(Baseball StL) -- Batting slumps are part of the game for every big league player. As former Cardinal catcher and current Milwaukee Brewer announcer Bob Uecker likes to joke, “I’ve had slumps that lasted into the winter.”
Batting slumps over the course of 162 games are fairly common. Almost every hitter has days when the pitch looks like a seed and every swing feels like the batting weight is still attached.
While some of the Cardinals continue to find their hitting form, none of them are exactly in what could be called a major league slump.
David Freese broke an 0-16 drought and while a hitter in the middle of that feels like he’s 0-116, base hits tend to come in bunches and even out the slumps over the course of a season.
A major league slump requires about 8-10 games without a hit, like an 0-24 at least. The record for the longest slump by a big league player in the modern era is Craig Counsell’s 0-45 in 2011. Counsell, certainly a respectable big league player, finally lashed a base hit to avoid entering the record books as holder of the modern game’s longest 0-fer. Counsell tied former Padre and Cardinal Dave Campbell who, in 1973, managed to bat .000 in 21 at-bats for the Redbirds after coming over from the Padres where he was 0-24 at the time of the trade. A change of scenery didn’t seem to help.
The all-time longest slump is in dispute because of a lack of accurate records but appears to belong to Bill Bergen whose 0-46 collar is the standard to which no one aspires.
Bergen played 11 seasons for Cincinnati and Brooklyn from 1901-11 and amassed a lifetime batting average of .170, well below the Mendoza line of .200, which was not invented until 1980. (There may have been a Bergen line but historians are mute on the subject).
Bergen only hit over .200 once in his career and his lifetime on-base percentage did not even exceed .200. How did he stay in the bigs? His arm. Bergen was a catcher with the original rifle arm. He threw out 47 percent of all stealing runners, an incredible percentage for the early era, or any era for that matter.
Yadier Molina is considered the best in the modern game and he tosses out 44 percent. Of course he is currently hitting nearly twice Bergen’s average, which explains why a trip to Cooperstown is in his future.