Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Rob Deer Awards

Rob Deer played for eleven seasons between 1984 and 1996. His claim to fame was the strikeout record with 186 in 1987. A record that would be shattered three times by Mark Reynolds of the Arizona Diamondbacks. But this post isn't about strikeouts. Deer had another claim to fame. In the last forty years, nobody has hit 25 or more homers with a lower batting average. The Fan stopped at forty years because the old eyes were bugging out going year by year through baseball-reference.com. In 1991, Rob Deer hit 25 homers and batted .179. He struck out 175 times that year or seven times the amount of homers he hit. He was joined in that dubious club by Mark McGwire in 2001, McGwire's last season. McGwire hit 29 homers that season and batted .187. The difference was that McGwire only had 364 plate appearances that year.

With the exception of those two seasons, no players in the last 40 seasons have batted lower than .200 and still hit 25 homers. But this year, two players may join that exclusive club. Mark Reynolds and Carlos Pena are in serious contention for that honor. Pena is now batting .198 in 561 plate appearances and he's hit 27 homers. Mark Reynolds has hit 32 homers and is batting .199 in 587 plate appearances. Both players have been high strikeout/high walk, all or nothing type of players for most of their careers. But this year is more all or nothing than ever. Just to show you how hard it is to do what they are doing, here is a list of the players who have hit 25 or more homers with the worst batting averages in the last forty years:

  1. Rob Deer (1991) - .179 with 25 homers
  2. Mark McGwire (2001) - .187 with 29 homers. Again, McGwire did not play the whole season and retired.
  3. Carlos Pena (2010) - .198 with 27 homers.
  4. Mark Reynolds (2010) - .199 with 32 homers
  5. Dave Kingman (1984) - .204 with 37 homers. Kingman finished that season with a .432 slugging percentage. He only hit 9 doubles and had one triple to go along with his 37 round trips. Plus he had many years where he hit in the .220s with over 25 homers.
  6. George Thomas (1985) - .210 with 32 homers
  7. Rob Deer (1989) - .210 with 26 homers
  8. Gene Tenace (1974) -.211 with 26 homers
  9. Adam Dunn (2003) - .215 with 27 homers
  10. Jose Valentin (2004) - .216 with 30 homers
  11. Tony Armas (1983) - .218 with 36 homers. One of the most futile offensive players on this list. His On Base Percentage that year was .254.

That's the list. And so, baseball friends, we are witnessing history. Two players in 2010 are going to finish number three and four in a category that goes back 40 years in their unique ability to mash the long ball and hit little else that lands safely on the playing field. Steve Balboni almost made this list. In one of his years in Kansas City, he hit 24 homers and batted .205.


Josh Borenstein said...

Knew Dave Kingman would be on that list. He went to a high school around here. Didn't he have a reputation as a real jerk?

bobook said...

This article looked like a Deer in the Headlines...

William J. Tasker said...

Always enjoy a good pun, bobook, but the wife rolled her eyeballs at you.