Bob on babip, average hitters and average pitchers (with some help from Shinsplint)

Days ago I made a list of 40 or so pitchers and batters who had played in the most games or had the most innings pitched since WWII and charted their BABIP. shins suggested looking at poorer players. I said I’d give it a try, but I quickly found out that there just aren’t that many poor pitchers who pitch enough innings to offset random chance. There are quite a few poor hitters, but they all tend to be middle infielders or back-up catchers. So what I did instead was make a list of all the hitters who played in 1500 games and had an OPS+ ranging from 95 to 105 since 1946; and all the pitchers who had 2100 innings and had anRA+ ranging from 95 to 105 since the war. I relize that OPS+ and ERA+ are not the same, but it was the best I could do with the data I have. Anyway, here are the 57 hitters. I’ll post the pitchers separately.

324.48 Matty Alou
306.94 Jay Bell
297.19 Juan Beniquez
324.52 Dante Bichette
274.10 Paul Blair
299.69 Bret Boone
302.70 Hubie Brooks
263.30 Tom Brunansky
301.22 Bill Bruton
294.90 Jose Cardenal
269.32 Joe Carter
290.75 Al Cowens
251.03 Del Crandall
299.28 Al Dark
316.52 Delino DeShields
310.25 Tony Fernandez
313.61 Curt Flood
317.65 Travis Fryman
274.72 Gary Gaetti
286.40 Phil Garner
315.71 Billy Goodman
305.62 Greg Gross
290.11 Tommy Harper
308.52 Larry Herndon
300.19 Tommy Herr
274.56 Deron Johnson
290.25 Jay Johnstone
257.51 Willie Jones
269.64 Mike Jorgensen
274.44 Ed Kranepool
283.67 Whitey Lockman
265.65 Sherman Lollar
310.14 Garry Maddox
313.45 Dave Martinez
280.24 Tim McCarver
343.49 Willie McGee
268.51 Ken McMullen
283.94 Denis Menke
295.78 Willie Montanez
293.73 Lloyd Moseby
295.17 Ken Oberkfell
266.10 Pete O’Brien
279.52 Lance Parrish
280.27 Vic Power
295.79 Willie Randolph
274.58 Brooks Robinson
271.03 Johnny Roseboro
316.44 Juan Samuel
300.70 Steve Sax
281.51 Roy Smalley
258.61 Jim Spencer
302.41 Terry Steinback
294.64 BJ Surhoff
279.39 Tim Wallach
307.66 Devon White
290.23 Todd Zeile

The average for these 57 men is 291.71

I think it is rather obvious that fast guys have a higher BABIP than slow guys.

Top 7 BABIP
343.49 Willie McGee
324.52 Dante Bichette
324.48 Matty Alou
317.65 Travis Fryman
316.52 Delino DeShields
316.44 Juan Samuel
315.71 Billy Goodman
Altho I never thought of Bichette and Fryman as speed demons.

Bottom 7 BABIP
251.03 Del Crandall
257.51 Willie Jones
258.61 Jim Spencer
263.30 Tom Brunansky
265.65 Sherman Lollar
266.10 Pete O’Brien
268.51 Ken McMullen
It sure looks like if you played in the ’50s and were a catcher, you couldn’t outrun my baby sister.

Willie McGee kind of looks out of place. There is one pitcher who fits that too. Any guesses which pitcher might have a ridiculously low BABIP?

Here are the 57 pitchers since WWII that pitched 2100 innings and have a ERA+ between 95 and 105.

275.80 Doyle Alexander
270.22 Joaquin Andujar
277.58 Stan Bahnsen
283.90 Floyd Bannister
288.69 Nellie Briles
268.52 Bob Buhl
275.43 Lew Burdette
288.24 Mike Caldwell
270.26 Don Cardwell
284.86 Jim Clancy
283.67 Joe Coleman
283.59 Ron Darling
286.22 John Denny
274.39 Larry Dierker
282.78 Pat Dobson
281.81 Dock Ellis
295.75 Dick Ellsworth
289.52 Mike Flanagan
275.91 Bob Forsch
295.55 Woodie Fryman
260.01 Jim Grant
301.38 Kevin Gross
284.77 Bill Gullickson
279.02 Ken Holtzman
283.85 Rick Honeycutt
248.03 Jim Hunter
300.12 Bruce Hurst
289.19 Bob Knepper
295.72 Mike Krukow
283.71 Vern Law
287.30 Mickey Lolich
273.04 Rudy May
270.35 Mike McCormick
281.20 Scott McGregor
289.11 Mike Moore
274.49 Jack Morris
275.52 Joe Niekro
290.43 Joe Nuxhall
284.33 Claude Osteen
282.17 Camilio Pascual
280.81 Fritz Peterson
285.98 Johnny Podres
275.38 Bob Purkey
274.96 Pedro Ramos
280.19 Steve Renko
292.02 Jerry Reuss
291.10 Rick Rhoden
289.37 Ray Sadeki
288.61 Scott Sanderson
291.24 Chris Short
280.13 Bill Singer
280.67 Dave Stewart
292.04 Rick Sutcliffe
284.56 Mike Torrez
287.39 Fernando Valenzuela
285.94 Ed Whitson
291.01 Rick Wise

The average BABIP for these 57 pitchers is 282.77, about 10 points lower than the hitters.

There is not a much variance among the pitchers as there is among the hitters, which was to be expected. Whether that’s true because it is, in fact, true or because I’ve not set up the parameters correctly; that I don’t know.

I hazzard a guess that there are 3 things which causes the difference between pitchers: ball park affect, team defense and pitcher skill. And I have no clue which is the most important.

Only 2 pitchers had BABIP above 300.00, Kevin Gross at 301.38 and Bruce Hurst at 300.12.

Only three pitchers had BABIP below 270.00, Bob Buhl at 268.52, Jim Grant at 260.01 and…

Jim Hunter, all the way down at 248.03!!!

One does wonder if AstroTurf plays a part. But Matty Alou didn’t (or at least not much) play on the stuff. I think it would be interesting to see if BABIP tended to be higher in turf parks, but how would you go about taking into account that they were generally bigger parks and they generally tailored their roster with speedier guys? And then again, how does one measure team defense? I’ve never seen a measurement that I’m overly confident in. My guess is that individual speed is the largest factor, followed by the size of the ballpark.

Rivers OPS+ was 106, so he wasn’t included. Willie McGee had no power and rarely took a walk, so his OPS+ was 101.

As far as pitchers go, I’m not so sure that there isn’t more skill involved than I would have been led to believe. I did a half-hearted look at the guys who weren’t near the norm. Grant and Gross played basically in park-neutral fields. Hunter and Buhl played in pitcher-friendly parks, but neither was overly friendly. Hurst played for the most part in hitter-friendly parks. How their defenses stack up, I’m not confident that I really know. Looking at team defense Linear Weights (which is a BAD measurement) Grant and Hurst played with average defenses. Gross a little worse than average, and Hunter and Buhl with better than average defenses, but not top level either. I’m taking a stab in the dark, but it seems likely that the 30 point difference between the average and Hunter is 15 points ballpark and defense and 15 points some sort of “skill” that Hunter had to control BABIP, whatever skill that might have been.

Shinsplint

I found Bob’s original list of pitchers and players and their BABIP and combined it with his new one. Their were some duplicates, so of course I eliminated them. This list has 90 pitchers and 94 hitters.

The standard deviation on this list is 10.4 for pitchers and 20.3 for hitters. My theory was that if great and not-so-great hitters and pitchers were used in the list (rather than just great) the gap between hitters and pitchers would increase, but actually the difference with this list is about the same. Perhaps my theory would be true if worse hitters and pitchers were included, but as Bob says the problem becomes that those players don’t usually play long enough to avoid small-sample variations. Or at least I think I’m paraphrasing him correctly.

Here they are in descending order of BABIP for hitters and ascending order of BABIP for pitchers.

361.22 Rod Carew
343.49 Willie McGee
340.00 Lou Brock
329.70 Paul Molitor
324.52 Dante Bichette
324.48 Matty Alou
321.25 Pete Rose
317.65 Travis Fryman
317.16 Dave Parker
316.52 Delino DeShields
316.44 Juan Samuel
315.71 Billy Goodman
314.76 Tim Raines
313.61 Curt Flood
313.45 Dave Martinez
312.40 Tony Perez
310.94 George Brett
310.25 Tony Fernandez
310.14 Garry Maddox
308.52 Larry Herndon
307.66 Devon White
307.47 Rickey Henderson
307.32 Robin Yount
307.06 Harold Baines
306.94 Jay Bell
305.62 Greg Gross
305.26 Vada Pinson
302.70 Hubie Brooks
302.41 Terry Steinback
301.67 Willie Mays
301.46 Reggie Jackson
301.22 Bill Bruton
300.70 Steve Sax
300.19 Tommy Herr
299.87 Al Kaline
299.69 Bret Boone
299.28 Al Dark
299.22 Dave Concepcion
298.81 Frank Robinson
298.80 Dave Winfield
298.09 Dwight Evans
297.19 Juan Beniquez
295.79 Willie Randolph
295.78 Willie Montanez
295.30 Eddie Murray
295.17 Ken Oberkfell
294.93 Hank Aaron
294.90 Jose Cardenal
294.64 BJ Surhoff
293.73 Lloyd Moseby
292.73 Andre Dawson
292.52 Carl Yastrzemski
290.75 Al Cowens
290.25 Jay Johnstone
290.23 Todd Zeile
290.11 Tommy Harper
290.05 Billy Williams
289.97 Barry Bonds
289.74 Bill Buckner
289.42 Rafael Palmeiro
287.41 Ted Simmons
286.40 Phil Garner
283.94 Denis Menke
283.84 Rusty Staub
283.67 Whitey Lockman
283.10 Carlton Fisk
281.51 Roy Smalley
281.33 Joe Morgan
280.49 Cal Ripken
280.27 Vic Power
280.24 Tim McCarver
279.52 Lance Parrish
279.39 Tim Wallach
277.02 Ozzie Smith
275.87 Willie McCovey
275.81 Luis Apricio
274.72 Gary Gaetti
274.58 Brooks Robinson
274.56 Deron Johnson
274.44 Ed Kranepool
274.10 Paul Blair
271.03 Johnny Roseboro
269.91 Ernie Banks
269.64 Mike Jorgensen
269.32 Joe Carter
268.51 Ken McMullen
266.10 Pete O’Brien
265.65 Sherman Lollar
263.30 Tom Brunansky
258.61 Jim Spencer
257.51 Willie Jones
253.04 Darrell Evans
251.03 Del Crandall
248.41 Graig Nettles

248.03 Jim Hunter
253.18 Jim Palmer
255.84 Charlie Hough
260.01 Jim Grant
262.26 Warren Spahn
264.34 Tom Seaver
265.41 Juan Marichal
265.45 Whitey Ford
266.09 Luis Tiant
266.27 Billy Pierce
266.67 Don Sutton
267.69 Jim Perry
268.52 Bob Buhl
269.19 Vida Blue
270.09 Robin Roberts
270.22 Joaquin Andujar
270.26 Don Cardwell
270.35 Mike McCormick
270.77 Early Wynn
272.14 Nolan Ryan
273.04 Rudy May
273.22 Milt Pappas
274.15 Fergie Jenkins
274.39 Larry Dierker
274.49 Jack Morris
274.82 Phil Niekro
274.96 Pedro Ramos
275.38 Bob Purkey
275.43 Lew Burdette
275.52 Joe Niekro
275.73 Dennis Martinez
275.80 Doyle Alexander
275.91 Bob Forsch
276.49 Bob Gibson
276.53 Don Drysdale
277.58 Stan Bahnsen
278.88 Jim Bunning
278.91 Dennis Eckersley
279.02 Ken Holtzman
279.36 Larry Jackson
280.10 Gaylord Perry
280.13 Bill Singer
280.19 Steve Renko
280.67 Dave Stewart
280.81 Fritz Peterson
281.20 Scott McGregor
281.81 Dock Ellis
282.17 Camilio Pascual
282.23 Curt Simmons
282.78 Pat Dobson
283.44 Frank Tanananananana
283.59 Ron Darling
283.67 Joe Coleman
283.71 Vern Law
283.85 Rick Honeycutt
283.90 Floyd Bannister
284.33 Claude Osteen
284.56 Mike Torrez
284.77 Bill Gullickson
284.86 Jim Clancy
285.94 Ed Whitson
285.96 Steve Carlton
285.98 Johnny Podres
286.22 John Denny
287.30 Mickey Lolich
287.39 Fernando Valenzuela
288.12 Bert Blyleven
288.24 Mike Caldwell
288.47 Jim Kaat
288.61 Scott Sanderson
288.69 Nellie Briles
288.96 Jerry Koosman
289.11 Mike Moore
289.17 Tommy John
289.19 Bob Knepper
289.37 Ray Sadeki
289.52 Mike Flanagan
290.43 Joe Nuxhall
290.45 Bob Friend
291.01 Rick Wise
291.10 Rick Rhoden
291.24 Chris Short
292.02 Jerry Reuss
292.04 Rick Sutcliffe
295.55 Woodie Fryman
295.72 Mike Krukow
295.75 Dick Ellsworth
296.86 Rick Reuschel
300.12 Bruce Hurst
301.38 Kevin Gross

Bob

Thanks for doing something with the data, shins.

I remember vaguely something that Bill did years ago, where he made a bunch of lists, and Roy Thomas was always at one end of the specturm and (I think it was) Dave Kingman at the other. Hunter always seems to be tht way too. Whenver I make lists, Hunter is almost always at one extreme or the other. For example: this list. For another ERA+ vs CERA+. His CERA is about as far away from his ERA as anyone in recent history (relievers not included). Another: his ball park factor is one of the lowest in recent history (for a long-time pitcuer). One more example: Win Shares minus Actual Wins. Hunter and Sutton are the only post-WWII HOFers with more wins than WS. And it’s not even really close with Hunter at -18 and Sutton at -5. The next lowest should come as no real suprise, Nolan Ryan at +10. I think that Hunter belongs in the Hall, but I sure do get why a lot of sabermetric types don’t.

Shinsplint

Hunter certainly benefited from pitching-friendly ballparks and hitter-friendly lineups. As you might guess, I wouldn’t have voted him in the HOF, but he certainly had the fame and chose his teams well. Given that Hunter’s Wins are more than his Win Shares, I assume that implies that his Wins were higher than his contribution would suggest.

Judging from their BABIP values, Catfish Hunter pitching to Graig Nettles would be a combination likely to result in a batted ball being an out.

An idle thought—I wonder if pitchers with low BABIPs give up a lot of homers. Any other hit raises your pitching BABIP, but homers do not. So given two pitchers with everything the same, but one gives up more homers in his hits, he has a lower BABIP.

It was quite interesting to see the speed guys get high BABIPs. I mean–it makes sense of course, but at baseballprospectus it seems they focus on the line drive rates as indicators of a hitter’s high BABIP. But certainly speed and ability to place the ball have a huge effect.

 

Bob on pitchers’ babip as hitters

zambrano
Carlos Zambrano

This is one of those studies that was not particularly insightful or useful. I did it hoping it might throw some light on the BABIP highway. I can’t think of any conclusions to draw from this info, but I’ll pass it along just in case someone has use for it.

What I did was take the 2011 Bill James Handbook and compute BABIP for all pitcher listed who had at least 200 career at bats.

214.61 Bronson Arroyo
200.00 Miguel Batista
218.05 Josh Beckett
212.44 Kris Benson
252.10 Chad Billingsley
233.58 AJ Burnett
203.59 Dave Bush
214.77 Matt Cain
275.59 Chris Capuano
156.38 Chris Carpenter
231.44 Aaron Cook
147.19 Doug Davis
163.93 Ryan Dempster
222.86 Elmer Dessens
266.30 Zach Duke
192.77 Jeff Francis
271.74 Cole Hamels
315.18 Mike Hampton
165.29 Aaron Harang
294.74 Dan Haren
248.09 Livan Hernandez
246.03 Tim Hudson
166.67 Ubaldo Jimenez
200.00 Ted Lilly
250.00 Tim Lincecum
228.40 Kyle Lohse
200.74 Derek Lowe
239.73 Paul Maholm
251.89 Jason Marquis
217.57 Kevin Millwood
082.57 Brian Moehler
200.00 Jamie Moyer
197.03 Brett Myers
277.78 Rocky Nolasco
330.99 Darren Oliver
258.06 Scott Olsen
265.75 Russ Ortiz
212.53 Roy Oswalt
225.00 Vicente Padilla
272.06 Chan Ho Park
229.51 Carl pavano
247.42 Jake Peavy
129.25 Mike Pelfrey
224.14 Brad Penny
240.00 Oliver Perez
201.01 Wandy Rodriguez
243.24 Johan Santana
147.83 Ben Sheets
225.61 Jeff Suppan
246.41 Javier Vazquez
296.65 Adam Wainwright
318.52 Jeff Weaver
263.16 Dontrelle Willis
273.91 Randy Wolf
231.11 Kerry Wood
242.31 Jamey Wright
329.79 Carlos Zambrano
152.94 Barry Zito

As far as I can tell, information not worth knowing or having. Maybe somebody else will find some use for it.

Top 5
330.99 Oliver
329.79 Zambrano
318.52 Weaver
315.18 Hampton
296.65 Wainwright

zito
Barry Zito

Bottom 5
082.57 Moehler
129.25 Pelfrey
147.19 Davis
147.83 Sheets
152.94 Zito

Odds and ends…

1. It might be best if your name starts with an O. Oliver, Olsen, Ortiz and Oswalt all are at least competent with the lumber

2. If your name begins with a Z, it can go either way, 329 for Zambrano or 152 for Zito

3. This may be the most interesting tidbit. Micah Owings hasn’t yet reached 200 at bats, so he wasn’t included in the above list. But hold onto your baseball caps: Owings BABIP is a whopping 398.23! That’s not a typo – I double checked. Maybe it’s time for the Reds (or whoever holds his contract) to do a Rick Ankiel and let him have a decent, long career as a hitter. Or else he might end up like Ken Brett.

Bob on All Star game appearances by players born after 1937

e-c (EVANCURB, or Bruce Nava) had an interesting point in his Keltner List of Edgar Martinez about our lack of knowledge about how many all-star appearances is typical for a HOFer. Well, that ‘s something I can look up.

It was harder than I thought. First, all players prior to the first all-star game in 1933 have a big fat goose egg in their appearances column. So they are not really germaine to the question. The generation of players in the ’30’s and ’40s make you deal with WWII. The next generation you have to deal with the period when there were two all-star games a year. There were a few players who played in all eight of those games. Should I count that as 8 games or 4 years? Plus, what do you do with those guys who played in only one of those games? Do I count it as 1 appearance or a half appearance? I decided to punt and ignore that generation too. What I ended up deciding was to count apearances for those players born after 1938. I figured if you were born in 1939, you were 30 years old and in mid-career when baseball expanded to 24 teams. I realized it would be a lot easier to rack up appearances when there were 16 teams than it is now, and in essence were immaterial when discussing all-star appearances and the current generation under review. So, I ended up focusing on the fact that the BBWAA has elected 37 players to the Hall, who were born after 1938. So far, the Veterans Committee has not selected anybody born after Orlando Cepeda, born in ’37. I assume and hope Santo will be the first born in the ’40s that the VetCom selects.

Anyway, here are the HOFers and their number of appearances:

19 – Cal Ripken
18 – Rod Carew, Carl Yastrzemski
17 –
16 –
15 – Ozzie Smith, Tony Gwynn
14 – Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench
13 –
12 – Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Dave Winfield, Tom Seaver, Wade Boggs
11 – Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter
10 – Joe Morgan, Kirby Puckett, Steve Carlton, Rickey Henderson, Ryne Sandberg
9 – Goose Gossage
8 – Eddie Murray, Jim Hunter, Nolan Ryan, Jim Rice, Andre Dawson
7 – Tony Perez, Willie Stargell, Rollie Fingers, Paul Moliro
6 – Lou Brock, Dennis Eckersley, Jim Palmer, Bruce Sutter
5 – Phil Niekro
4 – Don Sutton
3 – Robin Yount, Fergie Jenkins

The mean of these 37 is 9.7 appearances, broken down to 11.0 for hitters and 7.0 for pitchers. The median is 10.

I don’t have any conclusions to make really. It seems like you get in ten games, you’re going to make the Hall; except all these guys have the stats to get in without the all-star boost. If you play in fewer than 10, you better have some nice markers, like 300 wins or 3000 hits or play on some championship teams or win some awards. Based on this I’d assume that Barry Larkin and Roberto Alomar with their 12 appearances are going to get in shortly. And even tho McGwire and Bonds played in more than 10, they have other issues (altho I don’t remember what they are) to deal and contend with that All-Star appearances won’t be able to help them with.

I decided to look up all-star appearances for guys not in the Hall, born between 1930 and 1956. You can probably guess why I stopped at 1956. I went back to 1930, instead of 1939 like I started with, because these are guys from my childhood, and I was curious.

11 – Bill Freehan
10 – Steve Garvey
9 – Ron Santo, Joe Torre, Dave Concepcion, Fred Lynn
8 – Tony Oliva, Ted Simmons
7 – Dick Allen, Reggie Smith, Al Oliver, Dave Parker, Dale Murphy, Ken Boyer
6 – Bert Campaneris, Jim Fregosi, Rusty Staub, Graig Nettles, Bobby Grich, Willie Randolph
5 – Amos Otis, Buddy Bell, Keith Hernandez, Maury Wills, Jack Morris
4 – Boog Powell, Jack Clark, Norm Cash, Roger Maris, Frank Howard, Dennis Martinez, Tommy John
3 – Jim Wynn, Bobby Bonds, Dwight Evans, Ken Singleton, Jim Kaat, Frank Tanana, Luis Tiant
2 – Willie Davis, Roy White, Jose Cruz, Darrell Evans, Vada Pinson, Bert Blyleven

Bob’s Keltner List (the original one) – Ron Santo, Kirk Gibson, Roger Maris, Gil McDougald, and Deacon White

I’m guessing that since everyone here is a BJames fan that you are familiar with his Keltner List. I won’t go into the what and wherefors of the making of the list. If you are unfamiliar (or have forgotten), you can find the explanation in BJames “Politics of Glory”, starting on page 274.

Since we have been discussing Kirk Gibson’s HOF merits, and that digressed into talking about Maris and Santo, I thought I’d use the Keltner List on these 3 guys. Santo is someone I’d assume almost all of us thinks is HOF-worthy. I’d also assume that most of us think Maris and Gibson are marginal candidates. I thought I’d add Gil McDougald for two reasons: first, to honor him at this time of his passing and because I think that very few of us think he is HOF worthy and will make a good counterpoint to Santo. I think it’ll be interesting to see if Maris and Gibson are closer to Santo and HOF worthiness or McDougald, a fine player, but not really HOF material. I am also going to add Deacon White as a lark. He’s the most worthy 19th century candidate in my opinion, and I’d like to see where he stands.

One warning/explanation. The Keltner list is entirely SUBJECTIVE. I will try as hard as I can to be OBJECTIVE with my comments and assessments. So here goes…

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in bseball?

As Bill says, that’s a very tough standard. Obviously, none of the 4 most recent players gets a “yes’ answer. White, I’m not so sure. If you are one of the best offensive players AND the best defensive catcher in a season or two, surely someone would think you’re the best player. I’ve done a lot of comtemporary reading and have never seen anybody actually say he was the best, so I’ll give him a “qualified no”.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

Another tough standard. What with Banks, Billy Williams and Jenkins, Santo was occasionaly number one, but I’d have to say no. Gibson is about the same as Santo, in that he competes with Trammell, Whitaker and Morris. He too was the best once or twice, but, like Santo, I’ll say no. Maris obviously never was (except maybe in Kansas City, which doesn’t count). Mantle was always better, plus you had Ford and Howard, plus Brock, Flood and Gibson (the other one) to compete against. McDougald is equally a “no”. White often was the best on his team.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

Santo, yes, often. Gibson, in 1988, yes, maybe 1984, otherwise, no. Maris, yes, in 1960 and 1961, maybe in 1962 and 1958. McDougald is a tough one to rate; he switched positions so much, but probably yes in 1955, 1956 and 1957, no to all others. White was the premier catcher in every season from 1870-1879, except 1878 when he was the top first baseman, plus 1884 when he might have been the best third baseman.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

This is where Santo gets clobbered. Other than 1969 and maybe 1967, the answer is a loud no. Gibson, other than 1984 and 1988 gets a no. Maris had 4 Yankee yesses (he didn’t contribute much in ’63) and 2 Cardinal yesses. McDougald was in a pennant race all 10 years he played. White was a significant factor in the races of 1873-1877 plus a couple of years in Detroit for a total of 7.

5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

This is one of the biggest reasons none of the four are in; none of them played as regulars after turning 34. Except…White; he played 122 games as a 42-year old. Granted he didn’t play very well that year for a historically bad team in Buffalo, but still, he was a good, productive player at 40.

6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the HOF?

Really tough standard. Ignoring players that are active or on the BBWAA ballot, I’d probably like to amend this question to “Is he the very best player the Veterans Committee has to choose from?” Depending on one’s views, I think “yes” arguments can be made for both Santo and White. The other three, no.

7. Are most of the players who have comparable career statistics in the HOF?

Santo, yes. Gibson, Maris and McDougald, no. Honestly, the answer for White is also “no”. There are 2 huge “buts” tho. First, he played in an era, like the Dirty Ball Era, where power numbers were depressed. Second, it’s hard to compile big numbers with the schedule of his time. His earliest years were played in the Amateur Era, when few stats were collected and aren’t included in his totals. The schedule was a lot shorter then. The first time that his team even played 100 games was 1884, when he was 36 years old. So, I guess I’m saying the answer for White is “no, but..”

8. Do the player’s numbers meet HOF standards?

Just like the previous question: Santo, yes; Gibson, Maris, McDougald, no; White, no, but..

9. Is there evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his stats?

This is a hard one in my opinion for Santo. I’d say no, he wasn’t better, but he also wasn’t worse, his numbers accurately describe Santo. Gibson is also tough. I’m trying to be objective, but I don’t see it; glk obviously does. And it’s just as difficult about Maris. I “see” it; but most others don’t. How about we call it a wash and give them both “maybes”. McDougald is an unequivical yes, he was much better than his stats. He was so good that Stengel could play him anywhere, but sort of platooned him, which lowered his career numbers, makes me say yes. White also gets a yes because of playing time, as explained in question 7.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the HOF but not in?

Another tough standard with a similar answer to number 8. Santo is an arguable yes, what with Nettles and Darrell Evans in the mix; Gibson, Maris and McDougald are all getting a no answer. White is, like Santo, an arguable yes. White competes with Joe Torre and Ted Simmons. All three are offensive catchers with poor defensive reps. White was actually a very good defensive catcher, but with his move off the dish, he became an immobile third basemen, and that’s where his poor defense rep comes from (and that rep is deserved).

11. How many MVP-type seasons did the player have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

Santo had 4 seasons of 30 or more Win Shares, which Bill calls MVP-type seasons. Altho he won no awards, he came in 4th in 1967, 6th in 1969, 8th in 1964 and 9th in 1963. He did have the most WS in the NL in 1967. Gibson had only 1 MVP-caliber season, 1988, the year he did in fact win the MVP; he did finish 7th in 1984. Maris had two MVP-caliber seasons in 1960 and 1961, and he did in fact won both those years.
McDougald never had an MVP-type season. As you know, there were no MVP Awards in White’s time, so I can only hazzard a guess. He probably would have won in 1877 and might have won in 1875. It’s possible that he might have finished in the top 5 in a couple of other years, but that’s just speculation.

12. How many all-star type seasons did the player have? How many all-star games did he play in? did most of the other players who played in this many go into the HOF?

Santo was named to and played in 9 All-Star games; he had 8 seasons of 20+ WS. Gibson was never selected for an All-Star game, but had 5 seasons of 20+ WS. Maris was named to 4 and played in I’m not sure how many games (the reference book I’m using doesn’t show if they played in both games or not). He was selected in 4 consecutive years, 1959-1962, when they played two all-star games a year; he had 4 seasons of 20+ WS. McDougald was named 5 seasons and played in at least 5 games. Like Maris he was named to the team in 1959 and I don’t know if he played in both; he had 6 seasons of 20+ WS. White never even heard of All-Star games until he was 85-years old. And for some unknown reason, he wasn’t selected to play!

13. If this man were the best on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

On some level, I think I can honestly say yes to all five of these guys.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

I think you might say Maris had some minor impact of baseball history. Gibson had a historical moment. White was THE catcher that all other catchers were measured by until Ewing came along. Santo and McDougald, not so much. I don’t know of any rule changes that any brought about, but White might have – the game being so fluid in his time. I know of no new equipment that any came up with, but again, with White, there is some speculation (he may have been the first catcher to pad his glove). I’d say that Maris changed the game significantly, but that might be me being subjective.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character the HOF, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

I can’t think of anything negative about any of these guys. And White was, after all, nicknamed Deacon.
———-
In summary, White does extremely well on the Keltner List. Santo does well also. Gibson and Maris are a few notches below Santo, and I think Maris does better than Gibson. McDouglad does better than I had expected him to, but still well below Maris and Gibson. On a scale of 1 to 10, with McDougald being the 1 and White being the 10, I think I’d put Santo at 8, Maris at 5 and Gibson at 4.

Bob’s Keltner List for Graders

We spend a lot of time on this site discussing the merits of a player’s HOF worthiness. We often have a disconnect because we value different things differently. With that in mind, I have come up with a list of ten questions grading not players but us. That way when discussing specific players, we might have a better understanding of where we’re disagreeing.

I’m going to give the ten questions and then spend time explaining what I mean for each. This will likely take more than one post to accomplish, altho most are pretty self-evident. In no order of importance:
Q1 – Who is the HOF for?
Q2 – Should the HOF be inclusive or exclusive?
Q3 – How important is fame?
Q4 – How important is fielding?
Q5 – How important are championships and/or post-season accomplishments?
Q6 – How important are milestone numbers?
Q7 – Peak versus Career?
Q8 – Raw versus Analytical stats?
Q9 – Should each era have a similar number of honorees?
Q10 – Should each position have a similar number of honorees?

Let me preface this with a few points. First, there is no “right” answer to any question; many have multiple answers that are legitimate. Second, these questions aren’t necessarily binary for the grader; they aren’t “yes/no” questions per se. I can think that both Sandy Koufax and Don Sutton are worthy, which can be at odds with the peak versus career question. Third, these questions aren’t really geared towards the uber-greats; it’s to help clarify the discussion for the 300 or so players who we debate.

I’ll start with the first two questions in this post, mainly because they aren’t as much about who should go in.

Q1 – Who is the HOF for?

How one answers this question can have large impact on who we think should go in. Is the Hall for the “best” players and contributors? Is it for the fans? Even this “fan” thing can be broken down into the fans who actually go to Cooperstown and the fans who debate the issue without ever going to the museum? Is it primarily for the living HOFers? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “what’s the point of enshrining dead people? They are not alive to enjoy it”. Is it for the “history” of the game? Terry would want me to mention that ultimately the HOF is for the owners of the museum and the citizens of Cooperstown.

For me, it’s all of the above, of course, but it’s mostly two-fold. As one might guess, I tend to think “historical”, but I also think about the future. A question I always ask myself is when thinking about who should go in is to ask “To a fan in 2100, is this a player they need to know about?” It’s why I say “yes” for Ross Barnes but “no” to, oh I don’t know, let’s say Kirk Gibson.

Q2 – Should the Hall be inclusive or exclusive?

Quite obviously, most of us tend to think that 300 or so is around the right answer. We can agree or disagree as to whether the Hall currently has the “right” 300. I think most of us would agree on 200 or so. The problem of course is our debate. There are any number of players who are going to go into the Hall whether one is exclusive. There really isn’t much doubt that, as we’ve been discussing, Mussina, Schilling and Smoltz are all going to eventually be in the Hall. The debate by an exclusivist is not Will (or Would) but Should. The inclusivist may tell us that Gil McDougald is a good candidate, but we all pretty much know that he ain’t never going in. While this question doesn’t come up that often in our discussions, it does come up occasionally.

The older I get, the more exclusive I’m becoming. It follows from my trying to look to 2100. If we add another 300 by 2100 (we’ve elected 300 in 75 years), the Gallery is going to be awfully crowded with plaques to read. When I took my dad to Cooperstown back in 2011, he spent hours reading every single plaque. I wonder if that would even be possible in 2100, to view every single one if there are 600 to read. If I had my druthers, I would set up a VetCom to pick the 10-12 19th century stars that have been left out and set up another VetCom to pick the 5-10 1900 to 1972 stars that need to be inducted, and then (for the most part) shut them off. I’d still have a VetCom meet every ten years to see if someone new, from research, emerges. The VetCom that meets to pick thru the 1972-1992 era still needs to do some work, but eventually that era too should be closed. There really aren’t a whole lot of players from 1890 to 1970 that have been grossly ignored if one is exclusive.

Before I continue on, let me re-phrase a few things.

First, when I say “players”, I’m also referring to managers and owners and umpires and Negro Leaguers and general mangers and other variations of “contributors”.

Second, I’m not debating specific players. The first two questions I was able to avoid using specific people as examples. I’m not sure in explaining the next 8 questions that I’ll be able to avoid using individual players to get my points across.

Third, the whole HOF concept is complex. Discussing the HOF worthiness of active players is vastly different from discussing recently active players, which is different from discussing players on the BBWAA ballot, which is different from discussing players who are now under VetCom jurisdiction. Discussing Mike Trout is different than discussing Albert Pujols, which is different than discussing Chipper Jones, which is different from Alan Trammell, which is different than Dave Parker.

Fourth, I think we all have HOF tiers. But the Hall is not about ranking. It’s a binary discussion: should “Player Under Discussion” be in the Hall? It’s either a yes or no answer. These Keltner List For Graders questions are meant to help us understand why someone thinks yes or no. They aren’t necessarily meant to help one decide whether Joe Blow is worthy or not (altho they might help us in some small way).

Fifth, the first paragraph under each question is my attempt to define the question. The second paragraph is nominally how I answer it.

Q3 – How important is fame?

This question is probably one of the trickier aspects of HOF worthiness. There are so many ways to define fame. There’s time-and-place fame. This is where the “fame is fleeting” quote comes from. I have little doubt that Bobby Wallace was famous in his own time, but he is probably one of the most obscure HOFer today. There is fame for “accomplishments”, which is different from fame for (let’s call it) “lore”, altho they can often overlap. Some of the more questionable HOF choices are in because of fame. Tommy McCarthy, Rabbit Maranville, Tinkers-Evers-Chance are “lore” enshrinees; Jack Chesbro and Hack Wilson are “accomplishment” enshrinees. And of course, there is infamy too. Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Dick Allen, and steroid users aren’t in for this reason.

Personally, I don’t think I put much weight to fame. Only in comparison to a lot of the posters here do I value fame. I kind of think of it this way. I rate a player’s HOF worthiness much like the HOF Monitor. He gets to 100 points, and I’ll endorse him. Fame is probably on a scale of 10 to -100. Most players get zero points; very few even get 1 point. Joe Jackson and his ilk are at -100. There are very few players that get over my fictitious 100 points because of fame. Jim Hunter is one that comes most readily to mind. If I think about it for a minute or two, I’m sure I’d come up with a handful more (Pre-posting edit: Gil Hodges is the only other player that I would give Fame Points to that would crack the 100 Point threshold because of Fame Points.) There are two player that I give more than 10 Fame points to that put them over 100 points: Jackie Robinson and Roger Maris. Robinson is probably not over 100 on his raw stats alone. Just looking at his bbr comp list, he doesn’t scream HOFer. Of course, doing any simplistic analysis of his numbers, and he’d be pretty darn close to 100 points (and probably over). What makes him a shoo-in HOFer is his transcendent fame. Same for Maris, as far as I’m concerned. His raw numbers don’t make him worthy. It’s his fame that does.

Q4 – How important is fielding?

This is another tough one, basically because fielding prowess is so difficult to quantify. Fame importance is hard to define; fielding importance is next to impossible. We’re all over the place when it comes to fielding. Some look at Gold Gloves; some poo-poo them. Lord knows there are a boatload of advanced metrics out there. Some like one over another; some more or less dismiss them all. Of all ways of measuring worthiness, fielding is more “feel” than just about anything else. I’ll let someone else attempt tackling how to define this question. It’s an important one, but I’m not sure I can do the explanation justice.

Honestly, I don’t have any clear methodology for a player’s fielding. I tend to look at a bunch of metrics to form a consensus. If still confused, I tend to lean on Bill’s fielding letter grades that he has in his Win Shares book. And I don’t think that a great fielding first baseman is anywhere near on par with a great fielding shortstop, second baseman or centerfielder. That Keith Hernandez is the greatest fielding first baseman is nice to know, but I put it on the same level as Jeff Kent (or whoever it is) having the most homers of second basemen or that Jack Morris had more wins than anybody else in the ’80s. That, for me, doesn’t make them HOFers. And I have NO IDEA how to adequately quantify catchers’ defense. Ultimately, I punt; I rely heavily on a player’s reputation.

Q5 – How important are championships and/or post-season accomplishments?

This is the easiest of the questions to understand what is meant. I can think of only one marginal HOFer whose post-season play likely put him over the top, and that would be Lefty Gomez. If/when Jack Morris get in, his Game 7 in ’91 might be a deciding factor. But generally speaking, I don’t think post-season play makes or breaks a candidacy. As far as championships go, I don’t think that there is much of a halo effect. It hasn’t helped (so far) Concepcion, Campaneris or Wills. Well, let me change that: I don’t think there is much of a halo effect for position players; pitchers, whose worthiness is often based on their win/loss record, get “credit” for playing on very good teams. Well, let me change that again: in recentyears, championships aren’t a defining characteristic of who gets into the Hall. Players who played prior to WWII were often elected by the halo effect, Earle Combs, most of the Frischian selections, 1890s Orioles, and, again, pitchers. Post-WWII, the only position player who seems “enhanced” by championships is Rizzuto. Correct me if I’m wrong. The thing is, of course, great players do tend to play for championship-caliber teams. There are exceptions, like Banks and Kiner. Generally speaking, championships and post-season accomplishments have very little impact on HOF worthiness. Obviously, the question is should they? The purpose of this Keltner List is to understand if someone does put emphasis on it.

Personally, I can’t think of any serious HOF candidate that gets pushed over my line because of championships and/or post-season accomplishments. Lefty Gomez is probably close to my yes/no line. If he’s at 99, his post-season record might push him to 100; but his peak is good enough, along with his fame, that he’s probably already over 100 in my book. There is one multiple championships team with no HOFers, the late 1880s St. Louis Browns; technically, Tommy McCarthy was a Brown for a few years, but his HOF cred isn’t from those years; and Charlie Comiskey was elected as an owner, tho he might have been elected eventually as a manager if he had never bought the White Sox. Bob Caruthers is a popular HOF candidate among 19th century aficionados, but he’s not particularly one of mine. I don’t see enough difference between Caruthers, Silver King and Dave Foutz to put my weight behind him. Plus, I’m not that convinced that the American Association warrants many HOFers, and I have a few I rate ahead of Caruthers.

Q6 – How important are milestone numbers?

3000 hits, 500 non-steroid enhanced home runs, 300 wins. Another easy question to understand what I’m talking about. Not sure how much explaining I need to do. Some people think they are significantly important; some think they are just numbers.

Me, I think they are significant. I can’t think of a single player who has reached these numbers that I wouldn’t vote for. That’s not to say that I can’t envision someone reaching them that I wouldn’t vote for. A pitcher who went 300-300, maybe I wouldn’t vote for, but then again anybody who lasts long enough to get 600 decisions almost had to have a number of really good years. If Dave Kingman had or Adam Dunn reachs 500, I wouldn’t vote for them. A player with 3000 hits and no other redeeming qualifications I could probably pass on, but then again, I think it would be awfully hard for someone with no extra value playing long enough to get 3000 hits.

*****

These two questions are the easiest to understand and explain. The next four are much, much tougher.

*****

The next two questions are the “meat” of our discussions. These are where we tend to have the biggest disconnects.

Q7 – Peak versus Career?

This is pretty straight forward to explain. How much weight do we give to each? Career is pretty self-explanatory. Peak is where we struggle, because there is no consensus on what peak means. While I don’t think very many think one year is enough to debate as peak (otherwise, Norm Cash would be in the Hall), we often see peak defined as 3-, 5- and 7-years. Sometimes it’s consecutive; sometimes it’s not. What often happens is we use whatever looks best to bolster our points. We don’t use 7 years for Koufax. for example, if we’re advocating for him; we don’t use consecutive seasons if we’re advocating for Fisk. Frankly, I don’t see anything special about 3 or 5 or 7 seasons; why not 4, 6 or 8? And sometimes we see weighted peak, where someone will multiple the best season by a higher factor than the second best season, which has a higher factor than the third best, and so on. I’m not sure that there is a good, universal way to assess peak value, which is why we often struggle with our HOF debates. I’ve seen multiple attempts at combining career and peak. JAWS7 is a good example of the attempt. Personally, I pretty much ignore JAWS7, other than to give me a rough idea of who is and who isn’t a great player. My buddy Charles Faber has his methodology of only counting a player’s 10 best seasons. Like JAWS7, it’s an okay measurement for a general understanding of where players rank, but it leaves out a lot of good, HOF caliber seasons. He has Ralph Kiner a little ahead of Lou Brock because he ignores whatever contributions Brock made in his 11th thru 19th best seasons; he has Billy Terry a little ahead of Fred McGriff because he doesn’t count the 5 additional seasons that McGriff had that add to his HOF-worthiness. I think we all value peak and career; we just weigh them somewhat differently. Only if we know how another grader weighs them, only then can we further the discussion intelligently.

For me, I generally give more weight to career over peak, but I’m extremely inconsistent in its application. It’s probably likely that the application seems totally illogical and haphazard to others. I tend to prefer volume over rate stats; I prefer a great player who plays for 20 years over an uber-great who plays for 15. But I don’t doubt that I could find examples that negate what I just said, especially among pitchers. Sandy Koufax I rate a lot higher than his career stats warrant; I’d rank him higher than dozens of pitchers who have more WAR or Win Shares or better raw stats. Just remember when we’re discussing a specific player and you start talking about his peak, we may have a disconnect because I have no idea what peak really means.

Q8 – Raw versus Analytical stats?

(I’ll get back to this one either tonight or tomorrow. Life is intruding.)

*****

It’s taken me a while to get back to this topic, mainly because I knew that this one is a tough one….

Q8 – Raw versus Analytical Stats?

This is THE question I think we most get hung up on in our discussions. Not the raw stats so much, but how to interpret the analytical ones. For guys on this site, raw stats aren’t really the issue; we already know how to adjust what they mean. A lot of BBWAA writers still are fixated on the raw stats, but that too is changing albeit slowly. No, the discussion here bogs down on what the analytical stats mean.

Analysis of baseball stats has, in many ways, made it more difficult to “know” who is HOF worthy or not. It’s complicated and messy. And the Great Stats have added to the confusion. Do we prefer WAR (and which version) or Win Shares or Linear Weights or, in a few cases, our own analysis? Shins likes Humphrey’s fielding stats; I think Humphrey’s are garbage. The problem is of course that all Great Metrics have flaws. Or perceived flaws. It’s according to our own individual beliefs about what constitutes value. I prefer stats that measure what actually happen; WAR, for example, is more theoretical, in that it means what should have happened. My biggest gripe about Win Shares (other than a lack of Loss Shares) is that I think Bill vastly undervalues fielding. And there are dozens of little intricacies that any and all Great Stats have that aren’t based on my definition of value. I value walks slightly less than the Great Stats; I prefer Run Average Plus over ERA+; I have a different definition of Replacement Level, that will lead me to an alternate conclusion of worthiness. We all have them, dozens (maybe hundreds) of slightly different interpretations of value magnitudes. Shins and I are in basic agreement about the value of Rick Reuschel, but our slightly different value systems make us have totally different final yes/no conclusions about his HOF worthiness.

I think the two biggest disconnects I have with analytical stat analysis are
1. we think we found the definitive answer. Great Stats are not that accurate. Bill warns us that Win Shares is an approximation. I’m paraphrasing him (I couldn’t find the exact quote), but a player with 30 Win Shares is close to being the right answer, but it could be 29 or 31, maybe once in a while it could be 28 or 32, and even on rare occasions it could be 27 or 33. He acknowledges that Darrell Evans 364 Win Shares is not an exact figure, but that it’s probably in the 340-385 range. Same thing with WAR; having a decimal point makes it seem definitive. It’s not. It too has a range, but I’ve never seen it explained that way.
2. their use as lampposts. If they are used as illumination, go ahead and cite them. If they are used as support for your advocacy…..I’d rather you didn’t.

And finally, another disconnect I have with interpreting analytical stats is thinking “equivalent” is the same thing as “is”. One can make adjustments willy-nilly and figure out that Early Wynn’s stats say he should have gone 274-239, that his stats really are “equivalent” to that win/loss record. I know I do stuff like this all the time. Still, I know that it’s not THAT accurate. It’s more along the lines of COULD have gone than WOULD have gone. “All things being equal” is impossible to measure, basically because not all things are equal. We can postulate that Rick Reuschel could have been 240-160 under a different set of circumstances; I don’t deny that. But there are too many what-ifs to think he would have been 240-160. If he’d’ve been a Cincinnati Red, he’d be long forgotten, because Sparky Anderson would in all probability have blown out his arm; no one, at least I’ve never seen it, is speculating on what Don Gullett’s career might have looked like if he hadn’t been a Red, mainly because too much information is lacking. If he’d’ve been a Baltimore Oriole, he might never of cracked that rotation. We have ample data to make a pretty good guess on what Reuschel might have done in a purely perfect and average opportunity, because he lasted so long in the environment he was actually in. Still, WOULD have and even COULD have is not exactly the same thing as ACTUALLY DID. While I don’t think raw stats are an end point, I don’t ignore them entirely either. What a player did (with IMO reasonable adjustments) is more important than what he might have accomplished.

*****

Let me finish this up. I’m going to reverse the order, because I don’t have much to say about Q10, but quite a bit about Q9.

Q10 – Should each position have a similar number of honorees?

In a perfect world, they should. It’s not a perfect world. I doubt that very many people would argue that they should, but on occasion there will be a reference that third and catcher have fewer than the other positions. It’s not a major issue in the debate, but we see it sometimes.

Personally, I don’t factor it in much. Once in a while it sneaks in. If I could vote for only one between Graig Nettles and Dwight Evans, I might. Or Stan Hack and Bob Johnson/Wes Ferrell. Or Wally Schang and Sherry Magee. Or Charlie Bennett and Bob Caruthers. But generally, no, I don’t feel a need to even the count.

Q9 – Should each era have a similar number of enshrinees?

I don’t think I need to explain what this question means (it’s pretty self-evident), so I’ll skip directly to how I see it.

This is the question that I probably have the largest disconnect with others on this site. In many ways it is an accumulation of the other questions and how I see them. Because I study 19th century ball so much, I have a vastly different interpretation of HOF worthiness than others, and it has “warped” my opinions. I likely answer Q1 (Who is the Hall for?) from a totally odd perspective, in that I try to envision the Hall in 2100, and ask “Who should they know about?”, which leads me to contrary honorees than many others here advocate.

Generally speaking, I believe that each generation of players is equally valued. The stars of each generation should go in. I don’t have a fixed definition of “generation”, so let’s not get too precise about what it means; we all know that Jack Glasscock is not the same generation as Honus Wagner, who is not the same generation as Arky Vaughn, who is not the same generation as Ernie Banks, who is not the same generation as Ozzie Smith, who is not the same generation as Derek Jeter.

If I had my way, the HOF would elect around 20 players per decade (and just to be clear, I don’t mean specifically the 20 best players of the 1980s). There are eras when it would be slightly less, some slightly more, but somewhere in the 15-25 range. This thinking of mine often leads to disconnects with others. Without looking up specifics, it’s why I advocate for Gil Hodges, who was probably in the Top 20 of his generation, and why I don’t advocate for Will Clark, who I likely don’t have cracking his generation’s Top 25.

I could say a lot more about this question, but it’s turning more into a “it’s-all-about-me” explanation. So I’ll stop here.

Bob on wins versus expected wins

I’m sure I’ve done this before, or something very much like it. One can make a pretty good estimate of how many decisions a pitcher should have had by dividing IPs by 8.9. Here are the 24 300-game winners with their Actual Decisions and their Expected Decisions, in order of the variance:
+31 696 665 Walter Johnson
+31 544 513 Early Wynn
+23 561 538 Christy Mathewson
+19 582 563 Greg Maddux
+19 608 589 Warren Spahn
+15 520 505 Eddie Plank
+12 508 496 Tom Glavine
+11 616 605 Nolan Ryan
+04 469 465 Randy Johnson
000 675 675 Pud Galvin
000 567 567 Tim Keefe
000 569 569 Kid Nichols
000 827 827 Cy Young
-02 581 583 Pete Alexander
-02 441 443 Lefty Grove
-04 506 510 John Clarkson
-06 503 509 Hoss Radbourn
-12 579 601 Gaylord Perry
-13 573 586 Steve Carlton
-14 538 552 Roger Clemens
-14 580 594 Don Sutton
-15 592 607 Phil Niekro
-21 516 537 Tom Seaver
-23 517 540 Mickey Welch
Honestly, I don’t see any clear pattern. It’s not good/bad teams. At the extremes, we have Seaver and Johnson who mostly played for bad teams and Wynn and Welch who mostly played for good teams. When one sees a pattern, it quickly disappears with further investigation. When I saw both Maddux and Glavine being positives, I went “a-ha”, but Smoltz was -22 (that’s mostly a function of getting very few decisions as a reliever, tho he was barely in the negative as a starter). I’d say it’s marginal information….

…..Until you tie it into Expected Wins And Expected Losses. One can make a reasonable guess as to how many wins and losses a pitcher should have by taking their ERA+ and using the Pythagorean formula and multiplying by Expected Decisions. I’d surmise almost everyone would guess the unluckiest pitcher, Walter Johnson. He should have gone 454-211 instead of 417-279. That’s a whopping 52.5 games over his actual record. I’ll list the 24 in order of their missing their actual record
+52.5 417-279 454-211 Walter Johnson
+31.0 511-316 542-285 Cy Young
+20.5 318-274 346-261 Phil Niekro
+19.5 314-265 347-254 Gaylord Perry
+18.5 324-292 337-268 Nolan Ryan
+16.0 361-208 377-192 Kid Nichols
+12.5 355-227 358-205 Greg Maddux
+10.5 311-205 332-205 Tom Seaver
+10.0 354-184 371-181 Roger Clemens
+06.0 342-225 348-219 Tim Keefe
+03.0 373-208 377-206 Pete Alexander
-03.0 300-141 304-139 Lefty Grove
-01.0 303-166 300-165 Randy Johnson
-01.5 329-244 334-252 Steve Carlton
-04.0 328-178 326-184 John Clarkson
-05.0 365-310 360-315 Pud Galvin
-08.5 363-245 345-244 Warren Spahn
-10.0 305-203 289-207 Tom Glavine
-10.5 300-244 274-239 Early Wynn
-11.0 324-256 320-274 Don Sutton
-14.0 309-194 298-211 Hoss Radbourn
-14.5 373-188 347-191 Christy Mathewson
-15.5 307-210 303-237 Mickey Welch
-16.5 326-194 302-203 Eddie Plank
It seems like the unluckiest are the ones we’d expect, tho I don’t think many would have Cy Young come to mind as unlucky.

Again, I don’t see any clear pattern. Maddux won about as many as he should have, but lost 20 too many games; Clemens is missing about 20 wins, but the losses are just about right. Mickey Welch has the right number of wins, but should have had 20 more losses; Wynn has about the right number of losses, but 20 extra wins. I wouldn’t say it’s valuable information, just interesting information.

I’m going to add two more names, Bobby Mathews and Bert Blyleven. I don’t have ERA+s for 1869 and 1870 for Mathews, and I’m including Blyleven because he’s the only other pitcher who “should” have won 300 by this particular formula.
+27.5 287-250 325-233 Blyleven
-14.0 297-248 289-268 Mathews (As best as I can tell Mathews went 7-20 in ’69 and ’70.)

Blyleven missed his Expected Wins by 38 for “most” in history, as Walter Johnson “only” missed his by 37. Perry is at 33 and Young is at 31. Both Wynn and Mathewson over-shot their expectations by 26 wins. That’s not the largest variance. I don’t know what the most is, but Mussina had 29 “extra” wins and Pettitte had an other-worldly +41.

I figured the Innings Per Decision for the 21 HOF pitchers who pitched into the ’60s. They averaged 9.01 Inning/Decision. I figured the Innings Per Decision for the 22 pitchers with the highest pitching WAR not in or not likely to get in any time soon; their IP/D was 8.83. I also looked at the 6 leading candidates for the Hall on this winter’s ballot; their IP/D was 8.95.

Honestly, I see no rhyme or reason as to who has and who doesn’t have a high or low IP/D. MarisFan thinks there might be some significance and/or reason why one pitcher might have a 9.40 IP/D while another has a 8.50 IP/D. I’ve looked at finesse versus power, good offenses versus poor offenses, hitters’ park versus pitchers’ park. I find no pattern. From these 49 pitchers, can you pick out who had the 4 highest and 4 lowest IP/D from these 8 names: Kevin Appier, Mike Mussina, Roy Oswalt, Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver, Johan Santana, John Smoltz and Early Wynn? It’s a rhetorical question; you don’t need to answer via Reader Posts.

In the next post I’ll list all 49 pitchers’ IP/D.

The 49 pitchers and their IP/D:
9.44 J Smoltz
9.40 J Palmer
9.33 J Santana
9.27 T Seaver
9.26 B Blyleven
9.26 W Ford
9.25 D Stieb
9.24 G Perry
9.22 J Bunning
9.22 S Koufax
9.17 K Brown
9.15 D Drysdale
9.14 R Clemens
9.14 B Gibson
9.13 D Martinez
9.13 P Niekro
9.11 S Carlton
9.11 J Marichal
9.11 D Sutton
9.08 T John
9.06 D Cone
9.03 B Saberhagen
9.01 C Schilling
8.91 J Koosman
8.86 P Martinez
8.84 O Hershiser
8.84 J Hunter
8.83 R Roberts
8.82 F Jenkins
8.82 R Johnson
8.81 K Rogers
8.80 F Tanana
8.79 M Langston
8.76 R Reuschel
8.74 N Ryan
8.70 B Pierce
8.69 L Tiant
8.68 D Wells
8.65 L Jackson
8.62 W Spahn
8.61 G Maddux
8.57 C Finley
8.55 J Key
8.52 J Moyer
8.48 K Appier
8.47 R Oswalt
8.42 M Mussina
8.39 E Wynn

Bob on the worst “milestone” players – 300 game winners

I just got an e-mail from a buddy who asked “who was the worst 300-game winner?” and I e-mailed back “Early Wynn”.

I thought that the question tied in nicely with my Keltner List For Graders thread as it pertains to milestones, so I thought I’d start a thread with three questions:
1. Who was the worst 300-game winner?
2. Who was the worst with 3000 hits?
3. Who was the worst with 500 home runs?

I’m only going to answer the first one with this post.

I’m already re-thinking my Early Wynn answer. While I know he was the “luckiest” 300-game winner, I’m not so sure he WAS the worst. Wynn was the most undeserving of the 24 pitchers who’ve reached 300 wins. One can take a pitcher’s ERA+ and apply the Pythagorean formula to a pitcher’s Innings Pitched Divided By Nine and come up with Expected Wins. Wynn “should” have won somewhere around 270 games. None of the other 300-game winners is anywhere near 270. Off the top of my head, Glavine is the only other under 300, somewhere in the 295 win range.

Still, I’m not sure that Least Deserving 300-Game Winner is the same as Worst 300-Game Winner. I haven’t looked at Win Shares or WAR or Linear Weights, mainly because I don’t trust their numbers for players prior to 1920, at least as how they compare to post-1920 numbers. Comparing Maddux to Radbourn is a Fool’s Errand with these metrics as far as I’m concerned. I use them often to compare within a generation, but never across eras. They just don’t work well that way.

I decided instead to look at RAH Award Shares as my starting point to answering the question. We’ve only completed the RAH thru 1998, so four pitchers, Clemens, Maddux, Glavine and Johnson, can still add to their totals, but thru 1998 the Top Ten in RAH Award Shares are:
9.346 Grove
8.657 Young
8.587 W Johnson
8.380 Clemens (it looks like he’ll definitely pass Young and Johnson and might catch Grove)
8.167 Mathewson
6.543 Alexander
5.941 Spahn
5.531 Maddux (might catch Spahn, but probably not Alexander)
4.913 Seaver
4.367 Nichols

(Randy Johnson is going to force Nichols out of the Top Ten. He’s currently at 1.926, but from 1999-2004, he’s going to win a number of RAH elections. He’s going to end up in the Alexander-Maddux-Spahn range, over 5.000 but under 7.000.)

The next ten pitchers in RAH Award Shares are

3.333 Keefe
3.267 Clarkson
3.245 Carlton
2.833 Radbourn
2.738 Wynn
2.603 Niekro
2.230 Perry
1.926 R Johnson
1.733 Galvin
1.540 Glavine

And the bottom 4?

1.212 Ryan
1.196 Sutton
0.833 Welch
0.400 Plank

Putting things together (meaning I’m still going with a seat-of-the-pants analysis) I feel pretty confident that Mickey Welch is the #1 worst 300-game winner. I’m also pretty sure that Don Sutton is my clear #2. After that I’m a lot less confident. Eddie Plank, Tom Glavine and Early Wynn would probably round out my Bottom Five, but I’m not sure I know the order. Pud Galvin also would be a reasonable Bottom Five candidate. And I have no clear picture where to rank Nolan Ryan, but it’s awfully close to Bottom Five.

As an aside, there is one more pitcher I consider a 300-game winner: Bobby Mathews, as I include the 1869 and 1870 seasons’ professional games. Mathews, if considered a 300-game winner, would (reluctantly) occupy my #1 Worst 300-Game Winner spot. He was “win lucky” (not to the extent of Wynn, but more like Glavine), and “should” have had around 290 wins if one includes the two pre-National Association seasons. His RAH Win Shares is 1.833.