Seth Smith had a great season. Well, he had a great four months. We’ll get to that in a moment, but first, a history lesson.

Fewer Hits Than Kajagoogoo

Formed in Leighton Buzzard in 1979… oh, wait, wrong history. You aren’t here to learn about the masterminds behind 1983’s “Too Shy.”

A Smiths reference would have worked better, but the world won’t listen.

Smith didn’t actually have fewer hits than Kajagoogoo, but he did have only 118, which tied him for 178th in franchise history for a single season. It also led the 2014 team. Here’s a partial list of Padres who had more in a season:

Player Year H OPS+
Ozzie Smith 1979 124 48
Enzo Hernández 1971 122 61
Enzo Hernández 1974 119 62
Dave Campbell 1970 127 65
Garry Templeton 1986 126 69

In the interest of hilarity, I’ve omitted several names and statistical categories. The point is, Smith led the team with fewer hits than some awful hitters.

As an aside, Ozzie Smith’s season of futility coincided with Kajagoogoo’s formation. Had Nick Beggs, Steve Askew, Stuart Croxford Neale, and Jez Strode never met Christopher Hamill, maybe Ozzie would still be playing shortstop for the Padres today. Entering his age 60 campaign, he still might be the club’s best option at the position.

Dude. Focus.

Others who would have led the 2014 Padres in hits include Derrel Thomas (1974), Juan Bonilla (1983), Jerald Clark (1992), Deivi Cruz (2002), and Jason Bartlett (2011). We could do this all day.

But we won’t, because more history.

More Hits Than Patsy Dougherty

I got to wondering how many guys led their team in hits with fewer than Smith had for the Padres. Omitting strike-shortened seasons, here is the exhaustive list:

  1. Patsy Dougherty, 1910 White Sox, 110 hits

Dougherty and Smith are the only players since 1901 to lead their team with fewer than 120 hits in a non-strike-shortened season. Dougherty did it when teams only played 154 games, which makes Smith’s hit total the lowest ever for the leader of a team that played a 162-game schedule.

Smith didn’t beat the record by a lot, but he did beat it. Here are the lowest team leaders since 1961, when the current schedule was introduced:

  1. Seth Smith, 2014 Padres, 118 hits
  2. Johnny Callison, 1961 Phillies, 121
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 2014 Diamondbacks, 122

    Aaron Hill, 2014 Diamondbacks, 122

  4. Adeiny Hechavarria, 2013 Marlins, 123

Are congratulations in order? Seems like they might be. The guy finished ahead of Goldschmidt on a list I just made up, which has to count for something.

August and Everything After

I knew that was the name of an album but couldn’t remember the band. It’s Counting Crows. Excuse me while I gag.

They once opened for Midnight Oil at SDSU’s Open Air Theatre. This was right before “Mr. Jones” hit the charts.

Why couldn’t it have been Mr. Smith? Again, that would have worked so much better.

Their musicianship was excellent, but the singer’s voice is brutal. It’s almost as annoying as the final two months of Smith’s 2014 season.

You see what I did there. Hey, I’m a professional.

Anyway, we can split Smith’s campaign into two arbitrary parts that look meaningful when you attach dates to them and develop a narrative around those dates:

Dates PA BA OBP SLG HR
Mar-Jul 349 .292 .388 .503 11
Aug-Sep 172 .214 .326 .310 1

His last home run came on August 6, in Minnesota. You know who hit more bombs than Smith over the final two months? Alexi Amarista.

Going back a little farther, Smith hit .243/.340/.346 after the All-Star break. That’s a .103 ISO, which is the career mark of notorious sluggers Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis.

Boom, narrative.

Strangeways, Here We Come

I would like to give the good people of [wherever you are reading this from] hope for the future, but much like Smith’s 2014, this article lacks a satisfying conclusion. What I can tell you is that Hamill (remember him, from way back in the first section?), better known as Limahl, later went solo and had a hit with “The NeverEnding Story”:

Reach the stars
Fly a fantasy
Dream a dream
And what you see will be

Maybe Smith’s story hasn’t ended. Or maybe those lyrics make no sense. Oh well, as a cop once said while handing me a ticket, “Have a better day.”

* * *

Thanks to Baseball-Reference’s Play Index and David Pinto’s Day By Day Database for making all these numbers ridiculously easy to find.

You are encouraged to comment using an exisitng Twitter, Facebook, or Google account. Upvote comments you find helpful, and only downvote comments that do not belong. The downvote is not a 'disagree' button.

  • Shaqapopolis

    “This is the most blatant case of false advertising since my suit against the movie The Neverending Story.”- Lionel Hutz

  • Frank Kocher

    Okay, Geoff, I think you are saying their best hitter was nearly the worst best hitter in the history of the game. Makes sense.

    • Geoff Young

      That’s about right, Frank. Your version is much more concise.

  • Lonnie Brownell

    Nice to see that the Jerald Clark of ’92 could have been the Padres best hitter last year. Used to work with him (post-baseball days), nice guy and, last I saw, looked like he could still swing a bat. Maybe he should head to Peoria this spring.

    Also, Counting Crows brutal singer. Friend of mine suggested that guy sounds like Bobcat Goldthwait. Like in Up On Cripple Creek, “I can’t stand the way he sings, but I love to hear him talk”. Well, I don’t love it, but I can tolerate it, sort of. Singing, no.

    Next year’s got to be better, right? Can it get worse? Am I jinxing?

    • Geoff Young

      They do a cool “Abbey Road” medley. The music is on point, but it would benefit from Bobcat singing.

      As for whether things can get worse, I try not to go there when talking about the Padres or anything else.

  • ballybunion

    The last couple years, we didn’t have a hit leader with as many as 140 hits. Last year, Seth Smith was the only guy with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. When the “starting eight” spend a month or more on the disabled list, or get traded, or the manager views everyone as a platoon player, or plays the lefty-righty match-up incessantly, these low hit totals are going to happen.