Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Thursday, December 07, 2017

If Sandy Koufax is a Hall of Famer, Johan Santana Is Too

Perhaps most importantly, enshrinement of Johan Santana would not open the floodgates for a parade of less-qualified players to enter. There are very few players who can argue that they fit the “Koufax Exception” to the Hall of Fame — let’s call it 50+ WAR, multiple Cy Young awards, and a career cut short by injury — who don’t probably otherwise deserve to be in the Hall of Fame anyway (looking at you, Curt Schilling and Kevin Brown). It wouldn’t apply to Orel Hershiser or Luis Tiant, who pitched into their 40s. Perhaps it would cause folks to revisit Bret Saberhagen (59.2 WAR, 43.3 WAR7) or give a boost to Justin Verlander if he retired tomorrow (56.6 WAR, 43.5 WAR7).

thetailor (Brian) Posted: December 07, 2017 at 01:57 PM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. djordan Posted: December 07, 2017 at 08:59 PM (#5588444)
Some solid evidence in this piece. Worth a read.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: December 07, 2017 at 09:10 PM (#5588453)
I'm pro-Santana for the hof, but I think that the saber crowd really underestimate the value of complete games (same with health) (considering that we have the knowledge of how pitchers fare the third and fourth time through the order, it's somewhat surprising that it's dismissed with lump summing of the stats)
   3. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: December 07, 2017 at 10:15 PM (#5588495)
CFB: That's a good point. Getting a CG means you were pitching well the whole game, especially in the modern era. That comes out a bit in the wash with overall stats, but I'd wager that if you looked at team winning percentages 9 IP and 3 ER is on aggregate more valuable than 6 IP and 2 ER despite the equivalent ERA. It's definitely a big boost to Halladay's HOF case.
   4. bachslunch Posted: December 07, 2017 at 10:16 PM (#5588497)
Remember looking at the two pitchers, and they are close in WAR, ERA+, innings pitched, and type of career. Reasonable case to make.
   5. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: December 07, 2017 at 10:29 PM (#5588509)
Maybe the difference is the thought that Koufax could have kept pitching at an elite level if he had wanted to. It would have meant more shots and more pills and maybe losing the use of his left arm, but he could have done it. Whereas Santana, like seven million other pitchers before him, just broke down and couldn't do it anymore.

Not saying that's good justification, but it could be what people were thinking in giving Koufax a pass. (I assume that Santana will not receive similar treatment.)
   6. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: December 07, 2017 at 11:16 PM (#5588529)
Santana was the ace of the Minnesota Twins and the undisputed best pitcher in baseball for the better part of a decade.
This seems a bit of an overstatement, yes? "In the conversation" for a decade I can buy, or undisputed for a shorter period...but undisputed for the better part of a decade?

Edit: Unless "better part of a decade" is understood to mean "more than half a decade"? I guess I instinctively read that as "most of a decade."
   7. shoewizard Posted: December 08, 2017 at 12:08 AM (#5588543)
Maybe the difference is the thought that Koufax could have kept pitching at an elite level if he had wanted to. It would have meant more shots and more pills and maybe losing the use of his left arm, but he could have done it.


I've always felt that the notion that Koufax would have just kept chugging along at the same level for the next 2-3 seasons had he chose to make the physical sacrifice is a bit unrealistic.

The far far greater probability is all those innings, and all those shots would have caught up to him pretty quickly following 66 season, perhaps even as soon as 1967

I mean we have ALL looked at pitchers playing record on baseball reference and we all see the same pattern with the vast majority of pitchers, with just a few exceptions: A high peak in IP during a few peak seasons, and then an immediate tail off in the number of innings pitched.

After 311 IP in 63 (and 18 post season) he threw 211 in 63, and then he lead the league in IP in 65 and 66 with 335 and 323 respectively, and in 65 tacked on 24 more in the post season, and 6 more in 66.

I always figured despite his heroic efforts in the 66 season, and finishing the way he did, he just would not have been as durable or effective going forward. The biggest piece of evidence for that to me is the fact that he quit.

   8. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 08, 2017 at 12:12 AM (#5588544)
I'm pro-Santana for the hof, but I think that the saber crowd really underestimate the value of complete games (same with health) (considering that we have the knowledge of how pitchers fare the third and fourth time through the order, it's somewhat surprising that it's dismissed with lump summing of the stats)

OK, but you have to put this in context as well, unless you don't want any (or very many) modern pitchers in the HoF.

In the 1966 NL, almost exactly 1/4 of team games were complete games (402/1618, 24.8%). In the 2006 AL, there were 66 complete games in 2268 team games; Santana had 1 CG in 34 starts that year, and his percentage of starts completed was almost exactly league average (2.94% to 2.91% for the league).

To put it another way: Koufax threw more innings per year than Santana (well, at least in his three big years; he only had 5 200-inning seasons in his career), but they both led the league in innings exactly twice. Koufax's extra innings allowed him to accrue additional WAR, but the argument could be made that those innings were only available to him because of the context in which he pitched.

Unless "better part of a decade" is understood to mean "more than half a decade"? I guess I instinctively read that as "most of a decade."

I'm not sure how to parse the difference between "more than half a decade" and "most of a decade," but Santana doesn't actually meet either of those standards; his best-pitcher-in-baseball case lasts from 2004-2008. (Same length as Koufax's, actually, at least in the conventional definition; 1962 is a bit of a stretch for him.)
   9. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: December 08, 2017 at 01:14 AM (#5588557)
Edit: Unless "better part of a decade" is understood to mean "more than half a decade"? I guess I instinctively read that as "most of a decade."


I think even "more" than half is pushing it - and even within those five years, I think you can find quibbles with undisputed at certain points... I mean, taken as a consistent whole and with hindsight - absolutely, he was. But CC Sabathia was 26, a horse, and beat out Santana for a CYA in a year that Santana wasn't even among the AL top 10 in pitcher WAR (not that 11th is anything to sneeeze at) -- and fetched a pretty high price in a midseason trade to the NL himself... and Tim Lincecum was winning the first of consecutive CYAs in the last of those 5 years, his first in the NL. Roy Halladay was likewise in his prime.

I wouldn't be upset if Santana went -- and I'll admit that I tend to lean more towards career than peak anyway - but his case seems over-inflated to me. He had a spectacular 3-year peak that I think people try to morph into a 5 year peak and then rhetorically try to stretch out further with words "decade".

Hey - I'm sure you won't find a lot of pitchers who produce 25 WAA/35 WAR over a 5 year period that DON'T end up in the hall... but the above mentioned Lincecum posted 16.5 WAA/23 WAR over a four year period -- then turned into a complete dumpster fire.

It's a fine line, I guess - but if he could have just eeked out two more seasons like his last two (full seasons) when he was good but clearly a shell of his former self, I'd be more comfortable pushing him over. Or - for that matter, maybe in an alternate world where he doesn't lose a year as a 21 yo getting knocked around when he would have been better off making 25 starts in the minors... and then, the Twins wasting two more years when he should have been a rotation mainstay rather than a swingman.

I suspect that elsewhere in the multiverse - most Johan Santanas end up being Hall of Famers... ours had some rotten lock.
   10. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 08, 2017 at 03:02 AM (#5588562)
Are complete games really particularly valuable? Go 7 innings and you can leave the game to a couple guys touching triple digits these days.
   11. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: December 08, 2017 at 04:58 AM (#5588564)
Where's Guidry in all of this?
   12. PreservedFish Posted: December 08, 2017 at 07:00 AM (#5588574)
This seems a bit of an overstatement, yes? "In the conversation" for a decade I can buy, or undisputed for a shorter period...but undisputed for the better part of a decade?


I looked at this in detail a few months ago. I think there were about 3 years where Santana would have been considered the "undisputed best."
   13. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 08, 2017 at 07:27 AM (#5588579)
Good argument, wrong Hall. The Hall of Fame isn't the Hall of Statistical Merit, and Koufax's World Series heroics dwarf any big moments of Santana's.
   14. DavidFoss Posted: December 08, 2017 at 07:54 AM (#5588583)
Koufax's World Series heroics

This is the key difference. To use contemporary players as examples, Koufax was Kershaw in the regular season and Bumgarner in the postseason. I think that's what raised Koufax to mythical status.

Using the raw data point containing Koufax career numbers as the main argument for a high-peak, short-career candidate is usually a sign that your career wasn't long enough. If I am training a model to predict HOF-inductees, I usually throw out the Koufax & Dean data points.
   15. Rally Posted: December 08, 2017 at 08:42 AM (#5588597)
Koufax had more WAR in his last 4 seasons than Santana had in his peak 5 seasons. Koufax was a 9 WAR pitcher on average for 4 years, Santana a 7 WAR for 5 years.

Santana's peak is a 157 ERA+ over 1146 innings, for Koufax it's 172 over 1192 innings - in one less year.

I reject the premise of the title. Santana was great but his peak was not as great as Koufax.
   16. The Duke Posted: December 08, 2017 at 09:23 AM (#5588624)
I’m surprised that Santana isn’t doing better. He might be one and done. At his peak, he was extra-ordinary and that peak lasted a while. I think he should go in. Of course I also think Vizquel should go in which I guess makes me a big Hall guy
   17. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: December 08, 2017 at 09:29 AM (#5588634)
I'm pro-Santana for the hof, but I think that the saber crowd really underestimate the value of complete games (same with health) (considering that we have the knowledge of how pitchers fare the third and fourth time through the order, it's somewhat surprising that it's dismissed with lump summing of the stats)


While I agree that complete games are valuable (just generally I think innings pitched are very important for starters over 162 games) as others have noted context matters. Both Santana and Koufax led the league in innings twice while Santana was top 10 five times (in a 14 team, 5 man rotation league) and Koufax four times (in a 10 team, 4 man rotation league).
   18. Rally Posted: December 08, 2017 at 09:31 AM (#5588638)
Nothin wrong with being a big hall guy except the limits on the ballot. If you support Santana and Vizquel then presumably you'd support 15-20 guys on this ballot.

Omar, despite being a longevity guy, doesn't stand out in peak or career on this ballot. At least Johan's WAR7 peak puts him 6th, just ahead of Walker and Mussina and just behind the Joneses.
   19. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: December 08, 2017 at 09:42 AM (#5588647)
If you support Santana and Vizquel then presumably you'd support 15-20 guys on this ballot...

At least Johan's WAR7 peak puts him 6th, just ahead of Walker and Mussina and just behind the Joneses.
Considering Johan's WAR7 is in fact a consecutive span (you could even add an 8th), it wouldn't be a stretch for a peak voter to look at him as top-10, especially as so much of A. Jones' value is tied to defense.
   20. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 08, 2017 at 12:05 PM (#5588772)
After 311 IP in 63 (and 18 post season) he threw 211 in 63


That's 540 innings in '63! Damn, he was even greater than I remembered. ;-)
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: December 08, 2017 at 02:05 PM (#5588877)
While I agree that complete games are valuable (just generally I think innings pitched are very important for starters over 162 games) as others have noted context matters. Both Santana and Koufax led the league in innings twice while Santana was top 10 five times (in a 14 team, 5 man rotation league) and Koufax four times (in a 10 team, 4 man rotation league)


It's not so much the actual complete games or innings, it's that we know that multiple times through the lineup, the offense keeps getting better, so if you have two exactly equal pitchers and pitcher A has 30 starts and 240 innings(8 innings per start) and puts up a 150 era+, and you have pitcher B who has 40 starts and puts up 240 innings(6 innings per start average) and puts up a 150 era+, pitcher A would be the better pitcher as his era+ is taking a beating because he is seeing batters more often per game. (or if he's good enough to not take a beating the 4th time through the lineup, that is also a skill in his favor).
   22. Booey Posted: December 08, 2017 at 03:45 PM (#5588985)
I loved Johan. I've been tempted to make the Santana = Koufax argument before since they really do have similar career numbers and value...but I can't.

By WAR (yes, era-related innings pitched is a big part of this) Koufax had 2 seasons well above Johan's best. He beats Santana easily in black ink: 78-42. He has an extra CYA and an MVP. And that's just the regular season. Johan went 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 34 postseason innings, and won just 1 of 5 playoff series in his career. Koufax went a tough luck 4-3, but with a 0.95 ERA in 57 postseason innings (all in the World Series), leading his team to 3 titles and twice being named WS MVP.

This the the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Merit. That stuff matters. A lot.

Johan and Nomar are the two guys I want to support for the HOF the most but just can't bring myself to do it. There just wasn't enough bulk to their careers. And it's a damn shame.
   23. There are no words... (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: December 08, 2017 at 03:50 PM (#5588992)
I loved Johan, too and will be forever grateful for 6/1/12, but he was nowhere near as dominant -- admittedly, by eye-test, solely -- as Koufax.
   24. Zach Posted: December 08, 2017 at 06:10 PM (#5589072)
If I am training a model to predict HOF-inductees, I usually throw out the Koufax & Dean data points.

Yeah, the problem is that people think of Koufax as getting to the Hall via an easy path (high peak and short career) when he actually made it via the hardest path ("Best pitcher I ever saw!").

For me, a player isn't truly comparable to Koufax as a HOF candidate unless he's the consensus best pitcher of his generation -- someone you could legitimately claim is the best pitcher you ever saw. Santana was good, but the best pitcher I ever saw was Pedro Martinez.

If you want to say Pedro should be in the HOF despite a short career, I'm listening (and I agree!). Santana is a tougher sell.
   25. Zach Posted: December 08, 2017 at 06:23 PM (#5589078)
Reading the article, the strongest argument for Santana is the dominance of his age 25-30 stretch from 2004 to 2009.

But
a) this is a little unfair, because ages 25-30 are Santana's best years, and other pitchers might peak at different ages.
b) Santana is only fourth place on his own list (admittedly with good company)
c) #1 is Pedro Martines, 1997-2002. #2 is Greg Maddux, 1991-1996.

So by this argument, a baseball fan in 2009 had seen a pitcher in the middle of a historic six year run for 18 out of the last 19 seasons.

That's not cheating, because a baseball fan in 2009 really had seen those 18 great seasons. But it makes it much harder to argue that Santana stood out from his contemporaries enough to justify entering the HOF through the Koufax door.
   26. Baldrick Posted: December 08, 2017 at 06:49 PM (#5589086)
I loved Johan Santana. One of my favorite players of the 2000s, and a guy with a clear HOF prime. I'd even consider voting for him on my hypothetical ballot. But it doesn't remotely surprise me that he's not getting any votes from the actual voters.
Yeah, the problem is that people think of Koufax as getting to the Hall via an easy path (high peak and short career) when he actually made it via the hardest path ("Best pitcher I ever saw!").

Agreed. Pedro is the closest guy that could have been a Koufax analog. If his career had ended in 2000, he'd have roughly the same WAR as Santana (in 450 fewer innings), and he would have made the HOF despite the very short career. In fact, they'd have to waive the 10 year requirement to put him in. But they'd do it, I think.

   27. Howie Menckel Posted: December 08, 2017 at 06:57 PM (#5589088)
For me, a player isn't truly comparable to Koufax as a HOF candidate unless he's the consensus best pitcher of his generation

I happen to be reading Jane Leavy's 2002 biography of Koufax, and there is a quote by Gibson praising Koufax but blanching at the "best of a generation" premise. he said that "a generation doesn't last five years."

anyone read that book? thoughts?
   28. Srul Itza Posted: December 08, 2017 at 07:49 PM (#5589096)
Koufax was Kershaw in the regular season and Bumgarner in the postseason. I think that's what raised Koufax to mythical status.


The four no-hitters (including a perfect game) also made a huge impact on his legend.

There is also the fact that he won his 3 CYA awards unanimously, at a time when only one was given out for both leagues combined, by leading the league in Ks, ERA and Ws each of the three years.

And the then-record for most strike outs in a season.

The other thing to bear in mind is how different baseball watching was back then. Today we are saturated with games. Back then, it was a far cry, and the World Series, even shown during the day, really was a much bigger deal, with only 3 networks.

So at a time when baseball was bigger, Sandy Koufax got national exposure far beyond what you see today for any individual player or team, while anchoring a dynasty and doing things which no pitcher had ever done before.

It didn't hurt the myth-making that he was a nice Jewish boy who did not pitch on Yom Kippur in 1965, and played for a storied team, the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers.

You may not be able to comprehend how big a deal Sandy Koufax was back then, unless you were there.

On his best, most famous day, Johann Santana was never anywhere close to being as renowned.

Koufax is and was sui generis, and is not a measuring rod for anyone else.
   29. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 08, 2017 at 08:16 PM (#5589105)
I happen to be reading Jane Leavy's 2002 biography of Koufax, and there is a quote by Gibson praising Koufax but blanching at the "best of a generation" premise. he said that "a generation doesn't last five years."

anyone read that book? thoughts?


I've been following baseball for 65 years. Pedro was the best pitcher I've ever seen within the context of his times, which in his case was the heart of the funny ball era.

But for one game, Money in the Bank, Koufax was the best, even if it was only for a five year "generation". Those World Series games defined him forever. Even in the three games he lost, his ERA was 1.42, and in the four games he won, all of which were complete games, it was 0.75.

And I can't remember ever rooting for either of them in a single game.
   30. kwarren Posted: December 08, 2017 at 11:58 PM (#5589149)
This comparison reminds me of how Kenny Lofton is thought of compared to Carlos Beltran & Andruw Jones vs. Richie Asburn & Andre Dawson.

The optics of media attention, and playoff appearances & success can really distort what each player actually did.

Another weird perception of HOF voters is how they viewed Tony Gwynn & Larry Walker. Obviously, at one time batting titles did mean a lot.
   31. Lest we forget Posted: December 09, 2017 at 04:06 AM (#5589154)
Batting titles did mean a lot - ask Wade Boggs.

Wade made a lot of money in his day. In fact, his career earnings were ... just a bit under what Justin Heyward makes each season nowadays.
   32. PreservedFish Posted: December 09, 2017 at 07:17 AM (#5589157)
Johan and Nomar are the two guys I want to support for the HOF the most but just can't bring myself to do it. There just wasn't enough bulk to their careers. And it's a damn shame.


I'm on the same page. Intellectually I think that the HOF should honor peak performances like theirs - clear, unambiguous HOF quality primes. But something about it seems wrong.
   33. cardsfanboy Posted: December 09, 2017 at 10:34 AM (#5589217)
This comparison reminds me of how Kenny Lofton is thought of compared to Carlos Beltran & Andruw Jones vs. Richie Asburn & Andre Dawson.


Lofton wasn't near the hitter that Beltran was, and the difference on the base paths was minimal, to put them as near equals requires a lot of faith in defensive data, nothing wrong with that, but that is what creates the perception difference. I get that Beltran gets some post season love, but I don't think that is creating arguments for him, it's the fact that he was a complete player who is going to get underestimated by the bbwaa because they focus on batting average or homeruns or rbi, and not the complete package (Lofton got screwed of course by being one and done on a crowded ballot, his case deserved a better conversation)
   34. Walt Davis Posted: December 09, 2017 at 06:05 PM (#5589404)
Of course Koufax is not necessarily the minimum standard for a peak-only pitcher. The statements "Santana was not as good as Koufax" and "Santana should be an HoFer" are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

The CG thing isn't that big of a deal. Koufax averaged 7.01 IP/start while Santana was at 6.56, so an extra couple of batters. Koufax got removed early more often. Most of his innings/season advantage comes from the 4-man vs. 5-man rotation.

Times through the order is not such a big deal either. Santana faced 2,133 batters for the 3rd time; Koufax 2,225. Koufax cleans up by about 1,000 more BF the 4th time. That's about 15% of Koufax's BF as a starter vs. about 4% for Santana.

3rd time effects don't seem to have been very large in the 60s. I didn't really look but for the 63 NL:

2nd time: 247/300/369
3rd time: 252/308/376

Or 2006 AL:

2nd time: 284/340/458
3rd time: 289/348/460

4th time through is a bit harder to judge. In the 2006 AL (and the current era in general I believe), 4th time performance is not worse than 2nd/3rd. Presumably this is because it's strictly limited to the better pitchers who are cruising on low pitch counts. The 63 NL was much worse 4th time through. Koufax's performance in 4th time, relative to his own average, seems consistent with NL 63 (relative to its own average). Santana was hit "hard" his 3rd and 4th time through -- totally dominant 2nd time through.

Not that we would ever really have enough evidence for such a conclusion but it would seem that Santana was as good or better than Koufax the first 2 times through but a little worse the 3rd and 4th times through ... with Koufax having a much larger percentage of batters the 4th time through "distorting" his overall performance relative to Santana. And sure, it's likely that the times Santana went through for the 4th time were days when he was cruising and that his numbers would be noticeably worse if he had to face those extra batters as often as Koufax.
   35. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 09, 2017 at 07:03 PM (#5589417)

The CG thing isn't that big of a deal. Koufax averaged 7.01 IP/start while Santana was at 6.56, so an extra couple of batters. Koufax got removed early more often. Most of his innings/season advantage comes from the 4-man vs. 5-man rotation.

That's more than a bit misleading, for what it omits, not to mention that it assumes that Santana would ever have been able to hold up in a 4-man rotation.

Santana completed 15 out of his 284 career starts.

In 1966 alone, Koufax matched that total a week before the All-Star game. And from 1961 through 1966, he completed 115 of 211 starts, or 55% of those games. I'd say that difference is a pretty big deal.
   36. Adam Starblind Posted: December 09, 2017 at 07:12 PM (#5589420)


You may not be able to comprehend how big a deal Sandy Koufax was back then, unless you were there.


Or if you saw Dennis the Menace in reruns on Nickelodeon. Only half kidding. Koufax appeared as himself 17 times in TV series. Star power matters.
   37. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 09, 2017 at 07:14 PM (#5589421)
Not that we would ever really have enough evidence for such a conclusion but it would seem that Santana was as good or better than Koufax the first 2 times through but a little worse the 3rd and 4th times through ... with Koufax having a much larger percentage of batters the 4th time through "distorting" his overall performance relative to Santana. And sure, it's likely that the times Santana went through for the 4th time were days when he was cruising and that his numbers would be noticeably worse if he had to face those extra batters as often as Koufax.

The biggest thumb on Koufax's scale isn't that hard to express. During his peak, Koufax pitched in Dodger Stadium, when the Majors were averaging 4.11 RPG, while Santana pitched in the Metrodome for all but his last peak year, and for those 6 years the Majors were averaging 4.74 RPG.
   38. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 09, 2017 at 08:12 PM (#5589430)
It's not so much the actual complete games or innings, it's that we know that multiple times through the lineup, the offense keeps getting better

OK, but again, look at league context:

1966 NL, third time facing starting pitcher: .267/.316/.405 (highest of the splits, 4th time through the OPS dips slightly to .706)
2006 AL, first time facing starting pitcher: .264/.326/.419 (by far the lowest of the splits)

So by the third time through the order, Koufax's opponents were almost as tough as Santana's were at the beginning of the game.
   39. cardsfanboy Posted: December 10, 2017 at 12:08 AM (#5589470)
Times through the order is not such a big deal either. Santana faced 2,133 batters for the 3rd time; Koufax 2,225. Koufax cleans up by about 1,000 more BF the 4th time. That's about 15% of Koufax's BF as a starter vs. about 4% for Santana.

3rd time effects don't seem to have been very large in the 60s. I didn't really look but for the 63 NL:

2nd time: 247/300/369
3rd time: 252/308/376

Or 2006 AL:

2nd time: 284/340/458
3rd time: 289/348/460


1st time through as a sp from 1960-1966 .240/.307/.362/.669
2nd time through as a sp .252/.312/.387/.699
3rd time through as a sp .260/.319/.402/.720
4th time through as a sp .270/.328/.412/.740

That looks to me like a pretty consistent .025 or so improvement.


From 2002-2010(years Santana was an elite pitcher)
1st time through as a sp .254/.332/.398/.730
2nd time through as a sp .269/.332/.432/.764
3rd time through as a sp .280/.343/.452/.795
4th time is the aberration here, but the difference in pa between 3rd time(66,904) vs 4th time(8,980) probably has a lot to do with that....281/.342/.435/.777..... ignoring the 4th time, since that was usually going to be good pitchers or crappy offenses often enough, you have pretty much the same level of .030 or so improvement per time through the lineup. Or roughly a 4% improvement each time through the lineup.



So by the third time through the order, Koufax's opponents were almost as tough as Santana's were at the beginning of the game.


Which is why when we do these type of discussions you park and era adjusting them. Era+ is era adjusted and is the metric we have been using for the most part. I'm pointing out that era+ is an inaccurate tool to use for comparing the difference in pitchers by eras because of the fact that pitchers in the past pitched deeper into games and therefore faced situations that inherently gave the advantage to the hitter, more than modern pitchers. This is about comparing two pitchers with relatively similar innings pitched and similar era+ but one did it in fewer games.
   40. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 10, 2017 at 01:09 AM (#5589478)
Which is why when we do these type of discussions you park and era adjusting them. Era+ is era adjusted and is the metric we have been using for the most part. I'm pointing out that era+ is an inaccurate tool to use for comparing the difference in pitchers by eras because of the fact that pitchers in the past pitched deeper into games and therefore faced situations that inherently gave the advantage to the hitter, more than modern pitchers. This is about comparing two pitchers with relatively similar innings pitched and similar era+ but one did it in fewer games.

But the difference in complete games is itself an artifact of the different league contexts. Old Hoss Radbourn in 1883-84 threw almost as many innings as Koufax did from 1962-66, and threw more complete games in those two seasons than Koufax did in his entire career. But that's not a fair comparison, because the contexts in which those numbers were compiled are completely different.

I'm not saying that Santana is necessarily a perfect analog for Koufax; I tend to agree with those who have said that the postseason makes a huge difference here. I just think that pitching changes so much from era to era that the best way to make cross-era comparisons is to look first at how each pitcher compared to their immediate peers, rather than penalizing one pitcher in comparison to the other for the ways the game has changed in between their careers.
   41. cardsfanboy Posted: December 10, 2017 at 09:46 AM (#5589503)
I'm not saying that Santana is necessarily a perfect analog for Koufax; I tend to agree with those who have said that the postseason makes a huge difference here. I just think that pitching changes so much from era to era that the best way to make cross-era comparisons is to look first at how each pitcher compared to their immediate peers, rather than penalizing one pitcher in comparison to the other for the ways the game has changed in between their careers.


I'm not disagreeing with the argument of comparing to one peers, I'm disagreeing with the argument of a 150 era+ pitcher from the 90's is roughly equivalent to a 150 era+ pitcher from the 60's. And you could make the same argument about 1800 pitchers vs current pitchers, but I personally consider the game prior to 1920 to be so much radically different in quality and style that I just generally don't like any comparisons prior to Ruth hitting 29 homeruns.

And let me state that I have zero problem putting Santana in the hof. And I think there could be more arguments made in the Koufax comparison than just pointing out to era+ and innings pitched. But I do think it's important to realize that it's easier nowadays to put up a higher era+ than it was back in Koufax's day. A 1960's 150 era+ pitcher on a per inning basis is a better pitcher than a 2000's 150 era+ pitcher. (And yes I realize that there is a good counter argument to this about how era+ is harder to get in the current day because relievers are better pitchers and sucking up innings making the starters having to compete in era+ against the better era+ relievers--but I still prefer to argue that the only thing we are judging them on in compared to overall league average, and that means the 60's pitcher is better relative to the overall league...it's like how some people like to point out that a New York pitcher in his heyday didn't have to face the Yankees or a Baltimore pitcher in the 2000's had to face the AL east more frequently----these are of course minor points, but are also points that should be considered in these type of discussions)
   42. simon bedford Posted: December 10, 2017 at 10:11 AM (#5589511)
Lets put Santana on that unregulated mound that Koufax had for half his games and see how he does!
Comparing radically different eras really does not yield very satisfying results if you ignore the context of that stats and there are so many adjustments to be made that I am not convinced you can get to a clear picture by the end. Two different players with two different sets of circumstances that can't really be linked. If Santana belongs in the hall it has to be measured against his contemporaries.
   43. cardsfanboy Posted: December 10, 2017 at 11:15 AM (#5589524)
Lets put Santana on that unregulated mound that Koufax had for half his games and see how he does!


I'm not arguing for time machining. I'm arguing understanding the difference in the results because we know more today than we did even a decade ago.


If Santana belongs in the hall it has to be measured against his contemporaries.

Mostly agree, and that has nothing to do with my argument though, since we are talking about comparing Santana to Koufax who was not his contemporary. I'm pointing out a minor flaw with using era+ as a measuring stick in these two eras. (era-, a much better stat than era+, still has them about equal 75 for Koufax, Santana at 74)

We know that multiple times facing a pitcher, the batter has roughly a 4.5% improvement on his offense regardless of the quality of either the pitcher or batter. We know that this is consistent for the years that Koufax was at his peak, and Santana was at his peak. We also know that Koufax pitched 14.6% of his innings facing the lineup a 4th time, and another 23.4% 3 times in a game, we also know that Santana faced a lineup 4% of the time four times through the order and 25.6% of his pa's were against third time through the lineup. This means that Koufax was effectively pitching 10% more pa against all star quality bats. (using the scale that 1st time = replacement, 2nd = average, 3rd = all star quality-- which is a quick hand way of looking at the improvement a batter shows multiple times through the order) All other things being equal, this to me indicates that a 150 era+ by a guy who faces 3rd and 4th time guys through the order on a percentage basis, is pitching better than a guy who has the same era+ but fewer times facing the tougher times through the order.


   44. simon bedford Posted: December 10, 2017 at 11:30 AM (#5589528)
I was not addressing my comment to you Cards, and I agree with your points , there is more of course . Santana was part of a 5 man rotation, Koufax 4, the number of innings pitched were quite different, the approach to injuries etc.
   45. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 10, 2017 at 11:54 AM (#5589538)
But I do think it's important to realize that it's easier nowadays to put up a higher era+ than it was back in Koufax's day.

I was about to say "how do you know this" before realizing that I could just do a quick check myself. I looked at the 10th-highest ERA+ recorded by a qualifying pitcher in every season since 1901. Here are the decade-by-decade averages of the tenth spot:

2010s: 139.8
2000s: 138.3
1990s: 139.7
1980s: 133.3
1970s: 132.8
1960s: 134.5
1950s: 129.6
1940s: 135.1 (If there's a war effect, it's small; the average from '42 to '45 was 136.8.)
1930s: 130.1
1920s: 131.9
1910s: 140.2 (Small Federal League bump, similar to WW2 but only two years long)
1900s: 136.9

So the three highest numbers in the post-deadball era have come in the most recent three decades, which means it does indeed appear to be slightly easier (or at least more common) to post a higher ERA+ now than it was 50 years ago. It's not a huge effect, but since Koufax's peak ERA+ numbers tend to be higher than Santana's anyway...

And yes I realize that there is a good counter argument to this about how era+ is harder to get in the current day because relievers are better pitchers and sucking up innings making the starters having to compete in era+ against the better era+ relievers

I had this argument all typed up as part of my last post before revising it, but the effect of the increase in relief innings is of course included in the numbers above, so it isn't enough to counterbalance whatever other effects are at play.
   46. karlmagnus Posted: December 10, 2017 at 12:40 PM (#5589550)
As a HOM voter, my methods are primitive and old-fashioned. But I have found that for pitchers a "Pitcher Points" system defined as (ERA+-90)*IP/1000 works pretty well. On this system, Koufax has 95.3 PP and Santana 93.2. Pedro is much better at 186 and Dean significantly worse at 79. The system also has Blyleven at 139 and Morris at 57, so seems to fit well with sabermetric consensus. Santana and Koufax, by this system, are both weak HOM/HOF entrants, who have/will slip in in poor years.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Don Malcolm
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogRosenthal: He’s 53 and hasn’t played in the majors since 2005, but Rafael Palmeiro is eyeing a comeback, and redemption – The Athletic
(93 - 7:26pm, Dec 10)
Last: Gonfalon Bubble

NewsblogOTP 04 December 2017: Baseball group accused of ‘united front’ tactics
(1673 - 7:24pm, Dec 10)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

NewsblogAlan Trammell worthy of Cooperstown call
(23 - 7:23pm, Dec 10)
Last: Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan

NewsblogRyan Thibs has his HOF Ballot Tracker Up and Running!
(324 - 7:15pm, Dec 10)
Last: Gonfalon Bubble

NewsblogOT - NBA 2017-2018 Tip-off Thread
(1895 - 7:03pm, Dec 10)
Last: don't ask 57i66135; he wants to hang them all

NewsblogThe Giancarlo Stanton Trade Shines a Light on the Sad Difference Between the Mets and Yankees
(25 - 6:54pm, Dec 10)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogYankees in talks on Giancarlo Stanton trade
(182 - 5:33pm, Dec 10)
Last: You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR)

NewsblogShohei Ohtani agrees to deal with Angels | Los Angeles Angels
(55 - 4:51pm, Dec 10)
Last: Walt Davis

Hall of Merit2018 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion
(313 - 4:40pm, Dec 10)
Last: bachslunch

NewsblogShohei Ohtani’s Value Has No Precedent | FiveThirtyEight
(19 - 4:31pm, Dec 10)
Last: PreservedFish

Gonfalon CubsLooking to next year
(296 - 4:03pm, Dec 10)
Last: Meatwad

NewsblogOT: Winter Soccer Thread
(288 - 1:16pm, Dec 10)
Last: Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine

NewsblogIf Sandy Koufax is a Hall of Famer, Johan Santana Is Too
(46 - 12:40pm, Dec 10)
Last: karlmagnus

NewsblogMariners Acquire Gordon As Marlins Pick Up Trio Of Prospects | BaseballAmerica.com
(58 - 9:16am, Dec 10)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

NewsblogBill Liningston's HOF Article
(24 - 8:47am, Dec 10)
Last: PreservedFish

Page rendered in 0.8135 seconds
47 querie(s) executed