Work Horse

Number 1 and Number 2 in the majors in pitches thrown during each regular season, 2009-2013:
2013 Justin Verlander 3,692, James Shields 3,657
2012 Justin Verlander 3,768, James Shields 3,617
2011 Justin Verlander 3,941, Dan Haren 3,774
2010 Dan Haren 3,749, Justin Verlander 3,745
2009 Justin Verlander 3,937, Felix Hernandez 3,633


Most regular season pitches thrown over the five years combined, 2009 through 2013:
1. Justin Verlander 19,083
2. Felix Hernandez 17,565
3. James Shields 17,529
4. C.C. Sabathia 17,138
5. Tim Lincecum 17,059

The size of the gap in pitches thrown between Verlander and Felix, #1 and #2 on the list above, is about 1,500 pitches. To find that size gap between Felix and a pitcher below him on this list, you would have to go down to #17 on the list.

Leave a Reply

22 Comments on "Work Horse"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
RJ
Guest

It’s funny to see Lincecum ahead of Matt Cain on the second list; Cain’s nickname is ‘The Horse’ after all. Cain comes in 10th over the same timeframe, with around 400 fewer pitches despite more innings pitched. I’m guessing Lincecum’s 200 odd extra strikeouts are a factor.

Paul E
Guest

Verlander is 3rd straight, plain old, OPS over the past five years amongst pitchers who have thrown 800 innings:

.573 Kershaw
.624 Felix Hernandez
.628 Verlander

It will be interesting to see if he was off his game last year due to the workload or he possibly recovers this year and goes back to a 140 ERA+ pitcher. But, still one of the “strongest” arms (in the Bob Feller kind of sense) over the last 50 years.

Disco
Guest

A quick google search did not yield the answer to this: what is the record for most pitches thrown in a season?

RJ
Guest

According to the Play Index it’s 4076 by Randy Johnson in 2001 (data only goes back to 2000). Johnson has three of the top four seasons. Johnson, Verlander and Livan Hernandez have eight of the top nine seasons.

Brent
Guest

We can guess, however, that Rapid Robert’s 1946 season when he not only pitched a record 371.1 innings, but also walked 153 batters and struck out 348 had to have an incredible numbers of pitches. Also in the mix would be his 1941 season (343 innings, 194 walks, 260 Ks) as well Nolan Ryan’s 1973 and 1974 seasons (326 and 332.2 innings, 162 and 202 walks, 383 and 367 Ks)

James Smyth
Guest
Using Tango’s Pitch Count Estimator, here are the top ten since 1901 by pitchers with 200 K and 100 BB (all four years you mentioned are here): Pitcher Est. Pitches Vic Willis 1902 6179.6 Bob Feller 1946 5951.49 Bob Feller 1941 5789.9 Bobo Newsom 1938 5756.28 Bill Donovan 1901 5719.1 Nolan Ryan 1974 5679.58 Christy Mathewson 1903 5634.19 Pete Alexander 1911 5623.8 Phil Niekro 1977 5602.49 Nolan Ryan 1973 5478.3 Obviously these are just estimates based on a formula, but it gives a ballpark number.
Richard Chester
Guest

1904 Jack Chesbro with 1720 BF, 239 SO and 88 BB calculates to 6228 pitches.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@4/Disco,

It’s just conjecture, but it’s probably some 19th century super-workhorse, from the days when foul balls didn’t count as strikes, and it took a lot more than four balls for a walk.

For instance:
– Will White/1879 (680 IP)
– Jim McCormick/1880 (657 IP)

Radbourn and Hecker both have more IP in 1884 than McCormick, but by then only six balls were required for a walk, as opposed to nine in 1879.

Jimbo
Guest

Wow, I had never heard of the walk taking more than 4 balls before. I knew that Radbourne season well but had no idea he got 6 balls instead of 4. Always something new to learn.

robbs
Guest

If the Red Sox played the A’s today and it took 9 balls for a walk, would the game get over in 24 hours?

mosc
Guest
It would help the pitcher, not the hitter. Drawing a walk would be virtually impossible. It might actually speed up the game since working the walk would be so rare. You’re not really eating more pitches from the pitcher unless you can foul off forever (most can’t). If in the previous system he’d give up a walk and the next guy would come up he’s basically got another 2 strikes to give away. You know, a lot of these BA and sacrifice focused guys should actually get together and recommend adding balls before a walk. It would make the actual… Read more »
oneblankspace
Guest

Also, back in those days, a foul ball caught on the first bounce was an out.

robbs
Guest

Mosc You could be right but they would have to impose a limit a the number of times a batter could step out of the box and the pitcher steps off the rubber. I played ball through pony leagues and can’t recall calling “time out” as pitcher or hitter, though I may have made a quick “sign of the cross” when checking with the 3rd base coach.

Paul E
Guest

You couldn’t have made more “sign of the cross’ gestures than Tony Taylor, second baseman of the 60’s and 70’s. He led his league every year…

oneblankspace
Guest

In NAIA baseball (small colleges), to intentionally walk a batter all you have to do is announce that you are doing so — you don’t have to pitch. If the balls for a walk were increased, that rule change might be a good idea.

John Autin
Editor
Out of curiosity, I did a quick study based on 2008-12 pitch totals and 2013 performance. First, I formed two groups: Group 1 (high-pitch) — The pitchers who had any single season of 3,400+ pitches in 2008-12. There were 76 such seasons (about 15 per year), by 39 different pitchers. — Those seasons averaged 4.63 WAR and 223 IP. Group 2 — The pitchers who had both (a) NO season of 3,400+ pitches in 2008-12, and (b) any season worth 4.5 WAR or greater. There were 30 such 4.5-WAR seasons, by 26 different pitchers. — Those seasons averaged 5.53 WAR… Read more »
mosc
Guest

Injury prevention has swamped the value proposition. The cost-benefit of inning limits and pitch counts against their proposed savings in injury prevention is off. There’s also a “one size fits all” fallacy with starting pitchers. Different mechanics and body types should be given different limits.

wpDiscuz