Norm Cash was always a good hitter. In fact, in 12 of his 17 years his OPS plus was between 125 and 150. Consequently, his career OPS plus was 139 which is 91st which is at a hall of fame level. For those other 5 seasons, he had one better than 150 OPS plus and four worse then 125 OPS plus.
For the four worse, two were at the start of his career before he became a star player, and one was at the end of his career. In 1964 Cash had an OPS plus of 120 which was a bit below his norm. He was still 20 percent better than the average hitter according to this formula.
However, the better ne was the crux. In 1961, he had a season total outside his career norms. His OPS plus was 201. He had only one season where he hit .300, 1961 where he hit .361. He had one season where he scored 100 runs or had 100 RBIs. It was 1961. His only black ink in his career came in 1961. He led the league in hits, batting average, on base percentage and OPS.
One thing that happened was that 1961 was a good hitters year and rules were changed to help the pitcher. Did it Norm Cash? Yes, it effected every hitter from 1962 to 1968. The stats for hitters don’t look as good in those years. However, Cash statistics went down more than his contemporaries. So, was he effected more from the bigger strike zone or was 1961 just a fluke?
Well In 1962 he still walked 100 times and his OPS plus went down to 135. However, it didn’t look that good either. I wonder if he change his hitting style in 1963 and chased after more pitches. His walks went down to 89 in 1964 and never went higher after that. Even in 1969 when the strike zone was made smaller, Cash walk total didn’t really increase. Maybe as he became a more aggressive swinger he pushed it more and more and swung at more balls out of the strike zone when he got older. The only year he struck out 100 times was in 1967.
Generally, walks increase as a player aged. This didn’t happen with Cash. The increased strike zone might have had an affect on Cash more than other players.