The Art of Pitching: Picassos? MLB Pitching Records That May Never Be Broken
Wednesday June 6th, 2012
Robert Whitmer: How hard is it really to throw a baseball 60’6” (the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate for my new to baseball readers)? Not very hard at all, right? Now what about throwing that baseball 60’6” at 90+ mph? A little harder, don’t you think? Now take that 90+ mph fastball and make it move side to side or up and down and you increase your difficulty exponentially. What about slowing that down to 75 mph and having it start 8 inches out of the strike zone and at the last second have it drop into the top corner of the zone for strike three? Good luck with that one. You have your sinkerballs that are so heavily thrown that 90% of major league hitters will beat that pitch into the ground for an out every time they are lucky enough to make contact. The highest level of baseball that I played personally was at the high school level. I faced some pitchers that I thought were for sure going to make it in the college ranks and possibly minor league systems. None that I know of ever did, but man were they nasty. Pitchers are artists. The good ones, and I don’t mean just major leaguers, I’m talking the really great ones. The once in a lifetime hurlers, know how to paint the beautiful picture that is a pitching appearance.
My intention of this article is to show the Picassos of the profession by giving you five of the most amazingly good pitching records that I think will never be broken, and then the five pitching records that were painted by kindergartners that nobody really wants to break. Oh wait…. You want my opinion on these records too!? Ok. Since you asked so nicely I suppose that I can indulge you. I will start with the records nobody wants to break, and finish up with the ones that pitchers want to break, but probably never will. So buckle up and make sure you keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times cause here we gooooo…..
- Number of birds killed by a pitch: 1 – Randy Johnson
This isn’t an official record, but it is crazy! Have you seen the YouTube video for this? Here is the link… The first time I saw this I was speechless. The only question that I have…. Did the umpire call it a ball or a strike?
- Wild pitches in a career: 274 – Mickey Welch
Wild thing. Dah nuh nuh nuh nuh. I think I love you. 274 wild pitches is a bunch. That’s maybe 1 per start I would guess. I wonder how many runs scored off this guy from those 274 pitches that went wild. Maybe this was when they still allowed the spitball to be thrown. Super glue anyone?
- Career Walks allowed: 2795 – Nolan Ryan
I understand that this guy pitched a lot of innings and struck out a lot of batters (foreshadowing), but this was a shocker to me. Maybe he liked to walk a lot of batters so that it would make his infielders look good when the turned a double play.
- Most home runs allowed in a season: 50 – Bert Blyleven
Isn’t this guy a hall of famer? He played from 1970 – 1992 so it wasn’t even in the steroid era. He gave up his 50 home runs in 1986. In his defense though, 1986 was one of the worst seasons of his career. Imagine how annoying it would be if Chris Berman did the call for every one of those 50 home runs. How fast can I get to the padded room?
- Most errors by a pitcher in a career: 64 – Hippo Vaughn
I don’t know who this guy is, but he has one of the coolest first names in baseball history. If there is a top 10 list of the coolest names in baseball, this guy should make it. HOWEVER, this guy must have called in sick every spring training when the pitchers practiced coming off the mound, fielding the ball, and making the throw to first base. It’s a shame that Ozzie Guillen wasn’t his manager cause that would have made for some great Ozzie quotes.
So there are the bad. I promise you that I, in no way, made up any of those stats. Not even the bird one. Now that we have finished that, let’s move on to the good. I will show you five records, in no particular order, that I don’t think will ever be broken. This will be career, single season, single game records. Prepare to be amazed.
- Career complete games: 749 – Cy Young
My last top ten list we discussed the absurdity of the records. This is one of those that can be put in the category of “never going to happen.” Justin Verlander won 24 games last year. He would have to repeat that feat EVERY YEAR FOR 31.2 YEARS!!! *drops the microphone*
- Career Strike outs: 5714 – Nolan Ryan
- My explanation for this is going to one word then two sentences. Dominance. The dude just tore people up. The closest active leader is Javier Vasquez with 2536.
- Career 1-hitters: 12 - Nolan Ryan and Bob Feller
Man, Nolan Ryan is showing up in this article a lot. 12 career 1-hitters is just amazing. I wonder if the strikeouts have to do anything with the 1-hitters. I think they just might. Bob Feller has 2581 and ranks 26th on the list of k’s in a career. Both of these men were dominant.
- Fewest pitches in a 9-inning game that resulted in a shutout: 58 – Red Barrett
I had to pick my mouth up off my computer desk when I saw this one. That is an average of 6.4 pitches per inning. I even had to tell my wife about it. He only threw 31 pitches more than the required minimum of 27 to complete a game. I don’t think we will ever see this again for as long as the sport of baseball is played. In this game he gave up two hits but didn’t strike anyone out.
- Most strikeouts in one inning: 4 – multiple pitchers
To accomplish this feat you have to strikeout the side AND your catcher has to drop a third strike and not make the throw to first in time to get the runner. In order to beat this feat you have to strikeout the side and your catcher has to drop 2 third strikes and not beat the runner to first. Does this equal bad pitching or bad catching?
So there we are. The good and the bad. The Picassos and your amateurs. Pitching is an art. Whether you are good at it or not is another story. Don’t get me wrong. Just because there are pitchers that end up having some of the most embarrassing records in baseball history doesn’t necessarily make them a bad pitcher. Someone has to have the record right? If it’s not them, it is just going to be someone else. Hopefully you had some fun with me. Some of the above records I knew who led in the stat, others I had no clue even existed. So again, just keep putting those marks on a clipboard you college intern for major league baseball. You know who you are. You make this article happen. I love watching a game in person or on TV and try to pick you out sitting behind home plate in the second or third row. I read the stats that you, or your predecessor have counted and I am reminded of one thing that will haunt me with every top ten article that I write….. that son of a gun got a better seat to that game than I did!
***Today’s feature was prepared by Robert Whitmer, MLB reports Baseball Writer. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Robert on Twitter (@rwhitmer)***
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Posted on June 6, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged bert blyleven, bob feller, complete games, cy young, hippo vaughn, mickey welch, mlb, mlb records, nolan ryan, pitching, randy johnson, records, strikeouts. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.