Baseball is a wonderful sport for so many reasons. For some people, there is nothing like being at the ballpark, taking in the sights and smells with a hot dog in hand. Others live and die on the performance of their team.
For me though, baseball is most wonderful because it produces beautifully random statistical gems. Like the one where 20,421 batters face Greg Maddux in his career and only 310 of them see a 3-0 count, 177 of which were intentional walks. Or the slightly more complicated projection that Barry Bonds’ historic .609 OBP from 2004 would have only dropped by one point had he not had a bat. You’ll have to watch the video for this one to make sense.
Someday, I’ll have to compile a list of my favorite random stats. My all-time favorite Royals stat is easy. Since 1871, there have been 28,697 individual seasons where a batter came to the plate at least 230 times. Of those 28,697 seasons, Tony Pena Jr’s 2008 campaign ranks 28,697th in wRC+.
I think that stat will be on my tombstone.
But on Friday, I found another interesting Royals factoid, not quite as depressing as the Pena one because in this scenario, at least one hitter is worse than the Royal in question.
It all started when my former high school teammate tweeted this out.
Rougned Odor quietly having a bounce back season. 110 WRC+ after tonight. Close to 2 fwar on the season. Still only 24.— Brock Hammit (@BeRock21) August 3, 2018
This is a pretty normal tweet and a factual tweet. Rougned Odor is having a nice season down in Arlington. However, it made me remember the 2017 season that qualifies his 2018 as a “bounce back season.”
I remembered it because I knew he had hit 30 home runs, a pretty relevant detail to this equation. There aren’t that many hitters historically who have hit 30 home runs in a season, let alone have that season be considered bad. Since 1871, there have been 15,324 qualified seasons and 1,295 of them ended with at least 30 homers being hit, which is about 8% of all qualified seasons. 30 home runs is a landmark stat, similar to a 200 strikeouts, 200 innings pitched, and 100 RBI.
The season that immediately came to my mind was Brandon Phillips’ 2013 campaign, where he had a 90 wRC+ but drove in 100 runs because he hit behind World Crusher Joey Votto for most of the season.
So I got to thinking and did some research. I googled “worst 30 homer seasons,” and wouldn’t you know it, the first result was a numberFire article entitled “Rougned Odor Now Owns the Worst 30-Homer Season This Century.”
That was exactly what I was looking for. But when I saw it, I assumed that it would be 2013 Brandon Phillips bad. But, I was wrong. It was much worse.
The article begins by shouting out this article, documenting Alcides Escobar’s at-the-time historically awful 2017 campaign, which I tried to fool my Twitter followers into thinking was from 2018. I’m not sure if I succeeded.
Everything was proceeding as normal until I saw this quote at the end of the article.
Unfortunately, now that the dust has settled on the regular season, his 61 wRC+ ranks as the worst in baseball among qualified hitters.
Impossible, I thought. While that wRC+ is pretty wild for a guy who just hit 30 tanks, I had some insider knowledge that this author obviously didn’t have: Rougned Odor played in the same professional baseball league as Alcides Escobar.
So, my research continued. I followed the link to the worst hitters of 2017 season, which glitched. Eventually, I got to the worst two hitters in baseball during the 2017 season according to wRC+ and found this waiting for me.
Yes. Not only was Escobar better than another hitter last season, but he was better than a hitter who hit 30 home runs.
Maybe I am the only one that finds this to be amazing, but here are some facts to consider.
- Former All-Star, Silver Slugger, and double smasher Billy Butler averaged a 126 wRC+ from 2009-2013 with the Royals. He never hit 30 home runs.
- Former All-Star, All-Star Game MVP, and world champion Eric Hosmer averaged a 110 wRC+ from 2011-2017 with the Royals, which jumps to 115 if you exclude his disastrous 2012 season. He hit 25 homers in back-to-back seasons from 2016-2017 but has never hit 30 home runs in a season.
- Hall of Famer George Brett’s career high in home runs is 30 in 1985.
- In 1,210 games as a Royal, Escobar has 35 home runs.
All of those stats are vain, however, because Alcides Escobar was a better hitter than 30-homer hitter Rougned Odor in 2017. So maybe you guys should just cool it with the Escobar hate. I mean, how many of you have out-hit a guy with 30 home runs?