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One Hit Or Less Games In A Season

Posted by Steve Lombardi on August 31, 2010

The Dodgers' one-hitter last night was the 24th no-hitter or 1-hitter this season, most since 1988 (26).

Hat tip to to a tweeting Jon Heyman. Here's the list of seasons since 1920 with 13+ no-hitter or 1-hitters...

From 1920 to 2010, (requiring H<=1), sorted by greatest Performances matching selected criteria in a Season

Rk Year #Matching W L  
1 1988 26 26 0 Ind. Games
2 2010 24 23 1 Ind. Games
3 1979 24 24 0 Ind. Games
4 2009 23 23 0 Ind. Games
5 1969 23 22 1 Ind. Games
6 1965 23 21 2 Ind. Games
7 1993 22 21 1 Ind. Games
8 1990 22 21 1 Ind. Games
9 1971 22 20 2 Ind. Games
10 1968 22 22 0 Ind. Games
11 2006 21 19 2 Ind. Games
12 1991 21 20 1 Ind. Games
13 1973 21 21 0 Ind. Games
14 1964 21 18 3 Ind. Games
15 1986 20 18 2 Ind. Games
16 1972 19 19 0 Ind. Games
17 1970 19 19 0 Ind. Games
18 2001 18 18 0 Ind. Games
19 1997 18 17 1 Ind. Games
20 1975 18 17 1 Ind. Games
21 1992 17 14 3 Ind. Games
22 1974 17 15 2 Ind. Games
23 1967 17 16 1 Ind. Games
24 1951 17 16 1 Ind. Games
25 1983 16 15 1 Ind. Games
26 1955 16 16 0 Ind. Games
27 2008 15 14 1 Ind. Games
28 2002 15 14 1 Ind. Games
29 1978 15 15 0 Ind. Games
30 1977 15 15 0 Ind. Games
31 1963 15 15 0 Ind. Games
32 1938 15 12 1 Ind. Games
33 2007 14 13 1 Ind. Games
34 1989 14 12 1 Ind. Games
35 1985 14 14 0 Ind. Games
36 1984 14 13 1 Ind. Games
37 1982 14 13 1 Ind. Games
38 1976 14 14 0 Ind. Games
39 1966 14 14 0 Ind. Games
40 1954 14 14 0 Ind. Games
41 1999 13 13 0 Ind. Games
42 1995 13 12 1 Ind. Games
43 1987 13 12 1 Ind. Games
44 1980 13 13 0 Ind. Games
45 1960 13 13 0 Ind. Games
46 1947 13 13 0 Ind. Games
47 1945 13 13 0 Ind. Games
48 1943 13 12 1 Ind. Games
49 1934 13 11 2 Ind. Games
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/31/2010.


So, what do you think? Do we have three more such games to come in the last month of 2010?

37 Responses to “One Hit Or Less Games In A Season”

  1. DavidRF Says:

    Very interesting.

    Is there a way to scale the numbers by the number of total games played?

  2. Steve Lombardi Says:

    Gotta figure that it's {[number of teams in the league *.5] x [162 or 154]} per season for each season prior to 2010, sans 1994, 1995 and 1981. It's that or very close to that.

  3. J-Doug Says:

    FEWER. One hit or FEWER!

  4. DoubleDiamond Says:

    And almost half have involved a team from the 2008 World Series.

    3 against the Phillies (and that doesn't even count a game in which they only got one hit - in the ninth! - in a game that went into extra innings tied 0-0 that they eventually won)
    5 against the Rays
    2 by the Phillies
    1 by the Rays

  5. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Clarification in the last post I made - in the game that the Phillies won in extra innings that was scoreless after nine, they only got one hit in the first nine innings, not the whole game. That one hit did come in the ninth and broke up not only a no-hitter but a perfect game.

  6. Steve Lombardi Says:

    @J-Doug: LOL

    I'm worse at grammar than I am at baseball stats, sometimes. Sorry 'bout 'dat.

  7. Steve Lombardi Says:

    I was surprised to see so many in 2009 too. So, this is BTB years, FWIW.

  8. Devon & His 1982 Topps blog Says:

    I remember last year it seemed like there was some extra good pitching and a few extra shutouts, but I didn't realize it was in historic territory. Now we have back to back seasons of 23+ games like this? We are definitely in a pitching era

  9. Neil Says:

    So will this year catch 1988? Unlkely with Strasburg and Morrow gone and September callups.

    Is a high number of low or no-hit games in a season a reflection of good pitching or poor hitting? No obvious trend in the seasons listed....

    Several commentators have already remarked on the number of low-hit games against the Rays this season. Suprising for so good a team. Any theories?

  10. birtelcom Says:

    As the number of strikeouts continues to go up more or less steadily -- as it has throughout much of MLB history and continues to do do this year -- the number of low-hit games should increase. Fewer balls in play, fewer hits. That was covered up for a while by the overall increase in hitting -- expansion, smaller parks, steroids, etc. -- but with those trends now reversing a bit, the reduction in hits that will generally result from more Ks may be becoming apparent. Is it time to tweak the rules to reduce K's/BBs/Hs and encourage more balls in play where defens and spee play a greater role?

  11. birtelcom Says:

    My reference to "Ks/BBs/Hs" in the post above was supposed to say "Ks/BBs/HRs".

  12. Sam Hicks Says:

    What's that one game this year in which a team won with 1 hit?

  13. Gerry Says:

    In 1910, there were 24 one-hit games of nine or more innings, 12 in each league.

  14. DoubleDiamond Says:

    @12, it was this game between the two "San" teams in California. Since the score was 1-0, I wondered if that one hit was a home run, but it wasn't. Lead off single, steal of 2nd, advance to 3rd on a foul popfly to the 1B side, sacrifice fly. This was in the 4th inning. The home team won, so they only had 8 offensive innings in which to get one hit.

    I see that the umpiring crew was the same one that worked the Astros-Phillies series in Philadelphia last week. But I thought that Scott Barry was a fill-in from AAA. I guess he's been filling in all season, or he was brought back again to work with the same guys.

    Also, one of the one-hit games listed was only seven innings, presumably rain-shortened. It was one of the games in which the Rays only got one hit. Although they were not shut out, their one hit was also not a home run. The Indians were batting in the bottom of the 7th when the game was called.

    One of the games in this list that was won by the Phillies went 11 innings. Poor Cole Hamels didn't get run support, as has happened to him a lot this year, but only gave up one hit in eight innings' worth of work. Four relievers also held the Cardinals hitless in St. Louis that day, as the Phillies won, 2-0, in 11 innings. I wondered why this game didn't sound familiar to me until I saw that it was a weekday day game. Although there was a home run in the top of the 11th, it was not a 2-run shot. It led off the inning, and then the Phillies put together a mini-rally to tack on an insurance run.

    Ironically, the 11- and 7- inning games were on back-to-back days, July 22 (11 innings) and 23 (7 innings).

    The Blue Jays pitched two one-hitters in which the only hit by the opposition was a home run - April 13 at home against the White Sox, in which the homer was a two-run shot following a HBP (final score was 4-2), and August 16 against the A's in Oakland (final score was 3-1). No, it was not the same pitcher each team. The first one was surrendered by Ricky Romero, and the second was hit off Shawn Marcum.

  15. Richard Says:

    @5 Phillies did that pitcher a favor, too. If you recall, Halladay also had a shutout going, so even if he went 1-2-3 in the 9th, it still wouldn't have been considered a perfect game because it would have gone to extra innings.

  16. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    I was surprised not to see 1968, known as the "Year of the Pitcher", on this liat. In a year in which Yaz won the batting title with a whopping {I am being facesious here} .306 average, erasing Elmer Flick's od mark for the lowest average for a batting champ: Luis Tiant was at his best; Drysdale reeled off something like 56 consecutive scoreless innings; and Bob Gibson was almost unhittable as wel as unbeatable, I would have thought it would have been this year, rather than the next {1969, #5} or the year before {1967, #23}, that would make the list.

  17. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    No, I didn't forget what Dennis McLain did that year, either -- although I have been trying for year to forget that clown in general.

  18. Neil Says:


    But a quick total of the low-hit games in last two decades for seasons on the list shows 126 for the '90's (missing '96, '98 and of course '94) and 106 for the 2000's (missing '00, '03, '04 '05 and not counting this year as part of the decade). Doesn't seem to be a clear correlation between increasing SO's and increasing low-hit games over that time frame. When did SO's start to ramp up noticeably across the major leagues?

    Birtel, am curious about what "tweaks" you have in mind that would "...reduce K's/BBs/HRs and encourage more balls in play where defense and speed play a greater role."?

  19. Dick Says:

    1953 is missing. Virgil Trucks had 2 no hitters and a one hitter.

  20. Gerry Says:

    #19, that was 1952, not 1953. Trucks was 5-19 despite the 3 low-hit games. In his other 2 wins, he gave up 2 hits (in 7-and-two-thirds) and 6 hits. Among his losses you'll find a complete game 5-hitter.

  21. Hartvig Says:

    There was talk of this on Dugout Central recently. The general consensus was smaller parks plus steroids led to everyone swinging for the fences which led to increased strikeouts but no decrease in scoring because of the increase in home runs. Now take away the steroids and you still have the strikeouts but a lot fewer home runs and a lot of warning track fly outs.

  22. Larry R. Says:


    1972 was strike-shortened as well.

  23. Neil Says:

    So "smallball" will make a comeback in the (presumably) post-steriod era? Reduced strikeouts, more contact and more slap hitters. Doesn't make for big contracts.

  24. John DiFool Says:

    [English Teacher Hat]Title should have "less" not "fewer."

  25. John DiFool Says:

    Err other way around (damned dyslexia)...

  26. Neil Says:


    Poor Steve. I think J-Doug already caught the error in @3, John. Steve apologized in @6. But don't take off the good-grammer hat. Or is it "grammar".... (lol)

  27. John Autin Says:

    @18 ("When did SO's start to ramp up noticeably?") --
    The first upward spike in the divisional era occurred in 1994, which roughly coincides with a general spike in offense (which began in 1993) and, presumably, the beginning of widespread steroid use. Here are the MLB K/9 figures, starting with 1968; note the big decline in K rate between 1969 and 1980:

    1968 -- 5.9
    1970 -- 5.8
    1975 -- 5.0
    1980 -- 4.8
    1985 -- 5.4
    1990 -- 5.7
    1991 -- 5.8
    1992 -- 5.8
    1993 -- 5.8
    1994 -- 6.2
    1995 -- 6.4
    1996 -- 6.5
    1998 -- 6.6
    2000 -- 6.5
    2002 -- 6.5
    2004 -- 6.6
    2006 -- 6.6
    2007 -- 6.7
    2008 -- 6.8
    2009 -- 7.0
    2010 -- 7.1

    Note that, after a 10-year plateau from 1996-2006, the K rate has climbed steadily, to the current all-time high of 7.1 K/9.

    Also interesting:
    -- The big change of 1969 -- lowering the mound from 18" to 12" -- was not directly reflected in the K/9 rate:
    1968 -- 5.9
    1969 -- 5.8
    1970 -- 5.8
    1971 -- 5.4
    1972 -- 5.6
    1973 -- 5.3 (first year of DH)

    -- From 1976-81, the K rate stayed around 4.8 K/9; there hasn't been a lower rate since 1956. I don't really know what was going on there.
    1975 -- 5.0
    1976 -- 4.8
    1977 -- 5.2
    1978 -- 4.8
    1979 -- 4.8
    1980 -- 4.8
    1981 -- 4.7
    1982 -- 5.0
    1983 -- 5.2
    1984 -- 5.4
    1985 -- 5.4

    -- Anyone have a theory on that one-year anomaly in 1977? My first hunch was the AL expansion, of course, but the 2 expansion teams both placed right around the AL average in both batters' and pitchers' strikeouts. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that the expansion draft didn't have an impact on the K rate, but given the neutral stats produced by both Toronto and Seattle, it's hard to imagine why expansion's effect would been upward, specifically, nor why that spike would of short duration.

    P.S. I would have rather used Ks per PA, but those figures would have to be calculated, while K/9 were readily available.

  28. Neil Says:

    @10 @18 @27

    John A, thank you for answering the question. I notice that you've only used the seasons on Steve's original list so we're missing '03 and '05 data from the recent decade. Nevertheless, the steady increase from 2002-2010 is unbroken.

    It's not a rigorous statistical analysis, but at a glance it looks like number of low-hit games does correlate with the strikout rate, exactly as Birtel in @10 suggested. So two of the top four low-hit seasons since 1920 happened last year and this!

    Nothing comes to mind immediately about the anomaly in 1977. Expansion probably would have rung a bell for me also but you've considered that.

  29. Neil Says:

    @4 @9

    Should have mentioned that this year's champions in low-hit losses, the Rays, also lead the AL in K's and are the only AL team in the top 8.

  30. Steve Says:


    I may be wrong (I probably am), but it seems like there's a more "who cares" attitude toward strikeouts. A couple of talking points:

    Mark Reynolds, last year, struck out 223 times but seemed to get a mulligan because he hit 44 home runs. And I heard it on sports radio, too, so it wasn't just my imagination. Ryan Howard was flirting with 200 Ks a season but he also counts for a lot of HRs and RBIS and gets a fair share of walks, too. Ditto Adam Dunn. If I was to say "Man, I wish he'd cut down on his strikeouts and quit going for home runs," I'd be criticized as a stick-in-the-mud.

    More than once, too, I encountered the following: runner on 1st and 2d, less than two out, and the batter strikes out. The announcer then said "Well, they stay out of the double play." If you're so intent about staying out of the double play, then don't put runners on base with less than two out! Also, I'm sure that there are numbers out there on GIDP and GIDP opportunities. My bet is that the GIDPs turned are about 10-15% of the opportunities. I think in that case it's worth the effort to put the bat on the ball.

    And is it just me or do some batters, with two strikes, decide "if the ball leaves the pitcher's hand, I'm a-SWANGIN' at it!" Perhaps TV makes it all look easier than it is, but I see a ball that starts low, lands 3-4 inches outside, and the batter is trying a some sort of cricket forward sweep. I don't know what to call it: lack of discipline, wicked breaking ball, downright stupidity, but these guys are supposed to be the cream of the crop. I expect a little better performance.

    Now, on the other side: I'd be curious to see when these strikeouts occur. A strikeout with nobody on base is the same as a lineout, groundout, flyout, popout, etc. (I think that covers it.) And, as well, a team is usually worth, at the very least, 4-5 strikeouts a game anyway - it's going to happen. Nature of the game and all. I certainly don't expect a team to whittle their strikeouts down to 2 a game, and I certainly hope that nobody goes to bat with the idea of "I'll just take my swings and sit down" (except for some pitchers, and they don't get more than 2-3 plate appearances a game anyway.) But if a team can give themselves a productive 250-300 at-bats over the course of a season, why not? What have they got to lose?

  31. WilsonC Says:

    I'm curious as to what the correlation is between the increasing K rate and the usage of relief pitchers. The growth of strikeout rates intuitively seems to correspond well with the increased use of one-inning relievers, and lefty/righty specialists. It makes sense that this would have an impact, since relievers dominate the list of K/9 every year if you set the innings limit lower.

  32. Mike Felber Says:

    .301 for Yaz in '68, & that only through an end of season rally.

  33. Whiz Says:

    Neil @26: It's English grammar and Kelsey Grammer 🙂

  34. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Grammer? That;s what I use to call my Pappy's Mama

  35. Mike Says:

    Sabathia has allowed 1 hit to the A's over 8 inning right now...

  36. Mike Says:

    Put it on the board, Yankees Sabathia, Albaladejo (9) 1 hit the A's today and won 5-0.

  37. Neil Says:

    Frank, ha-ha!

    One more game and we tie 1988! WHat's going on this year?