Obscure baseball stats - how do they know?

Last night, Scott Hatteburg of the Red Sox hit into a triple play on one at-bat, then hit a grand slam on his next at-bat. Before the game ended, the announcers confirmed that he was the first player ever to do that. My question is, how could anyone know, at least how could anyone know so fast? Is this kind of information (what players did in their next at-bat after hitting into a triple play) in a data base?

As soon as his results were entered into an electronic score sheet, the database returned some notes about the two at-bats.

This is the golden age of relational databases. There are baseball stat nuts with very creative and thoruogh d-bases.

Some stats are off the top of the heads of stat gurus, but with today’s database programs, there is an almost unlimited number of relationships to build between differnet categories in the database.

Also, I’m sure that once the triple play occurred, people began to look up information on triple plays since it is a fairly rare occurrence. By the time Hatteburg came up to bat again, they probably had stats on hand about people who hit into triple plays.

This would be a very unusual circumstance, since triple plays are extremely rare, so it wouldn’t be that hard to look up.

That said, baseball’s statistical record is NOT entirely complete or accurate. There are a lot of famous cases; Ty Cobb was long credited as having 4,191 hits and a .367 average, but it now seems that he had 4,190 hits and a .366 average. I’ve heard that Hack Wilson’s record for RBI in a season should be 191, not 190. Many of the old-time players have had their career totals adjusted as better evidence comes to light.

So in truth, they might have missed someone who hit into a triple play and hit a grand slam in the same game, but that’s such a bizarre combination I find it unlikely nobody would know of a previous occurrence. Still, you never know. Original scoresheets simply don’t exist for much of baseball’s history.

They don’t know for sure if Hatteberg was the first with a TP and a GSHR. The play-by-play data for all major league games isn’t complete and will never be complete. There’s stuff that’s happened as recently as 1967 that people are unclear about. STATS Inc. and MLB argued over the results of two plays from the 2000 season.

Every stat you hear on baseball needs to be qualified in some way. The most frequent misstatement you will hear is that something is a record even though someone in the 19th century surpassed. However, the media arbitrarily decided that 1900 is the cutoff between the “old” and “modern” games of baseball, which it really isn’t.


I don’t think it’s all that arbitrary. 1901 was the first year of the familiar American League-National League 8-team arrangement that people became familiar with. That’s a reasonable enough cutoff point for the “modern era of baseball,” but it also makes sense to back it up one more year because, despite the non-existence of a major-league status American League, the National League of 1900 is identical to the National League of 1901, so it makes little sense to cut off the N.L. at 1901.

While the game on the field was essentially the same from 1894 onward (excepting the Designated Hitter), league stability is a decent enough “era” designator.

Actually, it’s arbitrary and unofficial.

In 1969, MLB set up a special records committee to make a number of decisions. Among the things that they decided (and these can be GDs on their own) was that the National Association was not a major league, that 37 game winning home runs hit before 1920 were not, in fact, home runs (Babe Ruth lost one this way), and that ** there is to be no division in the baseball records between pre-1900 and post-1900 records**.

Zev Steinhardt

Total Baseball, the official encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, does have a section where records are divided into eras. I don’t have a copy in front of me, but some of the divisions are based on pitching standards (60’ 6" wasn’t established until 1893), integration, expansion, and the adoption of the DH.

Just a quick question, zev: Why were the 37 home runs not counted?

Pinch hitting for Zev,

Originally if you hit a home run that ended the game, the batter only received credit for as many bases as was needed to allow the winning run to score. I.e., if you hit a game-ending grand slam with your team losing by 2 runs, you were only credited with a triple.
Then in the 1960s, a special committee decided to go back and retroactively award people who hit home runs in this situation with home runs as is the practice today.
Later a different committee changed its mind and said there was no reason to go back and change the rules from they were practiced at the time. The feeling being that you can’t rewrite history.

Thanks BobT. My company decided to clamp down a bit on the internet usage, so my posting may become more limited during the day.

Zev Steinhardt