Thanks to the incongruences of baseball statistics, we have two different numbers that ostensibly tell how many time a batter came to the plate: at-bats and plate appearances. The difference being that at-bats don’t count a number of ways for a plate appearances to end, such as walks and hit-by-pitches.
That means it is theoretically possible to end a game with three plate appearances but no at-bats. Drawing three walks in a game means you could finish with no at-bats despite, you know, batting three times.
More than that, it’s technically possible to end a season, or possibly a career, with plate appearances but no at-bats. Doing that would mean that a player would have an on-base percentage but no batting average. In the case of five players in Yankees’ history, they ended their tenure in the Bronx with a 1.000 OBP but literally no batting average thanks to never technically recording an at-bat with the team. These are the stories of those players.
Let’s start with by far the funniest name on this list. Igawa quite infamously struggled as a pitcher for the Yankees. However, he did technically finish his Yankees’ — and MLB career — with a 1.000 on-base percentage.
His only two times at the plate both came in a June 22, 2007 interleague game at the Giants. He came to the plate with two on and two out in the second inning, and while AL pitchers in interleague tended to bunt, the situation meant that he really couldn’t. Facing off against Matt Cain — a good pitcher who was not terribly far away from his career peak, Igawa did the job, drawing a seven-pitch walk. While the Yankees had already taken the lead earlier in the inning, the walk kept it alive, allowing Melky Cabrera to plate two runners with a single in the very next at-bat.
Two innings later, Igawa came up again with two on and one out, and this time did lay down a bunt. The sacrifice also didn’t go down as an at-bat. Back on the mound, Igawa didn’t go long enough to get the win, but he was actually pretty solid for him, allowing two runs in 4.2 innings in a Yankee victory.
Igawa never quite figured things out on the mound, and didn’t appear in the majors again after 2008, meaning his OBP will be forever enshrined at 1.000.
Barnes is the only position player on this list who finished his entire MLB career with a 1.000 OBP and no career at-bats. The catcher played one game for the Yankees in 1926, coming in for the late innings of a blowout win. He got to bat, drew a walk, and then never played again, ending up lost to the sands of baseball history.
Known as “Chick,” Autry went on to play a couple years in the big leagues after his brief run with the 1924 Yankees. While playing in the Bronx, the catcher appeared in two games, and he got his 1.000 OBP with the franchise the painful way. On August 20th, the Yankees were down 10-2 when they sent in Autry in the eighth inning. In the ninth, they trailed 12-2 when Autry got to step to the plate. Facing off against Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, Autry was hit by a pitch. Later in the inning, he came around to score, with the Yankees losing 12-3.
A month later, he got in for the late innings of another game, but didn’t get a chance to hit that time. Sometime after that, he left the organization, and ended up in Cleveland in 1926. He ended up playing for them and the White Sox from ‘26-30. While he left the Yankees with a 1.000 OBP, his finished his overall MLB career with a .269 one, so the Bombers didn’t miss out on much.
You have to go back to 1903 and the then Highlanders first ever season to find the other position player on this list. Holmes played one game at first base that year, and drew a walk in the late innings in his only plate appearance in a game against the White Sox. That was his only game with New York, but he did reappear on the Cubs the following season. He only played one game there, but went 1-for-3 with a double. His career OBP of .500 is not quite as high as his Yankee one, but is still pretty good, albeit in a miniscule sample size.
Last but not least is Madison, a pitcher who played for the Yankees in 1950. The Yankees sent him in to pitch the late innings of a September game that was seemingly headed to a blowout loss against the Senators. He threw the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, allowing two runs on three hits.
However, as that was happening, the Yankees’ offense was rallying from 10-1 down to get within two runs when the game finished. Helping that was Madison, who drew a two-out walk in the seventh inning. During the frame, the Yankees put up six runs, making a 10-1 score 10-7.
Despite that, Madison was a pitcher first and foremost. The team apparently didn’t see his performance on the mound as enough, and he never appeared for them again. He stayed in the organization for another two years before the Yankees sold him to the St. Louis Browns in 1952. He then played the next two seasons with them and Tigers, putting up a 7.01 ERA on the mound and a .156 OBP at the plate. That walk with the Yankees would be one of just five times in 34 plate appearances that he actually reached base.