Just a Bit Outside

The Washington Senators’ Chuck Stobbs threw the wildest pitch in baseball history when he delivered a fastball into the 17th row of the stands in a 1956 game against the Detroit Tigers. Almost four decades later another capable American League starter would surprise observers with a different wild pitch record.

Juan Guzman threw 26 wild pitches over the course of 221 innings of work in 1993. That works out to one every 8 1/2 innings and is an AL record that still stands. The mark isn’t a Major League record with Guzman ranking only in the top 150 for his 1993 season. Wild pitches were much more common in the 19th century due to problematic baseballs, less developed catching equipment, pitchers who made dozens of starts per year, and the greater involvement of gamblers with the sport. The American League did not coalesce until 1901, well after the more chaotic 1880s that dominate the all-time standings.

Elevated odds of an out-of-control slider wasn’t the only thing that made early ’90s batters fear Guzman. He was among the game’s best pitchers from 1991-1993, going 40-11 with almost 500 strikeouts in that span. Batters only hit .220 against him. He had the league’s lowest ratio of homeruns to 9 innings pitched in 1992 despite not being a groundball pitcher. He capped off those years with a 5-0 performance in Toronto’s 1992 and 1993 AL Championship Series.

Before getting to Toronto Guzman had been part of one of the best non-MLB rotations. He frequently teamed up with fellow Dominican phenoms Ramon and Pedro Martinez (yes, that Pedro). The trio were all signed by Dodgers scouts. Although trades would send them in different directions, they remain close through another connection: Juan married Ramon and Pedro’s sister.