What is the Lowest Scoring Baseball Game in History?

The lowest score in the modern era of baseball was Allan Travers' 26-hit, 24-run start for the Detroit Tigers. This remarkable performance was only possible due to a strike organized by the regular Tigers players in protest of Ty Cobb's suspension. In this series, Cleveland scored 12 runs and the Blue Jays scored 8, making it the lowest scoring American League Championship Series (ALCS) since it moved to a best-of-seven format. The only series that comes close is the 1990 ALCS, when the Oakland Athletics scored 20 runs against the Red Sox's four.

This is easily the lowest of any series in terms of runs per game. There have been several instances since 1871 when teams have scored in every inning at bat, mostly by local teams who don't have to bat at the end of the ninth. It was initially thought that the Philadelphia A's of 1871 were the same A's that became the Oakland Athletics, but the wisest minds in baseball corrected this assumption. The scores in the boxes reveal striking statistics that are too extravagant for a video game, and many occurred long before that technology emerged.

This was, adjusted to the average number of runs scored per game in the regular season, the ALCS with the lowest score in history. The question of how often this could have occurred throughout the history of baseball first came to my attention some 20 years ago, when I was standing in the parking lot of Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. Starting in 1909 (since Retrosheet's annual data is not interrupted), the percentage of entries in which a race was scored was generally just under 30 percent. This year, the average American League game produced 8.9 runs in total, which is actually in the middle of the list in ALCS years (6.9 in 1972 was the lowest and 10.8 in 1996 is the highest).

You can see that 4.0 races per game (that is, for the entire game, not just for a team) is the lowest on this list. There is a website called Retrosheet which uses an army of volunteers to compile as complete a dataset as possible about professional baseball games. It was historic after the second game when I noticed that the Blue Jays had scored fewer runs than any other previous ALCS competitor and, without a doubt, it all ended that way. I was there with my father, Lary Bump, a sports journalist and member of the American Baseball Research Society. Despite leading the National League in runs scored (79), they finished one spot ahead of the Cubs in sixth place out of eight teams.

The two teams didn't combine to achieve the lowest total of runs scored, but they were close and, considering their regular season racing environment, they historically scored few runs both at an individual team level and at an overall level for baseball. Keep in mind that particularly in recent decades, there has been a decrease in runs scored during eighth and ninth innings due to specialized closers. What I did was divide each team's runs scored per game for each ALCS season by the average number of runs scored per game in that season's American League. The outstanding score of baseball Giants is even more surprising if you take a look at their numbers for that season.

Rosanne Fajardo
Rosanne Fajardo

Lifelong bacon evangelist. Professional pop culture expert. Extreme social media evangelist. Total food guru. Hardcore travel junkie. Extreme reader.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *