Numbers and statistics are one of my favorite things about baseball. As I often do, I was browsing through Baseball-Reference the other day before stumbling upon Brian Bohanon’s 1999 season for the Colorado Rockies. Bohanon’s season wasn’t particularly good; the left-hander threw 197.1 innings as the Rockies’ No. 2 starter with an uninspiring 6.20 ERA. What makes Bohanon’s year interesting was the huge number of baserunners he allowed: 351 in total.
Because baserunners (H + BB + HBP) can be influenced by the total number of innings pitched (i.e., the more innings pitched, the more hits a pitcher will give up), I wanted to look at pitchers who tossed 200 innings or less. This should help us to find pitchers that gave up a lot of baserunners, but weren't padded by huge innings totals.
In honor of Bohanon, I set my cut-off point at 350runners allowed and ran the search from 1950 to 2010.
And here’s what I discovered:
1999 Colorado Rockies, Darryl Kile, 190.2 IP, 350 BR
Little did I know that this post was going to turn into a study of the 1999 Rockies. It makes senses that late-‘90s Coors Field would give way to huge baserunner totals. In the mid to late-‘90s, Coors Field was the definition of a hitters’ park. In ’99, Kile finished with an ERA of 6.61 while leading the NL in earned runs with 140.
Maybe more damaging to Kile’s ERA was Colorado’s defense. By Total Zone -- a defensive metric that rates on runs above or below average -- the Rockies, as a team, were rated at a National League worst 87 runs below average. The worst offender of the bunch was left fielder Dante Bichette, who gave nearly 3 wins back (minus-34 runs) just by playing defense.
1999 Colorado Rockies, Brian Bohanon, 197.1 IP, 351 BR
Bohanon falls into the same traps as Kile. Bohanon pitched in an extremely hitter-friendly environment with defenders like Bichette (minus-34 runs) and Darryl Hamilton (minus-11 runs). Bohanon would return to pitch two more years in Colorado before retiring after the 2001 season.
Lindell is an interesting story. Originally a pitcher, Lindell was converted to an outfielder by the Yankees in 1943. In his first year as a position player in the majors, Lindell batted .245/.329/.365 (101 OPS+) while making his first and only All-Star team. Lindell would play for the Yankees until 1950 before being purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals. He struggled to hit for the Cardinals, batting just .186/.287/.398, and eventually ended up in the Pacific Coast League. Lindell would resurface in the majors in 1953, but this time as a pitcher. A knuckleballer, Lindell obviously had problems controlling his knuckler in ’53; he led the league in walks with 139. It’s not often you see a pitcher converted to a position player, and then back to a pitcher.
Chris Quick writes Bay City Ball, a blog about the San Francisco Giants