BBHOF Profile: Randy Johnson

randy-johnson-mariners-triThere may have never been a more appropriate nickname in the MLB the “The Big Unit,” a nickname given to Randy Johnson at the start of his career.

While practicing with the Montreal Expos the 6’10” Johnson ran into Tim Raines and “The Big Unit” nickname was born.

Johnson was a towering figure standing at 6’”10 on flat ground then being put on a mound that adds another 10” to tower over batters.

That was key for Johnson as he used that height to his advantage and became one of the most overpowering pitchers in MLB history.

These days pitching has turned into a quest to find the hurler who can throw 100 mph or more in order to overpower batters.

It seems like every year more young arms come into the league throwing at or around 100 mph with their fastballs.

The era of the junk pitcher who had plenty of pitchers to throw at batters and keep them on their toes is long gone.

Those pitchers that had the ability to throw anything at any time and were able to put together a strategy around what they could throw is no longer in play.

Instead pitchers come into the MLB with a fastball and a couple of other pitches including, usually, a changeup.

That is where pitching has gone now as fast is what teams want and if you’re not fast enough then you have no place in the MLB.

All of that could be brought back to the steroid era in baseball where junk pitchers were easy to be hit by batters using PEDs.

The start of this era in pitching may also be traced back to Johnson who was one of the first starting pitchers to consistently throw over 100 mph.

He reached the 100 mph mark for the majority of the first half of his career and that made him utterly dominant when he pitched.

His velocity was impressive even when not pitching his fastball though as his slider was his out pitch and he through it in the low 90s.

That velocity on a pitch that breaks is unheard of and almost impossible to hit from a batter’s perspective.


When the ball came out of Johnson’s hand it looked like a fastball with the speed but at the last minute it fell off confusing batters.

Just when they thought they knew where the ball was going to be they swung and missed on a great breaking pitch.

Even when Johnson was nearing the end of his career his fastball only dropped to around 96 mph while his slider was around 87 mph.

That is still fast for an aging pitcher and it kept him dominant for years keeping him on the mound for 21 years in the major leagues.

In those 21 years there are few pitchers who were truly at the top of their games as consistently as Johnson.

From 1999 until 2002 Johnson won the National League Cy Young Award allowing nobody else to take the top pitching award in the MLB.

For four seasons Johnson was deemed the best pitcher in the National League even among some of his fellow Hall of Famers, he was deemed the best.

Along with 10 All-Star appearances Johnson was clearly one of the best of his era but his other stats make him one of the best.

He has a total of 4,875 strikeouts in his career which puts him behind Nolan Ryan with the second most strikeouts in MLB history.

His height is the most immediate mark that “The Big Unit” made while in the MLB but his dominance as a power pitcher was more than just impressive and has landed him into the Hall of Fame in the Class of 2015.


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