FanGraphs Q&A with Ken Singleton

From SABR member David Laurila at on September 7, 2011:

Ken Singleton is among the most underrated players of his era. The former Expo and Oriole finished in the top 10 in OBP nine times from 1973 to 1983 — topping the .400 mark four times, and seven seasons receiving MVP votes. In the words of Bill James, “He drew so many walks and hit so many homers he would produce runs if he hit .220, but he didn’t hit .220; he hit .300.”

The switch-hitting outfielder finished his 15-year big-league career with an OPS-plus of 132 and a slash line of .282/.388/.436. In 17 postseason games — Singleton has a World Series ring with the 1983 Orioles — his line was .333/.391/.421. Despite his career numbers, he didn’t get one vote in 1990 when he became eligible for the Hall of Fame.

More than two decades since his playing days ended, Singleton now is as an analyst for the Yankees on the YES Network.


David Laurila: Why were you such a good hitter?

Ken Singleton: I was disciplined. My first year of pro ball was in the Florida State League and I led the league in bases on balls. I walked 87 times. I maintained that — the ability to recognize balls and strikes — throughout my career. It’s hard enough to hit strikes, so why would you want to swing at something that’s a little tougher to hit? My thing was that if the ball was somewhere I couldn’t reach, it probably wasn’t a strike and I wasn’t going to swing at it.

You’re normally going to get something to hit in an at bat. I can remember walking back to the bench after being called out on three straight pitches. The pitcher was a left-handed reliever named Bob Lacey — his nickname was Spacey Lacey — and all three were perfect, knee high on the outside corner. That’s the only time I can recall that happening, and I probably had 8,000 to 9,000 plate appearances. Usually you get at least one pitch that you should be able to hit. Whether you hit it or not is another story. You might swing and miss, or foul it off and not get another one. But 999 times out of 1,000, you’re going to get at least one.


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Originally published: September 8, 2011. Last Updated: September 8, 2011.