Chris Davis and Top 10 Position-Player Pitching Performances of All-Time

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterMay 7, 2012

Chris Davis and Top 10 Position-Player Pitching Performances of All-Time

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    Chris Davis is not a pitcher. He's a first baseman by trade, and on Sunday, the Baltimore Orioles were using him as their designated hitter.

    Perhaps as punishment for his brutal day at the dish (0-for-8, five strikeouts), Buck Showalter decided to move Davis to the mound in the 16th inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday.

    Davis responded by throwing two shutout innings, and he ultimately earned a win after Adam Jones hit a three-run homer in the 17th to give the Orioles a 9-6 lead.

    Absolutely remarkable. Moments like that just don't come along all that often.

    Naturally, it got us to thinking. What are some other great pitching performances by non-pitchers?

    Here's a list of 10 of the best.

    Note: Baseball-Reference.com has a list of non-pitchers with pitching performances under their belt, because that site loves us and wants us all to be happy.

10. Brent Mayne, 2000

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    Brent Mayne was a solid catcher for 15 seasons, nine of which were spent with the Kansas City Royals. He retired with a career batting average of .263.

    Mayne was playing for the Colorado Rockies in 2000, and he found himself needed on the mound in the 12th inning in a game against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field.

    With the score tied at 6-6, Mayne was able to get Tom Glavine and Walt Weiss out to start the inning, but he ran into trouble after Rafael Furcal singled. A wild pitch moved Furcal to second, and Mayne would walk Andruw Jones to put two runners on for Chipper Jones.

    Mayne got Jones to ground out to get out of the inning, and he would earn a win when Adam Melhuse won the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th.

    He was the first position player to earn a win on the mound since 1968.

9. Chris Davis, 2012

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    Heading into Sunday's game against the Red Sox, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was having a fine season at the dish. He was batting .326 with five home runs and 14 RBI.

    By the time the bottom of the 16th inning rolled around, Davis was 0-for-7. That was when Buck Showalter asked him to hit the mound.

    "I was like 'Sweet! I get to try something different today -- because hitting ain't working,'" Davis said, per the Associated Press. "Basically, that was my first thought."

    Davis' first inning consisted of equal parts good and bad luck. He got the first two outs easily enough, but Wilson Betemit's error with two outs put a runner on first for Mike Aviles. He doubled, but Marlon Byrd was thrown out trying to score.

    Davis took the mound again in the bottom of the 17th inning after the O's had scored three runs for him. He put the first two runners on base via an infield single and a walk, but then struck out Adrian Gonzalez and got Darnell McDonald to bounce into a game-ending double play.

    He is one of eight position players who earned a win in their only pitching appearance.

8. Wilson Valdez, 2011

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    Wilson Valdez will never be confused for a great major league player. He's bounced around a lot in his relatively brief career, never playing in more than 111 games in a single season.

    Valdez has his uses, though, and Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel took advantage of the infielder's versatility during his tenure with the team. Manuel not only used Valdez all over the diamond, but as a pitcher on May 25, 2011 against the Cincinnati Reds.

    The game lasted over six hours, and Valdez took the mound with the score tied 4-4 in the top of the 19th inning. He was due to face the heart of Cincinnati's order: Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce.

    Valdez plunked Rolen, but he set the rest of the side down without allowing any hits, walks or runs. He would ultimately earn the win when Raul Ibanez won the game with a walk-off sacrifice fly.

    Nothing too spectacular, but the hitters Valdez had to face were pretty tough, and he bested them.

7. Cody McKay, 2004

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    Remember Cody McKay?

    You probably don't. He only played in 37 games, two with the Oakland A's in 2002 and 35 with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004.

    McKay got to pitch in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 8, 2004. The Cardinals were down 11-4 when he took the mound in the top of the eighth. He got Chad Moeller, Ben Grieve and Scott Podsednik to all ground out, and he only had to throw eight pitches.

    McKay took the mound again in the top of the ninth. He walked Junior Spivey, but was able to get three outs without any hits or any runs. 

    It's one of the cleanest two-inning stints ever logged by a non-pitcher.

6. Scott Sheldon, 2000

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    Scott Sheldon had a very modest career in the big leagues. He only played in 141 games over five seasons, notching 67 career hits.

    Sheldon's strangest day as a big leaguer came on September 6, 2000, when he was with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers were getting creamed by the Chicago White Sox that day, so Texas manager Johnny Oates decided to have a little fun with Sheldon.

    That day, Oates used Sheldon at all nine positions on the diamond. He found his way to the mound in the bottom of the eighth to face Jeff Liefer with one man out.

    Sheldon struck him out swinging, and was then promptly moved to third base.

    Sheldon is one of two non-pitchers in major league history to strike out the only man he faced, and the other guy didn't do so while also playing all nine positions in a single game.

5. Chili Davis, 1993

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    Chili Davis was a pretty good hitter during his 19-year baseball career. He retired with a career batting average of .274 and 350 home runs.

    In 1993, Davis was playing for the California Angels. He wasn't in the starting lineup on June 17, 1993 for a game against the Texas Rangers, but he was called into action in the eighth inning when the Angels were down 18-1.

    Hey, somebody had to keep the Rangers off the scoreboard, right?

    Davis did just that. He pitched two innings, giving up no hits, no walks and no earned runs. The only time he had a runner on base was after he plunked Jose Conseco, who had homered earlier in the game. 

    He's one of the only position players to ever pitch two innings in his only career relief appearance and the only one to allow no hits, walks or runs.

4. Mark Whiten, 1998

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    Mark Whiten had a decent major league career. In 11 seasons, he hit .259 with 105 career home runs and 78 career stolen bases. He once hit 25 homers, drove in 99 runs and swiped 15 bases in a single season.

    One of Whiten's most significant career accomplishments came on the mound in 1998 when he was with the Cleveland Indians. 

    On July 31 of that year, Whiten was called to pitch against the Oakland A's with the Indians down 11-2. He quickly loaded the bases, but then got to work by striking out Mike Blowers and Miguel Tejada. After a walk forced in a run, Whiten struck out Mike Neill looking to end the inning.

    Whiten therefore struck out the side in his only career relief appearance. He's the only position player to ever do so.

3. George 'High Pockets' Kelly, 1917

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    George "High Pockets" Kelly enjoyed a pretty nice baseball career from 1915-1932. He was a career .297 hitter, and won two NL RBI titles and one NL home run title. He also won two World Series, and was eventually selected for the Hall of Fame by the veterans committee in 1973.

    His selection into the Hall of Fame is viewed as controversial, as it very well should be given Kelly's career accomplishments.

    Perhaps the committee members were swayed by Kelly's pitching in 1917. He was playing for the New York Giants that year, and it was the year he made his one and only pitching appearance. In it, he went five strong innings in which he allowed four hits and no earned runs, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He struck out two and walked only one.

    He only played 11 games for the Giants that year, going hitless in seven at-bats. The Giants decided to waive him after the season. 

    It's unclear whether the Giants ever considered keeping him on as a pitcher.

2. Harry Raymond, 1889

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    Harry Raymond is not exactly a baseball legend. His career lasted just a handful of seasons from 1888-1892, and he hit only .235 with a pair of home runs in those seasons as a third baseman and shortstop. 

    Raymond, however, is the author of one of the greatest starts ever by a non-pitcher.

    Yes, a start. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Raymond started one game in 1889. In it, he went nine innings and gave up just one earned run and ultimately earned a win for his efforts.

    The amazing part is that Raymond allowed just one earned run despite giving up eight hits and 11 walks. His WHIP in his one career start was an A.J. Burnett-esque 2.11.

    Oh, and he also threw two wild pitches.

    Clearly, Raymond was effectively wild that day.

1. Sam Mertes, 1902

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    If Sam Mertes were playing today, we would describe him as a journeyman. In his 10-year career, he patrolled the outfield for five different teams, including the Chicago Orphans (their name was eventually changed to the "Cubs").

    In 1902, Mertes found himself playing for the Chicago White Sox, and one day that season, he found himself on the mound.

    I was unable to find any records that indicate what day Mertes pitched on, nor was I able to determine who his opponent was. Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, what I do know is that Mertes' one and only career pitching performance saw him go eight full innings. He gave up just one earned run and allowed six hits with no walks.

    That same year, Mertes hit .282 with 46 stolen bases.

    They just don't make 'em like they used to.