Is 60 Games A Sprint?

'80 Brett RD

Baseball season has begun and we’re stumbling through uncharted territory. Why is there a runner on 2nd base at the start of the 10th inning? How much will it cost to put a cut-out of my face behind home plate. Why is Wei-Yin Chen the highest paid player in 2020 when he’s not even on an active roster?

 

In addition to these queries is the most obvious question…how good can a baseball player be over a 60-game season that represents only 37% of the normal campaign? Long-time baseball fans can certainly remember numerous anecdotal examples of “hot streaks” but what is the real answer? Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941 might be the most obvious and he had a .408 Batting Average over that two month period. With the help of baseballreference.com and theringer.com, we find that Joltin’ Joe wouldn’t even be in the modern top ten when it comes to 60-game Batting Averages.

 

Using the last 45 years as our date base, here are the ten best…

 

1) George Brett, .473 (1980) – He hit .390 for the season and won the AL MVP. He also complied the highest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for a 60-game stretch at 6.46. Imagine a player being that valuable over a 60-game season.

 

2) Ichiro Suzuki, .458 (2004) – Hit .372 and had 262 Hits for the full season. He also won a Gold Glove.

 

3) Josh Hamilton, .427 (2010) – Led the league in BA, Slugging and OPS on the way to the MVP Award.

 

4) Paul O’Neill, .425 (1994) – Won the batting title at .359.

 

5) Johnny Damon, .425 (2000) – Hit .327 for the Royals and led the league in Runs & Stolen Bases.

 

6) Frank Thomas, .422 (1994) – This was his 2nd consecutive MVP season and he had an OPS of 1.217.

 

7) Larry Walker, .422 (1997) – Won the MVP and a Gold Glove while leading the NL in HR’s & OPS.

 

8) Nomar Garciaparra, .421 (2000) – Hit .372 for the full season and was intentionally walked 20 times.

 

9) Jose Altuve, .420 (2017) – Robert DeNiro starred in a baseball movie called, “Bang The Drum Slowly”.

 

10) Chipper Jones, .419 (2008) – Batted .364 for the season and also led the league in OBP.

 

Switching gears to power hitters, one of the top Fantasy Baseball websites projects that no player will hit 20 Home Runs this season. How does that play out against the best performers in our formula?

 

1) Barry Bonds, 37 HR’s (2001) – When critiquing this leader board, a number of names in the top half have been associated with certain substances. His WAR of 6.24 was the 2nd highest ever for a 60-game stretch, just behind Brett.

 

2) Sammy Sosa, 34 HR’s (1998) – He hit 20 long-balls in June alone.

 

3) Mark McGwire, 33 HR’s (1996) – This was in Oakland and he had 52 for the season.

 

4) Giancarlo Stanton, 33 HR’s (2017) – Had 59 for the season in Miami and won the MVP.

 

5) Albert Belle, 32 HR’s (1995) – This was his only 50+ HR season and he corked a .690 Slugging Percentage.

 

6) Ken Griffey Jr., 29 HR’s (1994) – Only played 111 games but still hit 40 HR’s.

 

7) J.D. Martinez, 29 HR’s (2017) – What is even more remarkable is that he hit 45 HR’s playing for two different teams in two different leagues.

 

8) Ryan Howard, 29 HR’s (2006) – Had 58 HR’s and 149 RBI’s on the way to the MVP.

 

9) Jim Thome, 28 HR’s (2001) – Not surprising, as he hit over 600 in his career.

 

10) George Foster, 28 HR’s (1977) – His MVP season with 52 HR’s and 149 RBI’s

 

In addition to the magical .400 Batting Average figure, sportswriters have also been speculating on Pitchers who might challenge Bob Gibson’s mark of a 1.12 ERA in 1968. Is it possible? Here’s the answer based on 12-game stretches…

 

1) Jake Arrieta, 0.41 ERA (2015) – Had 22 Wins and captured the Cy Young Award.

 

2) Josh Johnson, 0.74 ERA (2010) – Was 11-6 for the Marlins and finished 5th in the Cy Young voting.

 

3) Jack Flaherty, 0.77 ERA (2019) – One of the best young arms in the game.

 

4) Buzz Capra, 0.92 ERA (1974) – Was 16-8 for the Braves in his career year…lifetime record was 31-37.

 

5) Clayton Kershaw, 0.96 ERA (2015) – This wasn’t even his best season, but he led the NL in IP & K’s.

 

6) Hyun-Jin Ryu, 0.96 ERA (2019) – A good way to cash in on the free agent market.

 

7) Kris Medlen, 0.97 (2012) – Was 10-1 for the Braves but didn’t pitch enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.

 

8) J.R. Richard, 1.03 (1979) – If you’re old enough to have seen him pitch, the word “dominant” will always come to mind. Had 313 K’s for the season but his career tragically ended just a year later.

 

9) Zack Greinke, 1.10 ERA (2009) – Won the Cy Young Award with the Royals.

 

10) Chris Sale, 1.13 ERA (2018) – Closed out the World Series for the BoSox.

 

As you enjoy the 60-game sprint, watch the box scores but keep an eye on the leader boards.

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