In the beginning, pitch counts weren't en vogue in baseball. In days of yore, teams would trot out a rotation of, at most, three or four pitchers, day in and day out. If Walter Johnson started a game, you could pretty much assume he was going to finish it, and on his days off, he'd come in and pick up a multi-inning save or two to boot. Although the concept of pitch counts didn't exist back then and the records are sketchy, we can easily imagine that The Big Train threw several seasons worth of 5,000-plus pitches in his prime. Compare that number to the modern age of five-man rotations and seventh-inning specialists, and it should come as no surprise that since 2000 only two pitchers have topped 4,000 pitches in a single regular season, Randy Johnson (twice, 2000 and 2001) and Livan Hernandez in 2005.
6hChris Low and Adam Rittenberg
6hEthan Sherwood Strauss
8hESPN Sports Analytics Group