MLB History

Ranking the Nine Unexpected No-Hitters Since 1980

NEW YORK - AUGUST 16:  Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the New York Mets on August 16, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Giants 3-2.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
FRANKCorrespondent IIFebruary 27, 2010

Since 1980, there have been 53 pitchers who mastered a no-hitter.

Many of these pitchers were top of the rotation throwers like Nolan Ryan, Jack Morris, Mike Witt, Dave Stewart, Mike Scott, Randy Johnson, and Dwight Gooden. 

Some were solid pitchers like Terry Mulholland, Wilson Alvarez, Mark Buehrle, Derek Lowe, and Kevin Millwood.

There were nine pitchers who surprised the world and accomplished this feat. Listed below we will rank these lucky fortunate throwers who made it to the record books.

 

No. 9 - Chicago White Sox Joe Cowley v. California Angels (Sept. 19, 1986)

Cowley won 12 games for the New York Yankees in '85, so it was not a total surprise when he pitched his no-hitter a year later for the Chisox.

He makes the list because he only pitched five seasons and had a career record of 33-25 with a 4.20 ERA.

Cowley is the only pitcher to be winless after pitching a no-hitter.

 

No. 8 - Atlanta Braves Kent Mercker v. Los Angeles Dodgers (April 8, 1994)

This career swing-man pitched his no-no with only 11 career starts coming into the season.

Prior to this no-hitter, Mercker participated in another no-hitter in '91. He pitched six innings and watched Mark Wohlers and Alejandro Pena finish the game. 

Mercker ended up playing for eight different teams, and he compiled a 74-67 record over 18 seasons. He only won double digits wins in '98 (11-11) over his long career.

 

No. 7 - San Francisco Giants Jonathan Sanchez v. San Diego Padres (July 10, 2009)

Sanchez does have unhittable stuff, which is reflected by his career 9.3 K/9 ratio, but he has not translate this talent to success. His career numbers (21-30, 4.81, 4.7 BB/9) suggest he's closer to being the next Oliver Perez than Nolan Ryan.

 

No. 6 - Florida Marlins Anibal Sanchez v. Arizona Diamondbacks (Sept. 6, 2006)

Similar to Jonathan, Anibal has terrific stuff, but the Marlins are still waiting for his breakout.

At the age of 25, Anibal's career record is 18-17 with a 3.86 ERA over four seasons. Perhaps with some health Anibal will reach his potential.

What surprised the world was that Anibal pitched his no-hitter during his rookie season after only 14 career starts.

 

No. 5 - Milwaukee Brewers Juan Nieves v. Baltimore Orioles (April 15, 1987)

Juan Nieves won 14 games the season he pitched his no-hitter, but his career (32-25 & 4.71 ERA) was a short three seasons.

At the time, Nieves was the first Puerto Rican to pitch a no-hitter, and was also the second youngest (22-years-old) to accomplish this feat.

 

No. 4 - St. Louis Cardinals Jose Jimenez v. Arizona Diamondbacks (June 25, 1999)

After 22 career starts, Jimenez accomplished this feat.

He only ended up with a 5-14 record that season, and was traded to the Colorado Rockies. With the Rockies, he became their closer before retiring after seven seasons.

 

No. 3 - St. Louis Cardinals Bud Smith v. San Diego Padres (Sept. 3, 2001)

Smith was a highly touted prospect, but only lasted two seasons. He won seven games, with an ERA close to five. This is the reason he's ranked No. 3.

 

No. 2 - Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz v. Baltimore Orioles (Sept, 1, 2007)

Buchholz was a highly touted prospect, but everyone is waiting for his breakout. This high expectations was mainly due to Clay pitching a no-no after only one start.

Time will tell if Clay will breakout and become a successful pitcher or the next Bud Smith.

 

No. 1 - Oakland Athletics Mike Warren v. Chicago White Sox (Sept. 29, 1983)

Who was Mike Warren?

Warren pitched three seasons for Oakland, winning only nine games with a 5.06 ERA.

This is the reason he's ranked No. 1.

 

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