Symmetrical Slash Lines

As Andrew McCutchen’s new six-year deal was being finalized a few weeks ago, ESPN’s Mark Simon tweeted the following:

“Here’s statistical symmetry for you– entering last September, Andrew McCutchen’s 2011 slashline was  .272/.372/.472″

(Note: Its true …)

Symmetry is a beautiful thing, and we here at the VORG like to embrace and publicize it whenever we can.  So, we took the seasonal batting records of all players from 1901-2011, and tried to find any that had a .100 difference both from AVG to OBP and from OBP to SLG.

Basic math tells us that in a ten at-bat sample, each hit is worth .100 points.  So the chances for a symmetrical slash line occurrence is stronger when you have nice round numbers to play with.  If your player has 467 at-bats (as an example), each change of a measuring stat by one results in a .00214 change to the rate . . . very unwieldy for lining up symmetry in slash stats.

Not surprisingly, its very difficult to find any circumstances where this is possible, due to the myriad combinations of at-bats, walks, hit-by-pitchs, sacrifice flies and such that form the denominator for the slash stats.  Then you mix in the combinations of hits, total bases and walks and allowing for rounding numbers up or down, and mathematical mirth ensues.

Nonetheless, we DID find one player-seasons where symmetrical slash lines DID occur in more than a handful of plate apparances (only relevant stat columns included):



Greg Vaughn’s 2001 season was wondrous. Here are the different points in the season at which at least two of the three slash stats were in the neighborhood of symmetry:

3 4/5 .400 .500 .500 .100 .000
12 4/15 .279 .380 .512 .101 .132
13 4/16 .289 .389 .511 .100 .122
24 4/28 .239 .333 .432 .094 .099
28 5/2 .218 .319 .386 .101 .067
30 5/5 .220 .320 .376 .100 .056
31 5/6 .212 .311 .363 .099 .052
34 5/10 .218 .317 .379 .099 .062
40 5/17 .238 .329 .429 .091 .100
143 9/9 .233 .332 .434 .099 .102
148 (4) 9/22 .233 .332 .433 .099 .101
155 (6) 9/30 .233 .333 .433 .100 .100

Note that after the September 9th game, he was injured and didn’t play in the next four (the number in parentheses).  On September 22, he pinch-hit in his only plate appearance and flew out to LF.   After sitting out six more games with another injury, he made what would be his final appearance of the season, on September 30th.  Pinch-hitting in the bottom of the ninth, he drew an intentional walk.  Symmetrical slash stats had been achieved!  (Unlike when a batter is removed during the final game of the season when he may finish a year at .300 for the first time, its highly doubtful that Vaughn’s manager Hal McRae was aware of the .233/.333/.433 trifecta.)

There HAVE been some other seasons with perfectly symmetrical slash stats, but these included only very few ABs/PAs.  All of the following players had the same stat line: Five at-bats, two hits, one double and one walk, resulting in a .400/.500/.600 line.  They are:

Name Year
Ted Abernathy 1963
Spud Chandler 1939
Juan Eichelberger 1979
Andy Etchebarren 1978
Walt Linden 1950
Jack Sheehan 1920

Abernathy, Chandler, Eichelberger were all pitchers, which would partially explain their low AB totals in those years.  Etchebarren was a career .235/.306/.343 catcher who got those five at-bats in his final year in the bigs.  Linden was basically a career minor league catcher, who got a cup of coffee (with a side of symmetrical slash stats) in 1950.  Sheehan was an infielder who also made the most of his cup of coffee.

Finally, the following players came oh-so-close to symmetrical slash stat nirvana in way more than five at-bats in a season:


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One Response to Symmetrical Slash Lines

  1. Chad says:

    Any others where it’s just some sort of multiple of .100, not necessarily .100 between each? I mean, obviously that, too, is easiest to do with small sample sizes (a player with no plate appearances that aren’t counted as at-bats will obviously have an OBP equivalent to his batting average), but with the way some sluggers were mashing in the steroid era, it wouldn’t surprise me to find some players whose slugging percentage exceeded their average not by .200, but by .300.

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