By In Stuff

The BBWAA Project: Starting pitcher

OK, we’re down to the final position on the BBWAA Project — starting pitchers. It’s a good thing I’ve had this project to do because it’s been an extremely quiet couple of weeks in sports.

Here’s the review:

Introduction … First Base roundup … Second Base roundup … Shortstop roundup … Third base roundup … Left field roundup … Center field roundup … Right field roundup … Catcher roundup … Relief pitcher roundup.

Now, the toughest position of them all …

Starting pitcher

OK, let’s begin with the roundup: There have been 31 starting pitchers elected by the BBWAA. Of these, 10 were elected first ballot (In order of induction — Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, Warren Spahn, Bob Gibson, Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan). Cy Young was elected on his second ballot.

Median career: 65.2 WAR (High: Cy Young 160.8; Low: Herb Pennock 39.8)
25th percentile career: 58.1
Median peak: 48 WAR (High: Cy Young 76.5; Low: Don Sutton 32)
25th percentile career: 39.7

Whew, here we go, all 31 BBWAA inductees as ranked by Baseball Reference EloRater:

No. 1: Walter Johnson
No. 2: Cy Young
No. 3: Pete Alexander
No. 4: Lefty Grove
No. 5: Christy Mathewson
No. 8: Tom Seaver
No. 10: Bob Gibson

No. 11: Warren Spahn
No. 14: Bert Blyleven
No. 15: Steve Carlton
No. 16: Carl Hubbell
No. 18: Nolan Ryan
No. 19: Robin Roberts

No. 20: Phil Niekro
No. 21: Bob Feller
No. 23: Whitey Ford
No. 24: Dazzy Vance
No. 26: Sandy Koufax
No. 27: Fergie Jenkins

No. 37: Jim Palmer
No. 47: Don Drysdale
No 49: Gaylord Perry
No. 51: Bob Lemon
No. 56: Ted Lyons
No. 60: Catfish Hunter

No. 84: Juan Marichal
No. 89: Early Wynn
No. 91: Red Ruffing
No. 97: Dizzy Dean
No. 102: Don Sutton (between Mickey Welch and Mickey Lolich)
No. 122: Herb Pennock (between Old Hoss and Larry Jackson)

Thoughts? Where to begin?

1. How do the fans who make up the EloRater rank Catfish Hunter (No. 60) ahead of Juan Marichal (No. 84)?

This utterly boggles the mind. I realize the EloRater is random, and includes various factors and I mean no disrespect to Catfish Hunter’s fine career … but I cannot think of one thing as a pitcher that Catfish Hunter did as well as Juan Marichal.

They pitched about the same number of innings (Marichal pitched 58 more) and Marichal had more strikeouts, fewer walks, more wins, fewer losses and a lower ERA. They both were susceptible to the home run, but Marichal gave up fewer. Hunter mostly pitched in good pitcher’s parks and had a wildly uneven home-road split:

Home: 129-79, 2.70 ERA, 30 shutouts.
Road: 95-87, 3.92 ERA, 12 shutouts.

Marichal was about as good at home as Marichal, and much, much better on the road:

Home: 124-58, 2.74 ERA, 26 shutouts.
Road: 119-84, 3.03 ERA, 26 shutouts.

Marichal’s career WAR — 59.5. Hunter’s career WAR — 36.7.
Marichal’s peak WAR — 50.1. Hunter’s peak WAR — 32.5

I just don’t get it.

2. Should the EloRater’s Top 5 pitchers all be men who played before World War II ended?

They are: Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Pete Alexander, Lefty Grove and Christy Mathewson. They all pitched in a segregated league, all but Grove pitched before night baseball, all but Grove pitched in a time when the spitball was legal and the baseballs were dead, none played a Major League game west of St. Louis. Heck, Young started pitching before the distance was set at 60 feet, 6 inches. All pitched before video study, before pitching theories emerged, before the split-fingered fastball was developed, before sliders became a dominant pitch, before radar guns and, for the most part, before the home run became such an overwhelming weapon in baseball.

Let me put it another way: In the essential Neyer/James Guide to pitchers, Rob and Bill list their own opinions as to who threw the 10 best curveballs, sliders, change ups and so on. How many times do Johnson, Young, Alexander, Grove and Mathewson show up?

Best curveball: None.
Best change-up: None.
Best slider: None.
Best knucklers: None.
Best spitballs: None.
Best forkball/split-fingered fastballs: None.
Best screwballs: Mathewson.

In other words, other than Mathewson, none of the five greatest pitchers of all time threw a Top-10 pitch … other than their fastball. Rob Neyer ranked the ten best fastballs of all time and had Johnson ranked No. 1, Grove ranked third, and the other three were not on the list. Bill James ranked fastballs by half-decade through the years, and here’s how each ranked in that:

Walter Johnson: No. 1 fastball from 1905 to 1919, No. 2 from 1920-1924.
Cy Young: Top 10 fastball from 1890 to 1904, No. 1 from 1895-1899.
Pete Alexander: Never ranked.*
Lefty Grove: No. 1 fastball from 1925 to 1934, still in Top 10 until 1939.
Christy Mathewson: Ranked No. 5 from 1905 to 1909.

*One of the most fascinating sections of the book is the breakdown of Grover Cleveland Alexander … and how nobody seemed entirely sure why he was so great. The scout, John Ogden, said Pete Alexander’s change-up was the best he’d ever seen, Charlie Grimm credited his no-windup delivery, Hornsby said he threw as hard as anyone in the National League, Hall of Famer Jesse Haines credited his amazing control (“I called him ol’ Low and Away”) and Alexander himself said it was his curveball that separated him. So there you go.

Point is, you have five pitchers who mostly threw fastballs 75 to 100 years ago … you tell me: What are the chances that those are the five best pitchers in baseball history?

Well, as we often discuss, this is one of the wonderful quirks of baseball: We like to compare players’ stats through the years. This was one of the big issues fans had with the steroid era — were were suddenly confronted with contorted and distorted numbers, and these ruined what had been the pleasant hobby of comparing Jimmie Foxx’s home run totals with Ted Kluszewski’s home run totals with Harmon Killebrew’s home run totals with George Foster’s home run totals with Cecil Fielder’s home run totals with Mark McGwire’s home run totals. Steroids, in some way, broke baseball’s space-time continuum. Now, we have no real way of comparing McGwire’s stats with Foxx’s stats.

But the truth is — the pitching numbers of Deadball are at least as distorted as the home run numbers of the 1990s. I’m talking only the numbers, not dealing with the cheating aspect of PED use. In 1913, when Walter Johnson had his extraordinary 1.14 ERA, the league ERA, the whole league, was 2.93. Five American League pitchers had ERAs less than 2.00. Cy Young’s 1901 season when he went 33-10 with a 1.62 ERA in 371 innings and led the league with 158 strikeouts — that season has nothing at all to do with Justin Verlander’s 2012. It’s like two different games. But we prefer to think of it as a timeless game. It is fun to do that.

3. How did the outliers get in?

As I see it there are three clear outliers in the BBWAA voting. They are:

— Dizzy Dean was a great pitcher for 6 1/2 years — and that’s essentially his entire career. But, of course, he was also a legendary figure, a character, a man who helped define baseball for a generation. It took nine Hall of Fame ballots but he eventually got in.

— Don Sutton won 300 games. That’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame. His career value of 61.3 WAR and especially his peak value of 32 fall short of the BBWAA median. But he won 300 games and so was inducted five years in. When you look at the WHOLE Hall of Fame, Sutton easily fits in the upper half of Hall of Famers. When you just look at the BBWAA selections, he seems like an outlier.

— Herb Pennock was a beloved figure on the great New York Yankees teams of the 1920s and early 1930s. In many ways, Pennock was sort of the Jack Morris of his time … admired for his baseball intelligence, general gutsiness, and for winning a lot of games for very good teams. Before he came to the Yankees, he was 77-72 with a 3.72 ERA. With the Yankees, he was 162-90 with a 3.54 ERA. So there you go.

The Veterans Committee (and old timers committees) have elected 24 pitchers. They are (with their EloRater rating):

No. 12: Kid Nichols+
No. 26: Tim Keefe+
No. 30: Eddie Plank
No. 31: Three Finger Brown
No. 34: Rube Waddell
No. 39: Ed Walsh

No. 40: John Clarkson+
No. 42: Hal Newhouser
No. 45: Addie Joss
No. 47: Red Faber
No. 48: Eppa Rixey
No. 49: Joe McGinnity

No. 62: Vic Willis
No. 66: Burleigh Grimes
No. 60: Pud Galvin+
No. 83: Waite Hoyt
No. 84: Old Hoss Radbourn+
No. 91: Chief Bender

No. 106: Lefty Gomez
No. 112: Jim Bunning
No. 121: Mickey Welch+
No. 130: Jack Chesbro
No. 144: Stan Coveleski
No. 145: Jesse Haines
No. 161: Rube Marquard

+Pitched entire careers before 1900 … I added these.

And finally, to this year’s candidates:

Roger Clemens

Career: 133.1 WAR (plus 67.9 against median)
Peak: 64.0 WAR (plus 16)
Ranking: No. 8

Well, you know the story here. If steroids weren’t a part of this tale, Roger Clemens would have a strong argument as the greatest pitcher in baseball history. I honestly think, when you total peak dominance with career dominance, there are really five pitchers who have the strongest arguments. In alphabetical order:

Roger Clemens
Lefty Grove
Walter Johnson
Greg Maddux
Tom Seaver

You certainly could throw in Pete Alexander or Cy Young or Christy Mathewson but, as mentioned, they all pitched a very long time ago. If Bob Feller had not missed time to the World War II … but he did miss the time. Pedro Martinez and Sandy Koufax had impossibly high peaks but could not sustain long careers. Warren Spahn sustained a long career but did not have the dominant peak. Randy Johnson could be on this list, but I think he’s just a tick behind Maddux and Clemens. You could talk about Bob Gibson … about Nolan Ryan (who is unquestionably the most uncommon pitcher in baseball history … about Carl Hubbell.

And you could talk for a long time about Satchel Paige, who very well might be the greatest pitcher ever. But let’s be honest: There’s no real real discussion starter there. None of us saw Paige pitch in his prime. His statistics are muddled. We only have stories and legends to go by. Buck O’Neil told me that Satchel Paige was the best he ever saw, and I tend to believe Buck. But let’s stick with Major Leaguers for now.

I’ve listed a poll to the right … and, for fun, I’ve added a poll about the best pitcher at his peak. I’ll write more about this in the next few days after results come in.

Curt Schilling

Career: 76.1 WAR (plus 10.9 against median)
Peak: 46.7 WAR (minus 1.3)
Ranking: No. 59

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t think Curt Schilling is a borderline candidate. I think he is unquestionably a Hall of Famer by the BBWAA’s standards. The only real issues with his candidacy are his inconsistency (reflected by his peak being just a notch short of the median) and his relatively low win total. But even with his inconsistency, he hit spectacular highs as a pitcher. And the win total, I think, is more a reflection of the time when he pitched than his own talents. Throw in his strikeout-to-walk ratio (best since 1900) and his postseason dominance, I honestly think that once you get past any “gut” feelings and once you get past how you might feel about Schilling personally … he’s absolutely a Hall of Famer.

Jack Morris

Career: 39.3 WAR (minus 25.9 against median)
Peak: 30.8 WAR (minus 17.2 against median)
Ranking: No. 105

Well, there’s nothing left to be said here — he doesn’t stack up by WAR. We knew that already. I will say, though, that his case is VERY MUCH like the aforementioned Herb Pennock.

Pennock: 241-162, 3.60 ERA, 106 ERA+, 38.8 WAR, 33.5 peak, excellent postseason pitcher (5-0, 1.95 ERA).
Morris: 254-186, 3.90 ERA, 105 ERA+, 39.3 WAR, 30.8 peak, excellent postseason pitcher (famous Game 7 of 1991 World Series)

Pennock was someone whose talents and attitude and persona impressed the BBWAA voters. Same with Morris. Of course, there was no Internet crowd to break down Herb Pennock back in 1948 when he was elected.

45 Responses to The BBWAA Project: Starting pitcher

  1. Where’s Kid Nichols?

  2. Martin F. says:

    No, no, no, no. Jack Morris was NOT an excellent post-season pitcher. So unlike you to fall victim to narrative, Joe, but you sure did here. He’s a pitcher who had some excellent post-season games, but for God’s sake a pitcher with the line of:

    7-4 in 13GS, an era of 3.80, WHIP of 1.245 is not excellence. It’s Don Sutton. It’s not even as good as Don Sutton.

    Tom Seaver was an excellent post-season pitcher. Fernando Valenzuela. Whitey Ford. Or if you want to talk absurd excellence Sandy Koufax.

    4-3 in 8 games. 0.95 era and a WHIP of 0.825 Gave up 2 HR in 57IP with a K/W ratio of 5.55

    Excellent should probably fall somewhere between the 2, but it sure isn’t Jack Morris.

    • Phil says:

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Phil says:

      Carl Mays was probably a better “postseason plus pennant push” pitcher than Morris, and arguably Schilling’s equal. I’ve got an article I’m working up about it, maybe for SABR.

    • Ian R. says:

      You’ll notice that Joe doesn’t cite Morris’ overall postseason numbers (which, really, were right in line with his regular season numbers). Morris is remembered as a great postseason pitcher because he had one legendary start and several other really good ones, and writers tend to forget that he had several other spectacularly crappy playoff appearances.

    • Unknown says:

      Morris was great in the postseason until age 37. That one postseason wrecked his numbers. How did Koufax pitch at age 37?

    • Ian R. says:

      Being 37 isn’t necessarily an excuse. You may have heard of Curt Schilling’s postseason performance at age 37, for instance. Randy Johnson was a World Series MVP at age 37. Heck, Roger Clemens – a guy who is constantly lampooned as a postseason choker – had back-to-back dominant performances in the ALCS and WS at age 37.

    • Todd Boss says:

      …. with plenty of help from PEDs.

    • Martin F. says:

      He was 37 in 1987 when he gave up 6 runs in 8 innings? Or was he 37 in the 1991 ALCS when he had a 4.05 era in 2 games? Oh wait, he must have been 37 when he pitched that legendary game in the 1991 World Series. No, he was 32 and 36 those post-seasons. He clearly was a pitcher who had some great post-season games, and then also had at 5 very bad ones and a poor one, out of 13 starts. 7 out of 13 is little better than .50%, which is clearly not an excellent post-season pitcher.

    • Phil says:

      Ah, Curt Schilling: four postseason starts at age 37, Game Scores of 48, 22, 69, and 65 (average 51). Two “dogs” followed by to (barely) “gems,” thanks to teammates who bailed out his sorry performances in the ALDS and ALCS Game 1. Only slightly better at age 39: Game Scores of 68, 29, 62, and 58 (average 54). Anecdotal evidence cuts both ways, evidently.

    • Phil says:

      The more I look at this, the more valid the “pre-37” argument is. Morris through age 36 in the postseason:
      7-1 record, 2.60 ERA, 4 CG (1 famous ShO), 46 K, 17 BB, 2.167 WPA in 69.1 innings (3.1% per inning), average Game Score of 62. He did get “old” after that, evidently not sipping from the (alleged) fountain of youth others have indulged. Both Johnson and Schilling aged remarkably gracefully, with a preponderance of their career WAR later (for Schilling, over 50% and his three best seasons AFTER his age-33 season!) — not even Roger Clemens had such a late blossoming. Food for thought. . . .

    • Dinky says:

      I wanted to agree with the comments that Morris had one great game in the postseason, but the pre-37 argument is persuasive, and one I had not heard before. Okay, on balance I’ll give him good postseason.

  3. Phil says:

    Here’s one way the “outliers” got in: five-year win peaks. That’s what gets the BBWAA’s attention (unconscious or not) — all the less-than-287-wins starters have at least one five-year win peak (except Don Drysdale). Pennock: 98 wins 1923-1927; Dean 120 wins 1932-1936 and 115 wins 1933-1937 (tied with Carl Hubbell). Jack Morris: 86 wins 1981-1985, 93 wins 1982-1986, 94 wins 1983-1987. Curt Schilling: none. The “decade of wins” for Morris is a canard — five years is enough to count as a “peak” in the collective BBWAA mind. And Schilling doesn’t have that “peak”: one win behind Randy Johnson 2000-2004. Oh, so close. . . .

  4. Joe, great (as usual), but Ted Lyons is listed among both the BBWAA and Veterans groups.

  5. MCD says:

    I have long espoused the belief that Catfish Hunter was been over-rated by a large contingent of fans. I think some of the reasons that he comes out over Marichal in the Elo ratings are:

    – Hunter has a memorable nickname (I actually think this is a significant reason)
    – Marichal was never the best pitcher in his league. Only once did he receive a single vote in the Cy Young voting (in 1971), while Hunter finished in the top 4 in 4 successive seasons, winning the award in 1974 (granted voters only voted for their winner prior to 1970, meaning, for example, that you had scenarios like Bob Gibson being the only pitcher receiving any votes in 1968)
    – Marichal pitched in only 2 post-season games in his career. Hunter had the good fortune to go 9-6 in the post-season
    – Some raters may downgrade Marichal, even if subconsciously, for the John Roseboro incident.

  6. You have omitted Twitter legend Charles Radbourn from your list of HOF pitchers. For this, I’m sure he will either cuckold you or throw a swift fastball to your ribs. 🙂

  7. Bill says:

    “How do the fans who make up the EloRater rank Catfish Hunter (No. 60) ahead of Juan Marichal (No. 84)?”

    Perhaps hitting someone in the head with a baseball bat automatically drops your rating 25 places.

  8. Joe-
    I have been solidly in the Morris is NOT a HoFer camp for a long time, but a recent perusal of FanGraphs has made me rethink his case. According to FanGraphs version of WAR, Morris had 56.9 for his career; if you look at leaders during his career (1978-1994;scrap his cup of coffee in ’77) he was 3rd, behind Clemens and Ryan. More:
    – there were 50 pitchers who compiled 2000 innings in this 17-year period, and ONE – Clemens – had an ERA below 3.00 (Hershiser was 3.00 even)
    – Morris led the era in wins with 254 – and it’s not even close – as only Bob Welch (211) and Dennis Martinez (204) recorded more than 200
    – Morris was 2nd in K’s to Ryan (2450 vs. 3288); only two others had 2000+ – Clemens and Mark Langston
    – Morris led in CG by a LANDSLIDE….174 to Valenzuela and Blyleven’s 112 (only 5 guys had over 100)
    – Morris pitched 400 more innings than second place Martinez; these two were also 1-2 in starts
    – Morris’ BABIP was .269, the same as Ryan’s (does this make a case for the defensive prowess of Tramell and Whitaker?)

    If Morris was not GREAT, then he was certainly VERY DAMN GOOD for a looonnngg time. He certainly would not be the worst inductee ever.

    • Those are fairly arbitrary start and end points that coincide with Morris’ career. I wonder what would happen if you expanded you time frame even slightly, say from 1970-2000.

    • The point of using the period spanning Morris’ career is that if you want to compare him vs. his peers, then look at only the years he played. By doing this, one can make an argument that Morris WAS one of the top pitchers of HIS era. This is the argument his supporters have made since he has been on the ballot, and after looking at the numbers, the argument certainly has merit. But you are free to disagree of course.

    • KHAZAD says:

      You could do that with a lot of people. Take their career (Oh and scrap that partial year!)and compare their counting numbers to parts of other people’s careers. So sorry, if you played before 1978 or after 1994 it does not count. Screw you Greg Maddux, we are reducing your 355 wins to 131. Roger Clemens is happy I guess that he had a higher WAR in 11 years than Morris had in 17.

      You shouldn’t ever use Fangraphs for pitching WAR however, they base it entirely on their own FIP, ignoring every other facet of performance. In BR WAR, using your 1978-1994 parameters, Morris is 15th in his career. Clemens, Stieb, Saberhagen, Eckersly, Viola, Langston, Blyleven, Ryan, Guidry, D. Martinez, Bob Welch, Orel Hershiser, Dwight Gooden, & Greg Maddux. (Maddux did it in nine years) The next 3 on the list are Jimmy Key, Rick Reuschel, and Tom Candiotti (in 11, 14 and 12 years respectively) The 2 closest to Morris who played all 17 years are Bob Welch above him and Danny Darwin below.

      OF the 50 pitchers that pitched 2000 innings in that time frame, Morris is 25th in ERA+. In WPA he is 13th. In adjusted Pitching Wins he is 17th.

      He was a very good innings eater. He does not belong in the Hall.

    • Todd Boss says:

      Without passing judgement/opinion on the various 1980’s pitchers and their Hall of Fame merits, I tried to do an analysis of 1980s players in general to see if that decade is underrepresented in the Hall.

      What I found was that hitters were well enough represented … but that the hall was severely underrepresented in terms of Starting pitchers. The three HoFame starters who compiled major WAR in the 1980s (Ryan, Blyleven, Carlton) really were 1970’s pitchers, if you were “assigning” pitchers to decades. As Khazad pointed out, there are a dozen leading starters of the decade who for various reasons didn’t quite put together HoFame worthy careers.

      I attribute this to several reasons, not the least of which is the vast changes the game started to see in the 90s in terms of offense (some ped related, some stadium related) and in bullpen management. Guys who mostly pitched CGs in the 80s would have been removed after 100 pitches in the 7th inning in the 90s.

      I don’t think this fact can be overrated nor statistically measured necessarily; if you’re a starter and the assumption is that you’re pitching 9 complete no matter what the pitch count is, you’re going to approach the game differently and pitch with a different level of effort than if you knew you were getting the hook after 100 pitches and/or in roughly the 6th or 7th inning. I think this led to a lot of the more “mediocre” numbers we saw in the 80s as compared to players in eras just before or just after.

      Would love input.

    • LargeBill says:

      It is very misleading to use his career span exactly. By doing that you end up cutting off significant portions of his contemporaries whose career started before and during his career. Add five or ten years to the front and back end of his career and you’ll be closer to comparing him to his contemporaries complete careers.

    • Hey, I GET it…I’ve never thought Morris was a HoFer – he was a tough SOB who took the ball and won (for some good and ONE great team) – but too many people make him out to be a bad pitcher. So, my point was simply to provide context…over HIS career (and yes it is acceptable to discard a cup of coffee year). My conclusion is, that in THAT vein, he was plenty damn good. If you are a big Hall fan, then you can make a case for him – a pretty good one actually. If you want to use sabermetrics primarily, and are a small Hall fan, you can make the case that he is not worthy. He is the classic borderline case; my bet is that he does not get in next year, but will someday be voted in by some form of veterans/player committee.

  9. Gary says:

    A little clarification on Herb Pennock’s selection. Not only was he highly regarded as a clutch pitcher during his career, in 1944 he became the general manager for Philadelphia and was known for his somewhat radical and controversial views – for example, he changed the name of the Phillies to the Blue Jays.

    He dropped dead of a stroke on Jan. 30, 1948, was highly praised by, among others, Babe Ruth, and that year he went from 16% of the Hall of Fame vote in 1946 to 82% and election in 1948.

  10. Gary says:

    It’s interesting the Dizzy Dean is considered an outlier because he was a great pitcher for only 6-1/2 years which is 1-1/2 more years than Sandy Koufax was a great pitcher.

    One of the criticisms of Catfish Hunter is his home-road splits, but they are no more dramatic than Koufax’s home-road splits during his five great seasons.

    Koufax 1962-66
    Home 57-15, 1.37 ERA, 23 shutouts
    Road 54-19, 2.57 ERA, 10 shutouts

    Not arguing that Koufax doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, just giving some added context.

    • Dinky says:

      I would argue that Koufax’s 1961, when he led the league in strikeouts (setting a new NL record IIRC), K/W, was an All-Star, got some MVP votes, and had an ERA+ of 122, also counts. And I’ll go further: Koufax felt he was never given a chance by Walter Alston, who resented having the bonus baby forced on his team. Koufax may have a case: his worst ERA+ was 82 in 54 IP his second season, and he only had two years with an ERA+ under 100. In 1958, for example, Koufax had only 26 starts; Danny McDevitt had 10 starts with an ERA over 7 and a WHIP over 2. Koufax felt he needed regular use to keep his long pitching motion tuned, and once he got those innings, he proved his stuff.

      it is also worth noting that the year Koufax retired, he won the CYA, finished second in MVP, led the league in IP, CG, ShO, and put up the best ERA+ of his career. He retried because it hurt to pitch, he didn’t need the money, and he’d pretty well proven everything there was to prove. He also had 1.4 WAR more then Clemente for the pennant winning team, and could argue that he deserved a second MVP. Everybody in baseball knew how much pain Koufax endured every time he took the mound; nobody held it against him for retiring. Clemente in 1966 led the league in nothing offensively and was only his 6th best season.

      Dizzy Dean tried to keep on pitching and couldn’t; his last two (very short) seasons were both negative WAR, negative ERA+.

      Finally, Koufax’s 2.57 road ERA those five years would have ranked no worse than 6th and as high as 1st in the NL. Hunter’s road ERA: not so good.

  11. Gary says:

    And to add to the question of the value of the EloRater, at 7:30 Eastern time, Mike Mussina ranked 20th all-time, between No. 19 Robin Roberts and No. 21 Sandy Koufax.

  12. Luis says:

    Not to add to the fire, but one aspect of the PED era is there is just no way to know if a PED player might have gotten injured and essentially ended his career had they NOT been stronger etc etc from the PED use. Say Clemens blows his shoulder out in Toronto(and I am presuming he did the PEDs there as there is no parallel to his career of which I am aware, but I am sure someone will find one in a bout 3 sec on Google) overthrowing a pitch because his fatigue level is high. Hamstrings that might have torn but didn’t, obliques, etc etc…

  13. Pete Ridges says:

    Let’s not understate Morris’ World Series case. Measured by WPA, his Game 7 in 1991 was easily the best World Series start in the last 40 years. And Game 1 in 1984 was the 8th best. After that, you’ve got three other good starts and two bad ones. Two great games is more than anyone else, but if we could take them away (we can’t really) then no-one would ever notice his postseason record. In the ALCS and ALDS he had just two good starts and four bad ones. I wouldn’t say that’s close to a Hall of Fame case.

    • Dinky says:

      Picking your cutoff carefully, are you? Koufax in 1965 alone had two better starts than Morris’s best, and the second start was one TWO DAYS REST. In those two starts Koufax allowed seven hits combined, matching Morris’s one start, and in each of those starts Koufax had ten K’s, more than Morris’s eight. Koufax’s postseason ERA and WHIP are both under 1. Morris benefited from having great offenses behind him. Put him in front of, say, Blyleven’s offenses, and Morris wouldn’t even be having a HOF discussion.

    • Delevie says:

      Yeah and Kofax was pitching from a mound that was 10 ft high in comparison to Morris. 1960’s pitching really can’t be translated very easily to other eras.

  14. Grulg says:

    Joe Poz you shouldn’t bring up Black Jack. We get it: Me hate Morris. Morris no good. Hulk want Dale Murphy go instead.

  15. Juan was named Juan, pitched on the West Coast, and had a bad incident with John Roseboro. James Augustus was called Catfish and pitched with the legendary A’s and the Yankees. Juan was the better pitcher; Catfish ranks higher even with those who use Baseball-reference.

  16. Players at the time he played said Johnson was so fast you had you had to guess where it would be. and when he threw a changeup it was unfair. He also pitched doubleheader complete games without losing much on his fastball.

  17. Ryan Long says:

    Check out for some interesting articles on BBWAA related issues !

  18. big red says:

    It’s probably been mentioned, put two typos I noticed; “Marichal was about as good at home as Marichal”, and missing parenthesis in the sentence regarding Nolan Ryan in the Clemens section.

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