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Monday, March 20, 2006

Whitey Ford

Eligible in 1973.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 03:05 AM | 76 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 03:47 AM (#1907914)
Do you remember that commercial from the Sixties with Ford and Salvador Dali? Talk about surreal! ;-)
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: March 20, 2006 at 04:58 AM (#1908006)
I understand that some may consider Ford to be a poor candidate. I am not one of those, however. I could be convinced to rate Ford right up there with Roberts and Koufax.

ERA+

Koufax 131/191-87-61-60-43-23-2-(91) in 2324 IP
Waddell 135/180-79-65-53-27-25-23-21-8-2 in 2961 IP
Ford 133/176-70-56-43-29-28-23-22-20-16-16-5 in 3170 IP
Cicotte 123/185-75-74-55-32-29-16-15-1-(99)-(99)-(93)-(93) in 3226 IP
Roberts 113/153-41-36-34-33-27-23-22-21-7-4-(97)-(96)-(93)-(84) in 4689 IP

His effectiveness at his peak is in Roberts range and each had exactly 9 seasons of 120 or better. Yes, Roberts threw more IP but Ford actually led the AL in IP in 1961 and 1963. There are studies that show that Stengel used him much more than normal against the Yankees key opponents.

He also missed 2 years in the military (Korea). His ERA+ in 1951 was 153 in 112 IP, and when he got back (still only 24-25 years old) he went 123-122, then blossomed at 143-156. Those who give credit for military/war years, he looks like he was ready to do 120-125 those two years that he missed, which would give him 11 years of 120+, which very few pitchers have done.

Win Shares

WS are less flattering, but I wonder if this is a case of diminishing returns? I mean the Yankees were so dominant but you still can't win every single day. I wonder if Ford gets fewer WS than guys with comparable records because of diminishing returns.

16. Roberts 339/35-32-31/153/27.0
47. Wynn 308/28-25-24/110/24.6
22. Ford 261/24-23-22/105/30.9 (unadjusted for war years)
50. Cicotte 247/35-32-27/124/28.8
10. Koufax 194/35-33-32/139/31.8
53. Waddell 240/35-33-32/145/30.6

And of course he never threw more than 283 IP in a season, but his WS/IP are right up there with Koufax and Waddell (and Gibson and Hubbell and Seaver among others).

Roberts 339/35-32-31-28-27-26-20-16-16-15-15-13-13-13-12-12-12
Wynn 308/28-25-24-23-21-21-21-20-19-16-16-11-10
Ruffing 322/27-25-24-23-22-22-21-20-19-17-16-15-15-11
Rixey 315/26-26-24-23-22-22-21-20-18-15-14-14-14-12-12-10-10

Ford 289/24-23-22-22-22-20-20-17-16-16-16-14-14*-14*-11-10
Cicotte 247/35-35-27-24-21-19-18-13-13-11-11

Throw in 2 Korean War years (*) at 14 WS (11 in 1951, 17 in 1954) and his career number goes up to 289, within 3 of Feller (though Rapid Robert also needs some additional credit for WWII years), within 7 of 3F Brown, 4 of Rusie, now 32 ahead of Bunning, 20 more than McGinnity. This also gives him 17 years of 10 or more, right in Roberts and Rixey range, 4 more than Wynn.

I guess the question is whether he should have thrown an extra 100 IP a year in his prime and then had a string of <100 seasons, or whether he was more valuable to his team pitching fewer IP per season but 17 seasons of > 100 ERA+.

Put it all together (the 133 career ERA+, the great effectiveness, the 17 seasons >100 ERA+, the 2 years missed in the military.... Ford will probably be in my top 5, maybe top 2.
   3. DavidFoss Posted: March 20, 2006 at 05:20 AM (#1908029)
Ford will probably be in my top 5, maybe top 2.

The backlog is getting very weak, there's nobody left I really feel that strongly about. Ford's an easy #1 for me this year.

There is simply no precedent for us not inducting a 132 ERA+/3170IP pitcher. Waddell is the closest, but Waddell has got less IP in a higher IP era and he's also got UER problems.

He won't be anywhere near unanimous and I understand the low WS issue (He does manage one AL-WS-CyYoung for his overrated 1961 season), but he should get inducted this year.
   4. DavidFoss Posted: March 20, 2006 at 05:23 AM (#1908032)
Speaking of the low WS totals, the conventional wisdom on Ford was always that Stengel used him 'strategically' against key opponents and kept him out of Fenway. He's always been a great candidate for one of Chris J (out of order)'s analyses. What does retrosheet have to say about Ford in the Stengel Era?
   5. Kelly in SD Posted: March 20, 2006 at 08:19 AM (#1908151)
I did a Retrosheet look at Stengal's usage pattern for Ford. I don't have the time right now to post it, but starting in 1955 or 56, Stengal definitely saved Ford to pitch against whichever teams were the Yankees top 2 rivals that year, usually the White Sox and the Indians. If I remember right, one year Ford made 14 of 29 starts against the top 2 teams other than the Yankees.
Also, Stengal pulled his starters at odd times - give up 2 runs in the first 3 innings and you could get pulled.
I hope to post the info by Wednesday.
   6. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 01:45 PM (#1908229)
I think with military credit, Ford is an easy guy to place on your ballot. He may not be #1, but I'll be shocked if he doesn't get an elect-me spot from me in '73.
   7. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 20, 2006 at 02:50 PM (#1908270)
Here's monkey wrench....

Ford is widely reported to have defaced or applied a foreign substance throughout his career, and has supposedly admitted as much. I haven't read the accounts or recollections of it, so

a) can anyone offer more details?
b) if, in fact, he did so, should his record be reconsidered in any way?
c) would that make him someone that voters should consider boycotting in his first year of eligibility? or even consider not voting for.

This seems like it's a somewhat important question to the cases of at least half a dozen players, including Gaylord Perry, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmeiro, Jose Canseco, Ken Caminitti, and possibly others as well. (Yes, I'm equating scuffing/spittering with using steroids.)
   8. sunnyday2 Posted: March 20, 2006 at 02:56 PM (#1908274)
>(Yes, I'm equating scuffing/spittering with using steroids.)

Well, that issue is a non-starter for me. When MLB takes formal action, fine, I'll listen.
   9. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 20, 2006 at 03:04 PM (#1908279)
Sunny,

They did take formal action on Palmeiro. He tested positive. 10 days.

So then what you're saying is that if Perry or Ford weren't punished by the league for doctoring the ball, then no harm, no foul? I don't have a problem with that, I'm just taking the electorate's pulse on the issue.
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 03:13 PM (#1908284)
So then what you're saying is that if Perry or Ford weren't punished by the league for doctoring the ball, then no harm, no foul? I don't have a problem with that, I'm just taking the electorate's pulse on the issue.

One thing is for certain: we'll be having quite a few Primates visiting us here expounding on the subject pro and con. I'm looking forward to it. :-0
   11. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 20, 2006 at 03:47 PM (#1908299)
OK, so I went on the web looking for evidence of Whitey doctoring the ball, and here's what I found in a couple quick searches. It all seems to corroborate with itself, probably because it's based on all the same sources. The open question doesn't seem to be whether Ford doctored the ball, but exactly when he started. All these sources say late career, but never give a date.

wikipedia
After his career ended, Ford admitted to occasionally cheating by doctoring baseballs. Among the various methods he used included having Yankee catcher Elston Howard pretend to lose balance while in his crouch and land on his right hand - with the ball in it - to cover the ball in mud. Ford would sometimes use the diamond in his wedding ring to gouge the ball, but he was eventually caught by an umpire and warned to stop. Howard then sharpened a buckle on his shinguard and used it to scuff the ball.


from amazon.com entries for ford's own biography
Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
...There are also tales of his epoch-making carousing with Mantle and Billy Martin, his doctoring of baseballs and the greats he has known.

From Library Journal
Sticking with anecdotes relating to the playing field, he does give a detailed account of how he had to resort to "cheating" (doctoring the ball) towards the end of his career and the decline of the Yankees in the 1960s.

http://www.netpath.net/~bauer/players/ford.htm
<blockquote>Toward the end of his career Ford was dogged by accusations of doctoring the baseball. “I didn’t begin cheating until late in my career, when I needed it to survive,” he admitted. “I didn’t cheat when I won the 25 games in 1961. I don’t want anyone to get any ideas and take my Cy Young Award away. And I didn’t cheat in 1963 when I won 24 games. Well, maybe just a little.” One of the “little” ways involved his hiding a rasp on his wedding ring to nick the ball. “It was a ring with a sharp edge, just right to cut up the ball a bit,” Ford explained. “This pitch wasn’t like the spitter or the mudball; it just sank slightly more than my ordinary pitches.” He got away with it until rival Manager Alvin Dark collected a bushel of balls Ford had used and noticed they were all scuffed in exactly the same way. Umpire Hank Soar made Ford get rid of his ring.


http://www.thebaseballpage.com/players/fordwh01.php
Best Strength as a Player
His willingness and ability to skirt the rules. Ford was a master at doctoring the baseball. He bragged that he could cut a baseball in more ways than any other pitcher. Ford sharpened the edges of his wedding ring and used it to cut slices in the ball, as well as the buckle on his belt. He also had his catchers, including Elston Howard, sharpen their belt buckles. One of his most famous inventions was a "gunk ball" which he loaded with a mixture of baby oil, resin, and turpentine. Several other pitchers, teammates and opponents, claim that Ford taught them how to throw the spitball and cutball.


http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/cheaters/ballplayers.html
espn page 2's biggest cheaters
Ford used his wedding ring to cut the ball, or had catcher Elston Howard put a nice slice in it with a buckle on his shin guard. Ford also planted mud pies around the mound and used them to load the ball. He confessed that when pitching against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series, "I used enough mud to build a dam." He also threw a "gunk ball," which combined a mixture of baby oil, turpentine, and resin. He kept the "gunk" in a roll-on dispenser, which, the story goes, Yogi Berra once mistook for deodorant, gluing his arms to his sides in the process.


http://longgandhi.com/060403.html
Whitey Ford, the ace of the Yankees' staff that won year after year in the 1950s, regularly doctored the ball. He used his wedding ring to nick the ball and would use a substance he called "gunk" - a combination of baby oil, turpentine and pine resin - to affect his pitches. The stuff was so potent that Yogi Berra, mistaking the container Ford kept it in for underarm deodorant, accidentally glued his arms to his sides.


http://thebackpagesports.com/bp/sport_site/article_view.cfm?aid=1604
Whitey Ford once exclaimed, “It was as though I had my own tool bench out there with me.”


Ball Four, the June 11 chapter (pp. 213-14 in the twentieth anniversary edition):
Probably because we're going to be in New York soon, the conversation was about Whitey Ford and what great stuff he had when he was pitching for the Yankees. Fred Talbot, who came to the Yankees when Whitey was about through and looking for all the little edges he could find, said Ford could take advantage of every little nick on a ball and make it do something, dive or sail or hop or jump. "If Cronin's name wasn't stamped on the ball straight, he could make it drop."

For a long time Whitey got away with throwing a mud ball that was positively evil. Sometimes Ellie Howard would load it up for him by pretending to lose his balance and steadying himself with his hand-while the ball was in it. Ford could make a mud ball drop, sail, break in, break out and sing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." Eventually the opposition, particularly Bill Rigney, the manager of the Angels, got wise to him and he had to quit using the mudder.

Then he went to his wedding ring. He gouged such sharp edges into it that we used to kid him about having lost the diamond out of it. He'd scuff up the ball with the ring and make it do all the things the mud ball did, except maybe now the song was different. He got by with the ring for a couple of months until umpire John Stevens, I think it was, or John Rice (for some reason, every time Rice came onto the field, somebody would holler, "What comes out of a Chinaman's ass?") got wise. The ump could have caused real trouble, but he went out to the mound and said, "Whitey, go into the clubhouse. Your jock strap needs fixing. And when you come back, it better be without that ring."

After that, Ellie Howard sharpened up one of the buckles on his shin guard and every time he threw the ball back to Whitey he'd rub it against the buckle. The buckle ball sang two arias from Aida.
   12. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 20, 2006 at 03:49 PM (#1908301)
Check that, two of them indicate he used the mudball as early as 1963 when he won 24 games.
   13. sunnyday2 Posted: March 20, 2006 at 04:01 PM (#1908310)
For those who are horrified by all of this, I think a one-year moratorium is the response that is allowed by the rules, is that right?

Just for the record, he will be in my top 2-3-5 in '73. No moratoria for me.

Of course, some may claim that we would never have won 20 games without cheating and dock him a half dozen win shares every year for 15 years....can they do that?
   14. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 20, 2006 at 04:37 PM (#1908358)
Just to say it again in case I did too much implying and not enough ex-plying (like that's a word!)....

I'm of the mind that cheating is cheating, and that in this eletion we are setting the precendent for Gaylord Perry (and Don Sutton perhaps) among pitchers, as well as Sammy Sosa, Graig Nettles, and Albert Belle among bat corkers, and that we are also setting some kind of precedent for our evaluation and treatment of the steroid era.

Even if you don't agree with me that steroids, bat corking, and ball-doctoring are approximately equivalent offenses (maybe equal), this election still sets up the process of how we approach the subject of cheaters in the modern era (with its tell-alls, its testings, and its rampant speculation). How we treat the evidence of Ford's cheating (how we evaluate the sources, what weight we put on them, and how we rank a player after observing the evidence) must be consistent with how we'll treat future candiates.

I'm not advocating any set of actions at this time, only that we have a very thorough and careful discussion of the matter before we start voting.

*Note that I am not currently lumping amphetamine or cocaine in this discussion. Amphetamine appears to have been ubiquitous enough that it was essentially a playing condition of the times; cocaine is not known as a performance enhancer and may rather have a detrimental effect on play. However, I don't have much evidence to back my this position, and so I am open to other interpretations.
   15. Daryn Posted: March 20, 2006 at 04:45 PM (#1908382)
Great Ford stat

200 innings pitched in a season: 11 times
More than 10 losses in a season: 1 time

Pedro (so far)

200 innings pitched in a season: 7 times
More than 10 losses in a season: 0 times
   16. karlmagnus Posted: March 20, 2006 at 05:06 PM (#1908444)
Faber was a spitballer, wasn't he, grandfathered in 1920? Tough on Ford to penalize him for something so many previous pitchers have done.
   17. DL from MN Posted: March 20, 2006 at 05:20 PM (#1908473)
What were the rules for getting caught doctoring a baseball in Ford's time and the appropriate punishments? I don't think you can do more than fairly enforce the rules that were in place (there is significant evidence Ford was allowed to evade punishment where others were not) and dock him the appropriate number of starts. Giving Ford a 10 game suspension every year knocks off 2 starts.

Personally? I'm not giving him Korean war credit as his punishment for cheating.
   18. andrew siegel Posted: March 20, 2006 at 05:23 PM (#1908480)
It overstates reality slightly but I think our best assumption might simply be that just about every player throughout history has done whatever he thought he could get away with to improve his performance and leave it at that. It's hard to penalize Barry Bonds for taking steroids (if he did), when, given their personalities, Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth might well have done the same thing if they were available. If you made a list of every way in which Cobb "cheated," it would spill over onto a second page.
   19. sunnyday2 Posted: March 20, 2006 at 06:08 PM (#1908586)
Joe Jackson is in the HoM. Nuff sed.
   20. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 20, 2006 at 06:14 PM (#1908603)
Actually, I think the situations are quite different. Jackson's regular season performance was not improved in any way by laying down. Whereas the corkers, the scuffers, and the injectors are gaining an advantage, not a disadvantage.

Jackson's brand of cheating ought to carry the penalty of decreased performance (were it during the regular season), whereas Ford's creates an illusion not unlike a park factor.

If you mean that Ford shouldn't be disqualified from election, I completely agree; I'm just trying to figure out how we go about deflating scuff- or drug- enhanced performance so that we can fairly rank a guy.
   21. DavidFoss Posted: March 20, 2006 at 06:15 PM (#1908605)
I can't believe that Whitey was the first guy to doctor a baseball since the grandfathered guys. Why is this coming up now?

Are we going to need a 'cheaters' thread?
   22. Michael Bass Posted: March 20, 2006 at 06:38 PM (#1908648)
For the record...

Until they take the wins off the board that a cheater helped earn, the cheaters get no deduction from me.

(This is as opposed to Joe Jackson who got no credit for 1919 from me because of his trashing the value of the season in the Series)
   23. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 20, 2006 at 06:39 PM (#1908654)
It's coming up now because Ford is the most famous self-admitted cheater between Jackson and Perry. And because of the times we're in now where the word cheater is being used everyday in discussion of certain players.

The HOM currently has no position on the matter of performance enhancement of any sort, only on throwing games. I'm trying to figure out where we stand AND where I stand.
   24. DavidFoss Posted: March 20, 2006 at 07:24 PM (#1908735)
The HOM currently has no position on the matter of performance enhancement of any sort, only on throwing games. I'm trying to figure out where we stand AND where I stand.

Well then, we should probably have a thread then and some words from the commish as well.
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 07:38 PM (#1908758)
Are we going to need a 'cheaters' thread?

No. I hate that show. :-)

Seriously, I'll bring it up with Joe.
   26. sunnyday2 Posted: March 20, 2006 at 07:55 PM (#1908797)
Well, apparently we have a cheaters thread.

It's called "Whitey Ford."
   27. Daryn Posted: March 20, 2006 at 08:14 PM (#1908836)
I don't dock cheaters, FWIW. The game has penalties for cheating and if you are caught you get those penalties. (5 games for scuffing, 10 days for steroids, whatever). MLB has decided those are the penalties and that is fine with me. I won't one-year boycott them either.
   28. Jim Sp Posted: March 20, 2006 at 10:13 PM (#1908877)
The HOM currently has no position on the matter of performance enhancement of any sort, only on throwing games.

What? You can throw a World Series but if you scuff a baseball, that keeps you out of the HoM?

Y'all are crazy. It's the Hall of Merit, the pennants Whitey Ford won by scuffing the ball are real pennants. You can leave him off the ballot for one year, after that you have to vote based on his accomplishments, otherwise your ballot gets thrown out. Am I missing something here?

By the way, with war credit I see Ford as #1 in 1973.
   29. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 20, 2006 at 10:23 PM (#1908898)
Daryn,

I've been with you on this point from day one until yesterday. Then I started thinking about this question: based on the information in SI article excerpted from Game of Shadows (or whatever it's called), would I still rank Barry Bonds ahead of Ted Williams and Stan Musial?

I futzed around with some projections of what he might have done these past seven years sans steroids, and I came up with him being a little behind Musial because his three 49+ WS years from 1999-2005 had to be deflated a bit. So what, because he's still an obvious homer. But Rafael Palmeiro might not be, and not only does he have a positive test, he's got fingered in Canseco's book for doing them earlier in his career. Now I get that it's not proof he did it, but if I'm choosing between Tony Perez and Raffy Palmeiro as the last guy at first base that I think should be HOMed, should that information help me in my decision? Or how should it?

How about Mark McGwire? McGwire's awkward testimony and Canseco's allegations strongly suggest he used steroids. So do photographs (which is true of Bonds too). McGwire ranks 17th among my 1Bs, very close to the in/out line. If all his big years after 1994 are steroid years, and has to be deflated, it probably pushes him back over my in/out line.

Gaylord Perry, though never caught, publicly admits cheating for his whole career. He made a spectacle of it, an "open secret." Perry's a good pitcher and safely on the HOM side of things, but if I'm choosing between he and Bert Blyleven (hypothetically) for my first or second slot on the ballot, which do I choose? Don Sutton and Tommy John is the same conundrum.

I know I'm creating a tempest in a teapot. Basically I'm searching for instruction or rationale. I think the whole Barry Bonds thing has me all scattered because up til now I've been able to say that it was fine if he did steroids because there wasn't MLB-approved proof. But I never really considered it in terms of his rank among LFs and how that kind of public information could effect my balloting.
   30. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 10:24 PM (#1908902)
I don't dock cheaters, FWIW. The game has penalties for cheating and if you are caught you get those penalties. (5 games for scuffing, 10 days for steroids, whatever). MLB has decided those are the penalties and that is fine with me. I won't one-year boycott them either.

That's also my position, though I'm far more against steroid use than the spitball or any of the other trick deliveries and I'm glad they are clamping down on it, especially for health reasons.

I will say that I will understand totally anybody giving a one-year boycott to Ford, Perry, McGwire, etc. I may choose to do so somewhere down the line on a case-by-case basis.
   31. sunnyday2 Posted: March 20, 2006 at 10:40 PM (#1908923)
Doc,

All the folks you mention (ok not Gaylord but Bonds and Mac and Raffy), we've got awhile. The dust may have settled.

I just don't feel compelled to make a rule for Whitey Ford so I know how to handle these other guys later on.

Let it simmer.
   32. Michael Bass Posted: March 20, 2006 at 10:51 PM (#1908940)
To be fair to Doc, why not though? If someone feels spitballs and steroids are equivalent on the cheating scale (another discussion; I do feel compelled to point out steroids weren't technically against the rules until the last couple years), wouldn't it be inappropriate to ignore it for Ford because it's too early and hammer Perry and Palmeiro because you've come to a different conclusion when they're up?

If we're going to have an illegal spit/scuffball discussion, now is the time to do it. Waiting for Perry is the wrong way to go about it. As for me, I've already made up my mind to not dock for any of it, but for those who haven't settled on what they want to do, it's the appropriate moment.
   33. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 20, 2006 at 11:06 PM (#1908958)
If someone feels spitballs and steroids are equivalent on the cheating scale wouldn't it be inappropriate to ignore it for Ford... it's too early and hammer Perry and Palmeiro because you've come to a different conclusion when they're up?

Michael that's exactly what I'm trying to say but in so many fewer words and with much less hot air. Thanks!
   34. KJOK Posted: March 20, 2006 at 11:29 PM (#1908992)
LOTS of pichers from the 1920s - 1960s threw illegal spitballs, emery balls, vaseline balls, cut balls, etc. It was an accepted practice, even if against the rules, which is why Gaylord Perry was able to pitch without any suspensions or bannings, even though EVERYONE KNEW he threw a spitball.

George Brett admits to using pine tar too far up on the handle all the time prior to the Pine Tar Bat incident. It's against the rules supposedly due to some benefit it gives the hitter, and since that's against the rules, are we going to not vote for George Brett?

I don't see singling Ford out just because he ADMITTED to doctoring the ball.
   35. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2006 at 11:36 PM (#1908998)
I do feel compelled to point out steroids weren't technically against the rules until the last couple years),

True, but there's no rule against killing your opponent either since murder, like steroids, is also illegal. ;-)
   36. Michael Bass Posted: March 20, 2006 at 11:43 PM (#1909005)
This is careening off topic but...

Sure there are rules against that. There are rules against fighting and throwing at people's heads and I'm quite sure any form on violence against another player.

Meanwhile, if Barry Bonds comes out tomorrow and said he took the entire West Coast supply of steroids in 1999, there is *zero* baseball can legally do to him. They could (and probably would) try, but any direct punishment of him in the way of fines/suspensions would be overturned in a cakewalk (the old * in the record book, etc. are a different story). On the other hand, if Barry Bonds takes a bat to Jeff Kent's head next time they cross paths on the field, I think it's safe to say a hefty suspension would be headed his way.
   37. Daryn Posted: March 20, 2006 at 11:46 PM (#1909010)
I do feel compelled to point out steroids weren't technically against the rules until the last couple years

This isn't correct. Steroids became against the rules of baseball in the early 90s, just like spitballs were prohibited decades earlier. It wasn't until the past couple of years that a specific penalty was introduced for the use of steroids. That doesn't mean a penalty could not have been implemented prior to 2005.

All that said, from a game point of view, to me it is irrelevant that Bonds would have been a worse hitter without steroids. He took them and he knew what the penalties were (basically non-existent). The penalties did not include a retroactive annulation of his statistics or accomplishments. Bonds accomplished what he accomplished. IMO, he is not only no different than Perry, he is no different than Williams or Ruth (assuming they never cheated).

Offensive linemen breach the rules of the game every game and often get caught several times a game breaching those rules. They still make the Hall.

Gordie Howe was the biggest rulebreaker in hockey lore. He still made the Hall.

Is no steroids a different rule in kind than anti-spitballing/hooking/holding rules? I don't think so. Intelligent minds will disagree.

It will be interesting to see what Joe/John does when people take the opposite view to mine. I'm not sure it is inconsistent with this project to do the MLEs Doc does above for the non-steroid Bonds. It is levelling the playing field in the same way war credit and NeL hypothetical MLEs are. I won't be doing it, but I wouldn't be appalled if others do.
   38. Chris Cobb Posted: March 21, 2006 at 12:27 AM (#1909040)
At the present time, it's my belief that for the most part, we shouldn't get into issues of the rules and cheating. As was said above, it's MLB's business to enforce the rules and set penalties for infringing them. Our concern is how much players contributed to their teams' success.

I will, however, point out that there may be a distinction between doctoring the baseball with external substances and doctoring one's body with "performance-enhancing drugs." I think we should start analyzing Whitey Ford's numbers and stop worrying about when he started throwing a mud ball, but I think we will have to have a conversation about steroids when we reach the mid-1990s.

Here's why.

Doctoring the baseball has been an available method of cheating throughout baseball history, with established though changing rules, rituals, and mechanisms of enforcement. We are comparing pitchers who could legally scuff, moisten, or deface the baseball to pitchers who could do the same thing legally but their opponents couldn't to pitchers who broke the rules by doing the same thing. I think the only reasonable way to deal with all of these cases is to say that "there were rules" and not worry about how they changed or how exactly they were followed at any given time. Moreover, there is considerable evidence to indicate that the attitude towards doctoring the baseball when it has been ruled to be cheating has historically been that any pitcher _could try_ to do it, but only a _smart_ pitcher could do it and (1) use the illegal pitch effectively and (2) not get caught. Even though opponents and umpires try to stop this cheating, it has its own kind of recognition as a distinctive skill, not unlike the arts of not wasting time touching second base when turning the double play or learning how to apply tags so that it looks like you touched the player when actually you didn't. I can't see penalizing Ford or Perry when comparing them either to their contemporaries or to pitchers from other eras.

Doctoring one's body with performance-enhancing drugs, on the other hand, has not been an available method of cheating throughout baseball history, nor does using performance-enhancing drugs require a player to develop a distinctive skill, nor there is anything that opponents can do, in the context of play on the baseball field, to detect or stop this kind of cheating. It therefore raises more serious questions about cross-period comparisons or of comparisons of players who used steroids to their contemporaries who did not.

Fortunately, we don't have to compare Bonds to Musial in our project, and as far as Bonds as HoMer is concerned, the steroid issue is irrelevant. But Dr. Chaleeko does raise legitimate questions about comparing Palmeiro to Perez, and I think we will need to talk through those issues eventually. But I think we ought to leave Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton out of that conversation. The two types of rules infringements are so different that talking about them together muddies the issues more than it clarifies them.
   39. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 21, 2006 at 12:34 AM (#1909049)
I have set up a thread for discussing this instead of here. You'll find it in Hot Topics.
   40. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: March 21, 2006 at 01:20 AM (#1909102)
Gaylord Perry, though never caught

He was caught. Happened near the end of his career. He became the first pitcher in 40 years busted for throwing a spitball. IIRC, it had vaseline on it, and the official reason for his ejection was that he had possession of a ball with vaseline on it -- technically they couldn't prove he applied it.

(checks baseballlibrary.com:

August 23, 1982: Seattle pitcher Gaylord Perry is ejected in the 7th inning of a 4–3 loss to the Red Sox for doctoring the baseball. It is the first time in his 20 ML seasons that the self-proclaimed spitball king has been bounced for that offense.

Retrosheet's account of the game. Came a few months after win #300.


Then Rick Honeycutt and his thumbtack got caught.

And who could forget Joe Niekro's nailfile?
   41. OCF Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:20 PM (#1910499)
To get back to Whitey Ford - could someone who had done the Retrosheet digging post in detail the number of games (or, better yet, the number of innings) pitched by Ford against each opposing team for some of his key years?

This came up in the Wes Ferrell discussion, and I figured out a way to deal with it within my system. (The issue for me is not the overall quality or W-L records of the opposing teams but the offenses of those teams.) In Ferrell's case, the difference turned out to be miniscule, measured in tenths of games - but maybe it's a bigger effect with Ford. (Or maybe not, but it would be nice to know.)
   42. jimd Posted: March 21, 2006 at 08:23 PM (#1910960)
A couple of other points about Ford:

1.)ERA+

As we know, it's a flawed statistic, only partially compensating for the fielders by removing the impact of their errors, but not of their range. For most long career pitchers, things tend to even out some as the pitcher pitches in front of many defenses, good and bad. However, Ford is an exception, like Lefty Gomez before him. Ford did not pitch in front of a sub-par defense until 1965, his last year as a regular.

His career NRA (Normalized Runs Allowed) is 3.61 (NRA+ of 125). His career Defense-Adjusted ERA is 3.79 (DERA+ of 119). This shows the same pattern as Lefty Gomez (3.78 NRA and 3.94 DERA), but at a higher level of overall quality. (He's a better pitcher than Goofy, but his record contains similar illusions.) Using unadjusted ERA+ to assess Whitey Ford is like forgetting to adjust for Yankee Stadium.

2) "Pitching in a pinch."

According to BP, Ford's record shows that he yielded 134 less runs than one would expect given his pitching line. This is a very large number, larger than Mathewson (-55), larger than Griffith (-54), and better than Welch (-155) on a per-inning basis (Mickey has over 50% more IP).

If any pitcher in MLB history possessed a demonstrated ability to bear down and get out of a jam, it was Whitey Ford.
   43. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 21, 2006 at 08:36 PM (#1910990)
1.)ERA+

As we know, it's a flawed statistic, only partially compensating for the fielders by removing the impact of their errors, but not of their range. For most long career pitchers, things tend to even out some as the pitcher pitches in front of many defenses, good and bad. However, Ford is an exception, like Lefty Gomez before him. Ford did not pitch in front of a sub-par defense until 1965, his last year as a regular.


Thanks for the reminder, Jim. After factoring in that, I will have Ford at #5 on my next ballot (instead of my earlier stated posting of #4).
   44. DL from MN Posted: March 21, 2006 at 09:16 PM (#1911063)
> If any pitcher in MLB history possessed a demonstrated ability to
> bear down and get out of a jam, it was Whitey Ford.

I wonder if his thoughts were "The regular stuff isn't working this inning, time to start scuffing". Time to bear down = time to cheat.

Alternately his team's above average defense could have played even better when necessary. That should show up in his teammates as well though.
   45. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 21, 2006 at 11:05 PM (#1911360)
That actually might be verifiable in some fashion since the quotes and excerpts above say he started in 1963, all you'd have to do is line up the years he saved those runs and see if they match.
   46. jimd Posted: March 22, 2006 at 12:31 AM (#1911453)
say he started in 1963, all you'd have to do is line up the years he saved those runs and see if they match

Runs IP Years
-39 783.3 1950-55
-43 778.3 1956-59
-17 733.3 1960-62
-35 875.3 1963-67
-----------------
-134 3170.3 1950-67

The Runs Minus Component Runs, they're distributed fairly evenly throughout his career.
   47. Paul Wendt Posted: March 22, 2006 at 09:46 PM (#1912582)
2) "Pitching in a pinch."

According to BP, Ford's record shows that he yielded 134 less runs than one would expect given his pitching line. This is a very large number, larger than Mathewson (-55), larger than Griffith (-54), and better than Welch (-155) on a per-inning basis (Mickey has over 50% more IP).

If any pitcher in MLB history possessed a demonstrated ability to bear down and get out of a jam, it was Whitey Ford.


Was his team defense historically great?

I recall that point made here regarding only Mordecai Brown, although I may have skipped any Gomez debates.

Much (how much?) of that -134 may be historically great defense in disguise.


Say, has Dave McNally enjoyed historically great defense or what? Bobby Grich is no Mark Belanger, but he's another good one. Should they move him to third? Brooks is about done. On the other hand, can they afford Belanger's bat?
   48. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 22, 2006 at 10:11 PM (#1912613)
Bobby Grich did start out at short. Of course he did alright for himself at second.... Too bad he didn't know how to lift with his knees! (In all seriousness, if you look at his FWS/1000, they plummetted after his back injury, taking him from way better than every 2B in the league to mere mortal overnight.)

If it were 1922, the St Louis nine probably would have moved him to 3B rather than second! And he'd be just as screwed by the HOF.
   49. jimd Posted: March 22, 2006 at 10:32 PM (#1912666)
According to BP, Ford's record shows that he yielded 134 less runs than one would expect given his pitching line.

IIRC, this is based on an analysis using a stat similar to James' Component ERA. It means that Ford was able to distribute his opponent's run-producing elements in such a way that the amount of runs actually surrendered was about 11% less than expected.

The team scores in the early 1950's are generally good, indicating either an influence from team-defense or a staff characteristic. This does not hold true in the late 1950's and early 1960's; the team becomes average while Ford continues to demonstrate good numbers in this regard. I'm sure there's a lot of luck involved in individual season scores; it's quite possible that Ford is just the lucky outlier for whom things did not even out (ditto Griffith and his extra wins).
   50. OCF Posted: March 23, 2006 at 12:41 AM (#1912823)
Was it the double plays? Weren't the Yankees of this era unusally good at turning double plays on their opponents? (As well as being good at avoiding double plays themselves?)
   51. DavidFoss Posted: March 23, 2006 at 12:48 AM (#1912830)
Was it the double plays? Weren't the Yankees of this era unusally good at turning double plays on their opponents? (As well as being good at avoiding double plays themselves?)

Yeah, this comes up when Bill James looked at McDougald. He noted that the Yankees would be tops in DP's wherever they put McDougald. Part of this was the fact that Stengel didn't worry about pitcher control much. Yankee pitchers walked a lot of batters considering their effectiveness.

Also, being a lefty, Ford more suited for Yankee Stadium than his righty teammates were. I don't know if this would show up in the CERA-like numbers. It should have lowered his HR numbers. (Being the right guy for the right park is a value we've allowed a player to have here, so it wouldn't be something to discount him for.)
   52. TomH Posted: March 23, 2006 at 03:56 PM (#1913521)
Does anyone have home/road (ERA and/or ERA+) splits for Ford? It seems natural that a LH pitcher would be able to take more advantage than normal from Yankee stadium, but I'd like to see the data.
   53. DavidFoss Posted: March 23, 2006 at 05:04 PM (#1913632)
Does anyone have home/road (ERA and/or ERA+) splits for Ford? It seems natural that a LH pitcher would be able to take more advantage than normal from Yankee stadium, but I'd like to see the data.

Retrosheet has full regular season splits starting in 1959 and full WS splits.

His regular season splits for 1959-67 are 2.70H/3.04R which seems reasonable considering Yankee stadium was a pitchers park for all, but only contains two seasons in the Stengel era. He didn't pitch well in Fenway and the team was right to keep him out of there (I have even more appreciation for Grove's success there). I don't know how the CERA issue with that splits by home/road which was the point of this discussion. His WS splits are more severe (1.77/4.10). He was chased early in two Ebbets starts and had a bad start in Sportmans in 1964.
   54. TomH Posted: March 23, 2006 at 05:19 PM (#1913659)
Yankee Stadium had an avg park factor in that time of about 96 - so, one would expect about an 8% decrease in runs scored home vs road, AND since pitchers allow about 9% fewer runs at home vs road anyway (home field advantage), the data show Whitey with no special park advantage at all. I'm a bit surprised.
   55. Scoriano Flitcraft Posted: March 23, 2006 at 05:30 PM (#1913678)
Many, many starters probably cheated. The really good hurlers are more likely to have had anecdotes memorializing it available to us to discuss.
   56. OCF Posted: March 24, 2006 at 07:32 PM (#1916253)
How much does Whitey Ford's case for the HoM resemble Three-Finger Brown's case? A really famous guy, well-known as a winner. Of course, Brown was not Mathewson or Johnson; similarly, Ford was not Spahn or Roberts - but then, that's not the minimum standard. In both cases the reputation as a winner stems in large part from the offensive and defensive support that comes from pitching for a great team. Both were spotted in unsual and possibly leverage-enhancing ways - Brown as a relief pitcher, Ford by having his starts rearranged to face certain teams. (And for each, some of what I said about the other.)

Our hardest task is to disentangle the pitcher from the team. Back in the day, I was not much of a supporter of Brown (neither was Chris Cobb). He was elected easily anyway, and I wouldn't point to that as a mistake.

I say this not having yet done my usual workup for Ford, so I don't know where he rates. I'll be particularly interested in comparisons to Pierce.
   57. jimd Posted: March 24, 2006 at 09:00 PM (#1916408)
Nice point OCF. Actually, I see three pitchers in this grouping.

--IP-- -TrIP- DERA
3172.3 2634.3 3.82 Three-Finger Brown
3170.3 3327.0 3.79 Whitey Ford
4495.7 3677.7 3.77 Eddie Plank

Ford and Brown have almost identical IP, which is a large advantage for Whitey when you compare typical pitching loads for the 1950's with the 1900's. (See the Koufax vs Joss arguments.) Plank starts out with a 40% advantage in IP, but BP's translation reduces that to about 10%. IOW, Ford is closer to Plank than Brown in terms of workload/durability. Pitching quality (after fielding-adjustments) finds all 3 to be comparable, Plank a little better than Ford, in turn a little better than Brown.

OTOH, Brown beats the other two hands-down in peak value, combining his best ERA+ with IP, something that Whitey did not do. Pierce appears to be unlike these three in overall quality; his argument is more of a peak argument, ignoring the filler seasons.

I wasn't a big fan of either Brown or Plank, so Ford won't be getting an elect-me spot on my ballot, but he will be on my ballot. The voters who heartily endorsed the other two should give Ford a close look.
   58. OCF Posted: March 25, 2006 at 08:43 AM (#1917555)
Finally did the RA+ equivalent record for Ford. Like Koufax, he's a pitcher with a very high number of innings per decision: 9.27. Hence my system will assign him more decisions than he actually had.

I get an equivalent record of 218-134. This certainly puts him ahead of Pierce (218-150), although Ford and Pierce are equal in terms of the "big years bonus" I give. Taken at face value, that also gives Ford more equivalent FWP than McGinnity (227-155), Coveleski (209-134), Faber (255-199), Vance (201-129), Newhouser (202-131), Griffith (216-160) and of course, Koufax (163-95).

I'm reluctant to take it at face value. I see two adjustment that ought to be made, in oppsite directions. He should be adjusted downward becuase he benefitted from a superior defense; he should be adjusted upward to reflect being preferentially spotted against better teams. My gut instinct is the former adjustment is probably larger than the latter, and he should move downward. But I'll still have him ahead of Pierce, and I like Pierce.
   59. Kelly in SD Posted: March 25, 2006 at 10:44 AM (#1917600)
I finally finished compiling the Whitey Ford stuff. I included some more information as well. I'll leave it to the readers to decide what is important. Any addition errors are mine. All information is courtesy of Retrosheet.

How Casey Stengal distributed Whitey Ford’s starts, 1950, 1953 to 1960.
This chart is year-by-year number of starts against teams by finish position and against top 2 competitors for the Yankees.
Year  1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th  Tot   Top 2 
1950  NY   1   0   1   3   3   2   2   12    1
1953  NY   8   5   3   4   1   4   5   30    13
1954   7  NY   6   4   2   5   3   1   28    13
1955  NY   4   6   3   4   5   6   5   33    10
1956  NY   3   8   5   4   4   3   3   30    11
1957  NY   5   3   0   4   2   1   4   17     8
1958  NY   6   1   6   1   4   5   6   29     7 
(Cle finished 4th by 1.5 g behind Bos)
1959   5   3  NY   5   3   6   4   3   29     8
1960  NY   7   5   5   6   4   0   2   29    12 


If Ford was used an average amount against each team, then the number of starts against the top 2 teams would be as follows:
Year Predicted Actual  Dif
1950  3.4    1          
2.4
1953  8.6   13          
4.4
1954  8.0   13          
5.0
1955  9.4   10          
0.6
1956  8.6   11          
2.4
1957  4.9   08          
3.1
1958  8.3   07          
1.3  (If use Cle instead of Bosthen use 12 and + 3.7)
1959  8.3   08          0.3   
1960  8.3   12          
3.7 


Chicago and Cleveland were the Yankees’ top two rivals every year. After Ford’s rookie year, Ford was used more often against them than you would expect if Stengal did not spot Ford against the top teams. The only exceptions were the disaster year of 1959 and in 1958 when the Red Sox, Indians, and Tigers finished within 2 games of each other. To me, the above is solid evidence that proves the anecdotal stories.

How did Ford do against the top 2 teams?
1950: 1 – 0
1953: 4 – 3 (1 ND) / 5 – 0. Total: 9 – 3 with 1 ND
1954: 3 – 3 (1 ND) / 4 – 2. 7 – 5 with 1 ND
1955: 1 – 2 (1 ND) / 2 – 3 (1 ND). 3 – 5 with 2 ND
1956: 1 – 1 (1 ND) / 6 – 2. 7 – 3 with 1 ND
1957: 1 – 2 (2 ND) / 1 – 1 (1 ND). 2 – 3 with 3 ND
1958: 3 – 3 / 1 – 0. 4 – 3
1959: 1 – 3 (1 tie) / 1 – 1 (1 ND). 2 – 4 (1 tie) with 1 ND
1960: 5 – 2 / 0 – 4 (1 ND). 5 – 6 with 1 ND
Total: 40 – 32 with 10 ND.

While I was figuring this, I noticed the Yankees did fantasticly after Ford left the game.
In 1950, Ford went 9 – 0 in his 12 starts with 3 no-decisions. Yankees were 3 – 0 in the ND.
In 1953, Ford went 18 – 6 in his 30 starts with 6 no-decisions. Yankees were 4 – 2 in the ND.
In 1954, Ford went 14 – 8 in his 28 starts with 6 no-decisions (and 2 wins in relief). Yankees were 2 – 4 in the ND.
In 1955, Ford went 18 – 7 in his 33 starts with 8 no-decisions. Yankees went 6 – 2 in the ND.
In 1956, Ford went 19 – 6 in his 30 starts with 5 no-decisions. Yankees went 4 – 1 in the ND.
In 1957, Ford went 8 – 5 in his 17 starts with 4 no-decisions (and 3 wins in relief). Yankees went 4 – 0 in the ND.
In 1958, Ford went 14 – 7 in his 29 starts with 7 no-decisions. Yankees went 2 – 6 in the ND.
In 1959, Ford went 14 – 10 in his 29 starts with 4 no-decisions (and a tie and 2 wins in relief). Yankees went 4 – 0 in the ND.
In 1960, Ford went 12 – 9 in his 29 starts with 8 no-decisions. Yankees went 7 – 1 in the ND.

Ford went 126 – 58, .685 in his starts when he got a decision and the Yankees were 36 – 16, .692 when he had a No Decision.

What about the Ford / Arroyo tandem in 1961?
Arroyo had a win after pitching 2 innings in a 10 inning game where Ford pitched the first 6.1 innings – 4 - 26.
Arroyo had a save – 4/30
Arroyo blows a save. Comes in w/ bases loaded and no outs in 8th. Allows all the runners to score and then a fourth run to get the loss – 5/9.
Save – 5/25
Save – 6/6
Save despite coming into a game up 10-5 and pitching only 2 innings – 6/14.
Save despite coming into a game up 9 – 0 and pitching only 1 inning – 6/18.
Save despite coming into a game up 8 – 2 and pitching 2 innings – 6/22.
Save – 6/26
Save – 7/8
Win in relief – 7/21
Save despite coming into a game up 4 – 0 and pitching 2 innings and giving up a run – 7/25.
Save – 8/2
Save – 8/10
Save – 8/19
Save – 8/27
Win in relief – 9/1
Save – 9/23
10 real saves, 4 others that I don’t think would be saves now, 1 blown save, and 2 wins in relief. That anecdotal story is true, also, I would say.

Just for information’s sake, Ford’s record against various pitchers through 1965.

Pierce: 6 – 8 / 1 ND
Trucks: 2 – 2
Peters: 5 - 0
Wynn: 5 – 4 / 3 ND
Lemon: 4 – 3 / 1 ND
Feller: 1 ND
Garcia: 0 – 2 / 1 ND
Score: 1 - 2
Newhouser: 1 - 0
Bunning: 1 – 0 / 1 ND
Trout: 1 – 0
Lolich: 2 – 2 / 1 ND
McLain: 1 – 0 / 1 ND
Wilhelm: 3 - 1
Pappas: 2 – 3 / 1 ND
Roberts: 0 – 2 / 1 ND
McNally: 2 - 0
Shantz: 1 – 1 / 1 ND
Jim Perry: 1 - 1
Kaat: 2 – 1 / 2 ND
Chance: 2 – 0 / 3 ND
Tiant: 0 – 1 / 1 ND
Tommy John: 2 - 0

He also faced Hank Aguirre, Don Mossi, Mudcat Grant, and Steve Barber often.
   60. Paul Wendt Posted: March 25, 2006 at 03:21 PM (#1917673)
About the time Early Wynn became eligible, I presented pitcher rank in league by win shares, for the 1950s, in a convenient row format. I might extend that. To that end, I have looked at 1961 and noted that Luis Arroyo, not Whitey Ford, is the Win Shares Cy Young.

<u>Pitcher rank by win shares, Whitey Ford 1950-1967</u>
rankNY 5 - - 1 1 1 1 5 1 1; 1 2 2 1 1 2 9 7
rankAL _ _ _ 8 7 2 5 - 4 8; - 2 7 3 2 - - -

The semicolon ends the 1950s. That is rank ignoring ties; there are several ties including all three league seconds.
1955, tie Frank Sullivan behind Billy Pierce
1961, tie Frank Lary behind Luis Arroyo
1964, tie Dick Radatz behind Dean Chance

Unless I missed something, his career high is 24 win shares in 1964
   61. Paul Wendt Posted: March 25, 2006 at 03:24 PM (#1917675)
Although 1964 is his career high Win Shares, he misses the WS Cy Young by one in 1955 and 1961, by eight in 1964.
   62. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: March 25, 2006 at 05:11 PM (#1917722)
Kelly, great stuff.

Re: BoX & Cle in 1958.

Looking at it, I was initially prepared to say we should give Ford the benefit of the doubt and assign Cleveland the role of the real main rival, because they'd been such a more dominant team that decade and a 1 1/2 game difference is so minor. My hunch was that BoX came along and creeped up on them at the end of the year, and possibly/likely trailed Cle all year long. So I went to retrosheet to confirm it - BUT the exact opposite was true.

Cleveland got off to a lousy start and Boston, after a horrible April, got off to a really good start. Their records at the conclusion of every month:

April:
NYY 9-4 (1st place)
CLE 7-7 (5th place)
Box 4-10 (7th place)

May:
NYY 16-10 (1st place)
CLE 21-22 (3rd place)
BOX 20-22 (5th place)

June:
NYY 43-23 (1st place)
BOX 35-34 (3rd place)
CLE 34-38 (6th place)

July:
NYY 65-34 (1st place)
BOX 49-48 (2nd place)
CLE 48-52 (5th place)

August:
NYY 80-50 (1st place)
BOX 66-61 (3rd place)
CLE 62-68 (6th place)

September:
NYY 92-62 (1st place)
BOX 79-75 (3rd place)
CLE 77-76 (4th place)

Two things: First, in response to the initial querey, the Red Sox were the real rival that year. Cleveland fell into 5th place on June 3, and spent the next two months bouncing between 4th and 5th place, and occassionally 3rd and 6th. Ford only had one start against the Tribe prior to June 7, so he kept facing off against them after they'd been put away.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, the Yanks really had no rivals that year. The AL was extremely solid top-to-bottom (well, nex-to-bottom, as the Senators sucked). Incredibly, the 7th place A's were closer to the 2nd place White Sox than the Yankees were. On July 31, as noted above, the Indians were in 6th place, but on August 2 they were in sole possession of second place. Tight pack. The Yankees meanwhile, were ahead by 17 games (!!) on August 2. In that sort of environment, staggered starts against the main competition isn't worth as much as it would normally be. There just wasn't enough difference between the 2nd and 7th place clubs to make it that important, and the Yanks towered over the rest of the league by such an insane margin that it truly made little difference. Actually, looking at the standings a little closer on August 2, the last place club (Senators) was almost 3 times closer to 2nd place than 2nd place was to the Yanks (17 games between 1 & 2, 6.5 between 2 & 8). Impressive.

The Yanks won the pennant by 10 games despite going 21-26 down the stretch. That's what they calling putting it in cruise control.

Makes me appreciate the '58 Yanks a bit more. For the first 100 games, they absolutely dominated one of the most solid leagues in baseball history.

For their first 108 games they averaged 5.08 RS/G and 3.33 RA/G. The last 47 they scored 4.60 R/G and allowed 4.61 R/G. Their pitching crapped out. Overuse? Well, in 1959 they got off to a lousy start (continuing right were the left off in '58). They were 3rd in the league in RA/G in '59, but they also had the best pitcher's park in the league that year. Adjust for their 94 Pitcher Park Factor, and were actually below average, with an adjusted total of 4.44 RA/G in a league which averaged 4.36. That's good for the title of 5th best staff in the league that year, barely eding out the Senators (4.50), and Tigers (4.53).

Casey blew out the arms on that '58 staff. Looking at it, Kyle Turley's the most obvious example of a guy who fell apart. He won his 17th game of the year on Augus 5, but only won 4 more over the last third of the way, and wasn't that good in '59. After win #17, opponents averaged 5.11 runs a game when Turley started. He won only one game in September and teams scored at least 5 runs in four of his last five starts. Yet he won two games in October, just three days apart, and both coming after the Yanks had dropped 3 games to the Braves. The first was a shutout where he K'd 10 and defeated '57 Series hero Burdette, and the other was him pitching over 6 innings of relief for a subpar Don Larsen in Game 7. How could he do so good in the Fall Classic when he'd stumbled to the finish? Well, his last regular season start came on September 23 - Game 5 was 13 days later. Barring any relief work in the late regular season (he only had 2 relief appearances all year), his only time pitching came in Game 2 where Stengal yanked him after facing 5 batters. He'd had time to rest, and still had enough gas in the tank for the finale.

I'd say the Yanks got a little lucky in Game 7. He'd been pitching pretty poorly for months, yet the only non-inherited runner to make it to second base on him in the last 7 innings were Covington, when he homered, and Eddie Mathews, who made it there with 2 outs in the ninth and the Yanks up by 4. Clutch pitching from an unlikely source.

Sorry about getting a little away from Whitey Ford there, but it sure was fun to look up.
   63. DavidFoss Posted: March 25, 2006 at 07:15 PM (#1917856)
My hunch was that BoX came along and creeped up on them at the end of the year, and possibly/likely trailed Cle all year long. So I went to retrosheet to confirm it - BUT the exact opposite was true.

Ford's 1959-67 splits in Fenway are fairly brutal (ERA ~6.00). The Yankees were right to keep him out of there and a bit lucky that the Sox were not the main rival for much of Ford's career.
   64. Howie Menckel Posted: March 25, 2006 at 08:32 PM (#1917917)
(nitpick alert)
That's BOB Turley.
Interesting stuff, (outoforder).
   65. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: March 27, 2006 at 04:59 PM (#1920870)
OCF suggested above that there are two adjustment elements to Ford
-Quality of his team
-Usage against the better teams.

I'd also suggest one other aspect to consider. As a control lefty, Ford may have benefitted more than other pitchers by Yankee Stadium's Death Valley. It gave him the reverse effect of Fenway Park but more frequently. This would be especially true for anyone looking at ERA+ which is not sensitive to handedness splits as far as I'm aware.
   66. DavidFoss Posted: March 27, 2006 at 05:18 PM (#1920904)
I'd also suggest one other aspect to consider. As a control lefty, Ford may have benefitted more than other pitchers by Yankee Stadium's Death Valley. It gave him the reverse effect of Fenway Park but more frequently. This would be especially true for anyone looking at ERA+ which is not sensitive to handedness splits as far as I'm aware.

While this is true, anyone able to take special advantage of their home park (not included in PF's) does help their team. Being the right guy in the right park (or the wrong guy in the wrong park is an advantage (or disadvantage) that we let players have. The park factors just determine the context and from there we can measure. I don't think we should theorize as to how a player would do if he played in a symmetric stadium with average elevation, foul territory and fence distances.

That said, Ford's home/road splits aren't really that strong (at least for 59-67) so it might all be moot anyways.
   67. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 27, 2006 at 05:25 PM (#1920912)
While this is true, anyone able to take special advantage of their home park (not included in PF's) does help their team.

Did anybody boost Koufax for his years at the Coliseum? I admit that I was greatly tempted.

BTW, one of the great things that Bill James pointed out years ago about Sandy was that he was a good-to-great pitcher before his "breakout" year in '62, judging by his away stats. He may have still have improved upon his ability in '62, but it has been vastly overstated due to park and league effects.
   68. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: March 27, 2006 at 07:23 PM (#1921107)
I agree that being able to take advantage of one's home park is a skill that we shoudl let a player have. However, when trying to do projections or looking at trades and FA then that skill should be taken into account and neutralized. I guess that is the difference between assessing how much value a player gave his teams over his career (which is what WS does) and how well that player would player in your park next year.

For instance, I won't be taking anything away from Soriano for playing in Texas (aside from the usual discount) and wont' be adding anything when he starts to wear down playing in Washington. Same thing for Sean Casey and his great fit in Pittsburgh's home stadium. Doesnt' change their ability, but it does change their value.
   69. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 27, 2006 at 07:25 PM (#1921112)
Great post, Mark. I'm in total agreement with it.
   70. TomH Posted: March 27, 2006 at 07:27 PM (#1921117)
see posts 52 to 54 for Ford's home-road splits. Not much there.
   71. Howie Menckel Posted: March 28, 2006 at 03:03 AM (#1921907)
continuing the game:

162 IP minimum, listing all 100 ERA+ seasons:

WhiFord 176 70 56 43 40 29 28 23 21 19 17 15 05

BPierce 201 48 41 36 33 24 15 13 08 07 07 05 04 03

Roberts 152 41 36 36 35 27 23 23 22 21 07 06

SKoufax 190 87 61 60 43 24 02

Walters 168 52 46 40 27 23

BoLemon 144 39 36 34 33 13 12 08 03 01

EpRixey 144 43 42 39 36 29 24 15 15 13 10 09 09

BGrimes 152 44 38 36 31 23 08 08 08 03


WhiFord top 10 in IP: 1 1 2 4 6 8 10
BPierce top 10 in IP: 3 3 3 5 5 7
Roberts top 10 in IP: 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 4 5 5 7 9
SKoufax top 10 in IP: 1 1 3 4
Walters top 10 in IP: 1 1 1 4 6 6 8 8
BoLemon top 10 in IP: 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 10
EpRixey top 10 in IP: 1 3 3 3 4 7 8 8 9 9
BGrimes top 10 in IP: 1 1 1 3 3 4 7 9 9 9

I like Ford better than even Roberts in ERA+; Roberts finally beats him out thru sheer volume of IP per year.

Some secondary pluses and minuses for Ford, but overall this is one helluva resume.
   72. jimd Posted: March 28, 2006 at 04:12 AM (#1921988)
For the first 100 games, they absolutely dominated one of the most solid leagues in baseball history.

That's probably overstating things a tad. This is around the height of NL over AL domination. Another characterization of this season might be New York and the Seven Dwarves.

the Yanks really had no rivals that year

I think that sums it up. 2nd place was closer to last place than first place from May 14th to Aug 17th. Cleveland had gotten old, and Chicago had taken their place in 2nd in 1957. The GoGo White Sox weren't quite ready to go in '58, though the last two months they came from 18 back to 10 back to finish 2nd again. The .500 Boston team was not a real contender anyway (already 7 GB on 5/16 and would never get any closer), so Stengel spotted Whitey against the two pretenders he matched well against.
   73. Howie Menckel Posted: March 28, 2006 at 05:18 AM (#1922073)
This is still one year BEFORE the Red Sox break the color line, and only three years after the Yankees do.
Hard to picture as being a great league compared to an NL with Mays, Aaron, Banks, FRobinson, and friends.
   74. DavidFoss Posted: March 28, 2006 at 07:20 AM (#1922231)
The original poster was measuring league quality based on parity. The Senators slid badly in September, but before then the bottom seven of the league was surprisingly balanced. Paul Richards was rebulding in Baltimore and the A's hadn't traded all of their talent to the Yankees yet.

The 58 NL had even more balance than the 58 NL (with no september slide to ignore to get to that conclusion
   75. jimd Posted: April 18, 2006 at 01:03 AM (#1969933)
I think our best assumption might simply be that just about every player throughout history has done whatever he thought he could get away with to improve his performance and leave it at that.

Interesting note on steroids in the Gordon Edes column of the Boston Sunday Globe for 4/16/06 (quote):

[Roger] Abrams acknowledges he is not as agitated by the Bonds scandal as many. That may be due to research he is doing for his next book, in which he uncovered steroid abuse by a Hall of Famer -- in 1889. ''I have an article in the Washington Post from 1889 that shows Pud Galvin had a shot of testosterone -- a steroid," Abrams said, making no effort to suppress a chuckle. ''It's gone on forever, but no one really cared about it then."

HOMer Pud Galvin on steroids. Who'd have thunk it?
   76. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 18, 2006 at 01:11 AM (#1969972)
Nice find jim

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