Putting Hitting Streaks in Perspective, Again

Back in July of 2013, I put together a little bit of research to put Michael Cuddyer’s 27-game hitting streak into perspective. I had been quite critical of Mr. Cuddyer at that time, and it only seemed fair to show him a little love. At the time, I mentioned that I might look into some more hitting streak data in the near future. Turns out the “near future” was three years later. Spurred on by the recent hitting streaks from the killer B’s on a swarmJackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts — I thought I’d wade back in.

First, as I mentioned last time, a couple of ground rules. I don’t count streaks that span two seasons. I don’t like doing it, and you can’t make me. Second, there are some streaks that took place from the time before we have game logs. When I first conducted this research, the earliest season for which we had game logs was 1916; now it’s 1913. Fortunately, for the sake of convenience, no relevant hitting streaks occurred during 1913-1915, so we’re not getting any new information in that respect.

We are getting some other new information, though. For instance, Baseball-Reference has WPA calculated further back than they did before, so where before we didn’t know the WPA of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak, now we do have that figure. We also have a few more years of streaks in the mix. The cut-off for WPA data now seems to be 1930, though there was one streak from 1943 for which WPA information appears unavailable.

Most importantly — and with some very gracious data assistance from Hans Van Slooten at Sports-Reference — I have added streaks of 25 games or more now, instead of just 30 All told, we have 141 streaks, counting Bradley’s and Bogaerts’ contributions. I ranked them, as I did last time, by wRAA, and I used the same method as last time, calculating wOBA and wRAA via the constants on the Guts! page, though the FanGraphs game logs helped for the years we have them. We don’t really quote wRAA too much around here, so if you need the refresher, click this hot internet link.

25+ Game Hitting Streaks by wRAA, 1913-2016
Player Games Year BA OBP SLG WPA wOBA wRAA
Joe DiMaggio 56 1941 0.408 0.463 0.717 4.07 0.528 36.7
Babe Ruth 26 1921 0.483 0.610 1.045 0.682 32.0
Rogers Hornsby 33 1922 0.466 0.494 0.808 0.573 28.8
Tommy Holmes 37 1945 0.423 0.494 0.699 1.38 0.550 28.7
Ty Cobb 35 1917 0.464 0.516 0.754 0.593 28.7
Paul Molitor 39 1987 0.415 0.495 0.683 2.22 0.501 27.9
Chuck Klein 26 1930 0.486 0.521 0.908 1.44 0.606 26.9
Wade Boggs 25 1987 0.458 0.563 0.698 1.44 0.576 24.9
Al Simmons 27 1931 0.453 0.488 0.846 2.76 0.586 24.7
Chuck Klein 25 1929 0.467 0.504 0.916 0.606 24.6
Rico Carty 31 1970 0.451 0.530 0.743 1.50 0.554 24.4
George Brett 30 1980 0.467 0.504 0.746 2.70 0.544 24.0
George Sisler 41 1922 0.454 0.489 0.615 0.501 23.7
Duke Snider 27 1953 0.450 0.508 0.780 2.22 0.566 22.7
Dan Uggla 33 2011 0.377 0.438 0.762 1.51 0.510 22.4
Chase Utley 35 2006 0.405 0.452 0.699 1.99 0.483 21.7
Edwin Encarnacion 26 2015 0.412 0.474 0.876 1.58 0.547 21.3
John Olerud 26 1993 0.435 0.530 0.837 1.38 0.552 21.2
Jackie Bradley Jr. 29 2016 0.415 0.488 0.783 1.61 0.524 20.4
George Sisler 25 1920 0.447 0.486 0.796 0.578 20.3
Pete Fox 29 1935 0.409 0.455 0.705 0.85 0.510 20.2
Ian Kinsler 25 2008 0.425 0.508 0.717 1.79 0.520 19.9
Albert Pujols 30 2003 0.390 0.471 0.712 2.61 0.501 19.7
Ken Williams 28 1922 0.405 0.459 0.784 0.542 19.3
Hal Trosky 28 1936 0.413 0.435 0.762 1.09 0.522 19.0
Dustin Pedroia 25 2011 0.404 0.459 0.752 1.69 0.511 18.9
Vladimir Guerrero 31 1999 0.386 0.431 0.756 2.07 0.499 18.8
Bob Johnson 26 1938 0.425 0.465 0.755 0.42 0.545 18.7
Jimmy Rollins 36 2005 0.379 0.442 0.602 0.90 0.443 17.7
Luis Gonzalez 30 1999 0.400 0.466 0.696 1.72 0.492 17.5
Eric Davis 30 1998 0.400 0.430 0.708 1.90 0.478 17.4
Hank Aaron 25 1956 0.407 0.439 0.759 1.06 0.515 17.1
George McQuinn 34 1938 0.386 0.457 0.572 -0.11 0.467 16.8
Ron Santo 28 1966 0.386 0.466 0.673 1.61 0.490 16.7
Joe Gordon 29 1942 0.429 0.471 0.634 1.71 0.513 16.5
Tillie Walker 27 1914 0.433 0.485 0.711 0.553 16.5
Roger Peckinpaugh 29 1919 0.436 0.483 0.600 0.509 16.3
Shawn Green 28 1999 0.366 0.434 0.750 0.81 0.487 16.3
Bill Lamar 25 1925 0.476 0.496 0.587 0.495 16.1
Ryan Zimmerman 30 2009 0.382 0.427 0.649 1.44 0.465 16.1
Tris Speaker 27 1916 0.449 0.526 0.571 0.519 15.8
Mike Sweeney 25 1999 0.412 0.474 0.706 0.98 0.501 15.8
Chuck Klein 26 1930 0.434 0.458 0.708 0.78 0.503 15.7
Nomar Garciaparra 30 1997 0.383 0.407 0.652 2.57 0.457 15.6
Rowland Office 29 1976 0.408 0.461 0.560 1.51 0.463 15.2
Hack Wilson 27 1929 0.393 0.458 0.673 0.496 15.2
Jack Clark 26 1978 0.368 0.420 0.689 1.98 0.487 15.2
Jose Offerman 27 1998 0.437 0.517 0.583 1.11 0.483 15.2
Stan Musial 30 1950 0.388 0.435 0.661 0.91 0.488 15.2
Goose Goslin 30 1934 0.376 0.443 0.616 0.70 0.472 15.0
Gee Walker 27 1937 0.420 0.463 0.643 0.99 0.495 14.9
Pete Rose 25 1967 0.390 0.453 0.600 0.90 0.475 14.9
Kevin Millar 25 2002 0.441 0.463 0.696 1.19 0.493 14.9
Manny Ramirez 27 2006 0.400 0.454 0.720 1.08 0.477 14.8
Sam Rice 29 1920 0.447 0.484 0.570 0.490 14.4
Kenny Lofton 26 2003 0.406 0.471 0.623 1.11 0.470 14.4
Heinie Manush 26 1933 0.440 0.462 0.568 0.87 0.471 14.2
George Metkovich 25 1944 0.407 0.422 0.655 1.23 0.494 14.2
Andre Ethier 30 2011 0.397 0.462 0.560 1.62 0.453 14.1
Hank Aaron 25 1962 0.372 0.454 0.617 1.10 0.487 14.1
Harvey Kendrick 25 1929 0.441 0.495 0.656 0.512 14.0
Willie Davis 31 1969 0.435 0.463 0.532 1.79 0.450 13.7
Sandy Alomar, Jr. 30 1997 0.422 0.455 0.595 1.33 0.462 13.5
Lou Brock 26 1971 0.429 0.471 0.554 0.90 0.462 13.5
Moises Alou 30 2007 0.403 0.445 0.588 0.59 0.455 13.4
Wade Boggs 28 1985 0.402 0.481 0.527 1.49 0.449 13.3
Jason Giambi 25 1997 0.409 0.451 0.699 1.61 0.488 13.3
Clyde Barnhart 25 1925 0.420 0.487 0.600 0.491 13.1
Bing Miller 28 1929 0.406 0.462 0.623 0.481 13.1
Freddie Lindstrom 25 1933 0.431 0.448 0.627 1.80 0.487 12.9
George Sisler 26 1917 0.422 0.473 0.520 0.474 12.6
Zack Wheat 29 1916 0.379 0.400 0.586 0.468 12.5
Garret Anderson 28 1998 0.405 0.435 0.629 1.06 0.452 12.5
Paul Lo Duca 25 2003 0.422 0.449 0.637 0.70 0.466 12.5
Pete Rose 44 1978 0.385 0.421 0.462 1.31 0.400 12.3
Guy Curtright 26 1943 0.410 0.466 0.524 0.467 11.9
Zack Wheat 26 1918 0.444 0.459 0.528 0.476 11.8
Albert Belle 27 1997 0.346 0.407 0.645 0.95 0.446 11.7
Ken Landreaux 31 1980 0.392 0.445 0.496 1.21 0.428 11.6
Ken Boyer 29 1959 0.350 0.389 0.607 1.43 0.435 11.5
Rube Bressler 25 1927 0.406 0.447 0.585 0.468 11.5
Michael Young 25 2005 0.392 0.447 0.598 1.59 0.448 11.5
Xander Bogaerts 26 2016 0.385 0.419 0.581 0.92 0.429 11.4
Joe Medwick 27 1942 0.402 0.439 0.533 1.14 0.461 11.2
Gabe Kapler 28 2000 0.375 0.408 0.652 0.92 0.446 11.1
Jose Reyes 26 2012 0.365 0.405 0.625 1.06 0.436 11.0
Steve Sax 25 1986 0.406 0.457 0.528 1.43 0.439 10.9
Sam Rice 31 1924 0.402 0.448 0.500 0.440 10.9
Lance Johnson 25 1992 0.439 0.477 0.510 2.27 0.449 10.7
Harry Walker 29 1943 0.404 0.438 0.491 0.03 0.439 10.6
Nomar Garciaparra 26 2003 0.373 0.397 0.645 1.20 0.433 10.6
Casey Blake 26 2007 0.317 0.413 0.606 0.31 0.435 10.6
Marquis Grissom 28 1996 0.386 0.426 0.559 1.03 0.425 10.5
Michael Cuddyer 27 2013 0.372 0.400 0.575 0.69 0.423 10.5
Edd Roush 27 1920 0.404 0.429 0.535 0.448 10.3
Derek Jeter 25 2006 0.377 0.451 0.538 1.37 0.429 10.2
Luis Castillo 35 2002 0.403 0.436 0.468 1.81 0.401 10.2
Rod Carew 25 1982 0.414 0.459 0.495 0.50 0.435 10.1
Dom DiMaggio 34 1949 0.340 0.418 0.487 0.63 0.420 10.1
Bob Dillinger 28 1948 0.395 0.436 0.500 0.52 0.434 9.9
Scott Rolen 25 2009 0.390 0.430 0.571 0.99 0.434 9.9
Heinie Manush 33 1933 0.362 0.413 0.486 0.79 0.414 9.8
Brian Harper 25 1990 0.384 0.415 0.566 0.94 0.438 9.7
Red Schoendienst 28 1954 0.387 0.422 0.524 0.42 0.425 9.6
Earle Combs 29 1931 0.371 0.417 0.486 0.51 0.417 9.5
Dom DiMaggio 27 1951 0.403 0.434 0.481 0.91 0.422 9.1
Joe Medwick 28 1935 0.358 0.384 0.583 1.16 0.430 9.1
Hack Wilson 25 1927 0.350 0.391 0.612 0.447 9.0
Ichiro Suzuki 27 2009 0.398 0.432 0.542 0.27 0.415 9.0
John Flaherty 27 1996 0.375 0.393 0.607 1.24 0.425 8.9
Emilio Bonifacio 26 2011 0.390 0.479 0.430 0.86 0.411 8.9
Nolan Arenado 28 2014 0.360 0.383 0.568 1.44 0.407 8.9
Sam Rice 28 1930 0.390 0.442 0.517 0.44 0.432 8.8
Ichiro Suzuki 25 2007 0.411 0.445 0.500 0.35 0.416 8.5
Edd Roush 27 1924 0.400 0.429 0.540 0.444 8.4
Denard Span 29 2013 0.371 0.406 0.492 1.17 0.392 8.3
John Stone 26 1930 0.384 0.425 0.586 -0.05 0.442 8.3
Luke Appling 27 1936 0.350 0.449 0.470 0.56 0.432 8.2
Benito Santiago 34 1987 0.346 0.360 0.559 0.35 0.397 8.2
Johnny Damon 29 2005 0.348 0.386 0.530 -0.26 0.395 8.0
Vladimir Guerrero 26 2002 0.363 0.420 0.539 0.84 0.413 8.0
Johnny Pesky 26 1947 0.402 0.434 0.486 0.55 0.425 8.0
Buzz Boyle 25 1934 0.345 0.406 0.517 0.94 0.418 7.9
Jeff Kent 25 2004 0.359 0.415 0.576 0.65 0.418 7.9
Goose Goslin 25 1928 0.350 0.409 0.540 0.430 7.7
Glenn Beckert 27 1968 0.362 0.393 0.448 1.59 0.382 7.5
Heinie Manush 27 1930 0.395 0.425 0.509 0.02 0.423 7.3
Mel Almada 29 1938 0.372 0.413 0.465 0.39 0.406 7.0
Willie Davis 25 1971 0.398 0.405 0.463 1.01 0.391 6.6
Dale Alexander 29 1930 0.339 0.375 0.579 0.52 0.412 6.6
Victor Martinez 25 2009 0.358 0.425 0.484 0.25 0.403 6.5
Glenn Beckert 26 1973 0.355 0.407 0.439 0.46 0.385 5.9
Carlos Lee 28 2004 0.369 0.400 0.484 -0.24 0.382 5.7
Tony Gwynn 25 1983 0.361 0.411 0.412 0.39 0.381 5.2
Ron LeFlore 27 1978 0.311 0.354 0.445 0.58 0.369 4.8
Jerome Walton 30 1989 0.338 0.352 0.449 1.54 0.357 4.7
Willy Taveras 30 2006 0.349 0.404 0.426 0.66 0.370 4.6
Bruce Campbell 27 1938 0.304 0.344 0.513 0.07 0.383 4.2
Shannon Stewart 26 1999 0.342 0.397 0.447 0.01 0.376 3.9
Danny O’Connell 26 1953 0.356 0.382 0.424 -0.04 0.368 3.2
Joe McEwing 25 1999 0.318 0.350 0.436 -0.51 0.345 0.5

As you can see, Bradley’s streak was the real deal, and Bogaerts was getting there before he walked his way out of his streak on Friday night. Bogaerts walked twice in that game against Toronto, and was ready to take a third in his final chance in the ninth inning — he started walking to first after taking a 3-0 offering that was called a strike — before eventually striking out to end the streak. Still, his streak was respectable.

When I decided to go back and put all the single-season 25-game (or better) streaks into the mix, I wondered how many would stack up well with the 30-game (or better) streaks I had already examined. The answer was plenty. Five of the top 10 now are streaks I just added. Four of them — Chuck Klein, Wade Boggs, Al Simmons and Klein again — are at the bottom of the top 10. And then there is Babe Ruth, who as you can see trounces everyone but DiMaggio.

In 1921, Ruth was at the height of his powers. His 13.9 WAR that season would be the second-best mark of his career, and one of three seasons in which he posted 13 WAR or better. He whomped 59 homers, walked in 20.9% of his plate appearances while only striking out in 11.7% of them. And he slugged .846, which was the second-best mark of his career (he had slugged .849 the previous year). There was no Most Valuable Player Award that season, though he surely would have won it.

We should also talk about Klein for a second. His induction into the Hall of Fame is often pointed to as an example of Veteran’s Committee foolishness, and looking at his relatively paltry 42.8 WAR, you can see why. But the man could definitely hit. In the first six seasons of his career, his worst wRC+ was the 142 wRC+ he produced in his rookie season of 1928. He appears three times here, tied for the most of anyone on the list — George Sisler, Heinie Manush and Sam Rice also appear three times. Here’s a table of all the repeat performers.

Players With Multiple 25+ Game Hitting Streaks, MLB History
Player # Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
George Sisler 3 1917 1920 1922
Sam Rice 3 1920 1924 1930
Chuck Klein 3 1929 1930 1930
Heinie Manush 3 1930 1933 1933
Zack Wheat 2 1916 1918
Edd Roush 2 1920 1924
Hack Wilson 2 1927 1929
Goose Goslin 2 1928 1934
Joe Medwick 2 1935 1942
Dom DiMaggio 2 1949 1951
Hank Aaron 2 1956 1962
Pete Rose 2 1967 1978
Glenn Beckert 2 1968 1973
Willie Davis 2 1969 1971
Wade Boggs 2 1985 1987
Nomar Garciaparra 2 1997 2003
Vladimir Guerrero 2 1999 2002
Ichiro Suzuki 2 2007 2009

Klein and Manush are of particular interest to me because they’re the only ones to pull this off twice in the same season. DiMaggio’s feat is obviously the most impressive, but it’s just slightly less impressive to pull this off twice in the same season. Manush had roughly a month separation for his two in 1933, as his went from May 25th to June 23rd, and then July 22nd to August 25th. Klein had a little less than that: in 1930, he went streaking from May 18th to June 17th, and then July 12th to August 3rd. To pick up the pieces of your streak a month or less later and go on another one strikes me as remarkably difficult mentally. Interestingly, Manush and Klein would streak together during 1930. Klein’s May 18-June 17 streak would overlap with Manush, whose 1930 streak started a week later on May 25th and ended on June 23rd. Crazy, right?

Of course, while those feats are impressive, they didn’t come in the Integrated Era. Here are the top 10 streaks from just the Integrated Era:

Best 25+ Game Hitting Streaks, 1947-Present
Player Games Year BA OBP SLG WPA wOBA wRAA
Paul Molitor 39 1987 0.415 0.495 0.683 2.22 0.501 27.9
Wade Boggs 25 1987 0.458 0.563 0.698 1.44 0.576 24.9
Rico Carty 31 1970 0.451 0.530 0.743 1.50 0.554 24.4
George Brett 30 1980 0.467 0.504 0.746 2.70 0.544 24.0
Duke Snider 27 1953 0.450 0.508 0.780 2.22 0.566 22.7
Dan Uggla 33 2011 0.377 0.438 0.762 1.51 0.510 22.4
Chase Utley 35 2006 0.405 0.452 0.699 1.99 0.483 21.7
Edwin Encarnacion 26 2015 0.412 0.474 0.876 1.58 0.547 21.3
John Olerud 26 1993 0.435 0.530 0.837 1.38 0.552 21.2
Jackie Bradley Jr. 29 2016 0.415 0.488 0.783 1.61 0.524 20.4

Again, just half of the streaks are 30-plus gamers. Also, you’ll see that Bradley’s streak squeezes onto the list. Bradley really was a house afire. Also, we probably should have talked more about Edwin Encarnacion’s streak last season.

Here’s one more, a look at streaks by decade.

25+ Game Hitting Streaks, By Decade/Era
Period #
1910s 7
1920s 18
1930s 22
1940s 10
1950s 7
1960s 5
1970s 8
1980s 10
1990s 18
2000s 25
2010s 11
Pre-Integration (1913-1946) 54
Integration (1947-2016) 87
Free-Agent Era (1975-2016) 68
1913-present

Ultimately, hitting streaks are fun oddities, as Corinne Landrey characterized them in last Thursday’s FanGraphs newsletter. They don’t mean much in the larger context of who was great in baseball history. Some of them weren’t even that meaningful as they happened. Consider: of the 115 streaks for which we have win-probability data, six of them produced a negative WPA.

While these streaks don’t mean as much in a larger context, they are memorable, and tracking them is great fun. It’s fun to watch players when they’re so hot, and when the streaks end, you feel like a tiny part of you dies with it. If you polled Red Sox fans who watched Bogaerts make the final out Friday night, there were probably just as many sad that his hitting streak ended as there were those who were sad because it meant the team lost the actual game. The same is definitely true of Bradley’s streak. The night it ended, the game was over by the fifth inning, but people stuck around to see if Bradley could keep his streak going.

I was one of them. Watching from the bleachers, you could feel the palpable excitement as the Sox nearly rallied to get Bradley one last shot in the ninth, and when Mookie Betts squibbed a ball to first base to end the game with Bradley standing harmlessly in the on-deck circle, it was crushing. “You know Bradley would have got a hit if he’d gotten one last chance,” we all mumbled as we filed out of Fenway. “He’s been so hot.”





Paul Swydan used to be the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com and The Boston Globe. Now, he owns The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Acton, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan. Follow the store @SilUnicornActon.

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Cool Lester Smooth
6 years ago

Babe Ruth was good at baseball.

misterdirt
6 years ago

Yes, it was a very popular sport on the planet he came from.