Posted Under: Stat of the Week
This past Friday Johan Santana made New York Mets history by throwing the team’s first no-hitter in 51 years. Terms like “No-han” were buzzing around the city as Mets fans rejoiced after finally being able to see a pitcher of their own throw a no-no and now the only team in MLB without a no-hitter in its history is the San Diego Padres. Johan had a tough journey returning to the majors after missing the entire 2011 season and is a feel good story for all baseball fans. During his start, Santana threw 134 pitches, had 8 strikeouts and 5 walks. This week we’ll evaluate walks from the perspective of pitchers.
Walks, more formally known as Base on Balls (BBs), can be viewed from both the hitters’ and pitchers’ perspective where hitters want to draw more walks because that means they will have a higher On-Base Percentage and more chances to have their teammates drive them in, while pitchers are on the other end of the spectrum wanting to limit the amount of “free passes” they allow in a game.
In the Strikeouts article, we saw that Nolan Ryan was by far the leader in career strikeouts and his record of 5714 strikeouts will likely not be surpassed anytime soon. Well Ryan also holds the career record for walks with 2795 over 27 seasons which is 967 more walks than Steve Carlton who is second on the career list with 1833 career walks.
Here is the top 5 list of pitchers with most career walks in MLB history:
1. Nolan Ryan, 2795
2. Steve Carlton, 1833
3. Phil Niekro, 1809
4. Early Wynn, 1775
5. Bob Feller, 1764
While these pitchers allowed the most baserunners on by walk, they are also interestingly enough some of the best pitchers in MLB history. All of them are in the Hall of Fame and all have over 300 career wins except for Feller who had 266 wins over 18 seasons and missed 3 years of his prime due to Military Service from 1942-1944 during World War II. While there does not appear to be a direct correlation between amount of walks and being one of the best pitchers in history, but what we do see is that if a pitcher walks a lot of batters throughout the course of the career, it does not mean that pitcher will be ineffective.
To finish up today’s column and in honor of No-han’s no-hitter, here’s a top 3 list of the most walks allowed while still completing a no-hitter and the box score to each game next to it (Note this list is from 1956 to 2008):
1. Jim Maloney, 10 BBs
2. A.J. Burnett, 9 BBs
T-3. Nolan Ryan, 8 BBs
T-3. Dock Ellis, 8 BBs