Before 1879, when the first crop of power pitchers arrived in the :lnp: and attempted to strangle the nascent first live-ball era, exactly four no-hitters had been thrown.

Three of them were by excellent pitchers.

This is the other guy's story.

Let's talk about José Saenz.

Saenz was 22 when the LNP began, and while he had undistinguished stuff, he had the chance to be a masterful control pitcher.

He was drafted by the with their 9th-round pick and then . . . didn't pitch at all. The Leones released him in August, after the season ended.

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Luckily, a month later, Saenz managed to sign for a little more money with the . . . and got released in December.

January got him a contract from the , and he was named the #98 prospect in the entire league just as the season began.

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In April of 1873, he was the #86 prospect.

In 1874, he was #98. Again.

In 1875, he was #61.

What you need to understand here is that there were no minor leagues. Saenz wasn't playing ball for a Texan League affiliate or in the US.

He was riding pine year after miserable year.

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José Saenz made his LNP pitching debut in 1878, by which point he was no longer a top prospect.

On the one hand, he'd been paid to do nothing for several years. On the other, the now had to hope for a miracle from a pitcher who'd been benched for seven seasons.

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On July 8th against the , they sort of got one.

Saenz struck out four and allowed no hits on 89 pitches—a remarkably efficient outing for a man who averaged 120 pitches per game.

The took advantage of their hot pitcher and slapped together seven runs.

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But there's two much-needed correctives here:

One, the 1878 were one of the few teams that was as bad at hitting as the .

Two, Saenz, at that point, was 10-20 with a 3.08 ERA. He ended the season 12-25, with a 3.61 ERA (74 ERA+), and 50 BB / 60 K.

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In 1879, as the strikeout blossomed into a weapon, Saenz held three opponents (the , the , and the ) to three hits, all in the space of a month.

He won all three games—three of the eight his won in that entire month.

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That year, once his sudden June/July of dominance wore away, Saenz posted the following statline:

1879: 11-25, 3.21 ERA (95 ERA+), 72 BB / 66 K.

It did not improve later.

1880: 10-25, 3.09 ERA (90 ERA+), 52 BB / 69 K.

1881: 11-30 (yikes), 3.60 ERA (85 ERA+), 62 BB / 64 K.

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In 1883, Saenz managed a feat almost no other pitcher, not even the unlucky bastards the shoved onto the mound, had achieved:

- led the league in losses (34);
- posted an ERA above 6.00;
- had a WHIP above 2.00;
- did 155 BB to 56 Ks;
- had a WAR of -4.6.

In the Golden Era of Pitching, that losses/ERA/K/BB ratio would come to be known as a "Reverse Triple Crown."

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In 1884, after not managing to do so for three years, José Saenz limited the to three hits, striking out one.

Unfortunately, he walked five, and otherwise allowed four runs, which meant the won that game, 4-1.

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If you're wondering what a pitcher who manages the rare feat of losing a game in which he only allows three hits looks like, at least in 1884, this is Saenz's current statline:

1-8
7.51 ERA (38 ERA+) (¡¡¡!!!)
2.36 WHIP
52 BB / 11 K (0.21 K/BB)
-1.4 WAR (proj. -6.0)

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And that's the story of José Saenz, who is in the rare company of LNP pitchers who've thrown a no-hitter, the rarer company of LNP starters who've posted negative WAR seasons, and possibly the only pitcher to have thrown a no-hitter and then led the league in losses.

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We know you're wondering what José Saenz, The Worst Pitcher To Throw a No-Hitter, looked like in 1884 for the .

Well:

3-38 (worst in the league);
6.44 ERA (46 ERA+) (worst in the league);
209 BB / 62 SO (tied for worst K/BB in the league)
-5.6 WAR (worst in the league).

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We'd like to announce that we're officially adding José Saenz, The Worst Pitcher To Throw a No-Hitter, to the canon.

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