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In baseball, a complete game (denoted by CG) is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game himself, without the benefit of a relief pitcher. A complete game can be either a win or a loss.

As demonstrated by the charts below, in the late 1800s, it was common for most good pitchers to pitch a complete game almost every start. Pitchers were expected to complete games they started and to be relieved was seen by many as a mark of failure. As the 20th century went on, complete games became less and less common, to the point where a good pitcher typically achieves only 1 or 2 complete games a season today. In the 2008 MLB season just 2.8% of starts were complete games. To put this in perspective, as recently as 15–20 years ago, 10-15 complete games a year by a star pitcher was not unheard of, and in 1980, Oakland Athletics pitcher Rick Langford threw 22 consecutive complete games.

This change has been brought about by strict pitch counts and new pitching philosophies in general. Many have come to believe that the risk of arm injuries becomes far more prevalent after a pitcher has thrown 100 to 120 pitches in a single game. Though Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan once threw well over 200 pitches in a single game (a 1974 contest in which he pitched 13 innings)[citation needed], it is now rare for a manager to allow a pitcher to throw more than 120 pitches in a start.

Given this, sabermetricians generally regard Cy Young's total of 749 complete games as the career baseball record most unlikely to ever be broken.

CC Sabathia threw a total of 10 complete games in the 2008 season for the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers, becoming the first pitcher to reach double digits in a single season since Randy Johnson threw twelve complete games for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1999. The last pitcher to throw as many as 15 complete games in a single season was Curt Schilling, who accomplished that feat for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1998. The last pitcher to throw 20 complete games in a single season was Fernando Valenzuela, who did so for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1986. The last pitcher to throw 25 complete games in a season was Rick Langford, who had 28 for the Oakland Athletics in 1980. The last pitcher to throw 30 complete games in a season was Catfish Hunter, who did so for the New York Yankees in 1975.

In 2006, Aaron Harang of the Cincinnati Reds led the NL with six complete games, and CC Sabathia of the Cleveland Indians led the AL, also with six. In 2007, Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays led the MLB with seven complete games. In 2008, Halladay led the AL with nine complete games, and Sabathia led the NL with seven.

Contents

Career leaders

All pitchers above are right-handed, except for Eddie Plank.

Active career leaders

No active players are in the top 100, all time:


Johnson and Glavine are left-handed.

Single-season leaders

All pitchers right-handed except Matt Kilroy and Toad Ramsey.

Other records

  • Jack Taylor completed 187 consecutive games he started between 1901 and 1906.[1]
  • Leon Cadore and Joe Oeschger share the record for the longest complete game, achieved when they pitched against each other in a 26-inning marathon that ended in a 1-1 tie on May 1, 1920.[2]

References

See also

  • Shutout (Complete game in which the opposing team scores no runs)
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