When you think of 20-game winners in the majors, most of the time you probably think of a fireballin’ pitcher who strikes out a lot of batters. That is not, however, the case all the time. In fact, there have been several pitchers who have won 20 or more games in a season who did not depend on the strikeout for their success.
In MLB history, there have been 132 pitchers who have won 20 or more games in a season with fewer than 100 strikeouts that season. The interesting thing about this stat is that 125 of those pitchers accomplished this prior to 1970. Only seven pitchers have won 20-plus games with less than 100 strikeouts since 1970.
The all-time leader in this odd statistic is Cincinnati hurler Slim Sallee who had only 24 strikeouts in 1919 with 21 victories in the books.
Here are the seven pitchers who tallied fewer than 100 K’s when they were a 20-game winner.
Pitcher, team, year
Tommy John, NY Yankees, 1980, 78 strikeouts/22 wins
Ross Grimsley, Montreal, 1978, 84 strikeouts/20 wins
Dave McNally, Baltimore, 1971, 91 strikeouts/21 wins
Bill Gullickson, Detroit, 1991, 91 strikeouts/20 wins
Ed Figueroa, NY Yankees, 1978, 92 strikeouts/20 wins
Randy Jones, San Diego, 1976, 93 strikeouts/22 wins
Bob Forsch, St. Louis, 1977, 95 strikeouts/20 wins
Since 2000, there have been only three times where a 20-game winner had less than 130 strikeouts in that season. Jamie Moyer did it twice; in 2001 with Seattle when he had 119 strikeouts in a 20-win season, and two years later with the Mariners when he had 129 K’s in a 21-win season. The other pitcher on the list is Derek Lowe; he won 21 games in 2002 with Boston and had 127 strikeouts that season.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp