In baseball, a complete game (denoted by CG) is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game without the benefit of a relief pitcher.
In the early 20th century, it was common for most good Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers to pitch a complete game almost every start. Pitchers were expected to complete games they started. Over the course of the 20th century, complete games became less common, to the point where a good modern pitcher typically achieves only 1 or 2 complete games per season. (In the 2009 MLB season, 3.1% of starts were complete games) To put this in perspective, as recently as the 1980s, 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. Years earlier, Robin Roberts of the Philadelphia Phillies threw 28 consecutive complete games, spanning the 1952 and 1953 seasons.
This change has been brought about by strict adherence to pitch counts as a basis for removing a pitcher, even though he may appear to be pitching well, 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), it is now rare for a manager to allow a pitcher to throw more than 120 pitches in a start. Former pitcher Carl Erskine noted the increase in ex-pitchers on coaching staffs since the 1950s, whom he considered better evaluators of a pitchers' ability to pitch late into games. Given this, sabermetricians generally regard Cy Young's total of 749 complete games as the career baseball record most unlikely to ever be broken. Further supporting the belief is that only three pitchers (Young, Ryan, and Don Sutton) even made at least 749 starts in their careers.
James Shields threw a total of 11 complete games in the 2011 season for the Tampa Bay Rays, becoming the first pitcher to reach double digits in a single season since CC Sabathia threw 10 complete games for the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers in 2008. 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.
Famous quotes containing the words complete and/or game:
“Tis very certain that each man carries in his eye the exact indication of his rank in the immense scale of men, and we are always learning to read it. A complete man should need no auxiliaries to his personal presence.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“There are no accidents, only nature throwing her weight around. Even the bomb merely releases energy that nature has put there. Nuclear war would be just a spark in the grandeur of space. Nor can radiation alter nature: she will absorb it all. After the bomb, nature will pick up the cards we have spilled, shuffle them, and begin her game again.”
—Camille Paglia (b. 1947)