The Nine Best Seasons from Non-Qualifying Hitters (since ’62)

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

When we talk about postseason statistical titles or when we break down numbers, we often talk about performance among qualifying players. For hitters, this means among players who have had 3.1 PA or more per each team game. Over the course of 162 games, that works out to just over 502 PA in a season. But players who don’t reach that threshold can still be valuable and I’d like to highlight some of the best.

Here are the basic rules. First, this is since 1962 when both leagues went to the 162 games schedule and I’ve dropped out all seasons with labor stoppages. I’ve also rounded down to 500 PA just for simplicity and because sometimes a team plays 161 or 163 games or whatever. Don’t get caught up the technicalities. Below are The Nine  best ranked by WAR with the recognition that defensive numbers are pretty imprecise when we go back beyond the last 10 or so seasons.

Rank Season Name Team G PA Fld BsR WAR
9 2001 J.D. Drew Cardinals 108 443 9.0 1.3 5.6
8 1970 Bernie Carbo Reds 125 467 2.0 0.6 5.6
7 2012 Joey Votto Reds 111 475 6.2 -3.5 5.6
6 1992 Rickey Henderson Athletics 116 500 3.0 5.2 5.6
5 1996 Scott Brosius Athletics 114 500 19 0.4 5.8
4 1982 Gary Roenicke Orioles 135 477 21 -1.6 5.9
3 1995 Mike Piazza Dodgers 112 475 -2.0 0.1 6.0
2 1993 Rick Wilkins Cubs 132 500 14 0.1 6.7
1 2003 Javy Lopez Braves 129 495 1.0 -1.2 6.8

And for more detailed information on those seasons:

Rank Season Name HR AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
9 2001 J.D. Drew 27 0.323 0.414 0.613 0.429 162
8 1970 Bernie Carbo 21 0.310 0.454 0.551 0.441 170
7 2012 Joey Votto 14 0.337 0.474 0.567 0.438 177
6 1992 Rickey Henderson 15 0.283 0.426 0.457 0.401 158
5 1996 Scott Brosius 22 0.304 0.393 0.516 0.392 131
4 1982 Gary Roenicke 21 0.270 0.392 0.499 0.397 148
3 1995 Mike Piazza 32 0.346 0.400 0.606 0.427 168
2 1993 Rick Wilkins 30 0.303 0.376 0.561 0.400 144
1 2003 Javy Lopez 43 0.328 0.378 0.687 0.442 170

All of these, as you would expect feature players who came very close to qualifying. Should you be curious Justin Morneau’s 2010 season of 4.9 WAR is the highest on the list among players who had fewer than 400 PA.

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