More trivia

The downside to trying to hit the ball hard? Strikeouts. The downside to trying not to strike out? Weak contact, no extra base hits.

Who can consistently make hard contact without striking out much? Looking at players with significant careers (1000+ plate appearances) who made their debut during the expansion era (1961 or later), there are only 22 who have more extra base hits than strikeouts for their career. The list is a who's who of some of the best 'pure hitters' of the last fifty years, plus some... other guys. Anytime you come up with a criteria that produces a shortish list where about half the guys are batting champions, it's interesting to see who the other guys are. The list is split into three parts - the batting champions (9 guys), the contenders (8 guys, all of whom had a least one top-10 finish), and the rest (the 5 who never had a top-10).

The champions [# of batting titles,# of total top-10s]

1. No clues necessary, he won EIGHT batting titles [8, 15]

2. The first of three consecutive third-basemen [5, 11]

3. Not as acclaimed as the next guy, but more batting titles [4, 7]

4. The last of the third-basemen, titles in 3 decades [3, 9]

5. Shortstop, career fell apart in a hurry [2, 4]

6. The only active player amongst the 22 [1, 10]

7. Probably the least famous of these champions, but this CF/1B/LF was consistently excellent [1, 9]

8. Despite having >2500 hits, he was merely league average offensively for his 22-year career, playing offensive-first positions [1, 6]

9. Back problems sapped his power and derailed this first-baseman's career in what should have been his prime [1,5]

The contenders [# of total top-tens, highest finish]

10. Part of the Mickey Vernon/Keith Hernandez/Wally Joyner/John Olerud family, renowned for 'slump-busting' [8, 4th]

11. The man who finally got Joe Torre out from behind the plate [6, 2nd]

12. The bat was never a problem, but finding a defensive position was - he started 250+ games at four different positions [3, 3rd]

13. Pretty good ballplayer, but his club had HOF'ers starting at his position for most of the 50 years before his debut. That's monstrous, there was no way he could live up to that [3, 3rd]

14. [2, 5th] & 15. [1, 3rd] A pair of NL second-basemen who debuted at 24, were done at 33 or 34, and played about 1300 games

#15 was first chronologically and was named to 4 All-star games, but #14 was the better player and was only named to 1

16. Why would such a good-hitting catcher get such a late start to his ML career (at age 26 in 1998)? The incumbent must have been pretty good. Yep. [1, 7th]

17. Mostly a catcher, got his first PA as a teenager, but didn't get his 1000th until he was 29 [1, 9th]

The rest - mostly so obscure that I can't come up with any good clues, I'll list them with 1-17 are guessed

18. Red Sox utility infielder of the 80's

19. 2B/3B spent entire 10-year career with the Orioles

20. Fourth OF for the great late-70's Royals clubs

21. and 22. are another pair of NL second-basemen with very similar careers, including 3 All-Star appearances each, and about 1400 games played over a dozen seasons

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