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

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Pitchers

On this thread, I’ll put the adjusted W-L records for each pitcher who has received a vote, or is likely to in 1900.

I’ll describe the methods as well, although I might not get to this until later, see the 1900 newbies thread for an explanation until I can put it here.


Al Spalding					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1871	NA	 21	12	0.624	297.3
1872	NA	 27	 7	0.794	306.2
1873	NA	 21	11	0.660	290.3
1874	NA	 21	12	0.624	296.9
1875	NA	 21	 9	0.699	276.5
1876	NL	 20	11	0.658	277.5
1877	NL	  0	 0	0.452	  6.3
		123	72	0.677	1751
Very Koufaxish for his time.
Charley Radbourn					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1881	NL	 11	 9	0.543	183.9
1882	NL	 21	12	0.635	293.2
1883	NL	 25	11	0.684	322.2
1884	NL	 29	 8	0.786	334.3
1885	NL	 17	12	0.586	256.8
1886	NL	 18	16	0.530	309.7
1887	NL	 13	16	0.439	261.5
1888	NL	  7	 7	0.493	122.7
1889	NL	 11	 9	0.566	177.7
1890	PL	 16      9	0.644	216.9
1891	NL	  6      9	0.383	134.3
		172    118	0.593	2613
A true horse, but comes up below Clarkson and Keefe, even with Galvin IMO.
Pud Galvin					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1875	NA	  2	 2	0.507	 34.9
1876		  0	 0	#NUM!	  0.0
1877		  0	 0	#NUM!	  0.0
1878		  0	 0	#NUM!	  0.0
1879	NL	 19	14	0.568	296.2
1880	NL	 11	14	0.455	225.6
1881	NL	 17	13	0.574	274.4
1882	NL	 14	17	0.457	275.5
1883	NL	 21	16	0.576	334.5
1884	NL	 24	10	0.707	310.7
1885	NL/AA	  9	15	0.336	211.1
1886	AA	 15	10	0.612	222.7
1887	NL	 18	13	0.576	275.4
1888	NL	 14	14	0.505	255.5
1889	NL	 11	13	0.445	217.1
1890	PL	  7	 9	0.441	139.4
1891	NL	 10	 7	0.563	153.0
1892	NL	  6	 5	0.550	101.7
		198    171	0.536	3328
I'm thinking Niekro not Tanana. THE workhorse of his generation. He gets in line
behind Clarkson and Keefe and about even with Radbourn.
Mickey Welch					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1880	NL	 16	16	0.496	289.2
1881	NL	 13	10	0.547	208.0
1882	NL	  8	11	0.399	171.8
1883	NL	 14	11	0.564	217.1
1884	NL	 17	12	0.583	269.8
1885	NL	 22	 9	0.704	278.4
1886	NL	 17	15	0.532	289.3
1887	NL	 13	10	0.556	209.6
1888	NL	 18	10	0.649	250.3
1889	NL	 17	10	0.627	244.3
1890	NL	 11	 8	0.575	178.0
1891	NL	  4	 7	0.355	100.0
1892	NL	  0	 0	0.020	  2.7
		170    131	0.563	2708
I could see the line with him in, but like Kaat/John, he'll have to wait his turn.
Jim McCormick					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1878	NL	  4	 3	0.583	 67.3
1879	NL	 15	14	0.516	262.9
1880	NL	 22	14	0.609	323.5
1881	NL	 18	16	0.530	297.3
1882	NL	 24	17	0.580	368.4
1883	NL	 14	 5	0.734	170.8
1884	NL/UA	 21	12	0.639	290.4
1885	NL	 10	 6	0.597	144.6
1886	NL	 14	 8	0.621	198.0
1887	NL	 10	12	0.442	201.5
		150    108	0.582	2325
A couple of good years, but I think he's below the line.
Jim Whitney					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1881	NL	 19	17	0.533	319.7
1882	NL	 15	13	0.539	256.7
1883	NL	 19	10	0.654	261.9
1884	NL	 12	 6	0.649	162.7
1885	NL	 12	15	0.449	247.5
1886	NL	 10	15	0.406	223.8
1887	NL	 17	11	0.613	250.9
1888	NL	 10	12	0.454	194.1
1889	NL	  1	 4	0.252	 44.2
1890	AA	  1	 2	0.344	 24.9
		117    104	0.528	1987
Better than his teams, but basically a #3 starter in today's world.
Tommy Bond					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1874	NA	 15	19	0.437	303.6
1875	NA	 13	 5	0.728	161.4
1876	NL	 15	 8	0.662	204.9
1877	NL	 21	12	0.635	295.0
1878	NL	 20	16	0.563	321.6
1879	NL	 18	11	0.614	260.9
1880	NL	 11	15	0.424	239.7
1881	NL	  0	 1	0.273	 14.7
1882	NL	  0	 1	0.322	  7.6
1883	NL	  0	 0	#NUM!	  0.0
1884	UA/AA	  6	 7	0.430	117.6
		119	95	0.557	1927
Good career, not long enough or high enough peak though.
A lot like Dave Stewart.
Bobby Mathews					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1871	NA	 15	20	0.422	318.6
1872	NA	 17	11	0.597	253.8
1873	NA	 20	13	0.613	292.6
1874	NA	 22	12	0.654	304.1
1875	NA	 21	18	0.535	348.0
1876	NL	 12	23	0.354	313.6
1877	NL	  2	 6	0.290	 77.0
1878	NL	  0	 0	#NUM!	  0.0
1879	NL	  5	 5	0.512	 87.7
1880	NL	  0	 0	#NUM!	  0.0
1881	NL	  3	 4	0.438	 71.2
1882	NL	 10	10	0.498	174.2
1883	AA	 15	 7	0.661	198.2
1884	AA	 13	12	0.507	223.9
1885	AA	 18	 9	0.662	243.3
1886	AA	  5	 6	0.438	102.0
1887	AA	  1	 3	0.268	 32.1
		178    159	0.528	3041
Better candidate than I expected. Pretty much Galvin with a shorter career.
Not enough for me to say yes, we'll see how he ranks though.
Candy Cummings					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1872	NA	 24	12	0.666	322.4
1873	NA	 16	10	0.610	234.6
1874	NA	 17	15	0.531	284.2
1875	NA	 15	 6	0.719	191.2
1876	NL	  8	 4	0.664	108.5
1877	NL	  3	 8	0.257	 92.7
		 82	55	0.601	1234
About the same value as if Fidyrich had blown out 3 years later.
Tim Keefe					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1880	NL	  5	 1	0.866	 52.9
1881	NL	 11	14	0.450	227.2
1882	NL	 14     11	0.560	229.2
1883	AA	 23	12	0.652	318.7
1884	AA	 17	 9	0.647	242.2
1885	NL	 18	 7	0.721	226.3
1886	NL	 21	14	0.604	309.5
1887	NL	 19	13	0.591	288.7
1888	NL	 20	 9	0.688	255.6
1889	NL	 15	11	0.585	237.1
1890	PL	 10	 6	0.648	142.6
1891	NL	  3	 6	0.352	 82.6
1892	NL	 12	 7	0.646	169.4
1893	NL	  7	 6	0.520	119.7
		197    126	0.610	2902
A Steve Carlton type. A no-brainer for induction.
Bob Caruthers					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1884	AA	  3	 2	0.602	42.2
1885	AA	 21	 9	0.705	272.9
1886	AA	 15	 7	0.682	199.9
1887	AA	 14	 7	0.660	193.1
1888	AA	 15	10	0.601	222.5
1889	AA	 18	12	0.587	271.2
1890	NL	 12	10	0.550	191.2
1891	NL	 11	10	0.529	184.3
1892	NL	  1	 5	0.214	55.7
		110	72	0.606	1633
Nice pitcher, but never a horse, only 2 years over 250 IP, when 300+ leads the league.
He was a great pitcher from 1885-87, but wasn't pitching full-time in 86-87.
John Clarkson					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1882	NL	  1	 1	0.308	14.8
1883	NL	  0	 0	#NUM!	0.0
1884	NL	  4	 2	0.675	58.6
1885	NL	 28	11	0.717	349.4
1886	NL	 20	 9	0.688	265.7
1887	NL	 24	12	0.678	321.7
1888	NL	 16	16	0.512	286.5
1889	NL	 31	13	0.697	397.8
1890	NL	 15	11	0.567	235.0
1891	NL	 20	11	0.630	279.7
1892	NL	 15	 8	0.650	213.6
1893	NL	 12	10	0.550	204.5
1894	NL	  7	 5	0.612	108.8
		194    110	0.638	2736
The best pitcher of his generation. If Keefe is Carlton, Clarkson is Seaver.
Tony Mullane					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1881	NL	  1	 2	0.282	25.2
1882	AA	 21	12	0.595	299.0
1883	AA	 19	 7	0.677	234.8
1884	AA	 21	12	0.618	289.5
1885	AA	  0	 0	#NUM!	0.0
1886	AA	 14	16	0.477	269.5
1887	AA	 17	 9	0.625	239.2
1888	AA	 14	11	0.546	225.5
1889	AA	  9	 5	0.614	133.1
1890	NL	 10	 4	0.677	128.2
1891	NL	 15	14	0.519	262.6
1892	NL	 11	 7	0.590	159.5
1893	NL	 15	13	0.534	251.8
1894	NL	  5	 7	0.405	109.7
		171    121	0.586	2627
Pretty good pitcher, weak competition for his best years though. About even with Welch.
John Ward					
Year		 W	L	Pct	aIP
1878		 14	 8	0.635	195.1
1879		 16	14	0.534	272.5
1880		 19	13	0.588	285.9
1881		 12	 9	0.586	186.5
1882		 10	 9	0.532	172.0
1883		  9	 7	0.558	141.2
1884		  1	 2	0.441	29.4
		 81	61	0.569	1283
Nice part career as pitcher, but less valuable as a pitcher than Caruthers, really
just two pretty good years and three years where he was good but didn't pitch full-time.
Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: April 30, 2003 at 11:34 PM | 67 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. jimd Posted: April 30, 2003 at 11:56 PM (#512788)
I assume that the discussion of this will move here, so I'll repost my query from the other thread.

Joe, what is the point of the Spalding exercise? How does it help us place a value on the pitchers so that we can compare with the position players?

The numbers look pretty but that doesn't mean they convey real value. I think that they imply a very heavy discounting of the value of pitching for that period. I estimate that your method is placing that discount at about 22% of the effectiveness of modern pitching (for Spalding); do we have any justification for discounting it that heavily? (Of course I may be misunderstanding what's going on here.)
   2. jimd Posted: May 01, 2003 at 01:19 AM (#512795)
I don't see how you can appeal to ability when evaluating these pitchers because essentially none of them could pitch effectively after 1892. Their value was their value (calculating it is the problem). If Clarkson was pitching in 1879, the umpire would forfeit the game to the opponent if he didn't stop using that illegal delivery; forced to go sub-mariner, all bets are off.

I know that you put a lot of work into this, and have no problem using these numbers for comparisons within the same season, but not across seasons, at least when schedule lengths are changing drastically. I do not see how it reduces the seasons to a common value metric.

I strongly disagree with the conclusions implied by these numbers. I think that WARP3's conclusions are not that far off; the pitchers of the early 1880's were almost one man staffs, and they had disproportionate value because of that; real pennants were won against an All-Star Chicago team because of Radbourn, Whitney, and Ward. Schedule expansion then diluted the impact of individual pitchers, because they could no longer pitch most of a team's innings, which helped create a more balanced team game.

I have nothing against Clarkson, and believe that he is a solid HOM'er. But this system rewards what I believe are the negative arguments against Clarkson's value in a comparison with Radbourn. He is pitching less actual innings than Radbourn just 5 seasons earlier, but he is being given extra credit (in terms of virtual IP) for being the last holdout against the rapid decrease of IP as teams went to three man starting staffs. Not only did Radbourn pitch more innings, but they were a considerably greater percentage of his teams innings due to the shorter schedule; I believe Radbourn's innings had considerably more impact and hence value, unless you can prove to me that the pitching/fielding balance changed drastically during the interim. Clarkson is also given additional wins due to his "better" ERA+, but no adjustment is being made for the schedule expansion that diluted the pitching quality in the interim, requiring the addition of an extra starter to pitch the additional innings, increasing the dominance of the elite pitchers relative to the league average. It also gives no credit for hitting (or fielding), something which is important to evaluating some pitchers of this era, particularly those who are close to full-time pitchers.
   3. MattB Posted: May 01, 2003 at 01:43 AM (#512796)
I see both sides, and will take Joe's numbers with a grain of salt.

At first, Joe was a big proponent of normalizing to a 162 game schedule to point everything in context. But for pitchers, that means that the value of Spalding pitching was approximately the value of pitching all of 150 games. That is actual value to the team that needs to be considered, even if every other team was doing the same thing. Downgrading Spalding just because everyone was doing it doesn't mean that Boston wasn't relying more on him to win pennants than Keefe's teams were on him.

I'm afraid that both approaches have merit, and that just makes the job that much harder.

I have sort of mentally divided the era into four eras: 1871-1876 (the "short season" era); 1877-1883 (the "underhand" era); 1884-1892 (the "close mound" era); and 1893-present (the "far mound" era). Joe's method may be a good way to compare "across eras", but I think a full appreciation for the players will consider where they ranked within their era

Each of the four "eras" had their stars, and comparing Spalding and Cummings (era 1) to Radbourn and McCormick (era 2) to Keefe and Clarkson (era 3) is nearly impossible. And when comparing pitchers within eras, I try not to penalize players for the randomness of their ages (e.g., Keefe was four years younger than Clarkson, so got a longer shot in era 3 before the new rules derailed both of their careers.)

I think the true value of Pud Galvin, when looked at in this light, is that he is the only pitcher who had a long string of successes in two different eras (2 and 3). He was the rare bird who could win throwing underhand, and then keep his job when everyone started throwing overhand.

Also, Joe wrote:
   4. MattB Posted: May 01, 2003 at 01:46 AM (#512797)
While I agree that there is much merit in the numbers Joe gave us, I also agree 100% with jimd, who just said:

"I have nothing against Clarkson, and believe that he is a solid HOM'er. But this system rewards what I believe are the negative arguments against Clarkson's value in a comparison with Radbourn. He is pitching less actual innings than Radbourn just 5 seasons earlier, but he is being given extra credit (in terms of virtual IP) for being the last holdout against the rapid decrease of IP as teams went to three man starting staffs."
   5. Marc Posted: May 01, 2003 at 02:14 AM (#512798)
I agree with whoever said value is value. I don't really care if a pitcher threw underhand, overhand, between his legs or pooped the ball out his rear end. And I don't really care if his career was derailed by changes in distance, etc. etc. I've heard people say that the inability of Clarkson, Keefe, et al, to adjust to 60 feet proves that they were lacking in some kind of global "ability." I've heard that Ty Cobb's inability to adjust to the lively ball era proves that he was lacking in some kind of "ability." Say what? I don't have a clue about the ability of players I didn't see, and I can't quantify the ability of those I did see. Clarkson did what he did when he did it, and that is all we will ever know.
   6. Carl Goetz Posted: May 01, 2003 at 03:22 AM (#512799)
Well, I'm definitely more confused than I was before. The only thing I have decided is that I overrated Caruthers in 1899. I will remedy that in 1900. Beyond that, I've got some thinking to do in the next week or so.
   7. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 01, 2003 at 04:44 AM (#512800)
I agree with whoever said value is value. I don't really care if a pitcher threw underhand, overhand, between his legs or pooped the ball out his rear end.

I agree (I've also said the same thing on occasion), though I think I would have been less crude. Okay, I've been known to be crude, too. So sue me! :-)
   8. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 01, 2003 at 04:48 AM (#512801)
BTW Joe, your rankings are almost identical to mine, except for your arch-nemesis Al Spalding (:-() and Bond. Seriously, thanks for the contribution: I'll take a closer look at it over the weekend.
   9. Brian H Posted: May 01, 2003 at 04:56 AM (#512802)
I thought I would print some other data about these Pitchers to compare them.
   10. Carl Goetz Posted: May 01, 2003 at 02:49 PM (#512804)
My new order for pitchers(hitting included-Ward included):
   11. MattB Posted: May 01, 2003 at 03:05 PM (#512805)
Just want to point out how Bob Caruthers is hurt by this analysis.

Caruthers had the bad luck (?) to spend his career with teams that also had other great pitchers (or at least pitchers having great years).

For most of his AA years, he was paired with Dave Foutz, who had a peak almost as high, but a huge drop-off.

Take 1885. Caruthers and Foutz both had 400+ innings pitched. Baltimore had Hardie Henderson going 539 innings, with no one else over 107. Almost every other team had their "#1" guy who pitched well over twice as many innings as anyone else.

In 1887, Caruthers and Foutz were joined by the young emerging ace Silver King. Each got 300+ innings. Huge advantage for St. Louis with 3 relatively well-rested aces going against teams like Cincinnati and Baltimore that were just starting to use the "two ace" pitching rotation that St. Louis was using two years earlier.

In 1888, Caruthers and Foutz move to Brooklyn and Silver King gets "sole ace" designation in St. Louis. King goes 500+ innings and pulls St. Louis to another pennant. Brooklyn has the luxury of resting Caruthers' arm while using A pitchers Mickey Hughes and Adonis Terry.

In both 1887 and 1888, Caruthers also played over 50 games in the outfield, allowing his bat to stay in while other ace pitchers were on the mound.

Those three years are an example of how innovative pitcher usage by St. Louis and Brooklyn gave their teams big advantages at the expense of each individual's total innings. It may, in fact, have been Caruthers' (and Foutz's) hitting that allowed his managers to construct their rosters so differently. ("Why waste money on an extra outfielder when I've got Caruthers to play back up. Better to spend the money on an extra ace pitcher!")
   12. DanG Posted: May 01, 2003 at 03:09 PM (#512806)
RE: Ranking the pitchers.

My advice is: Don?t do it. If even Bill James can?t get a handle on it, what chance to we mere mortals have of figuring it out?

Having established we?re tilting at windmills, here is what I see as a reasonable approach. I think Joe suggested that about 4 pitchers for every 10 position players (28.6%) seems like a good ratio, and I tend to agree. The HOF has a bit higher percentage (30.4%), Bill James has a lower number (20 of his top 100). Compromising between these, I think we need a percentage of at least 25% pitchers in the HoM. (54 out of 217)

Oh my god, we?ve elected 6 players, but zero pitchers! We?re missing our quota! HELP! Calm down, this is appropriate, we?re on track. At the very top end, there are fewer pitchers. Among the consensus ten greatest players ever there is only one pitcher (W.Johnson). Among the top 20 we see three, maybe four pitchers. Among the top 50 are about 12 pitchers.

Now that the initial big guns have been cleared away, we?ll elect some pitchers. Clarkson?s election is imminent; Keefe will soon follow. After ten elections I expect we?ll have Rusie, Radbourn and Spalding, as well. Five out of twenty; sounds good to me. The order we elect them isn?t terribly important.

The problem now is how do we measure value? The task of assembling and evaluating data to ascertain value is daunting, especially given the volatile conditions besetting the pitching profession in the 19th century.

Here?s a simple method. It?s a lot easier to compare pitchers in the same year. So, for each season, rank the top X pitchers in the game, from one to X. Use a small X to measure peak and a larger X to measure career. Assign points based on these yearly standings. That?s it.

Have I actually done this? Well, some, but not enough work to present to anyone. Maybe someone here has already done this work. It?s not that hard. Look at a year and rank them, using your favorite measures of quality. If you?re doing a top 10, it doesn?t matter if the ranking is off by a spot or two.

Thinking about it, this could be an idea for a future project: MVP voting for the 19th century. If we had this sort of top 25-player list for each year, our HoM assessments would be greatly aided.
   13. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 01, 2003 at 03:29 PM (#512807)
I think Joe suggested that about 4 pitchers for every 10 position players (28.6%) seems like a good ratio, and I tend to agree.

Doesn't this make more sense later on when the four-man pitching staff comes into vogue? The pitchers that we are evaluating now were, for the most part, still part of the one-man staff. Don't we risk honoring the "very good" if we use that ratio this early on?
   14. DanG Posted: May 01, 2003 at 04:45 PM (#512810)
In addition, pitchers were covering two other part-time positions that are covered by others today: relif pitcher (they were expected to be the finsher) and DH (they were espected to be competent hitters).
   15. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 01, 2003 at 06:51 PM (#512811)
In addition, pitchers were covering two other part-time positions that are covered by others today: relif pitcher (they were expected to be the finsher) and DH (they were espected to be competent hitters).

This is all fine and good, but this was all possible because it was so much easier to do. They wouldn't be able to do any of this today (as you obviously know). They weren't eating nails for breakfast back then! :-)

Again, I think we are unconsciously overrating the pitchers of this era somewhat. But I assume some here think I'm underrating them (though I do have three in the top ten).

For the nineties, Young, Nichols and Rusie are definites. Beyond them, I'm not so sure.
   16. DanG Posted: May 01, 2003 at 07:02 PM (#512812)
"This is all fine and good, but this was all possible because it was so much easier to do. They wouldn't be able to do any of this today."

It's the old value vs ability debate muddying the waters again. I thought we had agreed to judge the players on their value to their teams. If so, there is no relevance to your remark.
   17. MattB Posted: May 01, 2003 at 07:10 PM (#512813)
"It's the old value vs ability debate muddying the waters again. I thought we had agreed to judge the players on their value to their teams. If so, there is no relevance to your remark."

If that is so, then there should be no "AA discounting" going on either.
   18. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 01, 2003 at 07:12 PM (#512814)
It's the old value vs ability debate muddying the waters again. I thought we had agreed to judge the players on their value to their teams. If so, there is no relevance to your remark.

Is that in our Constitution?
   19. DanG Posted: May 01, 2003 at 07:20 PM (#512815)
"If that is so, then there should be no "AA discounting" going on either."

It's not the same issue, becuase there you're dealing with players in the same era. Adjusting for a weaker league in the same era is entirely eppropriate.
   20. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 01, 2003 at 07:22 PM (#512816)
BTW, I am taking into account value. But I treat each position as the same. If we didn't, how many catchers would make the grade? We would have that many more corner outfielders and first baseman enshrined.

When we get to the larger pitching staffs, then I'll include more on my ballot. However, I'm always open to persuasion.
   21. Rob Wood Posted: May 01, 2003 at 08:04 PM (#512817)
I significantly discount this era's pitchers due to the "ease" at which pitchers were able to rack up tons of innings. One- or two-man pitching staffs were only feasible because it was physically possible to pitch virtually every day during much of this period (underhand, shorter distance, etc.).

This is not necessarily a value vs ability issue, since value is relative to some other player taking his part. Let's call it replacement above replacement. The fact that pitcher X could pitch 500 innings per season, or whatever, is germaine. But he doesn't get credit for the entire season's worth of pitching credit using today's splits. The split between fielding and pitching is much different than today. Pitching surely was far less important than it is today.

Top pitchers then were probably worth about what they are today. You should not give them extra credit. In fact, due to the many changes in the circumstances, very few pitchers back then had comparable careers to today's star pitchers (or contemporary hitters). Clarkson is the first that I would put in that category, with Nichols and Young to follow in due course.

I will have Clarkson in my top 2 this year, with Keefe, Spalding, Galvin, and Radbourn also appearing on my ballot. I think this is about right (of course I do).
   22. jimd Posted: May 01, 2003 at 08:37 PM (#512818)
The split between fielding and pitching is much different than today. Pitching surely was far less important than it is today.

Yes. But I think that some people are discounting it too much. The defensive spectrum serves as a guide here. If pitching is too easy, then Dan Brouthers would be doing it to get his bat into the lineup. I think that pitcher is still the major defensive position back then, it's just not 10 times more valuable defensively than a C or SS (as Win Shares values modern pitchers).

I remember Charlie Saeger posting some estimates that pitching in the early 1870's was maybe about 20-25% of defense (compared to today's 67-70%; this was in a discussion of those Win Shares that never got perfected). Today's workhorses pitch about 1/6th of a season compared to ALL of a season back then; the workhorses of back then had about 1/3rd of the impact on a game-by-game basis. It still works out that their season's value is probably double a pitcher of today.
   23. Marc Posted: May 02, 2003 at 04:00 PM (#512819)
A long time ago, somebody posited that pitching in the 1870s and '80s was like slow pitch softball pitching today, and I think that's a good analogy. Having played slow pitch softball for about 25 years, I can assure you that a good pitcher who can spin the ball, throw a nice deep (high) strike and field his position is extremely valuable. On a good slow pitch softball team (city/state championship caliber) the pitcher is probably one of the top four players (pitcher, shortstop and two bombers [one probably in RF and the other at 1B]), whether you want to talk ability or value. Because it is the guys with ability who are placed where they have the most value.

Having said all of that I agree that this is the trickiest evaluation we will ever make. I have resolved it in my own mind as follows: adjust to 162 games (which is part of why Spalding rates so highly on my ballot but please keep in mind he also has the highest ERA+ on the board), then divide by two and allocate the left-over WS to the fielders. "My adjWS" for guys like Clarkson et al thus end up somewhere in the same range as modern pitchers. I then factor in TPR, which for most pitchers is fairly comparable but sometimes not; ERA+; BI, GI, HoF Monitor and HoF Standards; and offensive WS, which I realize are already in WS generally but I take another look. Oh, and the AA discount. Overall adjWS is the major factor but the others are important when you're trying to get your arms around such a slippery subject.

In the end, I guess I'm mostly interested in how "dominant" a pitcher was in his own "era" at a "peak" of three to five years given a "normal" longevity also for the "era." Actually it's really easy.
   24. DanG Posted: May 05, 2003 at 05:51 PM (#512820)
I put together a list of 11 players who I found with at least 50 win shares batting and 50 win shares pitching. This is probably close to Bill James' list:

Bat Pitch
   25. Marc Posted: May 16, 2003 at 04:19 AM (#512823)
I read from time to time that so-and-so was the best pitcher is in such-and-such season. I don't find that very meaningful, frankly. What is more interesting is who was the "best" pitcher over some period of time. I've calculated the leading players of the 19th century based on Win Shares as of the end of each season--based on Win Shares over the previous 3-years, the previous 5-years, and for career up to that point. I don't have Win Shares for the NA, so I'm starting in '76. The first 3-year total is available in '78, etc. I don't allow an "inactive" or obviously past peak player to be "the best" and I define as past peak as fewer than 10 WS. Oh, and all of the leaders are pitchers except just a couple who will be obvious to you.

1876-as of the end of the '76 season the leader in career WS is (are) Bradley and Spalding 57 each
   26. Marc Posted: May 16, 2003 at 04:33 AM (#512824)
Top career values for pitchers in '94-'97 were Mullane 399, then Nichols at 241, 274, 315.
   27. jimd Posted: May 17, 2003 at 12:10 AM (#512825)
Don't get me wrong; I love baseball-reference.com. However, I do have a beef with the filter that they use for handing out pitching quality titles. I know they just use the modern one: One inning pitched per team game that season. However, I consider that inadequate when the league leader has 680 IP but you can qualify with 84 IP. Never get away doing that with batting stats.

This list was compiled using a stricter criterion; you must pitch more than half the IP of the league leader in IP.

....K/9IP BB/9IP ERA+
   28. DanG Posted: May 21, 2003 at 08:24 PM (#512826)
My fellow electorate:

I seek a compelling logic in support of either Caruthers or Galvin. At the moment, they're tied for the 15th spot on my ballot, but I suspect one of them may be a HoMer. Which one?

Caruthers, of course, is the Peak player, and the Hitter, possibly earning two MVPs and having a major impact on a number of pennant races. Would Ron Guidry be a good recent comp?

Galvin is the Longevity player, the workhorse, playing in the tougher league with weaker teams. He made the adjustments necessary to thrive in a rapidly evolving game. Would Bert Blyleven be a good recent comp?

To this point I have not voted for either one, since our quota of pitchers for the era seems to be filled without including either one. OTOH, supporters of each have made good arguments as to their merit. If we used HoF style voting each would be drawing around 50%.

To me, these two are in the HoM gray area along with Start, Bennett and Browning. Unlike the three position players, Caruthers and Galvin are directly comparable, playing the same position at the same time.

I'm thinking that by experiencing a compelling argument favoring one over the other that I'll be persuaded that the winner is over the HoM line.

In a way, it's like the recent BBWAA Hall voting. With Blyleven, John and Kaat on the ballot together, voters failed to distinguish any meaningful difference between them. They all fell well short of election. I think if we can distinguish a meaningful difference between Galvin and Caruthers that one of them has a shot at eventual election, but probably not both.

I'm asking the analysts out there. Who should we vote for? "Ruben" Caruthers or "Clay" Galvin?
   29. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 21, 2003 at 09:04 PM (#512827)
I'm asking the analysts out there. Who should we vote for? "Ruben" Caruthers or "Clay" Galvin?

I have Galvin (roughly) 30% greater in value than Caruthers, FWIW.

Good analogy with the American Idol guys. All four are good, but not great.
   30. jimd Posted: May 22, 2003 at 02:43 AM (#512829)
Interesting topic: Caruthers and a hypothetical AA MVP award.

Caruthers is a solid candidate in 4 separate years: 1885, 86, 87, and 89.

1885: He's probably the best player on the champion Browns, either him or Curt Welch. He's got competition around the league though. Pete Browning is having his best season (assuming you apply a quality discount to 1882) though Louisville never really contends. Dave Orr is at his peak for the defending champs, but they don't contend either. However, a big AA story would be the rise of Pittsburgh from a horrible 11th place finish the year before; they are still in 2nd, 12 GB in early September before fading. P Ed Morris is the best player on that team, and has more Win Shares than Caruthers and better WARP numbers. Morris probably had the better season, and may also have won the award.

1886: The most serious competition comes from two other pitchers; teammate Dave Foutz, and the Association's new strikeout sensation, Toad Ramsey of Louisville. Dave Orr has another top season as the league's best full-time hitter. Ramsey won the WARP crown, and Foutz won the Win Shares crown. Caruthers may not have won the MVP this time either.

1887: Again he's got competition from his own teammates; Tip O'Neill has his monster .435 season. Around the league Elmer Smith takes the ERA+ crown, and Matt Kilroy loads up with quality power innings while putting perennial cellar-dweller Baltimore into the race for 2nd place. Kilroy won the WARP crown, while Caruthers and Smith tied for the Win Shares lead. However, if you apply any significant discount for the pitching/defense balance, Caruthers will pull ahead of Smith, but O'Neill quickly moves into the picture. Caruthers may not have won the MVP this time either.

In each of the above 3 seasons, the AA pennant race was non-existent, effectively over in July. There was no indispensable "most valuable" player on that St. Louis team.

1889: Now there's a real pennant race, as Foutz and Caruthers haunt their ex-teammates by helping Brooklyn into the lead on Aug. 31. On 9/22, Brooklyn held a 4+ game lead; St. Louis ran off a 12 game winning streak, forcing Brooklyn to go 11-4 to clinch, the Browns then splitting a meaningless double-header on the final day. Caruthers is the stand out on that Brooklyn team. Harry Stovey or Tommy Tucker is the best hitter, but neither are on the contenders. Kilroy had a small lead in WARP, Caruthers a small lead in Win Shares over Kilroy and both Silver King and Icebox Chamberlain of St. Louis. Finally, unless he had problems down the stretch, I believe it's Caruthers turn to have won the MVP award.
   31. Jeff M Posted: May 23, 2003 at 05:18 PM (#512832)
Posting this here (as well as in 1901 Ballot Discussion), as hitting ability is inexorably linked to opposing pitchers' abilities.

I'm still obsessed with the league quality analysis regarding the AA and would like your thoughts on the following:

In an attempt to compare apples to apples, I made a list of every AA player that had at least one 140+ at-bat season in the AA and at least one 140+ at-bat season in another league. Once I had the list, I compiled all of those players' seasons in which they had 140+ ABs in the AA and 140+ ABs in another league. This produced a list of 1,622 seasons -- AA (541), NL/AL (970), PL (57) and NA (54).

I then calculated the OBA, SLG and OPS figures for these seasons, grouped by league. The results should tell us something about how AA hitters fared in the AA vs. how they fared in other leagues. Here are the results for the AA vs. NL/AL with standard deviations in parentheses. Sorry I haven't figured out how to format this nicely.

Category ---------AA--------------------NL/AL
   32. Jeff M Posted: May 27, 2003 at 03:05 PM (#512833)
For those interested, there's an ESPN "Outside the Lines" on tonight (Tues) at midnight, addressing whether Blyleven ought to be in the Hall of Fame.

Blyleven says "yes." :)
   33. OCF Posted: May 27, 2003 at 05:29 PM (#512834)
I don't know nearly as much history as the regular posters here, and my question is a few "years" too early, but can someone help me understand how to think about Cy Young and Kid Nichols?

Both Young and Nichols had careers that started in 1890. Assuming their ages are correctly reported, Young was actually a couple of years older. Nichols started up with a big 1890; Young eased into it and wasn't full-time until the next year. If you look at them 11 years later, after the 1900 season, we see this:

Nichols had the better W-L record, 311-167 versus 286-170.
   34. jimd Posted: May 28, 2003 at 11:59 PM (#512835)
Kid Nichols was part owner of a minor league team which he also managed and was probably the star attraction.
   35. OCF Posted: May 29, 2003 at 12:26 AM (#512836)
Thanks, jimd. I would assume that Nichols and Young are both certain HoMers and that you guys are likely to have already inducted Nichols before Young becomes eligible, which will mostly keep you from doing head-to-head comparisons of the two.
   36. Marc Posted: May 30, 2003 at 02:14 PM (#512837)
BTW, I am continuing to consider G. Stovey. It's a good thing (for his chances) that we have started
   37. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 30, 2003 at 02:23 PM (#512838)
Thanks, jimd. I would assume that Nichols and Young are both certain HoMers and that you guys are likely to have already inducted Nichols before Young becomes eligible, which will mostly keep you from doing head-to-head comparisons of the two.

Head-to-head comparisons of Young, Nichols and Amos Rusie take away from the latters luster, IMO. He'll be on my ballot, but where? I don't know yet.
   38. DanG Posted: June 04, 2003 at 02:42 PM (#512841)
As Joe requested, copying some of these here.

Posted 4:41 p.m., June 3, 2003 (#88) - James Newburg
   39. MattB Posted: June 04, 2003 at 03:07 PM (#512842)
How about a "reality check" for these numbers. They are very interesting, but since the stat was kind of made up on the spot, I'd like a baseline to compare them to.

Would someone have the time to compare these 19th century players by doing a similar comparison to today's ERA+ leaders? Say, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Mike Mussina?
   40. Marc Posted: June 04, 2003 at 04:24 PM (#512843)
>((NRA/DERA)*lgERA)/ERA

>Could somebody who understands the methodology better than I do calculate Tommy Bond as well?

>since the stat was kind of
   41. Marc Posted: June 04, 2003 at 04:25 PM (#512844)
>((NRA/DERA)*lgERA)/ERA

>Could somebody who understands the methodology better than I do calculate Tommy Bond as well?

>since the stat was kind of
   42. MattB Posted: June 04, 2003 at 04:49 PM (#512846)
This the "methodology" to the extent it means anything.

lgERA/ERA is the formula for ERA+. That is the right half of the formula used above.

The BPro glossary states: "Note that if DERA is higher than NRA, you can safely assume he pitched in front of an above-average defense."

By dividing NRA/DERA you essentially get a fraction. If the pitcher had an "above average defense", that fraction will be less than one, and if the pitcher had a "below average defense" then the fraction will be greater than one.

So, for example, if DERA is 4.50 and NRA is 4.00. Defense is assumed to be above average. Dividing them gives the fraction 4.00/4.50 = 0.89. So instead of dividing ERA by lgERA, you divide it 89% of lgERA (and hence get a lower ERA+).

It is a "junk stat" for several reasons. First, NRA and DERA are scaled to an average of 4.50. 4.50 will always be "average" irrespective of context. lgERA is an actual number, and will usually be a number different from 4.50. Second, the NRA/DERA is a "made up" factor. We are told that if DERA is greater than NRA, then defense is above average, but we are not told that the stats are proportional (i.e., that a DERA 10% above NRA means a defense 10% below average). That was an assumption that was made. Finally, the stat adjusts lgERA by the NRA/DERA factor. Assuming that the factor is accurate, it should only be applied to the portion of the lgERA that involves the defense. A high K pitcher is hurt less by his bad defense than a his low K teammate, but the stat treats them identically, and thus gives them equal boosts.

Not saying the analysis is worthless, just pointing out its weaknesses so we know how much weight to give it.
   43. James Newburg is in awe of Cespedes' CORE STRENGTH Posted: June 04, 2003 at 07:34 PM (#512848)
I checked the career numbers of Clemens, Maddux, R. Johnson and P. Martinez. For all of them there is a difference within +/- 3 ERA+ points.

Clemens goes from 142 to 145.
   44. James Newburg is in awe of Cespedes' CORE STRENGTH Posted: June 04, 2003 at 07:45 PM (#512849)
I don't want any voter here to rely just on adjERA+; I just think that it should be one of several tools we use to evaluate pitchers. With the changing dynamics of 19th Century pitching, I think adjERA+ takes a better look at the role of the defense than does ERA+. For me, it forms a general idea as to how much a pitcher was helped or hurt by his defense.

(Also, if you look at the careers of the pitchers I profiled, their career paths seem to be more "sensible." They don't go from a 105 ERA+ to 161 to 93.)
   45. Marc Posted: June 04, 2003 at 08:40 PM (#512850)
I know everybody is rolling their eyes and all, but I still haven't got an answer to the underlying question. MattB, thanks, I appreciate your effort. But what is the derivation of DERA? So far the answer has been "we don't know."

>if DERA is 4.50 and NRA is 4.00. Defense is assumed to be above average

So, we assume the defense was whatever we assumed it to be? And the defensive ratings that were cited (where the players had ratings revolving around 100 like an OPS+ number), how were they derived? And do they have something to do with the derivation of DERA?

Joe, you are right about one thing, a number of these pitchers is close. I spent a lot of time figuring out that Clarkson and Keefe really were better than Radbourn, and that Galvin and Welch really were not, and that McCormick was probably the best of the rest. It isn't obvious or anything. But this new information makes them A LOT CLOSER and seems to support, as I see it, the notion that frankly none of them deserves to get elected. Sure I understand 6000 innings, but inning for inning they're still interchangeable. We're back to slow pitch softball, or worse. I'm not willing to make a list based on innings pitched.

Anyway, I'm nagging you on this because it's important. And again, as I try to follow this debate without understanding how DERA is derived, it seems to me that the conclusion is to elect none of them.
   46. jimd Posted: June 04, 2003 at 10:48 PM (#512851)
I looked up the modern pitchers mentioned here: Maddux, Clemens, Martinez, and Johnson at BP.

I'd like to point out that the three best WARP1 (Wins Above Replacment) seasons for these four modern pitchers, plus Spalding, are:

1T) 13.5 Pedro Martinez 2000 (127 PRAR, Pitching Runs above Replacement)
   47. Jeff M Posted: June 05, 2003 at 01:40 PM (#512852)
jimd wrote: "OTOH, they were practicing the only pitching style that the rules of the time allowed, and some were markedly better at it than others, creating real wins for their teams. I don't think that this early-1870's/late-1870's quality difference is the same kind as the NL/AA quality difference..."

Spot on. If you think about it, pre-rule change pitchers (whether in 1878 or in 1884) kept trying after the rule changes. I wouldn't go so far as to say they weren't good at it, but maybe they weren't as good at it as some newer guys, and those newer guys may have been terrible under the former rules. If you are a hitter and are facing sub-mariners, you're going to have a harder time against them, if only because things are coming at a different angle, with different movement, etc. In 1884, a hitter is going to have a harder time with the overhand guys. The veterans are going to look like batting practice. That doesn't mean we have to negate the veterans' effectiveness prior to the rule changes.

Non-MLB example: If you told the pitchers in NCAA women's fast pitch softball that next year pitches could be thrown overhand, who do you think the hitters would have more trouble with, the new overhanders or the old underhanders (including those who try to throw overhand)?
   48. MattB Posted: June 12, 2003 at 09:17 PM (#512854)
Good point, Jason, especially compared to Pud Galvin.

In his big 1884, his ERA was over two points lower than #2 pitcher Billy Serad (1.99 to 4.27), showing that Pud wasn't doing it with just defense.

In fact, let's try a comparison, Radbourn and Galvin compared to the pitcher who threw the next most innings. It's a complete junk stat, because it assumes that their respective #2 pitchers are comparable, which may or may not be true, and weighs each season equally, but here it is anyway. If you assume that the teams had vaguely the same quality of "other pitcher"s, then you can get some sort of picture of how they were impacted by their defenses:

Radbourn ERA+: Next Pitcher ERA+: Difference (1881-1891)
   49. Marc Posted: June 12, 2003 at 10:05 PM (#512855)
Being kind of a peak value junkie, what I see in these numbers is that for four years Hoss was reliably above average, above the team. Galvin, on the other hand, had two monster years and other than that his employer could never count on him at all.

I have had Hoss anywhere from #4 to #10 on my ballot. I've never had him in the hot slot and I don't know if I ever will. The fact is he had a very short peak even for the 19th century. But I've seen a lot of junk stats and a lot of efforts to build Galvin up and so far I am unconvinced. This just reminds me why I had Hoss #10 on my first ballot in '98.
   50. Marc Posted: June 13, 2003 at 12:15 AM (#512857)
Jason,

>Overall its hard for me to get excited about the quality level of the pitchers in the 1880s.

Especially considering we have already elected two (who are BTW obviously the best two and deserving but, really, do we need any more?).
   51. Marc Posted: June 13, 2003 at 12:17 AM (#512858)
Jason,

>Overall its hard for me to get excited about the quality level of the pitchers in the 1880s.

Especially considering we have already elected two (who are BTW obviously the best two and deserving but, really, do we need any more?).
   52. Marc Posted: June 13, 2003 at 02:45 AM (#512859)
These numbers remind me of WAT. Recently somebody said Bob Lemon wasn't that good because his WAT was pretty low. To which there are six appropriate words to say: Bob Feller, Early Wynn, Mike Garcia. All we really know in this case is that Radbourn had a better back up than Galvin.
   53. Chris Cobb Posted: June 13, 2003 at 04:49 AM (#512860)
>Overall its hard for me to get excited about the quality level of the pitchers in the 1880s.

It is hard to get excited about players who only appear subtly different from the players to whom they're being compared, but in context even subtle differences can be very meaningful. Radbourn's ERA was not a whole lot better than Sweeney's, but with (probably) similar run support and similar defensive support, his winning percentage (which is essentially his team's winning percentage, because he was able to pitch every game) was .830, which Sweeney's was .680. Not an insignificant difference at all. Over 71 decisions, Radbourn and his team were 11 wins better than Sweeney and the same team would have been over 71 decisions. And Sweeney was a better hitter that year than Radbourn, too, so everything Radbourn was adding, he added on the pitching side of the ledger.

I find it hard to get excited over 20 points of ERA+, but I find it much easier to get excited about 11 wins.

Radbourn had tremendous value to his teams when he was at his best. The performance gap on a per game basis between a top pitcher and an average pitcher in the 1880s was not dramatic, but that wasn't where pitchers had their value. Their value started with their capacity to keep their teams in games over the course of 400 innings of work. Over the course of a season, a pitcher who could throw a lot of innings even 5 or 10% better than the alternatives (let alone Hoss's 20% or more at his peak) would win a lot of games for his team, and the best ones did.
   54. Chris Cobb Posted: June 13, 2003 at 04:51 AM (#512861)
>Overall its hard for me to get excited about the quality level of the pitchers in the 1880s.

It is hard to get excited about players who only appear subtly different from the players to whom they're being compared, but in context even subtle differences can be very meaningful. Radbourn's ERA was not a whole lot better than Sweeney's, but with (probably) similar run support and similar defensive support, his winning percentage (which is essentially his team's winning percentage, because he was able to pitch every game) was .830, which Sweeney's was .680. Not an insignificant difference at all. Over 71 decisions, Radbourn and his team were 11 wins better than Sweeney and the same team would have been over 71 decisions. And Sweeney was a better hitter that year than Radbourn, too, so everything Radbourn was adding, he added on the pitching side of the ledger.

I find it hard to get excited over 20 points of ERA+, but I find it much easier to get excited about 11 wins.

Radbourn had tremendous value to his teams when he was at his best. The performance gap on a per game basis between a top pitcher and an average pitcher in the 1880s was not dramatic, but that wasn't where pitchers had their value. Their value started with their capacity to keep their teams in games over the course of 400 innings of work. Over the course of a season, a pitcher who could throw a lot of innings even 5 or 10% better than the alternatives (let alone Hoss's 20% or more at his peak) would win a lot of games for his team, and the best ones did.
   55. jimd Posted: June 13, 2003 at 05:25 PM (#512864)
Joe, I don't think you're giving Charlie Sweeney enough credit in 1884. His DIPS basics are very good in the 1884 NL: 5th in K/9IP (Clarkson, Whitney, Getzien, Buffinton) and 4th in BB/9IP (Galvin, Whitney, Buffinton), better than Radbourn in both stats (though I wouldn't consider him eligible for the title with only 221 IP, and Getzien and Clarkson had less IP; my guess is these are all young fireballing overhand pitchers, now allowed to pitch, and Sweeney's got better control than the other two, at least at this point).

His defense didn't help him compile those two stats. He's also the FIRST pitcher to strike out 19 batters in a 9-inning game, doing it to defending champion Boston, and he did it without foul-ball strikes. He was very good for that half-season, defense or no defense. He just didn't amount to anything after that; I don't know why.

He was a promising young pitcher who apparently had quite a temper (and/or a "thirst"). He allegedly staged the incident which got him thrown off the Providence team, freeing him to sign with the Unions mid-season, who were courting him. He was getting roughed up, the manager wanted to swap pitchers, an argument ensued, and Sweeney wound up walking off the field, leaving his teammates to play a man short under the no-substitution rule. (The other version is that he was badly hung-over.) BTW, he died in jail, "just recently".
   56. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 13, 2003 at 06:46 PM (#512865)
He just didn't amount to anything after that; I don't know

His '84 season destroyed his arm. Pitching 60 games at the age of twenty-one is not the best way reach 300 wins. :-)

He would have been a great one, but...
   57. jimd Posted: June 14, 2003 at 12:08 AM (#512867)
Especially considering we have already elected two (who are BTW obviously the best two and deserving but, really, do we need any more?).

They are not obviously the best two. Suppose there were 16 teams during Galvin's peak playing 140 games and only 8 during Clarkson's peak playing 84 games. Galvin's ERA+ stats would be much gaudier because the replacement level would be much lower and the league ERA much higher. Meanwhile Clarkson's stats would be much less so because he'd be compared against primarily only the 8 #1 pitchers, instead of 3 man rotations from 16 teams, not to mention he'd be pitching against a higher average quality of everyday players with only 8 teams.

Using ERA+ is highly misleading here because it measures against "average" and there is a big difference between the average quality of the 6000 innings of 1879 and the 19000 innings of 1889, when they are thrown by pitchers from a pitching pool of about the same depth. Most of the pitchers of 1889 wouldn't have jobs if it weren't for schedule expansion and the added AA teams.

We're all suspicious of any batting feats that occur following an expansion. Well, the pitching has been diluted three-fold between 1879 and 1889; it's much easier to post great ERA+ numbers after that expansion.
   58. jimd Posted: June 14, 2003 at 01:28 AM (#512868)
[McCormick's] decline phase was a little more elegant

He had a four game tryout with Providence in 1885 and couldn't beat out Dupee Shaw as Radbourn's backup. Either that or he wanted too much money.

That was probably a mistake by Providence because he wound up with pennant winner Chicago, and pitched well the following year, too. I don't want to trash McCormick to make points in favor of Radbourn because he's on my ballot, too. IMO, his peak wasn't as good, nor his career as valuable, nor his reputation as high as Radbourn's.
   59. jimd Posted: June 14, 2003 at 01:31 AM (#512869)
(Pro-pitcher rant #207 :-)

Obviously, I'm a pro-pitcher voter. Radbourn, Spalding, Galvin were 3-5 on my last ballot, with McCormick 13th. I had Clarkson and Keefe ranked between Spalding and Galvin. I think some voters here are underestimating the value of the 19th century pitchers.

In Win Shares, Bill James estimates that pitching is about 2/3rd of the defense. The pitchers during Galvin's peak pitched 2-3 times the innings of today in a season 1/2 as long. After you adjust for both of those factors, the average pitcher then was 4-6 times as valuable to his team as the average starting pitcher of today, primarily because he was close to being the entire pitching staff. Now, most of us agree that the pitching wasn't as important then on a game-by-game basis, so we reduce the pitching impact (increasing fielding at the same time). However, applying JoeDimino's defensive adjustment still leaves the average pitcher of 1879 worth 2.5-3.75 times more than the average pitcher of today. If we decide to cut the pitcher's value in half again to bring it closer to today's value, we are asserting that Catcher, SS, and 3B are more important defensively than the pitcher, which IMO is nonsense.

The strikeout rates in 1879 are comparable to the 1920's. Can the error rate change the pitching/fielding balance so much that pitchers like Ward and Galvin have that much less impact on each game than pitchers like Grove and Vance?
   60. Marc Posted: June 14, 2003 at 02:35 AM (#512870)
jimd wrote:

>Suppose there were 16 teams during Galvin's peak playing 140 games and only 8 during Clarkson's peak playing 84 games.

We can suppose anything you want but why? I don't get your point. Clarkson had a great year in '89? So, Galvin won 46 games in '84 when a 23-year old Clarkson pitched in 14 games. And a 33-year old Galvin was still chucking in '89, he had a chance to make hay, too. Clarkson pitched basically '84-'94, Galvin '79-'92. I'll give you two years of Galvin in an 8 team league, but really, they faced basically the same competition.

Also re. Sweeney, anybody whose claim to fame is '84 is the most suspect of all.

But I agree on the importance of pitching. Cut it by 50% and it is still important as it relates to the huge number of innings. And the idea that the errors (unearned runs) mean the pitcher was less important is silly. The defense is more important and gets more credit because it makes errors?
   61. jimd Posted: June 14, 2003 at 03:28 AM (#512871)
And a 33-year old Galvin was still chucking in '89, he had a chance to make hay, too. ... they faced basically the same competition

At different ages. The 33 year old Clarkson was retired. Galvin was good enough to compete (though not star) against the new generation of overhand pitchers. Clarkson either wasn't or chose not to when the mound was moved.

My point was that expansion makes Clarkson's and Keefe's peak numbers appear more impressive than Galvin's, at least when viewed through the lens of ERA+. I guess I didn't make that clear. Looked at through Win Shares or WARP3, Galvin and Radbourn appear to be more valuable pitchers than Clarkson or Keefe. I'm just contesting your claim that the two best pitchers have already been inducted, not Keefe's or Clarkson' HOM-worthiness.

Also re. Sweeney, anybody whose claim to fame is '84 is the most suspect of all.

Agreed; 1884 is the weakest NL season, comparable to the best AA season and the NA. That doesn't mean that we ignore it entirely; it was still the best league that year. My point was that Sweeney showed signs of having the potential to be a very good pitcher, unlike Galvin's backup Billy Serad. Please don't think I'm proposing him for the HOM :-)
   62. jimd Posted: June 24, 2003 at 06:56 PM (#512876)
A note on pitchers and aging in the 19th century. Here is a complete list of EVERY pitcher who was 36 or older and whose IP was 1/2 or more of the league leader (that is, a regular starter).

1890 E.Cushman, Toledo AA (38 yrs old)

The only qualifier was a former AA pitcher who came back into the AA with the minor-league Toledo team in 1890 when the AA was desperate for new teams after losing three teams. (Note that there were 12 such pitchers pitching in 2002 alone; Clemens, Moyer, Wells, Johnson, Reed, Rogers, Yoshii, Sparks, Leiter, el Duque, Glavine, Maddux.)

****

Here's a less exclusive list, a year younger and less IP to qualify; every pitcher who was 35 or older and whose IP was 1/4 or more of the league leader (a semi-regular starter).

1871 H.Wright, Bos NA (36)
   63. OCF Posted: June 24, 2003 at 08:01 PM (#512877)
The comment I posted on the 1904 thread mentions Hutchison as the workhorse of the three years 1890-1892. As is clear from what jimd just said, he didn't make it very far past the 1893 distance change primarily because he was old. He had an incosequential 2 games in the Union Association but was a rookie in 1889 at the age of 29. Does anyone know where Hutchison was pitching in, say, 1885-1888 and how good he was then?
   64. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 24, 2003 at 08:16 PM (#512878)
Does anyone know where Hutchison was pitching in, say, 1885-1888 and how good he was then?

Amateur ball. He refused the big league offersto play elsewhere. Don't know how good he was.
   65. Marc Posted: June 25, 2003 at 01:45 AM (#512879)
Are you sure that the problem with these pitchers was not age per se, but rather innings pitched? The '80s guys had all pitched 500-600 innings per year and 4000+ for their career by '93. Young guys like Hutchison and Rusie likewise were pitching massive numbers of innings in the early '90s.

The handling that Nichols and Young enjoyed in the early '90s (fewer innings) as youngsters is extremely suggestive.

It seems to me that pitching had already become much more difficult in the early '90s and the managers simply did not recognize the wear on their pitchers until too late--except for Nichols' and Young's. Who were these geniuses?
   66. DanG Posted: June 25, 2003 at 04:28 PM (#512881)
Marc, you may have a point about the workload. While Nichols and Young were actually working pretty hard, neither one had the heavy workload of Rusie or the insane workload of Hutchison.

The following list of IP leaders shows them near the top every year after 1891, but never to the extreme workloads that the top pitchers traditionally received.

1889
   67. DanG Posted: June 25, 2003 at 04:29 PM (#512882)
Marc, you may have a point about the workload. While Nichols and Young were actually working pretty hard, neither one had the heavy workload of Rusie or the insane workload of Hutchison.

The following list of IP leaders shows them near the top every year after 1891, but never to the extreme workloads that the top pitchers traditionally received.

1889

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