Lopsided batter/pitcher match-ups of the 1970s

Despite being a team game, at its core baseball consists of match-ups between two individuals: the batter and the pitcher. Sadly, as years pass, the results of these individual match-ups fade to splits and are ultimately lost to the ether of season totals. But what about those instances where one player thoroughly dominated another over the course of their careers? Thanks to the wealth of data available from Retrosheet and its brethren, we can now re-discover those lopsided matchups.

This is the second of a four-part series highlighting match-ups in which pitchers most dominated batters. Part one is here. Today: the five most lopsided match-ups of the 1970s.

For each match-up, I have listed the overall ranking of lopsidedness to give you an idea of where it stands all-time. These are placed in a decade according to the median year of the players’ career match-ups. So if they first faced off in 1973 and last faced off in 1984, the median year is [(1973+1984) / 2] = 1978.5 and their match-up is placed in the ’70s. To give an idea of the bias towards older match-ups, eight of the top nine match-ups come from the 1960s and every single one from 1-27 is from the ’60s or ’70s.

If you’d like to understand my methodology in more detail, take a gander at the original article.

No. 5. Frank Robinson vs. Catfish Hunter (14.1 RC, 108 PAs, 1966-1974)   View match-up

Actual:    5.5 RC | 15-98 | .153/.231/.265 | 0.497 OPS | 17 K, 10 BB, 0 HBP
Expected: 19.6 RC | 27-91 | .294/.398/.534 | 0.932 OPS | 15 K, 14 BB, 2 HBP

Frank Robinson moved to the AL in 1966 for his age 30 season which, unfortunately for him, began his rivalry with Catfish Hunter. Perhaps it’s unfair to include this match-up given that, according to WAR, seven of Robinson’s top 10 offensive seasons came before he first faced Hunter. That the listed expected stats are based only on this latter part of Robinson’s career demonstrates just how dominant a hitter he was… against everyone but Catfish Hunter.

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Frank Robinson also struggled against Don Drysdale (7.6 RC), Joe Gibbon (7.2 RC), Stan Williams (6.6 RC) and Bob Gibson (6.3 RC).

Catfish Hunter also dominated Amos Otis (10.3 RC), Ken McMullen (7.8 RC), Cesar Tovar (7.5 RC), Carl Yastrzemski (7.3 RC), Frank Howard (7.1 RC) and Aurelio Rodriguez (6.4 RC).

No. 10. Matty Alou vs. Gaylord Perry (12.4 RC, 108 PAs, 1966-1973)   View match-up

Actual:    3.2 RC | 18-104 | .173/.204/.202 | 0.406 OPS | 7 K, 4 BB, 0 HBP
Expected: 15.6 RC | 33-101 | .326/.361/.398 | 0.759 OPS | 7 K, 5 BB, 1 HBP

Matty Alou and Gaylord Perry were teammates early in their careers, both in the minors and on the San Francisco Giants, but when Alou was traded to the Pirates for Joe Gibbon and Ozzie Virgil before the 1966 season a rivalry was born. Perry must have picked up some tips on how to pitch Alou when teammates because Alou managed only 18 hits in 104 ABs as opponents.

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Matty Alou also struggled against Larry Jackson (7.7 RC).

Gaylord Perry also dominated Lee May (10.7 RC), Carl Yastrzemski (10.2 RC), George Scott (10.0 RC), Curt Flood (8.7 RC), Bob Bailey (8.5 RC) and Lou Brock (7.6 RC).

No. 13. Dick Allen vs. Fergie Jenkins (12.0 RC, 76 PAs, 1966-1977)   View match-up

Actual:    1.6 RC | 12-75 | .160/.171/.240 | 0.411 OPS | 24 K,  1 BB, 0 HBP
Expected: 13.7 RC | 19-65 | .292/.383/.551 | 0.934 OPS | 17 K, 10 BB, 0 HBP

On July 10, 1990, at the age of 48, Dick Allen “jerked a pitch from Fergie Jenkins into the left-field bleachers for a three-run, first-inning homer” in an Old-Timers game at Wrigley Field. If only he had performed as well throughout their big-league careers, he might not have appeared on this list.

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Dick Allen also struggled against Don Drysdale (11.5 RC), Luke Walker (6.6 RC) and Phil Niekro (6.5 RC).

Fergie Jenkins also dominated Deron Johnson (9.8 RC), Sal Bando (8.3 RC), Bobby Bonds (7.8 RC), Joe Rudi (7.5 RC) and Tommy Helms (6.7 RC).

No. 16. Pete Rose vs. Randy Jones (11.5 RC, 98 PAs, 1973-1982)   View match-up

Actual:    3.7 RC | 17-93 | .183/.224/.204 | 0.429 OPS | 6 K,  5 BB, 0 HBP
Expected: 15.2 RC | 27-86 | .312/.390/.419 | 0.808 OPS | 5 K, 10 BB, 1 HBP

Over the course of their careers, Pete Rose had four different lengthy hitless streaks against Randy Jones. Rose, a switch-hitter, took an unorthodox approach to try to end the one spanning the 1975 and 1976 seasons: by batting left handed against the lefty Jones. Seeing this, Jones said, “You sure you want to do this?” “Oh, just pitch,” Rose called back. Three sliders to the outside corner of the plate and one strikeout later, Rose retreated back to a dugout full of laughing teammates.

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Pete Rose also struggled against Bob Forsch (8.2 RC), Jerry Reuss (7.1 RC) and Sandy Koufax (6.6 RC).

Randy Jones also dominated NONE.

No. 17. Roy White vs. Jim Kaat (11.4 RC, 89 PAs, 1966-1975)   View match-up

Actual:    1.2 RC | 12-85 | .141/.169/.200 | 0.369 OPS | 12 K,  3 BB, 0 HBP
Expected: 12.6 RC | 21-77 | .272/.362/.412 | 0.774 OPS |  9 K, 11 BB, 0 HBP

I challenge anyone still reading to find something interesting that occurred between these two.

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Roy White also struggle againstWilbur Wood (8.6 RC).
Jim Kaat also dominated Reggie Jackson (8.1 RC), Leon Wagner (7.1 RC) and Lee Thomas (6.8 RC).

Up next: the 1980s.

References & Resources
The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at “www.retrosheet.org”

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Comments

  1. Chad Evely said...

    That’s an interesting link; I really liked that Bob Gibson quote about Koufax. I checked out how Rose did against the other two and found an interesting contrast. He did almost exactly as we’d expect against Gibson and significantly better than expected against Marichal. The lesson, I suppose, is that calling Marichal a “complete pitcher” was a polite way of saying he owned him.

    I was curious who Rose did the best against and the answer – unexpectedly – was Warren Spahn at the tail end of his Hall of Fame career. The numbers follow.

    vs. Koufax (-6.6 RC, 60 PAs):
    Actual:  10-57 | .175/.217/.193 | 10 K, 3 BB, 0 HR
    Expected: 16-54 | .298/.354/.413 |  6 K, 4 BB, 1 HR

    vs. Gibson (+0.2 RC, 132 PAs):
    Actual:  35-114 | .307/.385/.404 | 11 K, 12 BB, 1 HR
    Expected: 36-118 | .302/.368/.419 | 12 K, 12 BB, 2 HR

    vs. Marichal (+3.8 RC, 137 PAs):
    Actual:  42-123 | .341/.400/.512 | 20 K, 12 BB, 4 HR
    Expected: 38-123 | .311/.375/.437 | 12 K, 12 BB, 2 HR

    vs. Spahn (+7.5 RC, 33 PAs):
    Actual:  17-32 | .531/.545/.844 | 0 K, 1 BB, 2 HR
    Expected:  8-30 | .283/.346/.379 | 3 K, 3 BB, 0 HR

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