MLB History

The Season Bob Feller of the Indians Would Strike out More Than 500 Batters

Harold FriendChief Writer IJune 14, 2011

The Season Bob Feller of the Indians Would Strike out More Than 500 Batters

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    Bob Feller in 2010
    Bob Feller in 2010Dave Martin/Getty Images

    In 2011, a strikeout is considered just another out, but it used to be a disgrace when a batter struck out.

    There are so many strikeouts in the modern game that many fans have lost their perspective with respect to the great number of strikeouts in today's game.

    How many strikeouts would Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan, or Sandy Koufax have if they pitched today?

    To get an estimate, we have taken the number of strikeouts five top strikeout artists had in their best season and compared it to the number of league strikeouts.

    For example, in 1946, Feller struck out 348 of the league's 5,227 strikeouts.

    Feller accounted for 6.57 percent of American League strikeouts.

    Here comes the incredible part.

    In 2010, 15,350 American Leaguers struck out.

    Feller had 6.57 percent of his league's strikeouts.

    Using 2010 numbers, 6.57 percent of 15.350 strikeouts equals 1,008 strikeouts.

    More realistically, American League teams averaged 653 strikeouts in 1946.

    In 2010, American League teams averaged 1,087 strikeouts.

    Based on that, Feller would strike out 579 batters, or almost two per inning.

    Nothing can emphasize how prevalent strikeouts have become.

Rube Waddell

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    Rube Waddell
    Rube Waddell

    Rube Waddell was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946. He was a strikeout pitcher in an era of contact hitters.

    In 1904, he struck out 349 hitters.  Jack Chesbro finished second, 110 strikeouts behind Waddell.

    American Leaguers struck out 5,028 times in 1904.

    Waddell had 6.94 percent of the league's strikeouts.

    When one projects that percent to the 2010 season when 15,350 batters struck out, one realizes how ridiculous strikeouts have become.

    Waddell's 349 strikeouts in 1904 project to 1,065 strikeouts in 2010. What a joke.

    More realistically, in 1904, team averaged 629 strikeouts compared to 1,087 in 2011.

    Waddell would have about 601 strikeouts, which means he would strike out about two batters an inning.

Sandy Koufax

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    Sandy Koufax
    Sandy KoufaxStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Sandy Koufax struck out a then-record 382 batters in 1965. He is ranked among the greatest pitchers of all time. Many "experts" feel that if there were one game that had to be won, Koufax would give them the greatest chance of victory.

    In 1965, National League teams averaged 965 strikeouts.

    Koufax had 3.96 of the league's strikeouts.

    Projected to 2010, Koufax would strike out 430 batters.

Nolan Ryan

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    Nolan Ryan in 2010
    Nolan Ryan in 2010Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Nolan Ryan was one of the greatest of all strikeout pitchers.

    In 1973, he set the single season strikeout record when he sent 383 batters back to the bench after they failed to hit the ball.

    When Ryan set his record, teams averaged 821 strikeouts. Ryan had 3.88 percent of his league's strikeouts.

    Projected to 2010, Nolan Ryan would finish with 520 strikeouts.

Randy Johnson

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    Randy Johnson
    Randy JohnsonOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Randy Johnson is ranked among the greatest left-handers of all time. He has pitched a perfect game and was almost as dominating as Sandy Koufax.

    In 2001, Johnson had 372 strikeouts, or 2.07 percent of National League strikeouts. The percent is low because so many batters no longer considered a strikeout to be any different from another out.

    Another factor is that in 2001, National League pitchers batted. There is no designated hitter in the NL.

    National Leaguers struck out 17,908 times in 2001. Teams averaged an incredible 1,119 strikeouts.

    If Johnson pitched in the 2010 American League, he would strikeout 361.

    Since 2001 NL teams averaged more strikeouts than 2010 AL teams, it is inferred statistically that he would have fewer strikeouts in 2010.

    There would be no easy mark pitchers to inflate his strikeouts.

    Aren't inferential statistics great?

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