Taking the good with the bad

Sure homeruns help a team win. But Strikeouts kill rallies. That said, we decided to take a look at some of the all-time greatest sluggers in order to determine which ones had a propensity to strike out so much that it mitigated the value of the homeruns.

Here at Bucketfoot, we don't usually delve into the in-depth, number crunching, statistical analysis stuff. There are two reasons for this:

1) That stuff can get real boring real fast unless you're smart enough to follow along.
2) We're not smart enough to follow along. So, we'll keep it really simple.

Homerun hitters drive Cadillacs, singles hitters drive Fords... or something like that. Every team wants a homerun hitter in the middle of the order. But which homerun hitter? Rob Deer hit for decent power but he struck out so darn much that it reduced his value as a slugger. What about the all-time greats? To determine this, we came up with our own gauge, the AOPS. Pretty cool, huh?

Following is a list of the top ten, all-time retired homerun leaders, ranked by OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage).

PlayerOPSColorful Commentary
Ruth1.164The greatest player ever.
Williams1.116And he was a fighter pilot, too.
Foxx1.037Some of his homeruns still haven't landed-pure power.
McGwire.991McDonalds never signed him until he made it to St. Louis. Have they heard of California?
Mantle.978Never signed an M&M's endorsement deal-or did he?
Mays.941Great player, but can he whip some manners into his Godson?
Aaron.929All-around talent obscured by 755.
Robinson.926The Reds traded him before the (damned) free agency era... why?
Schmidt.907Best third sacker ever and not even mentioned in Ken Burns' "Baseball" video. Shame on you, Ken.
Killebrew.885One of the classiest men ever to put on a uniform.
Jackson.846Charlie Finley said Reggie was the "dumbest player" he ever signed.

This list ranks the same group based on their propensity to strike out-that is their "strike out average" or "KAVG." Reggie Jackson would prefer that we flipped the order of this list so he could be at the top.

PlayerKAVGColorful Commentary
Williams.092No surprise.
Aaron.112Low strike out totals during pitching era.
Mays.140.224 KAVG as a Met.
Robinson.153Struck out 100 times in a season only once, 1965-then traded to Baltimore.
Ruth.159Pitched 163 games, striking out 488 batters in low strike out era.
Foxx.161Faced 71 batters as a pitcher, striking out 11 (KAVG .155)
Killebrew.208.250 postseason KAVG same as postseason batting average.
Mantle.211Exactly the same number as his blood-alcohol level during playing career-eeeerie!
Schmidt.225Ken Burns is a moron.
McGwire.251High KAVG negated by all-time best HR ratio.
Jackson.263Strike out average .001 higher than batting average. The straw can't stir what it can't hit.

This last list ranks the players based on their adjusted OPS (AOPS). The AOPS is determined by subtracting a player's KAVG from his OPS. Many players have high OPS numbers because they smacked a lot of homeruns. However, many of these same players regularly hurt their team by striking out a high percentage of the time. The AOPS takes this into account to present an alternate look at a player's value.

PlayerAOPSColorful Commentary
Williams1.024A really accurate expectorator, too.
Ruth1.005Faced 3,664 batters as a pitcher surrendering 10 homeruns. A .0027 HR %.
Foxx.876Retired #2 all-time homerun leader.
Aaron.817Great player for many seasons compiled HUGE numbers.
Mays.801Never required a recliner at HIS locker.
Robinson.773Baseball's Czar of discipline played with an attitude.
McGwire.740Should go into the Hall with an Athletics cap.
Schmidt.682Doesn't give a hoot about Ken Burns.
Killebrew.677Pure power in a pitcher's era.
Jackson.583Yankees should not have retired his number.

Just for fun, following are the AOPS for a select group of players:

PlayerOPSKAVGAOPSColorful Commentary
Duane Kuiper.641.075.566Despite being out-homered 563 to 1, "Smack Daddy" Kuiper has an AOPS just 17 points shy of Reggie Jackson.
Don Mossi.442.349.093Sure he struck out a lot, the women were always hollering and he hit twice as many career dingers as Kuiper.
Ken Hubbs.626.183.443No matter what we say, Hubbs fans will hate us. So we'll just shut up.
Lou Brock.753.167.586Who woulda thunk Lou whiffed 1,730 times? Still, 3 points better than Reggie.
Bobby Bonds.824.249.5751,750 K's killed a lot of rallies. No wonder he bounced around to eight teams. O-v-e-r r-a-t-e-d.
Sal Bando.760.130.660Why Oakland doesn't give this guy a public relations job is baffling.
Rob Deer.766.363.4031,409 whiffs in only 3,881 at bats-WOW!
Dave Kingman.780.272.508Struck out at least 100 times in 13 different seasons. Hit 35 homeruns in final season-highest such total ever!
Rogers Hornsby1.011.083.928Would rank third behind Williams and Ruth. Greatest player not in public consciousness.

© Bucketfoot Baseball Publications, 2002