On August 12, 2012 Erik Bedard doubled in the bottom of the third in a game against the Padres. He would later score on a single by Walker, the first of 11 unanswered runs as the Bucs overcame an early 5 run deficit to post an 11-5 victory. The win brought the Pirates record to 64-50, and they seemed well on their way to a winning season, breaking a 19 year drought. ----- Give me a minute here, I have to choke back a couple of sobs.
Ok, better now. That hit by Bedard is the last extra base hit by a Pirate pitcher, representing a streak that is now almost 270 games. Interestingly, Bedard's hit broke a similar streak of games without an extra base hit by a pitcher that had reached 120. In fact, it was the only extra base hit by a Pirate pitcher in 2012, as they put up a robust ISO of .003. The 2013 Pirate pitchers answered that call by going the entire season without an extra base hit, giving them an unvanquishable ISO of .000. This year's version has matched that so far, but the season is a long way from over.
To get an idea of just how unusual this is, I went back to 2000 and looked at all such streaks by any team's pitchers. I will use only National League teams for this purpose, as the other league's teams makes use of that devil's tool known as the DH, and so are not really comparable. Below is a list of all streaks of at least 100 games without an extra base hit by a pitcher
- Pittsburgh Pirates (2012-present) - 268
- Los Angeles Dodgers(2008-2009) -- 154
- Washington Nationals(2002-2003) -- 137
- Pittsburgh Pirates(2008-2009) -- 129
- Pittsburgh Pirates(2006-2007) -- 128
- New York Mets (2000-2001) -- 122
- Pittsburgh Pirates (2011-2012) -- 120
- New York Mets (2011) -- 112
- Houston Astros (2007) -- 110
- San Francisco Giants(2012-2013) -- 108
- Los Angeles Dodgers(2010-2011) -- 105
- Cincinnati Reds (2003) -- 102
- Los Angeles Dodgers(2009-2010) -- 102
- Pittsburgh Pirates (2005-2006) -- 100
Hmm, which team is there most frequently? The current streak by the Pirates is now more than 100 games longer than the next longest streak, and could be twice as long by the end of the summer. I think it stands a reasonable chance of being the longest such streak in baseball history. There are several things that point in favor of this being a record. First, prior to the 1950s there was much less specialization than today, and pitchers were better hitters than you see now. Second, with interleague play, there are slightly fewer opportunities for pitchers to hit. I did look at the records in the 60's, when the hitting environment was much worse than now. I looked at 8 teams, and none had a season with no hits, so I think the record is safe.
A couple of caveats. First, while my search was extensive, it was not exhaustive. If a team's pitchers had more than 5 hits in a season, I did not investigate further. It is certainly possible that there may be a few more streaks of over 100. I think the chance of a streak over 200 is very remote. Second, this streak may be been discussed before. I know there were a few threads on BD that discussed pitcher's hitting last year, and I vaguely recall one article that appeard externally, maybe in Fangraphs. While I don't recall the topic of extra base hits coming up, my memory is not that good. So, this may not be new,
A couple of ironic notes I came across when looking at this. First, Bedard's hit was off Ross Ohlendorf, who is also the last Pirate pitcher to hit a home run. Second, while the Bucs are the only team without an extra base hit by a pitcher this year, there are a handful of teams with only one. One of those teams is the Philadelphia Phillies, The only extra base hit this year by pitchers on the Phillies is a double by A.J. "I'm up? Someone give me one of those wooden stick thingies." Burnett. Burnett has 6 hits for the Phils this year and sports a batting average of .240. For the Pirates he was 8-122 for a .065 average, and, of course, no extra base hits.
It's easy to make to much of this streak. Hitting by pitchers is not that big a deal, and the difference between the best hitting team and the worst hitting team (the Pirates) is probably less than 1 win. So, this is more interesting than meaningful from a team perspective.
Still it's a streak, and they are meant to be broken. Maybe tonight's the night. Of course, the last Pirate pitcher to get an extra base hit was released two weeks later, so there's that.