The Detroit Tigers have been playing baseball for 114 years. They have won four World Series, seven division titles, and 11 American League pennants. Numerous great players have donned the Olde English D over the years, enough that we were able to hold a hotly contested countdown and leave many talented players behind.
But in their first year of existence, one player accomplished a feat that has not been matched since. Roscoe "Rubberlegs" Miller is the only Tigers pitcher to log 300 innings while walking more batters than he struck out. In today's game, this feat would be impossible for multiple reasons. No MLB pitcher has topped the 300 inning plateau since Steve Carlton in 1980. No qualified MLB starter has walked more batters than he struck out since 2004. And no pitcher has combined the two feats since Boston's Wes Ferrell in 1936.
Roscoe Clyde Miller was born on December 2nd, 1876 in Greenville, Indiana. Miller actually made his Tigers debut in 1900 when the newly-formed American League was still considered a minor league. He went 19-9 with a 1.16 WHIP and 56 walks to 54 strikeouts in 241 innings that year. The Tigers finished with a 71-67 record.
The AL acquired its major league status in 1901, and Rubberlegs went to work. The six foot, two inch right-hander made 38 appearances for the Tigers, starting 36 games and completing 35 of them. He threw 332 innings, the seventh-highest total in Detroit Tigers history. Miller won 23 games and lost 13, and allowed a 2.95 ERA. He was nearly a full run better than the league average 3.69 ERA, resulting in a 130 ERA+. His 23 wins were fourth in the league, while his ERA was eighth.
The walks and strikeouts are what we are here for, though. Miller played in a different era where strikeouts were the exception, not the norm like today. Ned Garvin led the AL with 4.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 1901. In 2014, Scott Feldman's 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings rate was the lowest in the AL among qualified starters. Roscoe Miller was one of five AL starters to walk more batters than he struck out in 300+ innings in 1901, and one of 157 all-time.
Miller only struck out 79 batters in 1901, a rate of just 2.14 per nine innings. Of the 1408 batters he faced that season, only 5.6 percent (!) were set down via the strikeout. He walked 98 batters, a modest 2.66 per nine innings. Despite the poor strikeout-to-walk ratio, Miller was still able to keep a solid 3.49 FIP thanks to just one home run allowed. He led the Tigers with 7.1 rWAR that year, third in the league among pitchers.
Unfortunately, Miller would never achieve the same level of success again. He pitched for the Tigers and New York Giants in 1902, allowing a 3.98 ERA in 221 2/3 innings. He lost 20 games that season, including 12 in 20 appearances with the Tigers. He only logged 85 innings for the Giants in 1903, and threw another 134 1/3 frames for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1904. This would be the extent of Miller's MLB career, though he pitched in the minors for five more seasons.