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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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   101. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 21, 2006 at 09:46 PM (#2243260)
Here's what we do know about Feller. I calculated his raw indicators and compared them to the league in a OPS+ like fashion. No accounting for parks here. Mostly his home parks were slightly offense-suppressive, probably around 97-98 PF for his career.

year h/9hr/9bb/9k/9+
--------------------------
1936  72   23   171   332
1937  70   37   163   248
1938  73   58   163   218
1939  70   60   112   209
1940  72   50    90   189
1941  80   66   132   190
1945  71   36   128   214
1946  76   50   104   198
  
++++++++++++++++++++++
1947  79   93    99   157
1948  89  110    87   149
1949  94  122    77   128
1950  89   91    84   116
1951  95  116    86   107
1952 119   96   104    92
1953  92  115    84    77
1954  94  125    67    91
1955  87   97    86    61
1956 110  124    87    59 


That line in the middle shows exactly where his effectiveness began to diminish. What seems increasingly obvious is that he began to pitch more and more to contact. Ks zooming down, walks zooming down, HRs zooming up. H/9 go up somewhat, but probably supressed a bit by his team's good defenses. Sadly retrosheet has no dailies for him, so I can't get more granular than this.

However, one thing that's interesting to notice is that Feller's K rates began dropping not in 1947, but in 1938 (figuring 1936 is too brief to be taken seriously). His walk rate did too. Yet his hit and HR rates remained somewhat more stable. Did Feller make a conscious effort to pitch more efficiently? Or did the innings take their toll? Maybe it's the same thing. When he returns in 1946, he has a year that's about on par with 1940 (rates-wise), then in 1947 the dramatic turn for the worse...either induced by wear and tear or by traumatic injury. Or maybe by both? (Injury is sometimes the end point of a cycle in which the body's form breaks down due to fatigue.) And then his workload goes down, almost year by year until he's cooked. Whether that's due to an overworked arm, the cascade of his 1947 injury, or simply the decline in effectiveness is more than I can sort out.
   102. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 21, 2006 at 10:04 PM (#2243272)
When he returns in 1946, he has a year that's about on par with 1940 (rates-wise), then in 1947 the dramatic turn for the worse...either induced by wear and tear or by traumatic injury. Or maybe by both? (Injury is sometimes the end point of a cycle in which the body's form breaks down due to fatigue.) And then his workload goes down, almost year by year until he's cooked. Whether that's due to an overworked arm, the cascade of his 1947 injury, or simply the decline in effectiveness is more than I can sort out.

But the key is to look at the pre-injury part of 1947 vs. the post-injury part. The former is like 1946; the latter is like that of a completely different pitcher.

As for the injury having some sort of inevitability to it, that's sheer speculation.
   103. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 21, 2006 at 10:34 PM (#2243291)
Uh, sure, but you'll have to post the logs for pre/post.

As for the injury having some sort of inevitability to it, that's sheer speculation.

I think I need to know more about the circumstances of the injury first. Because it's also speculative to suggest that even seemingly freakish injuries occur in a vacuum, particularly those where fatigue/overwork and repeating form are involved.

Just to see where I'm going here, if a pitcher named Rob Ferell pitches unusually high number of innings, faces tons and tons of batters, does so before he gets out of the injury nexus, THEN experiences the trauma of combat on top of that, there's a lot of accumulated fatigue and trauma in his body. It's not crazy to imagine in such an instance that a slip on a mound or something that occurs during his delivery might have been influenced by his body's inability to perform its repeated motion at 100% or inability to maintain its resilliency or balance as it used to. And that his recovery might also have been iminged. Hey, when you're tired, it's easier to fall or stub a toe, or whatever. And it's not like Feller missed lots of time either. He still threw 280-290 innings the next two years, then around 225-250 for the next few years.

What I'm saying is without knowing more about the circumstances surrounding the injury, it's speculative on both sides. However, the data already with us suggest that Feller's dominance eroded almost from his first season onward, and went into a steeper decline in 1947, and freefell a little while after. One big, downward slope in essence. I think that downward trend is suggestive (though hardly conclusive) that Feller's workload may have been problematic from the git-go. Which is why I agree with MWE that Feller may well have been fortunate to escape the 1940s with his career in tact, but which admittedly does not preclude the notion that he may have sustained a career-altering injury in 1947, but which also doesn't preclude that injury from having antecedents in the workload (until we know more about it).
   104. JPWF13 Posted: November 21, 2006 at 10:55 PM (#2243311)
You know, his normalized stats present a perfectly NORMAL looking carrer pattern- his k/9 peaked early, but that's it.

remove the years and you'd never know that he missed 3+ years, you'd never assume he'd suffered an alleged "career" altering injury. I'm serious do a chart like that for Tom Seaver- and it woudl look the same way- his K/9 wouldn't peak until year 4-5, but it wuld steadily decline from thereon out, hits would be stable for a long time, then start to climb at the end.

Gooden's normalized stats would also graph like Feller's
   105. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 21, 2006 at 11:27 PM (#2243341)
About Feller's injury: There was a soft spot on the mound, and his foot slipped in the loose dirt. You can make what you want out of that, but seeing that up through that night in Philadelphia he'd been on a pace to better his record 1946 season strikeout total, I'm not sure where you get all that evidence of any significant decline prior to the injury. The 1947 seasonal decline was indeed dramatic, but since it took place entirely after the injury, I'm not sure why you all keep trying to maintain your agnosticism as to what caused it.

And it's not as if Feller lost everything after the injury. He still had quite a few effective years. But he was a completely different pitcher immediately after the injury, no longer the "Bob Feller" that he had been up to that exact moment. The transformation literally happened overnight.
   106. DavidFoss Posted: November 22, 2006 at 12:02 AM (#2243367)
The 1947 seasonal decline was indeed dramatic, but since it took place entirely after the injury, I'm not sure why you all keep trying to maintain your agnosticism as to what caused it.

Because we don't have retrosheet game logs and you haven't provided your own game logs when asked. So, agnosticism ("we don't know") is a perfectly reasonable stance.

Looks like he had a great start 4-1 after five starts with three shutouts and two 1-hitters. He slumped after his May 13th in Philly start but came back strong with a solid streak from early June to late July. Another slump in early August, but seemed to finish fine with the occasional off-start. He still went 20-11 on the year which isn't too bad. Without the game log for K's I'm not 100% sure which game in Philly you are talking about May13,Jun13,Jul24 or Sep16?
   107. DavidFoss Posted: November 22, 2006 at 12:06 AM (#2243369)
Can't be Sep16th of course. :-)
   108. jingoist Posted: November 22, 2006 at 01:03 AM (#2243431)
Hey guys, interesting stuff about Bob Feller.....but you elected him about 20 years ago.

This is Cakes' list and nobody's said boo about him for the past 3 or 4 days.
Perhaps that's due to the fact that he is an overwhelming favorite to come in 2nd to Joe Morgan in this years election.

When Palmer wasn't hurt he was the best AL pitcher of the 70's.
And I don't know where folks get this idea that he was over-rated.
How; by who?
He was easily inducted into the HoF; he'll be easily inducted into the HoM.
Inner circle; not in my book.
A guy that you wanted pitching for you if you absolutely had to win the ballgame? Absolutely!
   109. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 22, 2006 at 01:35 AM (#2243457)
The 1947 seasonal decline was indeed dramatic, but since it took place entirely after the injury, I'm not sure why you all keep trying to maintain your agnosticism as to what caused it.

Because we don't have retrosheet game logs and you haven't provided your own game logs when asked. So, agnosticism ("we don't know") is a perfectly reasonable stance.

Looks like he had a great start 4-1 after five starts with three shutouts and two 1-hitters. He slumped after his May 13th in Philly start but came back strong with a solid streak from early June to late July. Another slump in early August, but seemed to finish fine with the occasional off-start. He still went 20-11 on the year which isn't too bad. Without the game log for K's I'm not 100% sure which game in Philly you are talking about May13,Jun13,Jul24 or Sep16?


I'm 99% sure that it was June 13th, but now that I've stuck my neck out on this I'll see if I can find out. He did miss the All-Star game because of the injury, which would indicate that it was indeed the June 13th game. But I'll check, even if it takes a bit of time.
   110. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 22, 2006 at 03:02 AM (#2243525)
Andy,

Do you know what the injury itself was? Did he strain/tear a groin or a hammie? Or a ribcage? Or did he jerk his arm out of motion and cause a shoulder strain or something?
   111. JPWF13 Posted: November 22, 2006 at 04:00 AM (#2243559)
And I don't know where folks get this idea that he was over-rated.
How; by who?


I think because many writers disliked him personally, once he was no longer putting up 20 win seasons- they started making off hand comments about him
   112. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 22, 2006 at 04:11 AM (#2243567)
OK, here's what I wrote:

And it's not as if Feller lost everything after the injury. He still had quite a few effective years. But he was a completely different pitcher immediately after the injury, no longer the "Bob Feller" that he had been up to that exact moment. The transformation literally happened overnight.

And here's what I found on Proquest (I would have created an earthquake to dig out my 1947 Sporting News stash, though that would have been a preferable source):

Feller was indeed injured on June 13th by falling off the mound. He hurt his knee while doing so, and he apparently favored his arm as a result, but the effect of the injury didn't sideline him until he was taken out of a game in St. Louis on July 1st with a "sore back" that resulted from a "strain in his side" that Feller claimed had been caused by the Philadelphia incident. He then went briefly on the DL and did miss the All-Star game.

He then returned to pitch on July 10th, and won 10 games after that, the same number as he won before the All-Star break.

BUT---and this was really my point to begin with---his strikeout rate dropped dramatically after his return. After he came off the DL, he had one game with 8 strikeouts (against the Browns), one game with 6, several games with 3 to 5, and one game with but 1 strikeout.

Whereas prior to that June 13th game, he had two games with 10 strikeouts, four with 7, and two with 6. This in spite of control problems which he said had caused him to be "aiming" his pitches, presumably to the detriment of his strikeout rate.

It looks like a mixed bag to me. On the one hand, his strikeout rate did drop quite a bit in the second half. OTOH, even in the first half, his pace was off from the previous year, and gives credence to the possibility of some sort of a pre-existing condition prior to the slip off the mound. In the first week of June, Feller said he had a slight "hitch" in his motion that had been caused by a "tight" (but "not sore") feeling in his shoulder, and that it had possibly developed by the fact that his control had been off and he had altered his natural style in an effort to regain it.

You put all this together, and it seems as if there's a distinct possibility that (1) your workload theory had some merit, but also that (2) the June injury accelerated his decline as a power pitcher. Not "night and day" as I had thought, but more than a gradual shift, and certainly enough that by the end of the year he was no longer the "Bob Feller" that he had been in the first part of the season---which he began with two 1-hitters in his first three starts, each with 10 strikeouts. I would love to be able to ask him directly about all this.
   113. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 22, 2006 at 04:15 AM (#2243569)
Feller said he had a slight "hitch" in his motion that had been caused by a "tight" (but "not sore") feeling in his shoulder

This is backwards. He actually said that the tightness had been caused by the hitch, which in turn had been caused by his control problems. The primary culprit in the first place was the wildness.
   114. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 22, 2006 at 04:16 PM (#2243854)
You put all this together, and it seems as if there's a distinct possibility that (1) your workload theory had some merit, but also that (2) the June injury accelerated his decline as a power pitcher. Not "night and day" as I had thought, but more than a gradual shift, and certainly enough that by the end of the year he was no longer the "Bob Feller" that he had been in the first part of the season---which he began with two 1-hitters in his first three starts, each with 10 strikeouts. I would love to be able to ask him directly about all this.

Thanks for looking that up, Andy! I think you've pretty much staked out the middle ground here, and I agree that it's not unlikely that there's some combination of overwork and traumatic injury occuring here. My osteopath would tell me it's all interrelated anyway, and I suspect my MD would grumble in agreement. ; )

But seriously, I wish we had better information about injuries back in the day, it would make so many careers more understandable. I mean look at the info you've just given us. It can be ineterpreted in a variety of fashions that all seem logical and potentially accurate. But without better injury information, we'll never be able to make a truly best guess. Which is too bad, I think, because there's lots of hurlers and hitters whose career paths are so weird and where I've long wanted to know whether a lingering injury sapped their abilities or whether they had unusual age-based decline or what (and who's to say those aren't related factors either!).

Then again, a database of alcoholism and drug usage would be useful to, to understand if behavioral issues and addiction might have done some guys in....
   115. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: November 22, 2006 at 05:04 PM (#2243911)
My ballot comment (yet to be posted) says that I think Palmer was overrated and I think I said so on either this thread of the 1990 discussion thread. I said this because the stats that many mainstream people look at (Wins, Win PCT, ERA) were boosted for him because he played on great teams with great defenses behind him. Normalize these a bit and he looks good, certainly HOMable, but not as good as his raw stats suggest.
   116. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 22, 2006 at 05:22 PM (#2243938)
But seriously, I wish we had better information about injuries back in the day, it would make so many careers more understandable. I mean look at the info you've just given us. It can be ineterpreted in a variety of fashions that all seem logical and potentially accurate. But without better injury information, we'll never be able to make a truly best guess.

You're absolutely correct about this, and this particular case is a perfect example of your concern. While admittedly ProQuest's non-Cleveland papers wouldn't likely have given us as much info as the Cleveland Press or Cleveland Plain Dealer would have, nevertheless the paucity of info is pretty amazing. Here you have by far the best pitcher of his day, he starts out with two 1-hitters and 27 strikeouts in his first three starts, a few weeks later he gets removed from a game due to the injury in question, goes back to pitch for three more weeks, and then goes on the DL and references the original injury as the reason.

Imagine the number of forests that would have been felled if that happened to Pedro in 2000 instead of to Feller in 1947. And yet there was virtually nothing written about this injury at the time in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune or The Los Angeles Times. Just a brief mention that he was taken out of the game, put on the DL, and then a couple of weeks later, he's back. No curiosity as to why he went from 27 K's in three games (and many more shortly thereafter) to something like half that rate after his return. And no ruminating as to the effects of that fall off the mound, and why it almost certainly hurt his arm to keep pitching through it for the three weeks that he did. You really do have to read all the papers to even begin to get a sense of what was really going on. And of course Feller was the classic "suck it up," stoic type, who would rather drink Grade B buttermilk from a Communist cow than miss a start, which makes it even worse.

Then again, a database of alcoholism and drug usage would be useful to, to understand if behavioral issues and addiction might have done some guys in....

Yeah, I almost made the same point myself when someone earlier in the thread brought up Dwight Gooden....
   117. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 22, 2006 at 06:06 PM (#2243979)
Yuck, buttermilk is kind of nasty....

I think it's interesting that MLB even had a DL in 1947. Does anyone know how recent an innovation that was by 1947?
   118. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 22, 2006 at 06:44 PM (#2244021)
I used DL as the term, but they really just referred to the "injured list." Not sure whether or not that was a formal designation or just a way of saying that Feller wasn't playing.
   119. Cblau Posted: November 23, 2006 at 04:13 AM (#2244567)
Sure, I know how recent an innovation that was. In 1947, it was 6 years old. But the DL then was a minimum of 60 days, so I guess Andy's second choice is the right one.
   120. Steve Treder Posted: November 23, 2006 at 04:02 PM (#2244683)
Right, the DL in those days was only for guys who were out for a very extended period. Teams just played short when they had players injured for a couple of weeks or a month.

The modern DL was introduced sometime around 1955 or 1960, I believe.
   121. Howie Menckel Posted: November 23, 2006 at 04:11 PM (#2244687)
Funny I googled to bolster my memory of growing up with a 21-day - not 15-dy - DL, and the first thing I came across was cblau's:

http://mysite.verizon.net/brak2.0/dl.htm

more than you ever wanted to know (actually, for this crowd, ALL that you wanted to know, lol)
   122. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: November 27, 2006 at 12:20 AM (#2246187)
Also, for the first year Feller was in the service, he spent a lot of his time playing baseball. I know it wasn't MLB-level, but even taking it a little bit easy couldn't have helped his arm that much. And knowing Feller, I don't think he was taking that much off of his fastball.
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