Friday, July 6, 2012

Jim Thome, Three True Outcomes King

Last night Jim Thome, recently acquired by Baltimore, made history, breaking a record previously held by Barry Bonds. Before that this record belonged to Reggie Jackson, and before that, to Babe Ruth. That is impressive company for any man to keep, yet no one seems to have noticed this momentous occasion. Perhaps that's because it happened after most of the country was in bed, or perhaps (and more likely) it's because no one but me was paying any attention to this particular bit of baseball history. But whether anyone but me knew it or not, Jim Thome became baseball's all-time "three true outcomes" leader.

The three true outcomes for any plate appearance are the strikeout, the walk, and the home run. They are the possible outcomes that involve only the hitter and pitcher (give or take a catcher to throw the ball back). The term was coined during the 1980s in reference to seemingly every appearance by Rob Deer going one of those three ways.

Thome has also had a knack for all three of the outcomes during his career, he is currently 2nd all-time in strikeouts, 7th in walks, and tied for 7th in home runs. Add his totals up, and as I said, he is #1. Here is a list of the top twenty three true outcomes (TTO) players in baseball history (all numbers are through July 5, 2012):



Player
SO
BB
HR
TTO
PA
TTO%
1
Jim Thome*
2516
1735
609
4860
10219
47.56
2
Barry Bonds
1539
2558
762
4859
12606
38.55
3
Reggie Jackson
2597
1375
563
4535
11418
39.72
4
Rickey Henderson
1694
2190
297
4181
13348
31.33
5
Babe Ruth
1330
2062
714
4106
10620
38.66
6
Mickey Mantle
1710
1733
536
3979
9907
40.16
7
Mike Schmidt
1883
1507
548
3938
10062
39.14
8
Sammy Sosa
2306
929
609
3844
9896
38.84
9
Alex Rodriguez
1990
1202
642
3834
10968
34.96
10
Harmon Killebrew
1699
1559
573
3831
9833
38.96
11
Ken Griffey Jr.
1779
1312
630
3721
11304
32.92
12
Manny Ramirez
1813
1329
555
3697
9774
37.82
13
Carl Yastrzemski
1393
1845
452
3690
13992
26.37
14
Fred McGriff
1882
1305
493
3680
10174
36.17
15
Willie Mays
1526
1464
660
3650
12496
29.21
16
Frank Thomas
1397
1667
521
3585
10075
35.58
17
Hank Aaron
1383
1402
755
3540
13941
25.39
18
Bobby Abreu
1806
1445
286
3537
9861
35.87
19
Frank Robinson
1532
1420
586
3538
11742
30.13
20
Mark McGwire
1596
1317
583
3496
7660
45.64

Just missing that list is a man who will likely force his way on before the end of July, Adam Dunn, who is currently at 3457 TTO and collecting all three components at a very high clip this season. He could move as high as 16th before the end of the season and could very well break the record himself one day. The last column in the above chart represents the percent of each player's career plate appearances that ended in one of the TTO. These 20 players averaged close to 11,000 PA, which is a very high number, and you'll notice that their TTO% range from Thome's 47.56 down to Aaron's 25.39. There's something to be said for compiling big numbers, and all 20 players here are among the best hitters in history, but there's also something to be said for tallying numbers at a high rate, even if you don't play as long. So, here are the 20 highest TTO% in history (minimum of 3,000 career PA):



Player
SO
BB
HR
TTO
PA
TTO%
1
Russell Branyan
1118
403
194
1715
3398
50.47
2
Adam Dunn
1936
1131
390
3457
6912
50.01
3
Mark Reynolds
1032
366
165
1563
3130
49.94
4
Rob Deer
1409
575
230
2214
4513
49.06
5
Jim Thome
2516
1735
609
4860
10219
47.56
6
Ryan Howard
1207
540
286
2033
4409
46.11
7
Carlos Pena
1396
737
271
2404
5255
45.75
8
Mark McGwire
1596
1317
583
3496
7660
45.64
9
Mickey Tettleton
1307
949
245
2501
5745
43.53
10
Pat Burrell
1564
932
292
2788
6520
42.76
11
Jay Buhner
1406
792
310
2508
5927
42.31
12
Gorman Thomas
1339
697
268
2304
5486
42.00
13
Brad Wilkerson
947
492
122
1561
3753
41.59
14
Danny Tartabull
1362
768
262
2392
5842
40.94
15
Don Lock
776
373
122
1271
3116
40.79
16
Jose Canseco
1942
906
462
3310
8129
40.72
17
Jayson Werth
908
449
143
1500
3701
40.53
18
Mickey Mantle
1710
1733
536
3979
9907
40.16
19
Troy Glaus
1377
854
320
2551
6355
40.14
20
Brad Hawpe
796
425
124
1345
3369
39.92

These are perhaps the truest TTO players, and you can see that both Thome and Dunn are among the very greatest. Dunn or Mark Reynolds could each pass Branyan's percentage someday. Only three of these 20 players began their career before the last 30 years (Mantle, Lock, and Thomas), so clearly TTO have climbed and climbed in frequency, and both of these lists are likely to see many changes over the next decade.

Today though, let us celebrate Jim Thome. Long live the king.

2 comments:

  1. Wow. Hank Aaron just keeps getting more impressive. He is 17th in TTO yet those 3,540 PA represent barely 25% of his total PA!

    Yes he's in the Hall but he still has to be one of the most underrated players of all time.

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    Replies
    1. I agree, Hank Aaron DOES somehow seem to be underrated. Sometimes I feel he's viewed as a guy who managed to hit a lot of home runs for a long time (not that THAT would be anything to scoff at), and that his overall greatness is overlooked. I'm no sure if it's being a contemporary of Mays, or playing in smaller markets, or... I don't know.

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