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Strange But True D-Backs Stories
2008-05-02 11:34
by Mike Carminati

Those wacky young Diamondbacks, they have the best record in baseball (20-8), won their division last year, and yet no one seems to know who they are. Sure, there's Brandon Webb, who with six wins is the early NL Cy Young leader. But they have a potential MVP candidate in Conor Jackson who still gets carded this side of Tempe, and he is one of their veterans.

Last season, this team started transitioning to their seemingly endless supply of youth, and they still able to call up an unusual talent or two at will. They are like t he Montreal Expos of old except that they actually win with the talent.

The might have the next Babe Ruth—or at least the next Brooks Kieschnick—on their hands. They send Micah Owings to the mound tonight with a 4-0 record. His last appearance in a game was not as a pitcher but as a pinch-hitter, for the fourth time this season actually. He hit a game-tying home run Wednesday en route to an 8-7 Arizona win. He was pinch-hitting for the pitcher at the time.

Owings now has five career home runs in 84 plate appearances. That's about the same HR to plate appearance ratio as home run king Barry Bonds enjoyed in his apparently completed career (.060). However, it's not the best career HR/PA ratio for a pitcher. That honor falls to Frank O'Connor, who had one homer in his two career plate appearances in his one-year (1893) career.

If you look at just those pitchers who hit at least five career home runs, Owings still comes in second:

Dixie Howell619401958.063579
Micah Owings220072008.060584
Brooks Kieschnick619962004.04816336
Rick Ankiel519992008.04518399
Roric Harrison619721978.0426143
Earl Wilson1319591970.04235838
Jack Harshman1219481960.04021522
Mike Corkins619691974.0365140
Clint Hartung619471952.03514403
Tim Lollar819801986.0318255
Wayland Dean519241927.0296210
Wes Ferrell1719271941.028381345
Carlos Zambrano720012008.02813466
Bob Lemon1519411958.028371330

Note that three active "pitchers" make the list with notorious slugging pitcher Carlos Zambrano and converted pitcher Rick Ankiel, who still has more career games as a pitcher than at another pitcher, joining Owings. Also of note, Kieschnick is right behind Owings, and two legendary hard-hitting pitchers, Bob Lemon and Wes Ferrell, round out the list.

Meanwhile, prospect Max Scherzer makes his first career major-league start against the Phils Monday. It will just his second game in the majors. In his first, he relieved Edgar Gonzalez (the man he will replace in the rotation) trailing 6-2 and pitched 4.1 perfect innings while striking out 7. In his four and one-half year minor-league career, he averaged about 1.2 strikeouts per innings pitched (401 K in 336 innings).

Looking at pitchers with at three career innings pitched, he now ranks fourth in strikeouts to innings pitched:

PitcherYrsFirstLastK IP KperIP
George Wright21875187612 5.0 2.40
Dan Collins11874187418 11.0 1.64
John Hatfield11874187413 8.0 1.63
Max Scherzer 1200820087 4.3 1.62
Benito Baez12001200114 9.3 1.50
Billy Sadler1200620066 4.0 1.50
Edwar Ramirez12007200836 25.3 1.42
Bruce Egloff1199119918 5.7 1.41
Adam Butler1199819987 5.0 1.40
Brad Lidge620022008574 413.0 1.40
Joba Chamberlain12007200848 35.3 1.36
Lance Broadway12007200714 10.3 1.35
Rob Dibble819881995645 477.0 1.35
Dennis Sarfate22006200840 30.3 1.32

You may notice that a fair number of these players are currently active. Ross Ohlendorf also made the list until I added in this year's stats. And that's the problem. As pitchers gather more innings pitched, their ratios tend to drop.

Given that Scherzer had a slightly lower K/IP ratio, I wouldn't be surprised if he trailed off a bit. Then again, who could keep pitching perfect innings forever? However, he still is a good bet to record at least as many strikeouts as inning pitched in his career, which is extremely rare this side of Brad Lidge and Billy Wagner.

Given the way Phils strike out and their tendency to be dominated by young pitchers the first time they face them, Monday could be a long night for Phils and a big one for Scherzer.

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