Jan 29, 2010

Stat Anomaly: 20 Losses in a Season, Brian Kingman

When I was a child, my favorite writer in the Philadelphia Inquirer was Jayson Stark (which everynoe no knows of from ESPN). Every Sunday, he would write his baseball week in review column and expand my exposure to the game with such categories as Kinerism of the Week or the now ubiquitous ESPN column title, Rumblings and Grumblings. It was an insight into the game beyond the box score that I was not able to normally receive.

He tended to hone in on certain feats and fumblings and follow these every year. One of these was the quest of Brian Kingman to prevent the next pitcher from obtaining what is a forgettable milestone, 20 losses in a season for a pitcher.

It is a rare feat now because pitchers now do not receive as many decisions or starts as they did before because the number of pitchers in the rotation has increased by one.

Brian Kingman's year of infamy was in 1980. He was 8-20 with a 3.83 ERA (98 ERA+), talk about no run support. A nearly league average pitcher on a pretty decent Bill Martin run Athletic team, he lost 9 quality starts and one relief appearance. He even lost games in which he gave up one run in a complete game, one run in 7.1 innings, and three runs in 8.1 innings.

His claim to fame really came later when he tried to hex whomever came close to his inglorious record, the last post-1979 20 loss obtainer. His hex worked on Omar Daal, Mike Moore, Scott Erickson, Matt Young, Tim Leary, Kirk McCaskill, Bobby Jones, and Jose Deleon (twice). His hex was finally broken by Mike Maroth of the truly terrible 2003 Detroit Tigers.

To document this achievement, I would like to collect one card from the year that documents all 20 loss seasons since the advent of baseball cards. I want the card with the stat line on it. You almost have to be a good enough pitcher to pitch so many games and lose so many times.

Here's my first entry into the list, a 1981 Fleer Brian Kingman.


The Great Aardvark said...


I also was fascinated by Kingman's story. The amazing part for me was as Stark pointed out,that Kingman's "hexing" through the use of a voo doo doll seemed to be working.

Eight or nine times a 19 game loser faced 20 losses
and Kingman's voo-doo hex prevented it from happening.

What were the odds of guys who were something like a combined 52-173 NOT losing that 20th game?!!!

Stark was a great story teller and of course Kingman was a pretty creative guy as well as a much better pitcher than most will fans will ever realize.

The Great Aardvark said...

I grew up in Chattanoga and saw Kingman pitch in the minors before he had elbow surgery and he threw H-A-R-D! He was much, much better than Keough or McCatty ever dreamed about being.

Saw him strike out the side on 9 pitches TWICE!