Monday, January 14, 2013

Dubious Records For Pitchers

As promised, I will conclude my discussion of baseball's most embarrassing accomplishments. Today, my lists will pertain exclusively to pitchers.

The AL record for errors by a pitcher in a career is 55 by Ed Walsh, a Hall of Famer who spent most of his days with the White Sox from 1904 through 1917. His NL counterpart, Hippo Vaughn, had his best seasons with the Cubs between 1913 and 1920. Vaughn retired with 64 career errors.
The record for most errors by a pitcher in a game is 5 by Ed Doheny of the Giants in 1899. The record for errors in an inning belongs to three modern hurlers, all of whom committed 3 muffs in a single frame: Tommy John (1988), Jamie Navarro (1996) and Mike Sirotka (1999).

In regard to balks, Dave Stewart of the Oakland A's set the all-time single season record in 1988 with 16. Bob Shaw holds the record for balks in a game with 5. He turned the trick in 1963 when he was with Milwaukee. Most balks in an inning is 3, shared by 5 players (Shaw is among them).

The record for most walks issued in a 9-inning game is 16 shared by three old-timers. Bruno Haas of Philadelphia, Bill George of New York and George Van Haltren of Chicago. It seems likely that this record will never be broken since today's hurlers would almost certainly get the hook for being so wild. But in the old days, pitchers were expected to finish what they started and it was a matter of pride. There are two modern pitchers who compiled double-digit walk totals in a no-hitter. Jim Maloney of the Reds walked 10 batters in his 1965 "gem." Steve Barber of the Orioles duplicated the feat in 1967.

The "modern" record for losses in a season is 26 by Bob Groom, who was making his big league debut for the dreadful Senators in 1909. (The topic is covered extensively in my book, Cellar Dwellers.) Before Groom, Happy Townsend was strapped with 26 losses for the equally dreadful Senators' squad of 1904 (also discussed in my book.) The all-time mark for losses in a season belongs to an obscure 19th century hurler by the name of John Coleman. Playing for the Philadelphia Quakers, he absorbed 48 of the club's 81 defeats in 1883. The Quakers finished last in the NL with a 17-81 record that year.

The record for consecutive losses by a pitcher belongs to Jack Nabors, who dropped 19 straight decisions for the A's in 1916 (You can read about this in Cellar Dwellers as well). Cliff Curtis lost 18 straight for the Boston Doves (later known as the Braves) in 1910. Roger Craig matched him while playing for the Mets 53 years later.

The topic of hit batsmen always seems to be a lively subject. Everyone wants to know who the most dangerous pitcher of all-time was. Names like Randy Johnson, Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale always seem to get thown into the mix. But none of those guys came close to matching the all time numbers of Gus Wehying, a right-hander who plunked an incredible total of 277 batters between 1887 and 1901. Nicknamed "Cannonball" or "Rubber-Winged Gus," Weyhing compiled impressive strikeout totals for the era, punching out at least 193 batters in five campaigns. But he was completely wild, compiling a lifetime WHIP average of 1.417. Walter Johsnon is behind Weyhing on the all-time hit batsmen list at 205 while the other Johnson--I'm referring to that nasty fellow named Randy--plunked 190.

In regard to wild pitches, the all-time career leader is Jack Morris with 206. (Yet another reason he doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame as mentioned in a previous post.) The modern record for wild pitches in a single season is 26 by Juan Guzman, who was playing for the Blue Jays in 1993 when he set the mark. A.J. Burnett unleashed 25 wild ones in 2011 while playing for the Yankees.

Wrapping up my discussion of dubious pitching feats, the career record for home runs allowed is 511, accomplished by Jamie Moyer in 25 major league seasons spent with 8 different clubs. The record for home runs surrendered in a single season is 50 by Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven in 1986. He still managed to win 17 games for the Twins that year. The record for homers coughed up in a game is 7 by Charlie Sweeney of St. Louis in 1886. At least three pitchers have coughed up 6 long balls in a 9-inning game. Two of the three are still active. R.A. Dickey accomplished the feat with Texas in 2006 and James Shields of the Rays matched him in 2010. Tim Wakefield did it in 2004 while playing for the Red Sox.


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