Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The most unlikely 30-game hitting streak
By Jayson Stark
Maybe you could make a case that Willy Taveras put together the most unlikely 30-game hitting streak in history. Or Benito Santiago. Or Jerome Walton.
But it's tough to beat Dan Uggla.
He's gotten a hit in 30 games in a row ... and he's still hitting .220!
Just try to comprehend this. And we can help you -- by presenting a list of just some of the noted sweet swingers with a higher batting average this year than Dan Uggla:
Zach Duke (.294)
Alex Cora (.229)
Nate McLouth (.228)
Josh Bard (.224)
Edwin Jackson (.222)
And, of course, Carlos Zambrano (.333).
But hold on. There's more.
On the day this streak started (July 5), Dan Uggla was hitting .173. That was worse than Russell Branyan (.200) or Jack Cust (.215) or Bill Hall (.214) -- three guys who hit so badly, they got RELEASED.
It was worse than Brandon Inge (.196) or Reid Brignac (.187) or Travis Snider (.207) -- three guys who hit so badly they got sent to the minor leagues.
It was worse, in fact, than every player in the big leagues who had been to the plate 200 times except for one -- Adam Dunn (.171).
And then, naturally, Dan Uggla decided to go and get a hit in 30 consecutive games.
Of course he did.
So where does his .220 average -- AFTER he'd hit in 30 in a row -- rank among the lowest batting averages in modern history by guys who had hitting streaks that long?
No. 1, of course. You were expecting maybe he got beaten out by Joe DiMaggio?
Our favorite streak guru, loyal reader Trent McCotter, sifted through all the 30-game hitting streaks since 1910. Here are the three lowest batting averages -- for the season -- he found among all those players, after their 30th game of that streak. There's one thing you may notice about this list:
Not only does Uggla win this competition -- nobody else is even in his zip code.
Taveras (2006) .284
Jimmy Rollins (2005) .287
This is the 36th 30-game hitting streak since 1910. And until Uggla came along, only three of the other 35 streakers finished Game 30 with a season average that was under .300 -- Taveras, Rollins and Santiago (1987), at .299. And Dan Uggla is at .220. Amazing.
Just for fun, want to know the highest averages after Game 30? Let's just say they're not very Uggla-esque:
Ty Cobb (1911) .451
Rico Carty (1970) .430
George Sisler (1922) .415
Sisler (1925) .415
George Brett (1980) .404
So what's the good news for Uggla, besides the streak itself? As loyal reader Scott Sukenick observed, at least he raised his batting average in 27 consecutive games (until a 1-for-5 game Sunday lowered it by micro-percentage points).
"That has got to be a record, right?" Sukenick asked. And the more we thought about it, the more we decided he had to be correct -- because even Taveras, who was hitting .258 at the start of his streak, would have seen his average go down if he went 1 for 4.
But the 11 times Uggla has gone 1-for-4 during this streak, his average went up after every one of them.
That can't possibly have happened before, right? But if you can find another example of a guy who raised his average more games in a row than that, operators -- as always -- are standing by.
Pass along anything you come up with to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet it at us, at @jaysonst. We never tire of hearing about the most unlikely 30-game hitting streak of all time. How the heck could we?