Friday, February 12, 2010

Hoyt Wilhelm

Hoyt Wilhelm, an unusual Hall of Fame pitcher who did not make his Major League debut until he was 29, and pitched until he was weeks away from turning 50, had a very impressive run in the 60's that has not been matched since. 

Since 1920, there have been only 162 instances of a pitcher finishing a season with at least 80 innings pitched and an ERA better than 2.00.  21 pitchers achieved this at least twice in their careers, but only 3 did it more than 2 times: Hoyt Wilhelm (6), Tug McGraw (3), Sandy Koufax (3). 

The only active pitcher with more than 1 such season is Pedro Martinez (1997 and 2000).  These type of seasons happened quite frequently prior to 1920, with Walter Johnson having 11 such seasons between 1907 and 1919. 

80+ IP, sub-2.00 ERA (Since 1920)
Hoyt Wilhelm (6): 1962, 1964-68
Tug McGraw (3): 1971-72, 1980
Sandy Koufax (3): 1963, 1964, 1966

Hoyt Wilhelm
1962 (Orioles): 1.94 ERA, 93 IP
1964 (White Sox): 1.99, 131.1
1965 (White Sox): 1.81, 144
1966 (White Sox): 1.66, 81.1
1967 (White Sox): 1.31, 89
1968 (White Sox): 1.73, 93.2

Another interesting fact about Wilhelm is that he was only a regular starter in 1 out of the 20 seasons that he was in the league.  It was in 1959, his 8th season, when he started 27 games (he only started 52 in his career out of 1052 appearances) and only relieved 5.  He pitched 226 innings that year (only time he ever went over 200) and led the league in ERA at 2.26.  In 1960, he started only 11 games, and only started 4 more games until he retired in 1972.


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