SABR Digital Library: 20-Game Losers

Be a winner, and add this new baseball book from the SABR Digital Library to your collection:

20-Game Losers
Edited by Bill Nowlin and Emmet R. Nowlin
Associate Editors: Bob LeMoine, Len Levin, and Carl Riechers
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-943816-58-3, $9.99
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-943816-59-0, $21.95
8.5″ x 11″, 486 pages

You have to be a very good pitcher to lose 20 games in one season. Why would a manager keep putting you out there to pitch, time after time, if you didn’t have a chance to win the game? More than 25 percent of the pitchers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame are pitchers who lost 20 or more games in a single season. One of them even lost 20 or more games for 10 years in a row!

The names in this book are often well-known names. Cy Young lost more than 20 games in three different seasons. Other 20-game losers were Steve Carlton, Walter Johnson, Phil Niekro, Robin Roberts, and Red Ruffing, to name a few.

We’ve included here every one of the 23 Hall of Famers who are 20-game losers, as well as some lesser-known names, over sixty biographies in all. Mike Maroth and Brian Kingman, the two most recent pitchers to lose 20 games, are here. So is Jack Nabors thanks to his 1-20 season. You will find Guy Hecker, whose record of 52-20 constituted the best winning percentage of any 20-game loser. And we feature one woebegone pitching staff which had four 20-game losers in the same season.

By our count 499 major-league pitchers have had seasons in which they lost 20 or more games. Only two of them had ERAs over 6.00. This take on pitching records offers plenty of quirks to explore. 53 members of SABR combined their efforts to create this truly fascinating book.

Contributors include: Niall Adler, Will Anderson, Bob Bailey, Charlie Bevis, Dennis Bingham, Chuck Carey, Alan Cohen, Warren Corbett, Paul E. Doutrich, Don Doxsie, Alex Drude, Jeff English, Charles F. Faber, Jeff Findley, Jan Finkel, David Fleitz, Eric Frost, Charles Hausberg, Paul Hofmann, Tom Hufford, Bill Lamb, Bob LeMoine, Len Levin, Dan Levitt, Mike Lynch, Barb Mantegani, Wayne McElreavy, Brian McKenna, Justin Mckinney, Barry Mednick, Chad Moody, Skip Nipper, Bill Nowlin, Emmet R. Nowlin, Armand Peterson, David Raglin, Chris Rainey, Stephen V. Rice, Carl Riechers, Joel Rippel, C. Paul Rogers III, Stuart Schimler, Steven D. Schmitt, Joe Schuster, David E. Skelton, David C. Southwick, Glen Sparks, Mark S. Sternman, John Struth, Cosme Vivanco, Joe Wancho, Phil Williams, and Gregory H. Wolf.


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About the SABR Digital Library

For more than 40 years, SABR and its members have led the way in publishing the best baseball historical and statistical research. Our publications program is shifting to take advantage of new methods of publishing. Not only will we continue to publish new books like Can He Play? A Look At Baseball Scouts and Their Profession (released in December 2011); Detroit Tigers 1984: What A Start! What A Finish! (December 2012); Sweet ’60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates (April 2013); Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (July 2013); Scandal on the South Side: The 1919 Chicago White Sox (June 2015); The Team That Time Won’t Forget: The 1951 New York Giants (December 2015); Nuclear Powered Baseball/The Simpsons (February 2016), Au jeu/Play Ball: The 50 Greatest Games in the History of the Montreal Expos (April 2016); Cuban Baseball Legends (July 2016), Baseball’s Business: The Winter Meetings: 1901-1957 (December 2016); Dome Sweet Dome: History and Highlights from 35 Years of the Houston Astrodome (February 2017), No-Hitters (May 2017), Puerto Rico and Baseball (June 2017), and Bittersweet Goodbye: The Black Barons, the Grays, and the 1948 Negro League World Series (July 2017), which showcase the best efforts of SABR’s members, chapters and committees, but new technology makes it possible for us to bring out-of-print titles like Run, Rabbit, Run: The Hilarious and Mostly True Tales of Rabbit Maranville (February 2012), Great Hitting Pitchers (March 2012), Nineteenth Century Stars (August 2012); Batting (January 2013); The Fenway Project (September 2013); ’75: The Red Sox Team That Saved Baseball (April 2015), and The 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox: Pandemonium on the Field (June 2017) back again.

Books will be available in digital formats as well as paperbacks produced by “print on demand” (POD).

SABR members will get discounted rates for all Digital Library publications, including many for free. If you’re not a member, click here to join SABR.

Stay tuned throughout the year for new (and old!) titles that we’ll be adding to the SABR Digital Library. To learn more about SABR Publications, contact Publications Editor Cecilia Tan at


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Originally published: September 13, 2017. Last Updated: August 6, 2020.