Posts Tagged ‘Ferguson Jenkins’

Hope for Hall of Fame Pitchers

December 14, 2017

Ferguson Jenkins

There are two relatively new trends occurring in Hall of Fame voting (both BBWAA and the various Veteran’s Committees) that bear watching closely. Both may, and I stress “may,” lead to new candidates getting a better shot at election, and “Old Timers” getting a better second look. To me, they are hopeful signs.

In 1991 Ferguson Jenkins made the Hall of Fame. In 1992 the Veteran’s Committee of the day elected Hal Newhouser. In 1996 the Vets again elected a pitcher, Jim Bunning. Then it took all the way to 2011 to elect Bert Blyleven. Other than those four (and a number of relievers and Negro League pitchers, both of which are different from starters) the Hall elected only 300 game winners. It seemed that the key to getting your ticket stamped for Cooperstown as a starter was to win 300 games. Then came 2015 and John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, and now Jack Morris. None won 300 games (none got overly close–Morris had 254). I think that’s a hopeful sign that the reliance on 300 wins as the metric for election is going away. I suppose there are a number of reasons why (like all the 300 winners are already in and you still want to put in a starter or two now and then just because you can) but to me it’s most important not for the reasons why but because it opens up the possibility of other non-300 game winners reaching Cooperstown. I’m one of those that believes Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina ought to be enshrined and neither got near 300 wins. So the new willingness to add in pitchers with lower win totals makes that much more possible.

Whatever you think of Morris making the Hall of Fame, he has one positive for pitchers still waiting, an enormous ERA. His 3.90 ERA is well above what you normally see in a Hall of Fame pitcher. There are a lot of Deadball guys with ERAs under three and several later starters with ERA’s in the mid-threes, but Morris is an outlier and that to me is a hopeful sign also. Because now it becomes more difficult to dismiss a pitcher simply because he has a high ERA. Andy Pettitte with his high ERA is on the horizon (and I mention him here without reference to steroid issues). Wes Ferrell, an excellent pitcher from the 1930s with an ERA over four suddenly has a better chance for Cooperstown (without reference to his bat, which I believe few voters will consider). There is also Mel Harder and George Earnshaw (neither of which I’m convinced are Hall of Fame quality, but ought to get another look) and a number of others like Eddie Rommel (whose ERA is near Mussina’s) and Bill Sherdel deserve another look (and again I’m not convinced either is up to Hall standards).

It is sometimes very difficult to be hopeful when discussing the Hall of Fame voting. But these are good signs moving forward. It will be interesting to see if either is maintained.

 

 

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Picking a Winner

November 22, 2010

Juan Marichal

I’m frankly stunned that Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young Award. I guess I’ll have to chalk it up to not believing that the Baseball Writer’s Association had embraced the new statistics. It seems that the last couple of Cy Young votes in both leagues (Roy Halladay excluded) are evidence that the sabrmetric stats are beginning to overtake the more traditional stats.That’s neither a totally good thing nor a totally bad thing. Just because the stats are new (or old) doesn’t make them better. It also doesn’t mean that previous results were wrong. Take Juan Marichal as an example.

I’ve heard people say that Marichal is the best pitcher to never win a Cy Young Award. Actually Walter Johnson (or Cy Young) is. What they mean is that since the award was established, Marichal is the most overlooked. Well, maybe. There have been a number of truly fine pitchers that haven’t won the award, but I won’t argue against Marichal. But by using the traditional stats, is he really particularly overlooked? The heart of Marichal’s career is 1963-1969 with a nod toward 1971. I’ve heard it said that for the entire period Marichal had better numbers than any of the pitchers who won. So what? The Cy Young Award is for yearly, not career, excellence. You want career excellence? Look to the Hall of Fame. If you look at his yearly stats compared to the Cy Young Award winners the conclusion is at best mixed, and at worst you have to conclude Marichal wasn’t rooked. Here’s the stats for the Cy Young Award winners in 1963 through 1971 (with 1967 and 1970 left off because Marichal had down years those two seasons). The stats used are wins/winning percentage/ ERA/ strikeouts/shutouts. Remember from 1963 through 1966 there is only one award, so for Marichal to win he must be the consensus best pitcher in all of Major League Baseball to win. From 1967 through 1971 there are two awards, one for each league, so Marichal has to be only the consensus National League pitcher. Also remember that in 1964 the AL pitcher won, so the numbers don’t exactly compare. All other years the winner involved is an NL pitcher. Marichal’s corresponding stats follow each year’s winner.

1963: 25/833/188/306/11 (Koufax), Marichal: 25/758/241/248/5

1964: 20/690/165/207/11 (Chance), Marichal: 21/724/248/206/4

1965: 26/765/204/382/8 (Koufax), Marichal: 22/629/213/240/10

1966: 27/750/173/317/5 (Koufax), Marichal: 25/806/223/222/4

1968: 22/710/112/268/13 (Gibson), Marichal: 26/743/243/218/5

1969: 25/781/22/208/5 (Seaver), Marichal: 21/656/210/205/8

1971: 24/649/277/253/5 (Jenkins), Marichal: 18/621/294/159/4

So Marichal doesn’t win any of those. Who do you like? Maybe Marichal, maybe the other guy, but in each case you can argue that Marichal did or didn’t get jobbed. The closest, to me, is 1964.

Now remember that between 1963 and 1971 the statistics revolution hadn’t occurred. We didn’t have Whip or ERA+ or War or most of the other stats (even Saves was just being floated) so you cannot use those to argue the voters got it wrong, because those stats didn’t exist. Now that they do, we can see a drift away from the traditional stats that is probably good for the game,  but let’s not retroactively push them back into other eras and argue that they should have been used to come up with different results.

For those interested, I ran the Whip and ERA+ stats for Marichal and the Cy Young Award winner for the years above and list them below Whip/ERA+ with the winner first.

1963: 0.875/159 (Koufax), Marichal: 0.996/133

1964: 1.006/198 (Chance), Marichal: 1.089/144

1965: 0.855/160 (Koufax), Marichal: 0.914/169

1966: 0.985/190 (Koufax), Marichal: 0.859/167

1968: 0.853/258 (Gibson), Marichal: 1.047/123

1969: 1.039/165 (Seaver), Marichal: 0.994/168

1971: 1.049/142 (Jenkins), Marichal: 1.075, 117 

Do those numbers make you think the award went the wrong place? If they do, remember they weren’t around in Juan Marichal’s great years.

A Brand New Record

June 23, 2010

I can’t believe I’m doing two posts in a month that involve Jamie Moyer, but I am. Last night he set one of those records that you look at and try to figure is this good or bad. In case you don’t know, he’s now given up more home runs than any other big league pitcher. That sounds bad, but think about how good you have to be to stay around long enough to give up a record number of home runs. It’s the kind of record that sums up the  contradictions of Moyer’s career.

He has 266 wins (a .570 winning percentage). That’s tied for 34th ever. Let me try that again, 34th ever. I didn’t realize that until I looked it up. Bet you didn’t either. Of the several gazillion men who have pitched in the Major Leagues, only 33 have more wins than him. He has eight wins in half a season. Double it and he’s 31st ever, and 10 from the top 30. I know a lot of stat geeks say wins are overrated, but you know what, that’s not absolutely true. You know who doesn’t consider them overrated? The Hall of Fame voters. The last starting pitcher elected by the writers to the Hall without 300 wins was Ferguson Jenkins. That was in 1991, twenty years ago. Since then there have been five starting pitchers elected (and one other in 1991 itself) to the HoF. All have 300 wins. So someone still thinks wins matter. Now that doesn’t mean I believe Moyer’s a Hall of Famer. I merely point out that wins still matter to some people who have a great deal of influence.

So let us celebrate Moyer’s record. It’s kind of dubious, but heck, I don’t hold any records. Now if we can just get Tim Wakefield to pitch until he’s 65.