The Best Players of the Last 50 Years - Part XIII - Starting Pitchers (21- 30)

May 31, 2021
Continuing the countdown with the next 10 in the rankings (21-30)......
 
Up until this point, we've only encountered 2 Hall of Famers - Jack Morris at #48, and Catfish Hunter at #38. In this next group of 10, we'll encounter one more Hall of Famer, although there will probably be one or two more from this group that eventually makes it.
 
#30-Dave Stieb
Best category: All Star Games (14th with 7), WAR7 (21st with 44.5)
Worst category: K/BB ratio (201st with 1.61)
 
I was a little surprised Stieb didn't have a better K/BB ratio. I figured he would at least have a 2:1 K/BB ratio. but he only reached that level in a season twice in his career. I was also surprised that he led the led 5 times in hit batsmen....I don't remember getting a sense of that while he was active, but there it is.
 
In the Orel Hershiser (#37) profile, I mentioned how, if current standards for Cy Young voting were applied (leveraging a Tom Tango formula for Cy Young voting predictions that has been uncannily accurate in recent years), Hershiser might have picked up a couple of extra awards, for a total of 3 in the 1980's. Hershiser's 1980's counterpart in the American League was Stieb, who may very well have taken home as many as 3 awards in a 4-year span (although not necessarily, as we'll dive into). 
 
Below is how the decade might have looked differently in the AL if applying the Tango formula, a formula that takes innings, earned runs allowed, strikeouts, and wins and crunches them into a formula that produces Tango Cy Young Points. Again, this methodology has been quite accurate in predicting Cy Young award winners in recent years, and it's kind of fun to see who might have won if applied retroactively.
 
(Green implies that a different pitcher would have been projected to win the award):
 
Year
Winner
Would Now Finish
Winner by Today's Standards
1980
Steve Stone 
3rd
Mike Norris
1981
Rollie Fingers 
X
Steve McCatty
1982
Pete Vuckovich 
6th
Dave Stieb
1983
La Marr Hoyt 
7th
Jack Morris
1984
Willie Hernandez 
X
Dave Stieb
1985
Bret Saberhagen 
3rd
Dave Stieb
1986
Roger Clemens 
1st
Roger Clemens 
1987
Roger Clemens 
1st
Roger Clemens 
1988
Frank Viola 
1st
Frank Viola 
1989
Bret Saberhagen 
1st
Bret Saberhagen 
 
Stieb actually finished 4th, 7th, and 7th in those votes, respectively. Looking at the field of candidates one year at a time:
 
1982 was not a particularly strong field in the AL. Here are some stats and the voting results for the top finishers in the 1982 Cy Young voting:
 
Finish
Name
Tm
Vote Pts
1st Place
WAR
W
L
ERA
ERA+
SV
IP
SO
1
Pete Vuckovich
MIL
87
14
2.8
18
6
3.34
114
0
223.2
105
2
Jim Palmer
BAL
59
4
4.8
15
5
3.13
129
1
227.0
103
3
Dan Quisenberry
KCR
40
4
3.3
9
7
2.57
159
35
136.2
46
4
Dave Stieb
TOR
36
5
7.6
17
14
3.25
138
0
288.1
141
5
Rick Sutcliffe
CLE
14
1
5.7
14
8
2.96
140
1
216.0
142
6
Geoff Zahn
CAL
7
0
2.8
18
8
3.73
109
0
229.1
81
7
Bill Caudill
SEA
4
0
4.4
12
9
2.35
181
26
95.2
111
7
Bob Stanley
BOS
4
0
4.6
12
7
3.10
140
14
168.1
83
9
Dan Petry
DET
1
0
4.2
15
9
3.22
126
0
246.0
132
 
Stieb finished 4th in the voting behind Pete Vuckovich, Jim Palmer, and Dan Quisenberry. Vuckovich went 18-6 for the pennant-winning Brewers, he really wasn't a great pitcher that year, and he is often cited as one of the least deserving winners in the history of the award. Quisenberry had his usual high quality year, but, as a closer, probably wouldn't have placed as high today. Palmer might have won, but Stieb pitched a lot more innings (288 vs. 227), and that might have helped carry the vote using today's standards. The Tango formula has 1982 as Stieb #1, Rick Sutcliffe #2, and Dan Petry #3. Note that the Tango formula does not incorporate WAR, although it's certainly something that current voters at least look at, and Stieb did have the highest pitcher WAR.
 
The 1984 Cy Young award saw 2 closers finish at the top of the voting - Willie Hernandez of the World Series champion Detroit Tigers, who converted 32 out of 33 save opportunities (and also was named the AL MVP), and, once again, Dan Quisenberry of the Royals, who saved 44 games that season, just one shy of his record-setting performance the year before. 
 
Here are some stats and the voting results for the top 1984 Cy Young finishers:
 
Finish
Name
Tm
Vote Pts
1st Place
WAR
W
L
ERA
ERA+
SV
IP
SO
1
W. Hernandez
DET
88
12
4.8
9
3
1.92
204
32
140.1
112
2
D. Quisenberry
KCR
71
9
3.3
6
3
2.64
152
44
129.1
41
3
Bert Blyleven
CLE
45
4
7.2
19
7
2.87
144
0
245.0
170
4
Mike Boddicker
BAL
41
3
5.2
20
11
2.79
139
0
261.1
128
5
Dan Petry
DET
3
0
3.5
18
8
3.24
121
0
233.1
144
6
Frank Viola
MIN
2
0
4.5
18
12
3.21
131
0
257.2
149
7
Jack Morris
DET
1
0
2.5
19
11
3.60
109
0
240.1
148
7
Dave Stieb
TOR
1
0
7.9
16
8
2.83
146
0
267.0
198
 
Tango Points would have predicted a tight race among Stieb, Boddicker, and Blyleven, with Stieb coming out on top despite not generating as many wins, as his combination of innings pitched and K's might have been enough to tip the scales (Stieb led the league in innings, fewest H/9, and ERA+). Their ERA's (and ERA+'s) are all pretty close. In all likelihood, it would have been a tossup, and if voters were to take WAR into consideration, that might have been enough to throw the result Stieb's way.
 
In general, I think if WAR would have been known and published in the early 1980's, Stieb would certainly have gotten more attention. Below is his strong 5-year run at or near the top of that category in the AL in the early '80's::
 
1981 AL 4.4 (3rd) (Strike Season)
1982 AL 7.6 (1st)
1983 AL 7.0 (1st)
1984 AL 7.9 (1st)
1985 AL 6.8 (2nd)
 
Finally, looking at 1985:
 
Finish
Name
Tm
Vote Pts
1st Place
WAR
W
L
ERA
ERA+
SV
IP
SO
1
Bret Saberhagen
KCR
127
23
7.1
20
6
2.87
143
0
235.1
158
2
Ron Guidry
NYY
88
4
4.5
22
6
3.27
123
0
259.0
143
3
Bert Blyleven
TOT
9
1
6.7
17
16
3.16
134
0
293.2
206
3
Dan Quisenberry
KCR
9
0
4.2
8
9
2.37
174
37
129.0
54
5
Charlie Leibrandt
KCR
7
0
6.6
17
9
2.69
153
0
237.2
108
6
Doyle Alexander
TOR
5
0
4.8
17
10
3.45
123
0
260.2
142
7
Britt Burns
CHW
2
0
4.2
18
11
3.96
109
0
227.0
172
7
Donnie Moore
CAL
2
0
3.6
8
8
1.92
217
31
103.0
72
7
Dave Stieb
TOR
2
0
6.8
14
13
2.48
171
0
265.0
167
10
Mike Moore
SEA
1
0
6.3
17
10
3.46
121
0
247.0
155
 
The Tango formula projects Stieb #1, Blyleven #2, and Saberhagen #3. On this one, I'm not so sure, though. Stieb did lead the league in both ERA and ERA+, and, once again, he did carry a heavy workload. But Saberhagen, even with the fewer innings, had a higher WAR than either Blyleven or Stieb, and he did have that shiny 20-game win total. Something tells me Saberhagen still would have won, but certainly could have been close.
 
So, on closer examination, I think it's fairer to conclude that, while it's possible Stieb could have won multiple Cy Youngs,I think it's more likely that he would have taken home 1 or 2. In any case, I think Stieb comes out as one of the more underrated pitchers of his era.
 
#29-Bret Saberhagen
Best category: Cy Young Points (#16 with 35), WAR/200 Innings Pitched (#18 with 4.6)
Worst category: Games Started (#97 with 371)
 
When I think of Saberhagen, I think of:
 
1) Outstanding control
2) Injuries
 
I think those two factors defined his career. When Saberhagen was healthy, he was elite. His 2 Cy Young awards (plus another 3rd place finish) demonstrate that he was top notch when he was on, but injuries were prevalent throughout his career. Between his multiple injuries and other factors (like strike-affected seasons), I figure he's conservatively missing 15-20% of his career, possibly more. It's not difficult to project him to a career that could have been around 200 wins and around a 70 career rWAR.
 
Most of the lowest Walks/9 Innings Pitched figures in history were generated by pre-1900 pitchers, for a variety of reasons. If we start counting from 1901-present, this would be the leader board (minimum 2,000 innings during the time frame)
 
Player
BB/9
IP
From
To
Cy Young
1.12
3,312.1
1901
1911
Deacon Phillippe
1.15
2,007.0
1901
1911
Babe Adams
1.29
2,995.1
1906
1926
Addie Joss
1.41
2,327.0
1902
1910
Christy Mathewson
1.57
4,755.0
1901
1916
Al Orth
1.60
2,131.2
1901
1909
Red Lucas
1.61
2,542.0
1923
1938
Brad Radke
1.63
2,451.0
1995
2006
Bret Saberhagen
1.65
2,562.2
1984
2001
Pete Alexander
1.65
5,190.0
1911
1930
Jon Lieber
1.73
2,198.0
1994
2008
Fritz Peterson
1.73
2,218.1
1966
1976
Robin Roberts
1.73
4,688.2
1948
1966
Dick Rudolph
1.77
2,049.0
1910
1927
Greg Maddux
1.80
5,008.1
1986
2008
Pete Donohue
1.80
2,112.1
1921
1932
Jesse Barnes
1.80
2,569.2
1915
1927
Juan Marichal
1.82
3,507.0
1960
1975
Carl Hubbell
1.82
3,590.1
1928
1943
Slim Sallee
1.83
2,821.2
1908
1921
 
That leader board is dominated at the top by pitchers from the first decade of the 1900's. If we restrict the scope even further, to, say, post-expansion era (1961-present), this is how it looks (showing every pitcher under 2.0, minimum 2,000 innings during the time frame). Only Brad Radke of the Twins posted a lower figure than Saberhagen:
 
Player
BB/9
IP
Brad Radke
1.63
2,451.0
Bret Saberhagen
1.65
2,562.2
Jon Lieber
1.73
2,198.0
Fritz Peterson
1.73
2,218.1
Juan Marichal
1.79
3,425.2
Greg Maddux
1.80
5,008.1
Dan Haren
1.86
2,419.2
David Wells
1.88
3,439.0
Cliff Lee
1.94
2,156.2
Roy Halladay
1.94
2,749.1
Curt Schilling
1.96
3,261.0
Mike Mussina
1.98
3,562.2
Fergie Jenkins
1.99
4,500.2
 
 
#28-C.C. Sabathia
Best category: Cy Young Points (16th with 35 points), All Star Games (17th with 6), Games Started (17th with 560)
Worst category: WAR/200 Innings Pitched (60th with 3.5)
 
Sabathia rates pretty well across the board, ranking between 16th and 60th in all 10 categories.
 
Back in the Chris Sale profile, I looked at tall/thin pitchers. Sabathia represents another area in the store, in the Big & Tall section. Sabathia is clearly the best "big & tall" pitcher we've seen (Randy Johnson is certainly "tall", but at 225 lbs.,doesn't qualify as "big" by my definition).
 
Here are the top 20 pitchers (by WAR) who were at least 6'4" (76 inches) tall and at least 240 pounds (a couple of relievers make the list):
 
Player
WAR
Ht
Wt
From
To
W
L
ERA
ERA+
CC Sabathia
62.1
78
300
2001
2019
251
161
3.74
116
Jon Lester
45.1
76
249
2006
2021
193
112
3.59
119
Carlos Zambrano
38.3
76
275
2001
2012
132
91
3.66
120
Freddy Garcia
34.4
76
250
1999
2013
156
108
4.15
107
Madison Bumgarner
32.5
76
257
2009
2021
124
98
3.22
118
Stephen Strasburg
31.4
77
240
2010
2021
112
60
3.21
128
Lance Lynn
26.4
77
270
2011
2021
108
72
3.52
118
Josh Johnson
24.4
79
250
2005
2013
58
45
3.40
124
Aaron Harang
23.8
79
260
2002
2015
128
143
4.26
97
Brad Penny
18.8
76
270
2000
2014
121
101
4.29
99
Joaquin Benoit
18.0
76
250
2001
2017
58
49
3.83
116
Chris Young
16.9
82
255
2004
2017
79
67
3.95
103
Kenley Jansen
16.8
77
265
2010
2021
33
23
2.37
163
Carl Pavano
16.6
77
265
1998
2012
108
107
4.39
96
Gavin Floyd
16.4
76
245
2004
2016
74
76
4.37
101
Brett Myers
15.3
76
240
2002
2013
97
96
4.25
99
Noah Syndergaard
14.9
78
242
2015
2019
47
30
3.31
119
Ivan Nova
13.6
77
250
2010
2020
90
77
4.38
96
José Contreras
13.5
76
255
2003
2013
78
67
4.57
100
J.J. Putz
13.1
77
250
2003
2014
37
33
3.08
138
 
As you can see, the "big and tall" leaders are heavily weighted (no pun intended) towards the recent past. All of the pitchers on the list above have been active in the last 10 years. The highest ranking pitcher who was at least 6'4" and 240 pounds and not active in the past 10 years was Carlos Silva (9.0 WAR), who retired after the 2010 season. And you'd have to go all the way down to #48 (Jumbo Brown, 5.1 WAR) to get to a true old-timer (Brown's last season was 1941).
 
Just to illustrate the trend, here is a summary of all pitchers listed as 6'4" or taller and 240 lbs. or heavier, grouped by the decade that represents the midpoint of their careers. Pitchers of this size were extremely rare prior to 20 years ago. 91% of all such pitchers have career midpoints within the last 20 seasons. There's no question about it....we're developing bigger and bigger pitchers these days:
 
Pitchers listed at 6'4" or taller and 240 lbs. or heavier, by career midpont:
Decade
Count
# of Total
Total WAR
Avg WAR
2010s or later
140
64.5%
488.7
3.5
2000s
58
26.7%
308.7
5.3
1990s
13
6.0%
6.6
0.5
1980s
2
0.9%
0.6
0.3
1970s
1
0.5%
-0.5
-0.5
1960s
1
0.5%
-0.3
-0.3
1930s
1
0.5%
5.1
5.1
1900s
1
0.5%
-0.5
-0.5
Grand Total
217
100.0%
808.4
3.7
 
 
#27-Kevin Brown
Best category: ERA+ (17th with 127), All Star Games (17th with 6)
Worst category: Cy Young Points
 
At the moment Brown is the highest ranking pitcher (by pitcher WAR) who is:
a) not in the Hall of Fame
b) not currently on the BBWAA ballot
c) not still active
d) did not pitch pre-1900
 
OK, that's lot of conditions and exceptions, but it's one reason Brown is often considered a dark horse candidate for the Hall of Fame. Here's the current list of pitchers with WARs of 60 or higher who are not in the Hall of Fame (yet), and there's a good number of pitches in each category (note that this is based on pitcher WAR, not total WAR):
 
Currently on ballot
Still active or not yet eligible
Pre 1900
No longer on ballot
 
Player
WAR
From
To
W
L
ERA
ERA+
Roger Clemens
138.7
1984
2007
354
184
3.12
143
Curt Schilling
80.5
1988
2007
216
146
3.46
127
Jim McCormick
76.0
1878
1887
265
214
2.43
118
Justin Verlander
72.3
2005
2020
226
129
3.33
129
Kevin Brown
68.2
1986
2005
211
144
3.28
127
Rick Reuschel
68.1
1972
1991
214
191
3.37
114
Clayton Kershaw
68.0
2008
2021
181
79
2.45
157
Zack Greinke
67.8
2004
2021
212
127
3.38
125
Luis Tiant
65.7
1964
1982
229
172
3.30
114
Bobby Mathews
62.3
1871
1887
297
248
2.86
104
CC Sabathia
62.1
2001
2019
251
161
3.74
116
Tommy John
62.1
1963
1989
288
231
3.34
111
David Cone
61.6
1986
2003
194
126
3.46
121
Max Scherzer
61.5
2008
2021
179
95
3.19
132
Tony Mullane
61.1
1881
1894
284
220
3.05
117
Tommy Bond
61.0
1874
1884
234
163
2.14
115
Andy Pettitte
60.7
1995
2013
256
153
3.85
117
Charlie Buffinton
60.7
1882
1892
233
152
2.96
115
Mark Buehrle
60.0
2000
2015
214
160
3.81
117
 
I would say the 5 in green who are not yet eligible for the ballot (Verlander, Kershaw, Scherzer, Sabathia, and Greinke) are all likely to go in. I think Verlander, Kershaw, and Scherzer are all locks or near-locks, I think Greinke is a really good bet, and Sabathia has probably crossed over into the "likely to go" category, although I think he may take a few years to build enough support.
 
The "blue group" (Brown, Tiant, John, Cone, and Reuschel) all face their share of challenges in getting enough support. Tiant and John have been on veterans committee ballots, but haven't been able to get enough votes, and the other 3 (Brown, Cone, Reuschel) I believe suffer from a lack of "gut feel" from potential voters. That is, I don't think they're perceived as Hall-of-Fame types, at least not by nearly enough potential voters.
 
Brown's best career slice was 1996-2000. That 5-year span was an excellent one for him (82-41, 2.51, 164 ERA+, 4 All-Star games, Cy Young finishes of 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 6th, 2 ERA titles). Here are the 5 pitchers with the highest WARs from 1996-2000. Brown more than held his own with the elite/legendary pitchers of that time frame. 
 
Player
WAR
W
L
W-L%
ERA
ERA+
K/BB
Pedro Martinez
41.8
90
35
.720
2.45
189
5.04
Kevin Brown
36.7
82
41
.667
2.51
164
4.17
Roger Clemens
35.2
78
44
.639
3.23
147
2.69
Randy Johnson
32.1
80
31
.721
2.74
168
4.24
Greg Maddux
31.3
90
42
.682
2.73
160
5.11
 
Now, I'm not implying that Brown at his best was anywhere near as good as the other 4 legends were at their best. That's not the comparison I'm making, not at all, because these were not the best 5-year slices for any of the other pitchers listed. However, these were in fact the top 5 pitchers in WAR over this particular time frame, and Brown was right up there, so he was certainly one of the elite starters during that particular stretch.
 
One thing that I believe works against Brown is that, after his initial stint (8 seasons) with Texas, he bounced around a lot. And, despite having the longest tenure with them, I don't think most people associate him with them, because his bigger moments came elsewhere (even though his lone 20-win season was with the Rangers). That 5 year stretch of 1996-2000 spanned 3 different franchises ('96 & '97 with the Marlins, '98 with the Padres, and '99 & '00 with the Dodgers), and when a player's career gets fragmented, I believe it tends to work against your image when it comes to the Hall of Fame.
 
Although the bouncing around to different teams probably resulted in a net negative image, it actually could have worked to his advantage and Brown could have easily developed a Hall of Fame narrative had it gone a little differently, as he was instrumental in 2 different franchises going to the World Series in 2 consecutive seasons ('97 Marlins, '98 Padres, with the Marlins winning the title). However, although Brown's overall postseason mark isn't that bad (5-5, 4.19), he got hammered in World Series competition (4 starts, 0-3 record, 6.04), which I'm sure worked against his narrative. In addition, he was named on the Mitchell Report, which surely didn't help either.
 
In short, I think Brown will continue to get some attention for his impressive WAR figure, but I do think he'll have trouble getting enough support to make the Hall.
 
#26-Felix Hernandez
Best category: All Star Games (17th with 6)
Worst category: W-L % (94th with .554)
 
I suppose Hernandez is still a free agent as of this writing, but it's been at least 5 years since he has been anything resembling the pitcher he used to be. He's 35 now, and fair to wonder if the end of the road is here.
 
A few years ago, I was optimistic about Hernandez's chances for the Hall of Fame. He got off to a very quick start (pitching effectively in the Majors as early as age 19), and along the way he posted 2 ERA titles, 1 Cy Young award, and 2 runner-up finishes.
 
Speaking of getting off to a good start....here are the pitchers with the highest career WAR figures through their age 29 season:
 
*=Hall of Fame
Rk
Player
WAR
From
To
Age
1
Walter Johnson*                   
99.0
1907
1917
19-29
2
Christy Mathewson*
79.2
1901
1910
20-29
3
Roger Clemens
62.6
1984
1992
21-29
4
Bert Blyleven*
59.3
1970
1980
19-29
5
Clayton Kershaw
58.8
2008
2017
20-29
6
Tom Seaver*
58.0
1967
1974
22-29
7
Pedro Martinez*
57.3
1992
2001
20-29
8
Hal Newhouser*
56.6
1939
1950
18-29
9
Bob Feller*
56.2
1936
1948
17-29
10
Robin Roberts*
55.8
1948
1956
21-29
11
Don Drysdale*
52.6
1956
1966
19-29
12
Pete Alexander*
51.5
1911
1916
24-29
13
Wes Ferrell
50.7
1927
1937
19-29
14
Greg Maddux*
50.4
1986
1995
20-29
15
Felix Hernandez
49.9
2005
2015
19-29
16
Rube Waddell*
46.1
1901
1906
24-29
17
Kevin Appier
45.6
1989
1997
21-29
18
Fergie Jenkins*
45.3
1965
1972
22-29
19
Addie Joss*
45.3
1902
1909
22-29
20
Bret Saberhagen
44.8
1984
1993
20-29
 
It's a pretty strong list, with 14 of the 20 (70%) in the Hall of Fame at this point. Kershaw is not yet eligible, and Clemens is out for other reasons besides quality, so basically it's about an 80% proposition of Hall of Fame quality among this group. Unfortunately, Hernandez essentially stalled at this point, as injuries took control of his fate.
 
#25-Luis Tiant
Best category: WAR (23rd with 66.1), WAR7 (23rd with 44.2), WAA (25th with 34.5)
Worst category: K/BB ratio (116th with 2.19)
 
What a fun career. In fact, let's use an amusement park analogy - Tiant was a roller coaster ride. Or maybe he was like one of those rides that whips you sharply from one side to another. 
 
Tiant had 2 distinct phases - in the 1960's with the Indians, he was a pretty good strikeout pitcher, averaging just under 8 per 9 innings. Here are the top strikeout artists of that decade (minimum 1,000 innings):
 
Player
SO/9
IP
Sandy Koufax
9.51
1,807.2
Sam McDowell
9.41
1,590.0
Bob Veale
7.98
1,611.1
Jim Maloney
7.92
1,802.0
Mickey Lolich
7.87
1,528.1
Luis Tiant
7.81
1,200.0
Bob Gibson
7.62
2,447.0
Fergie Jenkins
7.56
1,105.1
Al Downing
7.49
1,235.1
Sonny Siebert
7.12
1,154.1
 
Tiant had a great year in 1968, even allowing for the fact that it was the "Year of the Pitcher". Denny McLain got the attention with his 31 wins, but Tiant won the ERA title with a microscopic 1.60 mark.
 
From there, you probably are familiar with Tiant's story of the back half of his career. He was traded to the Twins with Stan Williams for 4 players (that included Dean Chance and a young Graig Nettles). He got off to a good start with the Twins, but got injured and struggled after that. In 1971 he was released by the Twins and, later, by the Braves. The Red Sox eventually picked him up, but he posted a 1-7 record for them in '71.
 
1972 was the turning point, however, as the roller coaster began its next ascent. Here's Tiant's performance by month during that season, and note how his usage changed as the season unfolded:
 
Split
G
GS
W
L
ERA
IP
SHO
CG
GF
April/March
2
1
0
0
2.45
7.1
0
0
1
May
7
1
0
1
5.25
12
0
0
3
June
10
1
2
1
1.86
19.1
0
0
4
July
9
3
2
2
3.42
26.1
0
1
3
August
7
5
5
0
0.95
47.1
3
5
1
Sept/Oct
8
8
6
2
1.35
66.2
3
6
0
 
Tiant began the seasons primarily out of the bullpen, making occasional starts. Over the last 2 months of the season, however, Tiant mostly stayed in the rotation, and was simply amazing as he hurled 6 shutouts (including 4 in a row) over those 13 starts, and had a streak of consecutive scoreless innings that reached 40. For the season, Tiant ended up going 15-6, 1.91, taking home his second ERA title (both with figures below 2.00).
 
After that, of course, the rest became the stuff of Red Sox legend. Tiant averaged 20 wins over the next 4 seasons, and got a lot of attention for his outstanding pitching during the 1975 postseason run that ended in that epic World Series encounter with the Reds.
 
Will Tiant ever make the Hall of Fame? I think he has a decent shot. He unfortunately had one of the more precipitous drops I ever recall, though (it might even be the single largest decreases ever, I'm not sure). When Tiant debuted on the ballot in 1988, he got just under 31% of the vote, a solid debut. He never reached that level again, and in fact dropped to 10.5% in 1989. A big part of that, no doubt, was the extremely strong rookie class of that ballot (e). Tiant got lost in the crowd, and dropped from 8th place in 1988 to 16th in 1989, and never really recovered. He never got back in the top 10 in all of his remaining years on the ballot, and never got back to even 20% of the vote.
 
Will he ever find a favorable committee and get in? I hope he does. He's a worthy candidate.
 
#24-David Cone
Best category: Cy Young Points (20th with 30 points), WAA (34th with 34.2)
Worst category: K/BB Ratio (90th with 2.35)
 
Cone scores pretty well across the board.....In 8 of the 10 categories he ranks between 20th and 35th. He doesn't really have an overwhelming strength or an underwhelming weakness.
 
One of the things I like about doing these reviews and profiles is that it forces me to take a closer look at the players' careers. For example, I never noticed previously that David Cone was part of 5 World Series championship teams - Toronto '92, and the Yankees in '96, '98,' 99, and 2000. Did you know that? I have to confess that I didn't. 
 
So, I started to think about why I didn't know that. I suspect part of that is that I tend to think of so many others from those championship teams before I think of Cone. On the '92 Blue Jays, Cone pitched most of the season for the Mets before being traded to Toronto in late August. He pitched well for the Blue Jays down the stretch, but was just so-so (2 good starts, 2 mediocre ones) in the postseason. But, let's face it, when you think of that particular Blue Jays team, you probably think of Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, Jack Morris, Dave Winfield, John Olerud, Devon White, Juan Guzman, Tom Henke, and Duane Ward before you think of Cone. At least I do. He was there, but was more of a hired gun. He was with the team for a couple of months, then left as a free agent after the '92 season.
 
With the Yankees? Well, in '96 he missed most of the season, but did have some good postseason moments. He was a significant part of the '98 and '99 champion teams, but has a horrible year in 2000. So, I have to say he really doesn't come to mind when I think of those Yankees teams, at least not right off the bat. I suspect the first 5 most people tend to think of first would be the home-grown quintet of Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. After them, I suspect many folks thing next of Paul O'Neill, Orlando Hernandez, and Tino Martinez. Hell, you might even think of Scott Brosius before you think of Cone. Or maybe not....but I tend to think of the others first. 
 
So, I think Cone lacks a real strong identity. If you sort his career by seasonal WAR, his top 7 efforts were spread among 4 different teams (Yankees, Mets, Royals, and Blue Jays). His Cy Young season was with the Royals in 1994, which was a strike year, so the impact wasn't as great. He had a terrific year in 1988 with the Mets (20-3, 2.22), but he was aced out of the ERA title by Joe Magrane (2.18) who barely pitched enough innings to qualify for the title, and that was also Orel Hershiser's legendary year, so Cone ended up third (behind Hershiser and Danny Jackson of the Reds) in the Cy Young Voting. He had two separate stints with Royals, two with the Mets, and two with the Blue Jays.   He ended up just shy of 200 wins. His raw ERA (3.46) doesn't really impress, although his ERA+ of 121 and career rWAR of 62.6 are both very good, which of course, no one would have really been aware of at the time.
 
He lacked a defining narrative or quality, and his career was extremely fragmented. When he debuted on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2009, he only received 3.9% of the vote and fell off the ballot. I suspect he'll be hard pressed to get enough support to get inducted via a veterans committee.
 
#23-Don Sutton
Best category: Games Started (2nd with 756)
Worst category: WAR/200 Innings Pitched (145th with 2.53), ERA+ (101st with 108)
 
Out of all of the pitchers in my top 50, Sutton has the widest disparity in where he ranks in career WAR vs. WAR per 200 innings in my 226-pitcher data set. Sutton ranks 22nd in WAR, but only 145th in WAR per 200 innings. 
 
Among non-active pitchers in my data set, here are the 5 with the largest gaps between those 2 rankings:
 
 
 
Name
Rank Career WAR
Rank WAR per 200 Innings
 
 
Difference
Don Sutton
22
145
123
Tommy John
28
139
111
Jack Morris
63
167
104
Catfish Hunter
68
155
87
Vida Blue
58
128
70
 
Sutton's ERA+ of 108 is also one of the lowest among my top 50.   Only Catfish Hunter (104) and Jack Morris (105) were lower (Vida Blue is tied with Sutton)
 
Some other comparisons that come to mind in assessing Sutton's career.....
 
Sutton vs. Whitaker
What? Lou Whitaker? Let me work my way through it.....
 
Sutton is a clear Hall of Famer, but I have to say I don't consider him a great pitcher in the sense of how I think of that term. There is a distinct difference in my mind between being really good for a long time vs. being great but for a more condensed period of time. It's not a bad thing to be good for a very long time. It's the same characterization I think of when assessing Lou Whitaker. In my mind, Sutton is the Lou Whitaker of pitchers. 
 
To my way of looking at things, Sutton had maybe 3 what I would term "excellent" seasons - 1972, 1973, and 1980. In those 3 seasons he posted an ERA+ of 130 or higher as well as generating rWARs greater than 5.0. But he also had a whole bunch of really good ones, and, perhaps more important in something like this, rarely had bad ones.
 
Here's an interesting list - pitchers (since 1901) who had the greatest number of seasons with WAR greater than or equal to 1.0 but less than 5.0. A general way to classify these seasons would be that they represent positive contributions, but they are seasons that typically are less than an All-Star type of level:
 
Name
Number of Seasons Between  1.0 and 5.0 WAR
Don Sutton
19
Tommy John
17
Nolan Ryan
16
Andy Pettitte
15
David Wells
14
Tom Glavine
14
Tim Wakefield
13
Dennis Martinez
13
Frank Tanana
13
Curt Simmons
13
Red Ruffing
13
Tom Zachary
13
Sad Sam Jones
13
Eppa Rixey
13
Red Ames
13
 
As another note, a few of these pitchers accomplished something that Sutton wasn't ever able to achieve. Ryan, Pettitte, Glavine, and Tanana all had at least one season where they eclipsed 7.0. The others never did, including Sutton, although he did eclipse 6.0 three times. 
 
One thing you may notice about that list is that most of the truly elite, legendary pitchers over the history of baseball aren't on the list.   Johnson (Walter and Randy), Mathewson, Maddux, Clemens, Seaver, Pedro, Spahn, Young, Alexander, Gibson......those pitchers tended to have a lot  fewer seasons that fell into this range. Even pitchers like Blyleven, Perry, and Niekro, who all pitched, didn't end up on this list. For the most part, those great pitchers tended to have more seasons above the 5.0 threshold (and sometimes below the 1.0 floor). Sutton virtually lived in that middle lane.
 
Another comparison:
 
Sutton vs. Catfish
To me, Sutton is essentially cut from the same cloth as the #38 pitcher in my rankings, Catfish Hunter. The same basic model, but with 50% more bulk (which is a large part of why Sutton ranks higher).
 
Some bio/team similarities:
·         Sutton was born on April 2, 1945. Hunter was born April 8, 1946.
·         Sutton is listed as 6'1", 185 lbs., while Hunter is listed as 6'0", 190 lbs.
·         Sutton began his MLB career in 1966. Hunter debuted 1 year earlier.
·         Sutton and Hunter both pitched primarily for successful California teams in the 1970's, and both enjoyed benefits of favorable home parks.
 
One difference is that, while both pitched on successful teams, Hunter's teams enjoyed more ultimate success. Sutton's team made it to 5 World Series (4 with the Dodgers, 1 with the Brewers), but Sutton's team lost each time. Hunter made it to 6 World Series (3 A's, 3 Yankees), ending up on the winning side 5 times.
 
Here are some selected stats. The "ratio" row is the ratio of Sutton's figure vs. Hunter's:
 
Name
Yrs
IP
W
L
ERA
ERA+
GS
SO
WAR
WAR7
WAR200
Sutton
23
5,282
324
256
3.26
108
756
3,574
66.7
33.9
2.53
Hunter
15
3,449
224
166
3.26
104
476
2,012
40.9
34.9
2.37
 Ratio
1.53
1.53
1.45
1.54
1.00
1.04
1.59
1.78
1.63
0.97
1.06
 
In the "bulk" or "counting" categories, Sutton's figures are basically 50% to 80% higher than Hunter's. However, the rate categories (ERA, ERA+, WAR per 200 innings) are essentially even, as are their 7-year peak WARs.
 
So, in my view, Sutton and Hunter were similarly effective, but Sutton has another 50-60% bulk tacked on, and he deserves to rate higher on that basis.
 
Sutton and Hunter both had a huge home/road split over their careers. Sutton came in at 2.81 ERA at home (including 2.66 at Dodger Stadium) and 3.77 on the road. Many pitchers have a favorable home record, but Sutton's gap is quite large.
 
I did a data pull of pitchers in my top 50 (spoiler alert - some of the names below have not been revealed prior to this) and compared home & road ERA's. The average home vs. road ERA advantage was about 0.36. The ones below had the largest favorable differences. Again, this does not mean that these men were not excellent hurlers. They were. But their overall career records are at least in part attributable to how much better they did at home.
 
Pitcher
Away
Home
Difference
Catfish Hunter
3.92
2.70
(1.22)
Vida Blue
3.91
2.73
(1.18)
Kevin Brown
3.86
2.74
(1.12)
Chuck Finley
4.37
3.37
(1.00)
Nolan Ryan
3.73
2.77
(0.96)
Don Sutton
3.77
2.81
(0.96)
Ron Guidry
3.72
2.90
(0.82)
Roy Oswalt
3.69
3.04
(0.65)
Orel Hershiser
3.81
3.17
(0.64)
Clayton Kershaw
2.76
2.15
(0.61)
Tim Hudson
3.80
3.22
(0.58)
Dwight Gooden
3.81
3.24
(0.57)
Jim Palmer
3.13
2.59
(0.54)
Zack Greinke
3.63
3.13
(0.50)
 
So, here's basically my opinion of Sutton in a nutshell: He was reliable. He was consistent. He was durable. He generally stayed healthy and avoided injuries virtually his entire career. There's an awful lot to be said for that, and, again, to me he's an easy Hall of Famer. However, I don't think of him as a great pitcher, and I don't feel that's a contradiction. You can be a Hall of Famer without being great. I think of him as being very good for a very long time, and that's a positive thing. But there's a difference in my book.
 
#22-Johan Santana
Best category: WAR/200 Innings Pitched (6th with 5.11), ERA+ (7th with 136)
Worst category: Games Started (173rd with 284)
 
Santana is kind of the anti-Sutton, isn't he? The two are different in almost every conceivable way. 
 
Below are tables that show how the 2 pitchers compare in the categories that I used in developing these rankings. The first table represents the actual data points, while the second one displays how the 2 pitchers rank among the 226 pitchers in the data set in each of those categories.
 
Data:
Name
WAR
WAR / 200 IP
WAR7
CY Young Points
All Star
Games Started
ERA+
W-L%
K/BB
WAA
Sutton
66.7
2.53
33.9
25
4
756
108
.559
2.66
21.4
Santana
51.7
5.11
45.0
45
4
284
136
.641
3.51
33.4
 
Rankings:
Name
Rank WAR
Rank WAR / 200 IP
Rank WAR7
Rank CY Young Points
Rank All Star
Rank Games Started
Rank ERA+
Rank W-L %
Rank K/BB
Rank WAA
Sutton
22
145
65
31
36
2
101
88
60
53
Santana
42
6
20
13
36
173
7
11
26
26
 
As you would expect, Sutton has clear advantages over Santana in things like total career WAR and (especially) games started. Basically, Santana has an advantage in everything else (except All Star Games, where they tied).
 
I'm sure many of you would rank Sutton ahead of Santana in your own personal rankings, and I can understand that. Sutton is one of the most durable and prolific pitchers ever. He had more than 2 and a half times as many starts as Santana did, and more than double the number of pitcher wins. Sutton's in the Hall of Fame, and he belongs. Santana isn't, and suspect he won't ever be, and there are valid reasons for that as well. But according to the way I view things, I think Santana was a better pitcher.
 
I doubt that Santana will ever make the Hall of Fame. His career is too short. Many folks compare his brief career to Koufax's, but I think a little better comp is Dizzy Dean. Their records have a lot of similarity. If Cy Young awards were given in Dean's era, he (like Santana) probably would have won 2 of them - 1934, and 1935 (Hubbell probably would have won in '36).
 
Would Santana be the best pitcher of the first decade of the 2000's (2000-2009)? Probably not quite, but he's among the top contenders. 
 
Here's some data from some top candidates (I restricted it to pitchers with decade WARs of 40 or higher):

 
 
Player
WAR
GS
W
L
W-L%
IP
ERA
ERA+
K/BB
Randy Johnson
51.3
281
143
78
.647
1,885.1
3.34
137
4.5
Johan Santana
46.3
234
122
60
.670
1,709.2
3.12
143
3.7
Curt Schilling
46.2
221
117
63
.650
1,569.1
3.54
132
6.0
Pedro Martinez
45.6
227
112
50
.691
1,468.0
3.01
152
4.6
Roy Halladay
45.4
267
139
69
.668
1,883.1
3.40
134
3.7
Roy Oswalt
43.1
271
137
70
.662
1,803.1
3.23
134
3.6
Javier Vazquez
42.4
327
128
116
.525
2,163.0
3.98
113
3.8
Mark Buehrle
41.3
301
135
97
.582
2,061.0
3.80
122
2.5
Mike Mussina
40.8
282
134
87
.606
1,790.2
3.87
116
4.1
Tim Hudson
40.2
289
137
76
.643
1,923.1
3.50
126
2.2
 
In terms of Cy Young awards, Johnson had 3 in the decade, followed by Santana with 2. Tim Lincecum also had 2, but only had 3 years total in the decade, and Roger Clemens also had 2, but he didn't make the top 10 in WAR. I'd have to go Big Unit #1 for the decade, then Pedro, then probably a toss up among Santana, Halladay, and Schilling for #3, with Oswalt a possibility there as well.
 
As mentioned, Santana won 2 Cy Youngs (2004 and 2006), and he was the clear choice both times, winning both awards unanimously. And, he probably deserved to win in 2005 as well. Let's revisit that one in a little more detail. Here were the top finishers in the 2005 voting:
 
Finish
Name
Tm
Vote Pts
1st Place
WAR
W
L
ERA
IP
SV
SO
ERA+
1
Bartolo Colon
LAA
118
17
4.0
21
8
3.48
222.2
0
157
122
2
Mariano Rivera
NYY
68
8
4.0
7
4
1.38
78.1
43
80
308
3
Johan Santana
MIN
51
3
7.2
16
7
2.87
231.2
0
238
155
4
Cliff Lee
CLE
8
0
2.5
18
5
3.79
202.0
0
143
111
5
Mark Buehrle
CHW
5
0
4.8
16
8
3.12
236.2
0
149
144
6
Jon Garland
CHW
1
0
4.6
18
10
3.50
221.0
0
115
128
6
Kevin Millwood
CLE
1
0
4.0
9
11
2.86
192.0
0
146
147
 
Colon undoubtedly won the award in large part because pitcher wins were still highly valued. Colon won 21 games, while Lee and Garland were the next highest with 18. But if you look across the breadth of several categories, it's clear to me that Santana was the much better pitcher, and he probably should have won the award. Santanta outperformed Colon by a large margin in ERA, ERA+, WAR, innings pitched, and strikeouts. If we used the Tango formula previously cited in the Dave Stieb and Orel Hershiser profiles, Santana would have been a slam dunk winner, with Buehrle second and Colon third.
 
So, what would have happened if Santana were a 3-time Cy Young winner, and, especially 3 in-a-row? Would that have been enough to get him into the Hall? I would have loved to have seen that play out.
 
Personally, I would love to see Santana get in to the Hall, despite the brevity of his career. He's missing the bulk numbers, to be sure, but he's got a lot of the sizzle, and I think he was clearly the best pitcher in the league 3 years running, and one of the best of the decade of the 2000's. I'd vote for him.
 
#21-Zack Greinke
Best category: WAR/200 Innings Pitched (8th with 4.90), WAA (11th with 46.4)
Worst category: Games Started (43rd with 460)
 
Like Cone, one of Greinke's strengths in this methodology is his absence of weaknesses. His lowest rank is 43rd in games started, and he's still moving up in that category. By the end of the year, Greinke will probably be top 30 in my dataset in games started.
 
I was probably a little slow to come around to the concept of Greinke as a Hall of Famer. About 5 years ago (mid-2016), I wrote an article called "Are We Watching any Hall of Fame Hurlers", and gave the opinion that I thought Greinke had a decent case, but that I guessed that he might not appeal to enough voters. Greinke had bounced around a fair amount during his career, and I thought that he lacked that "Hall of Fame feel".
 
A year later, I revisited the topic and opined that Greinke would get in, but that it might take him several tries. Now, I think he's entering more into the "looking really likely" category. Even with the lost season of 2020, Greinke has tacked on over 50 wins since my first article, and his ERA+ over that span has been around 140. He now has 210 wins and counting. His career rWAR at the time of my first article was in the mid-50's. Now he's at 72.5 and counting, and I think that WAR will only continue to become more important to voters over the coming years when it comes to Hall of Fame assessments. He's 37 years old, but still pitching well.
 
I don't know if he's elevated himself to first-ballot status yet, but I think he's looking stronger and stronger as a candidate. I think he'll go in fairly quickly.
 
Next Article
 
I'll post profiles for starting pitchers #11-20 as soon as I complete them, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.
 
Thanks for reading.
 
Dan
 
 

COMMENTS (29 Comments, most recent shown first)

evanecurb
I meant to say this:

Dan,

Oh. I forgot you didn't include seasons prior to 1970. McNally and Cuellar were both active and effective 1966-69. Now I understand why they're not in your top 10 (or your top 100). :)


11:39 AM Jun 10th
 
evanecurb
Dan-

Oh, I forgot about the 1970 cutoff that caused you to not include their 1966-69 seasons. That must be why they didn't make your top ten. (or top 100)
11:37 AM Jun 10th
 
Manushfan
Thing about LaMarr Hoyt in '83--he started something like 1-7(?) and wound up 24-10, the Whitesox were just unbeatable in the second half. Bannister was 3-9 and went 16-10. Richard 'Not Family Feud' Dotson ditto-kinda 22-10. I think that this second half binge just made a big impression on the writers, Hoyt was something like 23-3 to end the season. That's--pretty danged good. It's not Pedro or Rocket or Guidry good(guys who had that basic record for the whole year)--but you can see why they did it. If I remember right he sorta did that in '82 too to a lesser degree. He didn't deserve the Cy Young over Black Jack or Quiz or whomever, no---but-he got it.
10:22 AM Jun 7th
 
howard38
Mel Stottlemyre's career midpoint was 1969, and I used a cutoff of 1970 as a career midpoint since 1970 represents when I started following baseball, so Stottlemyre just missed the cut. However, I did plug him into my dataset, and he came out at #91. Which, considering he only had an 11 year career, ain't bad.

Heh, I even did the math in my head & still somehow figured Stott's career fell within the fifty year range. Thanks for checking into it.
1:58 PM Jun 4th
 
DMBBHF
Garywmaloney,

Yes, I think it's fair to point out that Sutton did have big wins, and you called out some big postseason performances. No argument. However, it should also be noted that he had some on the other side of the ledger as well. In 1978, he had 3 poor starts (1 NLCS, 2 WS) where there were 14 earned runs given up in just under 18 innings pitched, with the Dodgers losing all 3 games.

And in '82, when he was picked up by the Brewers from the Astros to help out in the stretch run, he certainly did pitch well down the stretch for Milwaukee and had a nice game in the ALCS, but he had 1 mediocre and 1 poor start in the World Series against the Cardinals, including getting blown out in game 6, which would have been a closeout win for the Brewers if they had won.

On balance, I would characterize Sutton's postseason log as good, but not great. His first several outings were quite good, but then he turned in some poor ones. His average postseason game score is 54, which is a little above average, and a little below his career regular season (57). It's a good overall postseason record (6-4, 3.68), but not what I would call a great one.

I know that Bill's review of "big games" takes into account more than postseason, so I don't mean to minimize his performance in important outings. But, like his career, I think it has to be taken as a whole, being sure to include the mediocre and bad along with the good.

Howard38,

Mel Stottlemyre's career midpoint was 1969, and I used a cutoff of 1970 as a career midpoint since 1970 represents when I started following baseball, so Stottlemyre just missed the cut. However, I did plug him into my dataset, and he came out at #91. Which, considering he only had an 11 year career, ain't bad.

Thanks,
Dan
1:19 PM Jun 4th
 
garywmaloney
I wish there was some reference in this piece (and others) to Bill's landmark research into Big Game Pitchers.

Sutton does extremely well in Bill's review, as do Oswalt, Pettitte and R Johnson.

I can tell you, growing up in LA and watching the Dodgers throughout the late 60s and all of the 70s -- Sutton was the year-in, year-out rock of that staff. The only game won by the Dodgers in the 1974 Series - was won by Sutton; it followed a shutout in the NLCS. He had one of the two Dodger wins in the 1977 Series, following a 7-1 complete game win in the NLCS.

Sutton's value to those team should not be underestimated, despite his penchant for getting 19 wins instead of 20+.
10:10 PM Jun 3rd
 
howard38
I'm curious where you have Mel Stottlemyre ranked. Thanks.
7:52 PM Jun 3rd
 
DMBBHF
Gibbo,

Thank you for the comments. I definitely appreciate your interest in the series, as that was definitely a big part of revisiting and continuing these reviews.

Chuck,

Looking forward to any post you put together, long-ass or otherwise! Thanks for the comments....one of the fun things about doing these kind of reviews for me is not so much the actual ranking, but more that it gives me a chance to think about these players' careers and dig into what comes to mind when I think of them. On just about every player profile, I take a look at his bb-ref page and just ask myself what interests me about their careers, and what thoughts pop into my head when I think of that player. After that, I generally rely on my memory of what I thought of as I was observing their careers, or I start heading off to Stathead to play around and see what I can come up with.

Bruce & Tigerlilly,

McNally just missed the top 10. I have him at #123. But I can't tell you how thrilled I am that he managed to have his name snuck in here.... :)

And in case you're wondering.....Mike Cuellar is just outside the top 100 at #104.

Thanks,
Dan


11:17 AM Jun 3rd
 
Gibbo1224
Hi Dan,

Really like seeing the differential using Tango formula vs todays, measures, I think you are right on with your formula used to rank SP. I happen to be a 70's guy and the one thing that I notice is that the SP finished what they started and therefore they had more impact on who won the game and did not leave it in the hands of another Pitcher. Comparing Tom Seaver to Jacob DeGrom is interesting to me as Seaver was able to win a lot of games, 5 seasons with 20 or more wins with lousy teams where De Grom does not. Winning is still most important thing so not sure Cy Young Winners should win on 10 and 11 wins per season.

Thanks again, these articles have been one of my favorite reads.
4:04 PM Jun 2nd
 
chuck
("some", not "song" .... wish we could edit here!
12:13 PM Jun 2nd
 
chuck
Thank you for this series of articles, Dan. I will likely put comments on these pitchers into a post soon, rather than song long-ass one here. But it's real interesting to see how your rankings shake out with the system you're using, and all the side things you come up with make for good reading.
12:12 PM Jun 2nd
 
evanecurb
Tiger,

I'm not sure he even ranks in Dave McNally's top ten.
12:04 PM Jun 2nd
 
tigerlily
Don't worry Bruce. I'm pretty sure McNally will be somewhere in Dan's top 10.
12:11 AM Jun 2nd
 
evanecurb
Great series, Dan. Can’t wait to see where Dave McNally ranks.
9:35 PM Jun 1st
 
DaveNJnews
For those who might be interested, David Cone's book Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher taught me a helluva lot of how a pitcher learns to be a pitcher and how he thinks batter-to-batter.
6:31 PM Jun 1st
 
evanecurb
Greinke will make the Hall of Fame, anyway, but his case would have gotten a big boost if the Astros had let him pitch deeper in game seven in 2019. He was tough to hit that night and Houston would have won if they had left him in a little longer.
1:46 PM Jun 1st
 
evanecurb
I love the Sutton/Whitaker analogy. I went to Stathead and ran a list of pitcher/seasons with at least 0.01 Wins Above Average. It's Clemens (24), followed by Walter Johnson, Nolan Ryan, and Cy Young, with 20 each. At 19 such seasons are more Hall of Famers, along with Jack Quinn. Jack Quinn was awesome. We need more Jack Quinn stories.
1:38 PM Jun 1st
 
DMBBHF
Hi guys,

Thanks for all the comments....

Tigerlilly,

Yeah, the Morris/Tango Cy Young points result in 1983 is interesting. His formula does show that Morris would have been projected to win the award that year, but guess who was 2nd? Yep, it was Dave Stieb once again, and it was a really narrow margin between those two. Morris (who was 3rd in the voting) did lead the league in both IP and K's that year. Also, that could have been a year where Quisenberry might have been a good choice. He finished 2nd in the actual voting, and had a WAR over 5.0 (which I believe is pretty rare for a reliever), and he smashed the saves record at the time (with 45, breaking Hiller's 38). So, maybe Quiz would have been the right choice?

MWeddell & LanceRichardson,

Yes, I agree that we should get more than Greinke as Hall of Famers in this group, and that Sabathia is likely to go. Beyond those two, I'm not real confident.

Thanks all!
Dan
8:53 AM Jun 1st
 
nemesis
in the world? you pick Don if you want to win..
6:13 AM Jun 1st
 
nemesis
don sutton and jack morris, as comps? illustrates the point. the 'seems' is the difference. jack, you watch him? that fucker is obvs is hall of famer, it just...it seems like it, when you watch him. don? he' a hell of a thid starter on a real good team's staff...it seems. but in the end? the maths shit gets it right. jack might have looked every damn bit of it...and had easily recalled holy shit moments. but they were just that...moments. don was always, always, always there, doing his Don thing..
6:11 AM Jun 1st
 
nemesis
tigerlilly: if you didn't watch jack enuff...and as a tigers fan, i got to....you just don't get it, and the math seems to hide it. well, the math is pry right, being objective and all. but *watching* him? he seemed like...exactly like...your ace shud seem. weird.

doncoffin: sure, but dewey (lamarr's dad) cud fucking HIT...in the minors. that has to count for something..
6:02 AM Jun 1st
 
nemesis
the way you expressed yourself about Don Sutton...is exactly....why i take you seriously. very sharp, man...
5:57 AM Jun 1st
 
Poincare
Absolutely LOVE the Sutton/Whitaker comparison. I not only think it's appropriate, I think it's darn near perfect.
9:04 PM May 31st
 
LanceRichardson
I believe that Greinke and Sabathia will be elected by the writers within three years of eligibility. Brown, to me, is a Hall of Famer and I hope to see him go in via committee, and Tiant passes the test both in terms of Fame and Quality. I'd love to see him elected via committee.
8:07 PM May 31st
 
Gibbo1224
Great job Dan, looking forward to the Top20!
7:48 PM May 31st
 
bearbyz
It is interesting you talked about Sutton and Whitaker. I have Sutton number 109 and Whitaker 110 in greatest MLB careers. Both easy hall of famers in my opinion.
7:37 PM May 31st
 
MWeddell
I also think we'll have more Hall of Famers from this group eventually, not just the Greinke possibility.​
4:59 PM May 31st
 
tigerlily
Thanks Dan. I am really enjoying reading this series of articles. Oh, and I was surprised that the Tango system (or anybody else's for that matter) sees Jack Morris as winning a Cy Young retroactively as almost everything we read about Morris from the current crowd of sabermetric types is how over-rated Morris was when he was active.
4:43 PM May 31st
 
doncoffin
They might not be the worst Cy Young winners of recent times, but Vukovich and Hoyt are clearly high on the list of implausible winners.
2:50 PM May 31st
 
 
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