American League All-Time Strikeout Leaders By Team
There have been some incredible pitchers in the history of the American League, and many of them lead their respective teams in all-time strikeouts. But if you look down through this list of strikeout leaders by franchise, you may find a few surprises as well.
Baltimore Orioles-Jim Palmer
Jim Palmer pitched his entire career with the Orioles, from 1965 to 1984-meaning, he was there during the glory years of the late sixties and early seventies. In all, Palmer won three World Series rings in Baltimore (1966, 1970 and 1983) to go along with three American League Cy Young Awards. Palmer won 268 games and struck out 2,212 batters during his career, his highest total of 199 coming in the championship year of 1970.
Boston Red Sox-Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens, affectionately known by teammates and fans as "The Rocket," is still pitching today, but had his best years with Boston from 1984 to 1996, fanning 2,590 hitters during that time. Clemens' best overall season in Boston was 1986, when he went 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA and 238 strikeouts, leading the Sox to the AL Pennant. His best total with the team was in 1988 when he struck out 291, and Clemens also won three AL Cy Young Awards while in Boston.
Chicago White Sox-Billy Pierce
Billy Pierce pitched for the White Sox for the bulk of his career, from 1949 to 1961, and had a total of 1,796 strikeouts while in Chicago. Pierce's best season was 1956 when he recorded a career high of 192 strikeouts to go along with a 20-9 record and 3.32 earned run average. The lefty also led the American League in strikeouts once, with 186 in 1953.
Cleveland Indians-Bob Feller
Flame throwing Bob Feller pitched his entire career in an Indians uniform, from 1936 to 1956, striking out a total of 2,581 batters during that time. In 1946, Feller had a whopping 348 strikeouts and went 26-15 with a 2.18 ERA. He also led the Tribe to a World Series title in 1948 and the AL Pennant in 1954, and led the American League in strikeouts seven times. Currently there is a statue of Feller outside of the Indians' home ballpark, Jacobs Field.
Detroit Tigers-Mickey Lolich
Left-hander Mickey Lolich pitched for the Tigers for most of his career (1963-1975) and struck out 2,679 batters during his Tigers' tenure. In 1971, Lolich had his best season when he punched out 308 hitters and went 25-14 with a 2.92 ERA. He also struck out more than 200 hitters seven times while with Detroit, and helped lead the Tigers to a World Series title in 1968 by winning three games and taking home the MVP.
Kansas City Royals-Kevin Appier
Kevin Appier pitched for Kansas City from 1989 to 1999 and then again in 2003 and 2004. In all, Appier notched 1,458 strikeouts in a Royals uniform, with his highest total of 207 coming in 1996 when he also won 14 games. Appier never won any Cy Young Awards or titles in Kansas City, and in fact never won more than 18 games, but was always steady.
Los Angeles Angels-Nolan Ryan
The name Nolan Ryan is almost synonymous with the word "strikeout." Ryan is baseball's career strikeout king, with an astonishing 5,714 over a career that spanned 27 years. But after being traded to the Angels from the Mets in 1972, Ryan's career really came to life. Ryan fanned over 300 batters five times while with the Angels, including a career-high of 383 in 1973. What's even more amazing is that he never won a Cy Young Award in California, even with 21 wins to go along with 383 strikeouts in '73, and 22 wins and 367 strikeouts in 1974.
Minnesota Twins-Walter Johnson
Though he never pitched in Minnesota, Walter Johnson pitched for this franchise when they were the Washington Senators, from 1907 to 1927, and they were the only team he ever played for. Johnson was the all-time strikeout leader with 3,508 until he was eventually surpassed by Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton and Gaylord Perry (all three, amazingly, in 1983). Johnson also won 417 games and had a career ERA of 2.17. His best strikeout total was in 1910 when he fanned 313. But even more amazing was Johnson's season of 1913 when he went 36-7 with a 1.14 ERA and 243 punch-outs. He also won the MVP in both 1913 and 1924 and won 25 or more games seven straight seasons (1910-1916).
New York Yankees-Whitey Ford
Left-hander Whitey Ford pitched for the Yankees his entire career, from 1950 to 1967, and struck out 1,956 batters in all. In 1961, Ford had his best season when he went 25-4 with a 3.21 ERA and a career-high of 209 strikeouts. In that same year, Ford won the American League Cy Young Award as well as the World Series MVP.
Oakland Athletics-Eddie Plank
Eddie Plank never pitched in Oakland but was a member of this franchise during their early years in Philadelphia (1901-1914). In all, Plank notched 1,985 strikeouts while with the A's, and was the first left handed pitcher to win 200 games, then 300 games. In 1905, Plank went 24-12 with a career high of 210 strikeouts. He also won 26 games in both 1904 and 1912, and helped the team to three World Series titles.
Seattle Mariners-Randy Johnson
He may be one of the most dominant left handed pitchers of all-time, and he's still going strong in his forties. But Randy Johnson had a kick-start early in his career in Seattle (1989-1998), when he had 2,162 career strikeouts. Though not a career high, Johnson struck out 308 batters in 1993 and won 19 games. In 1997, he went 20-4 with a 2.28 ERA to go along with fanning 291 batters. Johnson also won the American League Cy Young with Seattle in 1995 when he went 18-2 with 294 strikeouts in leading his team to the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays-Scott Kazmir
The Devil Rays have been in existence for less than ten years, so it should be no surprise that the team's career leader in strikeouts is current pitcher Scott Kazmir with 453. Kazmir was traded from the Mets in 2004, and his best season to date was 2005, when he went 10-9 with a 3.77 ERA and 177 strikeouts on a sub par team.
Texas Rangers-Charlie Hough
Though flame-thrower Nolan Ryan pitched for the Rangers late in his career, knuckleballer Charlie Hough leads the franchise in all-time strikeouts with 1,452. Hough pitched for the Rangers from 1980 to 1990, his best season being 1987 when he fanned 223 batters and won 18 games. Among Hough's best accomplishments is the fact that he led the American League in games started (1984 and 1987).
Toronto Blue Jays-Dave Stieb
Righty Dave Stieb pitched for the Jays for most of his career, 1979-1992 and then briefly in 1998. During that time, Stieb notched 1,658 strikeouts. And though he never had more than 200 in a season, Stieb's best year was 1984 when he had 198 punch-outs with a 16-8 record and 2.83 earned run average.