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Bob Feller: Breaking Records and Defining Pitching Greatness

Bob Feller: A Dominant Pitcher and Workhorse

When it comes to legendary pitchers in Major League Baseball, Bob Feller’s name is at the top of the list. Feller, who played for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1956, is ranked among the greatest pitchers of all time.

He was known for his fastball, which was regularly clocked in the 90s, and his workhorse mentality, which allowed him to pitch complete games with ease. In this article, we will take a closer look at Feller’s career and accomplishments, with a particular focus on his record-breaking 1946 season.

Bob Feller’s Early Life and MLB Debut

Born in Van Meter, Iowa, in 1918, Bob Feller grew up in a family of farmers. His father, William Feller, was a carpenter and a farmer, and his mother, Lena, was a homemaker.

From an early age, Feller showed a natural talent for baseball. He played on his high school team and was scouted by the Cleveland Indians in 1935.

At the age of 17, Feller made his debut with the Indians, pitching in relief against the St. Louis Cardinals. He struck out 15 batters in his first game, setting a new record for strikeouts in a debut game.

Feller’s talent was apparent from the beginning, and he quickly established himself as one of the best pitchers in the league. Feller’s Record-Breaking 1946 Season

While Feller had many successful seasons throughout his career, his 1946 season was particularly notable.

That year, he set a new record for most complete games in a season, with 36. He also led the league in innings pitched, with 371.1, and strikeouts, with 348.

Feller’s dominance on the mound was clear, and he was named an All-Star for the seventh time in his career. Feller’s success in 1946 was all the more impressive given the challenges he faced.

That year, many MLB players returned from serving in World War II, and the level of competition was higher than ever. Despite this, Feller managed to set records and pitch at a consistently high level throughout the season.

Feller’s Overall Career and Legacy

Bob Feller’s career was marked by numerous accolades and accomplishments, both on and off the field. He was a Hall-of-Famer, a six-time 20-game winner, and an eight-time All-Star.

He also served in the US Navy during World War II, putting his baseball career on hold to fight for his country. As a pitcher, Feller was known for his powerful fastball and his workhorse mentality.

He pitched over 3,800 innings in his career, averaging over 250 innings per season. He also struck out over 2,500 batters, putting him among the top 50 pitchers in MLB history in that category.

Feller’s legacy lives on to this day, both through his statistics and his impact on the game of baseball. He was a trailblazer in many ways, paving the way for future generations of pitchers to follow in his footsteps.

Feller’s Impressive Stats and Achievements

When it comes to Bob Feller’s 1946 season, his statistics speak for themselves. He pitched in 48 games, starting 42 of them, and led the league in wins, with 26.

He also had a remarkable 2.18 ERA, which was among the best in the league. But perhaps his most impressive achievement that year was his record-breaking 36 complete games, a feat that has yet to be surpassed.

Feller’s dominance extended beyond just the 1946 season, however. He finished his career with a total of 266 wins, 44 shutouts, and a 3.25 ERA.

He also threw three no-hitters, including one on Opening Day in 1940, which remains the only no-hitter thrown on Opening Day in MLB history. Feller’s Ranking Among MLB Players

Bob Feller’s impact on the game of baseball cannot be overstated.

He was consistently ranked among the best pitchers of his time, and his stats back that up. In terms of wins above replacement (WAR), which is a statistic that measures a player’s overall value to their team, Feller ranks 26th all time, ahead of players like Warren Spahn and Christy Mathewson.

In addition to his WAR, Feller ranks highly among pitchers in a number of other categories. He is fifth all time in strikeouts per nine innings pitched, with a rate of 8.54.

He is also eighth all time in strikeouts, with a total of 2,581. Feller’s Workhorse Mentality

One of the things that set Bob Feller apart from other pitchers of his time was his workhorse mentality.

Feller was known for pitching complete games, even in an era when most pitchers were starting to be used more sparingly. He once famously said, “I’d rather give up two runs and win than go nine innings and strike out 18 and lose.”

Feller’s dedication to his craft was evident in many ways.

In addition to his record-breaking 1946 season, he also led the league in innings pitched six times in his career. He also had a close relationship with his catcher, Red Embree, who helped him to manage his workload and keep him fresh throughout the season.


Bob Feller was a dominant pitcher, a dedicated workhorse, and a trailblazer in the world of baseball. His record-breaking 1946 season remains one of the most impressive individual achievements in the history of the game.

But beyond his stats and his accomplishments, Feller’s legacy is also about his impact on the game and the way he approached his craft. He was a true competitor and an inspiration to generations of baseball players to come.

Bob Feller’s 36 Complete Games: An Unbreakable Record

When it comes to pitching in Major League Baseball, the role of starting pitchers has been an ever-evolving one. Gone are the days of pitchers regularly throwing complete games, inning after inning, almost every time they started.

But one pitcher, Bob Feller, will forever be synonymous with the art of pitching complete games. Feller holds the record for most complete games in a season with an impressive 36.

In this article, we will delve into Feller’s record-setting season, explain how he managed to pitch so many complete games, and explore why his record is likely to stand the test of time. Feller’s Unbreakable Record

Since Feller set the record back in 1946, no pitcher has come close to matching it.

The closest a pitcher has come is Tom Glavine, who pitched 27 complete games for the Atlanta Braves in 1998. The fact that no pitcher has come within ten games of Feller’s record in 75 years shows how impressive his achievement truly was.

In modern times, most starting pitchers don’t even reach 36 starts in a season, let alone complete games. Some pitchers have come close, though.

In 1973, Steve Carlton pitched 30 complete games for the Philadelphia Phillies. And in 1991, both Jack Morris and Dennis Martinez pitched 11 complete games for the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos, respectively.

However, none of these pitchers came close to matching Feller’s record, which only adds to its significance. Explanation of Feller’s Record

So how was Feller able to pitch so many complete games?

One answer lies in the style of pitching that was prevalent during his time. Feller pitched in what is known as the “live-ball era,” which spanned from the mid-1920s to the mid-1940s.

During this time, home runs and extra-base hits were much more common than they had been in previous eras. As a result, starting pitchers were relied upon to pitch deep into games and to pitch complete games whenever possible.

Another factor in Feller’s ability to pitch complete games was his pitching style. Feller was known for his fastball, which he could throw in the mid-to-upper 90s.

He also had a devastating curveball and a slider, which made him a formidable opponent for any batter he faced. Feller’s repertoire of pitches allowed him to keep batters off balance and to pitch deep into games without experiencing a drop in his performance.

Of course, Feller’s ability to pitch complete games also depended on his physical conditioning and mental toughness. He was known for his workhorse mentality and his ability to pitch through pain and discomfort.

He also had a close relationship with his catcher, Red Embree, who helped him to manage his workload and to make strategic decisions during games. But perhaps most important in Feller’s ability to pitch so many complete games was the commonality of complete games during his era.

In the 1946 season, Feller’s record-setting year, 11 different pitchers in the American League pitched at least 20 complete games. Only one pitcher in the entire league failed to pitch at least one complete game that year.

This shows just how different the game of baseball was back then and how much more emphasis was placed on starting pitchers to finish what they started. Feller’s Enduring Legacy

Today, the idea of a pitcher throwing 36 complete games in a season seems almost impossible.

Starting pitchers are used more sparingly, with most teams relying on rotations of four or five pitchers to get through a season. In 2019, Miami Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara led the league with just three complete games for the entire season.

Feller’s record of 36 complete games stands as a benchmark of excellence in the world of pitching. It is unlikely that any pitcher will ever come close to breaking it, given how much the game has changed since Feller’s era.

To put Feller’s record in perspective, consider that the most complete games in a season by any pitcher since 2000 is 11, a feat accomplished by both Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks and CC Sabathia of the Milwaukee Brewers. Nevertheless, Feller’s legacy endures, not just because of his record-setting season but because of his overall body of work as a pitcher.

Feller pitched 279 complete games in his career, a remarkable achievement that is unlikely to be matched in the modern game. This enduring legacy cements Feller’s place in the pantheon of baseball’s all-time greats.

In an era of modern baseball where complete games by starting pitchers are rare, Bob Feller’s record-setting 36 complete games in the 1946 season stands as an unbreakable record. Feller’s dedication to his craft, coupled with a pitching style that allowed him to pitch deep into games, set him apart as a dominant and groundbreaking pitcher.

By emphasizing the rarity and importance of Feller’s record and its enduring legacy, this article underscores the vital significance of a workhorse mentality in baseball.


Q: How many complete games have been pitched in recent years?

A: In the 2019 season, the highest number of complete games by any pitcher was three. Q: Can Feller’s record of complete games be broken?

A: It is highly unlikely given the changes in the way starting pitchers are used in modern baseball. Q: Was Feller a one-season wonder, or did he consistently pitch complete games throughout his career?

A: Feller was known for his ability to pitch complete games throughout his career, pitching a total of 279 complete games. Q: How did Feller’s pitching style contribute to his ability to pitch so many complete games?

A: Feller’s fastball and his variety of pitches allowed him to keep batters off balance and pitch deep into games. Q: Why is Feller’s record important?

A: Feller’s record highlights the importance of a workhorse mentality in baseball and serves as a benchmark of excellence for pitchers.

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