Jo-Jo Reyes has not recorded a single win in 28 appearances. It dates all the way back to June 13, 2008, and it ties the Major league Baseball record of 28 straight starts without recording a win. Whether he was a victim of circumstance, or an underachieving player, he joins the ranks as yet another holder of a dubious record in baseball, and one that will live on in infamy and blog posts all over the internet.
It was June of 2008, and Jo-Joe Reyes took the ball as the starter for the Atlanta Braves against the Angels. He turned in a masterful performance of eight innings, five hits allowed and only two earned runs. Turning the game over to the bullpen, they held on for the W and gave him a victory on the unluckiest of days, Friday the 13.
It turns out that bad luck wasn’t far off, and it would be a long, long time before Reyes recorded another win at the Major League level. In fact, as of 2011 we’re still waiting.
While he wasn’t exactly a stellar pitcher over the rest of the season, 0-7 in 13 starts with an ERA over seven, he did have his moments. His very next start, he threw seven innings of two-run ball–1 of them earned—and lost the game 5-2. A few weeks later, he lost to the Blue Jays 1-0, after six innings pitched and only the one earned run.
But ineffectiveness coupled with jumping back and forth between the majors and the minors, and Jo Jo just has never found himself in a groove. Now he finds himself holding the dubious distinction of the longest span ever without being a winning pitcher, and his next start he’ll be going for the "record."
It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard, or what you imagine, or how you justify it, players hear these stories and it’s on their minds. Even if it hadn’t occurred to him personally, you can bet it’s on his mind now. Before his start against the Yankees, people were already talking about it and predicting it. Was it any surprise that he gave up consecutive doubles to Jeter and Granderson, and then a two-run home run to Andruw Jones in the first inning?
He lasted only three innings, giving up five earned runs in the process. For a game that’s 90 percent mental and the other half physical, try reminding a pitcher right before his start that he’s winless in almost a full season of outings (28). The result will be holding the ball harder, throwing it harder, falling behind, and whipping your neck harder as you watch the balls carry out of the ballpark.
That’s baseball for you, and that’s how bad momentum can mess with your mind and elongate a losing streak.
Jo-Jo, don’t get down. Eventually you’ll get the offensive explosion, and even if you fall into a 14-13 slugfest victory, you’re still going to come out on top and it will still be a W. Your record is far from the most dubious and it’s about time we shift the focus away from you and onto some of the other classic cases.
The 1908 Cardinals won just 45 games, and lost 105 for the season. The most impressive part was that they were shut out nearly as much as they managed to find a victory. With only 45 wins, they were shut out a record 33 times. For the season, they scored just 372 runs, or an average of fewer than three runs a game.
Despite playing in the deadball era with high offensive batting averages, they didn’t even have a single .300 hitter. Most of their team was at the Mendoza line, or even below that. The 1908 Cardinals sure could have used the production of Albert Pujols, even if it was just the 2011 version we’re seeing now.
Taking one for the Entire Team
In what’s being hailed as the worst pitching performance ever, Royals reliever Vin Mazzaro allowed 14 earned runs in just 2.1 innings. He came on in the third inning in relief after the starter had left in the first inning with an injury.
After pitching out of his first inning of work, he allowed 10 runs in his second and was tagged for four more runs before his day was over. It was a classic example of a manager not wanting to waste the bullpen further on a lost cause of a game. Still, at what point do you remember that you still need to record outs to end the game?
Even after a 10-run inning, and four runs allowed in the next, he was made to finish his outing. Only once before had a pitcher given up more runs in less than three innings: Lefty O’Doul in 1923 (3 IP, 16 runs, only two earned). For Mazzaro, it was tough luck meets questionable managing. Still, he took one for his team, and his ERA may need a few seasons to recover from that one
My personal favorite, Harry Chiti is the only player in baseball ever to be traded for himself. No, that’s not a typo, or a case of two players with the same name; it was a straight up trade for Harry Chiti in exchange for the same Harry Chiti.
In 1962, the Cleveland Indians traded Chiti to the expansion team Mets for a player to be named later. After eight singles and a double for a .452 OPS in 15 games, the Mets were unimpressed and sent him back to the Indians to complete the deal.
It wasn’t as though he was traded to the Yankees or the Giants, the World Series contenders who might not have found use for him; it was to the Mets.
The 1962 Mets lost 120 games for a .247 winning percentage. It’s a record that still stands. I’m not sure if anybody ever found out from Harry whether it was worse to be the only player ever traded for himself, or to have put up such a poor performance that even the hapless ’62 Mets didn’t see him as some kind of improvement. The world may never know.
So smile, Jo-Jo. With Jose Bautista on your team, it’s only a matter of time before an offensive explosion puts you back in the win column, and out of bloggers' thoughts.