It takes two to tango...
The Baseball Crank, in talking about Wakefield's near no-hitter this afternoon, made the comment that "these things usually take some help from the opposing team....take a look at that Oakland lineup." He then offers up the Seattle Mariners in Clemens' first 20 strikeout performance as a famous example.
But there was one more blatant that I remembered, and I tracked it down. On September 11, 1999, Eric Milton of the Twins no-hit the CaLAnaheim Angels, and I clearly recall thinking that, with that lineup, it wasn't much of an accomplishment. Of course, it's always an accomplishment when a pitcher throws a no-hitter, but looking at the boxscore reveals an almost unimaginably bad set of "hitters" playing for the Angels.
That was not a good offensive team. A team that scored fewer than 5 runs in 23 of its last 31 games, including 12 games in which they failed to score 3.
But this day was even worse than usual. Mo Vaughn, Jim Edmonds, Tim Salmon - all of the Angels good hitters - had the day off. The 9 "hitters" that Eric Milton faced combined, in September and October of 1999, to hit .183/.277/.306/.583.
1) Jeff Davanon (RF) - 25 year old in his first September call-up, finished with a .259 career batting average.
2) Orlando Palmeiro (CF) - journeyman outfielder, finished with a .274 career batting average.
3) Todd Greene (LF) - .254 career hitter.
4) Troy Glaus(3B) - While he did go on to hit .256 in his career, in 1999 he was a 22 year-old 2nd year player who hit .240 for the year.
5) Steve Decker (DH) - (Who? Right.) A .221 career hitter, playing out the last few weeks of his ML career at age 33.
6) Matt Luke (1B) - Another mediocre in the last weeks of his time in the show, Luke hit .300 in a few at-bats in 1999, but only .242 for his career.
7) Bret Hemphill (C) - hit .143 in his 12 game ML career, all of which came in September of 1999.
8) Trent Durrington (2B) - career .196 hitter in his first season.
9) Andy Sheets (SS) - Down in the 9th spot, we have a 27 year old at his peak. But it's Andy Sheets, who hit .216 in 356 Major League games, so it isn't worth much.
It might have been more surprising if he'd failed to no-hit them...