Baseball is full of rules, both written and unwritten. And while the former tends to get the majority of the attention - hello, new pitch clock - let's focus on a pair of unwritten rules that have survived since the sport's genesis.
The first: no matter how good a pitcher is, there's always that one hitter he just can't figure out. And the second, as you might have already guessed: Every batter has a pitching nemesis that seemingly has his number.
Future stars, superstars, Hall of Famers - none are immune to this rule. Here's a breakdown of some of the most notable one-sided batter-pitcher matchups in the history of the sport (minimum 30 PAs):
How could we not lead with this one?
Goldschmidt didn't just get the best of Lincecum over their careers - he owned him. The Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman took Lincecum deep once every four at-bats - and he didn't limit his dominance to one season, batting no worse than .333 in any one year.
Goldschmidt's .536/.559/1.357 slash line against the two-time National League Cy Young winner is his most impressive vs. any pitcher - and to put his achievement in perspective, only one other player has slugged higher than .800 against Lincecum in his career (Ryan Braun). If Timmy does make a triumphant major-league comeback, don't expect it to be in the NL West.
With Pujols gliding not-so-gracefully into retirement, it's easy to forget just how dominant he was from the moment he reached the majors. And if you need proof, his stat line vs. Johnson - one of the most intimidating people to ever pick up a baseball - should do the trick.
Pujols faced Johnson in six different seasons, and hit at least one home run in four of them. He struck out three times vs. the Big Unit as a rookie in 2001 - then fanned just twice against him the rest of his career. That's a pretty big deal when facing a pitcher who finished with 4,875 regular-season Ks.
Just how much of an outlier was Pujols against Johnson? No hitter with a minimum of 30 plate appearances against him slugged higher than .791 - except for Pujols, who posted a 1.194 slugging percentage. That should get him into the Hall of Fame on its own.
Maddux is indisputably one of the top pitchers in MLB history, racking up 355 career victories, four Cy Young Awards, and nearly 3,400 strikeouts over a career that spanned 23 seasons. And yet, not one of those Ks came against Gwynn, who faced Maddux 107 times - more than any other pitcher in the late Hall of Famer's incredible career.
Not only did Gwynn not face a third strike against Maddux - he dominated the artful right-hander to the tune of a .415/.476/.521 slash line, belting out eight doubles and a triple while drawing 11 walks. In fact, over a two-year stretch from 1990-91, Gwynn had 14 hits in 22 at-bats against Maddux, who would go on to win four straight Cy Youngs from 1992-95.
Nolan Ryan was a nightmare for the majority of hitters he faced - and that list features dozens of Hall of Famers. But the most interesting mismatch features Fisk, who couldn't do much of anything against Nolan over their two-plus decades of overlap.
Fisk failed to take the Nolan Express deep in any of his 69 plate appearances against him, settling for two doubles, one triple, and eight singles. Ryan often frustrated Fisk, who was one of the hardest players to strike out in his era but fanned in more than 30 percent of his encounters with the towering righty.
Fisk homered off 249 different pitchers in his sensational career - and yet, despite facing Ryan more often than all but 12 other pitchers, he couldn't add him to that list.
Few hitters stood a chance against Martinez, who had one of the nastiest pitch arsenals of any pitcher in history.
Soriano could rake - he finished with seven 30-homer seasons and had a career-best 46 with the Washington Nationals. But the affable Dominican with that trademark bat waggle was humbled time and time again by Martinez, producing just seven hits in 53 career plate appearances.
Soriano's .135/.151/.192 slash line against Pedro is truly stunning - as are the 21 strikeouts, which includes five Ks in seven career post-season encounters. And in their head-to-head history, Soriano didn't draw a single walk. That's dominance, folks. Or impatience.
Rocket Roger humbled many a hitter over his time in the major leagues, racking up nearly 4,700 strikeouts while capturing an unbelievable seven Cy Young Awards. And if any slugger could speak to Clemens' dominance, it's Fielder; the two-time major-league home-run king faced Clemens 50 times, and came away with two hits - both singles.
Just how one-sided was this mismatch? In the two seasons in which Fielder led the majors in homers - belting 95 over that stretch - he didn't come close to touching Clemens, managing one hit and one walk in 20 plate appearances while striking out 10 times. Fielder also went six years between hits against Clemens, with his second and final coming in 1997.
(As an aside, Clemens was only around long enough to face Cecil's offspring, Prince, three times. Prince went 0-for-3 with two Ks. Like father, like son.)
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)