Thursday, October 04, 2012

Koji Uehara's 25 Straight Retired Batters

A few nights ago, as the Texas Rangers brought in pitcher Koji Uehara for a late-inning appearance, one of the announcers on the telecast I was watching argued that Uehara was as hot a pitcher as was currently going in Major League Baseball. Naturally, when I hear a claim like that, I have to check it out!

After a few days had gone by, I examined's statistical page for Uehara. I also searched for recent articles, one of which confirmed that before the streak ended (on October 1), Uehara had retired 25 consecutive batters. To put things in perspective, a perfect game involves retiring 27 straight batters (i.e., 3 batters in each of 9 innings).

In honor of Uehara's accomplishment, I have listed the 25 batters that he sat down consecutively (along with the type of out each made) to the right.

As I discuss in my book Hot Hand, then-Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle holds the record for consecutive batters retired, at 45. The leaders in this category include starters (such as Buehrle) and relievers such as Bobby Jenks (41). In my book, I asked whether a streak of consecutive batters retired would be easier for a starter or reliever to achieve, citing the following considerations:

"A starter can... build up the streak in fewer games, but must have the stamina to keep pitching at a high level throughout the game.  A reliever, on the other hand, may know that he is only going to pitch an inning or two on a given night, which would allow him to concentrate on retiring just a few opposing batters (going “all guns a blazing” with each one). A reliever, though, would have to keep this up for perhaps 20, 30, or more appearances to contend for this record" (p. 93).

I invite readers to share their views on this matter, in the Comments.

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