Over a 13-year career, Willis played for three teams, the Boston Beaneaters (1898-1905), Pittsburgh Pirates (1906-1909) and St. Louis Cardinals (1910), compiling a 249-205 record with a 2.63 ERA. He refused a trade to the Cubs for 1911. Willis won 20 games in all 4 of his seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was known as a workhorse and completed 388 of his 471 starts. Willis also holds the post-1900 record for complete games (45, in 1902) in a single season.
It may be considered ironic that despite Willis being a Hall of Fame pitcher, he holds the post-1900 record for most losses in a single season (29, in 1905). For the three seasons from 1903 to 1905, Willis compiled a dismal record with the Boston Beaneaters of 42 wins against 72 losses. However, his ERA during those three years averaged 3.02, which is exceptional for any Major League pitcher: In two of those years his ERA was under 3.00. Despite Willis' Baseball Hall of Fame performance on the mound during those three seasons, the Boston offense could only muster a combined .238 batting average over those seasons; without a viable offense, Willis could not achieve wins. However, when he changed teams to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 1906, whose offense had a combined batting average of .256 over the four years Willis was with the team, Willis compiled an outstanding record of 88 wins and 46 losses. His ERA for those four years was a phenomenal 2.08.
Prior to joining the major leagues, Willis played the 1897 season at the University of Delaware, and later coached the 1907 team and parts of the 1908 team.
He was the last pitcher to throw a no hitter in the 19th century, although it was a disputed no-hitter because of a questionable scorers' call.
- List of Major League Baseball leaders in career wins
- List of Major League Baseball ERA champions
- List of Major League Baseball saves champions
- List of Major League Baseball strikeout champions
- MLB All-Time Hit Batsmen List
- List of Major League Baseball no-hitters
- baseballhalloffame.org – Hall of Fame biography page
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- UD Hall of Fame
August 7, 1899
|National League ERA Champion|
|National League Strikeout Champion|