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Monday, August 21, 2006

Wilbur Wood

Eligible in 1984.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 21, 2006 at 12:42 AM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 21, 2006 at 02:13 AM (#2149090)
That's some pitcher!
- Homer Zuckerman
   2. OCF Posted: August 21, 2006 at 03:04 AM (#2149184)
With a knuckleballer, there's even more incentive than usual to pay attention to RA rather than ERA. I have Wood's RA+ PythPat overall record as 163-136. For the five years in which he was a hyper-full-time starter, his equivalent record was 105-82. That includes a 25-12 equivalent record for 1971 followed by a 25-17 equivalent 1972 (an excellent two-year peak) but the other years of that stretch were 21-19, 19-17, and 16-17. I have his RA+ numbers for those five years as 150, 126, 106, 106, 97. For the most part those are about the same as his ERA+, but looking at the unearned runs takes a big bite out of his best year, 1971.

He did have value as a reliever outside those five years, and in particular he was excellent in 1968.

Both my Stats Handbook and bbref list him as 6'0", 180 lbs. Yeah, sure - I suppose he was 180 lbs. once upon a time, but he didn't stay at that weight throughout his career.

Worth noting: his 376.2 innings in 1972 are the post-1920 single season record, albeit by a mere 2/3 of an inning over Mickey Lolich the year before.

Not a serious HoM candidate - I'd rather have Freddy Fitzsimmons - but a one-of-a-kind career, and extraordinarily valuable for a couple of years there just by soaking up so many innings.
   3. Brent Posted: August 21, 2006 at 03:49 AM (#2149310)
# 1 in the category of "you'd never guess he was a professional athlete if you just ran into him on the street."
   4. Jim Sp Posted: August 21, 2006 at 06:01 AM (#2149815)
Looks very different depending on the system used...

By Warp3, his peak is comparable to Koufax. Best year to Wood, years 2-4 to Koufax, after that it's Wood.


Wood 138 110 97 85 79 68 63 58
Koufax 125 116 113 90 70 60
   5. OCF Posted: August 21, 2006 at 06:39 AM (#2149842)
That's interesting. The key has to be where you set the replacement level. To the extent that WARP is a counting stat, Wood did a lot of counting. Other factors include: I doubt that either was all that much as a fielder, but if I'm using an RA+ based system, I literally do not care how well a pitcher fields - it's accounted for in the RA. Koufax batted, and was dreadful. In his peak years as a starter, Wood was replaced by the DH and did not bat.

Wood had 43 WARP3 in his best four years; I have his RA+ equivalent record as 89-65.

Koufax had 44 WARP3 in his best four years; I have his RA+ equivlent record as 94-38.

The difference between 89-65 and 94-38 is -5 wins, 27 losses, which in my system is well below replacement.

Outside of his top five years, you're talking about Wood as a releiver, and he was a good one for a few years.
   6. karlmagnus Posted: August 21, 2006 at 12:10 PM (#2149903)
Very short career for a knuckleballer. I was expecting numbers that knocked my socks off, but when you look, he was really not all that special. Probably not as good a pitcher as Tim Wakefield. Pity.
   7. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 21, 2006 at 12:54 PM (#2149922)
# 1 in the category of "you'd never guess he was a professional athlete if you just ran into him on the street."

He'd be in company with Cecil Fielder, John Kruk, Hack Wilson, Freddy Patek, and maybe Kirby Puckett.
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: August 21, 2006 at 12:56 PM (#2149924)
If you're too young to remember him, check out his peak, etc.
I believe he once started both games of a doubleheader.

Wood and Stan Bahnsen started a combined NINETY (90) games in 1972, and again in 1973.
In 1972, Wood-Bahnsen-Tom Bradley started a combined 130 games!

Not a HOMer, but worth looking at.
   9. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 21, 2006 at 01:18 PM (#2149943)

You are thinking the doubleheader against the Yanks where Wood got knocked out early and then convinced Tanner to let him try in game 2 only with the same results.

With better results Wilbur Wood completed a game suspended after 16 innings. Wood pitched 5 innings, gave up a run, but got the win when Dick Allen hit a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 21st. Wilbur then pitched 4 hit shutout later that day. (May 28, 1973)

Wood was a heckuva reliever from 1967-1970. Led the AL three straight seasons in appearances with an ERA for that time right around 2.50.

Wood kicked the snot out of Milwaukee. I know he has more career wins against the Crew then anyone else, 21. It was pretty sad watching Brewer batters flail away at Wilbur's knuckleball. It seemed he just toyed with them at times.

Someone more informed on such things could offer an opinion whether if Wilbur had been in better shape he could have come back from the knee injury. He was young for a knuckleballer when he got hurt, 34 years old. And he was pitching really well with an ERA of 2.24 early in the '76 season. I just wonder if he had been so opposed to even basic conditioning if his body wouldn't have been better equipped to rehab from the shattered kneecap.
   10. TomH Posted: August 21, 2006 at 01:41 PM (#2149958)
Worth noting: his 376.2 innings in 1972 are the post-1920 single season record

considering 1972 was a (brief) strike year, ain't THAT impressive!
   11. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 21, 2006 at 01:48 PM (#2149964)

Speaking only from memeory I believe Wilbur started 24 games that season on two days rest.

Try getting a pitcher these days to do that even ONCE.
   12. Dag Nabbit: Sockless Psychopath Posted: August 21, 2006 at 02:00 PM (#2149977)
Wood pitched 5 innings, gave up a run,

   13. DanG Posted: August 21, 2006 at 03:17 PM (#2150067)
From 1924 to the present, there have been 20 times that a pitcher has pitched 330+ IP in one year:

376.7 1972 Wilbur Wood
376.0 1971 Mickey Lolich
371.3 1946 Bob Feller
359.3 1973 Wilbur Wood
352.3 1944 Dizzy Trout
346.7 1953 Robin Roberts
346.3 1972 Steve Carlton
344.0 1973 Gaylord Perry
343.0 1941 Bob Feller
342.7 1972 Gaylord Perry
342.0 1979 Phil Niekro
336.7 1954 Robin Roberts
336.0 1968 Denny McLain
335.7 1965 Sandy Koufax
334.3 1978 Phil Niekro
334.0 1971 Wilbur Wood
332.7 1974 Nolan Ryan
330.7 1928 Burleigh Grimes
330.3 1977 Phil Niekro
330.0 1952 Robin Roberts
   14. sunnyday2 Posted: August 21, 2006 at 06:52 PM (#2150492)
My sister once dated Stan Bahnsen. She went to Creighton University in Omaha. Anybody know why Bahnsen was hangin' around Omaha?

Wonder why he declined so rapidly? (rhetorical)
   15. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 21, 2006 at 07:13 PM (#2150561)

Just in case you don't know Stan graduated from the University of Nebraska. He now lives in Council Bluffs. Or did about a year ago.
   16. sunnyday2 Posted: August 21, 2006 at 07:46 PM (#2150692)
I didn't know that, I figured there was an obvious connection, just that I didn't know what it was. I seem to recall he was an All-American or something, and was drafted very high...? I mean, he was a celebrity of sorts even before he was a MLer. Again, a 35 year old memory, very iffy.
   17. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 21, 2006 at 08:05 PM (#2150764)

Stan is often listed as a "star" at Nebraska, but I know he wasn't an All-American (and checked against the U of N website). But you are correct in that in his short time there Bahnsen was a big woop.

Of course, if you ask a Husker fan over 35 the big star in their memory should be Steve Stanicek. Guy was a slugger.
   18. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: August 23, 2006 at 06:34 AM (#2153599)
Jim Sp - I've run Wood through my system . . .

First, he's no Koufax, even with all of those innings. WARPs replacement level is simply set too low.

1968 - a great season in relief - I have it comparable to Konstanty 1950, for example. Reliever's have won MVPs for less. His relief innings were leveraged at 1.46, and his rate was great, he prevent nearly 10 more inherited runners than average from scoring . . . just a great season.

1969-70 - nothing special, a bunch of a relief innings, leveraged well, but only a little better than league average rate.

1971 - I get it at 8.9 WAR. Koufax's 1963-66 come out at 10.4, 8.2, 10.3, 11.9, by comparison. It's more like Jim Bunning's 1966 than Koufax's. Actually, it comes out to essentially exactly Bunning's 1966, both in rate an IP.

Don't forget the AL was much worse than the NL in the early 1970s - that hurts Wood's rate a little. Everyone and his brother was throwing a lot of innings in this time too - which knocks his translated IP some. Still a great season, just not as great as it looks at first glance.

1972 - Another great year, but more for the insane mumber of innings than for the rate, which was nice at 3.53 (compared to a 4.50 environment), but nothing special. Still 7.5 WAR is a very good year. Bunning's 2nd best year was a 7.6.

1973-75 - He's basically a slightly above league average pitcher, consuming a lot of innings. I get the years at 4.5, 3.3 and 3.0. After that he's effectively done.

So if you are a short-peak type, IMO he's basically Jim Bunning. If you are a prime guy, he's more like Ned Garver, with the extra superstar relief season of 1968 thrown in.

For 3-year consecutive peak, I get him at 21.0 WAR from 1971-73. That's comparable to Red Ruffing, Dolf Luque, Mort Cooper.

For 5-best non-consecutive peak, I have him at 31.4 WAR, that's comparable to Noodles Hahn, Johnny Antonelli, Mel Harder, Vic Willis, Clark Griffith and Whitey Ford.

Career wise, I get him at .538 Pennants Added, which puts him comparable to Harvey Haddix, Smokey Joe Wood, George Mullin, Earl Whitehill, Johnny Antonelli and Jesse Haines.

He was a very nice pitcher and extremely valuable from 1968-74 . . . but I don't think he's a HoMer - his peak just wasn't high enough to be the only reason to vote for him. He's got a peak value that's comparable to HoMers who got in in spite of their peaks, not because of their peaks.
   19. OCF Posted: August 23, 2006 at 02:49 PM (#2153774)
Every detail in Joe's post looks very familiar to me - this is almost exactly how I have him.
   20. CraigK Posted: August 23, 2006 at 02:55 PM (#2153787)
We so need another pitcher like him today; he's a knuckleballer, for pete's sake; I'm sure a knuckleballer with good stamina could go 15-16 innings.

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