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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Nolan Ryan

Eligible in 1999.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 06, 2007 at 05:56 PM | 151 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 06, 2007 at 05:59 PM (#2355947)
Yes, he's overrated, but...
   2. BDC Posted: May 06, 2007 at 06:19 PM (#2355992)
Overrated and still overqualified for any Hall.
   3. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 06, 2007 at 06:42 PM (#2356034)
Agreed with both of the above comments.

Who are the most overrated players in the game's history besides Ryan? Could we make a nine out of them? I'd have to think that Lou Brock might be on that team. Fill in the blanks:

C:
1B:
2B:
3B:
SS:
RF:
CF:
LF: Lou Brock
DH: ?
SP: Nolan Ryan
RP: ?
   4. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 06, 2007 at 06:50 PM (#2356048)
C: Ernie Lombardi?
1B: Steve Garvey?
2B: Bill Mazeroski?
3B: Pie Traynor?
SS: Luis Aparicio?
RF: Roberto Clemente
CF: Max Carey
LF: Lou Brock
DH: ?
SP: Nolan Ryan
RP: Rollie Fingers


Just off the top of my head. Some of them I actually like, so I'm not necessarily attacking their HoM credentials.
   5. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:04 PM (#2356073)
John, the only one of those I'd quarrel with is Fingers, especially when you consider his career length and his extreme versatility. He averaged nearly 2 innings per game, had a 2.35 ERA over 9 postseason series, and was one of the key figures on the A's mini-dynasty. I'd put him nearly up there with Gossage, and certainly over almost any other relief pitcher not named Mariano Rivera.

And Clemente---well, I guess he's overrated a bit by the average fan, but he was such a hell of a great ballplayer that the term "most overrated" seems a bit harsh.
   6. BDC Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:04 PM (#2356074)
There should probably be at least three divisions to an All-Overrated Team: HOFers that some people think should be on a top-25 all-time roster (Ryan); All-Stars that some people think are HOFers (Garvey); and journeyman regulars that some people thought were All-Stars (Doc Cramer, Darin Erstad, Royce Clayton). Probably could be lower divisions as well, like the What Was He Doing Playing Ten Years in the Majors Team :)
   7. OCF Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:18 PM (#2356092)
As for Ryan, in my RA+ PythPat system:

Overall record 326-273. IP per decision 8.50, which is quite low - for as much as he pitched, he got more than his share of actual decisions. My "big years score" for him, which is year-by-year FWP in excess of 15, is 16, which is well below pitchers with a real peak, such as Perry or Blyleven.

The pitcher he's a dead ringer for in the sytstem: Don Sutton. Sutton is an equivalent 320-267 with a big years score of 21.

We elected Sutton and we should elect Ryan. But if Blyeven were still on the ballot (he won't be), I'd have Blyleven ahead of Ryan.
   8. Michael Bass Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:19 PM (#2356096)
I don't think Ryan (who is of course vastly overrated) is even close to the all-history overrated SP. That honor belongs to Sandy Koufax, who is so overrated that I believe he finished as one of ESPN's top 10 *athletes* of the 20th century. Not pitchers, not baseball players (both of which would be ridiculous enough on their own), but athletes.

I actually think Ryan and Koufax are around the same level HOMer, bottom half, but still easily in, with Ryan maybe a hair ahead. But Koufax's legend has been far more inflated than even Ryan's, and that is saying something.
   9. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:26 PM (#2356106)
Koufax was 42nd on ESPN's list, sandwiched between Wilma Rudolph and Julius Erving.
   10. Michael Bass Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:29 PM (#2356112)
To fill in a couple other blanks, Bruce Sutter's ridiculous HOF election over Gossage makes him a shoo-in for the RP slot.

Brock is appropriate for LF, Rice/Dawson would be other solid corner-OF candidates of recent vintage. The "other" Waner is also a fun choice. Roger Maris, of course.

Traynor is the easy choice at 3B; even if he's HOM worthy (and he's certainly in the discussion), the period when he was considered the best 3B ever was just silly.

I might nominate Duke for CF, as he was inflated by inhabiting the same spot in the same city as Willie and Mickey. Not that Duke was bad, but he wasn't near those guys. The other CF nomination, though it pains me as a fan of his, is Junior Griffey, who was widely considered the player of the 90s, and was simply not in Bonds' league (or Biggio or Thomas or several other guys).

Aparicio is dead-on at SS, you'll never convince people of my dad's generation that he wasn't an HOFer. Marion is also in the mix.

How about Mark McGwire? Even before taking steroids into account, his case is somewhat Dale Murphy-esque, and he was laughably elected to the all-century team.
   11. Michael Bass Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:30 PM (#2356117)
Koufax was 42nd on ESPN's list, sandwiched between Wilma Rudolph and Julius Erving.


Ah, I remembered incorrectly; 42nd is still horrible enough to make my point though. :)
   12. Juan V Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:33 PM (#2356133)
The Gambler (not Kenny Rogers)?
   13. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:35 PM (#2356136)
I don't think Ryan (who is of course vastly overrated) is even close to the all-history overrated SP. That honor belongs to Sandy Koufax, who is so overrated that I believe he finished as one of ESPN's top 10 *athletes* of the 20th century. Not pitchers, not baseball players (both of which would be ridiculous enough on their own), but athletes.

Koufax may be a bit overrated in the same way that Clemente is, but only someone who never saw Koufax pitch, who puts career value excessively over peak value, who has no appreciation of the postseason, and who pays no attention to the opinions of every batter who ever faced him, could ever add the word "vastly" to that. You can make all the era and park adjustments that you want, but for five years there's never been a more dominant pitcher, and even more so a more dominant big game pitcher.
   14. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:40 PM (#2356155)
John, the only one of those I'd quarrel with is Fingers, especially when you consider his career length and his extreme versatility. He averaged nearly 2 innings per game, had a 2.35 ERA over 9 postseason series, and was one of the key figures on the A's mini-dynasty. I'd put him nearly up there with Gossage, and certainly over almost any other relief pitcher not named Mariano Rivera.


I really couldn't think of a overrated reliever at the time, Andy, but Michael's pick of Sutter might be the answer.

And Clemente---well, I guess he's overrated a bit by the average fan, but he was such a hell of a great ballplayer that the term "most overrated" seems a bit harsh.


I supported Clemente when he was eligible, so I agree. Again, I couldn't think of another player for that position at the time.
   15. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:46 PM (#2356170)
Since you're a sensible man, John, I figured it had to be something like that. And while Sutter was one hell of a relief pitcher, the fact that he made it into the HOF before Gossage says to me that Sutter's the most likely "most overrated" candidate.
   16. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:58 PM (#2356205)
Aparicio is dead-on at SS, you'll never convince people of my dad's generation that he wasn't an HOFer

Hey! I resemble that. (and you kids get off my lawn)

actually, it's more embarrassing to me that I thought Bobby Richardson was a good offensive ballplayer
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:59 PM (#2356212)
I agree that Blyleven probably was a little more effective and a little more durable.
But I have Ryan closely to catching Blyleven than to 'sinking' to Sutton's level, lol.
He was a little more effective than Sutton and definitely more durable.
   18. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 06, 2007 at 08:00 PM (#2356214)
Koufax may be a bit overrated in the same way that Clemente is, but only someone who never saw Koufax pitch, who puts career value excessively over peak value, who has no appreciation of the postseason, and who pays no attention to the opinions of every batter who ever faced him, could ever add the word "vastly" to that. You can make all the era and park adjustments that you want, but for five years there's never been a more dominant pitcher, and even more so a more dominant big game pitcher.


I think he's overrated when he's placed ahead of pitchers who had both great peaks and careers like Johnson, Grove, Clemens, etc., but he doesn't need to apologize for his peak.

Since you're a sensible man, John,


Ha! Fooled another one! :-)
   19. Urban Faber Posted: May 06, 2007 at 08:15 PM (#2356247)
He never won a Cy Young award.
   20. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 06, 2007 at 08:15 PM (#2356248)
I think [Koufax is]overrated when he's placed ahead of pitchers who had both great peaks and careers like Johnson, Grove, Clemens, etc., but he doesn't need to apologize for his peak.

Right, and that's the beauty of having two separate value categories, even though some people seem to like to ignore one or the other.
   21. TomH Posted: May 06, 2007 at 08:37 PM (#2356292)
Playing Strat-o-Matic as a youngster, I always thought it was wrong that defensive players had equally as many chances to make great plays or errors with Nolan on the mound. He wasn't able to get his fair share of strikeouts in his 1973 card; there simply wasn't enough room once you put in the required # of walks, potential plays to the defense, etc.

Which I guess shows how I wound up on blogs like this one.
   22. Michael Bass Posted: May 06, 2007 at 08:37 PM (#2356293)
You can make all the era and park adjustments that you want, but for five years there's never been a more dominant pitcher, and even more so a more dominant big game pitcher.


Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on this, but to me, I can probably with ease come up with 10 pitchers with a better 5-year peak than him, and 20 with a better 5-year non-consecutive peak (especially as his peak was 4, not 5 years). He had 3 truly great years, though no more great than the greatest of, to start with, Clemens, W. or R. Johnson, Maddux, Alexander, etc., one great but moderately abbreviated year, and a giant pile of mediocrity outside of those 4 years.

To take a pitcher from a similar time period, I'd take Gibson's 68-72 over Koufax's last 5 years any day, and Gibson had a ton of value outside of that peak.
   23. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 06, 2007 at 10:46 PM (#2356432)
Well, I think you could make a pretty good case for 110-34 over 100-53, especially considering the fact that of those 10 combined seasons, 5 out of the 7 top ERA+ seasons belonged to Koufax. And of course I wasn't arguing Koufax's career value in the first place. You can say that his career is overrated by fans who extrapolate from 1962-66, but his peak is nowhere near "overrated," especially when you throw that "vastly" into the charge.

Forgetting the Jim Crow era which is tough to compare because of the competition gap, you're really better off making an argument for Pedro, Johnson, or Maddux in terms of 5-year peaks. None of them had Koufax's consistent postseason dominance, and none of them even approached Koufax's workload, but they certainly pitched in a far tougher era.
   24. sunnyday2 Posted: May 06, 2007 at 11:32 PM (#2356487)
I agree that there are different flavors of over-rated, but still...

SP--Ryan makes the over-rated team of some flavor or other. He is not gonna crack the elect-me portion of my ballot. Whether he makes #4 or not remains TBD.
RP--Sutter is the over-rated RP, definitely ahead of Fingers IMHO
RF--Agree with Clemente, at least in light of people whining that he wasn't on the all-century team

Duke Snider, no way. He actually was very nearly the equal or Willie and Mickey at his peak/prime. Career, no. Kirby Puckett?

Koufax was the most dominant pitcher of my lifetime and I'm still alive. Of course I mean according to the Jamesian peak of 5 years. There have been pitchers as good or better for a year or two, and obviously pitchers who were better over a career. And I mean 5 consecutive years. But still, there it is. Speaking as a peak voter, he is "vastly" on my "all-time" (my lifetime) all-star team, regardless of whether it's 4 or 5 or more starting pitchers.
   25. Michael Bass Posted: May 06, 2007 at 11:56 PM (#2356515)
I never said Koufax's peak was vastly overrated, I said *he* was vastly overrated, in that it is widely assumed he is in the discussion for greatest pitcher ever. Not greatest peak pitcher, greatest pitcher. And I hope we can all agree that whoever the greatest pitcher ever is, he would have both great peak and career, a description Koufax isn't close to.

As for his peak itself, I would say it is overrated, though not vastly. For 5 year consecutive peak, I would for sure take Gibson, Clemens, Maddux, and Johnson just since Koufax retired, and possibly Pedro (I don't know that his durability allows him to reach that point, and I'm too lazy to look it up at the moment). Everyone's feelings may vary on that one, of course. The reason for my view is simple: Even in his 5 year peak, he missing about 1-1.5 years worth of total time. That tends to take away from how I measure one's value.

sunnyday - I'm honestly surprised by your last statement; if Koufax were on a theoretical HOM ballot with Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, and Randy Johnson, he'd be in your top 4? I don't think I take a backseat to all that many on peak value here (Witness my long-time votes for Jennings, Moore, Mendez, Ferrell, and the fact that I'm still clinging to Dunlap), but I just can't see voting for Koufax over at least 2 of those guys unless career/prime/anything past top 5 years is ignored altogether.
   26. BDC Posted: May 07, 2007 at 12:08 AM (#2356528)
I have to think that some anti-Sandy arguments involve a strawman of sorts, a non-thinking-fan who idolizes Koufax and cannot be brought to see, under any conditions, that maybe Walter Johnson or Lefty Grove or Roger Clemens might have been greater. But there aren't many of these straw folk on Primer ... just as there aren't many here who think that Nolan Ryan was the greatest pitcher of the last century, either.
   27. sunnyday2 Posted: May 07, 2007 at 12:52 AM (#2356592)
As for the missed time argument, Koufax started 181 games 1962-1966. Clemens never started more than 172 in 5 years, as far as I can see. Gibson 171, Seaver 180, Unit 174. I said Sandy would be one of my top 4, not that he was the best (though, yes, the best peak) of my lifetime, and certainly not the best ever. However, I would take him over the Unit, period. He's been eligible for, what?, 10 ERA titles? And I don't think he ever had more than 4 consecutive years of ERA-title eligibility. And as was mentioned, Koufax' post-season record is part of the mystique.
   28. Sean Gilman Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:00 AM (#2356602)
However, I would take him over the Unit, period. He's been eligible for, what?, 10 ERA titles? And I don't think he ever had more than 4 consecutive years of ERA-title eligibility. And as was mentioned, Koufax' post-season record is part of the mystique.

Are you talking about Randy Johnson? He has 16 seasons of 160 IP or more (14 over 200), 1989-1995, 1997-2002 and 2004-2006. I'd bet he had more IP above average at his peak than Koufax did. And he's had some pretty good postseason's as well (1995, 2001).
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:27 AM (#2356632)
Well, in top 10 IP rankings in a 5-consecutive-year prime, Koufax went 4-x-3-1-1, while Gibson 1968-72 was 3-4-3-x-4.

From 1964-72 Gibson was 3-3-4-x-3-4-3-x-4. Not bad.
Koufax only was in the top 10 those four times listed above.

Randy Johnson 1999-2005 is 1-3-2-1-x-2-5.
Roger Clemens 1987-1992 is 2-3-4-6-1-6.

Then there's Maddux, 1990-96: 2-1-1-1-1-1-2.
   30.     Hey Gurl Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:33 AM (#2356637)
For DH, how about Shea Hillenbrand? Obviously nobody thinks he's great or anything, but he's getting to the point now where he doesn't even belong on a ML roster and people still seem to think he's average or even above average.
   31. Sean Gilman Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:36 AM (#2356639)
Then there's Maddux, 1990-96: 2-1-1-1-1-1-2.

Wow.
   32. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:38 AM (#2356644)
Part of what has to be settled here revolves around two related questions:

How much relative credit do we give Koufax / Gibson for pitching all those extra innings during their peaks, compared to the Clemens era superpitchers? Doesn't the fact that they took a relatively enormous amount of pressure off their bullpens weigh heavily in their favor?

But by the same token, how much do we credit the current quartet (relative to Koufax / Gibson) for achieving what they have in a high offense era, compared to the almost historically low offensive environment (for the lively ball era, at least) that Koufax and Gibson pitched in?

And how do we balance these two contradictory pieces of the puzzle?

I don't think that any mathematical formula will ever settle this.
   33. Howie Menckel Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:51 AM (#2356661)
Ryan himself had a 1972-77 of 6-3-1-x-7-3.

Nolan asked me to mention his K top 10s instead, 1972-91:
1-1-1-6-1-1-1-1-2-4-3-5-3-3-6-1-1-1-1-3

But then Walter Johnson's ghost laughed and said, 'try MY combo of Ks from 1908-26':
5-2-1-3-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-x-1-5-1-1-2-4

'With MY IP top 10s from that period':
x-3-1-2-1-1-1-1-3-2-4-x-x-6-8-6-4
   34. Howie Menckel Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:53 AM (#2356663)
actually, to be accurate:

'With MY IP top 10s from that period':
x-3-1-3-2-1-1-1-1-3-2-4-x-x-6-8-6-x-4
   35.     Hey Gurl Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:56 AM (#2356669)

Wow.


He lead the league in *ERA+ from 92-95 as well. Four consecutive seasons of leading the league in both IP and ERA+. Now that's a peak.

How much relative credit do we give Koufax / Gibson for pitching all those extra innings during their peaks, compared to the Clemens era superpitchers? Doesn't the fact that they took a relatively enormous amount of pressure off their bullpens weigh heavily in their favor?

Well of course it is difficult because you want to give Koufax credit for all those extra innings, but at the same time it's not "fair" to the current pitchers because the opportunity was never there to pitch that many innings. I mean otherwise Cy Young is the undisputed greatest ever. Or for peak, what about Wild Bill? Three straight seasons of around 600 innings.
   36. BDC Posted: May 07, 2007 at 02:36 AM (#2356726)
Doesn't the fact that they took a relatively enormous amount of pressure off their bullpens weigh heavily in their favor?

Well, but 1990s/2000s bullpens are set up to welcome pressure. They are full of guys who expect to pitch an inning every night. Alston expected Koufax and Drysdale to pitch complete games, and the rest of the time he would send in Bob Miller or Ron Perranoski for 2 or 3 innings --or more! -- whereupon the relievers would be hors de combat for a few days and some more complete games were appreciated.

The greater value that Koufax had in a given season than, say, Pedro Martinez, is solely in the extra innings he himself pitched, not in his saving the rest of his staff some work. Pedro's bullpens expected, indeed relied on, that work.
   37. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 07, 2007 at 02:57 AM (#2356743)
How much relative credit do we give Koufax / Gibson for pitching all those extra innings during their peaks, compared to the Clemens era superpitchers? Doesn't the fact that they took a relatively enormous amount of pressure off their bullpens weigh heavily in their favor?

Well of course it is difficult because you want to give Koufax credit for all those extra innings, but at the same time it's not "fair" to the current pitchers because the opportunity was never there to pitch that many innings. I mean otherwise Cy Young is the undisputed greatest ever. Or for peak, what about Wild Bill? Three straight seasons of around 600 innings.


That's exactly the sort of difficulties involved in sorting this out that I was referring to. Who in the hell really knows whether Cy Young or Randy Johnson was a "better" or "more valuable" pitcher? An honest person would have to spend two pages of defining his terms for every word of plausible explanation of his answer.

Doesn't the fact that they took a relatively enormous amount of pressure off their bullpens weigh heavily in their favor?

Well, but 1990s/2000s bullpens are set up to welcome pressure. They are full of guys who expect to pitch an inning every night. Alston expected Koufax and Drysdale to pitch complete games, and the rest of the time he would send in Bob Miller or Ron Perranoski for 2 or 3 innings --or more! -- whereupon the relievers would be hors de combat for a few days and some more complete games were appreciated.

The greater value that Koufax had in a given season than, say, Pedro Martinez, is solely in the extra innings he himself pitched, not in his saving the rest of his staff some work. Pedro's bullpens expected, indeed relied on, that work.


Bob, that's a fine theory, but what happens to it when the bullpens implode because of overwork? This has been the Yankees' curse for the past half decade, due to starters that only make it into the fifth or sixth innings. Your explanation works only as long as you've got the bullpen to properly complement those sorts of starters, especially when they're only working every fifth day instead of every fourth. I realize that you can't hold this against the later-day pitchers, due to the changing makeup of the game, but in most circumstances the added load on the bullpen certainly is a factor to consider. This year's Red Sox bullpen, or the Yankees' 1998 pen, are decidedly not the norms here.
   38. Paul Wendt Posted: May 07, 2007 at 03:29 AM (#2356769)
OCF:
Overall record 326-273. IP per decision 8.50, which is quite low - for as much as he pitched, he got more than his share of actual decisions.

He pitched for so many years. For the last ten, he seemed to be six innings or no-hitter. That's a great exaggeration to make a point.


Michael Bass:
Rice/Dawson would be other solid corner-OF candidates of recent vintage.

Rice is rated quite a bit higher around here. Isn't that true everywhere?


JTM:
In the longer time period that you cover Cool Papa Bell is a better choice than Max Carey. (Who is Max Carey, inquiring minds outside this forum would like to know. Perhaps you mean overrated in this forum?)

--
Is it possible for a great player to be all-overrated because many fans think he may be the best of all time (Koufax, Jeter, maybe Griffey and Alomar a decade ago)?

Beyond the three-tier all-overrated team that Bob Dernier suggests, it may be "important" to distinguish overrated in historical memory and overrated while playing.

Fussing only a little over that distinction, here are some other candidates who played almost entirely during the last fifty years, too late to consider Feller, Reynolds, DiMaggio, Marion, or Slaughter.

RP Elroy Face
SP* Lew Burdette
SP Don Drysdale
SP Jim Hunter
SP Jack Morris
C Tim McCarver
1B* Boog Powell
2B Rod Carew
SS* Larry Bowa
(or if Bowa was a strictly a Philadelphia phenomenon, Maury Wills)
3B Brooks Robinson
LF* Pete Rose
CF Kirby Puckett
RF* Ruben Sierra

* I can't argue with Ryan, Garvey, Aparicio, Brock, Clemente

Powell, Carew, Bowa, and Sierra were overrated during their prime seasons, no longer today, as far as I know. Robinson and Rose were not overrated during their prime seasons, but they are today. McCarver is way overrated today :-)
   39. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: May 07, 2007 at 03:47 AM (#2356789)
Well, but 1990s/2000s bullpens are set up to welcome pressure. They are full of guys who expect to pitch an inning every night. Alston expected Koufax and Drysdale to pitch complete games, and the rest of the time he would send in Bob Miller or Ron Perranoski for 2 or 3 innings --or more! -- whereupon the relievers would be hors de combat for a few days and some more complete games were appreciated.

Result: you move from having a 9-10 man pitching staff to a 12-13 man one. So there's less bats on the bench, less opportunity for platooning, and it still hurts the quality of the team. As Earl Weaver once said, the last bat on your bench is more important than your last arm in the 'pen. The latter's merely a mop up man, while the former can be asked to pinch hit in clutch situations.
   40. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 07, 2007 at 11:33 AM (#2356875)
JTM:
In the longer time period that you cover Cool Papa Bell is a better choice than Max Carey. (Who is Max Carey, inquiring minds outside this forum would like to know. Perhaps you mean overrated in this forum?)


I couldn't think of anyone at the time, Paul. Bell is certainly a better choice than Carey. Marc's choice of Puckett isn't bad either, though Kirby's HoM credentials are pretty strong.
   41. BDC Posted: May 07, 2007 at 11:52 AM (#2356880)
you move from having a 9-10 man pitching staff to a 12-13 man one. So there's less bats on the bench, less opportunity for platooning, and it still hurts the quality of the team

How do you figure? It may have hurt a team in 1966 to suddenly carry 12 pitchers, but how does it hurt a team today to carry that many, when everyone's doing it?

And in terms of the comparison between Koufax and Martinez, for instance (or, if you like, Nolan Ryan 1973 vs. Roger Clemens 2007), the latter pitcher takes just as much pressure off his bullpen as the former. The 60s/70s guys threw a lot of complete games and the 90s/00s guys threw a lot of those routine seven-inning starts where you get to your set-up man and closer (who thrive on those brief appearances) in beautiful shape. Naturally either type is preferable to some palooka who is in the showers by the fourth inning, Andy, but that's not the issue :)
   42. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: May 07, 2007 at 12:22 PM (#2356898)
I know you guys aren't actually allowed to do this, but it would be great if the Hall of Merit could in some way convey that Ryan is extremely overrated, I think by far the most overrated baseball player of today. The man walked TWO THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND NINETY-FIVE guys. That's over 50% more than the next guy! Of all career records, I believe that only Rickey!'s SB record even comes close. He's in a tie for 255th all-time in career ERA+; sure, he hung around forever, but his decline phase was not bad, and his single-season ERA+ marks are not impressive (only one above 142, which was 192 in the strike year; I don't know where 142 ranks among single-seasons, but #50 is 191, and #100 is 178, so it has to be way down there.) His ERA+ leaderboards are 1,1,3,5,7,7,10, and that's it.

I mean, he pitched a ton of innings, but here you have a perfect example of a guy who fits the Hall of Fame (a no-brainer for that, IMO) a whole lot better than the Hall of Merit (if he's in, it's barely IMO.)
   43. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 07, 2007 at 12:31 PM (#2356904)
I know you guys aren't actually allowed to do this, but it would be great if the Hall of Merit could in some way convey that Ryan is extremely overrated,


The only place that we would deliberately convey that, AS, is in our player and discussion threads by individual posters (like you just did). But when it comes to our plaques, I try to create the most positive spin for each inductee. I think they are due that, despite what my personal views are concerning a particular inductee.

If Ryan is not elected his first year of eligibility, that would also highlight our standards compared to the HOF.
   44. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 07, 2007 at 12:35 PM (#2356907)
But there aren't many of these straw folk on Primer ... just as there aren't many here who think that Nolan Ryan was the greatest pitcher of the last century, either.


The people that I have had debates over that opinion have been totally clueless about the game and its history, which illustrates the media's creation of that perception.
   45. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:02 PM (#2356931)
And in terms of the comparison between Koufax and Martinez, for instance (or, if you like, Nolan Ryan 1973 vs. Roger Clemens 2007), the latter pitcher takes just as much pressure off his bullpen as the former. The 60s/70s guys threw a lot of complete games and the 90s/00s guys threw a lot of those routine seven-inning starts where you get to your set-up man and closer (who thrive on those brief appearances) in beautiful shape. Naturally either type is preferable to some palooka who is in the showers by the fourth inning, Andy, but that's not the issue :)

But the problem lies in the domino effect. Pedro gives you seven innings, a setup man and a closer come in and finish the job, and everything's nice and tidy.

But when a seven inning guy is the ace of your staff, that means that the setup guy and the closer aren't just going to be the ace's private valet service. Those two guys are going to be needed in many other situations, to bail out the rest of the staff's early exits.

Which means that every complete game adds one more game that Mr. Setup and Mr. Closer are available when they're needed. Throw in the four man rotation, and I think it's pretty clear that over the course of a season, a Koufax-style pitcher, who's not dependent on his bullpen to anywhere near the extent that a Pedro is, is far more valuable to his team.

Of course when you're talking Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, or Randy Johnson, the differences are small indeed, and I've already said that you have to factor in the vastly superior offenses of today. And though I'm 100% certain that a 1962-66 Koufax would be a superstar in any era, I doubt that he'd ever be able to put up a 1962-66 number of innings today. So this isn't a case of saying that he was "better" than those four, even in terms of peak value; it's only to say that he simplified a team's task of winning a lot of games in which he didn't pitch. And that's a factor you can't ignore.
   46. sunnyday2 Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:04 PM (#2356936)
OK I took a refresher on the numbers and I won't say I over-stated Koufax' peak but I understated some others. Two things in Koufax' favor:

1. He strung his 5 best years together. Nobody else did that. (Counter: So what? Koufax' 5 best all came together because there weren't any others.)

2. He pitched more innings than most at his peak. (Counter: Well, not more than Gibby.)

So clearly there's an argument for the other guys that have been mentioned here.

But my main point right now is I had forgotten how good Maddux peak was. Forget Gibby in 1968, how about Maddux going 272-262, and an arithmetic average over 200 for 5 consecutive. Holy crap! Of course, in an average of 228 IP. (Clemens' top 5 consecutive are in 222 IP a year, but Johnson's is 255 per year, so a few more innings was not impossible during Maddux' run.

So among the "big 6," the best 5 year peaks?

1. Maddux
2. R. Johnson
3. Koufax
4. Gibson
5. Clemens
6. Seaver

Actually if anybody here is "not like the rest," it is Seaver. I only looked at these 6, there might be others that I'm missing.
   47. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:17 PM (#2356955)
Of course, in an average of 228 IP. (Clemens' top 5 consecutive are in 222 IP a year, but Johnson's is 255 per year, so a few more innings was not impossible during Maddux' run.

Maddux lost some IP to the strike of course. If you just extrapolate his innings in 1994 and 1995 to his team playing 162 games, he gains 111 innings for an average of about 250. (This is a bit high, because he started the Braves' last game immediately before the strike in 1994, and because he was on pace to throw a career high that year, so we need to regress a bit... say 247 average.)

Maddux's peak is really just ridiculous.
   48. BDC Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:26 PM (#2356964)
every complete game adds one more game that Mr. Setup and Mr. Closer are available when they're needed. Throw in the four man rotation, and I think it's pretty clear that over the course of a season, a Koufax-style pitcher, who's not dependent on his bullpen to anywhere near the extent that a Pedro is, is far more valuable to his team

Yes, I would agree; we are just expressing the concept a little differently. I just wouldn't consider the bullpen as a big concern. Nowadays managers expect and plan for seven-inning starts; they are greatly relieved when Pedro or Roger gets them to the start of the eighth with a lead, just as Walter Alston was when Drysdale pitched nine (or ten!) innings. But a 1960s ace starter was a more valuable player to his team, absolutely; way more IP.

The man walked TWO THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND NINETY-FIVE guys

While giving up only 3,923 hits (5,386 IP) ... one feature of the Ryan B-Ref page that I love is his climb up the WHIP leaderboards. He was 8th in the league in WHIP in 1973 even though he walked 162 batters. He began to appear on the WHIP leaderboard regularly in the 80s, moving ever higher, and twice with the Rangers he led the American League.
   49. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:35 PM (#2356970)
Since I raised the point....

C: None. I'm not convinced that any catcher can be overrated, most are underrated. Schalk and Ferrell were overrated by the Vets but the average fan doesn't know who the hell they are. Well, maybe Bob Boone?
1B: Gil Hodges (maybe Tony Perez?)
2B: Tony Lazzeri
3B: Pie Traynor
SS: Luis Aparicio
RF: Sammy Sosa (Clemente and S. Rice trailing)
CF: Kirby Puckett (Hack Wilson and Lloyd Waner, alternates)
LF: Lou Brock (J. Rice very close by)
DH: ? (Not enough candidates yet.)
SP: Nolan Ryan
SP: Catfish Hunter
SP: Dizzy Dean
SP: Jack Morris
RP: Bruce Sutter (You expected Jose Mesa?)

Honorary Degree in Overration: David Eckstein
   50. sunnyday2 Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:40 PM (#2356977)
PS. I missed the punch line. Ryan isn't even in this discussion (best peaks of the past 50 years). So yes, he's over-rated.

Here, actually, is my rating of the top pitchers who became eligible in the past decade or so.

1. Seaver
2. Carlton
3. Palmer
4. Blyleven
5. Fingers--currently #3 (1998), #4-5 in 1999

6. Ryan--somewhere between #4 and #20, I guess, probably closer to #4
7. Niekro
8. Quisenberry--currently around #20-22
9. Sutton--currently around #30a
10. Sutter

11. Stieb--possibly belongs ahead of Sutton, after that he's just a couple relievers (i.e. judgment calls) behind Ryan, but he is behind Ryan for sure
12. John--down in the 50s, not a factor
13. Reuschel
14. Koosman
15. Tanana
   51. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:43 PM (#2356984)
15. Tanana

I was wondering what this had to do with Frank Tanana!
   52. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:45 PM (#2356988)
While giving up only 3,923 hits (5,386 IP) ... one feature of the Ryan B-Ref page that I love is his climb up the WHIP leaderboards. He was 8th in the league in WHIP in 1973 even though he walked 162 batters. He began to appear on the WHIP leaderboard regularly in the 80s, moving ever higher, and twice with the Rangers he led the American League.

This reminds me of something I wanted to get a memory check on. Someone please tell me if I've got his story straight. I don't have the N/J Pitchers book in front of me, but my recollection was that Ryan threw a fastball (with, shall we say, less than predictable movement) and a hammer curve until sometime in the 1980s. Then he started throwing a really good changeup that he folded in as he got older. It had become a really important part of his arsenal by his Rangers days.

Does that seem about right?

Also as to six innings versus no-hittings, that's my recollection too. In his early forties, he usually only started in Texas, and he tended to go six innings in the heat/humidity of Arlington Stadium...about an inning more than Texas' other pitchers went! But my memory can be faulty sometimes, so I might be wrong.
   53. BDC Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:47 PM (#2356991)
Overrating at DH ... Harold Baines is actually one of my favorites, and was a very good hitter. It was a bit extreme of the White Sox to retire his number halfway through his career, though :)
   54. sunnyday2 Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:53 PM (#2356999)
So adding in the backlog, the 1999 pitchers:

1. Fingers
2. Joss
3. Ryan
4. Redding
5. Newcombe--Ryan over Redding is a judgment call, Ryan over Newcombe is a "yes" call

6. Willis--probably under-rated, must take a new look
7. Quis
(7a. Bunning)
8. Grimes
9. Cicotte
(9a. Sutton)
10. Sutter

11. Dean
12. Walters--possibly a ()?
13. Stieb
14. Gomez
15. Tommy Bond

16. Hilton Smith
17. Tiant
18. McCormick
19. Bridges
20. John
(20a. Ferrell)

21. Wi. Cooper
22. Welch
23. Mullane
24. A. Cooper
25. Bill Byrd

HM. (Pierce), (E. Wynn), L. Matlock, Luque, Shocker--rounding out my top 100 + HoM/not PHoM

Net net: Ryan over-rated, easily on ballot but not in an elect-me position and probably more like about #9 or #10.
   55. Juan V Posted: May 07, 2007 at 02:19 PM (#2357032)
Lazzeri is underrated by the HOM electorate :)
   56. DL from MN Posted: May 07, 2007 at 03:58 PM (#2357149)
Slots nicely between Steve Carlton and Robin Roberts in my all-time listings. More PRAR than anyone but Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Joe Williams (MLE), Warren Spahn, Bob Feller (MLE) and Pete Alexander. HoM 20th percentile in PRAA. Take Juan Marichal or Don Drysdale and add 8 seasons of average innings eating.
   57. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 07, 2007 at 03:58 PM (#2357150)
On Sportscenter yesterday they tried to drum up hype for Tim Lincecum's debut on Sunday Night Baseball by saying something like this...

"Ever wondered if there will be another Sandy Koufax? Watch and see tonight if another small bodied pitcher is destined for greatness1"

Um, hello? Pretty sure Pedro Martinez, to name just one, was small bodied and he was MUCH better than Koufax!

BTW, big disappointment last night, Hamels vs. Lincecum and there are like 15 runs in the game.
   58. sunnyday2 Posted: May 07, 2007 at 05:05 PM (#2357225)
OK I finally looked up Pedro's record. Yes, best peak of my lifetime, ya got me there. Even Maddux does not mount a strong challenge. Granting that 2 of them (* below) are in <200 IP, has anybody gotten 4 200 ERA+s and a 5th at 199???

Maddux 272-262-191-187-162 in 5 consecutive and an adjacent 170 blows Koufax and Clemens away
Pedro 290-242-206*-199*-163 with an adjacent 221 blows Maddux away

Pedro's average is 215 IP over the 6 years (I do not count injury years < 162 IP in a consecutive run). Maddux' average is 236 IP for 6 years, not a massive difference.

The only other 200 ERA+ in a peak run are one by Gibson and two by Clemens. Pedro IOW is one short of Gibson, Clemens, Maddux, Koufax and Seaver combined for 200 ERA+ seasons within a peak run. Ryan has that 195 in a short season but with 142-142 as next best, he is not anywhere near being in the conversation.
   59. kthejoker Posted: May 07, 2007 at 05:14 PM (#2357235)
Pedro had a pretty nice streak, I hear.
   60. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 07, 2007 at 05:34 PM (#2357258)
"Ever wondered if there will be another Sandy Koufax? Watch and see tonight if another small bodied pitcher is destined for greatness1"

Roy Oswalt too.
   61. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 07, 2007 at 05:44 PM (#2357267)
OK I finally looked up Pedro's record. Yes, best peak of my lifetime, ya got me there. Even Maddux does not mount a strong challenge. Granting that 2 of them (* below) are in <200 IP, has anybody gotten 4 200 ERA+s and a 5th at 199???

Maddux 272-262-191-187-162 in 5 consecutive and an adjacent 170 blows Koufax and Clemens away
Pedro 290-242-206*-199*-163 with an adjacent 221 blows Maddux away

Pedro's average is 215 IP over the 6 years (I do not count injury years < 162 IP in a consecutive run). Maddux' average is 236 IP for 6 years, not a massive difference.


All of which is impressive, but it still leaves unresolved the question of all those extra starts, extra complete games and total innings that Koufax and Gibson put up, and how that compares to a better ERA+ rate with far fewer complete games and innings.

One other factor to consider is that I've read---and not being sure about this, I'll listen to contrary opinions---that it's easier to put up relatively high ERA+ figures in an era of high offense, compared to an historically low scoring era, like the 1960's. If true, you might need to adjust for that as well.

But it still comes down to how much weight you put on those extra starts, extra complete games, and extra innings. And there's really no formula that I know of that weighs that call with any precision.
   62. OCF Posted: May 07, 2007 at 05:51 PM (#2357273)
One other factor to consider is that I've read---and not being sure about this, I'll listen to contrary opinions---that it's easier to put up relatively high ERA+ figures in an era of high offense, compared to an historically low scoring era, like the 1960's

I'm quite sure this is false. I've posted evidence before, but can't find it right now.
   63. DL from MN Posted: May 07, 2007 at 05:58 PM (#2357283)
If I was making a most overrated list of pitchers I think Catfish Hunter would rank a lot higher than Nolan Ryan. I'll give it a shot:

C: Ernie Lombardi
1B: George Sisler
2B: Nellie Fox
3B: Ray Dandridge or George Kell
SS: Luis Aparicio
RF: Chuck Klein
CF: Kirby Puckett
LF: Lou Brock
DH: Jim Rice
SP: Catfish Hunter
SP: Jack Morris
SP: Jim Kaat
SP: Dizzy Dean
RP: Bruce Sutter
   64. sunnyday2 Posted: May 07, 2007 at 06:19 PM (#2357300)
Well, there still remains the question of over-rated by whom, and compared to what standard. I am speaking specifically of Jack Morris. Who really rates him that highly? Yes, he's gotten a few HoF votes, while Dave Stieb didn't. But he ain't gonna get in, he never won an MVP or a Cy. I'm not sure he is rated highly enought to be over-rated. Ditto Jim Kaat, well, unless and until he gets into the HoF.

Just to narrow it down I'd say, Who is in the HoF who either shouldn't be or who went in too fast (e.g. BBWAA rather than back door). I amnot disagreeing with anybody's list, just offering a more specific criterion.

C--Rick Ferrell--not as good as Schnozz and both went into the Hall the same way
1B--George Kelly--don't see how anybody could be more over-rated than him
2B--Bill Mazeroski--Fox had to schlep around before getting in and he was better than Maz
SS--Travis Jackson--not even close
3B--Freddy Lindstrom--Dandridge woulda run rings around him
LF--Chick Hafey--nobody else close
CF--Lloyd Waner--ditto
RF--Tommy McCarthy--ditto ditto
DH (next worst)--Earl Combs

SP--Hoyt, Bender, Pennock, Haines, Marquard
RP--Sutter--though this is not really fair, he is better than all these other guys, not that he is a deserving HoFer IMO, but there are too few RPs to pick from just yet

Now if the criterion was that a guy is regarded as Inner Circle or close (and ain't) that would be a different group. Obviously you can blow these choices out of the water by saying, well, nobody ever said they were Inner Circle.

C--Dickey
1B--Sisler--a deserving HoFer IMO but, no, not Inner Circle (IC)
2B--Frisch
SS--Banks or Cronin
3B--Traynor--still ranked as #1 of all-time when I was a kid
LF--Medwick--unless you wanna say that nobody really thinks he's IC, then Yaz
CF--Puckett--there's nobody who is really IC who doesn't belong there
RF--Clemente
DH--Yaz or Medwick or maybe Willie Keeler

SP--Ford, Brown, Lemon, Ryan, Dean, Plank--only because nobody ever said Early Wynn was IC
   65. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 07, 2007 at 06:29 PM (#2357323)
One other factor to consider is that I've read---and not being sure about this, I'll listen to contrary opinions---that it's easier to put up relatively high ERA+ figures in an era of high offense, compared to an historically low scoring era, like the 1960's

I'm quite sure this is false. I've posted evidence before, but can't find it right now.


Let me put this another way.

How would you compare (in terms of value to his team) these two seasons?

Pitcher 1: 25 - 5; 311 IP; 40 GS; 20 CG; 161 ERA+ (Koufax, 1963)

Pitcher 2: 16 - 7; 240 IP; 34 GS; 3 CG; 158 ERA+ (Tim Hudson, 2003)

Does the minute 3 point difference in ERA+ even begin to address the difference in value between those two seasons?

Now look at Pedro's best season:

23 - 4; 213 IP; 29 GS; 5 CG; 245 ERA+

Obviously in Pedro's case his win total reflects some combination of devasting effectiveness on his part, plus the effectiveness of his bullpen. And that 81 point ERA+ difference is huge, no question.

BUT----

Given the Red Sox's offense that year (about 5.4 RPG), which would be worth more to a team? A pitcher with 213 IP who can reduce the opposition an extra fraction of a run below what a 161 ERA+ might be translated to---or a pitcher with that 161 ERA+ who can give you 11 extra starts, 15 more complete games, and 98 extra innings?

Remember, if ERA+ holds true among different eras of offense, then this would be a true comparison, in terms of appraising team value. And you're forcing 98 extra innings on your bullpen, which might have been needed in games where Mark Portugal caved in early.

Of course I'm not saying that Koufax would have, or could have put up those innings in the modern era---although you could make the case that you really can't tell, because it's never been tried. But I am saying that there's a lot more to "value" than simply ranking ERA+ figures.
   66. AROM Posted: May 07, 2007 at 06:46 PM (#2357352)
"Ever wondered if there will be another Sandy Koufax? Watch and see tonight if another small bodied pitcher is destined for greatness1"

Um, hello? Pretty sure Pedro Martinez, to name just one, was small bodied and he was MUCH better than Koufax!


Has Koufax gotten smaller in his old age? I know it happens, my grandfather was around 6 ft in his prime but more like 5-8, 5-9 at the end of his life. Koufax wasn't small when he pitched.

6-2, 210
   67. AROM Posted: May 07, 2007 at 07:11 PM (#2357396)
I just did some quick calculations on Pedro vs Sandy. I took their best years, for Pedro its 2000 and for Sandy its 1966.

Pedro saves more runs than Sandy, mostly because he pitched in a higher run environment. Convert it to wins, and Pedro is still slightly ahead in wins over average, but Sandy comes ahead when comparing wins over replacement level. I used lg avg * 1.20 to get replacement level. Use a smaller replacement level, 1.1, and Sandy is still ahead. They are dead even when using 1.05 as replacement level. That seems way too low, unless you think 4.20 is replacement level when average = 4.00, so a slight edge to Sandy.

Could he have pitched that many innings in the 2000 game? Most likely not, as it would take more batters faced and pitches thrown to get through an inning. Of course, if he had pitched only 6-7 innings every 5th day he also might have lasted a lot longer. For Pedro, would he have done anything in the 1966 game? If he was thrown out there every 4th day and made to throw up to 200 pitches in a game who can say he'd even have had a 10 year career?

Its one of those questions about all time greats where there isn't a clear cut answer, which is a good thing. Hopefully nobody will ever devise a foolproof superstat or we'll really miss opportunities to debate this stuff.
   68. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 07, 2007 at 07:27 PM (#2357421)
Of course Koufax pitched more innings, he pitched in the 1960's! If you really want to check the value of IP in season bewteen Pedro and Koufax, you would have to look at something like IP+, not straight IP. This should seem obvious.

I had Koufax in an elect-me spot and I realize that he and Pedro have very similar 4 or 5 year runs. But Pedro has a lot more outside of that run that koufax does. What does Koufax have outside of his best six years? At the same time Pedro's time with the Mets has been prety valuable and esily falls outside of his best six seasons. Not too close for me.

Second, I was only repeating what was said on Sportscenter. Odd, how they think that 6'2" is small, especially for the 1960's. (Am I correct to think that people and pitchers are generally taller than they were 40 years ago?)
   69. DCW3 Posted: May 07, 2007 at 07:28 PM (#2357422)
C: None. I'm not convinced that any catcher can be overrated, most are underrated.

Tell that to anyone who's had to listen to people talk about what incredible players guys like Mike Matheny or Brad Ausmus or Yadier Molina are. Maybe catchers who are good enough to to be reasonably mentioned in Hall of Fame discussions are rarely overrated, but good-glove/no-hit catchers (like Boone, who topped 5% of several HoF ballots) are almost always badly overrated.
   70. AROM Posted: May 07, 2007 at 07:53 PM (#2357451)
If you really want to check the value of IP in season bewteen Pedro and Koufax, you would have to look at something like IP+, not straight IP. This should seem obvious.

If you were to adjust the innings pitched for the two, then obviously you would also have to make some adjustment to ERA+. How would Koufax pitch if he was removed from the game when he was tired (in 1966 9th inning was his worst inning) and given an extra day of rest?

Whatever answer you come up with will be heavily dependent on the assumptions you make to come up with it. I chose to make as few assumptions as possible and look at the two in the common currency of wins added.
   71. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 07, 2007 at 07:57 PM (#2357457)
Of course Koufax pitched more innings, he pitched in the 1960's! If you really want to check the value of IP in season bewteen Pedro and Koufax, you would have to look at something like IP+, not straight IP. This should seem obvious.


I agree with you there, Mark. Sandy just wouldn't have had the IP opportunities that he had in the Sixties.

With that said, Martinez still wasn't as durable as Koufax was for 1965-66.
   72. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 07, 2007 at 09:27 PM (#2357584)
For what it's worth, it's nice to see a thread where everyone seems to be trying to get to an answer rather than flaming each other, and where lots of people seem to realize that some questions are unanswerable without a actual working time machine.
   73. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 07, 2007 at 09:36 PM (#2357595)
without a actual working time machine.

But Andy, with a working time machine, we'd likely put a rift in the space-time continuum, causing a possible distortion in Sandy's and/or Pedro's record. Without knowing the magnitude of that distortion over the league (or for that matter being able to recognize the rift itself), let alone the pitchers in question, we'd be pushing the truth further away rather than closer!

Mmmph, anyone wants some of my RingDings?
   74. JPWF13 Posted: May 07, 2007 at 10:23 PM (#2357665)
I have to think that some anti-Sandy arguments involve a strawman of sorts, a non-thinking-fan who idolizes Koufax and cannot be brought to see, under any conditions, that maybe Walter Johnson or Lefty Grove or Roger Clemens might have been greater. But there aren't many of these straw folk on Primer ...


There may not be many of thsoe on BBTF, but they are not actually strawmen either- they exist, I work with one...

One item about Koufax's peak was from 1962- 1966 he had a road ERA of 2.58 and a home ERA of 1.37

for a 5 year period that's quite a split, Tom Seaver for instance, in his best 5 consectutive seasons (68-72), had a road ERA of 2.30
   75. BDC Posted: May 07, 2007 at 10:47 PM (#2357693)
If you really want to check the value of IP in season bewteen Pedro and Koufax, you would have to look at something like IP+, not straight IP. This should seem obvious.

Doesn't seem that obvious to me. In a sense Koufax and Martinez played somewhat different roles, not directly comparable even using IP+. In fact, the difference in roles is what makes the comparison so vexed. It's distantly like comparing modern specialists in football to one-platoon players. Sure, the best one-platoon players did not excel relative to their peers in terms of downs played any more than the best moderns do; but in absolute terms the one-platooners had a lot more impact on the outcome of the games they played.
   76. KJOK Posted: May 07, 2007 at 11:04 PM (#2357712)
How much relative credit do we give Koufax / Gibson for pitching all those extra innings during their peaks, compared to the Clemens era superpitchers? Doesn't the fact that they took a relatively enormous amount of pressure off their bullpens weigh heavily in their favor?


How much is an open question I suppose, but as far as taking pressure off their bullpens, etc., I would give them almost no credit because they weren't pitching all that many more than their contemporaries. Guys like:

Jim Kaat
Mickey Lolich
Bob Friend
Claude Osteen
Jim Perry
Tommy John
Larry Jackson
Milt Pappas
Lew Burdette
Curt Simmons
etc.

were going 8 or 9 innings many times also, so there was some, but not a lot, of advantage in their usage, at least compared to their EFFECTIVENESS advantage.
   77. KJOK Posted: May 07, 2007 at 11:06 PM (#2357721)
Most Over-rated 1B - Tony Perez.
   78. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 07, 2007 at 11:44 PM (#2357753)
How much relative credit do we give Koufax / Gibson for pitching all those extra innings during their peaks, compared to the Clemens era superpitchers? Doesn't the fact that they took a relatively enormous amount of pressure off their bullpens weigh heavily in their favor?

How much is an open question I suppose, but as far as taking pressure off their bullpens, etc., I would give them almost no credit because they weren't pitching all that many more than their contemporaries.


Bob answered that in the previous post.

In a sense Koufax and Martinez played somewhat different roles...In fact, the difference in roles is what makes the comparison so vexed. It's distantly like comparing modern specialists in football to one-platoon players. Sure, the best one-platoon players did not excel relative to their peers in terms of downs played any more than the best moderns do; but in absolute terms the one-platooners had a lot more impact on the outcome of the games they played.

Exactly. Koufax may not have been as "good" as pitcher as Pedro, but at the same time he was a bigger part of his team's success. Pitching as a whole is no more or less valuable than it ever was, but 25% of a team's starting rotation, with a far greater percentage of complete games, is almost by definition going to have more of an impact on a team than 20% of that rotation, with a much smaller percentage of complete games.

Whether any given pitcher in the first case is more valuable than any given pitcher in the second case depends on the particulars, but the the general proposition is mathematically indisputable. Hell, there were many 19th century pitchers who pitched in nearly every game. Some of them essentially were one man pitching staffs, and some of them like Al Spalding pitched their teams to pennants. I doubt if Pedro or Koufax or even Cy Young were ever quite that valuable to their teams.
   79. AndrewJ Posted: May 07, 2007 at 11:45 PM (#2357755)
Most overrated starting pitcher: Rube Marquard. He was only 24 games over .500 during his career (201-177), and 19 of those victories came in succession in 1912. He's in Cooperstown because of that streak, because he lived a staggeringly long time, was a NY Giant when the HOF Veterans' Committee was stocked with ex-Jints and he was the subject of the opening chapter of THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES. Vida Blue and Luis Tiant were demonstrably better pitchers... and I'm not convinced they're Hall-worthy, either.
   80. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 07, 2007 at 11:53 PM (#2357764)
Marquard's also in because of a lobbying campaign that would have put Enron to shame. I don't remember the details, but about 10 or 15 years ago one of the participants in this campaign described it to me, and I remember thinking that I was glad they weren't trying to get Eddie Yost or Ralph Branca into the Hall, because they probably would have succeeded in that, too.
   81. AndrewJ Posted: May 08, 2007 at 12:20 AM (#2357783)
And recent Marquard biographers have concluded that most of Rube's anecdotes in THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES were, shall we say, about as accurate as Grandpa Simpson's.
   82. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 08, 2007 at 12:24 AM (#2357785)
And recent Marquard biographers have concluded that most of Rube's anecdotes in THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES were, shall we say, about as accurate as Grandpa Simpson's.


Are you telling me that Rube didn't want his Matlock?
   83. Paul Wendt Posted: May 08, 2007 at 01:17 AM (#2357820)
sunnyday
PS. I missed the punch line. Ryan isn't even in this discussion (best peaks of the past 50 years). So yes, he's over-rated.

Here, actually, is my rating of the top pitchers who became eligible in the past decade or so.

1. Seaver
2. Carlton
3. Palmer
4. Blyleven
5. Fingers--currently #3 (1998), #4-5 in 1999

6. Ryan--somewhere between #4 and #20, I guess, probably closer to #4


Ryan above Niekro and Perry makes a Ryan fan here.


OCF #62 quoted Andy and replied:
62. OCF Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:51 PM (#2357273)
> One other factor to consider is that I've read---and not being sure about this, I'll listen to contrary opinions---
> that it's easier to put up relatively high ERA+ figures in an era of high offense, compared to an historically low scoring era, like the 1960's

I'm quite sure this is false. I've posted evidence before, but can't find it right now.


I agree. In the 1900s and 1930s, see the opposite of the 1960s and 1990s: historically high career ERA+ for several of the deadball era pitchers. Of course, it may be easier to put up ERA+ (standard deviation of ERA+ may be unusually high) in the 1990s for some reason other than high run-scoring. DanR made the argument for batting, or batting plus fielding.

Here '1990s' may be 1993-2007, '1900s' may be 1904-1919, etc. The high and low run-scoring eras.


sunnyday quoted DL from MN and replied
I'm not sure he is rated highly enought to be over-rated. Ditto Jim Kaat, well, unless and until he gets into the HoF.

Jim Kaat overrated, must be a MN thing.
As I suggested re Larry Bowa, it isn't easy to judge how someone is rated worldwide, who played locally


KJOK Posted: May 07, 2007 at 07:06 PM (#2357721)
Most Over-rated 1B - Tony Perez.

certainly overrated by history.
by posterity -- whatever happened to 'posterity'?
Boog Powell (whom I listed) was overrated at his peak, but hey Mike Epstein and Ron Blomberg were hopefully overrated even more.
   84. karlmagnus Posted: May 08, 2007 at 01:39 AM (#2357845)
Overrated:

Mark Belanger, by 70's Baltimore fans, thought to be a HOF'er

Cal Ripken, esp by Baltimore fans, but most casual fans still think of him as inner-circle, which he wasn't.
   85. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 08, 2007 at 02:49 AM (#2357927)
Overrated:

Mark Belanger, by 70's Baltimore fans, thought to be a HOF'er

Cal Ripken, esp by Baltimore fans, but most casual fans still think of him as inner-circle, which he wasn't.


I dunno about Cal's being all that overrated. I think his relative standing's slipped with the rise of the Super Shortstops over the past decade, but before that, he was probably only behind Wagner in overall value among shortstops. Of course no human being could ever live up to Cal's public reputation, so in that sense it'd be impossible for him NOT to be overrated.

As for Belanger, there were probably a hundred times as many fans who think Ryan was better than Seasver and who think that Rose and Clemente were better than Musial, than think Mark Belanger was a HOFer. Even in Baltimore. They're not THAT dumb.

BTW one little bit of irony about Belanger is that he used to hit very well against Nolan Ryan.
   86. sunnyday2 Posted: May 08, 2007 at 03:00 AM (#2357938)
Paul, I do in fact have Ryan over Niekro but G. Perry is in a different cohort. I am pretty sure Gaylerd would be ahead of Ryan.
   87. OCF Posted: May 08, 2007 at 06:07 AM (#2358084)
Of course, it may be easier to put up ERA+ (standard deviation of ERA+ may be unusually high) in the 1990s for some reason other than high run-scoring.

It's the IP. It's a little different from the reason all the top closers have such stratospheric ERA+, but it's somewhat related. If you know that your yearly workload is 190-220 innings and not 260-290; if you know that you'll usualy come out of the game before the 8th or after 100-110 pitches, then you can bear down more on the pitches you do throw. You'll throw fewer pitches while tired. You'll seldom face the same batter more than three times in a game. Of course the system also requires that 26 teams come up with 5th starters, and replacements for 5th starters when someone gets hurt or goes ineffective. A starter that stinks is going to have a low ERA+ himself, and he's going to hand a lot of innings over to garbage relievers who mostly aren't very good themselves - that's part of the background against which a Maddux or Martinez will be measured.

I'd also add that (low workload) enables (low ERA) is not that recent a disovery. Look at the all the one-year or two-year wonder pitchers posting fabulous ERA's for the 19-oughts Cubs. Look at Ted Lyons, and along with Lyons all of the other 1930's pitchers spinning terrific 140-IP seasons in their old age.

I hope they never legalize the 30-man roster. I wouldn't like the game that resulted. But if they ever did legalize that and if I were GM of a high-budget team and just wanted to win, never mind whether it looks good, I would do the following. I'd stockpile a whole bunch of old-but-good pitchers - David Wells, Orlando Hernandez, Kenny Rogers, Tom Glavine - and go to a 7-man rotation. In other words, instead of Ted Lyons pitching on Sunday, I'd have 7 Ted Lyons types pitching once a week. And within that 7-man rotation, the starters would still be held to 100-110 pitches per game, with the usual array of LOOGYs, setup men, and closers that teams already feature. Yeah, it would be ugly - but it would also win games.
   88. Russ Posted: May 08, 2007 at 11:04 AM (#2358096)
Sandy Koufax = Jim Brown = Bobby Orr / Mario Lemieux = Pete Maravich? Jerry West?

All guys who played enough such that they could be recognized as the most talented players at their sport, but did not have sufficiently long enough careers to ensure a spot as the greatest to play at their position sport (WJohnson/Clemens - Smith / Payton - Gretzky - Jordan/Chamberlain).
   89. BDC Posted: May 08, 2007 at 12:03 PM (#2358114)
Jim Brown is maybe not the greatest choice for that analogy, Russ, since he held the career rushing yardage record very convincingly when he retired. In fact he's still eighth in career yards even though he played almost half his career in 12-game seasons, the rest in 14-game. He is like Koufax in that both retired after a dominating stretch of seasons, with no decline ... the Rocky Marcianos of their sports ...
   90. sunnyday2 Posted: May 08, 2007 at 12:31 PM (#2358126)
And the basketball part of the equation is, well, weak. Jerry West as a short career guy? Pete Maravich anywhere near a discussion of "the greatest"? Heck, Jordan and Chamberlain are more like Jimmy Brown--both quite while they were ahead, though Jordan came back...well, then quit while he was ahead again. Bill Walton is the analogy you're looking for, though that's really not a very good one either. There isn't a good one. But then none of them are very good.
   91. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 08, 2007 at 12:53 PM (#2358149)
One other factor to consider is that I've read---and not being sure about this, I'll listen to contrary opinions---that it's easier to put up relatively high ERA+ figures in an era of high offense, compared to an historically low scoring era, like the 1960's

I'm quite sure this is false. I've posted evidence before, but can't find it right now.


I agree. In the 1900s and 1930s, see the opposite of the 1960s and 1990s: historically high career ERA+ for several of the deadball era pitchers. Of course, it may be easier to put up ERA+ (standard deviation of ERA+ may be unusually high) in the 1990s for some reason other than high run-scoring. DanR made the argument for batting, or batting plus fielding.

Here '1990s' may be 1993-2007, '1900s' may be 1904-1919, etc. The high and low run-scoring eras.


Besides the excellent point that OCF makes about the lower ERA+ figures of 1993-2007 being to a great extent a function of a reduced workload, there's also the point that in the early years of a sport (in baseball's case the deadball era) it's relatively common for great talent to stand out even more than it would have later on. I think that this goes a long way towards explaining some of the gaudy numbers not only of some of the premier pitchers, but the batters as well, such as Ty Cobb. Babe Ruth might well have put up "Babe Ruth" sized numbers today, but he wouldn't have been outhomering entire teams the way he did during much of his career.

And Johnson, Alex & Matty wouldn’t have been able to pace themselves today the way they did in 1912. They may have been just as great in 2007 as they were then, but to be that they’d have to develop different philosophies of pitching, and to a much greater extent than Koufax or Gibson.

Once again, this isn't to denigrate the deadball era pitchers' skills in the slightest, any more than I'm denigrating the skills of Pedro & Co. It's only to point out that a good part of those ultra-dominant ERA+ numbers very likely were the result of factors not present in the Koufax-Gibson era.
   92. sunnyday2 Posted: May 08, 2007 at 01:12 PM (#2358163)
All of which brings me back to something. If you can't really compare ERA+ numbers across eras and if a pennant is a pennant and if we're about honoring value and not just ability...then it comes back to a players' ranking among his peers. Sure there's random fluctuations in the talent pool but a #1 guy of the '60s is more or less equivalent to a #1 guy from the '90s, and a #10 type of guy from the '10s is more or less equivalent to a #10 type of guy in the '60s, and so on. I mean, yes, you adjust from there, but that has to be the essential starting point, IMO.

I'm OK, BTW, if you adjust for what you imagine the size of the talent pool to be. IOW, if you think the talent pool today is twice the size it was in the '30s and you peg the #5 guy from the '30s against the #10 guy today, I'm OK with that. I disagree, but I'm OK with it. It is rational. The problem I have is that assumptions about the size of the talent pool, based on 100 years of discussion here, are just that--assumptions. I don't know that anybody has really quantified the talent pool based on all the variables--gross population growth, integration of black ballplayers followed by Hispanic and Japanese, tempered by competition from other sports beginning (when?) and culminating in the positive flight of blacks out of the game over the past generation, and so on and on. Timelining and talent pooling can become a bit circular. I compensate for the inability to quantify the talent pool effects, frankly, by ignoring it. But like I said, I'm OK with people who use it as long as you don't pretend that it's really a quantifiable factor.

And I also think that standard deviations are circular. Just because players didn't dominate in no way constitutes a proof that they couldn't.
   93. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 08, 2007 at 02:50 PM (#2358290)
All of which brings me back to something. If you can't really compare ERA+ numbers across eras and if a pennant is a pennant and if we're about honoring value and not just ability...then it comes back to a players' ranking among his peers. Sure there's random fluctuations in the talent pool but a #1 guy of the '60s is more or less equivalent to a #1 guy from the '90s, and a #10 type of guy from the '10s is more or less equivalent to a #10 type of guy in the '60s, and so on.

All that's perfectly reasonable, since the durability vs. the increased offense conditions more or less cancel each other out, IMO. Which is why I'd rate Koufax right up there (obviously for peak value only) with any pitcher from any era---not above a Walter Johnson or a Grove or a Pedro, but roughly in the same ballpark. All of these pitchers utterly dominated their eras within the context of what was required of the pitchers of those eras, and what more can you ask? That they carry their own bags?

And looking at it this way, the talent pool doesn't really enter into the discussion, since we're talking about their value to the teams that they actually played on, and not about the eternal hypothetical question of "how would _______ done if he'd played in___?" That sort of question itself provokes about a hundred times as many followup questions as it does easy answers, which is why even the most advanced sabermetrics are as much of an art as a science.
   94. DavidFoss Posted: May 08, 2007 at 03:55 PM (#2358348)
Which is why I'd rate Koufax right up there (obviously for peak value only) with any pitcher from any era---not above a Walter Johnson or a Grove or a Pedro, but roughly in the same ballpark.

Eh... you can quibble with the Pedro/Koufax comparisons if you like because Pedro's had his own durability issues. but the Johnson/Grove/Clemens comparisons simply don't fly. Peak better than Koufax and played 50-150% longer.

On another note, some of Koufax's offenses were pretty decent. Adjusting for context, the 62-63 Dodgers were better than the 1999 Red Sox.
   95. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 08, 2007 at 04:26 PM (#2358396)
Which is why I'd rate Koufax right up there (obviously for peak value only) with any pitcher from any era---not above a Walter Johnson or a Grove or a Pedro, but roughly in the same ballpark.

Eh... you can quibble with the Pedro/Koufax comparisons if you like because Pedro's had his own durability issues. but the Johnson/Grove/Clemens comparisons simply don't fly. Peak better than Koufax and played 50-150% longer.


All I meant by that is when you adjust for the varying circumstances, it's very unlikely that any of them would have significantly outperformed the others, had they all been pitching at the same time, no matter what the era. They would have all been infinitely adaptable, as would Pedro. They were all workhorses within the contexts of their eras, and at their respective peaks they all performed at their era's highest levels.

And again, I'm talking about peak value only. Forget career value, since it's not at issue. Obviously all those other pitchers that have been mentioned had longer and more valuable careers than Koufax.
   96. sunnyday2 Posted: May 08, 2007 at 05:12 PM (#2358464)
I'm with Andy. IOW if you were going to pick the best pitcher of all-time and if you believe in being fair to all eras, your initial consideration set would include:

Spalding, Radbourne or Keefe, Nichols, Matty, Johnson, Pete, Grove, Feller, Spahn, Koufax, Seaver, Jack Morris (KIDDING), Clemens, Maddux, Pedro.

Koufax is in that group. You might add or subtract one or two--this is off the top. But obviously I'm trying to get one guy per decade here, and occasionally maybe you just gotta have 2, e.g. Train and Pete, Koufax and Gibson, and I know I missed the '20s. Maybe Robin Roberts instead of Spahn, since I'm a peaker, but you get the idea.

And I'm not sayin' I wouldn't take a #2 or even maybe a #3 over one of these "#1's" based on the match-up. But if a guy was the best pitcher of his day, I can't shunt him down to #50 or anything.
   97. DavidFoss Posted: May 08, 2007 at 05:32 PM (#2358483)
I gave Koufax an elect-me vote when he was eligible. I'm a peak voter too. I guess I misunderstood the question. "The Best 5-year pitching peaks in history" certainly is a list that will include Koufax's name.
   98. yest Posted: May 08, 2007 at 07:42 PM (#2358600)
Pete Maravich anywhere near a discussion of "the greatest"?

He had the most basketball talent ever (at least he's close to Wilt and better pound for pound) and I doubt anyone would put him out of the top 10


if only he learn't what his teammates were for.
   99. sunnyday2 Posted: May 08, 2007 at 08:26 PM (#2358634)
yest, you mean anyone would put him IN the top 10?

I mean, he was probably one of the top 10 college players of my lifetime. Lemme see, I came just after West and the Big O, BTW, so the first really huge guy was Jerry Lucas. Then Bill Bradley, Kareem, Walton, Magic and Bird, Ralph Sampson, Laettner. Maravich makes 9. No idea off the top who the hell is #10. David Thompson? And I know I don't have anybody since 1991. These modern guys can't stand up to the guys who played 3-4 years.

(Not Jordan, BTW. Not that dominant in college, even if it was the Dean's fault.)

But nobody takes college ball seriously anymore, for purposes of all-time hoops teams or halls of fame or whatever. If you're that good you prove it in the NBA. And Pete wouldn't be top 50 there I don't think. Let's see, there's Wilt and Russ, Kareem, Magic, Jordan, Bird, O...and, speaking of O, oh, never mind the rest.
   100. sunnyday2 Posted: May 08, 2007 at 08:53 PM (#2358653)
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