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Monday, November 13, 2006

Jim Palmer

Eligible in 1990.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 13, 2006 at 07:21 PM | 122 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 13, 2006 at 07:25 PM (#2236512)
BR.com has his nickname as "Cakes." I don't remember ever hearing that while he was playing.
   2. OCF Posted: November 13, 2006 at 07:40 PM (#2236528)
He's in, of coure, and Jenkins is in. (We've already established by our 1989 votes that we think Jenkins should be elected.) Palmer versus Jenkins is a legitimate question, once you adjust for Palmer's defensive support. For my own sake, I'm going to vote 1. Morgan, 2. Palmer, 3. Jenkins. But 2 and 3 are close.
   3. Steve Treder Posted: November 13, 2006 at 07:42 PM (#2236533)
BR.com has his nickname as "Cakes." I don't remember ever hearing that while he was playing.

Me neither. I never heard that at all.
   4. kthejoker Posted: November 13, 2006 at 07:51 PM (#2236550)
Apparently he ate pre-game pancakes fairly religiously. Even got a charity sponsorship deal with IHOP out of the thing.
   5. sunnyday2 Posted: November 13, 2006 at 08:11 PM (#2236572)
I was an AL fan so maybe I'm biased. But I saw Palmer in too many big games to even consider him being below Fergie. Both are HoMers of course.
   6. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:04 PM (#2236658)
I always thought the "Cakes" reference was regarding his jockey ads, as in beefcakes.
   7. CraigK Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:09 PM (#2236668)

I always thought the "Cakes" reference was regarding his jockey ads, as in beefcakes.


Since I wasn't born till after he retired, I've never seen the ads; is there a picture of them anywhere?
   8. DavidFoss Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:12 PM (#2236671)
He'll be #1 for me in 1990.

With that out of the way, I'm curious about the Palmer/Weaver relationship. I've read that Palmer was a bit of a headcase and Weaver knew how to rein him in and keep him at HOF level (probably from pro-Weaver articles). I've read it described as a "feud" that was perhaps "largely theater". Anyone have any good anecdotes or analysis about this? Obviously this is just a curiosity for me, the "Merit" is there and Palmer is a shoo-in for induction.
   9. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:14 PM (#2236678)
My Orioles source just emailed to confirm that he's always heard it's the pancacke thing.
   10. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:18 PM (#2236692)
   11. DavidFoss Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:44 PM (#2236735)
He'll be #1 for me in 1990.

Whoops... I was confused about Morgan's eligibility. He'd be below Joe M. Anyhow, Palmer above all returning candidates from this year.
   12. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 13, 2006 at 10:06 PM (#2236764)
My Orioles source just emailed to confirm that he's always heard it's the pancacke thing.

Absolutely. "Cakes" refers to Palmer's pancake fetish. But it was more like Babe Ruth's "Jidge" rather than Ted Williams's "Splendid Splinter," meaning that it was a clubhouse nickname rather than something you'd read in the papers or hear on the air.
   13. Repoz Posted: November 13, 2006 at 11:58 PM (#2236929)
I had a friend who was a super O's fan (he made a lump of Play-Doh into a circular mound of a mega-plop...and had it engraved as the "Clay Tribute to Dalrymple", hey, he also told me that Roger Freed was going to win a batting crown) and would travel down to Balt. for about 20-30 games a year...he told me Palmer was called "Cakes" for eating blueberry pancakes before his games.
   14. DL from MN Posted: November 14, 2006 at 12:13 AM (#2236945)
I had the over/under on underwear at 4 posts, I'm surprised we lasted until #6.
   15. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: November 14, 2006 at 01:54 AM (#2237040)
This is the first player I can remember playing that we have had. Of course that was during his aborted unretirement in the early 1990's. I can remember a TWIB segment on it.

He and Fergie is a great question but one that will not be really decided by this group. Both will make my PHOM this year and I would be shocked if they aren't both HOMers.
   16. jingoist Posted: November 14, 2006 at 07:44 AM (#2237307)
It started out as a reference to his fondness for pitching-day breakfast of pancakes but quickly morphed to cakes as in beefcake from his Jockey ads.
The Palmer vs Weaver saga raged for years...to this day Palmer still thinks Weaver hadn't a clue how to manage pitchers, especially thoroughbreds like himself.
Palmer fancied himself as the well-read cerebral type and he felt Earl was a blue collar manage by the seat of his pants type when it came to understanding the care and feeding of prized athletes.
They rarely saw eye-to eye and Weaver got fed up with Palmers prima-donna routine especially if he had a strain or muscle pull and begged out of the rotation (which wasn't often, but it really pissed Palmer off the few times he claimed he was in pain and Weaver scoffed at his injury).
   17. Mark Donelson Posted: November 14, 2006 at 05:32 PM (#2237527)
From the discussion thread, figured I'd put it here too (responding to a comment from Rusty Priske):

Hmmm... it appears I am in the minority about Palmer. I think he was quite over-rated.

In what must be the first instance of agreement on an issue of any controversy between Rusty (who I believe is a reasonably strong career voter) and me (peak peak peak), I'm also in this minority at the moment.

Perhaps I'm relying too much on WARP/PRAA, which may be taking too much away from Palmer's peak seasons (I imagine because of the strong defenses he pitched in front of). I'm not finished crunching numbers yet, but I am finding Palmer is more likely to be low on the ballot than the automatic #2 that I'd assumed he'd be. Presently, I have him behind Jenkins by a small but definite margin.

Still, since it's just me and Rusty so far as the outliers, and it's not like my system and his align all that much anywhere else (well, that's not entirely true: he does vote for Moore and Trouppe), I'm going to be especially careful about this. Any thoughts from other peaksters? Sunny has already weighed in strongly in favor of Palmer, but I'm finding our old alignment is separating more and more in this modern era for some reason. Mark S.? Dr. C?

(All that said, of course, the man they called Cakes will easily make my pHOM immediately; you have to drop to about 23rd at this point not to.)
   18. Mark Donelson Posted: November 14, 2006 at 05:36 PM (#2237538)
Also (not that I don't necessarily think he is, but I'm curious as to others' logic here): Why is Palmer THAT much better than Luis Tiant?
   19. DavidFoss Posted: November 14, 2006 at 05:51 PM (#2237548)
Why is Palmer THAT much better than Luis Tiant?

Are you serious? With ERA+ its clear cut (with a not to Tiant's amazing 1968), but perhaps the Orioles fielders gave Jim a bit of a bonus. Using Win Shares (because I have the data):

JP-31-29-28-27-27-25-25-22-20-18-12-12-11-etc
LT
-29-28-22-21-19-17-17-17-16-12-12-11-11-etc 


Its just not that close. Tiant's injury ended up sidetracking him more than Palmer's did. Palmer collected a much longer prime.

Even if it was closer, small differences in borderline guys often mean large differences in the electorate.

Does WARP have them closer?
   20. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 14, 2006 at 05:58 PM (#2237555)
Also (not that I don't necessarily think he is, but I'm curious as to others' logic here): Why is Palmer THAT much better than Luis Tiant?

Setting aside the issue of defense b/c I don't know how to accurately account for it, I would say yes. Palmer had about 11 really good seasons; Tiant had 8. Tiant's best season was better than Palmer's best, but not by much, and Palmers 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th best seasons were probably all better than Tiant's 2nd, 3rd, etc best. Nonetheless, Tiant was an excellent pitcher and borderline HOF.
   21. Mark Donelson Posted: November 14, 2006 at 10:22 PM (#2237820)
I'm not a huge fan of WS for pitchers either, these days. Here's PRAA:

JP-38-28-28-27-27-25-21-19-17-12
LT-45-36-34-23-21-21-19-14-05-01


This gives Tiant a better top 3 (by a lot), which is slowly eroded after that as Palmer keeps turning in the good seasons and Tiant...uh, doesn't. Still, to me that peak difference does count for something.

Mind you I'm not saying Tiant is better than or even as good as Palmer--even to me, that steady erosion of Tiant's "lead" matters, and I recognize there's more to life than PRAA, too. But if you accept this at all, it seems closer than the nearly 30-place difference we're likely to see between the two, and encourages me in my thinking that I may not have Palmer quite as high as #2 on my ballot.
   22. Mark Donelson Posted: November 14, 2006 at 11:05 PM (#2237852)
Of course, I do grant you this:

Even if it was closer, small differences in borderline guys often mean large differences in the electorate.

Perhaps that, and the fact that most people aren't as short-peak-happy as I am, accounts for all of the difference here. It's true that at this point 30 spots doesn't amount to much more than a hill of beans. Maybe two hills, and a Vienna sausage.
   23. DavidFoss Posted: November 14, 2006 at 11:43 PM (#2237891)
Here's PRAA

Which years are years 2 and 3 for Tiant? Does PRAA adjust for park? (or if it adjusts its PRA, does it scale its difference for context?) I know that RCAA/RCAP has an issue where there is park adjustments within each season but comparing across era is problematic as larger run differences occur in higher scoring eras than lower scoring eras.

I have no personal pro-Palmer agenda here, but I'm looking at ERA+ and IP and I can't figure out why Tiant's 2-3 seasons score so high. Tiant-1972 is an odd shorter-season nut that may indeed score quite well in PRAA, but Palmer 72,73,75 & 78 should all easily crack Tiant's top 3. Palmer 70,76 & 77 should all be similar compared to Tiant #3 as well.

I'm guessing Tiant #3 is 1974? And I'm not quite willing to concede that Tiant-72 also bests all those Palmer seasons either (although I acknowledge that short-season high ERA+ seasons often score high in these metrics).
   24. Mark Donelson Posted: November 15, 2006 at 12:05 AM (#2237906)
The Tiant #2 and #3 years are indeed '72 and '74.

PRAA is park-adjusted. And the version I'm using is adjusted for era, though I have heard there are issues with that. But we're not talking massively different eras for Palmer vs. Tiant anyway, are we? (There was a change from the late '60s to the early '70s, but it's not like comparing the late '60s to the present or something.)

As for why, it appears to be mostly to do with how much this stat takes away from Palmer for the great defenses--the difference between RAA and PRAA for Palmer for most of these years is much larger than it is for Tiant. It may, of course, be overdoing it, but this is certainly consistent with a line of argument I've heard about Palmer elsewhere. (Which itself could be entirely based on these stats, I admit.)

Oh, and here's the Palmer PRAA breakdown for the seasons you mention:

1970: 25
1972: 21
1973: 27
1975: 38
1976: 28
1977: 28
1978: 27


So Palmer's 1975 is his only season this system puts up there with Tiant's '72 and '74.
   25. Mark Donelson Posted: November 15, 2006 at 12:14 AM (#2237911)
(Side note: How do you guys make the lists blue like that?)
   26. DavidFoss Posted: November 15, 2006 at 12:26 AM (#2237916)
But we're not talking massively different eras for Palmer vs. Tiant anyway, are we?

The difference between Memorial Stadium & Fenway Park is quite significant.

Palmer's dominance in years 4-10 is not in dispute. I'm just surprised that nothing but 1975 can crack Tiant's top three. Tiant's 1972 is nice, but at 169 ERA+ its not *that* nice considering its only 179 IP. Palmer has a nice short season too. Its not as good (152ERA+/181IP), but its totally off the radar.

Also, Tiant's 1974 is 132-ERA+/311-IP. Palmer has years of 156/296, 149/274, 143/296, 130/319, 134/305, 130/315. None of those comes within 20% of Tiant 72 or 74? Is that all due to the Great Oriole Fielding support deduction?

If Tiant's peak advantage is limited to one season only (1968T vs 1975P), then I think Palmer is definitely "that much better than Tiant". Fleshing out a peak advantage to three seasons certainly makes it more interesting, though. I'm not sure I'm on board with seasons 2 & 3 yet though.
   27. Mark Donelson Posted: November 15, 2006 at 12:47 AM (#2237924)
The difference between Memorial Stadium & Fenway Park is quite significant.

Um, I said "eras," not "parks." If you mean that the era adjustment screws up the park adjustment somehow, well, using the non-era-adjusted version (there is one) doesn't change these numbers all that much. From a quick glance, all the numbers just rise very slightly, for both pitchers. So maybe they're messed up, but that's not why...

Palmer's dominance in years 4-10 is not in dispute.

Well, I wouldn't call it dominance exactly in years 4 and 6, at the very least.

Is that all due to the Great Oriole Fielding support deduction?

If you buy these numbers, yes, pretty much. (A big if, I realize.)
   28. Mark Donelson Posted: November 15, 2006 at 12:50 AM (#2237927)
Year 7 isn't terribly dominant either, actually--even less than 4 and 6.
   29. OCF Posted: November 15, 2006 at 12:56 AM (#2237931)
(Side note: How do you guys make the lists blue like that?)

Put [ p r e ] before and [ / p r e ] after - only take all the spaces out. Square brackets, not angle brackets. Write your post out on a text editor or word processor, making sure you use a monospaced font like Courier. Don't start the first row with a space - put something there. Don't use tabs - format only with spaces. The monospaced font is essential for having the spaces line up properly.

Then post it, It will look wrong on the preview. Remember that - if it looks right on preview, then you've done it wrong.
   30. DavidFoss Posted: November 15, 2006 at 01:21 AM (#2237943)
Oh... I used code ([ c o d e ]) tag which is now provided as a button here. Viewing the HTML source, its doing all sorts of funky stuff to make it look like that. We did some testing of the code-tag before and its formatting it like its a computer language snippet. Computer language snippets are invariable in fixed width fonts which is key for lining this up. There are some cool side effects as common computer language keywords (e.g. 'for') will show up in green and things in quotes will show up as red -- but those used to software code editors will recognize some of those effects.

OCF's advice about fixed-width (Courier) fonts and avoiding tabs is also key. Looks like you got that part right in your tables.
   31. Mark Donelson Posted: November 15, 2006 at 01:33 AM (#2237949)
Ah, I used "code" but with the angle brackets. But oddly, I didn't paste in Courier or anything--just typed right in the box as usual. Might have worked as well as it did only because it was such a small table. Interesting.

Anyway, thanks!
   32. DavidFoss Posted: November 15, 2006 at 01:39 AM (#2237955)
But oddly, I didn't paste in Courier or anything--just typed right in the box as usual. Might have worked as well as it did only because it was such a small table.

Oh... code-tags will all be converted to Courier automatically. Just a note for more complex tables that when you edit you should check that they line up in courier

WWWWW
lllll

WWWWW
lllll 


Hmmm... I think this editor might be in Courier. Anyhow, don't want this tangent to completely take over the thread. :-)
   33. Chris Cobb Posted: November 15, 2006 at 01:53 AM (#2237960)
In comparing Tiant and Palmer in WARP, one should keep in mind that WARP adjusts for fielding support in two ways. One way is pretty well known. It uses team fielding efficiency to divide credit for runs saved above average between pitchers and fielders. The other way is less frequently discussed, but it plays a big role in WARP's lowered assessment of Palmer: that way is "Adjusted Innings Pitched," which is adjusted (for starting pitchers), as follows:

Pitcher/fielder share. When I do the pitch/field breakdown for individuals, one of the stats that gets separated is innings. If an individual pitcher has more pitcher-specific innings than an average pitcher with the same total innings would have, than the difference is added to his XIPA. If a pitcher has fewer than average, the difference is subtracted. This creates a deliberate bias in favor of pitchers who are more independent of their fielders (the strikeout pitchers, basically), and against those who are highly dependent on their defenses (the Tommy John types).

WARP sees Palmer as a Tommy John type, and it docks his innings accordingly.

Tiant has 3486.3 actual IP. His adjusted IP (XIP) is 3457.5.
Palmer has 3948 actual IP. His XIP is 3760.9.

So, if one looks at actual IP, Palmer leads Tiant by about two full seasons of innings, 461.7. If one looks at XIP, that lead drops to 303.4.

Interestingly, Palmer is downgraded by this adjustment more than Tommy John. Palmer loses 188 out of 3948 IP by this adjustment. John loses 179 out of 4710.3 IP.

To put the two adjustments together for a look at Palmer's peak, the seasons DavidFoss lists as ERA+/IP

156/296, 149/274, 143/296, 130/319, 134/305, 130/315

look like this in DERA+/XIP

127/282, 121/269, 126/285, 126/292, 124/281, 124/309

Now, DERA+ is not quite equivalent to ERA+ in its range of values, because, with fielding removed, pitchers' totals generally fall within a smaller range: 150 DERA+ seasons are quite rare. But nevertheless, one can see how Palmer's peak is a lot less impressive as WARP1 evaluates by DERA+/XIP it than as it appears using ERA+/IP. Whether WARP's adjustments are fully justified I won't undertake to assess here, but showing them both at work may help explain why WARP1 sees Palmer as not all that much better than Luis Tiant.

My preliminary ballot has Palmer at #2, Jenkins at #3 and Tiant at #13, so I don't think they are tremendously far apart. My own system includes WARP, but it also incorporates a second perspective. I am a little dubious about WARP's XIP adjustments, because, given the fielders Palmer had, doesn't it make sense for him to pitch in ways that make good use of them?
   34. Cblau Posted: November 15, 2006 at 02:58 AM (#2238028)
I think that's what he did. Palmer had a terrific fastball, excellent stuff all around. But he basically let batters hit the ball, since he had not only the great fielders behind him, but a tough park for hitters as well.

As for Palmer-Weaver stories, Palmer wrote a book about their relationship. The title was something like "Together We Were 11 Foot Nine."
   35. Mark Donelson Posted: November 15, 2006 at 03:12 AM (#2238047)
given the fielders Palmer had, doesn't it make sense for him to pitch in ways that make good use of them?

An excellent point, and part of why Palmer won't fall down to the 20s where I have Tiant. I still prefer Jenkins, though, marginally.
   36. Howie Menckel Posted: November 15, 2006 at 03:13 AM (#2238049)
Good stuff on Palmer-Tiant.
I would tend to agree that Palmer's defense made him look good, but if you ever saw him pitch, you got a sense of a guy more in command than even a lot of HOM pitchers. He's got a great defense behind him, and he knows how to win games.

The Yankees' Wang is currently confounding SABRmetricians, because he keeps throwing ground balls at home, except his sorry K ratio goes UP when he needs it - like man on 3rd, one out.

Any evidence available that shows Palmer with an ability to do this? That would be interesting.

To me, the fielding help makes Jenkins-Palmer a very close call. But durability is what does in Tiant, who may yet make my ballot. But he just wasn't competititive for his era in IP.
   37. Chris Cobb Posted: November 15, 2006 at 04:32 AM (#2238156)
The Yankees' Wang is currently confounding SABRmetricians, because he keeps throwing ground balls at home, except his sorry K ratio goes UP when he needs it - like man on 3rd, one out.

Any evidence available that shows Palmer with an ability to do this? That would be interesting.


WARP's analysis of Palmer's actual hits allowed and runs allowed in comparison to his expected hits and runs allowed rather strongly suggests, actually, that Palmer did have the stuff to take command of a situation when it was warranted. The corrolary to this idea would be that he could, much of the time, pitch to his defense, but could go it alone when the situation required. Other pitchers might not have had that luxury.

That Palmer was "in command" is suggested by a comparison of his career dH (actual hits compared to expected hits) and dR (actual runs allowed compared to expected runs allowed based on his statistics (hits allowed, HR allowed, etc.) to those of his contemporaries on (or recently on) the ballot. Negative numbers are good, in this case, as it shows fewer hits and runs allowed than expected.

Pitcher dH, dR
Palmer -169, -97
Tiant -151, -19
Perry 5, 13
Jenkins -180, 45
------------
Carlton -31, -53
Niekro -170, -86
Seaver -199, -35

Palmer's comination of depressing hits on balls in play _and_ allowing many fewer runs than his component stats would indicate suggest to me a pitcher who could effectively change his style of pitching to succeed in difficult situations. Most of the great pitchers have considerable skill in suppressing hits on balls in play (Seaver, Jenkins, Niekro, and Tiant have really outstanding totals here). Many of these pitchers have some skill in suppressing scoring with clutch pitching. Niekro, Carlton, and Seaver all look pretty good at this particular facet of pitching. Palmer is considerably ahead of this group, however, and this seems to me the most telling evidence that he was "in command."
   38. Boots Day Posted: November 15, 2006 at 05:09 AM (#2238213)
WARP's analysis of Palmer's actual hits allowed and runs allowed in comparison to his expected hits and runs allowed rather strongly suggests, actually, that Palmer did have the stuff to take command of a situation when it was warranted.

This is further reinforced by the fact that Palmer never once in his career allowed a grand slam.
   39. Howie Menckel Posted: November 15, 2006 at 05:17 AM (#2238225)
Dammit, boots, that was my next post!

Well, Chris's excellent diagnosis suggests further to me that one should leaven Palmer's defensive advantage with the recognition that he "pitched to the defense" much as some evidence showed that Griffith "pitched to the score."

This is a talented pitcher who figured out how best to win games in all situations - do we really decuct for that?
   40. Howie Menckel Posted: November 15, 2006 at 05:19 AM (#2238231)
guh, 'deDuct.'

there is just no stopping that 'submit your comment' button...
   41. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: November 15, 2006 at 05:21 AM (#2238233)
The Yankees' Wang is currently confounding SABRmetricians, because he keeps throwing ground balls at home, except his sorry K ratio goes UP when he needs it - like man on 3rd, one out.

Any evidence available that shows Palmer with an ability to do this? That would be interesting.


Boots Day beat me to the fun factoid part.

More info -- in his career splits at retrosheet, he does better given the situation. Here's his opponents' AVG/OBP/SLG (and OPS in bold at the end) over his career in given situations:

None On: 231/295/346 641
Runners On: 228/292/330 622
RISP: 213/290/307 597
Bases Loaded: 196/230/234 464

More important the situation, the worse the opposing OPS.

OK, let's try W-rate (specifically unintentional walks), K-rate, and HR-rate - in that order. Expressed in terms of % of AB (which doesn't make sense for walks technically, but work with me here, OK?)

None on: 8.9%, 14.0%, 2.2% (no intentional walks)
Not on: 8.5%, 17.2%, 2.0%
RISP: 10.4%, 19.4%, 1.7%
Loaded: 7.1%, 21.7%, absolute zero.

It's almost perfect. His walk rate got worse with RISP, but then again, some of those were intentional unintentional walks.

The man was a clutch pitcher, plain and simple.

Neat.

Random note: Ron Luciano wrote in "Umpire Strikes Back" that often pitchers would ask for a new ball when he thought the ball was fine. Many times he'd put the ball in his pocket, pretend to get a new one, and toss the old one back at the pitcher. Many pitchers were routinely fooled by this, and almost everyone accepted their rejected ball sometimes. Palmer, though, was the one who always re-rejected his ball.
   42. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: November 15, 2006 at 05:22 AM (#2238234)
Ah crap.

Fixed?
   43. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 15, 2006 at 06:34 AM (#2238302)
I fixed it . . .
   44. Howie Menckel Posted: November 15, 2006 at 06:40 AM (#2238306)
Anyone who reasonably factors in defense supporting pitchers who does NOT factor back in what appears to be strong 'pitching in a pinch' evidence for Palmer?


I am intrigued by both conclusions.
And Palmer is a clear HOMer.
   45. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 15, 2006 at 06:53 AM (#2238318)
I'm in the minority that has Jenkins ahead of Palmer.

My numbers deal with the runs he allowed, so that should take into account his 'clutchness' I don't look at peripherals at all.

After adjusting for quality of defense and the AL being the (significantly) worse league, I get his DRA+ knocked all the way down to 113 from his ERA+ of 125.

For Jenkins I get a 112 DRA+, but in 4323 tIP, compared to Palmer's in 3781 tIP.

Top 5 years:

Jenkins 8.6, 6.6, 6.3, 6.0, 5.9
Palmer- 7.3, 7.0, 6.0, 6.0, 5.9

Top 3 consecutive:

Jenkins 21.1, Palmer 20.1

Bullpen support/inherited runners: Jenkins -6.2, Palmer -10.5

Batting: Jenkins +11 BRAR, Palmer +6 BRAR

In the end, this is where they fit in historically, from Gibson (#10) to 3-Finger Brown (#45):

RK Pitcher             PA  DRA  DRAtIP
10 Bob Gibson
*       1.216 3.58 126 3685.0
11 GAYLORD PERRY
*    1.168 4.04 111 5159.0
12 Red Ruffing
*      1.151 4.16 108 4787.3
13 Ted Lyons
*        1.151 3.94 114 4630.7
14 Eddie Plank
*      1.125 3.65 123 3873.7
15 Carl Hubbell
*     1.109 3.54 127 3552.0
16 Early Wynn
*       1.034 4.32 104 5203.7
17 Don Drysdale
*     1.029 3.61 124 3275.7
18 FERGUSON JENKINS  0.999 4.02 112 4322.7
19 Whitey Ford
*      0.989 3.78 119 3677.3
20 Dazzy Vance
*      0.960 3.37 133 2842.0
21 Hal Newhouser
*    0.957 3.66 123 3152.0
22 Eppa Rixey
*       0.957 4.07 110 4524.0
23 Amos Rusie
*       0.955 3.51 128 2851.0
24 Jack Quinn        0.942 4.07 111 4463.0
25 Sandy Koufax
*     0.930 2.93 154 2213.3
26 Ed Walsh
*         0.927 3.40 132 2567.0
27 Jim Bunning
*      0.916 3.99 113 3739.0
28 JIM PALMER        0.899 4.00 113 3781.0
29 Red Faber
*        0.897 3.96 114 3953.7
30 Juan Marichal
*    0.885 3.83 117 3288.7
31 TOMMY JOHN        0.875 4.26 106 4748.7
32 Stan Coveleski
*   0.863 3.53 128 2853.7
33 Wes Ferrell
*      0.845 3.92 115 2617.7
34 Urban Shocker     0.838 3.55 127 2668.0
35 Billy Pierce
*     0.831 3.91 115 3440.3
36 Tommy Bridges     0.830 3.73 121 3131.3
37 Burleigh Grimes   0.805 4.30 105 3991.7
38 Don Newcombe      0.794 4.09 110 3169.0
39 Waite Hoyt        0.793 4.00 112 3628.3
40 Bucky Walters     0.772 4.07 110 3081.0
41 Rube Waddell
*     0.770 3.49 129 2454.7
42 Dutch Leonard
(RHP)0.769 3.91 115 3325.7
43 Ed Cicotte        0.768 3.79 119 2874.3
44 LUIS TIANT        0.763 4.03 112 3362.3
45 Mordecai Brown
*   0.762 3.80 118 2822.0 
   46. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 15, 2006 at 06:56 AM (#2238322)
BTW, those numbers above factor in credit for military service, time missed due to the color line, and time where the player was obviously a major league pitcher but was pitching in another league for some reason.
   47. sunnyday2 Posted: November 15, 2006 at 03:59 PM (#2238471)
<time where the player was obviously a major league pitcher but was pitching in another league for some reason.

There's a nice succinct summary of when MLE credit is appropriate.
   48. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 15, 2006 at 04:32 PM (#2238504)
I would tend to agree that Palmer's defense made him look good, but if you ever saw him pitch, you got a sense of a guy more in command than even a lot of HOM pitchers. He's got a great defense behind him, and he knows how to win games.

As one who saw Palmer pitch for his entire career, I'd second that. There was seldom any question that Palmer had command of his pitches. That no grand slams ever allowed stat is one of those small but significant exclamations points on that contention.

I should add that I'm more than impressed by the new ways that you guys keep coming up with to give us fresh perspectives on merit. Makes me feel even better when they agree with my gut, and makes me think about it when they don't.
   49. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 15, 2006 at 05:09 PM (#2238550)
Just playing devil's advocate because I want to hear the counter argument since I'm struggling with Palmer viz his defense a bit....

What's the difference between Palmer pitching to his defense and Klein or Cravath or Ott tailoring their swings to make special use of the dimensions of their home park?
   50. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 15, 2006 at 05:21 PM (#2238570)
What's the difference between Palmer pitching to his defense and Klein or Cravath or Ott tailoring their swings to make special use of the dimensions of their home park?

Nothing IMO. Those are great players (Cravath for a few seasons at least).
   51. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: November 15, 2006 at 05:27 PM (#2238578)
a time where the player was obviously a major league pitcher but was pitching in another league for some reason.

There's a nice succinct summary of when MLE credit is appropriate.




No, its not.
   52. Chris Cobb Posted: November 15, 2006 at 05:32 PM (#2238587)
What's the difference between Palmer pitching to his defense and Klein or Cravath or Ott tailoring their swings to make special use of the dimensions of their home park?

Not much, though Palmer's clutch pitching stats make it clear that he could and did pitch in other ways when that was what he needed to do to succeed. In the cases of hitters, it's not as clear that they could adjust their game in order to continue their success in other contexts.

I don't dock Cravath or Klein (or Ott) for using their parks with exceptional success.

It's important to think through Palmer's use of his defense primarily because WARP's XIP stat downgrades Palmer for pitching to his defense by crediting him for fewer innings pitched. The question arises as to whether that deduction is warranted or not, given Palmer's ability to ptich successfully without relying on his defense, when the circumstances made that a good idea.
   53. jingoist Posted: November 16, 2006 at 01:30 AM (#2239073)
I agree that Jenkins pitched longer, 550 additional innings and appeared in 100+ additional games than Palmer but for all that effort he only won 16 more games.
Jenkins also managed to loose 68 more games than Palmer; his winning % of .557 lags way behind Palmer's .638.
Palmer wins 3 CYAs, Fergie only 1. Both came in 2nd twice.

Palmer far outpaces Jenkins on BBref's HOF monitor 191 to 132; more black ink, more grey ink too.
I agree Jenkins gave up way fewer walks than cakes; 997 versus 1311 and he struck out 980 more batters, very dominant.
But Fergie's era is almost 1/2 a run more per 9 innings, 3.34 versus 2.86.
To say he controlled the outcome of a game more successfully than cakes; I just do not see it.

Both great pitchers; both no-brainer HoMers but if I have to win one crucial game I give the ball to Palmer, not Jenkins.
   54. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 16, 2006 at 03:22 AM (#2239131)
jingoist - you aren't really comparing Jenkins who pitched for the Cubs, Rangers, Red Sox to Palmer who pitched for the Orioles, in terms of winning pct. are you? I'd imagine Jenkins' teams alone could have made up for much of that .081 WPct difference.

Wrigley Field and Fenway Park could certainly make up a lot of the difference in ERA as well.
   55. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 16, 2006 at 03:23 AM (#2239132)
How about elaborating on #51 dzop.
   56. jimd Posted: November 16, 2006 at 03:50 AM (#2239151)
WARP's XIP stat downgrades Palmer for pitching to his defense by crediting him for fewer innings pitched.

It's the nature of the stat. Because Palmer chose to pitch to his defense - instead of attempting to strike everybody out - in effect, Palmer "chose" to give the credit for the out to the fielders and share with them value that would otherwise accrue to Palmer. As a value "accounting system", WARP's defensive stats can't pretend that Palmer struck out a higher percentage of batters just because Palmer had the ability to do so, and then also give defensive credit to those that performed the fielding plays.

Palmer was rewarded for what he actually did by posting very good ERA totals. Because measuring things often changes the behavior of those that are measured, it's an interesting question whether Palmer might have done it all differently if his contract gave him bonuses for high PRAR instead.

Also remember that bearing down on more batters usually results in higher pitch counts which might result in less actual innings pitched due to more problems late in games. It's all quite speculative (and fun ;-).
   57. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: November 16, 2006 at 04:25 PM (#2239445)
Well I know that dzop doesn't give Charley Jones any blacklist credit. I think that the explanation that Joe used above for MLE credit is a little broad. Infact it woudl include things such as the black Sox after 1920, George Sisler at Michigan, and Sam Leever's stint as a school teacher. They were all MLB (or NL in Leever's case) caliber and none were in professional baseball, let alone the top league(s). I think a stricter version would need to be in place, however there is little chance that all would agree on such a definition.
   58. JPWF13 Posted: November 16, 2006 at 06:55 PM (#2239572)
This seems like a good post to share this chart- I determined each pitchers pythagoran WP% assuming league average run support- I then determined W-L (using 1 decision per 8.88 IP) and then ranked that using Fibonacci Win Points (list is not comprehensive)
To stay on Post Palmer is 23rd (Jenkins 29th):

1 Cy Young 604.9
2 Walter Johnson 549.2
3 Roger Clemens 430.8
4 Kid Nichols 428.2
5 Pete Alexander 407.4
6 Christy Mathewson 381.3
7 Lefty Grove 374.7
8 Greg Maddux 368.2
9 John Clarkson 350.3
10 Tim Keefe 336.1
11 Tom Seaver 331.5
12 Randy Johnson 312.4
13 Warren Spahn 296.9
14 Gaylord Perry 287
15 Pedro Martinez 284.6
16 Phil Niekro 281.8
17 Eddie Plank 280.5
18 Bert Blyleven 274
19 Steve Carlton 272.1
20 Amos Rusie 271.4
21 Charley Radbourn 270
22 Bob Gibson 269.3
23 Jim Palmer 262.9
24 Carl Hubbell 258.5
25 Tony Mullane 249.8
26 Tom Glavine 247
27 Jim McCormick 242.1
28 Whitey Ford 240.8
29 Fergie Jenkins 234.7
30 Bob Feller 233.3
31 Red Faber 231.4
32 Robin Roberts 230.3
33 Ted Lyons 229.4
34 Mickey Welch 228.4
35 Vic Willis 226.2
36 Kevin Brown 221.3
37 Juan Marichal 213.8
38 Curt Schilling 211.4
39 Don Sutton 209.7
40 Stan Coveleski 209.5
41 Tommy John 209.4
42 Mike Mussina 209.3
43 Don Drysdale 209.2
44 Clark Griffith 206.4
45 Joe McGinnity 204.8
46 Billy Pierce 192
47 Jim Bunning 190.4
48 Red Ruffing 186.3
49 Wilbur Cooper 181.5
50 Bob Caruthers 180.5
51 Jim Kaat 179.8
52 Rick Reuschel 179.7
53 Carl Mays 175.5
54 Early Wynn 173.8
55 Sandy Koufax 173.5
56 David Cone 172.5
57 Charlie Buffinton 172.4
58 Luis Tiant 171.2
59 Jerry Koosman 170.7
60 Jack Powell 167.1
61 Sam Leever 166
62 Burleigh Grimes 165.9
63 Ed Reulbach 164.2
64 Lefty Gomez 163.2
65 Frank Tanana 152.7
66 Dennis Martinez 152.3
67 Freddie Fitzsimmons 148.4
68 Orel Hershiser 144.1
69 Milt Pappas 141.6
70 David Wells 140.7
71 Ron Guidry 138.9
72 Chief Bender 138.8
73 Vida Blue 138.1
74 Jack Morris 133.1
75 Andy Messersmith 132.8
76 Kenny Rogers 131.5
77 Herb Pennock 130.2
78 Sam Jones 128.8
79 Jack Chesbro 128.8
80 Jamie Moyer 127.6
81 Ed Lopat 127.2
82 Mickey Lolich 126.7
83 Dwight Gooden 124.5
84 Mel Stottlemyre 122.5
85 Catfish Hunter 120.1
86 Jim Perry 119.8
87 Bob Welch 117.7
88 George Mullin 110
89 Dave McNally 99.5
90 Jerry Reuss 97.1
91 Jim Maloney 93.6
92 Joe Niekro 82.6
93 Lew Burdette 75.9
94 Jack Coombs 57.4
   59. sunnyday2 Posted: November 16, 2006 at 07:57 PM (#2239674)
Interesting. Among the "currently" eligible (through 1991 since we have the '91 candidate threads open):

14. Perry
23. Palmer
25. Mullane--a AA discount should be applied, however; as a guess this knocks him down to #35 or so
27. McCormick--was on my ballot for many, many years and may come back; obviously doesn't stack up to the Clarksons and Keefes, but the current backlog all have their flaws
29. Fergie

34. Mickey Welch--trails his own contemporary, McCormick, and rightly so
39. Willis
49. Wilbur Cooper
51. Kaat
53. Carl Mays

57. Buffinton
58. Tiant
59. Koosman
60. Powell
61. Leever

Food for thought. Where are Grimes and Gomez? I would be pretty sure, however, that guys like Cicotte and Dean would make the top 15.
   60. JPWF13 Posted: November 16, 2006 at 08:25 PM (#2239707)
Grimes is 62
I need to add Cicotte, and a few others

may also need to use RA instead of ERA...

a few other things...
   61. DL from MN Posted: November 16, 2006 at 08:33 PM (#2239714)
I'd never run McCormick before. He made my top 50, well ahead of Mickey Welch.
   62. OCF Posted: November 16, 2006 at 09:07 PM (#2239746)
I have my own version of JPWF13's list, which I use, but don't trust completely for a number of reasons. Some ways in which my list differs from his:

1. It's based on RA+, not ERA+. The unearned runs count on mine.
2. I determine a single-season W-L. The career record is the sum of these. That may also be what JPWF13 did; he didn't make that clear.
3. I've used a Pythaganport sliding exponent, on a season-by-season basis.
4. I've used one decision per 9.0 IP. Yes, 8.88 would be slightly more accurate - in any case, I've inflated decisions by just that factor. Doesn't make much difference.
5. On a nonsystematic basis, I have applied extra adjustments in a few - but only a few - cases. I've adjusted for defensive support for some pitchers who fronted good defenses, thereby knocking them down. This is significant for Nichols, Willis, Brown, and Palmer. If certain others, such as Babe Adams or Ed Reulbach, were ever to become serious candidates, I'd have to do them, too.
6. On a nonsystematic basis, I have also adjusted in a few cases for the pitcher's own hitting. This is significant for Ferrell, Ruffing, Walters and a few others.
7. I don't do the 1880's, and I only went before 1893 to pick up Young, Nichols, and Rusie. I have grave doubts that this works for the 1880's - although if it did, McCormick would look good.
8. I don't yet have Seaver, Carlton, and other pitchers not yet eligible in 1991.

Here's my version of the list:

1. Young 551
2. Johnson 473
3. Alexander 397
4. Nichols 363
5. Grove 349
6. Mathewson 340
7. Spahn 297
8. Plank 289
9. Perry 269
10. Gibson 262
11. Hubbell 255
12. Ruffing 245
13. Jenkins 240
14. Roberts 237
15. Feller 235
16. Palmer 235
17. Walsh 225
18. Rusie 222
19. Ford 218
20. McGinnity 206
21. Lyons 205
22. Coveleski 203
23. Rixie 202
24. Faber 200
25. Pierce 197
26. Bunning 194
27. Vance 194
28. Marichal 194
29. Newhouser 194
30. Brown 193
31. Willis 192
32. Waddell 191
33. Adams 189
34. Tiant 189
35. Hoyt 182
36. Griffith 181
37. Bridges 181
38. Cicotte 181
39. Cooper 180
40. Wynn 179 (There's a WWII adjustment here)
41. Powell 179
42. Shocker 173
43. Reulbach 172
44. Koufax 171
45. Drysdale 170
46. Leever 169
47. Ferrell 169
48. Quinn 167
49. Wilhelm 167 (no leverage used in calculation)
50. Warnecke 165
51. Luque 164
52, Gomez 164
53. Joss 164
54. Shawkey 163
55. Walters 162
56. Kaat 158
57. Root 158
58. Lemon 158
59. Phillippe 155
60. Doc White 152
Some others:
Mays 150
Trucks 149
Trout 148
Grimes 147
Chesbro 144
Lolich 141
Dean 139
Newsom 139
Newcombe 132
Marquard 121
Leonard 116
Wood 101
Ruth 73
   63. OCF Posted: November 17, 2006 at 06:37 AM (#2240158)
A few comments on my own list:

1. We shouldn't expect greatness to be uniformly distributed over time, but that cluster of Young, Johnson, Alexander, Mathewson, Plank all in the top 10 (along with Nichols) looks beyond coincidence to me. Something in the deadball times enabled performance at that level.

2. The highest-ranking unelected candidates are Willis and Adams. (Well, technically, Palmer and Jenkins, but for the sake of the argument, I'll treat them as elected even if we haven't quite formalized it yet.) But see #1: they're deadball pitchers, subject to all the wariness that should apply. Willis is not on my ballot; Waddell was not on my ballot when he did get elected. And Adams is on no one's ballot, and I won't suggest he should be on anyone's ballot, not once you allow for both era and defensive support.

3. This list is about career. That's not the only consideration. I also like to look for big seasons. That's related to peak, but since I haven't stressed consecutive seasons, it's not quite the same thing. That's a good explanation, for instance, for taking Ferrell and Koufax but not Cooper and Powell.

4. Luis Tiant looks good on this list. But, I haven't yet entered such 70's pitchers as Seaver, Carlton, Blyleven, and Niekro. Once I do, the era will be subject to the same nagging doubts as the deadball days.
   64. Paul Wendt Posted: November 17, 2006 at 07:38 AM (#2240195)
Palmer put up a good career in the end, for someone who was always injured ('67, '68, '74, '79). He is probably the last, youngest player I can't discuss rationally so I'll leave it at that.
   65. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 17, 2006 at 08:19 AM (#2240207)
OCF - one thing I do when eyeballing the list is break out each era . . . and look for the guys that stand out. Just as a sanity check, in case my adjustments for era aren't exactly right. So if two guys from different era are close, and one guy is closer to the elite pitchers of his own era, I might rank him higher - even if he ranks a little below the other guy.

Some might call this a bullsh!t dump, but I don't. I think it's recognizing that whatever your system is, it's going to have flaws, and no matter how hard you try, you can't adjust for everything.
   66. JPWF13 Posted: November 17, 2006 at 04:15 PM (#2240324)
1. We shouldn't expect greatness to be uniformly distributed over time, but that cluster of Young, Johnson, Alexander, Mathewson, Plank all in the top 10 (along with Nichols) looks beyond coincidence to me. Something in the deadball times enabled performance at that level.


Both lists give credit for length of career/playing time. Pitchers in the deadball era have an enormous advantage- they could pace themselves:
1: The rate at which homeruns were hit was negligible- you could throw BP to many batters and never have to worry about one leaving the park.
2: Massive use of one run strategies- sac bunts and so on- if you know a guy is bunting you are not going to put max effort into every pitch.
3: Batters were very contact oriented- Ks were considered bad- if you think some think Ks are bad NOW, back then they were absolutely anathema- batters put the ball in play at a much higher rate then than now- which meant lower pitch counts.

Just as speculation, what could be done is determine how many IP are thrown by the top 10% of SPs each year- If the top 10 averaged 280 IP and your guy pitched 290, divided 290 by 280 and multiple by a predetermined set point (say, 250IP). # of decisions would then be based upon teh recalculated IP total.

This would give a pitcher credit for being durable relative to his peers, but reduce the IP advantage deadball pitchers have relative to today's pitchers.
   67. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 17, 2006 at 05:38 PM (#2240404)
That's kind of like what I do JPWF13 . . . I don't have time to explain it right now, but if you find a thread called 'pitchers' I think I explain it pretty well there.
   68. yest Posted: November 19, 2006 at 04:01 AM (#2241344)
Both lists give credit for length of career/playing time. Pitchers in the deadball era have an enormous advantage- they could pace themselves:
4. iliagel pitches are eaiser on the arm
   69. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: November 19, 2006 at 06:14 AM (#2241390)
How about elaborating on #51 dzop.

I would define the criteria for "extra" credit as:

"A player receives credit for time where the player was obviously a major league caliber player but was unable to pitch in the major leagues, due to no fault or decision of the player's own."

IOW, a player only receives credit for circumstances <u>entirely</u> beyond his control.
   70. sunnyday2 Posted: November 19, 2006 at 06:19 AM (#2241394)
>circumstances entirely beyond his control.

Some examples would help. Is enlisting in the militry different than getting drafted? Is getting hurt beyond his control? Or does it depend on how he gets hurt? If he's the driver? The passenger? Hit by a pitch? Gets a disease? Gets a disease that is hereditary? etc.

Actually, yes, I am serious.
   71. rawagman Posted: November 19, 2006 at 07:24 AM (#2241422)
I forget who offered this criteria for credit, but it runs something along the lines, of "circumstances related only to the era in which they were able to play that affected (at least potentially) every other single player"
IOW, world wars, color lines (applicable until the completion of the destruction of the colour barrier) minor league systems not entirely under the control of the majors, and extreme unfair labour practices.

The above list is not and should not be considered to be the final word on the subject.
   72. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: November 19, 2006 at 07:35 AM (#2241425)
Some examples would help. Is enlisting in the militry different than getting drafted? Is getting hurt beyond his control? Or does it depend on how he gets hurt? If he's the driver? The passenger? Hit by a pitch? Gets a disease? Gets a disease that is hereditary? etc.

Actually, yes, I am serious.


Yes, enlisting and drafted would be different, unless the player would have been drafted anyways.

Getting hurt is within the player's control in theory, since some players appear to have a skill at staying healthy (endmember: Ripken) while others don't (endmember: Carl Pavano). So you don't get injury credit.

Injuries do not gain credit, even if off the baseball field, unless they occur in the course of coercive duty (eg Selective Service).

Hereditary disease earns no credit, because that's a skill of the player; it may not be a conscious skill, but a skill none the less (speed is a similarly genetic, unconscious skill).

The merit of the players reason for not playing is not in questions. Only if he had any control. If a player chose to play in the PCL in it's heyday-no credit. If his team wouldn't sell him-credit. If a player was barred from MLB due to skin color - credit. If he was barred from MLB because he chose to gamble - no credit.

And so on and so forth. The key is whether or not the player could have played in the MLB if he had chosen a different course of action or possesed superior talent/skill.
   73. Brent Posted: November 19, 2006 at 08:52 AM (#2241443)
If a player chose to play in the PCL in it's heyday-no credit.

Because of the reserve clause, playing in the PCL was never a player's choice. Once a player signed his first professional contract, he had to play for the team that owned his contract or not play in organized baseball at all.
   74. sunnyday2 Posted: November 19, 2006 at 04:15 PM (#2241486)
>I forget who offered this criteria for credit, but it runs something along the lines, of "circumstances related only to the era in which they were able to play that affected (at least potentially) every other single player"

That was me. If on the day a player was born he (and everybody else in that cohort) was destined to miss playing time due to some mass social phenomena, then that's a no-brainer. So the wars and the color line, MLE credit. Otherwise...

Now, that is how I used to feel about it. I have been worn down over the years and I now give some MiL credit (pretty crucial for Averill and Keller, I don't remember any others off hand). But I still don't give injury or disease or death credit.

The trickiest one is black players during the integration era. They were allowed into the MiLs but quotas clearly still existed for the MLs, and so guys like Newcombe (on the one hand) and Marvin Williams (on the other) were held back. They were still not allowed to play at their highest level. And yet they also were not able to create a more or less coherent career record in the NeLs, since those were disbanded. They, along with some of the very early guys, pre-1885ish, are the trickiest.

As a peak voter, the good news is extra credit is often not decisive, except for the NeLers.

>Yes, enlisting and drafted would be different

Too clever by half.
   75. Steve Treder Posted: November 19, 2006 at 04:47 PM (#2241498)
Because of the reserve clause, playing in the PCL was never a player's choice. Once a player signed his first professional contract, he had to play for the team that owned his contract or not play in organized baseball at all.

Yes, yes, yes. It continues to frustrate me that this fundamental truth is widely not grasped by intelligent people.
   76. OCF Posted: November 20, 2006 at 06:20 AM (#2242012)
Now, when we recognize the free minors and their non-free players: what one individual would be worthy of the single greatest amount of minor league credit? It seems pretty clear that that would be Lefty Grove.

Then there's the whole matter of military service. If we give credit for military service, what individual would be worth of the single greatest amount of such credit? That one's even easier: Ted Williams.

But of course neither Grove nor Williams needed any help getting elected.
   77. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 21, 2006 at 12:18 AM (#2242578)
OCF,

Maybe Buzz Arlett, since he spent about 20 times as many seasons in the minors as in the majors.
   78. Brent Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:03 AM (#2242746)
Among the "inner circle" players (top 25 or top 50 players of all time), Grove certainly deserves the most minor league credit. But Grove's minor league record was merely good; a number of players have had better minor league records. These include career minor leaguers like Buzz Arlett, Frank Shellenback, and Ike Boone, and also players whose careers were split between the majors and minors, like Gavy Cravath and Johnny Bassler. Johnny Ogden, who pitched on the same 1920s Baltimore Orioles staff as Grove, had a minor league record similar to Grove's and was sometimes identified as the best minor league pitcher.

For military service credit, there's no question that Williams is the correct answer.
   79. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:48 AM (#2242763)
Then there's the whole matter of military service. If we give credit for military service, what individual would be worth of the single greatest amount of such credit? That one's even easier: Ted Williams.

Maybe on a strictly quantitative level, but even with his missing four and a half years Williams still is considered an inner inner circle HOFer. In terms of historical reputation, Hank Greenberg and especially Bob Feller suffered much more.

Williams missed about four and a half years to the military, three during WWII and about a year and a half during Korea. Whereas Greenberg missed nearly four and a half years in WWII alone and Feller missed nearly four full years. Greenberg's military service was actually longer than the entire span of American participation in the war, since he was serving for most of the 1941 season, when the U.S. was still at peace.

And in the case of Feller, you can say that his military service cost him that extra dimension of "innerness." Remember, Feller's decline after 1946 was due to a freak injury, not overwork---he was perhaps the best conditioned pitcher of his generation, with an incredibly fluid motion---and in his three previous years (ages 20 through 22!) he'd been averaging 25 wins a year---and not against the sort of competition that Hal Newhouser faced, either. It's not inconceivable that the war cost Feller a good 80+ wins, and with those, we're looking at a career total in the 340-350 range. Which puts him up there close to Warren Spahn, and at a win total far more reflective of his true talent level.
   80. Steve Treder Posted: November 21, 2006 at 03:57 PM (#2242858)
Remember, Feller's decline after 1946 was due to a freak injury, not overwork---he was perhaps the best conditioned pitcher of his generation, with an incredibly fluid motion---and in his three previous years (ages 20 through 22!) he'd been averaging 25 wins a year---and not against the sort of competition that Hal Newhouser faced, either. It's not inconceivable that the war cost Feller a good 80+ wins, and with those, we're looking at a career total in the 340-350 range. Which puts him up there close to Warren Spahn, and at a win total far more reflective of his true talent level.

Conceivably. But it's also quite conceivable that had Feller not served in the war, his massive 1946-style workload would have simply occurred earlier, and his decline consequently would have begun earlier. It's impossible to know, of course, but we really can't just "plug in" extrapolated missing seasons for pitchers the way we can for hitters.
   81. JPWF13 Posted: November 21, 2006 at 04:02 PM (#2242862)
In terms of historical reputation, Hank Greenberg and especially Bob Feller suffered much more.


I'm not sure about Feller, he was pitching more and more each year, he was up to 343IP in 1941 (at age 22!!!) and his K rate was dropping.

Gooden also had a heavy (though not as extreme as Feller's) workload at such an early age- and his fastball was gone, never to return, by the time he was 25.
Feller was out of the MLB fgrom 1942 to late 1945. In 1946 his K rate bounced back to where it had been when he was 18-19, before dropping off again. His BBREF comps at ages 21 & 22 are ALL pre modern players- 19th century.

We'll never know, but I tend to assume that if Feller didn't take an extended break from MLB- he doesn't even reach 200 wins...
   82. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 21, 2006 at 04:28 PM (#2242876)
I'm not sure about Feller, he was pitching more and more each year, he was up to 343IP in 1941 (at age 22!!!) and his K rate was dropping.


I've made this argument before about Feller; it's entirely possible that his career would have ended before 1950 without the war, given the heavy workloads he had sustained up to that point in his career.

-- MWE
   83. DL from MN Posted: November 21, 2006 at 04:59 PM (#2242911)
> Gooden also had a heavy (though not as extreme as Feller's) workload at such an
> early age

See also Dick Redding
   84. DavidFoss Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:37 PM (#2242946)
All ten of Bob Feller's Age-22 comps are from the pre-60'6" era.
   85. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:48 PM (#2242955)
Feller was out of the MLB fgrom 1942 to late 1945. In 1946 his K rate bounced back to where it had been when he was 18-19, before dropping off again. His BBREF comps at ages 21 & 22 are ALL pre modern players- 19th century.

I absolutely agree with this. All of his indicators were pointing toward opposing batters having more and better contact against him. 1946 was great, and then he starts dropping off again, precipitously. His HR rate goes up, his Ks go down, he's giving up more hits.

I wouldn't doubt that Feller's arm was saved from a permanent vacation by the war, and even so he still had permanent, diminished effectiveness after the huge workload of his big 1946 year.
   86. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 21, 2006 at 05:50 PM (#2242959)
What I wrote about Feller was NOT to make any hard and fast predictions as to what he would necessarily have done without the nearly four years he missed in the war, since there are so many cudda shudda wuddas in there, as there are with all pitchers.

But if he hadn't managed to get into Spahn territory, I believe it would have been much more because of that mid-1947 injury than because of any general work overload. That injury was a pure fluke, caused by slipping on a followthrough to a pitch, and it was that, rather than anything else, that caused Feller's career as a power pitcher to come to an abrupt halt. Before that injury he was on a pace to break his own strikeout record from the year before. After the injury, his strikeout rate plummeted, and he was never the same pitcher again.

Take that injury away, and he likely would have won 300 games anyway. Take away the war, keep the injury, and I think my previous estimate of 350 games is completely within the realm of possibility. And if Feller had not had either the missed war years or the injury, he very well might have threatened 400 wins, improbable as that might seem. He started young, he kept himself in terrific shape his entire career, and he completely dominated the league up until the injury. His body type and motion were Ryanesque / Seaverish, powered by his torso, and not at all the type given to early loss of arm strength.

The reason you don't read much about that injury is very simple: Feller never dwelled upon it, or used it as an excuse for his decline. But if you follow his career up to that point, and then afterwards, it's like night and day, with no gray area in between. This man was one war and one misstep away from being talked about in the same breath with Roger Clemens, and although you can rightfully say that this is mere speculation, it's speculation based on the facts of his career as we know it, not on extrapolations based on other pitchers in other eras. Go back to that 1947 season in detail and I believe you'll see my point.
   87. JPWF13 Posted: November 21, 2006 at 06:03 PM (#2242969)
Uh uh, ain't buying it. Only way Feller reaches the win totals you project for him is if he had Nolan Ryan's freakish stamina/endurance- and the slippage in his K rate from age 18 to 22 suggests not.
Feller's work load from ages 19-22 was simply unprecedented- guys who pitched before the mound was moved back to 60 feet simply don't count.

And your "fluke" injury doesn't seem flukish to me- Feller should have been a major injury waiting to happen- perhaps it was his conditioning that prevented a catastrophic career ending injury- but pitching year after year with his workload without losing effectiveness? That assumes virtually one in a hundred years type stamina (Nolan Ryan)- that's what your speculation is based upon- not on the facts of Feller's career
   88. JPWF13 Posted: November 21, 2006 at 06:18 PM (#2242983)
Through age 22 Feller had thrown more innings than any pitcher whose career started after 1890.

Warren Spahn started late and while he had a heavy workload- it was never like Feller's- plus Feller had far fewer Ks and walks- so he was throwing a lot less pitches in hs innings than Feller was in his.

Feller may have been a unique talent (forget may have, he was- probably 99.99% of all pitchers would simply have cracked under Feller's 18-22 workload, whereas Feller simply showed slippage through that period), but his managers did him no favors,

My comparison is Sandy Koufax, who was older to be sure, but at ages 29-30 (with a history of elbow problems) his teams chose to pitch him into the ground.

Why? Personally I think it's the same reason teams give 7 year contracts to guys who will likely have no value the last two years of the deal- they over-rate present value. The Dodgers HAD TO KNOW they were taking years off Koufax's career, they just felt that an extra 50ip in 65 & 66 was more important to them than the 200ip he could have been giving them in 1969/70
   89. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 21, 2006 at 06:36 PM (#2243000)
JPWF,

All I ask is this: Go back to Feller's 1947 season on a game by game basis, from April to September, and then come back and tell me that this injury didn't cause his decline as a power pitcher. And that slippage in his K rate from 18 to 22 wasn't exactly precipitous; his strikeout rate at 22 was still way above any other pitcher's.

You put "fluke" in quotation marks, which implies that it wasn't. But what else would you call an injury caused by a bit of loose dirt on a Shibe Park mound. It's no less of a fluke than Dizzy Dean or Herb Score, in the sense that it had nothing to do with Feller and everything to do with a totally random bit of bad luck.

And yes, I do assume a Ryan-like endurance without that injury, but again, it's not based on anything else other than Feller's demonstrated endurance up through mid-1947, his constant attention to conditioning, a product of his boyhood on a farm, and his torso-powered motion, which put virtually no strain on his arm. How is this not "based on the facts of Feller's career?"

Again, of course my projections are speculative, and assume some things that are either unknown (the lack of another fluke injury) or unprovable (his overall endurance). But the fact that there has only been one Nolan Ryan doesn't mean that Nolan Ryan was the only possible Nolan Ryan. That in itself seems a bit of a conceit---not to mention that Roger Clemens seems pretty much capable of being a second Nolan Ryan himself if he chooses to be. There is nothing about Bob Feller's career path prior to mid-1947 to suggest that he wasn't capable of being Nolan Ryan's more successful role model.
   90. JPWF13 Posted: November 21, 2006 at 06:43 PM (#2243002)
I don't think Dean's injury was fluke either

Score? now yes that was a fluke injury.

You assume he would have had Ryan like endurance- but only 1 player in MLB history has had Ryan like endurance*- that was Ryan and he wasn't overworked at the ages that Feller was.




* Clemens is working on it- which would make it two, but certain rumors are starting to crop up about his workout program...
   91. DavidFoss Posted: November 21, 2006 at 07:10 PM (#2243019)
You assume he would have had Ryan like endurance- but only 1 player in MLB history has had Ryan like endurance*- that was Ryan and he wasn't overworked at the ages that Feller was.

Ryan pitched a lot of years (and kept his K-rate sky high his final year), but not usually a lot of innings per year. His IP leaderboard is 1-3-3-6-7-7-8-8-9. Quite respectable, but he's was not the "workhorse" that contemporaries like Palmer, Jenkins, Perry, Carlton & Seaver were.
   92. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 21, 2006 at 07:37 PM (#2243030)
I don't think Dean's injury was fluke either

Are you serious? Getting hit in the toe with a line drive isn't a fluke?

And if you're going to reply by saying that it wasn't the initial injury that caused his downfall, but the fact that he came back too soon, that kind of begs the question, and avoids the point that prior to the All-Star game there was nothing to indicate any susceptibility to injury on Dean's part. Same with Feller. Again, look at his career up to mid-1947. There is nothing to indicate any such disposition, other than extrapolations based upon other pitchers' career paths rather than Feller's.

And just to make myself clear, I'm not saying that he would have necessarily been throwing strikeouts at a Ryan rate in his 40's---nobody struck out batters at that rate in Feller's era, when entire years would pass without any batter striking out 100 times---but I am saying that he might well have been a dominant power style pitcher well into his late 30's and possibly beyond.

And I am saying that the clearest cause of his actual decline was that injury, and not his workload. This is easy to see by just looking at his pitching log for 1947, a point that nobody else seems to want to deal with, possibly because it's a matter of specifics rather than grand theories about workloads. But there is nothing whatsoever in that game log which says "declining strikeout rates" prior to the injury. The injury was 100% correlative to Feller's declining strikeout rate.
   93. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: November 21, 2006 at 07:41 PM (#2243032)
This is easy to see by just looking at his pitching log for 1947

Got a link?
   94. JPWF13 Posted: November 21, 2006 at 07:43 PM (#2243035)
well
1: he pitched more innings in his career than any of those men
2: He certainly threw more pitches (more pitches per inning) than any of those men
3: He threw 300ip 2 years in a row- Seaver never had a 300ip season, Carlton had 2, but widely separated (actually I agree, thrwoing in Carlton's 280-300ip seasons he was more of a workhorse- but in the end he lost his stuff before Ryan lost his);
Jenkins too- more of a workhorse- lost his stuff comparatively early.
Perry- just behind Ryan in career IP- someone lse above has a theory regarding why Perry could ahve been expected to last a long time.

Feller's workload was simply staggering- he threw 278, 297, 320 and 343 ip at ages 19-22- he walked 118-204 batters each of those seasons, he struck out 240-261 batters each of thse seasons. He comleted 21-31 games a year- given his K and BB rates his individual game pitch counts (and his stats suggest that he was not one to pace himself) must have been stunning.

He lead the league in IP almost every year, he lead the league in walks and in Ks, he would lead the league in batters faced- by huge margins. What he was doing wasn't just out of the ordinary compared to today- it was totally out of the ordinary for his own time.
   95. JPWF13 Posted: November 21, 2006 at 07:52 PM (#2243040)
Let's just say I don't tend to believe the stories that pitcher's tell themselves- oh I came back too early, I hurt my toe, I altered my windup, yada yada yada
people tend to want to reduce everything to one discernible cause.

One of the WBC pitchers this spring had an elbow ligament snap- oops out for teh year after TJ surgery- immediatly I saw people write- WBC is bad- see- he wouldn't have been hurt but for the WBC, nonesense.

Feller's odds of getting hurt and losing some or all effectiveness given his workload was virtually certain- how or when it happened was all a matter of timing. With Dizzy in a 5 year period he finished 1st in IP 3 times, 2nd once and 3rd the other time.

I went to High School with a guy who threw 100+ pitch count games virtually every start he made in HS from age 15 to 18, he was drafted, hurt his arm and lost his fastball- to this day he insists that if one day he didn't slip while warming up in the bullpen...

I just don't buy those stories
   96. sunnyday2 Posted: November 21, 2006 at 07:57 PM (#2243042)
> absolutely agree with this. All of his indicators were pointing toward opposing batters having more and better contact against him. 1946 was great, and then he starts dropping off again, precipitously. His HR rate goes up, his Ks go down, he's giving up more hits.

>I wouldn't doubt that Feller's arm was saved from a permanent vacation by the war, and even so he still had permanent, diminished effectiveness after the huge workload of his big 1946 year.

And so Plan B is...well, there is no Plan B where the HoM is concerned. Because if some smart manager had pitched him every 5th day instead of every 4th day, well, then we would be complaining that the bum wasn't a workhorse, wasn't pulling his weight. (For more information, see Joss, Addie.)
   97. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 21, 2006 at 08:23 PM (#2243095)
1946 was great, and then he starts dropping off again, precipitously. His HR rate goes up, his Ks go down, he's giving up more hits.

Let's just say I don't tend to believe the stories that pitcher's tell themselves- oh I came back too early, I hurt my toe, I altered my windup, yada yada yada


Jesus, does anyone ever read anything other than what they want to believe? There was a specific cause of that precipitous decline in his K rates---an injury. A flukish injury. A random, accidental injury. You can ignore it and speculate that Feller's decline would have happened without it, but you're not going to make those game logs go away.

This is easy to see by just looking at his pitching log for 1947

Got a link?


I don't know of any specific link to take you directly to Feller's 1947 log, alas. I have a run of The Sporting News, and one day when I had nothing better to do I went through Feller's games before and after his injury. And there was no getting around the conclusion that Feller's rapid decline as a power pitcher was 100% correlated with that game in Philadelphia.

AND---if you're a SABR member, up until the end of the year you can access ProQuest and get the box scores and writeups from any one of half a dozen newspapers. I defy anyone to do this and still maintain that Feller's 1947 decline was caused by anything other than his injury. Theories about workload are interesting, but they have nothing to do with Feller's decline as it actually transpired, as opposed to the decline that you can speculate would have transpired anyway.
   98. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 21, 2006 at 08:24 PM (#2243099)
Because if some smart manager had pitched him every 5th day instead of every 4th day, well, then we would be complaining that the bum wasn't a workhorse, wasn't pulling his weight. (For more information, see Joss, Addie.)

Joss' problem was that he couldn't handle the load. If he could have, he would have pitched many more innings than he did. But his arm still fell off with his light workload.
   99. DavidFoss Posted: November 21, 2006 at 08:34 PM (#2243134)
I'll grant Andy that its a bit tantalizing that a guy who fell just 34 wins shy of 300 wins missed 3.75 years right in the midst of his prime. Its not that I dont't agree that he was overworked at a young age and due to hurt himself at some point with those workloads either, though.

Feller's fans and contemporaries and fans saw him as a larger than life inner-circle-talent giant. But because he didn't hit some of the career milestones he's in danger of being "forgotten" as fewer and fewer fans remember seeing him play. Not necessarily deservedly so, but perhaps in a Carl Hubbell sort of way. Hopefully, with modern encylopedias making information so easy to access, we can keep that from happening.
   100. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 21, 2006 at 08:58 PM (#2243191)
I'll grant Andy that its a bit tantalizing that a guy who fell just 34 wins shy of 300 wins missed 3.75 years right in the midst of his prime. Its not that I dont't agree that he was overworked at a young age and due to hurt himself at some point with those workloads either, though.

And it's not that I deny that the early workload might have ended his effectiveness prematurely. All I'm saying is that there is no actual evidence in Feller's pre-injury record to back that up. It may be warranted speculation, but that's all it is---speculation.
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