Randy Poffo spent four season in the minors, playing in the Cardinals and Reds systems, and never rising above Single-A ball. He put down his bat for good in 1975 and picked up a steel chair and became known to the world as Randy Savage, his brief and unremarkable baseball career amounting to nothing more than an odd bit of trivia. A closer look at his minor league statistics, however, suggests that maybe he had more of a future in the game than we realize.
We're missing strikeout data for every year except 1974, so assuming a constant strikeout rate of 18.4 percent (1974's figure), Randy Poffo's BABIP over the years looks like this:
1971 (Rk): .311, 63 AB (league average: .292)
1972 (Rk): .314, 168 AB (league average: .304)
1973 (Rk/A): .346, 177 AB (weighted league average: .286)
1974 (A): .261, 461 AB (league average: .278)
Unless he struck out significantly less in every other year of his career, Poffo, who was 21 years old at the time, had a very unlucky 1974. His six triples indicate that he hadn't gotten slower, and his .126 isolated power and .32 extra bases per hit — right in line with his career averages — indicate that he wasn't making weaker contact. Even with his unlucky BABIP, his .662 OPS was still better than the league average of .642.
His walk rate was 9 percent, which is normally well above average, but was slightly (and somewhat oddly) below the 10 percent average of the pitcher-friendly 1974 Florida League. Conversely, his home run rate of 2 percent, normally low, was well above the .9 percent league average — he hit homers twice as often as the average player, and he did it at Al Lopez Field, a ballpark that ran 400 feet to dead center and an unreasonable 340 feet down both lines.
If we inflated Poffo's BABIP to a round .300 by giving him a few more singles, his batting average would improve to .265, his OBP to .332, and his SLG to .390. This .722 OPS would have made him the second-best hitter on his team (even without a PA minimum) and the 14th-best hitter in the league. For the sake of comparison, future Orioles outfielder Gary Roenicke went .277/.372/.417 in the same league that year. Had Poffo been a little bit luckier or had he played in a ballpark was better suited to his strengths, he might have put up similar numbers and gotten a promotion. Instead, he faded into obscurity.
Randy Poffo [Baseball-Reference]
Photo via SI.com