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Interesting stat about LeBron James courtesy of Tim Reynolds: The Heat superstar has increased his field goal percentage in seven straight seasons. Take a look at his field goal percentage by season:

Season Age Tm FG%
2003-04 19 CLE .417
2004-05 ★ 20 CLE .472
2005-06 ★ 21 CLE .480
2006-07 ★ 22 CLE .476
2007-08 ★ 23 CLE .484
2008-09 ★ 24 CLE .489
2009-10 ★ 25 CLE .503
2010-11 ★ 26 MIA .510
2011-12 ★ 27 MIA .531
2012-13 ★ 28 MIA .565
2013-14 ★ 29 MIA .567

Now as you guys can probably figure out, I’m not terribly invested in the career of LeBron James or basketball stats. But one thing I know is that improving on any metric in seven straight years is really freakin’ rare.

How rare? Only one quarterback in NFL history has increased his passing yards output in six straight years. That quarterback actually increased his passing yards per game in eight straight seasons, but no other quarterback can come close to matching that feat, either. Can you guess who our mystery quarterback is?

Trivia hint 1 Show
Trivia hint 2 Show
Trivia hint 3 Show
Click 'Show' for the Answer Show

Here, take a look at his career stats:

Click 'Show' Show

So while 1) my interest in basketball is limited, and 2) as Neil would tell me, field goal percentage is meaningless, simply increasing your performance in any stat for seven straight years is remarkable. No running back has ever increased their rushing output in seven straight years, although Earl Ferrell (if you count his rookie year of zero rushing yards per game, 1982-1988) and Pete Johnson (1977-1983) both increased their rushing yards per game in six straight years.

No receiver has seen a seven-year increase in any stat, either.  However, three players have increased their number of receptions in six straight years: Jason Avant (2006-2012), Raymond Berry (1955-1961), and Reggie Wayne (2001-2007). However, none of them managed to pull off that feat in receiving yards.

But two other players did: Tim Brown (1989-1995) and Marcus Pollard (if you count his rookie year of zero receiving yards, 1995-2001) increased their receiving yards in six straight seasons. And Leonard Thompson (1977-1983), Brown, and Pollard were the only players to increase their receiving yards per game in six straight years.

So whatever you think of LeBron, just know that here’s one more reason a stats geek could find his career fascinating.

{ 6 comments }
  • Shattenjager April 19, 2014, 11:29 am

    Typos: “So while 1) my interested in basketball . . . ” should be interest and “a seven-year increased in any stat” should be increase. It looks like you just wanted to type the letter d during this post. :)

    I got the trivia after the first hint, though I was wavering between him and Terry Bradshaw (who wasn’t even close). The answer really had a bizarre career.
    Here’s a piece of weird trivia: The only other guy to have a season with 300+ attempts and an ANY/A+ of 70 or lower and have another season of 300+ attempts with an ANY/A+ of 115 or higher is Steve DeBerg, and DeBerg’s bad season was his first season as a starter on a horrendous 49ers team. This guy had his bad season on an otherwise strong team while his backup put up an above-average ANY/A+ on 209 attempts. (Indeed, the list of QBs to have a season that bad for that long is quite small on its own and not exactly a strong group: http://pfref.com/tiny/quI7W.)

    “[A]s Neil would tell me, field goal percentage is meaningless[.]”
    When I was a kid and I liked basketball (I don’t now. Growing up in Colorado in the ’90s did that to people.), I used to argue with people that FG% didn’t matter and they would all laugh at me. While I would guess that my reasoning was not good (I said it was a function of where the shots were taken–guys who shot closer to the basket had higher percentages.) and I certainly didn’t have evidence (I would point to the numbers of Dikembe Mutombo and Shaquille O’Neill, but that’s anecdotal at best.), it’s fun to read that I was right about something as a kid.

    Reply
    • Chase Stuart April 19, 2014, 11:50 am

      Fixed.

      I would put mysteryQB’s bad season in the same category as DeBerg’s bad year, since it was his last season of his career. That is an interesting bit of trivia, though.

      Reply
    • Richie April 21, 2014, 2:37 pm

      I got the trivia after the first hint,

      Me too. Before looking at any hints, I assumed it was somebody who started in the early-mid 70s, so they were able to ramp up their passing yards along with the 1978 rule changes.

      though I was wavering between him and Terry Bradshaw

      Yep, he crossed my mind. But the hint eliminated Bradshaw for me, because I assumed Bradshaw’s streak would have started before 75. Naming the period 75-83 really limited the possibilities for me. I thought of Fouts, but knew he had big years in 79-81, and he fell back after that.

      Reply
  • Richie April 21, 2014, 2:37 pm

    I’m glad “Trivia Weekends” are back.

    Reply
    • Chase Stuart April 21, 2014, 2:50 pm

      Thanks, Richie. They certainly make life easier on the author, too.

      Reply
  • Kibbles April 21, 2014, 6:19 pm

    From a fantasy football perspective, I’ve always admired Tony Gonzalez’s streak of 6 straight seasons (and 9 out of 10 total) with a final end-of-season VBD rank higher than his preseason ADP rank. Obviously ADP data only goes back so far, but I have to think that’s the sort of streak that had never happened before, and probably won’t ever happen again. As the hobby becomes more sophisticated, you see people catching on to the value of mold-breakers like Graham and Gronkowski, so you can’t take advantage of hard rules like “No TEs Before The Fourth Round” to get guys who outperform their draft pick year after year after year without any sort of market correction.

    Reply

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