In April of 2019, Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles set a new Major League record: 54 consecutive plate appearances without a hit. His record went back to the end of the 2018 regular season, and continued weeks into the 2019 season.
It’s an ugly record, and one that nobody wants to hold. But it’s in the books.
If you’ve ever been curious about other records for frustration, failure and futility, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s a look at some of the best of the worst MLB records. You might see some familiar names here as well.
Feared slugger Reggie Jackson holds the record for most strikeouts in a career, with 2,597. But Jackson played for over two decades in the big leagues. What players have whiffed in smaller amounts of time?
Mark Reynolds (currently on the Colorado Rockies) holds the modern record for most strikeouts in a single season, with 223. Three years after Reynolds’ record-setting strikeout 2009 season (with Arizona), Adam Dunn struck out 222 times.
It may or may not surprise you to learn that all the top-25 strikeout seasons have occurred since 2004.
What about most strikeouts by a batter in a single day?
There are a few ways to look at that question:
- 9-inning game
- extra-inning games
So, let’s work backwards.
All rise! Okay, now sit back down.
No one has struck out more times in a single day than Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who whiffed eight times in a double-header on June 4, 2018. The jury is out as to whether there’s been worse. Here’s why.
In an extra-inning game, the record is six strikeouts, shared by Cecil Cooper (in 15 innings) and Don Hoak (in 17 innings); but it’s worth noting that no one fanned six times in fewer innings (13) than Toronto’s Alex Gonzalez in 1998.
That’s some bad hat, Harry
Striking out four times in a game is known as the “golden sombrero.” Sadly, it’s not an uncommon occurrence. Reggie Jackson “accomplished” this feat more that 23 times in his career, and Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard surpassed Jackson’s career record in 2014.
But the “platinum sombrero” is striking out five times in a game, and believe it or not, more than two dozen players have worn this platinum “sombrero” in a 9-inning game.
Big-swing players to “run a 5K” (as I think it should be called) in nine innings include big-name players like Jim Thome, Bernie Williams, Frank Howard, Jose Canseco and Dave Kingman.
You can also add to the list current players Javier Baez of the Cubs and Starling Marte of the Pirates.
No player has struck out more than five times in a nine-inning game…yet. The season is young.
Not everybody digs the long ball
The record for most home runs allowed by a pitcher in a career belongs to Jamie Moyer, with 522. But when it comes to records for home runs allowed in a season, you might be surprised to see some familiar names.
No pitcher has given up more bombs in a season that Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, who allowed 50 in his 1986 season with Minnesota. In the NL, that record belongs to Jose Lima, who gave up 48 in his 2000 season with the (then-NL) Houston Astros.
In 2018, by contrast, the most HRs allowed by a pitcher was 41.
Another HOF-er, Ferguson Jenkins, holds the record for most seasons leading the league in allowing home runs, with seven. He was the league leader in that dubious stat for five of his years with the Cubs, including three consecutive seasons from 1971-73, as well as two seasons with the Texas Rangers.
What about the most home runs in a single game? Well, the all-time record was set in 1886 by a pitcher named Charlie Sweeney, with seven. But the modern record is six, shared by notable pitchers from the current millennium, James Shields, R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield.
But you need to get familiar with the name Michael Blazek of the Milwaukee Brewers, because he had a historically bad day at the office on July 27, 2017.
A “National” disaster
Michael Blazek was the last pitcher (on a list of eight) to allow six home runs in a game, which he did to the Bryce Harper-led Washington Nationals on that fateful day in 2017. But even though Blazek shares the record for most home runs allowed in a game, he did manage to secure one record for himself.
Blazek allowed a record five home runs in one inning to the Nationals, including four consecutive. Here’s how it went down…or went out:
- 1.In the third inning at Nationals park, Brian Goodwin homered
- 2.Wilmer Difo went yard next
- 3.Bryce Harper followed in that same inning with his second HR of the day
- 4.Then, Ryan Zimmerman went deep, making it back-to-back-to-back-to back HRs
- 5.Anthony Rendon also went deep that inning, after Blazek recorded the first out.
Blazek’s line for the day was 2 1/3 innings pitched, 7 hits, 8 earned runs, 6 home runs. Note: he pitched in only five games that season, the last of a 4-year career.
A team effort
As we have only discussed individual records so far, we should take some time to acknowledge some of the worst team records of all time:
- The 1899, the NL Cleveland Spiders lost a record 134 games (out of 154), and that winning percentage of .130 stands as the worst of all time.
- The infamous 1962 New York Mets have the most losses in the modern era, with 120, which came once seasons were expanded to 162 games
- The 1916 Philadelphia Athletics went 36-117 in a 153-game season—the fewest wins in the modern era.
Another of the modern era’s worst team records belongs to the 2018 Baltimore Orioles, who went 47-115. The aforementioned Chris Davis—Mr. Oh-for-Fifty-Four—was a part of that historically bad Orioles team.
Oh, and his .168 batting average that year was the lowest average for a qualified hitter in MLB history.
baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/201707270WS0; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_worst-MLB-records; cbssports.com/mlb/news/orioles-chris-davis-ends-mlb-record-54; espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/26473816/o-davis-sets-mark; baseball-reference.com/players/b/blazemi01.shtml