SweetSpot: Wily Mo Pena

A friend of mine pointed out the awesome batting line of Wily Mo Pena, back in the majors after a two-year absence: 13 hits, but six for home runs; 24 strikeouts but zero walks.

You think Wily Mo is taking a big hack up there, or what?

Now, the obvious follow-up: What's the "record" for most strikeouts by a batter with no walks? Gaylord Perry had a 47-to-0 mark in 1970, but of course he was a pitcher. The record for a position player is an outfielder for the 1985 Detroit Tigers named Alejandro Sanchez, who had 39 strikeouts and no walks in 133 at-bats. He wasn't quite as all-or-nothing as Wily Mo, however, as he hit just six home runs and hit .248. Sanchez had 215 plate appearances in his career. He struck out 66 times ... and drew one walk. That came on May 1, 1986, during a brief tenure with the Twins. Batting fifth that day (ahead of Gary Gaetti!), Dennis Rasmussen walked him in the sixth inning.

Rasmussen was immediately yanked from the game.

Update: Wily Mo drew a walk today for the Mariners. Sanchez is safe!

Wily Mo Pena a Met?

April, 21, 2009
4/21/09
10:31
AM ET
Wily Mo Pena a Met? Hey, it could happen. From MLB Trade Rumors:
 Pena
    According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the Mets signed outfielder Wily Mo Pena to a minor league deal and assigned him to extended spring training. Mario Rojas of Candela Deportiva deserves credit for breaking this story two days ago.

    Pena was productive for the Nationals in '07 after they acquired him from Boston for Chris Carter and cash in August. He signed a two-year, $7MM extension in December but lost his '08 season due to a strained oblique and shoulder surgery. Perhaps with good health Pena can rediscover the power that led to 26 home runs in 364 plate appearances for the '04 Reds.

Just to clarify, Pena did play in '08; he just played really, really poorly: .205/.243/.267 in 206 plate appearances.

Pena's never been a particularly good player, and probably never will be. He strikes out too much and misplays too many flies and liners. What he has been, and might be again, is a useful player. Someone who can post an OPS+ 10 percent better than league average when he's 23 is probably capable of posting an OPS+ 20-25 percent better than league average when he's 27. And if you can do that, you can play. At least occasionally. If the whole Gary Sheffield thing doesn't work out -- and so far the results are bizarrely middling -- I can imagine Wily Mo Pena sliding into that role. Again, assuming that he's healthy.

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