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Alex Remington

Five noteworthy numbers from Bob Feller's Hall of Fame career

Alex Remington
Big League Stew

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8.4 Bob Feller's career high in strikeouts per nine innings. It was posted during his incredible 1946 season, when he threw 371 innings, struck out 348, and led the majors in wins, starts, complete games, shutouts, hits allowed, walks allowed, strikeouts, and batters faced. It was actually a different era in terms of strikeouts back then, though. Feller is remembered as a strikeout pitcher, but he actually didn't strike out a very high percentage of the batters he faced. Even before the shoulder injury that sapped his fastball, his career K/9 is 6.1. For comparison's sake, there were 15 starting pitchers in 2010 alone who had a K/9 above 8.4, the highest mark of Feller's career.

10 The number of seasons in which Feller pitched more than 200 innings. For all of his outsized legend, Feller had a comparatively short career; he lost three and a half seasons to World War II, suffered a shoulder injury before turning 30, and spent his 30s somewhere between above-average and ordinary. In many ways, he was the prototype for Doc Gooden, the best teenage starting pitcher with the most explosive fastball that anyone alive had ever seen, whose arm was mostly dead a decade later. Of course, Feller lost many years of his prime because he volunteered for the war, Doc Gooden lost years off his prime because of drug abuse.

1,764 Feller's walk total, fifth all-time in baseball history. When Feller retired in 1956, he was first all-time in walks and second all-time in strikeouts, behind only Walter Johnson. As a flamethrower with suspect control, Feller also provided a blueprint for pitchers like Nolan Ryan and the young Randy Johnson(notes). Feller had over 100 walks in nine different seasons, nearly as many as the eleven seasons that he struck out 100. I think it might be fair to say that he was "effectively wild."

0.73 Bob's All-Star ERA. Bob was a member of eight All-Star teams, pitched in five, and started two, and he only allowed one run in 12 1/3 innings, notching 13 strikeouts and allowing just four walks. So he loved to rise to a big stage. Unfortunately, in his one shot of postseason play, he wasn't nearly so impressive. He was a member of the 1948 world champion Cleveland Indians, the last world championship in that city's history. But he didn't contribute much to the victory, making two starts, pitching 14 1/3 innings, and allowing eight earned runs on five walks and ten hits, three of them homers, for an unimpressive 5.02 ERA. Fortunately, the other Bob — Bob Lemon — won two games, including the decisive Game 6, and the Indians dispatched the Boston Braves for the last title in Tribe history.

0.87 The difference between Feller's career home ERA (2.84) and his career road ERA (3.71). Batters hit .219 off him at home, versus .244 on the road. Feller was a fearsome pitcher wherever he stepped on the mound — when he was an army trainer, the going advice to young batters was to start swinging when Feller started his windup — but he was murder in Cleveland. If you really wanted to hit Feller, your best chance was to entice him to Boston, where he was 16-16 with a 5.50 ERA in 45 games, 34 of them starts. He had more success, but no more luck, in his one start in Boston's Braves Field in the '48 World Series, as he dueled Boston ace Johnny Sain to a 1-0 loss in the opening game. No wonder he preferred Cleveland.

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