From the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 2001 media guide, here’s a long list of highlights and facts about the first two decades of Randy Johnson’s professional career, spanning from 1986 through 2000. We begin with his Career Highlights:
Johnson has kept lefthanded hitters to a .189 overall average in his career (173-for-913), and while allowing 222 regular season home runs during his career, only 10 have been hit by lefties (Von Hayes and Jim Eisenreich-1989; Wally Joyner and Mike Greenwell-1991; Mo Vaughn-1992; Darren Bragg-1996; Darin Erstad, Mo Vaughn & Jim Edmonds (2)-1997) [Johnson wound up his career having allowed 25 homers by lefties].. .he had a personal 16-game winning streak that ran from August, 1995 through May 2,1997, falling a win shy of the American League record for consecutive games won in a career.
Randy led the majors in strikeouts for the third consecutive season with 347, while topping the National League in winning percentage (.731) and tying for the top spot in complete games (8), shutouts (3) and starts (35)…he went from “Sayonara to Cy Young,” returning home from an 8-game tour of Japan with the MLB All-Star team and 2 days later learned he won his second consecutive, third career Cy Young Award.. .he became the third N.L. pitcher to win the honor consecutively, and first lefthander to do so since Sandy Koufax in 1965-66… R.J. appeared headed for his second straight ERA title but his hopes were derailed on final day of the season allowing 8 earned runs in just 3.1 innings against the division champion Giants, raising his season mark from 2.38 to 2.64, finishing second to Kevin Brown.
…he became the 12th pitcher in major league history to reach the 3,000 career strikeout mark when he fanned Florida’s Mike Lowell in the fourth inning on September 10 in Pro Player Stadium.. .Johnson struck out Luis Castillo in the first inning for his 300th of the year joining Nolan Ryan as the only 2 pitchers in history to fan 300 batters in 3 consecutive seasons…R.J. and Ryan are also the only 2 hurlers to achieve at least 1,000 K’s in a 3-year stretch, with Johnson fanning 1,038 in his last 3 seasons (Ryan fanned 1,079 from 1972-74)…
Johnson started the season by winning co-N.L. Player-of-the-Week honors (with Montreal’s Vladimir Guerrero) allowing 2 earned runs in first 17.2 innings… he followed with a 1-0 win over the Pirates, the first of 2 shutouts in April.. .all told, he went 6-0 in April with a 0.91 ERA, allowing just 5 earned runs in 49.1 innings while recording 64 K’s, earning N.L. Pitcher-of-the-Month honors for the month after becoming just the third pitcher in history to win 6 games before May 1, joining Vida Blue (1971) and Dave Stewart (1988)…he struck out 36 batters without issuing a walk over 102 at bats over his first 4 starts…his impressive start carried into May, matching Brian Andersen’s team mark by winning his seventh consecutive start on May 5.. .
he moved into 12th on the all-time career strikeout list when he passed Jim Bunning with strikeout No. 2,856 vs. Colorado on June 25.. . he had an 11-1 record and 1.40 ERA through first 14 starts and was 15-2 with a 2.01 mark at the All-Star break, earning the starting nod for the N.L., his seventh Midsummer Classic selection, third start… amazingly, he struck out 13 in a 7-inning stint at Oakland just 2 days before the All-Star Game, posting a 4-2 win over the A’s…
R.J. tied his and Ryan’s major league record for double-digit strikeout games with 23, the second consecutive year for Johnson.. .included was a season-high 14 K’s in the milestone game on September 10 in Florida.. .he finished year with 148 career games with 10 or more K’s, second to Ryan’s 215.. .
offensively, he set a club record for pitchers with 8 RBI, breaking the mark he set the previous season (7)…had a 5-game hitting streak from April 14-May 5, going 6-for-17 (.353) with a double and 4 RBI.
Randy’s first year as a Diamondback translated into his second career Cy Young Award, joining Gaylord Perry and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in history to win the coveted honor in each league… the top strikeout performer in the majors during the decade of the 90’s, R.J. added to those numbers with a career-high 364, the fourth best single-season total in major league history, just 3 shy of Nolan Ryan’s 1974 mark for third highest…Randy also set personal bests in complete games (12) and innings pitched (271.2), leading the majors in each category…
he won the division clincher in San Francisco on Sept. 24, allowing 3 unearned runs in the first inning, then limiting the Giants to just 2 hits the rest of the way in an 11-3 win…fanned 15 on April 10 in a win at Atlanta, the first of 23 double-digit strikeout games, tying Nolan Ryan’s major league record for most in a season, 2 more than the previous N.L. mark set in 1965 by Sandy Koufax…
the Big Unit also set a big league record by achieving the 300-strikeout mark faster than any hurler in history, fanning the Martins’ Kevin Millar for the mile-stone ‘K’ on August 26 in his 29th start, 2 starts quicker than any other pitcher.. .he earned N.L. Player-of- the-Week honors after posting consecutive wins on May 25 & 30 at home over San Diego and in New York, respectively, allowing 1 run over 17.0 innings.. . the Unit returned to Seattle on July 20 tossing an 8-hitter to record the first-ever blanking in Safeco Field, a 6-0 victory… entering play that night, Arizona was 2 1/2 games behind in the West, but his win ignited a 10-1 run that reversed the standings to a 2 1/2-game lead, and a season-ending stretch in which the club finished 51-17…
Randy’s pair of shutouts weren’t the only blankings involving him that made news in ’99, as one of the more publicized losing streaks occurred at mid-season as he tied an improbable major league record by coming up on the short end of 4 consecutive shutouts from June 25-July 10…the oddity of the streak was that the D’Backs were no-hit by the Cards’ Jose Jimenez in the first loss, then followed by a 1-hitter, 2-hitter and 3-hitter in succession… it marked the 10th time in major league history that a starter was blanked in 4 consecutive games, joining Willie Hemandez (1980 Cubs), Jim McAndrew (1968 Mets), Ray Sadecki (1968 Giants), Chuck Estrada (1962 Orioles), George O’Donnell (1954 Pirates), Paul Derringer (1933 Reds), Hub Pruett (1932 Boston Braves), Jesse Petty (1927 Brooklyn Dodgers) and Irv Young (1907 Boston Braves)…
during the inexplicable drought, R.J. posted a 1.41 ERA, allowing 5 earned runs in 32.0 innings while going 0-4.. .included was his 2,500th career strikeout in the no-hit loss to the Cards, getting Eric Davis in the ninth inning.. .that was followed by a 2-0 loss in Cincy on June 30, breaking his own club record with 17 K’s, starting a streak of 3 games in which he totaled 43 strikeouts, tying Doc Gooden’s 3-game N.L. record set in 1984…
the second half featured league Pitcher-of-the-Month honors for July, despite a 2-3 record, he had a 1.13 ERA (6 ER in 48.0 IP) while recording 64 strikeouts… he also garnered another N.L. Player-of-the-Week award for August 16-22
R.J was 9-10 with a 4.33 ERA in 23 starts for the Mariners, then enjoyed a reversal of fortune after joining the Astros, going 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA in 11 starts,…he totaled a then career-high 329 strikeouts, accruing 213 in Seattle and 116 with the Astros.. .
Johnson was acquired on July 31 with Houston clinging to a 3 1 /2-game lead in the Central…after the deal, the Astros enjoyed the best overall month in franchise history, going 22-7 in August, upping the division lead to 11 games…he closed the regular season with wins in his final 7 starts, posting a 1.16 ERA (7 earned runs in 54.1 innings)… included in the streak was a 2-0 win over the Pirates, a 7-hitter in which he did not allow a walk and fanned 16, the most ever by a Houston lefthander, and the most since a 16-K performance by Nolan Ryan on Sept. 9,1987 vs. S.E.. .he earned N.L. Pitcher-of-the-Month honors for August, going 5-1 with a 1.17 ERA in 6 starts and leading the league in shutouts (3) and strikeouts (61)…
after a win in Atlanta over Greg Maddux on Sept. 2, Randy fired his fourth straight shutout in the Dome, 1-0 over Cincinnati on Sept. 7 he posted his eighth win in an Astro uniform on Sept. 12 vs. St. Louis, a 3-2 triumph that ended his consecutive scoreless inning streak in the Astrodome at 36.0, allowing both runs in the first inning.. .all told, in 5 starts in the Dome during the regular season, Johnson held the opposition scoreless in 42 of the 43 innings he pitched, allowing 2 earned runs (0.42 ERA).. .he wrapped up September the same way he ended August winning the N.L.Pitcher-of-the-Month award, going 5-0 with a 1.41 ERA (6 ER in 38.1 IP).
Randy rebounded from an injury shortened 1996, to set a personal and Seattle franchise record with 20 wins, leading the A.L. in opponents’ batting average (193) winning pet. (.833) and K’s per 9-innings (12.3), finishing second to Roger Clemens in the Cy Young balloting.. .
he had a streak within a streak from May 13-June 19, a stretch that witnessed a 7-game win streak (8 starts), but included was a 5-game period in which he allowed only 1 earned run over 40.0 innings (0.23 ERA) he had a streak of 31.0 straight scoreless innings halted by an Eric Young homer on June 13 in the Kingdome…included in the scoreless streak was a complete game win over Toronto, a 2-hitter, his first route-going effort since Oct. 2,1995, vs. California.. .the 7-game winning streak was halted by Oakland on June 24, a 4-1 decision featuring 19 K’s by Johnson in a complete game effort that included a 538-foot home run by his former college teammate Mark McGwire… Randy’s effort matched the major league record and set an A.L. mark for K’s in a game by a lefthanded pitcher, while also tying the big league mark for K’s in a loss.. .
Johnson earned A.L. Pitcher-of-the-Month honors for June (4-1 and 0.92 ERA)…he was tabbed the starter in the All-Star Game at Cleveland working 2.0 shutout innings, his second Midsummer Classic start… he fired a shutout on August 8 vs Chicago, a 5-hitter, fanning 19, tying his own A.L. record for K’s in a game by a southpaw…it was only the eighth 19-strikeout (9-inning) game in history, the first time it was done by the same hurler twice in a season.. .he worked 2 innings of relief on Sept. 27 vs. Oakland to pick up 20th victory, his first career relief win, fanning 3, featuring his 2,000th career strikeout (Ben Grieve).
The good news was that he went 5-0, the bad news was that he worked only 14 times (8 starts) due to a lower back injury that eventually required season-ending surgery . . . he was Seattle’s opening night starter for an unprecedented fifth time, giving up 3 hits over 7.0 innings with 14 K’s in a no decision.. .he entered an April 26 start in Milwaukee with a 4-0 mark, but just 3.2 innings into the affair Randy departed with lower back pain.. .
the pain lingered as he was capable of only 2.0 frames in his next start vs Texas on May 1.. .he waited 11 days for what turned out to be his final start of the year, going 5.0 innings in a win over K.C. to up his mark to 5-0.. .he was placed on the D.L. on May 13 with an irritated nerve in his lower back.. .he was on the 60-day disabled list, making 1 rehab appearance for Everett (A), then was activated from the D.L. on August 6, and worked 2.0 scoreless frames of relief that day vs. Cleveland.. .he fanned 8 in 4.0 innings on August 13 vs. KC, earning his second career save.. .he gave up 6 earned runs over his final 2 outings, including a grand slam to Darren Bragg on August 24 at Boston, the first homer surrendered to a left-handed hitter since 1992.. .
Johnson was placed on the D.L. on August 27 and underwent surgery (a micro endoscopic discecktomy) to correct an extruded disc herniation in his lower back on Sept. 12, a procedure performed by Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles.
Randy went 18-2 with a 2.48 ERA to win his first Cy Young Award and only one in Seattle history, garnering 26 of 28 first place votes.. .he was also named to The Associated Press and The Sporting News All-Star Teams, and was named the A.L. Pitcher-of-the-Year by The Sporting News.. .he also finished sixth in the league MVP balloting.. .
the first Mariner to ever win the ERA title, he also led the A.L. in winning percentage (.900), strikeouts and batting average against (.201), while ranking second in wins.. .he won his fourth consecutive league strikeout crown, while establishing an A.L. record for best winning percentage in a season (minimum 20 decisions), breaking Ron Guidry’s .893 mark (25-3) for the ’78 Yankees.. .Randy also set a then-major league mark for Ks per 9-innings with a ratio of 12.35, breaking Nolan Ryan’s 11.48 mark in 1987 with Houston. .Seattle was 27-3 in his 30 starts.. .
he equaled a career-high with a 160-pitch complete game at Cleveland on July 7, the first time he did not walk a man in a complete game…R.J. was selected to his fourth All-Star team and named the starter, working 2.0 hitless innings in Arlington…suffered his second (and final) loss of the year on August 1 at California…missed 3 starts over a 4-week stretch due to inflammation in his left shoulder… finished strong earning A.L. Pitcher-of-the-Week honors for Sept. 18-24, going 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA, fanning 25 m 15.1 innings…was 7-0 with a 1.45 ERA for his final 10 starts, including a 3-hit, complete game in the 1-game playoff on October 2 vs. California for the A.L. West crown.
1995 POST-SEASON HIGHLIGHTS: He was the winner in game #3 of the Division Series vs. the Yankees, allowing 2 runs over 7.0 innings.. .came back on a day’s rest to work in relief in game #5, fanning 6 in 3.0 innings as Mariners advanced to the LCS.. .he had a no decision in game #3 of the LCS vs. Cleveland, allowing a run over 8.0 innings, a game that Seattle won, 5-2 in 11 innings.. .he was the losing pitcher in game #6, giving up 3 runs in 7.1 frames.. .R.J. had off-season surgery on his right knee performed by Dr. Larry Pedegana.
Finished third in the Cy Young balloting, leading the majors in K’s, while topping the junior circuit in K’s per 9-innings (10.7), complete games and shutouts… Randy was Seattle’s opening day starter in Cleveland on April 4, and with President Bill Clinton in attendance, he no-hit the Tribe until Sandy Alomar Jr. singled in the 8th, winding up with a no decision, an eventual 4-3 Seattle loss in 11.. .
became the Mariners’ all-time strikeout leader by fanning Mike Huff for #1,079, passing Mark Langston…missed a turn in early May due to a medial meniscus cartilage tear in his right knee.. .returned to work on May 15 and started a 7-game winning streak.. .included were 3 consecutive shutouts from May 25-June 4, winning at Oakland (1-0,4-hitter on May 25), at Minnesota (12-0, 2-hitter on May 30) and vs. Toronto (2-0,6-hitter on June 4), earning A.L. Pitcher-of-the-Week honors.. .he ran the scoreless streak to 29.0 innings before unusual circumstances brought it to an end…in the third inning of a June 10 start at the Kingdome, a power outage forced a 20-minute delay, then after play resumed, the A’s scored a run on back-to-back doubles.. .a July 7 win in Boston was his 75th in a Seattle uniform, breaking Langston’s team mark.. .he was named to his third All-Star team, working an inning and allowing a run in Pittsburgh.. .Randy had his 2nd 15-K game of the year in the season finale on August 11, fanning Ernie Young on what wound up being the final pitch of the strike-shortened season.
Led the majors for the second straight year with a club record 308 K’s, 36 more than the old mark held by Mark Langston.. .Randy was the first pitcher to top the 300-K plateau since Nolan Ryan in 1989 (301) and the first lefthander since Steve Carlton in 1972 (310)…Johnson won the A.L. strikeout crown by 112 K’s, then the fifth largest margin in history.. .
ended year with an 8-game winning streak, spanning last 11 games, with a 2.11 ERA and a save.. .had second career 1-hitter on May 16 at Oakland, a 7-0 win, fanning 14 and taking a perfect game through 7.1 frames, then had the no-no broken up by Lance Blankenship’s blooper to right with 1 out in the ninth.. .earned a spot on the Ail-Star team with 10-5 mark thru 19 starts prior to break…had 2.0 perfect innings in Midsummer Classic at Camden Yards, including a memorable strikeout of Philly’s John Kruk… Johnson volunteered to work in relief following Norm Charlton’s season-ending injury and earned first big league save vs. Baltimore on August 16, fanning 4 of 6 men in 1.1 innings, his second career relief appearance, snapping a streak of 146 straight starts.. .
Mariners scored 13 runs in his 8 losses, including 1 run or less in 4 of the setbacks.. .he recorded 1000th career K fanning Chuck Knoblauch on July 28 (the same night that Ken Griffey Jr. homered for eighth straight game)… R.J. finished second to Chicago’s Jack McDowell in Cy Young balloting, receiving 6 first place votes… he also appeared in a game as an outfielder, though he did not have any chances.
Led the league in strikeouts, batting avg. against (.206) and hit batsmen (18)…he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Mike Greenwell on May 31, bruising his left elbow…after 10 days of rest, he attempted a return to action on June 10 at Texas, but pain persisted and he was placed on the D.L. until June 27…tied Ron Guidry’s then-A.L. record for K’s by a lefthanded pitcher with 18 strikeouts on Sept. 27 at Texas.. .despite record-tying performance, he left after 8.0 innings and 160 pitches with score tied 2-2…over a 3-game stretch from Sept. 16-27, he went 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 45 K’s, the second highest 3-game strikeout total in major league history.
Despite early-season back problems that led to a 3-6 start, Randy finished second in the A.L. in K’s…best outing of the year was August 14 vs. Oakland, a 4-0 win featuring 12 K’s, taking no-hitter into the 9th before Mike Gallego singled for the A’s only hit…he had arthroscopic surgery after the season to repair a lateral release and a patellar shaving to remove a rough area on the back of his kneecap.
He fired the first no-hitter in Mariner history, a 2-0 victory on June 2 vs. Detroit, walking 6 and fanning 8, an accomplishment that earned A.L. Player-of-the-Week honors…he followed that on June 7 with a 2-1 complete game victory in Chicago, fanning 10 and retiring the last 20 in order…he wound up 5-0 with a 2.40 ERA in June, winning the A.L. Pitcher-of-the-Month award…earned a spot on the All-Star Game roster, but did not pitch…he dropped 4 straight starts following the break, as the Mariners were outscored 19-2, including 3 straight shutouts.
He began the year with Montreal going 0-4 with a 6.67 ERA in 7 games (6 starts), with the Expos scoring 7 runs in the 4 losses…was optioned to Indy (AAA) on May 9, then was included in trade with Seattle on May 25, joining the Mariners with pitchers Brian Holman and Gene Harris in exchange for pitcher Mark Langston and a player to be named (Mike Campbell)…made his Mariner debut on May 30 at Yankee Stadium, a 3-2 win.
Spent the majority of the year with Indy…he was out of action from June 14-July 31 with a hairline fracture of the 5th metacarpal on his right hand…was named the #3 major league prospect in the American Association by Baseball America… was recalled by the Expos after the playoffs, and won big league debut on Sept. 15 vs. Pirates… he fanned 11 in first career complete game vs. Cubs on Sept. 20.
Spent the season with Jacksonville, leading the Southern League in strikeouts…he was 6-0 with 65 K’s and only 17 hits allowed in his first 8 starts, totaling 46.0 innings.. .he was the S.L. Player-of-the-Month in May and closed the year ranked by Baseball America as the #2 prospect in the league.
At West Palm Beach, Randy caught the eye of Baseball America for the first of 3 straight years, earning #3 prospect status.