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Opening Day Countdown: The 1972 Brewers

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What light through yonder window breaks? Tis baseball season, and 72 days is how far away it is. Hush, I know it doesn't work.

We're actually getting pretty close to the end of this portion of our opening day countdown. Just a couple more seasons left until we get to the Seattle Pilots. This first four seasons are rather different than the seasons we've been looking back on. As I mentioned yesterday, 1973 was the first year the American League adopted the designated hitter. Which means every year we go over now features hitting pitchers. So that's one of the main things I'm going to be taking a look at because so many of you say you like pitchers hitting.

Really the focus on pitchers hitting is to distract us from how bad those early seasons were for the Brewers. It wasn't really their fault though. Expansion teams have to start from scratch mostly and that's a tall order. It's no wonder the Brewers didn't break the 70 win threshold for four years.

In 1972 the Brewers went 65-91. It was the worst record in the AL East. That year they only managed to attract 600,440 fans to County Stadium. That's a franchise worst.

But that's not what you all are interested in, right? You want to check out those pitchers' batting stats! Well here we go:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG
Jim Lonborg 82 145 192 145
Bill Parsons 78 164 194 179
Skip Lockwood 60 132 193 132
Ken Brett 47 227 261 250
Jim Colborn 40 081 105 135
Gary Ryerson 28 042 115 042

The Brewers had a total of 14 pitchers log at least one plate appearances, but I had to cut it off somewhere so I chose a minimum of 20 PA. Those are some numbers. Yep, those are definitely numbers. How about Ken Brett though! Slugging Kenny Brett they used to not call him.

I was curious to see who was the league's best hitting pitcher that year. I wanted to increase the sample size though, because you can get some pretty fluky stuff down around the min-20 PA area. So I set it to a minimum of 60 PA. With that criteria, 1972's best hitting pitcher is Claude Osteen of the Dodgers. He hit 273/349/386 in 100 plate appearances across 36 games. That's actually pretty solid. It was equal to a 107 wRC+, so just above league average. Not too bad at all. The next closest was Clyde Wright of the Angels with an 88 wRC+.

Soak it in, in all it's glory folks: The golden age when pitchers hit for themselves...well can we really say they ever hit? How about the golden age when pitchers would go to the plate and just swing wildly, sometimes with their eyes closed, and sometimes--though ever so rarely--find a nut.

All kidding aside, I'm just glad we're so close to any kind of baseball again. Can't you feel it? Just an ever so short 72 days until baseball is upon us. By then we won't even remember our silly arguments over the DH, Jonathan Lucroy's totally innocuous statements, and pineapple on pizza.