Thursday November 17, 2022

Baseball Records, 2022 Update

This guy might do it.

I've been busy since the baseball season ended so I haven't had a chance to double-check the usual obscure stastistical stuff I've always liked. OK, some of it I already knew. Like this one: 

Did anyone hit. 350?

Nope. Jeff McNeil, Mets second baseman, hit .326. That was the best in the Majors. Best in the AL was Luis Arraez's .317. Which means for a full season, not shortened Covid ones, no one's hit .350 or better since 2010 (Josh Hamilton, .359). Again, this is unprecedented. See: “Where Have All the .350 Hitters Gone?” from 2019. Worse—sans Covid season—it's trending downward:

  • .346 in 2018 (Betts)
  • .335 in 2019 (T. Anderson)
  • .327 in 2021 (T. Turner)
  • .326 in 2022 (McNeil)

The new rules attempting to ban or at least corral defensive shifts look to alter this trajectory. We'll see.

How are we on the doubles, triples, homers question?

Here's the background on that. Only seven players in MLB history have ever led the league in all three extra-base categories—doubles, triples and homers—during their careers, and no one's done it since Johnny Mize in the 1940s. When I last checked in, after the 2020 season, these were the only active players who'd led the league in two of the three categories:

  • Albert Pujols (Doubles, Homers)
  • Miguel Cabrera (Doubles, Homers)
  • Nolan Arenado (Doubles, Homers)
  • Cesar Hernandez (Doubles, Triples) 

But all of the doubles/homers guys were aging and were never triples hitters to begin with. Arenado did hit seven in 2017, which was tied for 5th-best in the NL that year, but that was his high point. Last season he hit one triple, which is one more than either Pujols or Miggy hit. As for the little-considered Cesar Hernandez? Right, he isn't a homerun hitter. Guess how many bombs he managed with 600+ plate appearances in Washington? One.

OK, but do we have any additions?

Not because of 2022. The guys who led the two leagues in doubles (Freddie Freeman and Jose Ramirez) have led he league in doubles before, but that's it. The guys who led the leagues in triples (Gavin Lux and Brandon Nimmo in the NL, Amed Rosario in the AL) are all newbies, as is NL homerun leader Kyle Schwarber. Meanwhile, AL homerun leader Aaron Judge is a repeat homerun guy. He did it his 2017 rookie season, too.

That said, I didn't tabulate any of this after 2021 and that's where we got some movement. That season, Bryce Harper led the NL in doubles to go with his 2015 HR crown; and Whit Merrifield led the AL in doubles to go with his 2019 triples crown. 

So, removing Pujols, who famously and gloriously retired after 2022, this is our active chart:

  • Miguel Cabrera (Doubles, Homers)
  • Nolan Arenado (Doubles, Homers)
  • Bryce Harper (Doubles, Homers)
  • Cesar Hernandez (Doubles, Triples)
  • Whit Merrifield (Doubles, Triples)

None are likely to do it. The likeliest is probably Whit Merrifield. Sure, he only hit 11 homers last season, but five of those were after he was traded to Toronto—where he had 1/3 the at-bats. I'm not saying it's likely, I'm saying it's likelier than, say, Miggy or Arenado or even Bryce leading the league in triples. In my head, Bryce seems like a lean, speedy guy, but he only hit one triple last year, and his career high, 9, was in his rookie year in 2012. He hasn't hit more than three in a year since.

How about this? In the top 10 in each category in 2022, did any names appear more than once? And by top 10, we're actually talking top 11 (for doubles) and top 16 (for triples), because of the last-place tie. So 37 slots in all. Any repeats?

Yes, two. Paul Goldschmidt finished 10th in homeruns with 35 and tied for 10th in doubles with 41. And he already has a 2013 HR crown. But he only has 22 career triples, with a season high of five in 2018 and zero last year.

The other guy is a better bet: Jose Ramirez. He led the league in doubles, as I said, with 44, and tied for ninth in triples with five. He also hit 29 homers, and his career high is 39, and I could see him hitting more of those as he ages and thickens. But first he has to do the triples and time is ticking. He's 30. But at least he's well-represented in all three slots.

Maybe the active player with the best overall shot is Shohei Ohtani. He led the league in triples in 2021 and came close to also leading it in homers with 46. If he'd managed that, he would've been the first same-season HRs/Triples guy since Jim Rice in 1978, who was the first since both Mays and Mantle did it in '55. Nice company. Last season, Ohtani hit 34 homers and 30 doubles, and neither came close to leading the league, but they're both good, solid numbers, and you could see him building on them. He's already got the tough one—the triples. The bigger problem with him is the whole pitching side career, which, one imagines, cuts into his batting time. But if I had to bet, I'd bet on him.

Who has the longest postseason drought?

Not my Seattle Mariners.

Posted at 07:11 AM on Thursday November 17, 2022 in category Baseball  
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