Tuesday, March 8, 2011
By Geoff Young
I'm a sucker for lists. Chris Quick recently assembled a fun one in this space celebrating power hitters who weren't particularly productive.
Chris is a self-proclaimed slave to power. Me, I'm a slave to patience. And just as Bryan Ferry couldn't escape love, I cannot escape walks.
With that curious and dated musical reference out of the way, let's get to the details. Using Baseball-Reference's Play Index tool, I searched for players based on the following criteria:
- Minimum of 3,000 career plate appearances since 1961
- ISO (SLG -- BA) of .150 or lower
- Walks greater than 10 percent of plate appearances
I then sorted by ISO to get a list of players who least justified the amount of fear they apparently instilled in pitchers. And to make it a team, I ran the same query for players at each non-pitching position (minimum 50 percent of games at that position). To the names:
Starter: Butch Wynegar, 1976-88 (626 BB, .092 ISO, .255/.348/.347)
Picture Craig Counsell behind the plate. Can't stop laughing, can you? Anyway, Wynegar was that kind of hitter, only a little better given the context of his era.
Backup: Mike Scioscia, 1980-92 (567 BB, .097 ISO, .259/.344/.356)
OK, I'll come clean. This exercise was an excuse to get Scioscia, my favorite player as a kid, onto a team of his own.
Starter: Mike Hargrove, 1974-85 (965 BB, .101 ISO, .290/.396/.391)
Hargrove's strategy was simple: stall until the pitcher loses focus and forgets how to throw strikes. It may have been annoying, but it worked.
Backup: Wes Parker, 1964-72 (532 BB, .108 ISO, .267/.351/.375)
They don't make first basemen like this anymore. The most recent guys to meet our criteria are Doug Mientkiewicz and Scott Hatteberg, both of whom had way too much power.
Starter: Luis Castillo, 1996-2010 (800 BB, .061 ISO, .290/.368/.351)
Castillo enters 2010 with 1,889 hits, the same as Jim Gilliam and Adrian Beltre.
Backup: Jose Oquendo, 1983-95 (448 BB, .061 ISO, .256/.346/.317)
Of Oquendo's 14 big-league homers, 13 came against left-handed pitchers.
Congratulations, Doug Bair, you are the answer to a trivia question that no one will ever ask.
Starter: Paul Schaal, 1964-74 (516 BB, .100 ISO, .244/.341/.344)
Schaal attended Compton High School in Los Angeles, which also produced the late Duke Snider.
Backup: Wayne Garrett, 1969-78 (561 BB, .102 ISO, .239/.350/.341)
As a 21-year-old rookie, Garrett hit .218/.290/.268 for the Miracle Mets. After his bat came to life in the NLCS against Atlanta, he yielded to veteran Ed Charles in the World Series.
Starter: Bud Harrelson, 1965-80 (633 BB, .052 ISO, .236/.327/.288)
Mike Hampton hit as many homers (7) in 2001 as Harrelson hit in his career.
Backup: Walt Weiss, 1987-2000 (658 BB, .068 ISO, .258/.351/.326)
Among players with at least 3,000 career plate appearances, three have finished with the same number of walks as strikeouts: Frank Baumholtz (258), Jim Dwyer (402) and Weiss (658).
Starter: Carlos May, 1968-77 (512 BB, .118 ISO, .274/.357/.392)
Talk about guys who peaked early. May hit like Dave Winfield through age 25 (well, technically Winfield hit like May) but was finished at age 29.
Backup: Tim Raines, 1979-2002 (1,330 BB, .131 ISO, .294/.385/.425)
Exhibit A for why this is a stupid list: Raines was a great player. It's hard to find weak-hitting left fielders.
Starter: Otis Nixon, 1983-99 (800 BB, .044 ISO, .270/.343/.314)
What a bizarre career path. The man didn't get 500 plate appearances in a season until age 33 and still ended up with 620 big-league stolen bases.
Backup: Bill North, 1971-81 (627 BB, .062 ISO, .261/.365/.323)
I assumed Gary Pettis would be here, but he comes in third (too much power). North led his league in caught stealing four different times.
Starter: Pat Kelly, 1967-81 (588 BB, .113 ISO, .264/.354/.377)
Kelly is tied with Reggie Jackson and Roy White for sixth in career walks (18) drawn against Nolan Ryan.
Backup: Floyd Robinson, 1960-68 (408 BB, .126 ISO, .283/.365/.409)
I fudged the parameters for this one. Robinson played 22 games in 1960, but he better represents the spirit of our list than does the late Willie Crawford.
Geoff Young writes Ducksnorts, a blog about the San Diego Padres. Follow him on Twitter.