It took 40 spots, but the Iron Man of Detroit Tigers pitchers has finally made the list. George Mullin, the franchise record holder for innings pitched, spent 12 years in Detroit in the early 1900s. He helped lead the Tigers to back-to-back-to-back World Series appearances from 1907 to 1909, winning a league-high 29 games in 1909. He is also one of four Tigers pitchers to win 200 games. His 209 wins ranks second to Hooks Dauss' 222, while his 36.0 WAR is eighth in team history.
*Played for the Tigers and Washington Senators in 1913.
**Played for the Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1914.
***Played for the Newark Pepper in 1915.
George Joseph Mullin was born on July 4th, 1880 in Toledo, Ohio. He earned the nickname "Wabash George" from his days of playing semi-pro baseball in Wabash, Indiana. He signed with both the Tigers and Brooklyn Superbas before the 1902 season, but chose to play in Detroit because it was closer to home. He sported a 13-16 record and 3.67 ERA in 260 innings during his rookie season. In addition, he hit .325/.367/.408 in 129 plate appearances. Mullin is one of six Tigers rookies to log at least 250 innings, and the only one to win fewer than 18 games in said rookie season.
Mullin posted the best ERA+ of his career in 1903, posting a 19-15 record and 2.25 ERA in 320 2/3 innings. He started 36 games, 31 of which were complete games. His 106 walks led the American League, but he struck out 170 batters (fifth in the league) for a 1.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He had a losing record in 1904, but only allowed a 2.40 ERA in 382 1/3 innings. His 17-23 record was largely thanks to an anemic offense that scored just 505 runs in a 62-90 season. He still holds the franchise record for most losses in a season, and is the only Tigers starter to ever lose 20+ games more than once.
Mullin would pitch at least 300 innings in six of seven seasons from 1903 to 1909, with a 290 inning effort in 1908 the only "blemish" on his record. He recorded three of the top five innings totals in franchise history during this stretch. This includes 382 1/3 innings in 1904, a franchise record that will likely never be broken. Amazingly, he only led the American League in innings one time during this period.
While he set career bests in both wins and ERA in 1909, Mullin's best season according to WAR came in 1907. He was 20-20 with a 2.59 ERA for a 92-58 Tigers team that went to the World Series. His 1908 and 1909 seasons were not far behind, however, as he logged 4.6 WAR in each year. During the Tigers' streak of World Series appearances, Mullin was worth 14.5 WAR. He had a 29-8 record and 2.22 ERA in 1909, along with a career-best 1.11 WHIP. He was even more impressive in the playoffs, allowing a 1.58 ERA in six career World Series starts.
Mullin was also one of the more accomplished hitters in franchise history (among pitchers, of course). He hit .261/.315/.342 in 1555 career plate appearances. He holds the franchise record for plate appearances, runs scored (148) and RBI (116) for pitchers, and ranks second to Wild Bill Donovan with 17 career stolen bases. Mullin's .319 wOBA ranks third among pitchers in franchise history, and would fare pretty well against most hitters. For instance, Delmon Young has a .321 career wOBA.
Mullin continued to pitch well during his early 30s, and hit several milestones during an otherwise disappointing 1912 season. He started the first game at Navin Field (later Tiger Stadium), won his 200th game, and pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history within a span of three months. However, he finished the year with a 12-17 record and 3.54 ERA. Things didn't get better to start 1913, and Mullin was sold to the Washington Senators following a 1-6 start. He finished his AL career that season, allowing a 5.02 ERA in 57 1/3 innings with the Senators. Mullin played two more years of professional baseball, pitching for the Indianapolis Hoosiers (later the Newark Pepper) of the Federal League, which disbanded after the 1915 season.
Mullin's name is littered across the Tigers' pitching record books thanks to his incredible durability during his 12 year stint in Detroit. He ranks first in franchise history in innings pitched, second in wins, sixth in FIP, and seventh in ERA and strikeouts. He won 20+ games in five different seasons, and is still the only pitcher to have ever appeared in a World Series after losing 20 games in a season.
Mr. Mullin passed away on January 7th, 1944 at home in Wabash, Indiana. He was 63 years old.