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Winning 15+ Games In 1st Or 2nd Season Since 1973

Posted by Steve Lombardi on September 3, 2011

Which pitchers won 15 games or more during their first or second major league season since 1973?

Here is the list -

Rk Player W Year Age Tm Lg G GS CG SHO GF L W-L% SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR BF AB 2B 3B IBB HBP SH SF GDP SB CS PO BK WP BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Pit Str
1 Dwight Gooden 24 1985 20 NYM NL 35 35 16 8 0 4 .857 0 276.2 198 51 47 69 268 1.53 229 13 1065 986 23 3 4 2 6 2 21 22 10 5 2 6 .201 .254 .270 .524      
2 Mark Mulder 21 2001 23 OAK AL 34 34 6 4 0 8 .724 0 229.1 214 92 88 51 153 3.45 126 16 927 860 34 2 4 5 8 3 26 18 8 6 0 4 .249 .294 .349 .643   3307 2108
3 Andy Pettitte 21 1996 24 NYY AL 35 34 2 0 1 8 .724 0 221.0 229 105 95 72 162 3.87 129 23 929 844 37 3 2 3 7 3 23 10 11 10 1 6 .271 .330 .404 .734      
4 Tim Hudson 20 2000 24 OAK AL 32 32 2 2 0 6 .769 0 202.1 169 100 93 82 169 4.14 113 24 847 746 32 3 5 7 5 7 17 24 3 1 0 7 .227 .306 .374 .680   3232 1921
5 Scott Erickson 20 1991 23 MIN AL 32 32 5 3 0 8 .714 0 204.0 189 80 72 71 108 3.18 135 13 851 762 39 5 3 6 5 7 22 4 10 0 0 4 .248 .314 .364 .678      
6 Teddy Higuera 20 1986 27 MIL AL 34 34 15 4 0 11 .645 0 248.1 226 84 77 74 207 2.79 156 26 1031 936 43 4 5 3 7 11 13 10 9 0 0 3 .241 .296 .379 .675      
7 Tom Browning 20 1985 25 CIN NL 38 38 6 4 0 9 .690 0 261.1 242 111 103 73 155 3.55 107 29 1083 987 48 1 8 3 13 7 18 16 8 1 0 2 .245 .297 .384 .681      
8 Bret Saberhagen 20 1985 21 KCR AL 32 32 10 1 0 6 .769 0 235.1 211 79 75 38 158 2.87 145 19 931 876 33 6 1 1 9 7 13 12 8 3 3 1 .241 .271 .357 .628      
9 Fausto Carmona 19 2007 23 CLE AL 32 32 2 1 0 8 .704 0 215.0 199 78 73 61 137 3.06 148 16 879 801 27 4 2 11 2 4 32 13 5 2 1 5 .248 .309 .352 .661   3138 2019
10 Chien-Ming Wang 19 2006 26 NYY AL 34 33 2 1 1 6 .760 1 218.0 233 92 88 52 76 3.63 125 12 900 841 44 1 4 2 3 2 33 9 11 0 1 6 .277 .320 .375 .695   3055 1918
11 Roy Oswalt 19 2002 24 HOU NL 35 34 0 0 0 9 .679 0 233.0 215 86 78 62 208 3.01 144 17 956 870 39 8 4 5 12 7 22 10 7 1 0 3 .247 .299 .369 .668   3421 2367
12 Mark Fidrych 19 1976 21 DET AL 31 29 24 4 2 9 .679 0 250.1 217 76 65 53 97 2.34 159 12 996 923 21 2 3 3 12 5 25 13 16 0 0 6 .235 .277 .301 .579      
13 Trevor Cahill 18 2010 22 OAK AL 30 30 1 1 0 8 .692 0 196.2 155 73 65 63 118 2.97 139 19 783 705 20 1 1 6 3 6 27 15 5 4 2 2 .220 .287 .332 .619   3038 1819
14 Tim Lincecum 18 2008 24 SFG NL 34 33 2 1 0 5 .783 0 227.0 182 72 66 84 265 2.62 169 11 928 824 39 3 1 6 11 3 23 20 3 0 2 17 .221 .297 .316 .612   3682 2335
15 Daisuke Matsuzaka 18 2008 27 BOS AL 29 29 0 0 0 3 .857 0 167.2 128 58 54 94 154 2.90 160 12 716 608 29 2 1 7 3 4 13 15 5 0 0 5 .211 .321 .324 .645   2904 1762
16 Mark Prior 18 2003 22 CHC NL 30 30 3 1 0 6 .750 0 211.1 183 67 57 50 245 2.43 179 15 863 793 39 6 4 9 9 2 14 7 9 0 0 9 .231 .283 .352 .635   3401 2268
17 Russ Ortiz 18 1999 25 SFG NL 33 33 3 0 0 9 .667 0 207.2 189 109 88 125 164 3.81 113 24 922 774 33 3 5 6 11 6 16 25 7 1 0 13 .244 .351 .388 .739      
18 Mike Mussina 18 1992 23 BAL AL 32 32 8 4 0 5 .783 0 241.0 212 70 68 48 130 2.54 157 16 957 888 39 5 2 2 13 6 18 9 9 1 0 6 .239 .278 .348 .626      
19 Steve Avery 18 1991 21 ATL NL 35 35 3 1 0 8 .692 0 210.1 189 89 79 65 137 3.38 116 21 868 788 33 4 0 3 8 4 17 21 11 0 1 4 .240 .299 .372 .671      
20 Lary Sorensen 18 1978 22 MIL AL 37 36 17 3 1 12 .600 1 280.2 277 111 100 50 78 3.21 118 14 1150 1071 33 5 4 5 11 13 18 12 8 3 2 3 .259 .291 .338 .629      
21 Justin Verlander 17 2006 23 DET AL 30 30 1 1 0 9 .654 0 186.0 187 78 75 60 124 3.63 126 21 776 703 33 4 1 6 2 4 21 1 5 8 1 5 .266 .327 .414 .741   2968 1868
22 Barry Zito 17 2001 23 OAK AL 35 35 3 2 0 8 .680 0 214.1 184 92 83 80 205 3.49 125 18 902 800 30 4 0 13 5 4 10 23 11 3 1 6 .230 .309 .345 .654   3538 2216
23 CC Sabathia 17 2001 20 CLE AL 33 33 0 0 0 5 .773 0 180.1 149 93 88 95 171 4.39 102 19 763 653 32 2 1 7 3 5 8 27 15 4 3 7 .228 .330 .371 .701   3144 1900
24 Freddy Garcia 17 1999 24 SEA AL 33 33 2 1 0 8 .680 0 201.1 205 96 91 90 170 4.07 124 18 888 779 43 4 4 10 3 6 16 26 7 2 3 12 .263 .345 .398 .743      
25 Orlando Hernandez 17 1999 33 NYY AL 33 33 2 1 0 9 .654 0 214.1 187 108 98 87 157 4.12 115 24 910 801 45 5 2 8 3 11 11 19 8 1 0 4 .233 .311 .392 .703      
26 Kevin Millwood 17 1998 23 ATL NL 31 29 3 1 1 8 .680 0 174.1 175 86 79 56 163 4.08 102 18 748 678 29 6 3 3 8 3 9 7 5 0 1 6 .258 .316 .398 .714      
27 Dave Fleming 17 1992 22 SEA AL 33 33 7 4 0 10 .630 0 228.1 225 95 86 60 112 3.39 117 13 946 877 53 4 3 4 3 2 16 18 14 0 1 8 .257 .306 .371 .677      
28 Tom Gordon 17 1989 21 KCR AL 49 16 1 1 16 9 .654 1 163.0 122 67 66 86 153 3.64 107 10 677 582 18 4 4 1 4 4 20 7 3 0 0 12 .210 .311 .306 .616      
29 Kirk McCaskill 17 1986 25 CAL AL 34 33 10 2 1 10 .630 0 246.1 207 98 92 92 202 3.36 123 19 1013 905 33 6 1 5 6 5 18 7 11 0 2 10 .229 .302 .341 .643      
30 Dwight Gooden 17 1984 19 NYM NL 31 31 7 3 0 9 .654 0 218.0 161 72 63 73 276 2.60 137 7 879 799 24 7 2 2 3 2 4 47 5 2 7 3 .202 .269 .275 .545      
31 Mark Langston 17 1984 23 SEA AL 35 33 5 2 0 10 .630 0 225.0 188 99 85 118 204 3.40 118 16 965 819 35 9 5 8 13 7 13 10 10 3 2 4 .230 .330 .353 .683      
32 Steve Comer 17 1979 25 TEX AL 36 36 6 1 0 12 .586 0 242.1 230 114 99 84 86 3.68 113 24 1021 914 50 8 4 8 12 3 20 9 6 1 0 7 .252 .319 .403 .722      
33 Ervin Santana 16 2006 23 LAA AL 33 33 0 0 0 8 .667 0 204.0 181 106 97 70 141 4.28 107 21 846 751 41 6 2 11 4 10 19 5 9 1 2 10 .241 .311 .395 .707   3214 1995
34 Jason Jennings 16 2002 23 COL NL 32 32 0 0 0 8 .667 0 185.1 201 102 93 70 127 4.52 106 26 808 718 33 2 2 8 9 3 25 12 4 3 0 10 .280 .349 .440 .789   3022 1842
35 Mark Buehrle 16 2001 22 CHW AL 32 32 4 2 0 8 .667 0 221.1 188 89 81 48 126 3.29 140 24 885 816 40 4 2 8 9 4 23 6 6 5 5 1 .230 .279 .377 .656   3311 2123
36 Hideo Nomo 16 1996 27 LAD NL 33 33 3 2 0 11 .593 0 228.1 180 93 81 85 234 3.19 122 23 932 827 31 2 6 2 12 6 11 52 11 3 3 11 .218 .290 .343 .634      
37 Juan Guzman 16 1992 25 TOR AL 28 28 1 0 0 5 .762 0 180.2 135 56 53 72 165 2.64 156 6 733 652 24 1 2 1 5 3 7 27 8 2 2 14 .207 .286 .275 .560      
38 John Candelaria 16 1976 22 PIT NL 32 31 11 4 1 7 .696 1 220.0 173 87 77 60 138 3.15 110 22 881 799 31 5 5 2 13 6 16 6 11 3 0 0 .217 .271 .350 .621      
39 Jim Hughes 16 1975 23 MIN AL 37 34 12 2 1 14 .533 0 249.2 241 119 106 127 130 3.82 101 17 1100 946 29 9 3 13 11 3 22 27 13 2 2 10 .255 .350 .358 .708      
40 Ed Figueroa 16 1975 26 CAL AL 33 32 16 2 1 13 .552 0 244.2 213 96 79 84 139 2.91 121 14 1014 914 37 3 6 5 4 6 23 34 4 1 2 5 .233 .299 .326 .625      
41 Steve Busby 16 1973 23 KCR AL 37 37 7 1 0 15 .516 0 238.1 246 125 112 105 174 4.23 96 18 1037 909 32 5 7 6 9 7 21 16 10 11 0 9 .271 .348 .376 .724      
42 Ivan Nova 15 2011 24 NYY AL 24 23 0 0 1 4 .789 0 138.2 139 66 60 47 85 3.89 111 12 592 535 30 1 2 3 1 6 13 10 7 0 0 9 .260 .320 .387 .707 88 2179 1364
43 Brett Cecil 15 2010 23 TOR AL 28 28 0 0 0 7 .682 0 172.2 175 87 81 54 117 4.22 98 18 726 664 45 1 2 1 1 6 24 4 2 1 1 7 .264 .317 .416 .733   2711 1728
44 Cole Hamels 15 2007 23 PHI NL 28 28 2 0 0 5 .750 0 183.1 163 72 69 43 177 3.39 135 25 743 687 37 1 4 3 5 5 13 14 2 2 0 5 .237 .283 .403 .686   2789 1911
45 Daisuke Matsuzaka 15 2007 26 BOS AL 32 32 1 0 0 12 .556 0 204.2 191 100 100 80 201 4.40 108 25 874 776 42 3 1 13 3 2 17 18 7 0 0 5 .246 .326 .405 .731   3478 2208
46 Jeriome Robertson 15 2003 26 HOU NL 32 31 0 0 0 9 .625 0 160.2 180 98 91 64 99 5.10 86 23 711 628 42 2 8 6 8 5 14 5 7 6 2 1 .287 .356 .470 .825   2583 1601
47 Rodrigo Lopez 15 2002 26 BAL AL 33 28 1 0 0 9 .625 0 196.2 172 83 78 62 136 3.57 120 23 809 735 30 5 4 5 2 4 15 14 4 4 1 2 .234 .297 .382 .679   2990 1907
48 Justin Thompson 15 1997 24 DET AL 32 32 4 0 0 11 .577 0 223.1 188 82 75 66 151 3.02 152 20 891 807 32 3 1 2 5 10 24 20 11 7 0 4 .233 .289 .354 .644      
49 Teddy Higuera 15 1985 26 MIL AL 32 30 7 2 2 8 .652 0 212.1 186 105 92 63 127 3.90 108 22 874 793 32 6 0 3 5 10 12 13 10 2 3 4 .235 .290 .373 .663      
50 Craig McMurtry 15 1983 23 ATL NL 36 35 6 3 0 9 .625 0 224.2 204 86 77 88 105 3.08 126 13 943 840 26 3 1 1 9 5 21 23 10 6 2 1 .243 .314 .327 .641      
51 Bob Stanley 15 1978 23 BOS AL 52 3 0 0 35 2 .882 10 141.2 142 50 41 34 38 2.60 160 5 578 533 22 2 5 1 4 6 21 10 10 0 0 0 .266 .308 .343 .652      
52 Dave Rozema 15 1977 20 DET AL 28 28 16 1 0 7 .682 0 218.1 222 87 75 34 92 3.09 139 25 890 837 28 6 4 7 6 5 19 11 15 0 2 2 .265 .298 .403 .700      
53 Dale Murray 15 1975 25 MON NL 63 0 0 0 40 8 .652 9 111.1 134 59 49 39 43 3.96 98 0 499 440 22 3 10 3 12 5 10 2 5 0 2 2 .305 .361 .368 .730      
54 Dennis Leonard 15 1975 24 KCR AL 32 30 8 0 1 7 .682 0 212.1 212 98 89 90 146 3.77 103 18 916 806 31 6 4 9 7 4 20 12 10 2 0 4 .263 .342 .383 .726      
55 Bob Forsch 15 1975 25 STL NL 34 34 7 4 0 10 .600 0 230.0 213 89 73 70 108 2.86 134 14 958 870 28 4 8 3 6 7 26 13 0 1 1 10 .245 .301 .334 .636      
56 John Montefusco 15 1975 25 SFG NL 35 34 10 4 1 9 .625 0 243.2 210 85 78 86 215 2.88 133 11 1018 903 54 12 12 8 15 6 13 25 8 0 2 6 .233 .303 .355 .659      
57 Steve Rogers 15 1974 24 MON NL 38 38 11 1 0 22 .405 0 253.2 255 139 126 80 154 4.47 86 19 1064 964 30 9 7 5 8 8 30 23 12 3 2 7 .265 .322 .373 .695      
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/3/2011.

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Welcome to the club, Ivan Nova.

This entry was posted on Saturday, September 3rd, 2011 at 10:11 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 “Winning 15+ Games In 1st Or 2nd Season Since 1973”

  1. Doc got off to some start in his first 2 years,eh?

  2. 1 Gooden that is.

  3. Teddy Higuera.

  4. What Nova has done this season, with his win streak and how his numbers keep improving, locks him up for the ROY... Pineda has had a very impressive season but he is on a last place team. Nova has won 15 games (so far) in the toughest division in baseball, playing for a first place (caliber) that is fighting for a division title.

    A lot of the guys at the top of the list like Gooden, Pettite, Wang, Carmona were thrust into postseason play with a lot of pressure on their shoulders. I am very excited to see if Nova either steps up to the plate once he gets a post season start, or falters under the lights of the post season

  5. Some interesting one-hit wonders on this list, Daisuke Matsuzaka stands out as a pitcher who hasn't done anything since those first two seasons and isn't looking like he's going to improve after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

  6. Nova has already far exceeded even the most optimistic expectations.

    It appears that he has improved alot as the season has progressed. I
    would guess the numbers would support this.

    In my mind the only reason he is not the number 2 starter as the Yankees
    move into the playoffs is due to his youth. Also, the fact that the Yankees
    probably don't want to put to much this soon on his shoulders.

    He has a real chance to end the season with close to 20 wins. He has
    only pitched 138.2 innings. This shouldn't be a concern.

    My concern is his average of 5.5K per 9 innings. It is very difficult to
    find many pitchers who averaged below 5k per 9 innings that had sustained
    success. He is close to that number and this may be a forebearer of a
    short career. As a Yankee fan, I hope not. Also, his ERA+ of 111 while
    pretty good is not dominant.

    Finally, when once considers the experience of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo
    Colon, along with their suprisingly effective seasons, I think the Yankees
    go with these 2 before Nova in their postseason rotation.

    It is reasonable to expect six innings from Garcia and Colon in the postseason. This should be enough considering the strength of the
    Yankee bullpen.

    All this being said, Nova is having an historic season (with the chance to move into the top 10 of this list) and I could see him starting game 4 of
    the ALCS. If this plays out, the Yankees will be looking good.

  7. Liam @4,

    I'm not sure who will win AL ROY, but I am certain that Jeremy Hellickson of Tampa is more deserving than Ivan Nova.

    Hellickson plays in the tougher version of the same division that Nova pitches in (the one that faces the Yankees, but not the Rays).

    Hellickson has compiled an ERA that is almost a full run below Nova's (3.01 vs. 3.89), a better ERA+ (122 vs. 111), 17 more IP in the same number of games, 21 more strikeouts.

    Hellickson is 11-10 because his team scores 4.5 R/G when he pitches and Nova is 15-4 because his team scores 6.6 R/G when he pitches.

    Also when looking at the division that Nova pitches in vs. the one that Pineda pitches in you need to remove the teams they pitch for. AL East excluding the Yankees scores 4.63 R/G, the AL West excluding the Mariners scores 4.38 R/G, not a huge difference. The Mariners score 3.6 R/G when Pineda (9-8) pitches, barely more than half of what the Yankees score when Nova pitches.

  8. I'd say that the pressure of pitching in a pennant race is more than offset by playing for one of the best teams in baseball.

  9. I see what you are saying about are and era+ evan, but winning that many games in a row takes more than luck and run support.

  10. One three guys (Gooden, Higuera and Dice-K) who did it in both of their first two seasons. It surprised me there were so few. But, I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised. Here are the guys who did it in the previous 39 years (1934-1972).

    - Tom Seaver 1967-1968 22-23
    - Chuck Estrada 1960-1961 22-23
    - Herb Score 1955-1956 22-23
    - Don Newcombe 1949-1950 23-24
    - Larry Jansen 1947-1948 26-27
    - Dave Ferriss 1945-1946 23-24
    - Paul Dean 1934-1935 21-22
    - Curt Davis 1934-1935 30-31

    It happened more frequently in earlier years, but not a whole lot more.

  11. Liam @9,

    I haven't said Nova was lucky, just fortunate to pitch for the team that scores the most runs.

    Over the past 12 starts Nova's stats (his best stretch of the season) are:

    11-0, 78.2 IP, 69 H, 30 R, 30 ER, 21 BB, 56 K, 8 HR, 3.43 ERA, .238/.284/.369

    Over Hellickson's past 12 starts (which has been typical of his season ERA):

    4-6, 78 H, 67 H, 27 R, 26 ER, 25 BB, 54 K , 10 HR, 3.00 ERA, .227/.292/.390

    To what do you attribute the difference between Hellickson's 4-6 and Nova's 11-0 during this stretch other than Nova's teammates have scored 95 runs during these 12 games and Hellickson's teammates have score 37 (during this stretch Tampa has scored 0 four times, 1 once and 2 twice)?

    As a side note Nova's stats when the Yankees score 1 run or fewer are 0-0 with 0 IP.

  12. What always gets to me looking at the "one year wonders" is the Tigers had 21 year old Mark Fidrych throw 250 innings and 24 complete games in '76, then turned around and did the same thing in '77 to 20 year old Dave Rozema- 218 IP and 16 CG. Neither was ever the same again (and neither was a high strikeout guy so even healthy their success might have been hard to maintain), but with Jack Morris and Dan Petry coming right behind them that would have been a really strong starting four.

  13. I remember reading some Yankee blog earlier that seriously likened Nova to Cliff Lee. Put their numbers side by side, said both were legit number 2 starters and would command big money if both were up for free agency. After reading that, I had little choice but to become the world's biggest Nova-hater.

  14. 12 Was Billy Martin his manager?I remember Bill James writing about how Billy burned up pitchers.

  15. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Don't blame Nova for fan stupidity!

    It's funny. Early in the season Nova was the guy who couldn't pitch past the 5th inning. Now he's a proven winner who has never lost a game when he had the lead.

  16. Charles Saeger Says:

    @12 and @14: That was after Martin managed the team. The real problem was that Fidrych wasn't that good. He had 3.5 K/9, which wasn't good even back then, 74% of the league rate. In retrospect, it wasn't surprising that he lost it.

    That doesn't bode well for Nova, whose 5.5 K/9 is 80% of the league rate nowadays.

  17. How about the debut for this guy Milone for the Nats?Pitching well and hits a 3 run jack on his first pitch in his first ML Ab.My poor Mets.

  18. @16- Fidrych never "lost it" - his arm fell off. If you look at the season logs you see that Fidrych pitched 1 inning of relief (2 app) the first month and a half of the season. Then in his first start threw a CG. Then didn't pitch for 10 days. From that point- May 25th until August 29th, 3 months, Fidrych started 21 games, 18 CG, and threw 189 innings, including one 10 inning CG, THREE 11 inning CG's and one game where he pitched into the 12th and lost. That stretch included 94 games, had Fidrych pitched at that pace over the whole season, he's on pace to throw 325 innings- a 21 year old who'd thrown 200 professional innings before 76. Whether or not the low K/9 rate would have caught up to him, we'll never know but you can't say he wasn't that good, he lost CG's where he gave up 2,1,1, 2 and a fifth when he gave up 4 runs in the tenth inning to lose 7-3. Given a little more scoring from the Tigers (they were shutout 19 times that year) he might have gone 24-4!

  19. 16 Yeah,Houk had taken over already.Martin did work the heck out of starters though.Houk worked Fidrych hard but not as hard as Billy probably would have.

  20. Pat Malone
    Jake Weimer
    Dwight Gooden
    Tom Seaton
    Vean Gregg
    Ed Summers
    Dave Ferriss
    Pete Alexander

    Here's the list of pitchers with at least 40 wins, their first 2 seasons since 1901. Only Malone, Gooden, and Alexander had at least 100 career wins.

  21. Steve-

    Billy Martin took over a lousy Oakland A's team in 1980. In his previous ten seasons managing his pitchers completed about 30% of their starts. Ranging from 39-62 complete games per season, on par with the 1970's
    rate of complete games I would guess.

    The 1979 A's finished 54-108. In 1980 they went 83-79. Martin overcame
    a lousy bullpen by having his starters complete 94 games. In 1981 the A's
    went 64-45 during the strike shortened season. They also threw 60 complete games.

    After these 2 seasons, the A's fortunes sagged and their complete games
    returned to previous levels with 42 in 1982 as they went 68-94.

    While it is obvious that Martin overused his pitchers in 80 and 81, it should
    be recognized that he was a good manager who turned teams around.

    It should also be mentioned that of all the Oakland pitchers Martin abused,
    none were able to match or sustain this success for any length of time.

  22. Charles Saeger Says:

    @18 Fidrych was never really that good a pitcher; yes, I can say that definitely with his low K rate, which is a sure-fire predictor for a young pitcher and having nothing to do with his usage at all. His usage logs are unremarkable for that era. His usage wasn't the issue at all; he probably pitched about 120 pitches a start, which is about the same as Jim Palmer did in 1970, not long removed from arm trouble, just to pick someone whose usage I know off the top of my head, but Palmer had twice the strikeout rate. Frank Tanana threw 23 complete games in 1976, about 125 pitches a start, and didn't come to Earth for a few years, when his career was unquestionably derailed by an injury which may well have come from heavy use; Fidrych lost effectiveness immediately.

  23. Charles Saeger Says:

    @21 It should also be noted that those pitchers were going nowhere until Billy Martin came into town.

  24. @19- there's not much more Martin could have done to abuse Fidrych's arm other than start pitching him from the beginning of the season. In his 29 starts he threw 250 of a possible 268 innings.
    @ 22- Fidrych was that good a pitcher. There are lots of guys in the 70's who had successful careers without striking out tons of guys. And in 77 his K rate was rising. Up to the point when he TORE HIS ROTATOR CUFF, he was 25-11, with a 2.26 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. So what if he didn't strike people out. And your Jim Palmer example doesn't hold water- he was 24 years old with 2 seasons of +180 innings pitched. The A's starters in 80 were all at least 24 as well, with several past seasons of a strong workload.
    The greatest example of how misused he was is that after tearing his rotator cuff (they didn't know he'd done this til 1985) they put him back out there on three days rest and he got shelled, then put him out after another three days rest, figuring he had a 'dead arm.' By then it was good and dead. But to say a guy wasn't that good just because he didn't strike out guys probably means you never saw him pitch.

  25. but you're correct... from that point on, pitching with a torn rotator cuff, he did lose effectiveness immediately.

  26. Imagine in 1989, Gooden converted to the outfield and then finished his career with 714 total dingers.

  27. Teddy Higuera is probably one of the most overlooked supernova pitchers ever. First four seasons, 69-38, 132 ERA+, 7.3 K/9, 27.3 WAR.

  28. @27 I think that's because he'd been pitching in Mexico and was a 27 year old 'rookie,' so those first four years he was in the prime of his career.

  29. woo-hoo, Sept. 4th!! Happy Birthday, Me!!!- and, also to Doyle Alexander.....in '87, he got traded, about 3 weeks before his birthday, and went on one of the most ridiculous clutch (ok, ok, I know) runs in ML history. Wound up 13th in the MVP voting, on the strength of SEVEN-plus weeks in the AL.
    Doyle's "supernova" run came not at the beginning of his career, but almost at the end......
    I would guess that this would have to be rarer, than the examples listed above.

  30. Just wondering, of the top 25 in IP on that list (220+ IP), how many developed arm problems. Does the over-protectiveness of the current MLB scene actually work, or are the percentages of pitchers developing arm problems the same (or worse)?

  31. I think it has more to do with age- look at all the guys 23 and under who soon suffered arm problems- Gooden, Mulder, Saberhagen, Fidrych, Prior, Fleming, Comer, Busby, Rozema. I don't know if the over-protectiveness works, but players are worth so much more money now I think they have to take that caution. You sure won't see the Giants throwing Bumgarner out there in the 11th inning of a game anytime soon, no matter how well he's pitching.

  32. 31 Gooden never had arm problems that I can recall.Drug suspensions,but not arm problems.

  33. Gooden had shoulder problems as early as 1989 and had rotator cuff surgery in 1991.

  34. @24 Pauley-

    Here are the A's starters with innings pitched in 1980 and their
    previous career high...

    Rick Langford 290 in 1980, 219 previously
    Mike Norris 284 in 1980, 146 previously
    Matt Keough 250 in 1980, 197 previously
    Steve McCatty 222 in 1980, 185 previously
    Brian Kingman 211 in 1980, 113 previously

    The only one whose usage didn't increase drastically, MCCatty
    would go on to make 105 more starts in his career.

    All the others ranged from 35 (Kingman) to 85 (Keough).

    I think it is clear that these pitchers were not prepared for
    the workload inflicted upon them.

    And as I mentioned in (21), Martin did turn around a horrible team
    overnite. Although, the long term effects, seen with the benefit
    of hindsight certainly bring his methods into question.

    He basically destroyed their careers through this over use. None of them
    were pitching effectively within 3 years. When all five should have been
    in their prime.

    Finally, I question how many effective starters you can name from the 1970's who didn't average at least 5.5K per nine innings pitched.

  35. Some very obvious trends in the data. CG and IP dropping over the years, we all know that. It was rare for these pitchers to win 17 games in the earlier years, even though they were pitching more innings and finishing the game. It is rare for a 2000-2011 player to show up and pitch 220 innings, but look below 200. The winning percentage in recent years is higher along with lower IP. Sort by ERA and look what years had the lowest winning percentage and highest IP, below an ERA of 3 and above 4.

    I remember when the DH came out in 1973 and people were saying that it wasn't fair for the NL pitchers because they wouldn't be able to pitch as many innings and will win fewer games and have fewer CG. The AL did have 5 of the top 7 in CG and IP in the 70s on your list, but of the 12 starters on the list, 8 were from the AL, so they also had 3 of the bottom 5.

    Here's something bizarre from your list and also notice the ages when they got the 15 wins..
    Name and age---League------Age of last 162 IP season (difference) career wins
    Fidrych (21)-------------AL-----------21 (0) 29
    Comer (25)-------------AL------------25 (0) 44
    Hughes (23)------------AL------------24 (1) 25
    Rozema (20)-----------AL------------21 (1) 60
    Busby (23) -------------AL------------25 (2) 70
    Figueroa (26)----------AL------------29 (3) 80
    Sorenson (22)---------AL------------28 (6) 93
    Leonard (24)-----------AL------------30 (6) 144
    Montefusco (25)------NL-------------32 (7) 90
    Candelaria (22)-------NL-------------30 (8) 177
    Rogers (24)------------NL-------------33 (9) 158
    Forsch (25)-------------NL-------------37 (12) 168

    This information below is from a list of 35 players who pitched 200 innings in one of their first two years.

    From 1973 to 1979, there were 17 pitchers who pitched at least 200 innings in the NL in at least one of there first two years in the majors. 10 pitched more than 1600 innings in their career with 12 having at least 4 seasons over 162 innings.

    From 1973 to 1979, there were 18 pitchers who pitched at least 200 innings in the AL in at least one of there first two years in the majors. 5 pitched more than 1600 innings in their career with 7 having at least 4 seasons over 162 innings.

    8 of 14 who made their ML debut at 24 or older pitched at least 1600 innings. That was true for only 3 of 12 who made their debut at 21 or younger. It was 4 of 9 for the 22,23 group.

    The older pitchers would have established themselves as pitchers who could handle the workload in the minors. The younger ones were more likely the better HS or college players showing early dominance in the minors and got off to a great start in the majors for them to be put into this role early, while others their age are in college or working their way up through the minors.

    Were these 20 to 22 year olds ready for the majors? Going by the age they pitched 200 innings in the 15 win table above, how many had an ERA below 3.30 ?
    20 to 22 4 out of 4 AL 3 NL1
    23 to 24 0 out of 4 AL 3 NL 1
    25 to 26 3 out of 4 AL (1 out of 2), NL (2 of 2)

    For some, injuries were well known factors in their shortened careers. Other factors might be the DH and free agency. More established pitchers who could handle pitching the heavier loads may have gradually drifted to the AL and pushed some of these pitchers into alternate roles such as relievers or starters/relievers to stick with their clubs or back to AAA or other teams.

  36. I must retract my final statement. I found several pitchers from the 1970's who meet the requirement that I set above.

    I still maintain that a pitcher with a higher strike out rate has a better chance
    of success over several years than a pitcher with a lower rate.

    The following pitchers made me see the error of my ways...

    Dennis Leonard 5.44 per nine.
    Jim Lonborg 5.39
    Bruce Kison 5.33
    Catfish Hunter 5.25
    Mike Cuellar 5.23
    Dave Stieb 5.19
    Steve Rogers 5.14

  37. Averaging less than 4.5K per nine innings pitched seems to be a better
    barometer for me to make my point.

  38. With the higher average strikout rates today, Jason, I wouldn't lower the bar for today. I would hate to see my team's GM trade for Nova based on him playing for the Yankees, and getting a bit of luck.

  39. A partial list of young guns of the past 10 years, who suffered arm injuries by age 30, with their pre-injury high in IP and the age at which they reached that high:

    Jake Peavy, 223, 26
    Brandon Webb, 236, 28
    Josh Johnson, 157, 22; 209, 25
    Adam Wainwright, 233, 27
    Ryan Dempster, 226, 23
    Erik Bedard, 196, 27
    Jason Schmidt, 214, 25

    Can you identify a pattern of overwork there? Me, neither. Anecdotal presentation? Sure -- but so are most of the efforts to pin this or that guy's arm injury on excess IP at a tender age.

    Pitching is risky.

  40. 33 I'd forgotten.He didn't miss much time.I remember Mel Stottlemeyer wanting to make him more of a groundball pitcher to try and reduce his pitch count.
    39 Agreed.Pitchers can be hurt throwing one pitch.I hardly think Strasburg was overworked.Pitchers CAN be overworked,nobody does it anymore though.

  41. It makes sense that every player has a genetic predisposition towards a certain strength, endurance, and susceptibility to injury. Environment can change that to an extent-training, mechanics, accidents, quality of medical care, and having Billy Martin as your manager. But i still think it's too simple just to say 190 innings OK, 220 catastrophic injury
    I agree with JA's @39-the list doesn't show any real pattern. In fact, it may be more indicative of randomness; none of those pitchers carried a Halladay or CC-like load of innings.
    Supposedly the greatest risk of serious injury comes at times when the muscle is fatigued. The way pitchers are used now: five starters, six inning Quality Starts (sorry about that), there should be substantially lower injury rates. But there doesn't seem to be data supporting that either.

  42. @37 Any conclusions based on K/IP ratio needs a larger dataset than my 1973-1979 200 IP group, because it also needs to be adjusted for league differences. There were 7 in the AL in the under 4.5 K/IP group. 4 were career starters with 1 going over 1600 innings. 3 were career relevers with 1 going over 1000 IP. In the NL 2 were career starters with one starter and both relievers going over 1600.

    I'll define career starters as those with 60% or more of their career games as starters.

    Subset of pitchers with 3 or fewer 162 inning seasons.
    4 of 5 pitchers in the NL were career relievers over their career with 2 of 4 going over 1000 IP. On the AL list it was it was 4 of 10 becoming career relievers with only 1 of the 4 going over 1000 career IP. No pitcher in either league went over 1600.

    Entire set
    2 NL pitchers were career starters with less than 1600 innings. 6 were career starters with 1,600 innings. 9 were career relievers ( 7 were above 1000 innings with 2 of those above 1600).

    8 AL pitchers were career starters with less than 1600 innings. 4 were career starters with more than 1,600 innings. 5 were career relievers ( 2 were above 1000 innings with 1 of those above 1600).

    In this narrow range of years, the AL pitchers had shorter careers if based solely on IP for career starters. A higher percentage of the NL pitchers became career relievers. I did not take into account switching leagues or a close look at injury shortened careers, which may remove some of the league differences.

  43. How many who win 15 or more in their first or second or bgoth seasons are HOFers. Is there anyone e4lse besides Alexander and Seaver?

    One of my favorite baseball memories with my dad.......I was 13 in 1966, we went to a >Mets vs. Giants game. Marichal vs. Seaver.. In 1966, Marichal went 25-6, and that point if memory serves me. he was 12 and 2, Seaver as arookie was something 7 and 4. ..They both pitched 10 innings of a 1-1 game and Seaver was lifted.

    In the top of the 11th, McCovey hit one and Marichal finished for the win in 11.

    Marichal was 119 and 56 and in the middle of his fourth of six 20 or more wins seasons, Seaver finished 16 and 12.....for a bad mets team. and piched well enough to win 19 or 20 that rookie year.......

    And my father said after the game....KId, I think you just saw TWO hall of Fame pitchers.

    He had Seaver pegged....... My dad was the sharpest baseball fan I ever knew .

  44. 34- I'm not disputing that Martin overused the A's starters in 80-81, I was watching in the stands for quite a few games. And cheering, since Bob Lacey coming into the game meant time to get out of the parking lot early. I'm just saying the way the Tigers used Fidrych was worse. He was several years younger, hadn't pitched anywhere near the amount of innings the A's guys had, and the A's used a five man rotation the entire year, whereas after the All Star break Fidrych was almost always used on 3 days rest. On the other hand, Norris, Langford and McCatty had all already had arm problems previous. I would say of the five A's, Langford was the most harmed, but also had the biggest history of arm problems, while drugs played a big part in the downfall of Norris.

  45. @37
    Very nice story.
    Tom Seaver and Hoyt Wilhelm are the only HOF's to win 15 in their 1st seasons since Alexander in 1911. There were 11 before that. Kid Nichols holds the record for 1st 10 years.
    Anyone know how many HOF's had more wins than losses every year he pitched? Forget High Pockets Kelly, I want at least 10 seasons. There's one who had a winning season every year, but one season was split between two teams and it wasn't true for both, so it's not him. If he has a 0-0, it's not him either.

  46. No answer yet? I figured this out 25 years ago.

  47. 46- would he have been able to maintain that record if he hadn't been so busy hitting home runs?

  48. @22, Charles Saeger -- I sharply contest your assessment of Mark Fidrych -- not out of sentiment, but because the evidence suggests that what he did from 1976-78 was founded on repeatable skills. Check out his groundball rates, his HR and extra-base-hit rates, and his superb control.

    Yes, his K rate was low, even for his time -- but it wasn't as low, relative to the league rate, as we might assume.

    And yes, there have been plenty of low-K pitchers who had one great season, then reverted to the mean. But if Fidrych's '76 success was so dependent on luck, it's odd that his luck persisted into '77 (11 starts, 149 ERA+ before succumbing to injury) and even '78 (3 starts, 161 ERA+) -- with similar rate stats as in his rookie year.

  49. Great Story Dennis.

    @42-my remarks about strikeouts are only meant as to
    speculate about the correlation between low strikeouts
    and a shorter career.

    I think in this regard the era examined should be 1962-

    @44-I never thought you were disputing the overuse of
    those staffs. I have always been fascinated by that 1980
    season. As a Yankee fan I was thrilled to see Billy succeed.

    I can recall being very concerned about the 1981 playoff
    matchup, and being pleasantly surprised when it ended
    in a sweep.

    Since you were there I would love to hear your recollections
    as to why this strategy came into play. Was it a complete
    lack of faith in the bullpen?

    In regards to Fidyrich being used on 3 days rest. I can recall
    reading about the huge increases in the paid attendance on
    days he pitched.

    Considering that the average player salary in 1976 was about 50K,
    wouldn't the extra attendance have been a huge motivator?

    If I recall, I think the extra attendance when Fidrych pitched was
    in the tens of thousands.

  50. 49- I think it was complete lack of confidence (I was 13 years old so not completely sure) in the bullpen. Martin always used the bullpen in NY, but Bob Lacey and Jeff Jones weren't exactly Goose Gossage and Sparky Lyle (or even Ron Davis or Dick Tidrow.) I think the strike ruined that great 81 season by the A's and maybe Martin's best managing- it was easy to manage the late 70's Yankees, with the A's he had four really strong starting pitchers and a great outfield (Henderson, Murphy, Armas) and that was it. Their middle infielders were among the worst to ever play and didn't get much from the corners. I always felt if they'd just had one more guy they might have given the Yanks more trouble.

  51. @47

    The answer is yes. He did hit a HR in the last game he won. I wonder how oftem that happens?

  52. @48, JA, Randy Jones at his peak reminds one of Fidrych. High ground ball rate, very low HR's allowed, etc. Spud Chandler as well. I think while not every pitcher could succed with that skill set, there were many who could and did. Low strike out rate alone doesn't make for a bad pitcher

  53. @50-Growing up 25 miles from Yankee Stadium. I received my baseball
    baptism from Billy's Yankees on April 24, 1976.

    I was all in. In a way that only a nine year old can be.

    For reasons of ownership, press, personalities and events of the time...

    It was not easy to manage this team.

  54. @49

    I will let you know what I found out with starters, not including any games pitched prior to 1962.

    I found 101 pitchers from 1962 - 2011 with K/IP less than 4.5 with 100 or more games started.

    55% were between 100 and 199
    27% were between 200 and 299
    18% were over 300

    I found 404 pitchers from 1962 - 2011 with K/IP between 4.5 and 6.5

    47% were between 100 and 199
    28% were between 200 and 299
    25% were over 300

    I found 155 pitchers from 1962 - 2011 with K/IP above 6.5

    44% were between 100 and 199
    28% were between 200 and 299
    28% were over 300

    This tells us that 18% of the pitchers that made it to 100 GS with a ratio lower than 4.5 for K/IP made it to 300 GS. 28% of the pitchers that made it to 100 GS with a ratio greater than 6.5 for K/IP made it to 300 GS.

    Looks like shorter careers as starters for low strikeout pitchers. Tommy John at 288 and Joe Niekro are the only 200 game winners. The last HOFer to play in the majors was Warren Spahn in 1965.

  55. @47

    I guess the answer is no. If he didn't hit the HR in his last win, he might not have finished with 1 more win than losses his last year.

  56. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Strikeout rate is a big indicator of success. It's certainly not determinative. I never saw Mark Fidrych pitch but as JA said, his overall performance was supported by other statistical markers. It's unlikely that Fidrych would have continued to be so successful for many years with such a low K-rate. But he could have been solid, and it's also possible his K-rate would have improved. In his first couple seasons, Chien-Ming Wang seemed to throw about 95% sinkers. He was successful despite a very low K-rate (3.3/9 in '05-'06). A large stathead contingent was sure he was headed for an early demise. But Wang evolved. He started throwing more sliders, and his K-rate rose. Unfortunately, then he got hurt, so we don't know now the story would have ended.

    ***

    As for pitcher injuries...who knows? Some blame mechanics, but there doesn't even seem to be agreement on what proper mechanics are. I was always reading about Mark Prior's "perfect" mechanics before he got hurt. (The few times I saw him, they didn't look perfect to me, but what do I know.) There does seem to be evidence that younger pitchers should not be overused. Apparently the growth plates aren't fully developed until about 25, and if you look at the guys who pitched the most in their early 20s, most of them did very little after age 30. But, who knows what "overuse" is? It's all relative. I've read people pulling out their hair over modern pitchers being "abused" with workloads that would have been entire unexceptional many years ago. As Mike L said, pitching while fatigued may also be a bad thing, if the fatigue causes one to alter one's mechanics or strain harder to maintain velocity. But again, what is fatigue? I'm sure a pitcher is feeling it if he throws 25 pitches one inning. Where is the line drawn?

  57. Johnny Twisto Says:

    it was easy to manage the late 70's Yankees

    Steinbrenner's ghost disagrees and orders you to his office, pronto.

  58. Chris Waters Says:

    It really is infuriating to hear people who never saw Mark Fydrich pitch say stuff about him. His ball had tremendous movement, and his control was superb. So many balls that were hit were little dribblers or weak flies. He was amazing.

  59. I found an article from 1998 (12 most abused young pitchers). The league conclusions would be very similar to what I posted @42

    Pitcher Retired Age S or R IP sea 162 W last162 League
    Saunders, Tony 1999 25 S 345 1 13 24 AL
    Gonzalez, Jeremi 2006 31 R 572 0 30 AL
    Wright, Jaret 2007 31 S 972 2 68 28 AL
    Haynes, Jimmy 2004 31 S 1201 4 63 29 AL
    Colon, Bartolo active 38 S 2222 8 161 32 AL
    Radke, Brad 2006 33 S 2451 11 148 33 AL
    Sanchez, Jesus 2004 29 R 523 2 23 25 NL
    Wood, Kerry active 34 R 1365 5 84 26 NL
    Estes, Shawn 2008 35 S 1678 4 101 31 NL
    Schmidt, Jason 2009 36 S 1996 7 130 33 NL
    Millwood, Kevin active 36 S 2537 11 161 35 NL
    Hernandez, Livan active 36 S 3116 14 174 36 NL

  60. Whitey Ford's career strike out rate was 5.6/9, and his control wasn't nearly as good as Fydrich. Robin Roberts was 4.5/9, Jim Kaat 4.9. It's impossible to say what type of career Fydrich would have had if he had stayed healthy, and unfair to say he would have been mediocre. When he was healthy, he was awfully good.

  61. Information in previous posting
    Name, retirement year, retirement age, remained starter or converted to reliever, innings, seasons with 162 innings, career wins, age of last 162 inning season, first league with 162 game season

    This explains it better.

    Fate of 12 most abused pitchers identified in 1998, based on high pitch counts in starts. League trends similar to the 1970s, but this is a small set of pitchers.

    AMERICAN LEAGUE
    2 of 5 career starters made it to 1600 innings, the sixth became a reliever
    Tony Saunders started in the AL, had 1 season with 162 IP, 345 career innings, retired at age 25 in 1999
    Jeremi Gonzalez started in the AL, never reached 162 IP, 572 innings, converted to a reliever, retired at 31 in 2006
    Jaret Wright started in the AL, had two seasons over 162, 972 innings, retired at 31 in 2007
    Jimmy Haynes started in the AL, had 4 seasons with 162 IP, 1201 innings, retired at 31 in 2004
    Bartolo Colon started in the AL, had 8 seasons over 162 IP, 2222 IP, active, but hasn't reached 162 since 2005.
    Brad Radke started in the AL, had 11 seasons with 162 IP, 2451 IP, retired at 33 in 2006

    NATIONAL LEAGUE
    All the NL players went over 1600 innings or became a reliever
    Jesus Sanchez, started in the NL, 2 years with 162 IP, 523 IP, converted to reliever, retired at 29 in 2004
    Kerry Wood, started in the NL, 5 years over 162 IP, 1365 IP, converted to reliever, active
    Shawn Estes, started in the NL, 4 seasons over 162 IP, 1678 innings, retired at 35 in 2008
    Jason Schmidt, started in the NL, 7 seasons above 162, 1996 innings, retired at 36 in 2009
    Kevin Millwood, started in the NL, 11 seasons over 162, 2537 innings, active
    Livian Hernadez, started in the NL, 14 seasons over 162, 3116 innings, active

  62. 57- I was talking about the on field talent aspect of managing the Yankees in comparison with managing the '80 A's. The 77 Yankees had All Stars at every position (18 in all) 3 MVP's, 3 Cy Young winners, 3 ROY and 6 GG's. The A's had an infield of Dave Revering, Jeff Cox, Mario Guerrero and Wayne Gross. Working for Steinbrenner was difficult but it couldn't have been harder than working for Charlie Finley. At least George payed for players instead of trading away a dynasty.

  63. 55- I guess Babe is trembling in his grave, hoping that Tim Hudson doesn't make the Hall, or at least has a losing season somewhere along the line. All 13 seasons with a winning record, even managed to eek out a 2-1 record coming back from TJ surgery.

  64. There are a lot of factors that we cannot account for such as throwing and lifting routines between outings and pitches per inning / per outing. However, if someone can do the research (John?), it might interesting to look to see if a correlation can be found between injuries and a sharp increase in innings pitched from one season to the next.

    Overall, it seems to me that the same percentage of pitchers are injuring their arms today as they were when they were throwing 300 IP a season (Anyone know a statistic on this?). For this reason, I agree with the argument that some pitchers are more susceptible to injury than others, regardless of workload.

    I am excited about this kid, Trevor Bauer (no.3 overall pick by the Diamondbacks). He promises to pitch for 20+ seasons if he's allowed to manage his own ultra-heavy throwing and conditioning program, which, at one point included pitching on the side between innings!! I'm getting way head of myself here, but wouldn't it be awesome to see a pitcher start every 3rd game! I'm really hoping he can be a guinea pig of sorts and not get injured!

  65. A follow-up article to 1998

    Most overworked young players identified in 2008 (high pitch count/game)
    Tim Lincecum
    Rocky Nolasco
    John Lester
    Matt Cain
    Ervin Santana

    It's still early, but I noticed a few things.
    Tim Lincecum: The first year he pitched 200 innings was 2008. His stats in 2008 and 2009 were much better than the last 2 years.

    Ervin Santana: In 2009, he started the season on the disabled list and missed the second half of 2004 in the minors with elbow problems. Twice his ERA went over 5.00 and he missed 7-10 starts those years.

    Rocky Nolasco: 2008 was his best year by far.

    Matt Cain: 2009-2011 seasons were much better than 2006-2008.

    John Lester: consistent

    Overworked veterans identified in 2008
    CC Sabithia: Doesn't seem to an issue. He's pitched over 180 innings for 11 years.

    Carlos Zambrano: Over 200 innings from 2003 (age 22) to 2007. In 2009 he split between the bullpen/starter. His ERA+ has dropped the last 5 years vs the 4 before that. At the age of 22, he doubled his innings pitched the previous year to 214. He's 30

    Ben Sheets: 2008 was his best year since 2004. Most IP since 2004. Did not pitch in 2009 or 2011. Missed 2009 and part of 2010 with an injured elbow. Injury problems his entire career. From 23 to 25 (2002 to 2004) he pitched over 200 innings. At the age of 23, he pitched 216 innings. His last year was 2010 at the age of 31.

    Gil Meche: Always had problems (rotator cuff in 2001), Faced over 800 batters 2006-2008. In 2009 and 2010 his ERA went over 5. In 2010, his last season, he pitched half his games from the bullpen. Retired with shoulder and back problems. Retired at 31

    Roy Halladay: except for 2004 (shoulder) and 2005 (broken leg), he's been consistent since 2002

  66. @63

    Hudson could have been 3-1. Thanks to his Babe-like performance on Sept. 12. He left the game with a 5-4 lead thanks to his 2 run homer. His othe HR was a 2 run shot in a 2-0 victory this year.

    He was 8-10 on August 3, 2006. His team came through with 13 runs in a 13-1 game to get him to 13-12. He gave up 4 runs (earned plus unearned) in 22 games that year going 4-11. It's a good thing his team was 5-2 in the 7 no decision games. 10-1 in 14 Quality starts. 4.86 ERA that year.

  67. @56 Your comments on mechanics made me think of what they
    used to say about Kevin Appier. That his "violent" motion would
    be sure to cause injury. It caused so many injuries that he had
    11 straight seasons in the rotation without missing time.

    @62 Yes the Yankees in the late 70's had an all-star at every position.
    Steinbrenner was playing fantasy baseball first.

    Once Steinbrenner learned to let his baseball people make the baseball
    decisions, the Yankees reached heights not seen since the Yankees
    of the early 50's. Considering that the modern Yankees had to make
    it through 3 rounds of playoffs, their forebearers of the 50's, only one.
    The accomplishments of the late 90's and 2000 stand unequalled in
    baseball history.

    But, in the late 1970's it wasn't always this way. Steinbrenner was
    way involved. Instead of recapping it all here, let me just reccomend
    Roger Kahn's extraordinary book, October Men. It is about the Yankees
    of this period and offers tremendous insights. This is the kind of book
    you just pick up and start reading. Then before you know it, it is 3AM.

    You may also gain some new insights on the A's. You can't talk about
    Reggie on the Yankees without talking about the Oakland A's.

    Enjoy it Pauley.

  68. To Jason, Charles, and anyone else trying to prove a point re: pitchers with less than 4.5 K/9 --

    It just won't do to compare raw K rates across decades. The overall K rate has been rising, generally, since the 1920s.

    In 1976, Fidrych's rookie year, the American League K rate was 4.71 SO/9.
    In 2011, it's 6.88 SO/9 -- a rise of 46%.

    Fidrych's raw K rate in 1976 was only 3.48, but that was 74% of the AL average. A comparable AL figure today would be 5.09 SO/9. Conveniently, that's the exact K rate owned by Mark Buehrle, who sports a career 120 ERA+ in over 2,400 IP.

    Therein lies the problem in using a straight 4.5 K rate as a dividing line.

    Furthermore, it's not at all unusual for a pitcher to post a lower K rate in his rookie year than for his career. For example:
    -- Bob Gibson averaged 5.7 SO/9 as a rookie, had a season high of 8.4 and a career mark of 7.2.
    -- Don Drysdale, 5.0 rookie year, 8.2 peak, 6.5 career.
    -- Tom Seaver, 6.1 rookie, 9.1 peak, 6.8 career.
    -- Randy Johnson, 7.3 rookie, 13.4 peak, 10.6 career.
    -- Whitey Ford, 4.7 rookie, 6.6 peak, 5.6 career.
    -- Dazzy Vance, 4.9 rookie (led league), 7.6 peak, 6.2 career.
    -- Sandy Koufax, 7.4 first full year, 10.5 peak, 9.3 career.
    -- Curt Schilling, 5.8 first full year (a terrific season), 11.3 peak, 8.6 career.

    Note that Fidrych's K rate improved to 93% of the AL average in his 2nd season, and 90% of the AL average in his 3rd season. Smaller samples, yes, but not a surprising trend.

    The case for an early decline for Fidrych is anything but conclusive. And as further evidence of the repeatability of one of his primary skills, look at his minor-league HR rate: 5 HRs in 205 IP before hitting the big leagues; 4 HRs in 117 IP in 1980, his last realistic comeback try.

    I see a pitcher who consistently keeps the ball in the park, rarely walks anyone, gets a lot of ground balls, controls the running game (13 SB in 29 tries his rookie year), fields his position well (RF/9 50% above the AL average his rookie year), and is completely committed to his craft. If you don't think a guy like that can sustain success in the majors despite a below-average K rate, you're too hung up on K rates.

  69. To go way back to Evan in posts #7 and #11

    I like the info you put and how Nova can get a lot of W's by playing for the Yankees and how Hellickson get's few W's while playing with the Rays.

    Playing with the Yankees can definitely benefit your Wins, but playing at Yankee Stadium can also make a pitchers ERA go a lot higher. Same for the Rays and Hellickson. His team is not getting a lot of runs for him, but Hellickson also plays in a pitcher friendly park.

    If you look at the splits at home and away

    ERA for Nova
    Home- 4.42
    Away- 3.34

    Hellickson
    Home- 2.27
    Away- 3.62

    It does seem Nova is a better pitcher Away than Hellickson. However since Hellickson still has a very good ERA away from his ballpark, and their WHIP is not even close (Nova 1.34, Hellickson 1.13), I'd give Hellickson the edge.

    IMO, I'm more of a fan of comparing hitters and pitchers with Away stats rather than full season stats. Pitchers who pitch in pitcher ballparks for the most part pitch better away, and hitters who hit in hitters ballparks hit better for the most part at home. And vice versa.

  70. The Bambino may be the only HOfer who never had a losing season when he piched but the last 5 of heis 92 wins werre spotted over 4 years as a Yankee and he had no losses! .

    In addition to Tim Hudon, CC Sabathia who won 17 in one of his first two years is woking on an 11 year more wins then losses streak..and in Hudson and Sqabarthia, we may be watching one or two future HOfers.

    .

  71. 68- More conclusive for Fidrych in his second year is that his K/9 rate was up to 5.08 the first 8 starts he made. The last 3 starts (including the start where he tore is rotator cuff) he had 3 strikeouts in 12 innings. That's what bothers me most about saying things like he was 'not that good' or even that he had an 'early decline.' HE TORE HIS ROTATOR CUFF!!!!!!! And it was never diagnosed. And he kept trying to pitch with a TORN ROTATOR CUFF!!!!!

  72. I saw Fidrych pitch against the Yankees in 76.....and he was a lot of fun to watce. Anyone who wins an 0ERA title and goes 19 and 9 in his rookie season is a PITCHER!

    He was one of the litany of baseball tragedies that start....What could have happened if he had not? That the Bird died makes his stroy more poignant....Herb Score is another example in that litany of pitching tragedies..

    But to suggest that if Fidrych had not torn hsi rotator cuff, he could have been better then someone like Ford.....that s stretching it.....

    I might add that Andy petitte won 21 in his second year, never had a losing leason, but one .500 (14 and 14) season for the yankees) won 240 and lost 138. he s one of 27 pitchers in the history of baseball and only one of 13 since 1920 who won at lost 100 more then he lost.

    It will be interesting to see if he is elected to the HOF

  73. 72- By Charles criteria Sabathia doesn't qualify since he was 6-8 for Cleveland the year he was traded.
    I don't know that anyone suggested Fidrych would have been better than Ford, but I could see him having as successful a career as someone like Tim Hudson, only with better ERA and such to account for the period he pitched. My original thought however was if he didn't get hurt the Tigers go into the 80s with Fidrych, Morris, Petry and Wilcox, a pretty formidable staff, and maybe win more divisions than just 84 and 87.

  74. Mike @69 Re: Hellickson and Nova

    That's a fair point about Yankees Stadium (park factor 104 this year) being a tougher place to pitch than Tropicana (PF 91). I think looking at the away stats only goes a bit too far because it discounts half of the player's work and, especially with pitchers on a seasonal basis, creates a fairly small sample size. The relative differences in park factors is accounted for in ERA+ which Hellickson leads Nova 127-111 (not as large a difference as the 2.90 - 3.89 ERA numbers would produce if they were pitching in the same environment).

    There are also other factors in addition to park factor that explain pitching better at home, such as familiarity with the mound that explain improved performance at home for a pitcher.
    ---

    Going back to the whole pitching in the AL East being much tougher than pitching in other divisions, I calculated some numbers for Hellickson, Nova and Pineda that I think are fairly interesting.

    What I did was calculate a weighted average RPG for the teams that a starting pitcher has faced. The method is very basic calculate RPG for every team (for all of its games) and then average this number for the actual teams he faced (double or triple counting the teams he has faced 2 or 3 times). I also split out the Road numbers in deference to Mike's preferred method of analyzing pitchers (Note: I ignored Nova's lone relief appearance in this because it was only 0.2 innings).

    Opponents' Average R/G
    Hellickson 4.45 Total/ 4.44 Road
    Nova 4.42 Total/ 4.37 Road
    Pineda 4.44 Total/ 4.43 Road

    What I get from this is that in terms of considering the 3 guys for ROY, Pineda's numbers really shouldn't be diminished by saying he pitches in the weaker AL West vs. the other 2 guys pitching in the AL East. In fact,

    Starts vs. AL East Teams
    Hellickson 10
    Pineda 9
    Nova 6

    Yes, Pineda has pitched against the AL East 50% more often than Nova. Pineda has made 7 starts vs. the AL West, as opposed to 6 for each of the other players. Nova has started most often against the AL Central with 7 starts (6 each for Pineda and Hellickson). Nova and Pineda made 4 interleague starts each, while Hellickson has made 3.

    In any event, we can revisit these numbers and have a full AL ROY discussion when all of these guys have finished their seasons (or get a little closer to finishing, because from the looks of things the pennant races wont provide much to talk about).

  75. @ 68

    True. If I were really interested in this I would have broken it up to smaller time periods and put a lot more effort, but I answered the 4.5, 1961 question. I thought the fact that 18% vs 28% is interesting enough to report, if Jason or anyone else wanted to follow up, along with the fact that there have only been two 200 game winners in 50 years.

    I looked at the last 20 years also, but there weren't a significant number under 4.5

    The first number is the total with 100 or more starts, the second is the number of those with 300. I scribbled these down quickly yesterday and I'm not going to recheck, but an interesting trend is there.

    Less than 5 K/IP
    47 and 4 (9%)
    5-6 K/IP
    102 and 16 (16 %)
    6-7 K/IP
    84 and 16 (19%)
    7-8 K/IP
    52 an 10 (19%)
    greater than 8 K/IP
    34 and 9 (26%)

    I wouldn't read too much into these % vs the 50 year period, because we're including incomplete careers because people are still active and we clipped off the games of people who started prior to 1991. Needs more work if anyone is interested.

  76. Why is Ron Darling not on the list? He went 16-6 in his second year, 1985 (not counting 35 IP as a September callup in '83). And I don't know why you cut it off at 1973, but another Met, Jon Matlack, went 15-10 en route to ROY honors in 1972.

  77. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Well, the list is counting the 35 IP callup in '83. So, there you go.

  78. @22, Charles Saeger -- I know I'm reaching a long way back in the comments list, but it still ticks me off when someone gets their facts wrong.

    "...low K rate ... is a sure-fire predictor for a young pitcher."

    That's bull, and an irresponsible overstatement.

    -- Just look at the first 3 full years by Ted Lyons, compared to the AL average: 2.2 to 2.7; 1.5 to 2.7; 1.6 to 2.8. Lyons averaged 2.3 SO/9 for his entire HOF career, which I'm sure was below the combined league average.

    -- Early Wynn averaged 2.7 in his first full season, league average 3.4. Next year was 3.1 to 3.6, then 2.8 to 3.4. Wynn wasn't terribly successful in those years, but he did eventually raise his K rate significantly, even leading the league in 1950 at 6.0.

    -- Jair Jurrjens has yet to reach the NL average in K rate -- 6.6 to 7.0, 6.4 to 7.1, 6.7 to 7.4 and this year 5.3 to 7.3. But his combined ERA+ for those 4 years is 121.

    As far as the claim that Fidrych's "usage logs are unremarkable for that era," perhaps you were just judging by his total IP and CG for that year.

    Perhaps you don't realize that Fidrych didn't make his first start until May 15, Detroit's 24th game -- yet he led the league with 24 CG, in just 29 starts. Five of his CG went 10+ IP, and 4 went 11+ IP. Palmer had 23 CG in 40 starts that year.

    Since 1940, only Fidrych and Vida Blue have thrown 20 CG in a season at age 21 or under. Raise the age to 22 and you only get 4 more, none since Fidrych.

    You should be more careful with the facts.

  79. @77 Twisto: No s**t, Sherlock. Then the list isn't comprehensive, since Darling's rookie year was 1984, and I'm certain that quite a few other pitchers would qualify if the criteria were rookie and 2nd year. Faulty thought process by Lombardi. So, there you go.

  80. His an example of a fairly successful pitcher in recent history.

    He had more than 300 GS, with less than 4 SOs/9 innings and is one of the winningest left handers in SF Giants history.

    Throughout his career, Kirk Rueter was primarily a control and changeup pitcher. His fastball rarely hit 90 mph. He threw changeups, fastballs, sinkers, curveballs, cut fastballs, and sliders. Some credited the effects of the QuesTec umpiring system to his decline, because Rueter's success came mostly from being able to "paint the corners" of the strike zone and the system effectively took that ability away from him because it which encouraged umpires to call a tighter strike zone. Rueter was never a strikeout pitcher; he struck out more than a hundred batters in a season only twice in his career.

    The QuesTec system has pushed umpires to narrow the width of the strike zone.

  81. Add Daniel Hudson to this list.

  82. 79- Not a faulty thought process. His criteria was a pitchers 1st and 2nd year. Not 1st and 2nd full season, or his rookie season and the one after it.

  83. Johnny Twisto Says:

    No s**t, Sherlock.

    Since it's so obvious, I'm not sure why you asked WHY IS RON DARLING NOT ON THE LIST?

  84. Charles Saeger Says:

    @78: I did go over his logs. And I stand by my statement: they're not that remarkable. I have actually looked at other logs for that era, some of which I cited.

    And c'mon, you're citing pre-war pitchers, aside from Jurrjens, whose first rate was 94% of league, which is almost average, actually proving my point instead. That's reaching pretty thin. Ted Lyons and Early Wynn were pitching in an era where the leagues had less than 3 K/9.

    Facts are a funny thing. You should try them. And a little honesty too.

  85. Charles Saeger Says:

    I'll amend that last one, which was indeed harsh, replying to an unwarrantedly harsh comment: I didn't actually cite complete games or innings pitched, but rather estimated pitches a start, which is a per-game total. Hence my honesty barb.

    But John's comments were actually much better than most of the stuff in this thread. Fidrych came down with a rotator cuff injury the next year. How do you others (again, John didn't remark on this at all) know that was from his use the year before? You don't. There's no proven link between pitch counts and injuries. We think there is one -- hell, even I think throwing 150 pitches a start for a year is probably a bad idea for ones healthy arm -- but there's never been a link proven at all. Pitchers get hurt as much today when we throw a fit when one throws 110 pitches.

  86. @82: It was a faulty thought process. Given that so many prospects get their feet wet as September call-ups, using rookie year and second year yields a larger but more meaningful and statistically significant group.

  87. @43 Dennis: I don't know when the game you attended took place, but Seaver's rookie year was 1967, so it couldn't have been in 1966. A search of the database at ultimatemets.com shows that Marichal pitched 10 or more innings against the Mets in NYC twice, a 2-1 Giants win on 8/23/62 and a 1-0 Mets win on 8/10/69.

    The only 1966 game in which McCovey homered at Shea was an 8-6 Mets win on 8/4/66.

    So perhaps you memory's not so perfect.

  88. 85- True, there's no way to know if the amount of innings threw in such a short timeframe contributed to his arm injury. It should also be noted that he hurt his knee in spring training in '77 and missed almost the entire first two months of the season, which also may have caused a change in his mechanics which led to the injury. But...
    That has nothing to do with your original ideas which were that Mark Fidrych 'wasn't that good a pitcher.' and that it 'wasn't surprising he lost it.' In a later post you give Frank Tanana the benefit of the doubt saying his injury 'may well have come from overuse,' while claiming Fidrych 'lost effectiveness immediately.'
    Post 78 showed that his usage rate was entirely remarkable, in that he and Blue are the only pitchers at that young age to throw 20 CG in a season over the last 71 years. (The fact that Blue did this over a whole season and Fidrych in 2/3 of a season makes it even more unique.)
    The reality is this: Mark Fidrych was a good pitcher. He didn't strike out a lot of the opposition. He did get them out and won baseball games for a pretty mediocre baseball team. The people who pick all star teams picked him both times they could. The people who decide who is the best pitcher in the league felt he was the second best that year, behind a guy who they felt was the best three times. The people who decide who the best rookie player in the league felt he was. Then he suffered a devastating injury which was never fixed. If you want to believe he wasn't a good pitcher and it was all going to fall apart someday go ahead and believe that. Someday years from now, someone will look at Bo Jackson's pro football stats and make the same conclusion you have, "Well, he only played half the time and apart his high avg per attempt he doesn't seem all that remarkable, I suppose he wasn't all that great." Stats don't always tell the whole story and that is the case with Mark Fidrych.

  89. Charles Saeger Says:

    I'm not even reading what others are writing now, so I don't care about the petty insults have been lobbed at me (especially from someone affiliated with the blog, how rude!), but I did even more fooling with Fidrych 1976:

    1) I switched from the Basic Pitch Count Estimator to Tom Tango's more fiddly one, and Fidrych's Pitches/Start dropped from 122 to 116, even more than I thought. (The changes mean that pitchers who put a lot of balls in play, like Fidrych, would not have had as deep a count as pitchers who didn't, like Nolan Ryan, and therefore throw fewer pitchers per batter.) Throwing an average 116 pitches a game isn't out there at all; it wouldn't even be THAT out there for nowadays. (The average has been 95-96 since we started counting actual pitches, though the spread between pitchers has decreased.)
    2) I had forgotten this, but using BABIP versus teammates, Fidrych was lucky to the tune of about 36 hits or so. That would throw his ERA over 3.00, as well as raising his K/9 (since those extra outs weren't strikeouts). He was lucky, though less so in the direction I read from straight K rate. Since Fidrych was a groundballer, he might have had even more luck than this shows; groundballers (or, more accurately, low HR/9 pitchers) have higher BABIPs per DIPS 2.0.
    3) His first start was 5/15, yes, but so what? That's the 25th game, since the season used to start a bit later than it does now (closer to tax day than April Fools' Day), and there were a lot of off days in April for reasons I never grasped. If Fidrych had started the year in the rotation, he would only have had another 5 or so starts.

    Conclusion? Still the same. Fidrych wasn't that good, and his usage pattern wasn't abnormal for 1976.

  90. Johnny Twisto Says:

    from the Basic Pitch Count Estimator to Tom Tango's more fiddly one

    Not aware of the latter, can you share the formula or a link?