This is inspired by a friend of mine who dared to ask the question, "How the hell can [yo]u hit .338 and be overrated?"
He was of course referring to the bane of my existence, Michael Young. Why is he the bane of my exsitence? Because he misleads us. And if there is one thing that really chaps me off, it's being misled by a Texas Ranger.
But while I don't intend to focus on my undying desire to see Michael Young return from whence he came, let me in fairness point out that Young's 2011 slash line is still very impressive:
.338/ .390/ .474
This is good for a solid .369 wOBA. And when I said "overrated," perhaps I should have said instead that his Batting Average is misleading. I should have noted that the image created by the tag ".338 Hitter" may make certain assumptions about the player's on-base and slugging abilities, abilities which Michael Young really lacks.
While ranking 3rd in the majors this season in Batting Average, Young still only ranks 16th in OBP. This is owed to his walk rate ranking 105th in the majors, at a very pedestrian 6.7%. How rare is this? How often has a player matched Young's elite batting average while also posting an OBP at or below his mark of .380?
[minimum 400 PA, since 1990]
In the past decade it's happened only twice. In the past 20 years it's happened only 4 times. And it's worth mentioning that only 1 of these 4 players managed to slug less than Young as well, Freddy Sanchez in 2006, with his bizarre line of .344/ .378/ .473. That sort of slash line is misleading to the max, and I'd bet all the money in my pocket against all the money in your pocket that Freddy Sanchez is the bane of someone's existence somewhere out there and that they're probably writing a blog post about it right this instant.
This then, in turn, inspired me as I dared to ask, how misleading can it get?
If we query all seasons since 1990 where a player has hit at least .300 (the point at which it's been scientifically proven that misleading begins), and also meets Michael Young's requirements of:
-having an OBP less than 42 points above his BA
-having an SLG less than 136 points above his BA
Then we find 32 players:
[minimum 400 PA]
Interestingly, we find that Michael Young's .369 wOBA would rank 3rd best on this list, meaning that there have been a lot more 'misleading' seasons in recent memory. Tony Gwynn (hall of famer bane) and Ichiro (likely hall of famer bane) rank #1 and #2 above Young's 2011 wOBA, and after that it gets pretty ugly. A lot of these names don't surprise me as they have been pretty baney over the years, Pierzynski (super bane), Polonco (uber bane), Grudzielanek (holy crap bane). All the way down to what is the most bane season of all existence of the last 20 years, Felix Ferman in 1994, .319/.338/ .380 with a wOBA of only .319.
And finally, I quickly did a search to see if ever there had been a 400 PA season where a player's BA was higher than his wOBA and I generated one name, Rey Sanchez. In 2001 Rey hit .281/ .300/ .336 for the Kansas City Royals, good for a .280 wOBA. Rey has had enough empty batting averages over the years to have had an award named after him over at The Hardball Times, and given that THT has recently thought about renaming the award, it's only proper to offer him our props:
Mr. Rey Sanchez, you son of a gun, You're so Bane.