When a LOOGY looks for work

BY Rob Neyer • February 19, 2014

There's a long tradition, if long dormant, of professional baseball players advertising their talents during the winter. A century ago, it wasn't terribly uncommon to see something like this in the back of The Sporting News:

Available: Outfielder, good arm, fast, batted .308 in Three-I League last season, experience in faster loops. Contact Pete Billick, Rumsfeld, Penn.

Of course, that was before agents. And the Internet. And sliced bread. These days, when a player takes to Twitter looking for work ... Well, I'm sure that Tim Byrdak's agent has checked in with every team between Pyongyang and Key West. Now Byrdak's probably just having some fun:

Byrdak, of course, has long been a LOOGY: Lefty One-Out GuY. I got to wondering, though ... Is Byrdak the ultimate LOOGY? In 2011, he pitched in 72 games, but faced only 168 batters. In 26 of his appearances, he did in fact face just one batter.

I lack the programming (or communication) skills to come up with a list of pitchers with the most one-batter appearances, so I came up with a proxy: Batters Faced divided by Games.

Byrdak has appeared in 479 games, so I limited my list to pitchers with at least 400 appearances. And it turns out that Byrdak is ... alas, not the King of the LOOGYs. He just wasn't used that way often enough, earlier in his career.

According to Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index, there are only three pitchers in major-league history with a) at least 400 appearances, who b) faced fewer than three batters per appearance: Randy Choate (2.75 BF/Gm), Javier Lopez (2.93) and Ray King (2.95). King hasn't pitched since 2008, but Lopez and Choate were both better than ever last season and figure to keep going for a while yet. When they falter, though, Boone Logan (3.21) is poised to take over as King of the LOOGYs. You know, if he wants it.

Career-wise, anyway. In terms of one season, that might actually be Byrdak. In 2012, he pitched in 56 games but faced only 2.2 batters per appearance. I'm not saying that's the lowest ratio ever, but it's the lowest I've found among pitchers who totaled at least 30 innings in a season.

I hope somebody signs Byrdak. He's only 40.

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