After subscribing to Baseball Reference’s Play Index, which is probably the greatest statistical tool ever created, I immediately delved into the one topic that’s been piquing my curiosity since the inception of this site: who has compiled the most four-strikeout games of all time?
At the top of the list are all of the names that one would expect: Reggie Jackson, Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Bo Jackson, and Rob Deer. The only real shocker regarding the aforementioned players is Howard’s insane propensity for sombreros, which the Play Index helps quantify. After eight seasons with Philadelphia, Howard has amassed 19 golden sombreros and will surely shatter Reggie Jackson’s standing record of 22 – a total that took him 21 seasons to reach.
Even though there’s an endless bounty in the chronicling of both Jackson and Howard’s epic strikeouts, it is not the point of this article. Rather, I’m interested in directing everyone’s attention to another player on the list, Jay Buhner, who is fifteenth all-time with 13 four-strikeout games and holds a specific record that distinguishes him from everyone the field.
Buhner, who also led the league in total baldness from 1991-1997, holds the record for the most four-strikeout games without recording a hit. That’s right. In the 13 games where Buhner notched a golden sombrero, he posted a .035 OPS over 57 plate appearances, an achievement that is undeniably remarkable.
He did somehow manage to coax two walks (he doesn’t know how either), but failed to score a run on both occasions. So, of his 55 at-bats in those 13 games, Buhner fanned 52 times, meaning that he made only three non-strikeout outs.
Buhner’s record appears to be safe for the foreseeable future, as the next closest player is Corey Patterson, who is 0-for-37 with 32 strikeouts and zero walks in his eight four-strikeout performances, and remains unworthy of any significant playing time. Behind him is Jason Bay, who is 0-for-30 with 24 strikeouts in six games.
So, unless some organization decides to employ Patterson as an everyday player for several years to come, the record should be Buhner’s for life.