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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cal State Fullerton P Thomas Eshelman may have the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball history

Cal State Fullerton has been one of the best teams in college baseball throughout the season, and the Titans are preparing for their Super Regional against UCLA this weekend.

I was talking with my uncle about the series since it features two local teams and players with whom we are familiar. One thing he pointed out to me was that one of Cal State Fullerton’s pitchers has an absurd strikeout-to-walk ratio. Like so absurd it might be the best ratio in high-level baseball history.

Thomas EshelmanFullerton starter Thomas Eshelman has struck out 78 batters while walking just two in 107.2 innings this season. TWO. That gives him an absurd 39:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The freshman from Carlsbad, Calif., has gone 12-2 with a 1.59 ERA in 15 starts this season. He has only allowed 80 hits and hit three batters. 390 at-bats have been taken against him this season and he has only walked two batters. That’s ridiculous.

Eshelman leads the nation in walks allowed per nine innings (0.17), strikeout-to-walk-ratio (39.0) and WHIP (0.76). For some perspective, Winthrop freshman Sam Kmiec was second in the country at 11.40 (57 strikeouts/5 walks).

Eshelman was named Collegiate Baseball’s 2013 Freshman Pitcher of the Year, the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year, and a first-team Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American.

According to a press release from Fullerton, Eshelman did not walk a batter in his first career 63.1 innings. Shockingly, that wasn’t enough to set the school record. Wes Roemer (2005-2007) set the record with 65.1 innings without issuing a walk. Roemer did hit 12 batters during that span, while Eshelman only plunked two. Roemer finished with 7 walks and 145 strikeouts for the season.

Thomas Eshelman freshman

In addition to Eshelman, Fullerton has freshman pitcher Justin Garza, who went 12-0 with a 1.93 ERA, and sophomore Grahamm Wiest, who was 9-3 with a 3.27 ERA during the regular season. Relievers Tyler Peitzmeier and Michael Lorenzen both had sub-2.00 ERAs, helping to give the Titans an incredible 2.47 team ERA (tied for 3rd in the country). Fullerton also led the NCAA in team strikeout-to-walk ratio at 4.98, over a strikeout higher than the next team.

I checked the NCAA Division I baseball record book, and there is no stat kept for strikeout-to-walk ratio. However, they do have a record for the fewest walks issued for pitchers who threw a minimum of 50 innings. The current record holder is Jim Wells of New Orleans, who walked just two batters in 51 innings in 1976. Eshelman topped that, and I imagine he also had more strikeouts. Eshelman also has fewer walks than the D-II record holder, UC Davis’ Trevor Thornton, who walked 2 batters in 66.1 innings in 2002. Thornton only had 27 strikeouts that season. The D-III record holder actually has Eshelman beat in terms of walks. Texas Tyler’s Michael Blevins walked just one batter in 56.2 innings last season, but he only struck out 27.

There is no record kept for strikeout-to-walk ratio, but I have to imagine Eshelman is way up there, and likely the leader.

For some perspective, two-time Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen has the MLB record with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11 in 2004. He struck out 143 batters while walking just 13 in 177.1 innings that season.

If you have any more information on this such as collegiate records or records for any level of professional baseball, please let us know. If Eshelman doesn’t have the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in history, he has to be close.

Below is a video of Eshelman at work. You can see how simple his mechanics are, which probably leads to the consistency with him throwing strikes:

Image via YouTube/CSF Athletics
Twitter/Titan Baseball



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