Ross Ohlendorf – 2009 Topps Update

February 17, 2011

Best Sub .100 Pitching Season Ever?

First, thanks to Ted at Crinkly Wrappers for a good box of booty! I hear there’s a contest going on there…

And now…

Ross Ohlendorf went 1-11 last year with a 4.07 ERA, which was an ERA of 100+. Of course, it would be hard to be anything but 1-11 with a team that scored 2.9 runs per game.

There have been many good pitchers saddled with many horrid teams. Now, they may not have good ERAs because bad teams tend to play bad defense, and bad defense isn’t just shown in unearned runs. That double to the gap against the Phillies would have probably been an out with Mays in center field.

But 1-11 isn’t just bad, it’s awful. That it a .083 winning percentage. For comparisons sake, three of the top four pitchers of the 1899 Spiders (in terms of innings pitched) bettered a .083 winning percentage.

So I ran a list using the play index on Baseball Reference for any pitcher with less than a .100 winning percentage, listed by ERA+. I had to limit it pitchers with 10 decisions or more, otherwise all of the 0-1 and 0-2 pitchers would show up.

It turns out that Ohlendorf’s 2010 wasn’t the best season for a pitcher with an under .100 winning percentage, but it was close.

The Top 10

1. Anthony Young, 1992 Mets, ERA+ 108, 1-16 record.

2. Gary Lucas, 1982 Padres, ERA+ 108, 1-10 record (he did have 16 saves, though).

3. Zane Smith, 1989 Atlanta / Montreal, ERA+ 104, 1-13 record (For ATL he was 1-12, 4.45, it was his 1.50 ERA at MTL that propelled him up here).

4. Ohlendorf, 2009 Pirates, ERA+ 100, 1-11 record.

5. Ryan Dempster, 2006 Cubs, ERA+ 97, 1-9 record (with 24 saves).

6. Carl Scheib, 1951 Athletics, ERA+ 96, 1-12 record (with 10 saves).

7. Guy Morton, 1914 Indians, ERA+ 95, 1-13 record.

8. Steve Gerkin, 1945 Athletics, ERA+ of 95, 0-12 record. (That was his only big league season. He did win 20 for Lancaster in 1943.)

9. Howie Judson, 1949 White Sox, ERA+ of 91, 1-14 record.

10. Willie Hernandez, 1980 Cubs, ERA+ of 90, 1-9 record.

But a closer look reveals that of those pitchers, Ohlendorf was the only one to start more than 20 games. Even Morton had just 13 starts in 25 games.

In fact, you have to go all the way down to the #19 pitcher in the list (Bob Miller, 1962 Mets) to find another pitcher that had over 20 starts.

So, you can safely say that Ohlendorf’s 2010 was the best season by a starting pitcher with an W/L record of .100 or under.




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