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Friday, February 01, 2013

Don Malcolm: THE PAP MINI-FLAP

Malcolm on Bill James and PAP…and I don’t mean Pickton And Panzram.

Now it’s true that Bill (James) did reference a few key elements that were prominent in the Woolner construct—particularly the “square of pitches thrown,” an arbitrary construct to measure “stress” that could be replaced by several other approaches; and the notion that the most stressful pitches occur when a pitcher is tired, a notion that is mere common sense.

But he also suggested another fanciful concept (not as fanciful as the type of stuff we are known to traffic in, of course, but you can’t have everything). Namely: that starters should pitch every third game with pitch counts (80-90 per start) well below the levels championed by the original Prospectus chimps.

Bottom line: this proposal by Bill is so different from what was being bandied about in those early years of hysteria that it’s odd folks are trying to put it into that continuum.

Frankly, we love Bill’s idea and really wish that he could convince the Red Sox management to try it. It couldn’t be any worse than what’s befallen their starting staff over the past two seasons. Bold, even reckless experimentation was once the hallmark of baseball: that spirit seems to have become as scarce as…well, as scarce as the triple.

So, at best, this “mini-flap” about PAP is about as “mini” as it can get. It’s just part of the muddle that has befallen the field as its involvement in insider baseball reaches its troubled teenage years. If the man who put advanced analysis on the map can’t get any of his pet ideas implemented, what chance is there for anyone else to do so? Perhaps the old Chinese curse about living in interesting times is really in need of being dusted off…

Repoz Posted: February 01, 2013 at 10:29 AM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. John Northey Posted: February 01, 2013 at 11:02 AM (#4359902)
It would be great if a team that sucked last year decided 'what the heck' and tried it. Seattle would be good - that'd scare a few teams seeing Felix Hernandez twice in a 4 game series. Or howsabout Colorado where the air is thin and pitchers need every stress relief they can get? Last year Colorado had 14 pitchers start a game (9 with 10+ starts) and just one cracked 100 for ERA+ - gotta try something new and see what happens, how much worse could it get?

Edit: Colorado also had its top 6 relievers with 100+ ERA+'s - so no harm done using them more one would think.
   2. AROM Posted: February 01, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4359924)
Colorado has done some experimentation. They went with a 4 man rotation and restricted pitch counts for a good while last year.

They had 22 starts on 3 days rest. ERA during those starts was 5.49, with a 2.13 K/W. Overall their starters had a 5.81 ERA and 1.79 K/W, so there was some success. Not sure how it looks if you control by pitcher.
   3. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: February 01, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4359928)
levels championed by the original Prospectus chimps


I'm crafting a cease and desist letter requesting that use of "chimps" to refer to the "other" BP is stopped immediately. Primer is chimps, not Prospectus.
   4. RJ in TO Posted: February 01, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4359931)
Edit: Colorado also had its top 6 relievers with 100+ ERA+'s - so no harm done using them more one would think.

There will be, if those six guys are called upon to throw a total of 900 innings over the season, which is what will happen if Colorado starters are held to 90 pitches a start.
   5. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 01, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4359946)
Primey for #3.

-- MWE
   6. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 01, 2013 at 12:17 PM (#4359955)
You might be able to try a variant of James's proposal using tandem starters (which used to be done in the low minors a lot, although not so much any more). If you have 12 pitchers, you designate six as tandem starters who would throw, say, 75 pitches each every third game, and then use the remaining six like you use the rest of your bullpen today.

-- MWE
   7. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: February 01, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4359998)
I've often thought that at some point a manager might put strict limits on his starters and designate one of his relievers as his "winner"--the guy who would go in to pitch the fifth inning any time his team is ahead after four.

I think it would be a very stupid way to go--but I think someone might try it sometime, and some pitcher will start picking up a lot of easy wins the way closers pick up easy saves.

The single-season and career wins records might not seem so untouchable then.

   8. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: February 01, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4360015)
The single-season and career wins records might not seem so untouchable then.


The single-season record is 59. You could probably beat this if your goal was simply to beat this, by putting in a reliever for the 5th every time you are ahead and then yanking him after an inning. 80 appearances in that scenario would eventually get someone 60 wins.

But why in the hell would anyone do that? If you're yanking a guy after 4 on a regular basis then you're probably at an average pitch total of about 70. The only way that works is if you are doing the tandem starters thing Mike suggests above, or something similar that involves relievers who go multiple innings. Not 4 innings from the starter followed by 5 relievers. You can't plan on your designated winner going several innings in each appearance -- what if you are winning in the 4th 5 days in a row? Also, if you're not limiting guys to 4 innings but only pulling guys who are ahead, then you are generally going to be pulling pitchers who are doing well earlier than you would pull pitchers who aren't doing well. Which makes no sense under any system.

That said, it would be fun to try this in Diamond Mind or Strat or OOTP.

EDIT: The fun thing would be when a team with a good offense (or one playing in Coors) tries something weird like 4 inning starts and has a scrubby mopup guy who comes in when they are behind by X number of runs. He has no opportunity to lose games, but can win ones where his team scores a lot late. Guys like this would be the worst pitcher on the team and yet constantly put up records of 4-0 or 6-0, with the occasional 13-0 fluke thrown in. It might finally kill pitching wins as a valued statistic.
   9. esseff Posted: February 01, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4360164)
I've often thought that at some point a manager might put strict limits on his starters and designate one of his relievers as his "winner"--the guy who would go in to pitch the fifth inning any time his team is ahead after four.

I think it would be a very stupid way to go--but I think someone might try it sometime, and some pitcher will start picking up a lot of easy wins the way closers pick up easy saves.

The single-season and career wins records might not seem so untouchable then.


When the starting pitcher is the pitcher of record, but does not go five innings, the win does not necessarily go to the fifth-inning pitcher, but to the pitcher the scorer determines to have been the most effective. (See Rule 10.17b). A manager might be able to manipulate a few wins for a pitcher, but not major quantities.
   10. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: February 01, 2013 at 03:38 PM (#4360185)
particularly the “square of pitches thrown,” an arbitrary construct to measure “stress” that could be replaced by several other approaches; and the notion that the most stressful pitches occur when a pitcher is tired, a notion that is mere common sense.

And all those other approaches would be arbitrary as well. Sure, athletes are more susceptible to injury when tired, but tired comes to everyone differently which is going to break any one size fits all metric. I know we'd all like a number to check on Fangraphs of which pitchers are going to break soon but there just too many variables and too many unknowns. We are never going to get there.

The smartest organizations are not going to pour a bunch of resources into this unsolvable problem, but will instead focus on getting as many useful arms as possible, being responsible but not militant about workload and hoping for the best.
   11. AROM Posted: February 01, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4360187)
I've often thought that at some point a manager might put strict limits on his starters and designate one of his relievers as his "winner"--the guy who would go in to pitch the fifth inning any time his team is ahead after four.

I think it would be a very stupid way to go--but I think someone might try it sometime, and some pitcher will start picking up a lot of easy wins the way closers pick up easy saves.


Years ago when I had more time on my hands I played a minor league season to go along with the APBA league I run. With one of the top pitching prospects, we didn't really care about watching him put up innings or pitch in normal situations (he was something like a 14 XYZ and pretty much guaranteed to be the #1 overall pick no matter what he did) and just felt like seeing how many wins he could get. I think he went 31-2 or something like that. Should have been more greedy, could have gone after Old Hoss, but 30 wins seemed like a good enough goal.
   12. bjhanke Posted: February 02, 2013 at 12:12 AM (#4360531)
The only real problem is can see with Don's suggestion is that it may be hard to talk your good pitchers into starting, because they won't be pitching 5 innings, and so can't get a win. I did only one interview when I had a press pass, but it was with Tony LaRussa, and that was the exact question I asked - Why did you give up on your 3-pitchers 3-IP each plan. He said that he had to abandon the plan because no one wanted to negotiate a contract after an 0-12 won/lost record, no matter how low his ERA was or how well the team did. That is, no one was willing to start. - Brock Hanke
   13. Ebessan Posted: February 02, 2013 at 12:54 AM (#4360535)
The only way to work a tandem system is to have the tandem alternate starts, isn't it?
   14. Walt Davis Posted: February 02, 2013 at 02:50 AM (#4360559)
Bottom line: this proposal by Bill is so different from what was being bandied about in those early years of hysteria that it’s odd folks are trying to put it into that continuum.

Ummmm.... Don .... it might interest you to know that Rany Jazayerli, the creator of PAP, suggested this very thing in 2002.

He wrote three articles on this, including some data analysis. To quote from the first article:

The five-man rotation is a failure.

Snippets from the second article:

Throwing is not dangerous to a pitcher's arm. Throwing while tired is dangerous to a pitcher's arm.

The move to a five-man rotation is simply not based on hard medical evidence.

I am confident that the organization that is willing to return to the four-man rotation, in conjunction with strictly monitoring their starters' pitch counts, will gain tangible benefits without increased risk to their pitchers.

And right on cue, the BPro site goes down for maintenance.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: February 02, 2013 at 03:00 AM (#4360560)
Here's the third article

We have already seen at least one influential baseball man, Grady Fuson, take a different tack. In order to get his charges as much work as possible while keeping them healthy, Fuson has experimented with a modified version of the four-man rotation. In his system, eight pitchers are split into four pairs, working every fourth game, with one member of the pair starting, and the other relieving after the starter has reached a very conservative pitch limit, somewhere around 80 pitches. The two pitchers then switch places the next time through the rotation. Two or three pitchers are made permanent relievers to fill in the gaps along the way.

Fuson has hit upon something very important: based on the existing research, it seems safer to allow young pitchers to work on less rest than to allow them to throw 110 or more pitches in a game. The organization that decides to switch to a four-man rotation can start at the minor league level, either by using the Fuson formula or simply going with the traditional four-man rotation, as long as those starters are placed on very strict pitch counts.


At some point in the next five years, I am confident that we will see the return of the four-man rotation.

The four-man rotation is poised to make a comeback. As far as I'm concerned, it can't come back soon enough.
   16. puck Posted: February 02, 2013 at 03:20 AM (#4360564)
But why in the hell would anyone do that? If you're yanking a guy after 4 on a regular basis then you're probably at an average pitch total of about 70. The only way that works is if you are doing the tandem starters thing Mike suggests above, or something similar that involves relievers who go multiple innings.

Colorado was doing that for part of last year. The pitch limit was 75. On a good start, a guy would get through 5, but since they had bad starters, 3 or 4 innings was common. For a while they were mainly rotating 3 relievers after the starter (Adam Ottavino, Josh Roenicke, and Carlos Torres); those guys went a couple innings.
   17. Posada Posse Posted: February 02, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4360587)
Bill James' suggestion of a three-man rotation and a strict pitch limit is not new for him. He made the exact same suggestion in the Don Sutton comment of the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract published in 2001, I believe. The context was a discussion of the five-man rotation, with Sutton being probably the first "great" pitcher to pitch most of his career in, and benefit from, a five-man rotation.
   18. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 02, 2013 at 10:30 AM (#4360596)
When the starting pitcher is the pitcher of record, but does not go five innings, the win does not necessarily go to the fifth-inning pitcher, but to the pitcher the scorer determines to have been the most effective. (See Rule 10.17b). A manager might be able to manipulate a few wins for a pitcher, but not major quantities.


But in practice, the win almost always goes to the guy who pitches the fifth inning.

At some point in the next five years, I am confident that we will see the return of the four-man rotation.


Of course, Rany wrote that 10 years ago. Predicting is hard, especially the future.
   19. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 02, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4360668)
Yogi? If not, it should be.

Snippets from the second article:

Throwing is not dangerous to a pitcher's arm. Throwing while tired is dangerous to a pitcher's arm.


What about every other article I read that says pitching is an unnatural act and every pitch damages the pitcher's arm. "Damage" is not necessarily "dangerous", but it will be eventually.
   20. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 02, 2013 at 01:16 PM (#4360693)
Yogi? If not, it should be.


Pretty sure it is.
   21. Zach Posted: February 02, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4360696)
For many years, pitching injuries have been the hill that sabermetricians have died on. It seems so intuitive that limiting pitch counts will reduce injuries, but there's remarkably little evidence that it does, or will. Before we radically change pitching usage patterns, it would be nice to see one study that finds a real effect in terms of reducing injuries or increasing effectiveness.
   22. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 02, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4360762)
@21: A very small population, with very different abilities and physiques, much of which does not lend itself to conclusive analysis; oh, and each of whom does the thing a little bit differently, in subtly different environments, with vastly differing coaching and training and regimens and treatments, and with a self-selection process of sorts behind it all...

How could that not be resolvable?

/irony
   23. Zach Posted: February 02, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4360766)
If you're going to go to a rotation where everybody throws 75 pitches every three days, it'd better be resolvable.

Back in the days when PAP was invented, it was reasonable to think that the approach would turn up something. You track the league leaders in long outings, figure out some reasonable proxy for effectiveness, and there you are. But the big discovery of the PAP era is that it is more complicated than that. Simple pitch counts don't work, and don't tell you which pitchers are likely to get injured.

It's ironic. People really badly wanted to make a positive change by discovering a way to avoid injuries. But the way it worked out, what they actually discovered is that their favored solution doesn't work. Instead of promoting their actual discovery, they kept on promoting pitch counts and reductions in workloads.

All in all, not sabermetric's finest hour.

   24. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: February 02, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4360793)
Out of curiosity I had OOTP run the 2010 Yankees with a 3 man rotation and a 75-pitch limit but otherwise normal bullpen management. The team went 105-57 (and Curtis Granderson won the MVP). The winningest pitcher was Mark Melancon with 13. 8 guys won 9 or more. I imagine that's the sort of pattern you'd see from a good team with a low pitch limit.

(The computer traded Sabathia for Nick Markakis and a minor leaguer, which is why he got so few starts.)

Name                  W   L   SV   ERA   G   GS   IP
Jason Hirsh      SP   0   0   0   0.00   3    0   4
Romulo Sanchez   SP   0   0   0   2.45   2    0   3.2
Daniel Schlereth CL   2   0   1   3.27   7    0   11
Mariano Rivera   CL   4   5   33  3.28   79   0   93.1
Braden Looper    SP   0   1   1   3.35   21   2   40.1
Javier Vazquez   SP   9   5   0   3.44   42  42   201.1
Kiko Calero      MR   1   2   1   3.55   26   0   33
Phil Hughes      SP   9   5   1   3.62   47  31   154
A
.JBurnett     SP  12   8   0   3.68   40  40   188.1
Sergio Mitre     SP   0   0   0   3.86   3    0   2.1
Chan Ho Park     MR  12   1   3   4.15   80   0   91
CC Sabathia      SP   2   3   0   4.29   13  13   56.2
Joba Chamberlain MR   9   6   0   4.33   54   7   95.2
Alfredo Aceves   MR  12   4   3   4.34   89   3   103.2
Wilkin de la RosaSP   1   1   0   4.50   4    0   6
Andy Pettitte    SP   9   6   1   5.09   54  22   127.1
Mark Melancon    MR  13   2   1   5.19   81   1   95.1
Damaso Marte     MR   6   2   5   6.30   65   0   70
Ivan Nova        SP   3   4   0   6.59   22   1   42.1
Boone Logan      MR   1   2   2   6.60   12   0   15
David Robertson  CL   0   0   0   7.06   22   0   21.2 
   25. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 02, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4360817)
@24: Fascinating--so, you ran the numbers for a starter who pitched, say, 110 pitches, but credited him with the results only through his first 75 pitches, then...?

How did you fill in the 'blank', if you know what I mean, i.e. the 35 pitches he didn't throw in your 75 maximum scenario?

I wonder how many middle relievers, many of whom are converted starters, could excel in a '75-pitch maximum' role. I have no idea how one might project that, or if it's at all possible. It might greatly expand your pool of starters, though.
   26. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: February 02, 2013 at 08:39 PM (#4360857)
@24: Fascinating--so, you ran the numbers for a starter who pitched, say, 110 pitches, but credited him with the results only through his first 75 pitches, then...?


No, I just set the computer manager run a strict 3-man rotation and to pull the starter after 75 pitches. (To be clear, this was a video game simulation of the season, not something based on actual events.)

In the game player's names turn yellow when they are tired, and every time I stopped the sim to take a look it seemed that most of the pitching staff had turned yellow. This is just computer baseball so that doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it does suggest that you can't just have three starters and then use the other 8-9 pitchers like normal relievers.

I was impressed that Vazquez could throw 200 innings and Burnett get 12 wins with the low pitch limit.
   27. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 02, 2013 at 08:50 PM (#4360861)
Thanks for the clarification. Do you recall offhand how often 75 pitches allowed a pitcher to complete 5 innings? (I think that as much as anything would be a sticking point, that no one wants to sign with a team that will suppress his win total.)

edit: a pitcher throwing 200 innings is facing, what, around 900 batters? Throwing 3500 pitches? Divide that by 75 and you'd need around 47 starts to get there. That assumes your guy isn't knocked out of the box early.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: February 03, 2013 at 03:12 AM (#4360968)
but it does suggest that you can't just have three starters and then use the other 8-9 pitchers like normal relievers.

Well, of course not. :-) A 3-man rotation with a 75-pitch limit necessarily means you're getting fewer innings per start. But given modern usage, every 1 inning reduction in your starter workload requires 2+ relievers to pitch those 162 innings you're no longer getting.

Basically our starters would be dropping 1.5 innings per start and this only works if your former 4 & 5 starters can eat up those 7.5 innings every 5 days. In that sense, it's saving you about 3.5 innings per 5 games from your 4 & 5 starters but, as your IP totals show, those extra innings go to other relievers, not the top 3 starters.

Look at those reliever IP totals. Rivera near 100, Melancon near 100, Aceves (with 3 starts) over 100, Park over 90 in 80 appearances. In 2012, no relievers made it to 90 innings and only 5 made it to 80.

The James model, or any pitcher usage that further reduces IP/start, requires either more relief slots or more long relievers. The old 4th and 5th starters have to throw about 120 innings of relief each (assuming no injuries). Of course the pitchers don't have to be your actual 4th and 5th starters. Anyway, a strict 75-pitch limit increases reliever load by about 240 innings a year; in current usage, that is about 3.5 more reliever slots requiring a 13.5 man staff. That leaves you with a backup C, a backup SS, a backup CF and Brooks Kieshnick.

Meanwhile, can relievers handle 100 IP a year loads? P-I is not perfect for this sort of thing, but requiring 95% of games are in relief (even a couple of starts can really throw this off) and limiting to the expansion era:

There have been 427 such seasons.
Only one of these seasons has occurred since 1999, only another 21 in the 90s.

Pedro Borbon (70s), Bill Campbell (70s-80s), Clay Carroll (60s-70s), Fingers (70s), Fisher (60s), Garber (70s), Greg Harris (80s and 90s), LaVelle (70s-80s), Lyle (70s), Marshall (70s), Dale Murray (70s), Perranoski (60s), Quiz (80s), Sutter (70s-80s), Tekulve (70s-80s), Duane Ward (80s) seem to be the only guys to do it more than 4 times.

Now, fair enough, some guys could do it in the 70s ... but it's just 16 of them spread across 30 years of baseball. Of course they only pitched 100+ because, in some sense, they had to, maybe a lot of guys could have done it if their team wanted them to.

But, if you want to talk about risk, put it simply this way ... James is proposing that the bullpen pitch half of all the innings in a season. No team has ever come close to that. There is zero evidence that relievers can handle that sort of load and no evidence you could pull it off without a 14-man staff.

Cutting back to a 3- or 4-man rotation does pretty much absolutely nothing if it requires you to roughly maintain the total number of innings each of those individual pitchers pitches.

In one model, Vazquez pitches 200 and another two guys pitch 180 each and two guys pitch 150 each. In the other model, Vazquez pitches 200 (in 50 starts), another two guys pitch 180 (in 50 starts), and you've still got to fill in those 300 innings no longer pitched by your #4-5 starters. How can you do that without expanding your pitching staff? Well, the easiest thing to try would be to have your #4 and #5 starters still throw 150 each, only in relief and those 12 missing starts. How does that help? Alternatively you give them about 120 each and spread the remaining 60 innings among your 7 "regular reliever" slots. OK, that seems not overly burdensome but all you've accomplished is giving about half of those 60 innings to your crappy relievers but, still, you've moved about 30 of them to your good relievers.

Just how much is 30 innings of 110 ERA+ pitching vs. 90 ERA+ pitching worth? One win, maybe two wins if it helps you optimize higher-leverage usage? Is that worth the huge risk of completely revamping your pitcher usage and possibly putting your best starters and your best relievers at greater risk?
   29. Walt Davis Posted: February 03, 2013 at 04:15 AM (#4360970)
Of course, Rany wrote that 10 years ago. Predicting is hard, especially the future.

In case it wasn't clear, I posted those not as evidence of Rany's brilliance but as counter-evidence to Don's claim that the idea of cutting back on the rotation size was "so different from what was being bandied about in those early years of hysteria" and that, of course, it was beyond the imaginations of those idiots at BPro.

The King of PAP himself was basically proposing the same thing as James AND was trying to back it up with data over 10 years ago. Once again Don let his anti-BPro blinders get in the way of actual facts.

Moreover, we have discussed this and related ideas here every year the site has been in existence I'd bet. I shudder to think how many times I've posted a variant of #28. There was nothing innovative in James's off-the-cuff idea.

Simple pitch counts don't work, and don't tell you which pitchers are likely to get injured.

Of course by the time PAP came along, every team in baseball was using the 5-man rotation and was strictly enforcing pitch counts on everybody but Randy Johnson, Livan Hernandez and the 2003 Cubs. Those were decisions made by wizened old baseball men not number crunchers. Had some variant of PAP been around in the 60s when young pitchers were throwing 280 innings and frequently coming up lame, they might have found a stronger relationship ... or nothing at all.

Number of 120+ pitch starts

1990-94: 2405
1995-99: 2210
2000-04: 1345 (9 per team-season)
2005-09: 501
2010-12: 336

Look at the transition period in more detail:

1996: 455
1997: 374
1998: 498
1999: 467
2000: 466
2001: 237
2002: 230
2003: 226
2004: 186

This wasn't a gradual change, this was every team in baseball deciding to change during the 2000-01 offseason. (OK, maybe half the teams got rid of them entirely.) PAP was introduced in 1998. BPro never had that sort of influence. Carrying forward:

2005: 135
2006: 120
2007: 81
2008: 73 (cut by 2/3 over 5 years)
2009: 92
2010: 132
2011: 130
2012: 74

I'm not sure who other than the A's would have counted as a "sabermetric" team in 2001. They did have only 5 qualifying starts, below league average. But that league average is pulled up just a tad by ...

Arizona: 22 (15 Unit, 7 Schilling)

Giants with 15 (Livan), Yankees with 14 and Cleveland (Colon with a bit of CC) with 13 were next. I think those were the only ones over 9. Unit, Livan and Colon account for about 15% of the qualifying starts. In 2001, only those 3 pitchers had 10+ such starts and only Schilling also had 7+; in 2000, 7 had 10+ and 17 had 7+.

   30. DanG Posted: February 03, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4361147)
Out of curiosity I had OOTP run the 2010 Yankees with a 3 man rotation and a 75-pitch limit but otherwise normal bullpen management. The team went 105-57 (and Curtis Granderson won the MVP). The winningest pitcher was Mark Melancon with 13. 8 guys won 9 or more. I imagine that's the sort of pattern you'd see from a good team with a low pitch limit.
Perhaps not too relevant, but this reminded me of something I discovered a couple years ago. In baseball history, there is one team that had seven pitchers with 11+ wins: the 1976 Reds. Of course, this was driven by one of the greatest starting lineups of all time. But, perhaps they're, in some ways, a good case study.

1976 Reds
15-9 Gary Nolan
14-7 Pat Zachry
12-7 Fred Norman
12-10 Jack Billingham
11-3 Don Gullett
11-4 Santo Alcala
11-5 Rawly Eastwick

I then took a closer look at these seven:

The fact is, the Reds of the Sparky Anderson era couldn't keep any pitcher healthy for long, mainly due to abusing every good arm that came along.

--In 1976, Gary Nolan was the only pitcher in the rotation for the whole year. And that was basically the end of his career.
--Don Gullett was the veteran ace, 25-years-old and in his 7th year. He started the season on the DL and was off and on it most of the year. Finally back to stay on August 30, he went on to make two excellent postseason starts.
--Pat Zachry's 128 ERA+ was the best among Reds starters and he became the ROY at age 24. He entered the rotation on May 9th and started a few times on two or three days rest. He never again had a season as good.
--Jack Billingham had been the Reds workhorse since 1972, but now was wearing down, missing several starts in mid-season while compiling an 81 ERA+. He did not start in the postseason.
--Fred Norman was a journeyman lefty who had been with the Reds since 1973. He joined the rotation for good on June 22nd and was solid the rest of the year.
--Santo Alcala was a 23-year-old rookie who wasn't much of a prospect. He filled the back end of the rotation for most of the year, lucky to have the Big Red Machine supporting him.
--Rawly Eastwick was their brilliant 25-year-old closer. He led the NL in saves his first two full years (1975-76) while being used like there was no tomorrow. For Rawly this turned out to be the case, basically. Four times in 1976 he pitched three days in a row, pitching 107.2 IP with 59 GF. He had nothing left by the 1976 postseason. He saved only 18 games in the rest of his career.
   31. OCF Posted: February 03, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4361152)
The 1967 Cardinals:
16-6 Dick Hughes (29 YO rookie in his only good year - very nearly his only major league year)
14-9 Steve Carlton
14-5 Nelson Briles
13-7 Bob Gibson (out through midseason with a broken leg)
10-7 Ray Washburn
9-7 Larry Jaster
9-4 Al Jackson

All of those were in the starting rotation at some point in the season. It isn't exactly they way they planned it, but stuff happened. And this team won the pennant and the WS
   32. bobm Posted: February 03, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4361211)
[29] GS, P >= 120

YEAR SEA NYY LAA TEX CHW TOR BOS BAL NYM PHI LAD KCR DET CHC SFG ATL CLE MIL OAK HOU WSN MIA STL PIT CIN SDP MIN ARI COL TBD TOT
1990  43  22  32  38  26   8  28  19  36   9  22  19  17  24   8  19  16  12  18   8  14   -  12   5  12  11   6   -   -  -  484
1991  26   3  37  27  30  11  17  18  26  30  23  21  19   9  10  16  23  20  33  20  16   -   5   5  14  11  15   -   -  -  485
1992  34  24  33  21  36  20  33  27  30  18  31  10  14  17   5  30  20  23  19   4   7   -   5  17   7  13  14   -   -  -  512
1993  38  20  30  21  37  19  20  26  14  31  27  40  16  10   0  19   7  29  18  15   8   9   5  15  13   4  11   -   9  -  511
1994  22  11  25  22  26  30  22  24   6  13  22  24  21   8   1  15  22  14  14   7   5   4   7   9   7  11  12   -   7  -  411
1995  29  37  17  17  26  38  14  27  12  12  21  13   8  15   6  16  11   9  17   6   7  15   2  12   2  15   6   -   6  -  416
1996  17  20  26  32  35  23  44  12  14   4  11  24  26   6  10  20  12  12   7   8  12  11  21   8   5   9  16   -  10  -  455
1997  25  20  15  15  19  33   9   4   8  21  13  14  13   4  16  21  13   6   9  15  12  23  13  10   6   3  10   -   4  -  374
1998  30  27  28  19   6  41  16  17  22  22  25   9   8  20   9  14  22   9  13  18   2  26  13  11  10  11  11   8  19 12  498
1999  25  30  14  24  10  11  15  25  14  16   8  22  11   9  30  12  18   6   4  11   7  19  11  18  10   6   8  28  23 22  467

2000   4  31   7  22   7  17   9  31  19  26  11  22   8  17  29   7  23  13  13  21   8  12  11  15  11  20  10  22  12  8  466
2001   8  14   5   9   5   5   7   4  10   8   9   9  10   6  15   4  13   4   5   9   6  10   7   3   2   6   4  23  10  7  237

2002   7  13   6  10   2   2   2   7  10  10   5   8  17   8  22   5   8   8   3   4  10  14   8   0   3   3   3  15   6 11  230
2003   7  18   1   7   5   5   5  15   9   5   9   1   2  29   9   7   4   5   5   2  26   8  13   4   2   6   2   6   0  9  226
2004  14   4   3   3   6   6   4   2   8   2   4   5   4  16  16   4   2   9  12   8  15   2   8   4   4   2   1   7   4  7  186
2005   3   9   1   2   6   1   3   3   4   3   8   0   0  14   9   1   0   7   5   7  17   6   3   4   3   2   0   3   1 10  135
2006   4   1   2   0   4   3   2   2   1   3   1   5   3   9  13   9   4   3   6   5   6   6   4   2   8   5   1   3   3  2  120
2007   4   0   0   0   3  10   6   3   5   1   0   2   2   6   8   3   1   3   2   2   0   2   2   3   8   0   0   5   0  0   81
2008   0   0   2   1   4   6   1   1   4   4   2   2   3   3   8   1   2   9   0   1   0   4   2   1   5   3   1   3   0  0   73
2009   1   4   2   5   0   1   5   0   3   7   2   5  14   3   6   4   2   3   0   3   1   1   4   1   3   1   1   0   5  5   92
2010   3   3   5   5   4   1   7   1   4   4   4   3  15  14   9   1   0   6   2   7   2   4   0   1   6   0   1   6  11  3  132
2011   6   3  15   3   6   4   5   1   6  12   3   2  14   7   7   0   1   3   1   4   1   2   5   0   5   2   2   1   1  8  130
2012   2   3   5   7   7   0   6   1   2   2   1   0  12   1   4   1   1   0   0   1   1   2   1   1   2   1   0   3   0  7   74
Totl 352 317 311 310 310 295 280 270 267 263 262 260 257 255 250 229 225 213 206 186 183 180 162 149 148 145 135 133 131 88 6795

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