Scott Schebler’s 2017 was one of the strangest in MLB history

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In 2017, whenever Reds right fielder Scott Schebler played on the road, he was constantly crushing doubles, doing so on 8.79% of his 273 road plate appearances. In other words, 24 of ’em. Away from Cincinnati, he was a bona fide doubles machine.

However.

Schebler did not fare quite as well within his home confines of the Great American Ball Park. There he doubled on 0.39% of his 258 home plate appearances … in other words, once:

To repeat, 2017 Scott Schebler doubled twenty-four (24) times on the road and one (1) time at home. 8.79% vs. 0.39%. Ah, where to begin.

Of the 216 MLB players with at least 400 total plate appearances in 2017, Jose Ramirez had the highest overall doubles rate, smashing one 8.68% of the time. No one else even topped eight percent. Schebler’s teammate, Jose Peraza, had MLB’s lowest doubles rate at … 1.74%. No one else was under two:

Meaning Scott Schebler on the road was a better doubler than the best doubler, and at home he was a (far) worse doubler than the worst doubler. The dust settles like this when the folks who are just unnecessary clutter from the last chart are removed:

That’s kinda cheating, of course, because it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison as it uses other players’ overall season rates (as opposed to just isolating the smaller sample home and road portions of Schebler’s). But it’s a decent excuse to get home Schebler and road Schebler on the same chart to provide some perspective as to how each version generally stacks up.

But it’s also not like everyone else’s data reflecting the full season instead of just their home or road splits proves to substantially alter things. The big picture remains the same when everyone’s seasons are broken down in the identical way as Schebler’s.

To craft a comparison that is apples-to-apples in its samples, here are just road doubles rates for those 216 players that had at least 400 total plate appearances:

The story doesn’t change in any significant way. Schebler’s road rate is still the best, and Ramirez is still the only other guy there above eight percent.

And here are just the home rates:

Again, the story doesn’t deviate much. Schebler’s rate remains by far the worst; Peraza is still the only other player even under two percent (and even Peraza had three home doubles in fewer plate appearances), and nearly everyone else is up above three percent.

No matter how you slice it, road Schebler was more likely than any big leaguer to hit a double, and home Schebler was less likely than any big leaguer to hit a double.

As you’d imagine, the overwhelming majority of the 7,564 individual 25-double seasons in the live-ball era (since 1920) feature something in the general vicinity of a 50/50 home/road split in terms of where each double was hit. Something in the ballpark of a 1:1 ratio. Schebler’s 24 road doubles against one home double stands out like Elaine on a dance floor:

But what about the folks at the very bottom there, those that had the biggest discrepancies the other way around? Did, perhaps, someone approach what ’17 Schebler did? In other words, producing a similarly polarizing doubles outcome, just with the home and road elements reversed.

Nope.

Let’s focus on the number 96 for a sec — the percentage of 2017 Schebler’s doubles that he hit on the road. Only 25 of the other 7,563 seasons in our sample entailed as much as 80% coming either at home or on the road:

Gotta go back to 1959 Frank Malzone before finding someone that even cracked 85%. And while that data is just for those that hit at least 25 doubles, you gotta drop all the way down to 13 doubles for the next-most that have been hit while maintaining such a large home/road discrepancy:

If you’re perhaps thinking Great American Ball Park may be inherently anti-double, that is not the case, and I’ll cite three pieces of evidence.

First, the non-Schebler Reds hit 224 doubles in 2017: 113 at home, 111 on the road.

Second, through the first 18 years of the Great American Ball Park era, the Reds — with 2017 Schebler exempted — have hit 48.71% of their doubles at home. There is nothing abnormally low about that figure, and in fact 13 of the other 29 teams have a lower such percentage in that time.

And finally, no other Red who’s ever hit 25 doubles in a season in the GABP era has had fewer than 28% of ’em occur at home:

So nope, his home park provides zero explanation. There simply is no explanation, other than the baseball gods just turning the baseball dial to the max.

There are two more oddities from Schebler’s 2017 season. While they’re not quite as mystifying as 24 road doubles and one home double, the fact that they occurred in conjunction with that is delightful.

One is another bizarre home/road split, though with this one the thing happened mostly at home and barely happened on the road. That thing? Getting hit by pitches.

In 2017, Scott Schebler was hit by 12 pitches, just in Cincinnati. That’d be a relatively high full-season number. In fact only 16 other players were hit that much that season, period. As recently as 2013, being hit by 12 pitches would’ve ranked you in the top-10. So to get hit that much *just at home* was some strong-to-quite-strong work absorbing blows in GABP.

But on the road?

Two. Conveniently it’s sorta a clean comparison with that doubles split, and it seems a quarter as extreme: 12 home HBP vs. 24 road doubles and two road HBP vs. one home double. Nevertheless, it holds up quite impressively. With apologies to 2002 Jermaine Dye (all 10 HBP occurring on the road) and 2012 Miguel Montero (11 of 12 at home), we’ll focus just on the 340 individual seasons with at least 14 HBP in the live-ball era:

He’s up at six home HBP per road HBP when only 1952 Minnie Minoso and 2006 Melvin Mora exceeded three. In terms of including those who had polarizing HBP seasons in the opposite way, well, 85.7% of Schebler’s HBPs came at home. Only 13 of the other 339 seasons in our sample entailed as much as 75% coming either at home or on the road:

The only other player above 80 percent at either location is 2006 Shane Victorino, who had the same 12 and two numbers as ’17 Schebler. It was as though at home Schebler was trying to toughen up for hockey tryouts, and yet on the road the rate at which he was plunked (0.73 percent) was comfortably below the MLB average (0.95 percent). Maybe he was just too busy hitting doubles.

The third eye-catching split from Schebler’s glorious 2017 season was that with both zero and two outs, he homered on over 7 percent of his plate appearances. For perspective, just five players that year homered on 7 percent of their overall plate appearances: Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Joey Gallo, and J.D. Martinez. So he was one of the very best home run-hitters in the game if there happened to be zero or two outs. But heaven forbid there should be exactly one out:

There have been over 1,000 individual 30-homer seasons since 1973, and just 17 others entailed as few as four homers coming with a specific number of outs:

What a season.



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