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06/30/2004 Archived Entry: "MLB news: Johnson joins elite 4,000-K club"
Milestones: June 21 to 29
By Michael Toeset
RANDY JOHNSON already pitched a perfect game this season, so it may have seemed as if nothing he could do would top that. But on June 29, Johnson joined a super-elite group: the 4,000-strikeout club. The Big Unit became only the fourth pitcher ever to record at least 4,000 Ks, joining Nolan Ryan (5,714), Roger Clemens (4,200) and Steve Carlton (4,136).
Johnson struck out Jeff Cirillo in the eighth inning for No. 4,000, and in the process reached that plateau faster than the other three members of the club. At the time of his historic punch-out, Johnson had pitched 3,237 1/3 innings, a ratio of 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
The 40-year-old lefty is in the midst of his 17th season, but he didn’t become the imposing figure we know until the year he turned 30. That season, 1993, Johnson struck out 308 batters and walked 99 – the first time in his first four full seasons that he stayed below the 100-walk mark. The previous years he had walked 120, 152 and 144 batters, an absurd rate. But once Johnson learned to tame his blazing fastball, he never looked back. The season numbers since 1993:
1994: 204 K, 72 BB
1995: 294, 65
1996: 85, 25
1997: 291, 77
1998: 329, 86
1999: 364, 70
2000: 347, 76
2001: 372, 71
2002: 334, 71
2003: 125, 27
This season: 129, 25
One wonders what Johnson’s career stats would look like had he been the pitcher he is now when he was in his 20s. This season we might be celebrating more than just Bonds’ historic home run chase; we could be watching Johnson pass the seemingly impossible K record that Ryan established. However, Johnson’s career has been of Hall-of-Fame caliber, and his numbers still impress. The career stats as of June 29:
IP: 3,237 2/3
In other milestones:
MIKE CAMERON recorded his 500th walk on June 22. Cameron, who would be a superstar if only he could get more walks and control the plate better, has never had more than 80 walks in a season. He has, however, notched more than 100 strikeouts in seven consecutive seasons, and he’s on track this season to best his personal strikeout record (176).
On June 23, SEAN CASEY reached two milestones: in home runs and RBI. The mighty Casey struck his 100th homer and drove in his 500th run. Despite great expectations at the beginning of his career, Casey has been more of a Mark Grace-type player – until this year, that is. He’s on track to set personal bests in nearly all the major categories, and at present, he’s batting .352 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI. His previous career highs are 25 homers and 99 RBI.
Second basemen RAY DURHAM hit his 300th double on June 25. Durham has been a decent doubles hitter over the years, recording seasons of 42, 35, 35 and 33 doubles.
Can anyone name a team MIGUEL BATISTA has been on? It shouldn’t be too hard, as he’s done time with seven franchises. Over the years, Batista has remained somewhat anonymous, but on June 26, he tossed his 1,000th inning. Batista’s other numbers are nothing to write home about, but they’re decent: 48-55 record, 4.35 ERA, 668 strikeouts and 433 walks.
JEFF CIRILLO has been pretty much MIA since 2001, but he’s played enough to reach 500 walks. Like Cameron, he’s never walked much – his high is 79 – but he doesn’t strike out nearly as much – his high is 88.
BARRY BONDS has been out of the spotlight since he passed Willie Mays on the all-time home run list, but he’s still chasing milestones, albeit less sexy ones. And on June 27, Bonds scored his 2,000th run, becoming only the seventh player ever to reach that mark. Two days earlier, Bonds passed Cap Anson’s 1,996 runs to claim seventh place. Next up on the runs list? None other than Mays, who scored 2,062 runs over his storied career.
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