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- Hey folks we're here to talk about that preposterous
home run chase from 1998 and the kryptonite
of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
I'm Alex and I know I've been unable to locate
my co-mayor of Dorktown Jon Bois but to fill
his enormous shoes I did manage to wrangle
the internet's top baseball writer
Grant Brisbee how the hell are ya?
- I'm doing very well can I be the viceroy
of Dorktown just as a temporary?
- Sounds good to me.
- We're gonna talk about McGwire and Sosa.
So we're gonna talk about the pitchers
who did not allow home runs to them, right.
One of these pitchers is Dan Naulty,
he is the only person in the Mitchell Report
to admit to using performance enhancing drugs.
So after using performance enhancing drugs
he held McGwire and Sosa homerless.
So mentally I'm gonna add one home run
to each of their career totals because I don't think
that it's fair that someone cheating
could have held them homerless.
- It's the only reasonable thing to do.
(keyboard jingle)
Here is each of the 201 pitchers that Mark McGwire
faced in 1998 and here is the 211 Sammy Sosa faced.
McGwire took 65 of his pitchers deep and Sosa did so to 58.
Let's get rid of those dudes and see what we're left with,
one name in particular stands out to me,
a fellow resident of the NL Central who started
five games against Big Mac's Cards and Sosa Cubs.
A player who faced each slugger at least seven
times without allowing a homer, Mike Hampton.
Who held the duo to just four singles
and 16 combined plate appearances.
Half of which didn't even reach the outfield.
Now to be fair Hampton was pretty good this season,
both in general and specifically at not allowing home runs.
But he certainly wasn't immune to giving up the long ball
as two particular examples illustrate wonderfully.
Here is every homer allowed by Hampton in '98,
let's start with Jim Tatum, it was his final big league
homer, or, in other words, his third of three career blasts.
Tatum was a fringe player who scraped out a short
sporadic career, mostly as a pinch hitter.
If aliens had decided to take a peak at planet earth
and this whole baseball thing, exclusively using
the timeframe of Tatum's career to form their opinions,
They'd come away thinking he was just about the very worst batter
MLB had to offer, yet he managed to do in his only
game against Hampton what McGwire
and Sosa couldn't in their combined five.
The other is Brian Banks' homer,
it was his only homer of the season.
The third of 13 for his career,
it was also his only plate appearance against Hampton
that year and he still accomplished
what Hulk and Hulker here couldn't in their 16.
Though Tatum and Banks each managed to take
Hampton deep for their careers they combined for 16 homers.
By the way, you wanna know who hit 16 career
homers on his own? Mike Hampton.
So Grant, one of my favorite things about Mike Hampton
is that he was actually quite good with a bat in his hands.
This season, in 1998, his OPS was .676,
do you wanna know whose OPS was just
10 points higher than that?
- Give it to me.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates.
- Hampton wasn't in McGwire and Sosa's book in '98
but they'd both get him eventually.
The pair combined to hit 1,192 home runs over their careers
that's 1,192 freaking home runs.
That means that there just aren't that many pitchers
who faced both and never allowed a home run, right? Huh.
Wait, wait was that Bartolo Colon's name?
Anyway this is cheating because a lot of the guys
on that list faced one or both hitters for one at-bat.
Chad Zerbe was a soft tossing left-handed specialist
who had no business facing either Sosa or McGwire.
But whether in mop up duty or the deepest recesses
of extra innings he got his chance and succeeded
before telling his manager to never, ever, ever
put him in that position again.
So who were the frequent flyers,
the pitchers who faced both batters for at least
10 plate appearances each and didn't give up a dinger?
It's a fun list with a Hall of Famer and a few Cy Youngs
but featured some of the best pitchers in the last 30 years
actually, pitchers like Chris Peters,
after Peters was Luis Aquino whom I don't remember
but apparently pitched 26 times against McGwire
and Sosa without allowing a homer, good job.
After that, though, we have Dwight Gooden,
heck yeah now we're talking a name.
Except with Gooden on the Mets in his prime
and McGwire on the A's we're not talking
a clash of the titans here, this is the wily, veteran
Gooden in the '90s. Not as exciting but still pretty cool.
There were other relievers who held both players homerless
too and that was almost certainly their job.
Doug Henry and his wondrous mustache
had a clean slate in 28 head to head matchups.
Steve Reed and his funky submarine delivery did the same,
Rich DeLucia and Scott Sanderson were never touched either.
And by law I'm required to point out that all of these guys
passed through the Giants' bullpen in the early '90s.
Dick Pole, the Giants pitching coach then, must have known
a secret unless it's a coincidence and I'm just looking
for reasons to talk about Dick Pole.
Dick Pole, the Giants pitching coach.
There are two relievers worth highlighting though,
the first is Mark Guthrie who's clean in 46 plate
appearances despite being a left-handed specialist.
Both McGwire and Sosa hit over .300 against him and Sosa
in particular absolutely crushed him —- no dingers though.
The other reliever is Michael Jackson
who was the setup man specifically tasked with keeping
right handers like this in the yard.
And that's just what he did for 49 plate appearances,
more like the king of no-pop.
Alright so I'm gonna give you some pitchers who faced
both McGwire and Sosa without allowing a home run.
I'm gonna ask you if you remember them.
- Okay.
- Alright, you ready? Dave Otto.
- [Alex] Not at all.
- [Grant] Dean Hartgraves?
- [Alex] Nope.
- [Grant] Alright just scroll down to Everett Stull?
- [Alex] Nope.
- [Grant] Heath Murray?
- [Alex] Nope.
- [Grant] J.D. Smart?
- Negative. So we know that in '98 McGwire and Sosa
combined to go yard in nearly 10% of their 1,387
non-Hampton played appearances.
That percentage dipped to zero
point zero with Hampton on the mound.
For one of these guys that couldn't have been more
predictive of what would come in the ensuing years.
For the other, it couldn't have been less predictive.
McGwire's struggles against Hampton weren't simply
confined to this/ season. In another 22 times
facing each other after 1998, Hampton held him to four
hits with just one homer, joining a select group
of McGwire adversaries that best-mastered
keeping him in the ballpark. But Sosa's post-'98 story
against Hampton was 180 degrees different.
Sure he stunk when facing him in the '90s
but once Y2K hit my goodness he scorched fire to the entire
earth when Hampton was on the mound.
We hear the expression in sports all the time
about a switch being flipped, well, Sosa obliterated
the switch in this case. Zero homers in their first
42 showdowns against one another, the,n in their ensuing
17, Sosa pulled out that home run bunny hop six times.
So one of my favorite ownages ever of a batter over
a pitcher was Sammy Sosa against
a guy by the name of Kevin Jarvis.
Kevin Jarvis started five career games against Sosa,
Sosa homered in all five.
- That is by far my favorite Kevin Jarvis fact.
- Love you Kevin.
- [Grant] As for the starters who held the pair homerless
for 10 or more plate appearances each,
most of them will be familiar to you.
How about a guy named Nolan freakin' Ryan huh?
He faced the hitters a combined 28 times and never gave in.
Then there's Pat Hentgen, former AL Cy Young winner,
and Elmer Dessens, who was probably a runner-up
one of those years, I don't have time to check,
and Danny Jackson and Todd Stottlemyre.
None of them gave up a homer to McGwire or Sosa.
Two names stand alone at the top, though.
These are the two starting pitchers who didn't allow
a homer in over 50 combined appearances.
The first is Bret Saberhagen who had to face McGwire
a whopping 39 times, and McGwire owned him!
Five walks, five doubles and a triple.
He had an OPS over 1.000 against Saberhagen.
Still, to quote Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull,
"You never got me down Ray, you never got me down."
If you want the king against these two hitters,
the man with the most success at preventing dingers,
you have to go to the one, the only, the legend, Kris Benson.
Benson was a former first overall pick for the Pirates,
which meant he was in the NL Central,
which meant he faced McGwire and Sosa a lot.
At the peak of their powers, kind of.
Benson didn't come up until 1999, so he missed the chase,
but don't forget that Sosa hit
63 homers in '99 and McGwire hit 65.
That reminds me of one of my favorite all-time stats,
which is that Sammy Sosa hit more than 60 homers
in three different seasons but didn't lead
the league in home runs in any of them.
Benson didn't exactly dominate Sosa who was 10-for-31
against him with three doubles, but he did dominate McGwire,
who was just one for 13 against him.
That includes a game in 1999,
top of the seventh, Pirates are up 4-1
but the Cardinals loaded the bases on an Ed Sprague
error with two outs, Mark McGwire comes up.
The fans, even in Pittsburgh, are going nuts.
it's only August 7th, but McGwire already has 44 homers.
A grand slam here would give the Cards the lead
and everyone's expecting just that.
Does Pirates manager Gene Lamont take his rookie out?
He's thrown 102 pitches after all, and the most fierce
hitter in the game is coming up.
Hell no he doesn't take him out,
Lamont is from the old school,
from the days before the relief pitcher was invented,
dammit. Go out and get him rookie, earn your man points.
Benson struck him out on three pitches.
Man points are like those tickets at Chuck E. Cheese
where you need like a million of them to get anything cool.
So Benson got just enough to get an eraser or something.
Still for a pitcher who never succumbed to the homer
to McGwire or Sosa, here was the pinnacle,
and it happened in his rookie season.
- So Grant, you're a life-long Giants fan,
you're familiar with Barry Bonds.
- Heard of him.
- Now, Barry Bonds hit dozens of home runs in his career,
DOZENS, but there was one pitcher in particular
that he faced over 50 times without taking deep.
Do you know who it is?
- I should.
- It's Rick Sutcliffe.
- Oh I did not know that.
- Granted a lot of those plate appearances were when
he was a skinny lad in Pittsburgh, but Rick Sutcliffe.
- Rick Sutcliffe.
(soothing instrumental)
- Hey y'all thanks for watching Dorktown,
don't forget to like and subscribe
and I promise if it's the last thing I do
I will locate Jon in the near future.
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The pitcher Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa couldnt homer off in 1998 | Dorktown

200 Folder Collection
Li Rose published on June 11, 2019
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