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October 9, 2006

Completely Random Statistical Trivia

2006 in Review

by Keith Woolner

There's no theme to today's article. Just a random mishmash of hopefully interesting statistical tidbits for the past season, and revisiting some ideas from past columns:

Longest Plate Appearances of the Year

I wrote a series of articles back in 2002 that looked at long plate appearances, as measured by number of pitches thrown. I thought it might be fun to look at the long-PA leaders for 2006.

There were three plate appearances that lasted 16 pitches this year. All involved the Astros. On July 27th, the Reds' Elizardo Ramirez struck out Astro Craig Biggio. On the game between Houston and the Cubs on June 15th, Fernando Nieve got Ronny Cedeno to fly out. And finally, Mike Lamb flied out against the Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla on June 30th.

The longest PAs that ended with a walk were Red Sox hitter Alex Cora getting walked by Cleveland's Paul Byrd on April 27th, and Tiger Brandon Inge earning a pass from Athletic Justin Duchscherer on April 20th. Both were 15 pitches long.

The longest PA ending in a HR (or any hit, for that matter) was Hideki Matsui of the Yankees taking Jae Seo deep on September 25th. At 14 pitches, it was also the longest first-inning PA of the year.

The longest extra-inning PA occurred when Dan Johnson of the A's batted against the Padres' Scott Cassidy in the 14th inning of the game on June 29th. Johnson grounded out to second.

The longest HBP was when Paul Maholm of the Pirates plunked Lastings Milledge of the Mets on the 12th pitch of the PA on September 15th.

The longest plate appearance that never made it to a three-ball count belong to Juan Uribe, who took Jamie Walker to 14 pitches, with taking just two balls. After taking the first-pitch strike, he fouled off three more pitches before taking a ball, then fouled off four more pitches before getting the second ball. Three more fouls later, and Uribe finally grounded out to second on the 14th pitch.

The longest PA of the year involving only strikes (no balls) was between Atlanta's Jeff Francouer and Pittburgh's Paul Maholm on August 2nd. Francouer took a strike, then swung and missed, before fouling off six straight pitches. On the ninth pitch, he swung again and missed for strike three. That's eight swings in a single at-bat without putting the ball in play.

Hidden Perfect Games, No Hitters, and Nightmares

Back in two articles in May 2004, I introduced the concept of a "hidden perfect game," a streak of 27 or more batters retired by a pitcher, but that may span multiple games or be a subset of a single game, and thus not recognized as an official perfect game. Little did I know that on the day the second article appeared, a new hidden perfect game was beginning, and another would start two days later. We went through all of 2006 without having a midden perfecto, but two pitchers managed to achieve one in 2006. Here are all the hidden perfect games since May 26, 2004:

Pitcher          Streak Start Date  End Date
---------------  ------ ---------- ---------
Greg Maddux          32  13-AUG-06 19-AUG-06
Dontrelle Willis     31  28-MAY-04 02-JUN-04
Shingo Takatsu       29  26-MAY-04 22-JUN-04
Livan Hernandez      28  20-JUL-04 25-JUL-04
John Lackey          27  07-JUL-06 07-JUL-06 (leadoff hit, then retired 27 straight)

The idea of a hidden perfect game lends itself to other similar definitions, such as a hidden no-hitter, which is 27 straight at-bats without allowing a hit. This is somewhat easier to achieve, since walks, HBP and reaching on error are permitted during the streak. In fact, there have been 101 hidden no-hitters since 2000, but in the interest of space, we'll show just those with 35 or more straight AB without a hit:

Pitcher                  Streak Start Date  End Date
-------------------- ---------- ---------- ---------
Mike Hampton                 41  14-JUN-03 19-JUN-03
Armando Benitez              40  04-MAY-04 04-JUN-04
Randy Johnson                39  12-MAY-04 23-MAY-04
Derek Lowe                   37  31-AUG-05 05-SEP-05
Alan Embree                  36  15-JUN-02 07-JUL-02
Armando Benitez              36  22-JUL-04 08-SEP-04
Pedro Martinez               35  24-AUG-00 29-AUG-00

We can turn the tables, and look at batting streaks. The batting counterpart of a perfect game might be 27 straight plate appearances without a hit, a "perfect nightmare" if you will. As you might expect, pitchers themselves are represented on the list quite often, as they are often very poor hitters. But the occasional position player creeps on to the list as well. Still we'll set the bar higher for pitchers, requiring 35 straight PA before we'll list them.

Non pitchers:

Player                   Streak StartDate   EndDate
-------------------- ---------- --------- ---------
Andy Fox                     39 28-APR-04 30-SEP-04
Joe McEwing                  34 26-MAY-02 05-JUL-02
Brad Ausmus                  34 18-JUN-06 30-JUN-06
Mark Kotsay                  29 25-JUN-06 03-JUL-06
Hee-Seop Choi                28 21-MAY-05 02-JUN-05
Andruw Jones                 28 13-APR-05 22-APR-05
Brandon Phillips             28 27-MAY-03 05-JUN-03
Brook Fordyce                27 01-JUL-04 08-AUG-04
Torii Hunter                 27 22-APR-00 02-MAY-00
Bernard Gilkey               27 23-MAY-00 18-JUN-00
Pitchers:
Player                   Streak StartDate   EndDate
-------------------- ---------- --------- ---------
Kaz Ishii                    55 19-JUL-02 10-SEP-03
Chris Carpenter              54 24-JUN-04 12-MAY-05
Shane Reynolds               47 14-APR-02 27-MAY-03
A.J. Burnett                 41 29-JUL-01 30-APR-02
Tony Armas Jr.               40 10-APR-03 07-JUN-05
Ryan Dempster                39 22-JUN-01 17-SEP-01
Andy Ashby                   38 23-JUL-02 23-AUG-03
Victor Santos                37 05-AUG-04 30-MAY-05
Aaron Harang                 37 11-MAY-04 06-SEP-04
Matt Kinney                  35 19-JUN-02 13-JUL-03
Doug Davis                   35 30-JUL-04 01-MAY-05

Teams can also turn in hidden perfect games, where multiple pitchers combine to retire 27+ in a row.

Team    Streak StartDate   EndDate
--- ---------- --------- ---------
OAK         31 21-AUG-02 22-AUG-02
TEX         31 08-AUG-02 09-AUG-02
ANA         30 07-JUL-06 08-JUL-06
ARI         28 16-MAY-04 19-MAY-04  (Randy Johnson's actual perfect game)
FLO         27 06-JUL-05 07-JUL-05
SEA         27 02-AUG-01 03-AUG-01
NYA         27 01-SEP-01 02-SEP-01

Hidden no-hitters by teams are also not only possible, but relatively common. There have been 98 hidden team no-hitters. Note that hidden no hitters by individual pitchers and hidden no hitters by teams do not typically overlap. Teams with 35 straight at-bats without a hit since 2000 are:

Team    Streak StartDate   EndDate
--- ---------- --------- ---------
COL         38 01-MAY-02 02-MAY-02
OAK         38 08-APR-06 09-APR-06
PHI         37 26-SEP-01 27-SEP-01
PIT         37 29-AUG-00 30-AUG-00
SDN         36 21-SEP-06 22-SEP-06
ANA         35 06-MAY-01 08-MAY-01
FLO         35 11-MAY-01 13-MAY-01 (A.J. Burnett no hitter)
ANA         35 07-JUL-06 08-JUL-06
LAN         35 19-JUL-00 20-JUL-00

Cycles, Supercycles and Pedicycles

Back in an article in 2003, I introduced two variants on the traditional accomplishment of "hitting for the cycle." The "supercycle" is a game where a batter hits as well as or better than a standard cycle. That is, a game where the batter has at least four hits, including at least one home run, two hits that are either home runs or triples, and three hits that are either home runs, doubles or triples.

There were 27 supercycles in 2006:

NAME                 GAMEDATE  TEA OPP   PA   AB    H  B1  B2  B3  HR   BB CYCLE
-------------------- --------- --- --- ---- ---- ---- --- --- --- --- ---- -----
Nick Johnson         20-APR-06 WAS PHI    5    4    4   1   1   0   2    1     N
Alfonso Soriano      21-APR-06 WAS ATL    5    5    4   0   1   0   3    0     N
Troy Glaus           01-MAY-06 TOR BAL    5    5    4   0   2   0   2    0     N
Jose Castillo        30-MAY-06 PIT MIL    5    4    4   1   1   0   2    1     N
Damion Easley        03-JUN-06 ARI ATL    5    5    4   1   0   0   3    0     N
Gerald Laird         04-JUN-06 TEX CHA    5    5    4   0   2   0   2    0     N
Carlos Beltran       09-JUN-06 NYN ARI    5    5    4   1   1   0   2    0     N
Joe Crede            20-JUN-06 CHA SLN    5    5    4   1   1   0   2    0     N
Jose Reyes           21-JUN-06 NYN CIN    5    5    4   1   1   1   1    0     Y
Kenji Johjima        24-JUN-06 SEA SDN    5    5    4   1   1   0   2    0     N
Richie Sexson        25-JUN-06 SEA SDN    5    5    5   2   1   0   2    0     N
Carlos Beltran       02-JUL-06 NYN NYA    5    5    4   1   1   0   2    0     N
Adam LaRoche         14-JUL-06 ATL SDN    6    6    4   1   1   0   2    0     N
Andruw Jones         18-JUL-06 ATL SLN    5    5    5   2   1   0   2    0     N
Luke Scott           28-JUL-06 HOU ARI    6    6    4   1   1   1   1    0     Y
Carlos Guillen       01-AUG-06 DET TBA    5    5    4   1   1   1   1    0     Y
Mark DeRosa          09-AUG-06 TEX OAK    6    5    4   1   1   0   2    1     N
Chipper Jones        14-AUG-06 ATL WAS    5    5    4   1   0   0   3    0     N
Bernie Williams      27-AUG-06 NYA ANA    5    5    4   1   1   0   2    0     N
Ryan Howard          03-SEP-06 PHI ATL    4    4    4   1   0   0   3    0     N
Cody Ross            11-SEP-06 FLO NYN    5    5    4   1   0   0   3    0     N
Gary Matthews Jr.    13-SEP-06 TEX DET    5    4    4   1   1   1   1    1     Y
Chone Figgins        16-SEP-06 ANA TEX    4    4    4   1   1   1   1    0     Y
Marlon Anderson      18-SEP-06 LAN SDN    5    5    5   2   0   1   2    0     N
Garrett Atkins       19-SEP-06 COL SFN    5    5    4   1   0   1   2    0     N
Andruw Jones         23-SEP-06 ATL COL    5    4    4   1   1   0   2    1     N
James Loney          28-SEP-06 LAN COL    5    5    4   1   1   0   2    0     N

The same article also introduced the "pedicycle," a game where the batter earns a base on balls, in additon to hitting for the cycle. This is quite a bit harder than a supercycle, as it requires reaching base five times in five different ways. It's only been done twice in the past two seasons:

NAME                 GAMEDATE  TEA OPP   PA   AB    H  B1  B2  B3  HR   BB
-------------------- --------- --- --- ---- ---- ---- --- --- --- --- ----
Gary Matthews Jr.    13-SEP-06 TEX DET    5    4    4   1   1   1   1    1
Brad Wilkerson       06-APR-05 WAS PHI    5    4    4   1   1   1   1    1

Reaching on Error Leaders and "True OBP"

Questions about batters who reach base on error (ROE) are one of the most popular kind that I receive from readers. The 2006 leaders in reaching on error are:

NAME                   PA ROE ROE_RATE
-------------------- ---- --- --------
Kenji Johjima         542  13    .0240
Carlos Beltran        617  13    .0211
Juan Pierre           750  13    .0173
Adrian Beltre         681  11    .0162
Edgar Renteria        673  11    .0163
Clint Barmes          535  11    .0206
Josh Willingham       573  11    .0192
Brandon Inge          601  11    .0183
Michael Young         748  11    .0147
Ichiro Suzuki         752  11    .0146
Jay Payton            588  11    .0187
Adam Everett          566  10    .0177
Conor Jackson         556  10    .0180
Melky Cabrera         525  10    .0190
Brian Anderson        406  10    .0246
Orlando Hudson        650  10    .0154
Corey Patterson       499  10    .0200
Derek Jeter           715  10    .0140
Mike Lowell           631  10    .0158

With some batters "missing out" on as much as 24 points of OBP by not considering ROE, you might be wondering who the "true" OBP leaders are. But let's not stop with ROE. Intentional walks, while often a sign of respect for the batter from the opposing team, do not represent the batter's own attempted efforts to reach base, so we'll exclude them. And since we're including reaching on errors, we should also include sacrifice hits in the denominator, since as some recent research has shown, a significant part of the value in sacrificing is the chance that the fielding team blows the play, allowing the batter to reach base.

For players with 300+ plate appearances, the "true OBP" leaders for 2006 are:

NAME                   PA    H  UBB  IBB  HBP   SF   SH ROE    OBP TRUE_OBP
-------------------- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --- ------ --------
Esteban German        331   91   40    0    6    0    6   6   .422     .432
Manny Ramirez         558  144   84   16    1    8    0   5   .439     .432
Travis Hafner         564  140   84   16    7    2    0   1   .439     .424
Bobby Abreu           686  163  118    6    3    9    2   4   .424     .424
Derek Jeter           715  214   65    4   12    4    7  10   .417     .423
Nick Johnson          628  145   95   15   13    3    2   6   .428     .423
Miguel Cabrera        676  195   59   27   10    4    0   8   .430     .419
Joe Mauer             608  181   58   21    1    7    0   6   .429     .419
Barry Bonds           493   99   77   38   10    1    0   3   .454     .415
Chipper Jones         477  133   57    4    1    4    0   5   .409     .414
Albert Pujols         634  177   64   28    4    3    0   5   .431     .413
Garrett Atkins        695  198   73    6    7    7    0   4   .409     .409
Lance Berkman         646  169   76   22    4    8    0   6   .420     .409
Jim Thome             610  141   95   12    6    7    0   2   .416     .408
Jason Giambi          579  113   98   12   16    7    0   4   .413     .407
Carlos Guillen        622  174   61   10    4    4    0   8   .400     .404
Carlos Beltran        617  140   89    6    4    7    1  13   .388     .403
Ryan Howard           704  182   71   37    9    6    0   5   .425     .400

Players who "lose" at least 10 points of OBP using this alternate method are:

NAME                PA    H  UBB  IBB  HBP   SF   SH ROE    OBP TRUE_OBP   DIFF
----------------- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --- ------ -------- ------
Barry Bonds        493   99   77   38   10    1    0   3   .454     .415   .039
Ryan Howard        704  182   71   37    9    6    0   5   .425     .400   .024
Vladimir Guerrero  665  200   25   25    4    4    0   1   .382     .359   .023
Albert Pujols      634  177   64   28    4    3    0   5   .431     .413   .018
David Ortiz        686  160   96   23    4    5    0   3   .413     .397   .016
Travis Hafner      564  140   84   16    7    2    0   1   .439     .424   .015
Miguel Cabrera     676  195   59   27   10    4    0   8   .430     .419   .011
Dioner Navarro     302   68   25    6    1    1    1   1   .332     .321   .011
Garret Anderson    588  152   27   11    0    7    0   1   .323     .312   .011
Lance Berkman      646  169   76   22    4    8    0   6   .420     .409   .011
Joe Mauer          608  181   58   21    1    7    0   6   .429     .419   .010
Damian Miller      376   83   26    7    4    5    3   2   .322     .312   .010

Player who gain at least 15 points of OBP using this alternate method are:

NAME                PA    H  UBB  IBB  HBP   SF   SH ROE    OBP TRUE_OBP   DIFF
----------------- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --- ------ -------- ------
Kenji Johjima      542  147   19    1   13    3    0  13   .332     .355  -.023
Brian Anderson     406   82   28    2    5    3    2  10   .290     .309  -.020
Jay Payton         588  165   21    1    4    5    0  11   .325     .342  -.018
Josh Willingham    573  139   52    2   11    6    0  11   .356     .373  -.017
Rickie Weeks       413  100   29    1   19    3    2   8   .363     .379  -.016
Aaron Rowand       445  106   16    2   18    2    2   9   .321     .336  -.016
Rondell White      355   83    9    2    4    3    0   7   .276     .292  -.016
Conor Jackson      556  141   52    2    9    7    1  10   .368     .383  -.015
Michael Young      748  217   48    0    1    8    0  11   .356     .370  -.015
Mark DeRosa        572  154   43    1    6    2    0   9   .357     .371  -.015
Carlos Beltran     617  140   89    6    4    7    1  13   .388     .403  -.015
Chris Duffy        348   80   18    1   10    1    4   7   .317     .331  -.015

Three-Pitch Strikeouts

I'm fascinated by pitchers who ring up strikeouts on three pitches, particularly when they are all swung at or all taken. Usually, by the time a pitchers gets to 0-2, he will often waste a pitch outside the strike zone, trying to get the batter to chase one. So the proportion of three-pitch strikeouts is relatively small.

Pitchers with the most three-pitch strikeouts:

NAME                 SO_3PIT
----------------- ----------
Johan Santana             56
John Lackey               49
John Smoltz               46
C.C. Sabathia             45
Aaron Harang              42
Dave Bush                 41
Jeremy Bonderman          39
Jake Peavy                38
Javier Vazquez            37
Brett Myers               37
Scott Olsen               36
Dan Haren                 35
Brandon Webb              35

Pitchers with the most three-pitch strikeouts, all swung at (including fouls and bunt attempts):

NAME              SO_3SWINGS
----------------- ----------
Johan Santana             23
Aaron Harang              17
Ian Snell                 15
John Smoltz               14
John Lackey               13
C.C. Sabathia             12
Jake Peavy                12
Brad Lidge                11
Javier Vazquez            10
Scott Kazmir              10

Pitchers with three or more strikeouts recorded on three pitches, all swung and missed:

NAME              SO_3MISSED
----------------- ----------
Brad Lidge                 5
Aaron Harang               4
Kiko Calero                3
John Koronka               3
Jeremy Bonderman           3
Derrick Turnbow            3
Scott Olsen                3
Brett Myers                3
Mark Mulder                3
Eric Milton                3
Chris Young                3
Andy Pettitte              3
Tim Wakefield              3
Jake Peavy                 3

Pitchers with the most strikeouts recorded on three pitches, all taken:

NAME              SO_3CALLED
----------------- ----------
Greg Maddux                6
Tom Glavine                6
Dave Bush                  4
A.J. Burnett               4
Brad Penny                 4
Jamie Moyer                4

Do Nothing Batters

Sabermetrics teaches us that patience is a virtue for a batter, but it is still the threat of swinging away that drives the confrontation. Should batters who manage to go the entire plate appearance without even attempting a swing once (other than intentional walks, for obvious reasons) even bother bringing a bat up with them?

Batters with the most PA completed without attempting to swing at a pitch (excluding IBB):

NAME              PA_NOSWING
----------------- ----------
Jason Giambi              71
Brian Giles               71
Bobby Abreu               70
Nick Johnson              61
Kevin Youkilis            59
Felipe Lopez              58
Adam Dunn                 56
Carlos Beltran            55
Pat Burrell               54
Nick Swisher              52
Eric Chavez               51
Scott Hatteberg           50
Jason Bay                 50
Travis Hafner             50

Pinch-hitters with the most PA completed without attempting to swing at a pitch (excluding IBB):

NAME              PA_NOSWING
----------------- ----------
Gabe Gross                 7
Jeff DaVanon               6
Craig Counsell             5
Morgan Ensberg             5
Marlon Anderson            5
Daryle Ward                4
John Rodriguez             4
Matt Stairs                4
Ryan Freel                 4
Andy Green                 4

Pitchers with the most batters faced without a swing attempted (excluding IBB):

NAME              PA_NOSWING
----------------- ----------
Carlos Zambrano           67
Daniel Cabrera            60
Barry Zito                59
Dontrelle Willis          56
Steve Trachsel            54
Ervin Santana             54
Doug Davis                53
Josh Beckett              51
Casey Fossum              50
Vicente Padilla           50
Zach Duke                 49
Matt Cain                 49
Scott Olsen               48
Paul Maholm               48
Nate Robertson            45

Hope you enjoyed our random tour through the stats of 2006. If you have any oddball stat requests you'd like to see in a future column, please let me know!

Keith Woolner is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Keith's other articles. You can contact Keith by clicking here

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