Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Three True Outcomes Games!

Anyone who has studied the mathematical or sabermetric side of baseball has certainly heard of the concept of the Three True Outcomes.  Basically, when looking at the battle between a pitcher and a batter, there are three true outcomes:  a walk, a strikeout and a home run.  By true outcomes, we take away things like defense, park, weather, speed, etc.  It was introduced by Rany Jazayerli of Baseball Prospectus back in 2000 and you can read a lot more about the idea from him, as he is a far more talented writer than I.

While we may think that Ken Griffey Jr. can notice Sammy Sosa about to drink his Pepsi and then fire a line drive into the dugout to thwart him, that actually does not seem to be a realistic scenario.  While some batters are better at putting balls in play than others, controlling a "hit" is nearly impossible.  If it were, some crazy, but brilliant hitter would have posted a 1.000 batting average in a season. 

The concept of the Three True Outcomes hitter is not new and not even all that rare.  It is easy to find a big powerful dude with a good batting eye who also takes monstrous hacks.  Rob Deer, Mark McGwire, Russell Branyan, Bo Jackson and Adam Dunn fit this baseball archetype.  However, I want to know how rare a Three True Outcomes Game is.  By that, I refer to a game where a batter gets only three plate appearances and uses them to walk, strike out, and hit a home run, once each.

Using Baseball Reference's incomparable game finder tool, I found that such a feat has happened 411 times since 1916.  This equals roughly four occurrences per season.  Pretty rare indeed.  Frank Howard and Lance Parrish each accomplished this feat four times, which is the most of any individual player.  Ok, query completed. 

Ok, thanks for reading!  Have a nice day.

Wait!  Did you leave? 

I have decided that I need to narrow my search significantly.  I realize that many of these players didn't play the full game.  Dastardly!  Just looking at Lance Parrish, I see that he was pinch hit for in one of those games and replaced by another catcher in two others.  That snake!  Those aren't Three True Outcome games.  I'm pretty sure "getting pinch hit for" and "being a mediocre catcher" aren't true outcomes. 

Luckily for society, we can narrow the search to only include games both started and finished by players and get rid of these fakers.  Upon doing so, we are left with only 165 instances, which is about 2 per season.  Rarer than we thought!  And with that, I have righted the wrong that Lance Parrish tried to perpetuate against all of us and I can move on with my life. 

Thanks for reading.  Have a nice day.

Wait!  Sorry, one more thing.

Mike Schmidt was walked intentionally in his Three True Outcomes game.  That doesn't sit well with me.  While it is a True Outcome to be walked intentionally, it's not a true product of the batter v. pitcher match up   There were likely other factors that lead to that intentional walk.  This cannot stand.  Other than Mike Schmidt, there were 10 more jokers who reached their 3rd outcome in this devious fashion.  Upon removing them (including personal favorite Chili Davis), we are left with just 154 true Three True Outcomes games.  Handshakes and salutations all around!  We have our number.

Thanks again for reading.  Have a nice day.

Wait!  Last time.

I just noticed that George Harper's team won his Three True Outcomes game by a score of 11-1.  How in the darn?  Even with 11 solo home runs, Harper would have had to have hit 4 times.  Wha happen?  Well, I opened his box score and found that they only played 6 innings in that game!  George Harper, you tramp!  This cannot stand.  I need to go in and remove these shortened games, for the good of a pure society. 

Ok, that took forever.  But, for you, I now present the 144 instances of the Three True Outcomes Game:

I couldn't embed the table.  Blogger can't handle it.  But, the link is more fun anyway, because you can mess around with the table and do some fun sorting and stuff.  Right?  If you don't feel like doing fun sorting and stuff, here is some "analysis" from me:

Fun Factz! (the z is a typo that I refuse to fix):
  •          Damion Easley, Frank Howard, Harold Baines, Jay Bruce, Rich Aurilia, and Ryan Langerhans each have two Three True Outcomes Games.
  •          Sean Casey, Jim Edmonds and Frank Howard are the only players with a Three True Outcomes game from the 3-hole in the lineup.
  •          12 players hit three-run home runs in their Three True Outcomes game, and 39 hit two-run home runs. 
  •          Bret Boone, Rich Becker, Faye Throneberry and Alfonso Soriano added stolen bases in their Three True Outcome Game
  •          Todd Hollandsworth, Kosuke Fukudome, Jim Anderson and Ken Harrelson were caught stealing in their Three True Outcome Game. Mercy!
  •          Early Wilson, Tony Kaufmann, Urban Shocker, Dave McNally and Luis Tiant were the only pitchers to accomplish this feat.
  •          Players were 91 and 53 in these games.  Clearly, a Three True Outcomes Game means your team is likely to win.  (not true)
  •          Sean Casey, Billy Bryan, Harold Baines and Ron Swoboda had their Three True Outcomes Game in 1-0 wins. 
  •          On September 18, 1993, Shane Spencer had the only Three True Outcomes Game that went extra innings.  He was standing on deck when the winning run was scored in the 10th, saving his place in history. 

Local Angle!

Only two Twins have had Three True Outcomes Games:  Rich Becker in 1997 and Danny Goodwin in 1981.

Eight players have had a Three True Outcomes Game against the Twins:  Toby Harrah, Ty Wigginton, Jim Anderson, Jorge Posada, Brad Ausmus, Jim Essian, Tim Hulett and Brian Downing


None of this nonsense means a thing, but it sure is fun.  These games are exceedingly rare, with about three occurring every two seasons.  Useless information?  Perhaps.  But really, what were you doing when you opened this page anyway?

Thanks for reading, for real this time.  

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