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Baseball-Reference is the eighth wonder of the world, and frankly, it’s superior to some of the better-known seven, too. Who needs the Colossus of Rhodes, after all, when you have the player page for Tuffy Rhodes, onetime home run king of Japan?
One of the qualities that defines baseball’s corner of the internet is the quirkiness inherent in appreciating its history. Much of that joy is tied in with browsing Baseball-Reference pages, which expose bizarre stats and fun names and fantastic accomplishments and all of those quirky histories. Baseball-Reference is already a year-round treat, but in a time absent of actual games—Opening Day was originally slated for Thursday—it becomes counterintuitively even more central for fans: Only the strangeness can slake our baseball thirst; the only new discoveries can come from mining the depths of already existing pages.
The site has more information available than anyone has time to read, social distancing or not. There are pages for every player, team, and season; for leagues ranging in skill level across four continents; for every possible statistical search a baseball fan would hope to answer. So to celebrate the breadth of the site’s riches, we held a miniature draft, picking our five favorite B-Ref pages apiece, selected from anywhere on the site. As befits this eighth wonder, we got weird—and in so doing, found room for some baseball smiles even when the parks are closed, the mounds just waiting for the first real pitch of spring. —Zach Kram
1. Rogers Hornsby (Michael Baumann)
One of the most distinctive bits of Baseball-Reference branding is “black ink.” Whenever a player leads his league in a statistical category, the number on his page is displayed in bold. If he leads all of Major League Baseball, it’s both bolded and italicized. B-Ref even tracks black ink on a player’s page, with certain categories weighted to emphasize their importance, and publishes the player’s score at the bottom of his page as a quick and dirty estimation of his worthiness for the Hall of Fame.
When most statheads talk about players with a lot of black ink, they go to favorites from the recent past, like Barry Bonds or Pedro Martínez. But my personal favorite smattering of black ink belongs to Rogers Hornsby. The Rajah was a real asshole, God rest his soul, but he could absolutely rake. If you know anything about Hornsby, apart from his winning personality, it’s that his career batting average, .358, is the highest ever for a right-handed hitter and second only to Ty Cobb overall. That undersells his offensive prowess somewhat.
That’s right, from 1920 to 1925, Hornsby led the National League in batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage (and by extension OPS and OPS+) every single year. Bonds and Ruth swept the triple-slash categories three times combined, while Hornsby did it six years in a row. As much as I love the nooks and crannies of Baseball-Reference, sometimes you just want a stats site to play the hits. Literally, in Hornsby’s case.
2. 1899 Cleveland Spiders (Zach Kram)
The 1899 Spiders are the worst team in MLB history. They are also my favorite team in MLB history. (I adore them so fervently that early on in my relationship, my girlfriend bought me a vintage Spiders T-shirt as a birthday present.) And their Baseball-Reference page shows why.
The backstory here is that before the season, the Spiders’ owners also bought the St. Louis Perfectos (later the Cardinals) and traded all their good players—including Cy Young and two other future Hall of Famers—to St. Louis to try to form a superteam. But that context isn’t immediately apparent on the page. One of the only indications of something strange comes at the top of the page, when B-Ref gives an option to see the Spiders’ previous season but not their next. That’s because the Spiders franchise folded after 1899.
The other indication of something strange is the data itself; B-Ref is, first and foremost, a treasure trove of information. For instance, every team page includes a quick visual representation of the game-by-game results. Green means a win, red means a loss, and the height of the bar signifies the margin of victory. Here is the Spiders’ graph of 20 green bars and 134 red.
Every page is filled with storytelling statistics. So it’s easy to see that, say, Jim Hughey was the Spiders’ ace but finished the season with a 4-30 record, and that the pitching staff as a whole finished with a 6.37 ERA and didn’t feature a single player with a league-average mark or better.
The Spiders also exemplify the uncertainty of early baseball record-keeping, which wasn’t nearly as precise as it is today. Six players have a “?” next to their names, which signifies that baseball historians are unsure of their handedness at the plate. And they highlight the wonders of old-timey baseball names, with players like Sport McAllister, Ossee Schrecongost, and Highball Wilson. Harry Colliflower was on this team, too, with a fun name and a hilarious player photo—another delight of early-years Baseball-Reference—to boot.
Teammate George Bristow and his magnificent moustache say a grainy hello, as well.
3. Minnie Miñoso (Ben Lindbergh)
Not to brag or anything, but I subscribe to the This Week in Sports Reference newsletter, which aggregates all of the latest updates and additions to every Sports Reference site. Unlike the huge hardcover encyclopedias that preceded it, Baseball-Reference is a living document. It’s not enough for me to visit Sean Forman’s fiefdom a dozen times per day; I also expect to be personally informed whenever he and his team make the most minor of tweaks.
The February 7 edition of the newsletter marked the inception of a page for freshly minted Hall of Famer Marvin Miller (career winning percentage in five work stoppages: 1.000%); celebrated the presence of more than 9,000 new historical headshots; and reported that “after being presented with supporting evidence,” the site had changed the display name of the 1892 final—which featured a far more successful version of Zach’s Cleveland Spiders—from “Championship Series” to “World Series.” But one other note caught my eye: “Raised maximum displayable age to 78 so Minnie Miñoso’s appearance at 77 is reflected properly.”
This is fun for two reasons: First, that Baseball-Reference is such a stickler for details and accuracy that it will alter code to accommodate a single player (and not just Pat Venditte). And second, that Miñoso made a professional plate appearance in his age-77 season. (He walked.) Miñoso, who made his major league debut in 1949, came out of retirement in his 50s for five combined games with the Bill Veeck–owned White Sox in 1976 and 1980. Veeck’s son Mike then activated him again in 1993 and 2003 for the Northern League’s St. Paul Saints, making Miñoso the only person to play professionally in seven different decades (or six, for that matter). Miñoso’s stat page points out that when he played for St. Paul in 2003, he had 50.3 years on the average Northern League player. B-Ref also informs me that Miñoso faced pitchers who appeared in the majors as early as 1936 (Bob Feller) and as late as 1993 (Frank Tanana), as well as another era-spanning pitcher, Satchel Paige, who made his pro pitching debut in 1927. (See another B-Ref frivolity, the Oracle of Baseball, for more mind-boggling baseball connections.)
Being Baseball-Reference, of course, the site encompasses Miñoso’s career, from his early years with the Negro National League’s New York Cubans to his cameos in indy ball, alongside his stints in the affiliated minors, the Cuban Winter League, and multiple Mexican leagues. Thus, Miñoso’s page allows us to appreciate both B-Ref’s comprehensive scope and Miñoso’s excellence: Of the 13 hitters with the most WAR amassed between 1951 and 1961—Miñoso’s first and last full MLB seasons—only Miñoso, who ranked eighth, isn’t in the Hall of Fame. And if the color line hadn’t delayed the beginning of his big league career, he’d probably be in the Hall of Fame also.
4. First Round of the 2011 Draft (Baumann)
As The Ringer’s premier (only?) amateur draft obsessive, I spend a lot of time digging around B-Ref’s draft archives, and there is no greater concentration of talent I can think of than in the first round of the 2011 draft. In your garden-variety draft, even a first-round pick has only a small chance of becoming an impact big leaguer, but the 2011 draft was anything but ordinary.
The first pick in this draft was UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, though Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon (no. 6) could’ve gone with the top pick if not for injury concerns. The Seattle Mariners drafted Virginia right-hander Danny Hultzen second, but reportedly considered a high school infielder named Francisco Lindor, who ultimately went eighth. The Diamondbacks took Cole’s college teammate, Trevor Bauer, third overall, one spot ahead of Dylan Bundy. Bundy’s Oklahoma high school rival, Archie Bradley, joined Bauer in Arizona. Javier Báez went ninth overall, George Springer 11th, José Fernández 14th, and so on down the line through Cy Young winner Blake Snell at no. 52.
The first round of the 2011 draft, which swelled to 60 picks after the compensation round, has produced 13 All-Stars so far, including seven from the first 14 picks. First-rounders from this draft have featured in six of the past seven World Series. The one exception, 2015, featured a Mets club that was carried to the playoffs by Yoenis Céspedes, acquired from Detroit at that year’s deadline for pitching prospect Michael Fulmer, the no. 44 pick in the 2011 draft and the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year.
The most impressive fact about this draft class is that the top 29 picks all played at least one game in the major leagues, which is an unbelievably high hit rate. Though for all the star power in the first round, the best player in this draft didn’t go until the fifth round, when the Boston Red Sox spent pick no. 172 on a Nashville high school second baseman named Mookie Betts.
5. Bob Gibson’s 1968 Game Log (Kram)
Gibson’s 1968 is a season of legends. In the Year of the Pitcher, Gibson was the pitcher, recording a record (for the Liveball Era) 1.12 ERA. But to appreciate the totality of his performance that year, we need to dive into his game log—B-Ref includes game-by-game numbers for every player in every season dating back more than 100 years—which serves as a distillation of both the Cardinals ace and the sport at large in 1968.
The first factor that stands out is Gibson’s innings totals. Between June and August, he started 18 games and pitched nine innings 17 times; in the 18th game, he went 11. Gibson threw more complete games in those three months than Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, and Max Scherzer have thrown in their careers.
It was a different time for pitching strategy, and it was a different time for offense. The 1968-ness seeps through Gibson’s game log in other places, too. He received zero, one, or two runs of support in more than half of his starts and often won games by scores of 1-0 (four times, all complete-game shutouts) or 2-1 (thrice). He lost nine games despite setting the ERA record.
Yet knowledge of the context of 1968’s offensive doldrums, just before the mound was lowered to address the run-scoring crisis, doesn’t dim the majesty of Gibson’s game-by-game performances that summer. His 13 total shutouts in 1968 are the most for any pitcher in the live ball era, and for those of us not fortunate enough to watch Gibson pitch, it’s transporting just to imagine a pitcher going on a run like this in 2020.
6. New Debuts Page (Lindbergh)
When we think about Baseball-Reference, we fixate, for good reason, on its unparalleled archive of historical stats. But the site is also invaluable for following the present season—provided, of course, that there is a present season. I like looking up long-dead players as much as the next nerd, but I also enjoy watching baby big leaguers be born. For that, there’s the new debuts page, where we can watch minor leaguers make the leap to the Show like leatherback hatchlings completing their crawls across the sand. MLB is one of the country’s longest-running reality shows, and the new debuts page helps us keep track of the cast.
Considering the size of modern pitching staffs and the way teams have taken to shuffling the backs of their bullpens, it’s easy to miss recent arrivals who aren’t top prospects. In 2010, 203 players made their major league debuts, but in 2019, 261 did, from the Mariners’ Dylan Moore on March 20 to the Yankees’ Mike King on September 27. Yet each one is worthy of at least a fleeting look. The new debuts page doesn’t tell us what hardships each player had to endure, or how it felt to fulfill a dream, but it does give us basic biographical information: age (out to three decimal places!), team and position(s), height and weight, handedness, birthplace, and draft or signing info. It’s up to us to associate stories with names.
This section of the site seems bittersweet now, when games aren’t going on and teams aren’t making more major leaguers. Normally, though, it’s an inspirational page that reminds us of renewal and illustrates the circle of major league life. As B-Ref’s homepage helpfully notes, there have been 19,690 MLB players so far. The pace of debuts may slow somewhat thanks to newly lengthened pitcher option periods and a reduction in the size of September rosters, but within the next two full seasons, someone will become lucky big leaguer no. 20,000. Now we just need one of those seasons to start.
7. 2016 Florida Gators (Baumann)
Part of the reason I’m the kind of person who obsesses over draft classes is that I used to cover college baseball for a living. One thing I learned quickly on that beat is how much we take for granted the free availability of useful statistics and game day information. On the college beat, if I wanted to reference stats like run differential or strikeout rate, I had to do the math by hand, and some schools didn’t even publish plate appearance totals or pitch counts. So while I’ve wanted to plant a big smooch of gratitude on Sports Reference boss Sean Forman’s sainted forehead dozens of times through the years, the urge has never been more powerful than when B-Ref added recent college stats to players’ minor league pages.
In 2016, my bosses at D1Baseball sent me to Gainesville, Florida, to cover a weekend series between the no. 1 team in the country at the time (Texas A&M) and the no. 3 team in the country (Florida). What was supposed to be a tight, hard-fought series turned out to be a total walkover. The Gators annihilated the Aggies to the point that in my wrap-up column I invoked a Robot Wars contestant that was disqualified because it would shred its opponents and fling bits of debris into the audience. This Gators team was the best college baseball team I’ve ever seen, and looking at this roster it’s easy to see why.
The biggest name to come out of that Florida team so far is Pete Alonso, who hit .374/.469/.659, though pesky freshman third baseman Jonathan India grew into a power stroke in 2018 and ended up as the no. 5 overall draft pick that year. But the Gators’ strength was pitching. In three days in Gainesville I saw no fewer than six future top-50 picks take the mound (A.J. Puk, Alex Faedo, Logan Shore, Dane Dunning, Jackson Kowar, and Brady Singer), plus closer Shaun Anderson, who made 16 starts for the Giants last year, and a nearly unhittable lefty specialist named Kirby Snead.
It’s incredibly cool that at least for the recent past, Baseball-Reference truly lives up to the name, instead of being merely Pro Baseball-Reference. There’s an unplumbable depth of history to the college game, and I love that fans can just stumble into it now just by, say, clicking the NL Rookie of the Year’s page.
8. Ed Porray (Kram)
Edmund Joseph Porray pitched 10 1/3 career innings across three games in 1914, allowing 18 hits and nine runs (five earned) while striking out no one. His B-Ref page is mostly unremarkable—even if it inspires further clicking around the site, because he played for the short-lived Buffalo team in the short-lived Federal League, which was technically a major league that competed with MLB.
But Porray’s page stands out for one wholly unique reason.
Ed Porray was born in the Atlantic Ocean. On the Play Index, he comes up as the only player in history who was born “At Sea.” Nothing on Baseball-Reference makes me laugh harder than the unsolved mystery of Porray’s birth, and the ensuing imagination of a secret Atlantean deciding one day to emerge from the depths of the ocean and pick up a curveball.
9. Eddie Smith (Lindbergh)
We’ve reached the run on pitchers named Ed. Smith, a southpaw who was born on dry land and pitched for the White Sox, Athletics, and Red Sox in the 1930s and ’40s, may have been the unluckiest pitcher of all time, although he still spent 10 seasons in the majors (not counting the two he missed for military service). I first came across Smith in 2018, when eventual Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, who received scant run support from the Mets, was making a run at becoming the second qualified pitcher ever to finish with more pitching wins above replacement than pitching wins. Smith, who amassed 4.2 WAR despite a 4-17 record in 196 2/3 innings for the 1937 A’s, was the first, and his exclusive status was assured when deGrom won his last two starts to finish 10-9. (He finished with 9.9 pitching WAR, although his hitting was worth another 0.5.)
“Some pitchers might moan about their support or the umpiring, but I am a young fellow just getting his start,” Smith said in 1937, adding, “the breaks of the game were against me most of the season … but I am learning. In 1938, I will know the batters better.”
Opposing batters weren’t Smith’s problem; his own teammates were. For Smith, pitching well without wins to show for it would become a career-long curse. Although he retired with a 108 ERA+, he had a winning record only once. Among the 552 pitchers with at least 1,500 career innings pitched and an ERA+ of 100 or better—indicating that they were at least league average at preventing runs—Smith’s .392 winning percentage (73-113) is the worst by 21 points, and if we raise the ERA+ bar to 108, his is the worst by 44 points. Wins were somewhat more reflective of a starter’s performance at that time than they are now, when pitchers don’t go deep into games, but Smith mostly played for terrible teams, and he never pitched for a club with a league-average lineup.
Smith’s lousy luck may have had the opposite effect on Joe DiMaggio: When DiMaggio started his 56-game hitting streak in 1941, Smith was on the mound. At least Smith won that game; in his historic 1937 season, he’d started 0-10. He started the 1942 season the same way, but he still made his second All-Star team. He ended that year with a league-leading 20 losses, but he didn’t let it get to him. “What the hell,” he said that June. “Things ain’t never as bad as they could be.” Let’s hope he was right.
10. Johnny Dickshot (Baumann)
As a clearinghouse of information, Baseball-Reference ought to appeal to curious and sober-minded students of the game. On the other hand, you know who had a really funny name? Johnny Dickshot, an outfielder who played 322 big league games in the 1930s and 1940s. According to B-Ref, his nickname was “Ugly,” which invites the question of why someone named Johnny Dickshot needed a nickname at all.
Two years after Dickshot’s last big league game, the Philadelphia Phillies called up third baseman Willie Jones, who played 15 years in the majors despite having the nickname “Puddin’ Head.” He had 1,502 career hits, 539 short of the total posted by 19th-century infielder “Pebbly Jack” Glasscock. Whatever else we know about Baseball-Reference, it’s one of very, very few places on the internet where it’s safe to type “Pebbly Jack Glasscock” into a search bar without first turning on incognito mode.
Hippo Vaughn, Wonderful Terrific Monds, Tim Spooneybarger, Ducky Medwick, Choo-Choo Coleman … the list goes on. “Who’s on First” starts with Bud Abbott opining that ballplayers have funny names, which he must’ve learned from Baseball-Reference.
11. Sadaharu Oh (Kram)
I might appreciate the esoteric absurdities of the 1899 Spiders and Ed Porray’s birthplace, but I’m also a simple man, a sucker for four-digit OPS totals. So gazing upon Sadaharu Oh’s player page, with 16 consecutive seasons with a better-than-1.000 OPS in Japan’s top league, is a slack-jawing experience.
Ted Williams’s player page is similar (19 seasons, 18 of them with a four-digit OPS), plus the Splendid Splinter’s page has the advantage of other individual quirks; he’s listed as “frozen” instead of buried in a graveyard, for instance.
But Oh is like some sort of combination of Williams, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds. He hit a pro-record 868 career home runs, including 30-plus for the last 19 years of his career, despite NPB’s shorter seasons. And his sheer consistency leaps off the page, across every row and column of his statistical table—games played, rate stats, counting tallies.
If Baseball-Reference contained only MLB data, or only data for MLB, the minors, and college ball, it would still be a wonder. But baseball is a global game and B-Ref is a global site featuring statistical gifts from leagues around the world, including Oh’s entire record from 22 seasons playing in Japan (plus 19 seasons managing), well before I was born.
12. The Cup of Coffee Players Page (Lindbergh)
I recently rewatched Field of Dreams, the movie that made Moonlight Graham a household name. Graham played an inning in the outfield on June 29, 1905, but he didn’t get to bat, and he never made it back to the big leagues. “Back then I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be other days,’” the movie version of Moonlight, played by Burt Lancaster, says. “I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”
Hundreds of players have had only one day in the big leagues, and Baseball-Reference’s cup of coffee player pages (one for hitters and one for pitchers) put them all in one place. Graham wasn’t the only hitter who never held a bat in the big leagues: A couple of players (Pedro Santana and Joe Hietpas) have had the same experience this century. Among the hitters who have batted, the results have varied widely, from Ron Wright, who infamously struck out and then grounded into a triple play and a double play in his lone game with the 2002 Mariners, to John Paciorek, who singled three times and walked twice in his only major league look as an 18-year-old with the Houston Colt .45s. Wright never got an opportunity to improve on his colossal dud of a debut, and Paciorek never got the chance to repeat his spectacular success. Somewhere, a seasoned sports veteran is intoning, “There are no guarantees in this game.”
Perhaps the most poignant entry of all belongs to Larry Yount, brother of Robin, who was injured while warming up for his first appearance on September 15, 1971. Yount was announced, so he got a game played, but he never threw a pitch. As my new debuts page pick revealed, I’m all about honoring the achievement of making the majors, regardless of the duration or distinction of one’s stay. Only one cup of coffee recipient has been played by an (overacting) Academy Award winner in an (oversentimental) Oscar-nominated movie, but they all have supporting roles on this page.
One nice thing about Baseball-Reference’s box scores is that they tell the story of the game not only through counting stats and play-by-play data, but through win probability charts. And if you want to see a WPA chart go absolutely berserk, take a look at this puppy.
This is the win probability chart that results from handing a baseball to a dizzy toddler. This is baseball as written by M. Night Shyamalan. It makes me faintly seasick just to look at it. I discovered this game some years ago when I went to Play Index wondering which position player had posted the highest single-game WPA—in short, which batter had done the most to help his team win in any given game in baseball history. The answer: Art Shamsky. Now, it’s weird enough that the best single-game performance in baseball history by one metric came not from Bonds or Cobb or Ruth, but an anonymous fourth outfielder, but it gets better: Shamsky didn’t enter this game until the eighth inning, and his team lost.
Shamsky was double-switched into the game in the eighth inning with the Reds down a run. In the bottom of that inning, he hit a two-run home run to put the Reds in front. Cincinnati’s bullpen blew the lead, and in the 10th inning Shamsky hit a game-tying two-run shot. The Reds allowed two more runs in the top of the 11th, and in the bottom of the frame Shamsky hit another game-tying home run, but the Pirates put the game away in the 13th before Shamsky could hit again.
That the most productively clutch performance in baseball history came in a loss is one of my favorite pieces of baseball trivia, and I learned about it only through the tools particular to Baseball-Reference. And on a personal note, the first thing Ben and I ever worked on together was a column about this game for Baseball Prospectus, when he was the editor-in-chief there and I’d just started blogging for Grantland. Maybe the real Baseball-Reference is the friends we made along the way.
One oft-overlooked feature on the site, and a fitting choice for my final selection, is the set of “Neutralized and Converted Stats” pages. Essentially, B-Ref runs some calculations to determine what a player’s stats would have looked like had he played at any other park, in any other season, in league history—serving as a reminder that the site isn’t just a record keeper, but an analytical tool.
The best use of this feature is to virtually place every batter in MLB history in the most hitter-friendly ballpark we’ve ever seen. The Rockies averaged 7.1 runs per game at home in 1999, in the thin air of pre-humidor Coors Field at the height of the steroid era—and were outscored, allowing 7.7 runs on average.
Some highlights of the 1999 Coors translation:
- 2001 Barry Bonds would have hit 95 home runs. A whopping 15 player seasons—including Pete Alonso last year—would have landed at 70 homers or more.
- 1931 Lou Gehrig would have collected 251 RBIs. A total of 99 seasons, including seven from Gehrig, would have reached 200 or higher.
- 1924 Rogers Hornsby would have hit .484, less than a dozen hits shy of .500. (I can see why Baumann picked his page first overall in this draft.) There are too many .400-or-better seasons to fit on one page.
The equivalent pitcher’s page, whose best choice converts to Dodger Stadium in 1968, is plenty fun, too: 2000 Pedro Martínez and 1995 Greg Maddux both have converted ERAs below 1. There’s something about 95 home runs and a .484 average that make the batting scenario just a bit more captivating, though. There’s a limit to pitcher performance; an ERA can get only so low. But there’s nothing stopping Bonds from just blasting dinger after theoretical dinger into the Denver mountain air.
15. Rich Sauveur (Lindbergh)
If Zach hadn’t beaten me to the topic, I might have drafted Bud Selig’s favorite B-Ref page (well, second favorite), the all-time neutralized batting stats leaderboard, on which Hank Aaron still leads Barry Bonds in career homers. (Playing the entirety of their careers in ’99 Coors, the site says, Aaron would have hit 1,014 dingers to Bonds’s 998.) And if Michael hadn’t grabbed the 2011 first round, I might have taken the 2009 first round, a humbling reminder of human fallibility in which Mike Trout was selected 25th. (Trout is one serious Stephen Strasburg injury away from a real chance at producing more WAR than all of the players drafted ahead of him combined, especially if you exclude Randal Grichuk.) I also considered reliever Ryan Webb’s seemingly unassailable record for games finished without a save (105), as well as the ultimate thrill ride, the random page selector.
Instead, I’m selecting Sauveur, who recorded a 6.07 ERA and negative-0.4 WAR in six MLB seasons. Sauveur holds the distinction of the longest span between making a major league debut and losing rookie eligibility, as recorded by Baseball-Reference: He debuted in 1986 but didn’t lose his rookie tag until 2000, a gap of 14 years. (Two other pitchers, Fred Johnson and Dixie Howell, went 16 and 15 years, respectively, according to data from B-Ref’s Kenny Jackelen, but back then the rookie classification hadn’t been defined.)
Sauveur was only 22 in 1986, but he didn’t do well and was soon demoted. He resurfaced sporadically for the next decade—in ’88, ’91, ’92, and ’96, after becoming a scab during the strike—never for more than eight games in one season. “This year is it for me,” Sauveur told the Philadelphia Daily News in 1998. “Of course, I say that every year.”
Sauveur, who sometimes threw a knuckleball—and who was the last lefty to throw one in the majors until Ryan Feierabend ended the drought last year—held on until 2000, when the A’s gave him one more chance to erase his rookie designation. By then, Sauveur was the active career leader in minor league ERA and strikeouts; he finished with a 2.90 ERA in almost 500 Triple-A games. But to the best of B-Ref’s knowledge, the grizzled Sauveur remained a rookie in the Show.
In a Boston Globe column that May, Peter Gammons noted that a scout who’d seen Sauveur with the A’s reported that his fastest pitch was 80 mph. “Teammates call him crafty, which is baseball-speak for old,” added the Sacramento Bee that July. Yet after his A’s debut, manager Art Howe said that “the kid” had come through. Informed that the 36-year-old Sauveur was the third-oldest Athletic, Howe replied, “He’s a kid to me.” Maybe 36 seemed young to the 53-year-old Howe—or maybe Sauveur still smelled like a rookie.
At some point in his 18th professional season, B-Ref says, Sauveur finally accumulated enough service time to graduate from rookie status. In August, though, the A’s designated him for assignment. That last banishment cemented his claim to another ignoble record: most teams pitched for without a win. Since 2003, Sauveur has coached for three more clubs (the Brewers, Red Sox, and Diamondbacks). He has yet to get back to the big leagues.