BILL JAMES ONLINE

The Doubles Record

November 10, 2020
                                         The Doubles Record

 

            Tris Speaker has held the career record for doubles for 95 years, or since 1925.  Before Speaker the career record for doubles was 657, by Nap Lajoie.  At the end of the 1920 season Ty Cobb was ahead of Tris Speaker, 460 to 445.  Cobb was a year and a half older than Speaker.   In 1921 Speaker hit 52 doubles, moving into a tie with Ty Cobb for fifth on the all-time list, behind Lajoie, Wagner, Anson and Delahanty.  Speaker hit 48 doubles in 1922, moving into third place (as Cobb moved into fourth).   He added 59 two-baggers in 1923 and 36 in 1924, putting him in a tie with Honus Wagner for second, and claimed the record in 1925.  Ty Cobb also passed Lajoie in 1926, putting Speaker in first all time, Cobb in second.  They stayed One and Two until Rose passed Cobb in the 1980s. 

            Some time ago—ten years ago, maybe 12—I speculated that doubles were now common enough that within 20 years or so, some player might break this ancient record.   I had a question in "Hey, Bill" two or three months ago as to whether I still thought this was true; I’m sorry, I don’t remember who asked the question.  Anyway, I said that before I could study that I would have to update the data file that I use to study questions of that nature, which I would do after the season ended.  

            I am working on updating that file, not done with that yet, but I have now reached the point of that process at which I can address this issue. 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

In the 2021 Bill James Handbook, I reviewed the process by which I estimate each player’s chance of getting 3,000 career hits and reaching similar career goals—the method that I used to call The Favorite Toy, although the people who run the data now call it something else.   I reached the conclusion that, with regard to 3,000 hits, the method works fantastically well—so well that you absolutely could not improve upon it, given the inherent limitations of the data.   If that system says that a player has a 57% chance to get 3,000 career hits, you’ll lose money betting 56 or 58.

But the process does not work as well for Home Runs; it slightly over-estimates a player’s chance to hit 750 or more home runs.  Studying the issue a little more, I concluded that the reason for this was that the ratio of Home Runs to Hits decreases as a player ages—thus, a system that makes good guesses about hits runs a little bit high with respect to Home Runs.  I adjusted the Home Run part of the process to reflect this. 

But what about doubles?  Do I also need to make a parallel change with respect to doubles?

The short answer is "No, I don’t."  A player’s ratio of doubles to hits also declines, eventually, but on an entirely different scale.  A player will have as many doubles as a percentage of hits after age 36 as he does up to age 36; his doubles as a percentage of hits don’t decline until he is 38, on average.   But he will hit 7% fewer home runs (as a percentage of hits) after age 36, because his home runs as a percentage of hits start declining at age 33.   I’ll report those studies at the end of the article.   For now, I want to stick to the issue of the record being broken. 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

OK, so each player has an "Established Doubles Level" after every season.  That’s step one of The Favorite Toy, or whatever they call it now.   The formula for the Established Doubles Level after an ordinary season is:

1 times the number of doubles hit 2 years ago,

Plus 2 times the number of doubles hit last year,

Plus 3 times the number of doubles hit this year,

All divided by six. 

 

For the strike-shortened 1981 and 1994 seasons, we modify the method.   Here again, post-2020, we have to modify the method, which we do by dividing the total not by six, but by 4.11.   That puts the doubles/games ratio back in the right ratio.  The highest established doubles level in history was by Joe Medwick post-1937.   Medwick hit 46 doubles in 1935, 64 in 1936, and 56 in 1937 (when he also won the Triple Crown), giving him an established doubles level of 57.0.   The highest level of the last 80 years was 53.1, by Todd Helton after the 2001 season; he had hit 39-59-54 over a three-season span. 

These are the highest established doubles levels in the major leagues each year since 1931:

 

First

Last

Team

YEAR

EDL

Earl

Webb

Red Sox

1931

44.7

Babe

Herman

Dodgers

1931

44.5

Heinie

Manush

Senators

1931

44.3

 

 

 

 

 

Paul

Waner

Pirates

1932

48.0

Chuck

Klein

Phillies

1932

46.2

Dick

Bartell

Phillies

1932

43.7

 

 

 

 

 

Paul

Waner

Pirates

1933

45.5

Chuck

Klein

Phillies

1933

44.3

Joe

Cronin

Senators

1933

44.2

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie

Gehringer

Tigers

1934

46.3

Earl

Averill

Indians

1934

43.2

Hank

Greenberg

Tigers

1934

42.5

 

 

 

 

 

Hank

Greenberg

Tigers

1935

49.5

Joe

Medwick

Cardinals

1935

43.0

Billy

Herman

Cubs

1935

41.3

 

 

 

 

 

Joe

Medwick

Cardinals

1936

54.0

Billy

Herman

Cubs

1936

51.0

Charlie

Gehringer

Tigers

1936

49.0

 

 

 

 

 

Joe

Medwick

Cardinals

1937

57.0

Billy

Herman

Cubs

1937

46.0

Charlie

Gehringer

Tigers

1937

45.3

 

 

 

 

 

Joe

Medwick

Cardinals

1938

52.8

Joe

Cronin

Red Sox

1938

42.5

Beau

Bell

Browns

1938

41.2

 

 

 

 

 

Joe

Medwick

Cardinals

1939

49.0

Red

Rolfe

Yankees

1939

40.7

Joe

Cronin

Red Sox

1939

40.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me break in here with a little bit of explanation.   History shows that if the ratio between the league-leading numbers in an area and the all-time record is less than 15-1, then that record is doomed.  It WILL be broken.   In the mid-1980s, for instance, the all-time record for stolen bases was 938—but the leading base stealers were stealing 100 bases a year.  That’s a ratio of 9 to 1.   There is no way in hell that that record could stand, with a 9 to 1 ratio, because the best players in every generation sustain their ability for (the equivalent of) 17 or 18 league-leading seasons.   If the league leader in hits each year is about 200, then somebody in that generation will get 3400, 3500 hits.  A ratio less than 15 to 1 basically indicates a record that WILL be broken, if those levels persist over time. 

If the ratio is in the range of 15-1 up to about 18-1, then the record is relatively vulnerable.   If the ratio is 18-1 to 21-1, it is relatively safe.   If the ratio is higher than 21-1, then the record is absolutely safe.  The record cannot be broken as long as the league-leading numbers stay in that range, although there is a counter-example or two in history.  

For doubles, the record is 792 or 793, depending on who you believe; let’s say it is 792.   Divide that by 15; you get 52.8.  That means that, if the league-leading numbers are 53 or higher, as a regular thing, somebody will break the record.    Divide by 18, it is 44.  If the league-leading numbers of doubles are typically 44 to 53, the record is relatively vulnerable.   If the league-leading numbers of doubles are 38 to 44, the record is relatively safe.   And if the league-leading numbers are 38 or less, then the record is absolutely safe. 

We can see then that in the mid-1930s, when players like Medwick, Greenberg, Gehringer and Billy Herman were hitting 57 to 62 doubles in a good year, Speaker’s record was quite vulnerable.  If those levels had been sustained over time, somebody would have broken the record. 

Medwick faded quickly, however, and after 1940 the highest Established Doubles Levels dropped sharply:

 

First

Last

Team

YEAR

EDL

Hank

Greenberg

Tigers

1940

42.8

Frank

McCormick

Reds

1940

42.3

George

McQuinn

Browns

1940

38.8

 

 

 

 

 

Lou

Boudreau

Indians

1941

40.3

Ted

Williams

Red Sox

1941

38.2

Johnny

Mize

Cardinals

1941

37.2

 

 

 

 

 

Dom

DiMaggio

Red Sox

1942

35.7

Harlond

Clift

Browns

1942

35.3

Stan

Hack

Cubs

1942

35.3

 

 

 

 

 

Billy

Herman

Dodgers

1943

36.8

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1943

35.3

Joe

Medwick

Dodgers/Giants

1943

32.8

 

 

 

 

 

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1944

46.8

Ken

Keltner

Indians

1944

36.5

Lou

Boudreau

Indians

1944

36.2

 

 

 

 

 

Tommy

Holmes

Braves

1945

43.0

Dixie

Walker

Dodgers

1945

38.7

Augie

Galan

Dodgers

1945

36.7

 

 

 

 

 

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1946

50.0

Mickey

Vernon

Senators

1946

40.8

Tommy

Holmes

Braves

1946

40.2

 

 

 

 

 

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1947

40.2

Ted

Williams

Red Sox

1947

38.0

Lou

Boudreau

Indians

1947

36.5

 

 

 

 

 

Ted

Williams

Red Sox

1948

41.5

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1948

41.3

Lou

Boudreau

Indians

1948

37.0

 

 

 

 

 

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1949

40.8

Ted

Williams

Red Sox

1949

40.8

Del

Ennis

Phillies

1949

37.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Medwick era the highest Established Doubles Levels were in the 50s.  By 1942 the highest Established Doubles Level on the chart was 35.7, by Joe DiMaggio’s little brother.   That made Speaker’s record safe—and the fact that most of the best hitters of that era lost several prime seasons to World War II made it extra-safe.  The only player from that era who could conceivably have threatened Speaker’s record was Musial.    Musial continued to be the leading doubles hitter in the majors through most of the 1950s, but with numbers dropping off enough that he would fall about 10% short of matching Speaker:

 

First

Last

Team

YEAR

EDL

George

Kell

Tigers

1950

44.7

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1950

41.8

Jackie

Robinson

Dodgers

1950

38.5

 

 

 

 

 

George

Kell

Tigers

1951

43.0

Al

Dark

Giants

1951

36.3

Jackie

Robinson

Dodgers

1951

35.8

 

 

 

 

 

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1952

37.8

Red

Schoendienst

Cardinals

1952

37.8

Ferris

Fain

Athletics

1952

35.7

 

 

 

 

 

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1953

45.5

Mickey

Vernon

Senators

1953

37.5

Al

Dark

Giants

1953

37.0

 

 

 

 

 

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1954

45.2

Red

Schoendienst

Cardinals

1954

37.3

Duke

Snider

Dodgers

1954

36.3

 

 

 

 

 

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1955

37.5

Duke

Snider

Dodgers

1955

36.3

Harvey

Kuenn

Tigers

1955

33.8

 

 

 

 

 

Duke

Snider

Dodgers

1956

34.3

Hank

Aaron

Braves

1956

33.8

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1956

33.3

 

 

 

 

 

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1957

35.0

Minnie

Minoso

White Sox

1957

32.0

Harvey

Kuenn

Tigers

1957

32.0

 

 

 

1957

 

Stan

Musial

Cardinals

1958

35.7

Harvey

Kuenn

Tigers

1958

34.8

Al

Kaline

Tigers

1958

32.0

 

 

 

 

 

Harvey

Kuenn

Tigers

1959

39.0

Hank

Aaron

Braves

1959

38.8

Willie

Mays

Giants

1959

36.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will note that there are a relatively few parks which account for most of the leaders—Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, Fenway Park in Boston.  Hitting doubles is park-sensitive.  Anyway, in this era the numbers of doubles being hit by the leading doublers was so low that Speaker’s record was absolutely or near-absolutely untouchable.  Putting Ted Williams in uniform again helped keep it that way.   The 1960s:

 

First

Last

Team

YEAR

EDL

Orlando

Cepeda

Giants

1960

36.0

Vada

Pinson

Reds

1960

35.3

Willie

Mays

Giants

1960

34.3

 

 

 

 

 

Vada

Pinson

Reds

1961

37.2

Hank

Aaron

Braves

1961

33.8

Al

Kaline

Tigers

1961

33.3

 

 

 

 

 

Frank

Robinson

Reds

1962

41.7

Willie

Mays

Giants

1962

33.5

Vada

Pinson

Reds

1962

33.0

 

 

 

 

 

Carl

Yastrzemski

Red Sox

1963

39.5

Dick

Groat

Cardinals

1963

37.0

Vada

Pinson

Reds

1963

34.5

 

 

 

 

 

Dick

Groat

Cardinals

1964

37.5

Billy

Williams

Cubs

1964

35.2

Carl

Yastrzemski

Red Sox

1964

35.0

 

 

 

 

 

Carl

Yastrzemski

Red Sox

1965

38.8

Zoilo

Versalles

Twins

1965

38.7

Billy

Williams

Cubs

1965

38.5

 

 

 

 

 

Carl

Yastrzemski

Red Sox

1966

39.3

Tony

Oliva

Twins

1966

36.5

Frank

Robinson

Orioles

1966

34.3

 

 

 

 

 

Carl

Yastrzemski

Red Sox

1967

36.0

Rusty

Staub

Astros

1967

34.7

Pete

Rose

Reds

1967

34.5

 

 

 

 

 

Pete

Rose

Reds

1968

38.0

Rusty

Staub

Astros

1968

37.8

Lou

Brock

Cardinals

1968

37.7

 

 

 

 

 

Lou

Brock

Cardinals

1969

37.2

Pete

Rose

Reds

1969

35.8

Matty

Alou

Pirates

1969

33.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Robinson in 1962 hit 51 doubles, making him the only player from the 1960s to get his established doubles level over 40.    After 1972, with artificial turf parks, the numbers started to creep up:

 

First

Last

Team

YEAR

EDL

Pete

Rose

Reds

1970

36.5

Tony

Oliva

Twins

1970

35.0

Wes

Parker

Dodgers

1970

34.8

 

 

 

 

 

Lou

Brock

Cardinals

1971

33.7

Tony

Oliva

Twins

1971

33.5

Bobby

Bonds

Giants

1971

32.2

 

 

 

 

 

Cesar

Cedeno

Astros

1972

36.3

Billy

Williams

Cubs

1972

31.7

Bobby

Bonds

Giants

1972

31.2

 

 

 

 

 

Cesar

Cedeno

Astros

1973

37.2

Ted

Simmons

Cardinals

1973

35.3

Willie

Stargell

Pirates

1973

35.2

 

 

 

 

 

Pete

Rose

Reds

1974

39.7

Willie

Stargell

Pirates

1974

37.5

Al

Oliver

Pirates

1974

36.2

 

 

 

 

 

Pete

Rose

Reds

1975

44.5

Al

Oliver

Pirates

1975

38.5

Willie

Stargell

Pirates

1975

35.5

 

 

 

 

 

Pete

Rose

Reds

1976

44.2

Steve

Garvey

Dodgers

1976

36.5

Hal

McRae

Royals

1976

35.7

 

 

 

 

 

Hal

McRae

Royals

1977

44.7

Pete

Rose

Reds

1977

40.8

Dave

Parker

Pirates

1977

37.2

 

 

 

 

 

Pete

Rose

Reds

1978

45.2

Hal

McRae

Royals

1978

43.2

George

Brett

Royals

1978

38.8

 

 

 

 

 

Pete

Rose

Reds

1979

43.3

Keith

Hernandez

Cardinals

1979

41.5

George

Brett

Royals

1979

41.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of the decade the leading doublers were hitting 40 a year, which is enough to take the "absolute" off of the "absolutely safe" designation.  The doubles record was still relatively safe.   Pete Rose, from that era, got closer to Speaker than anyone else has.  The numbers stayed in that range through the 1980s, with Boggs and Mattingly being the notable names:

 

First

Last

Team

YEAR

EDL

Pete

Rose

Phillies

1980

42.8

Keith

Hernandez

Cardinals

1980

40.8

George

Brett

Royals

1980

38.0

 

 

 

 

 

Bill

Buckner

 

1981

44.2

Cecil

Cooper

Brewers

1981

43.0

Keith

Hernandez

Cardinals

1981

41.4

 

 

 

 

 

Al

Oliver

Expos

1982

38.3

Hal

McRae

Royals

1982

37.2

Robin

Yount

Brewers

1982

36.2

 

 

 

 

 

Hal

McRae

Royals

1983

39.7

Robin

Yount

Brewers

1983

38.8

Al

Oliver

Expos

1983

38.2

 

 

 

 

 

Cal

Ripken

Orioles

1984

39.5

Johnny

Ray

Pirates

1984

36.7

Robin

Yount

Brewers

1984

35.2

 

 

 

 

 

Don

Mattingly

Yankees

1985

41.2

Wade

Boggs

Red Sox

1985

38.7

Bill

Buckner

 

1985

36.3

 

 

 

 

 

Don

Mattingly

Yankees

1986

49.8

Wade

Boggs

Red Sox

1986

42.7

Bill

Buckner

Red Sox

1986

38.3

 

 

 

 

 

Don

Mattingly

Yankees

1987

44.7

Wade

Boggs

Red Sox

1987

42.7

Von

Hayes

Phillies

1987

38.3

 

 

 

 

 

Wade

Boggs

Red Sox

1988

43.7

Don

Mattingly

Yankees

1988

40.0

Kirby

Puckett

Twins

1988

37.8

 

 

 

 

 

Wade

Boggs

Red Sox

1989

47.2

Kirby

Puckett

Twins

1989

41.8

Tim

Wallach

Expos

1989

38.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mattingly hit 44-48-53 doubles in a three-year span, giving in an established level of 49.8.   That’s in range.  If he had been able to stay healthy, Mattingly probably would have hit 700 or more doubles.   Most of the numbers from the decade were still not in range.   

In 1999 Craig Biggio became the first player since Stan Musial to have an Established Doubles level of 50:

 

First

Last

Team

YEAR

EDL

Wade

Boggs

Red Sox

1990

46.5

Kirby

Puckett

Twins

1990

42.0

Jody

Reed

Red Sox

1990

40.3

 

 

 

 

 

Wade

Boggs

Red Sox

1991

44.2

Jody

Reed

Red Sox

1991

43.0

Bobby

Bonilla

Pirates

1991

41.2

 

 

 

 

 

Edgar

Martinez

Mariners

1992

39.2

George

Brett

Royals

1992

38.3

Ken Jr.

Griffey

Mariners

1992

38.2

 

 

 

 

 

John

Olerud

Blue Jays

1993

41.3

Ken Jr.

Griffey

Mariners

1993

39.0

Frank

Thomas

White Sox

1993

38.5

 

 

 

 

 

Craig

Biggio

Astros

1994

49.2

John

Olerud

Blue Jays

1994

44.6

Frank

Thomas

White Sox

1994

44.0

 

 

 

 

 

Albert

Belle

Indians

1995

46.2

Mark

Grace

Cubs

1995

42.0

Dante

Bichette

Rockies

1995

39.3

 

 

 

 

 

Edgar

Martinez

Mariners

1996

47.2

Albert

Belle

Indians

1996

42.2

Mark

Grace

Cubs

1996

40.3

 

 

 

 

 

Albert

Belle

White Sox

1997

43.8

Edgar

Martinez

Mariners

1997

43.5

Jeff

Cirillo

Brewers

1997

41.5

 

 

 

 

 

Albert

Belle

White Sox

1998

45.3

Edgar

Martinez

Mariners

1998

43.8

John

Valentin

Red Sox

1998

42.5

 

 

 

 

 

Craig

Biggio

Astros

1999

51.2

Albert

Belle

Orioles

1999

41.5

Carlos

Delgado

Blue Jays

1999

40.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biggio had the only serious injury of his career in 2000, an injury which probably cost him 60 to 70 doubles, as it took several years for Biggio to get completely back where he was.   He missed Speaker’s record by 124, so he wasn’t quite there even without the injury.  Biggio had very high numbers, but he was way ahead of anybody else at that time.   One player reaching that level is a lot different than 10 players reaching that level over a period of five years. 

By the year 2000, Coors Field and Camden Yards were part of the game, and for the first half of the decade players were using steroids:

 

First

Last

Team

YEAR

EDL

Todd

Helton

Rockies

2000

48.7

Carlos

Delgado

Blue Jays

2000

48.7

Nomar

Garciaparra

Red Sox

2000

45.7

 

 

 

 

 

Todd

Helton

Rockies

2001

53.2

Jeff

Kent

Giants

2001

44.8

Bobby

Abreu

Phillies

2001

43.8

 

 

 

 

 

Bobby

Abreu

Phillies

2002

48.0

Garret

Anderson

Angels

2002

47.7

Todd

Helton

Rockies

2002

47.3

 

 

 

 

 

Garret

Anderson

Angels

2003

49.7

Albert

Pujols

Cardinals

2003

46.7

Todd

Helton

Rockies

2003

46.5

 

 

 

 

 

Albert

Pujols

Cardinals

2004

49.2

Todd

Helton

Rockies

2004

47.3

Craig

Biggio

Astros

2004

44.2

 

 

 

 

 

Todd

Helton

Rockies

2005

47.0

Miguel

Tejada

Orioles

2005

45.3

Albert

Pujols

Cardinals

2005

44.5

 

 

 

 

 

Michael

Young

Rangers

2006

44.8

Miguel

Cabrera

Marlins

2006

44.5

Lyle

Overbay

Blue Jays

2006

43.2

 

 

 

 

 

Matt

Holliday

Rockies

2007

44.0

Chase

Utley

Phillies

2007

43.8

Freddy

Sanchez

Pirates

2007

43.0

 

 

 

 

 

Brian

Roberts

Orioles

2008

45.2

Alex

Rios

Blue Jays

2008

43.3

Chase

Utley

Phillies

2008

43.2

 

 

 

 

 

Brian

Roberts

Orioles

2009

52.0

Dustin

Pedroia

Red Sox

2009

48.5

Nick

Markakis

Orioles

2009

45.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was about the point, about ten years ago, at which I thought that the numbers were getting high enough that somebody had a chance to make a run at Tris Speaker.  It hasn’t really happened yet. 

 

First

Last

Team

YEAR

EDL

Nick

Markakis

Orioles

2010

45.5

Billy

Butler

Royals

2010

43.2

Evan

Longoria

Rays

2010

42.8

 

 

 

 

 

Billy

Butler

Royals

2011

45.5

Miguel

Cabrera

Tigers

2011

44.7

Robinson

Cano

Yankees

2011

44.7

 

 

 

 

 

Robinson

Cano

Yankees

2012

46.2

Adrian

Gonzalez

Red Sox

2012

44.0

Miguel

Cabrera

Tigers

2012

43.5

 

 

 

 

 

Robinson

Cano

Yankees

2013

44.2

Dustin

Pedroia

Red Sox

2013

40.2

Adrian

Gonzalez

Dodgers

2013

39.2

 

 

 

 

 

Miguel

Cabrera

Tigers

2014

41.3

Robinson

Cano

Mariners

2014

40.2

Jose

Altuve

Astros

2014

39.5

 

 

 

 

 

Matt

Carpenter

Cardinals

2015

42.2

Michael

Brantley

Indians

2015

41.8

Jose

Altuve

Astros

2015

40.8

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel

Murphy

Nationals

2016

42.3

Jose

Altuve

Astros

2016

42.2

David

Ortiz

Red Sox

2016

40.8

 

 

 

 

 

Jose

Ramirez

Indians

2017

45.7

Mookie

Betts

Red Sox

2017

44.0

Daniel

Murphy

Nationals

2017

43.5

 

 

 

 

 

Mookie

Betts

Red Sox

2018

45.8

Jose

Ramirez

Indians

2018

45.3

Anthony

Rendon

Nationals

2018

42.0

 

 

 

 

 

Nick

Castellanos

Cubs

2019

50.3

Xander

Bogaerts

Red Sox

2019

46.3

Anthony

Rendon

Nationals

2019

43.5

 

 

 

 

 

Nick

Castellanos

Reds

2020

47.4

Freddie

Freeman

Braves

2020

44.0

Rafael

Devers

Red Sox

2020

43.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since then, the numbers have not really faded.  The number of doubles being hit by a few players remains high enough that somebody could conceivably do it.   Remember what I said; at 53 doubles a year for the league leaders, the record would have to fall.   At 44 doubles a year for the leaders, it is relatively safe.   But a player has to sustain very high levels in this area over the course of a career.  Let’s look at who might do that.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

A player’s chance of reaching a goal is a product of:

 

a)     How far he is from the goal,

b)     How fast he is moving toward the goal, and

c)      How much time he has. 

 

We represent these in our formula as:

a)     How many doubles he has hit so far in his career,

b)     How many doubles per year he is hitting, and

c)      How many years he has left. 

 

We know how many doubles each player has hit, so that’s easy.  We use the Established Doubles Level to represent how many doubles per season he is hitting.  For how many years he has left, we subtract his age from 42, and divide by two.   A 20-year-old player, we figure he has 11 years left in his career.  A 25-year-old player, we figure he had 8.5 years left, eight and a half.  At 30, he has 6 years left; at 35, three and a half.  At 40, he has one year left.   Some players will go OVER that estimate; some players will fall short.  That is what is meant by the concept of "chance".  We just don’t know; we estimate based on what we do know.   We also use a "special case rule" that if a player has 400 plate appearances in a season, his years remaining cannot be less than 1.50, regardless of age, and that no player’s years remaining can be estimated at less than 0.75, regardless of age.

We multiply the player’s Years Remaining times his Established Doubles Level, and the result is what we will call "Expected Remaining Doubles."   The highest number of expected remaining doubles for any player since 1931 was 486, by Joe Medwick after the 1936 season.  He actually hit 338 doubles after that. 

If the player’s expected remaining doubles are larger than the number of doubles he needs to hit to break the record, then his chance is over 50%.   No player since 1931 has been over 50%. 

If the player’s expected remaining doubles are the same as the number he needs, then his chance is 50%, since he may do better than that, or he may do worse.  No player since 1931 has been AT 50%, either.

If the player’s expected remaining doubles are 75% of what he needs, then his chance of breaking the record is 25%.

If the player’s expected remaining doubles are less than half of what he needs, then he has no established chance to break the record. 

The highest established chance to break the record, since 1931, was 41%, by Ducky Medwick after the 1937 season.  The highest established chance by anyone other than Medwick was 23%, by Albert Pujols in 2004.   Pujols chance was still 22% as recently as 2012.   Stan Musial also got to 22%. 

Pujols’ chance has gotten away from him; he is still six years away from breaking the record, and he’s 40 years old and will retire after the 2021 season.  This chart gives, for each season since 1931,

a)     The player in the major leagues who had the best chance of hitting 792 career doubles,

b)     His age,

c)      How many career doubles he had at that time,

d)     His Established Doubles Level (EDL),

e)     His Estimated Remaining Doubles (ERD),

f)       How many doubles he would need to hit from that point forward, and

g)     His estimated chance to hit 792 career doubles.

 

You will note that a few seasons are missing, because no player at that time had any established chance to break the record. 

 

First

Last

YEAR

AGE

2B

EDL

ERD

Need

Chance

Red

Kress

1931

24

155

43.7

393

637

12%

Dick

Bartell

1932

24

171

43.7

393

621

13%

Joe

Cronin

1933

26

215

44.2

353

577

11%

Hank

Greenberg

1934

23

96

42.5

404

696

8%

Hank

Greenberg

1935

24

142

49.5

446

650

19%

Joe

Medwick

1936

24

202

54.0

486

590

32%

Joe

Medwick

1937

25

258

57.0

485

534

41%

Joe

Medwick

1938

26

305

52.8

423

487

37%

Joe

Medwick

1939

27

353

49.0

368

439

34%

Joe

Medwick

1940

28

383

38.8

272

409

16%

Joe

Medwick

1941

29

416

34.5

224

376

10%

Joe

Medwick

1942

30

453

34.5

207

339

11%

Joe

Medwick

1943

31

483

32.8

181

309

8%

Stan

Musial

1944

23

135

46.8

445

657

18%

Stan

Musial

1946

25

185

50.0

425

607

20%

Stan

Musial

1947

26

215

40.2

321

577

6%

Stan

Musial

1948

27

261

41.3

310

531

8%

Stan

Musial

1949

28

302

40.8

286

490

8%

Stan

Musial

1950

29

343

41.8

272

449

11%

George

Kell

1951

28

253

43.0

301

539

6%

Stan

Musial

1952

31

415

37.8

208

377

5%

Stan

Musial

1953

32

468

45.5

228

324

20%

Stan

Musial

1954

33

509

45.2

203

283

22%

Stan

Musial

1955

34

539

37.5

150

253

9%

Stan

Musial

1956

35

572

33.3

117

220

3%

Stan

Musial

1957

36

610

35.0

105

182

8%

Stan

Musial

1958

37

645

35.7

89

147

11%

Hank

Aaron

1959

25

205

38.8

330

587

6%

Vada

Pinson

1960

21

91

35.3

371

701

3%

Vada

Pinson

1961

22

125

37.2

372

667

6%

Frank

Robinson

1962

26

228

41.7

333

564

9%

Carl

Yastrzemski

1963

23

114

39.5

375

678

5%

Carl

Yastrzemski

1965

25

188

38.8

330

604

5%

Carl

Yastrzemski

1966

26

227

39.3

315

565

6%

Carl

Yastrzemski

1967

27

258

36.0

270

534

1%

Rusty

Staub

1968

24

156

37.8

341

636

4%

Cesar

Cedeno

1972

21

100

36.3

382

692

5%

Cesar

Cedeno

1973

22

135

37.2

372

657

7%

Pete

Rose

1975

34

441

44.5

178

351

1%

Pete

Rose

1976

35

483

44.2

155

309

<1%

George

Brett

1978

25

169

38.8

330

623

3%

George

Brett

1979

26

211

41.3

331

581

7%

Robin

Yount

1980

24

193

37.0

333

599

6%

Keith

Hernandez

1981

27

217

41.4

311

575

4%

Robin

Yount

1982

26

254

36.2

289

538

4%

Robin

Yount

1983

27

296

38.8

291

496

9%

Cal

Ripken

1984

23

116

39.5

375

676

6%

Don

Mattingly

1985

24

107

41.2

371

685

4%

Don

Mattingly

1986

25

160

49.8

424

632

17%

Don

Mattingly

1987

26

198

44.7

357

594

10%

Don

Mattingly