What has always made baseball interesting is its simplicity. Hit the ball. Catch the ball. Throw the ball. Run the bases. Strike outs eliminate all of those and walks eliminate three of the four
NOTE: to view the data supporting this post click this link. It was derived from the Lahman database.
Notice the title mentions batters, not hitters.
For batters after World War II (year >= 1946) and at least 4,000 At Bats (AB) there are 673 batters through 2011. Based on the percentage of Plate Appearances (PA) in which they put a ball in play the three most boring batters, i.e., those with the lowest percentage are all active. I only used AB, SO, BB. No sac flies, bunts, HBP.
Adam Dunn 55.5% Jim Thome 57.8% Carlos Pena 58.8%
I had feared that my boyhood favorite, Mickey Mantle, might head the list but The Mick was only number 20 at 65%. In later years Mickey told how he played seven seasons without hitting the ball: BB + SO = 3,443.
Among those 673 batters these had the most BB+SO: Thome 4,212 Barry Bonds 4,097 Jackson 3,972 Henderson 3,884
671. Bobby Richardson 91% 672. Vic Power 91.6% 673. Don Mueller 93%
Obviously, there’s a bias against sluggers but there are exceptions.
636. Don Mattingly 86.4% Two HR records: six grand slams one season (only slams of his career); homered in 8 consecutive games, tied with Dale Long & Ken Griffey, Jr. 637. Yogi Berra 86.5% 30 HR twice 644. Ted Kluszewski 86.6% 1954: 49 HR, 78 BB, 35 SO
Among the 83 batters all time with at least 350 home runs:
Yogi is least boring with 86.5% then Joe DiMaggio, whom I had long suspected of being the least boring slugger, then Stan Musial.
Of course, Dunn is still most boring followed by Thome, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Reggie Jackson and Mantle. Babe Ruth is 17th most boring. No one who saw them ever thought that Mantle or Ruth were boring but the name of the game is to put the ball in play. And, yes, hitting home runs over fences counts as putting the ball in play in this context. And others for me but that’s another post.