I remember watching Randy Johnson pitch, he was so tall (the tallest baseball player ever at 6'10") and had an amazing fastball and a lefty!
Yes - Randy Johnson's fastball hits a bird, as you'll see in the clip, but what I didn't appreciate enough until now was his amazing journey and career. I didn't realize how much of his success came after the age of 35! Kudos to this author for such a detailed and compelling story of Randy Johnson. Please watch this video overview of the Big Unit!
Video Credit https://www.youtube.com/ @madethecut
Randy Johnson is widely regarded as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. Standing at 6'10" tall and nicknamed "The Big Unit," Johnson was known for his imposing size and intimidating fastball, which often reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour. Over the course of his 22-year career, Johnson achieved numerous accolades and accomplishments, including five Cy Young Awards and induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.
Early Career and Poor Control
Johnson began his career with the Montreal Expos in 1988, but he struggled with his control and consistency on the mound. In his first two seasons, he posted a combined record of just 6-14 with an ERA of over 5.00. Despite his struggles, Johnson was recognized as a pitcher with immense potential due to his size and velocity.
However, Johnson's control problems continued to plague him in the early years of his career. He walked an average of 6.2 batters per nine innings in his first full season in 1989, and his erratic performances led to him being traded to the Seattle Mariners in 1989.
Advice from Nolan Ryan
Johnson's career took a turn for the better in Seattle, where he had the opportunity to work with legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan. Ryan, who was known for his own overpowering fastball and longevity in the game, saw potential in Johnson's abilities and worked with him to improve his mechanics and control.
Under Ryan's guidance, Johnson began to make strides in his performance on the mound. He lowered his walk rate and improved his strikeout numbers, and in 1993 he posted a career-high 308 strikeouts while leading the American League in strikeouts per nine innings.
Cy Young Awards and Dominance After Age 35
Despite his improvement, Johnson's true dominance did not come until later in his career. After being traded to the Houston Astros in 1998 and then the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1999, Johnson entered a stretch of four consecutive Cy Young Award-winning seasons from 1999 to 2002.
During this stretch, Johnson was virtually unhittable on the mound. He led the league in strikeouts each year, and in 2001 he became just the fifth pitcher in history to win 20 games and strike out 300 batters in the same season. He also helped lead the Diamondbacks to a World Series championship in 2001, earning co-MVP honors with teammate Curt Schilling.
What is even more remarkable is that Johnson achieved this dominant stretch after the age of 35, an age when many pitchers begin to decline in performance. Johnson's success at an advanced age was a testament to his dedication and work ethic, as well as his ability to make adjustments to his game as he aged.
Career Stat Highlights
Here are some of the key career stat highlights from Randy Johnson's 22-year career:
- 303-166 win-loss record
- 3.29 ERA
- 4,875 strikeouts (second-most all-time)
- 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings (highest all-time)
- 100 complete games
- 37 shutouts
- 5 Cy Young Awards (tied for most all-time with Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux)
- 10 All-Star selections
- 2 no-hitters
- 1 perfect game
- Hall of Fame induction in 2015
Randy Johnson's career is a testament to his perseverance, hard work, and dedication to his craft. Despite struggling with control issues early in his career, he was able to make adjustments and work with legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan to become one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history. His four consecutive Cy Young Awards after the age of 35 are a testament to his ability to age gracefully