Sam Fuld is unique.
Quite a few ballplayers have gone to Stanford University, and more than a few are known to be fans of numbers, but how many can say they interned with Stats Inc.? A somewhat recent ESPN.com piece told of Fuld’s duties for the numbers-tracking giant:
“I was one of their reporters, which meant that I looked at game video and plotted the ‘TVL’ — type, velocity and location — of every pitch,” Fuld said. “They have this grid where you click on exactly where the ball crosses the plate. Play the tape, pause and repeat.” A monotonous job, no? “It sounds tedious, and it was, but for whatever reason I handled it,” Fuld says. “I guess there’s a lot of baseball nerds out there.”
Coincidentally, Fuld nearly pulled a feat this season that his previous employer would’ve found amusing. Despite receiving more than 115 plate appearances, Fuld entered the final game of the 2009 season without a single run batted in. The odds of going that long are pretty miniscule; after all, a simple home run notches a RBI, yet until his fifth inning homer, Fuld had a clean sheet.
As it turns out, using Baseball-Reference’s Play Index tool, Fuld actually held the second longest RBI-less streak to begin a career since 1954. Cleveland’s Lou Camilli went 73 games and 135 at-bats without an RBI in a streak that lasted over three seasons. Fuld’s streak is more implausible because (a) he actually hit pretty well (.270/.397/.340) and (b) the entirety of his drought took place in just over 12 months.
The next highest OPS to go more than 30 games shares something in common with Fuld as he too was a member of the Cubs. Jesus Figueroa started his career on the 22nd of April and didn’t record his first RBI until June 15th of the same year. That’s a span of 32 games in which he hit .313/.371/.344. Cubs are all over the place when you limit the search from the year 2000 onwards and take away the caveat that it must be at the beginning of a player’s career. Tom Goodwin went 56 games back in 2004 and 45 games for Juan Pierre in 2006. Again though, neither hit quite as well as Fuld.
There may not be a prototypical player for such a trivial pursuit, but Fuld’s skill set does lend to this record, consider that a player must bat low in the lineup, not have great slugging abilities, and have weak batters ahead of him.
I just wonder whether Fuld was aware.