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To Infinity And Beyond!

Posted by Steve Lombardi on July 20, 2010

File this one under "Buzz Lightyear meets Play Index."

Using Play Index, I ran this query: Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2010, Requiring IP=0 and ER>=1

Here are the results:

Rk Player ERA IP ER 6 From To Age G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV H R BB SO ERA+ HR BF IBB HBP BK WP Tm
1 Doc Hamann inf 0.0 6 1922 1922 21-21 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 3 6 3 0 3 0 7 0 1 0 1 CLE
2 Harry Heitmann inf 0.0 4 1918 1918 21-21 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .000 0 4 4 0 0 4 0 4   0 0 0 BRO
3 Frank Dupee inf 0.0 3 1901 1901 24-24 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .000 0 0 3 3 0 6 0 3   0 0 0 CHW
4 Joe Brown inf 0.0 3 1927 1927 26-26 1 1 0 0 0 0 0   0 2 3 1 0 6 0 3   0 0 0 CHW
5 William Ford inf 0.0 3 1936 1936 20-20 1 1 0 0 0 0 0   0 0 3 3 0 6 0 3   0 0 0 BSN
6 Jim Schelle inf 0.0 3 1939 1939 22-22 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 1 3 3 0 6 0 5   1 0 0 PHA
7 Mike Palagyi inf 0.0 3 1939 1939 21-21 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 0 3 3 0 6 0 4   1 0 0 WSH
8 Fred Bruckbauer inf 0.0 3 1961 1961 23-23 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 3 3 1 0 6 0 4 0 0 0 0 MIN
9 Will Koenigsmark inf 0.0 2 1919 1919 23-23 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 2 2 1 0 8 0 3   0 0 0 STL
10 Bill Moore inf 0.0 2 1925 1925 22-22 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 0 2 3 0 8 0 3 0 0 0 0 DET
11 Marty Walker inf 0.0 2 1928 1928 29-29 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .000 0 2 4 3 0 8 0 6   0 0 0 PHI
12 Lou Bauer inf 0.0 1 1918 1918 19-19 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 0 2 2 0 17 0 2 0 0 0 0 PHA
13 Gordie Sundin inf 0.0 1 1956 1956 18-18 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 0 1 2 0 17 0 2 0 0 0 0 BAL
14 Vic Davalillo inf 0.0 1 1969 1969 32-32 2 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 2 1 2 0 17 0 4 0 0 0 0 STL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/20/2010.

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In summary, it's all big leaguers with a career ERA of infinity.

Vic Davalillo is the only player in big league history to have a sideways eight under his career ERA line and to have pitched in more than one game. And, the amazing thing about that item is that he was really an outfielder and not a pitcher.

Also, note that five of these fourteen made this list as "starters" - meaning in their only major league game, they got the start and retired no one - while also allowing runs. Talk about "Ouch!," eh?

Of these, Doc Hamann got the worst of it.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 at 10:22 am and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

27 Responses to “To Infinity And Beyond!”

  1. Nice query, but please remember that, although popularly used, "infinity" is not the correct term. You simply can't divide by 0. The ERA of those 14 players is "none" or "nil"--a bit confusing since anyone who has never even thrown a pitch in the major leagues (including me) would have that same ERA. But, as Uncle Walter used to tell us, "that's the way it is."

  2. I also notice that 5 of the 14 walked every batter they ever faced and another walked 3 but hit the fourth. At Harry Heitmann was throwing strikes (4 BF, 4 H)!

  3. ...

    ...truelol...

    I wonder if Doc Hamann might someday be the inspiration for the anti-'Field of Dreams' movie.

    ...tom...

  4. For Marty Walker, I couldn't account for the 6th BF. In checking, the box score indicates that he faced only five.

  5. Interesting. Ten pitchers did this between 1918 and 1939 but only three have done it since then and not a single pitcher since 1969.

  6. [4] For Marty Walker, my guess is that Hendrick, the second batter of the inning, sacrificed and reached on some sort of error not shown in the box score. Walker gave up 4 runs, but only 2 were earned.

  7. I learned that the term is "undefined".

  8. How would I find the most innings pitched in a season and not recording an out?
    Most innings pitched with 0 innings pitched (or outs...)?

  9. Dave, do you mean how many appearances without recording an out?

    How do these guys have an ERA+ ?

  10. Silver lining - none of them gave up a HR.

    #8 - most Games (as a pitcher) with 0 innings pitched for a season...but this would not account for pitchers that pitched, moved to another position, then pitched again in the same game.

  11. If you did mean most appearances without recording an out in a season you would search this: Find Players with Most Matching Games in a Season, sorted by greatest number of games in a single season matching the selected criteria, in the pitching game finder.

    The record is 17 by Sean Runyan in 1998 for Detroit.

  12. If you meant in a season, the record is 2... by 4 guys. R Choate (in 07) is the only guy since 1969 to do it.

  13. It's interesting that none of them surrendered a home run. Of course, a lot of these guys pitched during the dead ball era, but still there's a lot of batters faced among all 14 of the pitchers listed.

  14. dodgerdave Says:

    Whenever the denominator approaches zero, the quotient is infinity. Basic rules of limits from calculus determine that.

    Common sense

    2/.1 = 20
    2/.01 = 200
    2/.001 = 2000
    2/.0001 = 20,000
    2/.00001= 200,000

    See a pattern here? As the number in the denominator approaches zero, the quotient approaches infinity. So an ERA of infinity is an accurate statement whenever a pitcher has 0 innings logged in and one or more earned runs allowed.

  15. Why does it seem like I've heard of Harry Heitmann before?

  16. #15
    You're probably thinking of Harry Heilmann. That was my first thought as well. Heilmann is in the HOF, Heitmann not even close. Their careers overlapped, though, adding to the confusion.

  17. @ 11...How odd was Sean Runyan's brief career? He was a rookie in '98 when he made a record 17 appearances in which he did not record an out. He actually appeared in a Major League leading 88 games that season, but then only 15 more games in his career.

  18. Yeah that's pretty wild. If you take a look at his minors numbers, from 2000 on (which he played in the bigs too) he was terrible. I'm assuming in 1999 he had some type of injury which caused him to miss the rest of that year, and come back not the same as he was... but that's entirely a guess. It is interesting...

  19. DoubleDiamond Says:

    In both 1972 and 1973, a pitcher with one of the New York teams debuted in the majors as a September call-up, appearing in only one game, and allowing at least run without recording an out. Both times, I wondered if the guy would ever get a chance to have an ERA other than "infinity", "none", "nil", or "unknown". Fortunately for them, both Dr. George Medich and Bob Apodaca ended up playing a few years in the majors. Medich ended up with a career ERA of 3.78, mainly as a starter. Apodaca's career ERA was 2.86, mainly in relief.

    Medich's first game was rather interesting. It was on the road, and the Yankees were already up 5-0 when he took the mound against Baltimore in the bottom of the first. He gave up a single, two walks to load the bases, and another single that scored one run. At that point, he was replaced by lefthander Wade Blasingame. That also caused Earl Weaver to substitute righthanded hitter Paul Blair for Terry Crowley, just in his first time at-bat. Blair hit into a double play, but a run scored. After another walk, the third out was recorded, to leave the score 5-2. The Yankees held on to win, 7-6. This was one of those games in which the starter left before pitching five with a lead that never was surrendered. Veteran pitcher Lindy McDaniel pitched the longest for the Yankees and got chosen to receive the win. Sparky Lyle got the save. Although the Yankees used four pitchers in this game near the end of the last pre-DH season, none were removed for a pinch hitter. Medich, Blasingame, and McDaniel were all removed during an inning, and Blasingame and McDaniel both got at least one plate appearance.

    The Orioles' pitchers didn't fare too well either, obviously. Perhaps it's no surprise that Baltimore had to use three pitchers just to get out of the first. One of them, Dave Leonhard, also did not retire a batter, but he was a veteran who was not left with an "inf" ERA for his career. Later in the game, the Orioles pinch-hit for two of the five pitchers they ultimately used in the game. Al Bumbry, 1973 AL Rookie of the Year (an award for which Medich also contended), made his major league debut as one of the guys who hit for a pitcher in that game.

    Apodaca began the bottom of the ninth against the Pirates on September 18, 1973, with the Mets leading by two runs. These days, that would clearly be closer time. But Tug McGraw had already been used earlier, before the Mets pinch-hit for him while scoring five runs in the top of the 9th to take the lead. Apodaca walked the first two batters he faced and was removed. Reliever Buzz Capra got the next two hitters on groundouts, but the guy on the 2nd from the first walk advanced first to third and then to home on these. The game ended with no further scoring. At the time, the Pirates were in first place in the NL East, while the Mets were in 4th but only 2 1/2 back. This victory was no doubt instrumental in allowing the Mets to eventually overtake the Pirates and two other teams to win the division that year.

  20. Spartan Bill Says:

    Wouldn't someone like Larry Yount 0 IP 0 ER 0 BFP alsi have an ERA of "inf", "nil", or whatever else you prefer to call it?

    For those that aren't familiar Larry Yount (yes he is Robin's brother) appeared as an announced player in one MLB game; however he injured himself as he was throwing his warm-ups on the mound and due to the injury, was replaced without having to face 1 batter.

    There was also a bizarre game on 9-28-52 where Harvey Haddix started and walked the leadoff hitter (Brown). Haddix moved to the RF the RF moved to CF and Stan Musial of all people came into P. he got the batter (Baumholtz) to hit a grounder, but the batter reached on an E-5. Everyone returned to their normal positions and Haddix got a DP, retiring Baumholtz.

    Haddix was charged with the uER and Musial never pitched again. What is his ERA??

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN195209280.shtml

  21. If Musial never pitched again he would have a non-existent ERA because he gave up 0 runs and recorded 0 outs. There's really no debate about what 0 divided by 0 is. The same with Yount, since he didn't record an out, or give up a run, his ERA is the exact same as that of you and I.... non-existent.

    Additionally, Haddix was charged with the uER because the runner was his, meaning the runner that scored was the first batter of the game, the one Haddix walked. Had Musials single batter faced scored, his ERA would have still been non-existent because he would have given up 0 earned runs... and recorded 0 outs. 0 divided by 0.

  22. Also, expanding on my posts of #11 & #12:

    Mike Myers holds the career record for most appearances with 129. Orosco is next with only 80. Dennys Reyes (of StL) is the active leader (I think) with 62... in 6th place.

    Surprisingly enough Myers doesn't lead in losses in those games, he has 9... but Steve Kline lost 11 of his 60 appearances in which he didn't record an out.

  23. Furthermore, we can't go much farther without talking about Wilson Alverez... who of course, started a game in 1989, didn't record an out.... didn't play in 1990... and in his first start of 1991 pitched a no hitter...

  24. I was looking at William Ford's page and something doesn't match. His profile (and the above play index chart) shows he started one game and faced three batters, walking all of them. He was pulled and credited with 3 earned runs.

    The boxscore only shows the Phillies scoring two runs in the bottom of the 1st and his pitching line shows 3 BB, 2 ER.

  25. dodgerdave:

    There isa difference between 2/0 and

    lim 2/x = Infinity
    x-->0+

    The former is an undefined opperation. 2/0 = x cannot be solved, since it would imply 2 = 0.
    The latter is a well established limit, but ONLY from the right side. [The 0+]. If you take the limit from the left side of 0, the result is negative infinity. Therefore, since the left hand and right hand limits don't agree, the value doesn't exist.

    Since ERA is determined in terms of division, and NOT limits, it would be more correct to say their ERA is undefined, not infinite.

  26. Medich ahd pitched for the Yankees earlier in the year, but it won't show up in any stat site. He and Charlie Spikes were called up from AA West Haven to play in the Mayor's Trophy Game, which was an annual mid-season Yankees-Mets game for NYC bragging rights. Medich got the start and, if I remember right, pitched fairly well.

    Dividing by zero is context-dependent. Strictly as a mathematical operation, it is undefined. But a particular situation modeled by such an equation may have an answer. Depending on just how one words the definition of ERA, the answer can be zero or not.

  27. I meant infinite, not zero.