USA Today's Bob Nightengale got Pete Rose on the line to complain about the state of the modern game and the Hit King provided some colorful critiques. Rose, still banned from baseball, focused his most strident fist shaking on two clouds: the New York Yankees and Joey Gallo.
“That was the worst (bleeping) lineup they could have put on the field. Their 6,7,8,9 hitters were all out-men. They had to havev (Aaron) Judge and (Giancarlo) Stanton do something. If they didn’t, all of the pressure was on Joey Gallo. You saw how that worked out.’’
“How does someone who didn’t play every day strike out 213 times?’’ Rose says. “Ray Charles wouldn’t strike out that much. I just can’t imagine striking out 213 times without killing myself.’’
Now, Gallo was a major disappointment after being acquired by the Bronx Bombers, hitting .160 with an OPS of .707 and 13 dingers in 58 games. He went 0-for-4 in the American League Wild Card game and there's little clamoring to bring him back. But folks, I am here to push back a bit on Rose's assertion that Gallo strikes out more than a replacement Ray Charles would. There's just no way that's true.
Those 213 strikeouts came in 616 plate appearances and are counterbalanced by an American League-leading 111 walks. It's tough to imagine Charles working nearly as many free passes, even if he chose not to swing at a single piece. Which I think would be his strategy. Opposing pitchers would quickly get the deal and understand a batting practice fastball would get the job done. Charles might rack up a few dozen walks, but there's just no way it'd be more than 50 over a similar sample size to Gallo's.
That leaves, conservatively, 566 plate appearances to fan. Charles might somehow, some way, find a way to put the ball in play a handful of times by affecting a bunting stance pre-pitch and hoping the delivery connected with the bat. Each and every time would be extraordinarily nerve-wracking to watch.
All this to say, it's actually very easy to imagine Ray Charles striking out more than 213 times in a season without killing myself. In fact, it's impossible to imagine him striking out fewer than 213 times. There's a real argument to be made that such a feat would be the greatest in sporting history.