Page 245 – Pittsburgh Pirates, Most Singles, One Season – Lloyd Waner, 198, 1927
Lloyd Waner wasted little time in his rookie year in trying to get out of the shadow of his already renowned older brother Paul. And at the age of 21, he slapped out singles with the best of them, racking up 198 singles in his 223 attempts while batting .355, good for third in the National League behind brother Paul (.380) and Rogers Hornsby (.361).
But all those singles meant that Lloyd Waner: 1) had little power and he hit just 2 home runs and only 6 triples for a slugging percentage of .396 and 2) he didn't walk much (only 37). Of course, Lloyd Waner didn't strike out much in 1927 either, fanning just 23 times.
Waner's 198 singles are also the record for a rookie. He would go on to lead the NL in singles, three more times (1928, 1929, and 1931), but Lloyd was never quite as good a hitter as his brother Paul. Paul had a modicum of power, hitting 113 home runs in 20 seasons, while Lloyd managed just 27 in 18 seasons. Paul slugged .473 to Lloyd's .393. Of Lloyd Waner's 2459 career hits, about 83% of them were singles. 1929 was the only season he had more than 50 extra base hits in a season. That year, he reached his career highs in doubles (28), triples (20), and home runs (5).
The Waners, of course, hold the distinction as being the only set of brothers in the Hall of Fame. And there's no doubt that Paul Waner deserved enshrinement, winning NL MVP in 1927 and finishing with an adjusted OPS of 134. Paul was chosen by the writers in 1952.
Lloyd, on the other hand, never got much support from the writers, peaking at 23% in 1964. But in 1967, the Veterans Committee must have thought it was just peachy that "Little Poison" (Lloyd's nickname) would join "Big Poison" (Paul's nickname) in the Hall of Fame. Of course, they had no idea that Lloyd Waner's adjusted OPS was just 99.
But Lloyd Waner was not by any means a bad player. There is value in a player who can get a lot of hits. Lloyd finished with a .316 batting average, although his OBP was just .353. He was very hard to strike out and never struck out more than 23 times in a season, which he did in his rookie year of 1927. In 1936, Lloyd Waner had 414 at bats and just 5 strikeouts. He struck out just 173 times in his entire career or about once every 45 at bats.
Willie Keeler holds the all-time NL record for singles in a season when he had 206 while playing for Brooklyn in 1898. Keeler had just 10 extra base hits that season. Ichiro Suzuki holds the major league record with 225 singles during his hit-happy (262 hits overall!) season of 2004.
The only other active player in the top 20 seasons for singles besides Ichiro is Juan Pierre, who had 184 singles in 2004 for Florida. Also, all of the players in the top 20 single seasons for singles are left-handed with the exception of switch-hitters Willie Wilson and Pete Rose.
So are singles a singular achievement? I will let you be the judge.