No KC Royals pitcher will ever approach this hurler’s innings pitched mark.
Like Willie Wilson, Paul Splittorff deserves his spot in Kansas City’s Hall of Fame. He won a club record 166 games in 15 seasons, including 20 in 1973 and 19 five years later. His 392 career starts are almost 70 more than any other Royal’s total. Both marks aren’t likely to be broken.
But Splitt’s 2,554.2 innings pitched, another KC record, is certainly out of reach.
He threw at least 200 innings seven times (262 twice), a feat only four big leaguers accomplished last season. And excluding 1970, when he appeared in only two games and 1984, when he pitched only 12 games before retiring, he averaged almost 197 innings per year, and that includes the strike-interrupted 1981 campaign which limited him to 99.
Contemporary pitching philosophy and practices render Splittorff’s innings pitched record secure. Pitch count limits of 100 are the norm, limiting managers’ willingness to let starters pitch deep, and pitchers’ ability (and sometimes willingness) to do the same. While not yet widely used, “openers” are gaining acceptance. Five-man rotations, with an occasional six-man thrown in, further decrease pitchers’ starts. Careers don’t last as long as they used to.
So it is that pitching over 2,500 innings is a thing of the past. No Royal will approach Splittorff’s record.