Last Guy to Throw 300+ Innings in a Season, and Other IP Milestones
This post was inspired by my pitcher WAR/IP trivia question earlier in the week. Well, “inspired.” It's the table scraps of that post. It's the countdown to our present via the diminishing returns on innings pitched.
Here you go:
- The all-time record for IP: Will White, 680 (1879)
- Last guy to throw 650+ IP: Old Hoss Radbourn, 678 (1884)
- Last guy to throw 500+, 550+ or 600+ IP: Bill Hutchinson, 622 (1892)
- Last guy to throw 400+ or 450+ IP: Big Ed Walsh, 464 (1908)
- Last guy to throw 350+ IP: Wilbur Wood, 359.1 (1973)
- Last guy to throw 300+ IP: Steve Carlton, 304 (1980)
- Last guy to throw 200+ IP: Justin Verlander, 251 (2011)
Look at that drop after Bill Hutchinson. He threw 622 innings in 1892 and no one ever threw 500+, let alone 600+, again.
And look how long we held onto 350+ innings: 65 years! From 1908 to 1973, which is partly explained by the jump to the 162-game schedule in 1961. IPs were dying in the late '50s, the top numbers already consistently below 300, but they resurged into the solid 300s again with the extra eight games. The raising of the pitcher's mound in '62 didn't hurt, either. Then they really resurged in the early '70s. Why is that? Does anyone know? If it hadn't been for Mickey Lolich ('71) and Wood ('72 and '73), the last 350+ dude would've been Bob Feller in '46.
Of course, five-man rotations and the stratification of relief pitchers into set-up men and closers finally put an end to that, as well as to 300+. Steve Carlton was the last to manage that feat.
Is Justin Verlander the last of the 250+ guys? To get over that hump, you'd have to average 7 innings for 36 starts (that's 252 IP), and no one's started 36 games in a season since 2003 (Halladay, Maddux). The top-tier norm is now 34 starts, which requires 7 1/3 per. In 2011, Verlander made 34 starts, averaging 7.38 IP per. That's how he did it. Last year's league leader in IP, Chris Sale, with 214.1, started 32 games for an average of 6.69 per.
Last year only 15 guys managed 200+, but most, as indicated by Sales' league-leading stats, just eked over. Soon we won't even see 200+ anymore.