The Guy with the Really Strange Stats

Roy Thomas, Phillies outfielder

You know, there are a lot of strange stat lines in baseball. Some are odd-looking lines for a particular game, others for a season. But there is nothing quite like the career stat line for Roy Thomas.

Thomas was a Deadball Era center fielder who spent most of his time with the Phillies. He made the Major Leagues in 1899, stayed through 1909, and played all but two years with Philadelphia (actually he played six games in Philly in 1908, but spent most of the season with Pittsburgh. He was a leadoff hitter and a very good, for the era, center fielder. You could, if you wanted, make a case for him as the second best center fielder in Phillies history after Richie Ashburn if you wanted (I’m not sure I would). In other words he’s a good solid player who deserves to be remembered, but Geez does his stat line look funny.

For his career Thomas hit .290, had an OBP of .413, and slugged .333 for an OPS of .747 (OPS+ 124). His WAR is 38.7 (about 3.0 per season). He has 100 doubles, 53 triples, seven home runs, and 1011 runs scored in 1537 hits. He walked 1042 times, struck out 518, had 1764 total bases, and 299 RBIs. He led the NL in walks seven times and in OBP twice. As a fielder he led the league in putouts, assists, range factor, and fielding percentage at various times. Like a said, a nice solid career.

But look at a couple of those numbers closely. He scored 1537 runs and had 299 RBIs. As such he’s the only significant player (more than 500 games) who managed to score three times as many runs as he knocked in. His ratio of doubles to total hits is a MLB record, as is his ratio of singles to hits. He’s also the only man with 1500 hits and less than 300 RBIs. This guy is an on base machine, but it’s always to first base. He also has only 244 stolen bases with a high of 42 in his rookie campaign. That means between 1537 hits, 1042 walks, he manages to get to second base on his own 404 times ( doubles + triples + home runs + stolen bases), also an MLB record. His OBP to slugging percentage is 1.24 to 1 (another record) and he manages 6.5 walks for every extra base hit (You guessed it, yet another record).

Now are those a strange set of stats or what? Roy Thomas is the ultimate singles hitter. Just thought you’d like to know.

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4 Responses to “The Guy with the Really Strange Stats”

  1. William Miller Says:

    Hi, I just looked at the guys stat line, and his numbers for 1900 are absolutely unbelievable. He made 168 hits, of which a total of just SEVEN were for extra bases: 4 doubles and 3 triples. Yet he also led the league in walks with 115, and in runs scored with 132. How do you end up leading the league in runs scored with just 7 extra base hits all season? That’s just unbelievable.
    Thanks for bringing him to our attention.

  2. W.k. kortas Says:

    I’m going to piggy-back on something Bill James wrote about several years ago–if you had a player today who was like Thomas, who focused on bat control and strike-zone control, that guy might hit .320 with an on-base number around .450, and if he had good wheels he could score 150 runs, and all of a sudden everyone would be scrambling to get their version.

  3. footinthebucket Says:

    Ironically, I recall another Roy Thomas who was also with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was a pitcher who came up in around 1974 or 1975; he came up around the time that Tom Underwood came up, as well. I recall that from a Street & Smith’s baseball annual that I had in my youth.


  4. footinthebucket Says:

    Well, I just looked at the Baseball Reference website, and I was kind of right and kind of wrong. Roy Thomas, the pitcher, WAS signed by the Phillies in 1971, but he never pitched for the Phillies, after all; only in their minor league system. He was traded in December of 1975 to the White Sox. I do remember Thomas and Underwood being featured in photos in one of those Street & Smith annuals (I think 1974). I was right about Tom Underwood, though. He did start pitching for the Phillies in ’74.


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