Zero Heroes: Players who have not filled in some basic statistical categories
Tigers ace (yes, ace) Max Scherzer threw his first career complete game and shutout Thursday night, filling two columns on his career ledger that had been empty through his first 178 starts. Earlier this season, Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere hit his first major league home run in his 1,566th career plate appearance. So, now that three of the most notable empty columns in the major leagues have been filled, we thought we'd take a look at some of the other career-long droughts around the game. Here are the players, who still have fairly commonplace columns to fill in 15 different categories.
Active: James Jones, 138 plate appearances
Career: Dave Eggler, 2,593 plate appearances
Now that Revere is off the schneid, Jones, the Mariners' 25-year-old centerfielder, has the most plate appearances without going yard among position players currently on a major league roster. Eggler was a 19th century centerfielder who played 11 seasons from 1871-1885. The Modern Era record (1901-present) is held by Tom Oliver, who had 2,073 plate appearances without a home run. He was also a centerfielder who spent four years with the Red Sox from 1930-33.
Active: Ian Kinsler, 162 home runs
Career: Glenn Davis: 190 home runs
Add in the postseason and it's 166 home runs without a grand slam for Kinsler and 191 for Davis. Curiously, Kinsler and Prince Fielder, the two players involved in the winter's biggest blockbuster trade, have combined for 450 career regular season home runs and just one grand slam, by Fielder in June 2009. Kinsler is a career .298/.310/.440 hitter in 100 plate appearances with the bases loaded, a solid showing. Davis, however, completely wilted with the bases loaded. The two-time All-Star and 1986 National League MVP runner-up hit a mere .197/.211/.288 in 76 career PA with the bags juiced.
Active: Justin Smoak: 2,183 PA
Career: Johnny Estrada: 2,244 PA
Smoak, the Mariners' first baseman, is just 61 plate appearances away from passing Estrada, an exceptionally slow-footed catcher who was an All-Star for the Braves in 2004 and holds another empty-column record we'll get to shortly. Second on the active list is Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso at 1,348 career PA without a triple.
Hit by pitch
Active: Danny Valencia: 1,337 PA
Career: Mark Lemke: 3,664 PA
Valencia, now with the Royals, has gone more than twice as long without being plunked as the next man on the list, Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (612 PA). Historical hit-by-pitch data is in complete, but among players for whom we have complete information, Lemke, a former Braves second baseman known for his October heroics, came to the plate most without getting plunked. He wasn't hit in 257 postseason plate appearances, either.
Active: Ryan Hanigan: 626 times on base
Career: Russ Nixon: 863 times on base
Not surprisingly, both men are catchers. Fellow backstop Chris Snyder retired earlier this year having reached base 821 times in his career without a stolen base. Estrada reached base 731 times without even attempting a steal, which stands as a record for players with complete caught-stealing data. Nixon, who played from 1957-68, was caught stealing seven times, Snyder three times and Hanigan once.
Caught Stealing (min. one attempt)
Active: Chris Owings: 8 SB
Career: Quintin Berry: 24 SB
Berry, who is currently with the Orioles' Triple A affiliate, has never been caught trying to steal and has been on base 119 times in the major leagues. Owings' is one-third of the way to Berry's total but he's not much of a gambler, as evidenced by his eight attempts, and he has been losing playing time lately in Arizona.
Active: Mark Teixeira: 6,810 PA
Career: Frank Thomas: 10,075 PA
The above includes all plate appearance, not just those in which a sacrifice hit was possible, because it's difficult to search quickly for those situations. Much like complete games (and, thus, shutouts), sacrifice bunts just don't happen as often as they used to, so it shouldn't be a huge surprise to find out that it's not all that uncommon for veteran slow-footed sluggers to have never laid down a successful sacrifice. Among the other players who have never had a sacrifice hit are Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard and Joey Votto. Also on the list are more fleet-footed sluggers such as Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria and David Wright, and that's just cherry picking names from among the 23 active major leaguers with more than 2,000 plate appearances and no sacrifice hits. Teixeira, however, leads the list by 564 PA over Wright. On the all-time list, Thomas -- the Hall of Famer who retired in 2008, not the slugger of the 1950s and '60s -- is joined by the likes of Vladimir Guerrero (9,059 PA), Carlos Delgado (8,675 PA), and Mike Piazza (7,745), as well as fellow Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew (second-place all-time at 9,833 PA), who first reached the majors in 1954.
Active: Mike Pelfrey: 183 starts
Career: Jason Bere: 203 starts
Even with Scherzer's shutout, Pelfrey still holds the active record for most career starts without one. He's just 20 shy of the all-time record held by former White Sox All-Star and Rookie of the Year runner-up Bere, who last pitched in the majors in 2003. Pelfrey, now with the Twins, won't be adding to his total any time soon, however, as he's likely out for the season after having surgery on the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow on Tuesday.
Active: Bud Norris: 139 starts
Career: Tony Armas: 167 starts
Scherzer's lack of a complete game prior to Wednesday night is all the more surprising given that the Orioles' Norris and the Cubs' Travis Wood (106 starts) are the only two other active pitchers with more than 100 career starts who had not thrown a complete game. Scherzer's shutout restored the all-time record to Armas, but Norris could pass him next year.
Active: CC Sabathia: 423 games
Career: Tom Glavine: 682 games
Nearly every pitcher winds up coming in out of the bullpen sooner or later. Sabathia and Glavine are the only pitchers in history to have appeared in more than 300 games without doing so, and given Sabathia's recent injury and effectiveness issues, one imagines his streak will soon come to an end, even if it's just in what amounts to a major league rehab outing.
Active: Eric O'Flaherty: 373 relief appearances
Just as nearly every pitcher eventually winds up pitching out of the bullpen at least once, nearly every reliever records at least one save, either because they happen to pitch three innings at the end of a blowout or because overuse by their bullpen-mates forces them into a save situation or for some other reason. Lefty specialist O'Flaherty, however, is still stuck on zero. He posted a 1.99 ERA in 295 appearances for the Braves over the last four seasons and is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery under a new two-year contract with the A's.
Active: Clay Rapada: 152 games
Another lefty specialist, Rapada, who is currently with the Mariners' Triple A affiliate, is the only pitcher in major league history to appear in 100 or more games and never take a loss. He also has just two blown saves in those 152 games (all of them relief appearances). He does have 24 losses in the minor leagues, however.
Active: Joe Patterson: 70 games
Career: Juan Alvarez and Ed Olwine: 80 games
Lefty Joe Patterson hasn't pitched in the majors this year and appeared in just eight games in the last two seasons. He's very much active with the Diamondbacks' Triple A affiliate this season, but he stands an excellent chance of being passed in short order by either the Nationals' Xavier Cedeño (64 games) or the Rays' Brad Boxberger (63 games), who are a combined 0-3 in their careers.
Active: Nick Maronde: 33 games
Career: Erik Plantenberg: 61 games
Maronde has spent his entire three-year career to date with the Angels and is mostly unknown. Plantenberg, though, might be the most anonymous major leaguer of the last half century. He was a lefty reliever for the Mariners and Phillies in the mid-90s who walked 31 men and struck out 16 in his major league career, was drafted in the 16th round, was never involved in a trade and never earned a decision.
Active: Felix Doubront: 404 1/3 innings piched