PDA

View Full Version : How fast did Johnson and Feller throw



steelcurtain76
04-02-2007, 08:46 PM
Does anyone know this. I know for Johnson, it might be impossible to determine, but I do know that there were some...I think Frank Crossetti...that said that Johnson thew harder than Ryan.

Honus Wagner Rules
04-02-2007, 11:43 PM
Does anyone know this. I know for Johnson, it might be impossible to determine, but I do know that there were some...I think Frank Crossetti...that said that Johnson thew harder than Ryan.

I can't seriously take one man's opinion about two power pitchers separated by so much time. Supposedly, Johnson was clocked at 99.7 mph with some sort of pendulum device. But I can't find any first hand or detailed accounts on this. Bob Feller was timed by the US Army at 98.6 mph. But this was not in a game. Also, Feller has claimed that he was once clocked at 107.9 mph. That sounds like a bit of embellishment on Feller's part.

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/fastest-pitcher-in-baseball.shtml

DTF955
04-03-2007, 04:55 AM
I can't seriously take one man's opinion about two power pitchers separated by so much time. Supposedly, Johnson was clocked at 99.7 mph with some sort of pendulum device. But I can't find any first hand or detailed accounts on this. Bob Feller was timed by the US Army at 98.6 mph. But this was not in a game. Also, Feller has claimed that he was once clocked at 107.9 mph. That sounds like a bit of embellishment on Feller's part.

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/fastest-pitcher-in-baseball.shtml

I can see him being clocked with some very primitive device at 107.9; we don't know how accurate radar guns were or even if they had them. They might have, though; radar was developed in a very crude way by WW2.

I suspect the fastest hurlers - Johnson, Feller, Grove, Ryan - all threw about 100 MPH tops. Didn't someone get recorded at 103 once? I can see one of them getting up there on one pitch, but not consistently. And, I think it'd be Johnson if any of them, because in the dead ball era, you could relax for a few innings and didn't have to throw your hardest, except in a tough spot.

But, that's just one person's opinion. I think it would be very hard to tell across eras.

Bench 5
04-03-2007, 07:51 AM
I did a lot of research on this a couple years ago. I posted a summary in this Rucker thread:
http://baseball-fever.com/showpost.php?p=460898&postcount=54

I have never been able to find the source for Johnson's time of 99.7 MPH. He was timed at 83 MPH using a ballistic pendulum. This represented the velocity of the ball between 60-75 feet from where he threw the ball. It's difficult to judge the accuracy of these machines.

I am aware of Feller being timed by three different methods:


"Joe Chronograph" machine devised by the US Army. Feller was timed at 98.6.
Bob versus the motorcycle - Feller threw a ball while a motorcycle sped by him going 88-90 MPH. I've seen footage of this stunt. In slo-motion it shows that Feller threw the ball after the motorcycle passed him. It also shows that Feller's throw beat the motorcycle by several feet. Based upon calculations of how many feet Feller beat the motorcycle, someone calculated that his throw was going between 104-108 MPH.
He threw into the machine that was used to time Atley Donald in 1939. Feller was only timed in the 80's which caused many to doubt the veracity of the machine. Donald was timed at 94.7 and held the unofficial record up until Feller threw 98.6 in 1946.

KCGHOST
04-03-2007, 08:57 AM
For Johnson to strike out as many guys as he did in the Dead Ball Era is a testament to how hard he threw. He must have been a monster.

ChrisLDuncan
04-03-2007, 09:42 AM
I can see him being clocked with some very primitive device at 107.9; we don't know how accurate radar guns were or even if they had them. They might have, though; radar was developed in a very crude way by WW2.

I suspect the fastest hurlers - Johnson, Feller, Grove, Ryan - all threw about 100 MPH tops. Didn't someone get recorded at 103 once? I can see one of them getting up there on one pitch, but not consistently. And, I think it'd be Johnson if any of them, because in the dead ball era, you could relax for a few innings and didn't have to throw your hardest, except in a tough spot.

But, that's just one person's opinion. I think it would be very hard to tell across eras.

Zumaya was clocked around 103, Krazy Kyle ratchets it up there every once in a while...does anyone know how fast Rocket has been clocked at?

AstrosFan
04-03-2007, 11:07 AM
Dunno about Rocket, but Mark Wohlers hit 103 at least once.

The Bill James Handbook 2006 had Daniel Cabrera as the fastest pitcher in baseball, topping 95 and 100 MPH more consistently than any other pitcher.

Honus Wagner Rules
04-03-2007, 11:10 AM
And don't forget Sidd Finch.

Iron Jaw
04-03-2007, 03:33 PM
For Johnson to strike out as many guys as he did in the Dead Ball Era is a testament to how hard he threw. He must have been a monster.

Yeah. Guys weren't swinging for the fences in those days. A bunch of slap-hitters trying to move baserunners around. Not too many guys striking out 100+ times a season anyway.

Plus, Walter could pitch with a dirty, gooey ball and it didn't matter. He must have been one tough son of a gun to hit.

Among the fastest I've seen at the ballpark was J.R. Richard. I remember J.R. playing in the minors for the Denver Bears. The man had some stuff, that's for sure (he didn't have great control at the time).

Sudden Sam McDowell. That guy had an explosive fastball.

catcher24
04-03-2007, 05:34 PM
I recently read the biography of Johnson written by his grandson. Many, many references in there to comments made by players of that era as to how fast Johnson was. And it did mention the time they tried to clock him, but I can't put my finger on the section right now. Taking into consideration the fact it was the deadball era, guys were simply trying to make contact, and Johnson was a one pitch pitcher, so everyone knew what was coming, he had to be MIGHTY fast to have the success he did and strike out the number of batters he did. Consider that no other pitcher even approached the career strikeout record until the 60's and 70's and it's even more impressive.

digglahhh
04-04-2007, 01:38 PM
These guys played back in the day, so they must have thrown, what 65-70, tops?

Anybody who can bench press their own body weight would have been a historically great player fifty years ago. After all, human physiology changes by the day...:dismay: :dismay:

catcher24
04-04-2007, 02:36 PM
so they must have thrown, what 65-70, tops?

Actually, Johnson was a very large man. Both Johnson and Feller were raised on farms, and farm work (for those who have done it), especially "back in the day", was hard, physically demanding work - probably more effective at building strength than lifting weights. Also, basing an estimate of how fast someone can throw based on size would have Ron Guidry throwing about 60 or 70 - and if you say he did that, you lose all believability. And Billy Wagner throws pretty hard too for small man. Sorry, just don't buy your argument at all.

TonyK
04-04-2007, 04:50 PM
These guys played back in the day, so they must have thrown, what 65-70, tops?

Anybody who can bench press their own body weight would have been a historically great player fifty years ago. After all, human physiology changes by the day...:dismay: :dismay:

Jose Mendez was only 5' 8", 155 lbs yet many MLers who faced him thought he was just as fast as Johnson and Mathewson.

wickedcurve093
04-04-2007, 04:51 PM
Why don't we ask the bird Johnson hit? :laugh

Honus Wagner Rules
04-04-2007, 04:57 PM
Jose Mendez was only 5' 8", 155 lbs yet many MLers who faced him thought he was just as fast as Johnson and Mathewson.
The minor league legend Steve Dalkowski was only 5'10" about 170 lbs and some consider him the fastest pitcher ever.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Dalkowski

yanks0714
04-04-2007, 07:16 PM
For Johnson to strike out as many guys as he did in the Dead Ball Era is a testament to how hard he threw. He must have been a monster.

Bingo! Right on the money.

Batters in those days, when facing the Big Train:

* Knew they were going to get a fast ball. He didn't develop a curve until later in his career.
* Crowded the plate because they knew Walter wouldn't throw at them intentionally.
* Choked up on the bat just trying to make contact, not taking swing from the a$$ type swings.

And Walter still amassed all those K's!!! Incredible!!!

Feller threw hard but....he had a fair number of hitters taking the big swings that Walter didn't. Rapid Robert is known for his speed but had a very fine curve as well. Plus, Feller had a rep for wildness, scaring the hitters from digging in and crowding the plate.

Based on the above I cannot begin to believe that Feller threw harder than Johnson.

Honus Wagner Rules
04-04-2007, 11:41 PM
Bingo! Right on the money.

Batters in those days, when facing the Big Train:

* Knew they were going to get a fast ball. He didn't develop a curve until later in his career.
* Crowded the plate because they knew Walter wouldn't throw at them intentionally.
* Choked up on the bat just trying to make contact, not taking swing from the a$$ type swings.

And Walter still amassed all those K's!!! Incredible!!!

Feller threw hard but....he had a fair number of hitters taking the big swings that Walter didn't. Rapid Robert is known for his speed but had a very fine curve as well. Plus, Feller had a rep for wildness, scaring the hitters from digging in and crowding the plate.

Based on the above I cannot begin to believe that Feller threw harder than Johnson.

If you look carefully, Johnson wasn't a huge strikeout pitcher his entire career. He did have two 300 strikeout seasons in 1910 and 1912 and everyone seems to focus on those seasons giving Johnson the reputation of being a consistent 300 K pitcher. Though those two 300 K seasons are impressive let's take a deeper look at those seasons.

1910: 313 K/370 IP
1912: 303 K/369 IP


He pitched a lot of innings to get those 300 strikeouts.

Here are all of Johnson's 200 K seasons:

313-1910
303-1912
243-1913
228-1916
225-1914
207-1911
203-1915

They all came in consecutive seasons 1910-1916.

Also, some of the other top pitchers were striking out hitters as well.

1910
Johnson-WSH 313
Walsh-CHW 258
Coombs-PHA 224
Ford-NYY 209


1911
Walsh-CHW 255
Wood-BOS 231
Johnson-WSH 207
Coombs-PHA 185

1912
Johnson-WSH 303
Wood-BOS 258
Walsh-CHW 254
Gregg-CLE 184

1913
Johnson-WSH 243
Falkenberg-CLE 166
Gregg-CLE 166
Scott-CHW 158

1914
Johnson-WSH 225
Mitchell-CLE 179
Leonard-BOS 176
Shaw-WSH 164

1915
Johnson-WSH 203
Faber-CHW 182
Wyckoff-PHA 157
Coveleski-DET 150
Mitchell-CLE 149

1916
Johnson-WSH 228
Myers-PHA 182
Ruth-BOS 170
Bush-PHA 157
Harper-WSH 149

After 1916, Johnson never had another 200 K season. But there seems to be an overall downward trend in strikouts by the top pitchers. Johnson did win six more strikout titles after 1916 but with rather modest totals, as low as 130 in 1923. He even finished second in Ks in 1925 with 108 Ks. I'm very curious to understand why there was a drop in Ks in the 1920s

catbox_9
04-05-2007, 12:39 AM
Zumaya was clocked around 103, Krazy Kyle ratchets it up there every once in a while...does anyone know how fast Rocket has been clocked at?

Zumaya has been clocked faster than that. On 7/4 I was at the game in Oakland and their stadium radar gun hit 102 a bunch of times and 104 once. Also, in the second to last ST game of the year, the gun in Lakeland had him at 107. He left to a standing ovation a few pitches later. 107 is almost certainly wrong but in all the years I've followed baseball, I think Zumaya may be the hardest thrower ever....he was clocked at 100+ 233(ish) times last year, 2nd place was more than 200 less than that.

His teammate Verlander isn't bad either as he hit 100 a bunch of times (somewhere near the top 5).

digglahhh
04-05-2007, 07:35 AM
Actually, Johnson was a very large man. Both Johnson and Feller were raised on farms, and farm work (for those who have done it), especially "back in the day", was hard, physically demanding work - probably more effective at building strength than lifting weights. Also, basing an estimate of how fast someone can throw based on size would have Ron Guidry throwing about 60 or 70 - and if you say he did that, you lose all believability. And Billy Wagner throws pretty hard too for small man. Sorry, just don't buy your argument at all.

Don't let it be said that people can't detect sarcasm on the internet...:eek:

digglahhh
04-05-2007, 07:37 AM
....he was clocked at 100+ 233(ish) times last year, 2nd place was more than 200 less than that.

His teammate Verlander isn't bad either as he hit 100 a bunch of times (somewhere near the top 5).

By who's clock? The one at the stadium, or in the little box on Fox?

Those guns are just for fodder. According to the Fox guns, even Wakefield probably gets it up into the nineties.

catcher24
04-05-2007, 06:38 PM
Deleted message

catcher24
04-05-2007, 06:39 PM
Those guns are just for fodder. According to the Fox guns, even Wakefield probably gets it up into the nineties.

Hard to tell with your posts. Is this your true viewpoint, or some more alleged sarcasm? :confused: Wouldn't want you making me appear foolish again, after all.

yanks0714
04-05-2007, 08:26 PM
If you look carefully, Johnson wasn't a huge strikeout pitcher his entire career. He did have two 300 strikeout seasons in 1910 and 1912 and everyone seems to focus on those seasons giving Johnson the reputation of being a consistent 300 K pitcher. Though those two 300 K seasons are impressive let's take a deeper look at those seasons.

1910: 313 K/370 IP
1912: 303 K/369 IP


He pitched a lot of innings to get those 300 strikeouts.

Here are all of Johnson's 200 K seasons:

313-1910
303-1912
243-1913
228-1916
225-1914
207-1911
203-1915

They all came in consecutive seasons 1910-1916.

Also, some of the other top pitchers were striking out hitters as well.

1910
Johnson-WSH 313
Walsh-CHW 258
Coombs-PHA 224
Ford-NYY 209


1911
Walsh-CHW 255
Wood-BOS 231
Johnson-WSH 207
Coombs-PHA 185

1912
Johnson-WSH 303
Wood-BOS 258
Walsh-CHW 254
Gregg-CLE 184

1913
Johnson-WSH 243
Falkenberg-CLE 166
Gregg-CLE 166
Scott-CHW 158

1914
Johnson-WSH 225
Mitchell-CLE 179
Leonard-BOS 176
Shaw-WSH 164

1915
Johnson-WSH 203
Faber-CHW 182
Wyckoff-PHA 157
Coveleski-DET 150
Mitchell-CLE 149

1916
Johnson-WSH 228
Myers-PHA 182
Ruth-BOS 170
Bush-PHA 157
Harper-WSH 149

After 1916, Johnson never had another 200 K season. But there seems to be an overall downward trend in strikouts by the top pitchers. Johnson did win six more strikout titles after 1916 but with rather modest totals, as low as 130 in 1923. He even finished second in Ks in 1925 with 108 Ks. I'm very curious to understand why there was a drop in Ks in the 1920s

Yeah, he pitched a lot of innings to get those K's. But look at his league rank in K/9 innings....pretty impressive. Consistently among the league leaders even when he didn't lead. 12 years overall he led the AL in K's. K's did drop significantly after 1916 but it was Johnson still setting the pace.

When I look at his rank in total K's per season, his K/9 per season, and his BB/K Ratio I'm even more impressed when you consider the type hitter he was facing that being a contact hitter, the batter crowding the plate, and basically being a 1 pitch pitcher, a fast ball. Throw in the historical anecdotes about how hard he threw, I can't believe Feller threw harder.

BigStellyPADRES4LIFE
04-06-2007, 01:57 AM
My belief on this one.... is probably about as fast as most of the fastest modern pitchers today. Unlike other sports top pitch speed in baseball has pretty much been set at 100MPH+ but not above 105, Nolan Ryan threw 100.9 and that was almost 35 years ago... look at other sports where the 100 meter dash nowadays has guys getting dead last in their heat that would have set records 40-50 years ago.

Honus Wagner Rules
04-06-2007, 08:58 AM
My belief on this one.... is probably about as fast as most of the fastest modern pitchers today. Unlike other sports top pitch speed in baseball has pretty much been set at 100MPH+ but not above 105, Nolan Ryan threw 100.9 and that was almost 35 years ago... look at other sports where the 100 meter dash nowadays has guys getting dead last in their heat that would have set records 40-50 years ago.

There is a difference. All the claims of 98-101+ mph for the older pitchers like Feller and Johnson were never in games. Zumaya, Ryan, Wohlers, etc had their "pitches" clocked over 100+ mph. Throwing a ball at 100 mph is not the same as pitching at 100 mph. Also, todays pitchers can throw hard on a more consistent basis.

Pitching a fastball at 100+ mph is not a function of arm strength but a function of the amount of torque of the arm. Randy Johnson throws extremely hard and he has toothpick arms.

Honus Wagner Rules
04-06-2007, 09:13 AM
Yeah, he pitched a lot of innings to get those K's. But look at his league rank in K/9 innings....pretty impressive. Consistently among the league leaders even when he didn't lead. 12 years overall he led the AL in K's. K's did drop significantly after 1916 but it was Johnson still setting the pace.
Yes, Johnson was the best strikeout pitcher of his time. But that doesn't mean he necesarily compares with the modern strikout pitcher.



When I look at his rank in total K's per season, his K/9 per season, and his BB/K Ratio I'm even more impressed when you consider the type hitter he was facing that being a contact hitter, the batter crowding the plate, and basically being a 1 pitch pitcher, a fast ball. Throw in the historical anecdotes about how hard he threw, I can't believe Feller threw harder.
Here is film of Johnson's pitching motion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHV0-Zp3eTA

I find it interesting that he had no follow through with his arm or legs when he released the ball.

Here's Bob Feller's pitching motion. A much more modern approach with a complete followthrough with his arms and legs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ifb6dT-tso0

I'm not sure how Johnson could through harder than Feller with his pitching motion. I realize that Johnson through much harder than his comtemporaries and this impressived the opposing hitters more (shoot, even Cobb was impressed) who had never seen such a hard thrower before.

BigStellyPADRES4LIFE
04-06-2007, 11:22 AM
There is a difference. All the claims of 98-101+ mph for the older pitchers like Feller and Johnson were never in games. Zumaya, Ryan, Wohlers, etc had their "pitches" clocked over 100+ mph. Throwing a ball at 100 mph is not the same as pitching at 100 mph. Also, todays pitchers can throw hard on a more consistent basis.

Pitching a fastball at 100+ mph is not a finction of arm srenth but a function of the amount of torque of the arm. Randy Johnson throughs extremely hard as he has toothpick arms.


Very good points i hadnt thought about it from that perspective... but torque is a function of strength, Force X Radius, so in Randy Johnson's case yes its a function of the arm length, and speed of the arm is not really a function of strength alot of the time.

SHOELESSJOE3
04-06-2007, 01:20 PM
Yes, Johnson was the best strikeout pitcher of his time. But that doesn't mean he necesarily compares with the modern strikout pitcher.




All I can say is 3508 strikeouts is a high number considering he was facing all those contact hitters. Different game in Walter's time, most batters going to the plate with one thought in mind, make contact. There was almost a shame to striking out.

He did pitch a great number of innings and his strikeouts per 9 innings pitched may be bettered by many modern pitchers but than strikeouts and strike out ratios in Walter's time were way lower, per batter, per league.


Put it this way, turn it around would Ryan or Johnson have the career strikeouts if not for all the free swingers in todays game and not that long ago. I'm sure if we looked at some modern day contact hitters, Boggs, Carew and Gwynn their strikeout ratios would be way lower that the league average. When Walter Johnson pitched this is what the majority of hitters did, make contact.

To be fair to Randy and others who pitched into the 1990's they faced a strike zone that was lower, shaved off the top.

Again considering the type of hitters in Walter Johnson's time and the fact that he was a fast ball pitcher, his career strikeout total is comparable to some of todays best. Add to that, doubtful he brushed back many hitters, he always feared hitting a batter.

Huntington Avenue
04-06-2007, 01:55 PM
There's not a huge difference between 85 and 100 mph anyway, in terms of what the hitter is actually reacting to. What is it, like .1 sec? It's easy to tell the difference, sure, but the difference in how hard it is to hit is not that large. And anyway, if Johnson were throwing 85-87 in game, as would be my wild guess, and everyone else were throwing 82-84, it would seem ridiculously fast. I also don't doubt though, that he could reach low 90s if he were throwing as hard as he could. Guys back then never threw their best fastball.

csh19792001
04-06-2007, 02:24 PM
All I can say is 3508 strikeouts is a high number considering he was facing all those contact hitters. Different game in Walter's time, most batters going to the plate with one thought in mind, make contact. There was almost a shame to striking out.

Put it this way, turn it around would Ryan or Johnson have the career strikeouts if not for all the free swingers in todays game and not that long ago. I'm sure if we looked at some modern day contact hitters, Boggs, Carew and Gwynn their strikeout ratios would be way lower that the league average. When Walter Johnson pitched this is what the majority of hitters did, make contact.

To be fair to Randy and others who pitched into the 1990's they faced a strike zone that was lower, shaved off the top.

Again considering the type of hitters in Walter Johnson's time and the fact that he was a fast ball pitcher, his career strikeout total is comparable to some of todays best. Add to that, doubtful he brushed back many hitters, he always feared hitting a batter.

Absolutely. Johnson had the arms of a man at least 6'4", and the leverage and torque generated by that unique motion created his ridiculous speed. To say that he couldn't have thrown as hard as Feller because of his motion ignores the physiology.

During Big Train's career there were only TWO players who struck out 100 times in his league. Danny Moeller (1913) and Gus Williams (1914). Moreover, Williams' season K total (120 strikeouts) held up for 24 years- until Vince Dimaggio broke it in 1938. Consider that during Randy Johnson's career, there were hundreds and hundreds of players that struck out 100 times in a season. In fact, the LOWEST number of strikeouts accrued by a player in the top 10 in K's during any full season from 1988 to 2004 was 120.

I don't know what the exact league averages have been, but I have no doubt that had Big Train played even in Nolan Ryan's time, he would have easily approached the alltime record of 5,714 strikeouts. The modern game is just that much different- photos of guys like Carey, Wheat, Speaker, Cobb choking up 6 inches on the bat is supplemental evidence to the statistics.

Nonetheless, considering context, Dazzy Vance is the greatest strikeout pitcher in baseball history.

Strike Zone Dominance in Context (http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/strike-zone-dominance-in-context-dazzy-and-pedro/)

The Greatest Strikeout Season of All Time: Dazzy Vance (http://www.armchairgm.com/index.php?title=The_Greatest_Strikeout_Season_of_A ll_Time:_Dazzy_Vance)

Many fans, especially those who actually saw Sandy Koufax, consider Koufax' 1966 season the best of any pitcher that they have ever seen. Certainly Los Angeles fans probably consider it the greatest single season pitching performance in Los Angeles franchise history, but once upon a time, during a kinder time and in a friendlier place, there was a franchise called the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Brooklyn Dodgers had a pitcher who had a season that might have been equal to or even better than the one Koufax had in 1966. The pitcher was Dazzy Vance and the season was 1924.

Dazzy Vance didn't win a game until he was thirty one years old. He was Pittsburgh Pirates property until the Yankees purchased his contract in 1915. Vance toiled in the minors until the Yankees sold his services to the Brooklyn Robins prior to the 1922 season. He won 18 games in both 1922 and 1923, and then had an amazing 1924 season for a team that lost the pennant to the rival Giants by 1 1/2 games.

In 1924, Dazzy Vance started 34 games, completed 30 of them, won 28 and lost 6. He pitched 308 1/3 innings, allowing 238 hits and had a 2.16 ERA.

In 1966 Sandy Koufax started 41 games, completed 27 of them, won 27 and lost 9. He pitched 323 innings, allowing 241 hits and had a 1.73 ERA.

The numbers are close so let us examine the league in which they performed. The 1924 National League had an ERA of 3.75, which was 1.59 higher than Vance's ERA. Put another way, Vance had a 174 ERA+. The 1966 National League had an ERA of 3.28, which was 1.55 higher than Koufax' ERA. Koufax had a 190 ERA+, again extremely close to Vance's 174.

But now we get to something extraordinary. Something that distinguishes Dazzy Vance's 1924 season from any season any pitcher ever had. In 1924, Dazzy Vance struck out 262 batters. Okay, that's good but not extraordinary. In 1966, Koufax had 317 strikeouts.

Baseball was played differently in 1924. It was a disgrace for a hitter to strike out. In 1924, George Grantham of the Cubs led National League batters by striking out 63 times, while Stuffy McInnis had 581 at bats and struck out in only 6 of them. The entire Cincinnati team struck out only 334 times. In 2005, Adam Dunn struck out 168 times and Richie Sexson struck out 167 for a total of 335 times. Two players struck one more time than an entire team. Horrible.

In 1924, National League batters struck out a total of 3408 times. Dazzy Vance struck out 262 or 7.7% of them. In 1966, National League batters struck out 9312 times. Koufax struck out 317 or almost 3.4% of them. Now, in 1966, the National League was a ten team league, so we eliminate the expansion Mets and Astros, and the league strikeout total becomes 7435, which means that Koufax accounted for 4.3% of the league's strikeouts, still well below Vance's 7.7%, and it was much easier to get strikeouts in 1966 since striking out was well on its way to being considered "just another out."

The only other National League pitcher to strike out as many as 100 hitters in 1924 was Vance's teammate, spitballer Burleigh Grimes with 135. No other pitcher in the league had as many as 87 strikeouts. Looking at it another way, of the eight National League teams in 1924, only Brooklyn had a pitcher (s) with as many as 100 strikeouts. One cannot help but conclude that Vance was as dominating that season as any pitcher in any season. In Koufax' 1966, Jim Bunning, Bob Veale, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Don Sutton, Jim Maloney, and Gaylord Perry, all had over 200 strikeouts. Vance had 127 more strikeouts than his closet rival, and that was almost twice as many as the pitcher who finished second.

When viewed in the context of the league in which they pitched, Dazzy Vance's 1924 season was the greatest strikeout season in baseball history. There is a method by which a pitcher's strikeout total is compared to the league average in order to determine his strikeout rate. If the league's batters' strikeout an average of 75 times in a season and a pitcher strikes out 75 hitters, the pitcher's K rate is 100, while a pitcher who strikes out 150 has a K rate of 200. Simple enough.

The highest K rate was Dazzy Vance's 290 in 1924, followed by Rube Waddell's 284 in 1902, and Vance's 279 in 1925. Among modern pitchers, the only one to crack the top ten was Pedro Martinez' 233 in 1999 when he struck out 313 hitters. Randy Johnson's best K rate was 216 in 1995, while Nolan Ryan's best was 215 in 1976.

Dazzy Vance's career K rate of 216 is the highest in baseball history. He struck out batters when it was difficult to strike them out. Rube Waddell's 190 is second, Randy Johnson's 182 is third, Amos Rusie's 179 is fourth, and Nolan Ryan's 178 is fifth. Roger Clemens is not in the top ten.

One must be careful when using statistics and even more careful when interpreting them, but put as simply as possible, when Dazzy Vance struck out 262 hitters in 1924, no other pitcher came close to that total. No hitter struck out more than 63 times. Dazzy Vance, one of the most effective of all pitchers in striking out hitters, had the best strikeout season in baseball history in 1924.

csh19792001
04-06-2007, 02:32 PM
There's not a huge difference between 85 and 100 mph anyway, in terms of what the hitter is actually reacting to. What is it, like .1 sec? It's easy to tell the difference, sure, but the difference in how hard it is to hit is not that large.

It's not that large? Are you serious? I suggest you go to a professional training center and hit the 85 and then have them set it at 95-100, if they can even set it that high....

Most of the cages I've been to regularly have an 80 or 85 as their fastest cage. I hit the 95 last year for the first time and difference was simply vast- in appearance and in difficulty. That 10+ MPH is a major part of what seperates career minor leaguers from top notch MLB pitchers; the upper threshold of human potential versus (merely) the 99th percentile.

Huntington Avenue
04-06-2007, 04:16 PM
Well, I'm not saying that it's not a big difference in indicating skill, it is, but I don't think that it's as big a separator in skill as opposed to control and movement, etc.

Maybe it is a much bigger leap for the hitter than I had thought, in which case I would stand corrected, but they are much more fooled by other things.

Is 85-95 a bigger leap than, say, 75-85? When I played little league I could never tell the difference between the fastest and slowest pitchers (even though they were throwing like 45), so I'm curious.

catcher24
04-06-2007, 07:06 PM
I have a stat I use that I call K Factor (for pitchers). I take the pitcher's IP and strikeouts, dividing the IP by the K's to get the pitcher's strikeouts/IP. I then take the league's IP and K, and divide the league IP by the Ks to obtain the league's strikeouts/IP. Then I adjust the league figure by subtracting out the pitcher whose K FactorI want to obtain, and re figuring the league's K/IP without the pitcher in question. Finally, I divide the pitcher's K/IP by the adjusted league K/IP to obtain the ratio of how the target pitcher compared to the league average. This of course gives me a decimal, so I multiply by 100 to get a whole number - my K Factor.

For example, in 1965 Sam McDowell pitched 273 innings and struck out 325 batters. His K/IP is thus 1.190 (325/273). In 1965, all American League pitchers threw 14266 innings, and struck out 9309 batters. Thus the league K/IP was .653 (9309/14266). Now, subtracting McDowell's strikeouts and IP, we have the adjusted league K/IP at .642 (9309-325)/(14266-273). To get the K/ratio, I divide McDowell's 1.190 ratio by the league's .642 ratio, giving a result of 1.854. Multiplying by 100, McDowell's K Factor is 185.4. He struck out batters at a rate 185.4% of what a league average pitcher would - a very high factor, yet only 10th among pitchers with 320+ strikeouts. Nolan Ryan has the top three seasons all time among this group, with K Factors of 224, 211 and 208. The 208 was tied by Rube Waddell's 208 in 1904.

So csh19792001's post about Vance had me wondering how he would do with my stat. I had originally intended to enter all pitchers with 200+ strikeout seasons, but never finished, so I plugged in the numbers for that 1924 season of Vance's. And the argument presented by csh is certainly supported by my K Factor, as Vance comes in with a factor of 291.4 - 67 points higher than Ryan's best, and highest by far of any pitcher I have figured to this point! I also plugged in Koufax's 1966 season. He has only a 155.2 K Factor - very decent, but the lowest K Factor of any pitcher with at least the number of strikeouts (317) that Koufax had in 1966 - and only about half of Vance's 1924 season. Finally, just to see, I figured Walter Johnson's two 300+ strikeout seasons. He gets a K Factor of 185.9 in 1910 and 178.7 in 1912. Both are certainly very high factors, but not even close to record territory.

Perhaps when I get around to entering all those pitchers with 200+ strikeouts, I'll uncover some more surprises like Vance's 1924 season.

AstrosFan
04-06-2007, 08:39 PM
FName LName Year SO IP LgSO LgIP K Factor
Bobby Mathews 1873 75 443 240 3584 322.3
Dazzy Vance 1924 262 308.3 3381 10991 291
Rube Waddell 1902 210 276.3 2744 9730 283.5
Dazzy Vance 1925 221 265.3 3372 10854 279.9
Dazzy Vance 1926 140 169 3359 10964 277.8
Cy Seymour 1898 239 356.7 4247 15951 260.7
Lefty Grove 1926 194 258 3456 10944 246.3
Dazzy Vance 1928 200 280.3 3390 11022 240.2
Dazzy Vance 1923 197 280.3 3406 11073 236.3
Rube Waddell 1900 130 208.7 2697 9911 235.5
Johnny Vander Meer 1941 202 226.3 4411 11109 230.8
Rube Waddell 1903 302 324 4199 9782 226.2
Herb Score 1955 245 227.3 5405 11024 225.5
Bob Feller 1938 240 277.7 4255 10743 225.3
Nolan Ryan 1976 327 284.3 9143 17466 224.1
Nolan Ryan 1978 260 234.7 10153 20158 223.1
Cy Seymour 1899 142 268.3 3856 15843 221.9
Lefty Grove 1927 174 262.3 3399 11001 220.9
Dizzy Dean 1933 199 293 3528 11002 218.5
Dazzy Vance 1927 184 273.3 3496 11006 218.1

Here are the top 20 seasons in K Factor, with a minimum of 162 IP. This only took a few minutes; I happened to have a database with league and player figures.

csh19792001
04-06-2007, 10:04 PM
Well, I'm not saying that it's not a big difference in indicating skill, it is, but I don't think that it's as big a separator in skill as opposed to control and movement, etc.

Maybe it is a much bigger leap for the hitter than I had thought, in which case I would stand corrected, but they are much more fooled by other things.

Is 85-95 a bigger leap than, say, 75-85? When I played little league I could never tell the difference between the fastest and slowest pitchers (even though they were throwing like 45), so I'm curious.

85-95 appeared (to me at least) to be a much bigger jump than 75-85. Mainly because of the scarcity factor. During college ball, I hardly ever faced guys who (I perceived) threw around 90 or higher. Jumping into the cage to face the 95 was kind of shocking, actually, after regularly in the cage and hitting in live game situations against guys throwing 80-85. With any movement and not being primed to expect it, I have no chance of doing anything with 95 mph (even knowing when it was coming, it was difficult to make consistently solid contact). I'd like to face 100 MPH just to see what big leaguers facing Billy Wagner (pre-injury) or Dibble (back in the day) regularly had to deal with.

csh19792001
04-06-2007, 10:07 PM
Perhaps when I get around to entering all those pitchers with 200+ strikeouts, I'll uncover some more surprises like Vance's 1924 season.

Interesting post. I think you'll find that Vance not only has the single greatest season for striking out, but also comes out as the greatest strikeout pitcher in history- better even than Big Train, Ryan, and everyone else. He's one of the most unheralded and underrated pitchers in baseball history.

AstrosFan
04-06-2007, 11:30 PM
Vance is indeed the greatest strikeout pitcher in history, though he doesn't have the best career K Factor. That honor goes to Rube Waddell, who posted a career K Factor of 208.2 to Vance's 204.1. What makes Vance better is that he had a superior peak. I would rank Waddell second best.
Curiously, the third best career K Factor comes from George Zettlein, who struck out less than half a batter per nine innings. But his leagues struck out only just over a quarter of a batter per nine, so his K Factor is 187.4.

catcher24
04-07-2007, 10:30 AM
Thanks for that info, Astrosfan. I would give the top spot to Vance, since in 1873 Bobby Mathews pitched under totally different circumstances - what was basically softball pitching - 45 feet with an underhand delivery. Interesting to note that Vance has five of the top eight spots all time. BTW, what database do you use - or is it one you developed yourself?

AstrosFan
04-07-2007, 10:46 AM
Agreed on Vance. I use Microsoft Excel and Access and the Lahman database. These kinds of projects used to take weeks to do when I just had Excel. But then I got Access, and now I can do them in under an hour.

catcher24
04-07-2007, 05:31 PM
OK, you imported Lahman into Access and then created your own query - I presume all pitchers with 200+ K's? You must be quite a bit more adept with Access than I am; don't know if I could've created a query to get that info out. Very nice work. :bowdown: I have Excel and Access (and have been trying to get Access to produce lifetime player reports form for my Diamond Mind league, but that's another story), but I never thought of importing Lahman into Access.

MattD1972
07-19-2007, 08:09 AM
Batters in those days, when facing the Big Train:

* Knew they were going to get a fast ball. He didn't develop a curve until later in his career.
* Crowded the plate because they knew Walter wouldn't throw at them intentionally.
* Choked up on the bat just trying to make contact, not taking swing from the a$$ type swings.


Cobb, especially, was notorious for doing this to Johnson. Typical of Baseball's "unsavroies" taking advantage of Baseball's nicest guy.

Ubiquitous
07-19-2007, 08:17 AM
How many players actually "knew" Walter wouldn't hit them so they crowded the plate? I mean the guy was Walter Johnson and he did win 417 games with a team that was not great and he had a 2.17 ERA and he is the all time leader in hit batsmen.

Brian McKenna
07-19-2007, 09:59 AM
Cobb, especially, was notorious for doing this to Johnson. Typical of Baseball's biggest taking advantage of Baseball's nicest guy.

Shallow, oft-repeated and lightly-researched characterization of Ty Cobb's career in the game. Typical junk you get from ESPN-minded sports fans who passively get their history from others. BBF should expect greater insight from its users and a little incentive to look past the stereotypical story line.

vegasman2000
07-19-2007, 06:41 PM
i thought that at some point someone did a frame by frame analysis of some walter johnson footage and came up with 90 mph or so. i couldn't find anything on this though. has anyone heard of this?

catcher24
07-20-2007, 05:42 PM
From Walter Johnson, Baseball's Big Train, by Henry W. Thomas, pp 104-105:
On October 6 (1912) Johnson went from New York to Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the Remington Arms Company's bullet-testing range, for an attempt to gauge the velocity of his pitches. The frequent discussions about Johnson's speed prompted Baseball Magazine editor F. C. Lane to put it to a scientific test, after first clearing the idea with Griffith. Also to be clocked was Brooklyn's Nap Rucker, said to be the fastest pitcher in the National League. The rudimentary testing apparatus consisted of a tunnel of fine wires ending at a steel plate.A projectile tripped the wires as it passed through, registering the time, which was then compared to the time of arrival at the steel plate to gauge the speed.
After a few warm up tosses against the steel plate, and still in street clothes, Johnson stepped in, but the tunnel was at shoulder height to measure bullets fired from a standing position and at first Johnson couldn't get his sidearm throws to go straight through to the plate. "At length, however, it was reported, after some effort and with a consequent loss of speed in an attempt to place the ball accurately, the sphere was successfully hurled in the proper direction, broke one of the fine wires in its transit and collided with a heavy thud against the steel plate." Johnson's best throw was clocked at 122 feet per second (82 mph), Rucker's at 113, both on their third and last tries." (Baseball Magazine, 1912) Despite the flawed procedure, it does allow for some comparison. In June, 1933, Van Lingle Mungo of the Dodgers and Lefty Gomez of the Yankees, two of the fastest pitchers of their era, wee tested at West Point's department of ballistics and mathematics, presumably with more sophisticated equipment. Mungo registered 113 feet pre second and Gomez 111 on their best throws.



Interesting test. Too bad there wasn't better measuring equipment, or that the equipment they had wasn't set up better to measure Johnson's pitching motion. Sounds like he had to alter his motion considerably for this test.