I was watching a baseball game the other day and the announcers were talking about pitch count -- how many pitches the pitcher had thrown so far. This prompted two questions in my head:
1. What is the fewest number of pitches thrown by a pitcher in a complete game?
My friend David found the answer to that one: 58, by Red Barrett in 1944 for the Boston Braves.
David guessed 60 before finding this, which is pretty darn close. I was guessing low 70s.
Figure that if each batter gets out on the first pitch (grounder, fly ball, etc.), then there would be only 27 pitches. If the pitcher averages 3 pitches per batter then you'd be at 81.
2. What is the most pitches thrown in one at-bat?
We don't have an answer to this one. Apparently this statistic was not tracked at all until the late 1980s.
I found a bunch of things on the web but nothing very reliable. The best I found was on the lower half of this page:
This indicates a 20 pitch at-bat in 1998. I read other sites which suggested there was one at-bat with 24 pitches by a Luke Appling, but that did not seem as reliable. There's another reference to Roy Thomas fouling off 22 pitches in one at-bat, bringing the count to 3-2, for a total of at least 26 pitches. Then I saw something else about Enos Slaughter fouling off 26 pitches in one plate appearance. Still not reliable.