What Is The Fewest Number of Pitches Thrown In A Baseball Game?
A baseball pitcher has the potential to have the biggest single-player impact on a baseball game. They touch the ball with their hands more often than any other player and impact the hitter and fielder’s outcome, whether that outcome be a walk, hit, out, strikeout, double-play, or triple-play. The fewer pitches a pitcher needs to accomplish the goal of an out, the better. Additionally, throwing fewer pitches benefits a pitcher because it tires their arm out more slowly. But what are the fewest pitches that have been thrown in a baseball game?
The Fewest Number of Pitches by a Single Player
Red Barrett, pitcher for the Boston Braves from 1943-1945, shut out the Cincinnati Reds 2-0 with a record-setting 58 pitches in 1944: an average of only 6.4 pitches per inning. Barrett’s record-setting game only lasted one hour and 15 minutes, setting a record for the shortest baseball game played at night. Nobody has come close to touching Barrett’s record since. The only other game that even challenges Barrett’s record occurred in 1919, when Slim Sallee beat the Brooklyn Robins 3-1 with only 66 pitches.
Note that the two above games happened nearly 80 years ago. It is interesting that nobody has come close to Barrett’s record after 80 years. It does make sense, though. Averaging 6.4 pitches an inning means that Barrett did not even throw straight strikeouts. Players had to have been getting hits but kept getting out.
Technically, Red Barrett does not hold the record for the fewest pitches in a baseball game because Joe Hatten, a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, pitched 51 pitches in a complete game in 1948, also against the Cincinnati Reds. However, Hatten’s famous game only lasted five innings due to rain.
The MLB ended the game officially; thus, Hatten’s game was considered complete. Therefore, he technically holds the record for the fewest pitches in a complete game. Red Barrett still holds the record for the fewest pitches in a nine-inning game. Also, note that Barrett only pitched eight more pitches in four more innings than Hatten did.
The Lowest Pitch Count in a Perfect Game
While Red Barrett pitched a shutout, he did not have a perfect game. The record for the fewest pitches thrown in a perfect game is held by Addie Joss, a pitcher for the Cleveland Guardians in the early 1900s. Joss threw a perfect game in only 74 pitches against the White Sox on October 2, 1908: an average of 8.2 pitches per inning.
Joss must have thrown plenty of strikeouts. However, batters would have still had to get multiple hits for Joss to average 8.2 pitches per inning. Therefore, we must credit the fielders, who did an excellent job of preventing hits by completing outs.