An interesting query via the mailbag:
- I have a question that I simply must have an answer on! Went to the Giants/Orioles game tonight and saw Julio Lugo's stat line. I thought it was a mistake but I just checked and I am amazed after 105 at bats he has zero extra-base hits ... His slugging pct is the same as his batting average.What is most at bats a player has ever gone in a season before they got their first extra base hit? 105 seems like an awful lot. I don't expect this to get answered but after reading you for so long I would expect an oddity such as this would have to burn your brain a bit as well.
I can't answer your question exactly, Dave. What I can tell you is that since World War II, only seven players have gone through an entire season with zero extra-base hits in more than 100 at-bats. And that one of them -- if he doesn't hook on with another team -- will be Mark Grudzielanek, who went XBH-less in 110 at-bats before the Indians released him. And while Lugo will almost certainly disqualify him from this list eventually, he does sort of epitomize the Orioles' disastrous season.
Because Lugo should not be in this discussion. He's a veteran, but six years younger than Grudzielanek. He's a shortstop, but a shortstop with some pop. Entering this season, Lugo's career isolated power -- slugging percentage minus batting average -- was .120, perfectly respectable for a middle infielder. Among the 72 shortstops since World War II with at least 5,000 plate appearances, Lugo's isolated power ranks 30th (ahead of, among many others, Pee Wee Reese and Tony Fernandez). Just last season, Lugo's isolated power was .125.
It's just one of those seasons. For Lugo, and for the Orioles.
By the Way: If you're interested, the record is held by shorstop Dwain Anderson, who went 124 at-bats without a long hit in 1973 while playing for the Cardinals and (mostly) the Padres. Of course, Anderson did have an excuse: he finished with only 15 singles in those 124 at-bats, and closed the season with a .121/.232/.121 line (and let's give him due credit for somehow drawing 18 walks).