Friday, January 1, 2010

Somewhere in Time - Walter Johnson

"On August 2, 1907, I encountered the most threatening sight I ever saw on the ball field. He was a rookie... He was a tall, shambling galoot of about twenty, with arms so long they hung far out of his sleeves, and with a sidearm delivery that looked unimpressive at first glance... The first time I faced him, I watched him take that easy windup. And then something went past me that made me flinch. The thing just hissed with danger. We couldn't touch him... every one of us knew we'd met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ball park." - Ty Cobb

"The Big Train", Walter Johnson, went on to establish himself as perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time and if you owned him on your 1913 fantasy baseball team you would have had a shot to ride him to a championship. Walter Johnson was the AL MVP that year and led the majors in every major pitching category. 36 wins, 243 Ks, .78 WHIP and an utterly ridiculous ERA of 1.14 would dominate 4 pitching categories. Other notable stats include a league leading 11 shutouts, a then record 55.2 consecutive scoreless innings and a gaudy 6.39 K/BB (strikeout to walk ratio). Digging a little deeper we can see that Johnson's dominance was underpinned with .23 HRs per 9 innings and a .219 BABIP (batting average on balls in play).

A modern day equivalent looks like Greg Maddux's seemingly perfect '92 season with the Cubs. This was Maddux's first Cy Young season and despite his dominance he still comes up 7 shutouts short of Johnson's 1913 season. Known as a control artist, Maddux was also far off of The Big Train's pace with a less than spectacular 2.84 K/BB ratio.

As an MVP and league leader in 4 roto categories it's likely that Walter Johnson would have been the consensus #1 overall pick in the 1914 fantasy baseball draft. Although he wouldn't duplicate his 1913 success, he didn't disappoint either with a league leading 28 wins and 225 Ks.

Pick up a Walter Johnson baseball card on eBay!

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