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Total pitchers faced

Posted by Andy on August 3, 2007

A lot of folks were interested to read that Julio Franco has faced 1167 pitchers in his career.

I started wondering to what degree that number was affected by his era. Right off, we know that Franco's plate appearances are spread over a larger number of years than most other players. He first came up in 1982, and he didn't play in American baseball in 1995, 1998, or 2000 (as I recall, he spent some of that "time off" playing in Japan, and some in Mexico.) Since pitchers are constantly coming and going in baseball, spreading out PAs over more years definitely means more unique pitchers faced.

Anyway:

He has 9727 plate appearances at the moment, so that's an average of 8.34 PAs per pitcher faced. Looking at the all-time leaders for PAs, we see that Franco is 88th. Let's compare his number of PAs her pitcher faced vs. those of others with similar numbers of total PAs.

One caveat: due to the fact that full box scores are available only from 1957 on, I am going to limit the comparison to only players who were active from 1957 on. So for example Richie Ashburn, who had 11 more PAs than Franco, is out.

Here, then, are the PAs/pitcher figures for the 10 players with the closest PA totals to Franco, active after 1957:

Name              PAs    #pitchers     PAs/pitcher
--------------------------------------------------
Willie Davis      9872    611          16.15
Gary Gaetti       9817   1016           9.66
Sammy Sosa        9807   1140           8.60
Al Oliver         9778    757          12.92
Julio Franco      9727   1167           8.34
Willie McCovey    9686    642          15.08
Ted Simmons       9685    741          13.07
Dave Concepcion   9640    670          14.39
Campy Campaneris  9625    649          14.83
Frank Thomas      9572   1107           8.64          (This is the active Frank Thomas)
Brett Butler      9545    868          11.00

(Incidentally, this data is easy to get the from PI Event Finder for each player. Just set it to plate appearances and the data falls right out.)
This turns out the be a great list, as there are two players (Gaetti and Butler) who is are contemporaneous with the beginning of Franco's career, and two players (Sosa and Thomas) who are contemporaneous with the ending of Franco's career (not to say that he is retired yet, though.)

If we re-order this list ranked by PAs/pitcher, we get a neat result:

Name              PAs    #pitchers     PAs/pitcher
--------------------------------------------------
Julio Franco      9727   1167           8.34
Sammy Sosa        9807   1140           8.60
Frank Thomas      9572   1107           8.64
Gary Gaetti       9817   1016           9.66
Brett Butler      9545    868          11.00
Al Oliver         9778    757          12.92
Ted Simmons       9685    741          13.07
Dave Concepcion   9640    670          14.39
Campy Campaneris  9625    649          14.83
Willie McCovey    9686    642          15.08
Willie Davis      9872    611          16.15

You get a list exactly ordered by the years the guys were active. That's not so surprising, since expansion and shorter average careers ensure that as time goes on, later players face more unique pitchers than earlier players.

But you gotta love the fact that Franco tops the list. He has seen way more pitchers than players who starterstarted their careers around the same time (Gaetti and Butler) and has even seen more pitchers than a guy like Sammy Sosa, who has spent considerable time in both leagues (and took a year off in 2006.)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Franco has seen more pitchers in American MLB than anybody else.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2007 at 7:46 am and is filed under Event Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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