Studs and duds: August 14 – August 20

The week of August 14 to August 20 saw many hot performances from the likes of Freddie Freeman, Luke Voit, Max Fried and Nestor Cortes. Were any of them good enough to earn their man the title of Stud? Let’s see …

Freddie Freeman is leading the league with 90 runs and 235 total bases. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Freddie Freeman (1B, Braves). Freeman narrowly edges Max Muncy, going 14-for-26 with 3 home runs, 7 RBI and 8 runs scored in the past week. His slash line of .538/.600/1.038 and OPS of 1.638 are a big reason the Braves are surging right now—they’re now 10 games over .500 and 4 games up in the National League East. For Freeman’s part, his run brings his season average to .300—not too shabby, considering it was in the .220s in June.

Honorable mention: Max Muncy (IF, Dodgers; .318/.423/1.045 BA/OBP/SLG, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 8 R).

Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). Now we’re just piling on. He’s held this title for four straight days. It doesn’t help that Los Angeles isn’t playing him, but that’s part of the reason he’s still here. His performance (0-for-6, 2 E) was so anemic, the Dodgers are afraid to put him on the field.

Dishonorable mention: Anthony Santander (OF, Orioles; 1-for-20, 10 K).

Pitching stud: Max Fried (SP, Braves). All the Braves stars are cranking right now. Like Freeman above, Fried started out the season poorly, posting a 6.55 ERA through his first five starts and into July, his ERA was 4.71. But that’s all in the past now: Last night, Fried tossed a complete game shutout and has allowed just 1 run and no walks over his past 15 innings. When Fried pitches, the Braves win—since 2019, he’s 35-13, a .729 winning percentage. Last year, he didn’t lose a single start, going 7-0 and finishing 5th in Cy Young voting.

Jorge Lopez should get used to wearing that minor league uniform again. (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Walker Buehler (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 14 2/3 IP, 18 K, 3 BB).

Pitching dud: Jorge Lopez (SP, Orioles). Lopez holds an 18.56 ERA over the past week, so it’ll be difficult for him to shed this title. In 5 2/3 innings, he surrendered 11 runs on 13 hits and 4 walks—but on the bright side (?) only two of those hits were home runs. Since late July, his ERA is 8.84.

Dishonorable mention: Adam Ottavino (RP, Red Sox; 1 1/3 IP, 3 BB, 2 WP, 1 HBP, 6.75 ERA).

Max Muncy’s 2019 was pretty unusual (introducing the Muncy Ratio).

Max Muncy, the father of the Muncy Ratio. (Wikipedia).

Slugging infielder Max Muncy doesn’t match up with some of the names who have done it, but in 2019 he achieved a thrice-in-a-decade feat.

That year, he had 122 hits and crossed the plate 101 times, an astonishing hit-to-run ratio of 1.21, which was accomplished by only two other players in the 2010s (minimum 100 hits).

In 2011, Curtis Granderson scored 136 runs on 153 hits and in 2017, Aaron Judge scored 128 runs on 154 hits. Since 1950, the Muncy Ratio, as we’ll call it, happened just 25 times, and only 46 times since 1900.

But, historically, it isn’t rare. In the small ball, high-steal, often wonky days of  19th century baseball, it happened 114 times. Ross Barnes did it first in 1873, when he had 125 runs on just 138 hits, then he did it again in 1876, with 126 runs and 138 hits.

In 1884 Billy Hamilton, the renowned speedster, had 198 runs on 225 hits, and Hall of Famer King Kelly nearly hit the magic ratio of 1:1 in 1885, scoring 124 runs on 126 hits.

If a Hall of Famer couldn’t do it, some lesser names could. Emmett Seery—whose claim to fame still hasn’t been established nearly a century-and-a-half later—scored 104 runs and had the same number of hits for the long-since forgotten Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1887.

Honestly, if we were discussing this feat in the 1800s, no one would be impressed. Eight men scored more runs than had hits between 1884 and 1890 alone. George Gore did it twice. Seery’s accomplishment is unique, sure, but the Muncy Ratio—the very reason for this article!—eh, it’d be nothing to write home about about.

Harry Stovey achieved the Ratio more than anybody. (Wikipedia).

Harry Stovey managed it eight times, including four years in a row. Bid McPhee, a Hall of Famer, and George Gore—who should be in the Hall if you ask the right folks—did it five times each. Even Tom BrownTom who??—did it four times.

Then the 20th century dawned. The Ratio, which was achieved eight times from 1895 to 1899, didn’t occur again until 1911—it happened four times that decade, and Donie Bush owns two of its instances.

It saw a resurgence in the high-flying 1920s and 1930s, occurring 15 times. Of course Babe Ruth accomplished it, three times in fact, but so did Oscar Charleston and Cool Papa Bell, twice, each. In 1930, Max Bishop, known for being a walks machine, was the first player to score more runs than have hits in a season since 1890. That year, he trotted home 117 times on just 111 hits. He was also the last player to manage a hit-to-run ratio of less than one-to-one.

As offenses came down to earth, the mark again became a rarity. Only two men did it in the 1940s, none in the 1950s, two in the 1960s and one in the 1970s, with Jim Wynn the only man to do it that decade. He also achieved it in 1969.

Rickey Henderson and Eric Davis tried to bring the trend back in the 1980s and it worked, sort of. Both did it twice, and Henderson did it five times overall.

As the game became offensive again in the 1990s, it saw an uptick in the hit-run phenomenon. It was achieved six times by four players in that ten-year span.

Then 2000s Barry Bonds happened. With hurlers pitching around him at record rates, he was getting on base with superhuman frequency—and, with guys like Jeff Kent batting behind him, scoring a lot. He accomplished the feat four times in a five year span, but still doesn’t own the most impressive season of those who did it that decade: In 2000, Jeff Bagwell led the league with 152 runs scored on just 183 hits.

While nearly all the players who reach the Ratio rank as very good-to-great and have or had All-Star potential, sometimes a total outlier crops up and joins the club. In 2005, David Dellucci did just that, scoring 97 runs on just 109 hits. It was one of only two seasons in which he had 100-plus knocks.

And here we are today. Max Muncy was the last player to reach the ratio he established, and though he’s managed it just once, he’s gotten close in other years, as well. In 2018, he had a hit-to-run ratio of 1.41-to-1. This year, he’s at 1.31. And last year, had he played a full season, he would have bested the Muncy Ratio with a mark of 1.08.

Fernando Tatis, Jr. is on the verge of qualifying for the Muncy Ratio. (Wikipedia).

There are a few factors that allow for the phenomenon to unfold. Drawing walks is key—58 of those who achieved it had on-base percentages of .400 or better when they did. Speed helps, too, especially for those who hit a lot of singles or don’t have a good eye at the plate. Sixty-nine of the players who achieved the Muncy Ratio had stolen at least 40 bases.

Home runs contribute. By dint of what they are they achieve a H:R ratio of 1:1 each time they’re hit. And triples, they’re not quite home runs, but they get a player as close to scoring as possible without going all around the bases. Sixty-two of those who managed the Ratio had 10 or more when they did it.

And most importantly, batters need other solid hitters in the lineup to drive them in—a triple is only a run scored if someone else pokes one into the outfield or himself hits a big fly. Otherwise, it’s a wasted opportunity.

Sure, it’s a novelty, the Muncy Ratio. But those who achieve it, in the 21st century at least, are in fairly rare territory. And though the club’s membership might expand by two this year, with Fernando Tatis, Jr. (98 H, 83 R) and Joey Gallo (81 H, 70 R) right at its doorstep, do recall—

It’s a group neither Willie Mays, nor Joe DiMaggio, nor Frank Robinson, nor Hank Aaron, nor Ken Griffey, Jr., nor Lou Brock, nor Ty Cobb ever managed to joined.

Studs and duds: August 13 – August 19

It’s graduation day for yesterday’s Offensive Honorable Mention, Max Muncy—now he’s the Stud for the week of August 13 to August 19. Let’s see who else took baseball by storm, and who totally flopped, this past week.

Max Muncy hit 5 home runs in the past week. (Wikipedia)

Offensive stud: Max Muncy (IF, Dodgers). Since his breakout campaign in 2018, Muncy has been one of the hottest sluggers in the league, averaging 40 home runs and 102 RBI per 162 games. Fantasy enthusiasts love him for that reason, and because he knows how to draw a walk—his on-base percentage is .404 this year. This past week encapsulates just how great a player Muncy is. Even with an 0-for-4 showing yesterday, he still slashed .348/.444/1.043 with 5 home runs, 10 RBI and 9 runs scored (he has one more run than total hits!). His OPS is a deadly 1.488. Numbers like that make opposing pitchers quake in their cleats.

Honorable mention: Freddie Freeman (1B, Braves; .586 BA, 1.000 SLG, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R).

Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). Lux retains his title for the third straight day. It’s been so bad he sat last night, just a few days after coming off the Injured List. What really kills him is the couple errors he committed his first game back. Not a good showing.

Dishonorable mention: Anthony Santander (OF, Orioles; 2-for-23, 11 K) … but at least he’s managed a couple hits!

Charlie Morton has been one of the best pitchers in the game. (Wikipedia)

Pitching stud: Charlie Morton (SP, Braves). Morton graduated to Stud, as well, after being yesterday’s honorable mention. The hurler twirled two quality starts for Atlanta, striking out 16 batters while allowing just 9 hits and 3 walks. He won both games. Morton’s ascendance to greatness is truly stunning, as he was nothing more than middling through his age-32 season (45-71 W-L, 4.54 ERA). Since then, he’s gone 59-22 with a 3.37 ERA and 10.6 K/9 IP ratio—good enough to earn him a couple All-Star selections and a third place finish in the 2019 American League Cy Young vote.

Honorable mention: Jack Flaherty (SP, Cardinals; 2 G, 12 IP, 13 K, 1 BB, 6 H, 1 W).

Pitching dud: Jorge Lopez (SP, Orioles). Okay, Jorge. You had your chance. You tanked a couple starts ago and that really dragged you down. But yesterday was the time for redemption. You (miraculously) got another start! You could have shown the world that your past failings (all six years of them) were just a blip! So what do you do? Of course, you last just 2 innings this time, give up 4 runs and drill another batter. You know your ERA is 18.56 over your past two starts, right?

Dishonorable mention: Dan Winkler (RP, Cubs; 0.1 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 9 ER). He’s earned this spot two days in a row, but he had a very rough go of it.

Studs and duds: August 12 – August 18

In terms of performance, the top batters and pitchers cooled off a little bit since the last writing, but there were still some excellent showings in the week of August 12 to August 18.

Dansby Swanson is finally living up to his first round billing. (Wikipedia)

Offensive stud: Dansby Swanson (SS, Braves). It’s been a rocky road getting to this point for Swanson, as he was hitting below .250 as recently as August 3 … and for his career, prior to 2021. If this past week was any indication, however, it looks like the former number one overall pick is turning a corner. In 31 at-bats, he collected 13 hits for a .419 average, with 4 of his knocks going over the fence. Not much of a slugger prior to 2021, his slugging percentage of .806 in this recent hot streak was downright Ruthian. To this day, the Diamondbacks brass must be kicking themselves for trading him away (how’s Shelby Miller working out for ya?).

Honorable mention: Max Muncy (IF, Dodgers; .364 BA, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB).

Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). Lux retains his title as Dudliest Dud, making Los Angeles fans cringe with his 0-for-6 showing and 2 errors since coming off the Injured List a few days ago. His shuffling return reminds fans of how underwhelming the 2016 first round pick has been since joining the big club three years ago, as he’s hit just .218 in 126 games.

Dishonorable mention: Ramon Urias (IF, Orioles; 1-for-14, 6 K, 2 E). The only thing saving him from the title is a slightly more impressive defensive performance. 

Pitching stud: Logan Webb (SP, Giants). After earning the honorable mention yesterday, Webb ascends to this week’s pitching stud. Winning both of his starts, Webb tossed 13 1/3 innings, striking out 16 batters and walking just 3. He’s finally put it all together this year, maintaining a pitching line of 7-3, 2.92 after going just 5-9, 5.36 the prior two seasons. He’s among the best on a pitching staff that’s won 78 games and features Cy Young candidate Kevin Gausman.

Honorable mention: Charlie Morton (SP, Braves; 2-0 W-L, 12 IP, 16 K, 3 BB, 2 QS).

Pitching dud: Jorge Lopez (SP, Orioles). As with Lux above, Lopez retains his title, with his 3 1/3 inning, 7 run performance a few days ago so abhorrent no pitcher has stepped up to match it. He’s starting today — let’s see if he can twirl a gem and pull himself out of such mediocrity. I’m not hopeful. He’s never completed a game, but he’s allowed 5 or more runs 17 times — including 6 times this season.

Dishonorable mention: Dan Winkler (RP, Cubs; 0.1 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 9 ER). … and he didn’t even take the loss!