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Unit Beaters & The Chilifest

Posted by Steve Lombardi on October 1, 2010

Nah, that's not some new wave band from the '80's...read on...

Just killing some time waiting for the Yankees-Red Sox game to start in Fenway Park tonight, before they finally called the game, I was looking at guys who had at least 40 PA facing Randy Johnson and who had an OPS of 850+ overall in that time. Yeah, I sometimes look at the strangest baseball stats for no reason...

Anywho, this is what I found:

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP missG missYr
Randy Velarde 46 42 19 4 0 0 7 4 10 .452 .500 .548 1.048 0 0 0 0 1    
Manny Ramirez 58 50 14 4 0 5 17 8 14 .280 .379 .660 1.039 0 0 2 0 2    
John Valentin 41 33 9 3 1 2 3 7 7 .273 .415 .606 1.021 0 0 0 1 0    
Frank Thomas 54 43 10 2 0 5 9 11 18 .233 .389 .628 1.017 0 0 0 0 1    
Miguel Tejada 50 44 17 2 0 2 8 5 5 .386 .440 .568 1.008 0 1 0 0 1    
Barry Bonds 62 49 15 3 0 3 12 11 6 .306 .452 .551 1.003 0 0 2 2 0    
Don Mattingly 44 42 16 7 0 0 8 2 2 .381 .409 .548 .957 0 0 0 0 1    
Neifi Perez 42 42 14 3 0 3 5 0 10 .333 .333 .619 .952 0 0 0 0 0    
Placido Polanco 42 38 14 6 0 0 2 3 6 .368 .405 .526 .931 0 1 0 0 2    
Glenallen Hill 44 39 13 3 0 2 7 3 13 .333 .364 .564 .928 0 2 0 0 0    
Travis Fryman 47 39 9 1 0 4 9 8 16 .231 .362 .564 .926 0 0 1 0 0    
Mickey Tettleton 48 40 10 1 1 3 6 8 18 .250 .375 .550 .925 0 0 0 0 0    
Rich Aurilia 59 54 18 1 0 3 6 5 16 .333 .390 .519 .908 0 0 0 0 2    
Devon White 75 66 19 6 0 3 5 8 22 .288 .373 .515 .888 0 0 1 1 0    
Juan Gonzalez 71 64 17 3 0 5 12 6 16 .266 .338 .547 .885 0 0 1 1 0    
Edgar Renteria 60 50 14 4 0 2 5 9 14 .280 .390 .480 .870 1 0 0 0 2    
Chili Davis 65 58 16 4 0 3 9 7 22 .276 .354 .500 .854 0 0 0 0 0    
Eric Karros 47 39 8 3 0 3 4 8 13 .205 .340 .513 .853 0 0 0 0 1    
Paul Lo Duca 70 63 20 4 0 2 14 5 6 .317 .377 .476 .853 1 0 1 1 1    
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/1/2010.

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Seeing Chili Davis there made me remember how Davis used to own Doc Gooden when the latter was in his prime. (Remember, back in 1986, when asked to explain how he hit Gooden so well, Chili Davis said, "He ain't God, man.") So, I decided to see which pitchers Davis used to really pound, and here's that list:

  PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP missG missYr
Frank Pastore 30 25 11 1 1 2 9 2 6 .440 .467 .800 1.267 0 2 0 1 0    
Rick Honeycutt 34 32 12 2 0 4 9 2 1 .375 .412 .813 1.224 0 0 0 0 1    
Charlie Lea 30 28 11 0 1 3 4 2 1 .393 .433 .786 1.219 0 0 1 0 0    
Chuck Finley 35 27 7 2 0 4 9 8 7 .259 .429 .778 1.206 0 0 0 0 1    
Gene Garber 31 27 8 0 0 4 6 4 6 .296 .387 .741 1.128 0 0 1 0 0    
David Wells 79 74 26 6 0 7 19 5 16 .351 .392 .716 1.109 0 0 1 0 2    
Tom Candiotti 35 28 10 1 0 2 8 7 5 .357 .486 .607 1.093 0 0 0 0 1    
Andy Hawkins 39 35 10 1 0 5 11 3 3 .286 .342 .743 1.085 1 0 0 0 1    
Walt Terrell 32 29 10 2 2 1 8 2 3 .345 .406 .655 1.061 0 0 0 1 0    
Mark Langston 33 29 10 2 0 2 8 4 6 .345 .424 .621 1.045 0 0 0 0 1    
Mike Moore 40 36 12 2 0 3 8 4 9 .333 .400 .639 1.039 0 0 1 0 1    
Dwight Gooden 31 27 12 2 0 0 2 4 10 .444 .516 .519 1.035 0 0 1 0 1    
Dave LaPoint 55 52 20 3 1 2 9 2 8 .385 .407 .596 1.004 1 0 0 0 1    
Tim Wakefield 30 25 7 2 0 2 4 5 8 .280 .400 .600 1.000 0 0 0 0 0    
Tim Leary 35 31 9 3 0 2 12 4 6 .290 .371 .581 .952 0 0 0 0 0    
Jaime Navarro 36 30 9 1 0 2 6 6 3 .300 .417 .533 .950 0 0 0 0 4    
Jimmy Key 53 46 14 3 0 3 6 6 6 .304 .377 .565 .943 0 1 0 0 2    
Jamie Moyer 45 41 12 3 0 3 10 4 9 .293 .356 .585 .941 0 0 0 0 0    
Rick Rhoden 49 42 13 4 0 2 7 6 9 .310 .388 .548 .935 0 1 2 0 0    
Rick Sutcliffe 50 42 14 1 1 1 2 7 8 .333 .440 .476 .916 0 0 1 1 0    
Charles Nagy 48 42 12 3 1 2 5 5 10 .286 .354 .548 .902 0 1 0 0 0    
Pat Hentgen 47 39 10 2 0 3 7 7 10 .256 .362 .538 .900 0 1 1 0 0    
Danny Cox 42 39 13 4 0 1 4 3 6 .333 .381 .513 .894 0 0 2 0 1    
Joaquin Andujar 36 32 9 2 0 2 4 4 3 .281 .361 .531 .892 0 0 0 0 1    
Tom Browning 32 31 10 1 0 2 7 0 5 .323 .344 .548 .892 0 0 0 1 0    
Charlie Hough 44 32 8 0 0 2 5 11 3 .250 .455 .438 .892 0 0 0 1 1    
Dave Dravecky 46 45 12 1 1 4 11 1 6 .267 .283 .600 .883 0 0 0 0 1    
Jeff Russell 34 30 9 3 0 1 4 4 7 .300 .382 .500 .882 0 0 0 0 0    
Scott Sanderson 55 51 13 2 1 4 6 4 10 .255 .309 .569 .878 0 0 0 0 0    
Kevin Tapani 32 30 10 2 0 1 9 2 8 .333 .375 .500 .875 0 0 0 0 0    
Todd Stottlemyre 39 35 11 3 0 1 7 4 3 .314 .385 .486 .870 0 0 0 0 1    
Juan Guzman 37 31 10 1 0 1 3 5 7 .323 .405 .452 .857 0 1 1 0 1    
Jesse Orosco 35 28 8 1 0 1 6 7 11 .286 .429 .429 .857 0 0 1 0 0    
Randy Johnson 65 58 16 4 0 3 9 7 22 .276 .354 .500 .854 0 0 0 0 0    
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/1/2010.

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As Yankees broadcaster Ken Singleton likes to say "There's some 'brand names' on that list." And, as you can see, the Big Unit wasn't the only lefty that Chili liked to square up against.

This is interesting.  Then again, maybe it's just me?  I've always had a soft spot for guys who were really good hitters - but, just not good enough for the Hall of Fame.  Guys like Chili Davis, Indian Bob Johnson, Reggie Smith, Will Clark, etc.  It's a shame, at least to me, that these guys play for so long, and did so well, but later slip through the cracks of remembrance outside of the fanatical sectors.  How about you?  This bother you as well?

This entry was posted on Friday, October 1st, 2010 at 10:19 pm and is filed under Pitcher vs. Batter. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

45 Responses to “Unit Beaters & The Chilifest”

  1. Hal McRae is another of those really good hitters, but not Hall of Fame caliber. (Yeah, I'm partial to the those excellent Royal teams.) For that matter, so was Willie Wilson.

  2. With you on that. My favorite player growing up was Willie Mays. Of course anyone can appreciate Mays or Mantle or Aaron or Clemente.
    Guys like the ones you mentioned and otherw such as George Foster, Mark Grace, Boog Powell and Gil Hodges will be remembered by the fans who saw them play, but those who didn't well ...
    I think for the Hall of Fame to work you need a player who is so great its easy to easily explain his greatness to someone who is learning of this player for the first time.
    Off on a tagent:
    I look on your list of guys Chili owned, and there's Gene Garber. I hadn't thought about Garber in a long time. It makes me think of those Braves teams in the 1980s. They were horrible every year but 1982 and 1983, and they played home games in front of a sea of empty blue seats. It was the early days of cable and where I lived the baseball menu was Braves, Cubs and a national game on Saturday. So I watched those horrible Braves teams a lot. TBS used to replay some of the games. So late at night you could watch a replay of the Braves going through the motions in front of a sea of empty seats in a game where you already knew the result.
    And for some reason that is a pleasant memory.

  3. "Yeah, I sometimes look at the strangest baseball stats for no reason..."

    No need for apology, Steve. "You are not alone...."

    And @1, thanks for honoring McRae and those '76-85 Royals. Who didn't love the way they played baseball?

  4. Will the Thrill! Loved the snarl, the hiked up sleeve, the middle name. Great, great ballplayer.

  5. buckweaver Says:

    I'm with you, Steve. Others on that fun list ...

    Freddie Lynn
    Keith Hernandez
    Dave Justice
    Eric Davis
    Dwight Evans

  6. I wasn't a Royals fan but I'll never forget Bill James' tribute to Amos Otis in one of his Abstracts. Sad what's become of that franchise.

  7. No, it's not just you Steve, this was one of the more clever posts I've seen. Really entertaining. Great job.

  8. Glad you guys are enjoying this one! Great job on listing some blasts from the past. Keep 'em coming. ;-)

  9. BTW, and this is one of the reasons why I love baseball so much, how crazy is it that Neifi Perez, one of the worst hitters in major league history, did so well against Randy Johnson?

  10. Harold Baines worth a mention

  11. Quirks, flukes, and luck make baseball unique for statistical analysis and discussion.

    It seems to defy logical explanation why certain teams own others in terms of wins compared to their overall record or why some batters own pitchers.

    Now, Steve, I can't wait to see what statistical goodies you come up with during the long wait between ends of the Yankees-Sox, Fox-orchestrated doubleheader today. (lol)

    (What's up with scheduling a EST start time for 9:05 PM?)

  12. Most of the pitchers on the Chili Davis list were pretty good starting pitchers at one time or another.

  13. For those who only remember the man at the top of the list, Randy Velarde, for what he did with the A's and Angels, he torched the Unit when he was a utility player for the Yanks -- 11 for 22 in the regular season in '94 and '95.

    Those very good players with long careers who don't get enough HOF votes to be remembered the way a Keltner, Mattingly, Santo or Hodges are should never slip through the cracks, but it sadly happens. That's why I think it is so important to do these exercises, remind both those who saw them and those who never did that they not only existed, but had an impact.

  14. @13 {1st paragraph}
    Goof, based on appearances, Velarde was more than a utility player with those Yankees, wasn't he? But his success against Randy Johnson is inexplicable. To borrow a time-worn advertising tag line "I love this game"!
    @13 {2nd paragraph}
    Agreed, about the value of this database in bringing to mind forgotten players, even if only to appreciate them in this cyber-community. It has happened to me a number of times in reading posts or studies by the authors.

  15. Dick Allen and his 156 OPS+ come to mind.

  16. John Autin Says:

    Steve, your general asssessment of Neifi Perez is spot-on. However, he did have some power against lefties.
    While 3 HRs in 42 PAs is 14 times his career rate of 1 HR per 86 PAs, it's not as shocking when you see his platoon splits. The switch-hitting Perez averaged 1 HR per 40 PAs from the right side, compared to 1 HR per 152 PAs swinging lefty.

    Three HRs matched the most for Perez against any pitcher. Out of 8 pitchers against whom Perez hit at least 2 HRs, 7 were lefties. He hit 3 HRs in 8 trips against Glendon Rusch.

    His 3 HRs off Johnson came in his first 5 games against the Unit, and only 1 came at Coors Field.

    The walk numbers in this matchup are more representative of both players.
    Perez did not draw a walk off Johnson in 42 PAs. That's the most walk-free PAs for Perez against any pitcher, and he's one of 4 batters with 40+ PA and no walks against The Unit.

    Neifi was, of course, one of the all-time free swingers; his career rate of 1 BB per 23.9 PA is among the 50 lowest in modern history (min. 3000 PA). And all his matchups with Johnson came from 1998 on, after Johnson had conquered his early control problems; he averaged just 2.4 BB/9 from 1998 through the end of his career.

  17. Some of my favorites in that category:

    John Olerud
    Mark Grace
    Robin Ventura
    Paul O'Neill
    Kenny Lofton
    Wally Joyner
    Chuck Knoblauch
    Nomar Garciaparra
    Edgardo Alfonzo
    Willie McGee
    Andy Van Slyke

  18. Al Oliver

  19. Vada Pinson
    Dave Parker

  20. Ah yes, Parker. Who reminds me of Don Baylor. I recall the A's had both at the end of their careers. In 1988 they had both at the same time, no less.

  21. It's funny to think of the Oakland A's in the late 80's.
    Between 1984-89 they had complete coverage in regards to veteran 70's power guy.
    From 1984-86 Dave Kingman capped a memorable career with 3 years and 100HR in Oakland.
    In 1987 Reggie Jackson took a six month bow with Oakland.
    Dave Parker breathed new life with 2 years in Oakland from 1988-89.
    Finally, Don Baylor took his final swings in Alameda County, 1989.

  22. In 24 PA against Johnson, Albert Pujols has an OPS of 1.708.

    Others on the list: Paul Blair, Bernie Carbo, Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, Ron Santo, Bobby Grich

    #11 Neil L "It seems to defy logical explanation...why some batters own pitchers" True, but in the end, there are bio-logical and biomechanical explanations for these phenomena. They cannot be dismissed merely as quirks. As for the reasons why some teams own others...those are more readily understood as quirks but my hunch is that one day science will explain those as well.

  23. @19
    Iron Horse, woah, Vada Pinson!! That's a blast from the past for me. That is the point exactly of @13 and @14.

    I remember having his baseball card from my youth. Can't remember the year exactly but it would have been early sixties. No one ever thought of hanging on to cards back then. I can see it now... he was facing the camera from the left side of the card.

    Your post prompted me to check out his page in B-Ref. It looks like he played every game for his team from 1959-1963. What a one-two punch he and Frank Robinson must have been for the Reds in that time.

  24. @22 {last paragraph}
    Paul, baseball quantum mechanics for sabermetricians! (lol)

  25. Jim Wynn is another who belongs on the list.

    In 31 PA against Nolan Ryan, the Toy Cannon had an OPS of 1.433

    @24 Neil --Yeah, the grant integration of biology and statistics--called bioinformatics. I predict the development of a new subfield: baseball bioinformatics. LOL

  26. Neifi Perez's success against Johnson reminded me of an even lighter hitting middle infielder, Enrique Wilson. Wilson had an OPS of 1.062 vs Pedro Martinez, in 27 PA (25AB), 10 more than he had against any other pitcher, with a BA of .440.

  27. Only 2 lefties, Bonds and Mattingly. The rest are righties or switch hitters. I wonder how Johnson faired overall against lefties. I bet he was lights out with a ton of k`s.

  28. rico petrocelli Says:

    I was there the night Chili Davis got the only hit off Pedro at Yankeee Stadium, when Pedro struck out 17

    Pedro was untouchable but Davis skied it

  29. 27. Johnson had 597 K's against lefties and they hit .199 off him. He struck out righties 4277 times and they hit .224 against him.

  30. "Le Grand Orange"

  31. Thanks Tom

  32. Some more of "the good" vs. "the great"

    Junior Spivey: 1.636 OPS in 22 PA against Greg Maddux
    Edgar Martinez: 1.888 OPS in 20 PA against Mariano Rivera
    Marquis Grissom: 1.572 OPS in 26 PA against Pedro Martines
    Steve Ontiveros: 1.567 OPS in 28 PA against Tom Seaver
    Del Unser: 1.208 OPS in 24 PA against Bob Gibson
    U.L Washington:1.644 OPS in 20 PA against Gaylord Perry
    Jim Ray Hart 1.463 OPS in 47 PA against Fergie Jenkins

  33. Ah, Vada Pinson ... one of the names I remember whenever I start prematurely projecting a player for the Hall of Fame.

    Through age 28, Pinson had played 9 full seasons and was on a HOF path in the counting stats.
    In that age bracket, he ranked 3rd with 1,746 hits, 8th in total bases, 13th in runs and extra-base hits, etc.
    In those 9 full seasons, he hit an even .300 and averaged 191 hits, 100 runs, 84 RBI, 20 HRs and 22 SB, 64 extra-base hits and 305 total bases.

    His OPS+ was a modest 120, but with just 3 to 5 more good seasons and a normal decline phase, his counting stats would just about have assured his induction.

    Instead, his decline phase was already under way by age 29. He strung it out long enough to notch 2,757 hits -- 50th on the career list; he's in the top 100 in a LOT of basic stats. In the end, he wasn't truly a great player. But he was a good one for a long time.

  34. 27: Lefties couldn't hit Johnson. By the mid/late 90s, managers would often bench their lefties altogether or you'd see lefties who were typically 3 or 4 hitters batting 7th.

    32: Good list but Edgar and Rivera is a case of the great vs. the great. It's interesting that Maddux's foe was Junior Spivey. That seemed to happen a lot with Maddux in his prime. It was always inferior hitters that would find the holes against him.

  35. Doc may have had a tough time getting Chili out, but it sure looks like he did a good job of minimizing the damage. Only two of Chili's hits went for extra bases (both doubles). His ISO (i.e., SLG-AVG) against Doc (.075) appears to be his lowest against any pitcher listed, even though his AVG (.444) and OBP (.516) against Doc are his highest.

  36. Bernie Williams.

    Not only is he forgotten just a few years after retirement, he played in New York, for the New York Yankees, and was the CFer for a dynasty team. He's never mentioned, even when people talk about forgotten players. That's truly under the radar.

  37. I always forget how good Davis was, it's just that he's very much in the "not great at anything, good at everything" group of hitters. He never lead the league in anything aside from sac flies once, but that's quite a career. He's also a great example of the usefulness of OPS+. In 1984, he had an OPS of .875, OPS+ of 148. 10 years later, an OPS of .971 gets an OPS+ of 147. Things changed a bit in between. It's funny that possibly his worst year, 1993, was the only one in which he made it over 100 RBI. Otherwise he might've been the leader in career RBI for guys without 100 in a year (not sure how to find out who that actually is).

  38. Regarding Randy Velarde, I can tell you why he hit Randy Johnson so well. While he developed as a utility guy later in his career, he was an everyday middle infielder during the early to mid 90s. More importantly, he was the Yankees' everyday shortshop the year before Derek Jeter took over full-time. He was a dead-on fastball hitter, and he could hit anything thrown straight. (Breaking pitches, however, were the reason they gave that kid Jeter a chance.) The reason he lit up Randy Johnson is that when Randy Johnson was in his hardcore blow-them-out-of-the-stadium phase, he didn't really need movement or location to get most guys out. A fastball thrown down the middle was catnip to Velarde, however, no matter how hard it was thrown.

  39. If you're going to be rueful about the less-than-Hall-of-Fame credentials of Bob Johnson, Reggie Smith and Will Clark, you have to feel the same for Norm Cash. Playing smack dab in the middle of the pitchers era of the 60s and 70s, be has the highest OPS+ of any player beyond Hall of Fame voting status (139). His .271/.374/.488 with 377 home runs projects out to a .291/.397/.522 with 418 HRs in a 750-run environment, or better yet, a .300/.407/.538 with 437 HRs in a year 2000 AL neutral environment, which might have been good enough to get him voted in.

  40. #39: Gil Hodges, Rocky Colavito, Boog Powell, Joe Adcock, come to mind since you mention Cash, as well as one with a similar career to Cash, Frank Howard. Howard played almost exactly the same years that Cash did, '58-'73 (as opposed to '58-'74), and ended up with nearly identical ratio stats, and even a slightly higher OPS+ 142 vs. 139. If you think a different era might've gotten Cash to the HOF, then surely the same is true of Howard.

    How about Cash's 1961 season? An OPS+ of 201, with his BA best by more than 80 points, OBP by more than 80 points, and SLG by more than 130. Truely one of the great fluke seasons ever seen.

  41. TapDancingTeddy Says:

    THE NEAR GREAT
    Cecil Cooper
    Bobby Bonds (Power and speed and strikeouts, oh my!)
    Al Oliver
    Bobby Grich (Hurt his back lifting a window AC)
    George "Boomer" Scott
    Roy White
    Graig Nettles
    John Candelaria
    Jack Clark
    Ron Cey
    Garry Maddox
    Mark Belanger (I wanted to be the next one)

    THE STUCK IN MY HEAD FOR UNKNOWN REASONS
    Rick Burleson
    George Hendrick (shocked to see him as a Rays coach!)
    Craig Swan
    Bake McBride (I'd have loved that name, if he never got a hit!)
    Skip Lockwood
    Ellis Valentine
    Cesar Cedeno (potential, potential, potential)

    Angel Mangual
    Pepe Mangual
    =============
    Someone asked Pepe, "Aren't you Angel Mangual's brother?" Pepe replied, "No. This year I'm hitting better, so Angel's MY brother!"

    Willie Montanez
    Richie Hebner
    Jay Johnstone
    John Mayberry
    Ron Kittle
    Manny Sanguillen
    John Milner

    Freddy Patek
    ============
    Interviewer: Freddy, how does it feel being the shortest man in the Majors?
    Freddy: A lot better than being the shortest man in the minors.

    Bombo Rivera (BOMBO!!)

    The Died Too Young
    Lyman Bostock

    and near great players now Yankee announcers, both here and gone:
    Ken Singleton
    Bobby Murcer.

    And of course, a lot more than that.

  42. Good vs. Great, Part 2

    Mike Lavaliiere had a 1.444 OPS in 20 PA against John Smoltz
    Jorge Orta had a 1.327 OPS in 55 PA against Dennis Eckerlsey
    Frank Catalanatto had a 1.318 OPS in 22 PA against Curt Schilling
    Johnny Grubb had a 1.447 OPS in 20 PA against Juan Marichal
    Johnny Grubb had a 1.527 OPS in 26PA against Burt Blyleven
    Oddibe McDowell had a 1.397 OPS in 37 PA against Burt Blyleven
    Tommie Reynolds ha a 1,388 in 30 PA against Mickey Lolich

    32--Van--True, Edgar is great, but his OPS against Rivera is more than twice his career OPS (.933)
    41--Excellent post
    40--And speaking of Norm Cash, what about Willie Horton?

  43. Steve @9 you bring up a great point about Neifi hitting .333 with 3 HRs off Thr Unit which reminds of how Bob Uecker used to hit well against Sandy Koufax and not hit Joe Blows and all those forgotten crappy pitchers

  44. HOJO!

  45. @43 Bob Uecker hit well against Sandy Koufax? He had .560 OPS in 41 PA. Actually, only pitcher Bob "owned" in a meaningful number of PA was Denny LeMaster (1.045 in 19 PA). Not exactly Koufax or Marichal.