Nothing but a Whole Lotta Power

I wrote yesterday that Jose Tabata‘s 2013 hitting, with his mere 6 Home Runs, was actually a little more productive than Pedro Alvarez‘s performance that included 36 Home Runs. In response to that post, I received this question:

“How many players have hit 36 HR in a season and had an OPS under .800, as did Alvarez in 2013″

I was not able to find that information, but I did find something pretty striking. I looked at Alvarez’s .473 slugging percentage from last year and his .296 on-base percentage and searched for players, since 1950, who had a career SLG% higher than Alvarez’s .473 and an on-base percentage lower than his .296

There aren’t any.

So, I expanded my search and found that, since 1900, there are a total of ZERO players, with at least 1,000 plate appearances, who had a career SLG% that was higher than Alvarez’s 2013 number of .473 and an on-base percentage that was lower than his .296.

Zero. In 114 years of baseball!

So, I expanded my search again. I looked for players, since 1900, who had a career Slugging Percentage higher than .460 and an On-Base Percentage that was lower than .310. There are six. Here are their career batting lines, with BB%, K%, and weighted Runs Created Plus:

Dave Kingman: .236/.302/.478 — .780 OPS;  8.2% BB;  24.4% K;  113 wRC+

Joe Carter:  .259/.306/.464 — .770 OPS;  5.8% BB;  15.2% K;  102 wRC+

Bo Jackson:  .250/.309/.474 — .783;  7.6% BB;  32.0% K;  111 wRC+

Mark Trumbo:  .250/.299/.469 — .768;  6.3% BB; 25.1% K;  111 wRC+

Ron Kittle:  .239/.306/.473 – .779 –  7.8% BB;  24.7%;  110 wRC+

Marcus Thames:  .246/.309/.485 — .794;  7.9% BB ;  25.3% K;  104

Compare those numbers to Pedro Alvarez’s 2013:

.233/.296/.473 — .770 OPS;  7.8% BB;  30.3% K;  105 wRC+.

As hitters, Kingman, Carter, Jackson, Trumbo, Kittle, and Thames had nothing but a whole lotta power. Just like Pedro Alvarez.

It’s also interesting to note that each of those players was significantly below average defensively (as calculated by Fangraphs has Alvarez at 8.8 defensive runs below average for his career.

I’m not saying that Alvarez and the above cast of characters do not have offensive value. Their career OPS range goes from .770 to .794 and their wRC+ are all above league average, ranging from 102 to 113. But their overall hitting was actually a little less valuable than Jose Tabata’s 2013 production. Tabata’s wRC+ was 118.

Pedro is a very good power hitter. But he is not wroth the $100 million contract that some expect him to sign when he reaches free agency. However, I do suspect that the 30 major league General Managers who do not read SABERBUCS will line up to give it to him.

You probably knew that Alvarez was much like Dave Kingman. But I’m guessing your surprised to find that El Toro knows Bo.

Note: Jose Tabata’s 6 HR in 2013 pro-rate to 11 over the 614 Plate Appearances that Alvarez had last year.


I really hate to admit this, but here goes. This post was entirely inspired by a commenter on this site who goes by the name of “Leefoo.”

It’s not that I don’t want suggestions from readers of the blog. I absolutely do. It not only takes the burden off of me to come up with an idea or two when there is no baseball news; it also lets me know what readers want to read.  What troubles me is that I have to admit that this particular, great suggestion had to come from a character like Leefoo.

I’m joking, of course. Leefoo, whom I have never met in person, gave me a powerful encouragement on the blog when I first decided to start this site - and he has continued to encourage me even when he disagrees. I greatly appreciate your support, Leefoo. Thank you. 


193 thoughts on “Nothing but a Whole Lotta Power

  1. I was checking out some low OBP / high SLG on Fangraphs and found a fairly similar profile Pirate player (strictly OBP/SLG speaking) from the past I’m sure many will remember. Bill Robinson.

    His career line .300/.438. Pedro’s current career line is .306/.443.

    Bill Robinson’s 1979 season with the Bucs even one upped Pedro’s split last year, .302 OBP / .504 SLG.

    • I must have hit reply before I as finished………….

      I was going to say that of course they arrived at those similar #’s in two different ways. Bill was a good contact hitter with decent power but very rarely walked which killed his OBP. Pedro both walks and Ks at about twice the rate that Bill did.

  2. Nicely done Leefoo!
    I’ve got a question: Does anyone think the Pirates will consider trading Pedro before his contract is up? It seems to me that there will be a handful of big market teams that will have to jump into a bidding war when he reaches free agency. Perhaps the team could harvest a nice return before that would happen. I just can’t see the Pirates being able to swing an extention with Boras, and I’m really hesitant to think that they should.

  3. Richard, Thanks for the mention (I think).

    We talk about your stuff a lot in the Asylum (former PG Plus folks, so it is a less volatile, more erudite crew, cause we had to, you know, PAY to talk…lol) because we link to it every time you do a new one.
    All are welcome and you could be the new Stats Geek if you ever get bored here.

    Btw, I am glad I inspired a blog post. Thanks for taking the time to write up the answer.

    Lee ‘Foo’ Young

    • You posed an interesting question. I think it’s amazing that there are so few players who have had a career OBP and SLG like the ones Alvarez had in 2013.

  4. “How many players have hit 36 HR in a season and had an OPS under .800, as did Alvarez in 2013″

    I can answer this question for you. A player hitting at least 36 home runs in a season has been done 545 times. Only 9 of those 545 times feature a player that posted an OPS below .800.

    1983 Tony Armas 36 HR, .707 OPS
    1982 Dave Kingham 37 HR, .717 OPS
    2011 Dan Uggla 36 HR, .764 OPS
    2013 Pedro Alvarez 36 HR, .770 OPS
    1980 Gorman Thomas 38 HR, .774 OPS
    1975 Dave Kingham 36 HR, .778 OPS
    1997 Sammy Sosa 36 HR, .779 OPS
    1985 Steve Balboni 36 HR, .783 OPS
    1976 Dave Kingham 37 HR, .793 OPS

    Also special mention to
    2012 Adam Dunn 41 HR, .800 OPS

    By the way just wanted to say this is a great site. Keep up the good work.

    • Since 36 is kind of random I’ll also add the following 3 times when a player has hit 35 HR with an OPS below .800

      1960 Rocky Colavito .791 OPS
      1989 Joe Carter .757 OPS
      1992 Cecil Fielder .783 OPS

      Also one more season to add to the list and it is the only season in which a player hit at least 35 HR and posted an OPS below .700

      1986 Dave Kingham 35 HR, .686 OPS

      If you drop the minimum HR total to 30 it has happened 62 times out of 1216 30 HR seasons or about 5% of the time.

    • Thanks for that information that I was unable to find and the compliment on the site. My first thought was that 545 was a pretty low number for 36 HR seasons. But then I realized that 36 is an awful lot of HR for one season.

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