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500+ IP Before Age 23 & An ERA+ >=110

Posted by Steve Lombardi on October 10, 2011

Since 1901, how many pitchers have logged at least 500 innings before their age 23 season while maintaining an ERA+ of 110 or better?

Here is the list -

Rk Player ERA+ IP From To Age G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV H R ER BB SO ERA HR BF IBB HBP BK WP Tm
1 Smoky Joe Wood 156 999.2 1908 1912 18-22 152 109 88 23 35 81 43 .653 4 783 361 217 273 733 1.95 8 3934   40 0 27 BOS
2 Dwight Gooden 146 924.1 1984 1987 19-22 124 124 42 16 0 73 26 .737 0 718 283 253 275 892 2.46 48 3694 11 10 14 14 NYM
3 Christy Mathewson 140 987.0 1901 1903 20-22 120 113 103 16 7 64 47 .577 2 855 385 249 274 652 2.27 10 4005   33 3 58 NYG
4 Walter Johnson 140 1033.0 1907 1910 19-22 135 120 99 20 14 57 65 .467 3 803 314 199 233 708 1.73 3 4003   41 1 50 WSH
5 Bob Feller 137 1448.1 1936 1941 17-22 205 175 117 16 24 107 54 .665 10 1149 569 512 815 1233 3.18 59 6191   26 7 46 CLE
6 Wes Ferrell 134 556.1 1927 1930 19-22 89 62 44 2 21 46 25 .648 8 573 261 213 222 247 3.45 21 2410   3 4 7 CLE
7 Bert Blyleven 132 1054.2 1970 1973 19-22 144 141 58 18 2 63 58 .521 0 953 363 323 242 845 2.76 76 4280 18 26 7 21 MIN
8 Vida Blue 131 543.2 1969 1972 19-22 82 72 31 14 1 33 19 .635 1 395 174 150 166 471 2.48 43 2151 7 6 1 13 OAK
9 Babe Ruth 131 890.2 1914 1917 19-22 121 109 75 16 9 67 34 .663 3 661 268 205 318 413 2.07 6 3519   25 2 17 BOS
10 Dave Rozema 130 525.0 1977 1979 20-22 72 72 31 4 0 28 23 .549 0 528 222 186 105 182 3.19 54 2162 7 15 2 7 DET
11 Gary Nolan 130 736.0 1967 1970 19-22 109 106 18 10 1 49 27 .645 0 626 268 239 247 581 2.92 64 3039 20 9 6 17 CIN
12 Frank Tanana 125 840.2 1973 1976 19-22 111 106 53 12 3 51 40 .560 0 705 283 255 231 732 2.73 74 3406 15 24 3 19 CAL
13 Don Drysdale 125 802.1 1956 1959 19-22 147 106 32 9 24 51 40 .560 2 743 331 297 257 576 3.33 73 3379 21 42 5 18 BRO-LAD
14 Paul Dean 122 503.0 1934 1935 21-22 85 59 35 7 15 38 23 .623 7 486 205 190 107 293 3.40 35 2099   14 1 3 STL
15 Bret Saberhagen 122 549.0 1984 1986 20-22 100 75 16 4 13 37 29 .561 1 514 227 208 103 343 3.41 47 2217 6 5 5 9 KCR
16 Al Mamaux 120 627.2 1913 1916 19-22 97 73 47 11 20 47 25 .653 2 489 213 157 258 347 2.25 7 2556   20 6 7 PIT
17 George Kaiserling 118 536.2 1914 1915 21-22 78 62 36 6 12 32 25 .561 2 534 209 160 145 150 2.68 9 2180   26 0 8 IND-NEW
18 Pete Donohue 118 634.2 1921 1923 20-22 96 77 44 4 15 46 30 .605 5 678 296 231 137 194 3.28 15 2691   15 1 4 CIN
19 Storm Davis 118 526.0 1982 1984 20-22 98 68 17 3 12 35 20 .636 1 481 216 197 163 297 3.37 29 2166 14 7 4 15 BAL
20 Ralph Branca 117 717.1 1944 1948 18-22 140 90 35 7 27 43 30 .589 7 621 307 268 330 397 3.36 56 3050   15 2 27 BRO
21 Fernando Valenzuela 117 752.0 1980 1983 19-22 107 97 38 16 4 49 30 .620 1 640 284 251 248 584 3.00 40 3074 26 6 2 20 LAD
22 Dennis Eckersley 116 633.1 1975 1977 20-22 103 87 27 8 8 40 32 .556 3 516 243 227 222 543 3.23 60 2621 21 19 3 13 CLE
23 Harry Krause 115 515.1 1908 1911 19-22 79 53 39 10 15 36 23 .610 2 425 171 132 142 294 2.31 8 2002   33 1 6 PHA
24 Nick Maddox 115 518.0 1907 1909 20-22 73 65 45 9 5 41 17 .707 1 414 169 121 142 164 2.10 7 2038   30 1 7 PIT
25 Sam McDowell 114 605.1 1961 1965 18-22 113 85 23 6 13 34 29 .540 6 473 241 212 351 640 3.15 32 2605 14 13 2 40 CLE
26 Felix Hernandez 114 666.1 2005 2008 19-22 104 104 5 2 0 39 36 .520 0 663 304 281 216 593 3.80 65 2809 13 19 2 29 SEA
27 George Mullin 113 580.2 1902 1903 21-22 76 66 56 6 9 32 31 .508 2 566 283 186 201 248 2.88 8 2433   15 0 19 DET
28 Waite Hoyt 113 775.0 1918 1922 18-22 116 85 50 7 22 48 37 .565 4 794 349 295 226 272 3.43 19 3225   15 1 12 NYG-BOS-NYY
29 Milt Pappas 112 737.0 1957 1961 18-22 124 98 40 11 18 53 39 .576 4 634 298 275 287 410 3.36 47 3065 12 19 2 37 BAL
30 Hal Newhouser 112 690.2 1939 1943 18-22 137 96 34 3 31 34 52 .395 6 618 354 283 442 446 3.69 25 3084   5 2 14 DET
31 Larry Dierker 111 980.2 1964 1969 17-22 144 132 43 7 4 55 50 .524 0 856 382 327 271 683 3.00 70 4021 22 14 2 50 HOU
32 Art Houtteman 110 786.2 1945 1950 17-22 155 89 45 8 47 43 43 .500 14 818 390 342 257 316 3.91 67 3365   17 1 7 DET
33 Jim Shaw 110 509.1 1913 1916 19-22 101 59 27 8 32 24 37 .393 6 394 189 148 270 300 2.62 6 2077   13 3 21 WSH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/10/2011.

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Raise your hand if you knew Dave Rozema was going to be in the "Top Ten" here...

This entry was posted on Monday, October 10th, 2011 at 11:41 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.

26 Responses to “500+ IP Before Age 23 & An ERA+ >=110”

  1. Feller
    Gooden
    Blyleven

    Top 3 in WAR with Feller ahead by a significant margin due to huge IP total

  2. CriticalCynic Says:

    With a good 2012, Madison Bumgarner should join this list. 325 IP, was over 200 IP last year, ERA+ of 120.

  3. My question is: how many of these pitchers burned out early because of it?

  4. Richard Chester Says:

    @3

    Smoky Joe Wood's pitching career came to an early end but not because of burn-out. He broke his thumb in 1913 and it never healed properly. This affected his pitching and by 1917 he gave up pitching. He did make a come-back as a position player and had a few decent years. No less than Walter Johnson admitted that Wood could throw harder than he (Johnson) could.

  5. Richard Chester Says:

    @3

    Paul Dean won 38 games in his first two seasons. He then hurt his arm and won just 12 games for the rest of his career.

  6. Gary Nolan was out of baseball by 30, and had missed almost 2 full years due to arm trouble before that (1973-1974).

  7. When I saw the title, the first names to come to mind were Doc Gooden (not surprised to see him near the top) and Felix Hernandez (a bit surprised he's so low--I thought his career ERA+ would be a bit better than it is).

  8. If memory serves, Tanana & Nolan's arm troubles at the time were attributed more to their respective pitching motions & deliveries than to overwork.

  9. Unless I missed someone I count 8 HOF'amers on this list.
    Mathewson, Johnson, Feller, Blyleven, Drysdale, Eckersly, Hoyt, plus Ruth.

    This list seems to have a lot of burn outs on it. I would love to see their cumulative post age 30 W-L record.

  10. Bruce Gilbert Says:

    Of interest: 1.) Johnson with an ERA+ of 140, but a W-L record of 57-65 due to the Senators' woeful offense. 2.) Most shutouts on the list: Smoky Joe with 23 and Johnson with 20 (both pitching in the "dead ball" era, of course), and then Blyleven third with 18!!! 3.) As for Johnson's comment about how hard Smoky Joe threw, he most definitely would have had in mind that famous game in 1914 (Fenway's Park's first year, I believe), when Johnson came into the game with a then A.L.-record 15-game winning streak, and lost a pitcher's duel to Wood. If memory serves, I think a record crowd was on hand at Fenway to witness the epic battle.

  11. Bruce Gilbert Says:

    Correction: 1914 was Fenway's third year.

  12. Kershaw missed this list by just a few innings. He had 483 IP with an ERA+ of 126 prior to his age 23 season (which was this past season; he turned 23 on March 19th).

  13. Richard Chester Says:

    @10

    That game took place on 9/6/1912. Attendance was 29000+.

  14. I love seeing Babe Ruth on this list. That's why any argument about the greatest player of all-time is ultimately about second-place.

    @7 - King Felix's career ERA+ is better than that. Don't forget that the stats shown are only through age 22. His best seasons have been at ages 23 and 24.

  15. yes 8 HOFers and at their peaks, some DAMNED good pitchers ,Blue, Valenzuela, Saberhagem Gooden, Wood

    A couple of the HOFers are ifffy (Drysale and Hoyt) and Wes Ferrell, never got much consideration....

    but maybe for severall years the best pitcher in the AL behind Grove. Ferrell won 20 or more SIX times in 15 years and was maybe the best hiittng pitcher in baseball history...(with the obvious exclusion of Ruth).

  16. @9 You missed Newhouser. He's also in the HOF. So that makes 9 HOFers. Though Eckersley wouldn't have made it without switching to the bullpen.

  17. StephenH @ 9
    "This list seems to have a lot of burn outs on it."
    Jeff @ 3
    "how many of these pitchers burned out early because of it?"

    I don't believe the number is as high as it may appear.

    Gooden,Blue,McDowell and Eckersley all had their careers altered by substance abuse issues, Wood & Dean's careers injuries were attributable to changes in their motion caused by injuries not related to overwork, Rozema was injured in an on field fight, Tanana & Nolan's injuries may be more attributable to their pitching motion, Valenzuela may be attributable to a faulty birth certificate...

    I can't speak to the pre 1920 players but just about everyone post 1920 who's career appeared shortened has issues other than overwork that might have led to their early demise. It's also important to remember that before about 1970 & salaries going way up even among Hall of Famers most players didn't play past 35 years old and among non-HOFer's even earlier than that.

  18. The CG numbers are crazy. On one end of the scale, Christy Mathewson completed 103 of his first 113 starts. Even Tanana had 50% CGs (53 of 106 GS). Then there's King Felix: 104 starts, five complete games. He's up to 18 now, which is 14th among all active pitchers.

    By the play index, since integration pitchers have matched or surpassed 18 CG in a single year, 263 different times. The times, they are a-becomin' quite different.

  19. "Valenzuela may be attributable to a faulty birth certificate..."

    That's not as common as you think it is here in Mexico.

  20. What made for so many who started between 1956 and 1984?

  21. @20, Dvd Avins -- I think what you're really noticing is an absence of any such pitchers whose careers began in the 20-year span from 1985 to 2004.

    The rest of the distribution across decades looks pretty normal once you account for scoring averages, wartime and expansion.

  22. Given the shorter drought from 1945 until 1956, I think there may be more to it than that. I think there's a steady decrease to be expected, as typical IP per year went down, but there's this anomalous period centered around 1970 that had an unusual number of pitchers who were consistently valuable year after year. This stat is just one more in which that anomaly shows up.

    It's not just that there wee top stars like Seaver. There were an unusual number of Reusses and Koosmans. For some reason the difference between what could be achieved by many and what was the evident replacement level was especially large for about 15 years. And I've been trying to figure out a definitive answer for a long time.l

  23. Hand up on Rozema. I was a high school age Tiger fan in the late 70s so I remember how good he started out.

  24. TrivialSteve Says:

    I had at least heard of Rozema, but Al Marmaux? Two great seasons for the Pirates before the age of 23, then crap (injury?) Its amazing the things you find out on B-R. Like, Rozema is Kirk Gibson's brother-in-law and that his ELO rating currently has him next to Vinegar Bend Mizell.

  25. @23, Chuck -- Everything you wrote there goes for me, too.

    BTW, Dave Rozema is another exhibit in my resentful retort to those who think Mark Fidrych's low K rate prove that he could not have stayed successful even if he hadn't been injured.

    Rozema came up the year after Fidrych and had immediate success (if not as spectacular) using a similar formula: although Rozema gave up more HRs than the Bird, he also didn't walk people, and he cut off the running game.

    As a rookie, Rozema had a 139 ERA in 218 IP (over just 28 games), despite just 3.8 SO/9. So was his .272 BAbip that year "lucky"? Not at all: Rozema finished his career with a .273 BAbip in over 1,100 IP, with a 118 ERA and just 3.6 SO/9.

    In his second season, Rozema's K rate plummeted to 2.5 SO/9, yet his ERA+ was still a fine 124. He got hurt in his 3rd year and was never able to be a full-time SP again, but even in that aborted year, he had a 124 ERA+ in about 100 IP, with just 3.1 SO/9.

    A low-K pitcher obviously has a tougher path to success, but he <can succeed if he is excellent in other phases -- as Fidrych was.

  26. Todd Colegrove Says:

    Feller...107 wins before he was 23...man.....where would his numbers be if he hadn't lost all those prime years shortly after to WWII.....