Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Who did 600-homer guys hit best off?
By David Schoenfield
With Jim Thome approaching 600 career home runs, our Stats & Information group sent out a packet of stats on Thome. One fun stat that stood out to me: Thome went 12-for-27 with NINE home runs off Rick Reed in his career. I think it's safe to say that Thome owned Reed; those are the most home runs he's hit off one pitcher.
So who did the other members of the 600 home runs club own? Let's take a look.
Bonds hit nine home runs apiece off Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, but along with Tom Glavine, he faced them the most in his career. Bonds faced five pitchers at least 100 times in his career ... he did pretty well against four of them:
Maddux: 157 PAs, 9 HR, .265/.376/.508, 24 BB, 16 SO
Glavine: 120 PAs, 5 HR, .309/.425/.567, 19 BB, 11 SO
Smoltz: 108 PAs, 9 HR, .275/.463/.675, 28 BB, 16 SO
Curt Schilling: 100 PAs, 8 HR, .263/.410/.638, 19 BB, 13 SO
Dennis Martinez: 100 PAs, 1 HR, .228/.290/.337, 8 BB, 8 SO
What's amazing is that he had more walks than strikeouts against Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Schilling. These are four future Hall of Famers, three of whom possessed terrific control, and Bonds still drew his walks off them.
Bonds also owned Andy Ashby (.377/.514/.849, 7 HRs in 53 ABs) and Pete Schourek (.308/.420/.897, 7 HRs in 39 ABs) among others. The pitcher who faced Bonds the most times without allowing a home run: Rick Sutcliffe. Bonds hit .239/.280/.326 off Sutcliffe in 51 PAs. Not many pitchers owned Bonds. Tim Belcher held him to a .143 average and David Cone held him to a .175 average.
Aaron hit 17 home runs off Don Drysdale in 221 at-bats (249 PAs), fashioning a .267/.345/.579 line off Big D. A guy Aaron owned: Don Gullett. He hit .462/.583/1.316 off him with seven home runs in 26 at-bats. Here's Aaron against some of the top pitchers of his era besides Drysdale:
Bob Gibson: 180 PAs, 8 HR, .215/.278/.423, 15 BB, 32 SO
Juan Marichal: 161 PAs, 8 HR, .288/.348/.473, 13 BB, 23 SO
Robin Roberts: 158 PAs, 9 HR, .291/.335/.554, 10 BB, 13 SO
Sandy Koufax: 130 PAs, 7 HR, .362/.431/.647, 14 BB, 12 SO
Tom Seaver: 93 PAs, 5 HR, .220/.290/.476, 9 BB, 14 SO
A pitcher who owned Aaron: Glen Hobbie. Aaron hit .213 with one home run in 80 at-bats off Hobbie, a nondescript righty who went 62-81 in his career, primarily with the Cubs. Aaron hit .148 with no home runs and one walk in 48 at-bats against Jim Brosnan, the pitcher he faced the most without hitting a home run.
We don't have complete hitter-pitcher breakdowns for Ruth, but he hit 17 home runs off Rube Walberg, a left-handed pitcher with the Philadelphia A's, and 14 off Hooks Dauss, a Tigers right-hander. Here's Ruth complete home run log.
Mays homered 18 times off Warren Spahn -- most memorably a 16th-inning home run that gave Juan Marichal a 1-0 victory over Spahn in 1963, both pitchers going the distance -- but he also faced him the most times, with 253 PAs. He hit .305/.368/.587 off Spahn.
He owned Bob Sadowski in a small sample, going 8-for-15 with five home runs and four walks, and Brooklyn Dodgers reliever Clem Labine in a larger sample, hitting .475/.516/.966 with seven home runs in 59 at-bats. He also slugged .762 off the Dodgers' Johnny Podres. In fact, you could argue that Mays owned Ebbets Field: In 56 games there, he hit .355 with 28 home runs, slugging .786.
Mays versus a few top pitchers:
Don Drysdale: 243 PAs, 13 HR, .330/.374/.604, 14 BB, 29 SO
Robin Roberts: 184 PAs, 4 HR, .312/.376/.476, 14 BB, 21 SO
Sandy Koufax: 122 PAs, 5 HR, .278/.426/.536, 25 BB, 20 SO
Bob Gibson: 108 PAs, 3 HR, .196/.315/.304, 16 BB, 30 SO
Jim Bunning: 95 PAs, 2 HR, .213/.255/.348, 4 BB, 17 SO
While Gibson and Bunning fared pretty well against Mays, Willie also struggled against Jim Maloney (.172, 1 HR in 58 ABs), Steve Carlton (.177, 2 HR in 62 ABs) and Tommie Sisk, the guy he faced the most without homering -- none in 45 at-bats. In fact, he never had an extra-base hit off Sisk, a middling starter/reliever with the Pirates in the mid-'60s.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Modern players don't face the same pitchers as often as hitters in Willie Mays' era, and Griffey of course changed leagues midway through his career. He faced just one pitcher 100 times in his career -- Roger Clemens. He hit .311/.392/.589 off Clemens, with six home runs. Only David Wells with eight allowed more home runs to Griffey. Junior went 7-for-14 with five home runs off Livan Hernandez and 6-for-16 with five home runs off Andy Benes.
Griffey struggled against Chuck Finley (.164, 2 HR, 5 BB, 18 SO in 73 ABs), Kevin Appier (.186 in 59 ABs) and Mike Mussina (.143 in 56 ABs). He faced Todd Stottlemyre 40 times without homering off him, although he did hit .294.
A-Rod has homered eight times off four pitchers: Tim Wakefield, David Wells, Ramon Ortiz and Bartolo Colon. Of those four, he feasted the most off his current teammate, hitting .431/.456/1.059 off Colon in 57 PAs. He went 12-for-23 with five homers off Esteban Loaiza and 10-for-21 with five home runs off Kenny Rogers. He's faced Matt Guerrier eight times and has gone 5-for-7 with four homers and a double. And poor Wil Ledezma: A-Rod went 4-for-6 off him, all home runs. Joel Pineiro, on the other hand, owns Rodriguez, holding him to a .128 average with no home runs in 39 at-bats.
Sosa hit seven home runs off Curt Schilling and Jose Lima, hitting over .300 against both pitchers. He destroyed David Williams, going 8-for-13 with six home runs and nine walks off him. He went 6-for-14 with five home runs off Kevin Jarvis. He hit .405/.488/.838 off Ben Sheets in 43 PAs and .481/.533/.963 off Orel Hershiser in 30 PAs. Bonds may have owned Smoltz, but Smoltz owned Sosa: Sammy went .143/.200/.214 off Smoltz, and never drove in a run in 45 PAs. Sosa also hit .143 off Jason Schmidt and .128 off Dave Burba.
(Date from Baseball-Reference.com.)
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.