Complete game

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A complete game is recorded when a starting pitcher finishes a game without leaving for a relief pitcher. While a complete game usually lasts nine innings, its length can differ under the following conditions:

  1. If the pitcher is playing for the visiting team, and it is trailing after taking its turn at bat in the ninth inning, the pitcher is credited with an eight-inning complete game loss. The pitcher is still credited with a complete game if he was removed for a pinch hitter in the top of the ninth inning;
  2. If the pitcher allows the home team to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, he is credited with a complete game of either 8 inning, 8.1 innings or 8.2 innings, depending on the number of outs recorded when the game ended;
  3. If a game is called early due to weather or darkness, or any other factor, the pitcher is credited with a complete game of however many official innings have been played;
  4. If a game goes into extra innings, the pitcher's complete game can be as long as the game lasts; a number of complete games of 15 innings or more have been recorded in Major League Baseball.

In 1984, Milt Wilcox became the first pitcher to spend an entire season in a starting rotation without recording a complete game. While seasons of 20 or more complete games were common until then, it is now very rare for a pitcher to record more than a handful of complete games in a season, due to the increased use of specialized relief pitchers, and increasing reliance on pitch counts to dictate when a pitcher should be removed from the game.

All Time Leaders
Span Player Total Notes
Career Cy Young 750
Season Will White 75 1879
Season (since 1901) Jack Chesbro 48 1904
NPB Career Masaichi Kaneda 365
AAGPBL Season Helen Fox 40

Further Reading[edit]

  • Howard Fendrich (Associated Press): "Complete games, shutouts nearly extinct in today's baseball", USA Today, March 27, 2019. [1]