Interesting Tidbits About Baseball Pitching Triple Crown Winners!

Interesting Tidbits About Baseball Pitching Triple Crown Winners!

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Today we feature the first guest post from one of our readers, Will Braund. I think you’ll enjoy it:

Interesting Tidbits About Baseball Pitching Triple Crown Winners!

The list of batters who’ve won a Triple Crown is short, just fifteen ball players. But a longer, lesser known list of 27 pitchers have won Triple Crowns (Wins, Strikeouts, and ERA) a total of 36 times. Four of them – Christy Mathewson, Lefty Grove, Lefty Gomez, and Roger Clemens – won twice; and three hurlers have won three: Walter Johnson, “Old Pete” Alexander, and Sandy Koufax.

I’m going to rate the best or worst Triple Crown pitchers in a number of different categories. You might find some of my categories a bit unusual!

  • Most Wins: “Old Hoss” Radbourne, with 59 wins in 1884 after posting 48 the year before. He may have “worn out his wing,” as he never again won more than 28. Christy Mathewson has the most since 1900, with 37 wins in 1908.
  • Fewest Wins: A tie between Johan Santana in 2006 and Jake Peavy in 2007, each with 19 wins.
  • Most Losses: American Association pitcher Guy Hecker with 20 in 1884. He also won 52 games so let’s cut him some slack!
  • Fewest Losses: Three pitchers tied with four losses, Lefty Grove (1931), Dwight Gooden (1985), and Pedro Martinez (1999).
  • Stingiest: Walter Johnson, with a 1.14 ERA in 1913.
  • Most Generous: Amos Rusie, with a 2.78 ERA in 1894 (Santana came close with a 2.77 in 2006).
  • Most Baffling: “Old Hoss” Radbourne, who struck out 441 batters in 678 innings in 1884. Guy Hecker whiffed 385 in a measly 670 innings the same year, while Sandy Koufax leads the modern era with 382 Ks in 1965.
  • Least Baffling: Bucky Walters, with just 137 Ks in 1939. This was actually the most K’s he ever had in a season.
  • Fastest: Walter Johnson, with honorable mention going to Amos Rusie, the “Hoosier Thunderbolt” (1894). John Clarkson, Denton True “Cy” Young, Kid Nichols, and Rusie were all responsible for the pitching rubber being moved back to 60’ 6”.
  • Best Fireman: Lefty Grove, with a 28-5 record in 1930 and nine saves, although the statistic was not yet recognized.
  • Best Hitter: Guy Hecker, with a .282 lifetime average. In 1886, he actually led the Louisville Colonels with a .341 average, four homers, and a .446 slugging average. Honorable Mention goes to Hal Newhouser and Dwight Gooden, also good hitters.
  • Tallest: Randy Johnson, at 6’ 10”.
  • Shortest: Tommy Bond (the first winner in 1877), at 5’ 7”. Ball players were a lot shorter back then.
  • Lightest: John Clarkson (1889), at 155 lbs. (see above).
  • Best Moustache: Tim Keefe (1888). Nineteenth Century baseball seemed to produce a lot of small players with big “staches,” especially in the 1880s and ‘90s (Rollie Fingers would have fit right in!).
  • Youngest: Dwight Gooden, who was 20 when he won in 1885. A close second was Bob Feller (21) in 1940.
  • Oldest: Walter Johnson. The “Big Train” was 36 when he won his third Triple Crown in 1924
  • Handsomest: Christy Mathewson (1905, 1908).
  • Most Patriotic: Bob Feller, who missed three years at his prime to serve in the Navy.
  • Most ‘Juiced’: Roger Clemens (1997 and ‘98 with Toronto).
  • Least Popular: Explosive perfectionist Hal “Hurricane” Newhouser. They say even his teammates couldn’t stand his tirades, one of which featured “Prince Hal” smashing 24 bottles of Coke against a clubhouse wall!
  • Worst Nickname: 6’ 4”, 215 lb. Jim “Hippo” Vaughn. Later in his career “Hippo” swelled to nearly 300 lbs!
  • Best Accent: Tommy Bond from Granard, Ireland (although he gets tagged with the worst haircut!).
  • Meanest: Pedro Martinez (1999) hit 141 batters in 2,827 innings, while Walter Johnson hit 205 in 5,914 innings. Ty Cobb always crowded the plate against Johnson knowing the “Big Train” was deathly afraid of hitting batters with his blazing fastball.
  • Whackiest: No contest. It goes “hands down” to gator wrestling, live snake-chewing, Rube Waddell (read about him in “King of the Hall of Flakes”).

Here’s a list of the best hitters and pitchers without a Triple Crown to show for their brilliant careers. In reverse order of surprise, in my opinion, they are:  Nolan Ryan, Stan Musial, Juan Marichal, Ed Walsh, Alex Rodriguez, Dan Brouthers, Hank Aaron, Tom Seaver, Ed Delahanty, Greg Maddux, Joe Jackson, Joe Dimaggio, Warren Spahn, Willie Mays, Cy Young, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth.

Some great players, like Dizzy Dean and Joe Jackson, had their careers cut short. Others had stiff competition in all three categories, like Marichal, who was overshadowed by Koufax. For others, it was stiff competition in just one of the three categories for much of their career. Examples include Babe Ruth having to compete with Ty Cobb for the batting average crown. Five times the Babe led the league in homers and RBIs but his averages weren’t quite “up to snuff”: just .322, .376, .378, 393, and .378. What a bum!

Photo Credits: All from Google search

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.


  1. Alan E Kayser · November 24, 2017 Reply

    I’m quite sure that neither Mr. Keefe nor Mr. Duffy would mind considering they are no longer with us, but the photo you have posted and identified as Mr. Keefe is actually Mr. Duffy. No mustache.

  2. Ken S. · November 28, 2017 Reply

    The image of Tommy Bond is identified as Guy Hecker, and vice versa.

  3. Gary Livacari · November 28, 2017 Reply


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