Originally posted on Baseball Prospectus  |  Last updated 7/26/12

Yonder Alonso is a slow man playing for a bad team. He has 86 hits this season and 27 runs scored, a ratio of 3.19 to 1. That's worst in MLB among batting title qualifiers.

Alonso's performance got me wondering how many players have finished a season with an extreme ratio of hits to runs. For our purposes, “extreme” is defined as 5 to 1 or greater.

Since 1901, there have been seven instances in which a batting title qualifier met our criteria:

Player

Year

PA

R

H

H/R

Bill Bergen

1908

320

8

53

6.63

Bill Bergen

1906

372

9

56

6.22

Doc Miller

1914

212

8

49

6.13

Verne Clemons

1920

378

17

95

5.59

Hank Severeid

1919

384

16

87

5.44

Bill Killefer

1919

344

17

90

5.29

Mario Guerrero

1978

546

27

139

5.15

Not surprisingly, most of these guys were catchers. Note that due to changing standards in what constitutes a batting title qualifier, Guerrero is the only one to collect at least 400 plate appearances.

If we limit ourselves to hitters with at least 502 plate appearances, the current standard for a 162-game season, we must tweak our definition of “extreme” to 4 to 1 to get a similar list:

Player

Year

PA

R

H

H/R

Mario Guerrero

1978

546

27

139

5.15

Leo Cardenas

1972

602

25

123

4.92

Earl Sheely

1931

586

30

147

4.90

Tommy Helms

1968

526

35

146

4.17

Fred Raymer

1905

522

26

105

4.04

John Leary

1914

552

35

141

4.03

Helms is an interesting name here. He scored 72 runs as a rookie in 1966, then never broke 45 in eight seasons as a regular after that. More about him some other day; for now, let's take another look at Guerrero, this time focusing on his entire career.

Our hero amassed more than 2,400 big-league plate appearances, but he never did score many runs, peaking at 32 in his final season of 1980. His career hits-to-runs ratio is 3.48, a feat achieved by just seven other men since 1901 (minimum 2,000 plate appearances):

Player

Years

PA

R

H

H/R

Larry McLean

1901-1915

2,833

183

694

3.79

Bill Bergen

1901-1911

3,228

138

516

3.74

Mike LaValliere

1984-1995

2,871

185

663

3.58

Fred Kendall

1969-1980

2,823

170

603

3.55

Joe Azcue

1960-1972

3,094

201

712

3.54

Mario Guerrero

1973-1980

2,414

166

578

3.48

Chris Canizzarro

1960-1974

2,240

132

458

3.47

Junior Ortiz

1982-1994

2,071

142

484

3.41

Seven catchers and Mario Guerrero. Saying “never” in baseball is a risky proposition, but it's possible that we've seen the last of Guerrero's ilk.

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