Before you all lambast me for running down the esteemed new hitting coach before he can work his magic with all of the Redbird hitters, please note that this post is intended mostly tongue-in-cheek, as I know Mark McGwire has had success working with the likes of Skip Schumaker, most certainly not a power hitter.
That said, a tweet from THT’s Pat Andriola last night got me thinking…
tuftspat: Why wasn’t there Twitter in 1998 when Sammy Sosa won the MVP over Mark McGwire? Sosa: .308/.377/.647 Big Mac: .299/.470/.752
My replies were two-fold. One, I told Pat I wasn’t sure why Twitter wasn’t around back then. Second, my answer was that Sosa didn’t have the bat taken out of his hands as many times as McGwire that year. 162 walks for McGwire, compared to only 73 for Sosa. Well, that and the Cubbies made the playoffs that year, with the Cards finishing third.
Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking (perhaps remembering) about that .299 batting average and the ridiculously high on-base percentage. Coupled with a then-record 70 home runs, that didn’t leave a whole lot of room for many other hits, right?
Thanks to a new addition to the Play Index Tool at Baseball Reference, I could find out. In addition to the already robust offerings there, you can now find a stat greater, less than, or equal to another. (No, FTC, this is not a sponsored endorsement.)
What I found was, in four separate seasons, McGwire has hit more home runs than singles. In 1998, he actually had more walks than total hits. Barry Bonds is the only other player (with more than 200 plate appearances in said season) to accomplish the feat.
My next obvious step was to see which players in MLB history truly exemplified the tenets of the Three True Outcomes.
The Three True Outcomes are a walk, strikeout or home run. They are called this because the three supposedly are the only events that do not involve the defensive team (other than the pitcher and catcher). This ignores outfielders taking away potential homers at the wall, and inside-the-park home runs, and the like; however, over a career those events make up a very small portion of the total.
Again using 200 plate appearances in a season as the baseline, McGwire has produced four of nine player seasons in MLB history to have 50+ home runs, 100+ walks, and 100+ strikeouts.
So will McGwire be preaching a patient eye, but when you swing, swing hard? Only time will tell.
Obviously all of this has nothing to do with his ability to coach hitting. It is fascinating stuff though (at least to me). Cheers.