As dominant as Garrett Richards has been in 2014, he has thrown 17 wild pitches through 123.1 innings, the most in Major League Baseball. Felix Hernandez isn't far behind with 13, and both of these hurlers have a chance to do something that hasn't been done since the Live Ball Era began in 1920 -- exceed 25 wild pitches in a single season.
33,965 pitchers have appeared in the Majors since 1920, and only two pitchers have thrown 25 wild pitches in a season. In 1993, Juan Guzman of the Toronto Blue Jays broke the Live Ball Era record by throwing 25, which was matched by A.J. Burnett in 2011. Now, throwing an abundance of wild pitches doesn't necessarily mean that a pitcher is wild by nature. A pitcher is still more than capable of having a very low walk rate despite a high number of wild pitches (read: King Felix). However, this wasn't the case for Guzman and Burnett, as Guzman was third in walks during his notorious 1993 season and Burnett ranked fifth.
Nolan Ryan has the most career wild pitches of any pitcher since 1920 with 226, and his walk rates were usually high, yet he is considered one of the best pitchers in history. What I'm trying to say is this: wild pitches really don't mean anything, and you certainly can't judge a pitcher by them, but they're still fun to look at.
So let's focus on the 2014 season. Below I've identified the 10 pitchers with the most wild pitches, along with the number of batters they've plunked and their walk percentage.
*Bryan Morris is T-10 for wild pitches with 10 others, but I decided to include Morris because he's a reliever and has only pitched in 46 innings.
As I said earlier, Felix Hernandez is consistently wild -- only Burnett has more wild pitches since 2010 -- but never has a high walk rate. His stuff is sometimes so filthy that it has a life of its own. Call it effectively wild. Justin Masterson, on the other hand, is clearly the most wild starting pitcher in baseball. He has nine wild pitches, has hit the second-most batters and has the second-highest walk rate among qualified pitchers. With stats like that, it's no surprise that his FIP is 4.09.
Just recently, Daniel Schoenfeld wrote about the Chicago White Sox and their abysmal bullpen. Well, Daniel Webb is contributing to its uselessness. Despite a respectable 3.12 ERA, he owns a 4.06 FIP and has the fifth-highest walk rate among relievers, and the fact he has 10 wild pitches in only 40.1 innings is astounding. Same goes for Bryan Morris. He too has failed to control his pitches in a limited number of innings with seven wild ones in just over 46 innings.
Here's one of Webb's wild pitches that just happened to be the last pitch of the game.
I don't know about you, but I'm hoping Richards and/or Hernandez breaks the record. Not because of the notoriety they will surely receive (if anyone notices but me), but because I like the quirky part of baseball. And plus, it's just a fun stat to follow.
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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
Justin Schultz is a contributor for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @JSchu23.