade, Cobb and Flick each had 3. Honus Wagner had 1, too. Joe Jackson has 3 in the teens. Ruth has 6 in the 1920s (and 4 in the 1930s). Heilman had 5. Ott has 5 in the 1930s (and 1 in the 1920s and 2 in the 1940s). Musial has 4 in the 1940s. Aaron had 1 in the 1950s and 2 in the 1960s. Maybe he does not have more since he was so consistent. Frank Robinson had 4 in the 1960s. Only 2 guys since 1970 have as many as 3. Reggie Jackson and Shefield, 3 each.

C-Not many before 1920. Bresnahan had all 3 in the first decade. Dickey had 5 in the 1930s and Cochrane had 4. Hartnett had 2 in the 1920s and 2 in the 1930s. The only 1 from the 1940s was Lombardi and that was in a war year, 1945. Berra had 5 in the 1950s and Campanella had 3. Bench, Simmons and Tenace all had 3 each in the 1970s. Fisk had 2. Simmons has 1 more in the 1980s. Piazza had 6 in the 1990s plus 2 more in the 2000s.

For the tables below, I divided the absolute total for each position in each decade by the number of teams in MLB that decade. That got multiplied by 30. The first one has the top 100. The second has the top 200.

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