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Monday, March 21, 2005

Ted Lyons

Ted Lyons

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 21, 2005 at 12:10 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 21, 2005 at 12:26 AM (#1208747)
Would he have won 300 on even an average team?
   2. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 21, 2005 at 04:04 AM (#1209095)
My numbers have him higher than Rixey, more IP, slightly better DERA and better peak/prime in WS and WARP. Any reason for me to have him below Rixey? Right now he looks to start in the 11-14 range, where I had Redding, Dean, Rixey, and Waddell last ballot. Probably better than those four, however.
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 21, 2005 at 04:19 AM (#1209116)
Right now he looks to start in the 11-14 range, where I had Redding, Dean, Rixey, and Waddell last ballot. Probably better than those four, however.

I was only speaking to Tom H just recently that I thought Lyons would be high, but I now have him pegged at no higher than 13. I have him virtually tied with Grimes and higher than Rixey. The properly minor league credited Jack Quinn will be my highest ranked pitcher at #9.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: March 21, 2005 at 04:32 AM (#1209138)
some of the many cool things about Lyons..

He attended Baylor University with plans for a law career, but his college pitching made him a sought-after prospect. He joined Chicago in St. Louis on July 2, 1923 and relieved in the first ML game he ever saw, retiring the three Browns he faced.

In 1939 White Sox Manager Jimmie Dykes began pitching him once a week, always on Sunday, to save his arm and to take advantage of Lyons's tremendous popularity to draw large crowds. The Sunday-only pattern continued through 1942, with Lyons's .634 winning percentage (52-30) the best for any four-year section of his career. In 1942 he led the AL in ERA (2.10) while completing all 20 of his starts and winning 14.

In the fall of '42, the 41-year-old lifelong bachelor joined the U.S. Marines, spending part of his three-year hitch in combat. In 1946, he returned to the White Sox and pitched five more complete games in five appearances.
   5. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 21, 2005 at 05:35 AM (#1209251)
So I guess I'll ask the big question....

Anyone got thoughts on war credit?

As an older pitcher with a very well-defined usage pattern from 1939-1942 with consistently good results, I think the arguments against giving pitchers war credit would be less applicable to him.
   6. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: March 21, 2005 at 05:38 AM (#1209259)
Ted Lyons.

Nothing too earthshattering.

Would he have won 300 on even an average team?

Adjusting for team quality, no.
   7. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 21, 2005 at 04:59 PM (#1209632)
Anyone got thoughts on war credit?

As an older pitcher with a very well-defined usage pattern from 1939-1942 with consistently good results, I think the arguments against giving pitchers war credit would be less applicable to him.


I agree, Doc, but the question is: how much do we give?
   8. TomH Posted: March 21, 2005 at 05:08 PM (#1209646)
I have not been voting for Rixey, but I plan to put Lyons high on my ballot.

Raw #s IP ERA+
Rixey 4490 115
Lyons 4160 118

Rixey’s IP advantage is mostly a product of the deadball era. Lyons was 1st or 2nd in IP 4 times, which is at least as good as Rixey's record in that regard. BP translated stats show their career IP within 20. Rixey would be ahead if you give him WWI credit.

Lyons was a better hitter; about .040 avg equivalent.

Ted never pitched in a World Series. Eppa did, losing one game.

Eppa was only mentioned in MVP voting once, although the award was not given for part of his career. Ted was on the list in 9 different seasons. If we used MVP voting as a proxy for Cy Young award, Ted would have one first (1925), two thirds, & two fourths.

Lyons played 10 years later (and AL vice NL), so he deserves some league quality bonus. I put it at about ½ win a year.

Rixey pitched in front of better defenses according to WARP.

By Win Shares, Lyons was one-half a win better per full year.

Add it all up, and there are lots of small advantages for Ted. I estimate he was one win per year better (or .30 ERA) for 19 years. Subtract a bit for Rixey’s military credit.

I expect Rixey supporters to be full-fledged Lyons backers. If so, Ted will compete strongly for elect-me spots in 1948.
   9. OCF Posted: March 21, 2005 at 06:53 PM (#1209802)
RA+ PythPat records:

           W-L    FWP Big years bonus
Lyons    260-202  205    22
Rixie    275-224  202    19
Bridges  190-124  181    17
Cicotte  209-149  181    48
Cooper   220-166  180    23
Ferrell  179-113  176    54  (offense-adjusted)
Shocker  181-117  173    29

Only Ferrell has been adjusted for anything; the two largest possible adjustments would be for defensive support and for the pitcher's own offense.

TomH: Rixey’s IP advantage is mostly a product of the deadball era.

It is true that deadball pitchers threw more innings per year. But it could be said that Lyons also benefitted from his own era. See my remarks about Root and Fitzsimmons last year. The idea of Lyons as the "Sunday pitcher" wasn't all that unique - teams of his time in general made effective use of older pitchers in a way not really seen either before or since.

For all of that (and for some of the reasons TomH stated), I will have Lyons slightly ahead of Rixie, and Rixie was 9th on my 1947 ballot.
   10. andrew siegel Posted: March 21, 2005 at 06:56 PM (#1209808)
I'll try to confirm it and back it up with some numbers later in the week, but on my first pass-through Lyons is clearly the best of the Lyons-Rixey-Grimes-Faber-Ruffing group. I think I will probably have Rixey and Grimes somewhere around 12th on this ballot and Lyons somewhere around 6th ot 7th.
   11. DavidFoss Posted: March 21, 2005 at 07:17 PM (#1209839)
The idea of Lyons as the "Sunday pitcher" wasn't all that unique - teams of his time in general made effective use of older pitchers in a way not really seen either before or since.

Yup, many more travel days and double headers made it tough to stick to a hard rotation past the top 1-2 on each staff.

Rixey catches some of that at the tail end of his career, too, but Lyons appears to have been a 2/3 starter for the last eight years of his career (plus 1946). That's a long time and a lot of value there.
   12. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: March 21, 2005 at 07:49 PM (#1209882)
Rixey catches some of that at the tail end of his career, too

He wasn't a Sunday pitcher. He was a Pittsburg pitcher. In his last three years as a pitcher, 19 of his 40 starts were against the Pirates. In 1931, all but one of his starts were against Pitt, Philly, and Brooklyn. See here for more info.
   13. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 21, 2005 at 09:10 PM (#1209959)
Clay Davenport says...

Tr. IP
Lyons 4113.3
Rixey 4152.7

DERA
Lyons 4.15
Rixey 4.39

Best 5 WARP3
Lyons 9.6, 9.3, 8.5, 8.3, 7.8 (105.4)
Rixey 7.7, 6.8, 6.5, 6.4, 5.5 (80.2)

Davenport does see Rixey's IP edge as a function of his era and the rest are big advantages for Lyons. Of course Rixey gets war credit. Rixey's DERA has gone up since I last entered it into my spreadsheet. I understand why WARP is changed but does it have to happen every few months?
   14. andrew siegel Posted: March 21, 2005 at 09:18 PM (#1209973)
While we are doing Davenport's numbers, here are seasons over 10-8-6-4 WARP1, unadjusted for season length or war credit:

Lyons 2-5-9-15
Rixey 0-2-8-13
Grimes 3-4-7-12
Faber 2-2-4-11
Ruffing 0-6-7-16

If Davenport is right, Lyons wins that set and Faber is 5th (and lucky to be in). Rixey, Grimes, and Ruffing are mix-and-match based on your personal mix of peak, prime, and career.
   15. Daryn Posted: March 21, 2005 at 09:57 PM (#1210037)
I'll have him top 5 on my ballot, but I wanted to say that I think the Sunday pticher is a fantastic use of an older pitcher which I wish would come back into style. It allowed Lyons to pile up very valuable seasons, without shredding his arm.

One question, everywhere I am reading it says that he was a Sunday pitcher for four years, but he was reduced to the 20-26 starts for his last eight years. What is the story on the penultimate 4 years ('35 to '38, I think, or maybe it is is '36 to '39)?
   16. jimd Posted: March 21, 2005 at 10:37 PM (#1210104)
here are seasons over 10-8-6-4 WARP1, unadjusted for season length or war credit:

Lyons 2-5-9-15
Rixey 0-2-8-13
Grimes 3-4-7-12
Faber 2-2-4-11
Ruffing 0-6-7-16


Let's extend the scale: 14-12-10-8-6-4

Lyons 0-0-2-5-9-15
Rixey 0-0-0-2-8-13
Grimes 0-0-3-4-7-12
Faber 1-1-2-2-4-11
Ruffing 0-0-0-6-7-16

Faber was the best pitcher in baseball in 1921-22, but the 1000 innings he pitched 1920-22 apparently took its toll; he was mediocre after that. He has a peak that, for some voters, will compensate for a somewhat shorter career.

Note that Faber and Robin Roberts (1952-54) were the only live-ball era pitchers with 1000 IP or more over 3 years under the 154 game schedule. Under 162G, Mickey Lolich, Wilbur Wood, and Gaylord Perry would do it in the early 1970's, and Phil Niekro in the late 1970's.
   17. andrew siegel Posted: March 21, 2005 at 10:40 PM (#1210111)
Fair enough point, JimD. On that reworking, Faber joins the pack and they become even more of a muddle.
   18. OCF Posted: March 21, 2005 at 11:12 PM (#1210160)
... but I wanted to say that I think the Sunday pticher is a fantastic use of an older pitcher which I wish would come back into style.

In terms of the pitcher's own performance, there's no doubt that it would work as well as ever, perhaps better than ever due to modern medicine. But there are two problems.

In the 30's, with lots of travel days and frequenct doubleheaders, a pitcher half in and half out of the rotation helped stabilize the use of the other pitchers. Now with faster travel, no doubleheaders, and fewer rainouts, the use of such a pitcher would destabilize the rotation rather than stabilize it.

The other problem is money. Think of guys you'd like to try this with. David Wells and Orlando Hernandez are obvious candidates. Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine might comfortably fade through this role and have several years left. But now: how much would you have to pay a pitcher like like the ones I mentioned? Would that price be worth it for 130-150 innings?
   19. Brent Posted: March 22, 2005 at 04:36 AM (#1210525)
From the Lyons entry at baseballlibrary.com, here are a couple of items to file in a folder labeled "They just don't play the game the way they used to."


» August 21, 1926: It takes Ted Lyons just 67 minutes to no-hit the Red Sox 6-0 for Chicago.


» May 24, 1929: Chicago's Ted Lyons and Detroit's George Uhle go 21 innings before the Tigers get a run to win 6–5 in the longest game—3 hours and 31 minutes—ever seen to date at Comiskey Park. Uhle is the winner, tossing 20 innings, with Vic Sorrell pitching the bottom of the 21st. Lyons, the loser, goes the distance and gives up 24 hits.
   20. DavidFoss Posted: March 22, 2005 at 04:42 AM (#1210538)
In the 30's, with lots of travel days and frequenct doubleheaders, a pitcher half in and half out of the rotation helped stabilize the use of the other pitchers.

The Indians did also did this in the mid-50s with Feller.
   21. Brent Posted: March 22, 2005 at 04:56 AM (#1210568)
Is it just my imagination, or do HoM-quality pitchers have a much greater tendency to wind up on really crappy teams than HoM-quality position players?
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: March 22, 2005 at 05:15 AM (#1210611)
I'll recommend the Chris J walk through Rixey's career as well. The breakdowns are instructive...
   23. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: March 22, 2005 at 06:22 AM (#1210686)
I'll recommend the Chris J walk through Rixey's career as well. The breakdowns are instructive...[i/]

I'm open to suggestions. What would you like me to do that I haven't already done?
   24. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 22, 2005 at 09:13 PM (#1211490)
Chris J,

I think he meant he reccomends that those who haven't read your breakdown should. Not that you should do further breakdowns.
   25. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 22, 2005 at 11:01 PM (#1211804)
Re Lyons and the war. In the five years leading up to his induction in the service, Lyons's WS totals were

YEAR...WS...AGE (b. 1900)
1938...14...37
1939...20...38
1940...15...39
1941...13...40
1942...21...41

I looked over the Win Shares for a bunch of guys like quinn, niekro, john, etc, who pitched forever, and the one thing they had in common was that they seemed to establish a new, lower level of value in their late thirties or early forties, maintaining that level through a long, slow decline.

Given that, I'm thinking that war credit for Lyons might look something like this:

1943...13...42
1944...12...43
1945...10...44

leading up to his final season on the books:

1946....3...45

Maybe a little less? I dunno, I'm no expert on aging. But adding 25-30 WS to his career total for war credit is probably not all that whacky.
   26. Michael Bass Posted: March 22, 2005 at 11:11 PM (#1211840)
This is a unique case, as it's the tail end of his career, but as with the long ago discussion on Benny Kauff, if we're giving significant war credit, should he be eligible now?
   27. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 22, 2005 at 11:20 PM (#1211862)
There are a few things that point to giving him WWII credit:

1) He was a very effective pitcher right up to the point he joined the military (his last mediocre season was in '34.

2) When he came back in '46, he was still good.

I think I need to reevaluate Mr. Lyons. The good Doctor's projections above seem fair, IMO.
   28. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 23, 2005 at 12:07 AM (#1211958)
They do seems dair, but I doubt they will make much difference in my system. How many IP is that? Would it be similar to the # of IP missed by Rixey, or maybe a little more (likely)?
   29. Cblau Posted: March 23, 2005 at 12:50 AM (#1212034)
A little story that won't affect anyone's vote-

In 1955, Jack Cassini was player-manager for the Memphis Chicks, a White Sox farm team. In early August, he was hit in the face with a pitch and missed the rest of the season. Lyons, who was under contract to the White Sox as a scout, was sent to Memphis to fill in as manager for the rest of the season. He signed a contract with them for a nominal amount of $1; the White Sox continued to pay the balance of his salary. When Lyons led the Chicks to the pennant, management rewarded him by doubling his salary- to $2!
   30. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 23, 2005 at 02:12 AM (#1212142)
Nice story, Cliff!

Doctor Chaleeko:

How many innings are you estimating for Lyons' WWII years?
   31. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 23, 2005 at 04:38 AM (#1212329)
Honest Abe, I'm just eyeballing the WS and making a guesstimate. But looking at his IP totals, he's consistently around 180 from 1935 to 1942, so figure with a slight dip in production, he's edging downward. So probably in the range of 480 to 540, or 160 per year to 180 per year.
   32. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 23, 2005 at 04:46 AM (#1212339)
That's about what I had, Doc. Thanks!
   33. Howie Menckel Posted: March 23, 2005 at 02:21 PM (#1212593)
Well, no doubt the range comes from Lyons' 1935-42, where he pitched almost 1500 excellent innings.
But they are broken down in an unusual way, with about 180 IP per year. If he had the same production over 6 years instead of 8, he'd get a lot more votes.

I don't completely buy that adjustment, but that's where the fault line will be in his unusual voting pattern.
   34. KJOK Posted: April 01, 2005 at 04:07 AM (#1226301)
Name AdjWinShares(162gSeasons) WSaReplacement
Carl Hubbell 323 223
Ted Lyons 330 215

I think the electorate is undervaluing Mr. Lyons a bit.
   35. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 01, 2005 at 04:39 AM (#1226342)
Kevin:

You're leaving out the fact that Hubbell averaged 4 more WS/162 Games than Lyons did. I'm a FOTL, but he wasn't the Meal Ticket.
   36. KJOK Posted: April 02, 2005 at 12:45 AM (#1227230)
You're leaving out the fact that Hubbell averaged 4 more WS/162 Games than Lyons did. I'm a FOTL, but he wasn't the Meal Ticket.

Yes, he wasn't the "meal ticket", but to be even close to Hubbell is pretty good, and yes he averaged 4 more WS/162, but on the other hand Lyons had MORE games which has offsetting value?!
   37. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 02, 2005 at 03:12 AM (#1227373)
Yes, he wasn't the "meal ticket", but to be even close to Hubbell is pretty good

No argument there, Kevin. I'm looking forward to his induction in the future.

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