Eugenio Velez & The Hitless Wonders

Spoiler alert: this resulted in an out.

Eugenio Velez is a popular topic this week in the wonderful world that is the 2011 Dodgers. With his two hitless at-bats on Wednesday against the Phillies, Velez is now 0-for-21 in his time as a Dodger. I wrote a bit about Velez for SB Nation Los Angeles on Wednesday, and Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts noted that if you include the end of last season with San Francisco, Velez is hitless in his last 30 at-bats.

But for my purposes, I am only concerned the Dodger portion of the futility of Velez. At 0-for-21, Velez trails only J.D. Drew's 0-for-25 among Los Angeles position players for the worst start to a Dodger career. If we expand our horizons to include Brooklyn, we find that the only other Dodger since 1919 with a longer hitless streak to open his Dodger career was Gene Moore, a right fielder who began at least 0-for-22 in 1939 (play-by-play data isn't available for all games in 1939, so I'm not sure when Moore got his one hit when he went 1-for-3 on April 29).

Including pitchers, the list gets a little more fun. Since 1919, Mark Hendrickson had the worst batting start to his Dodger career, with his 0-for-42 covering 2006 and 2007. Here are the worst starts to Dodger careers, otherwise known as the benchmark for Velez to shoot for.

Worst Starts To Dodger Career
Player Year(s) Hitless AB
Mark Hendrickson 2006-2007 42
Hideo Nomo 1995 33
J.D. Drew 2005 25
Bob Miller 1963 25
Leon Cadore* 1919 23
Stan Williams 1958 23
Jon Garland 2009,2011 23
Gene Moore* 1939 22
Harry Shriver* 1922 21
Eugenio Velez 2011 21
Since 1919

In the case of Cadore, Moore, and Shriver, there is no play-by-play data for games so each streak may have been an at-bat or two longer. You may remember Cadore as the man who matched innings with Joe Oeschger of the Boston Braves for 26 innings on May 1, 1920. Cadore, not surprisingly, was 0-for-10 in that game.

Garland has a unique case because (a) he is the Grover Cleveland of this list, with two non-consecutive seasons; and (b) we all saw with our own eyes when he hit a single to right field in Pittsburgh on May 12. That hit even drove in a run, but it was all for naught since the game was rained out after just two frames. That hit, had it counted, would have ended Garland's Dodger hitless streak at 18 at-bats.

That leaves us with Velez, halfway to Mark Hendrickson. Godspeed, Eugenio.

Thanks as always to the great Baseball-Reference.com.

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