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What pitching every fourth day would mean for Trevor Bauer and the team that signs him

AP Photo/Aaron Doster

So often, when you reference the big numbers of a pitcher from baseball's past, you are dealing with results that have no modern relevance. They certainly have little use as a signpost for what some present-day hurler might do. Things have changed too much.

There are some obvious examples of that which come up in a records-never-to-be-broken debate, like Cy Young's 511 wins or 749 complete games, figures compiled during baseball's mythical-sounding past. You don't even have to go back that far. The post-World War II record for innings pitched in a season was set less than 50 years ago: Wilbur Wood threw 376⅔ innings in 1972, edging out the 376 mark set the season before by Mickey Lolich.

What makes those kind of numbers seem so fantastical now is how impossible it feels that we'll ever see anything like them again. And that's not necessarily because a pitcher couldn't do it. It's more because through endless iterations of team-building strategies over the years -- a process that has sped up exponentially over the past couple of decades because of technological innovation -- organizations have realized it's not smart to have pitchers even try for numbers like that. It's not smart for exacting maximum value from the pitcher, and it's not smart for winning games.

Enter Trevor Bauer: "Allowing me to pitch every fourth game is priority No. 1. Unfortunately I can't accept less money for that because it affects future players and markets as a whole."

That tweet, from Bauer to a fan, is more than two years old. It wasn't the earliest incidence of him proclaiming his desire to become an every-fourth-day pitcher and it wasn't the last. The idea on the surface of it seems like a lark. After all, such workhorses are long extinct in the big leagues and to revive them would entail the wealth-infused madness of a real-life John Hammond, of "Jurassic Park" fame. Right?