Triple Milestones – 2009

 

Triple Milestones – 2009
 
By Bill Gilbert
 
      Offensive production in the major leagues in 2009 was down slightly in 2009. The number of runs per game has declined each year from 9.72 in 2006 to 9.22 in 2009. The home run rate of 2.02 was essentially unchanged from the 2.01 rate in 2008. The league batting average of .262 was the lowest since 2002. All offensive categories   are significantly below the peak year of 2000 as illustrated in the following table:
 
Year      Runs/Game HR/Game BAVG  OBA    SLG    OPS      Triple Milestone Hitters
—- ——— ——- —-   —-   —-  —     ————————
1990     8.51     1.58   .258 .324   .386   .710              2
1991     8.62     1.61   .255 .323   .384   .707              3
1992     8.23     1.44   .256 .322   .377   .699              2
1993     9.20     1.78   .266 .332   .404   .736              5
1994     9.85     2.07   .270 .339   .424   .763              3
1995     9.69     2.02   .267 .338   .417   .755              8
1996    10.07     2.19   .270 .340   .427   .767             21
1997     9.53     2.05   .267 .337   .419   .756              7
1998     9.58     2.08   .266 .335   .420   .755             14
1999    10.17     2.28   .271 .345   .434   .779             19
2000    10.28     2.34   .271 .345   .437   .782             26
2001     9.55     2.25   .264 .332   .427   .759             21
2002     9.24     2.09   .261 .331   .417   .748             12
2003     9.46     2.14   .264 .332   .422   .754              8
2004     9.63     2.25   .266 .335   .428   .763             12
2005     9.18     2.06   .265 .330   .419   .749             10
2006     9.72     2.22   .269 .336   .432   .768             13
2007     9.59     2.04   .268 .336   .423   .759              8 
2008     9.30     2.01   .264 .333   .417   .750              7
2009     9.22     2.02   .262 .333   .418   .751              6
 
      No players hit 50 home runs again in 2009. Five players hit 40 or more home runs in 2009 compared to only two in 2008. All of the players with 40 home runs were in the National League. The last American League player to hit 40 home runs was Alex Rodriguez (54) in 2007. The 30 home run level was reached by 30 players in 2009 compared to 28 in 2008. 
 
      A useful indicator for tracking offense is the number of players who hit for both power and average by achieving a .300 batting average, 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in. A record 26 players reached all three milestones in 2000, but that figure has dropped significantly in recent years. Only six players reached all three milestones in 2009, down from 7 in 2008. 8 in 2007 and 13 in 2006. Albert Pujols was the only player who made it in both 2008 and 2009.
 
Three players from each league achieved all three milestones in 2009. Pujols became the only player to do it in his first 9 seasons. There were three newcomers to the .300-30-100 club in 2009, Ryan Braun, Kendry Morales and Adam Lind, all born in 1983, bringing the total to 164 players who have registered at least one .300-30-100 season starting with Babe Ruth in 1920.
 
      Following is a listing of players who achieved triple milestones
in 2009:
 
Player           Times BAVG-HR-RBI       Comments
National
Albert Pujols      9    .327-47-135 One of the all-time greats.
Derrek Lee         2    .306-35-111 One of few bright spots for Cubs.
Ryan Braun         1    .320-32-114 Came close in two previous years.
 
 
Player           Times BAVG-HR-RBI       Comments
American
Miguel Cabrera     3    .323-33-101  Consistent production every year.
Kendry Morales     1    .306-34-108  Big-time breakout season.
Adam Lind          1    .305-35-114  Came out of nowhere.
 
      Six players achieved triple milestones in 2008 but fell short in 2009:
 
Player           Times    BAVG-HR-RBI    BAVG-HR-RBI    
                 In Past      2008           2009     Comments
Manny Ramirez     10     .332-37-121    .290-19- 63 50 game suspension hurt.
Alex Rodriguez     8     .302-35-103    .286-30-100 Late start after surgery
Mark Teixeira      3     .308-33-121    .292-39-122 Good recovery after slow start.
Aubrey Huff        2     .304-32-108    .241-15- 85 Not even close.
David Wright       2     .302-33-124    .307-10- 72 Power down in new park.
Josh Hamilton      1     .304-32-130    .268-10- 54 Too many injuries.
 
      The biggest obstacle in reaching triple milestones in 2009 was batting average. Thirteen players had 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in 2009 but fell short of a .300 batting average.
 
Prince Fielder           .299-46-141      Only Pujols had a better year.
Mark Teixeira            .292-39-122      Led AL in HR and RBIs.      
Ryan Zimmerman           .292-33-106      Bright future ahead.           
Aaron Hill               .286-36-108      Surprising power this year.
Alex Rodriguez           .286-30-100      Two HR and 7 RBIs in last game.
Evan Longoria            .281-33-113      Still getting better.
Ryan Howard              .279-45-141      Four straight years with 40+ HR.
Justin Morneau           .274-30-100      Injury cut season short.
Andre Ethier             .272-31-106      Power up: average down.
Jason Bay                .267-36-119      Best hitting outfielder in AL.
Adam Dunn                .267-38-105      Hit 40+ HR in each of last 5 years.
Mark Reynolds            .260-44-102      Too many strikeouts to hit for average.
Carlos Pena              .227-39-100      Tied for AL lead in HR.
  
      Jason Kubel (.300-28-103) and Carlos Lee (.300-26-102) had the batting average and RBIs but fell short on home runs. Joe Mauer batted .365 but fell short on home runs (28) and RBIs (96). However, he had a more impressive accomplishment by leading the American League in batting average, on-base percentage (.444) and slugging average (.587).
 
      A growing list contains the names of players, active in 2009, who have had multiple .300-30-100 seasons in the past but have not done it in the last three years. Many have been limited by injuries. Some are still very productive players but not at the same level they were in their peak years. Since this list was started in 2004, not one player has come back with another .300-30-100 season.
 
                                 Last
                .300-30-100  .300-30-100 
Player            Seasons      Season       2009     Comments 
Vladimir Guerrero    8           2006    .295-15- 50 Had 13 straight .300 seasons.
Gary Sheffield       6           2003    .276-10- 43  Now a part-time player.
Todd Helton          5           2003    .325-15- 86 Strong comeback in 2009.
Chipper Jones        5           2001    .264-18- 71 Hit .364 in 2008.
Jason Giambi         4           2002    .201-13- 51 Close to Mendoza line.
Magglio Ordonez      4           2002    .310- 9- 50 Has lost power. 
Ken Griffey, Jr.     3           1997    .214-19- 57 Winding down HOF career.   
Carlos Delgado       3           2005    .298- 4- 23 Missed most of season.
Lance Berkman        3           2006    .274-25- 80 May be in decline.
Brian Giles          2           2000    .191- 2- 23 End of the line.
Jim Thome            2           2002    .249-23- 77 Strikes out, walks or homers.
Aramis Ramirez       2           2004    .317-15- 65 Season wrecked by injuries.
Miguel Tejada        2           2004    .313-14- 86 Still hits but not with power.
Jermaine Dye         2           2006    .250-27- 81 Slowing down.
Travis Hafner        2           2006    .272-16- 49 Can’t regain power.
Vernon Wells         2           2006    .260-15- 66 Major disappointment.
 
 
      In his 1988 Baseball Abstract, Bill James referred to triple
milestone seasons as "Hall of Fame Seasons". This was because all of the
eligible players with 5 or more triple milestone seasons had been
elected to the Hall of Fame. This correlation has continued to hold but is likely to break down when Juan Gonzalez becomes eligible in 2011.
 
            No teams had two players with triple milestones in 2009. Twenty eight of the thirty major league teams have had at least one triple milestone hitter in the decade beginning with the year 2000. Of the two teams that haven’t, Cincinnati has the longest dry spell. Their last triple milestone hitter was George Foster in 1977. Kansas City has not had a triple milestone hitter since Danny Tartabull in 1991.    
 
     
      Only one minor league player recorded triple milestone seasons in 2009. 
 
Player            Team (Level)     Organization     Age   BAVG-HR-RBI  
 
Randy Ruiz        Las Vegas (AAA)    Toronto           31   .320-25-106
                  Toronto (AL)                              .313-10- 17            
                                                            .319-35-123
 
      Three others came close:
 
 
Chris Carter      Midland (AA)        Oakland          22   .337-24-101
                  Sacramento (AAA)                          .259- 4- 14
                                                            .329-28-115
 
Garrett Jones      Indianapolis (AAA) Pittsburgh       28   .307-12- 50
                  Pittsburgh (NL)                           .293-21- 44
                                                            .299-33- 94
 
 
Mitch Jones       Albuquerque (AAA)   Los Angeles      31   .297-35-103
                  Los Angeles (NL)                          .308- 0- 0
                                                            .298-35-103
 
 
      No college players achieved triple milestones in 2009                                           
 
      Pitchers also strive for triple milestones – 20 wins, 200 strikeouts and an ERA under 3.00. Esteban Loaiza was the only pitcher to do it in 2003 (21-9, 207, 2.90). Johan Santana (20-6, 265, 2.61) did it in 2004 and Chris Carpenter (21-5, 213, 2.83) was the only one to do it in 2005. After no pitchers made it in 2006 and 2007, Roy Halladay of Toronto broke through in 2008 with a triple milestone season (20-11, 206, 2.78). No pitchers made it in 2009 but if the Cardinals had not blown a 6-0 lead in Adam Wainwright’s last start he would have made it (19-8, 212, 2.63).
 
 
TRIP2009.DOC
11/4/09

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