Hall of Fame Membership and Career Strikeout Rate Below 10%

Suffering through the post-season with little to do but monitor the Hot Stove League developments and the Hall of Fame ballot debates, I find myself thankful for Baseball Reference and its treasure of information. While perusing the Hall of Fame Batting Statistics, I was not surprised to see that Reggie Jackson leads all members with 2,597 strikeouts, but I was a little surprised to notice that Jackson recorded 13 more strikeouts in his career than he did hits: 2,584. This naturally led me to wonder which Hall of Famers had the lowest career strikeout rates.

After downloading the stats and adding a strikeout percentage per plate appearances column to the spreadsheet, I realized that I needed to limit the query to only those batters with at least 6,000 career plate appearances in order to omit the many pitchers who played in the pre-DH era. I also chose to limit the query to those players whose careers lasted until at least 1970 in order to focus on just those batters who have had to do battle against the modern science and strategies of major league pitching.

The following list of 49 Hall of Fame members is ranked from lowest to highest strikeout rate per plate appearances:

Rank Name PA SO SO %
1 Tony Gwynn 10232 434 4.24%
2 Ozzie Smith 10778 589 5.46%
3 Luis Aparicio 11230 742 6.61%
4 Wade Boggs 10740 745 6.94%
5 George Brett 11625 908 7.81%
6 Brooks Robinson 11782 990 8.40%
7 Bill Mazeroski 8379 706 8.43%
8 Al Kaline 11596 1020 8.80%
9 Joe Morgan 11329 1015 8.96%
10 Barry Larkin 9057 817 9.02%
11 Tim Raines 10359 966 9.33%
12 Rod Carew 10550 1028 9.74%
13 Hank Aaron 13941 1383 9.92%
14 Billy Williams 10519 1046 9.94%
15 Carl Yastrzemski 13992 1393 9.96%
16 Cal Ripken, Jr. 12883 1305 10.13%
17 Paul Molitor 12167 1244 10.22%
18 Roberto Alomar 10400 1140 10.96%
19 Robin Yount 12249 1350 11.02%
20 Gary Carter 9019 997 11.05%
21 Eddie Murray 12817 1516 11.83%
22 Ernie Banks 10394 1236 11.89%
23 Roberto Clemente 10211 1230 12.05%
24 Willie Mays 12496 1526 12.21%
25 Kirby Puckett 7831 965 12.32%
26 Joe Torre 8802 1094 12.43%
27 Rickey Henderson 13346 1694 12.69%
28 Frank Robinson 11742 1532 13.05%
29 Orlando Cepeda 8698 1169 13.44%
30 Ryne Sandberg 9282 1260 13.57%
31 Dave Winfield 12358 1686 13.64%
32 Frank Thomas 10075 1397 13.87%
33 Andre Dawson 10769 1509 14.01%
34 Craig Biggio 12504 1753 14.02%
35 Carlton Fisk 9853 1386 14.07%
36 Ron Santo 9397 1343 14.29%
37 Ivan Rodriguez 10270 1474 14.35%
38 Mike Piazza 7745 1113 14.37%
39 Johnny Bench 8674 1278 14.73%
40 Lou Brock 11240 1730 15.39%
41 Jim Rice 9058 1423 15.71%
42 Ken Griffey, Jr. 11304 1779 15.74%
43 Willie McCovey 9692 1550 15.99%
44 Jeff Bagwell 9431 1558 16.52%
45 Tony Perez 10861 1867 17.19%
46 Harmon Killebrew 9833 1699 17.28%
47 Mike Schmidt 10062 1883 18.71%
48 Willie Stargell 9027 1936 21.45%
49 Reggie Jackson 11418 2597 22.74%

The list of batters on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot ranked in the same way:

Rank Name PA SO SO %
1 Omar Vizquel 12013 1087 9.05%
2 Gary Sheffield 10947 1171 10.70%
3 Vladimir Guerrero 9059 985 10.87%
4 Johnny Damon 10917 1257 11.51%
5 Barry Bonds 12606 1539 12.21%
6 Chipper Jones 10614 1409 13.27%
7 Edgar Martinez 8674 1202 13.86%
8 Larry Walker 8030 1231 15.33%
9 Jeff Kent 9537 1522 15.96%
10 Scott Rolen 8518 1410 16.55%
11 Fred McGriff 10174 1882 18.50%
12 Manny Ramirez 9774 1813 18.55%
13 Andruw Jones 8664 1748 20.18%
14 Sammy Sosa 9896 2306 23.30%
15 Jim Thome 10313 2548 24.71%

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Paul Molitor, Milwaukee Brewers, Hall of Fame

Paul Molitor began his major league career in 1978 at 21 years of age and finished second in the voting for American League Rookie of the Year to Lou Whitaker of the Detroit Tigers. He finished his playing career 21 years later with 3,319 hits, putting him #10 on the list of all time hits leaders in MLB. Currently, there are only 3 active players anywhere close to Molitor in career hits: Ichiro Suzuki with 3,080, Adrian Beltre with 3,048, and Albert Pujols with 2,968. By the way, Whitaker played for 19 seasons and had 2,369 hits.

Interestingly enough, for all of those hits, Paul Molitor never won a batting title and was awarded a Silver Slugger only 4 times in his career. Yet he collected more than 200 hits for a season on 4 occasions, leading the majors in 1991 and 1993, and had his highest hits total of 225 in 1996 at 39 years of age. Derek Jeter is the only other player to collect more career hits than Molitor and also never win a batting title.

Possibly the biggest highlight of Molitor’s career came in the 1993 World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays in which he batted .500 (12 for 24) with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs, 8 RBI, and 3 walks for an OBP of of .571 and OPS of 1.571 earning him the MVP award for the Series.

According to Baseball Reference, Molitor finished his career with a WAR rating of 75.4. He was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.

Here is a list of the Paul Molitor cards that I currently have in inventory. Send an email message to BigBubbo@yahoo.com about any cards you wish to purchase or talk trade. I personally collect Bob Gibson, Roberto Clemente, Tom Seaver, St. Louis Cardinals – especially from the 60’s, 1969 and 1986 New York Mets, and 1985 Kansas City Royals.

Related pages:

 

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Does Developing and Retaining Hall of Fame Caliber Players Result in World Series Wins?

This is the second posting in a series looking at the four major league expansion teams of 1969: the Kansas City Royals, the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, the San Diego Padres, and the Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers. In the first posting I argued that the Royals are the most successful of these teams because they have made it to the World Series more than the other three and are the only team of the four to have won the World Series. I then argued that the 1985 World Series team was better than the 2015 World Series team because the ’85 team included four players who rank in the top 5 all time in multiple batting categories. By contrast only one member of the 2015 team holds a single season record for the Royals. In retrospect, that logic is a bit of a leap for deciding which was the better of two teams separated by 30 years, but the weight of players’ career statistics with these four teams is fundamental not only in determining the successes and failures of the four teams, but also for discovering the underlying reasons for success or failure. The intended point of the first posting was that the career longevity with the Royals of George Brett, Frank White, Willie Wilson, Hal McRae, and Amos Otis is a fundamental reason why the Royals have been the most successful of the four expansion teams.  In this posting, I argue that a lower turnover rate of the team roster is a second major factor in the success of the Kansas City Royals.

According to Baseball Reference, in their 49-year history, the Royals have had a total of 857 players on their roster, the fewest of the four expansion teams. By contrast, the Padres have had 977 players, 14% more than the Royals, and the most of the four expansion teams. The Expos/Nationals have had 905 players and the Pilots/Brewers 863. However, the higher roster turnover rate has not doomed the Padres to failure as they have made it to the World Series twice, only to lose each time. Likewise, the fact that the Pilots/Brewers roster turnover rate is less than 1% higher than that of the Royals did not result in a World Series victory in their 1982 appearance and they have made it to the post-season only 4 times, the fewest appearances of the 4 teams. The significance of roster turnover as a factor in team success or failure requires a more qualitative examination.

Baseball Reference provides a list for every Hall of Fame player to have ever been on a given teams roster. Excluding Hall of Famers listed as managers rather than players, the Royals have had only 4 players on its roster to be inducted into the Base Hall of Fame: George Brett, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, and Harmon Killebrew. Cepeda, Perry, and Killebrew each played just one year for the Royals, the last years of their respective careers, and can hardly be considered as vital in the long-term success or failure of the team. George Brett is the only player of the four to have started and ended his career with the Royals and his importance to the long-term success of the team was detailed in the previous posting.

The San Diego Padres historical roster includes 11 members of the Base Hall of Fame. Only four of those players started their careers with San Diego and only one of the four, Tony Gwynn, ended his career as a Padre. Roberto Alomar began his career with San Diego, but spent only the first 3 of his 17 years in the major leagues as a Padre. Likewise, Ozzie Smith spent only his first 4 years in the bigs with San Diego, and Dave Winfield only his first 8. When the Padres lost the World Series in 1984 and again in 1998, Tony Gwynn was the only player on the roster who would go on to be inducted in the Hall of Fame. Would the outcome of the 1984 World Series have been different if Dave Winfield and Ozzie Smith had still been on the Padres roster?  Would the Padres have won the 1998 Series if Roberto Alomar had still been wearing a San Diego uniform? We will never know the answers, but the questions must haunt Padres fans.

The Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals developed and failed to retain 4 future Hall of Famers: Tim Raines, Randy Johnson, Andre Dawson, and Gary Carter. However, one could argue that all of these players save Johnson spent their prime years in an Expos uniform. Raines, Dawson, and Carter spent the first 13, 11, and 12 years of their careers respectively, with the Expos.  How the Expos managed to make the post-season playoffs only once in the eight-year span from 1979 to 1986 that they had Carter, Dawson, and Raines on the roster is one of the great mysteries of baseball and undermines the theory that developing and retaining quality players leads to World Series success.

Likewise, the history of the Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers also undermines the theory by imitating the low roster turnover rate of the Royals and having only 5 players on the career roster to make the Hall of Fame and yet making the post-season the fewest number of times, 4, of the four expansion teams. Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor were on the roster together from 1978 to 1993 and yet the Brewers made only 2 post-season appearances during that time.

So the Kansas City Royals have developed and retained the fewest number of Hall of Fame caliber players, yet they have been the most successful of the four 1969 expansion teams. What is their secret? I will keep looking.

Thanks for reading and please consider subscribing to my blog, liking my page on Facebook, and/or following me on Twitter: @Big_Bubbo.