MLB Power Rankings: The 15 Easiest Hall of Famers in History to Strike out
Most hitters in the Hall of Fame are there because they did great things with the bat.
However, some were also just as likely to swing and miss as they were to hit over .300 or bash 40 or more home runs.
Just because the title says "easiest to strike out" doesn't mean it was simple to do so; it's just that, when a pitcher faced them, they had a pretty good chance of striking them out.
Here are the 15 Hall of Famers (plus one active player that is potentially a Hall of Famer) that were "easy" to strike out, ranked in order from lowest to highest in regards to strikeout rate per plate appearance (why plate appearances instead of at-bats? Because I wanted to see how many times they struck out compared to the number of times they stepped to the plate, not just for how many times they struck out if you didn't count walks or sacrifice flies).
Honorable Mention: Jim Thome
Jim Thome is currently second on the career strikeout list and he's still active (only 184 behind the all-time leader, Reggie Jackson).
Thome has 2,413 career strikeouts in 9,869 plate appearances (as of the morning of May 20, 2011). This means he struck out once every 4.1 plate appearances or basically once a game.
Thome should easily retire as the all-time strikeout king, and I'm sure Reggie will be glad to finally have his name removed from the top of that record. Once Thome makes the Hall of Fame, he would easily be No. 1 in these rankings.
15. Willie Mays
Willie Mays is one of the greatest players in the history of the game.
Over 22 seasons, he amassed 1,526 strikeouts in 12,493 plate appearances. This was good for a strikeout every 8.2 plate appearances, or once every other game.
Unlike many of the others on this list, Willie only struck out over 100 times in a single season once.
14. Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth was one of the first all-or-nothing hitters. He swung big and missed big.
In 22 seasons, he amassed 1,330 strikeouts in 10,617 plate appearances. This was good for a strikeout once every eight plate appearances.
Ruth has a famous quote, "Never let the fear of striking out hold you back." This pretty much sums up Ruth's career; he wasn't afraid of striking out and thus he gave it his all on every pitch.
13. Rickey Henderson
Rickey Henderson is arguably the greatest leadoff hitter in history and what he could do on the basepaths is legendary.
However, in 25 seasons, he amassed 1,694 strikeouts in 10,961 plate appearances, good for once every 7.9 plate appearances.
A pitcher's best option was to strike Rickey out (like Nolan Ryan did for his 5,000th strikeout) because you didn't want Rickey on the bases.
12. Andre Dawson
Andre Dawson was a fantastic five-tool player. He had it all: power, speed and defense.
In 21 seasons, he also struck out 1,509 times in 10,769 plate appearances, good for once every 7.1 times to the plate.
The Hawk was one of the most feared hitters in the 1980s.
11. Eddie Mathews
Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron formed one of the best hitting duos in baseball history.
In 17 seasons, Mathews struck out 1,444 times in 10,101 plate appearances, good for once every 6.8 times in the batter's box.
During his career, Eddie averaged 35 home runs a season, so pitchers hoped they were able to strike him out.
10. Dave Winfield
Dave Winfield is arguably one of the best athletes in baseball history. He was drafted to play basketball, football and baseball. Luckily for baseball history, he chose baseball.
In 22 seasons, Dave struck out 1,686 times in 12,358 plate appearances, or once every 6.5 times in the batter's box.
Winfield had a big swing, which if he didn't connect, resulted in a big miss.
9. Lou Brock
Lou Brock was the biggest threat on the basepaths since Ty Cobb. However, he also had over 3,000 hits in his career.
In 19 seasons, Lou struck out 1,730 times in 11,325 plate appearances, or once every 6.5 times at the plate.
Pitchers didn't want Lou getting on base because he was a threat to steal at any time.
8. Jim Rice
Jim Rice could beat a pitcher with a home run, a double or even a triple.
However, in 16 seasons, he also struck out 1,423 times in 9.058 plate appearances, or once every 6.4 times.
Rice was one of the most feared hitters in the late 1970s.
7. Willie McCovey
Willie McCovey was an all-or-nothing type hitter.
In 22 seasons, he struck out 1,550 times in 9,686 plate appearances, or once every 6.2 times in the batter's box.
Willie, while he struck out a lot, also hit 521 home runs in his career.
6. Tony Perez
Tony Perez was good for just over 20 home runs a season and almost 100 RBI a season.
However, in 23 seasons, he struck out 1,867 times in 10,861 plate appearances, or once every 5.8 times in the batter's box.
5. Harmon Killebrew
Harmon Killebrew was another all-or-nothing type hitter.
In 22 seasons, he struck out 1,699 times in 9,831 plate appearances, or once every 5.8 times at the plate.
However, Harmon also managed to hit 573 home runs in his career, and he also walked 1,559 times.
4. Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle was another one of the big swingers. He missed big but hit really big.
In 18 seasons, he struck out 1,710 times in 9,909 plate appearances, or once every 5.7 times at the plate.
Mickey is the game's greatest switch-hitter, and his monster home runs from either side of the plate are the stuff of legends.
3. Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt was one of the most feared hitters in 1970s and early 1980s.
In 18 seasons, he struck out 1,883 times in 10,062 plate appearances, or once every 5.3 times in the batter's box.
Michael Jack is the game's greatest third baseman, who provided great power and outstanding defense.
2. Willie Stargell
Willie Stargell was another of the big swingers on this list. When he swung the bat, people noticed.
In 21 seasons, he struck out 1,936 times in 9,026 plate appearances, or once every 4.7 times in the batter's box.
Stargell had tremendous power and when he connected, the ball didn't know what hit it.
1. Reggie Jackson
Reggie Jackson was the ultimate big swinger. When he missed, his helmet would fall off from the force he would have.
In 21 seasons, Reggie struck out an MLB record 2,597 times in 11,416 plate appearances, or once every 4.4 times at the plate.
Even with all the strikeouts, Reggie still managed to hit 563 home runs and none were more impressive than his three home runs on three consecutive pitches in the World Series.
So what have we learned?
Even though the title of this article was "easiest to strike out," there was nothing easy about getting these hitters out. If the pitcher made one mistake, the ball was just as likely to be hit over 500 feet as it was to be missed, and the ones that didn't hit the ball that far would be just as likely to steal second and third if they got on base.
All these players are in the Hall of Fame and it wasn't because they struck out a lot, it was because of everything else they did with the bat, the glove or their legs. There is no such thing as an "easy out" when it comes to Hall of Famers.