Putting the K in 90K
The A’s franchise began play in 1901, and since then their pitchers have struck out a few opposing batters. From their half-century in Philadelphia, to their pit stop in Kansas City, to their current home in Oakland, they’ve missed a few bats along the way.
How many strikeouts does a team rack up over the course of roughly 120 years? Turns out the answer is 90,000.
The A’s faced the Seattle Mariners on Friday, and reliever Jake Diekman pitched the 7th inning. The lefty ended up taking the loss due to some wildness, but the important part here is that he struck out a pair of batters along the way. For the final out of the frame, he fanned J.P. Crawford, and that registered as the 90,000th in the franchise books. (Click for box score)
Here’s the milestone list, courtesy of the NBCS broadcast:
- 1: Chick Fraser, 1901
- 10,000: Weldon Wyckoff, 1915
- 20,000: Johnny Marcum, 1935
- 30,000: Bill Harrington, 1955
- 40,000: Blue Moon Odom, 1968
- 50,000: Rick Langford, 1980
- 60,000: Kelly Downs, 1992
- 70,000: Tim Hudson, 2003
- 80,000: Jarrod Parker, 2012
- 90,000: Jake Diekman, 2021
As you might expect, the list is growing more quickly in recent years as whiffs have escalated around the league. It used to take 15-20 years to rack up each set of 10,000 strikeouts, but now each of the last two checkpoints have required only nine seasons apiece.
Of course, any list of old names is also an excuse to reminisce. Parker should still be fresh in the memories of most of Athletics Nation, and with the way his career was cut short by injury it’s nice to see him hold a permanently immortal spot in the record books. Hudson requires no introduction, but here’s a link anyway. Downs was a swingman who spent most of his career with the Giants (including the 1989 World Series) before a final hurrah in Oakland (including the 1992 ALCS).
Langford was one of Billy Martin’s Five Aces, and he spent a decade here, which was basically his whole career. Odom of course was famously a member of the three-peat Swingin’ A’s dynasty, earning a trio of World Series rings to go with two All-Star berths over a dozen seasons — and his milestone came in 1968, the year they moved from KC to Oakland.
From there we go back to pre-Oakland history. Harrington only briefly played in the majors, and Marcum (nicknamed “Footsie” because of his big feet) played less than a decade and only a couple years for the A’s. The year that Wyckoff recorded his milestone strikeout, he also led MLB in losses, walks, and wild pitches, and led the AL in earned runs, though he did pitch for the A’s in the 1914 World Series.
As for Fraser, he only pitched one year for the A’s in between stints for the Phillies, but it was their inaugural year and he started the season opener so he earned the team’s first strikeout. Click here to learn all about that first-ever game in franchise history, starring Fraser and Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie. A baseball lifer, Fraser later threw a no-hitter for the Phillies, played for the 1907 and 1908 championship Cubs, and was brothers-in-law with Hall of Famer Fred Clarke.
And what more fitting name than Diekman to add to the list? He leads Oakland in K-rate this season, as part of a career-long reputation for piling up monster strikeout totals, and historically he represents the ever-increasing reliance on high-powered whiffy relievers instead of workhorse starters like Fraser or even Langford or Hudson.
Well done A’s pitchers on reaching 90,000 strikeouts! At MLB’s current pace, it feels like we might be celebrating 100,000 sometime in mid-September.