Thursday, March 27, 2008


Fifty-six is one of those special baseball numbers. Today, people start to get excited when someone has a hitting streak half as long as Joe DiMaggio's, a fact I think underlines just how special that record is. No one seems to get excited about the converse of his record, the most consecutive games without a hit. There are good reasons for that. Baseball fans tend not to like futility and it's a type of streak that's somewhat hard to follow. Sure, an everyday player that doesn't get a hit for a few games might get noticed on the local level, but the longest hitless streaks are put together by pinch hitters who usually have one at bat per game. As such, it's less notable when they don't get a hit. Someone might say, "he doesn't have a hit since..." but that doesn't really spark a recollection of all the games he's been in recently, does it? Another hurdle is the MLB rule for hitting streaks: to count as a game played, a player must have an at bat or sacrifice fly. A pinch hitter that draws a walk has still done his job, but it doesn't count as a game played in terms of his streak.

With all that in mind, here are the twenty-four pinch hitters and other non-pitchers over the last fifty-two seasons to go without a hit in twenty or more straight games.

Most Consecutive Hitless Games, 1956-2007
Player must have at least 1 AB or SF in each game

Harry Anderson07-05-196004-30-19612935
Andy Fox05-05-200409-30-20042838
Phil Gagliano05-03-197410-01-19742627
Phil Stephenson07-26-199210-02-19922535
Charlie Manuel07-20-196910-01-19692336
Lou Camilli08-09-196904-20-19712334
Len Matuszek04-19-198209-07-19832334
Jim Fairey07-31-197209-22-19722327
Del Unser09-07-198106-06-19822327
Norm Siebern09-15-196605-12-19672236
Jeff Grotewold08-19-199206-12-19952223
Dave Campbell05-18-197309-18-19732143
Jose Gonzalez10-03-199007-04-19912132
Floyd Wicker05-16-196908-22-19692124
George Wilson06-27-195608-23-19562121
Richie Hebner08-15-198509-26-19852121
Joe McEwing05-26-200207-05-20022033
Rocky Nelson07-25-196109-29-19612029
Mike Fiore09-05-197006-09-19712029
Willie Smith04-24-197109-28-19712025
Adrian Garrett09-21-197105-04-19732023
Tom Hutton04-27-198108-30-19812023
Dwight Smith06-03-199507-14-19952020
John Vander Wal08-08-200409-17-20042020

As you can see, most of these guys were one at bat and done for most of their games. Dave Campbell's streak is notable because he actually averaged two at bats per game.

Just for kicks, I looked up the longest active streaks: Laynce Nix of the Brewers has a 12-game streak going. Brandon Fahey of the Orioles has an 11-game streak, as does Nick Green of the Yankees. Free agent Mark Bellhorn and Pete Laforest of the Phillies have 10-game streaks. Of these five, only Fahey has a real shot to make a major league roster to start the year, though Nick Green has yet to be sent to the minors.

No comments: