You Are Here > Baseball-Reference.com > Blog >

SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all B-R content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing B-R blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Baseball-Reference.com » Sports Reference

For more from Andy and the gang, check out their new site High Heat Stats.

The New Yankees WAR Pitching Leader

Posted by Raphy on August 31, 2011

As long as there has been baseball, there have been attempts to measure player value. And for almost as long as there have been the New York Yankees, much of that value has been found among position players. Never-the-less, several pitchers have stood out during the storied history of the franchise, none more so than the Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford. Not only did Ford start more games than anybody in Yankees history, he also won the most for the Yankees, both during the regular season and World Series. Modern measures confirm Ford's value as a Yankee and his 55.3 pitching WAR is higher than anyone accumulated for the franchise. Until yesterday, that is.

With his usual one inning shut-out performance against the Red Sox last night, Mariano Rivera joined Ford as the Yankees WAR Pitching Leader.  And while this will not draw the accolades or ceremonies that the saves record will bring him, it probably is more significant. Although Ford's total is not especially high , the fact that a reliever holds the top spot for an old and successful franchise is certainly worthy of notice.

Keeping in mind that it is possible to lose WAR points and no active player's position is set in stone, here are the current WAR pitching leaders for the Yankees.

Rk Player WAR From To 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
1 Mariano Rivera 55.3 1995 2011 25-41 1031 10 0 0 873 75 57 .568 594 1201.0 928 321 297 272 1099 2.23 205 65 4775 35 44 3 13
2 Whitey Ford 55.3 1950 1967 21-38 498 438 156 45 35 236 106 .690 10 3170.1 2766 1107 967 1086 1956 2.75 133 228 13036 44 28 5 75
3 Red Ruffing 49.7 1930 1946 25-41 426 391 261 40 30 231 124 .651 8 3168.2 2995 1406 1222 1066 1526 3.47 120 200 13353 31 3 26
4 Ron Guidry 44.4 1975 1988 24-37 368 323 95 26 24 170 91 .651 4 2392.0 2198 953 874 633 1778 3.29 119 226 9794 24 13 8 56
5 Lefty Gomez 43.2 1930 1942 21-33 367 319 173 28 31 189 101 .652 9 2498.1 2286 1087 927 1090 1468 3.34 126 138 10706 19 0 39
6 Andy Pettitte 42.4 1995 2010 23-38 405 396 23 3 2 203 112 .644 0 2535.2 2688 1244 1122 820 1823 3.98 115 211 10837 30 46 10 54
7 Mel Stottlemyre 37.9 1964 1974 22-32 360 356 152 40 3 164 139 .541 1 2661.1 2435 1003 878 809 1257 2.97 112 171 10972 75 44 1 57
8 Bob Shawkey 37.6 1915 1927 24-36 415 274 164 26 107 168 131 .562 26 2488.2 2304 1014 862 855 1163 3.12 117 105 10211 42 1 36
9 Waite Hoyt 31.0 1921 1930 21-30 365 276 156 15 70 157 98 .616 28 2272.1 2405 1035 879 631 713 3.48 115 93 9673 32 3 23
10 Mike Mussina 30.3 2001 2008 32-39 249 248 12 8 0 123 72 .631 0 1553.0 1565 723 669 318 1278 3.88 115 166 6392 14 38 0 32
11 Herb Pennock 29.2 1923 1933 29-39 346 268 164 19 52 162 90 .643 21 2203.1 2471 1032 867 471 700 3.54 114 91 9373 15 4 34
12 Spud Chandler 26.0 1937 1947 29-39 211 184 109 26 14 109 43 .717 6 1485.0 1327 549 468 463 614 2.84 132 64 6102 19 5 20
13 Allie Reynolds 24.2 1947 1954 30-37 295 209 96 27 70 131 60 .686 41 1700.0 1500 695 624 819 967 3.30 115 111 7238 40 4 46
14 Ray Caldwell 23.5 1910 1918 22-30 248 196 150 17 42 96 99 .492 4 1718.1 1519 684 572 576 803 3.00 101 41 6870 52 2 22
15 Dave Righetti 23.3 1979 1990 20-31 522 76 13 2 379 74 61 .548 224 1136.2 999 448 393 473 940 3.11 127 65 4811 37 16 16 33
16 Eddie Lopat 21.5 1948 1955 30-37 217 202 91 20 8 113 59 .657 2 1497.1 1507 619 530 405 502 3.19 121 116 6235 3 29 4 9
17 Jack Chesbro 20.6 1903 1909 29-35 269 227 168 18 36 128 93 .579 2 1952.0 1752 795 560 434 913 2.58 109 26 7731 55 1 42
18 Roger Clemens 20.4 1999 2007 36-44 175 174 3 2 0 83 42 .664 0 1103.0 1044 536 491 398 1014 4.01 114 116 4684 8 41 1 50
19 Vic Raschi 20.3 1946 1953 27-34 218 207 99 24 5 120 50 .706 3 1537.0 1347 659 593 620 832 3.47 112 104 6434 25 8 37
20 Tiny Bonham 19.8 1940 1946 26-32 158 141 91 17 11 79 50 .612 6 1176.2 1108 399 357 206 348 2.73 129 71 4731 4 2 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/31/2011.

Somewhere in Sean Forman's computer, a virtual Bud Selig congratulated a virtual Mariano Rivera while a virtual Whitey Ford looked on. It was a virtual celebration of real life consistency , a decade and a half of dominance in the game's most pivotal moments.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 at 9:29 am and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

90 Responses to “The New Yankees WAR Pitching Leader”

  1. He's the only one in the top six with less than a .600 winning percentage. The bum. :)

    Mel Stottlemyre was a really good pitcher, wasn't he?

  2. Isn't a Tiny Bonham what every woman wishes for on her birthday?

  3. No one is like Mariano. But it goes to show you that you don't necessarily have to have fantastic pitching (or pitchers) to be very successful over a very long period.

  4. @2 Steve. "Isn't a Tiny Bonham what every woman wishes for on her birthday?"
    Tiny Bonham died at 36. What are you implying?

  5. Am I the only person who wonders about an alternate universe where John Wetteland was resigned and Rivera moved to the starting rotation?

    I have no idea how it would've worked out, but the guy has been shockingly durable, at a position that seems to chew up players very quickly. It's just always there in some corner of my head whenever I hear about another one of Rivera's ridiculous achievements.

    WilliaminMaine - you make a point about Rivera's winning percentage, but I wonder... I read somewhere (I'll try to find it) that the Yankees actually had a lower winning % in games they were leading in the 9th inning in the '00's than they did in the '50's (in the pre-closer era), so I can't help but imagine Rivera's incredibleness could've been put to better use. If he'd been used in more tie games, or brought in the 8th more often, and a little less often capping off 3 run leads, if the Yankees would've been even better in the Rivera era.

    All speculation of course, and not at all meant to demean Rivera's accomplishments.

  6. Johnny Twisto Says:

    And then a virtual Phil Haberkorn threw a virtual tomato from the stands, and had to be escorted from the premises. For shame Phil! Let the man have his virtual moment.

  7. #4 What makes you call me Steve? And I was only making a joke about the sound of his name, which sounds like tiny bottom.

  8. @7, Andy, apologies. Got the joke, failed at everything else. I'll stop posting.

  9. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Considering the wealth of great position players the Yankees have had, it's curious how they don't have comparable pitching talent over their storied history. At every position, they have arguably a Top-10 all-time player, frequently Top-5:

    - CATCHER: Dickey, Berra (Munson close?)
    - 1B: Gehrig (Mattingly honorable mention)
    - 2B: Joe Gordon, debatable (Lazzeri maybe Top-15?)
    - SS: Jeter
    - 3B: A-Rod
    - Outfield*: Ruth, Mantle, Dimaggio
    * I know I am fudging by lumping all three OF slots together, but there's _ no way_ I am leaving either Mantle or Dimaggio out, by breaking this down to LF/ CF/ RF. I could put Henderson in LF, but he played mostly CF while with the Yankees.

    Clemens is an all-time great, but most of his value was with teams besides the Yankees. Rivera is the greatest reliever, but I wouldn't consider him (or Ford) one of the Top-10 pitchers ever, not even close.

  10. Beautifully written, Raphy.

  11. I frequently get yelled at for my all time starter list because I start A-Rod at short.Seriously though, his bat is unprecedented enough and just all the more at short. There are other good hitting third basemen you'd rather have anyway. A-Rod in his prime was a far better defensive shortstop than people remember these days.

  12. @10
    Thanks, John

  13. Further to L. Azrin's point @9, twelve franchises (six AL, six NL) have had pitchers compile WAR totals of 56 or more for their franchise. Rivera's Yankee total would, had it been compiled with the Braves, place him only fifth on that franchise's pitching WAR career list, behind Spahn, Niekro, Smoltz and Maddux.

  14. @11, Mosc -- Are you talking about an all-time Yankees team, or an all-time MLB team?

    If MLB ... How is A-Rod a better SS than Honus Wagner? I'm honestly curious, not trying to be snarky.

    If you have A-Rod at SS on your all-time team, where is Honus playing? Tell me you're not leaving the Dutchman off the squad!

  15. @11,14

    On the other hand, if it's an all-Yankee team, who is the 3B who moves A-Rod to short and displaces Jeter?

  16. Mo is the greatest pitcher of all time. I say this as a Jays fan who despises the Yanks, so it has to be true.

    His career ERA+ is just far better than anyone else's in history. I mean, he's 205 and Pedro (#2) is 154. That is Donald Bradman-type dominance people.

  17. J.A. @14: Through his age 35 season, A-Rod's career WAR is currently 105.2. Honus Wagner's WAR thorugh his age 35 season was 102.5. It's true that the Dutchman had several terrific season still left in him after his age 35 season, and A-Rod's more recent issues (and PEDs history) leaves serious doubt as to whether he will age as gracefully (his season WAR has declined every year since his spectacular 2007). But head-to-head, age-to-age, there is an argument to be made.

  18. @17, Birtelcom -- OK, fair point.

    Still, if they're tied in career WAR through age 35, I'll take the guy who:
    -- had more peak seasons to that point;
    -- was the central figure on a couple of the greatest teams ever; and
    -- was the better all-around baseball player.

    No knock on A-Rod, who was a great all-around player in his youth. But I don't see any evidence that he was a great defensive SS -- whereas Wagner's contemporaries (even opponents) went out of their way to say that he was not only the greatest SS they'd seen, but the greatest at whatever position he played.

  19. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @13/ birtelcom - Thanks. Actually, there's a mistake in my reasoning - the pitching equivalent of an all-time "Top-10" position player would be an all-time "Top-30" pitcher, or maybe even Top-40. Even so, I do not believe that Riviera or Ford quite enter that rarified air. Arguments are welcomed.

    @14,@15 - Wagner also played quite a few games not at shortstop (just at a number of different positions), as did Ernie Banks, Robin Yount, and Cal Ripken. I don't distinguish between "pure" shortstops such as Pee Wee, Ozzie, and Luis Aparicio, and the SS I named above that spent considerable time at other positions.

    Whatever position a player was the best at is what I call his primary position. Hence, A-Rod and Banks are SS,even if they spent (or will) spend more time at other positions. What to do with Killebrew and Rose, I am not sure.

    OTOH, I think it's reasonable to call A-Rod the greatest Mariners (and Rangers?) shortstop, BUT ALSO the Yankees greatest third baseman. However, for the "all-time" position team, I would put him at shortstop, still well behind Wagner, but ahead of everyone else.

  20. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Through his age 35 season, A-Rod's career WAR is currently 105.2. Honus Wagner's WAR thorugh his age 35 season was 102.5.

    A-Rod has been playing longer seasons than Wagner. The 154-game schedule didn't even come along until Wagner was 30.

  21. 6 of those above mentioned Yankee greats are in the HoF with Rivera ,Clemens and possibly Mussina following them. I wonder how many teams have that many pitchers in the HoF ?

  22. Well, I am glad I got some discussion going about some of the all time greats. I was indeed talking more an MLB history team. I would agree that for an all time yankee team, you'd move him to third.

    Did I leave Honus off the squad? No! He's the perfect bench player since he can play any position (he never caught though). I approached it more as trying to make a "real" 25-man roster. I just think you're going to want that young a-rod at short. He was something special. Also, you can't name a guy you'd rather have on your bench than Wagner. His flexibility makes him better suited for the role than just having some other hitters on your bench.

    You REALLY want to argue about the all time MLB team though, just start talking about left field. I go with Ricky, and some Boston fan will probably firebomb my email address for saying it.

  23. @20 A-Rod is one of the players that DWAR shows it's flaws the most. He's a multiple gold glover with a very good fielding percentage at multiple positions. His glove is way above average yet his total DWAR for his career is negative penalizing him 10 WAR compared to Wagner.

    I know the arguments but I'm sick of reading game lines where the line reads "2 outs. Groundout to third 5-3 (weak 3B)". DWAR is a very overrated stat. For example, does anybody really think Nick Swisher's DEFENSE alone is in the top 5 at any position across all of MLB? I didn't think so.

  24. So i may be wrong about this but wouldn't Leverage index and by extent WAR be biased towards relievers as opposed to starters because relievers only play in high leverage situations while most of the innings a starter pitches are early in a game and therefore low leverage. And wouldn't it also be biased against pitchers with a lot of run support especially early in games?

  25. Obviously many would disqualify him, but Barry Bonds is probably the greatest LF of all time, steroids not withstanding.

  26. Richard Chester Says:

    @2

    Tiny Bonham weighed in excess of 200 lbs.

  27. [...] posted here: The New Yankees WAR Pitching Leader » Baseball-Reference Blog … AKPC_IDS += "32168,"; AKPC_IDS += [...]

  28. Cameron @24: I don't think Wins Above Replacement (WAR) gives any credit for leverage. Win Probability Added (WPA) does that, but not WAR, unless I'm mistaken. WAR builds up more and more the more IP you have, as long as you are performing above replacement level. Which makes Mariano's WAR total so astounding, as he pitches so many fewer innings than starters.

  29. @18 JA... I love lots of things about this site, but I have to say I really enjoy seeing the site's most prolific stats-analysis poster make an argument that justifies one player's superiority, at least partially, with anecdotes from that player's contemporaries. There is still part of all of us that is just a baseball fan, in awe of the history of the game.

  30. Whitey Ford is an example of why I find Pitcher's WAR so confounding. Indeed, not a single one of his seasons is a top 500 season in pitcher's WAR--in other words, according to pitcher's WAR, not one of his seasons was in the top 500 seasons ever pitched. Ford's WAR seems to be deflated because of the great teams he played with.

    Take his 1955 season, for example: 2nd in the league for ERA, W/L%, and IP. 3rd in ERA+, Adjusted Pitching Runs, and WPA. First in wins and complete games. 4th in K's. Fifth in shutouts. And 6th in pitchers WAR.

    Wouldn't you think that a guy with so many categories where he is 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, would be better than 6th in WAR?

    But my understanding is that WAR discounts his performance because he was on a great team. Indeed, I have to admit that it can appear to be almost irrelevant who the pitcher is on those teams. Look at Tommy Byrne's 1955 season. He was 16-5, finishing first in W/L %, with a WAR of ONE (1)--ha ha. He finished in the top 10 of only a couple of other pitching stats.

    So, maybe Whitey Ford wasn't really as great pitcher as everyone seemed to think at the time, despite the fact that his ERA+ is 29th all time, his WPA is 15th all time, his W/L % is 5th all time, and his other great stats, because his pitcher's WAR is only 56th all time.

    Indeed, maybe Ford shouldn't even be in. There are only about 60 pitchers in the HOF. Maybe Jerry Koosman should be in the HOF instead of Ford--his WAR is higher. I love his 1977 season, where he went 8-20 with an ERA+ of 107 and his PWAR is 2.8 (Higher than Ford's in 1957, 1959, or 1960, where Ford's ERA+ was 140, 119, and 116, respectively).

    Oh well, I know you stat heads will be able to explain it all somehow.

  31. At 26, Richard C: I think it was one of them ironic names.

  32. @1

    Poor Mel was born too late, or too early, or too something. A few years either way and he would have been hoisting a few championship trophies.

  33. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @21/ Oldschool Says: "6 of those above mentioned Yankee greats are in the HoF with Rivera ,Clemens and possibly Mussina following them. I wonder how many teams have that many pitchers in the HoF ?"

    HOF PITCHERS WHO PLAYED for the RED SOX:
    - Jack Chesboro*
    - Dennis Eckersley
    - Lefty Grove
    - Waite Hoyt*
    - Fergie Jenkins
    - Herb Pennock
    - Babe Ruth
    - Red Ruffing
    -Tom Seaver*

    Pedro Martinez is a lock, as would be Roger Clemens without PED talk, and Curt Schilling has a good shot. Maybe Tiant gets in via the Veteran's Committee (to be fair, Guidry also has a shot through the VC).

    So the scorecard is pretty much even?
    * to be fair, the Red Sox were a very small part of their careers

    @22/ Mosc "... You REALLY want to argue about the all time MLB team though, just start talking about left field. I go with Rick{e}y...":

    ALL-TIME LEFT FIELDERS:
    1) Barry Bonds - much better than Rickey. There's that pesky PEDS issue again, though...
    2) Ted Williams - Rickey's stolen bases/baserunning, defense, and longevity don't come close to closing the huge hitting gap. I'm not even bringing up war credit...
    3) Stan Musial - see #2 (w/less war credit). To get back to my discussion in #19, some people consider him a first baseman. He had great years at both positions, so there's no clear-cut answer.
    arguably as good:
    4) Yaz - his peak of 1967-70 was short, but pretty awesome, and better than Rickey's. I admit there is severe hometown bias at work there.

  34. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I don't think Wins Above Replacement (WAR) gives any credit for leverage

    It does give partial credit for leverage. This won't affect SP too much as almost all are around 1.0. It gives extra credit to top relievers.

    Whitey Ford is an example of why I find Pitcher's WAR so confounding. ... Take his 1955 season, for example: 2nd in the league for ERA, W/L%, and IP. 3rd in ERA+, Adjusted Pitching Runs, and WPA. First in wins and complete games. 4th in K's. Fifth in shutouts. And 6th in pitchers WAR. .... But my understanding is that WAR discounts his performance because he was on a great team. Indeed, I have to admit that it can appear to be almost irrelevant who the pitcher is on those teams. Look at Tommy Byrne's 1955 season. He was 16-5, finishing first in W/L %, with a WAR of ONE (1). ....I love [Koosman's] 1977 season, where he went 8-20 with an ERA+ of 107 and his PWAR is 2.8

    The major reason for this disconnect is defensive support. Look, when you watch a game, you're quite aware that sometimes a pitcher gets helped by his fielders, and sometimes he's let down, right? That happens in every game. Yet sometimes when the season is over, we see the pitcher's ERA of 3.00 and just assume that represents his own performance. But it's not. It's the results of the pitcher's performance combined with his fielders' performance.

    The question is, when we have this 3.00 ERA, how do we separate out the fielding to isolate the pitcher's performance? This is an issue which has flummoxed sabermetricians for a long time. It still does. Does WAR have that answer right? Almost assuredly not. But it takes a systematic approach which makes some sense. Forget WAR or any advanced stats. What do we know about the mid-50s Yankees defense? Or the mid-70s Mets? The Yankees were known for having great defense, and that helped Ford. As you wrote, it almost didn't matter who the pitcher was. That's an overstatement, but once Reynolds, Raschi, and Lopat were done, look at those Yankee pitching staffs. Ford and a bunch of journeymen. Guys who had been unimpressive elsewhere, but the Yankees plugged them in and got a couple useful seasons, then found someone new. On the other hand, some of those Mets teams were awful. This was recognized at the time. I have no doubt if you stuck Koosman -- a very good pitcher -- on the '50s Yankees, he'd have been a serious CYA contender annually.

  35. @33

    I'm a Sox fan, and there's no way Yaz was better than Rickey. From 1980 to 1999, Rickey only had one season with an OBP under .390. Rickey had a higher WAR, 113-88. Yaz had three seasons of a 7+ WAR, Rickey had seven of them.

    Not only was Rickey better, he might have been better if he'd never stolen a base in his career. People just don't realize how awesome the guy was.

  36. Oldschool@21: There are seven pitchers currently in the Hall of Fame who accumulated at least 10 Wins Above Replacement while with the Yankees: one from the deadball era (Jack Chesbro) two from the 1920s (Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock), two from the 1930s (Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing), and Whitey Ford and Goose Gossage. All these guys were fine pitchers, but, it is true that the Yankees don't really have a record of many inner circle all-time great pitchers spending the heart of their careers with the team, especially compared to their history of core all-timers on the hitting side.

  37. @24 Thank you!

    I protest, someone please explain to me why this leverage thing exists??? And, why is it the half way point between the LI and 1.0?? What is the statistical reason for this?

    Rivera has saved 470 RAR, so he should only have about 47 WAR

  38. Also, little known fact which is surprising, since 1920 Whitey Ford has the lowest ERA (yes not adjusted, just raw ERA) for anyone who has started at least 314 games (the number of games Sandy Koufax started). Here are the only such players with a career ERA below 3.00

    Player ERA GS ERA+
    Carl Hubbell 2.98 433 130
    Mel Stottlem. 2.97 356 112
    Don Drysdale 2.95 465 121
    Pedro Martin. 2.93 409 154
    Bob Gibson 2.91 482 128
    Juan Marichal 2.89 457 123
    Tom Seaver 2.86 647 128
    Jim Palmer 2.86 521 126
    Sandy Koufax 2.76 314 131
    Whitey Ford 2.75 438 133

  39. All Time Left fielders:

    1. Bonds: Can't argue with his defense, hitting, base running etc.
    2. WIlliams: Hitting, hitting, hitting...
    3. Henderson: What couldn't he do again?

    The truly sad part of the all time team mentioned in the '99 All Star game was the lack of Bonds on the team. Maybe he started juicing then since he was left out...what a shame. Compare his numbers with Griffey that decade, it's awful close in every stat except SB and BB which Bonds destroys Griffey.

  40. @38.

    Only one of those pitchers played in the steroid era though...

    Pedro Jaime Martinez. GOAT!

  41. you want to see something interesting about whitey ford? well check this out:
    in his 22(!) world series starts, 9 had negative WPA: 7 of them had WPA of -.200 or greater(fewer?), adding up to an amazing -1.896 WPA in 26 IP; 1 had -.102 in 7IP, and another had -.029 in 7 IP, giving him a grand total of -2.027 WPA/40 IP.

    of course, ford’s positive WPA games then total 3.156 in 106 IP

    which i find fascinating for a guy who pretty much built his hall of fame case in the world series

  42. Perhaps it was as hard then as it is today to buy/accumulate great hitting and great pitching. You either pick one or the other?

    For how ever good the Yankees offense is today, their pitching as a whole is not very good. And they spend the most (consistently) of any team.

  43. @40, Carl Hubbell actually pitched in the highest scoring era of all-time, more than during the steroid era, the early 1930s. The steroid era is not far behind however.

  44. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @35/ Jim Dunne -
    You understand as a Red Sox fan what "severe hometown bias at work" means, right? I don't really believe it myself (Yaz better than Rickey!), but if you asked the typical Red Sox fan, you'd get a lot of support for Yaz. Also, I want to mention his incredible 1967 Triple Crown/MVP season, which is better than any season Rickey had.

    @16/ Eric W. - I cannot consider Rivera the greatest pitcher ever for the same reason I cannot consider Koufax the greatest pitcher ever - they just didn't pitch enough innings. 1201 innings just isn't enough to enter the discussion of the very greatest pitchers.

    Innings counts for a lot; sure, he's the greatest _reliever_ ever, but that's a different discussion.

    Comparing Rivera's ERA to Pedro's is an apples-to-oranges comparison. Relievers have at least half-a-run ERA advantage over starters, for starters. Pedro was also pitching 200-240 innings in his best years, compared to 70-80 for Rivera. You just can't "leverage" that enough to make Mo as good as Pedro in any full year.

  45. @39, what position do you assign Musial to, because if it is LF he is definitely ahead of Henderson.

  46. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @45/ Topper009 - Also see the bottom of my comment #33

  47. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I protest, someone please explain to me why this leverage thing exists??? And, why is it the half way point between the LI and 1.0?? What is the statistical reason for this?

    It exists to measure how important those parts of the game are. Hits allowed by Rivera in a close 9th inning have a bigger impact on a team's chance to win than those in the 6th inning of a blowout.

    The halfway point is used to account for "chaining." If Rivera got hurt, he wouldn't be directly replaced by, say, Hector Noesi. David Robertson would close, Soriano pitches the 8th, etc etc, and Noesi comes back from AAA to pitch long relief.

    I don't know if this is the best article on it, but at a glance it seems to explain the concept well:
    http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2009/4/29/856308/bullpen-chaining-and-reliever-war

    Reasonable minds could disagree whether WAR should account for LI.

    Also, little known fact which is surprising, since 1920 Whitey Ford has the lowest ERA

    Yup, I was quite surprised when I learned that a couple years ago.

  48. Bonds vs Williams is pretty close,
    Bonds through 2000 (age 35 season) he had 6.350 WAR/500 PA
    Williams in his entire career had 6.399 WAR/500 PA.

    This is ignoring Bonds ridiculous seasons that were not possible by a normal human, but also gives Williams no military credit. When you consider Williams missed ages 24, 25 and 26, and averaged 11.1 WAR! in the 4 seasons surrounding that 3 year gap I would have to give the nod to Teddy.

    Assuming any normal decline for Bonds I don't think he would have raised his career WAR rate more than Williams would have in his prime. Also I'm not counting the 2 Korean War years Williams mostly missed, '52 and '53.

    My all-time lineup would be
    1 Cobb 8
    2 Bonds 7
    3 Williams DH
    4 Ruth 9
    5 Gehrig 3
    6 Hornsby 4
    7 Wagner 6
    8 Schmidt 5
    9 Bench 2

  49. @46, either way Yaz/Rickey, pretty crazy the Red Sox had 2 top 5 all-time LFers in front of the monster from 1939-1977 (Rice took over in '78). And if you count Rice as a HOFer that's 3 HOFers in LF from 1939-1987.

    No pressure Mike Greenwell I guess since he finished 2nd in the '88 MVP voting

  50. since there's been a lot of a-rod comments on this post I would like to know what chance other people give him of breaking the bonds/Aaron home run record and of him even getting to 700 home runs. Personally I think that he will end up somewhere between 700 and Ruth's 714 but I could be wrong.

  51. See, I put Bonds in right. I don't think corner outfielders have some mental block that prevents them from playing the other side. He fields, Babe can DH. Now you have Mays in center and left field is open for a leadoff guy and it came down to Ted Williams and Ricky Henderson. I think ricky's more valuable in the starting lineup and Ted Williams on the bench. There, crucify me. I don't understand why you have to have a basepath liability and a crappy glove on the all time great list with so many other awesome players to choose from. Also, somebody has to lead off. There's plenty of power in the lineup.

  52. Love the debate. Seems like way too many great outfielders over 120 years to have to pick a top 3.
    Impossible to not-pick Ruth, Williams, or Cobb.
    Thinking of all the players left off the list makes my head hurt.

  53. For the record, mine is
    DH Ruth
    2 Harntnett
    3 Gehrig
    4 Hornsby
    5 Schmidt
    6 Rodriguez
    7 Henderson
    8 Mays
    9 Bonds

    Bench:
    OF Ty Cobb
    IF Honus Wagner
    C Johnny Bench
    PH Ted Williams
    ~PR Ricky Hendersion ( During NL games Ruth 9 Bonds 7)

    And here's what I went with on pitchers:
    SP1) Walter Johnson
    SP2) Roger Clemens
    SP3) Cy Young
    SP4) Greg Maddux
    SP5) Tom Seaver
    R1) Nolan Ryan
    R2) Pedro Martinez
    L1) Walter Spahn
    L2) Sandy Koufax
    H1) Dennis Eckersley
    C1) Mariano Rivera
    Bench SP) Lefty Grove

    I like the middle bullpen with a long innings guy and a... fragile guy for both left and right.

  54. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @48/ Topper009 - no "easy outs" in your lineup, huh?

    @49/ Topper009 - " ...And if you count Rice as a HOFer that's 3 HOFers in LF from 1939-1987... "
    It's not quite as continous as that: Williams was entirely in right field in 1939, and in the army 1943-45 and most of 1952-53. Yaz was mostly in CF in 1964, some 3B in 1973, and often at first base starting in 1969. Jim Rice was frequently at DH in his early career, then mostly left field 1980-86, but mostly DH-ing in 1987.

    Greenwell was very good his first four/five years, but for some reason I do not recall became quite unpopular with some Red Sox fans after that.

  55. @51 You just can't put the second greatest hitter of all time on the bench no matter how bad he was as a base runner and fielder, plus Morgan and Wagner could both hit lead off and since there's so much power in the lineup OBP. is more important than stolen bases.

  56. Hornsby could hit lead off as well and Henderson could be a PH/PR or defensive specialist.

  57. @47, sorry I know why the leverage index exists, I meant why does the pitcher's RAR * (LI - 1.0)/2 = WAR exist?

    Thank you very much for the article, very nice read. But I have a major question although I may be missing something.

    The article shows that if relievers are compared just to the replacement pitcher their WAR would be higher, but in reality that doesn't happen since they should really be compared to the next best reliever in the pen. I get that. So chaining actually penalizing relievers compared to a method that just compares them to the replacement pitcher.

    So, WAR based on runs above replacement should be GREATER than WAR based on chaining???? Is this correct?????

    If this is true, then what exactly does the RAR column mean here on bb-ref? If it is truely the runs based on the replacement pitcher, shouldn't we DIVIDE that number by the chained LI, instead of multiply?

    Now a different question, when I look at Mo Rivera's WAR, the numbers dont add up. He had 470 RAR, with an adjusted LI of 1.45, so he should have an adjusted RAR of 681.5, yet he only has 55.3 WAR. So either the runs/win during his career = 12.32 or there is something wrong? I guess 12.32 is not out of the question, is that correct?

    I looked at Andy Pettitte and took out his 3 HOU years, the same team and time span as Rivera roughly, and he had a career runs/win = 10.21?

    If we are supposed to divide the adLI then Rivera should have 470/1.45 = 324 adRAR, and using Pettitte's runs/win multiplier, 324 runs * (1 win/10.21 runs) = 31.7 WAR?

  58. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Mosc/51, Bonds doesn't have the arm for RF.

  59. John Autin Says:

    Just curious -- why pick just ONE all-time team?

    Don't we want to have some actual (hypothetical) baseball games? :)

  60. @ 51, "I don't understand why you have to have a basepath liability and a crappy glove on the all time great list with so many other awesome players to choose from."

    Williams had +8 baserunning runs above average in his career, so basically average, not a liability.

    And the answer to your question is that in baseball
    +65 batting points, +81 on base points, and +215 slugging points!! is more valuable than baserunning and defense

  61. Not meant as a critique but has anyone thought that Henderson may have been using some performance enhancers (at least at the end of his career). He did steal 66 bases in 1998 when he was 39 and PEDs don't just allow you to bulk up.

  62. Not a full 25-man roster but what about this for the position players?

    C: Berra
    1B: Gehrig
    2B: Morgan
    3B: Schmidt
    SS: Wagner
    LF: Henderson
    CF: Mays
    RF: Ruth
    DH: Williams

    Playing Williams in LF in NL Games.
    I leave Bonds out because it's impossible to say which home runs he hit and which were hit by his doctors and chemists.

  63. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @59/ John Autin: "Just curious -- why pick just ONE all-time team?..."

    Great point, John. How about for starters:
    - pre-expansion (before 1961) vs. expansion (1961 and after)
    - AL vs. NL
    -worst HOFers vs. best non-HOFers
    -lefties vs. righties

    I'll start with #1 (pre/post expansion):
    Catcher: Berra vs. Bench (2nd team: Cochran vs. Piazza)
    1B: Gehrig vs. Pujols
    2B: E. Collins vs. Morgan
    3B: E. Mathews vs. Schmidt
    SS: Wagner vs. A-Rod or Ripken, if A-Rod not a SS
    LF: Williams vs. Bonds
    CF: Cobb vs. Mays (2nd team: Speaker vs. Mantle)
    RF: Ruth vs. Aaron

    P1: W. Johnson vs. Clemens
    P2: Grove vs. Maddux
    P3: Alexander vs. Seaver
    P4: C. Young vs. R. Johnson
    Relievers: won't need any...
    Manager: Joe McCarthy vs. Earl Weaver
    General Manager: Branch Rickey vs. John Schuerholz

    Toughest omissions: Musial, Hornsby, Foxx, F. Robinson, B. Gibson, Brett
    Let the games begin!!

  64. @64 Id take Pedro over any of your post expansion pitchers

    Ill take a shot at AL v NL
    C Berra vs Bench
    1B Gehrig vs Pujols
    2B Collins vs Hornsby
    3B Brett (or A-Rod) vs Schmidt
    SS A-Rod (or Ripken) vs Wagner
    LF Williams vs Bonds
    CF Cobb vs Mays
    RF Ruth vs Aaron

    Crazy how much it looks like your previous list

  65. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @64/ Topper009 -
    You're right, I should add Pedro, and then move Randy Johnson to P#5 (vs. Mathewson or Feller)
    Relievers: Wilhelm vs. Rivera (with these kind of line-ups, you probably will need 'em)

    I _still_ have not mentioned Lajoie, Dimaggio, Koufax, Ott, Spahn...

    Well, there's only so many all-time greats to go around, whether it is AL vs. NL, or pre vs. post-expansion...

  66. What was his WAR before yesterday? I have to assume it was like 55.2. I can't imagine that a 1 IP appearance where a guy put 2 runners on in a 3-run games nets very much WAR.

  67. There is nothing magical about WAR. (There isn't even universal agreement on how to calculate it). And even in its most commonly accepted form, it uses arbitrary constants and (ugh) Park Factors.

    So, while it's a fun argument, nothing "happened" yesterday to make Rivera surpass Whitey Ford, although both are fantastic pitchers. (If I were picking one Yankees hurler for my all time team, it would be Gomez).

  68. Johnny Twisto Says:

    arbitrary constants and (ugh) Park Factors

    Explain?

  69. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Now a different question, when I look at Mo Rivera's WAR, the numbers dont add up. He had 470 RAR, with an adjusted LI of 1.45, so he should have an adjusted RAR of 681.5, yet he only has 55.3 WAR. So either the runs/win during his career = 12.32 or there is something wrong? I guess 12.32 is not out of the question, is that correct?

    Topper, I've been looking at this for a while, and you're right, something seems wrong. Here's my best guess: RAR is already adjusted for leverage, although the site description says it is not. It looks to me like Rrep is adjusted for leverage, which is a bad presentation of the data. Rivera's career Rrep is 791 runs. Over 1201 IP, that's a 5.91 replacement level RA. That seems to way too high. Pettitte's is only 5.80. The replacement level for RP is supposed to be lower than for SP.

    So then, Rivera's 470 RAR convert directly to 55.3 WAR because he has been so good that he actually changes the run environment when he pitches. In his games, it takes 8.5 runs to win a game, while Pettitte has been 10.2.

    I will send a note to the site to see if that's the explanation.

  70. Thanks Twisto, any response to the first part of my post #57. What am I missing or do you think it makes sense to divide by the adjusted LI.

    Also, in response to your last post, Phil Hughes (LI of 0.9 this season) has a replacement level of 33 runs in 54.1 IP (5.49 ERA).
    Mo Rivera (LI of 2.0) has a replacement level of 29 runs in 51 IP (5.12 ERA).
    They seem close enough to be off due to rounding, and certainly not LI adjusted. It is showing Rivera being held to a higher replacement level since his replacement ERA is lower, but its not 1.5 times lower?

    I don't see how Rivera could change the run environment that much, if each team scored 5.1 R/G in Pettitte's games but only 4.25 in Rivera's games it would suggest Rivera alone is responsible for saving nearly a run per game, but he has only allowed 470 runs above REPLACEMENT, (not average) in 1031 games, only .455 R/G

  71. Johnny Twisto Says:

    So chaining actually penalizing relievers compared to a method that just compares them to the replacement pitcher. So, WAR based on runs above replacement should be GREATER than WAR based on chaining???? Is this correct?????

    If you were using the full LI, then RAR/WAR would be greater.

    I don't see how Rivera could change the run environment that much, if each team scored 5.1 R/G in Pettitte's games but only 4.25 in Rivera's games it would suggest Rivera alone is responsible for saving nearly a run per game, but he has only allowed 470 runs above REPLACEMENT, (not average) in 1031 games, only .455 R/G

    But remember he's only averaged a little over an inning per game. In those innings he pitches, the scoring environment is much lower.

  72. @66 it was 55.2 as it was the game before. Before that it was 55.1. I've been watching this thing crawl without knowing each games effect until the PI update the next day,

  73. "If you were using the full LI, then RAR/WAR would be greater."

    Wait I am still confused, should it be RAR * LI or RAR / LI?

    Also, I think the average runs per inning is about .5, since .5*9 = 4.5 R/G which is about average. And Rivera has saved .39 R/IP above replacement unadjusted, so his presence should change the average runs from 4.5/game to 4.1/game. This is not accounting for Yankee Stadium and any other adjustments

  74. Johnny Dunce Says:

    I'm sort of confused as to why you're thinking it should RAR/LI, so I'm probably not answering this well.

    If you didn't account for leverage, you would just use RAR.

    If you did account for leverage, you would use RAR * LI.

    If you account for leverage but through chaining, as WAR does, then it's RAR * ((LI-1)/2).

    But as I said, it looks to me like RAR as presented on the site has already been multiplied by the chaining-adjusted LI.

    If I'm not answering your question, can you start over and rephrase it?

  75. Johnny Dunce Says:

    As for the runs per win, it's hard to answer since I'm not sure what formula B-R uses to set the ratio of runs to wins. And I'm not 100% sure I'm explaining how it's applied properly. (I beg anyone else who knows how this stuff works to correct me if I'm wrong.)

    Basically, in calculating WAR for Rivera, we're looking at the run environment only during the times Rivera is in the game, not an average game with one inning of Rivera tacked onto the end. Using what I believe to be a good run-to-win converter, I determined that 7.7 total runs scored per game would equate to 8.5 runs per win (Rivera's conversion), and 9.9 runs per game would equate to 10.2 runs per win (Pettite's conversion). So the difference between their run environments is 2.2 runs per game. Now, in actuality, over their careers Rivera has allowed 1.9 fewer runs per 9 IP than Pettitte. The 0.3 difference might be attributable to weaker offenses Pettitte had when in Houston. I'm not completely sure.

    I can't guarantee I'm explaining this correctly, but does it make sense?

  76. OK, it makes sense that Rivera would have a lower converter since I would think games with a save tend to be lower scoring, a lot more 4-3 games than 9-8 games. So if Rivera only plays in lower scoring games the runs he saves are more valuable. Also you could just use the PI, show every game of his career, put it into excel and calculate the actual runs/game compared to the average Yankee teams of those years, just to see.

    Back to my point, the WAR a reliever gets, if only compared to a replacement relief pitcher, would be LARGER than if the chaining method was used. Therefore, if the replacement pitcher's runs are known, once the adjusted LI is factored in that number should become smaller, thus indicating a lower run amount to compare a relief pitcher to. If you multiply the replacement level runs by the adLI, you are saying the new, adjusted replacement level represents a worse pitcher than the regular replacement pitcher.

    So to me you should find out the number of runs a replacement level pitcher would give up in the same number of innings as the pitcher in question, and make that number SMALLER somehow. adLI is always > 1.0 (at least most of the time for relievers) so you should divide.?.?

    So if Mo pitches 70 innings, and a replacement pitcher would allow ~ 40 runs but he allowed ~ 20 runs, you should take the difference, 20, and divide by the adLI to show Rivera was 14 runs better than the next reliever.

    Now, when I did the quick check with Hughes and Rivera from this year, with similar IP but a starter and reliever, if I used Hughes conversion rate for replacement runs/IP it would suggest Rivera's replacement level for his IP would be 31 runs. However, because he is a reliever that number should be lower, and if it used the adLI it would be 31/1.5 = 21. It is lower, but only 29 runs. Because of this I am not convinced the adLI is factored into the RAR column.

  77. The other problem is that it looks like a lot of relievers have a smaller runs/win convertor (Hoffman = 8.76, Wagner = 9.1) so I don't think the RAR is then multiplied by the adLI, so Im not sure where the adLI comes into play. If it is coming into play in the RAR column it seems be not making much of an impact at all, at least not as much as suggested by the article you linked in post #47.

  78. I think (as of now) that Rivera should have closer to (470/1.45) / 8.5 ~ 38 WAR

  79. Johnny Dunce Says:

    Topper, my BAC is too high right now to carefully address your points. I'll try to come back to this tomorrow, unless someone else steps in.

  80. Well that is a massive difference Topper. And you may be right-I do not know, but certainly following the exaqct WAR values of ONE WAR system, or any, as if precisely right when there are so many questions is folly. As of now I have no idea of whether Mo just passed Ford in career value, he may not be close.

    Nor do I have ANY idea of whether B-R war is better than Fan Graphs or any other system. They vary a LOT with many players.

    There needs to be an open discussion & debate about which WAR is likely to be closer to the truth, & for which types of players. Using examples of players rated amongst the most disparately by all systems. Then we could see what achievements are likely under or over valued by which systems, whether walks, leverage situations, position adjustments, or whatever.

    It is too easy to get comfortable with a number, whether a traditional context dependent one like Runs or RBIs, or received Gospel on one kind of WAR.

  81. With Mariano at 55 WAR and Dennis Eckersley ( possibly the worst color commentator ever) at 58 WAR and Trevor Hoffman still the all time saves leader an interesting question presents itself, simply if Rivera retired today who would be the greatest reliever ever. My vote goes to Rivera over Eckersley by a small margin.

  82. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @19/ Whitey Ford's all-time ranking -
    Looking at his record more closely, I now think Ford definitely belongs in the all-time Top-30, probably higher.

    @81/ Cameron - "...Dennis Eckersley ( possibly the worst color commentator ever)..."
    Cameron, there's a very large pool of candidates for this "honor"; and while Eck can be annoying at times, I don't think he's close to the worst.

  83. Johnny can you post any response you get from the site if they get back to you?

  84. Johnny Dunce Says:

    As I go through all the guys on the Yankee staff, I see that if you calculate an (E)RA on all their Rreps, the SP are all around 5.7, and the relievers are all around 5.2. (The slight differences among pitchers of the same group are probably based on strength of competition, for which there is supposed to be an adjustment, as well as rounding.) So that half-run must be the difference in replacement level for SP and RP. But since RAR is based on actual runs allowed minus Rrep, this indicates RAR does not include the leverage component (otherwise the RP would show up with very different Rrep ERAs). This is consistent with how the site describes its process, but contrary to what I conclude at #69. So, I am again confused. I have to look at all of this closer when I have some time and then perhaps send a note to the site if I can't figure it out.

  85. @51.

    hartnett was a better catcher then Johnny bench??????????????????????

    ______________________________________________________________
    MHO, Whitey Ford may be oneo the most underrated pitchers in the history of baseball. Certainly, if you take into account ALL of baseball history, he isnt an All time Top Ten pitcher.

    But if you look at pitchers in the modern era.....I tink he he s quite high on the list. His winning percentage he is the highest of the modern era....and yes he pitched for the Yankees, but i dont buy the argument that becase he pitched for the Yankees, he should be discounted

    He lost two complee years to military service (52 and 53) so there s some credit there. he was carefully spotted by Stengel, pitched out of turn and held for games aginst top pitchers he had seasons with as few as 29 starts and with exception of 1955, his career was typcila yas was equivalent to a top fight starter of current times on 5 man starter staffs.....Like Maddux or Halladay

    I fhe had had more starts...he might have have had 15 or more wins....

    It was only in 1961 when Ralph Houk pitched him every fourth day did Ford have 20 win seasons (61 and 63),,,,In 61 , he went 25-4, won the Cy Young, and in 63 he was 24-7.Read Jim Boutons hilarious account of how Ford used craft and guile and ellie howard s help to hang on in 64 and 65.

    In his HOF induction speech , Mickey Mantle called Ford the true leader of the Yankees....paid that tribute to Ford.....with Ford there...they both went in the same year of 73.

    In the modern era, here have only been 13 puitchers who won 100 games or more then they lost, i think it s a telling statistic... Hubell a great pitcher. had a differetntial of 99 and Roy Hallady as of the last start is at 94.....

    Ford is on that list with a differential of 130......he went 236 and 106.....

    So heres my list of top starters who pitched exlusively in the live ball era. of the top ten, 12 of the 16 won at least 100 more then they lost.

    1. Grove
    2. Clemens
    3. R Johnson
    4. Spahn
    5. Seaver
    6, Feller
    7. Martinez
    8. Maddux
    9. Ford
    10 Palmer
    11. Koufax

    12 Marichal
    13. Carlton
    14. Gibson
    15, Glavine
    16. Mussina

    I placing thse guys ahead of Ryan, Sutton, Niekro and Perry.....they were all 300 winners but they also lost a LOT.....I ve got Carlton ahead of them, its my preference. .

  86. Also, just checked to see Rivera's career (E)RA based on career Rreps = 792*9/1202 = 5.93.

    No way the next best reliever on the Yankees is expected to have a 5.93 ERA. It cant be accounting for chaining.

  87. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    topper: dividing RAR (runs better than replacement) by LI, doesn't make sense unless you want to *penalize* pitchers for facing higher leverage situations and I don't see why you would want to do that.

    Whether it makes sense to *credit* relievers who face on average higher leverage situations, with essentially extra innings at the same value depends on what you think about their value.

  88. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Also, why would you account for chaining with relievers but not with starting pitchers or position players.

    It's true that if you lose Rivera, you don't replace him with some scrub, but with your next best short reliever, which over his career with the Yankees has usually been an excellent pitcher. But that pitcher must be replaced in long relief with some other pitcher, and so on down the line until you get to the last bullpen guy who may well be replaced at replacement level. Losing your closer started that whole chain, and all of it works out to be sort of like replacing him with a replacement player.

    Here's my guess at the justification for taking LI and averaging it with average leverage for adjusting WAR for relievers:

    Because of chaining, you aren't putting in a replacement guy into the high leverage innings of a closer, fireman or great setup guy -- those innings get the next best pitcher. Then that pitchers former innings (probably slightly lower leverage) get a next best, etc. down to the guy who actually gets replaced with a replacement pitcher, who probably had average or even less than average leverage. So on average, the innings replaced will be about 1/2 as intense as the closer's actual innings.

    That's the only way I could make a coherent argument for the way B-R calculates WAR for relievers.

  89. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Michael, you are correct, but it sort of reads like you're trying to reinvent the wheel. Did you read the article I linked in #47?

    As for why to account for chaining only with relievers....Actually, I thought starters were adjusted by their leverage as well (even though their leverages are almost always close to 1.0). But there shouldn't be any chaining there, since their spot would be directly replaced by a AAA SP or the long reliever, who in theory is about replacement level.

    Position players don't have any effect over the leverage of the situations they face. Relievers do (indirectly, by virtue of pitching at a level so their manager decides to use them in those spots).

  90. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Also, just checked to see Rivera's career (E)RA based on career Rreps = 792*9/1202 = 5.93. No way the next best reliever on the Yankees is expected to have a 5.93 ERA.

    I think you're misunderstanding how it's supposed to work (though I can't blame you, since I'm misunderstanding how the numbers are presented as well).

    Even though the closer would be directly replaced in his role by the second best reliever, he is still ostensibly being replaced in the bullpen by a replacement-level reliever. So that's the baseline he's measured against. Then the value of his runs saved are multiplied by the leverage of the innings he pitches. Except that that leverage is reduced because of the chaining effect.

    Anyway, yes, a 5.93 RA is much higher than his direct replacement would put up, and it's also higher (I am pretty sure) than a replacement reliever would put up. I just don't know if that number is already adjusted for leverage. I have to try to study this to see if I can figure out what's going on, and then try asking B-R for some guidance.