July 11, 1948: Reds lefty Ken Raffensberger one-hits the St. Louis Cardinals in a game played in 1 hour and 44 minutes as the Reds win 1-0. It was the second time in less than two months that Raffensberger had one-hit the Cardinals. He previously one-hit them in the second game of a doubleheader sweep in a 7-0 victory on May 31st.
Raffensberger is probably the best unknown Reds pitcher since World War II. He was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies along with reserve catcher Hugh Poland for catcher Al Lakeman in 1947 in a steal of a deal for the Reds. Poland only batted 22 times for the Reds before being released, but Lakeman hit .160 in 87 games for the Phillies before moving on to even lesser times while Raffensberger became the anchor of the Reds pitching staff.
In six full seasons and two partial seasons with the Reds, Raffensberger went 89-99 with a 3.64 ERA. He played for Reds’ teams that didn’t pass .450 in won-loss percentage until his final season with the Redlegs when he went 0-2 in 1954 before being released. Three times he received MVP votes (there was no Cy Young Award) for teams that were near the basement in the league. In 1949, Raffensberger was 18-17 with a 3.39 ERA and five shut outs, and finished seventh among pitchers for MVP (19th overall). In 1951, Raffensberger was 16-17 with a 3.44 ERA, five shutouts, and led the majors with a WHIP of 1.086. He finished 18th in MVP voting, seventh again amongst pitchers. Finishing right behind Raffensberger was Reds’ star Ewell Blackwell 16-15, 3.44 ERA) and every pitcher above them had won 20 or more games. In 1952, Raffensberger was 17-13 with a 2.81 ERA and a major league leading six shutouts. He finished 23rd in MVP voting, again seventh among pitchers.
Raffensberger was one of those pitchers who pitched well enough to rack up big seasonal loss totals. He went 13-20 for the 1944 Phillies, 14-19 with the 1950 Reds, and 16-17 for the 1951 Reds. He led the majors in losses in both 1944 and 1950. He suffered double digit loss seasons in 1944, 1946-53, but threw 31 shutouts and was often difficult to hit as he pitched four one-hitters and the majors leading WHIP in 1951. He had excellent control with a lifetime ratio of 1.9 walks per nine innings. His career record is 119-154 with a 3.60 ERA which translates to an ERA+ of 110. Raffensberger deserved better. He hurled two additional one-hit shut outs in addition to the two one-hitters against the Cardinals in 1947. He one-hit the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949 and the Chicago Cubs in 1951. Raffensberger is fourth all-time in Reds shutouts.