How Did Bob Feller Pitch 36 Full Games In The 1946 MLB Season?

How Did Bob Feller Pitch 36 Full Games In The 1946 MLB Season

Bob Feller made his Major League debut in 1936 for the Cleveland Indians. By his third season, the 19-year-old was a first-time All-Star and a promising pitcher. One of Feller’s most impressive seasons came in 1946. Feller pitched 36 complete games and 371.1 innings in 1946, an all-time MLB record. Read on to learn all about this phenomenal player and his likely unbeatable record.

Who Was Bob Feller?

Bob Feller was born on November 3, 1918, in Van Meter, Iowa. The pitcher made his debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1936. Feller pitched six seasons for the team before taking three seasons off to serve in World War II. The Hall-of-Famer returned to Cleveland in 1945 and pitched in nine games. 

The following season (1946-1947) saw Feller lead the league in many statistical categories, including his 36 complete games. The pitcher won a World Series title with Cleveland in 1948. Feller had eight All-Star appearances during his 18-year career, marking him as one of the most successful pitchers in the team’s history.

Feller’s 1946 Season

Feller’s 1946 season may have been the most successful year of the pitcher’s career. After spending time away from baseball to serve in the military, Feller came back to pitch in nine games in 1945. The Hall-of-Famer then put up career-highs in games pitched, strikeouts, innings pitched, and the lowest earned run average of his career. 

Feller had 26 wins in 48 games and struck out 348 batters in his 371.1 innings on the mound. Cleveland’s ace had the second most wins above replacement in the MLB that season, trailing only Ted Williams of the Red Sox. The righty led the majors in many pitching categories that season as well. The most notable accomplishment from that season was Feller’s 36 complete games.

How Did Feller Pitch 36 Complete Games?

In 1946, Bob Feller threw 36 complete games, which is the most for any pitcher in a single season since the beginning of the live-ball era in 1920. The righty pitched in 48 games that season, as he posted a 26-15 record while also recording four saves. Feller threw in 371.1 innings in 1946 as well, which shattered his previous career-high in 1941. The Hall-of-Famer pitched 23 consecutive complete games to start the campaign, with six of those games being shutouts. 

Feller was the workhorse for Cleveland that season, as Red Embree had the second-most innings pitched on the team but was still 171.1 innings behind Feller. Although the Indians were not pushing for a playoff spot late in the season, Feller still pitched 79 innings in 11 appearances to close out the season in September. 

Back when Feller was pitching, complete games were much more common than they are today. The first time that a pitcher led the league in complete games while having less than ten in the category was Tom Glavine and Dennis Martinez in 1991. In 2022, Sandy Alcantara led the majors with six complete games, but that was the highest mark a pitcher had gotten in six years. Feller finished his career with 279 complete games and a benchmark that will most likely never be broken.