The 100 Greatest in 100 Days: #20 Walter Johnson

Chugging in at #20 is “The Big Train” Walter Johnson. Johnson’s combination of peak and longevity is the gold standard for starting pitchers as he maintained his elite production for two decades, winning two MVPs and permanently stamping his name at the top of baseball’s historical leaderboards. Johnson’s 417 wins are the most since Major League Baseball formed in 1903 and trail only Cy Young since baseball’s inception.  Johnson is second all-time in WAR trailing only Babe Ruth. He’s #1 all-time in shutouts, leading the league a record seven times. He’s third all-time in innings, 5th in complete games, and 9th in strikeouts, leading the league a record 11 times. He’s also 7th all-time in adjusted ERA and 11th in WHIP. Johnson was ahead of his time especially due to his proclivity for the strikeout. He was the only pitcher to debut before 1959 to reach 3,000 career strikeouts and the only pitcher in the first 81 years of Major League Baseball to reach 3,500 career strikeouts. He led the league in strikeouts for a record eight consecutive seasons. Johnson was at his apex from 1910 to 1919 when he won 20 games for 10 consecutive seasons with an ERA+ of 183. During this run, Johnson set the record for most consecutive 25 win seasons (7) and tied the record for the most consecutive 27 win seasons (4). Johnson had 10 seasons in which he started at least 28 games and had an ERA under 2.00. No other pitcher has thrown more than six. Johnson threw at least 320 innings in nine consecutive seasons. Since Major League Baseball’s inception, no other pitcher has even thrown more than six in total. Johnson produced nine seasons in which he started at least 27 games with a WHIP less than 1.00. No other pitcher in Major League Baseball history did it more than six times. Johnson led the Washington Senators to a World Series appearance in 1925 and a World Series title in 1924. He entered the 9th inning of Game 7 of the ’24 series and pitched four scoreless innings on one day’s rest as the Senators prevailed in the longest Game 7 in World Series history.