Remembering Glenn Abbott

Even alone in the desert, Glenn Abbott couldn't strike anyone out

Glenn Abbott was the 24th pick in the 1976 expansion draft. The Mariners nabbed him from the Oakland Athletics just ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays who had tried to conceal their obvious interest in Abbott by passing on him 12 times. They did not miss out on a good pitcher, but they did miss out on an interesting one.

Specifically, I am fascinated by his 1979 season. Glenn Abbott was Seattle's Opening Day starter that season as he had been in 1978 and would again be in 1981. That's not the fascinating part. In 1979, Abbot pitched 116.2 innings and struck out just 25 hitters. Over 500 times (518) did Abbott face a hitter and only 25 of them did he dispatch with a strikeout.

Do you know how many pitchers since 2007 who have faced at least 500 batters have a strikeout rate that low? Zero. In fact, it's still zero until you lower the threshold all the way down to 138 batters faced. And by the way, that's among all levels! From A-ball up to the Major Leagues, no pitcher from 2007-2010 with 139 or more batters faced has a strikeout rate lower than Glenn Abbott did in 1979 over 518 hitters.

That's as far as my minor league numbers go, but we have a rich data set on the Major Leagues and to find a pitcher with a worse strikeout rate over at least 500 batters faced, we have to go all the way back to 1954 and Bob Trice. The Mariners of olden, and well, present days may have been awful at baseball, but even buried in awful are the bits of interesting history.

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