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Reggie and the Game Logs

November 4, 2019

Reggie Jackson and the Game Logs


            My intention here was to work on the 100 top right fielders of all time.   In order to prepare for that, I created Game Logs for six or seven right fielders, to add to the file of batter Game Logs that I use to study players in more depth.  When I started analyzing those game logs in a certain way—not only for right fielders, but for all players in the file—Reggie Jackson popped up repeatedly on the list, so I thought "OK, I’ll write this stuff up as a Reggie Jackson comment, to be a part of the Top 100 Right Fielders article."  It just kept going on and on, though; I wound up working on that for four solid days when I had other stuff that I desperately needed to be doing, and eventually this got to be too large to be a Reggie Jackson comment and too organized internally to be sprinkled across a longer article, as I had originally intended, so it became its own article.   I’ll get to the Top 100 Right Fielders when I can, but having wasted a week on this project I don’t really know when I will get to that; it may be a little while.   My apologies, and I hope you get something out of this. 



            OK, at the moment I have 198,587 batter game lines in my file, representing the full careers of 109 players. 

            In that data there are 2,700 games—for all players, not just right fielders-- in which the player had no plate appearances.   Obviously, those players average 0.000 runs created in those games; however, they are not all zeroes.  There are 46 games in the data in which the player entered the game as a pinch runner and stole a base, creating positive Runs Created (.196), and there are 28 games in which a player entered the game as a pinch runner and was caught stealing, creating negative Runs Created (-.376).  The best games by players with zero plate appearances are four games in which the player entered the game as a pinch runner and stole two bases.   That happened four times—all four times by Bert Campaneris, who did this in 1966, 1971, 1978 and 1981.   In two of those games Campaneris scored a run, which makes those the best games in my data file in which a player had zero plate appearances.

            As mentioned, there are 28 games in my data in which a player entered the game as a pinch runner and was caught stealing, but one of those is more interesting than the others.   One player had no plate appearances, but had two stolen bases AND a caught stealing.  Unless I am missing something there is only one way that can happen, which is if you enter the game as a pinch runner, steal second, steal third, and attempt to steal home but are thrown out.  That is what happened in this case, at least; Toby Harrah—whose real name was "Colbert"—Toby Harrah on August 20, 1971, entered the game in the 9th inning as a pinch runner for Bernie Allen, who had walked.  His team, the Senators, was ahead 6-3.  Harrah stole second, stole third, attempted to steal home (with the pitcher batting) and was out.   For what it is worth, there are no games in the data in which a player stole ONE base and was then caught stealing; just this one odd game in which Harrah stole two bases and was caught stealing.  We will see Toby Harrah again later on our list. 

            In my data there are 14,513 games in which a player had one plate appearance. The majority of those are pinch hitting appearances, although there are also many players who entered the game as a pinch runner or defensive replacement and wound up getting a plate appearance, and there are 547 games in there in which a player started the game but left after one plate appearance for some reason.  

In games with one plate appearance the batters hit .225 with a .317 on base percentage, .336 slugging.   Per 600 plate appearances these players averaged 19 doubles, 3 triples, 14 homers, 4 stolen bases.  They did, however, average 76 walks—probably a higher number because of pinch hitters who were put on base or pitched around—and 96 RBI, although they averaged only 52 runs scored.   The very odd ratio of runs scored to RBI reflects the fact that many of them were pinch hitters used with men on base. 

292 of the players hit home runs, and 21 of those were Grand Slam home runs, creating a Game Score for those players of 55.  Three players in my data—Reggie Jackson, Willie McCovey and Dave Parker—hit pinch-hit grand slam home runs twice in their careers.   On the other end are 328 players who used their only plate appearance of the day unwisely, choosing to ground into a double play, creating negative .474 runs.    The 14,513 players created an average of .085 runs in the game while making an average of .710 outs, or .119 runs per out. 

            A much smaller number of players, only 3,547, had exactly two plate appearances in a game.  Six of those players (including Reggie Jackson on April 24, 1969) hit two home runs in their two plate appearances, and two players drove in five runs with their two homers, those two being Jim Gentile on June 30, 1960 and Andre Thornton on May 6, 1986.  Thornton in his game hit a two-run homer in the first and a three-run homer in the third, staking Cleveland to a 6-1 lead, and the game was stopped by rain before he would have batted a third time.  Gentile, who just four days earlier had driven in 7 runs in a game, hit a two-run and a three-run homer after entering the game in the fifth inning as a pinch hitter for Walt Dropo, who had already driven in two runs in the game, himself.   The Orioles’ first basemen drove in 7 runs in a game twice in a week. 

            Reggie Jackson (April 24, 1969) hit home runs his first two times up.  His third time up, the pitcher (Dick Woodson) threw the ball at his head—not once, but twice, the first two pitches.  One for each home run.   Reggie charged the mound and tackled Woodson, and the benches cleared.  Reggie was ejected; Woodson had a black eye after the discussion but remained in the game and continued to pitch.

            Just about one year later (April 16, 1970) Steve Garvey entered the game as a pinch hitter, grounded into a double play, stayed in the game, got one more at bat, and grounded into another double play, the only player among the 3,547 to have two plate appearances in a game and two GIDP.   The 3,547 players averaged .202 runs created in their games and 1.409 outs, or .143 runs created per out. 

            Of the players with two plate appearances in a game, almost exactly one-half started the game, and one-half entered the game late (1,761 started the game; 1,786 entered the game late.)  As a group they hit .239 with a .323 on base percentage, .362 slugging.   Per 600 plate appearances they had 15 homers, 81 RBI, 67 walks, 74 runs scored. 


            Moving on now to games with 3 plate appearances; there are 13,577 of them, 96% of which are games in which the player was in the lineup at the start of the game.  The best game in which a player had three plate appearances was by Jimmy Wynn in the second game of a double header in New York, July 30, 1977; Wynn hit two homers and a double, driving in six runs.   The first of the two homers was an inside-the-park homer; the Astros pinch hit for Wynn with the team ahead 9-1, which is why he didn’t get a fourth at bat.  It is the best 3-plate-appearance game either by Runs Created (4.29) or Game Score (98).   Reggie had the fifth-best game with 3 plate appearances, September 5, 1986; two homers and a single.

            The worst game by a player with 3 plate appearances was by Joe Adcock on July 20, 1955; three double play balls.   Bad day at the office—his second in a row, actually.  In the previous game he had gone 1-for-8 in a 19-inning game, both games resulting in one-run losses. 

            Altogether the players with 3 plate appearances in a game created only 2,765 runs with 31,436 outs, or .088 runs created per out.    They hit, as a group, only .203 with a .265 on base percentage, .316 slugging.  Per 600 plate appearances they had 14 homers but only 51 RBI, 47 walks.  The reason for these very low numbers, of course, is that when each player only gets three PA, each player has had a bad day.  if you have a decent game, you normally get a fourth time at bat.  

            Four trips to the plate in a game is the normal number.  In my data there are 104,835 games in which a player had four plate appearances, which is a little over half of all the games in the data,           and almost 8 times as many as 3-PA games.  The players with 4 plate appearances in a game created 51,213 runs while making 293,311 outs, or .175 runs created per out.   99.8% of these are games started; only 2/10th of one percent are off the bench.

            Players with 4 PA in a game hit .256 overall with a .324 on base percentage, .410 slugging.   There are sixteen Super-Games among the 104,835 games with 4 plate appearances, a Super-Game being a game with a Game Score higher than 100.  There are no Super-Games with less than 4-PA; 16 out of 104,835 with four plate appearances.  Three of those are similar games in which the hitter had three homers and a walk.   On August 26, 1950, with the rest of his team not really doing very much, Roy Campanella hit two-run homers in the second, fourth, and eighth innings, pushing the Dodgers to a 7-5 win over the Reds.    Just two days later, Hank Sauer did the same thing, basically, homering in the second, fourth and sixth innings, leading the Cubs to a 7-5 win over the Phillies.  Campanella’s game ranks as the #1 game among the 104,835; Sauer, because he had fewer RBI and because his walk was intentional, ranks fourth.   Bill Nicholson (July 23, 1944) also had a game with three homers and a walk. 


            By Game Score, the highest-scoring 4-PA game was by Joe Adcock, July 19, 1956 in Milwaukee against the New York Giants.  Adcock went 4-for-4 with a double, two homers and 8 RBI.  Adcock hit a grand slam in the first, a double in the third, an RBI single in the 4th, and a 3-run homer in the 6th, then was replaced for defense.  His defensive replacement later hit an RBI singles; Braves’ first basemen went 5-for-5 with 9 RBI. 

            The third-highest scoring 4-PA game by Runs Created was by Ed Kirkpatrick of the first-year expansion Royals, September 30, 1969; Kirkpatrick went 4-for-4 with 2 homers, a triple and 6 RBI.   Hell of a game. 

            The two best games of Kirkpatrick’s career were back-to-back.  September 28, 1969 at Chicago; Kirkpatrick went 4-for-5, a double, two homers.  Day off; game in California on September 30, Kirkpatrick went 4-for-4, a triple, two homers, 6 RBI. 

It is quite remarkable, of course, that a player who played more than 1,000 career games would have the two best games of his career in consecutive games, and I wanted to dwell for a moment on Ed Kirkpatrick, because. . .well, who else is going to talk about Ed Kirkpatrick, if I don’t?  These are the ten best two-game sequences in my data:

1.     Reggie Jackson, June 14 and 15, 1969

2.     Ralph Kiner, June 24 and June 25, 1950

3.     Joe Adcock, July 30-31, 1954

4.     Kirby Puckett, August 28-29, 1987

5.     Ed Kirkpatrick, September 28 and 30, 1969

6.     Ralph Kiner, August 15-16, 1947

7.     Larry Doby, June 25 and 26, 1953

8.     Lou Brock, April 15 and 16, 1967

9.     Willie Stargell, May 21 and 22, 1968

10.  Jimmy Wynn, May 11 and 12, 1974


Seven of those are Hall of Famers, two of the other three really good hitters, and then there is Kirkpatrick.  It is rare that a small data sample—two games—may be taken as evidence of anything, but this may be that rare case.  It is not proof, but it is evidence that, while Kirkpatrick did not have a great career, there was a pretty good player hiding inside there somewhere.

Kirkpatrick, within a few days of the same age as Ed Kranepool, could be put into a group with Kranepool and Rusty Staub.  All of them were born in 1944, and all of them signed as Bonus Babies for the 1961-1962 expansion teams—Kranepool with the Mets, Staub with the Astros, Kirkpatrick with the Angels.  All of them were left-handed hitters, none of them remarkably fast even as young players, and all of them speed-limited by mid-career. 

All of them started their careers long before their 20th birthday, and all of them were in the majors then not because they were Juan Soto, but because they had to be there due to the Bonus Baby Rule and because they were on expansion teams that didn’t have any very good players to push aside.  Although Kirkpatrick did go repeatedly to the minor leagues after that, he blistered minor league pitching at such a ridiculous rate that he would soon be back in the majors.  He hit .354 for San Jose, 19 games, .381 for Quad Cities (45 games), .352 for Hawaii (52 games), .303 for Nashville (47 games), and .291 for Seattle (141 games). 

He struggled in the majors, however.   By the time he was traded to the first-year expansion Royals in 1969 (traded actually late 1968) he was only 24 years old, only 24 all of that 1969 season—but he had been bouncing up and down between majors and minors for seven years.  The Royals gave him somewhat more consistent playing time, the key word being "somewhat", but they didn’t give him an actual job, either; he played 33 games that year in right field, 30 in center, 24 in left, 2 at first base, 2 at second base, 1 at third base and 9 games behind the plate, as a catcher.  In 1970 he was their #1 catcher.  He was OK, but not outstanding.  He never really had solid possession of a job anywhere; he was always bouncing in and out of the lineup, back and forth between positions, trying to convert to catching at the major league level.

It’s textbook illustration of how NOT to help a player reach his potential.  The right way to do it:  Send him to the minor leagues until he is definitively ready to play in the majors, bring him up to the majors to watch and learn for a month or so, give him a few at bats, and, when you are sure he is ready, make a commitment to him.  I still believe that Kirkpatrick, handled properly, placed in right field where he belonged, could probably have been comparable to Staub.  I take the remarkable two-game outburst at the end of the 1969 season to be additional evidence for that proposition. 


            The worst game that any hitter had with 4 plate appearances is actually the worst game in the data for any number of plate appearances.  Charlie (King Kong) Keller faced the White Sox in Yankee Stadium on July 14, 1940; he struck out and grounded into three double plays.  There are four other games in my data in which a player went 0-for-4 and grounded into three double plays (Ralph Kiner, 1946; Bob Skinner, 1963; Orlando Cepeda, 1966; George Scott, 1979), but Keller takes the cake because he struck out in the only at bat in which he didn’t ground into a double play.   Game Score of 1, the lowest I have found so far.  The Yankees still won the game, 4-0, as Red Ruffing pitched a shutout and the Yankees managed to work around Keller’s interference and score single runs in four different innings.

            In an actual majority of the games in which a player does not have exactly 4 plate appearances, he has 5.   There are 52,023 games in my data in which a player had 5 plate appearances.   For the same reason that players do better in games in which they have 4 plate appearances than in games in which they have 3, they do better with 5 than with 4.   It’s not because of the hitter himself; it is because his whole team is hitting better, otherwise they wouldn’t be getting a fifth plate appearance.   Not sure if that was clear.  What I am saying is that it isn’t that getting more plate appearances causes hitters to hit better; it is, rather, that hitting better causes every player in the lineup to get more plate appearances. 

            Players with five plate appearances in a game created 46,731 runs with 160,779 outs, or .291 runs created per out.   In 5-PA games they hit .322 with a .401 on base percentage.   The stolen base percentage of all hitters was .515 in games with 3 plate appearances, .632 in games with 4 plate appearances, and .724 in games with 5 plate appearances.   

            The best game by a player with 5 plate appearances was Joe Adcock’s famous game at Ebbets Field on July 31, 1954, in which Adcock hit 4 homers and a double, scoring five runs and driving in 7.  Adcock’s game is the highest-scoring game in my data, any number of plate appearances.   Adcock has both the best 4-PA game and the best 5-PA game in my data.  Rocky Colavito also had a 4-homer game in 5 at bats.  Adcock’s game scores higher than Colavito’s because Adcock had four homers and a double, whereas Colavito had four homers and a walk, and Adcock drove in 7 runs whereas Colavito drove in 6.

            Roger Maris, Harmon Killebrew and George Scott all had games in which they went 0-for-5, grounded into 2 double plays and struck out twice, tying for the worst games in my data with five plate appearances.  Maris did that in 1966, Killebrew in 1973, Scott in 1976. 

            Reggie never had a notable 5-plate appearance game in regular season, and his famous 3-homer game in the 1977 World Series was also only four plate appearances.   He does not have a game among the top 150 in my list of games with 5 plate appearances.  He did have a pretty notable 5-PA game in the playoffs in 1977, going 3-for-3 with a homer, a double, a single and two walks; still, that scores at only 75.5, which would not place it in the top 1,000 games in my data with 5 PA.  At some point in the future, if I live long enough, I’ll figure out some way to add value to the scores of "important" games, so that World Series performances and pennant-deciding games, for example, would move toward the top of the list. 

            Super-Games mostly occur when a player has 5 plate appearances in a game.   There are 126 Super-Games in my data, of which 16 occur with 4 PA, 65 with 5 PA, 31 with 6 PA, 3 with 7 PA, and one (Jack Clark, 1991) with 8 PA. 

            In my data there are 5,984 games in which a player had six plate appearances.  Those players created a total of 6,358 runs while making 22,241 outs, or .286 runs created per out, a similar level of effectiveness to those with 5 plate appearances per game. 

            I don’t have exact data on this, but 5-PA games are overwhelmingly higher-run games, nine-inning games in which the team had more than 36 plate appearances so that some players got a fifth plate appearance.  6-PA games, on the other hand, are a mix of extremely high-run games, in which the team had more than 45 plate appearances, and extra-inning games, which tend to be low-scoring games.  It’s a mix of very high-scoring games and relatively low-scoring games. 

            Rice and Lynn, the 1975 super-rookies, bracket the 6-PA games for us. . . I don’t know how  many people are old enough to remember that Rice and Lynn came up together and both had tremendous seasons as rookies, leading the Red Sox to the World Series.   Anyway, the best 6-PA game in my file is the Fred Lynn game that I wrote about in writing about the center fielders; June 18, 1975, Lynn hit a single, a triple and three homers, driving in 10 runs.  The worst 6-PA game in my file was by Jim Rice on April 23, 1985 at Yankee Stadium; Rice went 0-for-6 with two strikeouts and two GIDP, the same as the worst 5-PA games but with one extra out.  Other notable 6-PA games:

o   Ralph Kiner, June 25, 1950 at Ebbets Field; hit for the cycle with an extra home run thrown in for good measure, 5-for-6 with 8 RBI.   Kiner had also reached base five times the previous day—a homer, two singles and two walks.


o   Willie Stargell, August 1, 1970 at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta had five extra-base hits, three doubles and two homers, drove in 6 runs and scored 5.



o   Kirby Puckett, August 30, 1987 in Milwaukee; already wrote about that one.


o   40-year-old Reggie Jackson with California against Kansas City, September 18, 1986.   Three homers and two walks, drove in 7 runs.



o   20-year-old Al Kaline, also against Kansas City, April 17, 1955, 4-for-5 with 3 homers and a walk.  That was the best game of Kaline’s career, 14th best game in my data, and it was also the game that made Kaline a star.  He was in the lineup all year as a 19-year-old but just treading water, not doing much.  In 1955 he came out hot, had two hits in each of the first five games, hitting .500 (10-for-20), but no homers, not huge impact; just normal somebody-is-hitting-.500-at-this-point-in-the-season stuff.  In game 6 of the season he had this three-homer Super-Game, lifting his batting average to .560 (14-for-25), and you know how the press is in early season; they are looking for the story lines that will define the season, so they overreact to everything.  Kaline became an overnight sensation. 


o   Darryl Strawberry, August 6, 1987 in Wrigley Field.  Strawberry would have hit for the cycle if he had stopped at first on one of his doubles.   Also had a walk in the game, scored five runs and drove in five. 


            There are 1,064 games in my data in which a player had seven plate appearances.   The best of those was by Reggie in Fenway Park, June 14, 1969; Reggie had a walk, two singles, a double, two homers and drove in 10 runs.  On June 11, 1969, the Oakland A’s (with Reggie) played a 13-inning game in Washington, at RFK Stadium; Reggie had 7 plate appearances and hit a double and two homers and drew 3 walks (3-for-4); that ranks as the third best 7-PA game in my data by Runs Created.   He didn’t do anything in the afternoon game on June 12—well, he had a walk and a stolen base, but nothing much—but then in the first game of the Boston series (Friday the 13th) Reggie hit a homer.  In the second game he had the BEST 7-PA game in my data, as Oakland beat the Red Sox 21 to 7.  In the third game in Boston (June 15) he had a double, a triple and a homer, driving in 4 runs and the A’s won 13-5, completing the series sweep.  Reggie’s Saturday-Sunday performance is the best two-game sequence by any hitter in my data. This is from memory but pretty sure it is right; when he came to bat for the fourth time that day the umpire realized that he was using an illegal bat that had been flattened out slightly on one side to create a larger hitting surface.  After that bat was thrown out of play, Jackson was hit by the pitch.   Reggie never did anything after that bat was discovered.  Joking.   

The second-best 7-PA game, almost equal to the first, was also in Fenway Park, by Bobby Doerr on June 8, 1950.   Doerr hit three homers and drove in 8 runs as the Red Sox pounded the St. Louis Browns 29 to 4.   Walt Dropo also drove in 7 runs in that game, and Ted Williams 5, Williams and Dropo homering twice each.   Johnny Pesky and Al Zarilla, both Red Sox, had 5 hits in that game, and the Red Sox pitcher, Chuck Stobbs, was on base six times with two singles and four walks.  For St. Louis, Cliff Fannin gave up 8 runs, Cuddles Marshall gave up 9, and Sid Schacht gave up 12. 

In my data there are 3 super-games in 7 PA—Jackson, Doerr and Minnie Minoso in Kansas City on April 23, 1955.  That’s a very similar game to the one I was just talking about.   Minoso in that game had a walk, two singles, a double, a home run, reached on an error, stole a base, scored 5 runs and drove in 5 runs.  That was just 6 days after Al Kaline had had his mega-game against the A’s. 

Minoso, though, probably wasn’t the player of the game for the White Sox; Bob Nieman in the same game also had a single and two homers, driving in 7 runs, and Sherm Lollar had a walk, three singles and two homers.   Nieman and Lollar don’t pop up on my super-game list because I haven’t included them in the game logs yet, but anyway.  . . Chicago beat Kansas City 29-6.  Walt Dropo, who had homered twice for Boston in the 29-4 game, also homered for the White Sox in the 29-6 victory, and the White Sox pitcher, Jack Harshman, also had a walk, two singles and a home run.  Harshman was a legitimate hitter; he had hit 37, 40 and 47 homers in different minor league seasons, and had briefly made the majors as a first baseman before switching to the mound.   In his major league career he hit 21 homers in 424 at bats, also had 72 walks.  He was Joey Gallo before Joey Gallo was, Rob Deer before Rob Deer was, but the majors weren’t ready for that in 1948, when he first made the New York Giants.  Actually some of us are not ready for it yet.

Reggie Jackson’s June 11, 1969 game in Washington ranks as the third-best 7-PA game by runs created; Minnie Minoso’s big game in the 29-6 blowout ranks as the third best by Game Score.   Reggie had 2 runs scored and 2 RBI; Minoso had 5 runs scored and 5 RBI, which count in the Game Score but not in Runs Created.  Anyway, back to the A’s. . . they lost the Al Kaline game 16-0 and the Minoso game 29-6.   They had consecutive losses by scores of 10-2, 7-1, 8-3, 16-0 and 11-9, then won a game 8-7, then lost 5-3 and 29-6.  They gave up 93 runs in a stretch of eight games.   Of their top 9 pitchers that season, six were guys who had very good to outstanding careers—Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, Alex Kellner, Vic Raschi, Ray Herbert and Johnny Sain.   Some of them had been good earlier, some of them were good later, some of them were good earlier AND later, but just none of them were good in that particular season. 

The worst 7-PA game also depends on whether you are using Game Score or Runs Created.   Reggie Jackson (July 7, 1986) and John Mayberry (June 6, 1982) both went 0-for-7 with two strikeouts and a double play ball.  Those rank as the worst games by Game Score.    Floyd Robinson in a 16-inning game (August 3, 1963) also went 0-for-7 with one strikeout and two double plays.  One strikeout and two double plays is worse than two strikeouts and one double play, which makes Robinson’s game worse than Jackson’s or Mayberry’s in terms of Runs Created, but Robinson also drove in a run on a 5-4 forceout.  The RBI improves his Game Score, so that the other two games are pushed to the bottom of the list by Game Score.  Robinson beat the throw to first on the 5-4 play.  Had he not done so, he would have been 0-for-7 with no RBI and 3 GIDP.   I have mentioned before that there is no game in my data which has a negative Game Score, a Game Score less than zero, but had Robinson not beaten the throw to first, then he would have had a negative score in that game.  Except, of course, that had he not beaten the throw to first then the run would not have scored, so the game would not have gone 16 innings, so he would not have gone 0-for-7.   Eventually, if I keep loading more players into the data, somebody will put up a Negative Game Score.  Floyd Robinson had also gone 0-for-4 the previous day, which gives him the worst two-game sequence in my data. 

Players with seven PA in a game created 968 runs while making 4,981 outs, or .194 runs created per out.   Players with 7 PA in a game averaged .276 with a .362 on base percentage, .408 slugging.   Per 600 PA they average 15 homers, 70 RBI, 72 runs scored, 79 walks.

There are only 263 games in my data in which a player had 8 plate appearances.   Almost all of those are extra-inning games; in order to reach 8 plate appearances in a 9-inning game, a team would have to have 37 runners reaching base, which has happened but it’s quite a few men on base.  One of those 263 was a Super-Game.  Jack Clark with the Red Sox at the end of his career, July 31, 1991, had a walk, a single, three homers and six RBI in Fenway Park against Oakland (7 4 4 6).   The third of his three homers was a Walk-Off homer in the 14th inning, Boston winning 11-10.  That’s what it takes to get eight plate appearances for your cleanup hitter:  14 innings AND a lot of runs. 

Luis Aparicio on April 6, 1959 made 10 batting and baserunning outs in 8 plate appearances.  He went 0-for-8, grounded into a double play, reached on a forceout and was caught stealing.  That was a remarkable 18-inning game that I mentioned in a tweet a couple of days ago; Billy Pierce pitched 16 innings, and also kept trying to start the offense, but Aparicio kept getting in the way.  Pierce, batting 9th, walked with one out in the 4th, but Aparicio grounded into the double play.  Pierce walked again leading off the 12th, but was forced at second by Aparicio, who then was caught stealing second.  The game went 18 innings mostly because, while Pierce was great, Aparicio led off five different innings with leadoff outs, and messed up two others.

Aparicio’s bad game scores as the 7th worst games in my data.  Intuitively, a game in which a player bats eight times and makes ten outs would seem to be worse than the "worst" game in my data, which is the game in which Charlie Keller grounded into three double plays and struck out.  But when you think about it, you can see that it isn’t.  The difference is between 0-for-4 and taking THREE runners off base, and 0-for-8 and taking TWO runners off base.  The net effect is four plate appearances, but an extra runner on base.  That’s not GOOD performance, but it is better-than-zero level performance—thus, seven outs in four plate appearances is worse than ten outs in eight plate appearances. 

Cecil Cooper (June 14, 1974) struck out six times in eight plate appearances, 0-for-8.  That wasn’t a real good game, either.   Players with 8 PA in a game created 250 runs while making 1,432 outs, or .175 runs created per out.  They averaged .262 with a .355 on base percentage, .386 slugging.   Per 600 PA they averaged 15 homers and 86 walks, but only 62 RBI and only 68 runs scored.


We have only 54 games in which a player had 9 plate appearances.   The best of those was a game (August 9, 1967) in which Frank Howard hit a double, a home run and two singles—a good but unremarkable game by Howard, a more remarkable game in other respects.   Washington (Howard’s team) fell into a 7-0 deficit, and trailed 7-0 with two out in the top of the 7th.  They hit a long series of singles then, cutting the lead to 7-4, and Howard blasted a 3-run homer to make it 7-7.  The game hung at 7-7 until the 20th inning—20th, not a misprint.  Ken McMullen homered leading off the top of the 20th, then Howard doubled and came around to score; Washington won 9-7. 

Reggie had the second-best 9-PA game, September 6, 1969; a home run, a single, a walk, a sacrifice fly, 4 RBI and hit by a pitch.  This is the third separate incident which has popped up in this article of people throwing at Reggie in 1969 after he had hit a home run. 

The worst 9-PA game was by Andre Thornton, April 27, 1984; 0-for-9 with two strikeouts.   Don Mincher on the Ball Four team, the 1969 Pilots, had 9 plate appearances twice in a eight days, July 19 and July 27.  The first game he went 0-for-9, but drove in a run with a ground out.  The second one he went 1-for-9, a meaningless single, and struck out four times.   The first of those games went 18 innings and was actually completed before the regular game on July 20; the second one went 20 innings. Mincher also had 4 hits in a 9-PA game in 1971, so he’s kind of all over this list.  Players with 9 PA in a game hit .241 with a .317 on base percentage, .334 slugging, and created .129 runs per out.

The best game by a player with 10 plate appearances was Toby Harrah, September 14, 1971; three singles, three walks and two stolen bases.  There are only 20 games in this list; the worst was Dolph Camilli, June 27, 1939; a single in ten at bats, but 2 strikeouts and a GIDP.  The 20 players collectively hit .260 with a .360 on base percentage but .329 slugging percentage, and created .160 runs per out.

In the same game in which Colbert Harrah had the best game/10-PA, the ubiquitous Don Mincher had the worst game by a player with 11 PA.  Mincher went 0-for-9 in that one, but did draw two walks.  Mincher also lined into a double play—in the 20th inning, no less—but that doesn’t count against him because it doesn’t count as a double play ball.  That was the second game of a double-header.  Washington (Mincher and Harrah’s team) lost the first one 3-1 to a pitcher named Vince Colbert; you can’t make this stuff up.   Mincher homered for the only Washington run in that one.  The second game went 20 innings, Washington finally winning, 8 to 5.

There are only eight batter games in my data in which a player had 11 plate appearances, but there is a conflict between runs created and Game Score as to who had the best game.   Rocky Colavito (June 24, 1962) had seven hits in a game—against the Yankees, no less, the perennial Worlds Champions.  The Yankees still won the game, 9 to 7 in 22 innings.  One of the hits was a triple; Colavito created 5.03 runs in the game, which was hard to do because his team scored only 7 runs.   It’s right, though; Colavito was 7-for-10 with a walk and a triple, but his teammates were 12-for-72 (.167) with only two other extra base hits.  Several of his teammates had negative Runs Created in the game.  By Game Score, however, Colavito’s game is less impressive than Earl Averill’s on July 10, 1932; Averill had two walks, four singles and a homer, only 4.00 runs created, but whereas Rocky had only one run scored and one RBI, Averill had three runs scored and 4 RBI. 

In the 8 games in which a player had 11 plate appearances, those players created an average of 1.59 runs, while making an average of 6.88 outs, or .231 runs created per out.  

Thanks for reading, everybody.  Very surprised at how seldom Willie McCovey is mentioned in this article—just once until now.  His Game Log is in there, and I remember Willie as a guy who would have monster games, but. . . .well, whatever.   You’d think he would show up here like Reggie does, or Joe Adcock or Don Mincher or Toby Harrah or Ralph Kiner or Rocky Colavito or Walt Dropo.  But he had only three Super-Games in his career, whereas Willie Stargell, probably the most comparable hitter, hit eight, Ralph Kiner had eight, Earl Averill had six, Jim Rice had six, Orlando Cepeda had four, Al Oliver had four, Hank Sauer had four, and Rocky Colavito, Larry Doby, Bobby Doerr, Bob Elliott, Fred Lynn, John Mayberry, Dave Parker, Daryl Strawberry and Bill White had as many as McCovey, who was a greater hitter.  McCovey’s best game (September 22, 1963) is the 37th best individual game in my data. 

And Roberto Clemente.  Clemente’s Game Log is in the data, and he had three super-games as well, but he hasn’t been mentioned here at all, until now.  But that’s less surprising, because high average hitters are guys who contribute something to the offense more games than not, rather than players like Reggie who have monster games twice a month but then don’t make an impact in a good many contests.  Clemente’s best game was May 15, 1967—a double, three homers and 7 RBI.   The Pirates lost the game, 8 to 7. 



COMMENTS (24 Comments, most recent shown first)

Yes, that Shamsky game is one of the most absurd games in baseball history. As klamb says, his Win Expectancy increase was 150.3%; calls that Win Probability Added, WPA.

And that is the highest WPA for any game between 1908 and 2019. Which is unfortunate, because WPA measures how much a player helps his team win, AND HIS TEAM LOST.

On the all-time list, the next 12 best games were all wins, before we get to Harry Craft on 17 April 1941. Then another 12 winners before the next loser.

After Shamsky, the next best (winning) WPA was 1.448 by Brandon Crawford on 8 August 2016, then 1.447 by Kiki Cuyler on 31 August 1932.

The best WPA in any postseason game was 0.964 by David Freese, just 2 for 5 but with a triple and a home run, in game 6 of the 2011 World Series.
4:31 PM Nov 14th
Even Bill's summary undersold the details of Art Shamsky's extraordinary game for the Reds on Aug. 12, 1966, against Pittsburgh. Shamsky's three home runs flipped the lead once and tied the score twice, increasing the Reds' Win Expectancy by a total of 150.3%, and hanging blown saves on two Pirates pitchers. (I was 14 and stayed up well past midnight listening on my transistor radio.)

After sitting out the first seven innings against lefthanded starting pitcher Bob Veale, this is what Shamsky did....
... Top of 8th: Entered game in double switch, batting 9th (3rd in the next inning).
... Bottom of 8th: Trailing 7-6, one out, runner on first (vs. Al McBean) — Two-run home run flips lead to Reds, 8-7 (+54% Win Expectancy; blown save).
... Bottom of 10th: Trailing 9-8, one out, none on (vs. RHP Elroy Face) — Solo home run ties score, 9-9 (+47% Win Expectancy).
... Bottom of 11th: Trailing 11-9, two out, runner on first (vs. new LHP* Billy O'Dell) — Two-run home run ties score, 11-11 (+49% Win Expectancy; blown save).
... Bottom of 13th: Did not bat. Was in the hole when Leo Cardenas batted, trailing 14-11 with one out and Chico Ruiz on first. Cardenas's GIDP ended Pirates' 14-11 victory.
* Only 18 of Shamsky's 271 plate appearances in 1966 were against lefthanded pitchers. He walked seven times and bunted twice for successful sacrifices, and in his 11 at bats, he hit one single and two home runs. The other home run was 29 days earlier in a rare start against a lefty, the Cardinals' Larry Jaster in the first game of a Thursday night doubleheader. In his career, Shamsky would make only 6.8% of nearly 2,000 plate appearances against lefthanded pitchers, never more than 38 in a season.

EPILOGUE: In all of 1967, Shamsky matched his 08/12/1966 output of 3 home runs in 164 plate appearances, 147 at bats, at age 25. That was also the year that Pete Rose became an outfielder, joining Tommy Harper and Vada Pinson, and making Shamsky's lefthanded platoon bat extraneous. The Reds traded him to the Mets that offseason for 32-year-old backup infielder Bob Johnson, who batted 18 times before the Reds dealt him in a big trade with Atlanta. Four days before the June 15, 1968 trade deadline, the Reds packaged him with Milt Pappas and Ted Davidson (who had a 6.23 ERA after missing most of the '67 season because his estranged wife had shot him three times in the chest and abdomen after confronting him in a bar). In return, the Braves sent Cincinnati reliever Clay Carroll, starter Tony Cloninger and shortstop Woody Woodward. The two pitchers would help the 1970 Reds win 102 games and the NLCS, and Woodward in 1969 became one of five regular shortstops for the Reds from 1952 through 2004. The four others, who covered 52 of those 53 seasons, were Roy McMillan, Leo Cardenas, Davey Concepcion and Barry Larkin. In the 15 seasons since then, the Reds have had 9 different primary shortstops.

Speaking of Pappas: Shamsky had that great 1966 game in the context of a gloomy year for Reds fans, our first after Frank Robinson was traded away. Shamsky was a rare bright spot, hitting 21 home runs in 234 at bats and looking like the best bet to fill the power vacuum Robinson left behind. Fans wondered why he didn't play more often. Four promising players made 150 starts that year, 63 by Shamsky. The others all had disappointing years, with a total of 8 home runs and a combined OPS+ of 85, to Shamsky's 121. They were two other 24-year-olds and Dick Simpson, 22, who never really had a chance with the Reds after arriving in the Robinson trade.
... (In case that did not create sufficient pressure, the team incredibly gave Simpson the uniform number 20 that had been Robinson's. Nine different Reds wore #20 — in 29 of the 32 seasons after Robinson's departure — before the Reds finally retired it. No Oriole wore #20 after Robinson.)
... One of the other 24-year-olds was Mel Queen, a strong-armed rightfielder who hit so poorly in 1966 that he became a pitcher in 1967, starting 24 games and earning 5.0 WAR before his arm blew up. The other disappointing 24-year-old, who pushed cleanup hitter Deron Johnson into the outfield when he played, was Tony Perez.
5:28 PM Nov 9th

4-4, 3 HR + 1 Single, 5 RBI and 3 R. 4 PA.

I've never really cared about offensive Game Scores, so I have no idea if that gets over 100 or how far it falls short.
4:55 PM Nov 6th
In addition to Adcock and Colavito, Willie Mays had four home runs (and a fly out) in 5 AB on April 30, 1961, against the Braves. I'm guessing that might rank third behind those two for five AB?

Interesting that neither Mickey Mantle nor Ted Williams made the article. In the first game of a doubleheader against the Indians on July 14, 1946, Williams went 4-5 with three home runs and a single, including a game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. Lou Boudreau hit four doubles and a homer in the same game. In the second game Williams led off the second inning with a double, and in his next at bat, Boudreau introduced the Williams shift. I don't have any memory of Mantle ever hitting 3 homers in a game, but he may have.

I remember Reggie's big 1969 Fenway weekend well.

David Kaiser
10:44 AM Nov 6th
Anthony Rendon had pretty good 6 PA game on April 30, 2017. He had three home runs, a double (which narrowly missed going out of the park), two singles, 10 RBIs, and 5 runs scored.
9:29 PM Nov 5th
From what I can tell, the current "file" isn't any complete thing, and Bill doesn't indicate exactly what it is. All I see is:
" the moment I have 198,587 batter game lines in my file, representing the full careers of 109 players."
(i.e. JUST 109 PLAYERS)
3:29 PM Nov 5th
Steven Goldleaf
I don't get why it's not in your database. Time period seems right. Did I miss some exclusions or restrictions on games not under study?

Didn't seem that unusual to me that his team lost, given the Clemente and Colavito games you mentioned. The odd thing really was that he had only 3 plate appearances while having a terrific game, and his team lost. I suppose that games where has a great day and also has a LOT of PA, his team losing is common enough since those games tend to be extra-inningers and/or slugfests where any weird thing can happen. An extra-inning game almost by definition is a tossup.
9:47 AM Nov 5th
Steven Goldleaf
I don't get why it's not in your database. Time period seems right. Did I miss some exclusions or restrictions on games not under study?
9:39 AM Nov 5th
The Art Shamsky game, if it was in my data, would be the #1 3-PA game in my data, the only game in which a player homered three times in 3 PA. But there is something REALLY remarkable about that game that you guys haven't mentioned.

Shamsky entered in the game in the 7th and homered in the 8th, 10th and 11th innings, driving in 5 runs, AND HIS TEAM STILL LOST.
9:05 AM Nov 5th
Steven Goldleaf
Yes, August 14, 1966

3 plate appearances, 3 HR, 3 runs scored, 5 RBI. Not too shabby. Crazy game, tied up twice in extra innings. You can win money on a bar bet by knowing that Shamsky didn't even enter the game as a pinch-hitter, but rather as a defensive replacement on a doubleswitch.

4:18 AM Nov 5th
Steven Goldleaf
That game, AJD600, came when Shamsky was a Red, not a Met. I think 1966.
4:09 AM Nov 5th
I seem to remember a Mets game wherein Art Shamsky hit a pinch homer late (9th inning?). The game went to extra innings and he homered 2 more times in 2 ABs. I wonder where that game ranks.
9:34 PM Nov 4th
Thank you Bill. I was a kid and lived in the Philippines at the time, but always liked looking at the box score of that game.
5:58 PM Nov 4th
Responding to wdr. . ..yes, you did make a mistake.
5:04 PM Nov 4th
Killebrew is in the data. The Oakland game that Bear described is the #2 game with three plate appearances.
5:02 PM Nov 4th
Wot no Babe Ruth? Surely some mistake b
4:23 PM Nov 4th
Steven Goldleaf
Good catch, TJ. Because Wynn had it in NY, I assumed he was with the Yankees, which he was, around then if not actually in 1977, but he had it instead against the Mets 10 years earlier.
3:34 PM Nov 4th
Good stuff. The Jimmy Wynn 3-PA game, by the way, was from 1967, not 1977. Wynn hit only one homer in all of 1977.
3:26 PM Nov 4th
Harmon Killebrew had a big three appearance game in 1969 at the Oakland Coliseum. In the first he hit a three run homer with one out to give the Twins the lead. The A's tied in the bottom of the first. In the second there were two outs with the bases loaded and the Twins had a one run lead in the second. Killebrew hit a grand slam homer to make the score 8-3. In the fourth Killebrew walked with no one out to load the bases. The Twins scored 4 runs in the inning but Killebrew was thrown out at the plate prevented from scoring a third run. Killebrew was replaced in the bottom of the fourth to improve the defense and probably rest him.
2:59 PM Nov 4th
Thanks Bill! These are fabulous trips into the past; some of them I remember. I have a vivid memory of that 1962 game in which Colavito had 7 hits. Jack Reed, Mantle's caddy, homered in the 22nd inning to win.

1:41 PM Nov 4th
Which park would have had the most of these, monster games?

I gotta think fenway, total number of and percentage wise both.

12:34 PM Nov 4th
(Yes, and Joe Torre too; also a guy named Mike Kreevich, which I hadn't known but saw when I looked it up to confirm that Goslin did.
Torre, I knew about -- a somewhat famed thing in Metdom.)
11:56 AM Nov 4th
Interesting article …. pitchers sure seemed to go after REGGIE! a lot. Reminds me of the story: Press asked Catfish Hunter if he had tried a REGGIE! candy bar. Catfish said "No, but I heard that if you open the bar it will tell how good it is" ….. also, didn't Goose Goslin have a game where he hit into 4 double plays? Its mentioned in "The Glory of Their Times", I'll have to look it up when I have time …..
11:47 AM Nov 4th

We happened to look at that last-mentioned Colavito game recently on Reader Posts.
The subject was great-performances-during-extra-innings.
In that game, his team never scored during the 13 extra innings despite Colavito constantly doing something when he came up, including a leadoff triple. Although I didn't recognize the game when we started talking about it, I actually saw it all -- a pretty famous Yankee game at the time, Jack Reed winning it with a HR in the 22nd inning.
11:26 AM Nov 4th
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