Jul 29, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn (32) reacts after striking out during the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers beat the White Sox 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Adam Dunn, Dan Uggla, and Baseball History

Adam Dunn seems a lock to win the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year Award, because after having a historically awful 2011 season, he’s bounced back to hit 41 home runs this year (all stats in this article are through play on Thursday, September 28th), only two shy of the MLB lead. He’s also gotten attention for leading the league in walks and strikeouts, neither of which is a big surprise, given that he’s done each of those things before, and is one of the greatest “three true outcomes” players in baseball history.

The thing is, he’s also only batting .208, so even with a Major League best 103 walks, his on-base percentage is just .338, not a terrible figure, but not a good one either. I got to wondering, what’s the worst OBP a player has ever had for a season in which he led the league in walks???

The American League has been around since 1901. the National League goes back all the way to 1876. Here are the “top” twenty OBPs in either league’s history:

 

Player

Year

Team

League

Walks

OBP

1

Adam Dunn

2012

White Sox

American

103

.338

2

Dan Uggla

2012

Braves

National

91

.343

3

Miller Huggins

1907

Reds

National

83

.346

4

Jack Graney

1917

Indians

American

94

.348

5

Donie Bush

1911

Tigers

American

98

.349

6

Jimmy Barrett

1904

Tigers

American

79

.353

7

Ron Santo

1968

Cubs

National

96

.354

8

Ned Williamson

1885

Cubs

National

75

.357

9

Max Carey

1918

Pirates

National

62

.363

10

Topsy Hartsel

1906

Athletics

American

88

.363

11

George Burns

1920

Giants

National

76

.365

12

Donie Bush

1910

Tigers

American

78

.365

13

Joe Morgan

1980

Astros

National

93

.367

14

Gene Tenace

1974

Athletics

American

110

.367

15

Mel Ott

1933

Giants

National

75

.367

16

Mark McGwire

1990

Athletics

American

110

.370

17

Heinie Groh

1916

Reds

National

84

.370

18

Topsy Hartsel

1908

Athletics

American

93

.371

19

Joe Morgan

1965

Astros

National

97

.373

20

Donie Bush

1914

Tigers

American

112

.373

Yep, Adam Dunn has the very worst OBP ever, among all players to lead either league in walks. Incredibly, the second worst OBP is from this year too, from Dan Uggla. Who knew we were witnessing double-history, every time these guys manage to go 0 for 4 with one BB?!

It’s also notable that most of the seasons on the list come from a long time ago. Including Dunn and Uggla, only seven of the twenty are from the last 75 years and none of the other eighteen seasons are from the last twenty years. I guess guys just don’t walk a ton but hit not a lick like they used to.

There are still six days left in the season, but Dunn has a 12 walk lead over Ben Zobrist for the American League lead, so he’s secure there. Uggla is only 3 walks ahead of Joey Votto, so there’s still a chance he could drop off of the list entirely. The other possibility is that one or both of them will raise their OBP enough over the season’s final days to drop down the list.

If not? Then Adam Dunn and Dan Uggla will have performed quite the statistical feat.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Chicago White Sox Featured MLB History Popular

  • joel parshall

    Keep an eye on Dunn for one other thing too, all you South Siders. With 212 strikeouts and six games remaining, he looks like a cinch to exceed 216 strikeouts for the season. What’s special about 216? That is the number of times that Nellie Fox struck out in his entire career — 19 years!