It's the offseason, which means it's time for Offseason Posts. This is the second in a two-part series about our beloved broadcasters Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper. In the first, which I stupidly wrote in May, like an idiot who didn't realize how barren the offseason was for baseball topics, I looked at the players who had the most ownage on Krukow, and the ones who Krukow utterly dominated. Now it's Kuip's turn! It's good to have content.
Like with Krukow, I'm going to restrict this list to guys whose careers were notable in some way and who faced Kuip more than just a couple times; as much as I'm sure you'd love hearing about Frank Pastore (dominated Kuip) or Lerrin LaGrow (Kuip crushed him), they will, sadly, not be included. I will then tell you about the final time Kuip faced each of them, because it is important for you to know who got the final bragging right.
Who had ownage on Kuiper?
Dock Ellis is, of course, best known for throwing a no-hitter while he was on LSD while with Pittsburgh, or maybe it was the world that threw the no-hitter and Dock Ellis who couldn't get a hit, maaaaan. But he spent a few years in the AL too, winning Comeback Player of the Year with the Yankees in 1976. Kuip had 19 plate appearances against Ellis in 1976 and 1977, and hit .211/.211/.316, with one triple making his line look a lot better than it otherwise would have. His last AB against Ellis resulted in an RBI single, which Kuip probably enjoyed, in a loss, which he probably didn't.
The first couple years they faced each other, Tanana utterly dominated Kuip, with Kuip just getting one single in 10 PAs. After that, Kuip started to figure Tanana out a little, managing a single, a triple, and walking a couple times over his next 10. Still, on the whole, in 20 PAs, Kuip hit just .167/.250/.278 against the classic Hall of Very Gooder. Kuip got the last laugh though, singling in his final AB against him. Somehow, I doubt that Kuip brings that one up all that often, because Tanana could cleverly rebut that argument with basically all of the rest of their history.
Nothing against Ellis or Tanana, who were both as good as a pitcher can be while clearly not being a Hall of Famer, but Gaylord Perry was an absolute great, and he sure pitched like one against Duane Kuiper. In 24 plate appearances, Duane Kuiper hit .250 (that's fine!) with a .250 on-base percentage (that's bad) and a .250 slugging percentage (that's really bad). He only struck out once, though! That's something. Also something: the final time Kuip faced Perry, in 1980, he singled! Duane Kuiper sure loves saying goodbye to his most arched of nemeses with singles, right?
Wrong! Kuip's final AB against Jack Morris was in the bottom of the ninth, and with a chance to extend the game, or at least to knock Morris around a little bit, instead Kuip flew out to center. The ball was inches – inches – away from being Career Home Run Number 2 for Kuip, and that's technically true because even if it was a hundred feet from the wall, one thousand two hundred inches is still a number of inches. That AB was the culmination of years of futility for Kuip, as against Morris he hit .111/.111/.111 in 18 PAs. Man, this is getting depressing. If only I had some examples of pitchers who he did really well against OH WAIT THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE ABOUT TO READ.
Who did Kuiper have ownage on?
Jim Palmer was a great pitcher and a Hall of Famer, a 3-time Cy Young winner, a leader in Baltimore, and a man terminally incapable of getting Duane Kuiper out. In 55 plate appearances, Kuip hit .347/.396/.388, and he only struck out once. Can you imagine how annoying that must have been to Palmer and Orioles fans? Well, yes, you can, because you watched David Eckstein against the Giants for years. Can you imagine how great it must have felt for Kuiper and for Indians fans, winning a battle that all rational analysis would say was almost hopeless? Well, yes, you can, because you've watched the Giants in the playoffs for years. The last time he faced Palmer, Kuip grounded out. He probably brings that up at broadcaster camp all the time. "You sure got me, Palm!" he'll say, grinning, because he's Duane Kuiper, Amazing Person.
Kuip likes to talk about playing behind Eckersley during his no-hitter (YOU LOSE THIS ROUND, TANANA), and being scared that if he messed it up, they'd be finding pieces of him in the Cuyahoga for years. That didn't happen, of course, but maybe Kuip learned a thing or two about the way Eck pitched, because Kuiper dominated him. In 46 PAs, he hit an absurd .410/.467/.462, again only striking out once, and just generally being the huge pain that scrappy second basemen are. His last PA against Eckersley ended in a walk, and I'm sure to this day, the great pitcher Dennis Eckersley still wonders how in the hell anyone got Duane Kuiper out, and that is a glorious thought.
Yes, the very same Dick Tidrow who works for the Giants as their pitching guru, helping mold guys like Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner into superstars. I'll just say it's a good thing they're on the same side, or else Kuip might well have been the hitting guru who tells everyone how to beat Tidrow's pupils. Tidrow was a longtime Yankee and Kuiper a longtime Indian, they faced each other 20 times over the years, and Kuip dominated, hitting .526/.526/.632 with one sacrifice bunt and two (2!) doubles. Sure, you could call that a "BABIP-fueled fluke," but I prefer to think of it as "totally appropriate and a signal that all is right with the world." Kuip's last AB against Tidrow ended in a double to left field, because Dick Tidrow could not stop Duane Kuiper. He could, however, stop the next three batters: Chili Davis, Joe Morgan, and Jack Clark. Baseball's weird, man.
I'm not giving career stats or the final AB for Kuiper vs Stone because who cares, that's not why he's here. I mean, it's not like I was gonna write this article and leave out the one highlight that you absolutely knew would be in here. Come on, people. I know how to pander better than that.
And that's it! If you're wondering why I included these guys and not others like Fergie Jenkins, Catfish Hunter, or Dave Goltz, then I don't appreciate your attitude and you should go sit in a corner and think about what you've done.