On June 27th, an important record was set in Major League Baseball, and yet it wasn’t talked about nearly as much as it should have been. It wasn’t a flashy record and it wasn’t set by an MLB superstar, but that doesn’t take away from its importance.
There is now a new “home run king” in baseball. A record that had stood for more than 50 years was finally broken.
On the night of June 27th, 2010 at an “away” game in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park with the Toronto Blue Jays in town, Jamie Moyer served up a two-run jack to Vernon Wells, and with that homerun, Moyer became the new “king.” It was the 506th homer served up during a 24-year career of the 47-year old southpaw, breaking the record held by Phillies Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.
On the surface, it may not sound like a good thing — 506 home runs is a lot of baseballs lost to the outfield seats. Moyer has given up more home runs than most players will ever hit in their careers. Only 25 batters have ever hit 500 homeruns, yet only two pitchers have ever given up 500 home runs
This record is a positive, though it may seem negative. In order to serve up that many long balls, a pitcher has to not only survive in the major leagues for a long, long time, but must pitch well enough for a manager to hand him the ball every fifth day of the season. Very few players play as long, and as well, as Moyer has throughout the years.
This is a record that should be celebrated, and Moyer should be happy to have his name attached to this. Although there isn’t a single long ball he liked giving up, it’s part of the game. Moyer has given up just 1.1 home runs per 9 innings through his career, a very solid ratio. This record should be embraced, and people unfamiliar with Moyer and his career should take notice. This is history. With every start Moyer makes, it seems history is being made this season. 4,000 innings pitched. 276 (and counting) games won. Complete games. Record homers. Fastballs that look like change ups. Change ups that look like they’re in slow motion. A wily veteran, feasting on players who weren’t even born when he started his career, and making them look silly more often than not. Take notice, because this is rare.
On top of his new record, Moyer has quietly been enjoying one of the better seasons of his career. A lefty who barely touches 82 mph on the radar gun, Moyer has lasted 6 or more innings in 13 of his 15 starts this season, putting up eight “quality starts” (six or more innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs given up), and hurling a phenomenal two hitter against the Braves on May 7th. He is 9-6 with a somewhat bloated 4.30 earned run average, has given up just 17 walks through 96.1 innings (1.6 BB/9), and has a phenomenal 1.048 WHIP this season.
If Moyer continues to pitch like this, there is no reason to believe he can’t continue to do what he’s done for another few years. And if he does, he could push that newly acquired record of his way out of reach of any younger pitcher eyeing that stat. And just maybe, if he gets a few more years worth of at bats, Moyer could even finally hit a home run of his own, seemingly the only thing he hasn’t done in his career. After giving up so many, he deserves a slow trot around the bases for himself to see what it’s like, right?