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Vic Willis

Vic Willis

Position(s):
P, 1B
Born:
April 12, 1876
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 2"
Weight:
185 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-20-1898 with BSN
Hall of Fame:
1995

Intro

With his sharp curveball and several tricky arm angles, Vic Willis baffled batters on his way to 249 career victories. He pitched for the great 1898 Boston team that won the National League pennant and later hurled for the 1909 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates. He won twenty games eight times, though he never led his league in wins.

Replaced By

In 1911, the Cardinals replaced Willis with Bill Steele, a chunky right-hander who won 18 games that year, but only 37 in his career.

Best Season

Willis was 27-8 with a 2.50 ERA and 342 innings pitched for the Boston Beaneaters.

Factoid 1

Vic Willis completed 82% of his starts in his career. He had 388 complete games in 471 starts.

Transition

December 15, 1905: Traded by the Boston Beaneaters to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Dave Brain, Del Howard, and Vive Lindaman; January, 1910: Purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Strengths

He had the fortune to play on good teams. Physically, his long fingers allowed him to throw a very sharp curveball.

Weaknesses

Willis had control problems early in his career. He led the National League in hit batsmen three times.

Four Times Twenty

In 1905, Willis posted an un-Hall of Fame-like 12-29 record for Boston. The Beaneaters finished seventh in the NL that season and made history with not two, not three, but four twenty-game losers on their pitching staff. In addition to Willis, Irv Young was 20-21, Chick Fraser came in at 14-21, and Kasier Wilhelm stumbled to a 3-23 record. The problem wasn't really the pitching, however. Willis, Young and Fraser all had respectable ERA's, in fact Young's 2.90 mark was below league average. The Braves simply couldn't score runs and made far too many mistakes in the field. Boston scored 468 runs the entire season, for 3.0 per game, and they committed 311 errors, the second worst in the loop.

What You Talkin' Bout, Willis?

Willis once said he wished he had been able to hit every day, he loved swinging the bat so much. But his team's were only too glad to rest his valuable pitching arm between starts. Willis was a notoriously poor hitter, once going a year-and-a-half without an extra-base hit, and his career batting mark of .166 is the second worst in history for players with as many as 1,400 at-bats.

Worst Slugging Percentage in History

(Minimum 1,000 career at-bats) 1. Bob Friend... .144 2. Don Sutton... .157 3. Red Faber... .161 4. Gaylord Perry... .164 5. Red Ames... .174 6. Red Donahue... .182 7. Vic Willis... .186 8. Dutch Leonard... .193 9. Larry Jackson... .193 10. Jerry Reuss... 195

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