Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lowest OPS by a P in a Season Since 1920

Pitchers can't hit. Well, as with any sweeping generality, there are some exceptions, but for the most part pitchers walk into the box and wander back to the dugout shortly thereafter. To keep the search similar to the rest of the positions, I only looked at pitchers since 1920. I adjusted the minimum plate appearances drastically, however, to reflect the fact pitchers that bat don't usually play every day. To make the list, a pitcher now must have made 50 or more plate appearances during the season. This obviously is equivalent to a pitcher making twenty-five starts in which he bats twice which superficially seems like a decent cutoff point.

Here are the one-dimensional pitchers:

Ron Herbel1964SFG54.
Doug Davis2004MIL71.
Mark Redman2003FLA66.
Aaron Harang2005CIN78.
Carl Willey1961MLN58.
Ron Herbel1965SFG52.
Bill Wight1950CHW75.
Ben Sheets2005MIL53.
Hank Aguirre1962DET80.
Les Tietje1934CHW63.
Al Leiter2003NYM60.
Bob Rush1949CHC69.
Jose DeLeon1991STL51.
Mario Soto1980CIN54.
Jim Brillheart1927CHC52.
Bob Buhl1962MLN/CHC85.
Dan Spillner1974SDP50.
Don Carman1988PHI71.
Bob Friend1965PIT78.
Rickey Clark1967CAL60.

There's some pretty bad hitters on this list. Bob Buhl holds the record for most at bats in a season without a hit (70) in 1962 -- Herbel and Wight had 47 and 61 at bats, respectively, in their .000 average seasons. Buhl was the only one of the list to be hit by a pitch that year; he also was the only one with a sacrifice fly. Don Carman and Bob Friend led all players on the list with three hits each in their season, while Les Tietje had the only extra base hit (a double). As a whole, the twenty guys on the list (well, nineteen, given Herbel's repeat) put together a composite line that looks like this:
  • 27.5 years old, 1280 PA, 1138 AB, 27 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 28 BB, 530 K, 1 HBP, 112 SH, 1 SF, 1 SB, 1 CS, .024/.048/.025, .073 OPS
Ick. Those twenty players are the only ones ever to put up an OPS under .100 in 50+ PA. Two hundred eighty-two more pitchers had an OPS under .200. Forty-two of the sub-.200 seasons have occurred since 2000, with Ben Sheets (.134), Doug Davis (.154), Tom Gorzelanny (.169), and Matt Belisle (.193) joining the club (in some cases, again) this year.

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