Though it's cool to know which pitchers were wild in the 19th century, I find some numbers dubious at best. Consider Hall of Famer Tim Keefe, a pitcher from 1880 to 1893. In 5047.2 career innings, he tossed 233 wild pitches, or so the record says. What stands out from his yearly totals, however, is his 1884 season for the American Association's (then the second major league) New York Metropolitans. During that season, Keefe supposedly threw 483 innings without a single wild pitch. The year before he had 26 wild pitches in 619 innings and the year after (back in the National League) he had 35 wild pitches in 400 total innings. Is it possible he had great control that season? Sure, but I find it very unlikely. After all, the 1883 and 1884 New York Metropolitans used the same two catchers for most of each season. Further lending doubt as to the accuracy of his wild pitch count is the AA leaderboard for wild pitches: Bob Emslie had 43 wild pitches, followed by Bill Mountjoy with 18. Tom Sullivan claims fifth in the league...with three. That just seems strange, especially since Emslie only had 12 wild pitches in 1883. Was there a change in the definition of a wild pitch over time?
In any case, the cloudy 19th century data means I'm only going to look at numbers since 1901. That's a pretty common way to view records anyway. There's no guarantee numbers from the beginning part of the 20th century are any better than those of the previous twenty-five years, of course, but we'll hope they are. Let's see which pitchers had the longest careers sans wild pitches.
|Rank||Name||Career IP||Career Span|
|6||Tommy de la Cruz||191.1||1944|
*Gear also pitched 23 innings in 1896 without a wild pitch. If you count those (and I didn't) he leaps over Dennis Burns and takes over seventh place with 186.0 career innings.
Now, let's look at the active pitchers with the most career innings without a wild pitch. Obviously, Scott Baker leads the list, but who else has more than fifty career innings?
- Scott Baker, 280.2 IP
- Kyle Kendrick, 121.0
- Manny Delcarmen, 106.1
- Tim Stauffer, 94.2
- Yusmeiro Petit, 83.1
- Edinson Volquez, 80.0
- Ken Ray, 79.0
- Chris Schroeder, 73.2
- Hideki Okajima, 69.0
- Chris Britton, 66.1
- Bill Bray, 65.0
- Jeff Harris, 57.0
- Brian Wilson, 53.2
- Bryan Corey, 53.1
As a final note, the all-time leader for most wild pitches, Nolan Ryan, threw 277 wild pitches, or one every 19.44 innings. Since 2000, 119 players have had MLB pitching careers shorter than 277 total pitches. Of those, 13 were primarily position players, but 106 pitchers, even if many are still active, is still a lot.