Friday, December 10, 2010

Flashback Friday: Don Buford's Five Strikeout Day

Don Buford established two Orioles records in 1971: He hit five home runs leading off games, and he struck out five times in a nine-inning game.

Brady Anderson easily eclipsed the former mark in 1996 with 12 home runs leading off a game. Hopefully, Mark Reynolds will surpass the latter mark in 2010; not because I don't like Reynolds, but rather because Buford deserves better than to be remembered for a bad day at the plate not consistent with his overall performance.

Buford had a career AB/SO ratio of 7.92. Other leadoff hitters with a similar career AB/SO ratio are Roberto Alomar (7.96), Kenny Lofton (7.99), and Jimmy Rollins (7.89). Anderson, meanwhile, finished his career with a 5.5 AB/SO ratio, which nearly matches Boog Powell's 5.4 ratio.

In four seasons, Reynolds is averaging a 2.6 AB/SO ratio, which is to say that a five strikeout day would be entirely consistent with his overall performance ... except for the fact that he's never actually done it. Reynolds' career high for strikeouts in a game is four. He was worn the golden sombrero multiple times.

Back to Buford. As if keeping company with Alomar, Lofton, and Rollins wasn't impressive enough, Buford's numbers outshine Ichiro's - and any other player in history, for that matter - when it comes to staying out of double plays.

Buford, who played 10 major league seasons, has the lowest GDP in baseball history. He hit into 34 double plays in 4,553 career at-bats. Ichiro has grounded into 46 double plays in 10 seasons. Though the number of games played doesn't match up, Buford's 162-game average (4) is one better than Ichiro's (5).

Strangely enough, Buford's bad day at the plate came during what was otherwise a career year. In 1971, he led the league in runs scored with 99 (his third consecutive season of 99 runs scored), and posted career highs in average (.290), OBP (.413), slugging (.477), and OPS (.890).

Those numbers earned him his lone All-Star appearance for a half-season's work and MVP vote points for a full-season's work. But it only took one day for him to earn his Olympic Rings

Other notables from Don Buford's five seasons with the Orioles (1968-1972):

-He was the first player to lead off a World Series with a home run. He did so off Tom Seaver in Game 1 of the 1969 World Series. Dustin Pedroia matched Buford's effort in 2007.

-He was the first Oriole to homer from both sides of the plate in a single game, doing so on April 9, 1970 against the Indians.

Strikeout Percentage (SO%) and AB/SO ratio while in Baltimore

Sam Horn
(Holds team record for most strikeouts in an extra-inning game with 6)
1990 - 22.1%, 4.0
1991 - 27.4%, 3.2
1992 - 32.4%, 2.7

Mickey Tettleton
(Holds team record for most strikeouts in a season with 160)
1988 - 22.2%, 4.0
1989 - 23.9%, 3.5
1990 - 28.6%, 2.8

Don Buford
1968 - 9.3%, 9.3
1969 - 9.4%, 8.9
1970 - 8.7%, 9.2
1971 - 11.3%, 7.2
1972 - 17.1%, 4.9



Kyle said...

Tom Seaver? Wouldn't that be the 1969 WS, then?

Roar from 34 said...

Thanks. I've made the correction.

Pasadena Paul said...

34 double plays. An amazing stat I've not heard before. I loved his game. Thanks for info.

Roar from 34 said...

Thanks for checking in, Pasadena Paul. I was impressed with that stat as well. Talk about an under-appreciated effort.