After Brandon Morrow’s 17 strikeout game, the next step, after acceptance, is to wonder what the performance means for his career. Reservations for complete games with exorbitant strikeout totals and miniscule walk rates are for the finest of fine pitching. I wanted to find out just how fine the pitchers’ careers turned out who managed to spin one of these gems. In doing so, I used Baseball-Reference’s Play Index with the following query:
– Individual games spanning the 1920-2010 seasons as a starting pitcher
– Requiring at least 17 strikeouts, fewer than three walks, and at least one inning pitched
The reason for including fewer than three walks is multilayered. It trims the list of candidates down while increasing the difficulty level of the performance, thus giving us the cream of the crop. The above mandates returned 35 individual games. Quite a few being repeats of the true greats. One thing I did not adjust that I’ll disclaim here is how I did not control for age. Randy Johnson’s 20 strikeout game as a 37 year old is included just as Kerry Wood’s game as a 20 year old. Presumably age plays some role in the expectations for Morrow heading forward, as does his background, but there was just no sensible way to really adjust for either with such a limited sample size.
Here is the list of pitchers with their career innings pitched, earned runs allowed, and ERA+. I’m not saying these are the best instruments for judging pitcher worth or anything of the sort; instead I’m just giving an idea of how this group matches up with those metrics:
From there, I get a collective ERA of 3.30 and using the methodology outline by Tango here, a collective ERA+ of 118. In other words: Morrow has some big shoes to fill if he wants to fit in with the rest of these guys.
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