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Browsing Posts tagged Milt Pappas

Koufax was strikeout king at the plate, too

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Sandy Koufax was among the most masterful pitchers in baseball history, and statistics proving it are plentiful.

In 1965 the “Left Arm of God” struck out 382 batters and walked just 71, second only to Nolan Ryan’s 383/162 in 1973. The Brooklyn native’s career shutouts-to-innings ratio is the 6th highest on record. In his final season, with doctors warning that he risked losing use of his ravaged left arm, Koufax went 27-9 with a 1.73 ERA and 317 Ks.

But here’s something you may not know: Sandy Koufax was a strikeout king at the plate, too. And arguably one of the worst batters in baseball history.

The evidence, again, is in the numbers. Using Baseball-Reference.com‘s fantastic “Play Index” utility, Jewish Baseball News compiled a list of all pro baseball players with at least 750 career at-bats from 1871 to 2011, including pitchers. Here is what we found:

  • In 776 career at-bats, Koufax — a lefty hurler who hit right-handed — struck out 386 times, or 49.7% of the time. No other player has matched that strikeout rate. Fellow pitcher Milt Pappas (1957-73) came closest, at 47.5%.
  • Koufax ranked 2nd-worst all-time both in batting average (.097) and on-base percentage (.145). The ‘leader’ in that category of the damned is P Bob Buhl, who hit .089 with a .129 OBP. Like Koufax, Buhl let his pitching do the talking, going 166-132 with a 3.55 ERA over a career that spanned from 1953-67.
The 10 worst career strikeout ratios in baseball history, 1871-2011
Player SO AB SO ratio BA OBP
1 Sandy Koufax             386             776 49.7% .097 .145
2 Milt Pappas             510          1,073 47.5% .123 .157
3 Jerry Koosman             418             915 45.7% .119 .151
4 Bob Buhl             389             857 45.4% .089 .129
5 Mickey Lolich             362             821 44.1% .110 .215
6 Nolan Ryan             371             852 43.5% .110 .148
7 Lefty Grove             593          1,369 43.3% .148 .209
8 Jim Lonborg             330             770 42.9% .136 .191
9 Jerry Reuss             428          1,016 42.1% .167 .221
10 Dave Nicholson             573          1,419 40.4% .212 .318

Why Koufax was so useless with a bat is a question we would love to ask him. (We haven’t.)

But if there’s an encouraging note here, it’s this: you don’t have to be good at everything to be great.

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