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Monday, February 20, 2006

Warren Spahn

Eligible in 1971.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 20, 2006 at 12:40 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 20, 2006 at 01:05 AM (#1868546)
Spahn and Fox and pray for lox! :-)
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: February 20, 2006 at 01:24 AM (#1868581)
Spahnie won 175 to 180 games after his 35th birthday, which ain't bad.
Hit .333/.381/.463 in 122 PA in 1958, while going a typical 22-11 in 290 IP.
Top 10 in Wins AND innings AND Complete Games every single year from 1947-63; in top 3 in Wins in 14 of those 17 years (and league leader in 8 of them).
Top 3 in Innings every year from 1947-59.
Led league in Complete Games every year from 1957-63, at age 36 through 42.
Former teammate of Paul Waner, who played with Babe Adams, who played with Jake Beckley.
Former teammate of Ed Kranepool, who played with Jesse Orosco, who played with Johan Santana.
   3. jingoist Posted: February 20, 2006 at 03:43 AM (#1868790)
Howie;
That bit of "6 degrees of seperation" you just did on Spahnie is simply amazing. Who'd a thunk it; that you could go from 1888 to 2006 with just seven guys! It helps that a bunch of those guys played 20+ years.

Anyway that littany of almost supernatural accomplishments by Warren Spahn remind of what a durable, reliable #1 starter he was for all of his 20 year career.
His manger could pencil him into the lineup every 4th day without a worry. I dont know what he was like as a teamate but from interviews I've read he seemed to be one fine human being.
I find that 1958 batting statistic almost too fabulous to believe. Here's a 37 year old pitcher creating 6.6 runs/27 outs.
That's a rate second only to Henry Aaron of all the 8 starting players (he even beat out Matthews that year on rate of run production)!

I got to see him groove the pitch that a 75 year young "old aches and pains" (Luke Appling) hit out of the park (RFK) at an old-timers game in the early 1980's.
It was a big thrill for everybody there that day I can tell you, especially for Spahn who probably enjoyed Luke's homer as much as Luke did.
Spahn and Robin Roberts were my two favorite "non-Pirate" pitchers back in the 50's and early 60's. I truly treasure my memories of watching Warren Spahn.
   4. DavidFoss Posted: February 20, 2006 at 04:23 AM (#1868863)
Howie;
That bit of "6 degrees of seperation" you just did on Spahnie is simply amazing. Who'd a thunk it; that you could go from 1888 to 2006 with just seven guys! It helps that a bunch of those guys played 20+ years.<i>

I plugged those names into the Oracle of Baseball and Gil Hodges is also capable of doing the Waner to Kranepool link.

We're in the golden age of "Most Linkable Players" as the 19th and 21st century are roughly equal distances away. Early Wynn is first and Spahn is second (imagine if they were ever actually teamates). Minnie Minoso is fourth (with help from the cameos). Third and fifth place were Curt Simmons and forgotten role player Dave Philley.
   5. OCF Posted: February 20, 2006 at 07:56 AM (#1869068)
Not that anyone needs to see any more evidence to make up their mind about Spahn, but since I have it, I might as well lay it out:

My RA+ PythPat equivalent record for Spahn is 340-242. That may be a little behind his actual W-L record, but it still 297 equivalent FWP, which is getting up into some very thin air. I've got his two best years widely separated: an equivalent 23-10 in 1947 and 21-8 in 1953. I've also got equivalent years, scattered around, of 21-13, 20-12, and 20-13.

The contemporary comparison is to Roberts. I've got Roberts at a career 295-226. Roberts has a three-year stretch (1952-54) with equivalent records of 24-13, 26-12, and 25-13, with two very good years just before that. Spahn never had three consecutive years like that, or 5 consecutive years like that, any maybe not even a three best or five best years like that. So I'm willing to say that Roberts had a better peak than Spahn. But for career value, the difference between the two career equivalent records is 45-16, and 45-16 is a lot of value.
   6. yest Posted: February 20, 2006 at 08:41 AM (#1869100)
Cap Anson played with Dad Clarke for the 1888 Chicago White Stockings
Dad Clarke played with Nick Altrock for the 1898 Louisville Colonels
Nick Altrock played with Buddy Myer for the 1929 Washington Senators
Buddy Myer played with Early Wynn for the 1941 Washington Senators
Early Wynn played with Tommy John for the 1963 Cleveland Indians
Tommy John played with Rickey Henderson for the 1988 New York Yankees
   7. yest Posted: February 20, 2006 at 08:51 AM (#1869109)
another big jump

Jim O'Rourke played with Roger Bresnahan for the 1904 New York Giants
Roger Bresnahan played with Bob O'Farrell for the 1915 Chicago Cubs
Bob O'Farrell played with Phil Cavarretta for the 1934 Chicago Cubs
Phil Cavarretta played with Minnie Minoso for the 1955 Chicago White Sox
Minnie Minoso played with Jim Morrison for the 1980 Chicago White Sox
Jim Morrison played with Barry Bonds for the 1986 Pittsburgh Pirates
   8. yest Posted: February 20, 2006 at 08:59 AM (#1869114)
Cap Anson played with Bill Dahlen for the 1891 Chicago Colts
Bill Dahlen played with Fred Merkle for the 1907 New York Giants
Fred Merkle played with Leo Durocher for the 1925 New York Yankees
Leo Durocher played with Gil Hodges for the 1943 Brooklyn Dodgers
Gil Hodges played with Ed Kranepool for the 1963 New York Mets
Ed Kranepool played with Jesse Orosco for the 1979 New York Mets

Jim O'Rourke played with Willie Keeler for the 1892 New York Giants
Willie Keeler played with Jack Quinn for the 1909 New York Highlanders
Jack Quinn played with Paul Richards for the 1932 Brooklyn Dodgers
Paul Richards played with Billy Pierce for the 1945 Detroit Tigers
Billy Pierce played with Jose Cardenal for the 1964 San Francisco Giants
Jose Cardenal played with Jesse Orosco for the 1979 New York Mets

Cap Anson played with Nixey Callahan for the 1897 Chicago Colts
Nixey Callahan played with Edd Roush for the 1913 Chicago White Sox
Edd Roush played with Estel Crabtree for the 1931 Cincinnati Reds
Estel Crabtree played with Joe Nuxhall for the 1944 Cincinnati Reds
Joe Nuxhall played with Pete Rose for the 1963 Cincinnati Reds
Pete Rose played with John Franco for the 1984 Cincinnati Reds
   9. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 20, 2006 at 10:25 AM (#1869129)
What's more amazing is that I also saw him in an old-timers' game in the early '90s, and Reggie Jackson hit a homer off of him.
   10. Paul Wendt Posted: February 20, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#1869204)
Remember, Joe Start played from late 1859 or 1860 to 1886 where "teammate" Connie Mack played and managed to 1950. But Start's last game was in July and Mack's first was in September. The simple algorithms make no distinction between that relationship and the ones between people who were members of a team together, not to mention those who played in a championship game together.

O'Rourke and Minoso with cameos, and Ryan with three premature innings, all played in the majors across timespans greater than Anson's. Start, too, if given "major" credit from 1859 (but I think only 1860 is reasonable). There must be others, but any HOM candidates?

Spahn, recently deceased, was the big score for the Boston Braves Historical Association now and then when he agreed to attend the annual reunion, including the 1998 semicentennial. At least in late retirement, he was difficult where the Sibby Sistis and Art Johnsons are cool. Partly, I suppose, because the superstars suffer too many years of too many requests. (Art Johnson, Spahn's senior, is a SABR member whom I met at a chapter meeting in Worcester 5-10 years ago, not the guest speaker but simply a member in the audience. That's cool in another way.)
   11. OCF Posted: February 22, 2006 at 02:47 AM (#1871028)
Looking again at what I wrote in #5 about Robin Roberts: "only" 45-16 short of Spahn's career value; a better peak than Spahn, comes on a ballot with no overwhelming holdovers; same year as Koufax, but I'm kind of a career guy with pitchers, and Koufax isn't that.

Roberts will be #1 on my 1972 ballot. If he were eligible in 1971, he'd be #2 behind Spahn.

OK, I shouldn't say "only" 45-16; that's two seasons each better than a typical Cy Young season.

It seems that the Tulsa minor league team got more than its usual level of coverage in the Tulsa World (the morning newspaper of my youth) in the year Spahn was the player-manager. And I do want to claim Spahn for the all-Oklahoma team even if he wasn't actually born there.
   12. Trevor P. Posted: February 22, 2006 at 02:57 AM (#1871034)
It's a purely academic question, but should Spahn be given any war credit for 43-45?
   13. sunnyday2 Posted: February 22, 2006 at 03:10 AM (#1871046)
ERA+ by seasons

Roberts 153-41-36-34-33-27-23-22-21-7-4/113/11 years > 100
Spahn 187-67-30-25-24-24-23-23-22-21-20-18-15-15-3/118/15 years > 100
Wynn 154-42-35-35-26-19-15-10-8-2/106/10 years > 100

OBA/OOB

Roberts .255/.292
Spahn .244/.296
Wynn .248/.320
   14. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 22, 2006 at 03:54 AM (#1871086)
Roberts will be #1 on my 1972 ballot. If he were eligible in 1971, he'd be #2 behind Spahn.

I agree on both counts.

Wonder if anyone will place Koufax over Roberts, since the latter was also a peak monster and kicks Sandy's butt on career.
   15. Howie Menckel Posted: February 22, 2006 at 01:39 PM (#1871293)
War credit for Spahn both here and as a great American....

baseballlibary.com

Spahn made four unspectacular appearances with the Boston Braves in 1942 before entering miliary service the following year. He reached Europe in December 1944 with the 276th Engineer Combat Battalion and was wounded at Remagen, Germany in March 1945. After Germany's surrender in May, Spahn pitched for the 115th Engineers Group, and in a four-game stretch, he allowed only one run and nine hits while striking out 73 batters.

Looking back on his military experience some years later, Spahn said, "After what I went through overseas, I never thought of anything I was told to do in baseball as hard work. You get over feeling like that when you spend days on end sleeping in frozen tank tracks in enemy-threatened territory. The Army taught me something about challenges and about what's important and what isn't."
   16. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 22, 2006 at 02:02 PM (#1871304)
War credit for Spahn both here and as a great American....

I agree, Howie, but I would be extremely conservative doling it out, however. Someone had posted some sound reasoning in regard to this for Spahn months ago, but I don't remember his total criteria for WWII credit.
   17. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: February 22, 2006 at 05:59 PM (#1871330)
His service time did get him through the injury nexus without an unjury, however.
   18. Evan Posted: February 22, 2006 at 06:01 PM (#1871331)
Wonder if anyone will place Koufax over Roberts, since the latter was also a peak monster and kicks Sandy's butt on career.

ERA+ top 6 consecutive seasons

Koufax 190, 187, 161, 160, 143, 124
Roberts 152, 141, 136, 135, 127, 121

One of these peaks is not like the other.
   19. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 22, 2006 at 06:10 PM (#1871346)
One of these peaks is not like the other.

I didn't say that Roberts' peak was better (it's not), only that I think it's impressive. Coupled with his career numbers, I can't see Koufax over Roberts (obviously, I'm not speaking about guys like Marc).
   20. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 22, 2006 at 06:12 PM (#1871350)
His service time did get him through the injury nexus without an unjury, however.

That was it, Mark. One of the posters here stated that to give him WWII credit, he shouldn't get more IP than he actually pitched as a serviceman. I think that makes sense.
   21. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 22, 2006 at 06:19 PM (#1871364)
ERA+ top 6 consecutive seasons

Koufax 190, 187, 161, 160, 143, 124
Roberts 152, 141, 136, 135, 127, 121


Roberts was more durable than Koufax during this stretch (compared to their contemporaries), so Koufax's domination in ERA+ is not the whole story.
   22. Paul Wendt Posted: February 22, 2006 at 06:23 PM (#1871378)
You can bet your bottom dollar, Jay-tee-em, Koufax will get some votes ahead of Roberts. It's too bad Spahn faded so quickly in the 1960s :-) for it would be fun to have all three on the ballot together.
   23. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 22, 2006 at 06:28 PM (#1871392)
It's too bad Spahn faded so quickly in the 1960s :-) for it would be fun to have all three on the ballot together.

Yeah, Spahn needed to work on his durability more. :-)
   24. DavidFoss Posted: February 22, 2006 at 06:30 PM (#1871395)
One of these peaks is not like the other.

Roberts has a 300 IP advantage in over those six seasons. Mainly due to minor injury issues in Koufax's 187 season (Roberts setting a high bar here) and fairly significant missed time in the 143 season.

I still like the Koufax peak better though.

John's point is that Roberts has 136-123-123-122 after that sequence (the 122 at 250 IP and the rest at around 200 IP). Koufax doesn't have these. Then Roberts has got about the same amount of ~105 innings (though packed into two seasons instead of three). And of course, Roberts has a load more below average innings. It will be an interesting ballot next time around.
   25. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: February 22, 2006 at 06:39 PM (#1871411)
Yeah John, it is the problem with giving war credit to pitchers, especially those that were between the ages of 18-25 or thereabouts. Or even I guy like Feller who was used heavily in his younger years.

This does bring up teh questoin of whether or not we should be giving war credit to Don Newcombe. In my eyes a Newcombe with war credit (he missed two prime seasons) is arguably as good as or better than Billy Pierce.
   26. jingoist Posted: February 22, 2006 at 07:10 PM (#1871456)
One might want to give Warren WWII pitching credit but isnt he sooooo farrrr ahead of anybody on this ballot that it's not necessary?
I admire your groups efforts to be completely thorough but I equate giving Spahn wartime pitching credit is like giving a "wafer thin mint" to the fat guy in Monty Python's Meaning of Life!
   27. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 22, 2006 at 07:23 PM (#1871471)
One might want to give Warren WWII pitching credit but isnt he sooooo farrrr ahead of anybody on this ballot that it's not necessary?

Oh, it's definitely a moot point, jingoist. He's going in with a bullet next week any way you slice it.
   28. sunnyday2 Posted: February 22, 2006 at 08:22 PM (#1871553)
1. Spahn
2. Koufax
3. Roberts

if they end up on the ballot together (not). And if he also had been:

4. Wynn
   29. OCF Posted: February 23, 2006 at 05:09 AM (#1872104)
It's too bad Spahn faded so quickly in the 1960s :-)

But he'll always have Tulsa!
   30. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: February 23, 2006 at 05:18 AM (#1872112)
I would take Roberts over Koufax, I don't see it as close. As John said the peaks are close (closer than ERA+ says, due to Roberts pitching many more innings - somewhat like the RJ/Pedro comparisons today) and Roberts buries him on the rest.
   31. OCF Posted: February 23, 2006 at 06:10 AM (#1872148)
In my RA+ equivalent system:

Koufax, 1962-1966: 107-46, 137 FWP
Roberts, 1950-1954: 118-63, 132 FWP

Another way to put that: the difference between them for those 5 years, 11-17, is close enough to replacement as to have fairly small value.

But even there: I haven't corrected for the pitcher's own offense. Roberts certainly wasn't a good hitter (yeah, there was a 120 OPS+ one year but that was a fluke), but for a pitcher, he wasn't completely hopeless with a bat in his hand. Koufax was completely hopeless with a bat in his hand; you have to discount him a little for that.

Outside of those 5 years - well, Roberts had plenty of years in which he was pretty ordinary. But still:

Koufax: 56-49, 34 FWP
Roberts: 177-163, 105 FWP

The difference is mostly just bulk as a slightly-better-than-average pitcher. But slightly-better-than-average bulk has value.

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