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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Don Newcombe

Eligible in 1966.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 13, 2005 at 10:22 PM | 107 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. sunnyday2 Posted: October 24, 2007 at 01:13 PM (#2591232)
OK, DL is right. I can't extrapolate Newcombe to 4600 IP. I wasn't clear. With reasonable credit, Newcombe's prime is in Robin Roberts territory. I define prime as all those not necessarily consecutive seasons in which a pitcher is ? 100 OPS+ and ERA eligible.

For Newcombe that means adding 1947 and 1948, plus 1952 and 1953 and 1954. Half of 1954, he was still in the military. And I also posit that he would not have thrown a 90 ERA+ in 1954 had he been active continuously. Plus Chris gave him 126 IP in 1946, not enough to call it a prime year but 126 IP.

Add it all up and I get about 3170 IP, not 2900. And I get 12 prime seasons to Roberts' 11 prime seasons. It's also true that Roberts averaged 281 IP in those 11 seasons, Newk averaged 233 for his 12 prime seasons.

I don't think I was being hyperbolic, but I wasn't clear. Newcombe's prime with reasonable credit is just as long as Robin Roberts'.

Billy Pierce is of course a better comp. Pierce had 14 prime seasons with an average of 221 IP and a total of 3360 IP. His career OPS+ is 119 (Roberts 113, Newcombe 114 though it comes up a point or two if you posit that he would have been better than a 90 OP+ pitcher but for the 2.5 year military lay-off).

Warren Spahn is of course not a comp with any of these guys. Except if you look at his overlap with them--which is to say, if his ERA+ 98 in 1960 had indicated a final decline, if he hadn't preternaturally bounced back for 3 more prime seasons, 2 of them with 20+ wins. Then you'd have 13 prime seasons (Roberts 11-Newk 12-Spahn 13-Pierce 14) with an average of 282 IP.

Then there's Whitey Ford who actually is a comp with the Roberts-Newk-Pierce group, though a bit younger. Ford had 12 prime seasons with an average of 234 IP. He was of course more effective at 133 OPS+. But his career total of 3170 IP is pretty much identical to Newcombe's adjusted total.

So anyway, when you look at the great pitchers of the 1950s, Newcombe's record is hardly out of place at all.

Spahn 412 WS
Roberts 339
Wynn 309
Newcombe 264
Ford 261
Pierce 248
Lemon 232

The next best career total WS among pitchers with 100 WS in the 1950s are Wilhelm with 256 and Curt Simmons at 210. So I don't think I'm skipping anybody.

Newcombe's IP is > Lemon and = Ford and 200 IP short of Pierce. His ERA+ is > Roberts and Wynn, and within 5 points of Pierce, Spahn and Lemon.

Newcombe is arguably the weakest of the 5, but he is more like this group than he is like the next best group of pitchers from the 1950s, which is Simmons, Garcia, Ned Garver, Murry Dickson, Maglie, Burdette, Haddix, the guys who also earned more than 100 WS in the decade.

The question of course is whether he was better than pitchers from other decades--Dean, Walters, Saberhagen, etc. I think he's got them all beat on career length, oddly enough. Walters ends up with 3100 IP (at 115 OPS+) but just 7 prime seasons. As a peak voter, of course, I like them all. But I think Newk is there and Walters, in a very superficial sense (career totals, as opposed to career shape), is another pretty close comp.
   102. sunnyday2 Posted: November 26, 2009 at 05:54 PM (#3397350)
   103. DL from MN Posted: July 10, 2010 at 08:22 PM (#3584984)
Without the war and without racism, Newcombe would have a peak run, I think, of 1948 to 1956

From Roger Kahn's _A Season in the Sun_ quoting Don Newcombe's Senate testimony pp105-106
"Mr. Chairman, my drinking started when I was eight. When I joined the Dodgers, my consumption increased tremendously...."
"After my biggest season with the Dodgers - in 1956 I won twenty-seven games - I went to Japan with the team. i was so constantly drunk I couldn't pitch a game. The following year I went into a prolonged slump. I dropped back into the minor leagues."
   104. The Honorable Ardo Posted: May 27, 2015 at 04:34 PM (#4965633)
I took another look at Newcombe, concluding that he's a whisker short of the Hall of Merit. The comp to Bob Lemon is apt. Give Newcombe 700 quality innings (500 for 1952-3, 200 for 1948) and he's right there. I'm not too keen on granting him extra credit for 1954 - even great pitchers can have off years - or 1946-7, when a modern prospect would still be in the minors.

But Lemon's career was delayed by WWII (he was almost fully formed when he debuted) and he has a stronger prime. Lemon had six consecutive top-three innings pitched finishes; Newcombe's highest in any season was 4th.

If Newcombe could have stayed sober and pitched well into his late 30's, he would have been inducted. As it is, I still have both Bucky Walters and Hilton Smith ahead of him.
   105. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 23, 2018 at 09:46 PM (#5678552)
Hey, gang, please click through for my latest MLEs for Don Newcombe.

These may spark some discussion about the big righty. Depending on when you think you should start giving him MLE credit, he may emerge as a strong candidate. His top-level pro career stretches back to age 18, he was in the Dodger chain at age 20, and the team held him back in the same league at age 21 and made him repeat AAA at age 23 before his dominance forced their hand.

And the question (which is researchable) is "How quickly is a white guy with similar MiL success promoted?"
   106. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 23, 2018 at 09:51 PM (#5678559)
Re 104:

"when a modern prospect would still be in the minors"

That's a different spin on the question I posed in 105.... At least I think so. Ardo, are you saying that you're applying post-Newcombe conventions about pitcher promotion to Newcombe? That seems inapt. I think we'd want to know what teams were doing a little before and mostly during his career.

Also, a great source for how the Dodgers handled Newcombe is Jules Tygiel's "Baseball's Great Experiment." In addition to being a compelling read in general, Tygiel goes into depth not only about Jackie, but about the whole first and second waves of integration players (maybe the third wave too). The parts about Newcombe are very interesting in a "I wonder what was really motivating them?" kind of way.
   107. . . . . . . Posted: May 24, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5678978)
Clicking through to Mr. Chalek's link reminded me of a thought I had last season: is Luke Easter the best, perhaps ONLY, comp for Aaron Judge?
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