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Thread: David Ross and his Magic Season

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    David Ross and his Magic Season

    David Ross had a lifetime .240/.279/.392 when he was acquired by the Reds, by the end of the 2006 season he had strolled to the plate 296 times as a Red. Ross, who was earmarked to be Jason LaRue's caddy, ended up leading the Reds catchers in games and plate appearances, as well as extra base hits. In fact David Ross destroyed his Pecota projection this season (his best case scenario projection was a .258/.325/.464) and in the process he joined a select group of players in the games history to compile 35 or more extra base hits in 300 or less plate appearances, ending up with a .255/.353/.579 line by seasons end, 59% of Ross's hits were hits for extra bases, and you have to wonder, can he do it again?

    It's a small, yet rare feat that had only occurred 4 times in the modern era prior to the 1994 lock out. Since then it's occurred 7 more times, 3 of those by Cincinnati Reds and 3 times this season alone. The one that leads us there is David Ross the only player in the group to top 20 home runs, and what a group it is. Rookies, famous sluggers, platoon wonders, the man Babe Ruth unseated as the premier home run hitter in all of baseball and then even the man who replaced Babe Ruth on the Yankees.

    Let's kick em around and see if David Ross fits in the group or if he will likely end up as an anomaly. A player that averages an extra base hit every 8 at bats would be a blessing at catcher, in 206 only 16 players had 75 or more extra base hits, none were catchers. In fact Ramon Hernandez led all catchers in EBH with 54, Jason Kendall logged 614 at bats for the A's and had only 24 EBH. That's 1 EBH every 25 at bats, or a scant 1 every 5 games. In the long history of the game finding a hitting catcher has often been a task many franchises were never able to fulfill, and it's really only in recent history that a catcher has been able to stay healthy enough to get over 60 much alone 70 EBH. But there have been a few.
    Code:
    EXTRA BASE HITS               YEAR     EBH      AB     
    1    Johnny Bench             1970       84      605   
    2    Javier Lopez             2003       75      457   
    3    Todd Hundley             1996       74      540   
    T4   Johnny Bench             1974       73      621   
    T4   Mike Piazza              1997       73      556   
    T6   Lance Parrish            1983       72      605   
    T6   Stan Lopata              1956       72      535   
    T8   Gabby Hartnett           1930       71      508   
    T8   Mike Piazza              1998       71      561   
    10   Roy Campanella           1953       70      519
    The best in the group is Johnny Bench in 1970, his first MVP season, when he averaged an EBH every 7.2 at bats, or a hair over 1 EBH every 100 at bats more then David Ross achieved in 2006.

    The real question is can Ross do it again and what does the list look like that he now joins, and did they succeed after their extra base bonanza in a small window of opportunity.

    So here they are.

    Code:
    EXTRA BASE HITS          YEAR      EBH      AVG      OBA      SLG      	AGE   
    Bob Fothergill           1929       39     .354     .378     .570      	31  
    Dick Allen               1973       39     .316     .394     .612      	31  
    Adam Dunn                2001       38     .262     .371     .578      	21
    David Ross               2006       37     .255     .353     .579	28
    Alex Ochoa               2000       37     .316     .378     .586      	28 
    George Selkirk           1937       36     .328     .411     .629      	29
    Josh Phelps              2002       36     .309     .362     .562      	24 
    Gavvy Cravath            1919       35     .341     .438     .640     	38
    Jeff Francoeur           2005       35     .300     .336     .549      	21 
    Corey Koskie             2006       35     .261     .343     .490   	33  
    Luke Scott               2006       35     .336     .426     .629  	28
    We're going to run these guys down from the top.

    Bob Fothergill

    Since major league baseball started there have only been 4 seasons where the leagues OPS was greater then the .770 that was logged in 1929. Detroit's Bob Fothergill was known around the league as "Fatty", at 6'1" and weighed about 230, he was a pure hitter in a hitters era, hitting over .350 4 times in his career. A career marked by poor fielding and bad health, thus Fatty was often only logging almost 400 at bats a season, topping 400 only once in his career (527 ab's .359/ .413/.516) In 1929 everyone in baseball seemed to be hitting the ball, and Fothergill averaged an EBH every 7.1 ab's, it would prove to be his last really good season and by 1938 he would die of a massive stroke at the age of 40.

    Dick (Don't call me Richie) Allen

    Dick Allen was a stud, that's much should be said, and his place on the list is based on one thing alone... injury. On June, 28th 1973 Allen injured his ankle in a collision at 1st base in Anaheim. He only logged 5 at bats the rest of the season, a season that began when Allen inked a 3-year $750,000 contract during spring training, making him the highest paid player in major league baseball.

    Adam Dunn

    Adam Dunn had 54 extra base hits (32 Home Runs) between AA Chattanooga and AAA Louisville in 2002, averaging an EBH every 6.4 at bats he was called up by the Reds and continued to average an EBH every 6.4 at bats. As of now he's the premier power hitter on the Reds and a lightening rod due to his unorthodox game and poor fielding and strikeout totals. He'll be someone we watch over the off-season here and I'm sure that I'll not be the only one doing it.

    Alex Ochea

    Bob Fothergill's feat occurred in a big hitting year, however it wasn't a big as hitting season as 2000, which stands after 1930 as the season with the highest OPS in MLB history (.782) it's also the season that the Reds milked Alex Ochea's best stat line from. Ochea was 28 and had jus come off his best season in 1999 for the Brewers (which is the 3rd best OPS season in MLB history) The Reds thought that they were getting a 4th outfielder that might help fill in from time to time, what they ended up with is a player that destroyed his career norms in batting average and slugging percentage, Ochea delighted Reds fans by topping the leagues norm in batting average by .42 and slugging by .140. In baseball the mean can be a wicked taskmaster. The following season at age 30 Ochea had a .276/.334/.403 line for the Reds before they traded him to the Rockies, one year and two teams later Alex was out of the game, just a footnote in the games history.


    George Selkirk


    Someone had to replace Babe Ruth in the Yankees lineup one day, everyone knew that and now in retrospect not many can remember the name of the man that donned Babes number 3 after he left to be a Brave, nor can they remember the stats that he produced after the Babe had vacated right field in the Bronx. George Selkirk fades into obscurity, despite his 5 World Series Rings and lifetime .883 OPS. Selkirk was a longtime Yankee farmhand and didn't make the big leagues until the age of 26; he later was squeezed out by the emergence of Tommy Heinrich and Charlie Keller... it's tough being a Yankee I guess. In 1937 at the age of 29 George had an OPS of 1.040, with 36 EBHs the prior years he had rapped over 50 in more than 400 at bats. The next year his OPS dropped over .240 points (his batting averaged dropped over 50 points) Selkirk rebounded and had a .969 OPS in 1939, but he never became the star that some thought he should be, simply because he wore Ruth's #3.

    Josh Phelps

    Josh Phelps, once a catcher now a roaming DH/1b with knee problems and a poor grasp of the strike zone. Lucky Josh won a job with his 2002 season, however his lack of plate acumen and fielding prowess caused him to be expendable and it looks like his game time will be redefined at 1st and DH, Josh spent the 2006 in Toledo and never played for the Tigers, despite them being a team that probably would like some more power from their 1st basemen. In Toledo at age 28 Josh Phelps had a .308 batting average and .908 OPS, for that he got named to the AA All Star team, if he's lucky there might be a job somewhere for him in the game, too bad he doesn't hit from the left side.

    Gavy Cravath

    Prior to the emergence of Babe Ruth baseball's renowned slugger was LH power hitter Gavy Cravath, a man who was championed by F.C. Lane for his power and on-base acumen long before that part of the game became a large part of the statheads credo. Gavy had the pleasure of hitting at the Baker Bowl, a 19th century park that was fast on the way to being a dump as well as the home to the worst franchise in the game. In 1919 Gavy was nearing the end of a long career, one that had trouble starting, but nevertheless turned out to be a nice little career. His .341/.438/.640 in 214 at bats is monstrous in an era that hitting was usually confined to punch singles and gappers in wide open outfields. Prior to 1920 Gavy was 39 years old and tied for 4th in HR's in the history of major league baseball. In 1920 Gavy would get 1 more to end up 3rd in the games history. Ten years later he would be 16th and twenty years later 41st.
    Code:
    1876-1919
    HOMERUNS                        HR       AB     
    1    Roger Connor                138     7794   
    2    Sam Thompson                127     5984   
    3    Harry Stovey                122     6138   
    T4   Jimmy Ryan                  118     8164   
    T4   Gavvy Cravath               118     3906   
    T6   Mike Tiernan                106     5906   
    T6   Dan Brouthers               106     6711   
    T6   Hugh Duffy                  106     7042   
    T9   Ed Delahanty                101     7505   
    T9   Honus Wagner                101    10430
    The next three have all occurred in the past two seasons.

    Jeff Francoeur


    Jeff Francoeur place on this list is much like Adam Dunn's, a late season call up in 2005 Francoeur tore through the league with a .300 batting average and a .549 slugging percentage, and his one fault was patience at the dish.

    He has none, 11 walks in 257 at bats in 2005 for a Jose Guillenesque 1 BB every 23 at bats, in 2006 it took a even more horrible turn, Francoeur had 394 more at bats then he had in 2005 and still only had 23 walks for the season, that's one BB every 28 at bats. This was compounded by a .260 batting average and Francoeur ended up with a .293 on base percentage for the seasons... and that's just pitiful.

    Below is a list of the most outs in a season with walk totals under 23, Jeff slots in at number 15 all time in a season with 491 outs, or slightly more then every out in 18 games, or every out for the Braves in 11% of their season... ouch.

    Code:
    OUTS                      YEAR    OUTS      BB       OBA    
    Larry Bowa               1974      531       23     .298   
    Woody Jensen             1936      526       16     .305   
    Alfonso Soriano          2002      516       23     .332   
    Rennie Stennett          1976      515       19     .277   
    Cookie Rojas             1968      511       16     .248   
    Enos Cabell              1978      501       22     .321   
    Rick Bosetti             1979      500       22     .286   
    Mark Grudzielanek        1997      500       23     .307   
    Doug Glanville           2001      498       19     .285   
    Ralph Garr               1973      497       22     .323   
    Hi Myers                 1915      494       17     .275   
    Tito Fuentes             1971      493       18     .299   
    Cristian Guzman          2002      492       17     .292   
    Mark Koenig              1934      491       15     .289   
    Jeff Francouer           2006      491       23     .291
    Corey Koskie

    Corey Koskie experienced a concussion and that cut his season short, at 33 it might have been the best season in Koskie's career, if he had indeed finished it, But like Dick Allen his place on this list is a result of being unlucky.

    Luke Scott

    Luke Scott is a lot like David Ross, he had kicked around in the minors for awhile and was known for having pop and the inability to walk with much more then pedestrian regularity. At 28 Scott finally got his chance and the man who had never hit above .300 in professional ball destroyed NL pitching for the last half of the season, with a line of .336/.426./621/1.047 he even walked 30 times in 214 at bats. Even more amazing was a robust ratio of 1 EBH every 6.1 at bats. That said the man is 28 years old and just was fresh to the league, something has to give in the next season.

    Doesn't it?

    That's where a list like the above leaves us, we can see the pros that consistently performed at that level when healthy (Allen, Koskie, Fothergill, Cravath, Selkirk) or the phenoms (Dunn and Francoeur) and we can see the flukes as well (Ochea, Phelps and Scott and Ross) The last two players mentioned plus Francoeur still have to prove that they can do it over a whole season and at a lowered cost it's worth the gamble for the Reds to see if Ross can reproduce his magic.

    But based on the data I wouldn't bet the house that it happens.

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    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: David Ross and his Magic Season

    Excellent stuff, woy.

    If Jason LaRue can return to his 2004-05 production level, which I think he can, then he's worth much of the salary he'll cost next season. Of course, if David Ross can match or exceed LaRue's production level, then LaRue's very much expendable, especially given his contract.

    I'd very much be curious on what Ross' trade value within the league is, but I'm not sure we'll have a firm grasp on that. If another team believes he can reproduce some of that magic and is willing to ante up a nice piece in exchange for Ross' services, I'd very much be listening to them.

    The Reds need to figure out how well they believe Ross can realistically hit next season and beyond, and from that they'll need to make a decision regarding Jason LaRue and that contract. Whatever decision that may be, let's hope it's the correct one.
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    2009: Fail Ltlabner's Avatar
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    Re: David Ross and his Magic Season

    I guess it's the $64,000 question but do you guys think Ross will crash back down to horrible numbers or is there a reasonable chance that he can produce at a productive level (not the spectacular level but something worthwhile)?

    Frankly, if a team wanted to pick up LaRues contract I'd be willing to consider letting him go and risking Ross if only to dump the contract DanO stuck us with. I know thats usually not particually wise but it's tempting.

    For those who don't like K's Ross was striking out at a slightly higher rate than LaRue earlier in the year. Not sure where that ended up. Ross's arm is a downgrade from LaRue but that's not shocking since LaRue's arm is his calling card.
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    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: David Ross and his Magic Season

    Great work and thanks for the read, woy!


    * Ross started 72 games:
    > 33-39 team record.
    >> 333 RS - 333 RA
    >> Starters ERA = 4.26 ; Bullpen ERA = 4.14 ; Total ERA = 4.21

    * Ross didn't start 90 games:
    > 47-43 team record.
    >> 416 RS - 468 RA
    >> Starters ERA = 4.82 ; Bullpen ERA = 4.62 ; Total ERA = 4.75
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    Member Cedric's Avatar
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    Re: David Ross and his Magic Season

    Quote Originally Posted by Ltlabner View Post
    I guess it's the $64,000 question but do you guys think Ross will crash back down to horrible numbers or is there a reasonable chance that he can produce at a productive level (not the spectacular level but something worthwhile)?

    Frankly, if a team wanted to pick up LaRues contract I'd be willing to consider letting him go and risking Ross if only to dump the contract DanO stuck us with. I know thats usually not particually wise but it's tempting.

    For those who don't like K's Ross was striking out at a slightly higher rate than LaRue earlier in the year. Not sure where that ended up. Ross's arm is a downgrade from LaRue but that's not shocking since LaRue's arm is his calling card.
    I'm extremely interested in some data on Catchers after the age of 32. And on their effectiveness with as many games Larue has caught.

    I doubt it's pretty.
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    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: David Ross and his Magic Season

    Great stuff as always WOY
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    Pagan/Asatru Ravenlord's Avatar
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    Re: David Ross and his Magic Season

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    I'm extremely interested in some data on Catchers after the age of 32. And on their effectiveness with as many games Larue has caught.

    I doubt it's pretty.
    i would agree with that. but catcher's are surviving longer than they did even a decade ago. equipment has changed to make the ware on the knees less in the last 10 years, and then there's all the conditioning that takes place now, that didn't in 1950, or even 1980. there is a problem with comparing the catchers from the strike onward to those of yesteryear, in that the brutal position isn't quite as brutal as used to be.

    i mean, realistically, i think if Mike Piazza had come up in 1980, he probably wouldn't have played very long after 30 (of course by the catching standards of 1980, Piazza probably wouldn't have stayed a catcher).
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