Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Back Of The Card II

At Andy's instigation, we're going to make this little experiment a weekly feature. I may even branch out into trivia from a SOTB (sport-other-than-baseball).

Alex swung and connected yesterday, going 4-for-5 on responses to these questions:

1. The longest gap between unassisted triple plays in the majors is 41 years. What is the shortest gap?
Abboud correctly noted that just a single day separated two of the twelve UATP's in history. Jimmy Cooney of the Cubs turned one on May 30, and Johnny Neun of the Tigers followed on the 31st. Furcal's 2003 catch of a Woody Williams liner began the last UATP.

2. The last two pitchers in each league to achieve the Triple Crown were Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. Who were the last two batters?
The batting Triple Crown is very, very dusty, but Abboud's mind was sharp, immediately naming Yastrzemski (1967), and Joe Medwick (1937).

Albert Pujols is in a great position to end the NL's 69 year Triple Crown drought once Bonds is off the stage. In five seasons, his highest rankings have been first for average (2003), and second for HR (2004) and RBI (2002 and 2005).

In fact, in the last three seasons Pujols has been top-five on all three stats. If he keeps that up, it's only a matter of time before all three line-up cherries.

3. Barry Bonds holds the record for most bases on balls in a career. Only two other players in the top ten had careers that overlapped with Bonds. Who were they?
This is one of several statistical marks set by Bonds that is unlikely to be equalled. With 2,311 walks, Bonds stands more than 800 BB's above the nearest active player, Frank Thomas.

Of the 12 active players with at least 1,000 BBs, the youngest is Chipper Jones. If Bonds never played again, the 33 year-old Jones would need 7 seasons of 186 walks to catch him. But no player other than Bonds has managed more than 170 in a season.

Rickey Henderson was the obvious and correct pick for an all-time top ten player whose career overlapped Bonds, but the guesses of Ripken Jr. and Boggs were off the mark.

Henderson got to 2,190 BBs through sheer endurance: 25 seasons, only three of which involved more than 100 walks. At the age of 42, playing for San Diego, Henderson finally pushed past Babe Ruth's mark of 2,062 walks. By then, the ten-time All Star was incapable of making contact (he batted just .227) but could still post a .366 OBP. As late as 1999 he still figured in the league's top-ten for OBP, long after the other parts of his game had failed.

Darrell Evans was the overlooked player from the leaderboard, likely because he's a little before our time. As a 26 year-old in his first full season with Atlanta in 1973 Evans made a blistering debut (.281/.403/.556 with 41 homeruns). That was as good as it got. Evans made the All Star team that year, but didn't return until 1983 when he hit 30 homers for the Giants. In the in-between years, the third-baseman averaged just 17.

Along the way, Evans piled up 1,605 walks, good enough for tenth on the all-time list, and ahead of big names like Rose, Gehrig, Mays and Aaron.

Evans may have peaked in the 1970s, but he shared four full seasons in the majors with Bonds: 1986 to 89. Bonds the Child had 84 homers in that period, while the aging veteran produced 96.


At 7:18 PM, Blogger Alex said...

I never would have guess Darrell Evans. Wow.


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