Twins masters of the pickoff

In baseball, a pickoff is an act by a pitcher, throwing a live ball to a fielder so that the fielder can tag out a baserunner who is either leading off or about to begin stealing the next base.

Twins career leaders in pickoffs

Frank Viola

Rk Player PO G W L W-L% SV IP ERA BF
1 Frank Viola 27 260 112 93 .546 0 1772.2 3.86 7450
2 Jerry Koosman 24 94 39 35 .527 7 601.1 3.77 2527
3 Mark Guthrie 20 240 29 27 .518 8 489.2 4.19 2101
4 Francisco Liriano 17 156 50 52 .490 1 783.1 4.33 3341
5 Roger Erickson 17 114 31 47 .397 0 712.0 4.10 3074
6 Allan Anderson 15 148 49 54 .476 0 818.2 4.11 3474
7 Dave Goltz 15 247 96 79 .549 3 1638.0 3.48 6887
8 Johan Santana 14 251 93 44 .679 1 1308.2 3.22 5281
9 Geoff Zahn 14 133 53 53 .500 0 852.0 3.90 3621
10 Jim Kaat 14 468 189 152 .554 5 2959.1 3.28 12385
11 Bert Blyleven 11 348 149 138 .519 0 2566.2 3.28 10542
12 Vic Albury 11 101 18 17 .514 1 372.2 4.11 1630
13 Jim Merritt 11 122 37 41 .474 6 686.2 3.03 2760
14 Jim Perry 10 376 128 90 .587 5 1883.1 3.15 7791
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/13/2016.
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Some interesting pickoff tidbits

Four time Cy Young award winner and Hall of Famer Steve Carlton pitched for the Minnesota Twins in a total of just eight games in his short stint in Minnesota in 1987-1988 and he had one pickoff and that was the last one in his illustrious career in which he picked off a MLB career leading 144 runners.

Tippy Martinez pitched for Minnesota in his final season in the big leagues in 1988 after pitching for the Yankees in 1974-1976 and the Orioles in 1976-1986. According to Wikipedia:

“Martinez may be best known for picking off three Toronto Blue Jays at first base in one inning during an August 24, 1983 game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. The Orioles, having replaced both their starting catcher and his backup while rallying to tie the game in the ninth inning, entered the tenth with reserve infielder Lenn Sakata in the game at catcher. Three consecutive Blue Jays hitters reached first base and each one, thinking it would be easy to steal a base on Sakata, took a big lead. Martinez picked off all three baserunners, then became the winning pitcher when the Orioles won the game on Sakata’s home run in the bottom of the tenth.”

Korean pitcher ordered to do community service for firing a pickoff throw at opponent’s head.

In 2014 Jon Lester of the Red Sox finishes his year having faced 346 batters with at least one runner on base, yet without having attempted a single pickoff throw.

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