About Me

I am a long time baseball fan who became interesting in documenting the "missing" batter strikeouts a few years back as an outgrowth of my interest in the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. Grew up w/ the Big Red Machine. I now follow them and my new hometown, Detroit Tigers. Member of SABR off and on since 1979.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The League Leaders - 1897-1909

As a follow-up to the post on Billy Maloney, I wanted to post the league leaders in total strikeouts for each season/league for 1897-1909.

League Leader - Most

1897 McCreery 72    
1898 Gettman & Joyce 60    
1899 Holmes 59    
1900 J Barrett 63    
1901 M Cross 91 J Barrett 62
1902 Flood 70 Howell & Strang 66
1903 Babb 66 Pickering 75
1904 Lumley 105 J Stahl 98
1905 Maloney 83 Hoffman 106
1906 Maloney 118 M Cross 86
1907 Maloney 100 Hoffman 99
1908 T Jordan 75 N Ball 90
1909 Becker 80 J Stahl 91

I should mention at this point that these totals are based on what I term "projected and adjusted" totals.

First,  I calculate the percentage of documented games to actual games played.   Then take the total documented stirkeouts and divide it by the pct of documented games to get a number of projected strikeouts that that hitter "would" have had.   I then make any minor adjustment (by team or league) if the team/league totals are off from the summed projected totals ("tuning in").

As an example, I will use Bill Joyce in 1897.

Joyce played in 110 total games.   Of those 110 games, I have been able to document strikeouts for 103 of those games (including games where he had 0 k's).  I was able to document 36 strikeouts in those 103 games.

As a result,

his pct of documented games/actual games = 103/110 = 93.8%

To calculate his "projected k's", I divide 36/0.938 to get (rounded) 38 strikeouts.

I then calculate an "adjusted" number.   In this case, the 1897 NY Giants projected team total came to 331, off by - 1.2% from the actual documented total of 327.  I multiply the 38 strikeouts by 1 + (-.012) to get the "adjusted total".  In this case, the total remained 38 strikeouts.

While this may not satisfy everyone in regards to "matching up" exactly or not having complete data, with the amount of data I have for most players and the small variances (projected team/league totals from the actual team/league totals being in most cases within 2% if not smaller), I am very comfortable with my method.

One observation I noticed when I was originally putting my leaders together was that in the NL after the foul strike rule went into effect, 1901, there was the predictable spike (represented by Monte Cross's 91 k's and league total of 4241).  The next 2 years, 1902 & 1903, the k's totals in the NL dropped each year (1902 - 3895 and 1903 - 3767). 

I have yet to do any research into what may have caused this, except to casually speculate that hitters "got wise" to the foul strike rule and used a different approach in their hitting league-wide.  Again, I have not done any in depth research on this.

What is interesting is that in 1904, the league strikeout total spikes back up to stay, going up by 510 to 4277.  Again, I am not sure what the cause was - a rule change, more stringent calling of the rule.  I do know that the foul strike rule was not universally loved when it was implemented, but that discussion is for another post.

As a last note, for those Brooklyn fans, you can wallow in one more thing.  A Brooklyn player led the NL in sitrkeouts Every year from 1902 through 1908 (Flood, Babb, Lumley, Maloney, Jordan), with the exception of Maloney in 1905.   Apparently, the Superbas didn't take kindly to a non-Superba (Maloney was with the Cubs in 1905) leading the league in K's, because he was acquired by Brooklyn in time to lead the league and set an new batter strikeout record of 118 in 1906!

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