Just in case I haven’t mentioned this here before, I am huge Detroit Tigers fan. My favorite Tigers team in my lifetime is the 2006 club that went to the World Series. A close second is the 1991 team. That team really didn’t threaten for a playoff spot, but they brought some serious thunder at the dish. The club featured Cecil Fielder, Mickey Tettleton, and Travis Fryman among others. However, one of my favorite players from that club and from any club really was Rob Deer.
Deer came up through the minors with the San Francisco Giants in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Deer played a bit with the Giants in 1984 and 1985 before he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. It was in Milwaukee that the Deer was fully able to display his free-swinging style. In 1986, his first full season, Deer slugged 33 home runs and led the Brewers to a mediocre record of 77-84.
In that first full season, Deer struck out 179 times while hitting only .232. However, he managed to draw 72 walks and post a decent on-base percentage. This season would basically set the tone for the rest of his career. Check out these HR/K totals year-by-year:
- 1986: 33 HR / 179 K
- 1987: 28 / 186*
- 1988: 23 / 153*
- 1989: 26 / 158
- 1990: 27 / 147
- 1991: 25 / 175*
- 1992: 32 / 131
- 1993: 21 / 169*
As you can see, Mr. Deer led the league in Ks four times during his career and made a habit of hanging out with the league leaders. What is even more impressive is how few hits he had. For his career, Deer crushed 230 home runs and totaled only 853 hits. If you crunch the numbers, you will see that 27% of hits his went for home runs. I don’t know how to check this, but you’d be hard pressed to find many players with that high of a HR percentage.
So, Deer was basically an all-or-nothing sort of batter. And he took that ethos to the MAX. A Rob Deer at-bat usually ended with a home run, a walk, or a strike out. Big.
My favorite Rob Deer season happened in that infamous 1991 season. Deer put up his usual home run and strikeout totals, but with a new added wrinkle. Deer never really hit for average (.220 for his career), but in 1991 he took it to another level. Deer got into 134 games that season (one game shy of a career high) and managed to bat just .179.
Unreal. How in the world does a guy hit only .179 and still get 534 plate appearances? Below you will find the list of players with an average of .180 or lower in 500 or more plate appearances:
- Rob Deer
Yep. That’s it. No one else really comes close. Usually if a guy hits for that poor of an average he his yanked from the lineup before he reaches the 500 plate appearance mark. Apparently this thought did not really occur to Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson.
Deer currently serves as a hitting instructor (seriously?) in the Padres organization. He also begs people to purchase the Viz-U Bat.