In the 1930s, Ferrell led all pitchers in complete games – he was a workhorse, similar in style to Jack Morris. And, like Morris, Ferrell did it in a hitter’s era where he didn’t always post a low ERA. Ferrell had an ERA of 4.08 in the decade, and 4.04 for his career, but he was a winner (again, like Morris). Ferrell won 170 games in the ’30s, a figure surpassed only by Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell, and Red Ruffing. All three of those pitchers are in the Hall of Fame, the first two because they were outstanding, the latter because he was pretty good and pitched for a team that won all the time.
Ferrell, on the other hand, toiled mostly for losing teams (there the comparison with Morris ceases). His first seven seasons were spent with the mediocre Cleveland Indians, then he spent parts of four seasons with the Boston Red Sox, who had a winning percentage below .500 despite Ferrell and Grove being in their rotation.
...Ferrell’s name continues to crop up on the Hall of Fame old-timers type ballots because he won 20 games six times and did it for teams that were mediocre to average. He won 60% of his decisions despite pitching for teams that won about 51% of the time when he wasn’t on the mound. Ferrell threw a no-hitter and was a member of the very first American League All-Star team in 1933. He won 20 games when he was 21, 22, 23, and 24 years old. His 4.04 ERA is also not as bad as it seems, since the league average during his prime was about 3.75, and he ranked in the top ten in his league in the category seven times in an eight-year stretch from 1929-1936. If you want to view his accomplishments through the scope of modern advanced statistical analysis, note that he ranked second in WAR among pitchers four times.
...There’s no evidence to suggest that Ruffing or Herb Pennock were better pitchers than Ferrell. Ditto Catfish Hunter, who had an adjusted ERA of 104 to Ferrell’s 116, and who like Ferrell succumbed to an arm injury in his early 30s. Hunter had the fortune to pitch and win 20 games for a lot for winning teams, so that’s the only real difference between he and Wes. Ferrell was probably better than Catfish, but he deserves a plaque only if you believe every player who’s better than the lowest rung of Hall of Famer deserves to be enshrined.
Posted: November 13, 2012 at 05:16 AM | 45 comment(s)
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