My guess is that baseball fans, whether they are watching a game on TV or in person, like to see action on the field. They enjoy the batter connecting with a pitch and the either a base hit is the end result or a defensive play is made.
Of course, a well-timed walk or strikeout, depending on if your team is at bat or in the field, is always nice. Generally speaking, however, action on the field is what we crave.
Let’s put some numbers to the above musings. Here’s the question: Which batters most often don’t put the bat on the ball in their at-bat? Specifically, which batters have the most strikeouts and walks in their at-bats?
Based on season totals, there have been 15 players in MLB history who have had 120 or more strikeouts and 120 or more walks in a season. No player “accomplished” this feat last season, but in 2015 there were two players who tallied 120 strikeouts and 120 walks. Washington’s Bryce Harper in the ’15 campaign had 131 strikeouts and 124 walks; Cincinnati’s Joey Votto was the other player with 135 strikeouts and 143 walks.
Of these 15 players, six have reached the 120-120 mark in strikeouts and walks multiple times in their careers, led by Jim Thome who did it four times. Here’s a look at the players who have had 120 strikeouts and 120 walks seasons.
4 times: Jim Thome
2 times: Jeff Bagwell, Jack Clark, Adam Dunn, Mark McGwire, Joey Votto
1 time: Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Bryce Harper, Frank Howard, Mickey Mantle, Tony Phillips, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Tettleton, Jim Wynn
Last season (2016) there was six players who had 100 strikeouts and 100 walks: Brandon Belt, Josh Donaldson, Paul Goldschmidt, Harper, Mike Trout and Votto. This season, with about one-quarter of the 2017 season complete, there are five players who are on a pace to reach 120-120: Harper (33 strikeouts, 30 walks), Brad Miller, Tampa Bay (45-30), Matt Carpenter, St. Louis (37-32), Miquel Sano, Minnesota (58-30) and Goldschmidt, Arizona (37-35).
For Brewers fans, here’s a quick stat for you: Only one player in the team’s history has had 100 or more strikeouts and 100 or more walks in a season. Prince Fielder did it three straight years, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He had 138 strikeouts, 110 walks in 2009, 138-114 in 2010 and 106-107 in 2011.
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Teen phenom Bryce Harper made his major league debut on April 28 with Washington going one-for-three with a double. There has been a lot of speculation about whether or not Harper will stay with the Nationals for the entire season, but if he does and continues to play as well as he has in his first eight MLB games, he would have a legitimate shot at establishing some new batting records for players in their teen years.
Harper does not turn 20 until October 16, so if he stays with the parent club and stays in the starting lineup, he may join Phil Cavarretta, Robin Yount, Mickey Mantle, and Ken Griffey, Jr., as one of the most successful teenagers in MLB history. Which hitting records for teenagers could Harper challenge? Following is a look a few stats that may have to make room for Harper at the end of this season.
Players that rank in the Top Ten for most hits before their 20th birthday
1. Phil Cavarretta, 295
2. Robin Yount, 235
3. Mel Ott, 209
4. Buddy Lewis, 178
5. Ed Kranepool, 166
6. Sibby Sisti, 164
7. Bob Kennedy, 155
8. Paul Hines, 151
9. Ty Cobb, 149
10. Al Kaline, 146
Although Harper has yet to hit a home run, here are the five teenagers with the most home runs in MLB history
1. Tony Conigliaro, 24; 2. Mel Ott, 19; 3. Phil Cavarretta, 18; 4. Ken Griffey, 16; 5. Mickey Mantle, 13.
Here are the five teenagers with the most RBI
1. Phil Cavarretta, 144; 2. Met Ott, 100; 3. Jimmy Sheckard, 78; 4. Robin Yount, 78; 5. George Davis, 73.
The one category where Harper may challenge a teenager record is doubles. Through Harper’s first eight games and 28 at-bats, he has five doubles. Should he stay with the Nationals for the entire season and get 300 or more at-bats, he could make a run at Phil Cavarretta’s teenage record of 46 doubles in his MLB career before he turned 20.
Did you know? Harper has a .308 batting average as of May 6. The best career batting average of any player before turning 20 was Mel Ott who had a .318 career batting average before he turned 20. Could Harper challenge Ott’s .318 average?
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