Thursday, May 14, 2009

Two-Hundred Hit Teammates

Writing the Seamheads AL West Preview the other night, I noticed something interesting about the 1982 Brewers that I had never heard anyone mention before: with Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and Cecil Cooper, the '82 Brewers had three separate players reach the 200-hit plateau. It seemed like a pretty rare feat, so I decided to investigate it a little further.

Before breaking the 200-hit players down by team and year, I thought it might be prudent to look for any players who may have been traded (or otherwise played for multiple teams) during a 200-hit campaign. After all, if someone did get traded in a 200-hit year and then joined two or three other 200-hit players on a given team, I would have to decide how to count them. I didn't expect to find many but, if Mark McGwire can be traded in the middle of a 58-home run season, it didn't seem out of the realm of possibility for a Molitor- or Carew-type player to be traded mid-200 hit-season.

It turns out that there have actually been six players throughout history who played for more than one team on their way to a 200 hit season:
Player..............Year..Team A (Hits)........Team B (Hits)....Hits
Irish Meusel........1921..Philadelphia (121)...New York (80)....201

Moose Solters.......1935..Boston (19)..........St Louis (182)...201
Red Schoendienst....1957..New York (78)........Milwaukee (122)..200
Lou Brock...........1964..Chicago (54).........St Louis (146)...200
Willie Montanez.....1976..San Francisco (71)...Atlanta (135)....206
Randy Velarde.......1999..Anaheim (115)........Oakland (85).....200
My first thought on seeing that list was "Randy Velarde had 200 hits in a season? Really?" After that, though, I noticed that all of these guys, except maybe Willie Montanez, only barely reached the 200-hit mark. There are no 210 or 215 hit seasons in that group, which makes some sense. A player hitting that well is unlikely to be dealt for any reason.

Now that we have a list of multi-team 200-hit players, we can look at the list of teams who had three or more players reach 200 hits. As you can see, while the list above is nice to have, it doesn't actually affect our main list here.
1929..Philadelphia (N)...4...Lefty O'Doul (254), Chuck Klein (219), Fresco Thompson (202), Pinky Whitney (200)
...Gee Walker (213), Charlie Gehringer (209), Pete Fox (208), Hank Greenberg (200)
1920..St Louis (A).......3
...George Sisler (257), Baby Doll Jacobsen (216), Jack Tobin (202)
1920..Chicago (A)........3
...Eddie Collins (224), Joe Jackson (218), Buck Weaver (208)
1921..St Louis (A).......3
...Jack Tobin (236), George Sisler (216), Baby Doll Jacobsen (211)
...Charlie Gehringer (215), Dale Alexander (215), Roy Johnson (201)
1930..Philadelphia (N)...3
...Chuck Klein (250), Pinky Whitney (207), Lefty O'Doul (202)
1930..Chicago (N)........3
...Kiki Cuyler (228), Woody English (214), Hack Wilson (208)
1935..New York (N).......3
...Bill Terry (203), Hank Leiber (203), Jo-Jo Moore (201)
1963..St Louis...........3
...Dick Groat (201), Curt Flood (200), Bill White (200)
...Robin Yount (210), Cecil Cooper (205), Paul Molitor (201)
...Rafael Palmiero (203), Ruben Sierra (203), Julio Franco (201)
It's an exclusive list, for sure. In the last 70 years, only three teams have been able to achieve the feat, and none in the last 18 years. And, in the 9 seasons that it was done before 1937, three teams (Klein's Phillies, Gehringer's Tigers, and Sisler's Browns) managed the feat twice. That leaves only 9 distinct "teams" (in the loose sense of the word) to have acheived the feat in all of history.

I'm not sure what more I can say here. Obviously, the game has changed since World War II, and hits are harder to come by. Guys like George Sisler, who could seemingly turn anything into a basehit, just don't exist anymore (excepting maybe Ichiro!), and the way the game is played today prevents many others from reaching the milestone. With that said, though, it doesn't seem impossible for a team in today's game to have three 200-hit players. If I were forced to make a prediction as to which team could be the next to have three different 200-hit players, I think I'd have to go with the Mets. David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran are all threats to 200 hits every season, and it wouldn't be a stretch to see them all do it together.


Josh said...

It's almost hard to believe that no collection of players on the same team has done that since '91. I would have thought that one of those early 2000 Texas teams with all those sluggers in the lineup would have had a good shot at this.

fun topic!

Bill said...

Really interesting stuff.

That is kind of shocking about Velarde...but I guess any hitter could do just about anything in 1999. :) Also interesting that his was an intra-division trade for three doubt the Angels were well out of it, but you just don't see that often.

I don't think I realized quite how much 200-hit seasons had gone down--there were 237 from 1900-1945, only 142 from 1946-1990...but now 90 in less than half that span, from 1991-2008. I guess that the drastic change in the style of play from the 20s-30s to the 50s-70s dragged the number down, but then the near-doubling in size of the league, the offensive explosion of the '90s, the lengthening of the schedule and better conditioning of the players has finally started to bring the numbers back up again. Might be a lot of random variation in these samples too, though...

Ian said...

I'm not too surprised by these numbers. The first 20 years of the live ball era were a feast for hitters. I wouldn't have expected the 1991 Rangers to show up on this list. The 1963 Cardinals were one year away from a pennant and the 1982 Brewers won it, but those early-90's Rangers are a mostly-forgotten team.