Michael Cuddyer just finished going streaking. His 27-game streak, which lasted from May 28th to June 30th, was the longest since Dan Uggla’s 33-gamer in 2011. While he didn’t reach the 30-game benchmark that many sites use, 27 games is nothing to shake a stick at — Cuddyer’s streak was just the 135th of 25 or more games since 1916 that happened during the same season (there were also 18 that spanned two seasons, but I don’t count those. If you have a problem with that you can go suck a lemon). I didn’t have the time to go through all of those streaks, but I did have a chance to take a look at the streaks of 30 or more games, and I thought we could put Cuddyer’s streak into perspective.
To start, obviously, Cuddyer’s was at least three games fewer. That’s a given, and I didn’t need to explain that to you. Breaking down one of the 30-game-streak lists, which actually go back further than 1916, we find 54. But for our purposes here, we need to trim a little bit. We first eliminate the 12 streaks that span multiple seasons. I’m just not counting them. Nothing I do in September of one year has anything to do with what I do in April of the following year. It’s nonsense, as far as I’m concerned (feel free to disagree in the comments). We also have to eliminate the 12 streaks that occurred before 1916, which is the first season for which Baseball-Reference has game logs. They are:
The Ty Cobb streak from 1911 seems like it would have been particularly awesome — he hit .420/.467/.621 for a .506 wOBA that year, and won the American League Most Valuable Player Award to boot. Chances are, he hit pretty freaking well during that streak. But we can’t say for sure because we don’t have the game logs. Or, we can’t directly compare it to other hit streaks because we don’t have the game logs.
In any case, we are left with 32 hit streaks. Three of the 32 streaks appear dubious to me — Moises Alou in 2007, Albert Pujols in 2003 and Ken Landreaux in 1980. During each of these streaks, there was a game in which the player had a single plate appearance, but was either walked or hit by a pitch, and thus did not have an official at-bat. These are still generally accepted streaks, and so I will accept them as well, but they don’t seem to be capturing the spirit of the thing. I just wanted to point that out. Mostly because I’m a nerd.
To make the comparisons, I took each player’s raw stats from their game logs as compiled by B-Ref, and then used the fantastically awesome Guts! page to help me calculate the wOBA and wRAA of each streak. Assuming I did all of that correctly (and there’s always a chance that I didn’t), here is how Cuddyer’s streak shakes out:
|Sandy Alomar Jr.||30||1997||0.422||0.455||0.595||1.333||0.462||13.5|
One item of note — the WPA comes from B-Ref, and it appears that they don’t have WPA for any pre-World War II seasons. I’m not a mathematician, but I’m pretty sure Joe DiMaggio would have a positive WPA during his hit streak.
As you can see, Cuddyer’s streak wasn’t historically awesome, and if I went back and included all of the 27-, 28- and 29-game hit streaks, it might fare even worse. But it wasn’t the worst. It was worth more in wRAA than streaks that were as many as eight games longer. This strikes me as pretty cool, even as someone who knew that Luis Castillo’s streak wasn’t anything to write home about as it was happening back in 2005.
When the Rockies traded Seth Smith and signed Michael Cuddyer following the 2011 season, several people were critical of the moves, including myself. Then Cuddyer went out and underwhelmed when he did play in 2012, which was mainly the first half — he missed all but 19 games in the second half with an oblique injury — which didn’t help matters any. This year however, Cuddyer has silenced critics, and the hit streak is only part of that. If he maintains it, his 158 wRC+ will easily be a career best, and even though he has been an atrocious fielder in right field, he has already doubled his WAR from last season in roughly 2/3 the games played.
Hitting streaks the length of which Cuddyer just put together don’t come around every year, and they are a pretty interesting subject that I may dig into more in the near future. Players compile these streaks more frequently than they used to, but you still only have to look back to 2010 to find a year without a hitting streak of 25 or more games. He may not have had the best hitting streak ever, but Cuddyer’s streak was still pretty sweet, and while his defense will hold him out of any serious MVP discussions, he is putting together a pretty nice season overall.