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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Schoenfield: Bill James looks at ‘big game’ pitchers

I don’t want to give too much away here since the series—James is nine articles into it, with one left to be published—is behind the site’s pay wall. Using data back to 1952 (aka the Retrosheet era, when we have box scores for nearly every game), James devised an ingenious method to isolate big games, creating what he called a Big Game Score, based on the time of the season, the status of the pennant race (or wild-card race) and the records of the teams involved. Every game with a Big Game Score of 310 or higher is regarded as a Big Game. In the end, he has 7.7 percent of all regular-season games labeled as Big Games, or one in 13.

In Part IV of the series, he lists the pitchers who started the most Big Games. Since those games usually occur late in seasons when a pitcher is on a good team, it’s perhaps no surprise that Andy Pettitte has started the most Big Games with 82, one more than Jim Palmer and Roger Clemens. (Again, these are regular-season totals only; Pettitte has also started the most postseason games in history.) The three pitchers with the highest percentage of their career starts marked as Big Games are Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres (Dodgers teammates in the ‘50s and ‘60s when the Dodgers were in a series of tight pennant races) and Jon Lester. The pitcher with the most career starts never to start a Big Game is Zach Duke, with 169.

James has another article going over some of his results, another one examining Jim Kaat’s record in Big Games more closely, and then unveils his list of the top 11 Big Game pitchers. I won’t give away the No. 1 guy, but I will tell you that he pitched in the major leagues last year. The No. 2 guy—fitting his reputation—is Bob Gibson. Mike Mussina is 11th. In 54 Big Games, Mussina went 27-13 with a 3.04 ERA. Maybe that will eventually help his Hall of Fame case.

...What to make of the series? Do the results prove anything? For example, if you make a more stringent definition of Big Games than James did, you may end up with different results. Still, as James writes:

  But what happens in Big Games is important whether or not it is indicative of an underlying skill. Bill Mazeroski’s home run in the 1960 World Series is a big deal, whether or not it had anything to do with Mazeroski’s ability as a hitter. Madison Bumgarner pitching 8 shutout innings in the 2010 World Series and 7 shutout innings in the 2012 World Series is important, whether or not it has anything to do with Bumgarner’s character, his underlying skills, or the allegation that he has a girl’s first name and is a bad gardener.

Thanks to Camo.

Repoz Posted: January 29, 2014 at 06:47 AM | 66 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: January 29, 2014 at 10:41 AM (#4647883)
Sounds like an interesting research. If it's not limited to starting pitchers, I figure Mariano Rivera is the name at the top of the list for big game pitchers. Assuming it's limited to starting pitchers, I can only guess Roy Halladay as the number one guy. Longshot guess would be Cliff Lee...can't think of anyone else with a significant career and the reputation of big game pitcher. Of course with Bill James being a Red Sox guy, it wouldn't surprise me if it's someone like Beckett or Lester.

   2. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 29, 2014 at 10:50 AM (#4647892)
My WAG for #1 is Orlando Hernandez.
   3. SG Posted: January 29, 2014 at 10:56 AM (#4647901)
#1 guy pitched in MLB last year, so it can't be El Duque.
   4. bfan Posted: January 29, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4647903)
Tim Hudson? Just about every year on a contender...
   5. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4647916)
James has another article going over some of his results, another one examining Jim Kaat’s record in Big Games more closely, and then unveils his list of the top 11 Big Game pitchers. I won’t give away the No. 1 guy, but I will tell you that he pitched in the major leagues last year


I'm not sure if your wording implies that he may not pitch in 2014 but either way I'll take two stabs; Tim Hudson or Roy Oswalt. Both guys pitched for teams who were regularly in pennant races and both have been pitching a long time.
I know you don't want to give it a way for ethical reasons but if I'm right just scratch your nose.
   6. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4647917)
Someone with paywall access should just copy and paste the list. Otherwise, what's the point of posting the article?

My WAG for #1 is Orlando Hernandez.

Other than Koufax and Gibson, it's hard to think of a better postseason pitcher than El Duque: 19 games, 106 innings, and a 2.55 ERA, including 9 out of 14 starts with a Game Score of 60 or better. Of course without access to his regular season "Big Games", it's hard to go much beyond that.

Tim Hudson? Just about every year on a contender...

He'd better be great in the regular season, because in the postseason he's been good to mediocre, and so has Oswalt.
   7. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4647919)
can only guess Roy Halladay as the number one guy.


I was thinking Halladay, but until he got to Philly, how many "big games" could he have pitched in Toronto?
   8. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4647920)
I'm going to guess CC. Partially because of that big stretch with the Brewers and that almost every year with the Yankees he's been awesome in August and September.
   9. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4647922)
I don't have a subscription so I'm not 100% sure this is accurate, but I've seen a post that says that James #1 is...

Roy Oswalt...
who apparently won 80% of games that James' defines as "big"

(Oswalt's postseason record is good, but I wouldn't call it great or anything)
but 2004, Houston narrowly won the wild card, Oswalt was 10-2 in August/September
2005 Houston won the WC by 1 game, Oswalt was 5-1 in September, including a 2-1 win over Philly (who was the team that lost the WC by one game)
   10. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4647923)
Spoiler: The actual #1 guy in regular season Big Games by far, who James dropped to #3 on his somewhat subjective list because of his well-known middling record in the postseason, was Randy Johnson.
   11. Jacob Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:18 AM (#4647924)
#1 is Roy Oswalt.

http://www.baseballnation.com/2014/1/28/5353248/big-game-pitchers-roy-oswalt-all-time
   12. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:31 AM (#4647929)
Wow, Roy Oswalt. I had no idea he was still around. Checking out his bb-ref page I almost forgot how good he was. He has to be in the conversation for Jack Morris Honorary Best Pitcher of the Aughts Award, right?
   13. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:34 AM (#4647930)
#1 guy pitched in MLB last year, so it can't be El Duque.


Would you believe that I have always called Roy Oswalt "El Duque?"
   14. salvomania Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4647934)
it's hard to think of a better postseason pitcher than El Duque: 19 games, 106 innings, and a 2.55 ERA,

James defines "big games" to include regular-season games---matchups between teams in a pennant race, etc., using a scoring system to determine if game is "big"---so he's taking into account quite a bit more than just postseason performance.

EDIT: which your entire post made clear you're fully aware of
   15. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4647935)

Would you believe that I have always called Roy Oswalt "El Duque?"


No Max I wouldn't.
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4647937)
it's hard to think of a better postseason pitcher than El Duque: 19 games, 106 innings, and a 2.55 ERA,


Then you're not trying very hard. Smoltz and Schilling both have better postseason resumes than Hernandez.
   17. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4647945)
Is Bruce Kison mentioned at all? 5-1 1.98 in postseason, 31-12 3.37 in September/October when the Pirates and Angels were always in contention.
   18. tfbg9 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4647961)
I wonder how Wakefield would score under this methodology?

/ducks

Lester has a 2.11 postseason ERA in 76 innings.
   19. SoSH U at work Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4647962)
I wonder how Wakefield would score under this methodology?'


Much better than under yours, where big games were defined as the ones Wake pitched poorly in.
   20. AROM Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4647965)
Wow, Roy Oswalt. I had no idea he was still around. Checking out his bb-ref page I almost forgot how good he was. He has to be in the conversation for Jack Morris Honorary Best Pitcher of the Aughts Award, right?


The other Roy is too, but checking stats from 2000-2009, they are about even. Halladay 139-69, 45 WAR, Oswalt 137-70, 43 WAR. Pettitte has the most wins for the decade (148-89) but his 32 WAR is only 17th best.

Randy Johnson is first in WAR (51.4), second in wins (143-78), first in strikeouts (2182) and 2nd in shutouts (12, 2 behind Halladay). Not bad for a guy who was already 36 in 2000.
   21. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:38 PM (#4647970)
Is Bruce Kison mentioned at all? 5-1 1.98 in postseason, 31-12 3.37 in September/October when the Pirates and Angels were always in contention.


Sure is. He's #10 on James' list.
   22. tfbg9 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4647972)
Much better than under yours, where big games were defined as the ones Wake pitched poorly in.


This is untrue. I looked at games in Sep, games in the playoffs*, games vs the NYY's, and games vs other good teams. He underperformed in all of them, IIRC. I think I saw looking around bbref that a lot of knuckleballers have this sort of pattern.


*and Tim positively sucked in the playoffs: 6.75 ERA in 72 innings.

edit: if somebody has a BJ subscription, and Wakefield's BJBG rating is listed, please give it to us?
   23. Perry Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4647977)
Wow, Roy Oswalt. I had no idea he was still around.


[Insert Rockies joke here.]
   24. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4647981)
it's hard to think of a better postseason pitcher than El Duque: 19 games, 106 innings, and a 2.55 ERA,

Then you're not trying very hard. Smoltz and Schilling both have better postseason resumes than Hernandez.


Yeah, my only defense for that comment is that there's no defense at all. Schilling was as good as you can be in the expanded postseason era, and Smoltz was basically El Duque in rate stats, but with twice as many postseason innings.
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4647982)
This is untrue.


No, it's true. You routinely ascribed big game status to the ones that Timmy just lost. You also conveniently forgot the games that you announced were big games upcoming, if Wake happened to go out and pitch well in them.

I'm not saying that he didn't have a poor record of performance in the postseason or underperformed in "big games," - he undoubtedly had the former and likely had the latter. I'm just pointing out that you regularly allowed your dislike for him as a pitcher to seriously cloud your analysis, which damn near every Sox poster on this site recognized.
   26. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4647992)
good topic
   27. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4647993)
This is untrue.

No, it's true.


FWIW I'm leaning more towards SoSH being blinded by fanboyism than tfbg, but as I have no horse in this race could be persuaded otherwise.

I'm interested in how Drysdale comes out,in Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame, James absolutely eviscerated Drysdale's reputation as a "big game" pitcher.

And of course I'm interested in how SBB is gonna spin whatever James comes up with for Morris.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4648006)
FWIW I'm leaning more towards SoSH being blinded by fanboyism than tfbg, but as I have no horse in this race could be persuaded otherwise.


Oh, I'm most definitely a Timmy fan, bigger even than karl (though I think my following paragraph shows that I'm able to view his performance with a little bit of objectivity). But the ridiculous assertions that Teddy made about Wake are a matter of record. Whether he was simply trolling Wake's many ST supporters or he actually believed it, I can't say, nor do I care.

But maybe he can point to the Red Sox piss-poor record in games Timmy pitched in, ignoring the fact that he spent much of that particular season (2010, I think) in a mop-up role. Believe me, whatever weaknesses Wake had, and he no doubt had them, Teddy could still manage to distort them into something no longer recognizable.


   29. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4648008)
I'd like to know something about the methodology, if someone with access wants to email me through the site.

The Neyer article in Jacob's post in #11 says this:

Yes, some might quibble with Bill's methodology. But the point is that there is a methodology.


to which I would reply that you can have good methodology and bad methodology, and just because it's Bill James! doesn't make it good methodology.

-- MWE
   30. tfbg9 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:31 PM (#4648010)
No, it's true. You routinely ascribed big game status to the ones that Timmy just lost. You also conveniently forgot the games that you announced were big games upcoming, if Wake happened to go out and pitch well in them.


Oh horsesh1t. What I would do was rant post-loss that he was a headcase and a bit of a choker.

Next thing you know, you'll be telling me that WPA proves he didn't suck in the playoffs.



   31. sptaylor Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4648012)
I'm interested in how Drysdale comes out,in Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame, James absolutely eviscerated Drysdale's reputation as a "big game" pitcher.


In part 5 of the series, James has a section on Drysdale, specifically responding to what he wrote earlier. He concludes that he was completely wrong about Drysdale, because 1) James didn't have an organized way to look at this; 2) James didn't have access to enough data; 3) James didn't look at enough of Drysdale's own games; 4) James studied Drysdale as if he were the only pitcher in existence, rather than by comparing him to other pitchers; and 5) James put everything on the pitcher's win or loss, rather than looking at other factors, such as the ERA and the team result, as well.
   32. AndrewJ Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4648013)
James' Drysdale evaluation in his Hall of Fame book is starting to look like Dave Egan's assertion that Ted Williams was a horrible clutch hitter, based on exactly 10 games in his career.
   33. tfbg9 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:39 PM (#4648016)
Look, Wake's a good man, best I can tell. But he walked the ballpark in the playoffs and gave up bombs in the playoffs, save for a few notable exceptions. And he more or less sucked against the NYY's. It's hard for me to like a pitcher like that.
   34. tfbg9 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:41 PM (#4648017)
Dave Egan's assertion that Ted Williams was a horrible clutch hitter, based on exactly 10 games in his career.



He was hurt in 7 of those games, dammit!
   35. Morty Causa Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:51 PM (#4648025)
Except that Egan never took it all back. James put himself on the line in both instances. He gives you his assessment, and he tells you exactly what he's basing that on, setting out clearly his reasons and the evidence supporting them. And he did the same when he changed his mind. There's nothing reprehensible about either.
   36. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4648026)
if bill recants any further on his various conclusions he may end up revealing he is not bill james!
   37. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4648032)
Wakefield isn't even the best big-game knuckleballer.
   38. Morty Causa Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:12 PM (#4648035)
Not to invest too much emotion in this, but I think it behooves a pioneer to reconsider when a wealth of new information and novel techniques come into play. Bill has a big ego, and he has justification for thinking highly of himself, but he does do that. He has a long history doing this stuff; most people don't. He's kind of like Freud. Many disparage him, but we only see further them him because we first became what he was. That can hardly be overvalued.
   39. AROM Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4648039)
Wakefield had 2 good postseasons. 1992 against the Braves he won both of the games the Pirates took. 2003 against the Yankees, people remember him for Aaron Boone, but there is no game 7 if he doesn't pitch well in winning games 1 and 4.

I think I saw looking around bbref that a lot of knuckleballers have this sort of pattern.


This made me curious.

Phil Neikro: The guy pitched 5400 innings, but only 2 postseason starts 14 years apart. ERA of 3.86 is OK, but he also gave up 5 unearned runs. 14 innings, 11 runs, 8 walks. Not very good, but sss.

Joe Niekro: Wow. He didn't have a lot of postseason chances either, but pitched 20 scoreless postseason innings. 10 of those came in game 3 of the 1980 NLCS, his team won in the 11th.

Candiotti: Only 9.2 postseason innings. Was absolutely hammered by the Twins in the 91 playoffs.

Hough: His postseason (18.2 innings) all comes while relieving for the 1970's Dodgers. Not great (20 hits, 10 runs, one of the Reggie homers) but also had 20 strikeouts and only 3 walks.

Add it all up (which I haven't) and the sum is probably pretty close to what you would have expected for these 4 based on regular season stats. And thanks to the expanded playoffs and playing for a contender, Wakefield has more postseason experience than all of these guys combined.




   40. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:24 PM (#4648046)
Joe Niekro: Wow. He didn't have a lot of postseason chances either, but pitched 20 scoreless postseason innings. 10 of those came in game 3 of the 1980 NLCS, his team won in the 11th.

Also Game 163 in 1980: win-or-go-home against the Dodgers, he pitched a complete game, scattering six hits and two walks, one unearned run, Astros won 7-1.
Last four starts that season: 4-0, 34.1 innings, 2 earned runs.

Dang right it's selective endpoints - that's what clutch IS.
   41. tfbg9 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:28 PM (#4648048)
I think I saw looking around bbref that a lot of knuckleballers have this sort of pattern.


I meant a little worse than you'd expect vs good teams and in the playoffs.


edit: From Joe Neikro's wiki page: "The knuckleball became an essential part of his arsenal though never his sole pitch."

I don't remember much about the guy. Is this true? Did he throw fewer knucklers as a % than his brother or Wake?
   42. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4648053)
Oh horsesh1t. What I would do was rant post-loss that he was a headcase and a bit of a choker.
As someone who used to semi-frequent Sox game chatters, I can tell you my recollection is pretty close to SoSH's. You ranted a lot more frequently than "post-loss."
   43. tfbg9 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4648070)
I will cop to ranting about Wakefield's failures, bit not to the charges of being intentionally misleading.

Wakefield was more or less done halfway thru 2009, yet the Sox still gave him close to another 50 starts, where he sucked very badly. I was not pleased. I'm a big Red Sox fan, and he was killing them.
   44. Matt Welch Posted: January 29, 2014 at 04:38 PM (#4648170)
I don't remember much about the guy. Is this true? Did he throw fewer knucklers as a % than his brother or Wake?

Yes. He was the least-knuckleballing knuckleballer in my waking baseball life. I think maybe Wilbur Wood might have been like that, but he was a bit before my eyes unsealed.
   45. tfbg9 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4648189)
Thanks, MW for #44.

So, for the 5 "pure" knuckleballers of recent memory, 2 struggled (Phil and Charlie), 2 outright got bombed (Tom and Tim) in the PS, and all were worse than their regular season selves, with Wood never getting a chance.



   46. Walt Davis Posted: January 29, 2014 at 04:59 PM (#4648195)
I am probably wrong but I don't recall Joe niekro throwing a knuckler at all early on. He seemed to add it as a key pitch sometime after Phil started having success. Still up until the end I would say he threw more scuff-balls than knucklers. He wasn't tossed from the game because of his neatly trimmed nails.

on the method 1 out of every 13 games being a'big' game seems too high. that's essentially 1 per day. Also arbitrary dichotomous cutoffs are rarely a good idea. Probably better to simply weight all performance by big game score.
   47. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 29, 2014 at 05:02 PM (#4648197)
I don't remember much about the guy. Is this true? Did he throw fewer knucklers as a % than his brother or Wake?


Yeah, Joe had a roughly league average fastball for much of his career. His first couple of years he was a standard fastball/curve/change kind of pitcher (not a very good one), he never became a pure knuckler- his knuckle ball was never as good as his brother's or Hough's (I think his brother once said that Joe's problem was that his arm was too good to throw the knuckler)

Anyway, he kind of used his fastball as he always did and used the knuckle ball in place of the curveball/changeup.

Phil also had games where he didn't use the knuckler much (Phil Niekro without his knuckler pitched a lot like a righthanded version of Jamie Moyer)
   48. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 29, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4648206)
Is Bruce Kison mentioned at all? 5-1 1.98 in postseason, 31-12 3.37 in September/October when the Pirates and Angels were always in contention.

Sure is. He's #10 on James' list.


Excellent!

Wakefield had 2 good postseasons. 1992 against the Braves he won both of the games the Pirates took.


Bob Walk also pitched a complete game win. Leyland had a perfectly rested bullpen going into Game 7....
   49. Ron J2 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4648214)
#47 Worth noting that in Ball Four Bouton said that he could tell while warming up whether he had his knuckler or not.

Also with regards to Joe Niekro I know he came up a conventional pitcher. Looks highly likely (just looking at WP totals) that he became primarily a knuckleballer sometime late in the 1978 season.
   50. tfbg9 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 05:33 PM (#4648224)
#47 Worth noting that in Ball Four Bouton said that he could tell while warming up whether he had his knuckler or not.


Bouton: Joe, I really had the feel of the knuckler today in the bullpen.

Joe Schultz: You had the feel?

Bouton: Yeah. Really had the feel.

Joe Schultz: Feel this. (grabs crotch)
   51. Accent Shallow Posted: January 29, 2014 at 05:34 PM (#4648225)
Speaking of Mussina, I watched Game 3 of the 1997 ALCS the other day, and Mussina was very on. It didn't hurt that the batter's eye was in the sun most of the game, while the pitcher and the batter were in shadow.

Even the run he gave up in the 7th was a cheapie.
   52. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 29, 2014 at 07:28 PM (#4648294)
Bouton: Joe, I really had the feel of the knuckler today in the bullpen.

Joe Schultz: You had the feel?


I remember reading an interview given by Bouton a few years ago, he said that one perception people had about Ball four in particular bothered him- he liked Schultz and thought that Schultz was a good manager all things considered, but people read Ball Four and came away with the opposite conclusion...
   53. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 29, 2014 at 08:02 PM (#4648308)
I remember reading an interview given by Bouton a few years ago, he said that one perception people had about Ball four in particular bothered him- he liked Schultz and thought that Schultz was a good manager all things considered, but people read Ball Four and came away with the opposite conclusion...

One of the dearest friends I ever had died in December at way too young an age. He was an alcoholic, a former drug addict and jailbird, a gambling addict, a guy who by his own description "robbed" people for a living** when he wasn't engaged in more respectable activities like pool, poker or sports betting. And he was a former tax dodger to boot.

Oh, and his relationships with women were almost exclusively with hookers. But then when you're 4'6" and bald at the age of 16, that shouldn't be too surprising.

And yet he was the most loyal and bighearted guy in the world beneath his foul mouthed and disheveled exterior. Whenever anyone he knew was in the hospital, he'd be there nearly every day. When a down on the luck friend needed a bite, he'd peel off a couple of hundred or thousand from his roll with no questions asked. He could tolerate any sin except racism and stiffing waiters and waitresses. At the time of his death he didn't have an enemy in the world, and yet if you only knew him by his surface description, you'd think he was a run off the mill dirtball. Perhaps Joe Schultz had a few of those opposing traits in him.

**He was one of those "half page salesmen" for the F.O.P. and related organizations. "Robbing" is a perfectly apt term to describe what he did.
   54. Perry Posted: January 29, 2014 at 08:16 PM (#4648318)
Phil also had games where he didn't use the knuckler much (Phil Niekro without his knuckler pitched a lot like a righthanded version of Jamie Moyer)


IIRC, Niekro pitched a CG shutout for his 300th win without throwing a knuckler.
   55. Morty Causa Posted: January 29, 2014 at 10:48 PM (#4648387)
And he was almost 50. Phil Niekro had more WAR than Warren Spahn--although Spahn was set back by WWII, and might very well have had a chance at 400 wins, with an appreciable uptick in WAR and ERA+.
   56. Tommy in CT Posted: January 30, 2014 at 09:31 AM (#4648503)
Fascinating stuff from Bill, as usual. Bill basic approach is the basically the same I employed nearly four years ago, although his definition of "big game" is slightly broader. But the basic conclusions are about the same. I didn't ordinally rank my big game pitchers, other than putting Roy Oswalt at the top of the list of active pitchers and at or near the top of the list over the last 60 years (http://gator-hall.blogspot.com/2010/02/if-you-had-to-win-one-game.html). In a series of 11 posts I looked at the big game records of various notable pitchers and had Randy Johnson, Gibson, Koufax, Palmer, Guidry, and Pettitte among my top big game pitchers. I also had Seaver and Tiant among the top guys - does anyone know if Bill had Tom Terrific or El Tiante among his top 11?
   57. Hal Chase School of Professionalism Posted: January 30, 2014 at 10:40 AM (#4648524)
IIRC, Niekro pitched a CG shutout for his 300th win without throwing a knuckler.


I think he may have gotten the last guy on a knuckler. I remember Joe Niekro went to the mound with 2 outs to let him know that their dad, who had been ill in the hospital, was going to pull through. Since his dad taught him the knuckler, he threw it to the last hitter as a tribute to him. I could be wrong about some details, but there was an interview on This Week In Baseball after he did it that I always remembered.
   58. Russ Posted: January 30, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4648527)
I'd like to know something about the methodology, if someone with access wants to email me through the site.

The Neyer article in Jacob's post in #11 says this:

Yes, some might quibble with Bill's methodology. But the point is that there is a methodology.


to which I would reply that you can have good methodology and bad methodology, and just because it's Bill James! doesn't make it good methodology.


Tell that to the NSF and the NIH.
   59. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: January 30, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4648532)
In a series of 11 posts I looked at the big game records of various notable pitchers and had Randy Johnson, Gibson, Koufax, Palmer, Guidry, and Pettitte among my top big game pitchers. I also had Seaver and Tiant among the top guys


Something's wrong with your list. Gibson and Palmer never played in NY : )
   60. Tommy in CT Posted: January 30, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4648784)
Something's wrong with your list. Gibson and Palmer never played in NY : )


They played in NY all the time. They just played for visiting teams. : )
   61. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 31, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4649583)
According to Baseball Musings, James results were that Morris "did not pitch well in big games overall."

Basically he's got the 1991 World Series win and not much else.

   62. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 31, 2014 at 06:50 PM (#4649598)
Flogging a dead horse: 1987
8/28, Tigers up by half a game, Mr. Clutch pitch to the score coughs up a 2 run lead, gives up 5 runs in 7.1 ip, Tigers lose 5-3.

9/2, Tigers up by a game, Mr. Clutch pitch to the score, is in fact clutch and wins 2-1

9/7, Tigers down by a half game, Mr. Clutch pitch to the score, does his job, 3 run in 7 ip, Tigers score 12 and win going away.

9/12, Tigers are tied for 1st, Mr. Clutch pitch to the score spits the bit, Tigers lose 11-2

9/16, Tigers are tied for first, Mr. Clutch pitch to the score, is in fact clutch and wins 4-1

9/20, Tigers are up by 1.5, Mr. Clutch pitch to the score spits the bit again, Tigers lose 11-4.

9/24, Tigers are down 1 to the Jays, Mr. Clutch pitch to the score loses to the Jays 4-3 (and Morris didn't pitch that well, he was damned lucky to only give up 4, walking 8 batters)

9/28 Tigers down 2.5 games, season starting to slip away, Mr. Clutch pitch to the score loses to the Orioles, 3-0, gives up 8 hits and 5 walks

10/3 Tigers tied with Jays, Mr. Clutch pitch to the score again gives up 8 hit and 5 walks, but keeps most of em off the scoreboard, leaves with game tied 2-2, Tigers win in 13, 3-2, Tigers take the lead- huge game, clutch performance

He wins some, he loses some, he pitches well in some big games, he spits the bit in others, overall he pitches in them like you'd expect a pitcher as talented as Jack Morris to.

   63. cardsfanboy Posted: January 31, 2014 at 07:00 PM (#4649604)
He wins some, he loses some, he pitches well in some big games, he spits the bit in others, overall he pitches in them like you'd expect a pitcher as talented as Jack Morris to.


Which has been the argument made by the people opposing Jack Morris all along. He's exactly the pitcher that the numbers indicate he was. Not better, not worse, but exactly the same. Now of course when talking about Morris, you have to realize he straddled the changing pitching styles of the early 70's and the mid 80's and was probably the only pitcher who survived the changing workloads. So he arguably pitched to maybe 1 or 2 more batters on average per game, and posted a ton of complete games, even relative to the era so he has other things to hang his hat on, but the silliness of pitching to the score or being a clutch/big game pitcher has been absolutely and thoroughly debunked in spades.


   64. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 31, 2014 at 07:49 PM (#4649621)
Now of course when talking about Morris, you have to realize he straddled the changing pitching styles of the early 70's and the mid 80's and was probably the only pitcher who survived the changing workloads.


Who knows, the front end of his career overlaps a ton of pitchers with more career wins and innings, the back end overlaps with a bunch of guys who went on to have more innings and wins, the middle? His cohort just seemed to have an inordinate amount of flameouts- his 3800 IP looks huge compared to his cohort, but his career (both ends) overlaps with guys who were pushing (and some breaking) 5000.

He was durable, but not historically so, more in a tallest midget kind of way...
   65. cardsfanboy Posted: January 31, 2014 at 08:39 PM (#4649643)
Who knows, the front end of his career overlaps a ton of pitchers with more career wins and innings, the back end overlaps with a bunch of guys who went on to have more innings and wins, the middle? His cohort just seemed to have an inordinate amount of flameouts- his 3800 IP looks huge compared to his cohort, but his career (both ends) overlaps with guys who were pushing (and some breaking) 5000.

He was durable, but not historically so, more in a tallest midget kind of way...


Relatively speaking he put up more complete games in his era by a Massive amount than anyone else.... Closest to him was Bert Blyleven on the last 2/3rds of his career.

I don't think he was historically at anything, but he was unique... my comment was that he has a niche argument for propping up his numbers relative to how he performed relative to his era. And if you really examine it, he was the only player to fully survive the transition(well him and Blyleven)


Look at the players from his era and their complete game totals...Stieb came up in 1979 vs Morris in 1977....Stieb in his first six years had 76 complete games... Morris had 73..... Stieb then records 27 more complete games for the rest of his career...(228gs) Morris completed 102 games after that...Even just limiting it to his next 197 games started, he gets 70 complete games.... There is literally no comparisons between Morris and his ability to complete a game, relative to his era over other pitchers. He completed a lot of games. I don't know how accurate it is, but how many pitchers have finished in the top 4 in complete games 8 times or more in their career. It's gonna be a short list (Clemens, Maddux of course...but not many non-elite guys could make that claim, even career guys like Glavine don't have remotely an argument for that.)
   66. cardsfanboy Posted: January 31, 2014 at 09:02 PM (#4649647)
And just looking at people who came up relative to him...(remembering that Morris has 175 cg, in 527 starts for a percentage of 33% cg).
Frank Tanana debuted in 1970.... had 143 complete games in his career out of 616 starts for 23%.
John Candeleria debuted in 1975, has 356 starts and 56 cg for a 15.7%...
Dennis Eckersley debuted in 1975 has 361 starts, 100 cg for a 27%
Vida Blue debuted in 1969 has 473 starts, 143 cg 30%.
Dennis Martinez debuted in 1976, has 562 starts, 122 cg for a 21.6%...

The arguable point is that Morris completed more games than his contemporaries. And if you subscribe to Tango/MGL theory on times through the lineup, then his ERA was arguably hit harder because he faced the lineup 4 times, more often than other pitchers of his era... this is the opposite argument I use against Pedro....(note. I'm not arguing for Morris. I'm arguing for legitimate arguments to help Morris case...it's absolutely a weak case and any argument for it, only moves him slightly and not enough into the realm of a real candidate for the hof)

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