Chris Davis earned some unwanted notoriety this month with the longest oh-fer in majors history, racking up 54 consecutive hitless AB before finally snapping the streak with a 3 for 5 game on April 13, leading the Orioles to a 9-5 win over the defending champion Red Sox. The other members of the 0 for 40 club are after the jump.
Davis’s record streak began at the tail end of his 2018 season in which he posted a .168 BA, the lowest qualified average in majors history. The Orioles are probably stuck with the 33 year-old, signed through 2022, unless he can regain the power stroke that saw him mash a majors-leading 164 homers from 2013 to 2016.
The table below shows the players, excluding pitchers, with 40 consecutive hitless AB, as recorded in the game logs available on baseball-reference.com.
|54||Chris Davis (2018-19)|
|46||Eugenio Velez (2010-11)|
|45||Dave Campbell (1973), Craig Counsell (2011)|
|44||Gus Gil (1967), Joe Keough (1969)|
|43||Dan Howitt (1992)|
|42||Hal Finney (1933-36), Tommy Dean (1970-71), Justin Ruggiano (2013)|
|41||Robin Ventura (1990)|
|40||Ray Oyler (1968-69), Andy Fox (2004)|
Eugenio Velez‘s streak, the longest by a switch hitter, ended his career and included an 0 for 37 season in 2011. He was subsequently signed as a free agent by four teams, without ever returning to the majors.
Dave Campbell, his broadcasting days still ahead of him, managed to be traded twice during his streak, which ended with a pair of 2 for 4 games for the Astros in a double-header against the Padres, the team Campbell was playing for when his streak began.
Craig Counsell, with Andy Fox the only players on our list with two World Series rings, recorded his streak in his final season, in which he batted only .178, but a respectable .275 after snapping the streak.
Gus Gil recorded his streak in his rookie season for Cleveland, earning a demotion to the minors, but snapping the streak in his first game back after a September call-up. He finished his career with the Pilots and Brewers.
Dan Howitt‘s streak in 1992 was sandwiched by a .316 start in 7 games for the A’s, and a .385 finish in 8 games for the Mariners. He somehow became a free agent in the middle of the season and his streak, signing with Seattle and then earning a September call-up.
Hal Finney, brother of Lou, was a Pirate catcher who, unusually, was also used frequently as a pinch-runner. Like Velez, Finney’s streak ended his career, including an 0 for 35 for his final season.
Tommy Dean, no relation to Dizzy and Daffy, compiled his streak while teaming with Dave Campbell on the 1970-71 Padres. Dean had made a promising start to his 1970 campaign, starting off 7 for 17 and batting .313 as late as June 5. But, from that point to the end of his career in 1971, he managed only .137 in 79 games.
Justin Ruggiano‘s streak in 2013 came on the heels of a promising 2012 season in which he batted .313 and slugged .535 in 91 games as a Marlins outfielder. With Miami having several promising outfield prospects, the 31 year-old Ruggiano was dealt to the Cubs where he enjoyed one decent season as a part-time player before bouncing around to close out his career.
Robin Ventura, the most notable of the players on our list, recorded his streak in his rookie season. The White Sox stuck with him and he closed out the year batting .268 in almost 500 PA after his skid. Ventura didn’t show a power stroke in that rookie year, managing just five HR, including the last hit before his streak and the hit that broke his oh-fer.
Ray Oyler, holder of the AL record for lowest career BA (min. 500 games) among non-pitchers, recorded his streak during the Tigers’ WS championship season (Oyler made four WS appearances but didn’t record an AB, so his streak continued to the following season). Oyler’s 0 for 37 slide is tied with Velez for the longest to close out a season though, unlike Velez, Oyler’s skid didn’t end his career.
Andy Fox snapped his slide with a hit in the last game of the 2004 season and, as it turned out, his career. Fox has the distinction of being the only player to bat under .200 in a 100 game rookie season, while playing for that season’s WS championship team (he also played in each round of post-season play for the 1996 Yankees).
Other notable hitless streaks:
- Lou Camilli‘s 0 for 34 for the 1968-70 Indians is the longest streak to begin a career.
- Mel Ott‘s 0 for 36 in 1946 is the longest by a HOFer, and by a player-manager.
- Tommy Byrne showed up in my searches, even though I had excluded pitchers. As it turns out, Byrne posted an 0 for 41 from 1953 to 1957 when he was not pitching, with all of those non-pitching appearances coming as a pinch-hitter. But, the longest hitless streak as a pinch-hitter is 0 for 50 in 57 PH appearances for the Cubs and Phillies by Charlie Gilbert from 1942 to 1946, breaking the skid with 3 hits in 11 PH apperances in his final season in 1947.