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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, September 21, 2009

Combined Pitchers Ballot

We’ll start today, and close the balloting October 5

12.

Vote for your top 20, in order, with explanations, etc..

Points will go 25-24-23 . . . 8-7-6.

A reminder of the results of our ‘by era’ voting:

RK 1871-1892         PTS 1893-1923            PTS 1924-1958      PTS 1959-present      PTS
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
1 John Clarkson     147 Walter Johnson       342 Lefty Grove    361 Tom Seaver        380
 2 Tim Keefe          98 Cy Young             323 Warren Spahn   332 Steve Carlton     344
 3 Old Hoss Radbourn  98 Pete Alexander       303 Satchel Paige  322 Bob Gibson        342
 4 Al Spalding        88 Smokey Joe Williams  274 Bob Feller     294 Phil Niekro       302
 5 Bob Caruthers      55 Christy Mathewson    267 Carl Hubbell   269 Gaylord Perry     302
 6 Pud Galvin         39 Kid Nichols          258 Robin Roberts  257 Bert Blyleven     262
 7 
----------------------Eddie Plank          209 Martin Dihigo  232 Jim Palmer        233
 8 
----------------------Ed Walsh             192 Hal Newhouser  200 Fergie Jenkins    227
 9 
----------------------Amos Rusie           183 Raymond Brown  199 Juan Marichal     206
10 
----------------------Mordecai Brown       139 Whitey Ford    186 Nolan Ryan        202
11 
----------------------Stan Coveleski       123 Bullet Rogan   166 Sandy Koufax      195
12 
----------------------Joe McGinnity        110 Dazzy Vance    159 Hoyt Wilhelm      166
13 
----------------------Rube Waddell         106 Ted Lyons      152 Dennis Eckersley  153
14 
----------------------Rube Foster          100 Willie Foster  112 Don Drysdale      151
15 
----------------------José Méndez           84 Red Ruffing    109 Jim Bunning       121
16 
----------------------Red Faber             81 Wes Ferrell     86 Bret Saberhagen   106
17 
----------------------Clark Griffith        79 Early Wynn      70 Don Sutton        106
18 
----------------------Eppa Rixey            76 Bob Lemon       53 Goose Gossage      97
19 
-----------------------------------------------Billy Pierce    51 Dave Stieb         60
20 
------------------------------------------------------------------Rollie Fingers     29 
Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 21, 2009 at 02:55 PM | 94 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 21, 2009 at 02:58 PM (#3327761)
Hot topics.
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: September 21, 2009 at 04:31 PM (#3327872)
1. Walter Johnson
2. Lefty Grove
3. Cy Young
4. Pete Alexander
5. Tom Seaver
6. Warren Spahn
7. Kid Nichols
8. Bob Gibson
9. Christy Mathewson
10. Sandy Koufax

11. Joe Williams
12. John Clarkson
13. Bob Feller
14. Steve Carlton
15. Satchel Paige
   3. JPWF13 Posted: September 21, 2009 at 06:01 PM (#3327994)
1 Walter Johnson
2 Cy Young
3 Pete Alexander
4 Joe Williams
5 Lefty Grove
6 Christy Mathewson
7 Tom Seaver
8 Kid Nichols
9 Bob Gibson
10 Satchel Paige
11 Warren Spahn
12 Gaylord Perry
13 Mordecai Brown
14 Steve Carlton
15 Ed Walsh
16 Carl Hubbell
17 John Clarkson
18 Bert Blyleven
19 Martin Dihigo
20 Tim Keefe

I'm a bit heavier than I'd like on the 2nd group...
I think that good pitchers from 1890-1920 were more valuable to their teams than good pitchers in other eras, I think that had to do with the structure and conditions of the game.

My basic method was to take seasons where the pitcher was league average or better- and discard the rest-
   4. DL from MN Posted: September 21, 2009 at 06:30 PM (#3328024)
1) Johnson, Walter - helpful that the next most likely contenders played in similar eras. Clemens is a trickier question to answer.
2) Alexander, Pete - I give him a little bit of WWI credit and it's enough to move him from 4th to 2nd
3) Young, Cy - Career candidate who had two HoM worthy careers
4) Grove, Lefty - this is with minor league credit. 2/3/4 are pretty close for being in the tail of the distribution
5) Williams, Joe - Best of the Negro League pitchers, not the most famous though
6) Seaver, Tom - Wins the "best modern" pitcher award as a consolation prize. Hard to top the career bulk of those ahead of him
7) Spahn, Warren - Another career candidate which is what I try to reward.
8) Mathewson, Christy - The Greg Maddux of his era?
9) Paige, Satchel - Fame outshines his results but he's still an incredibly long career pitcher with a terrific peak.
10) Nichols, Kid - Incredible prime, about the same value above an average pitcher as Paige though much shorter career
11) Gibson, Bob - Another great "prime" candidate
12) Niekro, Phil - rewarding career length again. Gibson passed him based on hitting.
13) Feller, Bob - Giving 3 years WWII credit to Feller but not at the pre-WWII performance rates
14) Carlton, Steve - Slight edge on Blyleven due only to peak
15) Blyleven, Bert - My respect for Bert's pitching has only increased due to this project
16) Dihigo, Martin - Multipositional credit, not just pitching. Ranked as if .300 .380 .480 in 4900 PA + 3 Venezuelan seasons, 110 ERA+ as a pitcher in 460 games.
17) Hubbell, Carl - pretty well understood career, no surprises here
18) Vance, Dazzy - Highest pitcher on the list with < 3000 IP
19) Clarkson, John - Rates behind Perry but just barely and I'll give him the nod for being the best of his era
20) Perry, Gaylord - Rounds out the list which makes it clear to me how much this list differs from a typical "top 20 of all time" pitchers list. An exquisite junkballer is better than Nolan Ryan. Strikeouts are too fascist anyway.

21-25) Rusie, Roberts, Plank, Ray Brown, Jenkins
26-30) Keefe, Ryan, Eckersley, Palmer, Lyons
   5. DL from MN Posted: September 21, 2009 at 06:36 PM (#3328037)
JPWF13 - Mordecai Brown in but not Feller? Rapid Robert had some darned nice above average seasons.
   6. JPWF13 Posted: September 21, 2009 at 06:43 PM (#3328050)
Giving 3 years WWII credit to Feller but not at the pre-WWII performance rates


I didn't know what to do with Feller- but decided agisnt any WW-II credit because
1: He wasn't a hitter; and
2: His pre-WW-II workload and the annual declines in his peripherals tell me there is a good chance WW-II PROLONGED his career.

Without WWII credit I have Feller in the 25-30 group. With it (assuming he would have pitched as he did in 46-48) he goes up to 15 or so on my list...

1) Johnson, Walter - helpful that the next most likely contenders played in similar eras. Clemens is a trickier question to answer.


Johnson just obliterates everyone, he's like Ruth as a hitter- if Ted Williams and Barry never came along- I have Clemens as a very distant 2nd- a lot closer to Young/Alexander than to The Big Train
   7. JPWF13 Posted: September 21, 2009 at 06:52 PM (#3328061)
Feller's big years (ERA+ over 150):

297 IP, 154 ERA+
320 IP, 161 ERA+
371 IP, 153 ERA+

Brown:
342 IP, 193 ERA+
312 IP, 160 ERA+
295 IP, 155 ERA+
277 IP, 253 ERA+
233 IP, 179 ERA+

Brown has a 138-122 career ERA+ advantage

Feller has some other seasons where he pitched a ton of innings, and was effective 125-130 ERA+
But, absent WWII credit (or time lining), I don't see Feller >= Brown
   8. sunnyday2 Posted: September 21, 2009 at 08:08 PM (#3328199)
Needless to say, you may not agree with the consensus, but the consensus is that Brown is the #10 pitcher of his era, and Feller is #4 in his. It is hard to put 10 or more pitchers from that era in the top 15 all-time. No, it is impossible, and it would be wrong.
   9. JPWF13 Posted: September 21, 2009 at 08:35 PM (#3328245)
Needless to say, you may not agree with the consensus, but the consensus is that Brown is the #10 pitcher of his era, and Feller is #4 in his.


point taken, but I have Brown as the #7 man of his era not 10 (and I don't have Plank or Rusie all that close)

I also have Hubbell well above Feller and Roberts in a near tie- of course that's without giving Feller WW II credit

Basically I have Feller tied for 6th in his era and Brown 7th in his.

Very crude career rank (ERA+ minus 80, times IP):
20    Mordecai    Brown    183981.8
21    Bob    Gibson    182552.7
22    Jim    Palmer    181608
23    Carl    Hubbell    179505
24    Al    Spalding    179192.4
25    Charley    Radbourn    176868.9
26    Tony    Mullane    172181.8
27    Whitey    Ford    168015.3
28    Tom    Glavine    167697.8
29    Rube    Waddell    162860.5
30    Jim    McCormick    162457.6
31    Bob    Feller    160734 
   10. bjhanke Posted: September 21, 2009 at 09:27 PM (#3328298)
Hi. This is Brock Hanke again. Here's my complete collated ballot for the pitchers, all the way through #63. This is just a collation of my four previous group ballots; no rankings within those groups have changed. I've provided no commentary yet, because I have commentary on all these guys in their four group threads, and because I want to give everyone a chance to complain, to see if anything that gets said actually moves my list. The one oddity in the list is that the first group, the 19th century guys, ends with Spalding at rank 39. I am comfortable with ranking him (and Galvin and the other four as well) where they are, but the placement does mean that I think there is room for more 19th century guys. I'm currently looking at Will White, Bobby Mathews, Silver King, and Dave Foutz. That list may well have additions, because I have time. It's not relevant until next year's yearly.

Anyway, feel free to fire away; I'm in the "I take input" mode right now. - Brock

Rank Name
1 Walter Johnson
2 Lefty Grove
3 Satchel Paige
4 Cy Young
5 Hoss Radbourne
6 Tom Seaver
7 Grover Cleveland Alexander
8 John Clarkson
9 Warren Spahn
10 Bob Gibson
11 Kid Nichols
12 Carl Hubbell
13 Smokey Joe Williams
14 Tim Keefe
15 Steve Carlton
16 Christy Mathewson
17 Bob Feller
18 Gaylord Perry
19 Phil Niekro
20 Bob Caruthers
21 Bullet Rogan
22 Juan Marichal
23 Ed Walsh
24 Mordecai Brown
25 Hoyt Wilhelm
26 Martin Dihigo
27 Sandy Koufax
28 Eddie Plank
29 Ted Lyons
30 Amos Rusie
31 Pud Galvin
32 Robin Roberts
33 Rube Waddell
34 Jim Palmer
35 Bert Blyleven
36 Nolan Ryan
37 Whitey Ford
38 Fergie Jenkins
39 Al Spalding
40 Rube Foster
41 Joe McGinnity
42 Don Drysdale
43 Bret Saberhagen
44 Dennis Eckersley
45 Ray Brown
46 Red Ruffing
47 Red Faber
48 Clark Griffith
49 Hal Newhouser
50 Don Sutton
51 Bob Lemon
52 Dazzy Vance
53 Dave Stieb
54 Early Wynn
55 Jim Bunning
56 Eppa Rixey
57 Wes Ferrell
58 Billy Pierce
59 Stan Coveleski
60 Rich Gossage
61 Willie Foster
62 Rollie Fingers
63 Jose Mendez
   11. Mark Donelson Posted: September 21, 2009 at 09:43 PM (#3328314)
Nice to see my ballot vaguely resembling my fellow peak voter Sunnyday's. (But where are his last five?) Also interesting that my last three are identical to DL's, since we're not> the same kind of voter!

1. Walter Johnson. I agree that it's not particularly close, at least among currently eligible HOM candidates.
2. Pete Alexander. Forgot about the WWI credit on prelim. With it, he grabs second place.
3. Lefty Grove. What a peak.
4. Cy Young. These three are still very, very tight at 2-4.
5. Satchel Paige. I'm choosing to believe in Brent's recent reanalysis, which vastly raises him in my estimation.
6. Tom Seaver. Again pretty much in consensus here.
7. Joe Williams. I now like Paige more, but only a bit.
8. Christy Mathewson. Maybe slightly overrated historically--he's no Alexander or Grove, let alone a Big Train--but still pretty amazing.
9. Bob Feller. With war credit, of course. Love that peak.
10. Warren Spahn. Not quite as high as most have him--I like a few huge-peak candidates a little more.
11. Bob Gibson. Another marvelous peak.
12. Carl Hubbell. Great peak, great prime, great everything.
13. Steve Carlton. One insane extreme-peak year almost masks the remarkable prime candidacy.
14. Amos Rusie. My short-peak predilection comes out again here.
15. Robin Roberts. On the other hand, some more career-ish candidates cannot be denied. Spahn-lite, which is of course a huge compliment really.
16. Sandy Koufax. Defines the limits of how far a literally-nothing-but-peak can get you in my system, I guess.
17. Kid Nichols. The best of the early guys I knew nothing about before this project.
18. Dazzy Vance. Another of my short-peak favorites.
19. John Clarkson. The standout of the game's very earliest era.
20. Gaylord Perry. Had no idea how good he'd been when he was pretending to grease balls up for the Yankees when I was a kid...
   12. JPWF13 Posted: September 21, 2009 at 10:29 PM (#3328353)
Had no idea how good he'd been when he was pretending to grease balls up for the Yankees when I was a kid...


I loved his hats, first game of the year, the brim of the hat was stained and discolored as though he'd been fingering it for years*... [For those who never saw him pitch, his uniform was always too big, especially for that era, and he always fingered the visor of his hat as part of his windup/routine, and there was always a mark on his visor where the color was gone- as though he'd been fingering that specific spot on his visor 1000s of times (which he would by the end of the year....).

He looked OLD (no brylcreme), his suit was too big and baggy, he'd feel himself up like a third base coach relaying signals (everytime), not to fast, no too slow, just real deliberately. He looked like some out of shape schlub playing on a slow-pitch softball team- even pithing for the Padres in their hideous brown too-tight (except his) spandex unis... he looked like an old slob out there...


* It didn't occur to me until later, but the first think he probably did with anew hat was probably dab some bleach on that spot, wash the hat a few times, crumple it up and stick it ion his pocket and sit on a few hours... His first game of the year, fro a new team, and his uniform looked like it had been played in [by his bigger older brother] for 15 years.
   13. OCF Posted: September 21, 2009 at 11:30 PM (#3328411)
On Brown versus Feller:

Using RA rather than ERA, I get an equivalent career record for Feller of 254-171 and for Brown (with no adjustments) of 224-129, so Feller had considerably more bulk to his career. Put that into Fibonacci Win Points, and it's nearly a wash, 237 versus 235. But ...

1. Feller was much, much more a workhorse compared to his era than Brown. For the kind of career IP totals that were possible in Brown's era, see Mathewson and Plank. Furthermore, while Brown did put in a few high-IP years, the Cubs of his era in general worked pitchers less intensely than some other teams - and got better performances (in rate stats) from them. I think Brown's rate stats did see at least some boost from that.

2. Some of Brown's career totals were in the Federal League, which was a lesser level of competition. Outside the FL, his raw stats would give a 195-107 equivalent record (so he was 29-22 equivalent in the FL). We shouldn't discount the FL entirely, but we should adjust it.

3. This is the big one: Brown had fabulous defensive support. Tinker-Evers-Chance wasn't just a poem. The whole premise of a Selee/Chance team was to put a great defense out there. In part this shows from the list of pitchers who ever had great single-season ERA's (or RA's) for the Cubs - there's Brown who was a great pitcher, and Reulbach, who was a very good pitcher, but who were those other guys? In a number of cases, they weren't even any good when they pitched for other teams.

So Brown gets one of the largest adjustments for defensive support of any pitcher. And when you're done with that, I'm not even 100% certain that he has a better HoM case than the unelected Willis. OK, I am 90% sure that Brown was better than Willis. But I don't think Brown belongs in my top 20. And Feller most likely does. (Feller versus Roberts is another interesting case - I lean to Feller for peak, but it's a fairly close call.)
   14. Tiboreau Posted: September 22, 2009 at 06:53 AM (#3328689)
1. Walter Johnson—No explanation needed for the Big Train, the greatest pitcher in baseball history.
2. Pete Alexander—Originally ranked behind Young in the 1893 - 1924 ballot due to old BP data on the latter. After Young's belated adjustment to the more proper replacement level, Alexander ranks ahead of both Young & Grove according to BP & Joe D.; seeing Chris Cobb's persuasive arguments supporting these statistical conclusions solidified my decision to rank the three in this order, although I completely understand differing views as they're very close.
3. Cy Young
4. Lefty Grove
5. Satchel Paige—A great showman and one of the more fascinating personalities of the Negro Leagues, possibly the greatest pitcher from said league, along with Smoky Joe Williams. I know that there has been some speculation that his reputation may have been greater than his performance, which may mean that Williams was the greater of the two, but considering the nature of pre-Jackie Robinson era for blacks I feel more comfortable giving more weight to Paige's reputation than Smoky Joe's statistical speculation.
6. Warren Spahn—I may be bit off in this comparison, but I think of Spahn in a similar fashion to Seaver, a rich man's Seaver if you will: while both had outstanding peaks they just weren't great enough to reach to top 5, but the length is enough to solidly make the top 10. Spahn wins out over Seaver due to the fact that he adds greater prime & career value to his peak, which is, essentially, equal to Seaver's, IMO.
7. Smokey Joe Williams
8. Tom Seaver—Hurt compared to the players above him because his peak wasn't as great, but Tom Terrific does rank higher than some with slightly more excellent seasons due to the fact that he put together a few more excellent years than those below.
9. Christy Mathewson—Considering that I have the Christian Gentleman ranked among the top 10 this may sound kinda funny, but I do think that he is a bit overrated, a small step down from the top 3 of his era, with whom his reputation often places him.
10. Bob Feller—Obviously, this placement is backed by credit for his years missed due to WWII. It is, of course, a nice boost for Feller considering his performance before & after the war, and I completely understand lower evaluations of Rapid Robert due to age & position during the war.
11. Steve Carlton—Both BP & Joe D. agree: while his peak was slightly better than relatively contemporaries Seaver & Spahn, it isn't enough to bridge eccentric Lefty's career deficit compared to the other two.
12. Robin Roberts—Like Carlton v. Spahn & Seaver, Carl Hubbell's peak advantage over Roberts isn't enough to make up for the latter's 1200 inning advantage and 10 more wins in career value. I may be overrating Roberts considering that early returns show only one HoM voter including him among their top 20, a few spots below his 12th place ranking on my ballot.
13. Martin Dihigo—Probably more than any other player in baseball history, Dihigo had it all: great pitching, hitting, and the ability to play defense absolutely anywhere. Unfortunately, that just makes this Negro Leaguer that much more difficult to compare to the other ballplayers on this list.
14. Carl Hubbell
15. Bob Gibson—Similar to Carl Hubbell in some ways: 3550 IP in Gibson's career v. 3685 in Hubbell's; 86.6 WARP according to BP & 84.3 according to Joe D. over Gibson's career v. 89.6 & 79 for Hubbell; and in a "skim the cream from the milk method" of measuring prime (AKA the jschmeagol method), the two pitchers look rank practically equally. The difference between the two, according to the two WAR evaluations, is their peak, which favors he of the All-Star strikeout fame despite Gibson's World Series heroics.
16. Kid Nichols—The opposite of Robin Roberts in that compared to other early voters (except, once again, Mark Donelson) I've ranked Nichols a little lower than consensus. Considering that on my 1893 - 1924 ballot I stated, "I do think that he is more comparable in value to [Walsh, Rusie, Plank & Coveleski] below him than [Johnson, Alexander, Young, Williams & Mathewson] above him, who put up much greater IP totals compared to their peers than Nichols" this isn't a surprise, and I still stand by that statement (which, admittedly, isn't hard considering the stature of that top 5). I do, however, feel similarly about my ranking of Nichols as I do about my rankings of Grove & Feller: I don't object to differing opinions concerning the three in the slightest.
17. Bullet Rogan—A poor man’s Martin Dihigo, considering that he spent a good portion of the teens playing for the 24th & 25th infantries Rogan enjoyed a long career playing at an above average level both as a pitcher & a hitter.
18. Phil Niekro—The beginning of a group of seven pitchers, both peak & career candidates, packed together quite tightly in a race to reach the top 20. Actually, at least at the time of the 1959 - Present pitchers ballot, BP appeared to absolutely love the knuckleballer; re-evaluation of BP's love affair to levels more similar to Joe Dimino's evaluation was, IMO, a more reasonable fit for Knucksie in the HoM Pitching puzzle.
19. Ed Walsh—Other peak voters' ballots include the likes of Koufax & Amos Rusie; however, I prefer the peak of Big Ed Walsh, a man who dominated IP leaderboards, when pitchers pitched in more innings than in any era since, who was finished in the top 5 in adjusted ERA 5 times, including two first place finishes, as well as 3 more top 10 finishes. Both BP & Joe D. seem to agree that Walsh's peak & its length were better than more recognized peak candidates, and it is enough to nudge Walsh into the top 20 of this peak voter's ballot.
20. Gaylord Perry—Edges out the likes of peak candidates Newhouser & Rusie as well as career candidates Lyons & Jenkins for the final spot in our first ballot ranking all pitchers in the Hall of Merit.
   15. DL from MN Posted: September 22, 2009 at 02:26 PM (#3328818)
bjhanke - Pud Galvin's just too high, I'd put him down near Drysdale

sunnyday - you gotta rank 5 more pitchers, your ballot is incomplete

"His pre-WW-II workload and the annual declines in his peripherals tell me there is a good chance WW-II PROLONGED his career."

Doubtful - taking _3 years_ off rarely helps any athlete. More likely he missed 3 seasons during his gradual decline and replaced them with 3 seasons at the end.
   16. Paul Wendt Posted: September 22, 2009 at 02:45 PM (#3328839)
>>
Very crude career rank (ERA+ minus 80, times IP):
20 Mordecai Brown 183981.8
21 Bob Gibson 182552.7
22 Jim Palmer 181608
23 Carl Hubbell 179505
<<

JPWF13,
For a very crude measure that is proportional to runs use (1.25 minus 100/ERA+, times IP).
P.S. I don't endorse a benchmark so "low" as 1.25, which represents ERA+ 80.
   17. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 22, 2009 at 03:27 PM (#3328884)
Doubtful - taking _3 years_ off rarely helps any athlete.


We're talking about pitchers, not athletes in general. And given the huge workloads that Feller built up at a very young age, it's not at all clear that he wouldn't have broken down around 1944 or 1945 had he continued to throw up huge inning totals throughout the war years.

-- MWE
   18. Richard Stark Posted: September 22, 2009 at 03:45 PM (#3328895)
Hello All,

I am new to the forums.I really would enjoy getting involved in discussions of the HOM pitchers if allowed.

A question Where is Juan Marichal in the discussion of the 1960's ranked?
   19. Paul Wendt Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:15 PM (#3328931)
There is no specifically 1960s ranking.
For the 1959-1986 or "group 4" ranking see the top of this page, column 4.
For discussion see
: Hall of Merit; Important Links; Archives; (two 1959-1986 threads in May)
: Hall of Merit; Important Links; Selected 20th Century Candidates; Juan Marichal

For other groups or pitchers, look around near May or Marichal in those directories.
   20. JPWF13 Posted: September 22, 2009 at 04:54 PM (#3328963)
2. Some of Brown's career totals were in the Federal League, which was a lesser level of competition. Outside the FL, his raw stats would give a 195-107 equivalent record (so he was 29-22 equivalent in the FL). We shouldn't discount the FL entirely, but we should adjust it.


I overlooked that to be honest, I'll probably make some adjustment for that, but WRT Brown we're talking 1915, I gave him zero credit for 1914 anyway. Even removing 1915 I still have him ahead of Feller.

3. This is the big one: Brown had fabulous defensive support. Tinker-Evers-Chance wasn't just a poem...
So Brown gets one of the largest adjustments for defensive support of any pitcher.


I'm uncomfortable with our ability to MEASURE defense, especially the further back in time we go.
   21. DL from MN Posted: September 22, 2009 at 09:44 PM (#3329295)
On a gross level we can measure team defense going back a long ways - % balls in play turned into outs - and Chicago was really good at turning balls in play into outs. Their defensive efficiency was top-notch.
   22. OCF Posted: September 22, 2009 at 10:35 PM (#3329322)
Their defensive efficiency was top-notch.

I see two possible explanations for that, with a continuum of possible mixtures of the two explanations. One is that they were, in fact, a very good defensive team. The other is that Cub pitchers in general (and perhaps Brown in particular) were unusually good at getting batters to hit weak easy-out balls. The anecdotal evidence that causes me to lean toward the first explanation lies in the careers of Jack Pfiester, Orval Overall, Carl Lundgren, King Cole, the entire 1905 staff in which 6 starters all had ERA+ > 130, and so on.
   23. karlmagnus Posted: September 22, 2009 at 10:36 PM (#3329324)
Top 20, from other ballots, with comments when I first voted for them.

1. Walter Johnson 1st in 1933 5915IP@147, 417-279 Johnson’s the #2 or #3 player we’ve had so far, and clearly the #1 pitcher.

2. Cy Young 1st in 1917 7355 IP@138, 511-316. Comment lost, alas.

3. Grover Cleveland Alexander. 1st in 1936 373-208, 5093IP@135 Another no-brainer. I agree he was between Matty and the Big Train.

4. Kid Nichols 1st in 1911. 361-208, 5056IP@140. He’s about 2/3 of Cy Young, and would not be No. 1 against Anson, but on the other hand on career value he beats Radbourn, albeit without the 1884 peak. A worthy No. 1, ahead of noble, dogged Joe, but not quite an exceptional one.

5. Lefty Grove 1st in 1947 3941 innings at an OPS+ of 148, I’ll take it. Could have got close to 400 wins if he hadn’t been trapped in Baltimore.

6. Christy Mathewson 2nd in 1922 (below Caruthers.)373-188, 4781IP@135 373 wins considerably higher in the pantheon than Nap's 3242 hits, so he narrowly beats out Nap. Should also get extra points for being the first top star "gentleman-ballplayer" and thus expanding the game's reach to the professional classes. Without him, I suspect the skyboxes wouldn't exist, and the really serious sports money wouldn't be in baseball.

7. John Clarkson 4536IP@134, 328-178, 432 hits@60OPS+. Was behind Old Hoss on my 1900 ballot, but he was better.

8. Smokey Joe Williams 2nd in 1936 Striking out 20 of the 1917 Giants, who won the National League is damn impressive – Clemens’ records weren’t against that level of competition. Level with Matty, behind Alexander sounds about right, even with the putative 400 wins (or 399 per Chris Cobb)

9. Al Spalding 2890IP@142, 253-65, 613 hits@116. More or less single-handedly pitched his way to several pennants, and was no mean hitter.

10. Parisian Bob Caruthers 2828IP@123, 218-99, 695 hits@135. By far the highest peak of any player other than Babe Ruth; about 131 ERA+ until his last lousy year. At his peak, this is the guy you'd want on your team, of all pre-1893 players.

11. Tom Seaver 1st in 1992 The real deal. 311-205, 4782IP@127. Ought to be unanimous.

12. Warren Spahn 1st in 1971 5243 IP, the most since the Big Train (and only a few coming up subsequently – Clemons is 500 short.) 363-245. 118ERA+ the only non-elite stat, but the IP compensates for that. Unlike Berra and Snider, better than his reputation.

13. Bob Gibson 1st in 1981 251-174. 3884 IP, 127 ERA+ ERA+ is much tougher than OPS+; 127 career ERA+ ranks you equal 41st, whereas 127 career OPS+ wouldn’t get you near the top 100 (border’s 136.) Not as good as Joss, for example, but around for longer.

14. Hoyt Wilhelm 1st in 1978 2254 innings @ERA+ of 146, which is 15 points better than Koufax. Add 50% to IP and subtract 10 from ERA+ in primitive adjustment for a reliever and you get 3381/136, better than anybody since Grove. AND he was a knuckleballer. Probably top 50, certainly top 100. (Equal third in ERA+ or 18th after 10 point adjustment.) Truly an elite pitcher, very underrated by conventional wisdom.

15. Eddie Plank 3rd in 1924 326-194, 4495IP@122 Better W/L and ERA+ than Welch puts him here, beating Brown by over 90 wins.

16. Old Hoss Radbourn 4535IP@119, 309-195, 585 hits@72. Superb peak, falls off a bit outside it. Better competition than Keefe.

17. Tim Keefe 5047IP@127, 342-225, 390 hits@58. Close between him and Galvin; I could be persuaded either way.

18. Bob Feller 1st in 1962 Over 320 wins with WWII credit. 3827 innings, 266-162. ERA+ only 122, but pulled down by long tail and lack of wartime peak.

19. Carl Hubbell 3rd in 1949 Easy HOMer, personal HOM this year, 3591IP, 253-154 @130 ERA+. Welch’s W/L was better, and many more innings.

20. Mordecai Brown 4th in 1925 239-130 and an ERA+ of 138 (3172IP) says he's marginally better than McGinnity. Somebody had to be the keystone of those Cubs, and I think Brown was it, more than Sheckard, and much more than the Trio.
   24. JPWF13 Posted: September 22, 2009 at 10:49 PM (#3329336)
there's Brown who was a great pitcher, and Reulbach, who was a very good pitcher, but who were those other guys? In a number of cases, they weren't even any good when they pitched for other teams.


There was Jake Weimer who was very good the year after he left the Cubs, the year after that his k/9 and k/bb collapsed.
There was Jack Pfiester who did nothing in teh MLB aside form the Cubs, he threw 40 poor innings for the Pirates a couple of years before coming to the Cubbies, BUT FWIW in the years immediately prior to coming to the Cubs he was apparently the best pitcher in the Western League- where he threw a ton of innings
There was Orval Overall who before coming to the Cubbies threw 300 inning in his rookie year with a 173/147 k/bb and a 115 ERA+- a few years later with the Cubs his k/bb was 205/80, which would seem to indicate that he was a significantly better pitcher then- independent of the defense behind him
There was Buttons Briggs and well... point taken
There was Lew Ritchie who seemed to pitch just as well for the Phillies as for the Cubs
Larry Cheney, who for a year and a half after leaving Chicago was better for Da Bums than he'd been for the Cubbies
   25. AJMcCringleberry Posted: September 22, 2009 at 11:31 PM (#3329355)
1. Walter Johnson - Clear #1
2. Cy Young
3. Pete Alexander
4. Lefty Grove - Led league in ERA+ 9 times
5. Smokey Joe Williams
6. Tom Seaver
7. Warren Spahn - Close with Seaver
8. Christy Mathewson
9. Steve Carlton
10. Robin Roberts
11. Gaylord Perry
12. Kid Nichols
13. Phil Niekro
14. Ray Brown
15. Bob Gibson
16. Bert Blyleven
17. John Clarkson
18. Hal Newhouser
19. Bob Feller
20. Satchel Paige

9-16 were hard to order. Clarkson and Newhouser were similar, great peaks, short careers. Paige and Ryan were close for the last spot, I think Paige had more quality.
   26. sunnyday2 Posted: September 23, 2009 at 01:04 AM (#3329420)
sunnyday - you gotta rank 5 more pitchers, your ballot is incomplete


Well, shoot, I just couldn't find anybody else worth voting for.
   27. sunnyday2 Posted: September 23, 2009 at 01:09 AM (#3329429)
OK, now the ;-)

Starting over from the beginning... DELETE POST #2....

1. Walter Johnson
2. Lefty Grove
3. Cy Young
4. Pete Alexander
5. Tom Seaver
6. Warren Spahn
7. Kid Nichols
8. Bob Gibson
9. Christy Mathewson
10. Sandy Koufax

11. Joe Williams
12. John Clarkson
13. Bob Feller
14. Steve Carlton
15. Satchel Paige


16. Robin Roberts--I hated not having him in the top 15
17. Hoss Radbourn
18. Carl Hubbell
19. Jim Palmer
20. Ed Walsh
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: September 23, 2009 at 01:47 AM (#3329461)
33 of the 63 with at least one vote so far....
   29. bjhanke Posted: September 23, 2009 at 05:18 AM (#3329577)
DL, whose opinions are pretty good, says, "bjhanke - Pud Galvin's just too high, I'd put him down near Drysdale"

This one I don't buy. I have a method for estimating this sort of thing, where one pitcher has a higher ERA+, but the other had many more IP. I see if it's possible to extract, from the longer career, enough seasons to get close to the shorter career length, and with about the same ERA+ as the shorter career. If I can, then the longer run includes the shorter one plus some years that are not valueless. This happens to Galvin and Drysdale. Don has 3432 career IP. You can extract that many of Galvin's best innings and come up with just about Drysdale's career, leaving Pud with a bonus 2571 IP - within reach of a whole other career - and those seasons aren't junk. They're weak, but not below replacement rate or anything. I should mention that you can do this without any of Pud's American Association seasons, even though the AA seasons in question are the good ones, where the AA is close in quality to the NL.

This is part of why I have Hoss Radbourne ranked so high. You can extract Sandy Koufax's career out of Radbourne's - almost exactly on both IP and ERA+, and the years are even contiguous - and still have a whole bunch of IP that aren't junk. So Hoss has to outrank Sandy, and Pud has to outrank Don. - Brock
   30. DL from MN Posted: September 23, 2009 at 02:02 PM (#3329721)
IP aren't the same across eras.

I have a hard time seeing the bottom ranked player from an era sitting at the median for all elected pitchers. That would imply that we've overlooked pitchers from that era (Mickey Welch?) and I just don't believe that is the case.
   31. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 23, 2009 at 03:15 PM (#3329820)
This is the big one: Brown had fabulous defensive support. Tinker-Evers-Chance wasn't just a poem. The whole premise of a Selee/Chance team was to put a great defense out there. In part this shows from the list of pitchers who ever had great single-season ERA's (or RA's) for the Cubs - there's Brown who was a great pitcher, and Reulbach, who was a very good pitcher, but who were those other guys? In a number of cases, they weren't even any good when they pitched for other teams.


I couldn't agree more. Brown's ERA+ was heavily influenced by the defense behind him, kind of like Jim Palmer, only even moreso. I cannot see giving him all of the credit for those gaudy ERA+. He likely had the most value defensive team of the 20th Century behind him.


Richard Stark Posted: September 22, 2009 at 11:45 AM (#3328895)
Hello All,

I am new to the forums.I really would enjoy getting involved in discussions of the HOM pitchers if allowed.

A question Where is Juan Marichal in the discussion of the 1960's ranked?


Welcome aboard Richard. Glad to have you join the discussion.

Regarding Marichal looking at the list in the voting shown in the initial post, he's probably #2 among pitcher's whose careers were centered on the 60s, comfortably behind Gibson. We liked him a little more than Koufax, Drysdale and Bunning, although the Koufax question is solely dependent on whether or not you are a peak or career guy.

I'm not sure how we'd rank him compared to Ford, who had significant time in the 60s, but is more of a 50s guy, so he was on that list.
   32. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 23, 2009 at 03:20 PM (#3329832)
IP aren't the same across eras.


Agree with this one too. If everyone is throwing 300 innings, throwing 350 or 400 isn't as big a deal as it is when everyone is throwing 220. I think you have to adjust for that when comparing across eras.

I also think you need to adjust for career length norms, but that one is a lot tougher.

I've got a method for adjusting innings for era that works quite well. It's based on the BPro method, but I think it's more robust in that it allows for pitchers who dominate to stand out, while theirs doesn't.

I've wanted to adjust my numbers for their latest updated defensive stats but I just haven't had the time to do the data entry required.

Any poor college kids looking to make some money doing data entry? It's probably a couple of hours work, maybe more. Not sure what the going rate is for that kind of thing, but maybe we can work something out? Feel free to email me, the link on my userid is up to date . . .
   33. bjhanke Posted: September 23, 2009 at 05:35 PM (#3330066)
DL says, "IP aren't the same across eras.

I have a hard time seeing the bottom ranked player from an era sitting at the median for all elected pitchers. That would imply that we've overlooked pitchers from that era (Mickey Welch?) and I just don't believe that is the case."

I absolutely agree, except that I do think that we've overlooked pitchers from the 19th century. If I didn't think that, my placement of Galvin and Caruthers would make no sense, as you have pointed out. Whether I can defend my assertion is exactly why I asked for comments on my prelim. My thinking here is that one of the characteristics of early or "primitive" versions of baseball all have the feature that the best players are pitchers. They both pitch and hit cleanup in really early eras, or in leagues of young players. I don't think we've accounted for that enough in 1800s baseball. We certainly have not made up for it by voting position players into the very highest slots (remember my support of George Wright?). I appreciate your input, whether I end up agreeing with it or not. I have added Welch to the list of 19th century pitchers that I'm looking at based on your recommendation, because your work is good. Thanks for responding. Input is what I need here. I have troubles with not having any of the 19th century guys ranked in the top three at their positions, and am trying to find the right way to correct this. Buck Ewing and George Wright didn't convince anyone. Maybe the answer is in the pitchers. That's where I am now. - Brock
   34. DL from MN Posted: September 23, 2009 at 06:56 PM (#3330206)
We're talking about pitchers, not athletes in general.


3 years off isn't rest, it's atrophy. I think conservative war credit would give him the 3 seasons at declining rates when he was ages 23-25 and lop off the years when he was 33-35. An equally valid alternate perspective would be that Feller took 3 years off to fight in WWII and came back to pitch 371 innings in 1946 against top competition without being fully prepared for it physically. The sudden jump in workload (0, 0, 0, 72, 371 IP) is what caused the decline in performance, not the workload from 1940-42. Maybe if he hadn't taken the time off for the war he would have lasted as long as Cy Young.
   35. Mike Webber Posted: September 23, 2009 at 07:30 PM (#3330267)
Combined Pitchers Ballot

1. Walter Johnson – My fellow Kansan earns the top spot with some of the biggest dead ball seasons along with his longevity.
2. Lefty Grove – with the minor league credit, I think number two based on how he compared with his peers in both peak on longevity.
3. Tom Seaver
4. Satchel Paige
5. Cy Young
6. Kid Nichols
7. Warren Spahn
8. Bullet Joe Rogan
9. Pete Alexander
10. John Clarkson
11. Phil Niekro
12. Steve Carlton
13. Bob Gibson
14. Christy Mathewson
15. Bob Feller
16. Robin Roberts
17. Martin DiHigo
18. Smokey Joe Williams
19. Gaylord Perry
20. Carl Hubbell
   36. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 23, 2009 at 08:11 PM (#3330340)
I agree with #34, I think it's just as likely the years off hurt Feller's future career as helped it. I think credit at something between his 1940-47 numbers is extremely reasonable.
   37. OCF Posted: September 24, 2009 at 05:39 AM (#3330786)
Combined pitchers ballot

I preserved my order from each of my 4 segmental ballots; splicing the lists was mostly a lot of wild guessing. Beside each name I've put the RA+ equivalent record and the "big years score" with the note that the latter is wildly biased in favor of years before 1920. Although I acknowledge peaks and primes, this is a career-centric list. The list isn't by strict order of any mechanical number; there are all sorts of little nudges here or there.

1. Johnson 427-230 [208]
2. Young 519-298 [255]
3. Grove 295-143 [141] (No explicit IL credit, but that's in the back of my mind.)
4. Seaver 330-201 [94]
5. Spahn 340-232 [58]
6. Williams (N/A)
7. Mathewson 332-199 [156]
8. Paige (N/A)
9. Nichols 352-210 [147]
10. Gibson 265-166 [84]
11. Carlton 328-252 [54]
12. Clarkson (N/A)
13. Hubbell 249-150 [76]
14. Feller 254-171 [70]
15. Niekro 334-266 [31]
16. Perry 337-258 [52]
17. Roberts 295-226 [57]
18. Plank 303-197 [64]
19. Blyleven 322-230 [53]
20. Palmer 260-179 [57]

The highest candidates not included from each list are Keefe, Walsh, Ruffing, and Jenkins.
   38. DL from MN Posted: September 24, 2009 at 01:26 PM (#3330867)
> The highest candidates not included...

Umm, OCF you missed Old Pete.
   39. DL from MN Posted: September 24, 2009 at 01:29 PM (#3330870)
I don't understand Spahn over Alexander either (Webber's ballot). Can you explain how Pete slud to 9th?
   40. DL from MN Posted: September 24, 2009 at 01:41 PM (#3330891)
Just a reminder - make sure you don't forget DiHigo just because he isn't only a pitcher. Not saying it is happening but it could be easy to overlook.

bjhanke - do you like Tony Mullane or Jim McCormick better? Just throwing out a few more early pitchers for you to consider.
   41. OCF Posted: September 24, 2009 at 02:07 PM (#3330940)
I did what? Aaaaaa... Proofread!

1. Johnson
2. Young
3. Grove
4. Seaver
5. Alexander
6. Spahn
7. Williams
8. Mathewson
9. Paige
10. Nichols
11. Gibson
12. Carlton
13. Clarkson
14. Hubbell
15. Feller
16. Niekro
17. Perry
18. Roberts
19. Plank
20. Blyleven

That pushes Palmer to 21 and off the ballot.
   42. Paul Wendt Posted: September 24, 2009 at 04:24 PM (#3331107)
Brock's preliminary ballot #10 gives rather high rank to all of the pre-1893 pitchers (group one), a matter he pursues with DL in #15, 29, 30, 33.

See also my note in the Combined Discussion regarding ~1900 and ~1920 within group two. Brock gives rather high rank to all of the former down to Clark Griffith >= Faber, Rixey, Vance, Coveleski.

These contributions imply a sanity check for any combined ballot. If no one from some group is near the bottom of the ballot, should the Hall of Merit include others from that group? If several from some group are near the bottom, do some of them represent "mistakes" --where the HOM should include either fewer pitchers or different ones from the group? The answer No makes the ballot implausible, altho the check is not binding.
(Brock answers Yes regarding group one.)
   43. TomH Posted: September 25, 2009 at 07:50 PM (#3332594)
1 Johnson - nuf said
2 Grove - 9 ERA+ titles. 51 and 9 over 2 years. Minor lg credit. Best pitcher, 1930-2000.
3 Alexander - WWI credit bumps him up here
4 Young - less peak/prime than above 2
5 Seaver - 3/4/5 almost a tie. I don't really like putting all of the pre-WWII guys at the top, but if you give me chance to vote in 2020, I'll put Clemens at #2, and Greg M might be in this category also
6 Spahn - 363 wins after 25th Bday
7 Mathewson - even a better man than a pitcher
8 Paige - incredibly long career, and incredible rep.
9 SJ Williams - might have been better than Satch.
10 G Perry - cheated & did not get caught. I wish he had been, and rules enforced, but this ranking reflects his value.
11 Gibson - not as good as his stare. But postseason + hitting help his ranking.
12 Nichols - some bonus for minor lg
13 Carlton
14 Roberts
15 Feller - small bonus for WWII
16 Blyleven - small discount for poor W-L record (negative clutch)
17 Niekro
18 Jenkins
19 Walsh
20 Palmer - no bonus pts for underwear

Yes, I included none of the pre-1893 guys. They are well-bunched up, and I don't wish to bump one up just so they get a rep on the ballot. Clarkson is the closest. None of the 6 would be on the bottom of the ranking- they are all worthy IMHO (Pud = borderline), just not top 20.
   44. TomH Posted: September 25, 2009 at 07:51 PM (#3332598)
#32 Joe D - I hired my 12-yr old daughter years ago to type in piles of data :)
   45. DL from MN Posted: September 25, 2009 at 08:27 PM (#3332654)
TomH - only surprise to me is Jenkins, Walsh, Palmer > Hubbell.
   46. Paul Wendt Posted: September 26, 2009 at 03:00 AM (#3333107)
10 G Perry - cheated & did not get caught. I wish he had been, and rules enforced, but this ranking reflects his value.
11 Gibson - not as good as his stare. But postseason + hitting help his ranking.


I agree with attention to batting --and baserunning if we know anything about it.
Given attention to batting I don't see how Perry > Carlton (and others, probably, but is the easiest comparison).
   47. TomH Posted: September 26, 2009 at 03:15 AM (#3333121)
thanks for comments - will get to them by Sunday or Monday.
   48. bjhanke Posted: September 26, 2009 at 05:54 PM (#3333405)
DL says, "bjhanke - do you like Tony Mullane or Jim McCormick better? Just throwing out a few more early pitchers for you to consider."

Added to this list. Thanks! As you may have gathered by the logic I'm following, this isn't a list to introduce now, which would be completely inappropriate and illegal; it's a list to have in mind when I make up my next yearly ballot. If I'm going to claim that we're short a few 19th century pitchers, then my next ballot had better be top-heavy with a few candidates.

Paul has the essence of my logic right, except that he didn't note my implied quota. I know quota systems are problematic, but what's bothering me here - and it bothers me a lot - is that we look likely to have not one single player from the 19th within the top three players at any position, unless you count Cy Young, who straddles the century boundary. There are 27 such slots (actually, I count each five-pitcher group as one "rank", so I have 39). Dividing the 27 by the 13 decades of major league baseball, I get an average of 2 such players per decade. That's 6 in a 30-year run. We have none, and only one position left to consider. I can't make myself believe a blip that large in the data. I could believe being a few shy, having like maybe 3 in the century, because there are few teams and a small population base. But not none. I think we simply have not made enough adjustments for the time period, or not enough of the right kinds of adjustment. I may well not be able to convince a single one of you, but that really is what was driving me nuts when I wrote the George Wright comment, and it is what is driving me nuts now. The rest of my logic all derives from that.

Sorry if this is a pain in the butt to read; you can skip if I'm getting annoying. - Brock
   49. Paul Wendt Posted: September 27, 2009 at 02:24 PM (#3333821)
we look likely to have not one single player from the 19th within the top three players at any position, unless you count Cy Young

Anson and Delahanty are third in the 1b and lf rankings. I would count Cy Young too.
   50. bjhanke Posted: September 27, 2009 at 03:36 PM (#3333852)
Paul says, "Anson and Delahanty are third in the 1b and lf rankings. I would count Cy Young too."

Wait. We did vote them that high? I remember them being 4th. Oh, dear. I bet I just bit myself in the back. Before I posted anything here, I went looking for the old ballot and discussion threads on the HoM link, but could not find them. So I've been working off of my memory and my own archives of my own posts, where I made a "challenge" in the George Wright discussion for people to try to find "the guy" from each decade.

I should have asked as soon as I realized I wasn't finding the threads. Can someone please tell me how to find links to the old positional discussions and ballots? As I said, I can't find them poking around the site, and I apparently have remembered them wrong, so I better check them out. I should have asked and double-checked before I got worked up. There may be more than just Anson and Delahanty, if my memory is off. If Anson and Del really are 3rds (and when has Paul been wrong about this sort of thing?) and, say, John Clarkson ends up in the top ten or even 15 among pitchers, that's enough to shut me up. It's the minimum, but it's enough.

Thanks in advance - Brock ( who should ask more questions and rely less on his memory, which seems to not be up to the task.
   51. Paul Wendt Posted: September 27, 2009 at 07:08 PM (#3333950)
Visit the Archives for 2008 spring and summer rankings by fielding position. (Winter, ranking HOM members who are not in Cooperstown.)
Select
: Hall of Merit; Important Links; Hall of Merit Archives
   52. bjhanke Posted: September 28, 2009 at 06:50 AM (#3334210)
Paul, thanks. I found them, although I would not have without your help. I got to Important Links and found a list of links. The one for Archives, though, is not on the list. It's in the upper right corner in a sentence. I just missed it. I did find "Ballot, Results and Discussion Threads," which I'd gone to before. The first screen there has just a list of links to the various yearly ballots. I failed to do the minimal due diligence to scroll down and find all the positional threads I wanted right below the list of yearly links. So now I can find them two ways; going through "Ballot, Results..." is easier because they are all listed there together. The one way I could not find them, and where I kept looking, was "Positional Threads," which contains threads that predate me, I think. In any case,they weren't what I was looking for, and the link title seemed so right that I just kept looking through there for what I needed. Sigh. And to think that when I'm in between tech writing contracts, I'd pick up temp work as an administrative assistant because I can do detail work with no mistakes. I need to turn that part of my brain on more often.

Anyway, thanks again, and yes, I do feel a whole lot better about the HoM in the 19th century now. I'd still prefer a couple of #1s and #2s instead of just a couple of #3s plus whatever pitchers make the top 15, but I'm not worried about having a real problem any more. This being the third time I've done this sort of thing, and the previous two having failed, I really really want the HoM to succeed. I probably need to relax and chill out now; this one is going to work. Just looking back at the old results is comforting. There are next to no (maybe none at all) really bad mistakes, either in putting weak players in or leaving obvious ones out. I've never seen results this good before, so I started caring, maybe too much. - Brock
   53. Howie Menckel Posted: September 29, 2009 at 01:10 AM (#3334990)
I was going to noodle on this a little longer, but this is true to my original ballots, and I'm ok with the relative "outliers."

1. WALTER JOHNSON - Top 5 in Adj ERA+ every year from 1910-1919, except 1917, when he was a 'dreadful' 23-16 with a 119 ERA+. Top 5 in Adj ERA+ 12 times (led league six times). Top 5 in IP 12 times (led league five times). His W-L record was 32-48 in first 3 years, 385-231 thereafter. Check out 1925, at age 37. No, not the ho-hum (for him) 20-9 with the 137 ERA+. Walter hit .433 that year (42-97), 2 hr, 20 rbi (103 RBI per 500 AB pace). He slugged .577 against an AL avg of .416. "He was tempted during the Federal League uproar, and actually signed with the Chicago Whales, but revoked the contract when penny-pinching Clark Griffith made an emergency trip to Kansas to up the ante and restore him to his pedestal."

2. CY YOUNG - Top 5 in Adj ERA+ 10 times (led league twice). Top 5 in IP 14 times (led league twice). Check out 1908 at age 41 - 21-11, 299 IP (6th), ERA+ 194 (2nd to Joss; a 20-yr-old Johnson, youngest player in the AL, was 5th. Young was 2nd-oldest to Deacon McGuire). "Portly, but without a twinge of pain in his arm, he was unable to field his position and was bunted into retirement at age 44."

3. LEFTY GROVE - Cleared 150 ERA+ a ridiculous 11 times, and topped 175 a staggering five times. 9 ERA titles. Top 3 in wins 7 straight years. Top 6 in IP 7 straight years and 10 of 11. Struck out 593 times, the most ever by a pitcher. But we'll overlook that. Oh, minor league credit for sure; was a MLB-quality guy by any measure in Baltimore. Of course, he doesn't need it either.

4. JOE WILLIAMS - Best Negro League pitcher ever. Basically, a 400-game winner major league level. "In exhibition games against major leaguers, Williams compiled a 22-7-1 record with 12 shutouts. In 1915, he struck out 10 while hurling a 1-0 three-hit shutout over Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander and the Phillies."

5. TOM SEAVER - He crushes a very solid contemporary HOMer like Gaylord Perry (ranked 21st by me here) 9 straight times in their best years head-to-head and then matches him over the next 5 years. We are talking about one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. Odd that he never finished in the top 2 in IP, but his 8 top 5s are on par or better with the entire field.

6. WARREN SPAHN - Spahnie won 180 games after his 35th birthday, which ain't bad. Top 10 in Wins AND innings AND Complete Games every single year from 1947-63; in top 3 in Wins in 14 of those 17 years (and league leader in 8 of them). Top 3 in Innings every year from 1947-59. Led league in Complete Games every year from 1957-63, at age 36 through 42. Hey, I love ERA+, but if you don't see this guy as one of the greatest pitchers ever, might be time to rethink your criteria, he says respectfully.

7. GROVER CLEVELAND ALEXANDER - 4-time ERA+ leader, and top 10 in 15 seasons. Led league in IP 7 times in a span of 20 years. I can't prove Smokey Joe was better, but that's my gut feeling. See 1936 ballot discussion thread for more on GCA's personal background. GCA in 1915: 31-10, 1.22 ERA, 225 ERA+. Not bad when you lead the league in ERA, ERA+, and innings! "Alexander was ungainly, with a shambling walk; his uniform never seemed to fit properly, and his cap looked a size too small..... He retired believing his 373 wins placed him one ahead of Christy Mathewson for the most career NL victories, but later statistical research added another win to Matty's total."

8. CHRISTY MATHEWSON - Leader or 1st runnerup in ERA+ 8 times. Only once led league in IP, but top 5 eight other times. from baseballlibrary.com - "The son of a gentleman farmer, Mathewson attended Bucknell University, where he was class president, an excellent field goal kicker, and, of course, star pitcher.....Off the field, public reputation aside, some found him brusque and stand-offish, others said he had a swelled head. He was also known to break a contract, once signing with the Philadelphia Athletics before changing his mind and jumping back to the Giants."

9. BOB FELLER - He's spectacularly good at both age 21 and 27, and quite useful at age 17-18 and age 35-36. HOMer even with FOUR missing or near-missing seasons that likely would have been outstanding. Strikeout totals are ridiculously low for him re 1952-56, yet he still had decent results. A super-fireballer turned no-stuff-but-still-gets-outs guy. Great career, and we know it woulda been so much better without the damn war. Maybe he'd have burned out sooner, but he also might have burned longer. Feels like he's getting 'anti-war-credited" a bit too much.

10. SATCHEL PAIGE - Best pitcher on the 1952 Browns at age 45. Muddy middle career, but don't let it fool you. He was great earlier, dazzled at times later, and was a top-notch pitcher who was actually pitching, a lot, even when it wasn't those "organized Negro Leagues."

11. BOB GIBSON - Some may see his mere three 150+ ERA+ seasons and ask why so high. I see his incredible 258-164 ERA+ combo in 1968-69 and his impressive nine 125+ ERA+ seasons and ask, why not? Top 5 in ERA seven times. Even a very good hitting P for his era. Odd that he never finished in the top 2 in IP, but his 7 top 4s are on par or better with the entire field.

12. KID NICHOLS - Won 300th game at age 30. 8 times in top 5 in ERA+, mostly in one-league era. One of his 12 top-5s in IP was a 1st place. Impressive 124 OPS+ in 1901. - "Following the 1901 season, Nichols bought a part interest in the Western Association's Kansas City team and served as the club's manager for 1902 and 1903 while also recording 48 victories as a pitcher. .... Nichols subsequently formed a partnership with Joe Tinker, former Cub shortstop, and entered the motion-picture business..... While managing a bowling alley in Missouri, he was recognized as one of Kansas City's finest bowlers, winning the Class A Championship at age 64."

13. JOHN CLARKSON - A tidy 2700+ IP in his 5-year peak, with 209 W in that span and IP leader 4 times. Tossed more than half his team's IP in a 49-19 season in 1889. I wonder if they hadn't adjusted the mound when they did...... Clarkson had a wondrous quality/quantity package for his time, and earned his way as first pitcher into HOM.

14. CARL HUBBELL - ERA+ in his nine years with 240+ innings: 193 169 168 149 140 124 122 121 118. What really clinches it is going top-3 in IP in each of the five eye-popping years. Has four useful years beyond the top 9 as well. Not the top career guy, but has friends in both the peak and prime community no doubt.

15. STEVE CARLTON - Remarkably, even more of a workhorse than Niekro, and packs a best-5 wallop that means he's well ahead of both bulldogs like Perry and Jenkins and artists like Marichal. Maybe he's hurt in some systems by not putting the peak into consecutive years. I hadn't realized how much better Seaver and Gibson were, but that doesn't keep Carlton off the 3rd spot from the era. 5-time IP leader, including his for-the-ages 1972.

16. JIM PALMER - Like other voters, I rode a bit of a rollercoaster regarding Palmer's phenomenal defensive support. It lessens his achievements a bit, but a 125 ERA+ in almost 4000 IP and 10 very good to excellent seasons is impressive nonetheless. What clinches this slot is both a tangible and anecdotal sense that Palmer "pitched to the defense" deliberately, which is a good thing, not bad. Palmer seemed to me like Greg Maddux most of his career - steady, not flashy (well, on the field, lol), and ultimately great.

17. WHITEY FORD - A rare combination of good peak and career length with phenomenal prime. Deserves some war credit as well. Superficially nearly matches Hubbell in ERA+ head-to-head battle, but Whitey was not in the top 7 in IP in either of his best (176-170) ERA+ years. Cemented his place with a 24-7 1963 leading the AL in IP, then a 170 ERA+ in 245 IP in 1964. 2.71 ERA in 146 World Series IP, went 10-8. 1960-61, insane 32 scoreless while going 4-0 in those Series.

18. ROBIN ROBERTS - Led the league in IP 10 times - the same number of times he cleared 120 ERA+. Unusually high combo of workhorse and thoroughbred, underrated by history. Top 5 in IP a remarkable 10 times, led every year from 1951-55. Margins ahead of 2nd-place finisher from 1952-55: 40-81-53-48. Yes, he threw a total of 222 more IP than the runnersup, who of course were different people. ERA+s 141-152-136-121. We tend to look at those as "not dazzling," but when you throw THAT many more IP than anyone else, think again. Also rang up some mediocre and crappy years, which our various systems weigh differently.

19. SANDY KOUFAX - We're almost unanimous in agreeing that he is one of the most overrated players in history. BUT his 1966 swan song is breathtaking; 1963-65 are monster years; and 1961-62 are major pluses. It all adds up for Koufax to just nose out the rest here; maybe I have a peak-love that I didn't realize, but he dominates a top-6-seasons scale and everyone else either doesn't bring THAT much more to the table, or they had a bigger peak deficit to make up. I will say I do not think a non-ranking of Koufax on this list is crazy; these are all impressive but arguably a little flawed careers from here on down.

20. PHIL NIEKRO - Almost identical career to Perry's, except Niekro's best 2 were a little bit better. They're about even in durability, too. I do have to account for the unearned-run issue here, as the passed balls really were the result of Phil's knuckler. Overall, a very underrated career. Relentless in those IP, and that adds up on any metric.
   54. Obama Bomaye Posted: September 29, 2009 at 03:29 AM (#3335078)
There was Orval Overall who before coming to the Cubbies threw 300 inning in his rookie year with a 173/147 k/bb and a 115 ERA+- a few years later with the Cubs his k/bb was 205/80, which would seem to indicate that he was a significantly better pitcher then- independent of the defense behind him

Not necessarily. With a poor defense, a pitcher may tend to nibble, always trying to make the perfect/unhittable pitch, which can lead to a lot more walks (and/or more hittable pitches when he reaches 3 balls). I don't think it's necessarily a linear effect either, which probably adds to the difficulty in separating fielding from pitching. A slightly improved defense may lead to a lot more confidence in the pitcher and exponentially better results. (or, for someone else, it may not.)
   55. OCF Posted: September 29, 2009 at 05:26 AM (#3335175)
A slightly improved defense may lead to a lot more confidence in the pitcher and exponentially better results. (or, for someone else, it may not.)

The best case I can remember for that sort of confidence effect was John Tudor, 1985. You'd see interviews in which Tudor would talk about challenging hitters and in particular talk about needing to pitch inside sometimes to right handed hitters. You can believe that intellectually - but is your gut going to go along? If what you see over your right shoulder is the Green Monster, that may be a little difficult. But if what you see in that direction is the distant fences of mid-80's Busch Stadium, with Ozzie Smith and Terry Pendleton in the foreground - well, that's something else entirely. As for whether it worked - it's hard to argue with a 184 ERA+ in 275 IP. (The fact that he wasn't the best pitcher in the league wasn't exactly Tudor's fault.)
   56. Paul Wendt Posted: September 29, 2009 at 05:27 AM (#3335176)
Brock:
The one way I could not find them, and where I kept looking, was "Positional Threads," which contains threads that predate me, I think.

They date from the beginning of the project but the Pitchers or "Pitchers for the Hall of Merit" continues. The last three pages from #303 date from the last year.
   57. Al Peterson Posted: September 29, 2009 at 07:10 PM (#3335730)
Combined Pitcher Ballot. The following ranking is based on cocktail of metrics: ERA+, WAR, PRAA, WARP, IP/tIP plus some additions or subtractions for wartime, minor leagues, etc. Of course Williams and Paige are more subjective but they easily deserve a spot among the twenty. I've tried to be fair to all eras while avoiding quotas of "Era 2 needs X number of players".

1. Walter Johnson – Big Train keep on movin’

2. Cy Young – You don’t luck your way into 511 victories.

3. Lefty Grove – Excellent major league numbers, toss in a little minor league action. They should have told everyone that only Mr. Grove was allowed to be called Lefty after the way he pitched.

4. Pete Alexander – Walter Johnson cast a pretty mean shadow to cover up all that Old Pete did.

5. Tom Seaver – Tom Terrific indeed. Bounce that knee off the pitcher’s mound.

6. Warren Spahn – He pitched on, and on, and on…

7. Christy Mathewson – Stiff comps in those turn of the century days.

8. Smokey Joe Williams – Virtual tie with Mathewson

9. Satchel Paige – If we voted by showmanship he’d run away and hide.

10. Kid Nichols – Got to 300 wins and still had a couple minor league years thrown in to boot.

11. Bob Gibson – Big game pitcher you’d want on your side for any fight.

12. Steve Carlton - Slider

13. Carl Hubbell - Screwball

14. Bob Feller - Fastball

15. Ed Walsh - Spitball

16. Gaylord Perry – Vasoline ball

17. John Clarkson – Sorry, not much on his pitch selection. Best of the short distance era.

18. Phil Niekro - Knuckleball

19. Robin Roberts – Workhorse of the 50’s.

20. Tim Keefe – tough call but he outruns Newhouser, Radbourn, and Blyleven for the final spot.
   58. Mike Webber Posted: September 29, 2009 at 08:45 PM (#3335942)
I don't understand Spahn over Alexander either (Webber's ballot). Can you explain how Pete slud to 9th?


Hi, I knew my comments were too short, but I had a window to vote and wanted to make sure I did in this one.

Short answer is era balancing, and I mean Spahn's post WW2-pre 1960's deadball contemporaries more than his group II contemporaries above. The guys born within 10 years of him in the HOM are Feller, Roberts, and a bunch of excellent pitchers without very long careers.

I think Alexander he is 4th in his era, because I'd rather have Kid Nichols. And I am off consensus on Bullet Rogan, and suddenly Alex is 9th.
   59. Howie Menckel Posted: October 01, 2009 at 04:10 AM (#3337251)
I think we have 13 ballots.

Time to start rounding up the usual deadline-impaired suspects?
   60. bjhanke Posted: October 01, 2009 at 06:34 AM (#3337289)
I have a SF convention this weekend, where I'm classified as a "pro" and have to do panels and such, so my weekend is gone, but October 5 is Monday, and I only have to make sure that I have the 20 I want and then write comments. I'll get there, but it will probably be Monday. - Brock
   61. TomH Posted: October 01, 2009 at 05:53 PM (#3337574)
#45 (DL): Thanks - Hubbell was somehow never entered on my 'big' list. He enters at #16; please delete my previous ballot and use the one below.

#46 (PW): Yes, Carlton hit better, but Perry fielded better (range and errors). Carlton had more big years, but threw in more clunkers. Perry had a 9-year stretch of consistently being top 10 in ERA+. Carlton had 5 years out of 6 at best. His 72 was aweome, but was a complete outlier in a sea of otherwise average-ness from 70 to 75. But really, after my top 9, all of them are very tough calls.
Re-looking at Perry's numbers, he shoul dbe behidn Gibson and the Kid, and the new ballot reflects that.

NEW BALLOT

1 Johnson - nuf said
2 Grove - 9 ERA+ titles. 51 and 9 over 2 years. Minor lg credit. Best pitcher, 1930-2000.
3 Alexander - WWI credit bumps him up here
4 Young - less peak/prime than above 2
5 Seaver - 3/4/5 almost a tie. I don't really like putting all of the pre-WWII guys at the top, but if you give me chance to vote in 2020, I'll put Clemens at #2, and Greg M might be in this category also
6 Spahn - 363 wins after 25th Bday
7 Mathewson - even a better man than a pitcher
8 Paige - incredibly long career, and incredible rep.
9 SJ Williams - might have been better than Satch.
10 Gibson - not as good as his stare. But postseason + hitting help his ranking.
11 Nichols - some bonus for minor lg
12 G Perry - cheated & did not get caught. I wish he had been, and rules enforced, but this ranking reflects his value.
13 Carlton
14 Roberts
15 Feller - small bonus for WWII
16 Hubbell
17 Blyleven - small discount for poor W-L record (negative clutch)
18 Niekro
19 Jenkins
20 Walsh
   62. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 01, 2009 at 06:22 PM (#3337610)
Yes, Carlton hit better, but Perry fielded better (range and errors).


Wouldn't fielding show up in their runs allowed?
   63. Esteban Rivera Posted: October 01, 2009 at 06:31 PM (#3337622)
I think we have 13 ballots.

Time to start rounding up the usual deadline-impaired suspects?


I'll be posting a ballot either Saturday or Sunday (depending on how soon I can make the final adjustments to my ordering).
   64. Paul Wendt Posted: October 01, 2009 at 08:29 PM (#3337743)
>> [TomH:] #46 (PW): Yes, Carlton hit better, but Perry fielded better (range and errors). ...

> [Joe Dimino]
Wouldn't fielding show up in their runs allowed?


I wondered whether Tom makes too much of the two-point difference in career ERA+, Perry 117, Carlton and Niekro 115. It's unusual to rank Perry first of the three and I couldn't think of anything else. (Most people give Carlton credit for his year-to-year inconsistency, under a name such as "big years" or high "peak" with a non-consecutive meaning. So I didn't take for granted, or even think of Tom's opposite reasoning --see below.)

For anyone who does attend to ERA+, Tom's point is generally good. If Perry was a better fielder than Carlton (errors), probably a greater share of Carlton's unearned runs were the result of his own errors. For illustration only, with Perry above average and Carlton average as a fielder (errors), their career ERA+ ratings adjusted for own errors might be 118 and 115 rather than given 117 and 115.


>> ... Carlton had more big years, but threw in more clunkers. Perry had a 9-year stretch of consistently being top 10 in ERA+. Carlton had 5 years out of 6 at best. His 72 was aweome, but was a complete outlier in a sea of otherwise average-ness from 70 to 75. But really, after my top 9, all of them are very tough calls.
Re-looking at Perry's numbers, he should be behind Gibson and the Kid, and the new ballot reflects that.


OK, I understand.
Rankings 12 and 13 don't look nearly so different as 10 and 13. Seeing Perry singled out at #10, thus in the "Top Ten", is an eye-opener, but now it's Perry and Carlton both sneaking into the "Top Baker's Dozen".
   65. Paul Wendt Posted: October 01, 2009 at 08:36 PM (#3337753)
By the way,
Perry, Carlton, and Niekro pitched 4000 consecutive innings at ERA+ 126, 124, and 123. Last week using another threshold (4500? 4800?) I found Perry one point ahead of the other two, which may be comparable in importance to Niekro's modest margin over Perry as a batter.
   66. OCF Posted: October 01, 2009 at 08:52 PM (#3337770)
If Perry was a better fielder than Carlton (errors), probably a greater share of Carlton's unearned runs were the result of his own errors.

Which doesn't look the same if you use RA instead of ERA. I don't do a career RA+ but I can back-form a number equivalent to RA+ from career equivalent record. For that number I get Perry 114, Carlton 114, and Niekro 112. And I've never given any consideration for what pitchers were good fielders and bad fielders for the reason Joe says: it's included in RA+ anyway. I had the relative order of these three as Carlton, Neikro, Perry. One thing I used to edge Perry down a little: he had his top-of-career monster year in 1972, and his second best year in 1974, in the AL, which had probably still not caught up to the NL yet.
   67. bjhanke Posted: October 05, 2009 at 09:33 AM (#3340397)
This is Brock Hanke’s official ballot for the top 20 of the HoM pitchers. The order hasn’t changed from my prelim, at least for these 20 guys (the back end is much harder to rank, because the distribution of performance is much tighter, and so I could much more easily be convinced to move someone down there). As usual, for tally purposes, I list the guys without comment first, and then go into detail.

1 Walter Johnson
2 Lefty Grove
3 Satchel Paige
4 Cy Young
5 Hoss Radbourne
6 Tom Seaver
7 Grover Cleveland Alexander
8 John Clarkson
9 Warren Spahn
10 Bob Gibson
11 Kid Nichols
12 Carl Hubbell
13 Smokey Joe Williams
14 Tim Keefe
15 Steve Carlton
16 Christy Mathewson
17 Bob Feller
18 Gaylord Perry
19 Phil Niekro
20 Bob Caruthers

1 Walter Johnson

It looks like I’m on consensus with this one, at least. One of the things that informs my voting here is that I believe there are time periods within baseball in which different talents just have much more opportunity to shine. For example, I don’t think it’s just chance that had Babe Ruth’s single season homer record broken in an expansion year, nor that Maris’ record was broken in the heyday of the post-1994 power explosion. These are just the kinds of time period that allow extreme performance, and especially power, to shine.

Johnson started in 1907, and that was a great time to be young and a pitcher, for two reasons. The workload problems of the 19th century had been dealt with, so the top arms weren’t being blown out nearly so seriously. And then, workloads have been going down ever since. So Johnson got into the game during the time when arms were working the most IP for the least damage. Walter might not have been so great at another time, but he grades where he grades. (He also might have had more value in the 19th, because he hit well for a pitcher, and that skill had its greatest expression very early in organized ball.

2 Lefty Grove

A corollary of the above is that a skill can shine extra bright in a time when that skill is most suppressed. The few who can overcome the period become true outliers. That’s Grove. He pitched in a high-scoring era, and was the very best ever at overcoming that.

And yes, this does imply that I think that players from middling-offense times tend to rate lower, because the time period just doesn’t give them much chance to express their skills, whether offensive or defensive, at an extreme.

3 Satchel Paige

I’m a Paige believer. There’s just too much rep, from too credible a set of sources, and too much backup in his few Major League years, when he may have been the best over-40 pitcher (rate, not value) ever.

4 Cy Young

There is only so long you can delay ranking the most IP ever. When the ERA+ is 138, it’s not very long. If you want to see how long you can delay a huge IP with a decent, but not great, rate, that’s Pud Galvin, whom I have ranked 27 slots lower.

If anything, Young has more environmental factors aiding his career than Walter Johnson does. He came up a bit late (age 23), so his arm did not suffer early. He also arrived just as the 500-IP loads were dropping out, never had more than 454 IP, and did not lead his league until he was 35 years old. By the time Walter appeared, even the 400-IP loads were disappearing from the game, so there was no way he was going to post up 7000 career IP. Young got the advantage of having several 400s.

5 Hoss Radbourne

I’ll be honest: Comparing Radbourne to John Clarkson gives me a headache. Considered just as a pitcher, Clarkson has a noticeably better career. Radbourne has a higher peak, and I tend to treat the huge-IP seasons of the 1880s as multiple seasons, so to me it’s a peak, not just one tremendous campaign (I waver, considering this, on whether to give Radbourne credit for being the absolute outlier in single season wins). Radbourne was the better hitter, although neither of them was a real 1800s pitcher-hitter, like, say, Caruthers. Clarkson had better teams behind him. Radbourne had the better rep among contemporary observers, but that does appear, at least at times, to be a result of the 1884 “60” wins. Clarkson may have suffered in rep from Cap Anson’s constant shifting of credit to himself and King Kelly. I end up, every time, giving Radbourne the nod. But my heart is not completely into it. Except that it was getting about time to rank a modern pitcher, I might well have ranked them 5 and 6.

NOTE: I’ve been talking about ranking people from the 19th century in the top 3 of the individual position rankings. At pitcher, I consider there to be five pitchers for every “rank.” Therefore, I have hereby ranked Radbourne as a “#1” guy. Seaver through Gibson rank as “#2”s, including Clarkson. Nichols through Carlton are 3s, including Keefe. That, along with my rankings of Buck Ewing and George Wright, sates my personal lust to give due top end credit to the 19th. Of course, to do this, I had to rank one pitcher with only 11 seasons played, and another with 12, in the top “2”.

6 Tom Seaver

I do feel a bit of discomfort not ranking any modern pitcher in the top five, meaning that I don’t consider any of them to be true “#1” types. If Bob Gibson had Seaver’s IP, he would certainly be there. If Seaver had Gibson’s peak, postseason, and bat, he would be there. I have Seaver above Gibson because I think Tom’s IP advantage is greater than all of Gibson’s advantages added up. Being a shameless Gibson fan, I feel completely safe in doing that.

7 Grover Cleveland Alexander

Years ago, in his Abstracts. Bill James opined that the Boston Red Sox, for whom he is now working, had troubles winning because their offenses devolved into superstar egos unjustified by their actual performances, once you took the Fenway gas out of the records. He also noted that the Sox had a tendency to overrate their hitters and underrate their pitchers, causing them to make poor roster decisions and bad trades.

There is a third factor that Bill did not list. Because Fenway aids offense, it tends to add workload to pitchers. One IP in Boston is more work for a pitcher, on average, than one IP in a pitchers’ park, because he has to face more hitters to get to three outs. This is, of course, true in other hitters’ parks, and I will tend to give a pitcher a little boost for that. Well, Pete Alexander pitched his first 7 seasons in the Baker Bowl. He led his league in IP 6 of those years. And survived the experience well enough to pitch over 5000 innings, winning 21 games at the age of 40. If anything, I may have him ranked too low.

8 John Clarkson

Um. See Hoss Radbourne comment? Yeah, I don’t have anything else to offer here.

9 Warren Spahn

I’ve written more than once about Spahn getting extra arm mileage out of missing three years to WWII, so I don’t give him much war credit. But even without it, there’s that monstrous career.

10 Bob Gibson

Gibson was an unquestioned Gold Glove at pitcher, which means he was a Gold Glove infielder. He certainly ran well enough to play center (not that he would have run Curt Flood off the job), and without question had enough arm to play right and catcher. Which is to say that Bob’s actual peer group is more Bob Caruthers, Bullet Rogan, and Martin Dihigo than it is Seaver, Koufax, and Marichal.

Within his peer group, then, Gibson is clearly the best actual pitcher.
   68. bjhanke Posted: October 05, 2009 at 09:34 AM (#3340398)
Here's the rest of Brock Hanke's ballot. the system won't take more than 12,000 characters in one post.

11 Kid Nichols

I have troubles remembering Nichols as being as great as he was. The reason is a lack of black ink. Nichols has huge amounts of grey ink, but very little black for this high a ranking. Also, I don’t give him a whole lot of credit for his minor league intermission, because he had been losing ground for the four years preceding his move. And he still ranks #11. I don’t see how you can do any better on grey ink.

12 Carl Hubbell

Wondering what Hubbell had that made him so good, I noticed the comment about him that is attributed to different AL hitters in that first All-Star game. “You might as well swing at it; it’s not going to come up.” That quote, although it is a sample size of one, indicates that Hubbell’s screwball might have moved like what we now call a “12-to-6” curve. I call them “vertical curves.” They are very effective, but do chew up arms (see Matt Morris et al). I can’t imagine the strain of basing your pitching on vertical screwballs. And yet, Carl pitched over 3500 innings, leading the league once.

It’s tempting to overrate things you really look for in analysis, and I wonder if I sometimes obsess more than necessary over young workloads. I will note, however, that Carl did not hit the bigs until age 25.

13 Smokey Joe Williams

I tend to be a bit conservative about the Negro Leagues, Overall, they were not as strong as the major leagues of the time, so the top end numbers can get really out of hand. Williams here could easily be in the top ten pitchers of all time, but I’m not going to do that until at least the HoF releases all the NgL stats they have acquired.

14 Tim Keefe

If you want to argue that the American Association, even in its best years, is a mere shadow of the National League, one of the things you have to explain away is Tim Keefe’s 1884-1885 transition. Your best argument is probably workload. I do use those two years to support the idea that for those 3 or 4 years in the middle, the AA was probably very close to the NL.

15 Steve Carlton

I can’t remember whether I’ve posted this before. Steve Carlton, as well as Jerry Reuss, ended up leaving the St. Louis Cardinals because of Richard Nixon. Yes, that Nixon. Here’s what happened. Nixon decided, in late 1971 or early 72, to impose voluntary wage-and-price controls of 8 percent. “Voluntary” meant just that; there was no enforcement of any kind. Well, Gussie Busch, owner of the Cards, who was if anything to the political right of Nixon, decided that this should not only apply to his various companies’ overall payrolls, but also to INDIVIDUAL baseball player contracts.

His timing could hardly have been worse. Carlton, Reuss, and also Ted Simmons had just had breakthrough seasons in 1971. They weren’t going to accept 8%. Busch went nuts, accused the players of everything short of treason, and ordered GM Bing Divine (my source for all this) to trade the lot of them for whatever he could get, and then went more or less public, assuring that every GM in baseball knew that Bing was under orders.

Bing begged. He pleaded. He went to his knees. (Yes, this is his description.) Gussie told him he could keep one of them. His choice. Bing chose Simmons, which, at the time, was certainly the best choice. And that is the only reason why Carlton was traded for Rick Wise. Otherwise, he would have been a career Cardinal, along with Reuss. Cost us, possibly, a couple of pennants. Baseball owners can be downright weird when dealing with baseball teams, if for no other reason than that their income does not depend on the baseball team. They can feel free to exercise their prejudices in this non-essential arena.

16 Christy Mathewson

My biggest surprise coming out of this analysis is the low ranking of Mathewson here. His rep, based on his gentleman’s personality and the success of his teams, is even higher than 16th. But, if anything, I think I may still have him too high. Basically, Christy was finished by the age of 33, although his team carried him to one more impressive W/L.

17 Bob Feller

The prime, with three years’ of war credit right in the middle of it, drives this ranking. Without that, he would be nowhere near here.

18 Gaylord Perry

A huge number of IP for his time period, with a rate – and a ranking - right in between Cy Young and Pud Galvin. I give him exactly the same deduction for spitballs as I give Mark Mc Gwire and Barry Bonds for steroids. Which is none.

19 Phil Niekro

Very similar, in my mind, to Perry. Boatloads of IP, a good but not great rate, all fueled by an unusual pitch. Niekro’s pitch was legal, of course, but I make no deductions for that.

20 Bob Caruthers

I spent extra time thinking about Caruthers because we’re only ranking down to #20 here and he’s last.

The six guys behind Bob on my list are Bullet Rogan, Juan Marichal, Ed Walsh, Three Finger Brown, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Martin Dihigo. Rogan and Dihigo are the same kind of player as Caruthers: Excellent pitchers who hit so well that they would clearly have had star careers as position players. I can’t rank them ahead of Bob until and unless I see thorough stats for the NgL. Wilhelm is a reliever, and I am one of his best friends here in the HoM, but I can’t do more than where he is. Paul Wendt already thinks I have pitchers from Ed Walsh and Mordecai Brown’s time ranked too high (although he is talking about the bottom end of the HoM, not the top). That leaves Juan Marichal. Compared to Perry and Niekro, whom I have just ahead of Caruthers, Juan has a higher rate, but 1800 fewer IP. I can’t put him in the same group as them, although he is close. So I guess I have Bob where I have him. Also see Tim Keefe comment about the middle period of the AA.
   69. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 05, 2009 at 03:29 PM (#3340589)
Looks like we've only got about 13 ballots right now . . . would extending this a week help anyone out? It seems to have in the past . . .
   70. Esteban Rivera Posted: October 05, 2009 at 04:11 PM (#3340623)
It would help in my case. I was going to post this weekend but I've been hit by a case of the flu and havn't finished the ballot adjustments yet.
   71. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 05, 2009 at 11:49 PM (#3341121)
OK, we'll extend a week.
   72. DL from MN Posted: October 09, 2009 at 01:39 PM (#3346160)
<chirp, chirp>
   73. Esteban Rivera Posted: October 09, 2009 at 01:56 PM (#3346171)
<chirp, chirp>


Yeah, I know. I'll have it up by tomorrow (have recovered from the flu but I have to catch up with work first). I am surprised that no one else has popped up though. Makes me feel slightly embarrassed that I'm (so far) part of the holdup for the results.
   74. Howie Menckel Posted: October 09, 2009 at 02:00 PM (#3346173)
I can't figure out how someone that voted in the other pitching tallies couldn't come up with a vote here.
I mean, it's just a mstter of merging lists together....
   75. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 09, 2009 at 06:42 PM (#3346554)
I just dropped a reminder to the email list, hope that helps . . .
   76. Esteban Rivera Posted: October 11, 2009 at 07:09 PM (#3348680)
Sorry for being late. Thanks for the extension. Anyway, here goes the ballot.

Pitcher Top 20:

01) Walter Johnson - The Big Train is number one.

02) Lefty Grove - Includes IL credit.

03) Cy Young - They named the award after him, didn't they?

04) Pete Alexander - Edges Seaver when war credit is included.

05) Tom Seaver - Best pitcher of his generation.

06) Warren Spahn - Edges Paige due to higher confidence in his performance.

07) Satchel Paige - If showmanship added points, he'd be at the top.

08) Christy Mathewson - The original smart finesse pitcher?

09) Smokey Joe Williams- Everything points to a top class pitcher.

10) Steve Carlton - You know it's a tough crowd when Carlton barely makes the top ten.

11) Bob Gibson - Probably the fiercest competitor in this pool.

12) Carl Hubbell - The story of how his hand was screwed up by throwing the screwball (although
it later fixed itself) was one of the first that stuck with me when I started reading about ye
olde ballplayers.

13) Kid Nichols - Criminally forgotten nowadays.

14) John Clarkson - Tops among pre-1893 pitchers.

15) Bob Feller - Could be higher if I were less conservative with his war credit.

16) Gaylord Perry - The spitballer reputation tends to overshine a magnificent career.

17) Old Hoss Radbourne - The poster boy for "Flags fly forever".

18) Jim Palmer - Believe it was more of a case of a great pitcher using his defense than his
defense making him a great pitcher.

19) Sandy Koufax - His peak carries him up to here. That's all there is though.

20) Al Spalding - Outclassed his contemporaries. Koufax before Koufax?
   77. Rob_Wood Posted: October 12, 2009 at 02:22 AM (#3349203)
Sorry for missing the original deadline - thanks for the extension.

My ballot skewed towards career value:

1. Walter Johnson
2. Lefty Grove
3. Cy Young
4. Pete Alexander
5. Tom Seaver

6. Satchel Paige
7. John Clarkson
8. Warren Spahn
9. Bob Feller
10. Smokey Joe Williams

11. Christy Mathewson
12. Carl Hubbell
13. Steve Carlton
14. Gaylord Perry
15. Whitey Ford

16. Kid Nichols
17. Bert Blyleven
18. Phil Niekro
19. Bob Gibson
20. Robin Roberts
   78. DL from MN Posted: October 12, 2009 at 02:51 AM (#3349253)
I'm big on Blyleven but that takes guts to rank him above Bob Gibson. I can't get behind that one.
   79. DL from MN Posted: October 12, 2009 at 01:39 PM (#3349573)
Also, if you're skewed to career value I'm surprised to see Whitey and not Niekro
   80. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 12, 2009 at 07:58 PM (#3350059)
You really didn't think that I wasn't going to submit a ballot now, did you?

The top-ten was fairly easy, but the bottom half was more difficult, IMO.

BTW, I'll be setting up the annual BBTF Vets Committee discussion and ballot threads sometime in November and the BBTF HOF Class of 2010 threads in December. Hope to see you then!

1) Walter Johnson-P (n/e): The very best. Outstanding peak and career - 'nuff said! Best major league pitcher for 1912, 1913, 1914, 1918 and 1925. Best AL pitcher for 1915 and 1924.

2) Lefty Grove-P (n/e): King of all lefthanders. His minor league years are just icing on an impressive cake. Best AL pitcher for 1928 and 1936. Best major league pitcher for 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, close in 1933, and 1935.

3) Cy Young-P (n/e): No, he wouldn't have won 500 games if he had started his career the same year as the Big Train or won 400 games post-WWII, but the guy was Warren Spahn, Sr. Best major league pitcher 1896, 1901, 1902 and 1903.

4) Warren Spahn-P (n/e): The Cy Young of his era. Best ML pitcher for 1947 and 1964. Best NL pitcher for 1957 and 1958

5) Tom Seaver-P (n/e): Great peak and career pitcher who belongs in the top handful of hurlers all-time (and I would be saying that even he wasn't my favorite player as a child :-) Best ML pitcher for 1969 and 1973 (extremely close in 1981). Best NL pitcher for 1981

6) Pete Alexander-P (n/e): Our first member of the House of David to be elected! Mazletov! :-D Best major league pitcher of 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1920. Best NL pitcher for 1927

7) Smokey Joe Williams-P (n/e): I think he was slightly below Alexander, but above Big Six.

8) Satchel Paige-P (n/e): Not the best all-time, but clearly in the upper echelon.

9) Kid Nichols-P (n/e): I give him some credit for 1902-03.Best major league pitcher for 1892, 1897 and 1898.

10) Christy Mathewson-P (n/e): He may be overrated by some people based upon a lack of context for his statistical achievements, but he's clearly among the top echelon of this group. Greatest pitcher who played exclusively during the Deadball Era. Best major league pitcher for 1905, 1909. and 1911. Best NL pitcher for 1908, 1910, 1912 and 1913.
   81. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 12, 2009 at 07:59 PM (#3350061)
11) John Clarkson: The finest pitcher of this era, IMO, and had a long career judged by the standards of that time. Best ML pitcher for 1887 and 1889 (close in 1885 and 1891).

12) Steve Carlton-P (n/e): Great peak and outstanding career make him a more than solid HoMer, though not in the Young/Johnson/Spahn/Seaver mold. Best NL pitcher for 1972 and 1980.

13) Robin Roberts-P (n/e) Too bad he didn't pitch during the '60s. Maybe more baseball fans would know who he is today. Best NL pitcher for 1952, 1955, and 1956. Best ML pitcher for 1953 and very close in 1956.

14) Bob Feller-P (n/e): I gave Feller WWII credit, but at a much lower rate of innings than he had pre-WWII. Still places extremely high here. Best AL pitcher for 1939. Best ML pitcher for 1940.

15) Bob Gibson-P (n/e): I don't think he's inner-circle, but he's closer to that than the borderline. Besides, Bob was cool as a commercial pitchman during the seventies. Best ML pitcher for 1968. Best NL pitcher for 1970.

16) Phil Niekro-P (n/e): Closer than most people would have thought to Carlton during the '70s, since no one really thought Knucksie was a great pitcher at the time. In retrospect, that was a ludicrous stand. Best ML pitcher for 1967 and close in 1974. Best NL pitcher for 1974 and 1978.

17) Carl Hubbell-P (n/e): A great one. Too bad that there is too much emphasis on his All-Star performance in '34 instead of his terrific pitching when it really counted. Best major league pitcher for 1933 and 1936.

18) Al Spalding: Besides being (easily) the king of all NA pitchers (and doing a great job for the NL in 1876), he was also a star pitcher for a few seasons prior to the formation of the first professional league. If you don't give credit for his pre-NA work, then that would be the only way you could consider his career short. Impressive hitter, too

19) Hal Newhouser-P (n/e): Truly dominating (and he still would have kicked butt in '44 and '45 if Joe D., Teddy Ballgame, Hammerin' Hank, etc. had played, IMO), his career was long enough that I don't feel bad placing him in the top-twenty. Best major league pitcher for 1945 and 1946 (extremely close in '44). Best AL pitcher for 1947 and 1948.

20) Dennis Eckersley-RP/SP(n/e): Wanted a relief guy to make the top-twenty and I didn't even have to fudge the numbers to do it. :-) These combination guys are a pain in the butt, but I think his overall value as starter and closer was very impressive. Best ML starting pitcher for 1979. Best ML relief pitcher for 1992.
   82. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 12, 2009 at 08:30 PM (#3350102)
Hopefully not last or least, keep those ballots coming!

1. Walter Johnson - far and away my career pennants added leader. Career DRA+ of 144, 161 WAR, which includes 82 batting runs above replacement.

2. Lefty Grove - giving some credit for minor league play, 138 DRA+, 116 WAR, bad hitter -57 BRAR.

3. Tom Seaver - best of his generation. 127 DRA+, 111 WAR, 15 BRAR.

4. Cy Young - on the raw numbers he'd be #2, but I'm trying to spread this around by era a little bit. I don't think the 3 best pitchers ever all played in a 30 year stretch. I'm guessing there was something in the conditions of the time that made the great pitchers stand out a bit more. 132 DRA+, 136 WAR, -20 BRAR.

5. Satchel Paige - An amazing pitcher with a long career. Near the top of the list among guys I wish I could have seen play.

6. Warren Spahn - 121 DRA+, 115 WAR, 52 BRAR. Amazing career, maintained a high level of quality throughout.

7. Pete Alexander - See Young, #3 by the raw numbers. 135 DRA+, 131 WARP, 11 BRAR.

8. Bob Feller - I think his layoff was just as likely to hurt him as help him, and I have give credit for military service at a level a little below the surrounding seasons. 121 DRA+, 104 WAR, -12 BRAR

9. Steve Carlton - 4 Cy Young Awards, in an era with as many great pitchers as any. 113 DRA+, 98 WAR, +29 BRAR.

10. Bob Gibson - Ultimate competitor, great hitter for a pitcher (48 BRAR), 124 DRA+, 84 WAR. Longer career and he would have ranked higher.

11. Smokey Joe Williams - In the discussion for greatest Negro League pitcher ever. I like Paige a little better, but Williams is right behind him.

12. Christy Mathewson - slightly overrated by history, but a great pitcher nonetheless. 126 DRA+, 95 WAR, 36 BRAR.

13. Martin Dihigo - Trusting our experts here. But an all-star infielder converted to an all-star pitcher with a long career is a pretty valuable player.

14. Robin Roberts - Racked up an enormous amount of innings relative to his peers in his prime. 116 DRA+, 92 WAR, 20 BRAR.

15. Kid Nichols - Closer to Mathewson than most think. 124 DRA+, 90 WAR, -3 BRAR.

16. Phil Niekro - Basically the Robin Roberts of the 1970s. 114 DRA+, 96 WAR, -9 BRAR. One of the most underrated players in the history of the game.

17. Carl Hubbell - Moving him up a little from where he slotted on the era ballot. Similar to Gibson in that he was better at his best than several of these guys, but his career was relatively short, when compared with the others on this list. 127 RA+, 79 WAR, -8 BRAR.

18. John Clarkson - Best pitcher of the 19th Century by far. Adjusted to modern usage 120 RA+, 56 WAR, 0 BRAR. Obviously his 56 'modern' WAR carried a little more weight in his day.

19. Bullet Rogan - Pitching and hitting both very good, taking Brent's word on this one, very tough to rate.

20. Gaylord Perry - Nudging him ahead of Blyleven here. 112 DRA+, 89 WAR, -12 BRAR.

The top 18 were kind of easy, not including the two above, any of Blyleven, Ryan, Jenkins, Koufax, Lyons, W. Foster, Plank, Rixey, Walsh or Rusie could have finished off the ballot.
   83. DL from MN Posted: October 13, 2009 at 02:48 AM (#3350575)
John Murphy snubs Perry, hard to swallow him behind Eck.
   84. Paul Wendt Posted: October 13, 2009 at 04:38 AM (#3350634)
> 4) Warren Spahn-P (n/e): The Cy Young of his era. Best ML pitcher for 1947 and 1964. Best NL pitcher for 1957 and 1958

aint' that somethin'!
--so mindboggling that I had to look up his record and see whether it might possibly be true. Nope.
John, I think you mean 1947 and 1953.

> 5) Tom Seaver-P (n/e): Great peak and career pitcher who belongs in the top handful of hurlers all-time (and I would be saying that even he wasn't my favorite player as a child :-) Best ML pitcher for 1969 and 1973 (extremely close in 1981). Best NL pitcher for 1981.

Meanwhile the Mets won in '69 and '73 and the Reds were very close in '81. The Red Sox were very close in '86 but Tom was over the hill.
   85. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 13, 2009 at 10:15 AM (#3350695)
aint' that somethin'!
--so mindboggling that I had to look up his record and see whether it might possibly be true. Nope.
John, I think you mean 1947 and 1953.


At this point, it really doesn't matter what I typed or not and I'm not going through my sheets to see what I meant to say. I do think it's funny that it was just noticed now, since it's been posted three times.

Meanwhile the Mets won in '69 and '73 and the Reds were very close in '81. The Red Sox were very close in '86 but Tom was over the hill.


It does appear that he was dragging his teams over the line when he was at his best, Paul, doesn't it?
   86. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 13, 2009 at 10:22 AM (#3350696)
John Murphy snubs Perry, hard to swallow him behind Eck.


Perry was close enough that I could have replaced Eck with him, but I wanted someone who was at his best years during the '80s. Besides, as stated a million times, I think a lot of those '70s guys are overrated career-wise, despite the fact that there was in fact a great number of legitimately great hurlers during that era.
   87. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 13, 2009 at 10:23 AM (#3350697)
The election is now over, correct?
   88. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 13, 2009 at 04:37 PM (#3350930)
Correct . . .
   89. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 13, 2009 at 04:43 PM (#3350934)
Thanks, Joe.
   90. DL from MN Posted: October 13, 2009 at 11:43 PM (#3351377)
Is someone tabulating results or should I do it myself?
   91. OCF Posted: October 14, 2009 at 12:04 AM (#3351389)
I've tabulated, and sent the results to Joe and John. Joe: do you need any more details than what I've already given you? I'm sending you an Excel file now.

Anyhow, here's what I have:

1. Johnson 425 (unanimous over 17 ballots)
2. Grove 392
3. Young 391 (as close as can be)
4. Alexander 367
5. Seaver 347
6. Spahn 319
7. Williams 299
8. Mathewson 287
9. Paige 283
10. Nichols 255
11. Gibson 239
12. Carlton 237 (also very close; also opposite our segmental vote but that was also close)
13. Feller 203
14. Hubbell 173
15. Clarkson 169
16. Roberts 127
17. Perry 123
18. Niekro 117 (so 16-17-18 are pretty close)
(gap)
19. Blyleven 53
20. Dihigo 52
21. Radbourne 49
22. Walsh 41
23. Koufax 40
24. Rogan 34
25. Keefe 31

A dozen others also received votes.
   92. DL from MN Posted: October 14, 2009 at 03:14 PM (#3351741)
Interesting. I think what we've really done is rank our top 18 pitchers. 19-?? is still undefined.
   93. Paul Wendt Posted: October 14, 2009 at 08:04 PM (#3352174)
I am happy to maintain my general guideline that a rank-order ballot of size 20 is a pretty good way for a group to rank 1 to 15. At the same time I certainly agree with DL. That remarkable gap at 18/19 would probably hold up if 15 or more voters and 15 or longer ballot size were both selected at random from all-time HOM participants and from 15 to 63, the number of HOM pitchers. Probably all but the details at 11-12, 14-15, and 16-17-18 would hold up if the same 17 voters cast ballots 15-to-63 deep.

One voter commented that the first 18 were easy to identify. ... That was Joe Dimino whose 18 include Martin Dihigo rather than Gaylord Perry.
   94. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: October 15, 2009 at 01:51 AM (#3352459)
I'll get the results up soon, I didn't realize John wasn't doing that this time.

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