With Brandon Hicks still hanging around on the Braves' spring training roster, I thought it'd be a good time to bring up this remarkable statistic:
How do you score more runs than you have PAs? Basically, in order to pull off this feat, a player must be used predominantly as a pinch-runner. Pinch running is the only way you can get on base without having a plate appearance, after all. So the players who manage to have more runs than PA generally are like Hicks: they can't hit, but they can run well.
Hicks' feat is especially impressive since he scored no runs after any of his 6 PA--he went 0/5 with a walk, and was stranded at first after the walk. All 7 of his runs were scored as a pinch runner. But here's where it gets even better: he was only used as a pinch-runner 10 times. Adding in his walk, he's scored 7 runs in 11 times on base. That's a 64% run-scoring rate (for some perspective, the MLB average in 2010 was 30%). Obviously, this is a tiny sample size--Hicks is not some run-scoring superman--but it's pretty remarkable nonetheless.
After the jump, I give the historical perspective on just how rare Hicks' feat is.
In MLB history (since 1900), there have been 20 seasons in which players have had more runs than PA while scoring at least 6 runs. Here's the list (links go to Baseball-Reference):
While Hicks' run total is not particularly high, notice that most of these seasons came in 1980 or before, when pinch-running was much more en vogue. Only three seasons on the list occurred after 1980: Hicks' 2010, plus Rod Lindsey (6 R, 5 PA) in 2000 and Rodney McCray (8 R, 7 PA) in 1990. Based on that pattern, I'm guessing that no one will manage more runs than PA again until the year 2020. I'm also guessing that there's a great chance the next player to do so will be named "Rod."
You may have also noticed the prevalence of the late 60's through mid 70's Oakland teams on the list. Apparently, A's owner Charlie Finley liked to use up at least one roster spot each year on a "designated runner." That may sound crazy to you--it certainly did to me--but if so, it was crazy like a fox, because those teams were excellent, winning 3 World Series and 5 division titles. In fact, they won the World Series in 1974--the same year that Herb Washington* managed to score 29 runs without coming to bat a single time.
* Washington is actually a great story. He was a world-class sprinter who was signed by the A's despite not having any post-high school baseball experience. In his career, he played in 105 games, scoring 33 runs, without ever coming to the plate or even playing in the field. His only position was "Pinch runner."
Hicks has a chance to go down in history as one of the few players to have more runs scored than plate appearances in their careers. Only 30 non-pitchers (counting Hicks) have managed to do that. Of those, only 6 scored more runs than Brandon has in his brief career.
Hicks may not be in elite company, exactly, but it certainly is a fairly exclusive club.