Friday, September 2, 2011
Granderson could achieve historic feat
By David Schoenfield
Curtis Granderson currently leads the AL in runs, RBIs and triples, while ranking second in HRs.
In major league history, a player has scored 150 or more runs 46 times, topped by Billy Hamilton's 198 for the 1894 Philadelphia Phillies. You can probably guess that the game was a little different back then: Hamilton posted a .521 on-base percentage, he was one of three Phillies to bat .400 and they scored 1,179 runs in 132 games, or nearly nine runs per game.
Of those 46 seasons of 150 runs, 27 came in the 1880s or 1890s, including eight guys who did it in 1894. It happened seven times in the 1920s, five by Babe Ruth. And it happened 10 times in the 1930s. But since World War II, only two players have scored 150 runs in a season: Ted Williams scored 150 in 1949 and Jeff Bagwell scored 152 in 2000.
After scoring his 124th run in Thursday's win, Curtis Granderson is now on pace for 149 runs. He's scored 27 runs more than the No. 2 guy in the majors, Jacoby Ellsbury. Yes, runs are team-dependent to a certain extent -- you need good hitters behind you to drive you in -- but 149 runs is an awesome achievement, no matter how you slice it. And runs are definitely not, as somebody tweeted the other day, "a meaningless stat." There aren't exactly any chumps on this list of players who have scored 140 runs in a season since 1946.
One thing you'll note about Granderson is he easily has the lowest batting average and on-base percentage of anybody on the list. Clearly, his teammates have helped, as he's scored 47 percent of the time he's been on base, the second-highest percentage on the list. He's helped by spending most of the season in the No. 2 hole in the batting order, giving more opportunities to the hitters behind him. Most of the guys on the list hit leadoff (Biggio, Henderson, Dykstra, Knoblauch) or No. 3. the 1996 version of A-Rod hit second (with Ken Griffey, Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner following) and the 2007 version hit cleanup, the only cleanup hitter on the list.
The most surprising name on the list might be Knoblauch, especially since he also has the lowest home run total. Despite finishing last in the AL in home runs, however, that Twins teams still scored 877 runs. No. 3 hitter Paul Molitor hit .341 and drove in 113 runs despite hitting just nine home runs.
Anyway, you'll notice most of names here consist of (A) Ted Williams, or (B) players from the high-octane offensive period of the late '90s. The most runs scored in the 1950s, '60s and '70s belongs to Billy Williams of the 1970 Cubs, with 137 runs. That team did score more than 800 runs. The most impressive run-scoring feat during that time might have been Tim Raines, who scored 133 runs for the 1983 Expos, a team that scored just 677 runs overall. Raines scored nearly 20 percent of the Expos' runs that year.
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.