Brad Penny has certainly had his share of success during 11 major league seasons. The St. Louis Cardinals right-hander has won 108 games, was a major contributor to a World Series champ (2003 Marlins), pitched in two All-Star Games and dated noted sports fashion designer Alyssa Milano.
But whenever Penny faces New York Mets third baseman David Wright, he looks like a pitcher who would have a hard time getting Milano out. Wright has gone 11-for-19 against Penny in his career for a .579 batting average. Seven of those hits have been doubles and four have been home runs. Throw in five walks and Wright has an otherworldly 1.851 OPS when facing Penny. Wright "owns" Penny in a way few hitters own any pitcher. But is it the most impressive "ownership" in baseball? Let's find out.
However, when the Mariners visit St. Louis for an interleague series next month, you can bet that Wilson hopes his team misses Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter in those three games. Wilson may as well concede whenever he steps into the batter's box against Carpenter as he is 1-for-26 (.038) with no extra-base hits or walks and six strikeouts, giving him a microscopic .076 OPS.
Managers have relied on batter-pitcher match-ups to make lineup decisions dating back to when Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver was leading the Orioles in their glory days. Weaver kept all the matchups by hand on index cards. Today, computers spit out the same information at rapid speed. Regardless of how the information is compiled and disseminated, batter-pitcher matchups are fun to look at to see exactly who owns whom around the major leagues.
Baseball Prospectus database wiz Eric Seidman has compiled the best and worst of batter-pitcher matchups. The criteria for the matchups are that the pitcher and hitter must have faced each other at least 25 times, they must be currently active, and they must be playing either in the same league on or teams that will face each other in interleague play this season.
What follows are two lists: the five batters who have the highest OPS in their matchups against pitchers, and the five who have the lowest:
Hitters who own pitchers
These hitters are otherworldly against these pitchers.
Pitchers who own hitters
Mendoza Line? These hitters wish they were that good against these pitchers.
John Perrotto is editor in chief of Baseball Prospectus.