Today’s random fact

Until 2003, Brian Kingman had a niche for himself: the last man to lose 20 games in a season. He became a bit of a celebrity, and would get a series of interviews each year (most notably with Jayson Stark) about two-thirds the way through the season as some pitcher somewhere lost his 12th or 13th game. Mike Maroth lost 20 in 2003, ending Kingman of his notoriety, but in one way Kingman can claim a distinction: he is the last man to lose 20 games for a team with a winning record.

Yup, the 1980 A’s, for whom Kingman went 8-20, were 83-79 overall. (They just completely forgot to hit on days he pitched).

Question: Before Kingman, when was the last time a pitcher lost 20 for a team with a winning record?

Answer: Dolf Luque in 1922. He went 13-23 for an 86-68 Reds team. Luque actually had one of the team’s better ERAs, too.

If you go back before WWI, you can find a slew of times a pitcher lost 20 for a team that won most of its games, but those are the only pair to do it in the last 90 years. There have been exactly 100 20-game losers since WWI. Honorable mention: Robin Roberts went 10-22 in 1957 for the 77-77 Phillies.

Suffice it to say, I like Kingman’s odds to hold this claim to fame for quite a while longer.

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