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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Bret Saberhagen

Eligible in 2005.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 08, 2007 at 07:54 PM | 41 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 08, 2007 at 07:59 PM (#2516778)
A very "odd" career there for a while. When healthy, he was an outstanding pitcher.
   2. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 08, 2007 at 08:08 PM (#2516785)
Bret Saberhagen was one of the few players who seemed legendary to me when I was a pre-teen (~1990-1994). Among pitchers there was him, Orel Hershiser, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, and I don't know who else.

He should be in the Museum part of the Hall of Fame, most definitely.
   3. Mark Donelson Posted: September 08, 2007 at 09:25 PM (#2516832)
As a Dean voter, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that my system likes Saberhagen. But it likes him a lot. Unless I discover I'm doing something wrong, he'll be #2 on my ballot in 2005.
   4. OCF Posted: September 08, 2007 at 10:42 PM (#2516877)
I have him in my system with a 174-111 equivalent record and a big years score of 27. To bracket him, on a couple of sides, I have Dave Stieb at 190-131 and 34, while Jimmy Key is at 171-117 and 17. That puts Saberhagen a lot closer to Stieb than to Key. I think he will either make the bottom part of my ballot or be just off it.

By the way, for Dean I have 136-92 and 35. Dean is not on my ballot.

---

Totally useless split, presented for entertainment value only:

Saberhagen, even-numbered years: 74-55 and 2
Saberhagen, odd-numbered years: 100-56 and 26.
   5. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 08, 2007 at 10:45 PM (#2516879)
As I detailed in my Jack Morris article at At Home Plate, Bret Saberhagen was a much better people than is generally remembered--his peak was outstanding and his hang-around value (alternating injured and non-injured years through the 1990s) is pretty good too. Career-wise, Saberhagen is Orel Hershiser, only 15% better. He's ahead of Stieb, too.
   6. OCF Posted: September 09, 2007 at 12:00 AM (#2516930)
Career-wise, Saberhagen is Orel Hershiser, only 15% better. He's ahead of Stieb, too.

I disagree with "ahead of Stieb," but I do say they're close.

As for Hershiser: more bulk than Saberhagen, big years not quite as big. I have Hershiser's equivalent record as 191-157, which makes the difference Orel - Bret = 17-46. I take 17-46 as being a net negative, hence Saberhagen > Hershiser. On the other hand, I have Stieb - Bret = 16-16, which is a mild net positive.
   7. Paul Wendt Posted: September 09, 2007 at 12:59 AM (#2517028)
Saberhagen ruined that odd-even career pattern by winning in '94 and '98.
He finished with as many wins as walks in 1994 (Mets) and missed by one in 1999 (Red Sox), losing his final game 1-0.

Ramon Martinez came back at the same time ('99 Red Sox), not quite so well.
   8. Chris Fluit Posted: September 09, 2007 at 01:18 AM (#2517042)
I did a big study on '80s pitchers in the Jack Morris thread. Out of that study, I had Saberhagen as the second-best starting pitcher behind Dave Stieb (Eckersley beat them both as a starter/reliever hybrid). That puts Bret ahead of personal favorite Jack Morris (who still might make my ballot one of these days) and Orel Hershiser. Since I had Stieb about 7th when he was elected, I'll probably have Saberhagen a little lower than that but I wouldn't be surprised at all if he made my ballot in the 10-14 range.

So yeah, I'm agreeing with OCF who had Stieb > Saberhagen > Hershiser
   9. Amit Posted: September 10, 2007 at 12:53 AM (#2517903)
Gooden, Cone, Saberhagen. That was going to be one helluva 3-headed ace.
   10. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 10, 2007 at 03:12 AM (#2517972)
Saberhagen will be near the top of my ballot. He scores, very high in Pennants Added.

DRA+ 128. 2863 IP. Ranks 35 in Pennants Added. Ranks 27 using my scores and James' NHBA scoring. Ranks #35 w/JAWS.

Stan Coveleski, Urban Shocker and Amos Rusie are good comps for him (similar tIP and DRA+).

That peak is no joke.

1989 - 9.4
1994 - 7.9
1985 - 7.3
1987 - 7.2
1991 - 5.8

That's damn good.

His defenses weren't very good either.

I knew he was good, never realized he was that good.
   11. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 10, 2007 at 03:13 AM (#2517973)
BTW, Stieb scores 45, 37, 42 in PA, NHBA, JAWS. So I've got Sabes ahead of Stieb, which really surprises me.
   12. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2007 at 03:43 AM (#2517977)
Gooden, Cone, Saberhagen. That was going to be one helluva 3-headed ace.

Yes, yes it was. Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz before they really existed, to my mind at the time.

That peak is no joke.

No kidding. Saberhagen was one helluva pitcher. Of course he's not HoF, but still.
   13. karlmagnus Posted: September 10, 2007 at 11:39 AM (#2518037)
Saberhagen was one of Dan Duquette's great successes; loved having him on the Sox, especially in '98 with Pedro. Gets all sorts of mystery bonus points (these modern players, where you have an emotional bond, can be very difficult) but still is only at edge of ballot, probably below it. Just 300 more IP at an ERA+ of say 110 would have made the decision much easier.
   14. DL from MN Posted: September 10, 2007 at 02:31 PM (#2518172)
I have Saberhagen ahead of Stieb and he will make the bottom end of my ballot (just ahead of Virgil Trucks). In his great years he was clearly the best pitcher in his league, in his off years he wasn't terrible, just human. David Cone is a very similar pitcher also.

Toss the WS MVP on top of the CYA in 1985 and it's about as good of a year as a pitcher can put up. I think peak voters should give him the benefit of the extra credit in 1985.
   15. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 10, 2007 at 02:37 PM (#2518176)
Funny thing DL, because I have 1985 as a great season, but only his 3rd best.
   16. Mike Green Posted: September 10, 2007 at 03:04 PM (#2518201)
A preference for Saberhagen over John really requires an extreme peak perspective. Saberhagen had 3 seasons better than any of John's, but over their careers, it is really no contest. 2500 innings is 1/2 the load of the best starters. The equivalent for a position player would be to elect someone with 6500 PAs.

If you like peaks, Dawson and Puckett are considerably better choices than Saberhagen.
   17. Mark Donelson Posted: September 10, 2007 at 03:16 PM (#2518210)
</i>If you like peaks, Dawson and Puckett are considerably better choices than Saberhagen.</i>

What? You can argue that Saberhagen's peak is just too short, certainly, but neither Puckett's nor Dawson's peak is close to his at all. Saberhagen's top three years are at Dizzy Dean level in terms of short uber-peak.

I'd also argue Saberhagen had five seasons ('85, '87, '89, '91, and '94) better than any of John's , and one more ('99) about as good as John's best. YMMV, of course, but just to show where this peak voter is coming from.
   18. TomH Posted: September 10, 2007 at 03:21 PM (#2518218)
Sabes will be a true test of wills between those who feel 10 - 2 - 10 - 2 trumps 7 - 6 - 7 - 6, and vice versa. He doesn't have a strong consecutive peak or prime argument (a la Dizzy Dean), nor a long career; his case hangs on the value of his Few Big Seasons.

Bret took advantage of the big park in K.C. He was gopher-ball prone...but not in KC :)
Lifetime, he allowed 60% more home runs on the road (134 to 84).
   19. Mark Donelson Posted: September 10, 2007 at 03:47 PM (#2518248)
Sabes will be a true test of wills between those who feel 10 - 2 - 10 - 2 trumps 7 - 6 - 7 - 6, and vice versa.

Right, thus the Dean comparison.
   20. Mark Donelson Posted: September 10, 2007 at 03:50 PM (#2518252)
Oh, wait, you're saying he's not like Dean. What "prime argument" is there for Dean? I'm one of his strongest proponents, and I don't see much prime there. More for Sabes, actually.
   21. Mike Green Posted: September 10, 2007 at 04:05 PM (#2518273)
You only get Saberhagen's 1991 and 1994 seasons as better than John's best years if you take DIPS/FIP measures at full value. The problem is that John allowed over his career many fewer runs than DIPS projects because he was particularly good with a runner on first (better rate performance, almost 50% cut-down rate of thieves and high GIDP rate).

In John's best years, he threw many more innings than Saberhagen's 1991/94 campaigns with comparable effectiveness, once you treat ERA+ rather than DIPS+ (or equivalent) as the more relevant standard.
   22. Mark Donelson Posted: September 10, 2007 at 06:20 PM (#2518460)
In John's best years, he threw many more innings than Saberhagen's 1991/94 campaigns with comparable effectiveness, once you treat ERA+ rather than DIPS+ (or equivalent) as the more relevant standard.

Even if that's true, that would be an argument for elevating John, not for reducing the still remarkable peak of Saberhagen, which remains far more impressive, IMO, than those of Dawson or Puckett. I think you may be confusing peak with prime to argue for those two guys as better peak candidates than Saberhagen. As the Commish said, that peak is no joke.

As for John, I'll give his numbers another look with that in mind--but I'm not a career voter by any stretch, so he'd really have to get a massive boost from such an adjustment to get close to my ballot. He's very, very far from it right now.
   23. Mark Donelson Posted: September 10, 2007 at 06:24 PM (#2518464)
Also, I should add that I'm prorating Saberhagen's (and everyone else's) 1994 season partially, so I think it would probably end up better than John's best even with the adjustment you're suggesting. Like Joe Dimino, I have '94 as his second-best season, after '89.
   24. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 10, 2007 at 06:24 PM (#2518465)
I don't know, I'm a career guy, who votes for John every week. But I have Saberhagen and John pretty close. They'll both be on my ballot.
   25. TomH Posted: September 10, 2007 at 06:48 PM (#2518491)
re: #18-#20: By "prime" I guess I really meant 'consecutive peak' (DDean) as opposed to 'non-consecutive peak' (BSaber).
   26. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 10, 2007 at 07:03 PM (#2518499)
That '94 season was something else. 1989 was a lot of fun to watch too. I still feel like we were cheated with Sabes. Like he showed us flashes of brilliance but was too inconsistent and injured to put together a HOF career.

I still can't believe we dealt him for friggin Kevin McReynolds, Gregg Jeffries and Keith Miller.
   27. Mike Green Posted: September 10, 2007 at 08:25 PM (#2518622)
It's hard to compare outfielders to starting pitchers, but WARP likes Puckett's top 3 years better than Saberhagen's, and Dawson's almost as much.

If you're going to give Saberhagen "lockout pay" for 1994, you'll probably want to do the same for John in 1981. But yes, if you do that, you could end up with Saberhagen having 4 better seasons than John's best.

The Saberhagen/Cone comparison is kind of interesting. Cone's best year was diminished by the lockout.
   28. Mark Donelson Posted: September 10, 2007 at 08:35 PM (#2518643)
you'll probably want to do the same for John in 1981.

Rest assured, I do.

It's hard to compare outfielders to starting pitchers,

Agreed, and I don't have a ton of faith in the way WARP or WS or any uberstat does so. I prefer to see how well candidates do compared to others of their own kind, as it were. And Sabes's peak, to my mind, short though it is, stands out a lot more among other pitchers' than Dawson's and Puckett's do among other outfielders'.

Haven't done Cone yet, but I imagine his '94 will be quite impressive, yes.
   29. Paul Wendt Posted: September 11, 2007 at 03:19 AM (#2519392)
2500 innings is 1/2 the load of the best starters. The equivalent for a position player would be to elect someone with 6500 PAs.

Like Pete Browning, prorated, or Albert Belle.
Wait 'til next year!

There are 232 pitchers with 2500 mlb innings and 468 batters with 6500 mlb plate appearances (approx) --baseball-reference update yesterday.

6500 plate appearances is Elmer Flick, Frank Baker, Joe Gordon.
   30. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: September 11, 2007 at 03:34 AM (#2519402)
The 1994 work stoppage was a strike, not a lockout.
   31. Mike Green Posted: September 11, 2007 at 01:42 PM (#2519618)
Albert Belle and Frank Baker are nice examples, Paul. Personally, I'd say that the peak of both was considerably higher than Saberhagen's, but that is arguable, I guess.

And yes, the 1994 work stoppage was a strike. The memory plays tricks, but "strike pay" works better than "lockout pay" anyway.
   32. sunnyday2 Posted: September 11, 2007 at 02:22 PM (#2519653)
Is there a moral distinction between a lockout and a strike? I mean, I know there's a legal difference. In this case, the difference reminds me of the argument that Israel started the 1967 war.
   33. sunnyday2 Posted: September 11, 2007 at 02:24 PM (#2519659)
Back to Saberhagen, Primey to Paul. You just convinced me that (as a peak voter and a Baker, Gordon and Flick supporter) I better look at Saberhagen. I had been of the opinion that his career, and even his peak, was just too short. Maybe not.

And I also woulda thought that Hershiser was a better candidate, but maybe not. (OTOH he is a BG grad, that is worth a big bonus).
   34. Mark Donelson Posted: September 11, 2007 at 03:17 PM (#2519718)
I had been of the opinion that his career, and even his peak, was just too short.

Yeah, me too, until I ran the numbers. I had this coming election slated as two-pHOM-slots-to-the backlog for sure before then! Boy, is Tommy Leach going to be disappointed... ;)
   35. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 11, 2007 at 10:42 PM (#2520371)
Re John v. Saberhagen: John's innings load is rather larger, but Saberhagen was pitching in a different era when he started, an era that morphed into the LaRussa bullpen era by mid career, so that his contemporaries were pitching fewer and fewer innings.
   36. AndrewJ Posted: September 12, 2007 at 10:17 PM (#2521915)
Totally useless split, presented for entertainment value only:

Saberhagen, even-numbered years: 74-55 (...)
Saberhagen, odd-numbered years: 100-56



Another pitcher with very similar splits... Tom Seaver:

Odd-numbered years W/L: 178-88
Even-numbered W/L: 133-117
   37. Paul Wendt Posted: September 12, 2007 at 10:24 PM (#2521917)
Beginning 1994 Saberhagen is
even: 29-12 (1994 + 1998 ; dnp 1996 and 2000)
odd: 18-15 (1995+97+99+01)

He earned a lot of money and perhaps advanced to HOM viable candidacy, but he messed up his pattern.
   38. OCF Posted: September 12, 2007 at 10:34 PM (#2521925)
Re-doing Andrew J's post using my RA+ equivalent W-L records rather than his actual record (and the Saberhagen bit was in equivalent records):

Seaver, odd-numbered: 182-95, big years score 73
Seaver, even-numbered: 148-106, big years score 20

The split is still there, but using the RA+ equivalent records flattens it out some. And the even-years Seaver was still a heckuva pitcher, just a little win-unlucky.

I would take even-years Seaver (his "bad" side) as a better candidate than odd-years Saberhagen (his "good" side).
   39. Paul Wendt Posted: September 12, 2007 at 11:29 PM (#2521988)
> Saberhagen, even-numbered years: 74-55 (...)
> Saberhagen, odd-numbered years: 100-56

Beginning 1994 Saberhagen is
even: 29-12 (1994 + 1998 ; dnp 1996 and 2000)
odd: 18-15 (1995+97+99+01)


1992: 3-5
1993: 7-7

Kansas City (first eight seasons),
even 36-48
odd, 74-30

This does not add up. At least, the original whole-career split does not add up to the whole-career total 167-117.
   40. OCF Posted: September 12, 2007 at 11:49 PM (#2522041)
That's RA+ equivalent record, not actual record, and I've got a whole-career total of 174-111, which does add up. Saberhagen was significantly win-unlucky compared to his RA+. For the period beginning 1994 I have him at 25-14 even, 20-15 odd.
   41. Jim Sp Posted: September 14, 2007 at 10:19 PM (#2524526)
Koufax's career forward is like Gooden's career backward, which is like Saberhagen's career scrambled...

which of course is like Tommy John's career on speed.

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