Randy Choate and the one-pitch outing

In the seventh inning of last night’s thrilling 13-inning contest, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny tapped veteran southpaw Randy Choate to face Carl Crawford in a relatively high leverage situation (1.53 LI). Choate, now 37 years old, has been the quintessential example of a high leverage LOOGY for as far back as many of us can remember. So facing one batter and then heading to the bench has not been an unusual occurrence in his career.

But Crawford offered at the first pitch Choate gave him, and immediately popped out to third, resulting in the strange and amusing demonstration of a one-pitch outing.

Since 2002, for which FanGraphs has pitch-by-pitch data, Choate ranks second among all regular-season one-pitch appearances:

Recent one-pitch outings leaders

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# Name One-pitch games
1 Javier Lopez
2 Randy Choate 20
3 Trever Miller 19
4 Ray King 17
5 Dennys Reyes 17
6 Joe Beimel 16
7 Brian Shouse 15
8 Scott Schoeneweis 15
9 Chad Bradford 15
10 Joe Thatcher 13

Although, as Christopher Kamka noted in a tweet last night, since 2000 Choate and Lopez are actually tied at 21 one-pitch games. If we combine the FanGraphs 2013 data, with the historical data of Retrosheet, we can see that Chaote and Lopez rank fourth all-time (rather, since 1988) and Jesse Orosco tops them all with 28:

One-pitch outings leaders since 1988

# Name Throws One-pitch outings
1 Jesse Orosco L 28
2 Tony Fossas L 25
3 Mike Stanton L 24
4 Randy Choate L 21
5 Javier Lopez L 21
6 Mike Myers L 23
7 Dan Plesac L 20
8 Ray King L 19
9 Buddy Groom L 19
10 Joe Beimel L 17
11 Dennys Reyes L 17

All left-handers, no surprise.

A disproportionate number of Javier Lopez’s one-pitch appearances come from the 2013 season, in which he had five. Only three pitchers have had more than five one-pitch games in a single season: Joe Beimel and Dennys Reyes in 2008 and Trevor Miller in 2009.

One final note, speaking of Miller: the different sources of data will not always jibe with some of these plate appearances. Miller’s outing on July 8, 2003 is one such example. Baseball-Reference has Miller with an eight-pitch outing that night, but FanGraphs lists this game as one of his one-and-done performances. The majority of the time there are no discrepancies, but on occasion this can interfere with our rankings.

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A further review of both of your links on Miller of the 7/8/03 game shows that Baseball-Reference shows his pitches to be a ball, called strike, ball, ball, called strike, foul, foul, swinging strike for a strikeout.  Makes sense he cannot strike anyone out on 1 pitch.

Fan Graphs has the pitches as ball, called strike, ball, ball, called strike, foul, foul, ball, swinging strike.  However, if this were true, Kapler would have walked instead of striking out.

Something is wrong somewhere.

Ian R.
Ian R.

What about the zero-pitch outing? Exhibit A) Alan Embree on July 7, 2009. Came in, picked a runner off first, earned the win.


Yeah, I was at that game and after it was over I told the guy next to me the winner hadn’t even thrown a pitch.  The guy was so typical of fans today, it didn’t even register.  My next response as I was turning to leave was, “Hello, wall”.

But it was kinda neat and different to see and comprehend.


How often are these guys getting the out, because if they give up a hit, it’s not a real achievement?


Seth Maness, RHP, had two appearances this year in which he got two outs with one pitch (July 27 and June 9).