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In which I name the depressing batting line of 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts after a lucky player.

Yesterday, @KenTremendous

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(a.k.a. Michael Schur of Parks & Recreation and “Fire Joe Morgan” fame) and @JPosnanski
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(a.k.a. The World’s Best Sportswriter, Joe Posnanski) had this brief Twitter exchange:

@KenTremendous: I hereby declare that a 1-4 day with 2 Ks shall henceforth be called “The Crawford.”

@JPosnanski: As long as 0/4 with 3 Ks is “The Dunn.”

We’ll get to naming the 1/4, 2 strikeout batting line in a later post (suffice to say that “The Crawford” isn’t the best candidate). For today, I’m more interested in Posnanski’s suggestion regarding the 0/4, 3 strikeout batting line. “The Dunn” certainly seems like an appropriate name for this line. Everyone knows that Dunn has always been prone to the strikeout, and that this season in particular, he has ratcheted up his 0/4 skills. But is he truly the best representative for the 0/4, 3K day? Dunn is also known for his walks and his home runs, after all. Maybe there’s another player–Mark Reynolds? Dave Kingman? Rob Deer?–who would make an even more apt eponym.

First off, let’s look at the players who have had the most 0/4, 3 K games in their careers. Note that these games are limited only by the player having 0 hits, 4 at-bats, and 3 strikeouts. In some cases, the player might also have, say, a walk or a sacrifice fly. Also, each of those figures is exact. So an 0/4 day with 4 strikeouts won’t count. We’re not trying to capture meaningful information here; this is more impressionistic.

At any rate, here are the career leaders in the boxscore era (since 1919):

Rk Player # of 0/4, 3 K Games  Game List PA AB H BB SO
1 Reggie Jackson
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52 Ind. Games
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221 208 0 11 156
2 Rob Deer
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50 Ind. Games
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207 200 0 7 150
3 Sammy Sosa
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49 Ind. Games
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203 196 0 4 147
4 Adam Dunn
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48 Ind. Games
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198 192 0 5 144
5 Jim Thome
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41 Ind. Games
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179 164 0 14 123
6 Jose Canseco
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40 Ind. Games
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176 160 0 14 120
7 Andruw Jones
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39 Ind. Games
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161 156 0 4 117
8 Lee May
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36 Ind. Games
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146 144 0 2 108
Frank Howard
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36 Ind. Games
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147 144 0 2 108
10 Juan Samuel
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35 Ind. Games
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144 140 0 3 105
11 Dean Palmer
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34 Ind. Games
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140 136 0 3 102
Andres Galarraga
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34 Ind. Games
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139 136 0 0 102
13 Dave Kingman
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33 Ind. Games
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132 132 0 0 99
Mike Cameron
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33 Ind. Games
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139 132 0 5 99
Pat Burrell
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33 Ind. Games
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138 132 0 6 99
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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Generated 9/7/2011.

The great Reggie Jackson was known for striking out a lot (especially for his era), but I’m still somewhat surprised to see him on top of the list. He might not stay there for long, however. Dunn, though he is in 4th place currently, is only 4 back of Jackson’s record. If Dunn plays even one more season, he is all but certain to break the record. None of the other active players on the list is likely to reach the 50 game threshold, though Andruw Jones has 39 and isn’t that old, so who knows?

I’m somewhat surprised that Kingman didn’t make the top 10. I’m even more surprised that he ranks behind someone like Dean Palmer, who I never would have thought of for a list like this. Overall, though, there aren’t too many surprise entries in this top 15.

Okay, so what about this year? How does Dunn compare to his contemporaries? Well, it’s actually not much of a comparison. Dunn completely annihilates the field:

Rk Player # of 0/4, 3 K Games  Game List PA AB H BB SO
1 Adam Dunn
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13 Ind. Games
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52 52 0 0 39
2 Mark Reynolds
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6 Ind. Games
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24 24 0 0 18
Ryan Raburn
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6 Ind. Games
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25 24 0 1 18
Ryan Howard
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6 Ind. Games
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25 24 0 1 18
5 Miguel Olivo
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5 Ind. Games
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20 20 0 0 15
Curtis Granderson
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5 Ind. Games
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22 20 0 2 15
7 Brandon Wood
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4 Ind. Games
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17 16 0 1 12
Geovany Soto
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4 Ind. Games
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16 16 0 0 12
Colby Rasmus
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4 Ind. Games
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16 16 0 0 12
Carlos Corporan
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4 Ind. Games
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16 16 0 0 12
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 9/7/2011.

Adam Dunn has had more 0/4, 3 K games this year than any other two players combined. He’s made Mark Reynolds look like Placido Polanco. In fact, Dunn’s season isn’t just remarkable, it’s historic. Here are the top 3 seasons all-time in terms of most 0/4, 3 K games (click here for the full list

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):

  1. Dunn, 2011: 13 games
  2. (tie) Rob Deer, 1987; and Josh Fields, 2007: 8 games each

That’s right, Dunn’s 2011 hasn’t just set the record, it’s blown past the old record by 63%! And there’s still 3 more weeks left in the season. Wow.

That pretty much clinches the issue for me. Despite strong competition from Reggie Jackson and Rob Deer, the 0/4, 3 K batting line will henceforth be known as “The Dunn.” Congratulations, Adam.

Many thanks to Mssrs. Schur and Posnanski for inspiring this post, and to the latter in particular for his intuitive understanding of the Adam Dunn phenomenon.

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