Players with .500 slugging percentages their final season

In keeping with yesterday’s theme, here’s another historical rarity in baseball: players who posted at least a .500 slugging percentage while qualifying for a batting title their final season.

Just as pitchers generally keep getting work if they have anything left in their arms, batters can expect to remain in the majors if they can still hit for power.

Generally.

Here are the six players since 1871 who, for various reasons I’ll detail below, defied historical trends and left the majors after slugging at least .500 their final season:

Rk Player SLG Year Age G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP
1 Shoeless Joe Jackson .589 1920 32 146 649 105 218 42 20 12 121 .382 .444
2 Will Clark .546 2000 36 130 507 78 136 30 2 21 70 .319 .418
3 Happy Felsch .540 1920 28 142 615 88 188 40 15 14 115 .338 .384
4 Buzz Arlett .538 1931 32 121 469 65 131 26 7 18 72 .313 .387
5 Dave Orr .534 1890 30 107 498 89 172 32 13 6 124 .371 .414
6 Kirby Puckett .515 1995 35 137 602 83 169 39 0 23 99 .314 .379

It’s probably worth noting the reasons that each player’s career ended:

  • Felsch and Jackson were among the eight members of the Chicago White Sox banned for throwing the 1919 World Series. The White Sox really got screwed on this on this one. Felsch and Jackson are also two of the three players since 1920, along with Albert Belle, to have at least 100 RBI their final season
  • Orr and Puckett retired due to injuries– a stroke for Orr and glaucoma for Puckett
  • Arlett had a one-season career in the majors, possibly due to fielding issues; Bill James, among others, had written of Arlett as the Babe Ruth of the minors
  • Will Clark, after a triumphant final season where he helped spur a playoff run for the St. Louis Cardinals, retired to spend more time with his autistic son

0 thoughts on “Players with .500 slugging percentages their final season”

  1. Barry Bonds slugged .565 in his final year and has more than enough appearances to qualify for the batting title. What am I missing?

    1. Since 1961, a player has needed at least 502 plate appearances to qualify for a batting title. Bonds was 25 PAs short in 2007.

      If we drop the requirement here to 350 PAs, the following players also qualify: Ted Williams in 1960, Dave Nilsson in 1999 and Larry Walker in 2005.

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