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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ranking the Hall of Merit by Position: Pitchers Ballot (1959-1986+)

The inductees for this group are (in alphabetical order):

Bert Blyleven
Jim Bunning
Steve Carlton
Don Drysdale
Dennis Eckersley
Rollie Fingers
Bob Gibson
Rich Gossage
Fergie Jenkins
Sandy Koufax
Juan Marichal
Phil Niekro
Jim Palmer
Gaylord Perry
Nolan Ryan
Bret Saberhagen
Dave Stieb
Don Sutton
Tom Seaver
Hoyt Wilhelm

The election ends May 8 PM EDT.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 17, 2009 at 11:18 PM | 83 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 17, 2009 at 11:20 PM (#3182420)
hot topics
   2. bjhanke Posted: May 18, 2009 at 07:52 AM (#3182934)
Well, I've come up with two questions about standards and practices here in the HoM. This first one is about, of all things, war credit for Hoyt Wilhelm. I read the Wilhelm thread, and the subject was brought up once, but there was no followup. Here's the story:

Wilhelm graduated from high school, but was apparently not drafted or anything like that. He ended up pitching for the Mooresville, NC team in an independent Class D league, unaffiliated with Organized Baseball. That is the lowest of the low professional leagues at the time, about equivalent to Mordecai Brown's pitching for the local semi-pro team (Wilhelm was from NC). He destroyed the league pretty badly, but then went off to WWII for 43-45. He came back to Mooresville in 1946, destroyed the league again, and then yet one more time in 1947.

That, finally, got him an Organized Baseball contract, at the age of 25, with the Giants. They assigned him to a class B team, which he also blew up pretty bad. The next year, class A ball was his victim. That got him to AAA in 1950, at the age of 27 (Hoyt never pitched an inning at the AA level). He pitched OK in AAA for 2 years (he could have probably used a year at class AA), got the callup to the bigs, and didn't leave for 20 more years, having his last season at the age of 49, which is Satchel Paige territory.

My claim is that the main thing that slowed his minor league career down so badly was not lack of ability, but lack of Organized Baseball exposure. He pitched for 3 years against lousy competition, entirely outside of OB, with presumably lousy managers and probably no pitching coach at all. It took him 3 seasons of destroying that league to get any Organized Baseball attention at all, after which, he had a nice, normal minor league career, except that it's missing that one rookie year of class A and/or rookie league ball. But that would have been one year, while Hoyt was 6 full years (3 baseball seasons) from his professional debut before he entered class B.

I would like to claim that, if WWII had not intervened, Hoyt would probably have taken the same 3 seasons to reach OB, but those seasons would have been 42-44, not 42-47. Someone would have signed him then, and he would have had about the same minor league career. I want to cut the credit from 3 to 2 years in order to add an extra OB minor league season, because he would have been younger. But right now, I'm willing to credit him with 2 years of career acceleration to the bigs, leading to 2 years of war credit.

There is one more factor to think about, at least for me. Because of the war, Wilhelm was moving through the minors at a truly terrible time for a pitcher of his type. This was the postwar period when OB was trying to figure out what to do about all the walks. Eventually, OB decided that the way to handle this was to use a bunch of pitchers like Robin Roberts, who threw accurate fastballs so as to not walk anyone, and were willing to live with the resulting homers. Hoyt was the exact opposite of that type of pitcher, which probably explains why, after WWII, he had so much trouble gaining any trust from OB. But if there had been no WWII, there is good reason to believe that the walks problem would not have existed, at least to that degree, and so Hoyt might have had fewer problems impressing OB scouts.

Anyway, that's the case. What I want to know is whether the HoM voters as a group think that this is stretching the limits too far. I mean, I am not trusting of people who destroyed semipro leagues in 1865, even though there were no majors for them to play in. Given that, I ought to take this roundabout credit claim and put it up for comment. And so I am. Thanks in advance.

- Brock
   3. bjhanke Posted: May 18, 2009 at 07:54 AM (#3182936)
Here's the other standards and practices question, this one about Bob Gibson's clubhouse leadership. I've never given anyone real credit for that before, not even Fred Clarke, and this is a favorite pitcher of mine, so I want more detached heads here. The essence of the claim is that, from 1965 to the end of his career, Bob Gibson was, in large part, managing the Cardinals. Curt Flood wrote about this in his wonderful autobiography The Way It Is (don't accept any substitute bios of Flood). I wouldn't have gone with just that, but I've had chances to ask Cardinal insiders of the time, especially Bing Devine, about Flood's claim, and they all assure me that it's absolutely true.

The deal was this: after Johnny Keane left, Red Schoendienst became manager of the Cards, and won 2 pennants in 1967-68. As a manager, Red was (is) approximately Harvey Kuenn or Bob Lemon. He just is nice to people, makes up lineup cards, and tells the players to go play. Well, this sort of management can win a quick pennant, especially with an overstressed team, but it doesn't last. No one pushes anyone, and so focus drops off. Well, that didn't happen to the Cardinals, because they had Bob Gibson in the clubhouse, and he wasn't going to let anyone slack off. He was also Red's tactician. Flood has it, and I have it confirmed, that Bob would sit near to Red in the clubhouse, and just announce to the air that, say, the pitcher on the mound looked tired and Dick Hughes ought to be warming up any time now. Red would promptly go to the bullpen phone.

The problem with giving credit for this is that I don't give it to anyone else, and there are probably several HoM players who deserve it, including actual player/managers like Clarke. I just don't know about them. Right now, I would not give it to Bob for that reason. But if people here think that it is appropriate, then I will. So, as with Wilhelm, comments, please.

Thanks in advance again,

- Brock
   4. DL from MN Posted: May 18, 2009 at 03:45 PM (#3183151)
Modern pitcher ballot

1) Seaver - After all the gyrations it looks like he's 6th so far (Johnson, Grove, Young, Alexander, Williams, SEAVER, Spahn, Mathewson, Paige, Feller). Clearly the best of this era though not much postseason bonus.
2) Bob Gibson - right after Feller on my spreadsheet. Has the big years that match up with anyone on the list and enough bulk. Decent hitter and 1.75 postseason WPA.
3) Phil Niekro - the extra career value gets him to the top of the Niekro/Carlton/Perry/Blyleven grouping, still good in middle age unlike the next guy
4) Steve Carlton - best peak in the grouping, hung around past his usefulness though
5) Bert Blyleven - Underrated peak because the Ws didn't come along with it, underrated prime because he was playing mostly for bad teams, underrated postseason because he was pitching Game 2, not Game 1 or Game 7.
6) Gaylord Perry - Though he lands at the bottom of this group this expert ball doctor ends up a top 20 pitcher.
7) Ferguson Jenkins
8) Jim Palmer - Palmer and Jenkins are very close,
9) Nolan Ryan - A career candidate, better than average forever. Strikeouts make the highlight reels but those walks led to runs.
10) Dennis Eckersley - neither hybrid career is that worthy but put together he's top 10
))) Kevin Brown - will be overlooked by the mainstream
11) Bret Saberhagen - peak looks "Koufax" like for his era though it wasn't a sustained peak. There's a little more bulk there than Koufax.
12) Hoyt Wilhelm - 1st reliever on the list, lots of bulk innings
13) Don Drysdale - Saberhagen had better "best years" if you put them in run-scoring context. Yes Drysdale has more value than Koufax even though he never had a better season head-to-head.
14) Goose Gossage - This is the level of reliever I think we intend to honor. His shoulder seasons are actually pretty good.
15) Juan Marichal - His bat is a negative
16) Dave Stieb - adjusted downward, his pitching isn't better than Marichal and Marichal is behind in my spreadsheet only because he had to hit and Stieb didn't.
17) Jim Bunning - Bunning ahead of Koufax is probably going to register as much consternation as Newhouser over Ford
))) David Cone
18) Sandy Koufax - to get more PWAA you have to go up to Perry but that's all Koufax has and I'm a career voter. 1.5 WPA for postseason but Gibson has more and Palmer has nearly as much postseason credit.
))) Luis Tiant
))) Rick Reuschel
19) Don Sutton - career value purely, yes you can get into the Hall of Merit by being above average for a very long time
20) Rollie Fingers - not PHoM. Just not enough innings at that rate. Not in my top 100 pitchers though I will acknowledge he's the best reliever after Gossage and clearly separated from the rest of the relievers.
   5. Chris Cobb Posted: May 19, 2009 at 01:53 AM (#3183652)
My 2 cents in response to Brock's questions:

1) War credit is a strange beast. Myself, I wouldn't give war credit in Wilhelm's case, but that doesn't mean the argument for war credit is specious.

2) Clubhouse leadership credit for Gibson seems to me to be outside our purview. We're specifically charged to consider only on-the-field contributions, which specifically excludes extra credit for being a player-manager. The instances of Gibson's leadership described here clearly fall into the off-the-field contributions category. Anecdotes about Gibson positioning his own fielders, which would help account for disproportionately strong defensive support, would be records of an element of performance that might be in our purview, but guiding the manager in the usage of other pitchers is clearly not. Incidentally, I have no knowledge whatsoever of any such anecdote--I was simply bringing them up as an example of leadership that might qualify as on-the-field performance under our rules.
   6. sunnyday2 Posted: May 22, 2009 at 01:59 PM (#3188724)
This is hard. I mean, there's some really close calls. But at least everybody is on pretty much the same footing in terms of equal opportunity against more or less equal competition, etc.

1. Seaver. An easy call.


2. Gibson. Best combination of peak and career, after Seaver.
3. Carlton. Not quite the peak I remembered, other than the one year.


4. Koufax. You say 18th, I say 4th. One of the all-time great peaks.

(not so much a gap as a return to the normal kind of candidate)

5. Blyleven
6. Perry
7. Palmer
8. Marichal. All very very close. If anything, I share some of the reticence about Bert. I could just as easily have him 8th. But I think this is right.

(another change in kind and probably a gap as well)

9. Wilhelm. The best ever at what he did.
10. Niekro. Lacks the peak that I like to see.
11. Jenkins
12. Eckersley
13. Gossage. Other than Wilhelm, the best in this role.


14. Ryan. Vastly overrated by writers and the public.
15. Saberhagen. Vastly underrated by writers and the public.
16. Drysdale
17. Bunning, Jerk.
18. Sutton
19. Fingers. I could argue for Fingers as high as #17 by the same logic that gets Wilhelm and Gossage where they are, except Fingers just wasn't that good.
20. Stieb. He was no Bret Saberhagen.
   7. Rob_Wood Posted: May 25, 2009 at 09:55 PM (#3192604)
My ballot (I am largely a career voter):

1. Tom Seaver - clearly number one on this star-studded ballot
2. Steve Carlton - long great career (chop off tail please) with very good peak
3. Gaylord Perry - no deduction for any funny business on the mound
4. Bert Blyleven - I am firmly in the Bert for HOF camp
5. Phil Niekro - did I say I love long productive careers?
6. Bob Gibson - cannot believe I have him this low, but relatively short career to those above
7. Nolan Ryan - built a lot of value in his latter years
8. Don Sutton - prototypical peak-less career candidate
9. Jim Palmer - marked down a bit due to his great defenses
10. Fergie Jenkins - love his control stats
11. Sandy Koufax - prototypical peak candidate (and what a peak)
12. Dennis Eckersley - hard to judge, but here seems about right
13. Juan Marichal - downgraded a bit due to his great offensive support
14. Hoyt Wilhelm - best pure reliever ever (sans Mariano)
15. Don Drysdale - the most feared pitcher of the 1960's (probably doesn't belong in HOF)
16. Bret Saberhagen - odd career patterns, not enough bulk
17. Jim Bunning - very good for a pretty long time
18. Rich Gossage - best of the firemen breed of relievers
19. Dave Stieb - similar to Saberhagen, but slightly inferior
20. Rollie Fingers - not a bad pitcher, but does not belong in HOF
   8. OCF Posted: May 26, 2009 at 12:27 AM (#3192797)
Re post #8: I think it's rather rude to post something like that without paying any attention to whether it is appropriate for the thread you are posting it in. I will give you no substantive feedback, and I recommend that my fellow HoM voters also ignore you completely. Go find somewhere else to post it.
   9. OCF Posted: May 26, 2009 at 12:31 AM (#3192810)
Back on topic: a ballot.

I tinkered with an ad hoc rating system that starts with RA+ equivalent records and then uses the data in Joe D's post #3 on the discussion thread to insert defensive and offensive adjustments, then give a bonus for big years. The result is an extremely closely packed group at the top - any of 6 different candidates could legitimately get my #2 vote. And although I am giving a peak bonus, this is still overwhelmingly a career value list.

1. Tom Seaver. The one vote that's not arguable.
2. Bob Gibson. Fewer innings than the other #2 candidates but the best hitter and the best peak.
3. Steve Carlton. Also buoyed by his own hitting.
4. Phil Niekro.
5. Gaylord Perry. Downgraded him a notch for having his best year in a slightly weaker league.
6. Bert Blyleven. Could easily rank 2nd; dragged down by the undertow of not actually being the winning pitcher. But definitely part of the top group.
7. Jim Palmer. Had the best defense behind him.
8. Ferguson Jenkins
9. Nolan Ryan. Still pretty peakless, but the defensive adjustment clearly moves him ahead of Sutton.
10. Don Sutton. I think some of the early votes have him seriously underrated.
11. Juan Marichal.
12. Jim Bunning.
13. Sandy Koufax. Accounting for his own hitting hurts him some.
14. Don Drysdale. As accounting for Drysdale's hitting helps him.
15. Hoyt Wilhelm. The system doesn't work for relief pitchers; I'm hand-placing him where I think he belongs.
16. Dennis Eckersley. I see more value as a starter than as a reliever.
17. Goose Gossage.
18. Bret Saberhagen. Discontinuous peak but no bulk.
19. Dave Stieb. Continuous peak, but less bulk than Saberhagen.
20. Rollie Fingers.
   10. Obama Bomaye Posted: May 26, 2009 at 12:39 AM (#3192824)
#8 has posted the same thing in several threads. I'm ordinarily very anti-censorship on this site -- I couldn't stand Kevin but thought it was bullshit that his posts, inflammatory or not, were erased. But in this case, the guy is just spamming. To what end, I have no idea. But just delete his post (and mine too).
   11. Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful Posted: May 26, 2009 at 12:44 AM (#3192835)
I have it on "ignore", yet I see #8 in its full idiotic glory. I guess deleting the many posts is the way to go.
   12. OCF Posted: May 26, 2009 at 05:09 AM (#3193364)
Hey - whoever did that editing, thanks! Of course, the posts now numbered 8, 10, 11, and 12 (this one) are orphan posts with vanished subject matter, and should also probably be deleted.
   13. Mark Donelson Posted: May 26, 2009 at 09:31 PM (#3194338)
Final ballot. Changed a little bit from prelim, but not much.

1. Tom Seaver. Easy.
2. Bob Gibson. A pretty clear second for this peak voter.
3. Steve Carlton. Just edges out Perry, but not by as much as I'd expected.
4. Gaylord Perry. Much better peak than I'd realized (then again, I didn't really get to see him till the end of his career).
5. Phil Niekro. OK, not really a peak guy, but a surprisingly remarkable prime more than makes up for it.
6. Sandy Koufax. Can't quite believe Niekro beats him out given my peaky predilections, but he does. Certainly wouldn't put him any lower, though.
7. Bert Blyleven. Another remarkable-prime guy.
8. Juan Marichal. Neck-and-neck with Blyleven--better peak doesn't quite beat out the great prime.
9. Bret Saberhagen. No, I don't require peaks to be consecutive, which makes his pretty great. Similar to Marichal's numbers, actually, but a chunk behind.
10. Jim Palmer. I'm letting reputation and the "pitched to his great defenses" argument sway me, as the raw numbers had him well below this. This feels more right, though.
11. Ferguson Jenkins. Another guy I only saw at the end. Does seem a lot like Palmer overall.
12. Don Drysdale. His hitting pushes him up a bit from prelim (forgot about that there).
13. Jim Bunning. I kind of like his mini-peak, actually, though everyone seems to be dismissing it. Am I missing something?
14. Nolan Ryan. Excellent for a long time, but barely any peak at all.
15. Hoyt Wilhelm. The only reliever to beat any of the pHOM starters in this group. Even that's pretty close.
16. Dave Stieb. Not much of a peak, but it's there. I certainly remember fearing him as a Yankee fan in the '80s.
17. Rich Gossage. I like his "reliever peak" better than Eck's.
18. Dennis Eckersley. In my pHOM for his relief, plus some added starter value--but that doesn't bump him above Goose for me.
19. Rollie Fingers. He's in my pHOM, but I'm questioning that a bit these days.
20. Don Sutton. Not in my pHOM. Completely peakless.
   14. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 26, 2009 at 10:07 PM (#3194384)
I'll just copy my post from the discussion thread:

My ranking is based upon a combination of gut instinct, BB-ref, and a reading of the arguments for and against all the candidates, both here and elsewhere. I've shifted the order many times before settling on a final ranking.

My bias is for candidates who either stand out by peak domination, or by a fairly long run of top level team value---expressed in IP, ERA, and complete game wins. Longevity that doesn't include a "wow" stretch doesn't rate quite as high. And much as I value the role of relief pitchers, I can't see even the best of them (unless you perhaps get to the Mariano level) having as much value as the sort of starters you see on this list, even Sutton. So the relievers are going to be at the bottom by definition.

BTW the gaps between names mean that IMO there's a relatively big gap in their overall merit.

1. Tom Seaver - without question the best combination of peak and career values, especially when you factor in the mediocrity of of his supporting cast through age 32

2. Bob Gibson - better peak over Carlton's longer but more checkered career
3. Steve Carlton

4. Jim Palmer - no apologies for this one - check out his consistency against every opponent. The longevity of his peak puts him above Koufax

5. Sandy Koufax - overrated by the mainstream but often underrated here - remove Koufax and the 60's Dodgers are a mediocre team - and he was one of history's greatest big game pitchers

6. Juan Marichal - IMO too great a peak value---both in rate stats and innings pitched---to go any lower

7. Phil Niekro - very closely bunched in overall value with the four below him, even though their careers took different arcs and have different strong points. The break between Blyleven and Drysdale has primarily to do with IP and hence career value
8. Gaylord Perry
9. Nolan Ryan
10. Fergie Jenkins
11. Bert Blyleven

12. Don Drysdale - underrated by me up till recently; I didn't realize how many innings he'd logged, even if it wasn't up to the level of the group above
13. Jim Bunning - what I said about Drysdale applies to Bunning, too - put him on a better team and his value would have been more apparent
14. Dave Stieb - a near tie with Saberhagen
15. Bret Saberhagen
16. Don Sutton

17. Hoyt Wilhelm

18. Dennis Eckersley - For the HoM I put him above Gossage and Fingers for his cumulative career value, but OTOH I see him as the weakest Hall of Fame candidate of the lot---not enough years as an ace closer to make up for his so-so starting years
19. Rich Gossage - both Gossage and Fingers are solid HoM choices, but I can't rate them any higher
20. Rollie Fingers
   15. AndrewJ Posted: May 26, 2009 at 10:10 PM (#3194387)
If Carlton had retired three years earlier, how much higher would you guys be ranking him?
   16. OCF Posted: May 26, 2009 at 10:37 PM (#3194412)
How much higher is there? There have been 6 ballots cast so far - very different ballots, with some wild disagreements, especially about Koufax and Sutton. And all 6 have Carlton 2nd, 3rd, or 4th - mostly 3rd. So what you're really asking is whether a little tinkering with his end-of-career value (to me, it makes very little difference) would be enough to put him ahead of Gibson. There's nowhere else to go, since no one has him within a mile of Seaver.
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: May 27, 2009 at 02:22 AM (#3194969)
1. TOM SEAVER - He crushes a very solid contemporary HOMer like Gaylord Perry 9 straight times and then matches him over the next 5 years. We are talking about one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. Easy No. 1. Odd that he never finished in the top 2 in IP, but his 8 top 5s are on par or better with the entire field.
2. BOB GIBSON - Some may see his mere three 150+ ERA+ seasons and ask why he is No. 2. I see his incredible 258-164 ERA+ combo in 1968-69 and his impressive nine 125+ ERA+ seasons and ask, why not? Top 5 in ERA seven times. Even a very good hitting P for his era. Odd that he never finished in the top 2 in IP, but his 7 top 4s are on par or better with the entire field.
3. STEVE CARLTON - Remarkably, even more of a workhorse than Niekro, and packs a best-5 wallop that means he's well ahead of both bulldogs like Perry and Jenkins and artists like Marichal. Maybe he's hurt in some systems by not putting the peak into consecutive years, but not here. I hadn't realized how much better Seaver and Gibson were, but that doesn't keep Carlton off the 3rd spot on this ballot in a tight race. 5-time IP leader, including his for-the-ages 1972.
4. JIM PALMER - Like other voters, I rode a bit of a rollercoaster regarding Palmer's phenomenal defensive support. It lessens his achievements slightly, but a 125 ERA+ in almost 4000 IP and 10 very good to excellent seasons is impressive nonetheless. What clinches this slot is both tangible and anecdotal evidence that Palmer "pitched to the defense" deliberately, which is a good thing, not bad. Palmer seemed to me like Greg Maddux most of his career - steady, not flashy (well, on the field, lol), and ultimately great.
5. SANDY KOUFAX - We're almost unanimous in agreeing that he is one of the most overrated players in history. BUT his 1966 swan song is one for the ages; 1963-65 are monster years; and 1961-62 are major pluses. It all adds up for Koufax to just nose out the rest here; maybe I have a peak-love that I didn't realize, but he dominates a top-6-seasons scale and everyone else either doesn't bring THAT much more to the table, or they had a bigger peak deficit to make up. I will say I do not think a 10-15 ranking on this list is crazy; these are all impressive but arguably a little flawed careers from here on down.
6. PHIL NIEKRO - Almost identical career to Perry's, except Niekro's best 2 were a little bit better. They're about even in durability, too. I do have to account for the unearned-run issue here, as the passed balls really were the result of Phil's knuckler. Overall, a very underrated career. Relentless in those IP, and that adds up on any metric.
7. GAYLORD PERRY - Like many others, I didn't quite realize he was THIS good, partly because of the who-cares last 500-600 IP of his career. Look to the long prime of 1967-75, top 4 in IP every time and never below 116 ERA+ and three times above 140. This is a reliable horse every year, which helps his teams immensely.
8. JUAN MARICHAL - Run support was remarkable, and explains the W-L record. Still, the 3-yr peak just about rivals anyone on the board, and the fade is not brutally fast. Blyleven could have beaten him out if not for his underperformance W-wise given his batting support.
9. BERT BLYLEVEN - Cherry-pickers delight - only won 19+ twice/won 14+ a dozen times/lost 14+ 8 times/only top 3 in IP twice/in top 10 in IP 11 times/never won a Cy Young/top 4 in voting 3 times, etc. Placed in top 4 in Ks 13 times as well. Ultimately, I see a Bunning-esque 7-year prime, which is a very good start as I voted for Bunning. What makes Blyleven an easy HOMer is that he has 7 MORE seasons of 116 to 129 ERA+. Not quite as durable as some imagine, but he smokes the entire Bunning/Rixey/Wynn/Pierce/Drysdale crowd for sure. Ultimately this is a hybrid peak/prime/career candidate.
10. JIM BUNNING - Excellent prime package here, but not a lot else.Without the funky career tail, the parallel to Drysdale's stats is almost eerie.
11. FERGUSON JENKINS - Every bit the workhorse that Gaylord Perry was, just that the highs weren't quite as high and the peak/prime/career comes up a little short. Never an ERA+ better than 142, a little surprising how consistently good he was for so long. Top 3 in NL Cy Young voting five times.
12. NOLAN RYAN - Not the workhorse he's reputed to be; he did pitch forever, but these other guys all had more highly-ranked IP seasons. Aside from Ryan's monster 1981 (in 149 strike-shortened IP), Blyleven out-ERA+s him in in EACH of the next 16 seasons of 100+ ERA+. Wow, and Blyleven has a double-digit edge 5 times. Blyleven was also MORE durable relative to his era than Ryan, such as 6 top 5 IP finishes to 3 for Ryan, for example.
13. HOYT WILHELM - An utter revolutionary, who in his one career chance to qualify for an ERA title - won an ERA title, in 1959. Wow. Fantasy players may notice this collective WHIP for 1962-69 - ages 39-46 - was under 1.000. Top 10 in saves 14 times. Threw 100 relief IP 10 times. Won 10+ relief games three times. ERA+ of 150 or better 12 times.
14. DENNIS ECKERSLEY - Not far behind Drysdale's starting career, and oh yeah he basically blew up the ERA+ counter three times as a closer. I've long believed/known that any of this level pitcher could dominate the easy world of closing, but 73 IP with 41 H, 4 BB and 5 ER allowed all season.... not everyone can do THAT.
15. RICH GOSSAGE - Spectacular 1975-85 prime should not be clouded by a wacky SP experiment or an endless, irrelevant tail of the career. His 1975-77-78 seasons (including 28 Ws) are more valuable than anything Rivera has ever done, arguably. 1981 seemed primed to be another such year if not for strike, and later there were conventionally excellent, lower-inning closer seasons.
16. DON SUTTON - A peakier Eppa Rixey, and I liked Rixey. No problem with noting the park help and the timeframe era help and other things. But let's not overreact, either. 20 straight years of pretty good and occasionally great and nicely durable pitching. Belongs in a "big tent" HOM that has room for all kinds. Almost loses to Drysdale on very weak relative IP levels.
17. BRET SABERHAGEN - 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1994 - this is a truly great pitcher in those years. So even though he brings little else to the table - well, the 1998-99 300 total IP or so were good, too - it's something. He's still overrated by HOM voters, but even more underrated by conventional baseball fans. If only he was more in-season durable, he'd move up.
18. ROLLIE FINGERS -. Yes, a devilish career to evaluate. He has many pluses: nine seasons with 100 relief IP (Rivera has one, when he was a setup man). He won about 100 games in relief not as a vulture, but as a guy pitching when it mattered most. For those dazzled by modern save totals, realize that Fingers was in the top 4 in his league in SVs 11 times (to 8 for Sutter and 7 for Rivera). Sutter pitched more than 107 IP once - Fingers did that 10 consecutive years. But most of all, what wins Fingers this slot is his inherited-runner numbers (and bonus World Series heroics). Fingers' teams just kept winning games he pitched for them - often he'd win himself, and often he'd save the day with runners on. In some way, I think Fingers was SO good in the 'clutch' for so long that he could not have been just getting lucky over and over again. Either way, the results were of immense value.
19. DAVE STIEB - Who knew that Ryan was better than Stieb not by peak or by prime - so that he needed 'career' to win the day? Ryan has more of the durable seasons, and a half-dozen 100-110 ERA+s of an edge on Stieb. Not as massive a gap here as others may perceive. I have Stieb's best 6-7 years nearly at the Bunning level. But this crowd is THAT close.
20. DON DRYSDALE - Extremely similar level of effectiveness to Billy Pierce in 162-IP years; I have Pierce with a slight edge due to some extra slightly above average seasons. Has just enough prime to belong at the bottom of the HOM, but I won't knock his selection.
   18. Mark Donelson Posted: May 27, 2009 at 06:38 PM (#3195712)
If Carlton had retired three years earlier, how much higher would you guys be ranking him?

So what you're really asking is whether a little tinkering with his end-of-career value (to me, it makes very little difference) would be enough to put him ahead of Gibson.

Yeah, the bad ending has no effect at all on how I (or, I believe, most of us) rank Carlton.
   19. DL from MN Posted: May 27, 2009 at 06:42 PM (#3195720)
I'm lopping off those years from my analysis.
   20. DL from MN Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:55 PM (#3197333)
7 ballots cast, 3 days left. Are we in for another inevitable extension?
   21. bjhanke Posted: May 28, 2009 at 08:47 PM (#3197826)
I hope to finish today, and will certainly be done by Saturday night. Bob Gibson will get no leadership credit, which is what I expected and, frankly, wanted. Chris Cobb said what I was thinking. Gibson will finish second, which seems to be on consensus. Hoyt Wilhelm will get 2 years of war credit, and I may well be his best friend ( I currently have him between 5 and 10. - Brock
   22. TomH Posted: May 28, 2009 at 09:14 PM (#3197866)
hey, I'm back, only if I can take my previous ballots, aggregate for this period, & paste. I know enough about this time period that I have the sanity-check abilities to understand what I've done, and am willing to defend/explain anything that looks waaaay too silly to anyone. Not willing to take time to give long explanations to each. Kind of doubt thtamy #1 wil surprise anyone anyway.

1 seaver - seriously undrrated all-time
2 perry - no deduction for successful cheating, altho in other contexts I can justify why there should be
3 gibson
4 carlton
5 niekro
6 blyleven - about 5 wins deduction for un-clutchiness
7 jenkins
8 palmer - one of the most favorable pitching environments ever
9 eck
10 ryan
11 koufax
12 marichal
13 wilhelm
14 drysdale
15 bunning
16 goose
17 sutton
18 fingers
19 saberhagen
20 stieb
   23. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 28, 2009 at 09:41 PM (#3197909)
Tom, to limit my requests to a bare minimum, I'd only ask for some explanation of Eckersley over Ryan, Koufax, and Marichal. I promise I won't try to counter-argue, and will let you have the last word. You can see from my # 14 above that we may be coming at this from different directions.
   24. bjhanke Posted: May 28, 2009 at 11:06 PM (#3197970)
Hi, it's Brock again. Just FYI, here's my preliminary with an odd chart I made up.

This chart helped me get the wildly varying stat lines under some sort of control. I used the chart as a starting point, and then made adjustments. But it's still interesting, at least to me, how well these simple rankings match up against what I have right now as a preliminary ballot.

Here's how to read the chart. First, there's the name. Then there's the ranking, among this list, of the pitcher's IP, with the IP themselves in parentheses. Then there's the ranking of the ERA+, with the raw number in parens. Then there's the final chart ranking, with the sum of the IP rank and the ERA+ rank in parens. Finally, there's the ranking within my prelim, with my adjustments made.

That is, Steve Carlton pitched 5217 IP, which was 5th in this group. He had a 115 ERA+, which is tied for 15th with Niekro and Jenkins. I counted the tie as worth 16 points instead of 15. The sum of 5 and 16 is 21, so Steve has 21 points. In this system, lower is better, and Steve's 21 points are the tenth lowest, tied with Ryan. I adjusted Steve up to third, which is the largest adjustment I made to anyone. One reason for the adjustment is that, if I took Carlton as having 4400 IP and an ERA+ of 120, which is about right if you take out the stubbornness years, he would have ranked 8 + 11 = 19, which would slot him tied for 7th with Wilhelm and Koufax. I think I can safely adjust Steve Carlton ahead of Wilhelm and Koufax. He may end up behind Perry and/or Niekro.

That those two small adjustments lead to a 3-slot move is a really good reason not to take these rankings too seriously. So are the clusters of numbers, where a small difference in IP or ERA+ may produce a disproportionate difference in the rankings. But these rankings do provide a starting point.

The list is in the order of my preliminary ballot.

Name / IP / ERA+ / Chart Rank / Adjusted Rank

Tom Seaver 7 (4783) 3a (127) 1 (11) 1

Bob Gibson 10 (3884) 3b (127) 2 (14) 2

Steve Carlton 5 (5217) 15a (115) 10t (21) 3

Gaylord Perry 3 (5350) 13 (117) 4 (16) 4

Phil Niekro 1 (5404) 15b (115) 5 (17) 5

Juan Marichal 12 (3507) 8 (123) 9 (20) 6

Hoyt Wilhelm 18 (2284) 1 (146) 7t (19) 7

Sandy Koufax 17 (2324) 2 (131) 7t (19) 8

Jim Palmer 9 (3948) 5a (126) 3 (15) 9

Bert Blyleven 6 (4970) 12 (118) 6 (18) 10

Nolan Ryan 2 (5386) 19 (111) 10t (21) 11

Fergie Jenkins 8 (4501) 15c (115) 14t (24) 12

Don Drysdale 13 (3432) 10 (121) 13 (23) 13

Bret Saberhagen 16 (2563) 5b (126) 12 (22) 14

Dennis Eckersley 14 (3286) 14 (116) 18 (28) 15

Don Sutton 4 (5282) 20 (108) 14t (24) 16

Dave Stieb 15 (2895) 9 (122) 14t (24) 17

Jim Bunning 11 (3760) 18 (114) 19 (29) 18

Rich Gossage 19 (1809) 5c (126) 17 (25) 19

Rollie Fingers 20 (1701) 11 (119) 20 (31) 20
   25. DL from MN Posted: May 29, 2009 at 12:20 AM (#3198019)
> I'd only ask for some explanation

Funny, you've avoided my questions on the discussion thread...
   26. DL from MN Posted: May 29, 2009 at 12:21 AM (#3198023)
Wish I could edit, you responded to Koufax but not to Stieb/Wilhelm.
   27. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 29, 2009 at 01:25 AM (#3198092)
> I'd only ask for some explanation

Funny, you've avoided my questions on the discussion thread...

Wish I could edit, you responded to Koufax but not to Stieb/Wilhelm.

Sorry, I hadn't realized that your question about Stieb / Wilhelm was directed specifically at me. Re-reading it, I can see that it was.

And upon reflection, you're probably right. As I said, I have a strong bias for starters over relievers, but given the huge gaps in ERA+, those extra innings of Stieb's wouldn't really make up the difference, and I should have taken that more into account. So if it's allowed, I'd bump Wilhelm up to # 14, and knock Stieb, Saberhagen and Sutton down one notch each. The irony is that I can remember Wilhelm's rookie year, when he was paired but somewhat overshadowed by another great rookie reliever, the Dodgers' Joe Black. It was one of those one of a kind years where the 2-3-4 finishers in the NL MVP race were the ace of a fourth place team (Robin Roberts of the Phillies) and two rookie relief pitchers (Black and Wilhelm). And the winner was a leadfooted outfielder for a fifth place team (Hank Sauer of the Cubs) who was arguably the most inane choice in MVP history.
   28. OCF Posted: May 29, 2009 at 01:31 AM (#3198098)
Andy: Do I understand that as an amendment to your ballot? (I'm a tallier, so I need to know.) Does your ballot now read this?

13. Bunning
14. Wilhelm
15. Stieb
16. Saberhagen
17. Sutton
18. Eckersley
   29. OCF Posted: May 29, 2009 at 01:35 AM (#3198101)
I'll add that I haven't yet tallied Brock's vote, because he hasn't yet said, "Final answer."
   30. Rob_Wood Posted: May 29, 2009 at 01:36 AM (#3198106)
Hi Tom, glad to see you again!
   31. Howie Menckel Posted: May 29, 2009 at 01:42 AM (#3198115)
Welcome back, Tom, and I imagine you'd see the Eck query (I like Eck) as a reasonable compromise....
   32. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 29, 2009 at 01:50 AM (#3198124)
Andy: Do I understand that as an amendment to your ballot? (I'm a tallier, so I need to know.) Does your ballot now read this?

13. Bunning
14. Wilhelm
15. Stieb
16. Saberhagen
17. Sutton
18. Eckersley

Correct on all counts.
   33. TomH Posted: May 30, 2009 at 02:58 PM (#3199906)
Jolly (and others) -
Well, obviously Nolan Ryan is one of the most unusual great pitchers we have. Let me explain my of Eck vs Marichal & Sandy K.

pitcher.. ..IP .. ERA+ WARP1/years Win Shares WS/225IP
SaKoufax 2324 131 ..... 53 / 09 ..... 194 ........... 18.7
JMarichal 3507 123 ..... 69 / 12 ..... 261 ............ 16.7
Eckersley 3285 116 ..... 95 / 18 ..... 301 ........... 20.6

Giving Koufax bonuses for big years + postseason dominance brings his career work up to the level of the others IMHO.

In the 'WARP1 / years' above I toss away poor years at the beginnign or end of a players career that do not add to his body of work; so I measure Eck for only 18 years.

Both ubermetrics show Eck's career more value than Juan's (WS and WARP). Yes, there should be some discount for the ease of putting up a better ERA in the bullpen (which WS for example does not adjust for), but when you toss a 0.61 in a season, that's some pretty high leveraged goodness no matter how you slice it. Eck's partial career as a starter launch him well above Goose and Rollie.
   34. TomH Posted: May 30, 2009 at 03:00 PM (#3199907)
adding in Ryan

pitcher.. ..IP .. ERA+ WARP1/years Win Shares WS/225IP
SaKoufax 2324 131 ..... 53 / 09 ..... 194 ........... 18.7
JMarichal 3507 123 ..... 69 / 12 ..... 261 ............ 16.7
Eckersley 3285 116 ..... 95 / 18 ..... 301 ........... 20.6
NolanRyan 5386 111 ... 94 / 21 ...... 332 ........... 13.9
   35. Sean Gilman Posted: May 31, 2009 at 02:07 AM (#3200525)
Pitchers (1959- )

1. Tom Seaver - Best combination of peak and career.

2. Steve Carlton - WARP1 thinks his peak is better than Gibson’s, he’s got better career value too.

3. Bob Gibson - WARP1 doesn;t seem as impressed with him as it probably should be.

4. Phil Niekro - But WARP1’s totally crazy over him. I don’t buy it at all.

5. Juan Marichal - Slight edge over Jenkins, because they numbers I’m looking at fit Jenkins all too well.

6. Ferguson Jenkins - A great five years and a terrific seven years in a row makes him look too good to me.

7. Gaylord Perry - A bit less than Jenkins.

8. Bret Saberhagen - Consecutiveness hurts him (obviously), but he’s got some really great years and good career value.

9. Dennis Eckersley - WARP1 really values his reliever years, which is probably appropriate, and the starter years leave him trailing only Niekro and Seaver in career strike-adjusted WARP1.

10. Bert Blyleven - WARP1, on the other hand, doesn’t care for his peak at all. I’m not sure why.

11. Sandy Koufax - All peak, of course. He’s look better if I looked at six consecutive years instead of seven.

12. Rich Gossage - Best pure reliver ever.

13. Jim Bunning - Solid.

14. Jim Palmer - Also solid, but a bit less so.

15. Hoyt Wilhelm - A bit less peak than Gossage, much more career than Fingers.

16. Don Drysdale - Pretty much identical to Palmer.

17. Dave Stieb - A tiny bit less than Drysdale.

18. Nolan Ryan - Second worst peak on the ballot. Good career value.

19. Rollie Fingers - Borderline for a reliever. I don’t think he’s in my PHOM, but he might be someday.

20. Don Sutton - Like Ryan, but with less career value and an even worse peak. No chance at the PHOM.
   36. Brent Posted: May 31, 2009 at 05:59 AM (#3200766)
For my comments, I’m presenting the statistical lines that I (usually) included in my original ballots. I’m a “peak/prime” voter, so these lines summarize the player's performance during the seasons that I regard him as having performed at “an HoM level.” Be aware that I haven’t updated the DERA stats to the latest version from I mentioned on my ballot for the last election, I’m skeptical that newer is actually better in this case. In a few cases, I didn't save the DERA statistics, so I just show ERA+.

If these statistical lines don’t always seem to align with my rankings, it’s because I’m also considering lots of other things affecting these players—fairly dramatic shifts in the standards for pitcher usage and innings pitched, the changing roles of relievers, expansion, shifts in relative league quality, the introduction DH, etc. It’s a challenging period for comparing pitchers.

1. Tom Seaver. Over 15 seasons (1967-78, 81, 84-85) he averaged 18-10, 4.2 wins above team, 259 IP, 132 DERA+, 207 SO, 72 BB.

2. Bob Gibson. Over 11 seasons (1961-62, 64-66, 68-73), he averaged 18-11, 3.4 wins above team, 268 IP, 133 DERA+, 224 SO, 86 BB, 54 OPS+, 9 Gold Gloves. World Series MVP for 1964 and 1967.

3. Steve Carlton. Over 11 seasons (1969-70, 72, 74, 76-78, 80-83) he averaged 19-11, 3.4 wins above team, 271 IP, 128 DERA+, 230 SO, 88 BB.

4. Gaylord Perry. Over 13 seasons (1964, 66-70, 72-76, 78-79) he averaged 18-13, 2.7 wins above team, 289 IP, 125 DERA+, 197 SO, 73 BB.

5. Phil Niekro. Over 14 seasons (1967-69, 71-80, 84) he averaged 17-14, 2.8 wins above team, 278 IP, 125 DERA+, 177 SO, 84 BB, 5 Gold Gloves.

6. Bert Blyleven. Over 14 seasons (1971-78, 81, 84-87, 89) he averaged 16-13, 2.2 wins above team, 264 IP, 130 DERA+, 200 SO, 69 BB.

7. Ferguson Jenkins. Over 13 seasons (1967-74, 76-78, 80, 82) he averaged 18-13, 2.3 wins above team, 269 IP, 124 DERA+, 196 SO, 55 BB.

8. Jim Palmer. Over 10 seasons (1969-73, 75-78, 82) he averaged 20-9, 3.2 wins above team, 282 IP, 128 DERA+, 163 SO, 88 BB, 4 Gold Gloves.

9. Don Drysdale. Over 10 seasons (1957, 59-65, 67-68) he averaged 17-13, 1.0 wins above team, 278 IP, 121 DERA+, 210 SO, 69 BB, 42 OPS+.

10. Juan Marichal. Over 8 seasons (1962-66, 68-69, 71), Marichal averaged 22-10, 5.1 wins above team, 295 IP, 127 DERA+, 206 SO, 55 BB. His six best seasons were nearly a match for Koufax’s; with a prime that adds another two good seasons, I think Marichal has to rank ahead of Koufax.

11. Sandy Koufax. Over 6 seasons (1961-66) he averaged 22-8, 5.4 wins above team, 272 IP, 144 DERA+, 286 SO, 69 BB. World Series MVP for 1963, 65. My first season as a fan was for the 1962 Dodgers, so Koufax was a childhood hero. In this election, it looks like I’m somewhere in the middle between the career voters and the peaksters.

12. Dennis Eckersley. He had a split career as starter and reliever and the individual halves don’t make an HoM career, but taken together they do. In 5 seasons as a starter (1975, 77-79, 82), he averaged 15-10, 2.0 wins above team, 235 IP, 130 DERA+, 156 SO, 63 BB. In 6 seasons as a reliever (1987-92), he averaged 61 G, 79 IP, 5-3, 39 SV, 169 DERA+, 82 SO, 9 BB. As a starter, I have Eckersley at 60% of my HoM threshold, and as a reliever at 74%. The career taken as a whole easily surpasses the threshold.

13. Jim Bunning. Over 10 seasons (1957-62, 64-67) he averaged 17-11, 2.6 wins above team, 271 IP, 213 SO, 67 BB, 126 DERA+.

14. Nolan Ryan. Over 12 seasons (1972-74, 76-77, 79, 81-82, 87, 89-91) he averaged 16-13, 2.4 wins above team, 248 IP, 280 SO, 128 BB, 127 DERA+.

15. Goose Gossage. # 1 career reliever in the HoM. Over 9 seasons (1975, 77-78, 80-85) he averaged 58 G, 102 IP, 8-6, 26 SV, 187 ERA+, 98 SO, 37 BB.

16. Dave Stieb. Over 9 seasons (1980-85, 88-90) he averaged 15-10, 2.6 wins above team, 239 IP, 126 DERA+, 140 SO, 79 BB.

17. Bret Saberhagen. Over 6 seasons (1985, 87-89, 91, 94) he averaged 17-8, 4.3 wins above team, 232 IP, 161 SO, 42 BB, 138 ERA+. 1985 World Series MVP.

18. Hoyt Wilhelm. Over 10 seasons (1952-54, 61-65, 67, 69) he averaged 59 G, 120 IP, 9-7, 16 SV, 137 DERA+, 88 SO, 41 BB.

(not PHoM)

19. Rollie Fingers. Over 10 seasons (1972-78, 80-82) he averaged 66 G, 112 IP, 9-8, 26 SV, 137 ERA+, 93 SO, 30 BB. 1974 World Series MVP.

20. Don Sutton. Over 10 seasons (1971-77, 80-82) he averaged 17-9, 2.2 wins above team, 245 IP, 126 ERA+, 167 SO, 61 BB.
   37. Howie Menckel Posted: May 31, 2009 at 06:24 AM (#3200787)
9. Don Drysdale. Over 10 seasons (1957, 59-65, 67-68) he averaged 17-13, 1.0 wins above team, 278 IP, 121 DERA+, 210 SO, 69 BB, 42 OPS+.

13. Jim Bunning. Over 10 seasons (1957-62, 64-67) he averaged 17-11, 2.6 wins above team, 271 IP, 213 SO, 67 BB, 126 DERA+.

I agree pretty much with this, except for the actual rankings of the 2............
   38. Brent Posted: May 31, 2009 at 06:59 AM (#3200799)
Yeah, Howie, I noticed that I appear to be Drysdale's best friend (and that you're Bunning's best friend).

For me, the difference between Drysdale and Bunning is mostly because I regard NL of the late 1950s and early 60s as having been a much better league than the AL.
   39. bjhanke Posted: May 31, 2009 at 07:34 AM (#3200803)
Here's Brock Hanke's final ballot, with the normal collection of large essays requiring three posts to load up. And again, I have provided the talliers with an ordered listing of the pitchers, so they don't have to fish through this enormous mass of verbiage.

1. Tom Seaver
2. Bob Gibson
3. Steve Carlton
4. Gaylord Perry
5. Phil Niekro
6. Juan Marichal
7. Hoyt Wilhelm
8. Sandy Koufax
9. Jim Palmer
10. Bert Blyleven
11. Nolan Ryan
12. Fergie Jenkins
13. Don Drysdale
14. Bret Saberhagen
15. Dennis Eckersley
16. Don Sutton
17. Dave Stieb
18. Jim Bunning
19. Rich Gossage
20. Rollie Fingers

Tom Seaver
When I first start looking at one of these pitcher groups, the first thing I do is make a simple chart from BB-Ref. It has Career IP, Career ERA+, Debut year and age, Last year and age, Years pitched, OPS+, and Notes for things like postseason and fielding. When I have that chart down, I make a first pass at ordering the pitchers. When I did that for this group, I assumed that I would probably have Bob Gibson #1 and Seaver #2. I had them in my memory as very similar quality pitchers, which they were, but with Gibson getting the edge on all the little things: hitting, fielding, postseason, and a tiny edge in peak because 1968 was so tremendous. But when I got the chart done, I was surprised to find that Gibson had 900 fewer IP than Seaver did.

So I had to estimate a balancing act between those 900 IP and all the little things. It got Gibby closer, but not close enough to actually sweat the call. Tom was indeed Terrific. Only after I had concluded that did I post up about the clubhouse leadership thing. I did NOT want to make a change in order based on that, because it's so dependent on whom I know about. I know a huge amount about Gibson, but much less about Seaver. For all I know, Seaver was as great a clubhouse force as Gibson was. If I had had the two close enough for clubhouse leadership to make a difference, I would never have posted. I would have let it go because the fact that I live in St. Louis is no reason to change an ordering. But in fact, Gibson did not get close enough for the leadership to have made a difference.

Everyone else in the top five, of course, is much more directly comparable to Seaver, and they all obviously fail. Gibson wasn't immediately obvious because his credentials are different.

Bob Gibson
Why did Gibson pitch so many fewer innings than Tom Seaver? Essentially, two reasons. First, Seaver had a very hot start. A tremendous prospect coming out of college, Seaver was actually awarded to the Mets as the result of a lottery. The Mets, who were dreadful at the time, gave Tom one season of AAA and then gave him a full starting rotation load in the majors at the age of 22. He was already better than what they had.

Gibson was signed by the Cards in 1957, but he wasn't sure he didn't want to play basketball for the Globetrotters, so he took a year off to try that. Deciding on baseball, he reported, but the Cards were not a lousy team at the time (just mediocre), so they felt no pressure to rush Gibby. He made the bigs in 1959, but the Cardinal manager was Solly Hemus, a noted bad manager and by repute a racist of at least some small rank. Hemus used him as a swing man for 2 years, sending him down to the minors as late as 1960, and then was replaced as manager in 1961 by Johnny Keane. Keane immediately moved Gibby into the rotation, but Bob was 25, not Seaver's 22. In Hemus' defense, Gibson was a bit wild until 1962, although he was effective. As soon as he got settled in to the majors, his walks went down from 5 a game to 3.5, and then dropped again in 1964. So the career start nets Tom about 500 IP over Gibson.

The other reason is leg problems, left over from a 1967 injury, that affected Gibson's arm in about 1973, collapsing his career. He tried a couple of years' worth of comeback, even resorting to the knuckleball, but he was done at 39, while Seaver pitched until he was 41. That's about another 400 IP. If Gibson had been a hot baseball prospect from USC, rather than a basketball player from Creighton, and if he had not had the leg injury in 1967, he probably would have had a career of the same length as Seaver. But injuries and slow starts count, too. Gibson simply did not have, as much as I would like him to, as good a career as Tom Seaver.

Steve Carlton
If you look at my big chart in an above post, you will find that I moved Steve Carlton up from #10 to #3 in the rankings, which is the largest move I made. Why? Well, people have been talking about stripping off the last 3 years (the stubbornness years) of Steve's career and seeing what that's like. And BB-Ref has a nifty new tool (at least new to me) that allows you to do that easily by clicking on the first and last season you want to consider. The system then computes the chosen range of years as if they were the career, including computing the new ERA+. So I did that for Steve, treating him as if his career had ended in 1985.

Results? Complacent Steve gets 4879 IP and an ERA+ of 120. How much difference does that make in my chart? Well, CSteve goes down in IP only from 5th to 6th, being passed by Blyleven. So that's 6 of my "points." But the ERA+ jump moves CSteve all the way up to 11th from tied for 15th. That's 11 points, plus 6 points = 17 points. That's good for a #4 ranking, right behind Gaylord Perry and tied with Phil Niekro. Carlton was a better hitter than either of those two, and had a slightly better peak. He ends up #3. That's how much difference it makes to strip those 3 years off.

Gaylord Perry
I make no more deduction for the spitter than I do for steroids, which is none. Perry's peak is very close to Carlton's, and he would rank higher except for hitting. Hitting in the modern era almost never makes a ranking move, because even the best hitters (like Gibson and Drysdale, thank you Paul Wendt), don't hit anything like as well as position players do. So the hitting is just overwhelmed by the pitching. But in this case, the two are so close that hitting really did make the difference. If these guys had pitched with the same relative abilities in the 1880s, the rankings would be Gibson, Carlton, Seaver, Perry, with Drysdale making a move.

Phil Niekro
Phil Niekro is, in my opinion, entitled to a year of war credit. He missed all of 1963 in the military, which would be Vietnam, although I don't know if he saw any combat. Since he was clearly big-league ready in 1964, I want to give him that 1963 season. So I did, but it didn't make any difference, He already has the most IP in this group. His early years do not suggest that the war credit year would help his ERA+ any.

Actually, stripping the last 3 years off of Phil's career has the same effect as doing it to Carlton. He drops a few hundred IP, but his ERA+ goes right up to 120. However, in Phil's case, the drop in IP moves him down enough to make up for all of the ERA+ gain. So his ranking does not move. His knuckleball, of course, did.

Juan Marichal
I moved Juan here up a few notches, essentially flipping him with Jim Palmer, for two reasons: peak and team defense. Juan's best 3-year peak comes to a very fine ERA+ of 160. Palmer's best is 143. Juan had some lousy years, more than Palmer, which is why the career ERA+ is in slight favor of Jim. But Juan has a clear peak advantage. I'll talk about defense in the Palmer comment.

Skipping Hoyt Wilhelm, who is not really comparable to anyone except maybe Satchel Paige, why Juan over Sandy Koufax? Koufax does have the higher peak, three years at an ERA+ of 177, and a career ERA+ advantage of 8 points, 131 to 123. Juan, of course, pitched many more innings. So, how to balance?

Sandy Koufax played 12 years in the big leagues. How about Juan's first 12 seasons? Juan has 3072 IP to Sandy's 2324, and a 129 ERA+ to Sandy's 131. I say advantage to Juan. It's 700 IP against 2 lousy ERA+ points. How about cutting Juan down to Sandy's IP? That means culling the first ten years of Juan. That gives you 2550 IP, which is still 200 IP more than Sandy, and an ERA+ of 136, which is 5 points higher than Sandy's.

Yes, Sandy has the big peak, and if Juan only had 2550 career IP, I'd have the rankings different. But Juan doesn't have 2550 IP. He has 3507. Essentially, he has Sandy's career plus about 1300 extra IP. The peak advantage for Sandy is 177 to 160. So what I'm saying is that I value 1300 extra IP more than I do a 17-point peak advantage in ERA+ and a 8-point career ERA+ advantage.

Hoyt Wilhelm
I admit to being baffled by anyone who has Hoyt Wilhelm ranked lower than tenth. I just don't get it. I've had him as high as 4th. This ranking of 7th is the lowest I've ever had him, and that's because I took the 2 years of war credit that I think he deserves out of the ranking chart. I originally intended to write a long (even for me) defense of my ranking here, but everyone pretty much knows who Wilhelm is, so I decided to strip it down to a few Fun Facts.

Fun facts: Hoyt's 3-year peak has an ERA+ of 199. Of course, that's only 264 IP, so Koufax still has an edge. Hoyt's 5-year peak has an ERA+ of 185. Of course, that's only 539 IP. Hoyt's 8-year prime has an ERA+ of 172, which is 5 points lower than Koufax's three-year peak. But it does have 878 IP to Koufax's 882. None of these peaks or primes include 1959, when Hoyt, as a starter, led the league in ERA and ERA+ and threw a no-hitter. The reason is that 1960's low ERA+ of 115 drags the group below other consecutive collections of years. In other words, if you look at concentrated excellence, Hoyt Wilhelm is playing in Sandy Koufax's league even without his big starter year. His idea of a BAD season is ERA+ 115. That's more than anyone else near here can say.

Fun Fact: In the last pitcher group, I noted that Satchel Paige had an ERA+ of 124, all in his 40s. I said that no one has an ERA+ of 124 in his 40s. Well, I guess that's still correct. Wilhelm's is 156, and his usage was similar to Satchel's. 32 points of ERA+ higher than Satchel Paige.

Fun Fact: The above means that Hoyt had a higher ERA+ in his 40s than in his 30s. How? Well, starting in 1955, Hoyt had himself a little 3-year slump of average major league pitching. The ERA+ involved are 103, 98, and 96. He doesn't have any more ERA+ as low as 103 until his very last year, at age 49, pitching 25 innings. His lowest ERA+ from ages 40-48 was the aforementioned 115 in 1960. The next lowest was 122 at age 48, pitching 20 innings. At age 47, it was only 127. So if he had quit before his decline phase, pitching only 2 years longer than Warren Spahn did, his ERA+ in his 40s would have been 169. Spahn's was 104. Phil Niekro, who is probably the best comp for Wilhelm in his 40s other than Paige, has an ERA+ for that decade of 103. I didn't spend days and days looking, but as far as I know, Hoyt Wilhelm is the best pitcher ever in his 40s.

Opinion, possibly not Fun: Hoyt Wilhelm's actual pitching quality was very likely in the Seaver / Gibson / Grove / Paige / Johnson class. He happened to enter organized baseball just as the knuckleball was entering its period of least favor. It was the Robin Roberts era, where everyone was looking for guys who threw hard strikes and never walked anyone. Wilhelm had a knuckler. His development was interrupted by war for 3 years. But guys, this was one tremendous pitcher. The many teams that traded him were fools. I can't rank 2254 IP any higher than this, but this guy's record just knocks my socks off. If I do give him 2 years of war credit (at 125 IP each for a total of 250 IP), he moves ahead of Marichal. But then I have to compare him to Niekro and Perry, which makes my head hurt.
   40. bjhanke Posted: May 31, 2009 at 07:36 AM (#3200805)
Sandy Koufax
Let's be brutally honest here: If not for the bonus baby rule, there is actually some chance that Sandy Koufax would not be in the Hall of Fame. Why would I say such a thing? Well, let's look at Sandy's early career. He never pitched an inning in the minor leagues, because the bonus baby rule required the Dodgers to keep him on their roster at the age of 19. Now look at those first 3 years, ages 19-21. He's being used as a spot starter and mopup man. In normal times, he'd have been in the minors. And what would that leave him? Nine years in the bigs. Not eligible for the Hall.

You can argue, and I think with success, that his age-21 season was good enough to get him a September callup. And you are probably right, though not guaranteed, given the Dodger pitchers of the time. But still, even if you give him the callup, what do you have? You have Addie Joss or Bob Caruthers, with a higher peak.

So, where would you have Joss or Caruthers in this group? Yes, lower than Sandy. But. Anywhere near 8th? Joss has a 3-year peak ERA+ of 160, compared to Sandy's 177. He also has 3 career IP more than Sandy, but with a 142 ERA+, 11 points higher than Koufax, because he wasn't in the majors until age 22, when he belonged there. Bob has boatloads of hitting value, and 500 more IP, although at a lower rate, ERA+ 123. How far away from Sandy can they be?

One consequence of this nonsense is that I am even more convinced than I was that we have too few 1800s pitchers in the HoM. I mean, Caruthers was near the bottom of that group. He's reasonably close to Sandy here, who is above average for this group. I say there are 4 or 5 1800s pitchers between Bob Caruthers and the bottom of this here list. So, I'm probably going to have a very odd HoM ballot next year.

Jim Palmer
The issue here is similar to my obsession with having ballpark adjustments made separately for lefty and righty hitters and pitchers. (You can actually find this data, and rankings derived therefrom, in the BBBAs that I edited. Those are the ones that are NOT actually called BBBA. That title came the same year that Don Malcolm took over editing the thing.)

Here it's the general concept of DERA. I buy into the concept, but I don't use any of the DERA formulas that I know of. Why? Because they don't adjust for ground ball and fly ball tendencies of either the pitcher or the defense. Not making those adjustments, in my opinion, leads to just as many errors, and the same magnitude of error, as not applying D to ERA at all does. Different errors, but similar impact. If I'm going to make the same number and size of error, I'll just go with the simple numbers. If I'm going to complicate things, I want to gain an advantage from it.

Now, Jim Palmer suffers in DERA because Earl Weaver defenses are generally real good. But what they are not is monolithically good. Weaver, like all great managers, had a very tight model of what a ballclub ought to look like, and worked hard to get rosters that mirrored that model. Earl's model was traditional: Defense up the middle and offense down the lines. The one exception was third base, which was the linchpin position for Earl. In his entire career, Earl's third basemen were, essentially, Brooks Robinson and Doug DeCinces. THAT's a peer group. Offense AND defense.

So what are the defensive implications of this? The biggest one is that the Orioles' infield defense was the feature. Earl insisted on having hot gloves at second and short, because they are up the middle. And he had hot gloves at third base as well. In the outfield, well, you do have Paul Blair in center. But you have people like Boog Powell and Ken Singleton in the corner outfield slots, as well as at first base. So the outfield defense, on the whole, was probably not much better than average. But the infield defense was terrific.

And what sort of pitcher was Jim Palmer? A ground ball pitcher. He did what is now called "pitching to contact." He used his infield as much as anyone. So the result is that, as much as current DERAs bite into Palmer, it's not enough. The adjustment needs to be even greater than it is. And so, I dropped him from the chart's ranking of #3 down to here at #9.

A quick digression: There is a current manager who has exactly the same team model as Earl, including Earl's penchant for stocking his starting rotation full of hot arms and not sweating the closer too much. His name? Bobby Cox. Look at the third basemen. Given Earl and Bobby's successes, I'd say it's a pretty good model.

Bert Blyleven
A weird career, but I seem to be close to consensus, so I really have nothing to add to what has already been said.

Nolan Ryan
Nolan Ryan did not have more than 152 major league IP until he was traded to the Angels in 1972 at age 25. The main reason was that he didn't have control in New York. In California, he dropped about a walk and a half and gained about 2 strikeouts per game. These low early loads very likely led to his huge career IP and late age of retirement. Judging by his recent comments, he learned absolutely nothing from this.

Fergie Jenkins
In his prime, Jenkins reminds me some of Robin Roberts. He struck out a few more than Roberts, but that was the time period. He gave up similar numbers of homers and didn't walk many. I give a little boost to pitchers who pitch in bandboxes like Wrigley. That's because there's only so much you can do, some people are going to get on base. So the number of pitches thrown per inning is higher for these guys than for others. That means more real workload per IP. The Red Sox, Cubs, Astros and Rockies have to fight with this every year. They need more pitchers than other teams to fill the same number of innings. Or more durable pitchers.

Don Drysdale
The pitchers below Don who have ERA+ near Don's have many fewer IP and, of course, they couldn't carry his bat. Don has fewer years played than some, but that was the Dodgers. If they could blow out Sandy Koufax's arm, they sure could blow out Don Drysdale's.

My one remaining memory of Don, whom I saw pitch several times, has drowned the others out. Here it is: Don was running the bases on a DP attempt, and had himself a little disagreement with Cardinal second baseman Julian Javier. Don was huge and Julian was tiny, and it looked like Javier was just going to get the cr*p beat out of him. But then Bill White came over from first base and tapped on Drysdale's shoulder. Don took one look behind him, saw that it was White, and just backed off and walked away. He had 5 inches and about 50 pounds on Bill, but wanted no part of him.

I'm not sure where Bill White grew up, but I would guess that it wasn't the best area of town. Either that, or Bill had been a boxer or something. But people, including really big guys like Don Drysdale, were just physically afraid of Bill White.

Bret Saberhagen
I moved him down a couple of spots because his career is scattered. There's nothing like a concentrated peak. There are some real good years there, but they are all mixed in with the bad ones. Fine control.

Dennis Eckersley
My chart really doesn't apply to Eck, because of the hybrid career. The starter years keep his ERA+ down below closer level, and the closer years sap his career IP. I would rank him higher except that his career is really scattered, no consistency. The closest thing to a 3-year peak that he has would be 1989-1991, centering on his ridiculous year in '90. Other than that stretch, his good years are as much mixed in with weak ones as Saberhagen. It can be disorienting. You see the good years, both starting and relieving, and then you see the career ERA+ of 116 and wonder how that happened. You forget the weak years mixed in there.

If the media anecdotes are to be believed, Eckersley was a very analytical ballplayer. He was the first pitcher to mention that the biggest effect that Coors Field had was not the short fences, but the thin air, which did not provide enough resistance to allow a curve ball to curve well. He may have not been the first pitcher to think this, but he was the first one to mention it.

He is also one of the people most responsible for the modern closer role. When he converted to relieving back in Oakland, he occasionally got 2-inning assignments and 70-IP seasons. His arm took this up through 1992, but then it began to rebel. He was the one who went to Tony La Russa and asked to be used only one inning at a time, and to be given workloads in the 60-70-IP range. He then proselytized for this idea to anyone who would listen. Because he was successful and articulate, baseball bought into this, even though he was in his late 30s when his arm began to show strain from the 70-IP loads. I have no idea whether he was correct in general, or just for aging arms, but baseball now uses closers just like Eck told them to.
   41. bjhanke Posted: May 31, 2009 at 07:37 AM (#3200806)
Don Sutton
There are a lot of innings here, but that's about the only thing to really like. Don has only two seasons with ERA+ above Hoyt Wilhelm's career mark, and only one more over Sandy Koufax's career. The two really good ones are 8 years apart, and Don's career is in general truly scattered. His three good years are staff ace years, but since he is so inconsistent, you can't really do anything but pencil him in as your #3 starter and take the bonus if you drew the hot year card.

Dave Stieb
Dave's 4 peak years, 1982-1985, are truly outstanding, both for quality and quantity of IP. But the IP were too much, and his arm went south after 1985. The 1985 season is just weird. Toronto made the playoffs, so they had a good team, and Dave's ERA, with or without the +, was outstanding. But he only went 14-13, and was not exactly great in the postseason. Just bad luck, I guess.

I don't remember anyone saying this at the time, but Dave Stieb appears to have been just a tad wild there. His walks are too high for his strikeout numbers, and he led the league in HBP 5 times. But, as I said, no one seemed to notice at the time. Other than that and the 1985 campaign, there is a lack of anything standing out, no hook to make him memorable.

Jim Bunning
The Phillies, for some reason that I never did understand, chose to give Jim Bunning over 300 innings of work in both 1966 and 1967. His ERA+ are very good, but his combined won/lost for the two seasons is only 36-29. So the team didn't really get what they were looking for, and then Jim's arm fell off in 1968.

If you take Jim's career just through 1967, he has 3059 IP and a 123 ERA+. Four extra seasons of junk savage his ERA+ and don't add enough IP to even things out. His ranking here is based on the career through 1967, as he looks better if I do that. Oddly enough, it doesn't change his position within this group, but it probably will add a place or two when we merge our time period lists.

Jim would move up a couple of places if he had a better peak, but he was, up through 1967, pretty consistent, so his best years aren't all than much better than his normal ones. The 3059 IP and 123 ERA+ that I am using are both just a bit better than Dave Stieb can manage, but Dave has a strong peak.

Rich Gossage
I will admit to being surprised by how low the ERA+ are for Gossage and Fingers. I expect closers to have much better ERA+ than this, and I expect to eventually rank some closers higher than this. In Gossage's case, I think there may be a New York effect in his reputation. Goose has a nice strong prime containing a nice strong peak, and it's almost all with the Yankees. With other teams, he was, in general, nothing special.

As you all doubtless are aware, Goose was used as a starter for one year, and it did not work. Is it possible that there really are pitchers who can be solid major league closers but who can't start at all? The answer is yes. My evidence is not Goose, but a Cardinal (what other team would I know this much about) named Todd Worrell, who was Whitey Herzog's closer at the end of Whitey's managing tenure. But before that, Todd was hung up in the high minors for three years as a starter of no great distinction.

What happened was this: The Cardinals produced full stat sheets for their minor leaguers, and Whitey noticed that this kid Worrell had great ERAs in the first three innings, but then fell apart starting in the 4th frame, leading to weak overall records. Whitey asked the AAA team to try a radar gun on Todd, and they found out that he lost about 5 mph off his fastball starting in the 4th inning. Whitey asked (read "ordered") the AAA club to convert Todd to a closer, for obvious reasons. Todd became a major leaguer.

How many of our modern closers are like this? How many simply would not be in the major leagues at all except that there is this role of "closer" for their particular skills to fill, and which dodges their particular weakness? I don't know, but it can't be just Worrell and Gossage. And it does lead to an interesting consequence.

When this happens - when someone can close in the majors but not start - then the extra pitcher on the staff that he represents does NOT dilute the major league pitching pool. Yes, said closer does add one pitcher to the roster, taking one pitcher from the overall pitching talent pool. But that pitcher is one who would not be in the majors at all except for the role of closer; that is, he would not be in the major league talent pool. So adding this type of pitcher does not dilute the pool. He's a wash in that arena. Add one pitcher to the roster, but also add one pitcher to the major-league-quality pool. I have no idea how big this effect is, because I have no idea how many closers fit the definition. But it does mean that all the adding of pitchers to modern staffs is not QUITE as bad as it appears to be.

Rollie Fingers
Although his career is a decade later, Rollie Fingers is as much a transitional relief pitcher as Hoyt Wilhelm. Rollie started some games, did not finish a high percentage of his relief appearances compared to true closers, and regularly logged more than 100 IP a season. As a consequence, his ERA+ is nothing serious. He's not getting enough more IP than a true closer does to make up for the ERA bloat.

One demonstration of this comes from looking at his late years in Milwaukee. The Brewers actually did use Rollie as a true closer, and he responded with three ERA+ of 332, 146 and 198 before his arm finally fell off. If he had posted ERA+ like that all his career, he would rank much much higher. But he was a transitional reliever, neither long man nor true closer, and unlike Wilhelm, he could not overcome that. In actual fact, comparing Hoyt to Rollie was where I first got an appreciation of just how much Wilhelm had actually accomplished, given his usage. I can feel more or less sorry for Rollie, but his career is what it is, and he was well paid for it, so I guess he doesn't need my pity.
   42. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 31, 2009 at 11:02 AM (#3200827)
Phil Niekro is, in my opinion, entitled to a year of war credit. He missed all of 1963 in the military, which would be Vietnam, although I don't know if he saw any combat.

For the record, we didn't have ground combat troops in Vietnam until mid-1965. There's less than a 1% chance that Phil Niekro in 1963 would have been stationed anywhere other than the U.S. or Western Europe.

That nitpicking aside (and that's all it is), I just wanted to compliment Brock for what to me is a model of what a HoM ballot should be like: Reasoning based upon full knowledge of statistics, yet written in plain English, and with much individual player context provided. It almost achieves a Platonic ideal of sorts.

I'm still sticking with my own rankings, because my standards for value are somewhat different than his, but I didn't want to let Brock's posts go without some recognition and appreciation of the tremendous thought that must have gone into them.
   43. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 31, 2009 at 12:12 PM (#3200831)
Unless Joe objects, the election will be extended another week.
   44. Howie Menckel Posted: May 31, 2009 at 03:29 PM (#3200894)
"For me, the difference between Drysdale and Bunning is mostly because I regard NL of the late 1950s and early 60s as having been a much better league than the AL."

Fair point. That and pitcher's batting, I don't always adjust for sufficiently.
   45. Howie Menckel Posted: May 31, 2009 at 03:37 PM (#3200900)
"[Wilhelm's] idea of a BAD season is ERA+ 115. That's more than anyone else near here can say."

Well, that's because most of the others were starting pitchers, which is harder.
I like Wilhelm a lot and find him underrated, but practically any quality high-IP starting pitcher could ring up boffo numbers in relief - and from this era, even in the kind of innings that Wilhelm tossed. Hoyt could have been a solid SP, too, imo as noted by his ERA title, but his ERA+ would be dinged just like everyone else's....
   46. OCF Posted: May 31, 2009 at 05:41 PM (#3201025)
It's interesting to see in Brock's long post above his ascribing to Gibson's 1967 leg injury the decline and fall of his career 6 or so years later. There's another side to that injury that I've commented about - the boost it somehow mysteriously seemed to give him.

Gibson's recovery from that injury was quite quick - less than two months for a broken bone. But what did he come back as? Absolutely immediately (no easing into it) he was a fire-breathing monster. Look at what he did in September and October of 1967, then add what you already know about his 1968 and 1969 seasons. If you start the clock ticking the moment he came back from the injury, that's one of the greatest two-year stretches of any pitcher in history. (OK, maybe not Johnson 1912-13.)

Getting a little more specific about Gibson in '67:

His first two starts (Sept. 7, Sept. 12), he didn't go the distance, coming out of each game early. Still, between these two starts, he pitched 11 1/3 innings and allowed 2 runs.

On Sept. 18, he pitched a complete game, allowing just 3 hits and 1 run, winning.

On Sept. 23, he pitched 8 innings, allowing 3 hits, and 2 runs (one unearned), with 10 strikeouts. It was an 8-inning complete game, as the team lost 2-1.

On Sept. 29, he pitched a complete game, allowing one unearned run.

On Oct. 4, in the World Series, he pitched a complete game, with 10 strikeouts, allowing 1 run (a HR to pitcher Jose Santiago), winning 2-1.

On Oct. 8 (WS Game 4), he pitched a complete game 5 hit shutout.

On Oct. 12 (WS Game 7), he pitched a complete game allowing 2 runs, and hit a HR himself.

Hence in Sept./Oct. 1967, Gibson pitched in 8 games, generally against good opponents (three of the games being in the WS). He had 64 1/3 IP in those 8 games (averaging over 8 IP per start). In those 64.3 innings, he allowed just 9 runs, 7 earned, for an RA of 1.26 or an ERA of 0.98. He allowed 41 hits, just one HR (the one by Santiago), walked 12, (for a WHIP of 0.82) and had 54 strikeouts. His record for the 8 games was 7-1, and he was unlucky to have lost the one.

And then he came back the next April and did approximately that for a whole season.

I've called it the greatest injury recovery in major league history. Does anyone have a better candidate than that?

Now, here's the technical question: was he doing anything different in late '67 and '68 (arm angle, stride mechanics, whatever) than he was doing in '66 and early '67? Brock, do you recall enough to say anything about that? Does anyone have any videos that can be compared? As for his mid-70's decline, I don't usually think that decline at that age needs any extraordinary explanation - some pitchers keep going at that age and some don't.

Hey, we now have edit! There are 11 ballots so far.
   47. Tiboreau Posted: May 31, 2009 at 07:19 PM (#3201176)
I'm trying a different comment method (I call it the favre method) because I didn't get anywhere the last time, when I tried to comment on these guys singly.

1. Tom Seaver
2. Steve Carlton
3. Bob Gibson

Carlton, with the benefit of his ’72 season, beats Seaver in 5-year non-consecutive peak; however, after 5 years Seaver is slightly ahead of Carlton year-by-year and continues at a similar level of excellence several years more than Carlton, giving him both the career & prime advantage to make the top spot on this ballot. The story is similar WRT Carlton v. Gibson: the latter holds the 5-year non-consecutive peak advantage, but falls short due to Carlton’s vast career and slight prime advantages.

4. Phil Niekro
5. Gaylord Perry
6. Ferguson Jenkins
7. Bert Blyleven

A group of very good peak, excellent career candidates make up the next four spots on my ballot, each one generally just a step below the other. BP’s WARP3 absolutely loves Niekro & Jenkins, crediting them with substantially better value than Joe D.’s dWAR. In Niekro’s case I essentially ignored BP’s view, which dropped him from 2nd to a more sensible (IMO) 4th; in Ferguson’s case it was a little trickier, so I simply dropped him one spot, as I didn’t really think he was more valuable than Perry.

8. Juan Marichal
9. Sandy Koufax
10. Don Drysdale

All three of these pitchers are very similar both in type of value—short career, big peak pitchers—and in total value. Marichal beats Drysdale due to a better peak during a career of similar value, while Koufax, one of the trickier pitchers on the ballot, finds himself sandwiched between the two—despite many fewer career IP—due to the best peak value on the ballot. If this were a small hall, as opposed to a alternate Hall of Fame, I would draw the line here.

11. Bret Saberhagen
12. Jim Bunning

A surprising turn of events as both comprehensive statistics used, BP’s WARP3 & Joe D.’s dWAR, agree on Saberhagen’s underrated candidacy; part of his advantage is due to my preference for non-consective peak over consecutive, I must admit. Bunning put together both a very good career & peak, and in overall value I have him to be similar to Stan Coveleski, two solid members of the lower tier of the Hall of Fame.

13. Nolan Ryan
14. Jim Palmer

These are two of the trickier pitchers on the ballot after Sanford Braun. Ryan is well-known for his K domination & long career, which led to his record setting 7 no-hitters; however, his all-or-nothing approach meant he was also yearly among the league leaders in walks and acquired an uninspired peak considering the prodigious K totals. Meanwhile, both comprehensive metrics agree that Palmer’s career is overrated due to the excellent defenses behind him; however, unlike Brown & Ford I’m placing Palmer a few spots ahead of where the two metrics combined would have him.

15. Hoyt Wilhelm
16. Dennis Eckersley
17. Goose Gossage

Relievers dominate the bottom 6 spots on the ballot, Eckersley benefiting from his time as a starter as well is LaRussa’s use of his relief staff. Meanwhile, Wilhelm wins the title of best reliever due to strongest career even though he has the lowest 5-year non-consecutive peak of the three (all rather close in peak value, IMO).

18. Dave Stieb
19. Don Sutton
20. Rollie Fingers

Two borderline candidates and one mistake (IMO): Stieb barely makes the HoM despite a fine peak during a weak time for pitchers; Sutton’s career value isn’t enough to make up for his lack of peak value; and I have Rollie Fingers with the lowest value of any HoMer—despite the handlebar mustache.
   48. bjhanke Posted: May 31, 2009 at 10:48 PM (#3201347)
OCF says, among other interesting stuff, "Now, here's the technical question: was he (Bob Gibson - BJH) doing anything different in late '67 and '68 (arm angle, stride mechanics, whatever) than he was doing in '66 and early '67? Brock, do you recall enough to say anything about that? Does anyone have any videos that can be compared? As for his mid-70's decline, I don't usually think that decline at that age needs any extraordinary explanation - some pitchers keep going at that age and some don't."

Actually, this one I do know, although I had trouble finding references to back me up (I've had trouble finding out injury data this whole time. No site seems to list injury history.). I was in college in 1967-68, and had time, especially in the summers, to obsess about baseball and go to games. Gibson did nothing whatsoever to change his delivery in 1967. He talked about it a little, basically saying that it wasn't his personality to give in, which everyone knew by then. If he had had to change his technique, he would have sat out more until he was ready to go full competitive speed. I think that what may have happened is that the time off did his arm some good, so he had a hot last part of 67, the Series, then 68 and its Series. I do think that OCF found a really interesting feature in Gibson's career, though. Gibson really did have his very best few years right after the injury.

As for later, there is some smaller leg injury in the early 1970s that did mess up his arm. I can't find a reference to it, so I don't remember what exact injury it was. I do remember that at least in his last year, Bob actually was trying to make a comeback as a knuckleball pitcher because the heater was gone. That was, of course, big news in STL.

The best info I could find was in Wikipedia, of all places. Here's an excerpt that comes closer than anything else to explaining things:

"In 1967, Gibson made a remarkable recovery from a broken leg to become the premiere pitcher in that year's World Series. Gibson's normal follow-through included landing hard on his right leg. On July 15, he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Roberto Clemente just at that point of his follow through. The broken leg put Gibson on the disabled list until early September, while the Cardinals continued to play well. With Gibson back in the lineup, the Cardinals secured the National League pennant.

... (I've cut several paragraphs that aren't about his legs)

The constant pounding on Gibson's right knee took its toll, eventually inflicting knee injuries that contributed to Gibson losing his effectiveness. In his final season, he went 3-10 and announced his retirement."

That final season may have been the only one where he really tried the knuckler. - Brock
   49. bjhanke Posted: May 31, 2009 at 11:20 PM (#3201374)
Howie says, ""[Wilhelm's] idea of a BAD season is ERA+ 115. That's more than anyone else near here can say."

Well, that's because most of the others were starting pitchers, which is harder.
I like Wilhelm a lot and find him underrated, but practically any quality high-IP starting pitcher could ring up boffo numbers in relief - and from this era, even in the kind of innings that Wilhelm tossed. Hoyt could have been a solid SP, too, imo as noted by his ERA title, but his ERA+ would be dinged just like everyone else's...."

I'm not sure this idea about all good starters being able to relieve is true. Broadcasters, managers, coaches and players all occasionally talk about the difference between warming up to start, where you have lots of time (4 days, actually) and a known time deadline, and warming up ad hoc to relieve. There really do seem to be a lot of starters who cannot relieve, because they need the full warmup. Or at least, they'd need to train themselves a new warmup routine. And then there is endless pointless argument possible about the starters who are comparatively weak early, taking a couple of innings to settle in (Bob Gibson, certainly a top starter, was one of these). Could they relieve, where you have to be sharp right away?

Wilhelm's career as a starter is one of the things that impresses me so much. He had only 3 years where he started more than 3 games, three consecutive years. In 1958, he started 10 games, pitched 131 innings, and had an ERA+ of 157, although his w/l was a lousy 3-10. In 1959, he was a full starter, starting 27 games, pitching 226 innings with an ERA+ of 173, which led the league. In 1960, he had the "bad" year, starting 11 games, pitching 147 innings, with the ERA+ of 115. Overall, he really suffered no ERA+ drop at all from starting; his ERA+ for the three years combined is 152, which is just a tad higher than his career. I think you CAN make a case that he didn't deal well with over 200 IP, and I'm not sure that Hoyt could have been a long-term starter at the super quality he did show. But then again, I don't know that he couldn't. One of the normal features of knucklers is that they can pitch large loads. - Brock
   50. bjhanke Posted: May 31, 2009 at 11:35 PM (#3201385)
RE: Jolly's post #42.


Computer nerd digression, to clear my emotional air, and for for the use of anyone working in the field: I spent the last 15 years working as a systems documenter, which means I wrote up how computer code works in plain English. One of the things that I found out doing this is that you can explain the concepts of object-oriented programming and class hierarchy, which are hard, by referring to Platonic ideals. A superclass is the Platonic ideal for a class, which is then the Platonic ideal for the subclass, and so on down to the instance, which is one actual object. This works on people who are not programmers. They know about Plato and can visualize how the concept of "chair" descends to "office chair," and then to "this here office chair."

OK, now that I'm done blushing, thanks for the Vietnam info. I am very careful about Nam, because the subject is touchy. If I am not absolutely certain that I know the details and can back them up, I just say that I don't know. I know that there were combat troops in Nam as early as 1955, serving as military advisors to train the South Vietnamese army. Occasionally, they'd end up in combat, just by bad luck. I did not know for certain that Niekro was not one of these, 1 percent chance or not. So I said I don't know. I also did not know that the percent chance was that low. I didn't know how many people were in the military in 1965. Thanks for giving me the percentage.

As for me and my writing, it's what I do, for a living and as a hobby. I keep worrying that people will get tired of my anchoring so many things back to the Cardinals, which is what I know the best. I am really glad that doesn't bother you. Thanks again! - Brock
   51. bjhanke Posted: May 31, 2009 at 11:56 PM (#3201396)
Quick retraction. I hand-calculated Hoyt Wilhelm's ERA+ for 1958-1960, and the method I used is apparently not completely correct. When I went back to BB-Ref and selected those 3 years, they came up with an ERA+ of 147, which is right on Hoyt's career mark. Sorry about that. - Brock
   52. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 01, 2009 at 12:44 AM (#3201416)
Brock, my "Platonic Ideal" of analytical baseball writing combines original thinking, clear prose, and just as important, an ingrained and thorough knowledge of the history of the game in all of its aspects, with statistics used no more and no less than is necessary to illustrate a point. IMO the two writers over the years who've best approached that ideal are Bill James and the late Leonard Koppett. That gives you something to shoot for, and keep it up.
   53. DL from MN Posted: June 01, 2009 at 07:43 PM (#3202211)
Up to 12 ballots! I figured our participation level would go _up_ as we got to the modern pitchers. I'm surprised we've seen nothing from Rosenheck.
   54. Howie Menckel Posted: June 01, 2009 at 11:44 PM (#3202494)
"I'm not sure this idea about all good starters being able to relieve is true. Broadcasters, managers, coaches and players all occasionally talk about the difference between warming up to start, where you have lots of time (4 days, actually) and a known time deadline, and warming up ad hoc to relieve. There really do seem to be a lot of starters who cannot relieve, because they need the full warmup."

Ok, I'm game.

I think of it admittedly, as "Why would you ever want to waste SPs of this quality in the bullpen?"

Normally I might think, yeah, Niekro would be weird late in games as a closer, but Wilhelm did it (well, he was a fireman in some respects, which you'd think might be even worse for a knuckler, and he did ok).

I do know/believe that the average reliever has a better ERA+ than an average starter.
The starter, he has a bad 6th inning, leaves the bases loaded, and if his RP stinks, he eats the runs.
The 9th-inning guy comes in, loads the bases, no outs, shot up the gap, but only the one run counts and the other runs that likely would have/might have scored, walk off the field.

Makes me think, though, as we await ballots:
Whom do posters think would have been the best and worst closers of these starters?
Any ones we guess might have had a harder time?

I'd never really thought about it much.

EDIT: And I just made 2 minor edits because after 6 full years, I finally can. heh, that's 3 more minor edits.
   55. virginiasteve Posted: June 02, 2009 at 12:11 AM (#3202557)
Let's see. Best closer

Gibson. Battler. Strikeout guy. Good control. Owner of 6 lifetime saves along with those 251 wins.


Niekro. I know knuckleballers have done it but can't see Phil out there with the bases loaded and a one run lead.

Ryan. Can't get a handle on him as a closer. Never could figure out how he wound up with a .526 winning% with that stuff.
   56. DL from MN Posted: June 02, 2009 at 02:01 AM (#3202765)
Eck was the best closer, we know the answer there. Sutton probably would have been the worst.
   57. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2009 at 11:29 AM (#3206026)
If Carlton had retired three years earlier, how much higher would you guys be ranking him?

Carlton's last years don't have any negative impact at all in my system. If anything, they add very marginal value to his overall resume.
   58. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2009 at 11:52 AM (#3206033)
Sandy Koufax
Let's be brutally honest here: If not for the bonus baby rule, there is actually some chance that Sandy Koufax would not be in the Hall of Fame. Why would I say such a thing? Well, let's look at Sandy's early career. He never pitched an inning in the minor leagues, because the bonus baby rule required the Dodgers to keep him on their roster at the age of 19. Now look at those first 3 years, ages 19-21. He's being used as a spot starter and mopup man. In normal times, he'd have been in the minors. And what would that leave him? Nine years in the bigs. Not eligible for the Hall.

If Addie Joss found a way into the HOF, Koufax would still have made it to Cooperstown.
   59. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2009 at 11:57 AM (#3206037)
BTW, when did we get the Edit feature here? Nice!
   60. DL from MN Posted: June 04, 2009 at 01:44 PM (#3206108)
Well, so far the extension has conjured up... zero ballots.
   61. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2009 at 02:44 PM (#3206203)
Well, so far the extension has conjured up... zero ballots.

Ballots from Joe and me will be there at the end, but you probably knew that already, DL. :-) I would have posted it last week, but I want to go over reliever placement a little bit more now that I have the time.

With that said, I also thought as others did here that the more contemporary group of pitchers would draw a bigger crowd of voters. Guess not.
   62. DL from MN Posted: June 04, 2009 at 03:14 PM (#3206239)
Ballots from Joe and you would have always been there. Honestly thought I wish you'd post them earlier. The Pennants Added system is one of the better ways to rank and it sparks discussion. Waiting to the last minute cuts off any productive discussion of those ballots. Maybe that's intentional.

Where are Chris Cobb and Dan R?
   63. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2009 at 06:31 PM (#3206634)
Ballots from Joe and you would have always been there. Honestly thought I wish you'd post them earlier. The Pennants Added system is one of the better ways to rank and it sparks discussion. Waiting to the last minute cuts off any productive discussion of those ballots. Maybe that's intentional.

I don't have anything to do with Pennants Added, DL. That's Joe's bailiwick.
   64. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2009 at 08:41 PM (#3206834)
Before I get a slew of posts, two things: 1) I believe, as I have posted here before ad nauseum, that the crop of pitchers that started their ML careers during the pitching-friendly years received a career -length advantage that other hurlers from less friendly eras didn't receive. That explains the placement of Drysdale and Bunning, for example. I'm not asking you to agree with it, but only to understand where I am coming from. 2) I like relievers better than others here. So sue me. :-)

1) Tom Seaver-P (n/e): Great peak and career pitcher who belongs in the top handful of hurlers all-time (and I would be saying that even he wasn't my favorite player as a child :-) Best ML pitcher for 1969 and 1973 (extremely close in 1981). Best NL pitcher for 1981

2) Steve Carlton-P (n/e): Great peak and outstanding career make him a more than solid HoMer, though not in the Young/Johnson/Spahn/Seaver mold. Best NL pitcher for 1972 and 1980.

3) Bob Gibson-P (n/e): I don't think he's inner-circle, but he's closer to that than the borderline. Besides, Bob was cool as a commercial pitchman during the seventies. Best ML pitcher for 1968. Best NL pitcher for 1970.

4) Phil Niekro-P (n/e): Closer than most people would have thought to Carlton during the '70s, since no one really thought Knucksie was a great pitcher at the time. In retrospect, that was a ludicrous stand. Best ML pitcher for 1967 and close in 1974. Best NL pitcher for 1974 and 1978.

5) Dennis Eckersley-RP/SP(n/e): These combination guys are a pain in the butt, but I think his overall value as starter and closer was very impressive. Best ML starting pitcher for 1979. Best ML relief pitcher for 1992.

6) Don Drysdale-P (n/e): Looks like I might be his biggest fan. So be it. Impressive peak (even if it wasn't Koufax-like) and a fairly long career for his generation of pitchers. He's a HoMer in my book. Best ML pitcher of 1960.

7) Hoyt Wilhelm-RP (n/e): I think he's somewhere in between the no-brainers and borderline of the HOM. Not a peak monster at the position, but good enough when paired with his extremely long career. Best ML starting pitcher for 1959.

8) Nolan Ryan-P (n/e): My analysis views him as legitimately great even with the, IMO, longevity advantage his generation had on the mound. Awesome career numbers and his peak wasn't too shabby either. Overrated? Yeah, but he still belongs.

9) Rich Gossage-RP (n/e): I had Gossage slightly above Ryan when they were both on the ballot in 2000, but I have reconsidered their rankings this time. The greatest reliever of his era. Worthy peak and career numbers. Best relief pitcher for 1975. Best AL relief pitcher for 1978 and 1981.

10) Bert Blyleven-P (n/e): Not one of the inner-circle HoM pitchers, but a great pitcher, nevertheless. Better than quite a few hurlers from his own generation already in the HOF. Very close to being the best AL pitcher in 1973.
   65. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2009 at 08:42 PM (#3206835)
11) Gaylord Perry-P (n/e): For a guy with 300 wins and 2 Cy Young Awards to his credit, he doesn't really get the credit he deserves. Close to being the best major league pitcher in 1972; best in 1974. Best AL pitcher for 1972.

12) Juan Marichal-P (n/e): Almost as good as Koufax and longer career, too.

13) Jim Bunning-P (n/e): My adjustment for career-length helps him here. Best ML pitcher for 1957. Best AL pitcher for 1960.

14) Jim Palmer-P (n/e): Relatively overrated, but clearly worthy. Best AL pitcher for 1973 and 1977. Best ML pitcher for 1975.

15) Fergie Jenkins-P (n/e): Could have switched with Palmer, which shows how close I think they are. Best major league pitcher for 1971.

16) Sandy Koufax-P (n/e): In retrospect, I should have placed him on my ballot when he was eligible in the regular election and now agree with his election (not that I ever debated his peak credentials, of course). With that said, I'm not placing him higher due to peer pressure.

The rest I don't support, but I don't think they are egregious mistakes.

17) Dave Stieb-P (n/e): Better than Jack Morris, but you already knew that.

18) Rollie Fingers-RP (b/e): Good, but not good enough.

19) Bret Saberhagen-P (n/e): The quality is there, but his in-season durability could have been better.

20) Don Sutton-P (n/e) Being in the right place at the right time sure helped his HOF chances, huh?
   66. DL from MN Posted: June 04, 2009 at 10:39 PM (#3206993)
Are there any pitchers you do support instead of Stieb, Fingers, Saberhagen and Sutton?
   67. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 04, 2009 at 10:47 PM (#3207003)
Before I get a slew of posts, two things: 1) I believe, as I have posted here before ad nauseum, that the crop of pitchers that started their ML careers during the pitching-friendly years received a career -length advantage that other hurlers from less friendly eras didn't receive. That explains the placement of Drysdale and Bunning, for example. I'm not asking you to agree with it, but only to understand where I am coming from. 2) I like relievers better than others here. So sue me. :-)

As long as you spell out your biases and your reasoning, which you have, that's all anyone can ask. There seem to be many differing ideas as to what constitutes Advanced Merit, and in a way I'm glad that we all don't just agree.

Of course your list is insane, but....(smile)
   68. Chris Cobb Posted: June 05, 2009 at 12:51 AM (#3207108)
<i>Where are Chris Cobb and Dan R?<?i>

Present. I'll have a ballot in by Sunday. It's been a busy few weeks in a busy year.
   69. Paul Wendt Posted: June 05, 2009 at 03:29 AM (#3207202)
The crop of pitchers that started their ML careers during the pitching-friendly years received a career -length advantage that other hurlers from less friendly eras didn't receive.

So how does the longevity generation fare?

1. Seaver
2. Carlton
4. Niekro
8. Ryan
10. Blyleven (if he belongs, probably not)
11. Perry
14. Palmer
15. Jenkins
20. Sutton

I am inclined to grant the relief pitchers and Koufax but focus on the 5000-inning subset of the longeved.

2. Carlton
4. Niekro
8. Ryan
11. Perry
20. Sutton

What is the big difference you see that separates Carlton and Niekro from Perry?
   70. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 05, 2009 at 11:20 AM (#3207355)

What is the big difference you see that separates Carlton and Niekro from Perry?

There isn't that big of a difference, Paul.
   71. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: June 05, 2009 at 12:23 PM (#3207365)
Due to my pending nuptials this will be a quick ballot. I posted my relevant stats for these guys at the top of the discussion thread . . . these rankings differ slightly, but are essentially based on those numbers.

1. Seaver
2. Carlton
3. Gibson
4. Niekro
5. Blyleven
6. Perry
7. Ryan
8. Jenkins
9. Sutton
10. Drysdale
11. Koufax
12. Eckersley
13. Marichal
14. Palmer
15. Bunning
16. Wilhelm
17. Gossage
18. Saberhagen
19. Stieb
20. Fingers
   72. Howie Menckel Posted: June 05, 2009 at 01:11 PM (#3207392)
"Due to my pending nuptials"

And Cooperstown is lovely this time if year, enjoy the honeymoon
   73. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 05, 2009 at 01:50 PM (#3207431)
And Cooperstown is lovely this time if year, enjoy the honeymoon

Nah, Joe is getting married at home plate at the new Yankee Stadium. :-)

Congratulations again, Joe!
   74. bjhanke Posted: June 06, 2009 at 01:24 AM (#3208339)
Yeah! Congrats, Joe! - Brock
   75. Rob_Wood Posted: June 06, 2009 at 04:09 AM (#3208512)
Wow - best wishes Joe!
   76. karlmagnus Posted: June 06, 2009 at 02:56 PM (#3208649)
Late this time, alas. Again, I will put the comments that I originally made when they were elected, but the ranking is my current one, although little changed from my ranking at the time. Only Fingers would not make my personal HOM, but even Seaver is not in the top 6-8 pitchers all-time (Clemens and Maddux would be, though.)

1. Tom Seaver 1st in 1992 The real deal. 311-205, 4782IP@127. Ought to be unanimous.

2. Bob Gibson 1st in 1981 251-174. 3884 IP, 127 ERA+ ERA+ is much tougher than OPS+; 127 career ERA+ ranks you equal 41st, whereas 127 career OPS+ wouldn’t get you near the top 100 (border’s 136.) Not as good as Joss, for example, but around for longer.

3. Hoyt Wilhelm 1st in 1978 2254 innings @ERA+ of 146, which is 15 points better than Koufax. Add 50% to IP and subtract 10 from ERA+ in primitive adjustment for a reliever and you get 3381/136, better than anybody since Grove. AND he was a knuckleballer. Probably top 50, certainly top 100. (Equal third in ERA+ or 18th after 10 point adjustment.) Truly an elite pitcher, very underrated by conventional wisdom.

4. Jim Palmer 3rd in 1990 268-152, 3968IP at 125. About the equivalent of Gibson.

5. Gaylord Perry 3rd in 1989 Gaylord Perry. Long productive career 314-265, 5350 IP @117. Surprisingly similar figures to Mickey Welch, although longer career but he had to pitch many more years to get there.

6. Phil Niekro 2nd in 1994 Incredible longevity and pretty good. 318-274, 5404 innings at 115, OPS+ 8. Really equal to Carlton; greater length offset by Carlton’s hitting.

7. Steve Carlton 4th in 1993 329-274, 5217 innings at 115, OPS+33. Hope all 3 of these beat the ghastly Rose into the HOM; they were all MUCH better players as well as superior human beings.

8. Bert Blyleven 2nd in 1998 Has a case for #1, but Beckley gets him by a nose on longevity – 4970IP@118 and 287-250 is great stuff, but not the longest pitching career or the most wins of his era, which Jake is as hitter (OK 2 hits short of Keeler.)

9. Nolan Ryan 1st in 2000 5386IP most distinguished stat. 112ERA+ and 324-292 slightly less so. Well above the HOM borderline, in my view and somewhat underrated by sabermetricians, as here in electing Yount above him.

10. Fergie Jenkins 5th in 1990 284-226, 4500IP@115, OPS+23, good for his era. Main strength is his career length.

11. Don Sutton 10th in 1994 324-256 is impressive, as is 5283IP. ERA+108 much less so. Nevertheless, he has to be above both Kaat and Tiant, rather like a pitching Pete Rose, but without the low-EQ penalty.

12. Juan Marichal 14th in 1980 243-142 and 122 ERA+ and 3507IP – don’t see what’s to dislike. Significant touch better than Drysdale, who was better than Koufax. 200 IP and 3 ERA points better than Pierce.

13. Don Drysdale 13th in 1975 3431 IP at 121 ERA+, but only 209-166 for a championship team. 45 OPS+ also a mild positive. So’s 40 IP of postseason with a 7-6 record. Better than Pierce, not quite as good as Waddell. I had Koufax just off the bottom of my ballot, so Drysdale’s a little better.

14. Jim Bunning 15th in 1977 More career than Pierce and Drysdale, but not quite as good – thus slightly below where Drysdale was, about level with Koufax. 224-184 and 3760 IP are both good, but 114 ERA+ less impressive.

15. Dennis Eckersley 12th in 2004 3285IP@116. Starter-Eckersley (2/3 weighting) had 3744IP@111, with 249-186; in consideration set but not close to ballot. Closer-Eckersley (1/3 of him) had 2370IP@136 and 1122 saves – top 3, though not quite Wilhelm. Weighted-average the two and he’s about here, not quite Mays I think.

16. Sandy Koufax 16th in 1972 Drysdale was probably better. 2324 IP @131 is beaten by both Joss (2327@141) and Waddell (2961@134.) His hitting was lousy too (OPS+-26, the lowest I’ve seen; Drysdale’s was 45, damn good for his era.) Only his W/L (165-87) and reputation get him as high as this.

17. Bret Saberhagen 13th in 2008 Short career, not enough wins, but what a quality! 167-117, 2563IP@126ERA+ 126 ERA+ is equal 52nd all-time; Bret’s up there. And I ALWAYS thought of him as HOF/HOM quality, especially when with the Red Sox.

18. Rich Gossage 21st in 2000 Goose Gossage. 1809IP@126; do a rough translation would make it 3618@116, which is just off-ballot. People talk as if his career ERA+ was 160, like Pedro’s. It wasn’t.

19. Dave Stieb 23rd in 2002 176-137 very unimpressive but 122 ERA+ for 2895 innings more so. Moved up a little as I don’t think he’s far below Gossage.

20. Rollie Fingers 67th in 2000 Add 1/3 of his saves and he becomes 228-118 or thereabouts, but on my adjustment (add 50% and subtract 5 ERA+ points) he goes to 2550/114, which isn’t enough.
   77. AJMcCringleberry Posted: June 06, 2009 at 10:47 PM (#3208897)
1. Tom Seaver

2. Steve Carlton
3. Gaylord Perry
4. Phil Niekro

Extremely similar, could be listed in any order. I went with the best peak.

5. Bob Gibson
6. Bert Blyleven

Bert had the longer career, Bob had the better peak.

7. Nolan Ryan - Most career walks and stil had a 2/1 K/BB rate.

8. Fergie Jenkins
9. Dennis Eckersly

I have them back to back in my rankings, I'll give the nod to the starter.

10. Jim Palmer
11. Hoyt Wilhelm
12. Don Sutton
13. Goose Gossage

14. Juan Marichal
15. Don Drysdale

Better peak for Marichal.

16. Jim Bunning

17. Sandy Koufax- Good peak, but that was it.

18. Dave Stieb
19. Bret Saberhagen
20. Rollie Fingers
   78. EricC Posted: June 07, 2009 at 04:45 PM (#3209351)
Pitcher ballot. The list is more career-heavy than the consensus, but I'm not dogmatic about this; I see how peaky pitchers such as Gibson, Koufax, and Gossage might deserve to rate higher. Comments precede rankings.

Clear number one is Seaver (no suprise).

1. Seaver

Along with Seaver, 6 of the next 7 fall into a group of contemporaries with historic career lengths. Gibson's peak pushes him past Sutton.

2. Perry
3. Carlton
4. Niekro
5. Blyleven
6. Ryan
7. Gibson
8. Sutton

Next is Palmer, a run-of-the-mill HoM pitcher with a good peak and career.

9. Palmer

Wilhelm's career was unique; one of the top career ERA+ of all-time.

10. Wilhelm

Here comes three more typical HoM pitchers.

11. Drysdale
12. Jenkins
13. Marichal

It still seems a bit strange subjectively to have Drysdale come out ahead of Koufax, but I'm OK with this; greatness of his peak doesn't overcome its shortness, in the system used here.

14. Koufax

Last pitcher on list clearly above my in/out line.

15. Bunning

I like Stieb a lot (the first game that I ever went to had a young Dave Stieb pitching), but, like all 80s pitchers, he comes out borderline to below in my system. For some reason, these pitchers just didn't have the consistency and/or long careers needed. Then comes a remarkable bunching of HoM caliber pitchers in the Clemens-Maddux era, now we seem to be in another drought. Go figure.

16. Stieb


17. Eckersley

In answer to a rhetorical question, yes, I would vote for Morris before at least one starting pitcher on this ballot, Saberhagen.

18. Saberhagen

Pure relief pitchers have a problem in my current system due to the low # of IP (though Rivera comes out quite well). In any case, Gossage seems to have a better case than Fingers.

19. Gossage
20. Fingers
   79. Howie Menckel Posted: June 07, 2009 at 05:01 PM (#3209356)
17 ballots in, which likely is enough; voters who haven't gotten to this one yet, please do so TODAY

A number of really interesting battles across the ticket
   80. Chris Cobb Posted: June 07, 2009 at 06:36 PM (#3209442)
1958-92 Pitchers Ballot

1. Tom Seaver. Easy pick. Nobody else in this era comes close to his package of durability and effectiveness over a career, and he has, in my view the third best consecutive peak on the board, to boot.
2. Steve Carlton. Tough to choose between him and Gibson. His 1972 is the best season by any pitcher in this group, and he has too many more good IP than Gibson to rank behind him.
3. Bob Gibson. Underrated by WARP1: his defensive support just wasn’t THAT good. Second best consecutive peak on the board.
4. Phil Niekro. Overrated by WARP1: they’re not getting the effect of the knuckleball right. That said, his career record, when adjusted for run support, was nearly as good as Carlton’s.
5.Gaylord Perry. A lot like Niekro, but his pitches splattered where Niekro’s fluttered.
6. Fergie Jenkins. A great prime in an extreme hitters’ park.
7. Bert Blyleven. By component stats, he looks to be up with Carlton, Niekro, and Perry. I drop him a bit for extreme underperformance of projected wins. But he was still a tremendously durable and effective pitcher.
8. Jim Palmer. Excellent defensive support, but more durable than the 1960s stars who had similar effectiveness.
9. Nolan Ryan. A career ranking. Never had a great peak, but a lot of very good seasons. Overrated by the average fan, perhaps underrated in sabermetric circles.
10. Juan Marichal. Great peak (4th on the board) and excellent prime, and then 500 junk innings.
11.Dennis Eckersley. Career is a good match for Marichal’s, but his peaks as starter and reliever aren’t quite as good—his peak as a reliever is great for a reliever, but it can’t carry the value of a starter who wins 25+ for his team two years running.
12. Sandy Koufax. Best peak on the board, but that’s all he brings to the table. Underrated by WARP1 because it deducts too much for his weak hitting.
13. Bret Saberhagen. Extremely effective, but fragile. Top seasons were outstanding, but lacks the big consecutive peak of Koufax.
14. Hoyt Wilhelm. As a pure reliever, was better than Eck, but Eckersley’s starting career was quite strong, and his 1000 ip advantage on Willhelm isn’t erased by Wilhelm’s superior effectivness. Koufax/Saberhagen career stretched over 22 seasons instead of concentrated into five great years and some filler.
15. Don Drysdale. Never had the lights-out effectiveness that Koufax, Saberhagen, and Marichal enjoyed at their peaks. More durable than then, and a better hitter, but that doesn’t quite make up the difference.
16. Jim Bunning. A worthy HoMer; very similar to Drysdale. His peak is a tiny bit better, but his hitting is worse.
17. Rich Gossage. The top reliever of his era, but he lacks the effectiveness outside his prime to match Wilhelm.
18. Don Sutton. A good pitcher for a very long time. His career shape is like Ryan’s, but his level of effectiveness was consistently lower. A borderline HoMer.
19. Dave Stieb. The best AL pitcher of the early 1980s, but his credentials in this crowd are weak.
20.Rollie Fingers. Hard to assess, but given his IP and ERA+ combination, it’s hard to see how he could place any higher on this list.
   81. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 07, 2009 at 06:39 PM (#3209445)
A number of really interesting battles across the ticket

Not too surprising, given the wide variation between those emphasizing peak vs. career (and all points along the spectrum), and starters vs. relievers. And then there's Palmer and Eckersley, who seem to be viewed from different philosophical galaxies altogether. Which is what makes for interesting reads.
   82. Esteban Rivera Posted: June 07, 2009 at 10:56 PM (#3209709)
Pitchers 1959-1986+

01) Tom Seaver - Tops no matter how I look at it.
02) Steve Carlton - Edges out Gibson based on a longer career.
03) Bob Gibson - Probably the fiercest competitor in this pool.
04) Gaylord Perry - The spitballer reputation tends to overshine a magnificent career.
05) Jim Palmer - Believe it was more of a case of a great pitcher using his defense than his defense making him a great pitcher.
06) Sandy Koufax - His peak carries him up to here. That's all there is though.
07) Fergie Jenkins - Did it in hitters parks.
08) Phil Niekro - If he had a better peak he would be higher.
09) Juan Marichal - He did get terrific run support but delivered on his end.
10) Bert Blyleven - Worse record than he should have had and that does damper him slightly. Still, definitely should be enshrined at the Coop.
11) Nolan Ryan - When he was on he ranked right up there with the best on a game basis. Problem was that you didn't know when he would be on. Still, quite a career.
12) Hoyt Wilhelm - A different kind of beast than the other relievers. Just so much value for a reliever.
13) Jim Bunning - Seems to be underrated in terms of what he did in his career.
14) Don Drysdale - His hitting was a plus.
15) Don Sutton - There's value in doing what he did for as long as he did it.
16) Dennis Eckersley - Gossage was the better reliever but its Eck's starter half that pushes him ahead.
17) Rich Gossage - Better than Fingers.
18) Bret Saberhagen - Too much missed time during career but when he was injury free he was tremendous.
19) Dave Stieb - Never was a supporter for election.
20) Rollie Fingers - He is the least of the relievers in this pool.
   83. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 08, 2009 at 12:00 AM (#3209731)
The election is now over. Results will be posted at 10 PM EDT.

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