Thursday, I noted the theoretical possibility of adopting a counterpart to the Mendoza Line -- the Raburn Line, right around a .100 batting average -- before summarily discarding the notion, on the grounds that it wouldn't actually make any sense. Within an hour or two, this magically appeared in my Twitter machine:
That link, by the way, is not -- as I expected -- going to take you to a story about a player who struck out five times in one game. Instead, it's to Tim Kurkjian's long article about the dramatic rise in strikeouts in recent seasons (about which I've written at least once). Kurkjian, in the classic style, writes a thousand words about all the strikeouts, then another thousand words in which he tries to explain all the strikeouts. The explanation boils down to two things:
1. Pitchers are better, and
2. Hitters are cool with striking out.
Both of which seem to be true. What Kurkjian doesn't mention, but which also seems to be true, is that umpires are calling a different (and more accurate) strike zone, and the pitchers have (naturally) taken advantage. In fact, since the only contributor factor that has obviously changed suddenly was the method used to evaluate umpires, it seems that a dramatic change in strikeouts might best be explained by that dramatic change. As opposed to pitchers gradually getting bigger and throwing harder, or hitters gradually coming to accept strikeouts as a way of life.
Anyway, that's not why I started writing. I started writing because I like the idea of nicknaming the five-strikeout game. It's true: the four-strikeout game is the golden sombrero. And according to The Dickson Baseball Dictionary -- a.k.a. The World's Greatest Baseball Book -- a six-strikeout game is a Horn:
Horn A mythical award given to a batter who strikes out six times in a game... ETYMOLOGY. The eponymous term was coined by Mike Flanagan to "honor" Baltimore Orioles slugger Sam Horn, who was the first nonpitcher to accomplish the feat in a game against the Brewers on July 17, 1991.
That last part isn't true. Thanks to the many wonders of Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index, we know that Sam Horn was actually the fifth player to accomplish the feat; before him came Don Hoak (1956), Rick Reichardt (1966), Billy Cowan (1971) and Cecil Cooper (1974). Surprisingly, it's happened just twice since 1991: Alex Gonzalez in 1998 and Geoff Jenkins in 2004. Gonzalez is the only guy who batted only six times in the game, as everybody else needed at least seven plate appearances to accomplish the feat. No pitcher has actually done this, which shouldn't be a surprise since pitchers rarely bat six times in a game.
Okay, so I've babbled enough about that ... Dickson does list a term for the five-strikeout game: platinum sombrero. But that's neither interesting nor documented, and I'm happy to discard it. I would rather find something akin to Horn ... but who?
There haven't been as many five-strikeout games as I guessed: only 131 in B-R.com's data set. And only two players have more than two of those:
Sammy Sosa (4)
Ray Lankford (3)
So I think we've got three options here:
I've got my favorite, which I'll reveal in the comments. But before then, I'll let you vote and I'll consider acceding to your preference if it's different than mine.
Next up: My favorite things named after players ...