The 25 men listed in the table* below have the lowest seasonal K/9 among pitchers who have completed at least 40 innings in a season during the expansion era (1961-present).
It requires a — roughly — third-grade reading level to see that Aaron Cook is at the top of this list, which is sorted by K/9. (You can sort it by any of the categories by clicking on the heading of your choice.) It doesn’t take much more to see that he’s the only player who has logged at least 40 IP in a season to record a K/9 of less than 1.
One would think that if a player was good enough to pitch in the Major Leagues — to pitch forty innings in a single season in the Major Leagues — that he would almost have to sort of walk into at least one strikeout every nine innings, on average. And indeed, every pitcher since 1961 who has pitched at least forty innings in a season as averaged at least one strikeout for every nine innings pitched…until Aaron Cook’s 2012. And yet, one notes that other pitchers with “better” K/9 had worse ERA+ numbers. Strangely, things could be worse (though not that much worse) for Aaron Cook and his employers.
One might wonder, Is Aaron Cook trying to not strike people out? We’d have to ask him or a source close to the Cook family in order to discern this. One might also wonder, Is Cook getting unlucky, i.e., is he maybe getting far fewer called strikes than the average pitcher? We’d have to be writing for FanGraphs to make it worth taking the time to compile the requisite data to answer this question.
Instead, we are here at NotGraphs, where there are no members of the Cook family, where there is no call for true data analysis. At NotGraphs, perhaps the best way to explain Aaron Cook’s 2012 season is through similes.
So what is Aaron Cook’s 2012 like, then? Here are some things one might say that Aaron Cook’s 2012 is like**:
Aaron Cook’s 2012 is like having a relative go on a really awesome vacation — like to another galaxy or something — and you getting a souvenir space helmet: going with them would have been better, but a space helmet is pretty cool.
Aaron Cook’s 2012 is like going to a grocery store when hungry and “just looking.”
Aaron Cook’s 2012 is like the exact opposite of Aroldis Chapman‘s 2012.
Aaron Cook’s 2012 is like having a bunch of children but all of them growing up to be a little less than what you hoped they would be; you ask yourself if coitus interruptus might not have been better.
It is like partially cooking a pizza and eating only one slice.
Aaron Cook’s 2012 is like breaking even at the casino.
It is like daubing at a wound from an insignificant bullet with a bit of toilet paper.
It is like eating your boogers for a midnight snack.
Aaron Cook’s 2012 is like a bird flying through a windowframe with no glass.
Aaron Cook’s 2012 is like bringing back dinosaurs but having them seamlessly integrate into modern ecology. It is like having a pet triceratops but having to put it to sleep once it got too big to keep in your garage.
Aaron Cook’s 2012 is like not inhaling — no! It’s like not even knowing how to inhale.
It is like making a huffing and puffing that sounds like knocking and having the pig open the door and reluctantly invite you in for tea and then watching vampire movies with the pig, and instead of eating the pig you just sort of sniff and lap at it a little and the pig is okay with that.
It looks like that is all.
*This table was enabled by data gleaned from Baseball-Reference, of course.
**These similes will never be as good as those of the poet Mark Leidner, who is truly awesome.