Monday, October 1, 2007

Thanks for Playing, Maybe Next Time You'll Hit

The objective of a batter in baseball is to get on base. Most often one accomplishes this by putting the bat on the ball and getting a base hit. Sometimes, though, guys like Laynce Nix pop up for short time on an MLB roster and put up an 0-for-the-year line. They generally don't have that many plate appearances (Nix had 12), but they're still interesting.

Unsurprisingly, the top players in plate appearances for a season with no hits are pitchers. Here's the only five to ever reach 50 PA without a hit:
  1. Bob Buhl, 85 PA, 1962
  2. Bill Wight, 75, 1950
  3. Ernie Koob, 57, 1916
  4. Ron Herbel, 54, 1964
  5. Karl Drews, 54, 1949
Brett Tomko led all players this year by going hitless in 37 plate appearances.

Let's throw pitchers out of the mix and get an idea of the most hapless position players in a single season. Here's the only guys at or above 25 PA.
  1. Hal Finney (C), 35 PA, 1936
  2. Larry Littleton (OF), 27 PA, 1981
  3. Don Slaught (C), 26 PA, 1997
  4. David Ortiz (DH/1B), 25 PA, 1999
The interesting thing about Finney is he didn't even manage to draw a walk or be hit by a pitch in 1936. He managed to drive in three runs and score three runs despite the .000 AVG, OBP and SLG. Fred Tauby (1937), Harry Redmond (1909) and Cliff Carroll (1888) are the only three other position players in major league history to reach even 20 PA without getting on base. Laynce Nix's 12 plate appearances this year tie him, with ten others, for the 28th most by a position player without getting on base in history.

Harry Redmond is atop the career leaderboard for most PA with an OBP of .000, but let's look at the list of guys who simply didn't get hits. Here's the players with 20 or more career PA sans hits:
  1. Larry Littleton, 27
  2. Mike Potter, 24
  3. Cy Wright, 21
  4. Harry Redmond, 20
Minor league veteran Josh Labandeira has a chance to join the list as he went 0-for-14 in 2004 for Montreal but still plays (he was in Albuquerque this year for the Marlins).

To finish off this entry, the player with the lowest career batting average above .000 was Skeeter Shelton, a Yankees centerfielder in 1915 who put up a 1-for-40 career line. He had a .025 average, a .071 OBP (2 walks), and a .025 SLG to give him a whopping .096 OPS.

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