Two pitchers ever have reached triple digits in pickoffs.
OK, maybe that’s not entirely true. The pickoff is not the best kept stat in baseball history and technically isn’t even an official statistic (it’s called "pitchers’ caught stealing" instead).
But if you’re going by the fine folks over at Baseball-Reference.com, they say only two pitchers ever have hit triple digits in their careers. And one of them is Mark Buehrle.
Buehrle was credited with a nice, round 100 pickoffs during his 16-year major league career. Five of them came during the 2005 season, and he got No. 5 in the June 28 win over the Tigers. Buehrle finished his outing that day by picking Nook Logan off at first base for the second out of the seventh inning. Logan wasn’t even trying to steal.
A left-hander, Buehrle obviously had a very, very good pickoff move, and knowing that he’s one of baseball’s all-time best pickoff artists only adds to his old-school reputation. Today, pitchers don’t need to worry much about base runners. They just try to strike guys out. But Buehrle wasn’t a “today” kind of pitcher, his whole game revolving around letting hitters make contact right at his defenders.
And if you ever did reach base against Buehrle, you weren’t done battling him yet.
Coincidentally enough, another former White Sox hurler is the No. 1 pickoff man in baseball history. Hall of Famer Steve Carlton is credited with a whopping 146 of them, but they didn’t really start keeping track of them until the mid 1970s. Carlton started his big league career in 1965, so he likely had way more. Andy Pettitte is third, with 98 pickoffs. Jerry Koosman, another former White Sox pitcher, ranks fourth with 82. And Kenny Rogers rounds out the top five with 79.
Among active pitchers, Clayton Kershaw is first with 63. He’ll tie former White Sox pitcher Wilbur Wood for 10th on the all-time list with his next pickoff. The next best active pitcher is yet another former White Sox hurler, Clayton Richard. He’s picked off 40 base runners in his career.
But Buehrle is in pretty elite company as a member of the two-person triple-digit club. He had two seasons in which he picked off at least 10 runners, in 2006 and 2010. His excellent pickoff move is one of the reasons he piled up four Gold Gloves in his career.
He probably should have won some prior to 2009, too.
— In addition to showing off how good he was at picking runners off, Buehrle also pitched another gem in Detroit. His 6.2 innings of one-run ball continued his incredible month of June that saw him post a 0.96 ERA in five starts. He pitched into the seventh inning in each of his first 20 starts of the 2005 season.
— Dustin Hermanson found himself in a heck of a jam in a one-run game in the ninth, giving up a leadoff triple to Ivan Rodriguez, who hit the ball a mile at hitter-unfriendly Comerica Park. With the tying run 90 feet away and nobody out, Hermanson got a mile-high popup, a groundout to third base and a bouncer to second to strand the runner at third and pick up his 18th save of the season.
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) April 21, 2020
— Jermaine Dye hit a tie-breaking, game-winning homer in the sixth inning, another long ball in the middle of a particularly torrid stretch for the right fielder. Over 17 games from June 14 to July 5, Dye slashed .350/.435/.833 with nine homers, 18 RBIs and eight walks compared to just five strikeouts. Nearly a third of the 31 home runs Dye hit on the season came in this 17-game stretch.
— Juan Uribe scored the White Sox first run in the fifth inning after hitting one of his three triples of the 2005 season. In his first four big league seasons, Uribe tripled 27 times, but he only hit 16 of them in the remainder of his major league career. Back in 2001, as a rookie, Uribe tripled 11 times. Five of the top eight triplers in Major League Baseball that season were current or future White Sox: Roberto Alomar, Jimmy Rollins, Juan Pierre, Uribe and Ray Durham.
— The 2005 featured a pair of “could have been” White Sox. Placido Polanco was a 49th-round draft pick of the White Sox in 1993 but did not sign. He was taken by the Cardinals in the 18th round a year later. Nate Robertson, the Tigers’ starter in this game, was drafted by the White Sox twice: first in the 35th round in 1995 and again in the 15th round in 1998. He signed neither time and ended up a fifth-round pick of the Marlins in 1999.
Since you been gone
While #SoxRewind is extensive, it doesn’t include all 162 regular-season contests, meaning we’re going to be skipping over some games. So what’d we miss since last time?
June 24, 2005: The White Sox bashed the Crosstown-rival Cubs, with Frank Thomas, A.J. Pierzynski and Joe Crede all homering in a rout. White Sox win, 12-2, improve to 50-22.
June 25, 2005: The Cubs’ bats jumped all over Jose Contreras, plating four runs in the first inning, and the White Sox couldn’t counter against future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux. White Sox lose, 6-2, fall to 50-23.
June 26, 2005: Mark Prior and the Cubs’ bullpen were excellent, keeping the White Sox off the scoreboard and limiting them to only one hit. White Sox lose, 2-0, fall to 50-24.
#SoxRewind rolls on Wednesday, when you can catch the June 29, 2005, game against the Tigers, starting at 2 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Thomas plays the hero with an extra-inning home run.