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Monday, January 24, 2005

Wes Ferrell

jonesy,  you have the floor! :-)

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 24, 2005 at 04:16 AM | 77 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 24, 2005 at 04:31 AM (#1098086)
hot topics
   2. Tiboreau Posted: January 24, 2005 at 10:54 AM (#1098719)
From the Wes Ferrell conversation in the 1942 Ballot Discussion:

Posted by jonesy on December 21, 2004 at 07:57 PM (#1034858)
I think ERA+ is just like ERA and W-L records. It all depends who you pitch for and who you pitch against.

Lefty Grove from 1929-1931 pitched:

140.2 innings against Boston.
140.1 innings against Cleveland.
138.2 innings against Detroit.
125.2 innings against Washington.
124.1 innings against Chicago.
104.1 innings against St. Louis.


72 innings versus the New York Yankees.

And over that same period,

Wes Ferrell pitched:

139.0 innngs against Philadelphia.
121.1 innings against Detroit.
117.1 innings against St. Louis.
113 innings against Washington.
112.1 innings against New York.
111 innings against Chicago.
100.2 innings against Boston.

(all dependent of course if I added correctly)

So the guy on the strongest team (Grove) pitches his heaviest workload against the worst team in the league and his lightest load against the strongest team.

And the other guy (Ferrell - on a middle of the pack team) pitches his heaviest load against the best team in baseball, and his lightest load against the worst.

Posted by jonesy on December 23, 2004 at 08:59 PM (#1039092)
Here is Grove in 1935 and 1936:

1. 2.61 ERA in 100.0 innings vs Detroit.
2. 3.18 ERA in 87.2 innings vs Cleveland.
3. 2.39 ERA in 86.2 innings vs NY.
4. 2.59 ERA in 76.1 innings vs Washington.
5. 2.14 ERA in 75.2 innings vs Philadelphia.
6. 2.11 ERA in 59.2 innings vs Chicago.
7. 5.13 ERA in 40.1 innings vs StL.

I have no idea how often this holds true, but I would imagine throughout history pitchers who played on the best teams in the league had several advantages over the pitchers on middle-of-the-pack teams. (Besides the obvious ones like better run support and defensive support.)

In the 1929-31 years, Mack could -- for whatever the reason -- pick and chose spots for Grove. On the other hand, Cronin had to rely on Grove to face the better teams -- Detroit and NY -- more often in order to make up ground in the standings.

A guy like Wes Ferrell -- always on a middle of the road team -- was more often at this disadvantage than Grove, Gomez, Hubbell or Dean. A desperate manager is more likely to hurl his ace against a better team, maybe even on short rest.

While Ferrell worked a higher percentage of his innings against weaker teams in '35 and '36 than Grove, it was because he pitched about 50 more innings each season. He didn't pitch any less against NY or Detroit than Grove did, but did work harder against the lesser teams.

Posted by DavidFoss on December 23, 2004 at 10:34 PM (#1039205)
While Ferrell worked a higher percentage of his innings against weaker teams in '35 and '36 than Grove, it was because he pitched about 50 more innings each season. He didn't pitch any less against NY or Detroit than Grove did, but did work harder against the lesser teams.

Well, Ferrell's performance took a nose-dive in 1937 at the ripe old age of 29 and was never the same after that. Those IP titles may not have been just a great idea in retrospect.

Grove's '35 & '36 ERA titles were after his breakdown with a workload that was still good for 6th place in IP each year. Grove still had another great season at full workload in 1937 and then two more ERA titles at 2/3 workload after that.

Posted by jonesy on December 24, 2004 at 07:14 AM
In Boston, Grove hated Cronin (So did Ferrell) and, as Elden Auker said, "Lefty pitched when Lefty wanted to pitch, not when Cronin wanted him to."

Most observers of the day felt that Cronin was a horrible handler of pitchers. Ferrell started 8 more games than Grove each year and about a total of 100 more innings over 1935 and 1936. Why? Grove was healthy. What reason would Bobby Cox have had for starting Glavine 8 more times in a season than Maddux if both were healthy? Did Brenly start Schilling 8 more times than Johnson when the Diamondbacks weere WC a few years ago?

Cronin reshuffled like Mack did. When Grove went into a funk in '36, Cronin announced that Ferrell would start every third day (that's two days rest) while Grove rested for a big match-up with the Yanks, which was ten days in the future. Ferrell was blasted each time he started on two days rest, usually after going OK for five or 6 innings.

Cronin started Ferrell on two days rest a total of 11 times in '35 and '36. Cronin started Grove on two days of rest just once, and that was after a start in which Grove lasted but two innings. Ferrell often started on short rest after a complete game.

So the whole point, I guess, is that there is a lot of other factors that affect the statistical record, and in order to truly evaluate history, we need to be on the lookout for them.

Posted by jonesy on December 24, 2004 at 09:44 AM (#1039594)
This actually looks like a good place to take a survery.

Each of you is the manager of a team in which the owner has spent millions of dollars to acquire players. Though you don't really have a team capable of winning the pennant, there is a lot of pressure for you to do so. Let's just say you're the Red Sox competing with the Yankees.

You are told you can have one of the two following pitchers for the next three seasons. You are assured that they will give you the following results:

Pitcher A. He will complete 81 of 110 starts with a 62-40 record and a 4.11 ERA in 878.2 innings.

Pitcher B. He will complete 53 of 76 starts with a 46-33 record and a 3.31 ERA in 665.2 innings.

Pitcher A is willing to start consecutive games for you once, go 11 times on two days of rest and 36 times on three days of rest. He will require four days of rest 19 times and five or more days seven times.

Pitcher B is willing to start on two days rest once and 27 times on three days of rest. He will require four days of rest 11 times and five or more days 19 times.

With these numbers a sure bet, who do you take?

Oh yeah, since you in a league where the pitcher bats.

Pitcher A will hit .308 in 396 at bats, score 64 runs and bat in 82. He will contribute 17 doubles, 2 triples, and 17 homers. He will be your best hitter and best pinch-hitter.

Pitcher B will hit .116 in 215 at bats, score 11 runs and bat in 13. He will contribute 6 doubles, one triple and one home run.

You're the manager and you job rests on winning bal games. Who do you take?
   3. Tiboreau Posted: January 24, 2005 at 10:59 AM (#1098721)
Posted by DavidFoss on December 24, 2004 at 12:37 PM (#1039655)
As you said before, the numbers don't line up exactly because the boxes aren't in sync with the encyclopedic totals, but it looks like you compared Grove to Ferrell in their first three years with the Sox 1934-36. This includes Grove's horrible breakdown year (1934) but not Ferrell's (1937).

In year four:

Pitcher B goes 17-9 in 262 IP with a 3.02 ERA

Pitcher A goes 3-6 in 73 IP with a 7.61 ERA and is traded on June 11th with Mel Almanda and his brother for Bobo Newson and Ben Chapman.

Posted by jonesy on December 24, 2004 at 01:18 PM (#1039687)

I used the exact three years that Grove and Ferrell were teammates. From the end of May/start of June 1934 (when Ferrell joined the Red Sox) until the start of June 1937 (when Ferrell went to Washington.) Those are the real numbers the two contributed while teammates.

I would prefer to exclude Ferrell's '33 season and Grove's '34 season when comparing. Two things stop me.

1. Ferrell had a great first half pitching season in '33, despite hurting his arm in the his first game of the season. As a matter of fact his season, had he stopped pitching when Walter Johnson likely asked him to, would look a lot like Pedro's aborted season with the Red Sox (his third year, I think, without looking.) Grove's arm went bad before the '34 season started.

Ferrell kept pitching because he knew next year's contract -- unlike the contracts in Pedro's time -- was based on how many games he won. As a matter of record, Clevleland did cut his contract. In 1933 he was paid $12,000 based on his winning 23 games in 1932, but offered just $5,000 for 1934. This cause him to holdout in '34, eventually forcing the trade to Boston.

2. When Grove's arm went dead in 1934, he had no value to the team. Ferrell was still the best power hitter the Indians had in 1933.

Good to see a couple of converts.

Posted by robc on December 24, 2004 at 01:46 PM (#1039717)
A has a pretty horrible marginal ERA. In the extra 213 innings he has an ERA of about 6.6. What's the league context? Thats got to be above replacement level. Then again, using a quick calculate A is worth 61 runs more with the bat [(R+RBI)/2 diff]. Subtracting those runs from his marginal pitching runs give a marginal ERA of ~4.0.

I will take A. Now to scroll up and see who is who. :)

Posted by sunnyday2 on December 29, 2004 at 10:37 AM (#1044757)
jonesy (#75) used the 3 years that Grove and Ferrell were teammates. Why? Because it was favorable to Ferrell's case. Next question?

Many of our discussions become very excessively focused on marginal info. I mean, Lefty was 300-141, 148 ERA+. Ferrell 193-128, 117. I don't care who Lefty and/or Wes pitched against (assuming ML), what their run support was, what their defensive support was, or how well or poorly they hit. All of that is marginalia (in this case), and all of this marginalia cannot make Ferrell into Grove.

Then you've got Rube Waddell who gave up (we are told) an excessive number of UER, about 300 of them in 2961 IP, or 1 UER per 10 IP. Meanwhile, Grove gave up about 250 in 3940 IP (1 per 16) and Ferrell gave up about 200 in 2623 IP (1 per 13). OK Rube gave up more UER per IP. But does that in any way negate Rube's 135-117 edge over Ferrell in ERA+ in 600 more IP? I sure don't see it. It's not as if Rube gave up 300 UER and Ferrell none.

But sometimes we get so focused on the eureka factors that we lose sight of the underlying reality. Certainly we should moderate that reality a bit, but sometimes we throw away the underlying reality that, e.g., Rube Waddell was a better pitcher than Wes Ferrell (or insert your own choice of names here).

Posted by jonesy on December 29, 2004 at 06:08 PM (#1045682)
Posted by sunnyday2 on December 29, 2004 at 11:37 AM (#1044757)
jonesy (#75) used the 3 years that Grove and Ferrell were teammates. Why? Because it was favorable to Ferrell's case. Next question?


Sorry to have ruffled your feathers on the ERA+ issue, Sunny, but isn't determining value what it is all about?

I have never made the claim that Ferrell had the career value of Grove, have I? I do claim that during their mutual peak careers -- 1929 through 1936 -- that Ferrell was a higher impact player than Grove was, and if they always performed on the same team and against similar opposition, then Wes would, based on his hitting, have been the bigger star. You'll get no argument from me that Grove's peak value ran longer.

Why wouldn't I use the exact three years that they were teammates? Isn't that the best comparison? And by the way, I started off the comparison using the 1929-1931 season, when they were not teammates.

The end of July,1935:

Grove was Cronin's last hope. The Red Sox needed a win on Sunday to avoid the sweep. The scoring seesawed back and forth. Boston tallied once in the opening frame but Grove gave up two in the second inning, issuing two passes -- one with the bases loaded -- after a couple of scratch hits and Detroit took a 2-1 lead. Boston went ahead in the fifth inning on Rick Ferrell's triple, Cronin's single and a double by Dahlgren. Detroit tied it in the top of the eighth before Boston went back up by a run in the home half.

The ninth inning was something to behold. Fox led off with a double. Grove retired Walker on strikes and Gehringer on a fly ball. Greenberg came to the plate, and with the left-handed Goslin due next, Cronin decided to walk him. Grove, though not happy with the strategy, followed orders. Goslin and Rogell followed with singles, and by the time Grove recorded the last out of the inning, he trailed by two runs.

Grove was down in the lockeroom when Wes Ferrell -- pinch-hitting for Lefty, hit a walk-off, three-run, pinch-hit homer to win the game 7-6 for Lefty.

Grove's 13th victory of 1935 was a 5-4 decision in 11 innings over the Athletics on August 3. His dark side emerged after two early fielding miscues. "Twice," noted the Boston Post, "Grove failed to run out ground hits yesterday, and in the first stanza he lost a base hit because of that failure. It looked as though Lefty became a bit peeved because of Bill Werber's bad throw."

Grove trailed 3-1 going into the bottom of the eighth but after two singles, a sacrifice and an intentional pass to Rick Ferrell, Wes Ferrell singled in the tying run with a pinch-hit (batting for the 2bman). Philadelphia went up 4-3 in the 11th but Boston came back with two for the Grove victory. Without Wes' hit, Grove would have lost the game in regulation.

Grove's 18th victory of 1935 was a 9-5 decision over the Browns on September 15. Lyn Lary opened the game with a hit but Lefty retired the next two hitters. Then three straight walks, a single and a triple followed and Grove was down 5-0.

Lefty was still trailing by that margin after Cronin popped out to start the home sixth. Three straight singles followed and a run was in and two were out when Grove was due to hit.

"Boston's No. 1 hero, Wes Ferrell," wrote the Globe, "went to bat for his pal, Grove, in the midst of this rally and singled off the scoreboard to knock in a run."

The Red Sox scored six times that inning and Grove, trailing 5-1 when Wes hit for him, was the winning pitcher.

In these three at bats Wes knocked in five runs for Lefty and all resulted in pitching wins for Grove. Lefty himself knocked in but five runs all season, four of them coming in one game that he lost 7-6.

It's all about the timing.

Posted by DavidFoss on December 29, 2004 at 06:34 PM (#1045749)
I dunno jonesy... I don't want to sound anti-Ferrell, but I'm certainly not willing to concede that Wes was better than Lefty from 1929-36. You can list all the anecdotes you'd like, but six ERA titles, two Triple Crowns and an MVP is quite a bit of ground to make up.

If you like irony and you want to talk timing then you can talk about what would happen if Wes was eligible in 1942 instead of 1944. This year he would have had a reasonable shot and Ferrell vs Vance arguments would be the theme of this thread. But by 1944, the Ferrell vs Vance comparisons will be moot and there will be new strong backlog of candidates starting to accumulate. Then it will be Ferrell vs Dean and Ferrell vs Lyons and Ferrell vs Griffith and Ferrell vs Waddell. Those will be a lot more interesting than Ferrell vs Grove.

Looking forward to a Wes Ferrell thread next month.

Posted by jonesy on December 29, 2004 at 06:46 PM (#1045778)

Not a problem. The key would have to have been that Grove and Ferrell had been used in a similar fashion by the same manager to make my point.

In a nutshell, I would give 1929 and 1930 to Ferrell, 1931 to Grove, 1932 a tie, 1933 and 1934 cancelling each other out to injury, 1935 to Ferrell and 1936 a tie.

From May 1 of 1930 through almost the end of May of 1931, Ferrell made 13 starts against NY and Philly, two of the greatest lineups of all time, while over that same period, Grove made none. Yeah, I know the arguments. But it's tough to level the playing field.
   4. Tiboreau Posted: January 24, 2005 at 11:04 AM (#1098723)
Posted by jimd on December 29, 2004 at 09:45 PM (#1045981)
WARP-1 (from Baseball Prospectus)
Grove Ferrell  Most valuable pitcher (123in majors
1929    7.9     8.9  Marberry
1930   12.4    12.0  Grove
1931   11.9    11.5  Grove
1932   11.7     9.7  Grove
1933    9.6     6.6  Hubbell
1934     .8     6.5  Dean
1935   11.3    14.1  Ferrell
1936   12.2    10.7  Hubbell
-----   -----
29-36  77.8    80.0

Total 134.4    88.4 

It's close, but BP agrees that Ferrell was more valuable than Grove for the 8 years 1929-1936 (thanks to Grove's wasted 1934 season, 109.3 innings of near replacement level pitching).

Posted by DavidFoss on December 29, 2004 at 11:14 PM (#1046078)
Yes, its closer than I thought it was. Win Shares has Grove up 223-209.

Sinins has Grove up 406-252 in RSAA but Ferrell is up 100-(-21) in RCAP, so that's a net advantage to Grove of 385-352. Ferrell's slim lead in IP (2109-2057) makes that a little bit closer, too.

I'm totally picking nits with this next statement here, but I'm not exactly sure what BP has against Grove's 1929. Both WS and RSAA rate him as the best pitcher that year.

Anyways, I'm a peak voter and the fact that its even close between Ferrell & Grove from 1929-1936 will mean that Ferrell will get strong consideration from me when he's eligible.

Posted by jonesy on December 30, 2004 at 05:33 AM (#1046372)
Wow, that's a shocker. After all these years of screaming to a deaf audience, I didn't think anyone was paying attention.

David, Grove's 1929 season was very odd. He started out on fire going 15-2 with a 1.83 ERA in his first 157 IP but just 5-4 with a 4.10 ERA in his last 118.2 IP. He had some type of arm/finger problem that prevented him from going very deep in ball games. He left games behind on seven occasions only to see that great Philly offense come back and take him off the hook. Thus the 20-6 record which is 26 decisions in 37 starts. 11 no-decisions was a huge number for that period. Grove was also a two-team pitching terror, winning 7 games against the lousy Red Sox team and five against the Indians.

Ferrell was a rookie reliever/spot starter the first half of the season going 6-7 with a 4.31 ERA in his first 85.2 IP but 15-3 with a 3.21 after winning a spot as a regular starter. Ferrell dominated the three best hitting teams in the league; Detroit, NY and Phil.

Ferrell drew minor MVP support in the two polls of that year, while Grove drew no support at all. Grove had four or five teammates that drew votes.

In a nutshell for 1930 and 1931, the main statistical roadblock is that Ferrell was unable to dominate both the Yanks and A's at the same time. His pitching crushed the A's in '30 and the Yank's in '31, but the Yank's did a number on him in '30 and the A's in '31.

Grove never had to face the A's and Mack pretty much avoided using Grove against NY in '30 and '31.

The W-L records of Grove and Ferrell were actually quite similar vs the other teams. Grove had the edge in ERA but Ferrell made up the difference with his offensive production.

I am very suprised, but very happy, with the warp support. I have it broken down a little finer because I have had the opportunity to review each of Ferrell's games and most of Grove's in that period. I actually read all of the game accounts in the Cleveland and Boston papers. Knowing when hits and errors actually ocurred in game, whose pitching on short rest, and how the actual writers, fans and players of the day viewed things really opens one's eyes.

I initially started posting this material on SABRL years ago and met the same skepticism that I have encountered in virtually all locations I have mentioned this. Several years ago on some website I was surfing through I read a Davenport post in which he mentioned reading the Grove/Ferrell posts on SABRL and he agreed that my point --Ferrell facing tougher competition in '30 and '31 -- made a lot of sense and needed to be adjusted for. Looks like someone finally paid attention.

Posted by DavidFoss on December 30, 2004 at 10:18 AM (#1046488)
Don't worry, jonesy, I might have played the skeptic in this thread, but I can be fair if I want to. :-) I don't think the ears around here are deaf, its probably a combination of it being Christmas week and the fact that Wes is not eligible for another two years.

Voters in this election cycle are re-evaulating Vance and the rest of the backlog to see if they are truly worthy of induction. Also, they are rushing to evaluate Terry as a modest amount of support may earn him a first ballot induction.

In a few weeks, once we have a "Wes Ferrell" thread, it will be much easier for all of us to find all of your posts if they are all in there. I hope you've saved them. "Page 3 of the 1942 discussion" will seem extremely hard to find by the time he's eligible.

This is a very smart and rigorous group of guys. It always amazes me the quality of analysis that goes on here. I have trouble reading other boards, now. :-) Ferrell will get his fair hearing against all the other ballot eligibles. He doesn't have to be better than Grove to be inducted.... its only the Griffiths, Lyons's, Rixey's, Dean's and Ruffing's he needs to worry about.

Posted by jimd on January 03, 2005 at 01:13 PM (#1053291)
I read a Davenport post in which he mentioned reading the Grove/Ferrell posts on SABRL and he agreed that my point --Ferrell facing tougher competition in '30 and '31 -- made a lot of sense and needed to be adjusted for. Looks like someone finally paid attention.

The interesting question is: does WARP actually adjust for this?

Before I read this post, I would have said "No". The sketchy documention implied to me that the competition adjustment was a team based one, like the competition adjustment built into the Total Baseball/ "Park Factors". That's an adjustment that accounts for the Yankee offense not playing the Yankee defense and the Brown defense not facing the Browns offense. (And I would wonder whether it also accounted for modern imbalanced schedules.)

It requires game-by-game logs to adjust pitchers at the level of inseason opponents, and my guess would have been: No, that wasn't accounted for. There was no hint of adjustments on that level.

IF (big if) it is adjusted for with Wes Ferrell, then it's probably also built into the WARP ratings for Three-Finger Brown, Joe McGinnity, Clark Griffith, Mickey Welch, and any other pitchers for whom people have granted or advocated giving special credit for managerial pitching matchups.
   5. Tiboreau Posted: January 24, 2005 at 12:00 PM (#1098766)
The discussion then spilled into the Battle of the Uber-Stats thread:

Posted by Paul Wendt on December 31, 2004 at 08:29 AM (#1048634)
jonesy "1942 Ballot Discussion" #209
Several years ago on some website I was surfing through I read a Davenport post in which he mentioned reading the Grove/Ferrell posts on SABRL and he agreed that my point --Ferrell facing tougher competition in '30 and '31 -- made a lot of sense and needed to be adjusted for. Looks like someone finally paid attention.

Sometime during the 1990s, Pete Palmer personalized the "Wins per Game" factor for each pitcher (which is incorporated in TPI but not in ERA+). I guess that he would have personalzed a schedule factor, incorporated in ERA+, accounting for the ballparks where each pitcher worked and the teams he faced, if that data were available in convenient format for all of MLB history. (re the pattern of work and rest, I guess not)

Pitcher starts by ballpark and opponent are now available in convenient format, the Retrosheet game logs. The mismatches with the official record are small in magnitude, but numerous. Starts aren't innings and there is no similar record for relief appearances, so the data is not really complete for the purpose of adjusting ERA. I don't guess one way or the other, how soon it will be utilized by Palmer or the author of any other comprehensive pitcher rating such as Win Shares or WARP.

Chris James has used the game log data to estimate run support for many pitchers with notable careers, presented at the last SABR Convention and published on his website.

Innings per game, for each pitcher, must be a good indicator of the error in estimated run support.

Posted by jonesy on December 31, 2004 at 09:46 AM (#1048728)
Here is Grove and Ferrell in 1932. This was a season that I feel they had identical value.

Here are the teams listed in order of offense.

1. NY scored 1002 runs on the season.

Grove had a 5.49 ERA in 41.0 IP
Ferrell was 5.48 ERA in 42.1 IP

Ferrell was 2-4 losing CG by a 0-5 score and winning CG by 6-3 and 5-4 scores. He was knocked out in two other starts, allowing 5 ER in 3 IP and 7 ER in 5.2 IP, taking losses in both.

Grove was 3-2, winning a CG 4-2 score and a CG by a 10-7 score (all seven runs earned). He lost a CG by a 3-9 score (all nine earned). He lost a 3-8 game, allowing 4 ER in 6 IP and won a game in which he allowed just one ER in 8 relief IP.

2. Philly scored 981 runs.

Ferrell was 5.05 ERA in 41.0 IP. He lost a 3-15 game (allowing 7 ER in 6.2 IP). He won a 4-3 CG scoring his team's 3rd and 4th runs. He lost a 1-0 CG in which he allowed but 2 hits over the first 8 innings. He also lost the famous 18 inning game, tossing 11 relief innings just two days after working a CG. His last start was an 0-11 game in which he allowed 6 ER in 4 IP.

3. Cleveland scored 845 runs:

Lefty was 2.18 in 57.2 IP.

4. Washington scored 840 runs.

Grove was 1.61 ERA in 28.0 IP (2-1)
Ferrell 3.27 ERA in 44 IP (3-2)

5. Detroit scored 799 runs.

Grove was 1.97 in 46.0 IP (5-0)
Ferrell 2.85 in 47.1 IP (5-1)

6. STL scored 736 runs.

Grove was 2.33 in 46.1 IP (5-1)
Ferrell 2.73 in 33.0 IP (4-0)

7. Chicago scored 667 runs.

Grove was 3.45 in 44.1 IP (3-2)
Ferrell 3.61 in 52.1 IP (5-1)

8. Boston scored 556 runs.

Grove was 2.86 in 28.1 IP (3-1)
Ferrell 2.00 in 27.1 IP (3-1)

In the teams they mutually faced.

Grove was 21-7 with 78 ER in 234.0 IP for 3.00.
Ferrell 22-9 with 94 ER in 246.2 IP for 3.43.

Versus those same teams (minus pinch-hitting).

Grove had 6 RS and 10 RBI in 85 ATB.
Ferrell 11 RS and 15 RBI in 95 ATB.

So basically, against mutual teams, counting runs allowed as a pitcher and runs talllied as a batter, Grove was about five runs ahead over the whole season.

AND, I might add, Ferrell was suspended for ten days in September for refusing to leave a game in which Peckinpaugh tried relieving him in the first inning against the Red Sox.

Grove missed significant time in late May or early June. One report was a sprained ankle. Another report said Grove was in a blue funk over something and unavailable to the team.

WARP and WS are one thing. It's OK to give an overview of a season, but the only way to determine true value for a pitcher is a game-by-game analysis.

Posted by DavidFoss on December 31, 2004 at 01:22 PM (#1049090)
Jonesy... statistics may often be flawed, but their biases can be explained on a basic theoretical level. Manually going through game logs as you've done can introduce biases that aren't as easily documented.

First it looks like you've double-counted R & RBI for batting... if you choose to use those team-dependent numbers as a metric, it would make sense to average the two. You've shown two instances of missed time and given anti-Grove and pro-Ferrell explanations for them... but each pitcher ended up finishing 2-3 in the league in IP anyways, so this point may be a red herring. Also, you've simply ignored Grove's stellar performance against the Indians. I realize the A's had a more formidable offense than the Indians, but Grove's sizeable advantage in A's & Indians games has to count for something. Looks like Grove beat Ferrell twice head to head in 1932 -- those were the 15-3 and 11-0 games.

The bottom line is that there has to be a systematic way of doing these game log comparisons to decrease observational biases. Chris J has one way to do this comparison. Do you have enough information in your box scores to do a SNWLR-style analysis? Retrosheet only has game logs back to the mid-1960s at the moment, after that we can start taking advantage of SNWLR.

As an extra aside, Grove's PPF is significantly lower than Philly's BPF during A's heydey due to the fact that he never had to face his own offense. Are WS, WARP and ERA+ all using this lower park factor for him?

Posted by Chris Cobb on December 31, 2004 at 02:08 PM (#1049169)
fwiw, baseball-reference gives Grove 6 runs created in 1932, Ferrell 12. Ferrell's superiority with the bat makes up some of the difference between the two that year, but not all of it.

I'd also agree with David that Grove's domination of the Indians needs to be counted in his favor also in this head-to-head comparison with Ferrell.

That Ferrell was not quite as good as Grove in 1932 doesn't materially affect his HoM case, however. He was an outstanding pitcher that year.

Posted by jonesy on December 31, 2004 at 02:16 PM (#1049186)

The reasons that Grove and Ferrell missed time in 1932 is lengthy. But like the other instances I have noted, Grove's missed time was due to his depression. Ferrell's was because Peckinpaugh pitched him into the ground.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer during Ferrell's era published a boxed area at the bottom of the page that included a play-by-play description of all Cleveland games. David Smith of retrosheet has that material. I assume the retrosheet gang is not ready to add that material. I do not know the reason.

I agree stats are flawed.

Cleveland opened a five-game series with the Athletics on July 22, 1931. It was round two of Ferrell-Grove. Grove won 6-3.

"He won not by outpitching the Inian ace," wrote the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "but by having the better ball club behind him. And Ferrell lost a game he richly deserved to win because his infield support cracked wide open in the seventh inning, allowing the A's to score three runs when, with reasonably tight play, they wouldn't have gotten a runner past first base."

Ferrell passed Foxx in the second and Bishop in the third but the only hit he allowed to that point had been an infield one. Simmons clanged a hot-shot off Wes' leg to begin the fourth. Foxx walked and Miller dropped down a sacrifice. A grounder to third scored Simmons and advanced Foxx to third. Dib Williams was passed intentionally and Grove singled for a 2-1 lead.

Wes took a 3-2 lead to the seventh. Haas singled and Cochrane fouled out. Simmons, after also lifting a foul behind first that Morgan failed to get under, walked.

"Foxx hit to Kamm, who, instead of trying for a double play in the orthodox way, tagged Haas for the second out. Then Bing Miller got a scratch single off of Ferrell's glove that filled the bases.

"And that should have been all, but Eddie Montague, after making a nice pickup of McNair's roller, threw wildly to first and Simmons crossed the plate with the trying run. McNair was credited with a hit, but by what manner of reasoning I am unable to state," commented the Plain Dealer. "Montague's throw had him beaten by a full step, but it pulled Morgan off the bag. At any rate, Williams followed with a clean single and two more runs came in."

The home team scoring decisions happened frequently in Philly. And just so it isn't just my own interpretation, here is the Philly Ledger in 1932 after Grove defeated Ferrell.

The final was 15-3 and all of Cleveland's offense came late in the game after Grove had an insurmountable lead. Only seven of the 12 runs Ferrell allowed were eearned as the Cleveland defense, although charged with just a lone error, was something less than exemplary. Their pitcher's deportment took a similar beating.

"Ferrell is too easily provoked," wrote Ed Pollack in the Ledger. "He has the experience, the ability, and all the necessary requisites to be of greater value to his club and himself if he would remain undisturbed when the breaks of the game turn against him."

"With perfect support behind him Ferrell could have held the rallies of the A's in the sixth and seventh. But perfect is too much to ask of any club, and the Indians are far from the best defensive team in the American League."

"In justice to Ferrell it must be recorded that had it not been for defensive weaknesses the A's would have scored only two runs in the sixth and seventh instead of nine."


I'm not sure I follow you on my double-counting the offensive contributions of the two for 1932?

Against mutual opponents:

In 1932 Grove had six runs scored and 10 RBI. He had three homers. So he accounted for 16, 13 if you want to minus the homers.

In 1932 Ferrell had 11 runs scored and 15 RBI. So he had 26, 24 if you want to subtract for the two homers he hit.

So it's 26-16 in Ferrell's favor for 10, or 24-13 in Ferrell's favor for 11.

Grove allowed 78 earned runs in the innings in which they faced mutual oppostion and Ferrell 94. That's a 16 run edge to Grove. Knocking off the 11 or 12 extra that Wes accounted for with his bat drops it to a net of 4 or 5. Am I wrong here?

Ferrell had 10 more at bats but and pitched 12.2 more innings
   6. Tiboreau Posted: January 24, 2005 at 12:17 PM (#1098785)
Posted by jonesy on December 31, 2004 at 02:31 PM (#1049209)
Shortly after tossing his non-hitter in 1931, and when most of the baseball establishment was openly calling him the best pitcher in baseball, Ferrell hurt his arm. He continued to take his turn throughout the remainder of the season.

He beat the Yanks with a three-hitter in June.

"Just as it was when Ferrell pitched the tribe to victory over the Red Sox a few days ago," wrote Cobbledick, "it was plain today that the boy still is suffering from that crippled shoulder that has made it impossible for him to throw a fast ball for a month or so."

"He didn't throw a fast ball today. Once when he had to make a long throw after fielding a bunt near the third base line he looped the ball fifteen feet in the air, heaving it with a stiff painful motion."

"But his curve, and it was a beauty, was wlring well enough to hold such cluters as Ruth, Gehrig, Combs and Ruffing himself hitless."


Ferrell coutinued pitching this way for the last 3/4 of 1931. In 1932 he still pitched the slow stuff until confronted by Peckinpaugh.


"I believe Ferrell is making a serious mistake in trying to get by with the least possible use of his fastball," said Peck. "He was at his best a couple of years ago when, in a jam, he would wind up and blow that hard one past the best hitters in the league."

"But all of last season and thus far in this one he had been pitching the slow curves and very little else. This was fairly sucessful last year for the hitters were constantly looking for that fast ball, and the slow stuff threw them off stride. Now the knowledge has gotten around the league that Wes isn't using his fast ball. It is no longer a threat. The hitters are laying for his slow curve and pounding it hard."

Peckinpaugh and Ferrell hashed it out. billy Evans traveled to St. Louis to talk to Wes and came out with this classic line. "You have a great fast ball and you have been pitching nothing but slow curves," Evans told him. "For $18,000 we are entitled to an occasional fastball."

Ferrell announced that he would again be tossing heat and then went out on May 28 to beat the Browns 3-1. "Even his warmup before the game was different," wrote Cobbledick. "He bore down on the smoke bal then, too, and when he needed it in the game it was ready. He ought to be convinced tonihgt that that's the way for him to pitch. Not only did he limit the Browns to seven scattered hits...but he didn't issue a single base on balls, which is remarkable for the hurler who led the AL in free passes last year."

Ferrell was on a tear. Soon Joe McCarthy was openly calling him another Matty. When the averages were announced on June 19 Gomez was 12-1, Grove was 12-3 and Ferrell was 12-4.

After going back to the fastball he went 9-1 with a 2.50 ERA in his next ten starts. That brought his record to the year to 16-5 with a 3.37 ERA. Talk began about a 30-win season.

While the Yanks were securely in first place, the Indians were challenging the A's for second, roughly 7-9 game back of the Yanks.

On July 10, just two days after Ferrell tossed a CG against Washington on July 8, Peckinpaugh left Ferrell in for 11 gruelling relief innings against the A's. Wes had the game won with two down in the 9th before a horrible error (Bill Buckner like) by the Tribe's 1bman tied the game. Ferrell lost it on a bad bounce play in the 18th.

In his next turn the Yanks pounded Wes early in the game. Peck confronted him in the clubhouse after the contest. "Hey, why weren't you bearing down out there today.?"

Ferrell retorted, "I always bear down, I just had nothing to bear down with, that's all."

The strain and the break happened there.

Posted by DavidFoss on December 31, 2004 at 02:42 PM (#1049222)
I'm not sure I follow you on my double-counting the offensive contributions of the two for 1932?

Its the "Runs Produced" argument here.

Almost every run scored has an RBI associated with it as well. (Off the top of my head RBI/R is about 0.9 or so). Adding up a teams R+RBI (or R+RBI-HR) is going to overcount their runs.

So, Grove's 16 run advantage in pitching corresponds to a 30-32 run advantage in opposing R+RBI.

Ferrell's 26-16 advantage in R+RBI is really about a 13-8 advantage in offensive runs (15+11)/2 and (10+6)/2.

Anyhow, Chris Cobb's way of looking at it is much more straightforward in that Ferrell has a 12-6 advantage in runs created. It eliminates all the confusion about whether to subtract homers and the fact that not every R has an RBI.

Sorry, this a minor nitpick, but a case where an extra 4 runs or so were being attributed to Ferrell.

As for the missed time. Grove & Ferrell had 291.7 and 287.7 IP respective ranking 2 & 3 in IP in 1932. They were both very durable that year. Considering they both were to break down in the next 5 years I can't rationalize working either of them any harder in 1932.

Chris Cobb:That Ferrell was not quite as good as Grove in 1932 doesn't materially affect his HoM case, however. He was an outstanding pitcher that year.

Great point. Thanks. Something that may be lost in my answers to some of jonesy's points is that I think that Wes Ferrell was indeed a great pitcher in his prime. I guess when I see jonesy carry an argument a bit too far I get to urge to chime in with a rebuttal. Ferrell's HOM case is not going to hinge on how he matches up with Lefty Grove. It will be on how he matches up with Lyons, Dean, Griffith, Waddell, Rixey, etc.

Posted by jonesy on January 01, 2005 at 07:37 AM (#1049819)
David Foss,

A little more on runs produced. While I agree with the concept as a general overview, I am not sure it is valid when doing a game by game analyis.

In 1931 Ferrell tossed a 3-hitter against NY, winning 2-1 on the strength of his own late game homer that broke a 1-1 tie. He scored one run and tallied the RBI on the same run. But 1 RS + 1 RBI minus the HR is still one. Didn't he earn full credit for this run?

In 1934 Ferrell beat the White Sox 3-2 in 10 innings. Trailing 2-1 he hit a solo Hr in the 8th to tie the game and another solo, walk-off homer to win the game. Those two at bats accounted for 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. That's four tallies for two actual runs. So it's 2 RS + 2 RBI - 2 HR = 2 full offensive runs to Ferrell's credit?

In 1936 Ferrell beat the Athletics by a 6-4 score. He hit a two-run homer and a grandslam to tally all six of Boston's RBI. So he had 2 RS + 6 RBI for a total of eight but minus the 2 homers he drops to 6.

I know it is a little cloudier here for we can argue that if it weren't for the four teammates being on base, then Ferrell's two homers would have been solo homers. But the fact remains that had Ferrell not hit them, then Boston might not have scored any runs at all.

I do not have any trouble at all crediting Ferrell with the six runs in this situation because here is the flip side to the pitcher as hitter argument; in my mind anyway.

On September 22, 1935, Ferrell lost a 6-4 game to the Yankees. Five of the runs were charged as earned.

"Ferrell's support in the first inning was very bad," wrote the NY Times. "With two out and Chapman on via a pass, Gehrig hit an easy play to short right, whereupon Cooke dropped his glove, stumbled and the fly went for a single. Then Roy Johnson lost Selkirk's fly in the sun for a two-bagger. The inning netted three runs, and Cronin's error cost another in the third."

The ball Johnson lost in the first inning actually hit him on the top of the head, ala Jose Canseco. Mel Almada lost another fly ball in the sun in the fifth. It was scored a triple and accounted for a run.

(Of course play by play analysis based on the boxscore credits this a clean triple. It's only the deeper research of reading the description of the play that shows it was flawed...this to my argument that reading game accounts should always be the preferred method of research, or at least a must addition to the statistical analysis)

So Ferrell is pretty much the stud in both of these games, but loses positive credit in his six-RBI game ( based on runs produced formula) and is saddled with negative credit for his teammates failings in the pitched Yankees game?

Posted by OCF on January 01, 2005 at 09:43 AM (#1049897)
I'm not sure it's all that helpful to point out anecdotes about runs charged as earned that nonetheless involved shabby fielding. Don't you think that happened to every pitcher? Is there any reason to think Ferrell was singled out? That's part of the reason I prefer using RA to ERA. Just ask how many runs scored, and go back afterwards to deal once with the issue of defensive support. Just as the offensive support won't necessarily even out even for teammates, there's no reason to assume that defensive support evens out either - but how can we tell?

While I acknowledge that Ferrell was an excellent hitter and the best hitter of any pitcher for a wide swath of time on either side of him, let's put some bounds on our enthusiasm. We're talking about a home run hitter with 38 lifetime HR. We're talking about a guy who played in the richest offensive environment of the 20th century, in leagues that scored over 5 runs per game every significant year of his career. His lifetime .280/.351/.446 in 1176 AB barely even registers on my offensive system.

One other thing to account for in Ferrell's case: he has 321 lifetime decisions but only 2623 innings. That's the fewest innings per decision - 8.17 - of any pitcher I have worked up. My RA+ PythPat equivalent record for him is 167-124. From there we need a whole lot of enhancements - his hitting, the selective usage, extra credit for peak seasons - to bring him up into comparability with the likes of Vance, Rixey, or Griffith.

Posted by DavidFoss on January 01, 2005 at 12:24 PM (#1050043)
In 1936 Ferrell beat the Athletics by a 6-4 score. He hit a two-run homer and a grandslam to tally all six of Boston's RBI. So he had 2 RS + 6 RBI for a total of eight but minus the 2 homers he drops to 6.

I know it is a little cloudier here for we can argue that if it weren't for the four teammates being on base, then Ferrell's two homers would have been solo homers. But the fact remains that had Ferrell not hit them, then Boston might not have scored any runs at all.

I do not have any trouble at all crediting Ferrell with the six runs in this situation because here is the flip side to the pitcher as hitter argument; in my mind anyway.

Well its not like you just gave all six runs to Ferrell. You gave six runs to Ferrell AND you gave four runs to the guys he drove in. A total of TEN runs for Boston in a 6-4 gane.

Plus, if you Ferrell had hit triples instead of homers and each time been driven in by a sac fly... that would be six runs for Ferrell, four for the guys he drove in and two for the guys who drove him in... for a total of 12 runs for Boston in a 6-4 game. The run total goes down with more home runs hit. In my opinion, subtracting homers is not the right thing to do, but I've heard otherwise as well. Either way, the scale of runs calculated here is going to be different than RA for the pitcher due to the double counting that is occuring.

Something like Runs Created is what I would use here, but if you need an R & RBI method for your game log, I would use (R+RBI)/2.
   7. Tiboreau Posted: January 24, 2005 at 12:26 PM (#1098787)
Posted by jonesy on January 01, 2005 at 03:32 PM (#1050258)

OK, I see it now based on the six RBI game.


I'm not sure about all other pitchers have the same issue with fielding. I just looked at all of Ferrell's games and Grove while with Boston. Most anecdotal analysis of the observers of the day always referred to Peck's biggest problem at the helm of the Indians was the club's infield defense. Cronin, in '35 and '36, I imagine might have been the worst fielding HOF shortstop of all time.

Several years ago I ran across a random post in which Lee Sinins said that Ferrell's hitting was all ERA-induced and more hype than substance (I don't know if he still holds that view) and related it somewhat to Mike Hampton.

Ferrell in his day was considered one of the most dangerous hitters in the AL. He was often compared to Ruth and Foxx as a hitter. I have two homers at 450 feet and one (in an exhibition spring game) at 470 feet. I can easily double his 38 homers in number if I count wall-balls and balls hit over outfielders head. He hit several ball into what would now be bullpens in Fenway Park, and in 1929 the Cleveland Indians were making mid-season outfield fence adjustments in Dunn/League Park's right field, where Wes was forever putting balls off of.

In 1934 the Red Sox offense hit nine home runs in support of Ferrell. Five guys hit one each and Wes hit the other four.

Likely the only two teammates in his Cleveland and Boston years who were better hitters were Averill and Foxx. Ferrell outhit Cronin in their Boston days in games in which they were both starters.

Here are the guys with 75 at bats in Ferrell's 38 starts in 1935:

Rick F

Same in 1931:

Ferrell always battered in the number nine slot while pitching.

Posted by jonesy on January 01, 2005 at 03:46 PM (#1050280)

I'm not sure I follow your point about IP per decision. Of course I didn't get David Foss's point about runs created either :)

If I have correctly added:

From 1929-1938 (virtually all of Ferrell's career) he had just 21 no-decisions in 315 starts.

Over the same period, Grove had 34 no-decisons in 275 starts.

Since it's a 10 year span, thats:

2.1 each year for 31.5 starts for Ferrell.
3.4 each year for 27.5 starts for Grove.

Either you overvalueing relief decisions or I am underestimating them.

Posted by OCF on January 01, 2005 at 07:16 PM (#1050711)
From 1929-1938 (virtually all of Ferrell's career) he had just 21 no-decisions in 315 starts.

That's exactly my point. Ferrell had an unusually low number of no-decisions, hence an unusually high number of decisions for the amount that he pitched. In asking questions about bulk - about how much he pitched - if you base things on his decisions, you'll think he pitched more than if you base things on innings.

Did Ferrell pitch more or less than Vance and Coveleski (to name two other ~3000 IP pitchers?)

Vance: 337 decisions, 2967 IP
Coveleski: 357 decision, 3082 IP
Ferrell: 321 decisions, 2623 IP

That's actually the problem: we've been willing to consider 3000 inning pitchers if they have a big enough peak, but Ferrell isn't really even a 3000 inning pitcher.

(I will say that of course I'll put Ferrell ahead of Dean.)

Ferrell had 8.17 IP/decision, an unusually low ratio.
Grove had 8.94 IP/decision, a little above average for a great or very good pitcher.

Posted by jonesy on January 01, 2005 at 08:37 PM (#1050857)
That seems odd, what with Ferrell always being among the league leaders in IPs and CG. I have to admit that I have never thought about it before.

I do recall the first game after he hurt his arm in 1931. He worked to just three batters, giving up three ringing doubles, before he walked off the field.

In late 1932, against Boston, he put the first four batters on -- two hits and two walks -- then got into the argument with Peckinpaugh.

So that's two starts -- both losses -- in which he did not record an out, but that's only two games.

Are you just using starting decisions?

Posted by jonesy on January 01, 2005 at 08:55 PM (#1050893)

In 1930, Grove and Ferrell each had three poor starts. My definition, I think without going back, was knocked out in less than five innings. Ferrell took the loss each time and Grove got three no-decisions.

Pitcher A makes 13 starts. He goes nine innings in 10 of them, earning a decision in each. In the other 3 he is knocked out after 3 innings. Each time in the three innings of work he gets a no decision.

He pitches a total of 99 innings but with 10 decisions he works a total of 9.9 innings/decison.

Pitcher B makes 13 starts. He goes nine innings in 10 of them, earning a decision in each. In the other 3 he is knocked out after 5 innings. Each time in the five innings of work he get the loss.

He pitches a total of 105 innings but with 13 decisions he works a total of 8.08 innings/decision.

Am I following correctly?

Posted by OCF on January 01, 2005 at 10:34 PM (#1051079)
You're reading it correctly. All innings, all decisions, whether as starter or reliever. Having a high or low number of innings per decision is neither good nor bad; it's a neutral element in evaluating a pitcher. Walter Johnson has a moderately low number (8.50) of IP/decision (and in his case it feels like all of the "extra" decisions are losses.) Johnson probably got there by getting more than his share of decisions in relief. I'm not saying Ferrell's unusually low number if IP per decision is a bad thing (or a good thing) but I am saying that he only has a little over 2600 IP career.

Incidentally, IP per decision has held pretty constant over the years, even as the roles of pitchers have changed dramatically. Some examples of IP/decision for active pitchers: Maddux 8.73, Randy Johnson 9.01, Clemens 9.13, Pedro Martinez 8.90, Reuter 8.50, Trachsel 8.44, Smoltz 9.54 (distorted by the fact that closers don't get decisions.)

Of course, if you go down to the single season level, some very freaky things can happen.
Bob Welch, 1991: 6.67 IP/decision (you may remember the year.)
Odalis Perez, 2004: 15.10 IP/decsion.

But for their whole careers, Welch and Perez are at a sensible 8.66 and 9.13, respectively.

Posted by jonesy on January 02, 2005 at 04:49 AM (#1051278)
Then what actually is the significance of IP/decision if you say it is neither a bad or a good thing?

In 1929 Grove worked 7.26 IP per start but 10.59 IP per decision?

If Ferrell is the outlier on this system, with the lower number (8.17 IP/decison), doesn't that just validate that he was pitched into the ground by Peck and Cronin. He always (relatively speaking) got the decision. There was no expected bullpen help in Ferrell's starts. It didn't matter what the score, Ferrell was going the distance, or at least left in to take a pounding which made him the pitcher of record.

Being the lowman, numberwise, in this system is indicitive of his early demise from overuse, thus the low career inning total.


Posted by OCF on January 02, 2005 at 09:14 AM (#1051376)
My RA+ PythPat equivalent records for a bunch of 30's-centered pitchers. Number of decisions is based on IP, so Ferrell goes into the system as a 2600-inning pitcher. The order is by equivalent FWP.
Name         EqW   EqL   Big years bonus
Grove        295   143   145
Hubbell      249   150    76
Ruffing      269   214    27
Lyons        260   202    22
Hoyt         234   184    18
Bridges      190   124    17
Warnecke     184   128    38
Gomez        169   109    46
Root         201   156    12
French       195   155     8
Fitzsimmons  195   163     0
Ferrell      167   124    29
Dean         136    82    35
Haines       193   163    10
Zachary      183   165     3
Whitehill    201   195     4 

The two most important things this ignores are (1) defensive support, and (2) the pitcher's own offensive contribution. Uneven usage patterns, (the #1 plank in jonesy's campaign) also affects this.

Does this underrate Ferrell? Sure. It also almost certainly overrates Ruffing and Gomez. Does it overrate Grove? Grove is so obviously elected that it doesn't even matter.

Ferrell had an injury-shortened career. So did Joss, whom we haven't elected, and so did Dean, whom we probably won't elect. Was the injury caused by overwork? I'm not sure it much matters whether it was overwork, a line drive to the toe, a fatal illness, or being drunk and foolish in Niagara Falls - it's part of the history.

The issue is going to be: how does Ferrell compare to Ruffing, Hoyt, Bridges, Warnecke, Gomez, and Root? And should any of them be elected? (I assume we will elect Grove, Hubbell, and most likely Lyons.)
   8. Tiboreau Posted: January 24, 2005 at 12:31 PM (#1098790)
Posted by OCF on January 02, 2005 at 05:13 PM (#1052027)
I've conceptually figured out a way to include all of the extra information about Ferrell into the RA+ system. It's all a matter of adjustments to context.

The first, and biggest, adjustment is for his offense. The first thing I did was separate out his pinch-hitting from his pitching. That's easy enough to do - all of those games he didn't pitch and didn't play in the field must have been 1 plate appearance each (barring the rare instance of batting around in an inning). 1933 is a little different, with his 13 games in the outfield, but we can estimate that as well. It turns out that most of his hitting was in games in which he was the pitcher, and that's the part we'll apply to his pitching record.

I made the arbitrary assumption that pitchers' RC/out was about 30% of league average. You can find pitchers worse than that; you can find pitchers better than that. (Mental note: remember that Ruffing was a pretty good hitter himself.) So I took the amount by which Ferrell's RC/out exceeded 30% of league average and added it to the adjusted league context for his games. The result in most years is that the context is adjusted upward by about half a run per game.

Run his PythPat equivalent record against that, and Ferrell comes out with an equivalent record of 179-113, with a "big years bonus" of 54. That moves him into the Bridges/Warneke territory, with a bigger peak.

There's now leftover value in his pinch hitting. But the baseline should be higher - compare him not to the people he was hitting for but to the other guy off the bench his team would have used. Ferrell hit about like an average 1B/LF, which makes him an unusually good pinch hitter. Most teams don't have that good a hitter on the bench - but they have someone. Here I used a baseline of 75% of league average RC. It doesn't make all that much difference: I get 24 RC better than that 75% baseline, 10 of them for his 1933 outfield stint. That amounts to a little over 2 extra wins, maybe 3 or 4 if you account for leverage.

There are still two other adjustments I could do, but don't have the data for. jonesy - for the years in which he faced opponents of non-random quality, can you figure for me the IP-weighted R/G average of his opponents, compared to league average? Chris J. - what does his defensive support look like, and can we estimate that (year by year) in runs/game compared to average?

Posted by Paul Wendt on January 03, 2005 at 03:10 PM (#1054338)
I wrote in #40:

Pitcher starts by ballpark and opponent are now available in convenient format, the Retrosheet game logs. The mismatches with the official record are small in magnitude, but numerous. Starts aren't innings and there is no similar record for relief appearances, so the data is not really complete for the purpose of adjusting ERA.
. . .
Chris James has used the game log data to estimate run support for many pitchers with notable careers, presented at the last SABR Convention and published on his website.

Innings per game, for each pitcher, must be a good indicator of the error in estimated run support.

Notes on innings per game and the distribution of pitcher workload among complete games, incomplete starts, and reliefs.

Grove's pitching appearances (Gp) were approximately 48% complete games, 26% incomplete starts (74% starts), 26% reliefs. Career IP/G ~ 6.40
Complete games constitute about 68% of his 3941 career innings.*

Ferrell: Gp approxly 61% complete games, 25% incomplete starts (86% starts), 14% reliefs. Career IP/G ~ 7.01
Complete games constitute about 78% of his 2623 career innings.*

Dazzy Vance: Gp approxly 49% complete games, 30% incomplete starts (79% starts), 21% reliefs. Career IP/G ~ 6.71
Complete games constitute about 66% of his 2967 career innings.

Lefty Gomez: Gp approxly 47% complete games, 40% incomplete starts (87% starts), 13% reliefs. Career IP/Gp ~ 6.80
Complete games constitute about 62% of his 2503 career IP.

I suppose that 9 * CG is a good estimate of innings pitched in complete games.

For this epoch, the 1920s-30s, the accuracy of pitcher run support estimated from team statistics should not be taken for granted.

Run support bears heavily on W-L record but not at all on several popular sabrmetrics. RS appears here because Chris James' work on RS is here a well-known use of the Retrosheet game logs for individual pitchers.

Does the three-way distribution of pitcher innings {complete games, incomplete starts, reliefs} vary systematically with the quality of the opposing team or with the quality of its offense? Both are plausible: good pitchers completed a greater share of their starts against weak opponents (and against weak offenses?); they worked more often in relief against strong offenses and against strong teams. If so, then the distribution of pitcher innings may indicate where sabrmetrics other than estimated RS and adjusted WL are biased.

Posted by OCF on January 03, 2005 at 03:39 PM (#1054385)
Does the three-way distribution of pitcher innings {complete games, incomplete starts, reliefs} vary systematically with the quality of the opposing team or with the quality of its offense?

There's another interesting source of bias which is, I suspect, far more important in the most recent 20 years than at any previous time: A pitcher is more likely to have a complete game on a day on which he is personally pitching well. These days, a pitcher is likely to pitch a complete game, or nearly so, only if he is pitching a shutout or near-shutout. That would tend to bias the ERA+ of starting pitchers upwards a little - but really only the very good pitchers, the ones with a reasonable chance of pitching shutouts. It may play some role in some of our recent extreme ERA+ years by Maddux and Martinez.

The quality of the offense faced has some affect on whether or not the pitcher seems to be pitching well that day, but there are good games pitched against good teams.

Posted by Paul Wendt on January 03, 2005 at 03:58 PM (#1054409)
Only a few league averages can be derived without data on the name of pitcher appearances.

1929 league averages
AL: Complete games are about 49% of games, hence constitute about 49% of innings.
8.9 innings per team game played.

NL: Complete games are about 46% of games, hence constitute about 46% of innings.
8.9 innings per team game played.

Posted by jimd on January 03, 2005 at 07:44 PM (#1054972)
Ferrell had an injury-shortened career. So did Joss, whom we haven't elected, and so did Dean, whom we probably won't elect.

There are significant differences between the three at their primes.

Joss makes the WARP first-team all-stars (top 4 pitchers) only once, similarly for Win Shares (they disagree on the years, 1907 and 1908, each puts Joss on 2nd team the other year). His relative lack of innings costs him when compared to some of the workhorses in the 00's.

Dean has three or four first-team all-star selections (most valuable pitcher in baseball in 1934, both agree on '35 and '36, WARP likes Dean better in 1932), five selections overall (add 1933).

Ferrell has five or six first-team all-star selections (most valuable pitcher in baseball in 1935, both agree on '30, '31, '32, and '36, Win Shares like Wes better in 1929), six selections overall.

IP ---- IP (translated)
2623.0 2569.3 Ferrell
1967.3 1874.0 Dean
2327.0 1873.0 Joss

BP's "translated" pitching lines indicate that Joss's extra IP relative to Dean are just a by-product of the increased workloads typical of his era. OTOH, Dean was a better pitcher at his peak (relative to his peers), which should be enough to move him past Joss, though that may not be enough for the HOM.

Ferrell has the extra quality years. Through 1936, his ERA+ is 128, with a 163-98 (.625) record. The W-L record is similar to Sandy Koufax (165-87, 131 ERA+) except that Ferrell did it with mediocre teams (slightly over .500, estimated .515). And Ferrell could hit (as jonesy has stressed), Koufax could not (think Randy Johnson). I haven't done a complete analysis of him yet, but I like what I see so far.

OTOH, the comeback attempts are ghastly. System-specific question to be answered by each voter: Can a pitcher pitch himself out of the HOM?
   9. Dag Nabbit: Sockless Psychopath Posted: January 24, 2005 at 02:15 PM (#1098833)
Well, Ferrell's performance took a nose-dive in 1937 at the ripe old age of 29 and was never the same after that.

Hopefully, I'll get some work done on Wes Ferrell later this week, but I do have one thing off the top of my head. I did a study once - still have it actually - an excel spreadsheet of WS for each season for each pitcher whoever started at least 100 games categorized by their age at the time. Among all players born from 1900-1909 (well actually from 7/1/99-6/30/09) Ferrell not only had the most career win shares at the end of his age 28 season, but it took a couple years for anyone to catch up with him. That impressed me.
   10. Dag Nabbit: Sockless Psychopath Posted: January 24, 2005 at 02:37 PM (#1098846)
Then you've got Rube Waddell who gave up (we are told) an excessive number of UER, about 300 of them in 2961 IP, or 1 UER per 10 IP. Meanwhile, Grove gave up about 250 in 3940 IP (1 per 16) and Ferrell gave up about 200 in 2623 IP (1 per 13). OK Rube gave up more UER per IP. But does that in any way negate Rube's 135-117 edge over Ferrell in ERA+ in 600 more IP?

I once guesstimated Rube's ERA+ adjusted for excessive unearned runs at around 126, so he still should have a good lead on Ferrell, unless the latter was the anti-Rube when it came to UER, which I find unlikely. Plus Waddell was a much better K-king. In Ferrell's defense, his defensive support wasn't as good and obviously could hit better.

While I acknowledge that Ferrell was an excellent hitter and the best hitter of any pitcher for a wide swath of time on either side of him,

Among live-ball era pitchers with at least 200 GS, Ferrell has the best career OPS+, at 100. Among 20th century pitchers, he's tied with George Mullin. (Smokey Joe Wood had a 110, but he didn't start 200 games). You have to go back to Jack Stivetts and Scott Stratton fo tind a better OPS+.

One last point - maybe someone already mentioned and I missed, sorry if I did. A ways back on old primer, Walt/Dick (forgot his first name) Thompson (for those unaware, he was writing - I think he's now finished - a biography of Ferrell) mentioned something interesting about his walk rate. Apparently Ferrell had a reputation in his day similar to that of Glavine now. He'd walk a quite disproportionate number of the the opposing team's best hitters, not wanting to give those guys a chance to beat him, and then bear down on everyone else. Just thought some hear might find that intersting/useful.
   11. Chris Cobb Posted: January 24, 2005 at 03:09 PM (#1098877)
My ranking, right now, of major-league pitchers who peaked between 1927 and 1941:

1) Lefty Grove
2) Carl Hubbell
3) Ted Lyons
4) Wes Ferrell
5) Red Ruffing
---- In/out line
6) Mel Harder
7) Tommy Bridges
8) Dizzy Dean
9) Paul Derringer
10) Lon Warneke
11) Lefty Gomez
12) Larry French
13) Charlie Root
14) Freddie Fitzsimmons
15) Earl Whitehill

My ranking of all eligible pitchers

1) Clark Griffith
2) Eppa Rixey
3) Bill Foster
4) Wes Ferrell
5) Dick Redding
6) Jose Mendez
7) Urban Shocker
8) Burleigh Grimes
9) Mickey Welch
10) Carl Mays
11) Rube Waddell
12) Wilbur Cooper
13) Dolf Luque
14) Tommy Bond
15) Babe Adams

Most likely one or two pitchers like Andy Cooper, William Bell, or Nip Winters from the NeL would place in the bottom half of this group of 15, but I don't have firm rankings for them yet.

I think Ferrell is an eventual HoMer, but he isn't great enough to make it in until the ballot thins out in the 1960s. He'll be starting about the middle of my ballot, I think.

Ferrell has a decent chance to be the first 20th-century pitcher in the HoM but not the HoF. We'll see.
   12. TomH Posted: January 24, 2005 at 03:26 PM (#1098894)
by the way, Ferrell's page on bb-ref is open for sponsoring for a mere $10!
   13. DavidFoss Posted: January 24, 2005 at 04:11 PM (#1098986)
Wow... thanks for resurrecting those old posts, Tiboreau!
   14. jonesy Posted: January 24, 2005 at 04:42 PM (#1099034)
Posted by Dick Thompson on January 05, 2005 at 09:08 PM (#1059704)

It took me five minutes to pull these up. No hitting, just his pitching. Of course, then again, without ERA+, OPS+ and DIPS available to them, none of these guys probably knew anything about baseball in the 1930s. You'll have to wait for the book to read more.

Peer Reviews of Wes Ferrell.


Cleveland Coach Grover Hartley (who had caught Matty). "He looks more like Matty than any young pitcher I ever saw."

Connie Mack: "He's the finest looking pitcher I've seen in years."

Ernie Lanigan: "Every expert you see who has visioned Ferrell this year raves about him."

"The finest change of pace in the country, that's what the players say of Wesley Ferrell."


"Al Simmons declares he would rather bat against any other pitcher in the American League.

Connie Mack: "I have said repeatedly that I believe Ferrell is a great pitcher, one of the greatest young pitchers I have ever seen."


Joe Williams: "Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Johnson, Alexander and Wes Ferrell, the great Cleveland right-hander of today had and have great fastballs."

Joe Williams: "They call him the Second Matty."


Max Carey: "Ferrell is another Christy Mathewson. That means he is one of the greatest pitchers I have ever seen..."

Casey Stengel: "Geez that guy gets in my hair. He makes pitching look so easy."

Joe McCarthy: "Why this Ferrell is another Matty..."


Walter Johnson: "Ferrell was a great pitcher, and still is for that matter."

Joe Williams: "Ferrell is still a great pitcher," Walter Johnson told me. "He'd make the Yankees a sure pennant winner.."


The New York World Telegram: "A Flesh and Blood Frank Merriwell - That's Wesley Ferrell..."

Frank Graham: "Ferrell still pitches as Matty did, with no exaggerated motion, no fuss and not effort, but with plenty on the ball."

Lou Gehrig: "He looked like the Ferrell of four years ago. He wouldn't give anyone a fat ball to hit at."

J.G. Taylor Spink: "A really great pitcher, with the perfect pitching psychology..Make 'em hit at the bad ones, is his policy, his secret of success.."

1936: "Another example of Wes' almost hypnotic powers came in the sixth inning when Goose Goslin took successive molasses-slow pitches right through the heart of the plate for second and third strikes. The venerable Goose couldn't have looked sillier."

Post playing days.

Al Simmons: "But that Ferrell was a great pitcher..."

Lefty Grove: "Wes was one of the greatest pitchers and one of the greatest competitors I have ever seen."

Hank Greenberg: "He should be in the Hall of Fame. Why his name has never overlooked I'll never understand."

Mickey Cochrane: "What he had was suberb control, an endless file cabinet in his mind of the likes and dislikes of every batter he ever faced..."

Posted by Dick Thompson on January 06, 2005 at 05:57 PM (#1061809)

You're credibilty is kind of flapping in the breeze here. I really admire your knowledge base regarding the PCL and the 50s and 60s, but you're way off base regarding the 30s.

The only statistical difference between Gomez, Grove, Dean and Hubbell from Ferrell is that those guys played on championship or near championship caliber teams while Ferrell, for the most part, was always on a fourth place club.

Select your own statistical measurement of choice, be it WARP, Win Shares or TPR, for all put Ferrell roughly in the same category as the other four in Ferrell's peak seasons of 1929-1936. ERA+ has a major flaw in that it has no idea of the caliber of the competition that a pitcher faces.

Ferrell likely would have been the AL Cy Young Award winner in both 1930 and 1935 had there been one, and he had as good a claim as anyone else to the best pitcher in baseball in either of those years.

Connie Mack, for what ever his reason, would not pitch Grove against either Ferrell or Ted Lyons or the New York Yankees in 1930. This was well known at the time. That's why Ferrell and Lyons both out-pointed Grove in the two MVP AL ballots of 1930.

I gave you Mack, McCarthy, Stengel, Johnson and Carey's opinions. The comparison of Wes Ferrell to Christy Mathewson was pretty standard. I can dig up a couple from Miller Huggins that say the same thing.

Mack, McCarthy, Stengel, Johnson, and Huggins all refered to Ferrell as a great pitcher. So we should take Steve Treder's word that he wasn't (sorry Steve)?

From the time Ferrell went into the Cleveland rotation in mid-1929 until he hurt his arm in the middle of May 1931, he went 46-17 for a mediocre Cleveland club. He was considered the best pitcher in baseball for this extended length of time; something you claimed he never accomplished.

And while Wes was pitching a heavy portion of his workload in that time against NY and Philly, Grove was piling up a ton of wins against the anemic Red Sox. The press of the day was well aware of that.

In addition to Matty, Wes also was compared to Young, Alexander and Johnson. His change of pace was considered the best in baseball, his curve ball was considered on par with that of Dazzy Vance and his fastball was rated slightly behind that of Johnson or Grove.

And Steve, I haven't even mentioned his hitting. While not as consistent, he was known to hit the ball as far as either Ruth or Foxx, and Shirley Povich called him one of the most feared hitters in the American League, "not just a great hitting pitcher."

Time after time he hit in the clutch. His pinch hits snatched three losses from Grove's record in 1935 and turned them into wins.

Steve, don't base you understanding of the 1930s on revisionist history. You presented absolutely zero original material in you pieces on the 30s. You just manipulated a few numbers. This is so different from the great points you present regarding more current eras.

Posted by Dick Thompson on January 06, 2005 at 08:09 PM (#1062105)
For those interested in why Wes Ferrell was the best pitcher in baseball in 1930 and the best player in baseball in 1935, as well as the reasons why Rick Ferrell is in the HOF, I would urge you all to purchase this book.

And since I am the author, I make money if you do.
   15. jonesy Posted: January 24, 2005 at 04:56 PM (#1099067)
Posted by jonesy on December 23, 2004 at 06:55 PM (#1038967)
One more example of the holes in ERA+ (which is the same hole as in ERA).

Here are the big three of the 1930 Philadelphia Athletics.

The teams are listed in order of runs scored.

Grove pitched:

1. 16.2 innings against NY.
2. 46.2 innings against Washington.
3. 48.0 innings against Cleveland.
4. 56.0 innings against Detroit.
5. 34.1 innings against StL.
6. 35.2 innings against Chicago.
7. 53.2 innings against Boston.

Earnshaw pitched:

1. 32.2 innings against NY.
2. 33.3 innings against Washington.
3. 56.0 innings against Cleveland.
4. 46.2 innings against Detroit.
5. 47.2 innings against StL.
6. 38.2 innings against Chicago.
7. 41.0 innings against Boston.

Walberg pitched:

1. 54.0 innings against NY.
2. 52.1 innings against Washington.
3. 20.1 innings against Cleveland.
4. 17.0 innings against Detroit.
5. 38.1 innings against StL.
6. 19.0 innings against Chicago.
7. 08.2 innings against Boston.

Grove ERA+ 184
Earnshaw ERA+ 105
Walberg ERA+ 100

Someone sure took a bullet for the team, and I don't think it was Lefty.

The IP totals do not match up exactly to offical figures. I added them from TSN bosxcores.
   16. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: January 24, 2005 at 05:30 PM (#1099164)
How much weight should we put on contemporary opinions of Major League players. Today, most managers and players will tell you how great Darrin Erstad is or how Juan Pierre is much more valuable than his numbers because he disrupts the flow of the game. We know this is mostly horse hockey. So how much should we put on players from other eras?

As far as African American players, sometimes these contemporary opinions comprise most of the evidence that we have. And we still don't rely on them very much. Case in point Judy Johnson vs. John Beckwith.

I would like to thank jonesy for the information above but I will admit that what Connie Mack has to say about Wes Ferrell isn't going to change what I think of him as a player very much. we coudl probably find Mack talking about a number of guys who didnt' make it in just the same way.
   17. Chris Cobb Posted: January 24, 2005 at 05:35 PM (#1099176)
To give a quick sketch of the potential impact of jonesy's demonstration of unequal workloads vs. good & bad teams:

First, as a caveat, it should be remembered the ERA+ on baseball-reference is adjusted for parks and for team competition. For 1930, Walberg and Grove are measured against a 4.69 league ERA. Ferrell is measured against a 4.83 league ERA. So ERA+ does to that extent account for competition imbalances.

Within teams, however, it doesn't. For 1930, based on jonesy's data, I've quickly calculated individual run environments for Grove and Walberg (as the two opposite cases), prorated their league ERAs accordingly, and recalculated their ERA+.

League run environment 5.41 r/g
Grove run environment 5.15 r/g
Walberg run environment 5.69 r/g

Grove ERA+ 176
Walberg ERA+ 106

Now, you could shave 10 points off of Grove's ERA+ for every season of his career, and he'd still be the best pitcher of his era, and 10 points added to Walberg for his career wouldn't make him a HoMer.

But their careers are completely clear-clut. If a differential workload favoring high-offense teams was the norm for Ferrell over several years, it would have to give a meaningful boost to his candidacy.
   18. sunnyday2 Posted: January 25, 2005 at 02:42 PM (#1101399)
This is my first cut at all pitchers eligible now through 1959. There have been valid arguments for adjusting Ferrell upwards, specifically usage pattern. But who he pitched against doesn't materially change the kind of pitcher he was. You start with what kind of pitcher he was and adjust, you don't start with all the ephemera. But anyway, I expect to adjust him upwards from this rough cut, but how much? PS, hitting is factored into the rough cut.

1. Grove
2. Newhouser--WWII competitive adjust. to come
3. Waddell
4. Ruffing
5. Dean--I'm a peak/prime, pro-Jennings voter
6. Joss
7. Bond
8. Mullane--oh, pre-1893 discounts to come, they're steep (half of value goes to fielders)
9. Lyons
10. Bucky Walters

11. Rixey
12. Cicotte
13. Griffith
14. Gomez
15 tie. Wilbur Cooper and Grimes (can't distinguish)
17. L. Corcoran--19C discount to come
18. McCormick
19. J. Whitney
20. Hippo Vaughan

21. Wes Ferrell--ERA+ 117, what can I say
22. Warneke
23. Shocker
24. Bridges
25. Mays

I admit that Ferrell had a nice peak. Here are the top peaks (aWS for 3 yrs + 5 yrs, which is my quick shorthand version) for 20C P on this list:

Grove 275
Newhouser 264 pre-discount
Chesbro 248
Waddell 245
Dean 244
Joss 239
Willis 239
Walters 234
Mays 232
Ferrell 224

So I can see Wes move up, but not beyond Cooper/Grimes territory.
   19. karlmagnus Posted: January 25, 2005 at 02:57 PM (#1101415)
You've forgotten Mickey Welch, more wins than anybody on that list, and his 1885 peak wwas pretty good, too.
   20. andrew siegel Posted: January 25, 2005 at 03:35 PM (#1101454)
Some comments on the eligible pitchers:

(1) You need a theory as to how to compare them between eras. Two factors change over time: the percentage of a team's innings individual pitchers throw and the importance of pitchers (vis a vis the fielders and hitters) while they are on the field. The two trends move in opposite directions over time, largely because as pitchers become more important to the outcome of games it becomes more draining to pitch. Many of us behave on the assumption that the two trends roughly cancel each other out and that we should induct roughly the same number of pitchers for all eras. That is my default assumption too, but I note that there is no logical reason it has to be true. It may well be that there were some eras where (taking the two trends into account) pitchers were more or less valuable as a group than the were in other eras. If so, the percentage of pitchers we are electing should fluctuate by generation.

(2) WS does a terrible job of accounting for these two factors (pretty much assuming than an IP is an IP is an IP), which makes it a useless tool for comparing pitchers across generations. Whether you think it is a useful tool for comparing contemporaries depends on the degree to which you think it gives pitchers some of the credit/blame that should otherwise go to their fielders.

(3) While we can fight about whether guys like McGinity, Wadell, Vance, Coveleski, etc. pitched enough innings to warrant election, there are some pitchers (e.g., Joss, Dean) who simply did not pitch enough innings in comparison to their contemporaries. I'm all for taking peak into account, but how can you elect a Dean for having the best peak of his era and nothing else when there are guys like Vance, Coveleski, Waddell, maybe Ferrell who had peaks almost as good and lots of other chits. (Whether the same argument blocks Koufax depends on the margin by which his peak beats those of his longer-careered contemporaries).
   21. sunnyday2 Posted: January 25, 2005 at 04:40 PM (#1101563)
This is the Hall of Merit, not the Hall of Value, and even if value is part of the equation--and of course it is--it's not just career value. To me, one of the obvious measures of Merit is whether a player was ever "the best" or "the best" at his position (a la the Keltner test). Any player who can be awarded a "yes" to those questions is a must for serious consideration. Any system that doesn't give very serious consideration to Dean and Koufax is not to my taste.

Oh, I didn't forget Mickey Welch.

And I don't know if Andrew, when you said "You need a theory...", meant me, specifically. I have a theory. I don't just use WS but when I do, I normalize to 162 G and then, pre-1893, I divide in half and give the other half to the fielders.

But of course I look at ERA+ and IP, I look at peak, prime and career, etc. etc. Welch lacks what someone here (OCF?) calls "big years," and his ERA+ is a terrible burden.

As for Ferrell, he is right smack dab in a group of pitchers I would characterize as Tier 3 (Definition C). Guys who did indeed have a high peak and a fairly "normal" length of career both in years and IP. Guys like Grimes, Wilbur Cooper, Willis. There's a bunch of them. Ferrell's hitting helps, his usage pattern helps just a little. I mean how much higher than 117 would Ferrell's career ERA+ be if Lefty Grove had pitched against the Yankees more?

I lean to the guys like Waddell and Joss and Dean who dominated when they were on the mound. Ferrell did some of that and he hung around some. If I were inclined to give extra credit to workhorse pitchers who hurt their arm, where would that end? I could extrapolate Koufax out to 3000 IP perhaps?

No, Ferrell is a nice pitcher, one of the 10-12 better pitchers not in the HoF and surely better than 10-12 who are already in the HoF. But we will probably be elected 20 fewer 20C MLers than the HoF did and so borderline HoFers and border-borderline here.
   22. Chris Cobb Posted: January 25, 2005 at 04:42 PM (#1101569)
how can you elect a Dean for having the best peak of his era and nothing else when there are guys like Vance, Coveleski, Waddell, maybe Ferrell who had peaks almost as good and lots of other chits.

I agree pretty strongly with Andrew here; I would go further to say that Dean did not have the best peak of his era: Grove, Hubbell, and Ferrell had better peaks. Dean was very close to these guys, maybe better than Ferrell (different metrics tell us different things), but he wasn't clearly the best pitcher in baseball during his peak.

This makes the Dean case different from the Jennings' case, where he _was_ the best position player in baseball during his peak. If Koufax was indeed the best pitcher in baseball during his peak (I think he probably was, but not having studied the matter I can't say for sure), then his case would also be different from Dean's.

Ferrell's case is much close to Ed Walsh's. They were both great pitchers for an extended peak (Walsh for 7 years, Ferrell for about 8), but they have nothing outside of that peak.

Ferrell's ERA+ is much lower than Walsh's but a) he often pitched in front of poor defenses, which lowers his ERA+ through no fault of his own, b) his schedule _may have been_ disproportionately weighted towards the better offensive teams, which would lower his ERA+ through no fault of his own, c) he pitched in a high-offense era, which generally serves to depress ERA+ (in comparison to deadball pitchers, not his immediate contemporaries), and d) his hitting, which has a _significant_ impact on his value, is not accounted for in his ERA+ at all.

I'd venture to suggest that Ferrell's real value when he was pitching, expressed as an ERA+ rate stat, was probably 8-15 points higher than his actual ERA+. This could be estimated more precisely with a bit of statistical analysis.
   23. sunnyday2 Posted: January 25, 2005 at 04:44 PM (#1101573)
Sorry, make that "borderline (20C) HoFers ARE doubly borderline here."

Note, e.g., at the top of the 1944 thread, that Ferrell is not obviously a better candidate than Waite Hoyt. I mean, he is a better candidate (for me, based on peak value) but just grossly looking at career WS and career W3, it's not obvious. So he is very generally in that category with Grimes, Cooper, Willis and Waite Hoyt. To me, that's the starting point. He will move up based on an accumulation of details that work to his favor, but how much?
   24. Chris Cobb Posted: January 25, 2005 at 04:48 PM (#1101584)
I mean how much higher than 117 would Ferrell's career ERA+ be if Lefty Grove had pitched against the Yankees more?

Well, we saw that disproportionate usage patterns docked Walberg's ERA+ for one season by 6 points. The question we haven't answered, but which I assume we could answer with the help of jonesy's stats, is "How much more heavily used against the top hitting teams was Ferrell"? If he was used much more heavily against the Yankees and Athletics during 4 of his peak seasons and his usage pattern was typical in his other years, that could mean 3 points of ERA+, career.

Of course, to give full credit to Ferrell for this we ought to see not only Grove's usage patterns but Hubbell's and Dean's, at least. If most top pitchers except for Grove were facing the top teams disproportionately, then Grove gets docked but no one else gains.
   25. OCF Posted: January 25, 2005 at 06:30 PM (#1101761)
I'd venture to suggest that Ferrell's real value when he was pitching, expressed as an ERA+ rate stat, was probably 8-15 points higher than his actual ERA+. This could be estimated more precisely with a bit of statistical analysis.

When I tried to account for Ferrell's offense, as I reported in the post copied by Tiboreau as the first portion of #8, above, the effect on his equivalent W-L record was the same as raising his effective RA+ by 10 points, from 116 to 126. The W-L record went from 167-124 to 179-113.

Any quality-of-opponent differential estimate would be on top of that. Before trying that, I'd like to have it on a year-by-year basis for most of the important years of his career.
   26. andrew siegel Posted: January 25, 2005 at 06:43 PM (#1101783)
Sunnday-- I wasn't sayiing that you needed a theory, but that we all do.

Also, saying that Ferrell ranks with Grimes, Willis, and Cooper isn't much of a knock for me, since I had Grimes 11th on the last ballot, had Willis about 17th (he was on my ballot until 2 years ago), and would have Cooper somewhere between 20th and 30th if I hadn't inadvertently dropped him out of my consideration set after he fell off of everybody's ballots. I haven't studied Hoyt.

On the next ballot, I tentatively have Grimes 13th, Ferrell 15th, Willis 18th, and Cooper 27th. So, I agree, they are very close. But for me that's a plus.
   27. Michael Bass Posted: January 25, 2005 at 07:38 PM (#1101879)
My system is in flux right now, as minor WARP changes again have me disastisfied, as they expose issues with my system.

With that said, I see virtually no way Ferrell won't be in the top 5 on my ballot. My best guess as to how things will shake out:

1. Gehrig
2. Frisch
3. Ferrell
4. Foster

Ferrell has Waddell's peak worth of value, except that in addition to the huge years he adds 3 more solid ones. The Ed Walsh comp someone used earlier works for me. Not in terms of what kind of player, but in terms of career value shape.
   28. jimd Posted: January 25, 2005 at 11:24 PM (#1102388)
When I tried to account for Ferrell's offense, ... the effect on his equivalent W-L record was the same as raising his effective RA+ by 10 points, from 116 to 126.

I re-calculated the career ERA+ for Dean and for Ferrell as follows: Each positive BRAR (Batting Run Above Replacement) created cancels out an Earned Run given up; Each negative BRAR (or batting run below replacement) was equivalent to giving up an additional Earned Run.

Dean was -27 BRAR (.193 EQA, worse than a replacement hitter, somewhat below average for a pitcher); his ERA+ moves from 130 to 125. Ferrell was 50 BRAR (.266 EQA, an above average major league hitter); his ERA+ moves from 117 to 122.

This appears to verify the 10 point shift noted by OCF.
   29. OCF Posted: January 26, 2005 at 12:09 AM (#1102435)
Right, jimd. Your calculation differs from mine in choice of zero point, but arrives at the same place. I would say that pitchers are supposed to be bad hitters and left Dean's ERA+ alone (or maybe -1), while adding +10 to Ferrell instead of +5. The overall effect is approximately the same.

I should also do this for Red Ruffing, although we've got until 1953 before that's an issue. (And I've got to worry about Ruffing's defensive support as well.)
   30. jimd Posted: January 26, 2005 at 12:18 AM (#1102444)
Your calculation differs from mine in choice of zero point

Agreed. I was doing something quick and dirty with the number available from BP and baseball-reference.
   31. jonesy Posted: January 26, 2005 at 02:18 AM (#1102672)
Here are a couple of seasons.


DET..926 RS...Ferrell 43.0 IP...Grove 37.1 IP.
PHI..901 RS...Ferrell 38.1 IP.................
NY...899 RS...Ferrell 31.1 IP...Grove 33.1 IP.
STL..733 RS...Ferrell 33.1 IP...Grove 31.0 IP.
WAS..730 RS...Ferrell 30.2 IP...Grove 23.0 IP.
CLE..717 RS.....................Grove 54.0 IP.
CHI..627 RS...Ferrell 21.2 IP...Grove 37.0 IP.
BOS..605 RS...Ferrell 44.1 IP...Grove 60.0 IP.


DET 919 RS..Ferrell 36.0 IP...Grove 46.0 IP
WAS 823 RS..Ferrell 55.2 IP...Grove 44.2 IP
NY 818 RS..Ferrell 25.1 IP...Grove 27.0 IP
CLE 776 RS..Ferrell 35.0 IP...Grove 46.0 IP
CHI 738 RS..Ferrell 61.1 IP...Grove 31.0 IP
STL 718 RS..Ferrell 46.1 IP...Grove 28.2 IP
PHI 710 RS..Ferrell 62.2 IP...Grove 48.2 IP
   32. Brent Posted: January 26, 2005 at 03:25 AM (#1102797)
In the Darrell Evans entry of the NBJHBA, James argues that Evans is the most underrated player in baseball history. I think a similar argument applies to Ferrell, making him the most underrated pitcher in baseball history.

The general public tends to judge pitchers primarily on 3 statistics, W-L records, ERA, and strikeouts. There are reasons why all 3 of these are misleading for Ferrell.

- Almost his entire career, Ferrell pitched for poor teams, hurting his W-L record. Excluding Ferrell's own decisions, the only team for which he pitched 100+ innings that had a winning record was the 1932 Indians.

- He pitched for below-average defensive teams, hurting his ERA. Jonesy has also documented that for several seasons he faced better than average teams. Furthermore, he pitched in an period of high ERAs and in the high scoring league, hurting his reputation among those who don't adjust for context.

- He was not a strikeout pitcher. Nor did he have the fantastic control of a Mathewson or Maddux. His strongest suit was the area that Voros McCracken argues is luck - according to BP's site, during the years from 1930 to 36, Ferrell allowed 97 fewer hits than expected.

Outstanding performance in post-season play is often very important to establishing the reputation of a pitcher in the public's mind. Ferrell never pitched in a World Series.

Ferrell's career was not long enough for him to reach the any of the major milestones that signify a great pitcher. In fact, he just misses a couple of minor milestones (200 career wins, career ERA below 4.00).

There is a strong tendency for pitchers' batting statistics to be ignored or undervalued. In fact, until about the last ten years it was quite difficult for the average fan to even know what a pitcher's hitting statistics were like. Even some prominent sabermetricians, including Bill James, have sometimes pooh-poohed the importance of pitcher batting statistics.

The more I look at him, the more underrated I think he is. I didn't think it was possible that Cooperstown could have overlooked any really good candidates from the 1920s or 30s, but in Ferrell's case I think they have. As a peak/prime voter, I plan to have Ferrell in the top third of my ballot.
   33. OCF Posted: January 26, 2005 at 03:33 AM (#1102810)
Using the data from post #31, I can make these adjustments to my already offense-adjusted RA+ equivalent records for Ferrell:

Adjust 1929 from 16.6-10.3 to 16.8-10.2
Leave 1935 unchanged at 24.4-11.4 (the single best year of Ferrell's career.)

For these two years, it makes almost no difference.

A word of advice, jonesy: Grove is irrelevant.

We're not debating Grove right now, but when he does become eligible his case is so overwhelming that fine details like this can have no bearing whatsoever on whether he will be elected. He will be elected, quickly.

Any argument that compares Ferrell to Grove is a nonstarter. For now, we need comparisons of Ferrell to Rixie, Griffith, and Foster. (All three are difficult: Ferrell the short-career high-peak case; Rixie the long-career low-peak case, Griffith who's from another time and Foster who's from another place.) Soon enough, we'll be asking how he compares to Dean, Lyons, Bridges, and Gomez. Those are the comparisons which matter to us.
   34. Chris Cobb Posted: January 26, 2005 at 03:42 AM (#1102829)
One caveat on OCF's remarks about Grove:

For 1935, Grove's pitching load is potentially relevant because the two are teammates. Clearly Cronin wasn't using Grove the way Mack had used him back in 1929. So for the seasons where they pitched together on the Red Sox, if data on Grove's innings versus each team are available, it's worth having a look at it to see if there are meaningful differences in usage patterns. In 1935, it appears there are not.
   35. DavidFoss Posted: January 26, 2005 at 04:46 AM (#1102936)
Wes Ferrell in head-to-head starts against other HOM candidates:

Ruffing 3-6
Lyons 2-6
Grove 1-7
Gomez 2-4
Bridges 4-1
Harder 0-3
Faber 1-0
Feller 1-0
   36. OCF Posted: January 26, 2005 at 05:09 AM (#1102987)
jonesy's 1932 data for Ferrell, reported in #8 above, make a difference to his RA+ record of less than a tenth of a win.

I can't really use the stuff in #2 because it's not year-by-year, and my whole system is year-by-year. But it looks like it would be unlikely to change my estimates by as much as a game.

In #15-17 Chris finds a measurable difference in the records of Grove and Walberg for 1930. But Grove is a shoo-in and Walberg is a non-candidate. I still don't see the relevance of that to Ferrell; what matters is Ferrell's own record and usage.
   37. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 26, 2005 at 02:53 PM (#1103492)
Ferrell's problem is not that he wasn't a great pitcher at his peak: he was. His problem is that he had a short career compared to his contemporaries. Does that he mean that he's not a HOMer? No, but it does means that he will be part of our backlog for a very long time.
   38. andrew siegel Posted: January 26, 2005 at 03:24 PM (#1103522)
A mea culpa: I pegged Ferrell before carefully studying the data. He's a lot better than I thought, very similar to Vance and Coveleski. He's going to be higher on my ballot than I previously pegged him (15th), though still outside the top 5.
   39. Paul Wendt Posted: January 27, 2005 at 01:23 AM (#1104738)
Philadelphia AL 1930

Jonesy provided the distribution of innings by opponent for the three principle starting pitchers Grove, Earnshaw, Walberg. From Retrosheet, I gathered the distribution of starts by opponent for the other pitchers who started at least one game. Here is a brief report.

Averages are weighted by innings pitched for Grove, Earnshaw, Walberg; by pitcher starts for Shores (20), Mahaffey (17), Rommel (9), Quinn (6), Perkins (1), Ehmke (1). Grove finished with unadjusted ERA 2.54; the six other significant starting pitchers finished with ERA 4.19 to 5.01.

<u>Phi AL 1930 pitchers</u>
Average Opponent Winning Percentage
.476 team total

.470 Grove
.472 Earnshaw
.513 Walberg
.468 six others listed immediately below
.451 Shores
.448 Mahaffey
.422 Rommel
.513 Quinn (6 starts incl 2 NY, 1 Was)
.558 Perkins (1 start v NY)
.558 Ehmke (1 start v NY)

Average Opponent OPS+
98.8 team total

95.8 Grove
97.6 Earnshaw
105.3 Walberg
98.7 six others listed immed below
94.0 Shores
95.4 Mahaffey
92.6 Rommel
108.1 Quinn

workload vs Washington & New York : vs five others
<b>29%:71% team

63:227 Grove
66:230 Earnshaw
106:104 Walberg
11:42 six others listed immed below
2:17 Shores
3:14 Mahaffey
1: 8 Rommel
3: 3 Quinn
1: 0 Perkins
1: 0 Ehmke

Shores, Mahaffey, Rommel: 6 of 45 starts vs Was, NY
Quinn, Perkins, Ehmke: 5 of 8 starts vs Was, NY

For the six "other" pitchers, the pattern extends to 4th place Cleveland (81-73), slightly. Among games pitched against the five also-rans, Shores, Mahaffey and Rommel all pitched less than 20% and Quinn pitched more than 20% against Cleveland.
   40. Paul Wendt Posted: January 27, 2005 at 01:59 AM (#1104812)
Average Opponent OPS+
131 Perkins (1 start v NY)
131 Ehmke (1 start v NY)

<u>Quinn, Perkins, and Ehmke (8 starts)</u>
.524 Avg Opp Winning Percentage
113 Avg Opp OPS+
5: 3 Starts vs Was & NY : vs five others

ERA, ERA adjusted for Avg Opp OPS+
4.28, 4.33 team total

2.54, 2.65 Grove
4.44, 4.55 Earnshaw
4.69, 4.45 Walberg
4.19, 4.57 Shores
5.01, 5.25 Mahaffey
4.28, 4.62 Rommel
4.42, 4.09 Quinn

For the latter four, this ERA adjustment supposes that the distribution of innings by pitcher and opponent is proportional to the distribution of starts, which is a gross estimate. Eg, Rommel and Quinn certainly didn't pitch 1/9 and 3/6 of their relief innings against Washington and New York
   41. jonesy Posted: January 27, 2005 at 03:08 AM (#1104949)
Starter innings in 1930:

Teams ranked in order of offense:

1. NY - 1062 Runs.

Grove.....11.1 IP with 5.56 ERA.
Ferrell...45.0 IP with 6.20 ERA.
Walberg...52.0 IP
Earnshaw..26.0 IP

2. PH - 951 Runs.

Ferrell...53.1 IP with 3.04 ERA.

3. Wash - 892 Runs.

Grove.....42.0 IP with 2.14 ERA.
Ferrell...36.0 IP with 0.75 ERA.
Walberg...52.1 IP
Earnshaw..29.2 IP

4. Clev - 890 Runs.

Grove.....43.0 IP with 1.67 ERA.
Walberg...20.1 IP
Earnshaw..53.0 IP

5. Det - 783 Runs.

Grove.....50.0 IP with 2.16 ERA.
Ferrell...40.0 IP with 3.79 ERA.
Walberg...09.0 IP
Earnshaw..46.2 IP

6. STL - 751 Runs.

Grove.....34.1 IP with 2.10 ERA.
Ferrell...32.2 IP with 3.61 ERA.
Walberg...38.1 IP
Earnshaw..41.0 IP

7. Chicago - 729 Runs.

Grove.....30.1 IP with 3.85 ERA.
Ferrell...41.1 IP with 3.05 ERA.
Walberg...12.0 IP
Earnshaw..38.2 IP

8. Boston - 612 Runs.

Grove.....39.2 IP with 3.40 ERA.
Ferrell...34.0 IP with 2.65 ERA.
Walberg...00.0 IP
Earnshaw..39.2 IP
   42. jonesy Posted: January 27, 2005 at 03:23 AM (#1104981)
W-L Record as Starters in 1930.

NY: Grove 1-0.....Ferrell 3-3
PH: Grove 0-0.....Ferrell 5-2
WA: Grove 2-1.....Ferrell 4-0
CL: Grove 4-1.....Ferrell 0-0
DE: Grove 7-0.....Ferrell 2-3
SL: Grove 3-1.....Ferrell 3-1
CH: Grove 2-0.....Ferrell 2-2
BO: Grove 4-0.....Ferrell 3-1

No Decisions as Starter:

Ferrell: 1 vs. Chicago.

Grove: 1 vs. NY.
2 vs. WA.
2 vs. CH.
1 vs. BO.
   43. OCF Posted: January 27, 2005 at 04:41 AM (#1105123)
jonesy: that data isn't right. It adds up to 282.1 innings, when Ferrell actually had 296.2. Where did the other 14 innings go to?

If I use the data anyway, it would change Ferrell's (already offense-adjusted) RA+ equivalent record from 22.4-10.5 to 22.5-10.4.

We're halfway through Ferrell's good seasons, using seasons that you picked yourself. So far the changes to the evaluation, if they're measurable at all, are in the tenths of wins. We're talking about slivers of value.

I'm very close to concluding that the issue of differential usage in Ferrell's case leads nowhere - that it makes no important difference in our evaluation.

And please, do NOT keep dragging Grove into it. The issue of differential ultilization may be five times as important in Grove's case as it is in Ferrell's case, but five times a few slivers is what - maybe a couple of games? Do you realize how insignificant to any evaluation of Grove that is? Grove is not the frame of reference for talking about Ferrell.
   44. Chris Cobb Posted: January 27, 2005 at 04:51 AM (#1105137)
I'm very close to concluding that the issue of differential usage in Ferrell's case leads nowhere - that it makes no important difference in our evaluation.

I'd concur; thanks for doing the calculations off of these numbers, OCF.

Fielding support and batting value seem like the matters we need to focus in on to get Ferrell's placement right. jimd's work over on the main ballot thread looks very helpful on these issues.
   45. Dag Nabbit: Sockless Psychopath Posted: January 27, 2005 at 04:53 AM (#1105139)
Did my post get eaten? Thank God for Control-V. Sorry if this turns up twice (John of Joe, just delete one post if that's the case).

With all the talk of Wes Ferrell & who he pitched against and what that means, I had to figure out his MOWPs. It's a mixed result - good news for peak and really bad news for career. I'll dump it out on the website when I get the chance - short version here. Here are his career numbers:

MOWP: .497
MOWP+: 96
MOWP+6: 94
MOWP+4: 112

For those of you curious, out of 29 MOWP+s, that's the 28th best (thank you Sam Leever). It's also the 28th best MOWP+6 (congrats Mickey Welch this time), and the worst MOWP+4 I've found (lower=better with that one). His best ranking is MOWP, where he's tied for 23rd with Stan Coveleski.

The irony here is that many people are pointing to his usage pattern as a reason to vote for him when, over the course of his career, that's like arguing we should put Stan Coveleski in because of his OPS+.

That being said, there is a reason to support him using MOWP+. At the end of the day Ferrell's a peak-er, and in his peak with Cleveland he was used as an ace. His MOWP+ divided into 3 era, Cleveland, Boston, Epilouge:

Cle: 111 MOWP+
Bos: 81 MOWP+
Misc: 92 MOWP+

See that Boston MOWP+? That sucks! Year by year & team by team the number of games he started against winning teams versus what he should've:


Those big years with Boston ain't as impressive as they seem. It gets even worse when you do MOWP+4 & MOWP+6 for the Boston years (136 and 63). The better the team the less likely he was to pitch against them in Beantown, the worse the team, the more likely he was to pitch against them.

To be fair his Cleveland MOWP+6 was 107 & his MOWP+4 was, um, 100 (which isn't great). His MOWPs with Cleveland were fairly standard for an ace, which is why his brief time with Boston pushes to the end of the pack with his career numbers.

Compared to almost all the other aces I've looked at, Ferrell got off lucky in terms of strength of opponents.
   46. jonesy Posted: January 27, 2005 at 10:22 AM (#1105514)

I was responding, or expanding on, Paul Wendt's previous post. Those were the innings those pitchers worked just as starters in 1930. Ferrell worked 282 innings as a starter and 14 as a relief pitcher (give or take a fraction).
   47. jonesy Posted: January 27, 2005 at 10:31 AM (#1105515)

Can you run some numbers on days of rest between starts for the two? Especially when managed by Cronin in the Boston years?
   48. Dag Nabbit: Sockless Psychopath Posted: January 27, 2005 at 02:13 PM (#1105611)
Can you run some numbers on days of rest between starts for the two? Especially when managed by Cronin in the Boston years?

Sorry, don't have that info, and I ain't likely to look it up (too much other stuff I need to do).
   49. Paul Wendt Posted: January 27, 2005 at 05:41 PM (#1106074)
OCF and others,
I thought that I posted a brief reply to #1-38 before I researched and posted #39-40. Well, here is an expanded version of one point.

OCF #33
A word of advice, jonesy: Grove is irrelevant.

We're not debating Grove right now, but when he does become eligible his case is so overwhelming that fine details like this can have no bearing whatsoever on whether he will be elected. He will be elected, quickly.

Any argument that compares Ferrell to Grove is a nonstarter. For now, we need comparisons of Ferrell to Rixie, Griffith, and Foster. (All three are difficult: Ferrell the short-career high-peak case; Rixie the long-career low-peak case,

It's clear that Grove and the comparison of Grove and Ferrell at peak is relevant to the HOM ballots some voters will cast and irrelevant to others. (David Foss explicitly ack'd the relevance weeks ago and there is evidence in several contributions to this thread.) For some, Rixey is a non-starter. They may already know they will vote for Sandy Koufax and not Early Wynn, or vote for Dizzy Dean and not Ted Lyons. Some others do not live in a run-support or defense-adjusted world. (Confession: I don't recall whether RA+ is defense adjusted beyond including unearned runs.)

That said, I suspect jonesy has now reached the audience for "Wes Ferrell in his prime" and thus for the Grove-Ferrell comparison.

As for me, it isn't the first time I have posted something that doesn't bear on the HOM election per se :-) The usage patterns in #39-40 hint more about Connie Mack, or about the epoch, than about Lefty Grove not to mention Wes Ferrell. Now, if Jack Quinn was "spotted" against the better teams in the league thruout his long career (age 45-46 in 1929), well wouldn't that be something to learn.
   50. Paul Wendt Posted: January 27, 2005 at 05:58 PM (#1106115)
jonesy #47
Can you run some numbers on days of rest between starts for the two? Especially when managed by Cronin in the Boston years?

The Retrosheet game logs can be manipulated by computer, but has anyone done so? I think Chris J. told me before the SABR Convention that he passed thru the web version as one would (and jonesy does) pass thru microfilm newspapers.
Retrosheet Game Logs
Retrosheet game logs, webpage for Phi AL 1930
Chris J's RSI at SABR34

In notes pasted above by Tiboreau (just above and below "source of bias" by OCF), I wrote
Only a few league averages can be derived without data on the name of pitcher appearances.

I meant the league total number of pitcher appearances, but in fact I would need a lot more data than that for a valuable interpretation of {complete games, incomplete starts, relief games}.
   51. Paul Wendt Posted: January 27, 2005 at 06:29 PM (#1106193)
There is some Wes Ferrell content here ;-)

Jack Quinn 1930
Score, Opponent in six starts
4--6, Was
3--7, Bos
6-10, NY (Yankees score 51 runs in four games; Athletics pitching staff stretched by doubleheader, but Grove pitches May 18,26 and Earnshaw May 21,27)

4--1, Det (George Uhle, tough luck)
3-12, NY* (Jul 29. New York is now 11 games behind, Washington the clear challenger. Grove & Earnshaw pitch the next two days against Washington, both on four days rest, winning 7-4, 4-3.)

0-15, Cle (Wes Ferrell, wasting some run support)

51 team runs allowed in six games. Evidently, Jack Quinn (89.2 ip, 4.42) was superb in relief.
   52. Paul Wendt Posted: January 30, 2005 at 05:52 PM (#1113164)
In Wes Ferrell #22-30, OCF and jimd discussed accounting for a pitcher's batting by adjusting his pitching record. That was continued by Brent, Paul Wendt and others in 1944 Ballot Discussion, focusing on the adjustment of ERA+ for the pitcher's OPS+. I have extracted that "thread" from these boards and posted it on the web, for HOM reference only.

How to Account for Pitcher Batting,
especially OPS-adjusted ERA
   53. Paul Wendt Posted: January 30, 2005 at 05:53 PM (#1113167)
   54. jimd Posted: February 02, 2005 at 04:09 AM (#1119407)
Bringing this over from the ballot thread, where it didn't belong.

You get Vance Ferrell, a 5519 IP pitcher with a 387-261 record, and a long extended prime, who would be part of the debate for 2nd greatest pitcher of all time.

Vance "Dazzy" Ferrell
      BP      CJ     OCF    Actual
19   0-0     0-0     0-1     0-0
20   1-1     1-1     1-0     0-2
21  20-9    20-11   17-10   21-10
22  23-11   23-15   23-10   25-13
23  20-12   20-14   21-10   22-12
24  21-11   24-12   21-11   23-13
25  12-10   11-12   11-8    11-12
26  14-6    13-16   13-9    14-5
27  26-10   26-14   24-11   25-14
28  23-10   22-13   22-12   20-15
29  17-17   14-19   15-16   14-19
30  12-11   13-12    7-12   15-10

31  16-12   16-14   15-13   18-12
32  17-11   19-14   18-13   18-15
33  26-7    27-7    25-10   28-6
34  20-9    20-11   18-11   22-9
35  11-8    10-9    10-9     9-10
36  20-9    18-13   20-11   16-15
37  24-5    23-9    23-8    22-10
38  17-10   17-10   15-10   14-13
39  18-13   20-12   21-8    17-15
40  13-12   13-11   13-11   11-13
41  11-10   13-10    9-10   12-11
42   6-3     6-2     6-5     6-2
42   3-3     2-2     4-5     1-3
43   3-2     3-2     4-3     3-2
   394-222 394-265 376-237 387-261

WF 189-108 187-139 175-110 190-125
DV 205-114 207-126 201-127 197-136

BP's numbers are their "Translated Pitching Statistics". They agree pretty closely with OCF on the number of decisions, but switch some losses to wins due to Ferrell's offense and Dazzy's bad defensive support, coming up with Chris J's number of wins. Interesting and fun.
   55. OCF Posted: February 02, 2005 at 04:36 AM (#1119441)
There are a few other young guy/old guy combinations that could be made with overlapping careers but non-overlapping ages. The early 1890's pitcher Amos R. Hutchison, for instance.
   56. jimd Posted: February 02, 2005 at 04:43 AM (#1119448)
The trick would be to get them from similar eras or adjoining eras. (It would be much better if Ferrell was active in Vance's time and vice-versa.) Rusie/McGinnity would be one such combo. Bond/Radbourn another.
   57. jimd Posted: February 02, 2005 at 04:52 AM (#1119463)
The "Iron Thunderbolt", Amos McGinnity is pretty close to Cy Young. Old Hoss Bond gets to 530 wins and over 8000 IP.
   58. yest Posted: February 02, 2005 at 05:13 AM (#1119495)
how bout the Cyclone Train
928 wins, 595 losses, 13269.3 innings pitched, 186 shutouts, and approximately a 141 era +
   59. Dag Nabbit: Sockless Psychopath Posted: February 02, 2005 at 03:05 PM (#1120011)
Joe McGinnity's acutally older than Amos Rusie. How about the Iron Man Rusie then?:

1896..Did Not Play
Total: 483-323. .599 Pct - 449 FWP.
   60. Dag Nabbit: Sockless Psychopath Posted: February 02, 2005 at 03:06 PM (#1120012)
It's official: Cy Young really did have two HoM careers roled into one.
   61. jimd Posted: February 02, 2005 at 06:29 PM (#1120537)
Amos "Hoosier Daddy" Clarke.

He really doesn't add much to Rusie, but I couldn't resist the nickname.
(Sorry ;-o)

Iron Man Rusie

Wow. He's got the exact same stats as Amos "The Iron Thunderbolt" McGinnity ;-)
   62. Paul Wendt Posted: April 09, 2005 at 05:28 PM (#1243214)
This week I received a copy of Dick Thompson, The Ferrell Brothers of Baseball, from McFarland. It is available for direct purchase, although the official release is in June.

A paperback reprint of Cool Papas and Double Duties is also available.
   63. Carl G Posted: April 19, 2005 at 02:25 PM (#1269806)
Question: Is there info out there as to what happened to Ferrell in his 30s? It seems to me he was pretty much washed up at 30 and his last better than average season was at 28. Did he wreck his arm throwing so many innngs in his 20s?
   64. Chris Cobb Posted: April 19, 2005 at 03:48 PM (#1269998)
Did he wreck his arm throwing so many innngs in his 20s?

   65. Dag Nabbit: Sockless Psychopath Posted: April 19, 2005 at 04:03 PM (#1270031)
Question: Is there info out there as to what happened to Ferrell in his 30s? It seems to me he was pretty much washed up at 30 and his last better than average season was at 28. Did he wreck his arm throwing so many innngs in his 20s?

Once or twice I've compiled a list of every liveball pitcher to win 150 games by age 30 (or their age 30 season). Prior to Maddux & Clemens, none won 300. The others (all of the top of my head) : Palmer, Blylven, and Roberts were the most successful. Also had Gooden, Pappas, Holtzman, Drysdale, Newhouser (#1), Hunter, Ferrell, Harder, Dean, Blue.

The guys on the top of the list (Newhouser - 185 wins, Drysdale - 177, Hunter - 184, Ferrell - 175) were all completely shot by their early 30s. The latest any of them won 20 was Catfish, who did it at age 29 (though, to be fair, the evidence I have is that Hunter was ruined in his late 20s, not early 20s. Roberts is the biggest exception (179 wins) but he's really not an exception either - his glory days were the rearview mirror by his late 20s as his last 20 win season was at age 28). He just hung around and was a solid mid-rotation pitcher after that.

Harder was shot by age 30. Vida Blue as well around the same time. And Ken Holtmzan. After age 32 Feller was just a Sunday pitcher.

Fun fact: of all the pitchers born in the 1900s (the decade, not the century), not only did Ferrell have the most win shares at the end of 30 season, but no one caught him for a few years (!).

The most successful guys were generally ones who just skated over 150 wins at age 30 (Clemens, Maddux). Even aside from them Palmer had 152 wins (and was still done by age 33), Blyleven had 156 wins,
   66. sunnyday2 Posted: April 23, 2007 at 01:04 PM (#2343009)
Wes Ferrell may not be the worst player we have elected to the HoM, but I'd say he is the worst selection because, well, we got snookered.
   67. karlmagnus Posted: April 23, 2007 at 01:28 PM (#2343020)
I never bought more than marginally into the leverage argument, largely because we didn't have that info on all the other borderline picthers and it made only a few wins difference. For me, Ferrell got over the hump because of his hitting; he was the last ML equivalent of the early Babe Ruth and Parisian Bob.
   68. sunnyday2 Posted: April 23, 2007 at 01:45 PM (#2343027)
That's great, karl, but you're not exactly a representative voter ;-)
   69. TomH Posted: April 23, 2007 at 01:49 PM (#2343031)
I'm with karl.
   70. Howie Menckel Posted: April 23, 2007 at 04:40 PM (#2343175)
I had Ferrell 7th the year he got elected.
I notice I didn't even mention the leverage in my comment.
It was interesting and it didn't hurt his cause, but there's no question he'd have been elected eventually regardless.
Bulldog pitcher, nice prime, good hitter, strong relative to peers - with about 230 slots to fill, it's enough.
   71. DL from MN Posted: April 23, 2007 at 04:43 PM (#2343176)
Mistake, but not the worst one (better pick than Lemon for one). Not enough career value.
   72. Mark Donelson Posted: April 23, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2343226)
I missed the whole Ferrell conflagration (started voting a bit afterward), but always supported Ferrell, right up through his election. I stand by it--my vote wasn't largely based on leverage either. Certainly the Dick Thompson campaign didn't affect my vote, since it had ended before I arrived.

I agree with Karl that Ferrell's hitting was a major part of the arguments for him, at least by the time I showed up.

And I agree with Howie that by now, this far into the backlog, there's just no way he wouldn't have been elected even if the whole leverage argument had never seen the light of day.

And I agree with DL that Lemon is a worse selection.

I agree with everyone! :)
   73. Paul Wendt Posted: April 24, 2007 at 02:37 AM (#2343797)
Judging by his reports to SABR-L several years ago, Dick Thompson's pioneering research in the microfilm room focused on a few seasons that were attractive partly because of their place in Lefty Grove's career as well as Wes Ferrell's. As I recall someone (OCF? Chris James?) reported here & later reminded that the findings do not represent the two careers.

Commissioner Joe has recently campaigned for Bob Lemon. Sam Thompson may be in the lead in some sense. (Perhaps most retrospective mentions by people other than Joe: nix Bill Terry & Bob Lemon.)

By number of people who seemed to be certain the HOM shouldn't go there, I guess the leader is Bob Caruthers or Dobie Moore. Whoever leads, I'm not sure the lead is safe against Pete Browning.
   74. Michael Bass Posted: April 24, 2007 at 02:45 AM (#2343807)
I was one of the top Ferrell supporters, and I factored in leverage exactly zero. I'm pretty sure Ferrell's election owes mostly to WARP, not to leverage.
   75. sunnyday2 Posted: April 24, 2007 at 04:16 AM (#2343858)
But if GVH's pitching doesn't count, why does Wes Ferrell's hitting?
   76. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: April 24, 2007 at 05:25 AM (#2343891)
Because Ferrell was tremendously valuable, since he pitched better than other pitchers *and* hit far better than other pitchers. Van Haltren should certainly get extra credit for his *hitting* during the time that he also pitched, since he was hitting in a lineup spot that would otherwise have been occupied by a pitcher (ie, the replacement level his hitting should be compared to should be extremely low). But he doesn't get much credit for the pitching itself, for the simple reason that the pitching just wasn't very good.
   77. sunnyday2 Posted: January 10, 2008 at 02:03 AM (#2665048)
I s'pose everybody but me had heard that Dick Thompson died unexpectedly on Wed., Jan 2. He was 52 years old.

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