Prototypical baseball players like Matt Stairs (recently retired who played for 13 teams) and Steve Balboni of the 80s Kansas City Royals I find fascinating. Maybe its because guys like this looked like everyday "softball guy". The "Big, somewhat out of shape looking" ballplayer who, if it weren't for their ability to hit a baseball a country mile, would be--as the stereotype goes--working some construction job by day and drinking cheap beer by night.
This had me thinking: If we created a softball team of major leaguers who fit the description of "everyday, beer drinking softball guy" who hit homeruns and strikeout alot , who would be on this prestigious list?
Before we start rattling off names of players we loved to see mash with reckless abandon, let's narrow down a potential huge list to a manageable one
Weed out the players who had a flash of "all or nothing" brilliance. In other words, players who had one season with alot of homeruns and tons of strikeouts with a return to a "normal/average" batting average and nominal power with more contact and reduced whiffs aren't allowed on this team.
Now the stat criteria:
At least 5 years of MLB service
Players can be active or retired
Lifetime average below 0.250
One season with a batting average under 0.240 w/at least 20 HRs.
One season with a batting average under 0.240 w/at least 30 HRs.
Must have either lead the league in SO twice and/or finished in the top 5 at least 3 times.
(Why not two seasons batting under 0.250 with 20 and 30 HRs versus 0.240? The list becomes huge. 425 occurances of 0.250/20 or 30HRs) An average of 0.240 cuts the list in half. Besides, hitting 0.250 wouldn't be doing this team justice. We want all-or-nothing not ten points below the all-time MLB average.
Why a 20 AND a 30 homerun season? Simple. 20 homeruns is one thing. 30+ homeruns and you're in more exclusive company. Again, we want a list that exemplifies consistent power and little contact.
Using the Batting Season Finder at Baseball-reference, I found 226 occurrences where players hit more than 20+ homeruns while hitting below 0.240.
The list of players with 30+ homeruns with an average below 0.240 drops to 36.
Narrowing the list to include a 20 homerun/under 0.240 season AND a 30+ homerun/under 0.240 season, we are left with:
Filtering out the players who have a lifetime average above 0.250 trims the list to these players:
Some impressive names to be sure.
The strikeout requirement of either leading the league in Strikeouts TWICE or finishing in the TOP 5 AT LEAST 3 TIMES is a bit more cumbersome. Again, we want consistent high percentage strikeout players who are at the top of the league leaders list year in and year out. Using baseball-reference's leader boards for each of the seasons that each player had high strikeouts allows us to make our final cuts.
Honorable mention (Bench) Russell Branyan, Sam Horn, Steve Balboni
OUR ULTIMATE "ALL-OR-NOTHING" MLBer SOFTBALL TEAM ROSTER AS IT WOULD LOOK IN A GAMEDAY PROGRAM:
Now to find who hits leadoff........:)
5 yrs/40+ HRs/avg. 0.249
Lead League SO - 3 times
2006: 40/92/194: 0.234
4 seasons 20+ HRs w/avg 0.230
SO: 1789 HITS: 1306 Lifetime avg: 0.244
Games Played: 1556
Last 3 yrs averaged 31HRs w/avg 0.216
2009: 39/100/163: 0.227
Top 5 SOs 4 times
SO: 1269 HITS: 969 Lifetime avg: 0.239
Games Played: 1209
5 yrs/30+ HRs/avg. 0.238
Lead League SO - 2 times
3 seasons 20+HRs w/avg 0.240 or lower
1985: 32/87/126: 0.215
SO: 1339 HITS: 1051 Lifetime avg: 0.225
Games Played: 1435
7 yrs/30+ HRs
10 seasons 20+ HRs/under 0.240 avg
Lead league SO - 3 times
Lead league HRs (37) in 1982, avg: 0.204
Final Season: 35/94/126: 0.210
SO: 1816 HITS: 1575 Lifetime avg: 0.236
Games Played: 1941
2 seasons/20+ HRs/avg. 0.235
Lead league SO - 3 times first 3 full seasons
2008: 33/77/197: 0.231
SO: 819 HITS: 510 Lifetime Avg.: 0.242
Games Played: 670
2 yrs/30+ HRs
Lead league SO - 4 times
4 seasons 20+ HRs w/avg 0.210 or lower
1991: 25/64/175; 0.179
SO: 1409 HITS: 853 Lifetime avg: 0.220
Games Playeed: 1155
3 yrs/30+ HRs/avg. 0.229
2010: 32/85/211; 0.198
3 consec. yrs 200+ SOs/Lead league 4 consec. season
SO: 931 HITS 582 Lifetime avg: 0.239
Games Played: 700
Top 5 in SOs 5 times (lead league in 2002)
2004: 30/76/143: 0.231
SO: 1900 HITS: 1700 Lifetime avg: 0.249
Games Played: 1954