The Toughest and Easiest Competition

August 6, 2021
  

The Toughest and Easiest Competition

 

These ten pitchers had the largest numbers of matchups against a #1 Starter:

 

First

Last

GS

Phil

Niekro

175

Tom

Seaver

165

Roger

Clemens

158

Bert

Blyleven

156

Greg

Maddux

156

Steve

Carlton

151

Gaylord

Perry

149

Fergie

Jenkins

147

Don

Sutton

147

Nolan

Ryan

143

 

 

Of course, those guys all had long careers, so that doesn’t tell you that much without the percentages.  Tom Zachary is the percentage leader:

 

First

Last

GS

GST

Pct

Tom

Zachary

70

251

27.9%

Murry

Dickson

78

297

26.3%

Earl

Whitehill

79

301

26.2%

Burleigh

Grimes

95

362

26.2%

Gary

Peters

75

286

26.2%

Dock

Ellis

82

316

25.9%

Carl

Hubbell

97

377

25.7%

Dave

Roberts

71

276

25.7%

Jack

Fisher

68

265

25.7%

Jesse

Haines

75

294

25.5%

 

         I remember when one of the Babe Ruth movies came out, my friend Jim Payne said "Did you notice that every time they showed the pitcher, it seemed like it was always Tom Zachary?"  Jim was a Ballpark manager, so he would know who Tom Zachary was.  This sort of goes along with that. 

         But really, these numbers don’t mean that much, either. We’re missing a lot of data for Zachary, but also, when you establish 250 starts as the qualifying standard, you tend to get a list of pitchers who have just over 250 starts.  If you make the standard 332, you would get a bunch of "leaders’’ who were between 332 and 360.  It doesn’t mean that much. The list below, which means a little bit more, is the pitchers who faced the toughest opposition starting pitchers, on average:

 

 

First

Last

QOOS

Tom

Zachary

2.75

Don

Cardwell

2.83

Mickey

Lolich

2.83

Ken

Holtzman

2.84

Larry

Jackson

2.84

Woodie

Fryman

2.84

Murry

Dickson

2.85

Mike

Cuellar

2.87

Buddy

Black

2.87

Jim

Barr

2.87

Chris

Short

2.87

Tom

Seaver

2.87

Burleigh

Grimes

2.88

Carl

Hubbell

2.88

 

 

You can generalize that most of those guys probably lost about 7 wins over their careers by facing tougher-than-average competition.  Take the 20-game estimate for Gibson vs. Randy Johnson, and divide it by two, assuming that Gibson was ten games on one side of the "average" line and Johnson was ten games on the other side.  Then reduce the 10 to 7 because most of these pitchers didn’t make as many starts as Johnson or Gibson, and you’re at about 7 wins that they lost by facing tougher starters.

"QOOS" is "Quality of Opposition Starters", and the easiest opposition pitchers, on average:

 

First

Last

QOOS

Charles

Nagy

3.65

Alex

Fernandez

3.63

Ian

Kennedy

3.61

Max

Scherzer

3.61

Randy

Johnson

3.59

Pat

Hentgen

3.58

J.A.

Happ

3.56

Freddy

Garcia

3.54

Shane

Reynolds

3.52

Esteban

Loaiza

3.51

 

 
 
 
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