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Strikeout inflation

By JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 13, 2001


Not to cast aspersions on Randy Johnson's remarkable 20-strikeout performance last week, but the record is not as impressive as it once seemed. Between 1900-95, Roger Clemens was the only pitcher to strike out 20 hitters in nine innings. Since 1996, however, it's been done three times. Clemens did it again, followed by Kerry Wood and now Johnson. The problem is too many hitters are swinging for the fences and showing no concern for striking out. It is a trend that has been more apparent through the years. On the all-time list of strikeouts per nine innings, the top 10 pitchers are all post-1950. Actually, the top 25 are all post-1950. Walter Johnson was considered the greatest strikeout artist of the first half-century and he is no longer in the top 100 for strikeouts per game. Here are the greatest strikeout pitchers per nine innings. Don't bother memorizing -- it changes daily.

(Pitcher, years, K's per 9 innings)

Randy Johnson,1988-present,11.01

Pedro Martinez, 1992-present,10.46

Nolan Ryan,1966-93, 9.55

Sandy Koufax,1955-66, 9.28

Sam McDowell,1961-75, 8.86

Roger Clemens,1984-present, 8.58

Sid Fernandez, 1983-97, 8.40

J.R. Richard, 1971-80, 8.37

David Cone, 1986-present,8.33

Curt Schilling, 1988-present,8.2

- Compiled by John Romano.

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