A Statistical Analysis Of "Macho Man" Randy Savage's Halfway Decent Professional Baseball Career

Illustration for article titled A Statistical Analysis Of "Macho Man" Randy Savage's Halfway Decent Professional Baseball Career

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