Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Top 60 Starters, 51-60

Here is the first group of 10:
60. Dave Stieb (.561 NW%, 120 ARA, +28 WAA, +68 WAR)
59. Jack Quinn (.526, 109, +18, +73)
58. Addie Joss (.616, 133, +33, +65)
57. Sandy Koufax (.633, 130, +33, +65)
56. Tommy Bridges (.570, 122, +29, +68)
55. Urban Shocker (.609, 126, +31, +68)
54. Waite Hoyt (.531, 111, +22, +74)
53. Rick Reuschel (.547, 114, +23, +73)
52. Wilbur Cooper (.551, 115, +25, +73)
51. Babe Adams (.567, 121, +29, +71)

I’m not going to discuss each pitcher, but will comment on some.

STIEB: He’s not a guy that you think of as one of the greats, but he had one of the best peaks of roughly cotemporary pitchers (Gooden, Saberhagen, Cone). Again, in this area of the rankings there is not a lot of distinction between the pitchers, so being #60, there are a lot of others you can make a case for.

QUINN: Jack Quinn might be the least known pitcher with 247 wins. Adjusting to his teams, his neutral record is 244-221. His runs allowed stats look similar, so he’s a guy who doesn’t do that great against average but could be ranked several spots higher if you focus on WAR. He only had one 20 win season, with the Baltimore Feds in 1914, and bounced around, with two main stints with the Yankees and one with the Red Sox and the A’s.

JOSS & KOUFAX: Many people will be stunned to see Koufax so low, but by career value, you have to start raising the baseline from replacement in order to even get him on the list. Koufax and Joss do have the highest WAA for any pitchers in this group, and were certainly brilliant. Koufax had better W-L records, but they are almost dead ringers in the other categories. The reason I’ve put Koufax ahead is that he was pitching fifty years later.

However, Koufax’s peak value is perhaps not as astronomical as some believe it to be, depending on how it is defined. His best five seasons by WAA are 1962-66, by WAR 1961 and 1963-66. Only four of those were truly brilliant, those being 63-66. His WAR over his top five seasons was +50, fifteenth best of the pitchers I’ve looked at, but within two and a half wins are Carlton, Maddux, and Clemens, while Gibson and Seaver both rank slightly higher then him. The difference is that the others did not string their peaks together as Koufax did.

So if your definition of peak is “top 3 or 4 consecutive seasons”, then Koufax is the greatest modern peak pitcher. But if you use other definitions, he’s just one of the best. This is a great example of the issues I have with peak value.

REUSCHEL: Another modern pitcher who nobody expects to see here, but the guy was good. He’s probably underrated by traditionalists because they don’t account for the fact that he pitched in Wrigley Field from 1972-81 when the PF was hovering around 1.08. For his career, he pitched in a 1.05 PF park on average. His peak is nothing to write home about, but that doesn’t count for much here. I believe Bill James had him around eightieth.

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