I was skimming through the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (1985 edition) the other day and came across an interesting essay on leadoff hitters.
In the player comments sections, James compares Hall of Fame shortshops Luke Appling and Luis Aparicio. James writes at some length about their different styles of offensive play: Appling was a low-power, good contact hitter who walked a lot; Aparicio hit for a lower average and walked less, but he was much faster and stole many more bases. Here are the slash stats for the two:
Appling: .310/.399/.389, normalized: .301/.389/.386
Aparicio: .262/.311/.343, normalized: .274/.324/.358
With Aparicio swiping 506 bags (and leading the league nine times) and Appling stealing only 186. Part of the difference in their raw stats is due to context, the eras and ballparks in which they played. Appling played in the high-average 1930s, while the core of Aparicio’s career falls in the low-scoring ’60s. The normalized numbers above puts them on an even footing. …