Mark McGwire to teach Three True Outcomes?

by on January 8, 2010 · 4 comments

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.

Rk Player HR 1B PA Year Tm G AB H 2B 3B BB IBB SO BA OBP SLG
1 Barry Bonds 73 49 664 2001 SFG 153 476 156 32 2 177 35 93 .328 .515 .863
2 Mark McGwire 70 61 681 1998 STL 155 509 152 21 0 162 28 155 .299 .470 .752
3 Mark McGwire 65 58 661 1999 STL 153 521 145 21 1 133 21 141 .278 .424 .697
4 Mark McGwire 39 35 422 1995 OAK 104 317 87 13 0 88 5 77 .274 .441 .685
5 Mark McGwire 29 23 364 2001 STL 97 299 56 4 0 56 3 118 .187 .316 .492
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/8/2010.

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.

Rk Player HR BB SO PA Year Tm G AB H IBB BA OBP SLG
1 Mark McGwire 70 162 155 681 1998 STL 155 509 152 28 .299 .470 .752
2 Mark McGwire 65 133 141 661 1999 STL 153 521 145 21 .278 .424 .697
3 Sammy Sosa 64 116 153 711 2001 CHC 160 577 189 37 .328 .437 .737
4 Ryan Howard 58 108 181 704 2006 PHI 159 581 182 37 .313 .425 .659
5 Mark McGwire 58 101 159 657 1997 TOT 156 540 148 16 .274 .393 .646
6 David Ortiz 54 119 117 686 2006 BOS 151 558 160 23 .287 .413 .636
7 Mickey Mantle 54 126 112 646 1961 NYY 153 514 163 9 .317 .448 .687
8 Jim Thome 52 122 139 613 2002 CLE 147 480 146 18 .304 .445 .677
9 Mark McGwire 52 116 112 548 1996 OAK 130 423 132 16 .312 .467 .730
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/8/2010.

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.

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Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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{ 4 comments }

Hugo January 8, 2010

Is that possibly what LaRussa has meant all this time about being aggressive? Patiently-Aggressive or something like that?

PH8 January 8, 2010

Who the heck knows, Hugo. Tony’s also been talking about putting McGwire in to hit, so hopefully he gets his head on straight before spring.

I reckon a passive-aggressive approach at the plate could work for some – but in McGwire’s case, I think it was more about pitchers throwing around him.

Thanks for reading.

Josh January 11, 2010

Call it the anti-CD approach for Lil’ Dunc. One thing I never remember is McGwire looking for a walk at the plate. He was great at using what was given to him but also not afraid to let ‘er rip ;)

How will any of this help the Lud and Raz’s of the world should be a fun topic for many months to come.

steve January 14, 2010

http://talksportsphilly.com/?p=1565

^^^interesting Mcgwire article

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