Party Poopers: Those Who Fail When All Others Succeed

This past Monday, the Phillies demolished the Rockies by a score of 20-5.  The Rockies had no answers as the Phightins were phiring on all cylinders.  Well, mostly all cylinders.  Pat Burrell, one of their top offensive threats, went 0-4.  It seemed so odd that someone could have such an unproductive game when the rest of his team goes nuts padding their stats, so I decided to see how often this happens.
Using the handy-dandy Baseball Reference Play Index, I looked at the box scores of every game (1956-present day) in which a team scored 20 or more runs.  My goal was to isolate the players who went at least 0-4.  While there were many who went 0-2 or even 0-3, I yearned for even worse relative games.  There have been 91 games since 1956 in which teams scored at least 20 runs, with last year’s Wes Littleton* topping out at 30.
*I named this game in honor of Rangers reliever Wes Littleton who managed to record a save despite his team winning 30-3.  Go figure.
Of the 91 games, I found a total of 20 players who met this criteria.  There were no instances of more than one player posting an “o-fer” in the same game and half of the players that met said criteria were on teams with exactly 20 runs scored.  Nobody went at least 0-4 when their team scored 25, 26, or 30 runs. 
When looking at the players, be sure to note that the slash numbers next to their game stats are the BA/OPS after the “o-fer.”  This way we can look at the performance levels of these players at the time of their party pooping.  Here are the qualifying players whose teams scored 20 runs:

  • 8/13/59, Sammy Taylor, 0-4, .257/.721
  • 8/1/70, Gene Alley, 0-5, .245/.662
  • 4/27/80, Rick Sofield, 0-4, .143/.408
  • 7/8/90, Rob Deer, 0-5, .198/.768
  • 5/4/91, Sandy Alomar, 0-6, .214/.514
  • 4/17/93, Alan Trammell, 0-4, .000/.333
  • 5/7/99, Richie Sexson, 0-4, .217/.699
  • 9/23/03, Chris Stynes, 0-6, .253/.742
  • 7/6/07, Michael Cuddyer, 0-6, .274/.789

There were three players–Alomar, Stynes, and Cuddyer–that went 0-6 while their team scored 20 runs.  Here are the players who accomplished similar “feats” when their team scores 21 runs:

  • 4/28/96, Dave Silvestri, 0-4, .189/.518
  • 8/23/99, Chuck Knoblauch, 0-5, .288/.828

Knoblauch’s numbers were very solid following his 0-5 and the game took place at a point in the season when those numbers were immune to small sample size syndrome; as of right now his game looks to be the worst.  How about 22 runs:

  • 5/31/70, Buddy Bradford, 0-4, .186/.559
  • 4/12/94, Tim Naehring, 0-4, .333/.993
  • 6/19/00, Chuck Knoblauch, 0-4, .277/.730
  • 7/23/02, Shea Hillenbrand, 0-5, .303/.814

Knoblauch again!?  In under a year Knoblauch was a part of two 20+ runs scored games and contributed zilch.  When scoring 23 runs:

  • 4/6/74, Fernando Gonzalez, 0-4, .167/.334
  • 9/30/00, Mark Bellhorn, 0-4, .154/.421

Eeek, Bellhorn stunk that year.  Interesting with regards to his 0-4 is that he actually pinch-hit in this 23-run game and managed to bat four times.  Lastly, since nobody performed this poorly in games of 25+ runs, here are those in games of 24 runs:

  • 4/21/86, Wade Boggs, 0-5, .347/.924
  • 4/24/96, Rich Becker, 0-5, .073/.272

Though early in the season, Becker was slumping at the time of his egregious performance.  It also seems he was celebrating the ten year anniversary of Boggs’ outing by going 0-5. 
As more runs are scored the number of players not taking part in the hits party significantly decreases.  These last two games appear to be the least productive–in terms of exceeding the minimum number of at-bats and the team exceeding the minimum runs scored–as both Becker and Boggs went 0-5 while the rest of their teams scored 24 runs.  Alomar, Stynes, and Cuddyer all went 0-6 in games of 20 runs, which is very poor when we consider that they had an extra non-walk plate appearance in which to contribute. 
Overall, though, what I’ve been saying about Chuck Knoblauch for years is finally evident in this research: He’s pretty good but stinks when his team scores 20+ runs.


4 Responses to Party Poopers: Those Who Fail When All Others Succeed

  1. Minda says:

    It only makes sense that fewer guys go 0fer when teams pile up more and more runs…after 20 or so runs, you’ve got to figure the losing pitching staff has thrown a helluva lot of pitches, and they’re reaching the scrap heap (the Yasuhiko Yabutas of the world). I’m amazed that *anyone* can go 0fer in any 20+ run game though. ‘Tis a dubious honor.

  2. Pizza Cutter says:

    What’s the biggest 0-fer in MLB history? Does anyone know that? What’s the most at-bats that someone has logged in a game without getting a hit?

  3. The biggest o-fer of all time, courtesy of the BR Play Index, is 0-10. Five guys have done this:
    1) John Shelby, 6-3-89
    2) Wayne Garrett, 9-11-74
    3) Danny Thompson, 5-12-72
    4) Ron Swooboda, 4-15-68
    5) Tommie Agee, 4-15-68
    Wow, Swoboda and Agee did it in the same game for the same team!

  4. Josh says:

    Didn’t somebody go 0-8 earlier this year?

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