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Justin Verlander: Best Tigers pitcher since … ?

Posted by John Autin on June 26, 2011

After many hours hunched over my trusty slide rule, I've reached a tentative conclusion: this Verlander chappy just might have the right stuff in the ol' soupbone.

Check out the MLB top-10 lists for 2009-11 combined that appear at the bottom of this post (stats through June 24 -- not including Verlander's 14-K gem on 6/25). Verlander ranks 3rd in IP, 6th in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), 2nd in strikeouts (actually 1st now), and 2nd in WHIP (min. 300 IP).

The list of Tigers pitchers who had multiple years at Verlander's level isn't very long. At age 28, in just his 6th full season, Verlander already has 5 seasons of at least 3.5 WAR. Only 3 pitchers ever had more such years as Tigers: Mickey Lolich and Hal Newhouser had 6 each, and the steady, unheralded Tommy Bridges had 8. Jim Bunning and Frank Lary (who were teammates) had 5 each; Jack Morris only had 4.

Verlander is well on his way to his 2nd season over 5 WAR. Only Newhouser (6) and Lolich (3) had more 5-WAR seasons.

And he's more than halfway to 7 WAR this year. In their 110-year history, there have been just 11 seasons at 7+ WAR by a Tigers pitcher: 3 by Newhouser, 2 by Dizzy Trout, 1 each by 6 other pitchers, including Denny McLain, in 1969 (yes, '69). The last 7-WAR season by a Tiger was by (prepare for a shock) Justin Thompson in 1997.

And not to gloss over the oldest pitching stat, Wins: If Verlander gets to 18 wins this year (he has 10 now), it would be his 4th such year, tying him with Lolich and Morris. Only George Mullin (7, with Ty Cobb's gang), Hooks Dauss (5, ditto) and Newhouser (5) have more 18-win seasons as Tigers.

 

MLB Top 10 for 2009-11 (through June 24)

Innings Pitched, 2009-11:

Rk Player IP Age G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV H R ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF IBB HBP BK WP Tm BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ SH SF 2B 3B GDP SB CS PO
1 Felix Hernandez 609.2 23-25 85 85 10 2 0 40 23 .635 0 496 210 172 180 567 2.54 159 39 2477 1 21 2 39 SEA .221 .283 .319 .602 760 13 19 84 9 56 48 17 3
2 Roy Halladay 608.0 32-34 81 81 22 8 0 47 23 .671 0 572 190 175 81 546 2.59 160 53 2428 2 13 1 8 TOR-PHI .249 .276 .366 .642 829 16 17 100 6 51 37 15 0
3 Justin Verlander 585.0 26-28 84 84 11 3 0 46 21 .687 0 486 224 210 160 598 3.23 132 45 2366 5 15 8 22 DET .225 .281 .343 .625 802 14 15 101 10 24 40 24 7
4 CC Sabathia 581.2 28-30 84 84 5 1 0 49 19 .721 0 518 238 213 170 478 3.30 132 43 2391 15 21 2 14 NYY .239 .298 .353 .651 771 13 22 97 10 62 36 11 5
5 Dan Haren 573.2 28-30 85 84 6 2 1 33 27 .550 0 536 234 219 109 531 3.44 122 66 2346 9 11 2 29 ARI-TOT-LAA .245 .282 .397 .679 915 22 16 112 11 28 52 17 2
6 Cliff Lee 557.0 30-32 78 78 16 6 0 34 27 .557 0 541 209 194 86 480 3.13 131 41 2267 3 8 1 10 TOT-PHI .253 .283 .370 .653 818 18 17 113 7 32 15 9 3
7 Jered Weaver 551.2 26-28 83 83 7 4 0 38 24 .613 0 463 201 189 147 509 3.08 133 54 2234 3 5 1 14 LAA .225 .276 .365 .641 806 9 16 112 7 16 52 13 10
8 James Shields 544.2 27-29 83 82 6 3 0 32 31 .508 0 574 275 249 131 471 4.11 98 75 2298 4 10 3 17 TBR .269 .313 .444 .758 964 14 8 124 13 43 15 7 10
9 Tim Lincecum 543.0 25-27 81 81 6 4 0 37 23 .617 0 449 196 180 182 605 2.98 137 35 2235 11 14 0 25 SFG .225 .292 .329 .621 826 29 10 79 12 26 57 17 1
10 Matt Cain 540.1 24-26 81 81 9 2 0 33 23 .589 0 451 196 186 161 431 3.10 132 51 2194 12 11 0 20 SFG .227 .287 .367 .654 898 22 15 97 13 27 41 19 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/25/2011.

 

Wins Above Replacement (pitchers), 2009-11:

Rk Player WAR Age G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF IBB HBP BK WP Tm BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ SH SF 2B 3B GDP SB CS PO
1 Roy Halladay 18.0 32-34 81 81 22 8 0 47 23 .671 0 608.0 572 190 175 81 546 2.59 160 53 2428 2 13 1 8 TOR-PHI .249 .276 .366 .642 829 16 17 100 6 51 37 15 0
2 Felix Hernandez 14.7 23-25 85 85 10 2 0 40 23 .635 0 609.2 496 210 172 180 567 2.54 159 39 2477 1 21 2 39 SEA .221 .283 .319 .602 760 13 19 84 9 56 48 17 3
3 Jered Weaver 14.2 26-28 83 83 7 4 0 38 24 .613 0 551.2 463 201 189 147 509 3.08 133 54 2234 3 5 1 14 LAA .225 .276 .365 .641 806 9 16 112 7 16 52 13 10
4 Josh Johnson 14.1 25-27 70 70 3 0 0 29 12 .707 0 453.0 378 141 133 126 433 2.64 159 23 1833 10 12 1 16 FLA .227 .284 .320 .605 1240 17 13 62 12 29 38 19 0
5 Ubaldo Jimenez 13.3 25-27 80 80 7 3 0 37 27 .578 0 523.2 427 209 197 214 486 3.39 137 30 2174 17 23 4 30 COL .224 .309 .332 .641 910 23 9 90 13 44 38 21 5
6 Justin Verlander 13.3 26-28 84 84 11 3 0 46 21 .687 0 585.0 486 224 210 160 598 3.23 132 45 2366 5 15 8 22 DET .225 .281 .343 .625 802 14 15 101 10 24 40 24 7
7 Jon Lester 12.7 25-27 80 80 4 0 0 43 21 .672 0 514.2 449 205 194 184 550 3.39 130 48 2140 0 23 0 13 BOS .234 .307 .358 .665 795 6 12 78 7 47 47 20 13
8 Cliff Lee 12.6 30-32 78 78 16 6 0 34 27 .557 0 557.0 541 209 194 86 480 3.13 131 41 2267 3 8 1 10 TOT-PHI .253 .283 .370 .653 818 18 17 113 7 32 15 9 3
9 Adam Wainwright 11.9 27-28 67 67 6 2 0 39 19 .672 0 463.1 402 143 130 122 425 2.53 158 32 1880 3 7 0 9 STL .234 .286 .340 .625 23 11 71 7 43 20 10 2
10 Clayton Kershaw 11.9 21-23 79 78 3 3 1 28 21 .571 0 483.0 361 164 155 204 514 2.89 133 27 1976 15 8 4 16 LAD .208 .294 .302 .596 694 24 8 73 4 27 16 16 17
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/25/2011.

 

Strikeouts, 2009-11:

Rk Player SO Age G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV IP H R ER BB ERA ERA+ HR BF IBB HBP BK WP Tm BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ SH SF 2B 3B GDP SB CS PO
1 Tim Lincecum 605 25-27 81 81 6 4 0 37 23 .617 0 543.0 449 196 180 182 2.98 137 35 2235 11 14 0 25 SFG .225 .292 .329 .621 826 29 10 79 12 26 57 17 1
2 Justin Verlander 598 26-28 84 84 11 3 0 46 21 .687 0 585.0 486 224 210 160 3.23 132 45 2366 5 15 8 22 DET .225 .281 .343 .625 802 14 15 101 10 24 40 24 7
3 Felix Hernandez 567 23-25 85 85 10 2 0 40 23 .635 0 609.2 496 210 172 180 2.54 159 39 2477 1 21 2 39 SEA .221 .283 .319 .602 760 13 19 84 9 56 48 17 3
4 Jon Lester 550 25-27 80 80 4 0 0 43 21 .672 0 514.2 449 205 194 184 3.39 130 48 2140 0 23 0 13 BOS .234 .307 .358 .665 795 6 12 78 7 47 47 20 13
5 Roy Halladay 546 32-34 81 81 22 8 0 47 23 .671 0 608.0 572 190 175 81 2.59 160 53 2428 2 13 1 8 TOR-PHI .249 .276 .366 .642 829 16 17 100 6 51 37 15 0
6 Dan Haren 531 28-30 85 84 6 2 1 33 27 .550 0 573.2 536 234 219 109 3.44 122 66 2346 9 11 2 29 ARI-TOT-LAA .245 .282 .397 .679 915 22 16 112 11 28 52 17 2
7 Clayton Kershaw 514 21-23 79 78 3 3 1 28 21 .571 0 483.0 361 164 155 204 2.89 133 27 1976 15 8 4 16 LAD .208 .294 .302 .596 694 24 8 73 4 27 16 16 17
8 Jered Weaver 509 26-28 83 83 7 4 0 38 24 .613 0 551.2 463 201 189 147 3.08 133 54 2234 3 5 1 14 LAA .225 .276 .365 .641 806 9 16 112 7 16 52 13 10
9 Zack Greinke 503 25-27 76 76 9 3 0 33 24 .579 0 509.2 475 213 189 115 3.34 128 36 2086 1 12 0 11 KCR-MIL .246 .291 .373 .664 1424 16 10 108 15 42 20 21 4
10 Yovani Gallardo 492 23-25 77 77 4 3 0 35 23 .603 0 467.0 429 215 200 205 3.85 104 44 2015 10 9 1 20 MIL .243 .323 .386 .708 853 22 12 104 8 28 33 11 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/25/2011.

 

Walks plus Hits per IP (WHIP), 2009-11 (min. 300 IP):

Rk Player WHIP IP Age G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV H R ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF IBB HBP BK WP Tm BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ SH SF 2B 3B GDP SB CS PO
1 Roy Halladay 1.074 608.0 32-34 81 81 22 8 0 47 23 .671 0 572 190 175 81 546 2.59 160 53 2428 2 13 1 8 TOR-PHI .249 .276 .366 .642 829 16 17 100 6 51 37 15 0
2 Justin Verlander 1.104 585.0 26-28 84 84 11 3 0 46 21 .687 0 486 224 210 160 598 3.23 132 45 2366 5 15 8 22 DET .225 .281 .343 .625 802 14 15 101 10 24 40 24 7
3 Ted Lilly 1.106 462.0 33-35 73 73 1 1 0 27 28 .491 0 413 197 186 98 385 3.62 115 69 1875 9 12 7 6 CHC-TOT-LAD .239 .283 .420 .703 891 27 10 93 6 30 47 7 3
4 Jered Weaver 1.106 551.2 26-28 83 83 7 4 0 38 24 .613 0 463 201 189 147 509 3.08 133 54 2234 3 5 1 14 LAA .225 .276 .365 .641 806 9 16 112 7 16 52 13 10
5 Felix Hernandez 1.109 609.2 23-25 85 85 10 2 0 40 23 .635 0 496 210 172 180 567 2.54 159 39 2477 1 21 2 39 SEA .221 .283 .319 .602 760 13 19 84 9 56 48 17 3
6 Josh Johnson 1.113 453.0 25-27 70 70 3 0 0 29 12 .707 0 378 141 133 126 433 2.64 159 23 1833 10 12 1 16 FLA .227 .284 .320 .605 1240 17 13 62 12 29 38 19 0
7 Dan Haren 1.124 573.2 28-30 85 84 6 2 1 33 27 .550 0 536 234 219 109 531 3.44 122 66 2346 9 11 2 29 ARI-TOT-LAA .245 .282 .397 .679 915 22 16 112 11 28 52 17 2
8 Cliff Lee 1.126 557.0 30-32 78 78 16 6 0 34 27 .557 0 541 209 194 86 480 3.13 131 41 2267 3 8 1 10 TOT-PHI .253 .283 .370 .653 818 18 17 113 7 32 15 9 3
9 Adam Wainwright 1.131 463.1 27-28 67 67 6 2 0 39 19 .672 0 402 143 130 122 425 2.53 158 32 1880 3 7 0 9 STL .234 .286 .340 .625 23 11 71 7 43 20 10 2
10 Matt Cain 1.133 540.1 24-26 81 81 9 2 0 33 23 .589 0 451 196 186 161 431 3.10 132 51 2194 12 11 0 20 SFG .227 .287 .367 .654 898 22 15 97 13 27 41 19 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/25/2011.

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 26th, 2011 at 3:30 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

69 Responses to “Justin Verlander: Best Tigers pitcher since … ?”

  1. kershaw is going to be a monster for years

  2. Don't be so sure, young pitchers can blow out at any time. In fact any pitcher can.

    The four pitchers I spot on each list are Halladay, Verlander, Felix and Weaver. I don't know if the fact they are exclusively AL is significant. I guess AL pitchers don't get pulled for pinch hitters in close games and the best ones possibly get more WAR due to the higher scoring environment?

  3. Sorry, almost exclusively AL pitchers - Verlander, Felix, Weaver plus about 40% of Halladay's contributions.

  4. James Shields is the only one on any of these lists with a sub-100 ERA+. Looks like the Rays are getting rewarded for not giving up on him after two years of significantly worsening performances.

  5. Out of curiosity - how does McClain's 68 get less WAR than his 69? He had more IP and his ERA+ was better in 1968 - gave up fewer hits, better K/BB ratio.

    I assume the replacement level fell - is that because of KC and San Diego?

  6. Michael Sullivan Says:

    It could also be related to unearned runs and/or defense. WAR works off total runs, and tries to correct for defense by essentially giving fielders credit for their TZ stats, and taking that away from pitchers.

  7. Looking at the quality of the pitchers on the list, will we ever see 300+ wins again? I know the question has been asked in many places, but .....

    Will 250+ become the new "300" for future reference?

    I know, I know the problem with wins, but nevertheless ....... Halladay will get there (250) with about five more 14-win seasons after this year. Verlander is a long piece away but 6 years younger than Doc.

    Verlander will have to average about 14 wins a year for the next four seasons to be where Halladay is now.

  8. birtelcom Says:

    Carl @5: The average ERA in the AL increased about 22% from 1968 to 1969. After the '68 season, which was the lowest scoring season in baseball since the deadball era, MLB dropped the height of the mound from 15 inches to 10 inches, and also expanded by four teams. The result was a very different run-scoring environment after 1968.

  9. birtelcom Says:

    Verlander won't turn 29 until next February. Here are (thanks to the PI) the most Wins as a Tiger pitcher before turning 29:
    Hal Newhouser 170
    Denny McClain 117
    Dan Petry 107
    Mickey Lolich 101
    Jack Morris 95
    Justin Verlander 93

  10. John Autin Says:

    @7, Neil L. -- I think that reaching 300 wins has always been more about individual outliers than about the environment.

    We just passed through a period of historically high scoring and historically low Wins rates -- yet 4 pitchers centered in that period reached 300 wins, and 2 of them topped 350. (And all 4 garnered at least 230 wins during the PED era.)

    As you referenced, the question of "have we seen the last 300-game winner?" is hardly new. In fact, it was being asked (quite seriously) in the '60s and '70s. After Early Wynn limped to 300 in 1963, no one reached the mark for 18 years. Yet 10 pitchers have reached 300 wins since 1982.

    CC Sabathia, age 30, has 167 wins and is averaging a steady 19 wins since 2007. Of course it's foolish to project a pitcher's performance for 7 years at 19 wins a year (unless you're, you know, Brian Cashman), that is "all" CC would need to reach 300 before his 38th birthday.

  11. John Autin Says:

    @9, Birtelcom -- Thanks for a list that includes the rarely-mentioned Dan Petry. "Peaches" had 93 wins (same as Verlander now) by age 26, including a 5-year run with 4 years of 15+ wins and 4 qualifying years of ERA+ 120 or higher. He and Morris were mentioned in the same breath through 1985 -- but that would be the last good year of Petry's career.

  12. Verlander is just a beast. He has a chance to throw a no-hitter with every start. Certainly one of the elite pitchers in the game.

  13. @10
    "CC Sabathia, age 30, has 167 wins and is averaging a steady 19 wins since 2007. Of course it's foolish to project a pitcher's performance for 7 years at 19 wins a year ..... that is "all" CC would need to reach 300 before his 38th birthday."

    JA, true, and a good point. I don't want to make the mistake of another regular BBref poster and start judging players on their appearance, but I guess I always thought that CC Sabathia was more prone to injury than Verlander or Halladay because of his "stocky" frame. I thought his knees and hips would eventually give him trouble.

    Halladay's fitness regimen is legendary ..... is CC's or is the whole idea of "fitness" for pitchers nonsense?

    (P.S. Yankees' fans, please don't go off on me, I mean no offense to Sabithia. I'm trying to ask a legitimate question.)

  14. I was under the impression that this season CC came into the season in much better shape than in the past. Also lost a lot of weight in the off season. At least that is what I have remembered hearing, but it could be completely made up. Personally I never thought I'd see a day where I was defending a Yankee.

  15. Neil

    "or is the whole idea of "fitness" for pitchers nonsense?"

    I've heard stories of how Seaver, Carleton & Ryan were real fitness fanatics so you could at least make a good argument that it's not, but at the same time Boomer Wells was still able to be effective and make 30 starts as a 42 year old and Mickey Lolich was able to come back at 37 after voluntarily retiring in order to get out of his contract with the Mets and put up an ERA+ of 214 as a swingman for the Padres, so there are certainly some exceptions.

  16. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ Carl,

    I too am surprised at Denny's 68 WAR. I am a proponent of WAR although I admit to not knowing all its quirks, but even with the low scoring environment, he just lead the league in so many categories. And I find it impossible to believe that a AAA pitcher would only contribute 6 less wins then Denny. So he would be, what a 20 game winner? This hypothetical AAA pitcher would be 25-10 W/L.

    @ NeilL

    I think 300 wins will continue for a few reasons. (at JA - the list of PEDera-300win guys, should include Mike Mussina, who could of, should of...).
    Reason 1. There will be more guys pitching 20+ years. The money is just too good and the players are pampered with pitch counts, which is good IMO.
    2. A big lefty, like Sabathia, is going to last as long as he wants. He has an easy motion, plus mixing his change up as well as he does makes his 91mph fast ball appear 100. He doesn't have to put it all into each pitch.
    3. The training and prep and the science behind keeping and training young players well is increasing every year.
    4. Now that the game is 'cleaner' - I think the pendulum will swing back to a pitchers era.
    5. Ditto for bigger ballparks.
    6. Great or even decent pitchers, who are stuck on lousy teams, have so much leverage now, that they will almost always dictate where they play. So a CC went from a mediocre offensive supporting cast, to the Yankees.
    So now even a lousy start (4 ER in 5.1 IP) might give him a win.
    7. The Jamie Moyer effect.
    8. Even if a pitcher becomes less effective, if he begins to smell 300, teams will give him a chance. Look at the Unit a few years back. I don't think he pitched or was allowed to pitch for any other reason. Sorta the same for Jeter's current contract.

  17. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ Hartvig and Neil,

    David Wells might have something to say about fitness. He was raely on the DL, and bragged about late nights and never being inside a gym.
    Big leftys (CC) just seem like they could pitch forever.

  18. birtelcom Says:

    A correction my list @9:
    I used the PI Game Finder for this list, which means it only goes back to 1919. We know that Deadball Era Tiger George Mullin certainly had128 Wins in the seasons before the one in which he turned 29 years old, and although we don't know exactly how many of the 29 Wins he racked up in 1909 occurred before his 29th birthday on July 4 that year, he must surely have had at least reached around 140 career Wins before his 29th birthday. Hooks Daus also had over 100 Deadball Era Wins for the Tigers before he turned 29.

  19. John Autin Says:

    There have been plenty of pitchers who lasted a long time with physiques that didn't look very athletic. "Big Daddy" Rick Reuschel went 36-17, 3.04 at ages 39-40 combined.

    When I was a kid in Ann Arbor, MI, there was a star pitcher in the local fast-pitch softball league (very competitive, high-level league) who was well into his 40s and had a biiiig belly. Not only could he still bring the heat, he fielded his position, which was a huge part of that league, which played a "dead-ball" style -- bunting, running, place-hitting.

    I don't think CC's chances of pitching effectively into his late 30s are any worse than those of any toned-looking pitcher. Legs, arm and mechanics are far more important to pitcher longevity than the ability to run a 10-K.

  20. @19

    I'm reading "Moneyball" right now, so I find it funny that you bring up how guys who are not athletic manage to still be great ballplayers. That's like the theme of the book so far.

  21. @20
    But, Bip, "Moneyball" as I understand the concept, was not meant to include in the phrase non-athletic, "large" baseball players who were carrying extra weight.

    @16
    Duke, I'll bite on the "Jamie Moyer effect"? Junk-throwing, slow-tossing, left hander?

  22. @21

    I've only read three chapters so far, but I'm just thinking of the point that what scouts recognized as athleticism is not the most important factor in judging how valuable a player will be, and players who may not seem athletic can be very good baseball players. But yes, I'm sure that wasn't meant to excuse players from being in worse shape than they should be.

  23. John Autin Says:

    Neil L. -- The term "Moneyball" was meant to describe the effort to exploit market inefficiencies, whatever they might be -- in other words, to find players who are undervalued by the mainstream. It so happened that among the leading market inefficiencies at that time were (1) on-base percentage, and (2) baseball ability that doesn't show well on a scouting report. As I recall, one storyline focused on a "bad-body" catcher whom the scouts hated, but the metrics guys in Oakland's draft room loved.

    Anyway, as more teams caught OBP fever, that particular "Moneyball" opportunity mostly dried up. The next wave was defensive efficiency, which the Rays famously exploited in 2008 to improve by 31 wins in just 1 year. The notion that there's a big difference between who makes the most "Web Gems," and who does the best job of converting balls in play into outs, was somewhat revolutionary. But advanced defensive metrics have also quickly caught on throughout the majors.

    The "Moneyball" concept is not about any specific areas of ability, but rather, the idea that there is usually some area that is undervalued from an economic standpoint.

  24. chicago76 Says:

    What has Justin won? He has no Cys. He has only that league championship as a rookie with a team full of juiced up players. He has never won twenty games. He doesn't rate. Stats mean little when it comes to championships. Lolich and McClain at their prime were better. Jack Morris had more guts and desire. I've seen all of them pitch, and I would take Morris and Lolich, even McClain over Verlander in the seventh game of a World Series. Not even close. Halliday and CJ are in a different class. It is a class that Justin might reach, and he might not. This year he looks like he will reach their class, but there is a whole season to play. We shall see. Again, you have to prove it on the field, not on stat sheets. Justin maybe be in the top ten but definitely not the top five of pitchers today.

  25. Unrelated: Clayton Kershaw has now pitched at least 16 innings without facing a left handed batter, but he's only given up 7 hits, 1 walk, 1 run, and he's gotten 20 strikeouts. What's the most batters faced without a platoon advantage, and what the best performance a pitcher has had in such a streak? This might be more common than I think it is.

  26. @20
    Bip, hey, can't we get our girlfriends/wives out to see Moneyball with us? After all it does star Jennifer Aniston's former flame as Billy Beane. :-)

    I think the last "baseball" movie my wife watched with me in the theater was The Natural.

    Sorry, ...... not a true "baseball" post!

  27. @23
    JA, hasn't the phrase "moneyball" been hijacked to mean anything the quoter wants it to?

    I have to admit, I have not read the book.

  28. No where else to post this and no particular reason, but today featured an AL East sweep of NL teams powered by Tampa Bay and Toronto with respective series sweeps.

    (Toronto against a Pujols-less, St. Louis.)

  29. It's interesting Lee has so many less games started and yet is still on the most innings pitched list.

  30. John Bowen Says:

    @29

    Last year, Cliff Lee led the AL in CG and pitched over 210 IP despite just 28 CG.

    It came out to about 7.6 IP/start...not terribly surprising for a pitcher in a contract year.

  31. John Bowen Says:

    err...28 starts.

  32. John Autin Says:

    @31, John Bowen -- What was your point about Cliff Lee averaging 7.6 IP per game in a contract year? Do you think his teams overworked him, knowing that he would be gone at the end of the year? Do you think Lee extended himself more, knowing he was pitching for a contract? Just looking for clarification.

  33. John Autin Says:

    @27, Neil L. -- Humpty Dumpty would agree with you there, but I don't think Mr. Dumpty's policies are ones with which I want to cooperate.

    People do misuse the word "Moneyball," of course, but that's nothing more than their mistake -- usually a mistake of ignorance by one who has not read the book -- and does not change the meaning of the word.

    One my informal duties as a confirmed curmudgeon is to resist the corruption of language by lazy minds, of which there are many in sports media. I do not throw my hands up and say, well, shucks, so many people are using that word to mean whatever they want, so it has no meaning any more. I say, no. "Moneyball" is a useful word with a specific meaning, and so I will try to defend it as long as hope remains for its salvation.

    And BTW ... Read the book, already! :) Michael Lewis is a terrific writer. You don't have to think that Billy Beane is the greatest GM in the world in order to enjoy the book. The story is bigger than Beane; it's about a culture clash between old-school and new-school baseball men working for the same organization. I think you'll love it.

  34. John Autin Says:

    Neil L. -- Or, to put it more briefly: The word "Moneyball" may have been kidnapped, but not every prisoner develops Stockholm Syndrome.

  35. @10, John Autin -- I think that reaching 300 wins has always been more about individual outliers than about the environment.
    ----------
    Agreed 100%. It's also as much about the push for individual achievement as it is about individual outliers. It's takes quality pitching, but also longevity, and in many ways longevity might be the more important part of the equation (although in reality both are required).

    I think it's damn hard to predict which pitchers will be capable of playing until they're 40+, but we do know that there have always been pitchers who have pitched into their 40s, so we can be sure there are pitchers in the game right now who will pitch into their 40s. Conditioning, medical advances, and boat loads of money thrown at players only serves to increase the chances of pitchers playing until they reach 4-0. If that happens to be a quality, front-end pitcher like CC Sabathia, then 300 wins becomes a reality. It may not be CC, but he's as good a candidate as any right now. He got started early; he has good pitching form and a low-stress delivery; he's never had an arm injury; he's better now than he was when he was younger, suggesting he's continued to adapt and hasn't entered any type of decline phase; and he's a lefty who can throw 96 mph. Even as he declines and loses velocity, he should remain effective, since he doesn't rely on one single pitch and should be helped by his lefty-ness.

    As I mentioned, in addition to being outliers, it takes a drive for individual achievement. A player will need a desire to get to 300 wins. Look no further than two other Yankees -- Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte -- who pulled up short, especially the former. Mussina was "just" 30 wins short after winning 20. Who knows if he would have made it, yet no matter if his goal is to make the HOF. He may have enhanced his chances by going out on such a high note. Die young, stay pretty. There are no horrible images or a bad taste left in the mouths of voters of Mussina trying to limp his way into 300 wins. Pettitte's an entirely different case. He was a dark-horse candidate of mine for years to make 300 wins, steadily grinding out 14-18 wins per season. He had reached 240 just as he turned 38. The groin injury and the sudden retirement ended any chance, but he's the good example of why it's hard to figure out who will pitch into his 40s. If he kept going, he might have collapsed in a season or two, or he might very well have continued into his early 40s (a number of talent evaluators thought his pitching style, cutter and left-handesness would have allowed him to continue another four or five seasons, if he had the desire). He certainly wasn't showing any signs of slowing down. It's an interesting choice on his part, since he's a borderline HOFer, but one who won't make the HOF (I'm very confident Mussina will make it). Yet if he made it to 300 wins, he'd be a lock. The desire wasn't there.

  36. @24 from Chicago

    What has Verlander won? Well, he's only the 23rd pitcher to have 2 no-hitters since 1919. Took over as the ace for the Tigers while winning ROY, has won 19 games once and 18 games twice while about to have his 4th all-star appearance. I'm sure he'll have a few seasons where he wins 20 or more. At this point of his career, he's far better than Jack Morris was. That guy also never won a Cy Young Award, and people thinking he belongs in the Hall huff paint. His career ERA is 3.90, WHIP is 1.30, struck out 5.8 guys per 9 innings, and almost gave up 40 homeruns twice in seasons. How dominant!

    It's crazy that you don't think Verlander has hit that elite status as a pitcher(he's easily one of the top 3 pitchers if not the best RIGHT NOW.) As for guys with 2 no-hitters a few of the guys on that list happen to be Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller Randy Johnson, Walter Johnson, and Walter Spahn.

    Here's a few you may have forgotten...

    Jim Bunning - 7 all-stars, now in Cooperstown.
    Don Wilson -died at age 29 but still went 104-92 with an ERA of 3.15
    Jim Maloney - From ages 23 to 29 he went 117-60, 2.90 ERA, all-star.
    Dean Chance - Cy Young winner who won 128 games with an ERA of 2.92.
    Allie Reynolds - 6 time all-star who was clutch and hit triple digits with his fastball.

  37. As for the 300 wins, wins become harder to get the fewer innings a pitcher throws, and pitchers will only throw fewer innings, not more, though the typical number of innings pitched for a starter has probably just about bottomed out now. I think 300 wins will soon be seen much more as a sign of longevity and durability than one of effectiveness.

  38. Thomas Court Says:

    I have been looking at Sabathia ever since my brother exclaimed at breakfast that there was no way he was going to win 300 games.

    Everything is breaking right for him to reach the milestone. He got started early - going 17-5 as a 20 year old. Now he is pitching for the Yankees, who are always going to give him plenty of run support. He has led the league in wins both seasons in New York and he is leading this year. He is not in the greatest of shape, which might effect his longevity, but at this rate he will not have to pitch into his forties to make it to 300.

    He may not be one of the top 5 active pitchers, (Halladay, Lincecum, King Felix, Verlander, Kershaw) but he might have the best chance to get to 300 wins.

  39. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ Neil 21,

    Yeah, the Moyer Effect was correctly read.
    I'm not saying it is a bad thing.
    Tom Glavine made a career of being a second-third stater.
    He never threw hard, but never had too.
    I have to say, I hated watching a Glavine start. It was always three hours, every count went deep, and he never challenged a hitter, but, he was effective for a long time. 300 W/.600 %.
    I don't know if he'll pitch next year, but it'll be fun if he does.
    Think about this Neil (I know your inlaws are in town, so this may save you):
    In '92, a 29 year old Moyer had 34 wins and was out of baseball.
    In '92, a 28 year old Doc Gooden had 142 wins and was headed to the Hall.
    Today:
    Moyer - 267 and counting.
    Gooden: 2-5 years and probation. (194 wins).

  40. @39

    Tom Glavine won two Cy Youngs (and deserved one of them). He was only a second-starter because he pitched most of his prime on the same team as Greg Maddux. He is a deserving Hall of Famer.

    @16
    I am also surprised McClain's season isn't worth more than 5.9 WAR but the complete breakdown was addressed in another thread. Basically, everything (not under his control) that could have possibly gone right for him did. Great run support, great defense, a lot of unearned runs that don't show up in ERA... In another similar example, Bob Welch went 27-6 for the A's in 1990 and that season was only 2.5 WAR.

  41. what happened in 2008? it seems like such an aberation. Was he injured?

  42. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ David S,

    Agreed that Glavine was 'more' dominant' and deserving of that first Cy Young, and yes early in his career he was a # 1 but was stuck behind Maddux and/or Smoltz, but later, especially during his Met tenure, he would hardly go 6+ IP, he always seemed to have a runner on, especially when he left the game, (I should look in to that and see if it was just the way I remember it, or the way it really happened).
    but his second Cy Young was a joke, and it was one of the prime examples of voters being infatuated with round #s, especially 20 W.
    For a long time the win leader or the 20 game guy would get the nod over a more deserving player.
    Barolo Colon and Glavine were two prime examples of that mentality.
    Glavine had lower totals in every stat except wins to Maddux. IP, GS, H/9, SO, K/9, WHIP, and Glavine had 40 more walks in 30 fewer IP.
    It seemed a no brainer, but Maddux received 0 first place votes.
    Trevor Hoffman had 11 first place votes, Glavine 9, Brown 3.
    Brown was the WAR leader.
    Just an all around terrible vote.
    I guess you made that point with Welch's impressive 27 wins vs the Rockets' 18.
    And then Colon's 20 to Santana's 16.
    It was refreshing to see abunch of 15 game winners and a 13 game winner all win Cys the last few years.

  43. John Autin Says:

    @37, Bip: "...pitchers will only throw fewer innings..."

    But we don't know that, Bip. It makes sense in the short term to assume that trends will continue, but not that they'll continue forever.

    One reason for the spate of 300-winners in the '80s was the sudden and unexpected rise in IP by top starters in the early '70s. Consider:
    -- In the 7 years from 1962-68, a period very favorable to pitchers, there were 38 seasons of 280+ innings, or 0.27 per team per season.
    -- In the next 7 years, 1969-75, that rate virtually doubled: there were 88 seasons of 280+ IP, or 0.52 per team per season.

    Why did that happen? Hard to say, exactly. The DH probably played a role, but pitchers under DH rules accounted for just 31 of those 88 seasons; if we take those 3 AL seasons out of the equation, we still find an average of 0.43 280-IP seasons per team per year, more than half again above the rate of the previous 7-year period.

    I just don't think we can rule out a future paradigm shift. Some teams may go back to a 4-man rotation. There may be a true scientific breakthrough in understanding how to get the most out of a pitcher without increasing the risk of injury.

  44. John Autin Says:

    @36, Kyle -- A valiant effort, but do you really expect to have a rational debate with a member of the Flat Earth Society?

  45. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    "Best Tigers Pitcher Since . . . ?"

    I used the PI to come up with a quick 'n filthy answer to John's question. I took all Tigers starters' seasons since 1901 with enough IP to qualify for the ERA title (407 total pitcher seasons); for each pitcher season, calculated WHIP, H/9, HR/9, BB/9, SO/9, and SO/BB relative to league; ranked each calculation 1-407; and then took the average of the six rankings. Kind of a "Peripherals Dominance" ranking. Based on this seat-of-the-pants method, here are the top 20 seasons for Tigers starters since 1901:

    1. Hal Newhouser, 1946
    2. Tommy Bridges, 1939
    3. Justin Verlander, 2011
    4. Jim Bunning, 1960
    5. Schoolboy Rowe, 1935
    6. Justin Verlander, 2009
    7. Schoolboy Rowe, 1934
    8. Hal Newhouser, 1945
    9. Hank Aguirre, 1962
    10. Jim Bunning, 1961
    11. Hal Newhouser, 1948
    12. Hal Newhouser, 1944
    13. Dizzy Trout, 1944
    14. Denny McLain, 1968
    15. Schoolboy Rowe, 1936
    16. Virgil Trucks, 1949
    17. Rip Collins, 1924
    18. Earl Wilson, 1966
    19. Bobo Newsom, 1939
    20. Virgil Trucks, 1943

    Verlander’s 2010 season comes in at #22 and his 2007 season at #53.

    The only category for which Verlander's 2011 Relative to League ranking is not stellar is his HR/9 ranking (#128). Relative to league, in 2011 Verlander ranks #1 all time among Tigers starters in WHIP and H/9.

    You may fire when ready. (-;þ

  46. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    Kahuna,

    If that is a 'Seat of the pants' method, I would hate to see the formulas you you put a ton of thought into.
    This is why I love this sight.
    Living in New York and experiencing the 'before internet' baseball chats (the idiotic WFAN/Mike and the Mad Dog call in shows) and then the 'fanboy' sites, it is refreshing to see the intelligent opinions, well thought out, of fans who love the game, not a team or a winner.
    The average post on a fanboy site goes something like this:
    Poster 1: Jeter is the best.
    Poster 2: You are a (expletive removed), Jeter stinks.
    Poster 3. Yeah, you Moron.
    Poster 4. Check out hot girls at http://www.&;^%$^%*.com
    Poster1 Jeter rules.
    Poster 2. I thought i already told you he didn't.
    Poster 1. Yes
    poster 2. NO!

    and repeat.

    thanks Kahuna for your 'seat of the pants' analysis.

  47. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ 36

    How did Don Wison die.

    @ John Autin, what are you implying. talk like that will send you off the edges of the, well... end of the earth, or put you on Glenn Beck's board, which is must worse. Or, possibly a fatwah declared against you.
    Round Earth?!?!?
    What's next? Earth is older than 4,000 years. Or OBP is more valuable then batting avg. I hate progressives.

  48. John Autin Says:

    @47, Duke -- Don Wilson's death is briefly described on his Bullpen page:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Don%20Wilson

  49. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ Bip,

    Not to contradict, but less IP has very little to do with not getting to get 300 wins. A guy with a good bullpen, who exists after 6+ - 7+ IP, will get his 25 decisions a year.
    Whether those are W or Ls has more to do with offense and late inning defense than when he leaves a game.
    The shorter IP totals will just prolong a career. Maddux, Clemens, & Glavine all had much less CG frequency than the Seavers or Jenkins, but still got to 300 pretty handily.

  50. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    Autin, thank you, but your blasphemy has not been forgotten.

  51. John Autin Says:

    You know the adage, Duke:
    "Hate the sin ... but keep posting on the sinner's blog." :)

  52. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    Autin,
    I am fully aware of my transgressions entering this domain.
    Your baseball acumen is too alluring, but no doubt obtained by some faustian pact, complete with some poor vestal at your beckon call, but I submit to this vice like Timmy P going pantless at a ball game. I know their is an eternal price for a look into your wiles, but like like the afforementioned Timmy P's vice... its too damn comfortable.

  53. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    As several people have noted, every time someone reaches 300 Wins, up goes the prediction "there will NEVER be another 300-game winner!".

    I wish that I could pull the data up,but when we had this same discussion a while ago, someone listed the dates of all the 300 game-winners, and the time intervals between each of them. There were a number of long stretches between them, and several stretches of a decade+, up to 18 years (as John A. noted).

    It's possible that the next 300 game-winner isn't even in the major leagues yet; I do not think it is possible there will NOT be another one ever.

  54. @45 @46

    Kahuna, I second Duke @46. If that was quick and dirty I'd hate to see you be rigorous. Great list.

    Duke, I laughed out loud at work a few minutes ago reading your characterization of a fan site and your post @52. You and JA both have a really dry wit and you can both write. How about co-authoring the first BBRef anthology? :-)

  55. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    Neil,

    Thank you, and you might not believe this... but I am authoring a children's basic learning book currently.
    if my posts ever seem sloppy or riddled with misspellings or awash in bad punctuation, it is just because I am playing hooky from REAL work and scuttling to and fro, btwn the applications of GESTALT psychology into an interactive book series, and my true love.
    I enjoy this sight TOO much.
    But I guess there are worse vices than baseball addiction - and that would be hockey addiction, which I heard is sweeping canada at the moment.
    But, I hardly encourage Mr. Autin (no joking) to pursue something he not only enjoys, but knows the three things about the sport that make it what it is to guys like us.
    1. idiosyncratic details.
    2. well researched history, written like fiction, if fiction could only be so good.
    3. stats stats stats

  56. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    that was hardily...
    wow, one word or letter can really change the meaning of a sentence!!!
    I mean, with full sincerity, John - find an agent. if you can do that re-cap every night, obviously within a few hours, i can only imagine what you could write in a month.
    I wanted to contact you, but you are not one of the contactable, but i thiobk a great weekly series could be single and career records. who has them, how they got them, will they stand, will they fall, who will fell them and how?

  57. John Autin Says:

    Duke -- I've been meaning to slip gestalt into a blog, so ... thanks! :)

    (Now I can concentrate my efforts on zeitgeist and weltanschauung.)

  58. John Autin Says:

    (I'm pretty sure weltanschauung means "self-inflicted spike wound.")

  59. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ 58

    Ty Cobb is versed in the second part of that phrase... but who would... ahhh, never mind.

  60. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ John,

    I only know this by accident. But attending a '04(?) game at Shea with a German friend and they announced.... "AND NOW BATTING FOR ATLANTA - LANGERHANS"
    My german friend nearly fell out of her seat with laughter.
    LANGERHANS is common slang in urban German for 'long' or 'large' - literally 'hands' - but in slang... another anatomic feature, unique to men, and not the adams apple.

  61. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    I also saw this poor soul at a Trenton Thunder home game.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=fagget001eth
    By his stat sheet, I guess '97, but it seems so much longer than that, I actually thought it was a dream.
    I couldn't believe a stadium could devolve into Lord of the Flies imaturity, but must admit I was pulled into the chanting.
    And even the announcer had a tough time saying his name with out giggling.
    But god, did that kid have thick skin.
    God bless him.

  62. @9

    Most of the pitchers listed was drafted when they were 17/18 years old. Jack Morris and Justin Verlander were 21 when they were drafted out of college.

    As far as thier ages when they started playing MLB.
    Hal Newhouser 18
    Denny McClain 19
    Dan Petry 20
    Mickey Lolich 22
    Jack Morris 22
    Justin Verlander 22
    And Jack Morris was a September call up and went 1-1 his first season. Also of note, Detroit's runs scored were at or near the top when Petry and Morris pitched from 1981-85. And the teams that Newhouser, McClain, and Lolich pitched for were not too shaby either.

  63. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ Rip,

    Morris' actual MLB anniversary is today. July 26, 1977. Lance Parrish debuted a few months earlier and Whitaker and Trammel on Sept 19th (same day).
    They all stayed together for 10 years.
    Steve Kemp was also a Rookie for that '77 Tiger team.
    By 79' Peaches, Gibby and Sparky all joined the crew.

  64. @63

    Rip and Duke, so by 1984 would the Tigers have been the best team Sparky ever managed? (God rest his soul) The Big Red Machine notwithstanding!

    After all, how good do you have to be to start 35-5?

  65. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    will we ever see 300+ wins again
    ....
    It's possible that the next 300 game-winner isn't even in the major leagues yet

    Since 1875, there has *always* been a once or future 300-game winner active in MLB. We may not know who it is yet (Sabathia is the best bet), but I'm guessing there's one out there now.

    ***

    Halladay's fitness regimen is legendary ..... is CC's or is the whole idea of "fitness" for pitchers nonsense?

    I'm not sure anyone really knows what is good for pitchers. Anyway, I have heard that CC does work hard to keep in shape. He just has the type of body prone to put on weight, and perhaps he likes to eat as well. While he has a gut, I don't think he looks unfit. I think he's a very athletic guy who happens to have a gut. And while it's probably not optimal, there have certainly been heavy pitchers who were able to succeed deep into their 30s and beyond.

    ***

    Chicago/24, that's a really terrible post, for many reasons. I just can't wait until Verlander pitches in the 7th game of a WS, so hopefully you can eat this comment: "I would take Morris and Lolich, even McClain over Verlander in the seventh game of a World Series." (Of course, if he kicks ass, it will be because he finally learned how to pitch, BLAH BLAH BLAH)

    ***
    about 7.6 IP/start...not terribly surprising for a pitcher in a contract year

    Evidence?

    ***

    Read the book, already! :) Michael Lewis is a terrific writer. You don't have to think that Billy Beane is the greatest GM in the world in order to enjoy the book.

    Very true. One scene/chapter that always stood out to me was the trade for Mike Magnante. From our perspective, a completely meaningless deal. But in the context of the book, it was fascinating all the effort that went into consummating such a minor transaction. (No guarantee I've remembered it correctly.)

    ***

    less IP has very little to do with not getting to get 300 wins.

    It does. IP per decision has not changed that much over the years. But while guys have fewer IP/season now, they pitch more seasons. We just saw Greg Maddux, pitching his prime years during the so-called steroid era, reach 5000 IP.

  66. @65

    Mustachioed Repetition, you float like a butterfly, sting like a bee! :-)

    Nice post.

  67. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    At PIstachioes Wept...

    I meant less IP per start, not per season. (Which I know may be contradictory, but Maddux made 33 starts [except the strikes] for 20-ish years, I'm sure to keeping him below 150 pitches. And I did point out less per/start would extend a career, hence Maddux's 5000 - which by the way, he said is by far his proudest achievement, strange from a World series, CY Young, ERA, etc Champ.

  68. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @65/ Mustachioed Repetition Says: "{...It's possible that the next 300 game-winner isn't even in the major leagues yet}

    Since 1875, there has *always* been a once or future 300-game winner active in MLB. We may not know who it is yet (Sabathia is the best bet), but I'm guessing there's one out there now."

    Mustachioed Repetition, I stand corrected. Perhaps I should've phrased it, "...it is possible the next 300-game winner isn't even ON OUR RADAR YET". I agree Sabathia is the most likely right now, but there's such a long road to 300.

    I also agree with you that @24 is a terrible post - sounds like a troll. One game, even a Game 7 of the WS, does not definitively "prove" anything about a pitcher's greatness.

  69. pbrower2a Says:

    Every great player or pitcher is different -- but the last few games of Justin Verlander look like throwbacks to the Koufax/Gibson/Marichal era. The WHIP ratio is just incredible. Ryan never had this sort of control.

    The longest-lasting careers for pitchers are those of extreme strikeout pitchers, followed by knuckle-ball pitchers, followed by sinker-ballers, and then those who relied upon pitching to contact. As an illustration, Jim Palmer and Nolan Ryan were born at roughly the same time, but Jim Palmer was a first-time entrant to the Hall of Fame while Nolan Ryan was still pitching.

    I now project Verlander to have something like the career of Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson -- very long. He is the sort who will have many post-season appearances, if not with the Tigers then almost certainly with the New York Yankees. It is possible that he will quit at his peak like Koufax -- but one thing is different this time: the money is just too good.