Monday, June 3, 2013

The Maddux Undone by Defense (AKA: The Ohka)

A Maddux requires that a pitcher go the distance, throw fewer than 100 pitches, and not allow any runs. Because pitch count records from earlier are scarce, 1988 is the start of the Maddux-era for MLB. Since then there have been 269 Madduxes. There have also been 1,844 shutouts in which the pitcher threw 100+ pitches and there have been 265 complete games in which a starter threw fewer than 100 pitches, but allowed at least one run*. In 18 of those 265 games though, the runs allowed were unearned. Those games do not qualify as Madduxes, but I think they deserve at least a brief mention.

* Cliff Lee deserves special  mention for managing to get through an entire game on just 95 pitches back in 2010, while still allowing 6 runs.

To be clear, none of the games I'm about to list qualify as a Maddux, but you can find lots of information on performances that do qualify here and here, if you're interested. And thanks to Baseball-Reference, whose Play Index makes tracking these things down manageable.

June 7, 1988: Scott Bailes (Indians) - 88 pitches, 3 runs due to error by Julio Franco

July 18, 1989: Orel Hershiser (Dodgers) - 98 pitches, 1 run due to error by Jeff Hamilton

July 21, 1989: John Smiley (Pirates) - 98 pitches, 1 run due to errors by Rey Quinones and Barry Bonds

June 1, 1991: Greg Swindell (Indians) - 90 pitches, 1 run due to error by Carlos Baerga

May 7, 1993: Bill Wegman (Brewers) - 94 pitches, 1 run due to error by Matt Mieske

August 28, 1993: Steve Avery (Braves) - 91 pitches, 1 run due to error by Jeff Blauser

September 9, 1993: Darryl Kile (Astros) - 83 pitches, 1 run due to error by Jeff Bagwell

April 14, 1994: Greg Maddux (Braves) - 96 pitches, 1 run due to error by Deion Sanders

June 26, 1994: Mike Mussina (Orioles) - 97 pitches, 1 run due to error by Jeffrey Hammonds

August 6, 1994: Frank Castillo (Cubs) - 98 pitches, 1 run due to error by Sammy Sosa

May 15, 1998: Jeff Suppan (Diamondbacks) - 93 pitches, 1 run due to errors by Jay Bell

June 5, 1998: Andy Pettitte (Yankees) - 91 pitches, 1 run due to error Chuck Knoblauch

August 6, 2000: Shawn Estes (Giants) - 95 pitches, 1 run due to error by Bill Mueller

June 29, 2003: Tomo Ohka (Expos) - 98 pitches, 2 runs due to errors by Edwards Guzman, Orlando Cabrera, Tomo Ohka, and Jamey Carroll

September 11, 2003: Roy Halladay (Blue Jays) - 93 pitches, 1 run due to error by Eric Hinske

September 26, 2003: Tomo Ohka (Expos) - 91 pitches, 1 run due to error by Henry Mateo

June 30, 2005: Freddy Garcia (White Sox) - 96 pitches, 1 run due to error by Pablo Ozuna

June 6, 2009: John Lannan (Nationals) - 96 pitches, 1 run due to error by Elijah Dukes

Tomo Ohka deserves recognition as the only pitcher to make the list twice, but he's also the only pitcher who made an error of their own in any of these games, and frankly, runs should probably be considered "earned" if the pitcher's own error led to it.

Bill Wegman has the distinction of being the only pitcher on this list who actually lost his game.

I'd also like to point out that 4 of these 18 games were undone by an error by someone named Jeff. Get it together, fellas!

It should come as no surprise to see Greg Maddux on this list, since no one worked their way through an entire game on so few pitches as often as he did. Of the 17 pitchers who appear on this list, 11 of them threw at least one actual Maddux at some point in their career: Maddux (13), Halladay (5), Mussina and Smiley (2), Avery, Garcia, Hershiser, Kile, Ohka, Suppan, and Swindell (1). That leaves Bailes, Castillo, Estes, Lannan, Pettitte, and Wegman as the unfortunate souls who lost their best chance at a Maddux due to a teammate's error.

It's been four years since anyone missed out on a Maddux because of an unearned run, let's hope that streak continues.


  1. Wait, Pettitte missed out on one because of a Knoblauch error? That's impossible!

    1. I had that thought too. (Though I believe 1999 is when Knoblauch really began having trouble with his throws)

  2. I cannot believe Jeff Suppan was EVER that close to throwing a Maddux. He should have retired right then and saved Brewer fans a lot of heartache...

    1. You Jeffs have been very involved in the games on this list. Suppan just missing a Maddux, Hamilton, Blauser, Bagwell, and Hammonds making the errors that led others to miss out.