Blue Jays superstud starter Brandon Morrow is headed towards a historic season record that seemingly no one is talking about. No, he's not going to break the record for most strikeouts per season or greatest K/9 in a season (yet). And he isn't going to win any awards by breaking this record. However, if the season ended right now he would hold the Major League record--by a lot--and it is a non-trivial statistic.
Brandon Morrow has thrown 132.2 innings this year in 22 games, but has yet to induce a double play on the ground--or alternately you can say that the defence behind him has yet to turn a twin killing for Morrow. In 2011, batters have had 113 PA against Morrow with a runner on first with less than 2 outs (that includes first and second, men on corners, or bases loaded situations), and yet, zero double plays. In contrast, batters facing Shawn Camp, who has thrown 52.1 innings and has had just 52 PA with a runner on first with less than two outs, have hit in to 8 double plays. Morrow has only induced 20 ground into double plays (GIDP) in his career, while Camp has had 17 since the beginning of 2010.
So how many pitchers have completed a season with over 130 IP and 0 GIDP? Zero. How many have completed a season with over 100 IP and 0 GIDP? None. Since records have been kept on this, no other pitcher has had 0 GIDP with greater than 100 innings pitched in a complete season. Greatest number of innings pitched in a complete season while having 0 GIDP? Phillies’ Russ Springer in 1996 with 96.2. Most players on the list of IP >=80 are relievers: Al Holland, John Wetteland, Keith Foulke, Eric Gagne. So if Morrow's season ended right now (I hope not!) he will hold the Major League Record by 36 innings.
But since I wrote up this FanPost, chances are that I've jinxed Morrow and a batter will ground into a double play against him during his next start. But even then, no pitcher has completed a season with over 123.2 IP and given up exactly 1 GIDP. For pitchers with more than 100 IP, only 9 have completed a season with just 1 GIDP and only 18 with exactly 2 GIDP.
The last time the Jays have turned a double play behind Morrow was during his second last game of the season on August 28 against the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera. That has been a stretch of 23 games and 136.0 innings. Baseball Reference's Play Index (which was used to research almost all the stats in this post) has a handy game streak finder function. It shows that the record for most consecutive games by a starter belongs to Charlie Leibrandt who threw 28 games and at least* 167.1 innings without inducing a GIDP between August 2, 1991 and June 27, 1992. (Leibrandt is also the answer to the trivia question of which Atlanta Brave was tagged with the loss in game 6 of the 1992 World Series. Leibrandt came into the 10th and gave up the game-winning two-run double to Dave Winfield.) Of course, relievers have many more appearances than starters, so the record of most consecutive games by a pitcher without recording a double play is 152, recorded by Troy Percival between September 22, 1996 and June 13, 1999, during which he threw 148.2 innings. So if one just counts starts, Morrow just has to have six more starts with no GIDPs this year to beat Leibrandt's consecutive game streak.
The consecutive inning streak belongs to Don Sutton, who pitched for the Dodgers in 1975. Between the first inning of the game on April 15 and the 9th inning (to end the game!) of August 5, Sutton recorded 189.1 innings without a double play turned behind him. Second on that list is none other than Pride of Chatham, Ontario, Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins. He threw 182.1 consecutive innings without inducing a GIDP (175.0 from his streak of 21 starts plus 2.1 from the game before the streak started, 4.1 from the game the streak ended, and 0.2 from a relief appearance in 1970). So Morrow will need to throw 57.0 more innings (about 8 starts) before allowing a GIDP in order to hold the streak record. Right now, Morrow is about* 11th on the list amongst all pitchers. Interesting note: John Farrell threw at least* 121.1 innings without a double play betwen May 20 and August 27, 1989 for the Indians.
Shamless self promotion: catch me on with Mike Wilner on last night's JaysTalk here! (Scroll to -23:18)
*Note: Baseball Reference's Play Index does not have a function to easily search for innings streaks, just game streaks. Except for Morrow, Sutton, and Jenkins' records, I did not have the time or will to go look at the game logs for the games before and after the listed streak to figure out the exact number of innings the GIDPless streak ran for. The number of approximate innings listed is only from the innings pitched during the games in which the pitcher failed to record a GIDP.