Every once in a while, my focus during work will wane (maybe more than "once in a while"), and I'll go on a what I like to call a "baseball-reference tangent search". I'll wondering what Derek Jeter's statistics were in 1996 and sooner than I know it, I'll be looking at the 2007 game splits for Hiram Bocachica. A lot of people do this on Wikipedia - you'll start off wondering what movie David Fincher did before "Panic Room" and then BAM, you're reading up on Thunder Cats. Except doing this on baseball-reference.com is way nerdier. My latest and greatest (not at all) search has led to Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge.
These days, Brad Lidge is best known for being the most consistent and reliable cause of ulcers in the western Pennsylvania region. Even with a bounceback year in 2010, Lidge is still the guy that has lost his job as a closer twice (once in Philly and once in Houston) and has vacillated between alternatively ridiculous (in a good way) and ridiculous (in a bad way) seasons. But in 2004, Brad was the former; in fact, he had one of the greatest seasons for a reliever ever. Check out his statistical line:
6 wins, 29 saves, 1.90 ERA, .919 WHIP, 94 2/3 innings pitched, 157 strikeouts, 30 walks, 57 hits allowed
Wow. For those of you not statistically savvy, Lidge struck out 157 batters in 94 innings pitched, which is about 20 more innings than a reliever usually pitches. Just to capture the full scope of how abnormal Lidge’s season was, let’s look at a few guys that struck out fewer batters than him:
Chris Carpenter: 152 K
Greg Maddux: 151 K
John Lackey: 144 K
The hook here is the innings they did it in – 182, 212 and 198, respectively. Yes, these guys threw twice as many innings (or more!) as Lidge and struck out less batters! Not only that, but he allowed less than 1 walk or hit an inning over an entire season - which basically means that more often than not, he'd come out there, allow maybe one hit or walk, strike out a couple dudes and then go home for a glass of wine and to watch his stories. Amazing. Brad Lidge, I salute you. In 2004. Before you got to be terrible.