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Jon Lester on cusp of record for most plate appearances without first base hit

Cubs pitcher Jon Lester averaged only 4.7 plate appearances per season during his nine years in the American League.

The left-hander never collected a hit during that time, and he has yet to contribute a hit during his first two months with the National League Cubs.

So now, with 64 hitless plate appearances on his resume, Lester is just two shy of the record for most plate appearances without a hit to start a career, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Lester is set to pitch (and hit) against the Nationals on Wednesday, meaning he could tie or break the record today.

Padres pitcher Joey Hamilton is the current record-holder after going 66 plate appearances without his first hit from May 24, 1994 through June 3, 1995. Lester began his streak nearly a decade ago on June 16, 2006.

Lester is 0 for 57 with with 34 strikeouts in his career. He’s walked once but never scored. He also hit a sacrifice fly for his first and only career RBI on June 27, 2010. That was the same game he walked — by far the best offensive game of his career (0 for 2, BB, RBI).

Here’s a chart of pitchers with the most plate appearances without their first hit, via the Wall Street Journal:

Of course, the Cubs didn’t sign Lester for his batting prowess. He’s a three-time All-Star and two-time World Series champ thanks to his left arm.

Making an All-Star Game as a Cub would justify signing him. A World Series here would make him a Chicago hero.