July 26, 2012
Mario Guerrero’s Scoring Problem
Yonder Alonso is a slow man playing for a bad team. He has 86 hits this season and 27 runs scored, a ratio of 3.19 to 1. That's worst in MLB among batting title qualifiers.
Alonso's performance got me wondering how many players have finished a season with an extreme ratio of hits to runs. For our purposes, “extreme” is defined as 5 to 1 or greater.
Since 1901, there have been seven instances in which a batting title qualifier met our criteria:
Not surprisingly, most of these guys were catchers. Note that due to changing standards in what constitutes a batting title qualifier, Guerrero is the only one to collect at least 400 plate appearances.
If we limit ourselves to hitters with at least 502 plate appearances, the current standard for a 162-game season, we must tweak our definition of “extreme” to 4 to 1 to get a similar list:
Helms is an interesting name here. He scored 72 runs as a rookie in 1966, then never broke 45 in eight seasons as a regular after that. More about him some other day; for now, let's take another look at Guerrero, this time focusing on his entire career.
Our hero amassed more than 2,400 big-league plate appearances, but he never did score many runs, peaking at 32 in his final season of 1980. His career hits-to-runs ratio is 3.48, a feat achieved by just seven other men since 1901 (minimum 2,000 plate appearances):
Seven catchers and Mario Guerrero. Saying “never” in baseball is a risky proposition, but it's possible that we've seen the last of Guerrero's ilk.