Have you ever listened to Mike Krukow's anecdotes and wondered what hitters had his number, and which ones he never had to worry about? If not, that makes you NOT A REAL GIANTS FAN, which is utterly meaningless, but hey, maybe shaming you will work. I'll never know until I try!
Now, this is not a comprehensive list, so apologies to all the Ken Oberkfell superfans out there. I took into account the number of plate appearances, how extreme the stats were, and the level of fame of the players in order to pull something out of my ass. So here they are, the players who did very well and very poorly against Mike Krukow, followed by analysis of why they did well or poorly which is based on nothing except things that Mike Krukow often says about other players.
Who had ownage on Krukow?
As you scroll down the list of best career OPS against Mike Krukow, the first guy to really jump out at you is Darrell Porter, unless you're not invested enough in this to think of words on a spreadsheet as something that could jump out at you. Apathy is your right as an American. Don't let anyone take it away. Porter came to the plate against Kruk 36 times, and went 14-for-29 with three strikeouts, seven walks, and five home runs. He ended up with a line against Krukow of .483/.583/1.276. That's an 1.859 OPS, which can mostly be attributed to the fact that hitting is timing, and somehow even a good pitcher has trouble disrupting that timing.
Mike Scioscia, he of the multi-LA-team taint, is mostly known for personally breeding monkeys in a cramped lab until he found a mutation that would allow one to appear on the Jumbotron. But before he did that, he was an All-Star catcher, and one who hit Mike Krukow to the tune of .360/.492/.680. Then, in 2002, when his team won the World Series, he did it by breaking Mike Krukow's heart, and therefore Mike Scioscia is, indisputedly, a monster who presumably succeeded by noticing that Krukow was leaving pitches up, and capitalized.
Astros legend Jose Cruz (no Junior, so that should spare you some traumatic memories) was another guy, and this time an outfielder (Not a catcher!), who had Krukow's number. I don't mean literally; Cruz did not wear number 39, but instead in a way that professional writers like to call "figuratively." In 74 PAs (66ABs), Cruz had 23 hits, including two homers, for a line of .348/.405/.621. That's a spicy pierogi, he said, in an acknowledgement that Baseball Reference lists "The Polish Prince" as Krukow's nickname. It's hard to explain just why Cruz was so consistently able to get to Krukow. Sometimes you just have to admit that ownage is ownage.
Sometimes it must have felt like Andre Dawson was just hiding in the ivy at Wrigley, ready to either crush baseballs or sell baseball insurance for the balls he just crushed. In 84 PAs against Krukow, he hit .321/.341/.641 with six home runs, the most of any player. Now I don't want to blame the short porch or the frequent hurricane-force winds at Wrigley, so let's just chalk this one up to Dawson putting on a clinic out there.
Who did Krukow have ownage on?
Okay, this catcher thing is getting a little creepy. Gary Carter was a great catcher and a longtime Expo and Met. Carter played for 19 years, made 11 All-Star teams, and couldn't hit Mike Krukow at all. In 67 PAs, Carter hit .153/.239/.203 against Kruk, though he did manage to get one ball out of the park. I'm assuming it was a wall-scraper, because that's easy and it feeds into my narrative about how good Krukow was against Carter. That success can be attributed to Krukow being a wily veteran who knew how to set up htiters
I SWEAR I'M NOT CHERRY PICKING CATCHERS. But the inclusion of Bench was a gimme. He was a 14-time All-Star. An inner-circle, no doubt Hall of Famer. Quite possibly the greatest catcher ever, especially if you want to ignore Mike Piazza, which I so, so badly do. And Mike Krukow dominated him. In 26 plate appearances, Bench hit .080/.115/.080 against him. That's a .195 OPS. If you doubled Bench's OPS against Krukow, it would be an okayish slugging percentage. So the next time Krukow talks about how Pete Rose or Joe Morgan did against him (very and exceptionally well, respectively), just remember what he did to Johnny Bench. How'd he beat Bench? By being a four pitch guy who understood movement and had the ability to cut and sink the ball, and add and subtract off the fastball. In short, it's because Krukow was a pitcher, and not a thrower.
When Kruk got traded to the Giants in 1982, he must have been just a little disappointed he didn't get to face Darrell Evans anymore. Krukow had a tendency to win battles against Evans convincingly, with Evans putting up a .158/.273/.237 line against him in 44 PAs. And, in fact, at the time those numbers looked even better for Kruk, since that line is buoyed by a 1-for-2 game with a walk and a homer that Evans had in 1989. What was Mike Krukow's secret to making Evans grab so much pine? Well, he knew how to get strike one and mix speeds well to keep Evans off balance, but the real key was getting a wild hair up his nose. That'll keep any hitter honest!
Eric Show was 0-for-9 with five strikeouts against Kruk, but that's not why he's on the list. No, he's here because Mike Krukow went 4-for-8 against him with two homers. That represents 40% of his major league home run total, or 200% of Duane Kuiper's, or, just for comparison, infinity% of mine. Show had a wild career and a sad post-baseball life, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate accomplishments at his expense. And what greater accomplishment is there for a pitcher than to homer off the same guy twice. That earns you bragging rights, and Mike Krukow will never have to give those up.