New York Yankees Third Baseman Joe Sewell Was a Hard Man to Strike out

Harold FriendChief Writer IJune 12, 2012

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21:  A view of the Yankee Stadium at sunset prior to the start of the last game at Yankee Stadium between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees on September 21, 2008 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankee Stadium held it's inaugural game on April 18, 1923 against the Boston Red Sox and tonight's match will be the final game to be played at the historic stadium. During it's 85 years as 'The Home of Champions,' the stadium has also been known as 'The House that Ruth Built' and 'The Cathedral.' The stadium has been host to 33 World Series, three Papal visits and has been visited by legends such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Bera, Mickey Mantle and boxing great Muhummad Ali. In 2009 the Yankees will move across the street to a newly constructed stadium estimated to cost $1.3 billion.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

It was incredible when it occurred, but it might be impossible to convince some younger fans that it's the truth:

In 1932, New York Yankees third baseman Joe Sewell batted 576 times. He struck out three times—once for every 192 plate appearances.

In 2011, Juan Pierre had 711 plate appearances and he struck out 41 times. That calculates to one strike out for every 15.6 plate appearances.

Sewell was an integral part of that 1932 world champion Yankees team. He hit a career-high 11 home runs, walked 56 times and batted .272/.349/.392.

But imagining a walk-to-strikeout ratio of about 19 to 1—and comparing that with the ratio of some modern-day hitters—is where the fun begins.

Adam Dunn hits home runs, at least he did consistently until 2011, when he hit only 11. This year, Dunn has hit 20 home runs in 60 games.

But we aren't interested in home runs.

Dunn leads the major leagues with 96 strikeouts. His 20 home runs have made some pitchers hesitant to pitch to him. He is tied with Joey Votto for the major-league lead in walks with 48.

It might seem silly and unrealistic, but I really don't care. Dunn is on a pace to strike out about 200 times. To match Sewell's 19:1 walks-to-strikeout ratio, Dunn would have to walk 3,800 times.

Yes, I know that Dunn is free swinger, and Sewell simply wanted to make contact, but the numbers are crazy.

Sewell had his best season with the Yankees in 1931.

It was a season in which the Yankees led the league in runs, scoring 6.88 runs a game. They batted .297/.383/.457, hit 155 home runs, scored 1,067 runs and had a 125 OPS+. The Yankees finished second, 13.5 games behind the Philadelphia Athletics.

It takes more than scoring a lot of runs to win the pennant.

Sewell batted .302/.390/.388, but much to his chagrin, he struck out eight times and walked 61 times. That is a walk-to-strikeout ratio of about 7.6:1.

The most strikeouts Sewell ever had was 20 in 1922, when he was with the Cleveland Indians, the team with which he spent most of his career. He was an "iron man" for the Indians. From Sept. 13, 1922 to Apr. 30, 1930, Sewell never missed a game. His 1,103 consecutive games is the seventh best in history.

The fact that he was a contact hitter helped Sewell drive in runs. He led the Tribe three times in RBI. From 1925-30, he struck out a total 33 times.

There are many records that will never be broken. Some records will not only never broken, they will never be approached. Sewell's three strikeouts in a season is one of the latter.