I am sitting here watching the Blue Jays, and suddenly my mind comes up with this question: What is the fewest number of pitches possible in a completed major league baseball game? I thought about it for a while and came up with my answer. Does anyone care to delve into this absurdity? Yes, we have WAY too much time on our hands.
A Completely Ridiculous Baseball Question
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Originally posted by Brad Thomson View PostI am sitting here watching the Blue Jays, and suddenly my mind comes up with this question: What is the fewest number of pitches possible in a completed major league baseball game? I thought about it for a while and came up with my answer. Does anyone care to delve into this absurdity? Yes, we have WAY too much time on our hands.
I would take a stab at this, but i do not know (and am too lazy to look up) the "balk" rule which I think comes into this question, because a batter I believe can get to first base without a pitch being thrown?
It reminded me of a friend of mine who said he was watching a Blue Jays game in the 1980s. A runner got to first .... and was picked off by the pitcher. A second runner got to first base ... and was picked off by the pitcher. And then yes, it happened, a third runner got to first base and was picked off by the pitcher. All 3 outs in the same inning were pickoffs at first base. I don't know if that has been done before or since.

Of course  weather can make a game "completed" as early as 4 1/2 innings, but I'll assume you are referring to a complete 9inning game.
I would say 52 total pitches. The home team (last at bat) wins 10 with a home run. The visiting team makes 24 pitches (3 each inning), plus the one that allows the home run; the home team likewise makes 27 pitches. Since the home team is ahead going into the bottom of the 9th, they do not come to bat, so are only pitched to for 8 innings. It's irrelevant if anyone else gets on base  as long as they are eliminated in a double or triple play, or is picked off a base.
A batter cannot get on base without at least one pitch being made. However  he can score in multiple ways with no pitches thrown.
(I am not considering multiple pitchclock violations, which could eventually force in a run with an automatic ball for exceeding the time limit  without making a pitch).Last edited by Hugh Brodie; Wednesday, 26th April, 2023, 08:04 PM.
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Pargat, you are sort of on to something with the pickoffs. Hugh, your number of pitches is what I first came up with for the full nine inning game, and then 28 pitches for a rainshortened game that only goes 4 1/2 innings. Then I thought a little more.
What about when the pitcher/manager waves the batter to first base without a pitch being thrown (there is no longer a need to throw the four automatics if you wish to intentionally walk the batter, now you simply give him the free bag)? What if every batter in the entire game was waved to first without a pitch being thrown? What if every out was a pickoff or a caught stealing by the pitcher? What if every run scored takes place because of errors on pickoff attempts, balks or steals?
The answer is that a game can be conceived with NO pitches thrown!!
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Originally posted by Brad Thomson View PostPargat, you are sort of on to something with the pickoffs. Hugh, your number of pitches is what I first came up with for the full nine inning game, and then 28 pitches for a rainshortened game that only goes 4 1/2 innings. Then I thought a little more.
What about when the pitcher/manager waves the batter to first base without a pitch being thrown (there is no longer a need to throw the four automatics if you wish to intentionally walk the batter, now you simply give him the free bag)? What if every batter in the entire game was waved to first without a pitch being thrown? What if every out was a pickoff or a caught stealing by the pitcher? What if every run scored takes place because of errors on pickoff attempts, balks or steals?
The answer is that a game can be conceived with NO pitches thrown!!
Wow, fantastic, I didn't know about this new rule that a batter can be waved to first without any pitches thrown. Is that new in 2023?
Now I have a question .... you mentioned every batter being waved to first without a pitch being thrown. When exactly does the manager have to do this? I ask because if the manager has to do it when the batter first takes his place in the batter's box, then there can be no pickoff attempts nor steal attempts nor balks. In other words, if the manager has to wave the batter to first when the batter first sets up in the batter's box, then the visiting team would win INFINITY TO ZERO except the game would never end...... there would be an endless stream of visiting batters circulating the bases .... so such a game would NEVER END .... LOL
EDIT: Now that I think about it, the answer does seem to be 0 pitches.
Let's say every halfinning begins by the manager of the pitching team waving the initial batter to first. Then that runner gets picked off at first. The next batter gets waved to first, gets picked off. The third batter gets waved to first, gets picked off. End of halfinning. No pitches thrown.
Every halfinning is a repeat.
This continues even into the bottom of the ninth.
So bottom of the ninth, initial batter is waved to first. The runner on first steals second on the pickoff attempt. Then steals third on a pickoff attempt. Then steals home on a pickoff attempt. No pitches thrown, home team wins 10.
Of course, if this happened in the bottom of any inning other than the ninth, there would be no need for a bottom of the ninth. But still, zero pitches thrown.
And if the run was scored in the bottom of any other inning other than the ninth, then the minimum number of throws by both pitchers counting throws to for pickoffs would be ... 3 per halfinning ... times 16 halfinnings .... 48 .... plus 3 throws in the halfinning where a runner scored .... so 51 throws by the pitchers.
Last edited by Pargat Perrer; Thursday, 27th April, 2023, 08:32 AM.
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Pargat, the rule used to be the free pass many years ago, then they forced the pitchers to throw four balls, and then a few years back, I am not sure exactly, they changed the rule back to the free pass.
In theory, any normal game could go to infinity in the top of the first inning, there are no time constraints on play that prevent this, you must get three outs.
Now, I submit that the minimum number of throws is also none, since the pitcher could run over and tag out any base runner who strayed too far off base. Thus, a game can be conceived where the ball never even leaves the pitcher's glove.
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27 pitches will get you a complete game. Each pitch leads to either a pop fly or a sharp grounder to the shortstop who throws easily to the first baseman. The overly verbose one is full of crap.Last edited by Fred Henderson; Tuesday, 9th May, 2023, 06:03 PM.
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