Some achievements on the field might stand forever…simply because the game just isn’t played the same way anymore.
Johnson pitched for the Washington Senators from 1907 to 1927. While playing for one team for an entire career in today’s era of free agency is rare enough (recent exception: forever-Yankee Derek Jeter), Johnson routinely pitched complete games. To save players’ arms, and maximize their efficiency, teams today generally use two or three pitchers over the course of a game. Pitchers rarely throw for an entire game, let alone not allow any runs the whole time. The active player closest to Johnson’s shutout record is Tim Hudson…with 13.
Cy Young’s 511 wins
The only pitcher to win more games than Johnson (417) was Young, a pitcher so dominant in early baseball that the award for the season’s best pitchers is named after him. Again, his record will likely stand forever because teams work their pitchers less. Today, a starting pitcher is part of a five-man rotation. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was a three-man rotation, allowing for more games played and opportunities to win. Again, the closest pitcher today, to Young, is Tim Hudson, with 214 games won.
Bob Gibson’s 1.12 earned run average
Bob Gibson so thoroughly destroyed the competition in 1968 that the rules of Major League Baseball were changed. The St. Louis Cardinals ace threw 13 shutouts and threw all nine innings of all 34 games he started. His earned run average, a measure by which pitchers are judged, of which the closer to 0 it is, the better, was a record 1.12. After the season MLB passed the “Gibson rules,” lowering the pitcher’s mound by five inches and shrinking the strike zone to give opposing batters a better shot.
For more baseball trivia read Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Sports Spectacular.