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Most 200+ IP Seasons in a Pitcher’s First 10 Years

Posted by Raphy on July 31, 2009

Bland3080 has been asking about the rarity Mark Buehrle's streak of 200+ IP (8 in a row) and, with apologies to him, I'd like to focus on a slightly different question. Buehrle is well on his way to throwing 200+ innings for the ninth time in 10 big league seasons. How rare of an accomplishment would this be?

A quick run of the PI "pitching season finder" (setting "seasons" to first to 10th, requring IP>=200 and searching for "players with years") give us the following list:

                   From  To   Ages Seasons Link to Individual Seasons
 Tom Seaver        1967 1976 22-31      10 Ind. Seasons
 Don Sutton        1966 1975 21-30      10 Ind. Seasons
 Paul Derringer    1931 1940 24-33      10 Ind. Seasons
 George Mullin     1902 1911 21-30      10 Ind. Seasons
 Eddie Plank       1901 1910 25-34      10 Ind. Seasons
 Mark Langston     1984 1993 23-32       9 Ind. Seasons
 Frank Viola       1983 1991 23-31       9 Ind. Seasons
 Bert Blyleven     1971 1979 20-28       9 Ind. Seasons
 Mel Stottlemyre   1965 1973 23-31       9 Ind. Seasons
 Mickey Lolich     1964 1972 23-31       9 Ind. Seasons
 Don Drysdale      1957 1965 20-28       9 Ind. Seasons
 Robin Roberts     1949 1957 22-30       9 Ind. Seasons
 Claude Passeau    1936 1944 27-35       9 Ind. Seasons
 Larry French      1930 1938 22-30       9 Ind. Seasons
 Carl Hubbell      1929 1937 26-34       9 Ind. Seasons
 Freddie Fitzsimmo 1926 1934 24-32       9 Ind. Seasons
 Stan Coveleski    1916 1924 26-34       9 Ind. Seasons
 Hooks Dauss       1913 1921 23-31       9 Ind. Seasons
 Claude Hendrix    1912 1920 23-31       9 Ind. Seasons
 Pete Alexander    1911 1920 24-33       9 Ind. Seasons
 Bob Groom         1909 1917 24-32       9 Ind. Seasons
 Walter Johnson    1908 1916 20-28       9 Ind. Seasons
 Mordecai Brown    1903 1911 26-34       9 Ind. Seasons
 Doc White         1901 1910 22-31       9 Ind. Seasons
 Christy Mathewson 1901 1909 20-28       9 Ind. Seasons            

As you would have expected there are a lot of pitchers from "the olden days", but progressively fewer players  as pitchers began to pitch less games and less innings. In fact, Buehrle would would be the first to have 200+ IP in 9 out of his first 10 seasons since Mark Langston in 1993.

However, there is one factor that I have ignored. Buehrle is currently pitching in the longest streak of uninterrupted baseball since the five man rotation became the norm. If we truly want to examine his streak in comparison to other pitchers of the '90s we should adjust our innings requirements for those  seasons.  In 1994 there were only 117 game scheduled and there were 144 in 1995. What if we changed the innings requirements for those seasons to  145, and 178 respectively? How many recent players would then make the cut? The answer surprised me:

                   From  To   Ages       Actual Seasons      + Adjusted  = Total
 Brad Radke        1996 2004 23-31       8 Ind. Seasons      +  1        =  9

Scott Erickson would also have 9 if we changed the 1994 requirement  to 144 IP instead of 145.

It turns out that even before the babying of pitchers that takes place today, a lot of pitchers began their careers slowly (perhaps in September). Pitchers such as Clemens, Maddux, Cone and Mussina all started with a couple of low innings seasons to start their careers. Therefore , even with the adjustment Buehrle would become just the second pitcher since 1993 to have 200+ IP in 9 of his first 10 seasons.

PS - It should be noted that Don Sutton managed to throw 200+ innings in 20 out of the first 21 seasons of his career. The only year that he didn't was the strike-shortened season of 1981 when he finished well ahead of the pace.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 8:02 am and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Most 200+ IP Seasons in a Pitcher’s First 10 Years”

  1. bland3080 Says:

    Thanks for the post, very interesting about Radke, didn't consider him the journeyman type.

  2. MarkMyWord_81 Says:

    While 200 IP has traditionally been a very minimal standard for front-line pithers, it is still easy for one injury to snap one's streak. Roberto Clemenmte's line drive that broke Bob Gibson's leg in 1967 kept Gibson from what would have been 12 straight years (1961-1972) of 200 IP, while a collision with Johnny Benmch in 1973 limited him to 195. Minus the two mishaps, he would have had 14 straight seasons.

  3. MarkMyWord_81 Says:

    Of course that's counting from his first FULL season in 1961, which I guess is a totally different animal from the topic of this post.