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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Orel Hershiser

Eligible in 2006.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 29, 2007 at 10:59 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 29, 2007 at 11:02 PM (#2550374)
When is this guy going to age?

Oh yeah, a great pitcher at his peak.
   2. Grumbledook Posted: September 30, 2007 at 03:01 AM (#2550732)
Colin Cowherd advocated HOF membership for Orel Hershiser, but in a sane universe, pitchers with ERA+ scores of 112 do not get into the HOF.
   3. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: September 30, 2007 at 03:15 AM (#2550741)
Oh really?

Sutton 108
Wynn 106
Ruffing 109

etc...
   4. Roy Hobbs of WIFFLE Ball Posted: September 30, 2007 at 03:38 AM (#2550765)
Catfish Hunter was 104, and he had a lot fewer wins than Sutton, Wynn, or Ruffing.

Then again, nobody ever said this universe was sane.
   5. Grumbledook Posted: September 30, 2007 at 04:24 AM (#2550799)

Oh really?

Sutton 108
Wynn 106
Ruffing 109

etc...


They probably shouldn't be in the HOF either but - good point.

The funny thing about the Cowherd argument is that apparently he said that for 10 years Hershiser was the most unhittable guy in the game. I don't think there was a 3-year period in which Hershiser was the dominant pitcher in MLB.
   6. GregD Posted: September 30, 2007 at 04:33 AM (#2550810)
Was there even one year where Orel was the most unhittable pitcher in his league? I mean 88 was a great year, but was he clearly better than Cone?

Hershiser is a guy who never led the league in ERA or ERA+, never led it in WHIP innings, never led it in strikeouts. Maybe I'm dense but I'd think the most unhittable guy in the game would at least one time lead the league in a category like WHIP or strikeouts or something.
   7. Roy Hobbs of WIFFLE Ball Posted: September 30, 2007 at 04:47 AM (#2550820)
For the whole year, you can make a case Hershiser wasn't the best pitcher in baseball in 1988. I think Frank Viola may have been better. But starting on August 19, 1988, Hershiser put together the most impressive two months I've ever seen a major league pitcher have in my life. These are his numbers from 8/19 through the WS:

15 games
14 starts
11 complete games (including a 10 IP, 0 R, ND)
124.2 IP
73 H
9 ER
10-1 record, 0.65 ERA

3-0 in the playoffs, including 2-0 in an upset WS sweep. Cowherd is ridiculous, but that was the best two months I've ever seen any pitcher have. Especially when you consider a significant part of it was in the NLCS and WS.
   8. Grumbledook Posted: September 30, 2007 at 04:53 AM (#2550824)
Was there even one year where Orel was the most unhittable pitcher in his league? I mean 88 was a great year, but was he clearly better than Cone?

Hershiser's supposed dominance may be an example of how the memory cheats. Everyone remembers 1988, at least those of us who were around then. Everyone remembers the 59 inning scoreless streak, and those of us who were Mets fans remember his dominance in the NLCS (series ERA: 1.09). He pitched more innings than anyone else, and had enough wins (23) and a high profile as a result of the Dodgers winning the World Series to justify winning the Cy Young Award that year, but the fact is, Cone had a good year; for that matter so did Tudor and Jose Rijo.
   9. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: September 30, 2007 at 05:29 AM (#2550843)
Hershiser was a sinkerballer, so like most sinkerballers K rate and WHIP understate his excellence, since his success lay in suppressing opponents' ISO.
   10. GregD Posted: September 30, 2007 at 06:26 AM (#2550868)
That's fair. But 1) what does "unhittable" mean? Statistically Hershiser was never tops in any league in keeping players from getting hits (WHIP or HIP) or in keeping players from striking the ball at all (Ks), either of which seem to me to be ways of showing a pitcher was "unhittable" (which I know was not your term)

and

2) In the end, he's judged on effectiveness. Was Hershiser ever the most effective pitcher in his league, much less in baseball? The only year that's even plausible is 88, and it's not clear to me that he was better than Cone, though I could be persuaded otherwise.

Was he really a *great* pitcher at his peak? Not compared to somebody like Kevin Brown. I don't know where a non-consecutive peak of 172/148/148/133/130/119 puts him exactly, but it doesn't look to me like a "great peak." Dave Stieb, who looks to me like a pitcher whose case depends on consistency not a superlative peak, went 171/145/142/138/135/130. Frank Viola went 161/155/149/141/131/123. Did he have a great peak? Kevin Appier went 178/165/139/139/135/130. Did he have a great peak?

I like Orel Hershiser plenty, and he had some really good seasons, and he really never had the stinko seasons that get almost every pitcher, but I wouldn't say he was ever 1) the most dominant or 2) the best pitcher in the league, nor would I say he had a great peak.
   11. Sam M. Posted: September 30, 2007 at 06:36 AM (#2550874)
but I wouldn't say he was ever 1) the most dominant or 2) the best pitcher in the league, nor would I say he had a great peak.

I don't know about "most dominant," but even as a Mets' fan, I have to concede that Hershiser was the "best pitcher" in the NL in 1988. He pitched 36 more innings than Cone, with almost identical ERAs (2.22 for Cone, 2.26 for Hershiser). Orel had the better ERA+ (148-145). Although he didn't lead the league, the guys ahead of him are really big-time asterisks: Magrane (160) and Rijo (150) each pitched 100 fewer innings than Hershiser did, and Tudor (149), who was basically tied in ERA+, pitched 70 fewer innings. Orel led the league in CGs and shutouts. He was the best pitcher in the league.
   12. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: September 30, 2007 at 06:58 AM (#2550880)
15 games
14 starts
11 complete games (including a 10 IP, 0 R, ND)
124.2 IP
73 H
9 ER
10-1 record, 0.65 ERA

And that one non-start was the save in Game 4 of the NLCS - crucial, because closer Jay Howell was out due to his pine tar suspension.
   13. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: September 30, 2007 at 07:02 AM (#2550881)
since his success lay in suppressing opponents' ISO.
During his last nine starts of 1988, Hershiser's ISO was .028.
   14. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: September 30, 2007 at 08:07 AM (#2550888)
What the friggin' crap happened to Orel in 1986?

84189.7133 ERA+
85239.7172 ERA+
86231.1,  90 ERA+
87264.7130 ERA+
88267.0148 ERA+
89256.7148 ERA


A wicked six-year stretch broken up by one below-average year that's completely out of place. Just from the innings he doesn't seem injured - dead arm, maybe?
   15. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: September 30, 2007 at 08:22 AM (#2550891)
For the whole year, you can make a case Hershiser wasn't the best pitcher in baseball in 1988. I think Frank Viola may have been better. But starting on August 19, 1988, Hershiser put together the most impressive two months I've ever seen a major league pitcher have in my life. These are his numbers from 8/19 through the WS:

15 games
14 starts
11 complete games (including a 10 IP, 0 R, ND)
124.2 IP
73 H
9 ER
10-1 record, 0.65 ERA

3-0 in the playoffs, including 2-0 in an upset WS sweep. Cowherd is ridiculous, but that was the best two months I've ever seen any pitcher have. Especially when you consider a significant part of it was in the NLCS and WS.


Not that this is relevant to anything here, but I just like posting it: Bob Gibson, from his last four regular season starts in 1967, through the WS and the 1968 season, ending after his second start in the 1968 WS:

382 innings, 241 hits, 44 ER, 345 strikeouts, 1.04 ERA, 30-10 record
   16. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 30, 2007 at 11:40 AM (#2550902)
What the friggin' crap happened to Orel in 1986?


Tommy Lasorda?
   17. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 30, 2007 at 12:45 PM (#2550919)
and he really never had the stinko seasons that get almost every pitcher

Well, Le Sam stole my thunder, but, yes, 1986 is one of these stinko years.
   18. Chris Cobb Posted: September 30, 2007 at 01:11 PM (#2550932)
Well, crummy defense is one thing that happened to him in 1986.

BP sees is his NRA that year as 4.92, his DERA at 4.49.

That is, with average defensive support, he would have given up runs at almost exactly average rate, while throwing a lot of innings. He was a bit better than an average pitcher that year, but the defense behind him stunk. Hence the 90 ERA+ rather than a more accurate 100 DERA+.

Sure, he was not nearly as good in 1986 as he was in surrounding seasons, but "stinko"? No.

Control seems to have been a bit of a problem: higher walk rate than in surrounding seasons.

He was also a bit run unlucky.
   19. OCF Posted: September 30, 2007 at 02:33 PM (#2550988)
Hershiser can be directly compared to Saberhagen, and Saberhagen is clearly ahead.

In the RA+ PythPat system, I have Saberhagen at an overall career record of 174-111. His best five years are 21-8, 19-10, 18-8, 14-6, and 13-8.

I have Hershiser at 191-157, with a best five years of 20-10, 18-10, 17-9, 17-12, and 13-8. So Saberhagen's best five years are better (including that Saberhagen's 1989 tops Hershiser's 1988) and the career difference between them is Hershiser going an additional 17-46, which I take as negative value.

In the same terms, Gooden is as 174-137 (that's 0-26 added to Saberhagen's record) with a best five years of 25-6, 15-9, 16-12, 12-8, and 13-10. His 1985 is one of the greatest years ever for any pitcher, but after that ...
   20. Brent Posted: October 13, 2007 at 05:06 AM (#2574170)
bump

There's been very little discussion of this new candidate. Is anyone planning to vote for him?

He'll miss my ballot, but he won't be that far off. Five outstanding seasons between 1984 and 89 plus a couple of decent seasons after his move to Cleveland in 96.
   21. Chris Cobb Posted: October 13, 2007 at 06:27 PM (#2574620)
I'm not planning to vote for him, but he does pretty well in my system. Right now I have him at #48 in my rankings, about even with Mark Langston.

My pitching rankings at present are John, Tiant, Matlock, Saberhagen /end of ballot/ McCormick, Grimes, Lee Smith, Mullane, Tanana, Redding, Sutter, Guidry, Kaat, Wood, Reuschel, Walters, Langston, Hershiser, Newcombe, Shocker, Bond, Hough, Whitney, Welch.
   22. rdfc Posted: October 13, 2007 at 06:39 PM (#2574635)
No question that I'd rank Saberhagen higher.

If Lasorda hadn't run Hershiser's arm into the ground, I suspect Hershiser would have ended up with a longer career and a better case. But that only earns him selection to the Hall of What If.

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