One of the spring's best stories has been the dominance of the Giants' 45-year-old Randy Johnson, who struck out 12 batters and allowed only six hits in his first 8 1/3 innings. It's not as if San Francisco signed the Big Unit this off-season merely to reap publicity as he nears 300 wins. (He is five short now.) The strikeout rate for the aging lefthander, a shade under one per inning last season, has held fairly steady over the last four years. And his home run rate, after spiking dramatically in the wake of his trade to the Yankees in 2005, leveled off the last two seasons in Arizona and should now decrease amid the headwinds of San Francisco's AT&T Park. Fewer home runs and a high K rate add up to the NL's most forbidding No. 3 pitcher. Unfortunately, with one of the game's most underwhelming offenses backing him, Johnson might not get his 300th until early summer.
This is an article from the March 23, 2009 issue