Friday, August 17, 2012

Bobby V: The Captain of a Sinking Ship

Now, Piling on Bobby Valentine is fun and all, but lets be serious, the Red Sox are playing bad baseball for reasons that have nothing to do with their manager. I don’t exactly love Bobby V. and while I haven’t contributed to our “Bobby Valentine is an IdiotSeries, I generally condone such commentary. This situation the Red Sox have gotten themselves into is at this point as clearly an extension of last year’s primadonna loaded roster. With very little changeover, it appears that the only players that are really putting any effort forth are those who aren’t part of the long term core. Reports of a meeting held for players to air their grievances have surfaced and are more or less old news in light of recent events, but none the less I find it interesting, I’m writing about it.

David Ortiz is producing, but he’s also liable to walk after this year. Adrian Gonzalez isn’t playing poorly but he’s not himself either. For reference, last year A-Gon had an OPS+ of 153, Mark Texiera had an OPS+ of 120, this year A-Gon has a lean 116 while Tex has held onto a 121 so far. While discussing this with the Voice o’ Logic we discussed A-Gon’s projected value this year, and while the batting average regression was expected pretty much across the board, he was still supposed to take walks better than this, and he was also supposed to hit for more power, maybe it’s just a down year but I’d be inclined to say it’s a form of “I’m on a long term contract and I don’t like what’s going on around me” protest. The sour attitudes, the self serving “me first” players all over this team have not been a cohesive bunch on the field.

Josh Beckett is getting the kind of results AJ Burnett got last year, but Beckett doesn’t really care. Burnett, for all of his faults, would day in, day out take each performance to heart. Beckett has been nonchalant in his approach to each successive failed start, which is disappointing given his talent level. I am not a Beckett fan, when he came over to the Red Sox and had a 5.01 ERA I was sure that his “strikeout or long fly ball” style wouldn’t play in Boston, or really the AL at all for that matter, but he has managed to bounce back and forth between well above average and complete shite. Beckett had what could be argued as his best season last year, an ERA+ of 150, and a solid ability to avoid giving up hits in bunches. That came on the heels of his bar none, worst season yet, so maybe it’s just the Beckett cycle of coming into camp overweight after succeeding and resting on his apparent greatness before having a crap year and having to push himself like he’s a rookie trying to crack the 25 man roster. He’s having a bad year this year, and maybe he rebounds and pitches like he’s a Cy Young candidate again next year but for the time being, pitiful effort and he doesn’t seem to care enough.

There’s only so much that Bobby V can do regarding injuries and the holes they leave in his roster as well, with Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Andrew Bailey, and Will Middlebrooks all spending significant time on the DL this season hasn’t helped him, though Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish, Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross, and Scott Podsednik have given them plenty of value in the outfield there’s no real answer at 3rd base, and the bullpen has been, and still is, a mess. Alfredo Aceves despite his best intentions is not a closer, he’s a fine longman and a solid 1 inning reliever but he just isn’t built for the 9th and it shows.

I just can’t fault Bobby Valentine for this team falling apart when they never got it together. Under Francona the team was given an incredibly long leash, and now under Bobby V they don’t really have room to leave the yard, and with all of the BS that has been piling up in Boston, it’s no wonder management brought him in and despite all of his media related gaffs I can’t say I disagree with the decision to bring him aboard. I don’t know that he’ll be around next year but as a Yankees fan I am curious to see what happens next April when this team has had a full year of true discipline and structure

Every Time I Think I'm Out...

Someone pulls me back in!

I’m moving in two days (now one I guess), and after finishing that long project I wanted to take some time off and recharge.  I decided to enjoy what little MLB Network I’ll get in those days, and who is the first person to talk to me on there?  Harold Friggin Reynolds.  And, here’s a big shock, says something stupid.

He was talking about AJ Pierzynski’s year, and saying how great it was.  And he’s right about that, he is having a legitimately great year.  But then he screws it up by saying that he’s having the best season as a catcher in baseball.

Ugh.  No.  Not even close.

Let's compare, shall we?

AJ has 23 HR, and a slash line of 300/348/553.  He has a wRC+ of 137 and a wOBA of 379.  Great numbers, especially for a catcher.  Let's not forget that he plays in a great hitters park in US Cellmisky Park.  Away from there, his slash line drops to 278/306/443.  Not really impressive.

Now, there’s this other catcher that came to mind immediately, who is hitting 312/364/499 with 16 HR, a 138 wRC+ and a wOBA of 373, all while playing in a fairly pitcher friendly park, which is factored in to his wRC+.  This catcher also happens to have a fielding score of 8.5 to AJ’s -3.2, and is already worth 4.7 WAR (and on pace to be worth 6.6 WAR!), while AJ is currently worth 3.5 and is on pace to be worth 4.4.

Yadier Molina is blowing him out of the water, especially defensively.  And HFR was praising AJ for his defense, saying some stupid stuff about controlling a young pitching staff or something.  What about, if you want to look at catching that way, the job Molina has done in the absence of Dave Duncan for the Cardinals?  Lohse and Westbrook are having great seasons, Wainwright is settling down, Joe Kelly filled in well for Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn has been remarkable, why doesn’t Yaddy get credit for these guys and AJ gets credit for working with a staff headed by Jake Friggin Peavy who has won a CYA in his career?

Now, HFR, anything else you want to add?

“He’s in the lineup EVERYDAY!”

Oh, you’re really an idiot aren’t you?
Number of times AJ has been in 140+: 1
Number of other times 130+: 6

It’s not really that extreme for a catcher.  Yaddy has similar numbers.  And, interestingly enough, has been almost as valuable in his 9 year career than (23.6) than AJ in his 15 years (23.8).
That felt pretty good, actually.  I miss picking on dumb or stupid comments by idiots paid to get say stupid things.  I should do this more often.

Just wanted to add, Yaddy's not even having the best season for a catcher. Look at what Posey has done in San Fran. He's got a wOBA of 403 and a WAR of 5! And Pierzynski, who has the 5th highest WAR of any catcher in baseball is the best catcher in baseball? Bull dinkey!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mets: Extending Dickey?

The Mets are obviously going to exercise their $5 million option on pitcher R.A. Dickey, and they have openly stated that they would like to extend the knuckleballer, but that creates a few questions. How many years should they offer a 38 year old pitcher? How much should they offer a knuckleball pitcher per year? How different is Dickey from a typical knuckleballer?

Many people will tell you that throwing a knuckleball isn’t as strenuous for the pitcher as a curveball or a slider. That is true to a point, but there are a lot more variables here than that. The equation isn’t simply “knuckleball = no elbow trouble”, and Dickey’s average velocity on his knuckleball is this season, 13 mph faster than Tim Wakefield’s career average. While Wake through his knuckler about 64 mph Dickey’s pitch according to fangraphs is running about 77 on average, his fastball as well sits in the mid 80s. He’s not your prototypical “put it up there and see what he can do with it” knuckleballer, because of the speed of his pitch Dickey is more accurately able to place the pitch and its movements are more subtle. Dickey is kind of the “new breed” of knuckleball pitcher, and has over the past 3 years been a very effective, often dominant starter.

The hardest thing to have take in here is that there is no real comparable here. Dickey isn’t like any other pitchers. Dickey is statistically an outlier, most pitchers don’t suddenly become dominant at 36, most knuckleballers aren’t dominant, and most dominant pitchers don’t throw over 90% of their pitches between 77 and 84 mph. We have to look at Dickey in broad strokes: He’s a recently dominant right handed starter, he’s giving his team a lot of innings per year, He’s 38 years old, and he throws the least controllable pitch in major league baseball around 80% of the time. Putting all of that together it’s a hard list to figure. If he threw like Mike Mussina at the same age, 14mil for 1 year with a team option for another 14+ wouldn’t be out of the question. If his track record were more consistent (prior to his Mets tenure) the same could likely be said. He is however instead a ridiculously dominant knuckleballer nearing 40 years old. I don’t know if his annual will be any higher than 10, maybe 12 million but he has an outside shot at a 3 year extension with an option for a 4th year. Could the Mets get clever and use Tim Wakefield’s previous contract model? A recurring option for a set price? Would Dickey be interested in that kind of cost certainty without any real promise of continued employment year to year, maybe the buyout would need to be rather high, around ½ of the annual salary?

While I like Dickey as a pitcher, I have some (I believe understandable) reservations about him. I think he has found his groove, he locates an unlocatable pitch, he’s been healthy, and he hasn’t shown any particular slip in his productivity, in fact his FIP this season is significantly lower than it was over either of the previous two seasons. He does however live and die by the most volatile pitch in baseball, if he develops a mechanical issue, “correcting” it might not be enough to get him back to who he is today. When a power pitcher starts getting out ahead of his pitches and starts letting fastballs sail too high, it can be corrected, when a finesse pitcher loses their arm slot and their slider only moves laterally it can be corrected, but when a knuckleball doesn’t exist within the perfect storm that makes it effective, it’s a BP fastball or it becomes a wild pitch. While he is a knuckleballer, and empirical evidence shows that if you throw a knuckleball you can throw forever, or at least until you get tired of playing baseball for money, Dickey throws it a lot harder than average which could make him the unfortunate exception to that rule.

All of that said, if I were in the Mets front office I might be willing to try to strike a pretty aggressive deal, a 3 year extension, for 32 mil, broken down as 12, 10, 10, followed by a recurring team option for 6 mil with a 2.5 mil buyout. If you were in Dickey’s shoes, would that be enough to put your name on paper?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good Idea/Bad Idea Yankees Style

Who else remembers the Animaniacs? Well, it may be time to introduce a new type of article here. We’re going to play a game of “Good idea, Bad idea”. Today’s article will focus around the Yankees most recent roster moves.

Good Idea: Moved David Phelps to the rotation in the wake of CC Sabathia's injury. In all honesty Phelps has pitched well enough both as a starter and as a reliever to warrant a longer look in the rotation. It’s not the perfect scenario to take over for the big lefty, but if Phelps can put together a few solid starts everyone will be happy, and he might just get a chance to compete for a starting spot next spring. I can’t fault Cashman, or anyone else involved for making this call. The guys over at River Ave Blues have been calling for Phelps to get another shot in the rotation for a while now. His splits are pretty positive, he hasn’t been giving up an overwhelming number of line drives, he’s striking batters out frequently, and has managed to avoid the long ball reasonably well. The biggest gripe I could make about this one is that he hasn’t been stretched out for starting, and at least this first start could be a short one, I’m thinking 80 pitches, maybe 5 innings if he’s economical? I could be wrong, he’s only pitched once this week in a game, and twice in the last 14 days. Maybe the Yanks have been quietly stretching him out in anticipation of a move to the rotation.

Bad Idea: Signing Derek Lowe. I get the premise, he’s going to be the low man in the ‘pen, he will be there to take the 4 inning hit when a starter gets lit up, he’ll be there to slowly allow the opposing team back into a blowout, but most importantly, he’ll be there to protect actually valuable arms from taking the same punishment. That said, I don’t like it. I don’t like signing a pitcher because of his “pennant race experience” or his “postseason success”. His pedigree would hold up if it weren’t currently so covered in the mess of his recent failures. Yes he has had success earlier this season, yes he’s pitched out of the bullpen before, and yes he’s almost free. Knowing all of that, he still sucks, and I’m still leary of his ability to be productive. Everyone will throw it around like it’s reason to justify the signing, Lowe still gets ground balls with great frequency; but he also doesn’t strike anyone out. I’m not saying a pitcher needs to throw 100 mph or strike out more than 1 per inning to succeed, I still root for Chien-Ming Wang to return to form, I like seeing the defense involved in a lot of plays, and I like seeing pitchers go deep into games, but he’s walking batters at a higher than average (3.4/9) rate and striking out almost exactly 3 per 9. That is not now, nor has it ever been a recipe for success. I said he’d come back down to earth, and he came back down so hard that the Indians are willing to pay him to pitch somewhere else.

This is one of those moments where it’d be great if I were wrong, but I just don’t see it. I don’t see how I can be wrong about Lowe here. Maybe he throws a little harder out of the ‘pen, maybe Russell Martin can keep him from tipping pitches, but to count on either of those things would just be foolish.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Wrap Up

Wrap Up:
Here are the totals for the 200 members of the Hall that I tiered.

Tier# of Players% of Players

Overall, pretty fair.  Thought there would be fewer in the S tier, but it is what it is.  I could do an analysis of each tier and break them down, but that would be insane and take way too much time.  Instead, I’m only going to look at the F tier, because I think people will see that 23.5% and think my system is flawed.  But, let's look at that tier really quickly:

The F Tier:
In the bottom tier, there are 47 players.  Of those 47 players, 36 were inducted by either the old Veteran’s Committee or the now defunct Old Timer’s Committee.  That means 11 players were inducted by the BBWAA that really don’t belong in the Hall of Fame.  Those 11 players are: Lyons (78), Dawson (76), Perez (70), Lemon (70), Sutton (70), Traynor (69), Ruffing (66), Maranville (57), Wynn (57), Hunter (52), and Pennock (45).  Are any of those 11 players really what you would consider an all-time great?  Some of them have cases, like Sutton and Traynor, but most of them really don’t.  The same can be said of the 36 voted in by the VC, which would induct popular players for a long time.  That’s why you see guys like Red Schoendienst and Bill Mazeroski and Orlando Cepeda getting inducted by them.  They are players that most people would want on their team, but aren’t really all time greats by any stretch of the imagination.  So, really, this is just looking objectively at the players that were inducted and giving people an idea of who really belongs.  To be blunt and honest, these 47 players don’t.  Sorry, but it’s true.  It wasn’t my system that was flawed, but the system that let them in was flawed.

Other than that, not much to say.  I’m going to leave the D tier the way it is.  They were mostly players that played for a long period of time and either got milestone numbers or were great for a time then just hung on way too long.

So to wrap this up, let’s look at a couple of active players that would make my Hall of Fame rankings:
1) Albert Pujols, 1B.  Yes, I hated it that he bolted for money and a BS personal services contract that should have been illegal from Day 1.  But, he was the second best player the Cardinals ever had, maybe even the best behind Stan.  His WAR+ as of this moment is 171.  As time goes on, that’ll probably drop a bit, but it’s hard to see him dropping so low that he doesn’t make it in.  He’ll probably end up at the low end of my S tier at worst.

2) Derek Jeter, SS.  Yes, I hate the Yankees.  Yes, he sucks defensively and the Yanks would be better with almost anyone else defensively playing SS.  His WAR+ is 106, and at this point it won’t change much.

3) Chipper Jones, 3B.  I got nothing to hate on with Chipper.  He was always a personal favorite.  Same as Jeter, WAR+ of 106.

4) Pudge Rodriguez, C.  Yes, I know he isn’t active, but I feel like calculating his anyways.  It’s 101.

5) Ichiro, RF.  Without even thinking about his time in Japan, he has a WAR+ value of 106.

6) Mariano Rivera, RP.  Always called the greatest reliever of all time.  His WAR+ is 160.

7) Alex Rodriguez, SS.  Baseball Reference has him as a SS for now.  In that case, his WAR+ is 151.  Assuming no change in WAR, as a 3B it would be 134.  If they decide to ignore those steroid reports with him, he’ll get in easily.

8) Chase Utley, 2B.  WAR+ of 115.  Definitely the best second baseman out there in his prime.  The question is, will that prime be enough to carry him through a decline phase that really won’t be kind to him, given his injury history.

9) Miguel Cabrera, 1B.  WAR+ of 110.  As long as he doesn’t hit a Hafnerian decline phase, he’ll be inducted.  He’s only had a couple of OK seasons, and the rest of his 10 years have ranged from very good to awesome.

10) CC Sabathia, SP.  WAR+ of 101.  He’s been a steadily great pitcher for a number of years now.  The question is, now that he’s approaching mid 30s, can he keep it up?  It’ll be interesting to see, and playing in NY should grant him enough of a chance to rack up the victory stat that voters like to look at.

And that’ll do for this project.  I hope people got something out of this.  I know I did.  I’m probably going to take a break from writing for a bit to recharge myself.  This was fun, so thanks for indulging me.  Feel free to contact me via email or comments to discuss anything on here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Matt Garza: What's He Really Worth?

Analyzing Matt Garza’s value as a pitcher is rather easy, He’s very reliable, probably not an ace but a respectable 2 or 3 in the NL and a solid 3 in most AL clubs. He’s an innings eater who has proved successful in both leagues and in tough divisions. Garza’s trade value has been hit twofold over the past month. His triceps issue, which is now being called a stress reaction in his pitching elbow, that made him nigh untradeable at the deadline impacted value for obvious reasons, but also because of that he will be a 1 year rental if traded in the offseason. If Garza goes unclaimed on waivers and is eligible for a late season trade this year, that’s a different situation all together. I will be forthright and say it, no matter how much they talk about Garza staying in Chicago I can’t imagine it. I can’t see him wanting to sign a 3+ year contract, especially just going into his prime years, with one of the worst teams in baseball. Garza’s true value to the Cubs has to be, without a doubt, in being traded for controllable assets. Resigning Garza would take an overpay that Cubs brass is all too familiar with (Still loving that Carlos Zambrano deal I’m sure).

Garza is a very solid pitcher, and even on a 1 year contract could be the difference for a team with a shaky rotation. Of course being in the last year of arbitration will make it a bit trickier for any pursuing team to negotiate long term with Garza. That said, it can certainly be done, they’d have a whole year to work out a deal assuming Garza wanted to stay there and was content to avoid free agency. The reality that Garza may not play again until next season will certainly put a hitch in any trade talks the Cubs may have between now and then, sure a team may be willing to gamble on Garza, but will they really be willing to pay full price for potentially damaged goods? So there are really only 2 options for Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein.

Their best hope is that Garza is able to return before the end of the season and give him a chance to showcase his talents again before spring training. This would be ideal for Chicago, he would be the entire veteran presence in their rotation, and could help some of their young pitchers  round into form on their currently rather accelerated schedules. The Cubbies would also have the most flexibility in how/when to deal Garza, if they don’t like any of the offseason offers, they will wait until someone’s desperate. This could likely net the Cubs a few legitimately interesting prospects, though obviously with Garza’s salary likely in excess of $10 million after this season, interest in him may be hurt by the free agent market, if teams look at him as a one year rental, they may see equally effective options available on one and 2 year contracts at similar/lower costs. (Hiroki Kuroda would be a great example for this year). His fate will be decided by where pitchers like Ervin Santana, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster, and (to a lesser extent) Erik Bedard land, and how much they’re being paid. Now, most of these pitchers are older than Garza, and at least half of them will be seeking multi year deals but the strongest suitors for Garza will undoubtedly be teams that miss out on the above mentioned free agents and are willing to part with some organizational depth to stay in the playoff hunt. Just about every team in playoff contention right now sans maybe the Washington Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays, and the LA Angels. More likely than not the Cubbies will be able to get a fair haul for their current ace. Obviously the injury will factor in somewhat in any offer that the Cubs receive, but there’s still a respectable number of potential suitors, and if Hoyer and Epstein play their cards right, someone is sure to overpay for a year of Garza.

Of course, the arm could remain a nagging issue throughout the rest of the regular season. This would leave the Cubs with looking at a mid-season trade to get any real return on Garza. There is the possibility that they could make him a qualifying offer, but that doesn’t get them any closer to competing if he leaves and if it gets that far, he may be willing to take the 1 year contract to further build his value at 29 and still reach free agency before he’s 30. Given that he’d be a pure rental, the return would surely be lesser than it could have been this year, regardless of what his health status is at the trade deadline. He will still potentially net the Cubs a single top 5 (within a given organization) prospect but not nearly what he was worth to most clubs at the deadline this year.

Overall the return for Garza is tied to both his health and performance, he will with near certainty be traded by next year’s deadline, whether Theo & Co. are able to get a significant haul however remains to be seen. Many teams are moving to valuing their farms more now than in the recent past which will clearly work against the Cubs, but given the ever present need for good pitching in a pennant race, I think Garza will net the Cubs a pair of prospects, probably one farther along in his development but with a lower ceiling, or whose development has stalled a bit, and a high ceiling player in A ball, maybe ready to be moved to AA.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Warming Up In The Bullpen

It took a long time for relief pitchers to be recognized for inductions to Cooperstown.  Why is that?  My theory is that because most relievers only handled about 1/3 the workload of a starter, that they didn’t deserve to be recognized.  It was also looked at that those who weren’t good enough to start are sent to the bullpen.  There is some foundation to that line of thought.  But, the closer has taken on such a prominent role in recent years that you have to start looking at them as being legendary players.  Check that list of World Champions from a couple of posts ago.  Not only did they have good rotations, but they had strong bullpens as well.  A common thing that Whitey Herzog mentioned in the 1980s was how his bullpen was strong enough to shorten games to a six or 7 inning affair.  If bullpens can be what distinguishes from a good team and a great team, then you need to start looking at players in the bullpen as being all time greats.  I’m not saying that we should induct all types of relievers, like setup men and LOOGY’s, but inducting closers I’m ok with.

There are 5 relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame.  Not much to go on for an average, but it’s something.  Of those 5, their average career was 18.6 years and had a career WAR of 38.6, giving us a baseline of 2.7 WAR/yr.  I’m cutting it down to 1.95.  Why would I do such a thing?  Simply put, our relievers today don’t get that workload, and even the top closer on my list I’d consider more of a 1 inning closer than anything else.  The extra work hurts their value a bit more than you’d expect.  With that out of the way, here are the WAR+ values:


Amazing to see what our old relievers look like compared to the new guys, eh?  Not much to say about this one.  I’d imagine that most people would put Sutter below Gossage and Fingers, but Sutter was a lot better than people remember.  He was a decent strikeout pitcher, and didn’t give up as many baserunners as those two.  What hurts Rollie a bit is a slow start to a career (He was mostly a 1 WAR player at best until his age 28 season), but after that it was pretty darn good.

Upcoming Ballots:
Lee Arthur Smith:  WAR+ of 88.  His career seems pretty solid to me.  I’d have no problem with him being inducted.

2013-2015: No one worth looking at.  And yes, I’ll ignore Tom Gordon and Jose Mesa if I want to.

2016: Billy Wagner and Trevor Hoffman come up.  Hoffman gets an 89.  Wagner gets a 100.  I don’t know what’s hurting Hoffman that much.  His career ERA+ is 141, he struck out over 9 per inning.  Yet in 6 of his 18 years he was worth less than 1 WAR.  WAR is pretty tough on relievers.  With Wagner, he was pretty much a left handed one inning Nolan Ryan, and I think a lot of people would want that coming out of their pen most days.

I guess that’s every position.  Remember, I’m only looking at players.  Managers, executives, all that stuff can stay in and it’s too hard to tier them.  I’ve got one more post in this series coming up about current players who I think will make it.  Should be a fun read and calculation.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Coming up on the left side

OK, so last time we looked at the best HoF starters.  That means we’re looking at the bottom 3 tiers of starters in this entry.  We came to a decent realization before that the guys from the pre-1900s skewed the average of starters WAR/yr way too high, so these guys reflect that change as well.  I’ll say up front that someone that people look at as the greatest pitcher of all time due to his really REALLY high number of strikeouts and those 7 no hitters of his was helped greatly.  Remember, these are your average to below average to failing Hall of Famers.  The guys on top here are the ones that should be used as the most comparable to a pitcher being inducted into the Hall.  Here we go:


Ryan was initially on the low end of the D tier.  That 27 year career did hurt him some.  Also walking nearly 3000 batters.  And having years of 200+ walks.  Who does that?  That’s why his H/9 is low (it’s like 6.9 or some ludicrous number), cause he walked a bunch of hitters!  He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher, no doubt, but not as great as some people think.

I lamented having to put Feller, one of my favorite pitchers of all time, in the C tier but he lost some prime prime sweet years to the war.  It’s admirable.  It’s a great thing to look up to.  But, his career is pretty typical of a Hall of Fame pitcher, and probably would be a high B rank at least if it hadn’t been for his service.  I’d have to forfeit my objectivity card (it’s a plain white business card with black text in 12 point font that says “you are objective”) if I did anything else to him.

Now, will someone tell me, would Whitey Ford or Jim Palmer be in the Hall of Fame if they didn’t play for powerhouse teams in their time?  I mean, Palmer had a decent stretch where he topped 8 WAR one year and was about 6 or 7 for 5 out of 6 years in a stretch, but was mostly a 3-4 WAR pitcher most of the rest of the time, and plenty of years where he was worth 0-2 WAR.  Ford, on the other hand, topped 6 WAR once.  And that was at the tail end of his career.  Both of them suffered from walking too many compared to the number they struck out.  I have nothing against non strikeout pitchers (guys that tend to strike out 5 or 6 per 9), but if you aren’t going to strike people out at least be able to not walk guys, too.  When your career K/BB is close to 1.5, you didn’t do your job as a pitcher.  For all the walks that Nolan Ryan gave up, he still struck out twice as many batters.  If voters knew about how poor the “win” stat is for pitchers back then, I doubt that you’d see guys like these winning Cy Young Awards and entry into the Hall of Fame.  

Catfish Hunter didn’t make my cut, huh?  Why is that?  Well, he only played until he was 33, but did seem to run out of gas those last couple of years and did pitch for 15 seasons.  His 3.26 ERA looks nice, but it’s only 4% better than league average (Jack Morris has the same ERA+ for the record).  Only struck out 5.2 batters per 9, but also controlled the walk (about 2 per 9 innings), so it isn’t like the Ford and Palmer rant I had above.  What hurts him most is the HR.  He gave up 1 per 9 innings, which is pretty high for a Hall of Fame pitcher I’d think without looking it up, and he only had 2 seasons above 6 WAR, which is not great.  Sorry, he was a nice guy and pitched well, but just wasn’t as good as people made him out to be.

Upcoming Ballots:
Jack Morris.  WAR+ of 56.  Please explain why people think he should be in the Hall of Fame.  Please.  Tell me why he is still on the ballot and will get in.  Anyone?  No one?  OK, moving on.

Clemens and Schilling come up on the same ballot.  That’s an interesting combo.  Clemens gets a score of 135, and if the writers decide that he wasn’t massively aided by steroids, he’ll get in.  Schilling gets a score of 94, and if the writers don’t look at his win total he should get in.

Mike Mussina, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.  There’s no way that any upcoming ballot could top a decision like that.  Moose gets a score of 112.  He should get in, and playing for the Yanks will help his cause.  Maddux gets a score of 110, and no doubt he should be in.  Glavine, however, gets a score of 94.  He’s a lot closer to borderline than people remember.

I was wrong in that last paragraph.  This class is the best crop of pitchers possibly ever.  John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson.  Just incredible.  Smoltzie gets an 89, but should get in.  It’s low just because he lost time as a reliever (and was arguably the best NL Closer in the game those years).  Randy Johnson gets a 115, and is no doubt going to be inducted.  Pedro gets a 126, and is going to waltz into Cooperstown.

2016: No one worthy.  And after those guys, who is worthy?

We’re almost done.  Up next is the reliever class, which is by far the smallest in the Hall, but has the potential to grow more as the years go due to the acceptance of the closer role.

Top Shelf Starters

One of the oldest baseball adages is “Pitching and defense win championships.”, along with “Good pitching will beat good hitting.”  For evidence of this, look back at the last 5 World Championships to see how grounded they were in their rotations:

2011- St Louis had Carpenter, Garcia, Lohse, and Jackson for a solid 1-4 rotation
2010- San Fran had Lincecum, Cain and an up and coming Bumgarner
2009- NY Yanks had CC, AJ, Pettitte
2008- Philly had Hamels, Blanton, and Moyer
2007- Boston had Beckett, Dice-K, Lester and Schilling

Along with those rotations, each team had a dominant bullpen and a manager that knew how to use it to his team’s best advantage.  Pitching was huge for each of them.  What we’re going to look at today are the best pitchers of all time.  These are guys who are inducted into Cooperstown as starting pitchers and came out as either S or A ranking on my tier system.  So these are the best of the best.  Remember, there are 57 starters in the hall of fame and if I were to post the rankings for each player, it’d take up way too much space.  So we’ll do this two tiers at a time.  Here are the S and A ranks for Hall of Fame starters:

Young, Cy168S
Johnson, W157S

When I first did my calculations on this, I honestly wondered if I should leave out the guys from the Old Timers, like if the bulk of their careers were before 1900, I’d ignore their WAR numbers because they tend to be inflated slightly I think.  Just due to more games being added at different points in history, it changed how pitchers were used.  In fact, let's go through and recalculate just for them!  This means that we’ll ignore: Kid Nichols, John Clarkson, Amos Rusie, Old Hoss Radbourne, Pud Galvin, Mickey Welch and Tim Keefe.  That gives us this chart below:

New Thoughts:
I feel much more comfortable with this list.  Those 7 guys had WAR so overrvalued that it was insane.  I had to use BR’s WAR values which are scaled slightly differently than fangraphs (higher replacement level, different defensive metrics used), and I don’t much care for the high values they tend to give to older players, probably over scaling it to a 162 game schedule.  It’s something that other sites have talked about.  Fangraphs doesn’t have pitching WAR’s for older pitchers, so to encompass entire careers I decided to use BR’s value.  Really, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m consistent within the position, since the scales should be similar.

As far as the players in this list, there isn’t much to say.  I’m digging how some of the players that Reginald barked about have higher WAR+ values than he does.  I still don’t get his bashing of Niekro.  He had a 20+ year career and was worth over 4 wins a year, which is incredible.  But that’s neither here nor there.  This came out great and that means that the next set of players should be coming out decently too.

I’ll do upcoming ballots on the next post.  There’s a lot of big names coming up, so it should be fun to find out.