1926: Walter Johnson records his 400th career win, a 9-1 win over Boston at Griffith Stadium. The milestone didn’t even merit a mention in the New York Times that day, though there was a write up on his four-hit performance.
Johnson went on to win 417 career games to only 279 losses (a .599 lifetime winning percentage). The next highest win total in franchise history belongs to Jim Kaat, who won 190 games with the Minnesota Twins. Johnson is also far and away the franchise leader in losses, with 279 (Kaat is second in that category as well, with 159).
The win total is second in major league history to Cy Young’s 511. Johnson is fourth in all-time losses behind Young, Pud Galvin, and Nolan Ryan.
The Coffeyville Whirlwind’s win totals are certainly impressive, though not the best statistic to illustrate his dominance. A 203.3 career WARP3, 146 career OPS+, 2.0 BB/9 rate and 8.2 K/9 rate are better numbers to use when discussing a great career.
What 400+ career wins does illustrate is longevity and durability. He lasted 21 major league seasons, often pitching on three days rest, part of why no pitcher in today’s era has even come close to 400.
1969: Harmon Killebrew hit the 400th home run of his career in a game at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The solo blast came in the first inning off of Gary Peters, and helped the Twins win the game 4-3. It was Killer’s third of 1969, his eventual season total would be 49, equaling a career high set in 1964.
Three years later, Killebrew will pass the 500 mark, one of only 20 other major leaguers to do so. He currently stands at number eight on the all-time home run list with 573, four more than Rafael Palmiero and 10 fewer than Mark McGwire.
What’s more impressive is Killebrew’s home run rate. He hit a home run every 14.22 at-bats. Though that is the eighth best rate in history, there are only two above him that did not play most of their career in the 90’s – to early 00’s. Babe Ruth got a home run in every 11.76 at-bats, while Ralph Kiner hit one every 14.11 at-bats. Killebrew hit at a greater rate than all of the famous sluggers who played during his career, including Mantle, Mays, and home run king Hank Aaron.