NEW YORK, NY – Yesterday, Cam James presented a cabin-fever/cannabis(?)-inspired reach-n-grab of a thought-provoking/entertaining piece re Jackie Robinson and The Best MLB Bunters. Piggybacking that as the very serious #Covid19 virus continues to cruelly pick us off, let’s sidestep this batsh!t crazy epidemic and spin Cam’s gem with a variation, The Best MLB Pickoff Moves.
There are various potential approaches here:
1) Is is simply the highest total?
2) Is it runners nabbed as per innings pitched?
3) Is it percentage of nabbed vs baserunners allowed?
For polarizing purposes that will likely
pick tick off Angry Ward and Big Benjamin Whitney, yours truly is going to pollute the pool and conflate all.
1) Steve Carlton – The best lefty starter in Major League Baseball history (sorry Warren Spahn, he played integrated baseball with all the travel), Steven Norman Carlton was such a good left-hander that his nickname was simply “Lefty.” Sure, a guy with the 5217 innings pitched is bound to have the most pickoffs (146), but there is no way in hell he should be penalized for such staggering and dominant longevity. And his nickname could very easily have been Angry, no slight to the aforementioned A-Dubya. Carlton pitched and played mean. If you were lucky enough to get on base against him, the battle wasn’t over. You were not getting beyond 1B without a struggle. He’s my numero uno.
(We can deduct one, however, as Sax is safe here)
2) Charlie Hough – Why would I pick the guy with the 7th highest Pickoff Total in the #2 spot? Because he was a knuckle-balling right-hander. For him to be just 6 P.O.s behind the 5th-place Kenny Rogers (who knew when to hold ’em) and the only righty in the top 11, is remarkable. Imagine if the infield was a mirror-image and batters went to 3rd first. Hough would have 7.3 X the pickoffs. You do the math. (Tip of the cap to Ron Darling, another righty with a great move).
3) Joe Beimel – Who the flock is Joe Beimel? Hey, he didn’t pitch enough innings to fairly be compared to those that did, but his 39 pickoffs, 3.69% is much higher than the percentage leader’s of 2.67. That’s good. Very good. And it segues us to…
4) Clayton Kershaw – He just keeps popping up in all the big categories, doesn’t he? And while Clay hasn’t molded a World Series ring, he does have the highest Pickoff % in history for guys with over 2000 innings pitched. He’s only 11th on the All-Time list, however, with 63 pinged, and that just underscores how good Cartlon was for so long.
5) Bob Shirley – Getting back to the To Few Innings Gang, Shirley could be [altogether] serious when it came to pickoffs as a % of runners on base. He embarrassed 55 guys chatting golf swings with first basemen for a 2.65%.
Again, these are my f’n picks and you are welcome to challenge any and all. And make sure you come back tomorrow for a guy that never gets caught with his pants down – unintentionally – Cheesy Bruin.