Hall Monitor: the durable Jamie Moyer
By Trevor Hayes
Let’s get it out of the way so we can start dissecting what it means: Jamie Moyer has allowed more home runs than any other player in the history of the game.
On Sunday during the bottom of the third inning, Toronto’s Vernon Wells hit the first pitch he saw from Moyer into the left field seats – the 506th home run allowed during Moyer’s 24-year career. The home run moved Moyer into sole possession of the record and past fellow Philles legend, Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.
In baseball history, 25 men have hit 500 home runs. Only Moyer and Roberts have given up that many, so Moyer is in good company. Roberts held or shared the all-time home runs allowed title for 52 years and 321 days. The Hall of Famer won 286 games, compiled up a .539 winning percentage and finished his 19-year career with a 3.41 career ERA. He was a workhorse with 305 complete games in 609 starts. He pitched 4,688 innings.
Just below Roberts on the homers-allowed list are Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins (484), Phil Niekro (482) and Don Sutton (472). Among the home runs allowed top ten, there are six Hall of Famers, six 3,000-striekout pitchers, five 300-game winners and no one under 4,000 innings pitched.
The record speaks to the longevity of Moyer’s career. In the same game Moyer gave up the record-breaking home run, he threw his 4,000th inning. Just 28 men since 1901 have logged that many innings. Nineteen of them are in the Hall of Fame, and five others are named Bert Blyleven, Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux.
Looking at Moyer’s stats, you come to the conclusion that if he’s pitched 24 seasons and registered 4,005 inning in the majors, he had to be doing something right. To this point, Moyer has collected 267 wins, 2,393 strikeouts and owns a .571 winning percentage in 682 career games. He’s fourth in the National League in wins this season at nine and fifth in shutouts and complete games, despite being the oldest player in the majors for the last three years. He owns a pair of 20-win seasons and he’s only led the league in home runs allowed once.
Moyer’s age, 47, shows his ability to re-invent himself to find ways to get hitters out and be effective – and has been an underlying storyline to his career for the last few years. This season he recorded a complete game victory in his 264th career win. The victory was also his 100th since turning 40. Only two pitchers prior to Moyer had won 100 games on the north side of 40, Niekro (121) and Jack Quinn (104). Moyer is now at 103 and still going strong.
Lefties like Moyer have a penchant for hanging on. He’s hung on long enough to see his son was drafted (this season by the Twins in the 22nd round). He’s hung on long enough to face a 20-year-old rookie who was born in 1990 – Moyer’s fifth major league season. Starlin Castro got a hit off Moyer, creating the largest age gap between a hitter and pitcher since 21-year-old Tim Foli got a hit off Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm at 49 in 1972.
One last age note related to Moyer. Since 1901, Only Satchel Paige, Wilhelm, Quinn, Niekro, Kaiser Wilhelm and Nick Altrock pitched at 47 or older. Paige was in a one-game stunt with the Kansas City A’s to make him the oldest player at 58, but his last real season was at 46. Hoyt Wilhelm and Quinn both pitched at 49, appearing in 16 and 14 games respectively. At 48, Wilhelm had similar number (20 appearances), while Quinn threw 87 innings in 42 games. Also at 48, Niekro made 26 starts, pitching 138 innings. Niekro, Quinn and Hoyt Wilhelm were all effective at 47.
So the question becomes, how much longer will Jamie Moyer go?
Trevor Hayes is editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.