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Thursday, December 01, 2022

Gaylord Perry, two-time Cy Young winner and master of the spitball, dies at 84

Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball, died Thursday. He was 84.

Perry died at his home in Gaffney, South Carolina at about 5 a.m. Thursday of natural causes, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. He did not provide additional details.

Perry pitched for eight major-league teams from 1962 until 1983. He won the Cy Young with Cleveland in 1972 and with San Diego in 1978 just after turning 40.

Perry was a five-time All-Star who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991.

He had a career record of 314-255, finished with 3,554 strikeouts and used a pitching style where he doctored baseballs or made batters believe he was doctoring them. His 1974 autobiography was titled “Me and the Spitter.”

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 01, 2022 at 10:46 AM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: gaylord perry, obituaries

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 01, 2022 at 11:36 AM (#6107453)
R.I.P.
   2. gehrig97 Posted: December 01, 2022 at 11:48 AM (#6107460)
Sad news. I'll never get tired of the Perry-Reggie confrontations (two showman having a lot of fun).
   3. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 01, 2022 at 11:50 AM (#6107461)
When the Indians traded Sudden Sam to get him, the headline in the Plain Dealer was something along the lines of "The Indians didn't get enough". Perry was thought of as an above-average pitcher but not much more--plus he was 32. Little did anyone know he would pitch another 12 seasons
   4. Traderdave Posted: December 01, 2022 at 11:59 AM (#6107466)
My favorite story about him was his role in the Pine Tar Game, grabbing the bat to hide it.

That man knew a thing or two about concealing evidence....
   5. sanny manguillen Posted: December 01, 2022 at 12:44 PM (#6107472)
You know his casket handles are gonna be greased. RIP.
   6. Alex Vila Posted: December 01, 2022 at 12:46 PM (#6107473)
The Ancient Mariner has passed. RIP.
   7. VCar Posted: December 01, 2022 at 12:51 PM (#6107474)
RIP. Only saw him pitch once live, in 83 vs the O's. He no-hit us for 7 innings with a wide variety of slippery junk. We finally got 2 off him in the 8th, then beat Quiz (also RIP) in the 9th. Baseball needs more characters like Gaylord.
   8. BDC Posted: December 01, 2022 at 12:54 PM (#6107475)
In 1972 and again in '73, Gaylord Perry threw more complete games (29) than the AL-leading CG totals for the past eight seasons, added together (27). RIP.
   9. sanny manguillen Posted: December 01, 2022 at 01:18 PM (#6107476)
The updated 2022 Team:

c - John Stearns
1b - John Wockenfuss
2b - Julio Cruz
3b - Pete Ward
ss - Maury Wills
lf - Tommy Davis
cf - Gerald Williams
rf - Hector Lopez

sp - Gaylord Perry
sp - Joe Horlen
sp - Dick Ellsworth
sp - Ralph Terry
sp - Dave Wickersham
rp - Bruce Sutter
rp - Bob Locker

Mgr - Maury Wills

Wills is still the only manager to pass this year.
   10. The Duke Posted: December 01, 2022 at 01:21 PM (#6107477)

I wonder what allows some guys to throw well into their late 30s and 40s without getting hurt or seemingly losing their stuff. Is it pristine mechanics, arms that just don't get old or brittle, types of pitches they throw. On the surface it seems to be all over the place. Ryan and Clemens seemed to have really strong lower bodies. Perry and colon and greinke and hill and wainwright seem to throw a lot of offspeed stuff.

It was said Gibson's arm many years after retiring was still every bit as good but that his knees were shot
   11. Itchy Row Posted: December 01, 2022 at 01:35 PM (#6107480)
In 1972 and again in '73, Gaylord Perry threw more complete games (29) than the AL-leading CG totals for the past eight seasons, added together (27). RIP.
He also had 28 in 1974. The active leader, Adam Wainwright, has 28 in his career.

Perry had 303 CG in his career. All pitchers considered active by bb-ref have a combined 530.
   12. chemdoc Posted: December 01, 2022 at 01:49 PM (#6107485)
I assume it would be appropriate to honor him by spitting on his grave.
   13. The Yankee Clapper Posted: December 01, 2022 at 02:14 PM (#6107487)
I assume it would be appropriate to honor him by spitting on his grave.
Discreetly.
   14. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 01, 2022 at 02:50 PM (#6107493)
Baseball has been such an important part of my life, particularly as a child, and the way I "learned" baseball in the late 70s and early 80s couldn't help but color the way I look at the sport even today.

Gaylord Perry's top 10 comps on BB-ref are:

Sutton
Blyleven
Niekro
Seaver
Carlton
Spahn
John
Jenkins
Maddux
Wynn

First of all, if those are your ten closest comps, you were a hell of a pitcher. But, in addition to a handful of other pitchers of that era (Ryan, Kaat, etc), that list is basically Wynn, Spahn, Maddux, and then a who's who of this historic crop of incredibly durable, successful pitchers. And in the 35-40 years since most of those guys have retired, most of their BB-Ref pages would be almost unrecognizable in today's game. Like this:

In 1972, as a 33-year-old, Perry started 40 games...and went 24-16. He literally got the decision in every game he started. (He also pitched in a 41st game that year - the 16th inning of a marathon game on April 30th. He got the save.) Perry averaged almost 8 2/3 innings per start - and did that 40 times.

Over a nine-year period (1967-1975), Perry threw 2,832 innings...averaging 38.5 starts a year - and over 8 innings per start...for nine years! And he did it with an ERA+ of 130.

The stuff above dealing with complete games is another great example of this.

Perry (and most of the rest of his cohorts) were not using anything close to today's technology or commitment to fitness and weight training. When Brian Downing starting lifting weights in the late 1970s, people acted like he had made some kind of amazing discovery. And even within the context of athletes of Perry's era, he didn't strike me as being in particularly good shape (in the classic sense).

I know some people will say that today's treatment of pitchers has the effect of optimizing their performance by allowing pitchers to "give their all" over fewer innings - certainly it allows them more velocity. But are these people arguing that Gaylord Perry (and Blyleven, and Carlton, and Ryan, and Seaver, etc) would have put up even better results, and/or pitched longer and been healthier, if their careers had included more "load management"? That seems ludicrous.

And even if you believe that would have been true, it ignores this: The value of Perry and the rest of this cohort by being able to provide above-average (and often outstanding) pitching deep into almost every game, 35-40 times a year, has tremendous value to the team. It allowed bullpens to be smaller, which allowed benches to be longer. It provided stability and predictability for teams over a period of many years. From a marketing perspective, it would be much easier to make the face of a team one or more of your starting pitchers when they were, you know, actually pitching a lot.

I have to believe that there are a number of pitchers over the past 30+ years who could have pitched these kind of innings had they been developed and given the opportunity to do so. I not only think it would make for a better product today - but I genuinely think the pros for the performance of the team would outweight the cons, over the long run.

But that is seen through the eyes of somebody who grew watching guys like Perry doing this deep into their 30s. He will be missed, and I appreciate all Gaylord Perry did to make baseball more enjoyable for many, many people.
   15. Mefisto Posted: December 01, 2022 at 02:52 PM (#6107494)
My two fondest memories of Perry: the Giants and Cards trading no-hitters on consecutive days; and him hitting a HR on July 20, 1969 perhaps to celebrate Armstrong's walk on the moon later that day.
   16. The Duke Posted: December 01, 2022 at 03:42 PM (#6107510)
14. Great stuff - thanks for posting
   17. gehrig97 Posted: December 01, 2022 at 03:48 PM (#6107513)
@10: In Perry's case, it was the Vaseline...
   18. JRVJ Posted: December 01, 2022 at 03:50 PM (#6107516)
Baseball is a much better sport when it has characters and rascals in the limelight.

Perry was both.

He will be much missed.
   19. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: December 01, 2022 at 04:18 PM (#6107525)
I know some people will say that today's treatment of pitchers has the effect of optimizing their performance by allowing pitchers to "give their all" over fewer innings - certainly it allows them more velocity. But are these people arguing that Gaylord Perry (and Blyleven, and Carlton, and Ryan, and Seaver, etc) would have put up even better results, and/or pitched longer and been healthier, if their careers had included more "load management"? That seems ludicrous.


With the exception of Ryan, really none of these pitchers threw near max-effort all the time, as far as I can tell. Even Seaver and Carlton, from what I can tell watching videos of old games on YouTube, threw their fair share of "junk" and "get it over" fastballs. With the larger stadiums of the time and the different hitting styles and strategies, that was possible. I wonder if any of them could have been successful like that. I mean, just look at the slop that Reuschel was able to (mostly) get away with his entire career:

Terry Steinbech hits a homer of Reuschel in the 1989 World Series

Here's Seaver in the 1973 World Series

1973 World Series Game 3

And Finally Gaylord Perry in 1974

Gaylord Perry 1974 All Star Game

With the advances that hitters have made, it might just be that pitchers have to throw max effort all the time just to survive out there.
   20. gehrig97 Posted: December 01, 2022 at 04:54 PM (#6107529)
19: Ryan really is an honest-to-goodness anomaly (maybe "singularity" is the better word). He defied basically everything we know about biomechanics and physiology. Pitch counts really didn't matter to him. At all. He never seemed to tire, never seemed to vary his approach from game-to-game, inning-to-inning, hitter-to-hitter. Seaver, as one of many examples, spoke at length about pacing himself; not so for Ryan. And it can't be explained--even with possible PED use. The human arm just shouldn't be able to do what his arm could do.
   21. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 01, 2022 at 06:39 PM (#6107534)
is it fair to ask why its OK for Perry to be in the HoF but not roid users?
   22. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: December 01, 2022 at 07:02 PM (#6107538)
sunday, I was going to ask that as well. Not only that, it was considered lovable by many.
   23. Tony S Posted: December 01, 2022 at 07:29 PM (#6107542)
First 300-game winner in my baseball fandom.

RIP, Gaylord.
   24. Howie Menckel Posted: December 01, 2022 at 07:59 PM (#6107544)
Perry was one of many MLB players who was on Topps cards in the late 1960s who looked like old men to me...

can't believe he was only age 30 here, in 1969 card
   25. sanny manguillen Posted: December 01, 2022 at 08:16 PM (#6107546)
is it fair to ask why its OK for Perry to be in the HoF but not roid users?


It's fair to ask. I think one reason is that the players themselves seem to see his offense as a winkable one.

More specifically to Gaylord, I've been wondering for years when we were going to get the enhanced video of some old game of his, showing him gooing up. Maybe it was a much rarer occurrence than he himself implied?
   26. The Duke Posted: December 01, 2022 at 08:26 PM (#6107547)
20. The ONLY guy who ever is quoted about PEDs in the 60s and 70s and 80s is Tom House. I would suggest that House is likely just a storyteller.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: December 01, 2022 at 10:30 PM (#6107554)
Maybe it was a much rarer occurrence than he himself implied?


It absolutely was a much rarer occurrence than he implied.

He was checked by umpires on a great many occasions. All but once, his 21st season in MLB, they found nothing. Or the same amount of times Sammy Sosa was found to be using a corked bat.

The greatest trick Gaylord Perry ever pulled was making batters believe he was loading up to throw a spitter.
   28. baxter Posted: December 01, 2022 at 11:10 PM (#6107557)
15. They were going to put a man on the moon before Perry hit a HR apocryphally attributable to someone I can't recall.

24. Try looking at Sparky Anderson's 1970 and onward cards (he was only 40)
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: December 02, 2022 at 01:05 AM (#6107561)
yes, I remember the Sparky Anderson MGR cards as well.
but as a manager, I thought he looked fairly young (even though he was younger than all peers).

also enjoyed his MLB career stats.

152 G (145 GS at 2B), 527 PA, 0-34-42 and 6 for 15 on SB
43 OPS+

btw, all of that came in 1 year - 1959, for the hapless Phillies. he never played in a MLB game before of after that season.

they gave up on 35-year-old Solly Hemus (who had not been terrible) and Terrible Ted Kazanski in 1958 and wisely pivoted to Tony Taylor in 1960 (though Taylor never was a star, either. but he lasted forever, including PH for the 1976 Phillies team that won 101 games).

and in Perry-esque context, the later PHI team used a total of 11 pitchers all season - including 1 start from phenom Randy Lerch (who wound up starting 164 MLB G). the other 10 P all hurled at least 50 IP, including HOFers Steve Carlton and Jim Kaat. their 5-man rotation (with Lonborg and youngsters Christensen and Underwood) started 158 games.

   30. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: December 02, 2022 at 01:07 AM (#6107562)
Those Topps cards sure made a lot of guys look really old. Having said that, Perry, Phil Niekro and Harvey Kuenn looked really old whether on a Topps card or otherwise.
   31. Walt Davis Posted: December 02, 2022 at 01:11 AM (#6107563)
RIP Mr Perry.

But are these people arguing that Gaylord Perry (and Blyleven, and Carlton, and Ryan, and Seaver, etc) would have put up even better results, and/or pitched longer and been healthier, if their careers had included more "load management"? That seems ludicrous.

Longer in terms of innings certainly not. Longer in terms of years -- not for Perry, Blyleven, Carlton or Ryan but maybe "Seaver, etc." Better in terms of WAR maybe not; better in terms of rate stats quite possibly so.

Who the heck knows with these things but I think we can all agree that Seaver was one of the greatest pitchers in history. Everybody at the time thought so, the old farts at the time thought so, any whippersnappers who don't think so need to be smacked upside the head. But his career ERA+ is "just" 127; his K/9 "just" 6.8; his K/BB "just" 2.62. The average K/BB last year was 2.75. Seaver's career high ERA+ was 194 at age 26; Verlander just posted a 220 at age 39. In terms of career ERA+, Kershaw is at 157, deGrom at 155, Pedro at 154, Clemens 143 ... and Sale, Scherzer and Verlander all top Seaver's 127. (Some of those more impressive than others.) Oswalt and Schilling matched that 127 ERA+, Smoltz just behind; Cole and Strasburg currently match it but presumably will tail off.

We'll never know the answer but all those CGs -- that was a lot of low-leverage innings where Seaver (and moreso Perry and Jenkins) were wasting their arms. Lost among the freaks is that there were a lot of guys who fell apart. Of course there still are -- is it any better? I have no idea, I don't know that anybody else does either. But I suspect that Sam McDowell today would have a shot at being Kershaw or (more likely) Sale. Gary Nolan, Jim Maloney, Frank Tanana, McLain, Bill Hands, etc. were guys who probably have better, longer careers today.

The value of Perry and the rest of this cohort by being able to provide above-average (and often outstanding) pitching deep into almost every game, 35-40 times a year, has tremendous value to the team. It allowed bullpens to be smaller, which allowed benches to be longer.

No it didn't. Certainly not "tremendous" value.

A lot of the innings eaten were quite low leverage and it didn't really matter who pitched them. That extra bench space was mostly 3rd catchers, pinch-hitting specialists (cool, but only 80-odd PAs a year most of them low leverage), pinch-runners, defensive replacement OFs. In 1974, there were 133 qualified batters so about 5.5 per team. In 2019, there were 135, about 4.5 per team. Benches are used as much or more in the current game than they were then.

Fergie's 30 CGs in 1971 ... 10 were wins of 3 runs or more (including an 11-0) and 6 were losses and we can toss in 3 losses where he went 7-8 innnings while giving up 5+ runs. That was a good use of his arm. That allowed the Cubs to do absolutely nothing worthwhile with their bench (really, look at the 71 Cubs and show me the roster flexibility). Maybe they would have had to do without Jose Ortiz's 96 PA? Was that really worth what might have been 30 completely unnecessary innings from Fergie (and a bunch more from the other starters -- the Cubs had 75 CGs that year).

If you look at the 1974 A's, only one bench player topped 250 PA (Angel Mangual, 86 OPS+; Ted Kubiak 47 OPS+ was #2 in bench PAs). They essentially used only 8 pitchers -- the other THREE that ever got into a game pitched just 63 innings combined. All those starters going deep allowed them to carry Deron Johnson, Pat Bourque and Dal Maxvill for the entire season.

Now the A's were extreme but even the 74 O's didn't have a bench player with over 300 PA. Bumbry 73 OPS+, Jim Fuller 90, Etchebarren 60, Cabell 77, Hendricks 82. They spread out the pitching load a bit more but still just 11 pitchers total and it was only that "bad" because Palmer missed 1/3 of his starts. The 1979 O's were famous for platooning -- but no bench player made it to 250 PA. Lowewnstein and Roenicke would still have jobs today, but sure, no team would carry Crowley for a season. How many unnecessary innings on the arms of Martinez and Flanagan (mostly) are worth Crowley's absolutely awesome (truly) 78 PAs and 0.6 WAR? What about in 1978 when he gave them 105 PAs of below-replacement?

Roster and load management for most of baseball history was absolutely awful.

Mixed in with all of this is expansion and demographics. The players born in the middle of the baby boom didn't even begin to enter their prime until about 1980. The expansion from 16 to 24 then 26 teams diluted the talent level in baseball. I believe this was the only period in ML history when SP usage actually went up. Whitey Ford never threw 300 innings, Bob Lemon did it once, even Spahn only did it a couple of times.

But I'll agree ... there probably are a dozen young pitchers out there right now who could "survive" throwing 250-325 innings a year for several years. But which ones are they and how many pitchers break down identifying the ones that can handle the load? And how many HRs do those 12 give up to 6-3, 220 pound SSs in today's game?
   32. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 02, 2022 at 02:34 AM (#6107567)
The expansion from 16 to 24 then 26 teams diluted the talent level in baseball. I believe this was the only period in ML history when SP usage actually went up.


OK its another wonderful post. I agree with 95% of what you are saying and this is nit picking but Im not sure what the connection you are trying to make between dilution and SP usage. Its not relevant to your overall point, its not needed at all. And Im very skeptical of dilution arguments in general. I mean why doesnt dilution effect both pitching and hitting? But OK tell what the connection is.

ALso didnt starting pitching usage go up in the late 50s? Sort of half remember that.

Isn't a more simple response to No. 14 to say that: If starting pitchers going longer was more effective at roster building, why isnt anyone doing that now? Every team in the league is loading their roster with 13+ pitchers (until limits were imposed) and they're all throwing 95+.

If it was more efficient to keep 3 catchers and a PR/utility guy then teams would be doing that. Out of 30 teams not one team is doing that.

RIght?
   33. gehrig97 Posted: December 02, 2022 at 08:57 AM (#6107574)
26. And Canseco was the only guy quoted about PED prior to 2005. Not sure what it has to do with anything...
   34. Howie Menckel Posted: December 02, 2022 at 09:31 AM (#6107577)
If starting pitchers going longer was more effective at roster building, why isnt anyone doing that now?

it's a long-running conceit of humans that the universal strategy of the day must be the best possible approach.

yet it never has been before - so why believe that now is that time? because we like to think we live in the "perfect time."

I remember being in my 20s when Carl Sagan wrote in one of his books on science an inspiring few paragraphs about hw lucky we were to be alive at that precise time. I hadn't remembered many details, but I remember the 'kicker.'

the details are in the link, but...

"If we do not destroy ourselves, most of us will be around for the answers. Had we been born fifty years earlier, we could have wondered, pondered, speculated about these issues, but we could have done nothing about them. Had we been born fifty years later, the answers would, I think, already have been in. By far the most exciting, satisfying and exhilarating time to be alive is the time in which we pass from ignorance to knowledge on these fundamental issues; the age where we begin in wonder and end in understanding. In all of the four-billion-year history of the human family, there is only one generation privileged to live through that unique transitional moment: that generation is ours.”

point being, again, that we always think that now is the ultimate time.
   35. TomH Posted: December 02, 2022 at 09:42 AM (#6107581)
On May 6th, 1982, Perry won his 300th game. His ERA at that point was 2.997. His career ERA rose after that point and was never under 3 again. He shoulda retired on May 7th!
   36. TomH Posted: December 02, 2022 at 09:43 AM (#6107582)
No pitcher since 1920 has both more INNINGS PITCHED and lower ERA than Perry,
   37. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 02, 2022 at 11:54 AM (#6107591)
My two fondest memories of Perry: the Giants and Cards trading no-hitters on consecutive days; and him hitting a HR on July 20, 1969 perhaps to celebrate Armstrong's walk on the moon later that day.


Supposedly one of his early-career managers was quoted years before saying "they'll put a man on the Moon before Perry hits a home run."
   38. Mr. Hotfoot Jackson (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: December 02, 2022 at 01:28 PM (#6107608)
Bill Hands


Who unfortunately was never relieved by Rollie Fingers. Or caught by Barry Foote.
   39. The Duke Posted: December 02, 2022 at 01:30 PM (#6107609)
34. I completely agree. Everyone always thinks they are living in the most consequential time of human history. Of such conceit is the nonsense about climate change and covid borne. The world's been here for eons and has cycled through all kinds of changes and pandemics and we just keep on chugging.

I took a rafting trip on the Colorado river about 20 years ago (dories actually but no one knows what a dory is) and it was populated with people who were viscerally opposed to the dams on the river. The guide, who was also an environmentalist, said that everyone needs to remain calm. Look at the dams from a satellite photograph and ask yourself how long will they really last. Eventually they will be gone.

As it is, the Post had an article today forecasting the potential end of the dams due to... you guessed it.....Climate change. Climate change is good for something after all. It's killing off the dams on the Colorado river.

   40. Perry Posted: December 02, 2022 at 04:31 PM (#6107632)
is it fair to ask why its OK for Perry to be in the HoF but not roid users?


The way I always looked at it is, if you can load up the ball with the eyes of 30 opposing players/coaches and 4 umpires glued to you and trying to catch you doing it, and they never do, that's a baseball skill. Whereas secretly injecting yourself with PED's in your bathroom is not.
   41. sotapop Posted: December 02, 2022 at 06:23 PM (#6107642)
Supposedly one of his early-career managers was quoted years before saying "they'll put a man on the Moon before Perry hits a home run."


That's one of the quotes that pops up when your computer loads the Out Of The Park Baseball sim:

In 1963, pitcher Gaylord Perry remarked, "They'll put a man on the moon before I hit a home run." On July 20, 1969, just minutes after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Gaylord Perry hit his first home run.
   42. mex4173 Posted: December 02, 2022 at 08:23 PM (#6107661)
34. I completely agree. Everyone always thinks they are living in the most consequential time of human history. Of such conceit is the nonsense about climate change and covid borne. The world's been here for eons and has cycled through all kinds of changes and pandemics and we just keep on chugging.

I took a rafting trip on the Colorado river about 20 years ago (dories actually but no one knows what a dory is) and it was populated with people who were viscerally opposed to the dams on the river. The guide, who was also an environmentalist, said that everyone needs to remain calm. Look at the dams from a satellite photograph and ask yourself how long will they really last. Eventually they will be gone.

As it is, the Post had an article today forecasting the potential end of the dams due to... you guessed it.....Climate change. Climate change is good for something after all. It's killing off the dams on the Colorado river.



I don't really care personally, but I don't know why you think "the planet will still exist but humans won't" is going to reassure many folks.
   43. Sweatpants Posted: December 02, 2022 at 09:18 PM (#6107671)
And Canseco was the only guy quoted about PED prior to 2005. Not sure what it has to do with anything...
Canseco was just jumping on that bandwagon to get attention (which worked perfectly for him). The guy who made steroids into the number-one baseball topic was Ken Caminiti in a 2002 SI story.
   44. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 02, 2022 at 10:28 PM (#6107691)
Canseco was just jumping on that bandwagon to get attention (which worked perfectly for him). The guy who made steroids into the number-one baseball topic was Ken Caminiti in a 2002 SI story.


Well, kind of. The Caminiti story suddenly made it OK for the media to say the S word openly, but Bonds' 2001 season had already set the kettle to boil.
   45. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 02, 2022 at 11:43 PM (#6107711)
But I suspect that Sam McDowell today would have a shot at being Kershaw or (more likely) Sale.

I'm not entirely sure that Sale would be an improvement, which kind of makes the counterargument on its own. McDowell and Sale both had their ups and downs in their 20's but were thoroughly dominant at their best, and then both got hurt around 30 and were never the same again (at least, Sale's outlook isn't great at this point, having thrown less than 50 innings total in the last three years). Both have between 40-50 pitching WAR for their careers, barring a resurgence from Sale. Sale has a higher ERA+, McDowell has nearly 50% more innings. And Sale doesn't exactly make the argument that a lighter workload extends a pitcher's career.

Who the heck knows with these things but I think we can all agree that Seaver was one of the greatest pitchers in history. Everybody at the time thought so, the old farts at the time thought so, any whippersnappers who don't think so need to be smacked upside the head. But his career ERA+ is "just" 127; his K/9 "just" 6.8; his K/BB "just" 2.62. The average K/BB last year was 2.75. Seaver's career high ERA+ was 194 at age 26; Verlander just posted a 220 at age 39. In terms of career ERA+, Kershaw is at 157, deGrom at 155, Pedro at 154, Clemens 143 ... and Sale, Scherzer and Verlander all top Seaver's 127. (Some of those more impressive than others.) Oswalt and Schilling matched that 127 ERA+, Smoltz just behind; Cole and Strasburg currently match it but presumably will tail off.

Raw strikeout rates and K/BB have shot up over the last 40 years as hitters have stopped trying to avoid strikeouts; comparing those raw numbers from 40-50 years ago to today's pitchers isn't any more useful than comparing any other context-free statistics across very different time periods.

Verlander's 220 ERA+ this year came in 175 innings, and resulted in 5.9 bWAR; that would be a down year for peak Seaver (and even post-peak Seaver had seasons of 4.1 and 5.0 at ages 39-40). And since Verlander threw 6 total innings in the two seasons before this one, I don't know that he makes a particularly good argument for long and durable careers among modern pitchers. Nor do Kershaw, deGrom, or even Pedro, who was frequently injured and all but finished at age 34. Yes, it is reasonable to think that increased volume hurts rate stats. It is also reasonable to think that tradeoff is worth it; I would take Seaver's results over anyone listed above apart from Clemens.

Regarding leverage - yes, sometimes pitchers threw complete games in blowouts. But a lot of times they threw complete games that were much closer. Seaver's career high in CG came in 1971, one of his best years. In 21 starts that year, he finished the 9th inning (or lost in a walkoff in the 9th, which happened twice); 13 of those games were within 3 runs when he departed. I would hazard a guess that older starters actually faced more high-leverage situations than modern ones, because modern starters almost never pitch the late innings of a close game.
   46. Moeball Posted: December 03, 2022 at 01:51 PM (#6107765)
#34 for analytically inclined fans, the 1980s was that "I'm glad I'm alive today" period to see what Bill James and Pete Palmer, etc. were coming up with because every year some new data came to light that made us rethink the way the game was played.

#27 I was lucky enough to meet Gaylord a couple of times and he indeed talked about the psychology of the spitter and messing with a batter's head. He said one of his favorite things was the following type of situation: first time he faces a batter he gets 2 strikes, then throws the fastball at the knees - except it's not the fastball at the knees, it was the wet one - the batter swings over it as the pitch dives, and it's a swinging strike three. The batter walks away with suspicions about that pitch.

A few innings later the same batter is up again and the count goes full. Perry again throws the fastball at the knees, the batter thinks the spitter is coming so he lays off of the pitch that he believes will be a sinking ball 4 - except this time it really was the fastball at the knees and he takes a called strike 3. Those were the moments Gaylord said he really relished.

#14 Speaking of Perry and his 40 for 40 in 1972 - 40 starts, 40 decisions (a 24-16 W-L record), he was part of a fascinating study I did on run support for pitchers. In 1972 Perry received 2 runs or less of offensive support in 25 of his 40 starts. His record in those games was 9-16. Getting such poor run support in such a high % of his starts was truly record setting - almost two thirds of his starts - and of all the big name pitchers I studied throughout MLB history, nobody else ever had a season with such poor support that frequently. On the other hand, in the games where Perry received at least 3 runs of support, he was a perfect 15-0! That same year, Steve Carlton had his most remarkable season, going 27-10 for an awful Phillies team. Carlton and Perry each won the CY Award in his respective league that season. Both pitched brilliantly with an ERA under 2. Most analysis has Carlton with the slightly better season in terms of pitching performance. Much was also made of how Steve won almost half of his team's games. In truth, the Phillies didn't play like the Phillies when Carlton pitched and gave him decent run support. So I'm not so sure that Carlton actually had the better season. When I applied Gaylord's run support to Carlton's starts and vice versa, it's possible Perry could have finished with the better record.
   47. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 03, 2022 at 02:56 PM (#6107776)
is it fair to ask why its OK for Perry to be in the HoF but not roid users?


The way I see it, if a minor leaguer feels they need to use a spitball to keep up with you, then so be it, they're not hurting themselves. But if they are shooting themselves up with a cocktail of drugs without medical supervision and whose long-term effects are unknown because they need to compete with you because you are doing so, then your actions are putting their lives and health at risk.

   48. Srul Itza Posted: December 03, 2022 at 04:08 PM (#6107791)
The world's been here for eons and has cycled through all kinds of changes


including five generally recognized extinction level events.

Just sayin'
   49. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 03, 2022 at 08:15 PM (#6107821)
20. The ONLY guy who ever is quoted about PEDs in the 60s and 70s and 80s is Tom House. I would suggest that House is likely just a storyteller.

House's 1989 book, The Jock's itch: The Fast-Track Private World of the Professional Ballplayer, has an entire chapter devoted to drugs, without a single word about steroids. He does mention amphetamines, cocaine, pot, and banana peels.
   50. John Northey Posted: December 04, 2022 at 10:29 AM (#6107864)
At Batter's Box I wrote up a bit about guys going 300 IP and you can see a massive spike in the 60's and 70's, then dropping to 1 in the 80's and none since. In the 70's we had 40 pitcher seasons of 300 IP, the most since the 1920's. I suspect the shreading of arms by some (Billy Martin in Oakland mainly) led to the massive reduction we saw after. But I seriously question the logic of it given the results we've seen lately - tons of guys going under the knife annually, no one getting 200+ IP anymore, the 2010's were the lowest decade ever for it at 271 vs 316 in the 50's (the previous low). A lot of studying needed to see why did it drop so low in the 50's before skyrocketing in the 60's and 70's then dropping again in the 80's and beyond?

IMO for MLB it would be a good thing to push pitchers again - the starting pitcher has always been a gate draw - who didn't want to watch Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, etc. pitch back 20 years ago? Or more recently Roy Halladay in the 00's? But now you know guys like Verlander will only go 6 innings if that most of the time so 1/3rd of the game will be by no names and the opposing pitcher might be pulled after just 1 inning. I suspect working on more pitches, better defense, killing the live ball a bit more would all help. Less fear of the long ball would let pitchers risk putting the ball in play more as would more focus on defense. Find ways to shrink bullpens back to 5 guys max and your starters would need to go 7 or more each time. Push kids harder in the minors - no more sub 100 IP starting pitchers.
   51. Ron J Posted: December 05, 2022 at 10:31 AM (#6107997)
Well steroids aren't magic beans. They really only make sense in terms of serious strength training (well other kinds of enhanced training that's relevant to different sports as well. They're workout enhancers) . And for the longest time baseball had an institutional belief that trained strength was bad (as opposed to "natural" strength). Sparky Anderson spoke for a lot of people in the game when he fought with Lance Parish about weight training. And he basically destroyed Nelson Simmons' career over the issue.

It's not surprising that PEDs came into the game in a big way at roughly the same point that strength training did.

EDIT: I'm certain there were players in the 60s who used steroids. Professional athletes are competitive and not risk adverse as a group. But they probably stopped using them when they couldn't see any results.

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