The Wildest Pitchers in Baseball History
Not wild, like party wild. Not wild, like big beards, purple parachute pants or daring ‘dos. Not wild, like Mitch Williams.
These guys threw the most wild pitches ever.
Not so wild they couldn’t make it in the big leagues or even just make the big leagues. Just the opposite. A handful are even Hall of Famers, including the wildest of them all, Nolan Ryan. The others are Phil Niekro, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, Walter Johnson and Tom Seaver.
It helps to have a lengthy career. Most of these pitchers played nearly 20 years or more than 20.
Ryan missed the mitt 277 times, a full 51 more than second place, knuckler Niekro. Niekro is considered the best knuckle ball pitcher of all time and Ryan is baseball’s all-time strikeouts leader (and has a likely untouchable seven no-hitters).
It’s a colorful list of interesting players overall. They played all of their careers in the 20th and 21st centuries (no dudes from the 1800’s here). I excluded pitchers who accumulated wads of wild pitches before the unification of the National and American Leagues in 1901 (including Cy Young).
Most are right-handers. Then again, most pitchers have been right-handed.
And there’s one active. Where will A.J. Burnett finish up? He’s already in the top 10.
|1.||Nolan Ryan||277||R||1966, 1968-1993||New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers|
|2.||Phil Niekro||226||R||1964-1987||Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays|
|3.||Jack Morris||206||R||1977-1994||Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians|
|4.||Tommy John||187||L||1963-1974, 1976-1989||Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, California Angels, Oakland A’s|
|5.||Steve Carlton||183||L||1965-1988||St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins|
|6.||Charlie Hough||179||R||1970-1994||Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, Florida Marlins|
|7.||Joe Niekro||172||R||1967-1988||Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins|
|8.||Gaylord Perry||160||R||1962-1983||San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals|
|9.||Walter Johnson||154||R||1907-1927||Washington Senators|
|10.||A.J. Burnett||152||R||1999-present||Florida Marlins, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies|
|11.||David Cone||149||R||1986-2001, 2003||Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox|
|12.||John Smoltz||145||R||1988-1999, 2001-2009||Atlanta Braves|
|13.||Roger Clemens||143||R||1984-2007||Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Houston Astros|
|14.||Sam McDowell||140||L||1961-1975||Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates|
|15.||Mike Moore||135||R||1982-1995||Seattle Mariners, Oakland A’s, Detroit Tigers|
|16.||Tim Wakefield||134||R||1992, 1993, 1995-2011||Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox|
|17.||Chuck Finley||130||L||1986-2002||California/Anaheim Angels, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals|
|18.||Bobby Witt||128||R||1986-2001||Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s, Florida Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks|
|19.||Jim Kaat||128||L||1959-1983||Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals|
|20.||Tom Seaver||126||R||1967-1986||New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox|