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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sandy Koufax

Eligible in 1972.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 05, 2006 at 10:05 PM | 337 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 09, 2006 at 06:13 PM (#1890479)
I'm reading a lot about bonus credit for Koufax. Is everyone who's considering clutch/pennant-race/post-season bonuses giving them to every new and backlog candidate?

I know I'm coming off during this election as the Koufax Police (wasn't that a Radiohead hit?), but he's a player that creates a lot of emotional heat and who is among the most ballyhooed players of recent memory (see the ESPN list discussion above for an example or the success of his biography).

Combine his very big outside-world reputation with difficult to interperet (some would say borderline) credentials, and it's easy to see where a person could consider offering him credits that other candidates may not get the benefit of. This is not a condemnation of offering bonuses, but more like a checkpoint. As we enter a time where more and more of us know the players increasingly well and identify them more and more with special moments or events in our lives, the temptation to bonus a favorite over the queue will be strong.

So I suppose I'm hoping that anyone giving Koufax bonus points has similarly assessed every candidate in their queue and will let us know if those candidates are already bonused or if their placement changes as a result of a bonus system.
   102. DavidFoss Posted: March 09, 2006 at 06:24 PM (#1890500)
DavidF's table shows the Dodgers (via Koufax' W-L record) winning about 1 more game per season than 'expected' over his supreme last 4 years.

Just a clarification... my PyWPct column is based on ERA+ only. Literally, its 1/(1+(100/ERA+)^2). Basically assuming that the opposing pitcher has an ERA+ of 100 and ignoring unearned runs. It does not account for run support. Its a quick and dirty way of translating ERA+ into a winning percentage in a totally neutral context.

I just want to make sure that people know that I didn't plug in any RSI data and attempt to measure 'clutch' in that respect.

Hmmm... you know Koufax's peak is completely done on retrosheet now. Chris's RSI data was neat for older players, but for the box-score-complete era we could actually do a full SNWLR-like study taking into account blown leads, bailouts, inherited runners, etc.
   103. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 09, 2006 at 07:34 PM (#1890608)
I know I'm coming off during this election as the Koufax Police (wasn't that a Radiohead hit?), but he's a player that creates a lot of emotional heat and who is among the most ballyhooed players of recent memory (see the ESPN list discussion above for an example or the success of his biography).

A prominent member of our group once asked if Koufax (and to a lesser extent Dean) were to be passed on by our electorate, would the outside take us seriously? IOW, it's very difficult to fight the tide of public opinion. I state that personally, since I think I was more disappointed that he wont be on my ballot than I ever have been with any other player. That's why I asked everyone to check their emotions, since I have felt the undertow myself (and I was one when he retired!)

People can handle us passing over (I'm not saying we necessarily will or should, BTW) Dobie Moore, Hack Wilson, Chuck Klein, or Ralph Kiner since there is not many people who think they were the best or near the top for their respective positions all-time, but when Koufax is a candidate, all bets are off.
   104. OCF Posted: March 09, 2006 at 07:36 PM (#1890616)
Let me re-do the table David Foss did in post #99, making three adjustments to what he did.

First, let's bring in innings pitched and make it not just a rate stat. As you know, in my system, I've been assigning one equivalent decision per 9 IP. That's a little bit off - significant pitchers seem to average about 8.75 or 8.8 innings per decision. This leads us to our first surprise: Koufax has 9.22 IP per decision, which is a very high number. In fact (ignoring relief-influenced oddities like Maglie), it's the second highest IP/decision ratio in my whole database, behind only Walsh at 9.23.

Second: the flat Pythag formula that David explained in #103 misses the fact that you get a better fit by sliding the exponent in response to the run environment. Koufax pitched in an extremely low run environment; a 150 or 180 ERA+ wouldn't be expected to be worth as much in winning percentage there as would the same ERA+ in a high-run environment.

Third: I've always liked RA rather than ERA.

So in the table below, "Act WL" is Koufax's actual won-loss record, "ERA+WL" is the flat-Pythag winning percentage that David computed multiplied by IP/9, and "RA+WL" is my own with a Pythaganport sliding exponent.

Year   ERA+  RA+   Act WL  ERA+WL  RA+WL
1955   135   145    2
2    32    32
1956    81    77    2
4    34    24
1957   107   117    5
4    65    75
1958    94    93   11
-11    89    89
1959   104   103    8
6    98    98
1960   102   114    8
-13   10-10   119
1961   124   113   18
-13   17-11   16-13
1962   143   140   14
7   147   137
1963   161   179   25
5   25-10   25-10
1964   187   186   19
5   196   187
1965   160   150   26
8   27-10   25-13
1966   190   183   27
9   288   26-10

Total             165
-87  169-89  163-95 


So from my perspective (with the sliding exponent the most important feature), it looks like Koufax did have a slighly better actual W-L record than he might have been expected to have with that RA+. I have not run this through the "Wes Ferrell adjuster" of taking into account the pitcher's own hitting; clearly if I were to do so, Koufax would lose a few expected wins.

Side note on Koufax's hitting: even his sacrifices look suspiciously low to me. Here's someone whom you should tell to bunt every chance you could, and it looks like he didn't get that many laid down.

Some perspective: Why Koufax and not Dean? Because I have Dean at an equivalent 136-82. There's a huge difference between 163-95 and 136-82. Why Koufax and not Joss? I have Joss at 161-98, which is pretty close. Here's where the inning-deflator has to be put in. In effect, that's a lot more innings in Koufax's time than it was in Joss's time. Why Koufax and not Bridges (equiv. 190-124) or Walters (offense-adjusted equiv. 197-148)? Or Pierce (equiv. 218-150)? Those are much tougher questions. I think it's fairly likely that Koufax will be in my top 15; he probably won't be #2. I think he will be elected this year, and I don't have a big problem with that.
   105. TomH Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:06 PM (#1890673)
Dr C, well said.
Course if I look at my ballot, it's full of NgL and 19th century guys, or players who played for poor teams, so pennant- and W.S.- bonuses don't much apply. Roberts is over-qualified anyway.

I have already stated I dock Doerr and bump Gordon up a bit for their part in their teams play in this regard. Koufax, even ignoring his other 3 fine W.S. (59, 63, 66), gets +8 career bonus 'wins' from me for his 0.38 ERA in the '65 classic, including the 2-0 CG whitewash in game 7, on 2 days rest. And he gets a few wins for the 65 and 66 pennant-winning efforts of he and his team. Without either of these, he'd be about a sad #40 backlogger :(
   106. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:35 PM (#1890749)
Side note on Koufax's hitting: even his sacrifices look suspiciously low to me. Here's someone whom you should tell to bunt every chance you could, and it looks like he didn't get that many laid down.

The man couldn't hit, that's for sure. When you can't even sacrifice, you're just a robotic out. Koufax must be coming somewhat close to the theoretical limits of stats like OPS+ (-26) or RC/27 (0.50). He makes Bill Bergen look like Hank Aaron!
   107. DL from MN Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:49 PM (#1890774)
Pierce = Koufax + 55-55
Bridges = Koufax + 27-29
Koufax
Waddell
Mendez
Trout
Willis
Redding
Walters = Koufax + 34-53
Dean = Koufax - 27-13

This is how I have them ranked. I'd be interested in your input on Waddell, Mendez, Trout, Willis and Redding.

I can see how people would rank Koufax at the top of this heap. The reason I have Pierce and Bridges slightly ahead is essentially eating some innings. Koufax (4-3 0.95 57IP) was better than Pierce (1-1 1.89 19IP) or Bridges (4-1 3.52 46IP) in the postseason and I can see the argument that Koufax had enough added postseason value to overcome 5 (Pierce) and 2 (Bridges) seasons of average pitching. I don't subscribe to it but I can see how someone else could.

The guy in that list who I'm not confident in my placement is Trout.
   108. OCF Posted: March 09, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#1890827)
When I was a kid, we had a baseball simulation game that I played a little with my older brother. I don't remember the name of it. It featured a spinner, and you had paper rings that you laid over the spinner. The set came with rings with the the names of historically famous players - so big a chunk for HR, for walks, for ground balls, etc. I think there was a second spinner you'd use to find out whether a GB was a DP, or how far runners advanced on hits. All pretty primitive, certainly not a shred of context adjustment.

Koufax was one of the pitchers available. Sounds great, huh, have Koufax pitch for your team? Look at all the strikeouts on that ring! Except for one thing: those were his offensive statistics on his ring; you used it only when he was batting. The game did not simulate the quality of pitchers; in effect every pitcher used was completely average on the mound. We learned that we'd rather have Dizzy Dean. (No, I'd never heard of Wes Ferrell, nor had the game makers.)
   109. Chris Cobb Posted: March 09, 2006 at 09:59 PM (#1890923)
DL,

Another factor in Koufax's favor vs. Pierce and Bridges, at least as I see it, is that one season at 26-10 is more valuable than two seasons at 13-5. Bridges and Pierce both have some big years, but a considerable amount of their value above an average pitcher in the same number of innings comes in seasons in which they didn't throw all that many innings.
   110. jimd Posted: March 09, 2006 at 11:09 PM (#1891082)
Koufax must be coming somewhat close to the theoretical limits of stats like OPS+ (-26)

Check out his 1955 batting line. That is the theoretical limit for OPS+. 0 for 12, 12 K's. OPS+ -100.

Runs created? It could be worse. Imagine 12 GIDP.
   111. Daryn Posted: March 09, 2006 at 11:25 PM (#1891105)
When I was a kid, we had a baseball simulation game that I played a little with my older brother. I don't remember the name of it. It featured a spinner, and you had paper rings that you laid over the spinner.

I played that too, and also can't remember the name. Somebody help us.
   112. DavidFoss Posted: March 09, 2006 at 11:28 PM (#1891109)
Runs created? It could be worse. Imagine 12 GIDP.

Tee hee... that would effectively break the OWP formula.
   113. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 10, 2006 at 12:32 AM (#1891187)
Well since someone asked for it...

I just went through all of Sandy's starts on retrosheet, and I'll post other findings, but I thought I'd at least throw this up there.

In the 237 starts I checked, Koufax hurled 1772.67 innings (covering 1960-1966). I figured out his run support and runs allowed based only on when he was in the game: 812 RS, 485 RA. That's a cool .737 pythag pct.

Of course, that doesn't take into account bequeathed runners. He handed over 102 runners to his bullpens, of whom 40 subsequently scored. The percentage of inherited runs allowed has been dropping in each decade, but even so, 39% of inherited runners scoring is a little high, even for that early in the relief era. It changes his pythag win pct to .705.

In actuality, Koufax was 136-60 with 41 no decisions. That's .694, very close to the pythag with IHR.

Koufax was relieved 115 times in this period. His bullpen gave him okay support. In 396 innings, they sported a 3.07 ERA. When you consider the times and the home park, that's not spectacular. The bullpen's full line behind him was

23-16 (76 NDs), 396.33 IP, 361 H, 153 RA, 135 ER, 34 HR, 157 BB, 254 K

OK, in a few minutes I'll return to tell you how lucky or unlucky he might have been.
   114. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 10, 2006 at 01:12 AM (#1891223)
Here we go then with the lucky/unlucky business in Sandy's record. Throughout this I'm going to assume that one-third of inherited runners score in any given season. The average was perhaps higher in Koufax's time, but it'll do for now.

I counted 41 starts where Koufax's W/L record may have either been effected by his bullpen support or been effected by what his offense did after he left the game. There's three categories here:
1) Games he left with a lead and got screwed out of a win
2) Games he left trailing and got off the hook
3) Games he left tied but ended up with a decision in anyway.

1) Games he left with a lead and got screwed out of a win
I count nine such games. In those contests, Koufax was staked to 34 runs and had allowed 16 when he departed. He also left behind 15 bequeathed runners in these 52.67 innings. His bullpens subsequently allowed 9 of those IHR to score, about four more than average. In addition, his bullpens generally crapped the bed, allowing 21 runs in 35 innings. Koufax went 0-2 in these games, while his bullpens went 5-3.

(Special mention might be made of the 6/29/63 game where he left with the lead after 4.67 innings.)

2) Games he left trailing and got off the hook
I count 22 such games. In these contests, Koufax received 36 runs from his offense but gave up 78 in 96 innings. He also bequeathed 22 runs. His pen allowed 8 runs, a run more than they might have been expected to. The bullpen in those games hurled 118 frames giving up 36 runs. Koufax's record in these games was 0-2 with 20 no decisions. The bullpen went 11-9

3) Games he left tied but got a decision anyway
I count twelve of these games. Sandy left these games tied at 34 after 85 innings. He bequeathed 17 runners to the bullpen of whom 12 scored, a miserable 70% rate. We'd more likely expect five or six runners to score from among the seventeen. Meanwhile, the bullpen allowed 29 runs in 25 innings. Koufax went 1-9 with two no-decisions, while the pen went 1-1.

So let's sum it up.
-Koufax got screwed out of a win on 9 occasions.
-Koufax dodged a loss on 20 occasions.
That's 0-11 in situations where he could have been expected to go 9-22.

In addition
-Koufax got tagged with a loss 9 times after leaving a tie ball game, and got one gift win in those situations.

So 1-13 in situations that suggest a 9-22 record. I don't know how that compares to other pitchers.
En toto we're talking about going 1-13 in situations where could
   115. DavidFoss Posted: March 10, 2006 at 01:34 AM (#1891240)
Well since someone asked for it...

Wow... thanks Dr. C! How hard was that to do? Can a computer automate it or did you look at 237 boxscores by hand? Anyhow, thanks.

And thanks to OCF for suping up my simple quick-and-dirty ERA-to-WPct converter.

Unless I'm missing something, I think all of that work is showing that the simple methods do tell a fairly accurate picture of Koufax's prowess. His W/L record does not appear to be much out of line with his ERA+ and IP numbers.
   116. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: March 10, 2006 at 03:29 AM (#1891438)
Dr C.,

Please check your e-mail.
   117. OCF Posted: March 10, 2006 at 03:31 AM (#1891444)
Another factor in Koufax's favor vs. Pierce and Bridges, at least as I see it, is that one season at 26-10 is more valuable than two seasons at 13-5.

Here's a junk list: among pitchers or pitcher-seasons that I happen to have put into my RA+/Pythpat machine, what instances do I have since the end of WWII of single-season equivalent FWP of at least 30? The important qualification is "that I happen to have worked up" - I've obviously missed some. And this is RA+, uncorrected for either defensive support or the pitcher's own batting. Gibson's 1968 bubbles to the top of the list - but it was also something of a BABIP fluke year for him. Gooden's 1985 might be the best of them all. Ranked by equivalent FWP:

Gibson 1968: 27-7
Gooden 1985: 25-6
Martinez 2000: 21-3
Koufax 1966: 26-10
Maddux 1995: 20-3
Koufax 1963: 25-10
Newhouser 1946: 24-9
Roberts 1953: 26-12
Martinez 1998: 21-5
Feller 1946: 27-14
Martinez 1999: 19-4
Parnell 1949: 23-9

Pierce's best year, 1955 at 18-5, isn't all that far from the list at 26 FWP. Spahn had 29 equiv. FWP twice, in 1947 and 1953. Trucks had a 21-9 (27) in 1949. Feller also cleared the 30 FWP in 1939 and 1940, and Newhouser in 1945. Walters was there in 1939.
   118. OCF Posted: March 10, 2006 at 03:45 AM (#1891463)
Clemens 1997: 24-6

should be third on that list.
   119. dan b Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:15 AM (#1891499)
OCF and Daryn - The game was "All Star Baseball". It was developed by a former major leaguer, Ethan Allen, in 1941.
   120. karlmagnus Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:33 AM (#1891520)
McLean 31-6 in 1968 should top the list, no? Talking of great seasons by pitchers we presumably aren't about to elect to the HOM...
   121. OCF Posted: March 10, 2006 at 05:54 AM (#1891687)
karl, that was RA+ Pythpat equivalent record, not actual record. McLain (336 innings of 152 RA+ in a low-scoring environment) has an equivalent record of 25-12 (to one more decimal place, 24.8-12.5) for 29 equivalent FWP, just missing the list of 30+ FWP years.

McLain not quite even making the list just helps make the point: that list in #118 is a list of truly spectacular seasons. And Koufax had two of them (and a couple of others that didn't miss by much). Note also that Roberts has a season on that list. Roberts is very much a candidate even the most extreme peak voters can appreciate.
   122. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: March 10, 2006 at 07:24 AM (#1891789)
DL - one thing about Bucky Walters, he disproportionately pitched against the best teams of his era (as did Pierce and Koufax too I'm sure). I believe his opponent WPct was somewhere between .520-.525 (going from memory).

Also, he could hit. If you are ranking them as 'players' as opposed to 'pitchers' I think he should get a significant bump in your ratings.

Great stuff looking at Koufax Dr. C. Just curious, did you use PythaganPat for your Pythag records? That would apply to everyone else too. Very important in extreme run environments and for use with individual pitcher records, as opposed to teams (since a good pitcher makes the run environment even more extreme).
   123. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 10, 2006 at 02:48 PM (#1891983)
How hard was that to do? Can a computer automate it or did you look at 237 boxscores by hand?<i>

I don't know how the SQL tool for retrosheet works, so, yeah by hand. Luckily Koufax completed a lot of games, so there's relatively little combing through PBP to check situational stuff.

Because this was a hand count, however, I do want to emphasize that it's subject to human error, which, as you all know, I make a lot of.

<i>Just curious, did you use PythaganPat for your Pythag records?

No, I just used the usual pythag with a 2 exponent.
   124. DL from MN Posted: March 10, 2006 at 02:57 PM (#1891989)
Dizzy Trout could also hit. I've said before I took Walters' hitting into account by not docking him points from his pitching totals. Pierce and Koufax get serious demerits.
   125. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 10, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#1891993)
And Koufax had two of them (and a couple of others that didn't miss by much).

Does your system take into account the differing IP for each era, OCF?
   126. dan b Posted: March 10, 2006 at 05:22 PM (#1892142)
To those considering knocking Koufax down a peg for his inability to hit, how will you be comparing NL and AL pitchers as we move into the designated hitter era?
   127. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 10, 2006 at 05:59 PM (#1892192)
That is a good question dan. I am not knocking Loufax for his ability to any more than is already taken away from him (or not added to him) in WARP, WS, etc. so I may nto be teh target here (probably not). The odd thing is that I have no problem with giving a player like Ferrell or Lemon extra credit for hitting (though again I usually let the uberstats do this for me) but should we really dock an NL pitcher post 1974 who couldn't hit when with any luck he could have pitched in a league that doesn't allow him to hit.

What I do know is that I will be giving credit to those like Orel Hershiser, Mike Hampton, and Dontrelle Willis that have added something with the bat. After that I can be convinced of anything.
   128. Daryn Posted: March 10, 2006 at 06:01 PM (#1892198)
Thanks dan b. My brother remembered the game but couldn't remember the name either. I guess branding wasn't so big back in the forties.
   129. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 10, 2006 at 06:02 PM (#1892201)
To those considering knocking Koufax down a peg for his inability to hit, how will you be comparing NL and AL pitchers as we move into the designated hitter era?

Two or three thoughts pop to mind...

1) Value is value no matter how you accumulate it. If it's only by pitching or by pitching + hitting, it shouldn't matter.

2) Clearly pre-DH and NL pitchers are at a slight disadvantage to 1973-2005 AL because pitcher batting has only worsened with time. From a WS point of view, it's probably debatable how much actual value pitchers lose relative to one another anyway. But let's break the discussion into two pieces

a) pre-DH versus AL DH-era pitchers. Complete games were a much bigger part of the game before 1973 than after. So pitchers who hit even a little bit (or at least around the average for the position) are probably advantaged by extra opportunities to create runs. Even a sac bunt generates .04 runs (per Furtado's extrapolated runs). In his awful hitting career, even Koufax was only worth one negative win or so.

b) post-DH NL versus AL. With complete games dwindling and more relievers used earlier and earlier in each game, the worst hitters and the best hitters among pitchers are going to be seperated by fewer and fewer RC. It's now less likely that a pitcher would be allowed to hit for himself in any situation after sixth inning, even if he was Drysdale, Newcome, or maybe Ferrell. It's against "the book" to do that nowadays. Tom Glavine, a decent hitting pitcher for his time, has created 62 runs (1.42 per game) in 1475 PAs and 614 games (he's pitched 609, so I'm thinking pinch runner a couple times). Mike Hampton, probably the best hitting pitcher in the game, has created 70 runs (3.25 r/g) in 775 PA and 391 games. So a pitcher with a long career could add about 6-10 wins to his ledger just through hitting, but he'd probably have to have a long career to do it....

Anyway, I don't have an answer to the DH thing, I'm just riffing at this point.
   130. DavidFoss Posted: March 10, 2006 at 06:14 PM (#1892220)
Anyway, I don't have an answer to the DH thing, I'm just riffing at this point.

The same thing goes for poor-fielding NL 1B-men vs AL DH's.
   131. karlmagnus Posted: March 10, 2006 at 07:05 PM (#1892301)
Or poor fielding left fielders, q.v. the fatuous sabermetric attempt this winter to prove Manny Ramirez less valuable than David Ortiz.
   132. jimd Posted: March 10, 2006 at 11:12 PM (#1892920)
a) pre-DH versus AL DH-era pitchers. Complete games were a much bigger part of the game before 1973 than after.

The DH increased complete games (and starter IP) for a few years, until the long term trends erased the gains. 1974 has the most CG post WWII, and the highest percent of same post-1959. Starters were not lifted for PH in close games, late, but solely due to pitching considerations.
   133. OCF Posted: March 11, 2006 at 12:02 AM (#1892989)
Does your system take into account the differing IP for each era, OCF?

No, it doesn't. But there are some interesting balancing effects. IP/game (and thus with it IP/season) trends steadily downward, but IP/decision remains largely in the 8.5-9 range for most starting pitchers. Since the method assigns decisions based on IP/9, the 90's pitchers get fewer equivalent decisions, which drags down their equivalent FWP. To get the same equivalent FWP, they have to post a much higher RA+. And the best of them - Pedro, Maddux, Clemens - do have those years with much higher RA+, presumably made possible by the fact that they pitch fewer innings. There's no reason to believe that all of the tendencies pulling it this way and that really balance out and are fair - but I get a rough sense of some kind of crude balance.
   134. sunnyday2 Posted: March 12, 2006 at 04:09 PM (#1894315)
Do I really want to wade through all of this?

I mean, my mind is made up. Koufax and Roberts are 1-2 or 2-1. I admit a preference for Koufax though Roberts must be one of the most underrated pitchers of all time. Closer to Spahn than Wynn.
   135. Daryn Posted: March 12, 2006 at 07:34 PM (#1894485)
Do I really want to wade through all of this?

I mean, my mind is made up.


I think it is worhwhile, Marc. It won't change your ranking of him, but the analysis is interesting. I think it did cause some career voters who had Koufax off ballot to put him low ballot, but there will still be a fair number who keep him off ballot. Probably not enough to keep him from being elected in such a weak year.
   136. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: March 13, 2006 at 09:39 AM (#1896536)
Using PythaganPat makes a huge difference Dr. Chaleeko - enough to make a difference in the conclusion. I'll repost your original post, with the differences in bold.

In the 237 starts I checked, Koufax hurled 1772.67 innings (covering 1960-1966). I figured out his run support and runs allowed based only on when he was in the game: 812 RS, 485 RA. That's a cool .737 (.708) pythag pct.

Of course, that doesn't take into account bequeathed runners. He handed over 102 runners to his bullpens, of whom 40 subsequently scored. The percentage of inherited runs allowed has been dropping in each decade, but even so, 39% of inherited runners scoring is a little high, even for that early in the relief era. It changes his pythag win pct to .705 (.680).

In actuality, Koufax was 136-60 with 41 no decisions. That's .694, very close to the pythag with IHR.


But instead of underperforming his pythag w/inherited runners .694 vs. .705, he actually overperformed it, as it was really .680, not .705.

I cannot stress it enough, when dealing with good pitchers, you absolutely must use PythaganPat instead of the generic 2 or 1.83 exponent. At the extremes, it makes a big difference. Instead of underperforming by 2 wins, he overperformed by 3 wins. That's a 5 win swing, 138-58 vs. 133-63.
   137. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 13, 2006 at 02:58 PM (#1896679)
Thanks, Joe!
   138. DavidFoss Posted: March 13, 2006 at 05:18 PM (#1896796)
In partial response to some comments on the ballot thread, here are the sorted Win Shares lines for Koufax and Roberts:

SK:35-33-32-24-20-15-09-09-07-06-03-01
RR:35-32-31-28-27-26-20-16-16-15-15-13-13-13-12-12-12-03-00

Roberts is a classic case of a guy who didn't quit while he was on top and people forgot how good he was at his best.

Koufax's peak is indeed impressive (more impressive than the WS line implies in my opinion), but he did have a couple of injury-shortened seasons.

I'll be placing Koufax at least mid-ballot -- I can't bring myself to place him lower than Kiner who I like more than most. (I have to check, but Al Rosen might also make the bottom of my ballot -- so I tend to be fairly peak friendly). I was also a strong Jennings supporter.

Koufaxians-lurkers may not need to worry. Its not going to take much support to induct Koufax in this weak field and I have no problem with the lack of unanimity. The case really needs to be made that Koufax's peak was unique or he'll end up setting some sort of precedent. Nothing irks me more when people invoke the 'Sandy Koufax Rule' when plugging other candidates whose careers were shortened. A longer-than-expected look at Koufax will hopefully prevent that.
   139. DavidFoss Posted: March 13, 2006 at 06:02 PM (#1896856)
Whoops... in my laziness, I forgot about the season-length adjustments. (something I told myself I'd be vigilant about pointing out when other people forgot). Roberts' peak is in the 154-game era while Koufax's is in 162.
   140. Rusty Priske Posted: March 13, 2006 at 07:20 PM (#1896963)
For the people asking about the game with the spinner...I have no idea what it was called, but I do remember that there is mention of it in Guzzo's Strat-o-Matic Fanatic book.
   141. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 13, 2006 at 07:25 PM (#1896969)
You know I think that spinner game may also be mentioned in Curve Ball as an example of using probabilities in a baseball setting.
   142. TomH Posted: March 13, 2006 at 09:30 PM (#1897123)
Repeating David Foss's ##s and making up a "Win Shares above baseline" by subtracting 1 WS per 30 IP, a modified SK to RR comparison comes out thusly:
SK: 24-22-22-20-11-09
RR: 23-21-20-18-17-16
adv +1 +1 +2 +2 -6 -7

Roberts' apparent peak WS advantage goes away when you don't count masive creidt for racking up innings. Other measures like RSAA would show Koufax much further ahead.
   143. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 13, 2006 at 09:46 PM (#1897149)
SK: 24-22-22-20-11-09
RR: 23-21-20-18-17-16
adv +1 +1 +2 +2 -6 -7

Roberts' apparent peak WS advantage goes away when you don't count masive creidt for racking up innings.


I'd buy that if they were contemporaries at their peaks, but there's a big difference between what Roberts was doing IP-wise than what Koufax was doing. IOW, it would have been easier for Roberts to amass those 300 IP+ seasons during the sixties (and his ERA+ would have been happier, too)...or he may have had the same ERA+ and pitched that many more IP than he did during the fifties.

I think the bottom line is that if you are comparing pitching WS from different eras, you will have problems unless you examine the mean for each respective time (I assume WARP has the same problem there, but I may be wrong).
   144. DavidFoss Posted: March 13, 2006 at 09:59 PM (#1897168)
There really isn't that much of a difference between those two sets of lines anyways. In three-year peak, Koufax had a 3 WS advantage before and a 4 WS advantage after the adjustment.

The key difference is in year four where Koufax's fine 1964 season is adjusted up because he missed a dozen starts. After that its all Roberts both ways.

I understand where you are going with the RSAA argument, but unfortunately, this particular Lee Sinins stat is a bit quirky. It's not obvious how to adjusted it for era, so Sinins doesn't adjust. So, Roberts' RSAA numbers may indeed be more impressive due to fact that there were more runs to save in the early 50s as opposed to the mid-sixties. That's too bad because I have Sinins' encyclopedia and it would be a great if I could use a number like that.

I agree with your main point, though. Based on ERA+, Koufax's three year peak is much more impressive that Roberts'. Koufax was indeed a workhorse in 1963,65-66. After that, I think you really need to account for in-season durability when you compare the two.
   145. TomH Posted: March 13, 2006 at 10:13 PM (#1897184)
Agree with both points. RSAA will underrtae Koufax because 1 run in Dodger stadium in 1966 is NOT equal to 1 run in Philly in 1954.

If we compare the 5th place IP finisher in each of their epochs, it could be surmised that Sandy K would have pitched 21 (276 to 255) IP / yr less in the early 50s than early 60s. Somehow I doubt Roberts could have pitched 21 IP / yr MORE in the 60s, tho -- he was really reaching an upper limit, unless he pulled a Wilbur Wood and began to start on 2 days rest.
   146. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 13, 2006 at 10:26 PM (#1897210)
I think the bottom line is that if you are comparing pitching WS from different eras, you will have problems unless you examine the mean for each respective time (I assume WARP has the same problem there, but I may be wrong).

Yes, exactly, and that's the very reason for my own quirky system. Take the mean within a four-year rolling sample, then compare the pitcher, then adjust to an all-time context to compare to others.

The trick is that my "mean" is perhaps different from yours. I'm using a fictitious representation of the best top-notch pitchers, while it seems you're talking about the league's actual mean. I have the sneaking feeling that using the league's mean will distort HOM-type value because top-tier pitchers are used differently than middle- and lower-tier pitchers, e.g. Spahn and Sain and pray for Buhl.

Going with a representation of the highest quality pitchers gets rid of that problem and is helpful because we are dealing with only the highest quality of pitchers.
   147. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 13, 2006 at 10:37 PM (#1897230)
Going with a representation of the highest quality pitchers gets rid of that problem and is helpful because we are dealing with only the highest quality of pitchers.

That's basically what I do, Eric, though you could do a league-wide represenation if you were using SD. But that's more work than I need. :-)
   148. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 13, 2006 at 10:45 PM (#1897248)
I knew I liked your pitcher evaluations for some reason!
   149. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 13, 2006 at 10:48 PM (#1897253)
I knew I liked your pitcher evaluations for some reason!

:-)

It appears we do have some disagreement in regard to Mendez and Pierce, though. I'll think I'll go over them again.
   150. jimd Posted: March 14, 2006 at 03:49 AM (#1897539)
I cannot stress it enough, when dealing with good pitchers, you absolutely must use PythaganPat instead of the generic 2 or 1.83 exponent. At the extremes, it makes a big difference.

A related point. In general, the linear nature of Win Shares will tend to underestimate the value of extreme pitchers. By Pythagoras/PythaganPat, the marginal value of each run saved increases as more runs are saved. This is not reflected in the linear formulas which treat all runs as equal.

For example: the run saved that shifts the team from 1 run against to 0, is worth far more than its corresponding offensive run in the "normalized" 4.5 run environment, the one which increases the "runs for" total from 9 to 10.

A pitcher who gives up 4 runs every game (in a 4.5 run environment) can expect to post a .558 WPCT. The same summary stats arranged as 3,3,6 runs against (also 12 runs every 3 games) will post a .581 WPCT. Arrange it as 2,2,8 and the pitcher will post a .636 WPCT. (all 3 pitchers given an average of 4.5 runs to work with).

The ability to shut your opponent down a significant amount of the time (even at the cost of an occasional blow-out) is more valuable than steady performance.
   151. jimd Posted: March 14, 2006 at 03:53 AM (#1897549)
This may also be a weakness in RSI type indicators. The RF should be converted to win-values before being averaged. 4,4,4 in run support will give a pitcher a .442 WPCT, while 0,0,12 will give a pitcher about .333.
   152. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: March 14, 2006 at 07:15 AM (#1897981)
Regarding the discussion from Screw You I'm an Alex Rodriguez fan, on the 1972 ballot thread . . .

"Because I don't like the idea of an arbitrary injury lightning bolt deciding a player's merit for me, I choose instead to focus on peak value."

<strike>Some</strike> Most of us consider injuries to be a part of the player's skill set. If "arbitrary" injuries are to be ignored, you need to elect Herb Score, Ross Youngs, Urban Shocker, Cecil Travis and a several others post haste. Koufax isn't the only pitcher (or player) to have his career ended early by injury. A very important part of a pitcher's value is in being able to show up and pitch.
   153. sunnyday2 Posted: March 14, 2006 at 01:27 PM (#1898138)
Besides which, we are voting based on value not ability. There is no value in a player sitting on the sidelines with an injury.
   154. Howie Menckel Posted: March 14, 2006 at 02:45 PM (#1898167)
The Screw.. Rodriguez guy represents a large portion of baseball fans, obviously.
But it seems as if he decided Koufax belonged in the HOM before he even looked at the stats - and then fashioned an argument to try to make it happen.

But there are no HOM charity cases, not even Negro Leaguers or those who died young.
Either you belong, or you don't.

I suspect that Roberts will crush Koufax in the balloting, and in my mind he should, if you really look at the record.
And I say this as a guy who may list Koufax as high as No. 2.

When Koufax led the league in IP in 1965, the top 5 (rounding on partial IP) were: 336-308-299-297-295.
In 1966, Koufax led with 323-314-307-280-274.

So the years Koufax led in IP:
1965: 336-308-299-297-295
1966: 323-314-307-280-274

The years Roberts led in IP:
1951: 315-311-298-289-279
1952: 330-290-278-250-247
1953: 347-266-253-247-238
1954: 337-283-260-260-259
1955: 305-257-246-242-235

Wow.
SKoufax 'wins' by 28 and 9, and leads No. 5 by 41 and 59.
Roberts 'wins' by 4, 40, 81, 54, 48, and leads No. 5 by 41, 83, 109, 78, 70.

No contest. Even in Koufax's two most workhorse years, he gets pummeled in this regard by Roberts' 3 or 4 best.

So not only does Koufax get crushed in career length/value, even his better peak is dampened by Roberts' durability.
   155. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 14, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#1898180)
The Screw.. Rodriguez guy represents a large portion of baseball fans, obviously.
But it seems as if he decided Koufax belonged in the HOM before he even looked at the stats - and then fashioned an argument to try to make it happen.


Exactly, Howie. I doubt he has examined (or cares) about the other candidates' cases, either.

But again, I have no problem with his peak philosophy. But for him to suggest that many of us have arbitrary standards (which we do), while he doesn't is just silly and indefensible.
   156. sunnyday2 Posted: March 14, 2006 at 03:26 PM (#1898196)
Howie,

Your data and your conclusions do require a leap of faith. I mean, Koufax and Roberts pitched approx. the same number of innings inthe seasons in question but Roberts led the league by a wider margin. Why?

1. One could conclude that since they pitched about the same number of innings, they were of approx. equal value.

2. Or, Roberts led by a wider margin but that is just luck. I mean, it's not Sandy's or Robert's fault how many innings other people pitched. So again, they are of approx. equal value.

3. Your conclusion: It was easier to pitch 330-340 innings in Sandy's day. This might be supported as conventional wisdom but I really don't know if it is valid CW or not.

I am inclined to take the margin of league leadership as happenstance. What is more important of course is that Roberts had 5 such years and Sandy 2.
   157. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 14, 2006 at 03:57 PM (#1898220)
3. Your conclusion: It was easier to pitch 330-340 innings in Sandy's day. This might be supported as conventional wisdom but I really don't know if it is valid CW or not.

I think the different offensive levels support it, Marc. Koufax and the sixties gang would have had a much harder time amassing 300+ IP during the fifties. Without doubt, they would have had to work harder per AB, which would have reduced their collective IP.
   158. Paul Wendt Posted: March 14, 2006 at 04:32 PM (#1898252)
Relying on Pyth measures, jimd wrote:
A related point. In general, the linear nature of Win Shares will tend to underestimate the value of extreme pitchers. By Pythagoras/PythaganPat, the marginal value of each run saved increases as more runs are saved. This is not reflected in the linear formulas which treat all runs as equal.

For example: the run saved that shifts the team from 1 run against to 0, is worth far more than its corresponding offensive run in the "normalized" 4.5 run environment, the one which increases the "runs for" total from 9 to 10.

A pitcher who gives up 4 runs every game (in a 4.5 run environment) can expect to post a .558 WPCT. The same summary stats arranged as 3,3,6 runs against (also 12 runs every 3 games) will post a .581 WPCT. Arrange it as 2,2,8 and the pitcher will post a .636 WPCT. (all 3 pitchers given an average of 4.5 runs to work with).


1.
How are the Pyth-measures calibrated or validated? If using team-season data, then a statypical team-game distribution of runs is implied. When the user "plugs in" a number for a team-game or pitcher-game, the implied distribution is the statypical one with that number as the mean.

This observation does not bear on the qualitative point about measures that are linear (Win Shares) or non-linear in runs.

2.
The "2,2,8" pitcher is something more like "2,2,8,8" by pitching quality, completing his good games and departing his bad games after four innings. The dependent distributions of runs and innings will complicate severely any attempt to incorporate jimd's point by modifying a linear-in-runs measure such as Win Shares quantitatively.

--
JoeD
Most of us consider injuries to be a part of the player's skill set. If "arbitrary" injuries are to be ignored, you need to elect Herb Score, Ross Youngs, Urban Shocker, Cecil Travis and a several others post haste.

not the Scores, who did not play long enough to project high enough,
only the Shockers

I guess that almost everyone considers a cumulative "injury" (repetitive stress, wear and tear) such as Koufax suffered part of a player's skill set in the sense Joe means; that is a demerit in the HOM forum. Same for an injury that may be attributed to body type or style of play such as recurring charley horses and hip pointers or such as running into walls (Pete Reiser?). I haven't seen Score pitch but I guess that his injury, too, was partly a consequence of playing style.

I suspect that there would be some votes for Ross Youngs, and lots of "consideration" as people of number 50 on their lists, if he had died or departed for illnesss after seven seasons with OPS+ 140 rather than nine seasons with OPS+ 130.
   159. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 14, 2006 at 06:22 PM (#1898402)
Paul,

I don't know whether I agree with you or not on Young's support, but I do want to mention that as a peak/prime voter that doesn't need to see a long career to support a player, I dont look at career OPS+ too often. I care more about the big years than the final rate stats, a lot more. So as long as Youngs had the peak I wouldn't care if his final two years depressed his OPS+ by ten points. And if those seasons still have above average value there would be a very very slight bump that he would get from them.

I am not sure if the above was what Paul was getting at but I think that there are some misconceptions about peak voters, namely that bad years at the end fo a career hurt a player's candidacy. I see this a lot with Sisler supporters (of which I nominally am one though he hasn't been on my ballot for a little while) that say that some of us woule rank him higher if he had simply quite after 1922 instead of continuing his career. While I can't speak for everyone I think this is false. While Sisler does receive very little credit from me for his post 1922 years, he receives no demerits either. His great seasons are no less great (though I don't think they are as great as some think, hence his rnaking at #16 for the past few 'years'). One could say the same about Koufax, if he has decided to continue pitching and had gone down the Bret Saberhagen career ending path, I would still have him as my #2 player in 1972. It doesn't diminish his peak even if it would hurt his career ERA.
   160. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 14, 2006 at 07:46 PM (#1898555)
In essence, I hear Sisler's argument as the same one for Early Wynn. He mixed good and bad, but the good are really good and the bad don't hurt him or at least count as balast.

Where I see discontinuity is in how quickly Wynn got in and how long Sisler has had to wait.

Are we right about Sisler and wrong about Wynn?

Or wrong about Sisler and right about Wynn?
   161. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 14, 2006 at 09:17 PM (#1898688)
Doc,

I would that career guys all loved Wynn whereas peak guys aren't universally in love with Sisler. I for one am not terribly impressed with his peak, high BA and all. For this reason he has mostly lingered in the 10-20 range for me since he became eligible. As for Wynn, he did have a decent peak but he had an undeniably great career, so career voters had a harder time dismissing him than peak guys do of Sisler.

For what it's worth, I had Wynn above Sisler. I seem to like long career pitchers (Rixey, Wynn) more than I do long career hitters (GVH, Bell). Not sure why exactly.
   162. jimd Posted: March 15, 2006 at 01:44 AM (#1898935)
How are the Pyth-measures calibrated or validated?

I assumed that giving up exactly N runs in a sample of one start would have the same probability of winning as giving up an average of N runs over a sample of many starts. Statistical theory is not my strong point so if there is a flaw in the logic there, then I'll defer.

The "2,2,8" pitcher is something more like "2,2,8,8" by pitching quality, completing his good games and departing his bad games after four innings.

Depends on which pitching era we're talking about ;-)

Actually, if he's getting lifted after 4 IP in his bad starts and going 8 IP in his good starts, the modern version of the old "2,2,8" pitcher (always a CG) would be a "2,2,4,4" pitcher. Using the potentially fallacious methodology from above, this works out to .588 (assuming average pitching in relief), not as good as the .636 of the "2,2,8" pitcher, though still better than the "4,4,4" pitcher (.558).

Mickey Welch supporters may want to rework his starts in a support-neutral format to see if the occasional blowouts are being overly penalized by WARP.
   163. jimd Posted: March 15, 2006 at 01:50 AM (#1898943)
Are we right about Sisler and wrong about Wynn?

Or wrong about Sisler and right about Wynn?


IMO, this has to do with HOM positional distribution, at least in part. If Sisler had been a 3b-man (even with appropriate transference of value from batting to fielding), he'd probably be in by now. OTOH, there has been no shortage of 1b candidates.

I seem to like long career pitchers (Rixey, Wynn) more than I do long career hitters (GVH, Bell). Not sure why exactly.

Again positional distribution maybe? Depending on the who is asked, we are short on pitchers to some degree or another.
   164. Rob_Wood Posted: March 15, 2006 at 05:26 AM (#1899155)
I met Koufax in the early 1990s when he spoke at a baseball luncheon. He was gracious and modest and took lots of questions. As you can imagine the end of his career was a topic of great interest. Koufax does not regret anything in his career.

However, he has since been told by several doctors that had his type of arm injury occurred 20 years later, the medical advances would have led to "minor" surgery with a complete recovery. He mentioned that he would have had surgery during (or after) the 1962 season and would have been ready in the early part of 1963 season. Then he would likely have had a long and productive career.

I use this type of counterfactual debate to help me as a type of tie-breaker, and Koufax gets the biggest nod in this area. I, a definite career voter, will definitely have Sandy in the top half of my ballot.
   165. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: March 15, 2006 at 06:17 AM (#1899169)
That's pretty interesting Rob, I hadn't heard that before. I mean I just kind of assumed modern medicine would have helped him, but I'd never heard it defined so specifically. Thanks!
   166. Howie Menckel Posted: March 15, 2006 at 01:31 PM (#1899276)
sunnyday,
I listed both a runnerup AND a 5th place to minimize the 'flukiness' of leading in IP in a weak year. It gives a sense of what the whole population of pitchers was able to do at that time. It does look like NL pitchers pitched more innings in Koufax's years, yet Roberts pitched as many as Koufax when he led the league.
That's a plus for Roberts, I'd say, with the caveat that expansion gave more pitchers an opportunity in Koufax's years.

To be fair, you may argue that the competition for top-5 was tougher for Koufax baed on the lists of names who were runnersup in those years:

Roberts
1951 - Spahn Maglie Dickson Jansen
1952 - Spahn Dickson Rush Raffensberger
1953 - Spahn Haddix Erskine Simmons
1954 - Spahn Erskine Haddix Antonelli
1955 - Nuxhall Spahn SJones Antonelli

Koufax
1965 - Drysdale Gibson Short Marichal
1966 - Bunning Marichal Gibson Drysdale
   167. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 15, 2006 at 02:38 PM (#1899302)
To be fair, you may argue that the competition for top-5 was tougher for Koufax baed on the lists of names who were runnersup in those years:

If you compare both of them to the top guys in both leagues (which would add Lemon and Wynn), Roberts is still going to dominate fairly easily.
   168. karlmagnus Posted: March 15, 2006 at 03:05 PM (#1899322)
Modern medicine would have helped Addie Joss even more. There's nothing messes up a career so much as being dead.
   169. DL from MN Posted: March 15, 2006 at 03:48 PM (#1899358)
> nothing messes up a career so much as being dead

Agreed for an athlete. Dead musicians seem to do okay.
   170. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 15, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#1899366)
> nothing messes up a career so much as being dead

Tell it to Ross Youngs....

>Agreed for an athlete. Dead musicians seem to do okay.

And you should see the wonders death does for painters!
   171. sunnyday2 Posted: March 16, 2006 at 02:34 PM (#1901478)
I have Koufax at #2 with a bullet on my prelim ballot, but I thought I ought to look at him in comparison to the other high peak pitchers on or near my ballot.

ERA+

Waddell 135/180-79-65-53-27-25-23-21-8-2 in 2961 IP
Joss 142/205-159-52-50-37-31-30-24 in 2327 IP
Koufax 131/191-87-61-60-43-23-2-(91) in 2324 IP
Bond 114/167-41-33-26-15-2-(85)-(79) in 2780 IP
Dean 130/159-48-35-24-19-14 in 1967 IP

Koufax’ best 5 years look damn good here, but Waddell and Joss were also spectacularly effective and each had 2 more effective years of ERA eligibility. Joss’ and Waddell’s IP are unimpressive in context but, still, they threw more innings than Koufax did. The three are damn close.

Dean clearly separates himself in the other direction.

Win Shares

97. Bond 243/60-50-47/225/31.5
25. Dean 181/37-31-31/145/34.0
53. Waddell 240/35-33-32/145/30.6
10. Koufax 194/35-33-32/139/31.8
80. Joss 191/35-28-25/131/31.5

By James’ own method, it is hard to get to his conclusion that Koufax was the 10th best pitcher ever. Only Joss seems to trail Sandy on this cluster of measures while this (sans timeline) is precisely why Tommy Bond remains on my ballot after all these years. Sure, consider the context but Bond not only beats these guys on these measures, he beats his own contemporaries and every other pitcher who ever lived.

Extend it out:

Bond 243/60-50-47-47-21
Waddell 240/35-33-32-27-21-20-18-17-16
Dean 181/37-31-31-24-22-17
Koufax 194/35-33-32-24-20-15
Joss 191/35-28-25-23-20-20-17-16

Bond and Waddell stand out again, and which you prefer (well, other than the vast majority who prefer neither ;-) is a clear peak vs. career question, but since all of these guys depend on their peak to get considered at all, you’ve got to go with Bond.

Koufax vs. Dean becomes a question of whether you like Koufax’ extra seasons of 9-7-6 and his 13 career WS, to which I say, who cares? Koufax clearly beats Joss for peak based on IP per season in context.

Put it all together and I can get Koufax into Joss range but I can’t get him ahead of Waddell, who has been in my PHoM for many years but has generally been in about the #5-6-7-8-9 range on my ballot.

This is a companion to my post on the Robin Roberts thread. The next question is where the various pairings go: Roberts (#1 among the longer-career candidates) versus Waddell, Rixey versus Koufax, Ruffing versus Bond, Wynn versus Joss. This could end up being a major revamping of my pitcher ratings, thanks to my problems with Roberts and Koufax this year.
   172. sunnyday2 Posted: March 16, 2006 at 03:00 PM (#1901489)
I have to incorporate Mendez and Redding back into my pitcher rankings, and Mendez is essentially on the Koufax-Waddell-Dean list and Redding on the Roberts-Rixey-Ruffing list.

And then there are the tweeners--neither huge peak guys nor huge career guys--I am talking about Griffith and Cicotte. I have had Cicotte ahead of Griffith but revisiting the matter suggests that is wrong. They are close, to be sure, but Griffith probably belongs ahead of Cicotte. And both clearly belong ahead of Rixey.

Being partial to peak/prime I will see the Koufax-Waddell-Dean-Mendez types rating higher than many voters. Here is where it falls out for me:

1. Roberts--an easy choice when you dig in. Not by a wide margin, but clear enough.

2. Waddell--clearly goes at the top of the peak/prime list and that puts him here. I had had Mendez ahead of Waddell, but I am now sure that Waddell goes ahead of Koufax, but Koufax goes ahead of Mendez.

3. Koufax
4. Bond

5. Mendez--clearly goes ahead of Redding so he has to be here.

6. Joss

7. Redding--goes ahead of Rixey, but Rixey is very close to Roberts so Joss will have to move down.

8. Rixey--I am still bothered by the big split from Roberts to Rixey but somebody's got to be 8th on this list.

9. Griffith
10. Cicotte--the curse of the tweeners puts them here.

11. Dean
12. Ruffing--clearly belong near the bottom of this list.

13. Wynn--the big loser in all of this. In fact, he probably should be below a couple-three other pitchers who need to be re-evaluated. But since they won't be in my top 30, what's the hurry?

In the end not a lot of change from last year's ballot, but a change re. Koufax from my prelim.
   173. Paul Wendt Posted: March 18, 2006 at 05:34 AM (#1905112)
sunnyday #73
Redding on the Roberts-Rixey-Ruffing list.

wraiting for Ryan

Isn't Roberts out of place in this company, thanks to his relative peaksterdom?


jschmeagol #60
I am not sure if the above was what Paul was getting at but I think that there are some misconceptions about peak voters, namely that bad years at the end fo a career hurt a player's candidacy.

No, not getting at that. Beside and before peak v career and other matters that have been hashed out here, career OPS+ or ERA+, also career Win Shares and WARP, are eye-catching numbers or not, and that makes a difference. At least, it makes a difference for getting a thread of your own, with dozens of articles if not a Page Two. If Ross Youngs goes to the hospital bed at 7 years, 140 (rather than 9 years, 130) he is a paradigm case for the discussion of "extra credit" in careerist terms.

I don't believe that he would be elected, but he would be ranked above Wally Berger despite Berger's better record, and he would not be on many lists of Cooperstown mistakes.
   174. Paul Wendt Posted: March 18, 2006 at 04:04 PM (#1905426)
danb, 1972 ballot
1. Koufax One of the old-timers in this electorate has to acknowledge the single most dominant pitcher we ever saw with a #1 vote. It might as well be me. Player of the decade. I can't think of any athlete that ended his career performing at a higher level [than Sandy Koufax].

Maybe not the best of 1966!

Precise contemporary Jim Brown, fullback, was the best player in the NFL by opinion that was close to consensus, I think. Today he is still in the conversation as the all-time greatest American football player. And he is in the conversation as US America's greatest athlete, or greatest team-sport athlete.

Widening the time-frame by several years:

Rod Laver retired as the best tennis player and he, too, is still in the all-time greatest conversation. (Or did he disappear by joining/developing the pro circuit?).

Secretariat retired from competition after that 1973 Belmont Stakes (discussed elsewhere in this forum). He is in the greatest racehorse conversation.

Rocky Marciano was famous at that time for retiring as undefeated heavyweight champion, several years before Koufax. He is the "greatest boxer" conversation, perhaps only on those grounds. Was he still performing at his best?

George Mikan was the dominant player on the dominant and champion basketball team when he bowed out a decade before Sandy K. At the same time, the shot clock was changing the game, maybe a bigger change than any one in mlb history. Marc sunnyday2 probably has an expert view of that retirement.

George Sauer sang "It's a Fool's Game" at his press conference, but he wasn't in the first tier as a player ;-)

The third quarter of the 20th century was a great one for the retirement of great athletes.
   175. Brent Posted: March 18, 2006 at 04:56 PM (#1905445)
Sunnyday2 posted:

ERA+

Waddell 135/180-79-65-53-27-25-23-21-8-2 in 2961 IP
Joss 142/205-159-52-50-37-31-30-24 in 2327 IP
Koufax 131/191-87-61-60-43-23-2-(91) in 2324 IP
Bond 114/167-41-33-26-15-2-(85)-(79) in 2780 IP
Dean 130/159-48-35-24-19-14 in 1967 IP


There has been much discussion about Waddell and unearned runs, suggesting that RA+ (which includes unearned runs) may be better than ERA+ as a measure of pitcher performance.

Several researchers have argued that pitchers have tendencies to either create or avoid unearned runs (which would argue for RA+ rather than ERA+); for example, groundball pitchers, especially lefties, tend to give up more groundballs to the left side, which is where most errors occur. This case was made by Craig R. Wright in The Diamond Appraised.

Unfortunately, bbref doesn’t provide RA+, and I’m not aware that it’s available on any other site. I pulled together the data and calculated these myself (which is why I’ve omitted Dean and Bond from sunnyday2’s list).

RA+
Waddell 127/176-59-45-42-28-27-19-7-4-(94) in 2961 IP
Joss 135/163-48-40-38-36-31-22-20 in 2327 IP
Koufax 132/188-81-79-54-40-20-5-(91) in 2324 IP

Adding back the unearned runs takes a lot of air out of the numbers for Waddell and Joss, while Koufax’s line isn’t affected too much. This version shows Koufax with a much stronger 3 or 4-year peak than either of the other two.
   176. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: March 18, 2006 at 06:53 PM (#1905525)
Rod Laver retired as the best tennis player and he, too, is still in the all-time greatest conversation. (Or did he disappear by joining/developing the pro circuit?).

Don't have the info with me, but I'm pretty sure Laver kept playing for a few/couple years after completing his second Grand Slam.

Secretariat retired from competition after that 1973 Belmont Stakes (discussed elsewhere in this forum). He is in the greatest racehorse conversation.

IIRC, Secretariat's last race took place in Canada. When they had the Breeders Cup there a few years ago, they did a little segment on Secretariat's last race. I don't think Belmont ended his career.

If you're looking for other examples, please note that Koufax, as good as he was in 1966, was not as good as Michael Jordan was when #23 retired. Also, Koufax wasn't as good as Jordan when he retired. In fairness to Koufax, he was better at the time of his retirement than Jordan was.

Another example - Bobby Jones, golf. Won the Gold Grandslam (US & Brit Opens, and US & British Amateurs) and retired because of the strain it put on his nerves. No one else ever won the 4 biggest tournaments in one year (though the identity of two of those tourneys has changed) and only Tiger Woods won them all in a row in the 75ish years since then.
   177. DavidFoss Posted: March 19, 2006 at 04:49 PM (#1907072)
I don't think Belmont ended his career.

True, he raced out the 1973 season and retired before 1974. The 3-year-old season really defines a thoroughbred's career anyways and Secretariat was the first horse to be Horse of the Year at both 2 and 3 years old. To race at age four means to give up a year of stud fees and in Secretariat's case that was deemed too costly.
   178. DavidFoss Posted: March 19, 2006 at 05:59 PM (#1907108)
From the ballot thread:

-At his best, Koufax was arguably the greatest left-handed pitcher ever

--Lefty Grove says hello. :-)


Randy Johnson also raises his hand. Some people have commented on some sort of 'sabermetric reevaluation' of Koufax, but I don't know when exactly that happened. In my opinion, its been the wealth of incredibly great contemporary pitchers (RJohnson, Maddux, Clemens, Pedro) who have put some of the old greats into perspective.

Randy Johnson at his best compares very favorably to Koufax.

IP titles: Koufax 2, Johnson 2
K titles: Johnson 9, Koufax 4
ERA titles: Koufax 5, Johnson 4
ERA+ titles: Johnson 5, Koufax 2

Top Five ERA+:

SK:190-187-161-160-143
RJ:198-196-190-184-178

As for World Series heroics, Koufax has them yes, but how about RJ winning game 7 in relief on *zero* days rest? That stuff normally reserved for guys like Pete Alexander, its not supposed to happen in today's game.

This isn't meant as too much of a knock on Koufax (I did put him in an elect-me slot). Its just to point out that that amazing peak of his has indeed been equalled since then by Randy Johnson (and arguably three other still-active guys in Maddux, Clemens & Pedro).
   179. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 19, 2006 at 06:39 PM (#1907151)
This isn't meant as too much of a knock on Koufax (I did put him in an elect-me slot). Its just to point out that that amazing peak of his has indeed been equalled since then by Randy Johnson (and arguably three other still-active guys in Maddux, Clemens & Pedro).

What would then be argued, David, is their durability:

SK: 1-1-3-4
PM: 4-6-6-7-8-10
RJ: 1-1-2-2-3-4-4-4-5-7
RC: 1-1-2-3-3-4-5-5-6-6-8-9
GM: 1-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-4-4-6-6-7-8-9-9

Martinez is the odd-man-out in regard to his IP standing at his peak, but I can't see an argument for Koufax over Johnson.

Clemens and Maddux don't even have to make cases for themselves, obviously. :-)
   180. Paul Wendt Posted: March 19, 2006 at 08:43 PM (#1907278)
True, he raced out the 1973 season and retired before 1974. The 3-year-old season really defines a thoroughbred's career anyways and Secretariat was the first horse to be Horse of the Year at both 2 and 3 years old. To race at age four means to give up a year of stud fees and in Secretariat's case that was deemed too costly.

George Mikan also retired in order to another paying career.

On Secretariat and the Belmont Stakes, I made a mistake, but I didn't really write what I meant.

The point is that it was once reasonably common for athletes to retire as, it seemed to many than and it seems to many today, the best in their sports. Indeed, Jim Brown retired only a few months before Koufax. So my recollection is (and I don't have the facts) that Laver retired from competition when he was considered the best tennis player (and one of the all-time greats), not that he retired as holder of the Grand Slam.

After all, Koufax was a loser in his last competition (Game Two, 0-6). I can't imagine why someone here gives him 2 W.S. for the 1966 W.S. ("2 to 5" per World Series).
   181. Brent Posted: March 20, 2006 at 02:19 AM (#1907785)
-At his best, Koufax was arguably the greatest left-handed pitcher ever

--Lefty Grove says hello. :-)


Why is it that every time someone makes a comment about Koufax's peak, someone immediately responds, "but Grove's (or Johnson's, or someone's...) lasted longer"? How good a player was at a point in time, and how long he stayed at that level are two distinct questions. Moving from one to the other is changing the subject. Voters who care about peak find it frustrating to constantly have the two discussions conflated.

Although Grove certainly had more peak seasons than Koufax, the quality of Koufax's best seasons is close enough to Grove's that I would certainly agree with Andrew M that the discussion qualifies as "arguable." Whether Johnson also belongs in the conversation depends on whether you think leading the league with 272 IP in 1999 is equivalent to leading the league with 336 IP in 1965. Myself, I go back and forth on this issue. The other pitcher who belongs in the all-time lefty peak argument is Hubbell.
   182. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 02:34 AM (#1907806)
Why is it that every time someone makes a comment about Koufax's peak, someone immediately responds, "but Grove's (or Johnson's, or someone's...) lasted longer"?

Because Andrew mentioned that Koufax was arguably (not that Andrew was necessarily stating that he was, I should point out) the greatest lefty when there a few guys who were just as good (if not better), while having much longer careers to boot?

The other pitcher who belongs in the all-time lefty peak argument is Hubbell.

I'd also take Johnson over him (Bill James came to the same conclusion in the paperback version of the NBLHA, too). Carlton may also have a case, though I haven't really gone his numbers and he didn't have his finest seasons close together (not that I personally care about the latter).
   183. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 02:36 AM (#1907810)
How good a player was at a point in time, and how long he stayed at that level are two distinct questions. Moving from one to the other is changing the subject.

Except I was specifically referring to peak, Brent, or else I would have mentioned Warren Spahn, whose combination of peak and career destroys Koufax, right?
   184. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 02:56 AM (#1907831)
BTW, please don't think my posts are meant to be contentious in the slightest. As I have pointed out before, I have never argued that Koufax wasn't a great pitcher at his peak (saying the opposite would be silly) and I'm comfortable with the possibility of him being a HoMer.

I think the thing I'm disturbed about is the notion that his peak was extra-ordinary (which is expressed more outside of our group, BTW). I just don't see it.
   185. Brent Posted: March 20, 2006 at 03:55 AM (#1907928)
I guess this is my frustration -- when we talk about "peak" on these threads, it always seems like we're talking past each other. I assumed that the phrase "at his best" meant we were talking about peak value, yet the arguments brought up seemed to keep changing the subject. How good his ERA+ or RA+ or DERA was, how many SO and BB he gave up in those seasons, and how many innings he pitched is relevant to height of a pitcher's peak; how many seasons he remained near that peak level is not.

When I talk about peak I'm talking about how good a player was during his best 3 or 4 seasons. It helps if they were consecutive, but I don't care too much if there's an off-year or two in the middle. These seasons can be used to gauge how well he was playing at his best. By the 3 or 4-year peak measures Koufax is comparable to Grove, Hubbell, possibly Johnson, and no other lefties that I can see. And while I would probably pick Grove as number one in this comparison, Koufax's best seasons are close enough that additional research could easily push it one way or the other.

IMO Carlton's peak comes close to Grove, Koufax, and Hubbell, but falls a little short.

As a voter I value peak, prime, and career (with the heaviest emphasis on prime and the least on career), which is why I ranked Koufax behind Roberts. But I find it very frustrating to think I'm talking about peak and have others keep bringing up issues that relate to prime or career value.
   186. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 04:10 AM (#1907954)
As a voter I value peak, prime, and career (with the heaviest emphasis on prime and the least on career), which is why I ranked Koufax behind Roberts. But I find it very frustrating to think I'm talking about peak and have others keep bringing up issues that relate to prime or career value.

I understand the frustration, Brent, but I honestly was referring to peak and not prime or career (though I admit to referring to other pitchers's primes and career to add weight to their cases beyond their peaks). However, I can understand how it can be comfusing sometimes.

But when "Sports Century" has a peak stud like Koufax as the #1 pitcher of the 20th century, but then has a mostly career value pitcher like Nolan Ryan as the #2 pitcher, that's beyond confusing. :-D

IMO Carlton's peak comes close to Grove, Koufax, and Hubbell, but falls a little short.

You may be right, though he did have a few seasons of extremely high ERA+ combined with excellent IP.
   187. Gaelan Posted: March 20, 2006 at 01:29 PM (#1908225)
People forget that Koufax (and all the great pitchers of the sixties) are hurt quite a bit by league adjustments. It is far easier to post a 200 ERA + when the league is scoring five runs a game than when it is scoring four runs a game.

That being said the only argument against Koufax is to completely neglect peak value. Diamondmind in their all time greatest players disk rated players (park and league adjusted) based on their (a) best series of (b) consecutive (c) peak years that (d) met a minimum playing time threshold (250 starts). For Koufax this was his 59-66 seasons. Even including seasons before he was truly great Koufax comes out as the 18th greatest pitcher of all time.

Here's the top 20 starting pitchers:

Greg Maddux
Randy Johnson
Pedro Martinez
Walter Johnson
Lefty Grove
Roger Clemens
Mordecai Brown
Hal Newhouser
Kevin Brown
Ed Walsh
Carl Hubbell
Pete Alexander
Amos Rusie
Cy Young
Tom Glavine
Tom Seaver
Sandy Koufax
Christy Mathewson
Stan Coveleski

You'll note that deadball and pitchers from the nineties are extremely well represented. From the twenties to the nineties Koufax comes
in fifth. If that's not one of the greatest pitchers of all time I don't know what is.

If you want to compare Robin Roberts and Sanky Koufax over their best eight consecutive seasons Koufax averaged 231 IP and 78 RA, while Roberts averaged 234 IP and allowed 85 Runs (all numbers adjusted). Remember this is based on 250 starts (8 years) which is by no measure a small amount of time. If eight years of superior performance isn't enough to sway you that one guy is better than another than nothing will.
   188. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 01:56 PM (#1908232)
People forget that Koufax (and all the great pitchers of the sixties) are hurt quite a bit by league adjustments. It is far easier to post a 200 ERA + when the league is scoring five runs a game than when it is scoring four runs a game.

I don't disagree and my system takes that into account.

That being said the only argument against Koufax is to completely neglect peak value.

Absolutely wrong, Gaelan. The argument is to totally ignore career length. :-)

Even including seasons before he was truly great Koufax comes out as the 18th greatest pitcher of all time.

Who is arguing that he didn't have a great peak? If their is an argument about his peak, it's that it wasn't a GREAT!!!!!!! peak.

If you want to compare Robin Roberts and Sanky Koufax over their best eight consecutive seasons Koufax averaged 231 IP and 78 RA, while Roberts averaged 234 IP and allowed 85 Runs (all numbers adjusted). Remember this is based on 250 starts (8 years) which is by no measure a small amount of time. If eight years of superior performance isn't enough to sway you that one guy is better than another than nothing will.

What you're missing is that it was more difficult to obtain 200 IP during the fifties than the sixties, so your comparison is unfair to Roberts, since Robin was far more durable during his peak than Sandy was compared to their peers.
   189. TomH Posted: March 20, 2006 at 02:22 PM (#1908251)
Randy Johnson at his best compares very favorably to Koufax.

Top Five ERA+:
SK:190-187-161-160-143
RJ:198-196-190-184-178

that amazing peak of his ((Koufax')) has indeed been equalled since then by Randy Johnson (and arguably three other still-active guys in Maddux, Clemens & Pedro).

--
While I love ERA+ as a measure of quality, it is obvious that it's been eaiser to put up a schnazzy ERA+ in 2000 than it was in 1964. Either we have an historic conflagration of great pitchers all hurling at once (the Unit, Maddux, Rocketman and Pedro), or maybe we have to take their ERA+ figures down a notch. Or both.
   190. Daryn Posted: March 20, 2006 at 04:38 PM (#1908362)
Remember this is based on 250 starts (8 years) which is by no measure a small amount of time.


I guess that's a matter of opinion. When it is compared to the 480 to 550 starts piled up by some of the other contenders for the bottom third of the pitching portion of the HoM, one has to decide how you evaluate 5 units of A+ pitching against 10 units of A- pitching. Some of us like the longer period of sustained very goodness. Of course, Koufax actually started 314 games, which takes him to 6 units and onto my ballot, but behind *gasp* Burleigh Grimes, to pick his antithesis.

Parenthetically, I equate 250 starts with less than 7 years, not 8.
   191. Gaelan Posted: March 20, 2006 at 04:48 PM (#1908392)
What you're missing is that it was more difficult to obtain 200 IP during the fifties than the sixties, so your comparison is unfair to Roberts, since Robin was far more durable during his peak than Sandy was compared to their peers.


The IP numbers I quoted are already adjusted to compare to their peers.

If you ignore pitchers from the nineties and deadball pitchers (both of whom do disproportionately well in comparison to their peers) Koufax is #5 according to peak value. Someone like him comes along every 20 years or so. I think that's the definition of a Great!!!!!!!! peak.

If you don't think a great peak is enough then I'll concede, but if you don't think Koufax gets in what you are saying is that career length is all you care about because there are only a handful of guys with better peaks.
   192. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 05:34 PM (#1908504)
Someone like him comes along every 20 years or so. I think that's the definition of a Great!!!!!!!! peak.

What I meant by "GREAT!!!" was for some state that he he was the greatest at his peak, righties and lefties combined. I can understand it if you look at his numbers without any context, but when I analyze the numbers, I don't come up with that type of stature for him.

Impressive? Great? Sure, without question. But the greatest peak? Then I respectfully can't agree.

If you don't think a great peak is enough then I'll concede, but if you don't think Koufax gets in what you are saying is that career length is all you care about because there are only a handful of guys with better peaks.

No, what I'm saying is that I use a combination of peak, prime, and career. Under that criteria (totally subjective, BTW, as every other voter's is), I see him just outside of my ballot.

If you're a peak voter, I totally understand why you would want him near the top of your ballot. That makes perfectly good sense to me.

But any rate, this debate is a moot point, considering where he is in the standings so far. ;-)
   193. Gaelan Posted: March 20, 2006 at 05:42 PM (#1908518)
I guess I'm not disagreeing with you. What boggles my mind are the comparisons to Hack Wilson, Tommy Bridges or Bucky Walters.
   194. sunnyday2 Posted: March 20, 2006 at 06:05 PM (#1908573)
Or Bob Friend.
   195. Richard Gadsden Posted: March 21, 2006 at 12:13 AM (#1909029)
Tom Glavine, a decent hitting pitcher for his time, has created 62 runs (1.42 per game) in 1475 PAs and 614 games (he's pitched 609, so I'm thinking pinch runner a couple times).

He has a handful of appearances as a pinch-hitter as well. I remember him hitting for the Mets a couple of years ago when they ran out of bench deep into extra innings. He walked.

If I were a voter - and I don't have either the time or the database to vote, and I certainly don't propose to start now - my criterion would be extraordinariness. Extraordinary longevity, extraordinary peak, extraordinary prime - any single one would get you in. What I would probably do is set up a bunch of measures of value, find some way of scaling them against each other and then for each player, take their best measure. So I'd have Koufax's peak, obviously.

Oh, and by the way, on my criterion, Roger Maris is in. For 61* and no other achievement required.
   196. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 21, 2006 at 12:32 AM (#1909048)
I guess I'm not disagreeing with you. What boggles my mind are the comparisons to Hack Wilson, Tommy Bridges or Bucky Walters.

Based on peak? I definitely agree with you there.
   197. OCF Posted: March 21, 2006 at 01:40 AM (#1909136)
(Gaelan)

People forget that Koufax (and all the great pitchers of the sixties) are hurt quite a bit by league adjustments. It is far easier to post a 200 ERA + when the league is scoring five runs a game than when it is scoring four runs a game.

(John Murphy)

I don't disagree and my system takes that into account.

I do disagree. I've disagreed before, and I will continue to disagree. Part of my evidence is that there were far more really high ERA+'s in the late 19-oughts and the late teens than in the far higher scoring early 30's - an effect made sharper if you look at who was 2nd, 3rd, or 4th in the league in ERA+ (i.e., taking Lefty Grove out of it.) For another example: Bob Gibson's outlier ERA+ of 258 happened precisely in 1968, the Year of the Pitcher. In a low-scoring environment, it's easier to throw shutouts, and shutouts really move that ERA+.

The high ERA+'s of the 1990's happened not because of the high-run environment, but in spite of it. They were enabled by a different cause - the sharp reduction in IP per game and per season for top starting pitchers.
   198. OCF Posted: March 21, 2006 at 01:47 AM (#1909151)
Oh, and by the way, on my criterion, Roger Maris is in. For 61* and no other achievement required.

You want to talk about one season? One magical season, with maybe another real good season near it? Then I've got your pitcher: Dwight Gooden.

I'd put Koufax ahead of Gooden because Koufax's 2nd and 3rd best seasons beat Gooden's 2nd and 3rd best seasons. But Koufax never had a single year that was the equal of Gooden's 1985.
   199. Happy Jack Chesbro Posted: March 21, 2006 at 01:52 AM (#1909164)
You want to talk about one season? One magical season

I would! Vote for me!
   200. OnWI Posted: March 21, 2006 at 02:21 AM (#1909225)
Dudes:

Well, I never saw Koufax so I e-mailed the granddad about him. I pasted in his response.

"If Sandy Koufax isn't worthy of the Hall of Merit, then I'm a lug nut."

Said y'all would get the message.

Later,

H3
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