Sunday, April 19, 2009

Giving Up Home Runs To Pitchers

In the third game of the season, Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo hit a home run off Giants starter Randy Johnson. It was quickly noted that this was the first homer hit by a pitcher off the Big Unit. Pitchers had faced Johnson 500 times in his twenty-two year career and not a single one had hit a home run. No opposing pitcher had ever knocked one of Randy Johnson's offerings over the fence. Are you impressed yet?

It turns out other pitchers have faced opposing pitchers 500 times without giving up a home run. Since 1954, thirteen different hurlers have done so. Two of those pitchers were active in 2008.

500+ PA Against Pitchers, Zero Home Runs Allowed
  1. Don Drysdale, 1016 PA
  2. Tommy John, 861
  3. Andy Benes, 757
  4. Dwight Gooden, 622
  5. Jon Lieber, 603
  6. Sonny Siebert, 573
  7. Jack Billingham, 550
  8. Shawn Estes, 548
  9. Bob Welch, 542
  10. Jim Rooker, 534
  11. Bob Walk, 520
  12. Gary Nolan, 514
  13. Vida Blue, 511
Somehow Randy Johnson facing pitchers 500 times and not giving up a home run seems less impressive when you realize Jon Lieber and Shawn Estes have done the same thing. Actually, I take that back: the real question is how guys like Lieber and Estes made it onto this list of pretty darn good pitchers.

There have been plenty of pitchers who missed that list by only one home run. Thirty-three pitchers allowed only one home run to an opposing pitcher in 500 or more plate appearances since 1954:
  • Greg Maddux, 1451 PA
  • Jerry Reuss, 972
  • Juan Marichal, 961
  • John Smoltz, 913
  • Jerry Koosman, 843
  • Whitey Ford, 841
  • Burt Hooton, 754
  • Darryl Kile, 685
  • Rick Rhoden, 671
  • Pedro Astacio, 664
  • Rick Wise, 660
  • Dean Chance, 627
  • Terry Mulholland, 616
  • Ray Burris, 582
  • Ray Herbert, 577
  • Joaquin Andujar, 567
  • Zane Smith, 566
  • Bob Shaw, 559
  • Bob Veale, ~557
  • Al Leiter, 554
  • John Candelaria, 553
  • Mike Morgan, 550
  • Denny Neagle, 537
  • Steve Renko, 532
  • John Denny, 528
  • Pete Harnisch, 526
  • Sid Fernandez, 525
  • John Burkett, 523
  • Mike LaCoss, 514
  • Bob Miller, 512
  • Dave Roberts, ~511
  • Randy Johnson, 509
Whitey Ford and Ray Herbert both pitched before 1954, so it's possible they don't actually belong on the list. Bob Veale and Dave Roberts both made appearances that lack play-by-play accounts and it's hard to estimate how many times they faced opposing pitchers in those games, so their exact place on the list is a little uncertain.

Finally, there is one more pitcher who averaged 500 PA or more between opposing pitcher home runs: Bob Gibson. The Cardinals ace faced opposing hurlers 1150 times and gave up a home run only twice.

Here are some pitchers who may join one of these lists in the relatively near future:
  • Royals RHP Jamey Wright has faced 494 pitchers without giving up a home run.
  • Brewers RHP Jeff Suppan has faced 394 pitchers without giving up a home run. It will take the better part of two seasons for him to reach 500.
  • Veteran RHP Brett Tomko has allowed one homer to an opposing pitcher in 483 career PA against. He's currently playing for the Yankees' AAA club.
That's it.

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