Monday, September 12, 2011

Ozzie Smith Had Some Elite Company

Occasionally, just occasionally, Derwood and I take a break from making jokes about Steve Balboni, Jose Canseco and other hobos to stare at stats. I'd like to thank Baseball Reference in particular for ruining my social life in New Orleans. It's cool though, turns out I'm only attracted to crazy women.

Today was one of those days where I found myself with too much free time and 12 tabs of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs open. If you follow me on Twitter (and why aren't you), you might know about my fascination with home runs and Wins Above Replacement. If you don't follow me, this is the kind of stuff I wonder about on a daily basis.

*NOTE: For posts like these, I'll be using rWAR (Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement) because of their baseball nerd crack invention of the Play Index.*

Ozzie Smith had an incredibly rare season in 1987. He hit .303/.392/.383 while playing his usual brand of sterling defense at short. Of course, Smith didn't hit for much power that year either. It was one of the seven homerless seasons of his 19 year career. The Hall of Famer finished second in MVP voting (Smith's highest finish but losing out to Andre Dawson and his .328 OBP) with a 7.1 rWAR. So the obvious question that had to be answered? How many players have had a season with a 7+ rWAR without hitting a home run?

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Ozzie Smith 1 1987 1987 32-32 Ind. Seasons
2 Tris Speaker 1 1915 1915 27-27 Ind. Seasons
3 Eddie Collins 1 1912 1912 25-25 Ind. Seasons
4 Nap Lajoie 1 1906 1906 31-31 Ind. Seasons
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/12/2011.

Four players managed to achieve that feat. Ozzie and three of the greatest dead ball hitters in the history of baseball. It's hard to imagine another player being able to accomplish that random criteria I looked up unless someone reinvents the wheel defensively or walks his way to a .700 OBP. I'd also like to point out here that I'm not good at math and might be completely off base (hey look, there's part of our blog name).

Nap Lajoie had the best season of the group in aught-six hitting .355/.392/.465 for the cleverly named Cleveland Naps. Pretty sure he didn't get any points added on to his 9.6 WAR for managing the team or designing the logo.

Eddie Collins hit .348/.450/.435 in 1912 good for a 9.2 WAR for the Philadelphia A's. He finished sixth in the MVP voting behind former WWE Diva Trish Stratus.

My bad, that should have read former Red Sock Tris Speaker. Speaker won the MVP in 1912 after belting a league best 10 home runs. But in 1915, he hit nary a ball yard. He was able to manage a .322/.416./411 line which resulted in his 8.1 WAR.

This, my dear readers, is the stuff I look up on the Internet with my free time. Well, this and pictures of dogs wearing hats.

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