The 10 Levels Study: Fourth Hit

June 19, 2014

22.  A Hall of Fame Standard

                For several years I have used 100 more Win Shares than Loss Shares as a standard dividing the Hall of Famers from the non-Hall of Famers.    I will note that this standard also works here; 100 more Good Games than Poor Games very nicely divides the Hall of Famers from the pretenders:

 

First

Last

Good Games

Poor Games

Pct.

Margin

Roger

Clemens

480

173

.735

307

Randy

Johnson

414

145

.741

269

Nolan

Ryan

493

232

.680

261

Tom

Seaver

419

171

.710

248

Greg

Maddux

461

222

.675

239

Steve

Carlton

431

218

.664

213

Pedro

Martinez

290

91

.761

199

Gaylord

Perry

416

222

.652

194

Bert

Blyleven

408

215

.655

193

Bob

Gibson

319

131

.709

188

Curt

Schilling

293

110

.727

183

Ferguson

Jenkins

368

189

.661

179

Don

Sutton

432

256

.628

176

John

Smoltz

299

133

.692

166

Phil

Niekro

403

251

.616

152

Mike

Mussina

325

174

.651

151

Jim

Palmer

310

164

.654

146

Kevin

Brown

286

145

.664

141

David

Cone

260

120

.684

140

Roy

Halladay

247

109

.694

138

Tom

Glavine

381

244

.610

137

Juan

Marichal

277

154

.643

123

Jim

Bunning

300

178

.628

122

Don

Drysdale

277

157

.638

120

Sandy

Koufax

205

87

.702

118

Johan

Santana

185

70

.725

115

CC

Sabathia

243

132

.648

111

Tim

Hudson

250

141

.639

109

Andy

Messersmith

188

83

.694

105

Luis

Tiant

275

170

.618

105

Whitey

Ford

250

148

.628

102

Jack

Morris

293

191

.605

102

Jim

Hunter

267

166

.617

101

 

       

 

Orel

Hershiser

262

165

.614

97

Warren

Spahn

247

151

.621

96

Sam

McDowell

210

117

.642

93

Dwight

Gooden

234

141

.624

93

Mickey

Lolich

276

183

.601

93

Jerry

Koosman

286

193

.597

93

Jered

Weaver

153

61

.715

92

Andy

Pettitte

282

190

.597

92

Justin

Verlander

166

75

.689

91

Bret

Saberhagen

211

122

.634

89

Clayton

Kershaw

128

41

.757

87

Felix

Hernandez

168

81

.675

87

Roy

Oswalt

202

116

.635

86

Jake

Peavy

179

95

.653

84

Cole

Hamels

155

73

.680

82

Josh

Beckett

183

101

.644

82

Jimmy

Key

220

138

.615

82

Mark

Langston

234

153

.605

81

Chuck

Finley

249

168

.597

81

John

Candelaria

200

120

.625

80

Robin

Roberts

252

172

.594

80

Carlos

Zambrano

185

106

.636

79

Ron

Guidry

191

112

.630

79

Kevin

Appier

221

142

.609

79

Matt

Cain

158

80

.664

78

Dave

Stieb

231

153

.602

78

Jose

Rijo

155

80

.660

75

Vida

Blue

254

179

.587

75

 

                Everybody above the +100 line is in the Hall of Fame except for Clemens (steroid issue), Schilling (183; just one year on the ballot), Mussina (151; just two years on the ballot), Kevin Brown (141), David Cone (140), Messersmith (105), Tiant (105), Jack Morris (101) and pitchers who are not yet on the ballot.   Below 100, nobody is in the Hall of Fame except two pitchers for whom we don’t have full-career data, but who certainly would be over 100 if we had complete career data.

 

23.  Run Support and the Cy Young Award

                How often does it happen that the pitcher who leads his league in offensive support will win the Cy Young Award?

                It’s happened 7 times in history. . ..well, probably less than that, but let me explain.   For the purposes of this study, I considered a pitcher to be eligible to lead the league in run support if he made 28 starts.    Normally, figuring things like who led the league in offensive support, we use 20 starts to mark eligibility, or even 15, or sometimes 25.

                But a) if you consider pitchers eligible at 20 starts, then someone making 20 to 27 starts will almost always lead the league, since the random effects are much stronger at 20 starts than at 28, and b) pitchers making 20 to 27 starts never win the Cy Young Award.    This, then, would guarantee that the count of pitchers leading the league in offensive support and winning the Cy Young Award would be close to zero, and it would also ensure that the second count which is the punch line of this bit would also be close to zero, so we wouldn’t learn anything from doing that.   By using 28 starts we exclude from the study the 1981 and 1994 strike-shortened seasons, but that’s OK; I don’t care much about them.

                The 7 pitchers who have led their leagues in offensive support and also won the Cy Young Award are:

                1)  Early Wynn, 1959 (5.19 Runs Per Game.)   Early Wynn led the American League in offensive support average, but not the majors; the Cy Young Award in 1959 went to one major league pitcher, not one pitcher in each league.    Wynn was 39 years old and fat, but a really good hitter; he hit .244 that year with two homers, an OPS over .700.

                2)  Vern Law, 1960 (5.18).  Like Wynn, Law led his league in offensive support, but not the majors, and won the Cy Young Award for the majors.   Law, again, was a very good hitter, although he didn’t have a big year with the bat in 1960.   But he hit over .200 every year from 1961 to 1966, and hit .300 twice in that span.  The major league leader in offensive support in 1960 was:  Early Wynn.

                3)  Whitey Ford, 1961 (5.67). Led the majors.

                4)  Don Drysdale, 1962 (5.66).   Led the majors.   Drysdale, of course, was a power hitter, hit 7 homers in a season twice in his career, hit 5 homers in 1961, but didn’t hit any in 1962, when he averaged .198.   But the ’62 Dodgers had a tremendous offense.

                Interrupting the narrative for a moment. . .four straight years (1959-1962), the pitcher who won the Cy Young Award has led his league in offensive support.     It has happened only three times since then.

                Sandy Koufax started winning the award in ’63.   Koufax was the first pitcher of the Cy Young era who was so good that he made offensive support irrelevant.   Koufax led the league in everything. .. .strikeouts, ERA, starts, innings, wins, winning percentage.   He didn’t need the help of a good offense to dominate the Cy Young voting.   His offensive support in his three Cy Young seasons varied from 4.02 runs per start to 4.30.

                5)  Denny McLain, 1968 American League (5.05). 

                6)  Roger Clemens, 1986 American League (6.09).

                7)  Randy Johnson, 2002 National League (5.54).  

                OK, seven pitchers have led their league in Offensive Support and also won the Cy Young Award, but how many pitchers would you guess have led their league in fewest opposition runs per start, and won the award?    More than 7, or fewer?

                Seven pitchers have led the league in offensive support and won the Cy Young Award—but 37 pitchers have led the league in lowest runs per game for the opposition, and won the award.   Of the 7 pitchers who benefitted from the most offensive support and won the Cy Young Award, three also led the league in fewest runs allowed per game:

                In Vern Law’s starts in 1960 the Pirates outscored their opposition 176 to 114, or 5.18 to 3.35, and won 26 of the 34 games, leading the league in both categories.   You may note that this is almost the same ratio that Drysdale had in 1964 (171 to 116), when Drysdale’s teams lost 21 of his 40 starts. 

                In Whitey Ford’s starts in 1961 the Yankees outscored their opponents 221 to 124, or 5.67 runs per game to 3.18, and the Yankees went 34-5 in those games.

                In Randy Johnson’s starts in 2002 the Diamondbacks scored 194 runs and allowed 99, or 5.54 to 2.83.   The Diamondbacks went 29-6 in those games.  

                So only four pitchers in history have won the Cy Young Award while leading the league in offensive support without also leading the league in fewest runs allowed per start.

 

24.   Ferguson Jenkins, 1974

                Ferguson Jenkins of the Texas Rangers in 1974 made 23 starts against teams with .500 or better records, and was 18-3 against them.  I mentioned earlier that Gaylord Perry in ’72 also won 18 games against teams with .500 or better records, but he and Jenkins are the only pitchers who did, and 18-3 is quite a bit better than 18-11   It is easily the best record in my data against opponents with .500 or better records, and it doesn’t get less impressive if you look more carefully at the record against individual opponents.   The Rangers were in a division pennant race with the Oakland A’s, eventual World Champions; Jenkins started 5 times against them and was 5-0 with a 0.60 ERA.  The Rangers were second in the division, the Twins third, and Jenkins was 5-1 against the Twins. . .10-1 against the two key division opponents.

                Ferguson Jenkins and Catfish Hunter in 1974 were both 25-12 with exceptional control and very good ERAs; think what you want to about it, but given the assumptions of that era, it was clear and certain that either Jenkins or Catfish would win the Cy Young Award;  both pitchers 25-12, each pitcher made 41starts.    Jenkins ERA was 2.82, Hunter 2.49; Catfish walked only 46 men in 318 innings, but Jenkins walked only 45 in 328 innings, and whupped Catfish in strikeouts, 225 to 143.  I would guess the three main reasons that Catfish won the award, in order of importance, were:

                1)  Catfish had been a Cy Young contender for several seasons but had not won the Award, and there was a certain built-up sympathy for him, a feeling that it was his turn,

                2)  Catfish’ ERA was a little lower, and

                3)  The A’s won the division.

                Having said that, I suspect that Jenkins would have won the award had the Cy Young voters known that Jenkins was 18-3 against first-division teams; again, just a guess, but it was a very close vote, and I suspect that that piece of information would have been enough to tip the scales, had it been part of the debate. 

                As to who deserved the award. . .Gaylord Perry.  Really interesting five-man contest. Jenkins’ 18-3 won-lost record against first-division teams is tremendously impressive, but

                a)  you have to beat the bad teams, too, which Jenkins failed to do, going 7-9 against them, and

                b)  the nugget has the weakness of won-lost records generally:  that it represents not merely how the pitcher pitched, but how the team played behind him.

                One tends to assume that the park favored Hunter more than Jenkins, thus that the Park Adjustment would favor Jenkins rather than Hunter, but actually it doesn’t; Arlington Stadium in that season had a Park Factor of 91, whereas the Coliseum was at 97.  If you factor in the park, Catfish moves further ahead in the ERA comparison.  

                Back to Gaylord.   The American League that year had about seven pitchers who had what we might consider legitimate Cy Young seasons--five that we’ll compare, but a couple that we won’t even get to.   Ferguson Jenkins was 23 runs better than an average pitcher, park adjusted; Catfish was 39 runs better—and Gaylord was 42 better, with a 2.51 ERA in a park that was tougher than either Jenkins’ or Hunters’.   Gaylord made "only" 37 starts, four fewer than the two top contenders, but whereas Hunter was 27-11 in Good Starts/Bad Starts and Jenkins was 29-11, Gaylord was 29-6.  In margin above .500 (5.00), Jenkins is +67, Hunter +68, and Gaylord is +95.

                In Baseball Reference-WAR Gaylord shows not only as the deserving Cy Young Winner, but actually as the league’s legitimate MVP, just ahead of Luis Tiant.  Tiant received no first-place votes for Cy Young but was 11th in MVP voting.    Nolan Ryan won 22 games and struck out 367 batters.  Gaylord had a 15-game winning streak.  Jenkins, Hunter, Gaylord, El Tiante and Nolan Ryan. . ..the Cy Young Vote has them Hunter-Jenkins-Ryan-Perry-Tiant; the MVP vote has them Jenkins-Hunter-Tiant-Ryan-Perry, Baseball-Reference WAR has them Perry-Tiant-Jenkins-Hunter-Ryan, and my method has them Perry-Ryan-Tiant-Hunter-Jenkins.   

                Should mention. . .Bob Purkey in 1962 (23-5) was 16-2 against .500 or better teams, numerous other pitchers also won 16 games against .500 or better teams, and two other pitchers won 17 against .500 or better teams, both of them in the National League in 1969: Tom Seaver, 17-6, and Phil Niekro, 17-10.

                Two pitchers in my data won 20 games against sub-.500 opponents:  Don Newcombe in 1956, and Bob Welch in 1990.

           

25.  Nolan Ryan and the Big Unit

Nolan Ryan in 1973 struck out 254 batters against .500 or better opposition; Randy Johnson in 1999 struck out 254 against sub-.500 opposition.   Actually. . .and I don’t know what to make of this, except it is interesting. . .the top four strikeout totals ever against .500 or better teams are Nolan Ryan in 1973, Nolan Ryan in 1976, Nolan Ryan in 1974 and Nolan Ryan in 1972, whereas the top four totals against sub-.500 teams are Randy Johnson in 1999, Randy Johnson in 2002, Randy Johnson in 2001, and Randy Johnson in 1997.   The most strikeouts Johnson ever had against winning teams was 174, in 1991, and the most strikeouts Ryan ever had against losing teams was 174, in 1978.

           

26.  Pedro vs. Koufax, or

29 vs. 40

                It is almost impossible for 29 to be better than 40.   Let us suppose we are talking about the impact of 29 home runs, versus the impact of some greater number of home runs.   If the greater number of home runs is 30, then it is not at all unlikely that the 29 home runs had more impact on the games in which they were hit it in than the 30; I might guess that there would be a 45 to 47% chance that the 29 would in fact be more valuable than the 30.    29 against 31, 32. . .sure; it is very possible that the 29 have more impact than the 31 or 32.

                When you get to about 35, 36 home runs in the "greater number" category, this becomes substantially less likely.     If you compared a group of players who hit 29 home runs each in a season and a group of players who hit 36 home runs in a season, and you asked "how many runs did these players drive in with their 29 or 36 home runs?", you WOULD find some cases in which the player who hit 29 home runs drove in more runs (with his homers) than the player who hit 36—some cases.    But you would find a great many more cases in which the player with 36 homers drove in more runs (with the homers) than the player who hit 29.  Probably 85, 90% of the time, the player with 36 homers is going to have more RBI on homers.   If you look at impact on the games played in, same thing; the guy with 36 homers is USUALLY going to have had much more impact on the games than the guy with 29.

                29 against 40. . .well, at this point it’s very hard for the greater number not to win.   It is very hard for 29 to beat 40.   It IS possible; it WOULD sometimes happen, one to three percent of the time, perhaps.    29 would beat 40 sometimes if you took the highest-impact 29 you could find, and compared it to random, undescribed "40s".    One of the guys who hit 40 homers would only have driven in 48 runs with the 40 homers, while one of the guys who hit 29 homers would have driven in 55 runs with the 29 homers. 

                But if you pre-select the 40s, so that you’re only dealing with the high-impact 40s, the BEST of the 40-homer seasons. . .then it just becomes totally impossible for the 29s to beat the 40s.   If you look at twenty guys who hit 40 homers in a season, one of them will have driven in 68, 70 runs with the 40 homers, and there is just no way that the player with 29 homers is going to be able to beat that.   29 can’t beat 40 if it’s a strong 40.   That make sense?

Comparing Sandy Koufax in the mid-1960s to Pedro Martinez in 1999-2000, Pedro was not only more dominant than Sandy was, he was far more dominant than Sandy was, in part because it was the steroid era, and the steroid era magnified the extent to which a good pitcher could dominate.    But Pedro in his best years, 1999 and 2000, made only 29 starts each season.     Koufax made 40 starts in 1963, 41 in 1965, 41 in 1966.   It is very hard for 29 starts to have more impact on a pennant race than 40.    If you compare Pedro to a randomly selected 40-start pitcher—Joe Coleman in 1973, 40 starts with a 3.43 ERA—sure, Pedro had more impact in 29 starts than Coleman did in 40.  

                But Koufax, while he wasn’t dominating at the same level as Pedro or Randy Johnson, was still the best of the 40-start pitchers.  So Koufax almost has to rank ahead of Pedro in terms of his impact on the teams, his impact on the pennant races, I believe, because 29 just can’t beat 40 if it’s a strong 40.   You just can’t have as much impact on the pennant race, making 29 starts a season, as Sandy Koufax did making 40 or 41 starts a season.   It just almost can’t be done. 

                In terms of the quality of his starts, Pedro is off the charts.   Pedro’s starts in 2000 had an average level of 9.07, easily the highest average in the data.    There are 3,344 pitcher/seasons of 20 or more starts in my data.   The highest average game levels are 1. Pedro Martinez, 2000 (9.07), 2. Pedro Martinez, 1999 (8.66), 3. Bob Gibson, 1968 (8.53), and 4. Pedro Martinez, 1997 (8.47).   Koufax’ highest level was 8.05 (1966), which ranks 12th on the list.   

                The average Game Level for all starts is 5.00, but the average game level for pitchers making 20 or more starts is 5.33, with a standard deviation of 0.92.   Koufax, then, is just short of three standard deviations above the norm, while Pedro—and only Pedro—is four standard deviations above the norm.   He is a whole standard deviation ahead of Koufax, and it’s not any kind of fluke, because he is up near that level in several seasons

                But still. . .29 just can’t beat 40, if it’s a strong 40.  It can’t really happen.   So Koufax in his best seasons is still the number one starting pitcher of the expansion era.

 

27.  Park Effects and Cy Young Voting

                Which has a larger "improper influence" on Cy Young voting:   Offensive Support, or the advantage of pitching in a pitcher’s park?

                Being the contrarian that I am. … OK, contrarian is a nice word for it.   Being the troll that I am, I kind of wanted to argue that the park a pitcher pitches in, which lowers his ERA, actually has a larger impact on Cy Young voting than his offensive support.   In the first half of the data—that is, in the data from 1956 to 1982—you actually can make a very good argument that that is true.    From 1956 to 1982, three-fourths of Cy Young Awards (33 out of 44) went to pitchers who worked in parks with Park Factors lower than 100, and many, many of those went to pitchers in extreme pitcher’s parks.   Through 1982, Cy Young Awards going to pitchers in parks with Park Factors of 90 or below outnumbered 20 to 4 those going to pitchers in parks with Park Factors of 110 or above.

                But in 1983, interestingly enough, this suddenly ceased to be true.   At all.   Since 1983 most Cy Young Award winners have actually worked in hitter’s parks, and pitchers winning Cy Young Awards in parks above 110 outnumber those in parks below 90, five to three.

 

28.   Quality of Competition in a Season

                I argued earlier that the quality of competition faced is not a legitimate variable distinguishing one pitcher from another over the course of a career.   But in a season?

                Well, in a season it is closer.   John Buzhardt in 1961 went 6-18 with a 4.50 ERA; he later gave the White Sox three pretty good seasons.  In 1961 he was pitching for a terrible team, but also, the average won-lost record of the teams that he started against was .550.   That’s hard to do; you figure the best team in the league is a .600 team; you’ve got to get halfway there to face .550 opposition.   Buzhardt started 22 times against teams with winning records, 5 times against teams with losing records, started six times against the league champion Cincinnati Reds,  and never started at all against the worst team in the league (his own) or the second-worst team, the Cubs.

                Esmil Rogers of Toronto almost tied him last year (2013); Rogers opposition winning percentage was .547.  On the other end, Brad Radke in 2002 had an opposition winning percentage of .428, and Mike Garcia in 1954 of .438.  Everybody else is .447 or higher.

                The standard deviation of winning percentage in a career, 100 or more starts, is (I reported earlier) .007.   In a season (20 starts) it is .013.  The lowest opposition winning percentage by a Cy Young Winner is .469, by Johan Santana in 2004; the highest is .518, by Pedro Martinez in 2000.

                As to what that means in terms of runs. . . .Santana in 2004 made 34 starts.   If the quality of his opposition was .469, rather than .500, that gives him a "head start" of 1.054 wins, which is essentially equivalent to 11 runs, so Santana started the computations 11 runs ahead in the Cy Young contest.    Pedro, facing .518 competition in 2000, was working with a handicap of 5 runs.

                There is another little bias like that that we don’t look at but should, which is starts at home and on the road.   We tend to assume that evens out, which it does, generally.   But Nolan in 1991 made 20 starts at home, 7 on the road, and in 1978 he made 21 starts at home, 10 on the road.    Those are the two most imbalanced home/road splits in the data, followed by:

 

Year

First

Last

Hm

Rd

1991

Nolan

Ryan

20

7

1978

Nolan

Ryan

21

10

1999

Alex

Fernandez

17

7

1985

Ken

Schrom

18

8

2008

Joe

Blanton

21

12

2000

Kent

Bottenfield

19

10

2013

Ryan

Dempster

19

10

1993

Dwight

Gooden

19

10

1984

Mark

Gubicza

19

10

1962

Bob

Hendley

17

8

1973

Jim

Kaat

22

13

1979

Silvio

Martinez

19

10

1997

Matt

Morris

21

12

1959

Jim

O'Toole

14

5

 

                And on the other end of the list:

 

Year

First

Last

Hm

Rd

1987

Juan

Nieves

11

22

2003

Odalis

Perez

10

20

1977

Dave

Rozema

9

19

1965

Tracy

Stallard

8

18

1997

Matt

Beech

7

16

1983

Bob

Knepper

10

19

1992

Bill

Krueger

10

19

1957

Johnny

Kucks

7

16

1974

Ernie

McAnally

6

15

2008

Joel

Pineiro

8

17

1984

Frank

Viola

13

22

1966

Earl

Wilson

14

23

2010

Travis

Wood

4

13

 

                Nieves in ’87 was 14-8 despite making two-thirds of his starts on the road.    Nieves had a 6.22 ERA at home, 4.23 on the road, so obviously they were avoiding pitching him in Milwaukee, whereas Ryan was no doubt being used to try to bolster attendance.  

                Career difference of home to road starts, highest:

First

Last

Home

Road

Difference

Nolan

Ryan

412

361

51

Whitey

Ford

227

198

29

Roger

Clemens

368

339

29

Mickey

Lolich

262

234

28

Dave

Burba

130

104

26

Rick

Rhoden

203

177

26

Ross

Grimsley

159

134

25

Mark

Gubicza

177

152

25

Randy

Johnson

314

289

25

Jerry

Reuss

286

261

25

 

                Missing 13 career starts for Whitey Ford; Casey liked to use him at Yankee Stadium because it was a left-handers’ park.   Why they were using Dave Burba as an attendance draw, I don’t know.    More career starts at home than on the road:

First

Last

Home

Road

Difference

Pedro

Martinez

193

216

-23

Charlie

Leibrandt

162

184

-22

Dennis

Rasmussen

107

128

-21

Ralph

Terry

116

137

-21

Bob

Tewksbury

128

149

-21

Dennis

Martinez

271

291

-20

Terry

Mulholland

156

176

-20

Joe

Sparma

61

81

-20

Larry

Christenson

100

120

-20

Kevin

Millwood

212

231

-19

Tommy

John

341

359

-18

Dave

Roberts

129

147

-18

Vern

Ruhle

85

103

-18

 

 
 

COMMENTS (27 Comments, most recent shown first)

mjhnyc
Possibly naive question: with all but six major league stadiums new since 1983, and the park effect of even the old-timers possibly having changed over the years, is there a significant difference in the ratio of hitters' parks to pitchers' parks pre-and-post-1983? If so, could that have a bearing on #27?
5:20 PM Jul 19th
 
mbrucker
About Reuschel: I remember him being used as a pinch runner! Wouldn't want to have him bearing down on me!
4:20 PM Jul 1st
 
raincheck
Thanks for this series. Pedro vs Sandy is tough, given how dominant Pedro was. But I agree with you. 40 beats 29. Going out 11 times more a year is more chances for your team to win. Plus all that work took a roll on Sandy's arm and probably affected his performance. And on the other side, Pedro was not exactly thought of as a workhorse. Maybe another dozen starts would have impacted his other 29. I know that is speculative and not what you are measuring, but it supports giving value to a guy who can be great 40 times.
5:26 PM Jun 22nd
 
garywmaloney
Tangotiger is correct about the HOF's "messed-up process," but as Bill pointed out in his 1994 Hall of Fame book, reforming those clowns is in practice MUCH harder than changing MLB rules. Why? Because not only is it is a foundation separate from MLB itself, but also because you're dealing with recalcitrant, calcified BBWAA clowns. Seems to me you would need to convince both outside groups to do the same thing, in order to effect major changes in voting / eligibility rules. GFL to that . . .
10:09 AM Jun 21st
 
tangotiger
The Jack Morris thing: it's about how the current version of the Hall of Fame process has elevated him while at the same time completely dismissed David Cone, Orel Hershiser, Dennis Martinez, Frank Tanana, Rick Reuschel, et al.

I'm not saying one, any, or all deserves it. But they all deserve to be given the same treatment each year. 15 years because Morris got a big jump out of the gate the first year, while Hershiser got a small one (2 and done), and the others got nothing the first year? That's a messed up process.

And look now at Kevin Brown. And Appier and Finley. They all deserve to have their cases looked at more than one year.
9:27 PM Jun 20th
 
jdw
I don't think anyone argues that Morris' candidacy is borderline ridiculous.

Folks tend to argue that his candidacy is borderline, and they wouldn't vote for him or don't think he is at the level that should go in.

Those are two different things.

Setting aside Clemens who would be in "but for...", here are the non-HOFers who are +100:

293-110 Curt Schilling (.727 / 183)
299-133 John Smoltz (.692 / 166)
325-174 Mike Mussina (.651 / +151)
286-145 Kevin Brown (.664 / +141)
260-120 David Cone (.684 / +140)
185-70 Johan Santana (.725 / +115)
188-83 Andy Messersmith (.694 / +105)
275-170 Luis Tiant (.618 / +105)
293-191 Jack Morris (.605 / +102)

Included Santana because who knows if he'll pitch again after missing 3 of the last 4 seasons.
4:11 PM Jun 20th
 
MWeddell
Thanks to Bill for both the articles and responding to so many of the comments.
10:21 AM Jun 20th
 
MarisFan61
...and about Jack Morris, somewhat similarly, I'd say these data take away any room to argue that his case is borderline ridiculous, which some still do.
7:46 AM Jun 20th
 
cderosa
@MWeddell: The reevaluation I think is called for isn't whether Ryan was a deserving Hall of Famer, but whether he's on Tom Seaver's level. Nolan Ryan has fewer career win shares than Maddux, Seaver, Niekro, Carlton, and Blyleven, but he's ahead of those guys on this *marginal* measure. And given his domination of the high-level games in Part III, I'm guessing he doesn't have the Zambrano problem. Could be, when considered with opponents, he's better than I thought.
6:33 AM Jun 20th
 
MarisFan61
Bill: Can you tell us what is Pierce's "+" amount for the 302 games where data are available? And if we do get the figure, I'll wonder if you think it would be reasonably accurate to multiply it by 1.43 (which is the ratio of his 432 starts to the 302 for which you have data) to get an approximate-virtual total? (I guess it would, unless the unavailable games tend to be clustered in outlying seasons of his.) I'm among those who's quite interested in how Pierce would come out and who suspects this would be a further thing that helps elevate his reputation closer to where it deserves to be.​
12:11 AM Jun 20th
 
bjames
With respect to Rick Reuschel, I have him with 529 starts and a Good Game record of 283-215. The five pitchers with the most similar totals are Jerry Koosman (527; 286-193), Andy Pettitte (521; 282-190), Jack Morris (527; 293-191), Dennis Martinez (562; 281-233) and Mickey Lolich (496; 276-183); five point bonus for Lolich for having a similar body. The next five include one Hall of Famer, Jim Bunning; others are Claude Osteen, David Wells, Vida Blue and Milt Pappas. (First person to write and tell me that Rick Reuschel wasn’t really fat. . .I’m planning to mail a small, harmless smoke bomb to your house.)
On Guidry being close to Zambrano. …to a large extent that is a misimpression created by reducing the 11 columns of performance down to two; it’s not really that Zambrano is as good as Guidry, but that Zambrano does deceptively well in the “Good Game” split because he happens to have an unusually large number of games that just slide over the threshold I established for a Good Game—A Level 6 performance. Guidry beat Zambrano 52-44 in terms of Level 10 performances and 43-33 in Level 9 performances, but Zambrano beats Guidry 35-20 in Level 6 performances—the lowest level of “good games”. Zambrano has 46 “Level 5 and 6” performances, but they happen to break 35-11 as Level 6, whereas Guidry breaks 20-20 in those two levels. But on other performance indicators. . . .Guidry is +347 in his career, 40th on my list and comparable to Jerry Koosman, Felix Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, Roy Oswalt and Dave Stieb, whereas Zambrano is at +269 in his career, 61st on the list and comparable to Javier Vazquez, Mel Stottlemyre and A. J. Burnett. And Rick Reuschel.
I DO think that we have to conclude that Zambrano in fact was better than his reputation. If you look it, he pitched most of his career in hitter’s parks for losing teams, which tends to cause a pitcher to be underrated. He was also a negative, not-very-likeable person who was frequently in the news due to conflicts with his catchers, managers, teammates, news media and fans—but he was 41 games over .500 in his career, and made the All-Star team three times.
With respect to Billy Pierce, we have data since 1952, but not COMPLETE data since 1952. Billy Pierce made 432 starts in his career; we have data for 302 of them.
With respect to the suggestion to estimate the missing data for Warren Spahn et al. . .I wouldn’t do that, because the research of Dave Smith and his mighty warriors goes forward, so that within a few years we will have complete or nearly-complete data for Spahn and Feller and others of that generation. It just requires a little patience; also, if you could help them out, that would be great. “Them” being Retrosheet.
Cderosa. .. .appreciate your kind words.

8:50 PM Jun 19th
 
MWeddell
Nolan Ryan had such a terrific decline phase -- slowly losing durability but pretty much retaining his effectiveness -- that any career long assessment should be more favorable to him than looking merely at peak performance. Even he sabermetric skeptics should admit that he is easily a Hall of Famer.​
6:24 PM Jun 19th
 
cderosa
>I wouldn't have thought of Carlos Zambrano as being such a close match in terms of career quality and length to Ron Guidry before I read this article.

Yeah, I have some emotional resistance to this. I'd like to see the list with the "how" good and the "how" poor factored in (like the total levels list or total-levels-over-3 list, from Part III, but for the career) before I concede that one!

Also would be intrigued to see how Nolan Ryan fares that way, vis a vis Seaver and others. Whatever the outcome there, though, so far, these pieces suggesting a Nolan Ryan reevaluation is in order (for the Nolan Ryan sabermetric skeptics, that is).

I'd also like to say that this site has been kicking butt lately. If I were sorting BJOL pieces into categories, this series, the one on Potential and the Big Game Pitchers are Category 10 with a bullet. I'd love to see the site take the next step, and incorporate some of the new information Bill is creating into the Stats section for future reference.
2:59 PM Jun 19th
 
MarisFan61
P.S. re "Park Effects and Cy Young Voting:
TJNawrocki was right: The shift since 1983 has been totally fluke, due to which pitchers happen to have been outstanding and what their home parks were. I did look at the year-by-year, and while some of the winners were clearly enabled by sabermetric-type awareness (Felix being the clearest example), I have to admit that the number of winners that were enabled specifically by better awareness of Park Effects has probably been ZERO. (There's one possible slight example: Halladay in '03 over Loaiza.)
2:21 PM Jun 19th
 
MWeddell
I wouldn't have thought of Carlos Zambrano as being such a close match in terms of career quality and length to Ron Guidry before I read this article.
12:31 PM Jun 19th
 
MWeddell
Bill said his data base of pitching starts covers 1952-2013. That covers most of Billy Pierce's career. From 1952 onward, Pierce had 345 games started, so if this method showed him to be exceptionally good, he would have made the leaderboard.
12:28 PM Jun 19th
 
MarisFan61
(I wonder big-time about Pierce too, and I think it's a good guess that the missing data is the culprit.)​
12:05 PM Jun 19th
 
chuck
It seems like my Reuschel question has been partly answered with this installment. He is conspicuously absent from the Hall of Fame standard based on margin of good minus bad starts.
Also a non-show: John, Kaat, Moyer, D.Martinez, Tanana, Wells, J.Niekro, Reuss, K.Rogers, Hough, Billy Pierce, Jim Perry, and Bob Welch, among pitchers with 210+ wins.

Among pitchers with 50+ wins above replacement (BBR), Reuschel, John, Buehrle, Tanana, Pierce, Larry Jackson, and Moyer are absent from that HOF list.

Bill, is Billy Pierce missing too much data to make some of these lists- like for the Hall of Fame standard- or is his good/bad start record not as good as one might think it was?
11:16 AM Jun 19th
 
MarisFan61
P.S. TJNawrocki beat me to it, and has a totally different take. I was going to say (but forgot) that in order to have a better idea of how true the sabermetric effect is, we'd need to look year-by-year.​
10:35 AM Jun 19th
 
MarisFan61
re #27, "Park Effects and Cy Young Voting," and how since 1983, park effects have been such a non-factor: Seems like it's more than a good guess that this is related to the rise of sabermetrics, and I'd guess that except to whatever extent that random effects are involved, totally due to it. I'll qualify that a little: I think actually 1983 is a little early -- a tiny bit early -- for such an effect to have truly occurred, and so my guess includes those first couple of years (or so) as being just chance. But we know (right??) that at least by 1987, a sabermetric effect in Cy Young voting was in place, because otherwise a pitcher with an 8-16 record (Ryan) wouldn't have appeared in the voting at all. 1981 was the year of Daniel Okrent's article about Bill in Sports Illustrated, I think 1982 was the first year that the Abstracts were widely available, and I think 1983 was when the Abstracts took a huge leap in readership and buzz. (As to how sabermetrics could reduce and even remove park effects from the voting, it's especially about taking the home park into account in looking at E.R.A., as well as just generally looking broadly at indicators of true effectiveness.)
10:33 AM Jun 19th
 
TJNawrocki
But in 1983, interestingly enough, this suddenly ceased to be true. At all. Since 1983 most Cy Young Award winners have actually worked in hitter’s parks, and pitchers winning Cy Young Awards in parks above 110 outnumber those in parks below 90, five to three.

I suspect this is just a fluke of history. The pitchers who tended to win multiple Cy Youngs prior to 1983 - Koufax, Seaver, Palmer - happened to pitch in pitchers' parks. Pitchers who tended to win multiple Cy Youngs after 1983 - Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, Pedro - happened to pitch in hitters' parks.
10:26 AM Jun 19th
 
337
How accurately do you think you could estimate the missing years for Spahn, Roberts, et al.? Would extrapolating the numbers from their known years and assuming the same proportions for the missing years be better than an eyeball estimate?
9:13 AM Jun 19th
 
cderosa
@r44fletch:

Incomplete career data. I did a double-take too.
9:12 AM Jun 19th
 
matt_okeefe
Probably only data for part of his career, no?
9:12 AM Jun 19th
 
r44fletch
Spahn?
8:55 AM Jun 19th
 
MWeddell
This is the wrong website for that rant by an aggrieved Tiger fan. In 2009, this website's readers gave Alan Trammell the 75% vote needed for the Bill James Hall of Fame. In 2013, we changed the rules to make Lou Whitaker eligible and in 2014, he received the 75% vote needed for the Bill James Hall of Fame. Link is www.billjamesonline.com/2014_bjol_hof_results/?AuthorId=5

If you think that others are biased against Tigers (a questionable assertion even in general), then it hasn't been true on this website.
8:50 AM Jun 19th
 
waisanhart
A study that (barely) puts Jack Morris over the HOF line? Could we please have 10 people explain why Morris shouldn't be in the HOF in response? And when we're finished with that, I'd like to see some comments as to why Trammell and Whitaker are not HOF worthy, either. Then an anti-Darrell Evans rant would be helpful. After that, someone could thoroughly explain why Willie Hernandez shouldn't have won the MVP or Cy Young Awards in 1984...maybe someone could take some shots at Sparky Anderson, Lance Parrish, and Kirk Gibson while we're at it. I realize how the tone of this comment will come across, but I'm a *little* tired of all the Morris/1984 Tiger bashing I read. That team won 104 games, went 7-1 in the post season, and won Detroit's last WS title. SOMEBODY on that team could play some ball. OK, I'm done.
8:21 AM Jun 19th
 
 
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