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

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Frank Viola, Bob Welch, Rick Sutcliffe and Jeff Reardon

Eligible in 1999.

Frank Viola

Bob Welch

Rick Sutcliffe

Jeff Reardon

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 30, 2007 at 04:18 PM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 30, 2007 at 04:32 PM (#2384469)
Which one of these guys looks the best to you?
   2. Repoz Posted: May 30, 2007 at 04:42 PM (#2384483)
Which one of these guys looks the best to you?

I know which one of these guys sounds the worst...
   3. Juan V Posted: May 30, 2007 at 04:49 PM (#2384493)
At first sight, Viola looks like the best of the bunch. Check out the peak.
   4. DL from MN Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:16 PM (#2384553)
I have Reardon ranked as my 17th best relief pitcher of all time. Unfortunately for him I'm never voting for anyone past my top 6.

If you could take Frank Viola and Jeff Reardon and combine them, you'd have a hall of merit caliber pitcher. Actually, I think a hybrid of that caliber is eligible in 2004.

I agree, Viola is the best of the bunch - even if you include Morris and Hough.
   5. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:20 PM (#2384557)
I like Viola the best myself.

Sut should be disqualified just for being a dreadful color guy. Did anyone actually listen to him first before they hired him?
   6. DavidFoss Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2384579)
I agree, I'd probably take Viola.

Sutcliffe is clearly the worst of the three starters. Career OPS+ of 97 in 2600 IP? The Cy Young year was in a partial NL season.

I want to like Reardon because I'm a Twins fan, but the only thing consistent about him is the Save totals. I know ERA+ is not the best stat for closers, but the seasonal values seem rather ho-hum for many years. Anyone have blown save totals for him?

Welch has to be one of the stealthiest 211 victory men of recent years. If it wasn't for his run-support-aided 27 win season he'd be completely off of my radar.

Fun guys to discuss, but not near my ballot.
   7. sunnyday2 Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:38 PM (#2384587)
Viola better than Morris? No way.
   8. Jim Sp Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:50 PM (#2384597)
Way
   9. OCF Posted: May 30, 2007 at 05:51 PM (#2384598)
I put my RA+ equivalent record for Viola on the Morris thread: 177-138 with a big years score of 26. Best 6 years (non-consecutive): 20-8, 19-9, 18-11, 18-10, 16-11, 13-7. That's clearly a better peak than Morris, but Morris has more of a career advantage.

Funny thing about Welch's 27-win year: the writers who vote for the CYA knew he wasn't the best pitcher in the league - I read several columns by several different writers that said as much. And when Oakland managed its postseason rotation as if Stewart was the ace, no one blinked an eye - of course Stewart was the ace, why would anyone think differently? But when it came time to fill in the CY ballot, they just couldn't escape that number - 27.

Welch had 35 starts that year and 238 IP - that's 6.8 innings per start, or about enough innings for 26 or 27 decisions. And yet he had 33 decisions. One gets the sense that every single time he left the game with a lead, even the slightest of leads, the lead held. Of course, Eckersley was bulletproof that year. I'm a little surprised to see that Honeycutt "only" had a 138 ERA+, but I don't think he was in the habit of letting Welch down.
   10. Dag Nabbit is a cornucopia of errors Posted: May 30, 2007 at 06:27 PM (#2384633)
Remember when Jeff Reardon was baseball's all-time save leader? That was a fun moment. Well, not quite that long. A fun half-a-moment. A nice mo, if you will.
   11. DavidFoss Posted: May 30, 2007 at 08:57 PM (#2384828)
Remember when Jeff Reardon was baseball's all-time save leader? That was a fun moment. Well, not quite that long. A fun half-a-moment. A nice mo, if you will.

It was long enough to spend an offseason up at the top spot. He'll live forever on the progressive leaderboards.
   12. rawagman Posted: May 30, 2007 at 08:58 PM (#2384829)
Apropos, Jeff Reardon - He seems to be the prototype for saves as an overrated category. He was a fine pitcher, but noth the type of talent you expect to see having once held the top spot on the career leader boards for a heavily followed stat.
Lots of clauses in that last sentence, eh?
He piled up the saves, but was decidedly unimpressive in doing so.
Then again, our current leader in the releiver backlog, Rollie Fingers, has been compared to him.
BIll James, in his explanation for leaving Fingers out of his top 100 pitchers, cites his career ERA relative to league - in Fingers' case, 16& better than league. Which was "in a class with Jeff Reardon (17% better than the league)" (TNBJHBA, pg. 917)
   13. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 31, 2007 at 10:49 PM (#2386559)
Remember Viola's brief foray into television work? His voice was even worse than Sutcliffe's!
   14. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 01, 2007 at 01:31 PM (#2387164)
Viola has the face of an 1880s pitcher. He was born to wear the handlebar, too bad he didn't.
   15. Mark Donelson Posted: June 04, 2007 at 10:58 PM (#2392411)
I always hate it when I disagree with Marc, but I have to count myself among those who like Viola better than Morris. A lot better. It's not even close. (I am a peak voter, of course, and I have Morris down with Rube Marquard.)

I've got Viola not that far behind Stieb, which means he's close to pHOM candidacy. I don't think he'll make it, quite. But I'm surprised to have forgotten how amazing he was at his peak--I had thought of him as one of those one-year guys. No memory at all of the great season with the Mets...weird.
   16. sunnyday2 Posted: June 05, 2007 at 12:37 AM (#2392506)
I'm a peak voter but I prefer Morris. I guess this is one of those cases where I cannot get past my subjective experience. Morris was a man's man, Viola was a wuss.
   17. Chris Cobb Posted: June 05, 2007 at 02:23 AM (#2392684)
I have to count myself among those who like Viola better than Morris. A lot better. It's not even close.

Inspired by this comment to do a full workup of Viola, I find that my system likes Viola better also. Not "a lot better," but some. His peak outweighs Morris's durability.
   18. JPWF13 Posted: June 06, 2007 at 07:53 PM (#2395162)
I remember Bill James mentioning that Viola was on a 300 win pace- he reached 150 wins at the same time 300 game winners did- on average-

of couse most 200 gamne winners also reach 150 wins at about the same time as well...

Viola's career vaporized almost immediately after that...

Welch = Morris with fewer innings
   19. OCF Posted: June 06, 2007 at 09:47 PM (#2395259)
Looking at Welch's notorious 1990 27-win year through RA+ Pythpat:

(My primary source uses a lower park factor for Oakland than does bb-ref - that hurts both Welch and Stewart, but only by a little):

Welch: 15-11, equivalent FWP: 12
Stieb: 15-8, equivalent FWP: 16
Viola: 18-10, equivalent FWP: 19
Stewart: 19-11, equivalent FWP: 21
Clemens: 19-6, equivalent FWP: 28

For all of the press Stewart got in his other three 20-win seasons, this was his best year - and he lost the Cy Young to a clearly inferior teammate. But in any case, Clemens pretty much blows everyone else out of the water.
   20. DL from MN Posted: June 06, 2007 at 10:01 PM (#2395265)
Why did Viola's arm die?

"Frank Viola of St John's and Ron Darling of Yale produced the most famous pitching duel in the history of the NCAA tournament. Darling pitched 11 no-hit innings but Viola finally beat him, 1-0."
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: June 10, 2007 at 12:37 PM (#2399011)
Ever read the Roger Angell essay on that game?
He watched that game in the stands with Smoky Joe Wood.
Yes, THAT Smoky Joe Wood.
Great stuff!

And Darling and Viola wound up as Mets teammates.
   22. The Adam Dunn Effort #44 Posted: June 10, 2007 at 01:07 PM (#2399014)
Bob Welch my all time favorite Dodger... Not sure where he disappeared to. Him and Reggie, everyone remembers Reggie jackin the HR, but Welch made him look silly striking him out the game before, two outs, bottom of the ninth. Electric. What about his Cy Young year in 1990, 27 wins.
   23. OCF Posted: June 10, 2007 at 05:50 PM (#2399149)
What about his Cy Young year in 1990, 27 wins.

Did you read my posts #9 and #19, above?
   24. Paul Wendt Posted: June 10, 2007 at 11:00 PM (#2399567)
Most games played, no votes for Hall of Merit
- Bill Buckner.
Steve Finley has "outplayed" him and will probably take his crown in six years.

Most innings pitched, no votes for Hall of Merit.
- Sam Jones.
only Clemens, Maddux, Glavine, and Dennis Martinez have "outpitched" him, soon to be joined by Randy Johnson.

Leaders among everyone eligible for the Hall of Merit.
- Rusty Staub.
only Henderson, Murray, Ripken, and Winfield have "outplayed" him, soon to be joined by Barry Bonds.

- Nolan Ryan, who will soon return the crown to Bobby Mathews

--
Soon I will upload a complete HOM table.
   25. Paul Wendt Posted: June 10, 2007 at 11:01 PM (#2399568)
sorry, that belongs in the HOM Election thread where I will now copy it.
   26. Paul M Hates Krispy Kreme Posted: June 18, 2007 at 05:01 PM (#2408089)
ne gets the sense that every single time he left the game with a lead, even the slightest of leads, the lead held.


The A's only blew *one* lead for him all season: April 25, 1990. The A's wound up winning that game anyway!

His only other no decision of the season, he came out while down one after pitching seven innings.

He got three of wins after coming out while down, and another after coming out when the game was tied.
   27. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 18, 2007 at 06:06 PM (#2408142)
He got three of wins after coming out while down, and another after coming out when the game was tied.

If Blyleven had had that kind of luck...he'd only be 6-8 wins shy of 300. Sigh.

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