(The following was originally published at SB*Nation’s Pinstriped Bible)
Only 21 pitchers since 1901 have struck out 13 or more hitters per game over a minimum of 50 innings in one season. Included among the group are noted strikeout artists like Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Rob Dibble, Eric Gagne, Craig Kimbrel, Billy Wagner, and Jason Grilli. That’s right, Jason Grilli.
When reports surfaced on Thursday that Grilli was being courted by as many as 10 different teams, my first reaction was to dismiss the news. After all, the next destination of a journeyman reliever is hardly cause for curiosity, even if his agent is Gary Sheffield. However, the number of teams with interest was too compelling to ignore. And, sure enough, after a quick review of his statistics, it soon became apparent that the clamoring for Grilli was by no means much ado about nothing. The right hander may be a journeyman, but something seems to have happened to him along the way. He has become a strikeout machine.
In 2012, Grilli set down 90 batters in just over 58 innings for a K/9 of 13.8, the 15th highest rate among all pitchers with at least 50 innings. Being in such select company is impressive enough, but what makes the achievement truly remarkable is the meteoric rise Grilli needed in order to attain such a lofty strikeout level.
Top-15 K/9 Rates (min. 50 IP): 1901-2012