One of the best things about the game of baseball, and what makes it so widely discussed and debated, is the overwhelming amount of statistics available.
Everyone knows the all-time home run leader, the wins leader, and the hits leader.
But who can name the player with the best strikeout-to-walk ratio?
That is why I have decided to start this series on obscure baseball stats. My hope is that this series will teach you something, while shining some light on some forgotten players and forgotten statistics.
I started with strikeout-to-walk ratio because I have seen Stephen Strasburg's impressive line of 195 strikeouts versus only 19 walks.
I think that this statistic is a good judge of how well a pitcher does at keeping himself out of trouble. Limiting walks is one of the biggest problems with pitchers today, and having a guy who doesn't walk many guys is a real asset.
Best Single-Season Ratio: 7.25-to-1 in 2002
Career Line: 131-124, 4.27 ERA, 1.278 WHIP
Lieber was never really viewed as a strikeout pitcher in his time in the big leagues, as his career-high being 192 during the 2000 season. However, he never walked more than 54 guys in a season, and he led the league in walks per nine innings twice.
Considering he relied mostly on a slider, as opposed to a fastball, makes the fact that he walked very few guys all the more impressive.
Best Single-Season Ratio: 9.11-to-1 in 1997
Career Line: 303 Saves, 3.30 ERA, 1.243 WHIP
A five-time All-Star closer, Jones is 20th all-time on the career saves list, and he did so despite starting his career at the age of 29.
He had over 20 saves eight times, and he pitched effectively until he retired at the age of 43 in 2000.
Coming in as a closer and not walking hitters is even more important than not issuing free passes as a starter, and Jones was one of the best at making guys earn it.
Best Single-Season Ratio: 6.44-to-1 in 2009
Career Line: 77-59, 3.54 ERA, 1.171 WHIP
At 28 years old, Haren is just now coming into his own, as he has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game this season.
He has won at least 14 games each of the past four seasons, and despite playing for a terrible Diamondbacks team, he is having the best season of his career this year.
With a 12-7 record, a 2.50 ERA, and 161 strikeouts, as well as an NL-best 0.893 WHIP and 6.44-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, he is one of the leading contender for the NL Cy Young this season.
Best Single-Season Ratio: 7.73-to-1 in 2000
Career Line: 580 Saves, 2.74 ERA, 1.049 WHIP
The career leader in saves, Hoffman is still pitching well this late in his career, thanks in part to his outstanding command and his devastating changeup.
He has topped the 30 save mark 13 times, and the 40 save mark nine times, while making seven All-Star appearances. When he finally hang up his spikes, I see no reason why he won't be a Hall of Famer.
Best Single-Season Ratio: 10.0-to-1 in 1884
Career Line: 191-204, 2.97 ERA, 1.147 WHIP
Whitney came a long way from his rookie season, when he led the league in walks with 90 and posted a ratio of only 1.80-to-1.
Two years later, he led the league in strikeouts per nine innings, walks per nine innings, and strikeout-to-walk ratio while posting a record of 37-21 for the Braves.
The next year, he posted a 10.00-to-1 ratio, which was the second-best behind Bret Saberhagen's mark of 11.00-to-1 in 1994 among those who qualify.
He truly is an interesting case, as his 214 career wild pitches are seventh-most of all-time, going against the theory that a good strikeout-to-walk ratio shows you have good control.
Best Single-Season Ratio: 10.55-to-1 in 2006
Career Line: 86-83, 3.73 ERA, 1.201 WHIP
Sheets burst onto the scene in 2001, following his Gold Medal performance in the Olympics.
He was an All-Star in his rookie season, going 11-10 for a poor Brewers team.
In fact, he posted a losing record of 12-14 in 2004, despite a 2.70 ERA and a 264-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Who knows how many wins that would translate to for a contender.
Best Single-Season Ratio: 12.83-to-1 in 2008
Career Line: 517 Saves, 2.27 ERA, 1.016 ERA
Rivera is the most dominant closer of all-time, and the fact that he has done it all when everyone in the park knows that he is going to throw that cutter of his is remarkable.
He has saved over 30 games 12 times, over 40 six times, and is one of only two guys (Gagne) with two 50-plus save seasons.
A 10-time All-Star with 34 postseason saves and a 0.77 ERA in the postseason, Rivera will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, no doubt.
Best Single-Season Ratio: 8.88-to-1 in 2000
Career Line: 215-99, 2.92 ERA, 1.052 WHIP
Martinez, a three-time Cy Young winner with four more top-five finishes, is one of the most dominant starters the game has ever seen.
His stretch from 1997-2003 is nothing short of impossible, with a 118-36 record, a 2.20 ERA and 1,761 strikeouts. He led the league in wins once, ERA five times, and strikeouts three times.
His return to the Phillies only prolongs what will be a Hall of Fame career, as he is one of the best to ever take the hill.
Best Single-Season Performance: 9.58-to-1 in 2002
Career Line: 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 1.137 WHIP
When I first thought of this list, Schilling and Martinez were the two names that came to mind immediately. They were the only two high strikeout, low walk pitchers of their time, and I was surprised to not see one of them in the top spot.
While Schilling may have taken a back seat to Johnson in Arizona and Pedro in Boston, he is one of the best starters of the past 20 years, and a big reason why those two cities won championships.
Best Single-Season Ratio: 7.94-to-1 in 1884
Career Line: 234-163, 2.31 ERA, 1.093 WHIP
Bet you didn't see that one coming. Truth be told, I had never even heard of Tommy Bond until now, but he did have a solid career line.
Bond won 40, 40, and 43 games from 1877-1879, leading the league in ERA twice during that stretch as well as leading in strikeouts twice.
Not exactly the man you would expect to lead this list, but that is precisely the point of this series.