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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Posnanski: Morris vs. Reuschel

Which leads us to the Tango challenge … and Jack Morris … and Rick Reuschel.

You probably know—it’s been mentioned here a time or two—that Baseball Reference’s WAR says Rick Reuschel was a better pitcher than Jack Morris. WAR is not so precise that you can feel supremely confident that a player with a 5.4 WAR season was definitely better than a player with a 5.1 season.

But with Reuschel and Morris, um, it’s not that close.

Career WAR:

Rick Reuschel: 64.6
Jack Morris: 39.3

No, that’s not close. Of course, you might then argue that Morris had better individual seasons than Reuschel. WAR says no soup for you.*

*WAR prefers outdated Seinfeld references. WAR is like that.

Best seasons by WAR

1. Reuschel, 1977, 9.2
2. Reuschel, 1985, 6.0
3. Morris, 1979, 5.6
(tie) Reuschel, 1973, 5.6
5. Reuschel, 1979, 5.5
6. Reuschel, 1980, 5.4
7. Reuschel, 1978, 5.2
8. Morris, 1986, 4.8
(tie) Morris, 1987, 4.8
10. Morris, 1986, 4.6

So six of the Top 7 WAR seasons belong to Reuschel, including the Top 2.

Thanks to Drew.

Repoz Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:01 PM | 96 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, hof, sabermetrics

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   1. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4220497)
Rick Reuschel was literally twice the pitcher Jack Morris was. And literally six times the pitcher Kent Tekulve was.
   2. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:12 PM (#4220501)
I go with Morris' mustache as the deciding factor. And that's iron-clad because no starting pitcher has ever had a greater mustache.
   3. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4220510)
I go with Morris' mustache as the deciding factor. And that's iron-clad because no starting pitcher has ever had a greater mustache.

oh, really?
   4. Steve Treder Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4220513)
And that's iron-clad because no starting pitcher has ever had a greater mustache.

Walt Terrell says, "Dash it all! Confound it!"
   5. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:24 PM (#4220517)
#3: Morris still wins because his whiskers are composed of intangibles. I also account for grooming conventions of the era. Devlin probably had the third-best mustache in his own family.
   6. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4220522)
It's a shame that Paul Reuschel didn't have more of a career. He looked exactly like Rick, except Paul wore horn-rimmed glasses. I half-suspected that they were the same guy, that Rick just wanted to pitch more, so he put on a pair of glasses and created Paul as his relief-pitcher alter ego.
   7. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:35 PM (#4220531)
I also account for grooming conventions of the era. Devlin probably had the third-best mustache in his own family.

true--Morris has a higher VORM
   8. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4220535)
If you believe Jack Morris was better than Rick Reuschel -- ESPECIALLY if you believe this should not even be a discussion -- then throw our a framework that proves it. And then, let’s test it.

As always:

Morris was better and more highly-regarded in every ex ante test of value imaginable, and ex ante value is as valid a measurement of value as ex post.

Any analysis that fails to address and confront that reality is incomplete and flawed (*), notwithstanding its arrogance in insisting otherwise.

It's really that simple.

(*) Worse, actually. It's non-responsive.

EDIT: Didn't realize until further down TFA, but I passed something called the "Tango Challenge." Woo-hoo!!!!
   9. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4220539)
The 1977 Topps "Big League Brothers" card with both of them was an epic moment.

Podcast on Reuschel Brothers '77 Topps card
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:39 PM (#4220541)
What does this have to do with Joe Paterno?

Rick Reuschel was the best pitcher when I was a kid who I thought I could throw harder than. He may have thrown hard, but it certainly didn't look like he was.
   11. Rennie's Tenet Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:40 PM (#4220543)
I was known as "Big Daddy" in one place for about two months, and it may have been the greatest thing I ever achieved. Rick Reuschel was called Big Daddy all the time.
   12. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4220546)
The 1977 Topps "Big League Brothers" card with both of them was an epic moment.


Awesome. That's some gross tonnage right there.

Note that the names are backward; Paul is the one wearing glasses.
   13. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4220548)
Morris was better and more highly-regarded in every ex ante test of value imaginable, and ex ante value is as valid a measurement of value as ex post.

In other words, the only test of value SBB can imagine that existed in the 1980s was pitcher wins.
   14. steagles Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4220553)
If you believe Jack Morris was better than Rick Reuschel -- ESPECIALLY if you believe this should not even be a discussion -- then throw our a framework that proves it. And then, let’s test it.


jack morris:
Black Ink Pitching - 20 (97), Average HOFer ? 40
Gray Ink Pitching - 193 (48), Average HOFer ? 185
Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching - 122 (67), Likely HOFer ? 100
Hall of Fame Standards Pitching - 39 (77), Average HOFer ? 50

rick reuschel:
Black Ink Pitching - 7 (336), Average HOFer ? 40
Gray Ink Pitching - 111 (183), Average HOFer ? 185
Hall of Fame Monitor Pitching - 48 (284), Likely HOFer ? 100
Hall of Fame Standards Pitching - 31 (136), Average HOFer ? 50
   15. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 28, 2012 at 05:56 PM (#4220560)
In other words, the only test of value SBB can imagine that existed in the 1980s was pitcher wins.

Though Morris was better than Reuschel in the metric, pitcher wins are ex post.
   16. Bruce Markusen Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:13 PM (#4220578)
Early in his career, Rick Reuschel threw pretty hard. But then he became more reliant on a sinking fastball, which really became his out-pitch during the 1980s.

I think that three factors hurt Reuschel's recognition:

*He was fat and generally perceived as being out of shape. He looked nothing like a dominant pitcher was supposed to look like.

*He moved around a lot during the second half of his career, from Chicago to New York, back to Chicago, and then on to Pittsburgh and San Francisco. His career had a lot of peaks and valleys.

*Finally, he didn't have much postseason exposure, in direct contrast to Morris.
   17. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:21 PM (#4220589)
He also pitched on teams with bad defenses. In fact, WAR scores the 1974 Cubs as the worst defensive team ever: -139 Rfield, -14.4 dWAR. Both are the lowest marks for any team ever.
   18. dr. scott Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:27 PM (#4220596)
That is only because RR did not inspire his defence to play better like JM did. Is that not obvious to everyone?
   19. dr. scott Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:35 PM (#4220606)
and ex ante value is as valid a measurement of value as ex post.

Any analysis that fails to address and confront that reality is incomplete and flawed (*), notwithstanding its arrogance in insisting otherwise.


Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but I can’t possible see how predictions are just as good as actual performance. If the predictions turn out right, or they turn out wrong because of an unreasonable amount of luck I can see the value in looking at them, but in the end value should be determined by actual results.

Now I realize this is not the case in most businesses, but that is often because most businesses are lousy at evaluating talent both ex ante and ex post (in some cases because its hard, and in others just because they are lazy)... but in baseball, talent evaluation has come such a long way that this should no longer even be a discussion? What am I missing?
   20. Walt Davis Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:36 PM (#4220609)
#14: Near as I can tell that "proves" that Reuschel isn't likely to make the HoF while Morris might have a shot. I don't think that was up for debate.

#16: The main thing that hurt him was pitching for mostly crappy teams which kept the win totals (and postseason appearances) down.

I'll be damned -- Reuschel's first name is Rickey! Separated at birth those two. From 1972-1980, Reuschel was just 11 games over 500 ... for a team that was 86 games below 500 (and their only good season was Reuschel's rookie year when he threw just 129 innings).

Run support per game:

Reushchel: 4.1 vs a league average of 4.3
Morris: 4.9 vs. a league average of 4.4

Of course we know that run support has nothing to do with how many games a pitcher wins or loses but just for kicks ... .7 runs per start (to keep consistent with league average) for Reuschel's 529 starts is about 380 runs or about 38 wins which would put Reuschel on 252 wins. Morris had 254 so clearly Morris was better.
   21. dr. scott Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4220611)
Also, is that WAR based on FIP or ex post results? I seem to remember there being different WAR calculations along those lines.
   22. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:42 PM (#4220615)
Pitching in Wrigley Field in the 1970s was a good way to be underrated as a pitcher. Your teams were lousy and the park was a band box (in the late 80s when they added the boxes underneath the upper deck they helped tame the way the park would be when the wind blew out).

Reuschel was always considered the Cubs star pitcher when I was growing up, and he had the misfortune of getting hurt soon after he finally escaped the Cubs. Even a shell of his former self had big success with the Giants despite a fastball about 7 or 8 MPH slower than when he was a Cub.

I never had any doubt he was a better pitcher than Morris, who didn't have Reuschel's command nor did he change speeds as well. It was obvious that the different environments the two guys pitched in greatly affected how they were perceived, even as a kid. But looking at it now I feel like I gave Morris too little credit. I still think Reuschel was better, but not by much due to Morris' durability.

   23. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:42 PM (#4220616)
Why does Morris get so much more press than Hershiser? Hershiser has the Cy Young, the post season heroics, and the scoreless inning streak.

Of course, the question isn't really Morris vs. Reuschel or Morris vs. Hershiser, it's why Morris and not Reuschel, Hershiser, Blue, Stieb, Pappas, John, Kaat, Tiant, Brown, Saberhagen, Cone...
   24. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:56 PM (#4220628)
Morris was better and more highly-regarded in every ex ante test of value imaginable, and ex ante value is as valid a measurement of value as ex post.

Everyone congratulate the Phillies and Brewers on their ex ante division titles this year!
   25. dr. scott Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:57 PM (#4220629)
Of course, the question isn't really Morris vs. Reuschel or Morris vs. Hershiser, it's why Morris and not Reuschel, Hershiser, Blue, Stieb, Pappas, John, Kaat, Tiant, Brown, Saberhagen, Cone...


Maybe this is obvious (and a rhetorical questions), but my first guess is it is likely just the simple theory that most people have a very hard time letting facts get in the way of a good narrative. Most people learn or form opinions via narratives, not statistics or facts*. Even when confronted with the facts and they understand that they contradicts the narrative, the power of the narritive usually decides how people will think. Studies have shown that the best way to convince people they are wrong is to show the facts in a narrative form or a personal experience.

Someone with more knowledge of history would have to determine if this makes sense here, but the little knowledge I have of the way the press wrote about Morris suggests that his may be the case.

*For an excellent layman's book that deals with the science and experiments of this theory check out "Thinking Fast And Slow". (Actually i think this book should be required reading for all humans)
   26. Steve Treder Posted: August 28, 2012 at 06:57 PM (#4220631)
Even a shell of his former self had big success with the Giants despite a fastball about 7 or 8 MPH slower than when he was a Cub.

One of the many things that impressed me about Reuschel in his Giants' tenure was despite his old age and vast middle region, the dude could get off the mound and field his position like a cat. A remarkable athlete.
   27. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 28, 2012 at 07:01 PM (#4220634)
#16: The main thing that hurt him was pitching for mostly crappy teams which kept the win totals (and postseason appearances) down.


Crappy teams in the best hitter's park in the league, so he didn't even have good ERAs.

The big thing is that, as Dag says, WAR loves Reuschel because it think those Cub defenses were so bad, and I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock in that.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: August 28, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4220638)
I should note that the "challenge", especially as Poz lays it out (and as quoted in #14), is silly. Poz goes with single stat criteria. With the possible exceoption of milestones like 300 wins, nobody believes there should be a single criterion for the HoF.

The point about "if you're going to make up a framework to support Morris, that framework needs to be applied across the board" is a perfectly legit point. But the Morris supporter's made-up framework is more complicated than "254 wins" -- it is the mix of IP and CG and wins, most wins over X time period and "big game guy" (opening day starts, 1st game playoff starts, game 7). And of course such a framework doesn't necessarily rule out other pitchers citing CYA in their list of accomplishments, it simply means that Morris's generally poor CYA results don't disqualify him. That is the Morris supporter's proposed pro-Morris framework does not have to be an exhaustive list of all HoF criteria. But they are right that any pitcher which also meets the Morris standards would be inducted -- good luck finding one.

The "beauty" of the pro-Morris framework is that his supporters have had to dig so far into the arcana of his career to make him "unique." Opening day starts? Nobody's ever used this as a criterion before and nobody had any idea how many opening day starts Seaver had and nobody can show that it means anything other than (at most) the manager thought this guy was his best healthy starter at the start of the year. Most wins over this time period, consecutive 10-year periods leading in wins, etc. Again, who had ever heard such a criterion before Morris and what does it tell us other than (a) he won a good number of games which we already knew and (b) there weren't very many good starters during his era which we already knew.

And now the ex-ante/ex-post challenge in which, near as I can tell, we are asked to prove that Morris wasn't the pitcher "everybody" thought he was at the time without using Morris's actual performance as evidence.
   29. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: August 28, 2012 at 07:08 PM (#4220639)
The first big research project I did upon finding Retrosheet was look up pitcher run support. When adjusted for park & league, the worst support any 20-game winner had in the last 100 years is Rick Reuschel's 1977. You have to go back to Nap Rucker to find a 20-game winner w/ worse run support.
   30. puck Posted: August 28, 2012 at 07:19 PM (#4220654)

Awesome. That's some gross tonnage right there.

Note that the names are backward; Paul is the one wearing glasses.


Look at this one, (ostensibly) autographed by both brothers! They signed in the right place, too.
   31. JJ1986 Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:07 PM (#4220684)
I don't think the case for Morris really the IP and the wins or the Big Game Guy or Game 7. I think it's mostly that he was considered a HoFer during his career and that he didn't collapse. Now the last third of his career was actually much worse than the first two, but that wasn't the perception at the time, so he doesn't get an Andruw Jones or Don Mattingly level devaluation for not maintaining his established level. And despite the fact that he was never really that great, in the early 80s when he peaked, there was a paucity of HoF pitching talent in its prime so his reputation then was bolstered unfairly.
   32. God Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:08 PM (#4220686)
One of the many things that impressed me about Reuschel in his Giants' tenure was despite his old age and vast middle region, the dude could get off the mound and field his position like a cat. A remarkable athlete.


It's kind of astonishing how often the fat pitchers end up being sneaky-good athletes, hitting and fielding really well for their position. Reuschel, Fernando, and Livan Hernandez are three who come immediately to mind. And of course the original of the type, Babe Ruth.
   33. Jay Z Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:08 PM (#4220687)
He also pitched on teams with bad defenses. In fact, WAR scores the 1974 Cubs as the worst defensive team ever: -139 Rfield, -14.4 dWAR. Both are the lowest marks for any team ever.


Games started by 1974 Cubs second basemen:
Vic Harris 50
Dave Rosello 33
Billy Grabarkewitz 29
Rob Sperring 27
Ron Dunn 18
Carmen Fanzone 5

Collectively, they committed 46 errors.
   34. God Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:09 PM (#4220688)
Let's say Mattingly wins the World Series this year and again in 2013. Does that get him in eventually?
   35. BDC Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:10 PM (#4220689)
Good pitchers on bad teams make an interesting subset of the HOVG or the HOPrettyG. Charlie Hough has career IP and ERA+ totals very similar to Morris's, and isn't about to get into any Hall of Anything. Hough's career, to extend Walt's point in #28, has a very different shape than Morris's; much of his value was accumulated as a reliever, and his peak years as a starter came late (even though he was every bit as good as Morris while they lasted). Add to that, his Ranger teams stunk, he had a .500 lifetime W%, his postseason record was meh out of the bullpen for three Series losers, he threw a knuckleball, and he resembled a Wednesday-night Bible-study leader more than a pro athlete. But he was a heck of a pitcher, still the Rangers' ace even when Nolan Ryan hit town. Nolan and I watched him throw a shutout on Opening Night in 1989, Ryan's first season here – as far as Opening Day starts go :)
   36. Don Malcolm Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:23 PM (#4220702)
Reading this makes it clear that with enough dogged determination and sufficient "repeat as necessary" application, Joe Pos will eventually rehabilitate himself to the point where he'll fit right in at BTF.
   37. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:37 PM (#4220712)
Opening day starts? Nobody's ever used this as a criterion before and nobody had any idea how many opening day starts Seaver had and nobody can show that it means anything other than (at most) the manager thought this guy was his best healthy starter at the start of the year.

Actually, "most opening day starts" was a list you used to see a lot. It obviously went nowhere as a criterion -- maybe because Bert Blyleven had 12 -- but it got a disproportionate amount of attention. Now it gets almost none.
   38. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 28, 2012 at 08:56 PM (#4220722)
Don't know if it was covered earlier, but in the SI article that got Reggie suspended, he offered this:

"No. No, no, no, no," Jackson said. "Blyleven wasn't even the dominant pitcher of his era, it was Jack Morris."
   39. JJ1986 Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:03 PM (#4220725)
What is "his era" there for Morris? 79-83? Certainly by 85 he wasn't the "dominant pitcher" anymore.
   40. Hank G. Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:07 PM (#4220727)
It's kind of astonishing how often the fat pitchers end up being sneaky-good athletes, hitting and fielding really well for their position. Reuschel, Fernando, and Livan Hernandez are three who come immediately to mind. And of course the original of the type, Babe Ruth.


Babe Ruth the pitcher was not fat. You'd think God would know that.
   41. Rennie's Tenet Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:10 PM (#4220728)
One of the many things that impressed me about Reuschel in his Giants' tenure was despite his old age and vast middle region, the dude could get off the mound and field his position like a cat. A remarkable athlete.


Reuschel and Jose DeLeon were teammates in Pittsburgh for a couple of years, and I always thought of Reuschel as the anti-DeLeon. Reuschel was a terrific fielder, very fast delivering the ball to the plate, was a good hitter and bunter. DeLeon had no skills to support his terrific arm, and so was in trouble every time he put a man on base.

That said, the 23rd anniversary of the game in which DeLeon faced the minimum over 11 innings is coming up on Thursday. A game worth a mention.
   42. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:24 PM (#4220742)
It's kind of astonishing how often the fat pitchers end up being sneaky-good athletes, hitting and fielding really well for their position.

Carlos Zambrano is not small, and does both things well. Not sure about Sabathia's fielding, but he's hit well in limited opportunities.
   43. The District Attorney Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:53 PM (#4220761)
WAR loves Reuschel because it think those Cub defenses were so bad, and I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock in that.
Why not? I mean, single-season worst ever may be a stretch -- one thinks of the 1962 Mets, 1899 Spiders, etc. -- but is there any reason to disbelieve the general point that those Cub defenses were terrible?
   44. DL from MN Posted: August 28, 2012 at 10:04 PM (#4220766)
Why does Morris get so much more press than Hershiser?


Clearly Hershiser should have played for a large media market team like Detroit instead of the media backwater of Los Angeles.
   45. GregD Posted: August 28, 2012 at 10:24 PM (#4220778)
Why does Morris get so much more press than Hershiser?
Wins. Innings pitched. I mean, Morris is not at the surefire HOF cutoff in either category but he's in the not implausible category. Hershiser is below that, even if he was undoubtedly a greater pitcher.

Above Morris' 254 wins, every eligible 20th century pitcher is either in or at least was vaguely in the conversation: Jim Kaat hit the 20s a bunch of times in HOF votes, Tommy John hit 30%. Looking at Morris' slot there, you'd expect him to at least get 20-30% of the vote; he started at 22%.

On Innings Pitched, it's more mixed: You get Jack Quinn and Sad Sam Jones and Jerry Koosman and Dennis Martinez and Frank Tanana who got basically no support. But still most of the people who are eligible above him are in.

In both categories, the worm turns between Morris and Hershiser. There are some guys who got in with totals closer to Hershiser's than Morris', but many--and close to Hershiser the vast majority--didn't.

So Morris defines the bottom line of what you need to do to get considered if you are considered something less than super lights out.

Why Hershiser never got the lights-out bonus that he might have--he was truly great at times--is a different story. Given his Cy Young, his famous record, and his postseason exploits, you'd wonder why he didn't.
   46. Bug Selig Posted: August 28, 2012 at 10:45 PM (#4220798)
ex ante value is as valid a measurement of value as ex post.


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Todd Van Poppel and Brien Taylor, Hall-of-Famers!
   47. rr Posted: August 28, 2012 at 11:42 PM (#4220819)
OT: Crazy ending to Tigers/Royals game. Umps looked at replay of two-out possible 3-run HR by Delmon Young; foul call stood.
   48. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: August 29, 2012 at 12:08 AM (#4220830)
Possibly, reuschel was better;
Arguments in favor: run and defensive support
Tend to be the kind of factors overlooked,
Easier to stick with wins,
Runs allowed, the like.
Never appreciated in his time, while Morris
Overrated, then and now.
   49. Steve Treder Posted: August 29, 2012 at 12:17 AM (#4220834)
Babe Ruth the pitcher was not fat. You'd think God would know that.

Big time. Next he'll be telling us that Noah put every pair of gnats into an ark.
   50. something like a train wreck Posted: August 29, 2012 at 12:35 AM (#4220849)
Re 1974 Cubs, eye balling the B-Ref stats show a number of players who were bad defensively, but godawful bad with the Cubs in the mid -70s. This certainly suggests some sort of house effect. Reuschel was a hell of a pitcher. At his peak, better than Morris. But if a stat shows that he was vastly superior to Morris over his career, something is wrong with the stat.
   51. thranduil Posted: August 29, 2012 at 12:45 AM (#4220854)
My favorite memory of Rick Reuschel was a CS. This must have been 1989, since Hank Greenwald was broadcasting. He had taken a lead off of first base, and being "Big Daddy" no one bothered to pay attention to the fat 40-year old. He stole second dead to rights except that the ball was fouled off. He then proceeded to try again, this time getting thrown out. Not savvy enough with BB-ref to figure out which game this was....
   52. Sunday silence Posted: August 29, 2012 at 12:53 AM (#4220855)
Studies have shown that the best way to convince people they are wrong is to show the facts in a narrative form or a personal experience.


If this was really true you wouldn't need a study; an anecdote would do.
   53. Sunday silence Posted: August 29, 2012 at 12:57 AM (#4220860)
This certainly suggests some sort of house effect.


this is always an interesting phenomenon to ponder in baseball. Whether it really happen or not. I think Bill James was agnostic on the subject. One that struck me was of course the 1969 Mets with a lot of those guys seemingly playing over their heads. But the one I was more familiar with was the 1979 Pirates. Omar Moreno was like a career .220 (if not worse at times) and I think he hit .290. Foli had a big year. Bill Robinson never made an impact anywhere but Pitt. John Milner seemed to always come through with hits.

I never did form an opinion, I can see it happening sometimes but mostly not.
   54. tshipman Posted: August 29, 2012 at 01:02 AM (#4220862)
Possibly, reuschel was better;
Arguments in favor: run and defensive support
Tend to be the kind of factors overlooked,
Easier to stick with wins,
Runs allowed, the like.
Never appreciated in his time, while Morris
Overrated, then and now.


Are all posts
????now to be made in the form
????????of free-flowing modernist poetry?

Outre.
   55. Bourbon Samurai Posted: August 29, 2012 at 03:25 AM (#4220888)
Babe Ruth the pitcher was not fat. You'd think God would know that.


Babe Ruth had the soul of a fat man. He was always fat in his heart.
   56. bjhanke Posted: August 29, 2012 at 05:10 AM (#4220893)
Well, you do have to admit that Babe Ruth was the Dominant Fat Man of his decade. Of course, "his decade" wasn't as a pitcher.

And, just to throw more fuel on the Jack Morris fire, it's not just WAR. Take a look at the New Historical Abstract. Bill lists his top 100 pitchers (as of the book's time). There are about 65 pitchers in the Hall of Fame, leaving out the Negro Leaguers, whom Bill doesn't include in his list. Rick Reuschel is #81, between Addie Joss and Tony Mullane, but not in the Hall of Fame. Jack Morris is not on the list. At all. He's not one of Bill's top 100 pitchers, much less one of the top 65. Now, Bill's system is, shall we say, not exactly identical to WAR's. It's very different, and comes up with a lot of results that don't mirror WAR's. When two very different systems come to the same conclusions (Morris is not a Hall guy at all, and Reuschel was better), that's a lot more convincing that if it were just one system or a group of systems that do the same thing as each other. And Reggie Jackson is hardly the place to start when looking for balanced comments on a pitcher whose candidacy rests so strongly on one postseason game. Reggie just might have some bias about postseason success.... - Brock Hanke
   57. God Posted: August 29, 2012 at 06:15 AM (#4220899)
OK, so I was stretching it with Ruth. But look at the pictures of him pitching -- that's not a small dude. He always had the big barrel chest. And the stories of him eating dozens of hot dogs in one sitting also date to his Red Sox days.
   58. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 29, 2012 at 07:08 AM (#4220902)
But if a stat shows that he was vastly superior to Morris over his career, something is wrong with the stat.

ERA+: Reuschel 114, Morris 105
K/BB Ratio: Reuschel 2.16, Morris 1.78
   59. Hack Wilson Posted: August 29, 2012 at 07:17 AM (#4220903)
Games started by 1974 Cubs second basemen:
Carmen Fanzone 5


Well Carmen only got 5 starts because he had to play the "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to games at Wrigley Field. He was so good that in the television program Transformers Animated, the captain of the Detroit Police Department was named Carmine Fanzone as a tribute.
   60. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: August 29, 2012 at 07:28 AM (#4220905)
I know I'm a bit late to the discussion of best starting pitcher mustaches, but jeezum crow, nobody can top Fred Breining, whose mustache was so unbelievably awful it was fantastic.
   61. God Posted: August 29, 2012 at 07:57 AM (#4220912)
I never knew John Holmes was on a baseball card. That's Fantastic.
   62. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: August 29, 2012 at 08:03 AM (#4220913)
In fact, WAR scores the 1974 Cubs as the worst defensive team ever: -139 Rfield, -14.4 dWAR.

Ye gods, what a bad defensive team. They had exactly three players with a positive dWAR: Steve Swisher (0.2), Andre Thornton (0.1) and Jim Tyrone (0.1). Meanwhile, there was Rick Monday, Jerry Morales, Vic Harris, Don Kessinger...the mind reels. (How do you beat the '74 Cubs? Hit the ball fair.)

And yet, somehow, Reuschel won 20 games. He deserves the Hall just for that alone.
   63. bobm Posted: August 29, 2012 at 08:09 AM (#4220915)
Career WAR:

Rick Reuschel: 64.6
Jack Morris: 39.3


Career WAA (and WAA as % of career WAR):

Reuschel: 38.2 (59%)
Morris: 9.7 (25%)

How was Morris the more dominant pitcher?
   64. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: August 29, 2012 at 08:11 AM (#4220916)
Are all posts
????now to be made in the form
????????of free-flowing modernist poetry?


Can't
Help
It, the muse
Loudly
Demands
Reply,
An odd
Poetic
Energy
   65. Howie Menckel Posted: August 29, 2012 at 08:24 AM (#4220928)
"Morris was better and more highly-regarded in every ex ante test of value imaginable, and ex ante value is as valid a measurement of value as ex post."

This is a fascinating way of looking at life, sort of a "majority rules," I guess.

If it's 1855, aren't you defending slavery as something that has high popular support (among the unenslaved, anyway)?
Are mortgage decisions by banks (and people) in the mid-2000s seen as sensible because, well, everybody was doing it?
Is it time to salute flat-earthers from the 1400s - and should we really question their analysis?

Wondering where this admiration with "what people believed" leads outside of a Morris-for-HOF campaign.

   66. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 29, 2012 at 08:32 AM (#4220935)
Rick Reuschel was a lot of fun to watch pitch and one of the best trades in Giants history. The weird thing is I can't recall him ever saying anything and I followed those Giants teams religiously. In my mind he's kind of a mute whereas the voice of Will Clark never shuts up.
   67. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: August 29, 2012 at 08:44 AM (#4220944)
The 1997 HOF election was interesting. Reuschel was one-and-done, of course (two votes!) despite the 66 WAR. There were five players on the ballot that year between my (sorta) in/out line of 62 and 67: Santo, Reuschel, Dwight Evans, Nettles and Tiant; none were elected by the writers. (Niekro was elected, seemingly a lock with 90 WAR and 318 wins...but this was his fifth ballot!)

Also on the '97 ballot with at least 50 WAR: Sutton (in), K Hernandez, John, Bonds, Allen, Torre and Tony Perez (in).
   68. BDC Posted: August 29, 2012 at 09:22 AM (#4220989)
"what people believed"

FWIW, Morris (if I'm counting correctly) got six first-place CYA votes in his entire career – I'd imagine not very many of them outside of his home city's writers. Reuschel got nine, and Hersisher 27 (including a unanimous CYA). Which means little, except that if there were lots of reasons to believe Morris was a great pitcher, award voters weren't really noticing them very much. Morris was a fine pitcher and finished well down several CYA ballots, of course, which is all to the good; at least he was on them.
   69. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: August 29, 2012 at 09:35 AM (#4221007)
FWIW, Morris (if I'm counting correctly) got six first-place CYA votes in his entire career – I'd imagine not very many of them outside of his home city's writers. Reuschel got nine, and Hersisher 27 (including a unanimous CYA). Which means little, except that if there were lots of reasons to believe Morris was a great pitcher, award voters weren't really noticing them very much. Morris was a fine pitcher and finished well down several CYA ballots, of course, which is all to the good; at least he was on them.


But that's ex-post. That doesn't count in a Morris debate.
   70. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: August 29, 2012 at 09:43 AM (#4221022)
A few players who were among the top 5 players in salary in a given year since 1990:

Joe Carter - 2nd 1991
Danny Tartabull - 2nd 1992
Bobby Bonilla - 1st 1992-1994
Cecil Fielder - 1st 1995-96, 2nd 1997
Mo Vaughn - 4th 2003

   71. DanG Posted: August 29, 2012 at 09:59 AM (#4221043)
Top 10 seasons in Win Shares:

RR 26-20-20-19-18-17-17-15-15-14 career 240
JM 21-20-20-19-18-17-16-15-14-14 career 225
   72. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 29, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4221101)
I mean, single-season worst ever may be a stretch -- one thinks of the 1962 Mets, 1899 Spiders, etc. -- but is there any reason to disbelieve the general point that those Cub defenses were terrible?


Just looking at the personnel on the field, they don't look all that terrible to me. The 1974 team had that disaster at second base (which they quickly replaced with Manny Trillo), and they had Bill Madlock at third, who was never considered very good... but they also had a former Gold Glove winner at shortstop, and a catcher who was considered outstanding defensively, and good speed in the outfield (aside from the ancient Billy Williams, who was only a part-timer at that point). I would expect the worst defense of all time to have a lot of Madlocks out there and no Kessingers.

Broadening it out a bit, Reuschel actually pitched in front of a fair number of fielders who won Gold Gloves: Kessinger, Beckert, Santo, Manny Trillo, Randy Hundley. I know, we're supposed to turn up our noses at Gold Glove voting, but certainly, no one thought those guys were horrible defensively at the time.

For his career, Reuschel had a BABIP that was 11 points greater than the league average. You would expect sinkerballers to have a higher BABIP than normal; Tommy John was six points higher than league for his career, as was Geoff Zahn. Aaron Cook is probably the most extreme sinkerballer working today, and his career BABIP is 11 points above league, just like Reuschel. So I'd guess that Reuschel's subpar defenses cost him about 5 points of BABIP over his career. How many runs that translates to, I couldn't tell you.
   73. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 29, 2012 at 11:21 AM (#4221136)
reuschel is a good reminder to me how i would handle starters which is 38-40 starts but 260 innings with a swingman or two in the pen to pick up the days where the starter just doesn't have it. you look at his usage and i think others should try it again

and has anyone mentioned his 1987 season which i think is marvelous. 12 complete games. 4 shutouts
   74. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 29, 2012 at 11:28 AM (#4221147)
and has anyone mentioned his 1987 season which i think is marvelous. 12 complete games. 4 shutouts

Yeah, he was great that year.

Anyone else remember the BOMB Bo Jackson hit off of him in the all star game? Not many could tag Reuschel like that.
   75. GuyM Posted: August 29, 2012 at 11:45 AM (#4221175)
So I'd guess that Reuschel's subpar defenses cost him about 5 points of BABIP over his career. How many runs that translates to, I couldn't tell you.

Back of the envelope:
BIP = 11,629 (BF - BB - SO - HR - HBP)
11,629 * .005 = 58 extra hits
58 * .8 = approx 46 extra runs allowed

   76. BDC Posted: August 29, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4221202)
But that's ex-post. That doesn't count in a Morris debate

Exactly. I'm having major problems figuring out the post/ante thing. Maybe it means we should judge pitchers by how well people initially thought their careers would turn out, which would put David Clyde way up there :)
   77. dr. scott Posted: August 29, 2012 at 12:20 PM (#4221233)
Exactly, all ex ante decisions are based on ex post statistics. Sometimes they are just the wrong ex post statistics.

Sorry SBB, your whole argument is ludicrous.
   78. DanG Posted: August 29, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4221268)
Jack Morris has a legitimate (ex-post) Hall of Fame case. There are worse starting pitchers than Jack in the Hall so one can make a case for him, jumping off from that point. It puts him in the Hall's Grey Area.

The problem is that the HOF should be looking to elect the very best candidates first, while guys like Morris should wait in line. Even if we only look at pitchers since the Expansion Era began there is Reuschel and 20 others who were better than Morris.

There are 50 HOF candidates with 30+ Pitching WAR who debuted since 1957 and retired by 2006.

Career WAR

Rk            Player  WAR ERA+     IP
1      Rick Reuschel 64.6  114 3548.1
2        Kevin Brown 64.5  127 3256.1
3         Luis Tiant 61.8  114 3486.1
4         David Cone 58.2  121 2898.2
5         Tommy John 56.9  111 4710.1
6    Bret Saberhagen 56.0  126 2562.2
7       Chuck Finley 54.3  115 3197.1
8         Dave Stieb 53.5  122 2895.1
9      Jerry Koosman 53.1  110 3839.1
10      Frank Tanana 52.6  106 4188.1
11      Kevin Appier 51.9  121 2595.1
12       Wilbur Wood 49.3  114 2684.0
13    Orel Hershiser 48.0  112 3130.1
14     Mark Langston 46.9  107 2962.2
15         Jimmy Key 46.1  122 2591.2
16        Ron Guidry 45.4  119 2392.0

30       Jack Morris 39.3  105 3824.0 


Among those 50, most seasons with 3.5+ Pitching WAR

Rk                   Yrs From   To
1         David Cone  10 1988 1999
2        Kevin Brown   9 1992 2003
3         Luis Tiant   9 1964 1978
4    Bret Saberhagen   8 1985 1999
5          Jimmy Key   8 1985 1997
6         Dave Stieb   8 1980 1990
7       Steve Rogers   8 1973 1982
8      Rick Reuschel   8 1973 1987
9       Kevin Appier   7 1990 1997
10      Chuck Finley   7 1989 2000
11   Dennis Martinez   7 1987 1995
12       Frank Viola   7 1984 1993
13        Tommy John   7 1968 1982
14      Sam McDowell   7 1964 1971
15
(12-man tieJack Morris   6 1979 1991 


Among those 50, most seasons with 4.5+ Pitching WAR

Rk                   Yrs From   To
1         David Cone   7 1988 1999
2      Rick Reuschel   7 1973 1985
3         Dave Stieb   6 1980 1990
4         Luis Tiant   6 1968 1978
5       Sam McDowell   6 1964 1970
6        Kevin Brown   5 1996 2000
7          Al Leiter   5 1995 2004
8       Kevin Appier   5 1990 1997
9      Mark Langston   5 1987 1993
10   Bret Saberhagen   5 1985 1994
11      Steve Rogers   5 1973 1982
12       Wilbur Wood   5 1968 1974
13     Jerry Koosman   5 1968 1979
14
(14-man tieJack Morris   4 1979 1987 

Among those 50, most seasons with 5.5+ Pitching WAR

Rk                   Yrs From   To
1        Kevin Brown   5 1996 2000
2         Dave Stieb   5 1982 1990
3         David Cone   4 1993 1997
4        Frank Viola   4 1987 1992
5      Mark Langston   4 1987 1993
6     Orel Hershiser   4 1985 1989
7      Rick Reuschel   4 1973 1985
8         Luis Tiant   4 1968 1976
9      Jerry Koosman   4 1968 1979
10        Brad Radke   3 1999 2004
11      Kevin Appier   3 1992 1996
12      Chuck Finley   3 1990 1998
13   Bret Saberhagen   3 1985 1989
14      Frank Tanana   3 1975 1977
15       Jon Matlack   3 1972 1978
16       Wilbur Wood   3 1971 1973
17         Vida Blue   3 1971 1978
18      Sam McDowell   3 1965 1970
19       Dean Chance   3 1964 1968
         Jack Morris   1 1979 1979 

Among those 50, most seasons with 6.5+ Pitching WAR

Rk                   Yrs From   To
1        Kevin Brown   4 1996 2000
2         David Cone   4 1993 1997
3         Dave Stieb   4 1982 1985
4       Chuck Finley   3 1990 1998
5    Bret Saberhagen   3 1985 1989
6       Frank Tanana   3 1975 1977
7        Wilbur Wood   3 1971 1973
8       Kevin Appier   2 1992 1993
9      Mark Langston   2 1991 1993
10    Orel Hershiser   2 1988 1989
11       Frank Viola   2 1987 1988
12          Jim Kaat   2 1974 1975
13     Mickey Lolich   2 1971 1972
14         Vida Blue   2 1971 1976
15        Luis Tiant   2 1968 1974
16      Sam McDowell   2 1965 1970
17       Jim Maloney   2 1965 1966
         Jack Morris   0 1979 1979 

Among those 50, Quality Start % leaders

Rk             Player    QSFrom   To
1     Mel Stottlemyre 0.694
1964 1974
2         Kevin Brown 0.660
1986 2005
3        Steve Rogers 0.659
1973 1985
4    Andy Messersmith 0.658
1968 1979
5       Claude Osteen 0.656
1957 1975
6         Jon Matlack 0.648
1971 1983
7       Rick Reuschel 0.637
1972 1991
8       Larry Dierker 0.635
1964 1977
9         Dean Chance 0.633
1961 1971
10     Orel Hershiser 0.629
1983 2000
11      Jerry Koosman 0.622
1967 1985
12         Tommy John 0.616
1963 1989
13        Burt Hooton 0.615
1971 1985
14         David Cone 0.613
1986 2003
15      Dwight Gooden 0.612
1984 2000
16         John Tudor 0.612
1979 1990
17          Jimmy Key 0.609
1984 1998
18          Jose Rijo 0.606
1984 2002
19          Bob Welch 0.606
1978 1994
20    Bret Saberhagen 0.604
1984 2001
21         Ron Guidry 0.604
1975 1988
44        Jack Morris 0.564
1977 1994 

Among those 50, Average Game Score leaders

Rk             Player GmScA From   To
1    Andy Messersmith  59.3 1968 1979
2        Sam McDowell  58.4 1961 1975
3         Jim Maloney  57.8 1960 1971
4         Dean Chance  56.9 1961 1971
5          David Cone  56.8 1986 2003
6          Ron Guidry  56.8 1975 1988
7       Mickey Lolich  56.4 1963 1979
8     Mel Stottlemyre  56.4 1964 1974
9          Luis Tiant  56.3 1964 1982
10          Vida Blue  56.2 1969 1986
11          Jose Rijo  56.0 1984 2002
12        Jon Matlack  55.8 1971 1983
13        Kevin Brown  55.7 1986 2005
14       Steve Rogers  55.7 1973 1985
15      Larry Dierker  55.7 1964 1977
16    Bret Saberhagen  55.6 1984 2001
17      Dwight Gooden  55.5 1984 2000
18      Jerry Koosman  55.1 1967 1985

32        Jack Morris  53.4 1977 1994 
   79. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 29, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4221274)
So, David Cone and Kevin Brown, then...
   80. DL from MN Posted: August 29, 2012 at 01:51 PM (#4221366)
Reuschel, Cone, Brown, Stieb and Saberhagen are all Hall of Merit. Tiant gets a bunch of votes.
   81. Ron J2 Posted: August 29, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4221643)
#72 All back of the envelope, but: Kessinger was off in all categories in 1974. Most particularly in the DP department. Looks to me like he got old in 1974 (and if the problem on the DP front was primarily at 2B then at the team level it doesn't much matter if Kessinger is getting unfairly dinged)

A small part of what we're looking at is probably park factors, but even in road games the Cubs allowed a BABIP of .297 (.318 at home -- league average of .282) . They turned a DP when it was in order 8.9% of the time compared to a league average of 12.2 (and when you remove the Cubs -- IE compare them to the other 11 teams -- it looks worse). They allowed a slightly above average number of stolen bases and had a slightly below average CS%.

And as bad as their BABIP is, it slightly flatters the defense. They were easy league leaders in ROE. 35 more than the average of the other 11 teams.

Add it up and it should grade out just awful, regardless of the names involved.
   82. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 29, 2012 at 05:23 PM (#4221683)
Thanks for that analysis, Ron. It looks like the second base situation was such a disaster that it just tore up the entire defense, especially the DP totals. As Jay Z noted, the second basemen committed 46 errors, so most of the difference between the Cubs and league-average ROE can be found right there.

But it also looks like there's a massive park effect there: The difference between the Cubs' home and road BABIP is larger than the difference between their road BABIP and league average. Give the way Wrigley affected hitters - small foul area, great visibility, but not particularly short fences - that's no surprise.
   83. Ron J Posted: August 29, 2012 at 08:51 PM (#4221824)
#82 The reason why I hedged on the park effect issue is that it didn't affect the Cub hitters. .276 BABIP at home .278 on the road. All of which suggests that only half of the apparent park effect is real. .010 in 1973 and a -.001 in 1975. But Wrigley's park effects are unusually impacted by game day weather so I don't want to try to do more than suggest.

Conventional park effects don't really work all that well for Cub pitchers (particularly the old days. As Clay Davenport noted, more night games means fewer games with the wind blowing out). There was an old Stats study that showed that it pretty much played as 3 different parks depending on the prevailing wind. (extreme hitter's park when the wind is blowing out, more or less neutral with a cross wind and a good pitcher's park with the wind blowing in) A little bit of bad luck with the number of starts when the wind is blowing out and there's almost nothing the pitcher can do.
   84. Jim Kaat on a hot Gene Roof Posted: August 30, 2012 at 01:01 AM (#4221985)
I was a kid then but I remember Reuschel being the fattest pitcher I'd seen besides Terry Forster, but while Forster had such a flailing delivery that I thought he might have a Todd O'Conner style heart attack on the mound, Reuschel had a real easy delivery that looked more side-arm than it probably was. Wasn't he probably the only major pitcher traded to the Roger Craig Giants that _didnt_ develop a splitter?
   85. DanG Posted: August 30, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4222287)
Even if we only look at pitchers since the Expansion Era began there is Reuschel and 20 others who were better than Morris.
Hmm. Are there really 20? DL gives us the five that are WAY better:
Reuschel, Cone, Brown, Stieb and Saberhagen are all Hall of Merit. Tiant gets a bunch of votes.
The 7 remaining "long career" guys on the list are John, Koosman, Tanana, Kaat, Martinez, Lolich and Hough. Those first six would seem to be in line for the HOF ahead of Morris.

The remaining nine all have shorter careers than Morris, but WAR says they all have more career value and much better peaks. I'm seeing Hershiser, Guidry, Finley, Appier, Wood, Langston, Viola, Blue and Gooden. If you think that character issues disqualify that last one from Hall consideration, replace him with Key or Rogers.

Of course, WAR is not the whole story in HOF consideration and you can make arguments to put Morris ahead of some of these names. It doesn't change the overall point that there are more than a handful of pitchers from the past 50 years that should go in the HOF before Morris. With Reuschel, Cone, Brown, Stieb and Saberhagen all one and done on the BBWAA ballot, there is no justification for giving Morris serious consideration.
   86. Al Peterson Posted: August 30, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4222316)
there is no justification for giving Morris serious consideration.

HOF voting for Morris is something to behold. It's like the electorate said pick one Tigers player from the 1980s and get behind him, let the rest fade away. You got Trammell, Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Darrell Evans all who have as good or better arguments as Morris but the workhorse pitcher from the 80s apparently makes the best print story.
   87. AROM Posted: August 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4222388)
HOF voting for Morris is something to behold. It's like the electorate said pick one Tigers player from the 1980s and get behind him, let the rest fade away. You got Trammell, Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Darrell Evans all who have as good or better arguments as Morris but the workhorse pitcher from the 80s apparently makes the best print story.


Interestingly enough Morris was valued by the Tigers as much as Trammell and Whitaker combined. Going by salaries between 1985 and 1988. Before that not enough data is on BB-ref, and they would have been in their pre free agent years anyway. Lance Parrish made about the same amount of money as Morris in 1985-86. Kirk Gibson made more than Morris in 1986, less in 1987.

You can't make too much of this. Mainly 1) Collusion f's things up, and the prime period between these players getting their service time rights and the point where they declined as players/ moved to other teams happens to be the exact years of the collusion. 2) The market, such as it were, was ridiculously inefficient. Good hitting infielders who could also field were greatly underpaid. 3) What an amazing crop of talent, getting these 5 HOVG to borderline HOF talents all pretty much at the same time.
   88. DL from MN Posted: August 30, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4222405)
Trammell and Whitaker are well above "borderline" HOF talents.
   89. DanG Posted: August 30, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4222457)
You could throw in Gibson, Lemon and Tanana into that "HOVG to borderline" mix. It's an indictment of Sparky Anderson that those teams went to the WS only once.

The Detroit Tigers' mainstays 1981-88.

Rk          Player WAR/pos OPSRfield   PA From   To   Age    G
1    Alan Trammell    42.7  122     61 4748 1981 1988 23
-30 1122
2     Lou Whitaker    35.0  117     38 4863 1981 1988 24
-31 1125
3       Chet Lemon    27.2  121     64 3826 1982 1988 27
-33  972
4      Kirk Gibson    23.0  131      8 3444 1981 1987 24
-30  830
5    Lance Parrish    20.0  116     35 3179 1981 1986 25
-30  762
6    Darrell Evans    13.3  121     36 2809 1984 1988 37
-41  727
7    Larry Herndon    10.2  110     28 3013 1982 1988 28
-34  843
8     Tom Brookens     7.8   80     34 3144 1981 1988 27
-34  995 

Rk             Player  WAR ERAPitchW     IP From   To   Age   G  GS
1         Jack Morris 25.3  114  12.75 2023.1 1981 1988 26
-33 272 272
2           Dan Petry 11.3  108   4.15 1376.0 1981 1987 22
-28 215 205
3    Willie Hernandez  8.6  145   6.60  452.1 1984 1988 29
-33 326   0
4        Walt Terrell  6.1  100   0.22  897.1 1985 1988 27
-30 132 131
5        Frank Tanana  6.1  103   1.13  747.1 1985 1988 31
-34 118 117
6         Milt Wilcox  4.6  105   1.57  778.2 1981 1985 31
-35 120 120
7      Juan Berenguer  2.4  102   0.57  427.2 1982 1985 27
-30 101  60
8       Aurelio Lopez  2.3  110   2.30  462.0 1981 1985 32
-36 227   3 
   90. BDC Posted: August 30, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4222513)
It's an indictment of Sparky Anderson

I'm not going to lie down in the street to defend Sparky Anderson, but I think your chart of pitching WAR shows why they only went to the World Series once. Morris was by far their ace, and as we've established, he's a HOVG pitcher with a very modest case for the HOF, and probably no chance at the HOM. Dan Petry had a few good years, and their other starters, including the elderly and much-diminished Tanana, were extremely ordinary. It's a bit like trying to get to the Series with Johan Santana plus an assortment of the Pelfreys and Maines and Nieses of the world, except your Santana isn't quite as good as the real one.

That said, the Tigers' lineups were awesome, much like Sparky's 1970s Reds lineups (just as their pitching staffs, like the Reds', were unawesome). It's hard to say whether Sparky deserves credit for winning three Series with the staffs he handled, or blame for not coming up with better pitching to feast on the benefits of his great lineups.
   91. GregD Posted: August 30, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4222684)
I'm not going to lie down in the street to defend Sparky Anderson, but I think your chart of pitching WAR shows why they only went to the World Series once. Morris was by far their ace, and as we've established, he's a HOVG pitcher with a very modest case for the HOF, and probably no chance at the HOM. Dan Petry had a few good years, and their other starters, including the elderly and much-diminished Tanana, were extremely ordinary. It's a bit like trying to get to the Series with Johan Santana plus an assortment of the Pelfreys and Maines and Nieses of the world, except your Santana isn't quite as good as the real one.
And competition was tough in the East with no wild card bail out. The year that really hurt him was 80 when they won 100 and stayed home because the Yanks won 103. He also came in second in 83 and 88 with a division title in 87.
   92. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: August 30, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4222725)
The year that really hurt him was 80 when they won 100 and stayed home because the Yanks won 103.


Say what?

   93. JustDan Posted: August 30, 2012 at 02:44 PM (#4222747)
Old guys with white hair must all look the same.
   94. GregD Posted: August 30, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4222791)
Whoops!
   95. AROM Posted: August 30, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4222798)
Trammell and Whitaker are well above "borderline" HOF talents.


I'd vote them in, but put them just barely over the borderline. There are plenty of people in the HOF that I would not support if we could do it over again, from Rice down to all the vet picks from the 1930s. I don't mean "borderline" in any insulting way. Just that they aren't absolute, no-doubt HOFers. If they were they'd be in already.

For Whitaker I see his career as interchangeable with guys like Sandberg, Alomar, Grich, Biggio. I'd be happy putting all of those guys in. But they are just over my borderline. Go one step down and you get Willie Randolph. He was everything those other players were except that instead of giving you 15-20 homers a year, he'd only hit 4. He had a better career than most people think but I'm not ready to advocate his HOF case.

Trammell's a bit different, as there are fewer shortstops similarly qualified. WAR has him right there with Jeter, Ozzie, and Larkin. This may be subjective but in my estimation he's a notch below those two. He's about even with Pee Wee Reese and well above Luis Aparicio. For SS my dividing line is right between Aparicio and Campaneris.
   96. DanG Posted: August 30, 2012 at 11:31 PM (#4223213)
It's hard to say whether Sparky deserves credit for winning three Series with the staffs he handled, or blame for not coming up with better pitching to feast on the benefits of his great lineups.
This is somewhat overblown. The Tigers had a pretty balanced team in those years (see below). Except for 1984, when they were great, the pitchers were consistently good every year. The team's best years were when they got their hittin' shoes on.

.550 / 1981: 99 OPS+ - 107 ERA+
.512 / 1982: 103 OPS+ - 106 ERA+
.568 / 1983: 112 OPS+ - 103 ERA+
.642 / 1984: 114 OPS+ - 113 ERA+
.522 / 1985: 103 OPS+ - 108 ERA+
.537 / 1986: 107 OPS+ - 103 ERA+
.605 / 1987: 114 OPS+ - 106 ERA+
.543 / 1988: 100 OPS+ - 103 ERA+

Ave 106.5 OPS+ - 106.1 ERA+

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