Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring Training IBB

There's nothing more pointless in spring training games, especially early spring training games, than an intentional walk. Yet each season sees its fair share of free passes. Baseball has only been played for three days this year and already two guys have been intentionally walked. More will follow, but come on, what's the point?

The first IBB of 2009 came on Spring Training Opening Day. Oakland and Milwaukee were tied at 3 in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Brewers had a runner on second with one out and lefty Brad Nelson stepping to the plate. Oakland's 2008 2nd round pick, RHP Tyson Ross, was on the mound. Nelson was intentionally walked, Chris Duffy struck out, Mike Rivera popped out to first, and the game ended in a tie. If it was the regular season, I can kind of understand walking Nelson and setting up the double play, but it's the first game of spring.

The second IBB took place yesterday in the Philadelphia @ Cincinnati game. Cincinnati was ahead 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh and another rally was starting. Due to a single and an error, LHP Sergio Escalona had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no one out, but recovered to strike out switch-hitter Wilkin Castillo. With one out, Escalona intentionally walked Darnell McDonald to face Luis Bolivar, who promptly doubled in two runs. Cincinnati eventually scored four and Escalona was replaced. Again, the IBB set up a double play to get out of the inning, but...meh? Both IBB's also delayed R-L and L-R matchups, I still don't get the point so early in spring. Maybe their teams just want to make sure these pitchers aren't prone to something like this.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Worst K/BB Ratios, Minimum 50 IP

This Beyond the Box Score post mentions Mariano Rivera's seventy-seven strikeouts and six walks last season and how his 12.83 K/BB ratio is stunningly high. As a commenter on that post revealed, Dennis Eckersley is the only reliever ever to record a higher ratio in 50 or more innings pitched. Eck had ratios of 18.33 and 18.25 in 1989 and 1990, respectively, with 128 strikeouts against seven walks in the two seasons combined. In fact, only two other pitchers had better ratios than Eckersley. Both pitched in the nineteenth century and both had, suspiciously, only one base on balls allowed. In 1879, Fred Goldsmith struck out 31 batters in 63 innings for Troy of the National League. In 1882, Bert Dorr struck out 34 batters in 66 innings for St. Louis of the American Association. Given the relatively fluid rules and the vagaries of record-keeping back then, I don't think it's unreasonable to discount Goldsmith and Dorr.

But even if you count Goldsmith and Dorr, there's no such controversy on the other end of the list. The all-time worst K/BB among pitchers with 50+ IP in a season belongs to Ted Wingfield. After a couple seasons as a reliable swingman who didn't strike many people out for the Red Sox, Wingfield totally lost his strikeout ability in 1927. In 74 2/3 innings, Wingfield went 1-7 with a 5.06 ERA. He also issued 27 walks against only one strikeout, good for a 0.04 K/BB. He wasn't the only pitcher to struggle in that era, as a look at the ten worst K/BB since 1901 shows.

Worst K/BB Since 1901, Minimum 50 IP

Ted Wingfield1927 BOS74.2127.037
Ray Moss1928 BRO60.1535.143
Jack Berly1933 PHI50.0422.182
Skinny Graham1929 DET51.2733.212
Jack Dunn1901 PHI/BLA64.1628.214
Dewey Metivier1923 CLE73.1938.237
Les Sweetland1928 PHI135.12397.237
Bob Kline1933 BOS127.01667.239
Joe Coleman1950 PHA54.01250.240
Norman Plitt1927 BRO/NYG69.7937.243

The combination of low strikeout and high walk rates in both major leagues was lethal to these guys. For a more recent feel, let's turn to the worst K:BB rates of the last 10 years:

Worst K/BB Since 1999, Minimum 50 IP

Dan Serafini
1999 CHC
Kirk Rueter
2005 SFG
Scott Erickson
2005 LAD
Steve Avery
1999 CIN
Russ Ortiz
2005 ARI
Dewon Brazelton
2005 TBD
Steve Trachsel
2007 BAL/CHC
Jimmy Anderson
2002 PIT
Aaron Cook
2003 COL
Ken Cloude
1999 SEA

Both 1999 and 2005 show up three times on the list. If you're curious, here are the six major leaguers with 50+ IP and a K:BB of 1.000 or lower in 2008:
  • Tom Glavine, ATL, 37 K, 37 BB, 1.000
  • Tom Gorzelanny, PIT, 67 K, 70 BB, .957
  • Miguel Batista, SEA, 73 K, 79 BB, .924
  • Greg Reynolds, COL, 22 K, 26 BB, .846
  • Kason Gabbard, TEX, 33 K, 39 BB, .846
  • Fausto Carmona, CLE, 58 K, 70 BB, .829

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Record That Wasn't

Last weekend, I came across a bit of information regarding catcher putouts that I thought would be useful around the All-Star Break this season. I got excited because the would-be record I found is just obscure enough not to be noticed but impressive enough to deserve mention. I even mentioned the upcoming record elsewhere online. Unfortunately, I committed the mistake of not making entirely sure the record I found was correct. I had found the AL record and NL record, but I forgot about guys who spent time in both leagues. So instead of Jason Kendall setting the record for putouts by a catcher in July, he'll probably have to wait until 2011. It turns out Brad Ausmus could reach the record in 2009, but something would have to go very wrong in Los Angeles and Ivan Rodriguez would have to stay unsigned.

Most Career Putouts as a Catcher
  1. Ivan Rodriguez, 13130
  2. Brad Ausmus, 12473
  3. Gary Carter, 11785
  4. Jason Kendall, 11415
  5. Carlton Fisk, 11369
  6. Bob Boone, 11260
  7. Tony Pena, 11212
  8. Mike Piazza, 10846
  9. Benito Santiago, 10817
  10. Bill Freehan, 9941
  11. Jim Sundberg, 9767
  12. Lance Parrish, 9647
  13. Johnny Roseboro, 9291
  14. Johnny Bench, 9249
  15. Javy Lopez, 8990
  16. Johnny Edwards, 8925
  17. Ted Simmons, 8906
  18. Jorge Posada, 8801
  19. Yogi Berra, 8738
  20. Jason Varitek, 8549
bolded = played in 2008

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Most Sacrifice Flies Allowed in a Season Since 1956

Every once in a while a Google search that leads to my blog catches my eye. Someone looked up MLB pitchers with the most sacrifice flies, or something to that effect, and wound up here. I'm not sure whether they were looking for SF hit by pitchers (which I posted about in Sept. 2008) or SF allowed by pitchers, but I was intrigued. I decided to look up the most sacrifice flies allowed by pitchers. Sac flies weren't recorded until 1954 and Retrosheet data only goes back to 1956 anyway, so this record is for seasons since 1956.

Most Sacrifice Flies Allowed in a Season

  • Larry Gura, 17 - 1983 Royals
  • Jaime Navarro, 17 - 1993 Brewers
  • Charlie Hough, 16 - 1991 White Sox
  • Doc Medich, 15 - 1975 Yankees
  • Randy Lerch, 15 - 1979 Phillies
  • Dave Stewart, 15 - 1991 Oakland
  • Dave Morehead, 14 - 1964 Red Sox
  • Jim Palmer, 14 - 1976 Orioles
  • Nolan Ryan, 14 - 1978 Angels
  • Rick Reuschel, 14 - 1980 Cubs
  • Charlie Hough, 14 - 1987 Rangers
  • Rick Reuschel, 14 - 1988 Giants
  • Rich DeLucia, 14 - 1991 Mariners
  • David Wells, 14 - 1996 Orioles
  • Jaime Navarro, 14 - 1997 White Sox
  • Steve Trachsel, 14 - 1999 Cubs
  • Barry Zito, 14 - 2008 Giants
While leading the league last year, Zito became the first pitcher to allow 14 or more sac flies in a season since 1999 and only the fourteenth pitcher since 1956. Time will tell if he'll join Jaime Navarro, Charlie Hough, and Rick Reuschel as guys who did it twice.

We know Zito had the most SF-prone season of the 2000's, but who else is up there on the list? Below are the twenty seasons with 11+ SF allowed since 2000.
  1. Barry Zito, 14 - 2008 Giants
  2. Paul Byrd, 13 - 2002 Royals
  3. Kris Benson, 13 - 2006 Orioles
  4. Chris Holt, 12 - 2000 Astros
  5. Jose Lima, 12 - 2000 Astros
  6. Jesus Sanchez, 12 - 2000 Marlins
  7. Livan Hernandez, 12 - 20001 Giants
  8. Paul Wilson, 12 - 2001 Devil Rays
  9. Brian Anderson, 12 - 2003 Indians/Royals
  10. Daniel Cabrera, 12 - 2008 Orioles
  11. Greg Maddux, 11 - 2001 Braves
  12. Jamie Moyer, 11 - 2001 Mariners
  13. Frank Castillo, 11 - 2002 Red Sox
  14. Jeff Suppan, 11 - 2002 Royals
  15. Matt Kinney, 11 - 2003 Brewers
  16. Ryan Franklin, 11 - 2004 Mariners
  17. Mike Maroth, 11 - 2005 Tigers
  18. Nate Robertson, 11 - 2005 Tigers
  19. Jeff Suppan, 11 - 2007 Brewers
  20. Miguel Batista, 11 - 2008 Mariners
Allowing ten sacrifice flies in a season has been done thirty-two times since 2000. Five different pitchers did so in 2008:
  • Brian Bannister, Royals
  • Aquilino Lopez, Tigers
  • Gil Meche, Royals
  • Kenny Rogers, Tigers
  • Greg Smith, Oakland
There's just something about being a Royals or Tigers pitcher that means you give up sac flies, I guess. Lopez's place on the list is impressive given the fact he made all his appearances in relief. He's one of only two relievers to reach 10 SF allowed since 2000. The other was Paul Quantrill in 2005.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal (Even For #85)

Spring training is firing up in Arizona and Florida and there are plenty of minor leaguers attending big league camp. Usually you can find players with little to no chance of breaking camp with the team by a quick look at the field. They're easy to spot: they're the guys with numbers in the 70's, 80's, or 90's. Different teams have different ways of assigning numbers to their minor leaguers and non-roster invitees, but generally the higher the number, the smaller the chance of making the team. With that in mind, I've gone through the rosters on each team's official site (example) and found the highest numbers. Not every team has numbers for every player posted at this time, but the majority of players are listed. Here are the dozen players in big league camp with numbers in the 90's:
  • #90 Ramiro Pena, SS, NYY
  • #90 Matt Palmer, RHP, LAA
  • #91 Alfredo Aceves, RHP, NYY
  • #91 Ryan Brasier, RHP, LAA
  • #92 Eduardo Nunez, SS, NYY
  • #93 George Kontos, RHP, NYY
  • #94 Kanekoa Teixeira, RHP, NYY
  • #94 Francisco Rodriguez, RHP, LAA
  • #95 Bradley Coon, CF, LAA
  • #96 Anel De Los Santos, C, LAA
  • #97 Fernando Rodriguez, RHP, LAA
  • #99 So Taguchi, LF, CHC
Taguchi has worn #99 in each of his major league seasons, so he's the exception to the rule. As you can tell, the Angels and Yankees are the only teams willing to bust out the two-digit numbers beginning with 9. Most other teams give out numbers in the 70's and 80's. As proof, here is each team's highest number listed:
  • Arizona: #74 Gerardo Parra, C
  • Atlanta: Missing numbers for 24 players
  • Baltimore: #86 Brian Matusz, LHP
  • Boston: #87 Zach Daeges, RF
  • Chicago Cubs: #99 So Taguchi, LF -or- #88 Ken Kadokura, RHP
  • Chicago White Sox: #80 Gordon Beckham, SS
  • Cincinnati: #89 Jordan Smith, RHP
  • Cleveland: #79 Chris Gimenez, C
  • Colorado: #72 Chris Frey, RF
  • Detroit: #77 Timo Perez, LF
  • Florida: Missing numbers for 33 players
  • Houston: Missing numbers for 26 players
  • Kansas City: #86 Kiel Thibault, C
  • LA Angels: #97 Fernando Rodriguez, RHP
  • LA Dodgers: #87 Ivan De Jesus, SS
  • Milwaukee: #87 Jonathan Lucroy, C
  • Minnesota: Missing numbers for 26 players
  • NY Mets: Missing numbers for 8 players
  • NY Yankees: #94 Kaneoka Teixeira, RHP
  • Oakland: #77 Sean Doolittle, 1B
  • Philadelphia: Missing numbers for 14 players
  • Pittsburgh: #76 Virgil Vasquez, RHP
  • San Diego: #82 Oneli Perez, RHP
  • San Francisco: #77 Jake Wald, SS
  • Seattle: #78 Israel Nunez, C
  • St. Louis: #88 Jon Jay, CF
  • Tampa Bay: #76 Winston Abreu, RHP
  • Texas: #68 Omar Poveda, RHP
  • Toronto: #86 Ken Takahashi, LHP
  • Washington: #79 Luke Montz, C
If anyone knows where you can find numerical rosters for those teams that are missing numbers, let me know. I'm sure most of these guys wouldn't mind being able to choose lower numbers as a member of their team's 25-man roster. Until then, they've own the dubious honor of the highest number at spring training. Somehow I think being in big league camp is worth it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Major League Olympians

America's national pastime, baseball grew in popularity around the world throughout the 20th century. As a result of its growing popularity, baseball was intermittently included in the Olympics, not as a medal sport, but instead as a demonstration sport. The first time baseball was played at the Olympics was at the 1912 Stockholm Games. The game was demonstrated again in 1936, 1956, 1964, 1984, and 1988. After being demonstrated more than any other sport, baseball was finally added to the Olympics as a medal sport starting in 1992. Unfortunately, after less than two decades, the International Olympic Committee judged baseball no longer worthy of being part of the Olympic Games because of, among other reasons, the lack of major league players leaving their teams in the middle of the season and the relatively small number of nations that competed internationally. At this moment, baseball is no longer an Olympic sport and the South Korean team received the last gold medals awarded.

Though baseball was part of only five Olympic Games, a surprising number of major league players participated for their countries. Many of these players appeared in the Olympics prior to appearing in the majors, but a few appeared after the end of their major league career. A couple even appeared between stints in the major leagues. All told, 140 major leaguers also competed for medals at the Olympics. More players will join the list as 2008 Olympians make their way into the majors. I realize it's staggering, but I've listed all 140 MLB Olympians below.

MLB Players Who Played Olympic Baseball

CountNameOlympic TeamMLB CareerTeams
1Brent Abernathy 2000 USA 2001-2005TBD, KCR, MIN
2Willie Adams 1992 USA 1996-1997OAK
3Kurt Ainsworth 2000 USA 2001-2004SFG, BAL
4Chad Allen 1996 USA 1999-2005MIN, CLE, FLA, TEX
5Rolando Arrojo 1992 Cuba 1998-2002TBD, COL, BOS
6Wladimir Balentien 2004 Netherlands 2007-2008SEA
7Grant Balfour 2000 Australia 2001-2008MIN, MIL, TBD
8Brian Barden 2008 USA 2007-2008ARI, STL
9Cley Bellinger 2004 Greece 1999-2002NYY, ANA
10Shayne Bennett 2000 Australia 1997-1999MON
11Kris Benson 1996 USA 1999-2006PIT, NYM, BAL
12Jung Bong 2008 South Korea 2002-2004ATL, CIN
13Pat Borders 2000 USA 1988-2005TOR, KCR, HOU
14Matthew Brown 2008 USA 2007-2008LAA
15Sean Burroughs 2000 USA 2002-2006SDP, TBD
16Chin-Feng Chen 2004/2008 Taiwan 2002-2005LAD
17Stubby Clapp 2004/2008 Canada 2001STL
18Ivanon Coffie 2004 Netherlands 2000BAL
19Jose Contreras 1996/2000 Cuba 2003-2008NYY, CHW
20Rheal Cormier 2008 Canada 1991-2007STL, BOS, MON
21Eric Cyr 2004 Canada 2002SDP
22David Davidson 2008 Canada 2007PIT
23Gookie Dawkins 2000 USA 1999-2003CIN, KCR
24Yurendell DeCaster 2004/2008 Netherlands 2006PIT
25R.A. Dickey 1996 USA 2001-2008TEX, SEA
26Jason Dickson 2004 Canada 1996-2000CAL/ANA
27Darren Dreifort 1992 USA 1994-2004LAD
28Rob Ducey 2004 Canada 1987-2001TOR, CAL, TEX, SEA
29Robert Eenhoorn 2000 Netherlands 1994-1997NYY, CAL
30Mark Ettles 2000 Australia 1993SDP
31Adam Everett 2000 USA 2001-2008HOU, MIN
32Rikkert Faneyte 2000 Netherlands 1993-1996SFG, TEX
33Oswaldo Fernandez 1992 Cuba 1996-2001SFG, CIN
34Dexter Fowler 2008 USA 2008COL
35Ryan Franklin 2000 USA 1999-2008SEA, PHI, CIN, STL
36Kosuke Fukudome 1996/2004 Japan 2008CHC
37John Gall 2008 USA 2005-2007STL, FLA
38Nomar Garciaparra 1992 USA 1996-2008BOS, CHC, LAD
39Chris George 2000 USA 2001-2004KCR
40Jason Giambi 1992 USA 1995-2008OAK, NYY
41Troy Glaus 1996 USA 1998-2008ANA, ARI, TOR, STL
42Steve Green 2008 Canada 2001ANA
43Rick Greene 1992 USA 1999CIN
44Seth Greisinger 1996 USA 1998-2005DET, MIN, ATL
45Jeffrey Hammonds 1992 USA 1993-2005BAL, CIN, COL
46Rick Helling 1992 USA 1994-2006TEX, FLA, ARI
47Orlando Hernandez 1992 Cuba 1998-2007NYY, CHW, ARI, NYM
48Mike Hessman 2008 USA 2003-2008ATL, DET
49Shawn Hill 2004 Canada 2004-2008MON/WSN
50A.J. Hinch 1996 USA 1998-2004OAK, KCR, DET, PHI
51Mark Hutton 2000 Australia 1993-1998NYY, FLA, COL, CIN
52Tadahito Iguchi 1996 Japan 2005-2008CHW, PHI, SDP
53Marcus Jensen 2000 USA 1996-2002SFG, DET, MIL, STL
54Kevin Jepsen 2008 USA 2008LAA
55Kenji Johjima 2004 Japan 2006-2008SEA
56Charles Johnson 1992 USA 1994-2005FLA, LAD, BAL
57Mike Johnson 2004/2008 Canada 1997-2001BAL, MON
58Jacque Jones 1996 USA 1999-2008MIN, CHC, DET, FLA
59Gene Kingsale 2004/2008 Netherlands 1996-2003BAL, SEA, SDP, DET
60Mike Kinkade 2000 USA 1998-2003NYM, BAL, LAD
61Danny Klassen 2004 Canada 1998-2003ARI, DET
62Brandon Knight 2008 USA 2001-2008NYY, NYM
63Masahide Kobayashi 2004 Japan 2008CLE
64Billy Koch 1996 USA 1999-2004TOR, OAK, CHW, FLA
65Mike Koplove 2008 USA 2001-2007ARI, CLE
66Mark Kotsay 1996 USA 1997-2008FLA, SDP, OAK
67George Kottaras 2004 Greece 2008BOS
68Rick Krivda 2000 USA 1995-1998BAL, CLE, CIN
69Hiroki Kuroda 2004 Japan 2008LAD
70Pete LaForest 2004 Canada 2003-2007TBD, SDP, PHI
71Matt LeCroy 1996 USA 2000-2007MIN, WSN
72Travis Lee 1996 USA 1998-2006ARI, PHI, TBD, NYY
73Graeme Lloyd 2004 Australia 1993-2003MIL, NYY, TOR, MON
74Braden Looper 1996 USA 1998-2008STL, FLA, NYM
75Calvin Maduro 2004 Netherlands 1996-2002PHI, BAL
76Oswaldo Mairena 1996 Nicaragua 2000-2002CHC, FLA
77Nick Markakis 2004 Greece 2006-2008BAL
78Lou Marson 2008 USA 2008PHI
79Shairon Martis 2008 Netherlands 2008WSN
80Daisuke Matsuzaka 2000/2004 Japan 2007-2008BOS
81Chris Mears 2004 Canada 2003DET
82Hensley Meulens 2000 Netherlands 1989-1998NYY, MON, ARI
83Doug Mientkiewicz 2000 USA 1998-2008MIN, BOS, NYM
84Ralph Milliard 2000/2004 Netherlands 1996-1998FLA, NYM
85Warren Morris 1996 USA 1999-2003PIT, MIN, DET
86Calvin Murray 1992 USA 1999-2004SFG, TEX, CHC
87Aaron Myette 2004 Canada 1999-2004CHW, TEX, CLE, CIN
88Micheal Nakamura 1996/2000 Australia 2003-2004MIN, TOR
89Norihiro Nakamura 2000/2004 Japan 2005LAD
90Blaine Neal 2008 USA 2001-2005FLA, SDP, BOS, COL
91Mike Neill 2000 USA 1998OAK
92Phil Nevin 1992 USA 1995-2006HOU, DET, ANA, SDP
93Kevin Nicholson 2004 Canada 2000SDP
94Dave Nilsson 2000/2004 Australia 1992-1999MIL
95Jayson Nix 2008 USA 2008COL
96Augie Ojeda 1996 USA 2000-2008CHC, MIN, ARI
97Pete Orr 2004 Canada 2005-2008ATL, WSN
98Roy Oswalt 2000 USA 2001-2008HOU
99Chris Oxspring 2004 Australia 2005SDP
100Erik Pappas 2004 Greece 1991-1994CHC, STL
101Jim Parque 1996 USA 1998-2003CHW, TBD
102Simon Pond 2004 Canada 2004TOR
103Ryan Radmanovich 2004/2008 Canada 1998SEA
104Alexei Ramirez 2004 Cuba 2008CHW
105Jon Rauch 2000 USA 2002-2008CHW, MON/WSN, ARI
106Chris Reitsma 2008 Canada 2001-2007CIN, ATL, SEA
107Ryan Rowland-Smith 2004 Australia 2007-2008SEA
108Anthony Sanders 2000 USA 1999-2001TOR, SEA
109Nate Schierholtz 2008 USA 2007-2008SFG
110Bobby Seay 2000 USA 2001-2008TBD, COL, DET
111Ben Sheets 2000 USA 2001-2008MIL
112Jason Simontacchi 2000 Italy 2002-2007STL, WSN
113Chris Snelling 2000 Australia 2002-2008SEA, WSN, OAK, PHI
114Sean Spencer 2004 Greece 1999-2000SEA, MON
115Paul Spoljaric 2004 Canada 1994-2000TOR, SEA, PHI, KCR
116John Stephens 2004 Australia 2002BAL
117Adam Stern 2004/2008 Canada 2005-2007BOS, BAL
118Andy Stewart 2004 Canada 1997KCR
119Phil Stockman 2004 Australia 2006-2008ATL
120R.J. Swindle 2008 Canada 2008PHI
121So Taguchi 2000 Japan 2002-2008STL, PHI
122Taylor Teagarden 2008 USA 2008TEX
123Brad Thomas 2000 Australia 2001-2004MIN
124Rich Thompson 2004 Australia 2007-2008LAA
125Scott Thorman 2008 Canada 2006-2007ATL
126Terry Tiffee 2008 USA 2004-2008MIN, LAD
127Chin-Hui Tsao 2004/2008 Taiwan 2003-2007COL, LAD
128Michael Tucker 1992 USA 1995-2006KCR, ATL, CIN, CHC
129Jason Varitek 1992 USA 1997-2008BOS
130Ron Villone 1992 USA 1995-2008SEA, SDP, MIL, CLE
131Chien-Ming Wang 2004 Taiwan 2005-2008NYY
132Jeff Weaver 1996 USA 1999-2007DET, NYY, LAD
133Brad Wilkerson 2000 USA 2001-2008MON, TEX, SEA, TOR
134Glenn Williams 2000/2004 Australia 2005MIN
135Jeff Williams 1996/2004 Australia 1999-2002LAD
136Todd Williams 2000 USA 1995-2007LAD, CIN, SEA
Craig Wilson
1992 USA
138Ernie Young 2000 USA 1994-2004OAK, KCR, ARI
139Tim Young 2000 USA 1998-2000MON, BOS
140Clint Zavaras 2004 Greece 1989SEA

It's a really long list. The 2004 Greek team, only in the Olympics by virtue of the Games being held in Athens, was made up mainly of Greek-Americans (and at least one Greek-Canadian, Mr. Kottaras). That circumstance gave the last man on the list, Clint Zavaras, a chance to play on the world stage fifteen years after his cup of coffee in the majors.

As expected, the USA laps the field in the number of major league Olympians. Sixty-six of the 140 men listed above played for the United States. The full breakdown looks like this:
  1. USA - 66
  2. Canada - 23
  3. Australia - 16
  4. Japan - 8
  5. Greece - 6
  6. Cuba - 5
  7. Taiwan - 3
  8. Italy - 1
  9. Nicaragua - 1
  10. South Korea - 1
As mentioned, Greece's contingent was made up of players from North America. Italy's sole major leaguer, Jason Simontacchi, was born in California. Oswaldo Mairena is one of only nine major league players born in Nicaragua. South Korea's representative is former Brave and Red Jung Bong.

It's possible I missed someone while going through the rosters for all forty squads to play in the Olympics. If you know of someone who should be on the list but isn't, email me or comment below.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Strikeouts Than Times on Base

In a comment on my post of last Sunday, Mitchell Marshall suggested I look at players whose career strikeout percentage was greater than their career on base percentage. It's an interesting idea and I wish it didn't take me a week to get to it, but so it goes. I'm sure most readers are aware of the formula for on base percentage:

Thanks Wikipedia. The numerator of that fraction is sometimes shortened to times on base (TOB). There's other ways to reach base (errors, fielder's choice, etc.), but the three used in calculating OBP are the most common. So in order to compare strikeouts to on base percentage, I think it would be simplest to compare strikeouts to times on base. Thus in this post strikeout percentage is that same fraction but with only strikeouts in the numerator.

Tossing out pitchers, twenty-one players had 20 or more strikeouts than times on base in their careers. Most of them had a single season's worth or fewer plate appearances. Obviously, they all struggled to get on base: the highest OBP on the list is .328. Only five hitters were over .300.

Players With 20+ More Strikeouts Than Times on Base in Career

Tom Egan1965-1975108433628551.313.266
Jim Fuller1973-19773411308446.385.249
J.R. Phillips1993-199954518013446.331.247
Melvin Nieves1992-1998139248343746.347.314
Dave Nicholson1960-1967166157352746.346.318
Russell Branyan1998-2008231979775938.344.328
Chad Hermansen1999-200454116813632.315.255
Ed Gastfield1884-18859037829.411.089
Brad Eldred2005-2007255936429.365.251
Bo Jackson1986-1994262684181229.321.309
Jared Sandberg2001-200370623620828.337.297
Cliff Cook1959-196343513610927.317.254
Billy Ashley1992-199868823621125.343.307
Kevin Cash2002-200855716113724.292.248
Mike Hubbard1995-2001198603723.303.187
Jason Smith2001-200859117215022.297.259
Frank Cox1884104361521.346.144
Paul Ratliff1963-19723361199821.355.293
Phil Hiatt1993-200146314912821.323.278
Jackie Warner1966133553520.414.263
Ray Busse1971-1974168543420.325.205

My favorite player listed above is Ed Gastfield. The youngest player in the 1884 National League, Gastfield backed up Detroit catcher Charlie Bennett. While Bennett was a hitting star (OPS+ of 129 or higher in 7 of 8 seasons in Detroit), Gastfield was hapless at the plate. It's possible he was overmatched because of how young he was, but his awful .073/.095/.085 (6-82, 1 2B, 2 BB, 34 K in 84 PA) batting line in 23 games didn't make it likely he'd get a chance when he was older. Neither did his 20 passed balls and 35 errors in 19 games. Gastfield did suit up one time for Detroit in 1885, going 0-3 with 2 strikeouts. Somehow he made his way to Chicago, appearing in one game and going 0-3 with 1 strikeout and 3 passed balls. That game ended his major league career.

Gastfield's career batting line works out to .068/.089/.080, good for a .169 OPS. I know it's comparing dissimilar things but I think it's interesting his SO% was more than double his OPS. He's one of only four players in all of major league history to have a higher SO% than OPS in 50 or more plate appearances:
  • Ed Gastfield, .411 SO%, .168 OPS in 90 PA
  • Enrique Cruz, .390 SO%, .240 OPS in 77 PA
  • John Roskos, .358 SO%, .294 OPS in 53 PA
  • Frank Cox, .346 SO%, .321 OPS in 104 PA
Fred Wood, the second-youngest player in the 1884 NL and Ed Gastfield's teammate, had a .367 SO% and .188 OPS in 49 plate appearances. Frank Cox also played on the 1884 Detroit Wolverines, helping to explain why they went 28-84, though at 26 he was an old man on the club. If 1884 is currently known as the year Chicago tinkered with their outfield fences and skewed home run totals, it should also be known as the year Detroit had a really, really, really bad offense. It's skewed because of the aforementioned Chicago shenanigans, but the team's OPS+ was 74. The team hit .208/.247/.284. Blech.

What of Cruz and Roskos? Well, Cruz was a rule 5 draft pick who spent all of 2003 in the majors with Milwaukee and resurfaced for one at bat with Cincinnati in 2007. Roskos was a C/1B/OF type who was drafted in the second round by Florida in 1993 and worked his way up the Marlins' minor league system but never really got a shot in the majors.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

More Strikeouts than Hits, Total Bases

Individual batting strikeouts have been recorded all through major league history except for 1897-1909 in the National League, 1901-1912 in the American League, and all except two seasons of the 1880's American Association. Keeping those gaps in mind, there have only been thirty-four non-pitchers who have had over 100 more strikeouts than hits in their playing career.

Non-Pitchers with 100+ More Strikeouts than Hits in Career

Rob Deer1984-1996
Russell Branyan1998-2008
Adam Dunn2001-2008
Gorman Thomas1973-1986
Dave Nicholson1960-1967
Bo Jackson1986-1994
Mark Bellhorn1997-2007
Pete Incaviglia1986-1998
Jose Hernandez1991-2006
Melvin Nieves1992-1998
Jack Cust2001-2008
Ron Karkovice1986-1997
Mickey Tettleton1984-1997
Mike Cameron1995-2008
Ruben Rivera1995-2003
Brad Wilkerson2001-2008
Steve Balboni
Jim Thome
Carlos Pena
Tom Egan
Shane Andrews
Jason LaRue
Ray Oyler
Don Lock
Jay Buhner
Wily Mo Pena
Jonny Gomes
Craig Wilson
Ryan Howard
Pat Burrell
Todd Hundley
Gary Pettis
Dean Palmer
Mark Reynolds

In addition to the guys with more strikeouts than hits, there have also been some players with more strikeouts than total bases. It's a list mostly made up of players with short careers and very little power. Ten guys have wound up with 20 more strikeouts than total bases:

Non-Pitchers with 20+ More Strikeouts than Total Bases in Career

Tom Egan
Ray Oyler
Dave Nicholson
Ed Gastfield
Dave Adlesh
Chris Latham
Rob Nelson
Enrique Cruz
Moe Thacker
Tom Brown

P.S. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that the idea for this post came from
an article about Mike Cameron posted on