In the doldrums of late January as we all wait for Spring Training, it feels like a good time for some fun stats foo. Here goes, focusing on pitching stats.
Wild pitches. This is a stat that, at least on a single season basis strictly follows the development of catching equipment. The most wild pitches by a pitcher in a season since 1900 is Red Ames‘ 30 in 1905. That’s good for only a tie for 105th all-time.
The record since the end of WWII is Tony Cloninger‘s 27 wild ones in 1966, the same year he became the only pitcher in baseball history to hit two grand slams in one game, which by the way was his second two home run game of the season. Go figure.
K/BB rate. I was somewhat surprised to learn that most of the single-season and career leaders in strikeouts to walks ratio are modern pitchers, with exception of those who pitched well back in the 19th century when it took more than four balls to issue a walk. I had remembered that Christy Mathewson and Pete Alexander had some very impressive walk rates, but pitchers in that era didn’t strike out all that many compared to the modern game.
Walks Rate. In fact, the lowest walks rate by any pitcher since 1884 by a wide margin is Carlos Silva‘s 2005 when he walked only nine in 188.1 IP, the 7th best all-time, and the only season in the top 25 after 1884.
HBP. Hitting batters with the pitched ball was also much more common in the 19th Century game than it is today. Since 1910, the most plunkings in a season were the 23 exacted by Howard Emke in 1923, good only for a tie for 53rd all-time. Since the end of WWII, the record is Tom Murphy‘s 21 in 1969, matched by Kerry Wood in 2003.
Pitchers who hit a lot of batters tend to fall into two categories: (1) pitchers with not enough command; and (2) pitchers who hit batters in order to keep them from getting comfortable at the dish. However, the two categories are not mutually exclusive. Wood and Murphy in their record-setting seasons seem to fall into the first category; Emke is more of an open question.
HRs Allowed. In terms of HRs allowed in a season, the records are almost entirely limited to the modern game, i.e., after WWII. The only season in the top 100 before 1946 was Larry Corcoran‘s 1884 when he allowed 35 home runs pitching for the Chicago White Stockings. This season was entirely the product of the ground rules used at the Chicago ballpark for that season only, when drives hit over a 190 foot outfield fence were treated as home runs.
The real pre-WWII record is probably the 32 dingers allowed by the Arkansas Hummingbird Lon Warneke in 1937.