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Which Staff Had the Most Wins in Their Future?

Posted by Neil Paine on October 18, 2010

Here's an interesting question sent to us by B-R reader Phil:

"I've been a Mets fan since 1967, when, as the youngest kid in my neighborhood, I needed something to differentiate myself from the older kids who grew up Yankees fans at the tail end of the dynasty. In 1969, God performed his last certified Miracle. As I've learned more about baseball over the last 40 years, I've come to wonder: did the Mets 1969 pitching staff have the best 'potential' of any staff? By that I mean, did they have the most wins left in them?"

He goes on to detail what he means:

"At the end of 1968:
- Tom Seaver had won 32 games of 311 win career. He had 279 games left to win. (Obviously, not all for the Mets.)
- Jerry Koosman had won 19 games of a 222 win career. He had 203 wins left.
- Nolan Ryan had won 6 games of a 324 win career. He had 318 wins left.
- Tug McGraw had won 4 games of a 96 win career. He had 92 wins left.
Totaled, that's 892 "potential wins" (for lack of a better term). What other teams can we compare this to?
I'd love to see the results, which would hopefully validate my Amazing Mets as the leader in this category."

This is a great idea, and I'm going to expand it to include every pitcher on a staff (rather than just the starters). Including the year in question, which team's pitching staff had the most wins in their future?

Pitcher futureW Pitcher futureW
1. 1978 Dodgers (1277 future wins)
Bob Welch 211 Burt Hooton 76
Charlie Hough 182 Bobby Castillo 37
Rick Sutcliffe 171 Terry Forster 22
Dave Stewart 168 Doug Rau 17
Tommy John 134 Mike Garman 4
Don Sutton 134 Lance Rautzhan 2
Rick Rhoden 119
2. 1970 Cardinals (1264)
Steve Carlton 282 Chuck Taylor 21
Jerry Reuss 219 Tom Hilgendorf 19
Mike Torrez 173 Ted Abernathy 17
Reggie Cleveland 105 Frank Linzy 16
Fred Norman 104 Harry Parker 15
Bob Gibson 84 Rich Nye 3
Nelson Briles 74 Sal Campisi 2
Al Hrabosky 64 Frank Bertaina 1
Jerry Johnson 38 Santiago Guzman 1
George Culver 25 Chuck Hartenstein 1
3. 1969 Cardinals (1163)
Steve Carlton 299 Mudcat Grant 22
Jerry Reuss 220 Joe Hoerner 22
Mike Torrez 183 Tom Hilgendorf 19
Reggie Cleveland 105 Ray Washburn 7
Bob Gibson 104 Gary Waslewski 5
Nelson Briles 89 Sal Campisi 3
Dave Giusti 53 Ron Willis 3
Chuck Taylor 28 Santiago Guzman 1
4. 1976 Orioles (1156)
Dennis Martinez 245 Wayne Garland 48
Mike Flanagan 167 Grant Jackson 40
Doyle Alexander 156 Ken Holtzman 23
Scott McGregor 138 Dyar Miller 17
Jim Palmer 116 Fred Holdsworth 7
Rudy May 79 Mike Cuellar 4
Ross Grimsley 59 Dave Pagan 3
Tippy Martinez 54
5. 1964 Indians (1149)
Tommy John 288 Ted Abernathy 48
Luis Tiant 229 Lee Stange 45
Sonny Siebert 140 Tom Kelley 20
Sam McDowell 135 Jack Kralick 20
Mudcat Grant 81 Pedro Ramos 20
Don McMahon 61 Dick Donovan 8
Gary Bell 54
6. 1992 Blue Jays (1117)
David Wells 199 Jack Morris 38
Al Leiter 155 Doug Linton 17
Pat Hentgen 131 Mark Eichhorn 14
David Cone 127 Tom Henke 12
Todd Stottlemyre 99 Duane Ward 9
Jimmy Key 83 Dave Stieb 6
Juan Guzman 81 Bob Macdonald 5
Dave Weathers 72 Ricky Trlicek 5
Mike Timlin 64
7. 1967 Cubs (1115)
Fergie Jenkins 276 Cal Koonce 20
Joe Niekro 221 Chuck Hartenstein 17
Ken Holtzman 163 Rob Gardner 10
Fred Norman 104 Bob Hendley 5
Bill Hands 103 Curt Simmons 5
Ray Culp 79 Dick Radatz 3
Bill Stoneman 54 Bob Shaw 3
Rich Nye 26 Jim Ellis 1
Pete Mikkelsen 25
8. 1991 Blue Jays (1098)
David Wells 214 Duane Ward 16
Al Leiter 155 Tom Henke 12
Pat Hentgen 131 Dave Stieb 10
Todd Stottlemyre 114 Bob Macdonald 8
Jimmy Key 99 Willie Fraser 7
Juan Guzman 91 Denis Boucher 6
Tom Candiotti 80 Vince Horsman 4
Mike Timlin 75 Jim Acker 3
Dave Weathers 73
9. 1974 Dodgers (1098)
Charlie Hough 212 Mike Marshall 57
Don Sutton 204 Andy Messersmith 57
Tommy John 177 Eddie Solomon 36
Rick Rhoden 151 Jim Brewer 11
Geoff Zahn 110 Al Downing 8
Doug Rau 75
10. 1980 Dodgers (1088)
Bob Welch 199 Burt Hooton 46
Fernando Valenzuela 173 Bobby Castillo 35
Charlie Hough 170 Joe Beckwith 17
Rick Sutcliffe 154 Dave Goltz 17
Don Sutton 107 Terry Forster 16
Jerry Reuss 105 Don Stanhouse 2
Steve Howe 47
11. 1976 Dodgers (1077)
Charlie Hough 200 Doug Rau 47
Rick Sutcliffe 171 Elias Sosa 38
Don Sutton 169 Mike Marshall 33
Tommy John 164 Dennis Lewallyn 4
Rick Rhoden 147 Stan Wall 4
Burt Hooton 99 Al Downing 1
12. 1971 Cardinals (1071)
Steve Carlton 272 Frank Linzy 11
Jerry Reuss 212 Al Santorini 8
Mike Torrez 165 Moe Drabowsky 7
Reggie Cleveland 105 Don Shaw 7
Fred Norman 102 Stan Williams 7
Al Hrabosky 62 Chris Zachary 4
Bob Gibson 61 Dennis Higgins 2
Chuck Taylor 15 Daryl Patterson 2
Harry Parker 14 Mike Jackson 1
Bob Reynolds 14
13. 1988 Cubs (1068)
Greg Maddux 347 Calvin Schiraldi 18
Jamie Moyer 248 Frank DiPino 17
Bob Tewksbury 100 Bill Landrum 15
Scott Sanderson 77 Jeff Pico 13
Rick Sutcliffe 67 Drew Hall 7
Mike Bielecki 60 Al Nipper 4
Mike Harkey 36 Pat Perry 4
Les Lancaster 33 Mike Capel 3
Rich Gossage 18 Kevin Blankenship 1
14. 1971 Mets (1068)
Nolan Ryan 305 Gary Gentry 24
Tom Seaver 236 Danny Frisella 23
Jerry Koosman 174 Charlie Williams 23
Jon Matlack 125 Jim McAndrew 17
Tug McGraw 79 Ron Taylor 2
Buzz Capra 31 Don Rose 1
Ray Sadecki 28
15. 1969 Mets (1068)
Nolan Ryan 318 Bob Johnson 28
Tom Seaver 279 Ron Taylor 16
Jerry Koosman 203 Don Cardwell 10
Tug McGraw 92 Cal Koonce 9
Gary Gentry 46 Jack DiLauro 2
Jim McAndrew 33 Al Jackson 1
Danny Frisella 31

The '69 Mets rank near the top, but are ultimately 15th in MLB history in team "future wins". The staff with the most future wins belonged to the '78 Dodgers, who had only one pitcher with 200+ wins in his future, but six others with at least 100 left in their arms, plus 76 more from Burt Hooton. The Cardinals of 1969-71 also had an impressive group of future winners with Steve Carlton, Jerry Reuss, Mike Torrez, Reggie Cleveland, & the legendary Bob Gibson, among others.

However, every sabermetrician worth their salt would tell you that wins aren't exactly the most informative stat in the world for pitchers. Which staffs show up with the brightest futures if we use Wins Above Replacement instead?

Pitcher futureWAR Pitcher futureWAR
1. 1971 Mets (279.2 future WAR)
Nolan Ryan 80.9 Gary Gentry 3.9
Tom Seaver 77.8 Danny Frisella 3.1
Jerry Koosman 42.4 Charlie Williams 1.9
Jon Matlack 38.7 Jim McAndrew 1.2
Tug McGraw 17.4 Ron Taylor -0.1
Buzz Capra 6.8 Don Rose -0.8
Ray Sadecki 6.0
2. 1969 Mets (273.8)
Tom Seaver 91.4 Ron Taylor 1.6
Nolan Ryan 83.6 Don Cardwell 0.6
Jerry Koosman 52.5 Jack DiLauro 0.6
Tug McGraw 20.7 Jesse Hudson 0.0
Gary Gentry 9.0 Les Rohr -0.2
Bob Johnson 6.8 Cal Koonce -0.7
Jim McAndrew 4.8 Al Jackson -0.9
Danny Frisella 4.0
3. 1968 Mets (265.5)
Tom Seaver 98.9 Don Cardwell 2.5
Nolan Ryan 85.1 Cal Koonce 1.3
Jerry Koosman 59.3 Les Rohr -0.5
Dick Selma 8.0 Don Shaw -0.5
Jim McAndrew 7.1 Bill Connors -0.7
Danny Frisella 3.9 Bill Short -0.7
Ron Taylor 2.7 Al Jackson -0.9
4. 1992 Blue Jays (252.5)
David Wells 42.0 Tom Henke 7.8
David Cone 41.7 Duane Ward 5.4
Al Leiter 38.9 Mark Eichhorn 5.1
Pat Hentgen 31.2 Jack Morris 0.7
Jimmy Key 21.5 Bob Macdonald -0.4
Juan Guzman 19.8 Ricky Trlicek -0.5
Mike Timlin 16.5 Dave Stieb -0.8
Todd Stottlemyre 14.8 Doug Linton -0.9
Dave Weathers 9.7
5. 1970 Mets (252.4)
Tom Seaver 83.8 Jim McAndrew 3.8
Nolan Ryan 82.8 Rich Folkers 1.2
Jerry Koosman 45.8 Dean Chance 1.2
Tug McGraw 18.0 Cal Koonce 0.8
Ray Sadecki 6.8 Ron Taylor 0.1
Gary Gentry 5.9 Ron Herbel -0.8
Danny Frisella 4.2 Don Cardwell -1.2
6. 1991 Blue Jays (249.1)
David Wells 45.0 Duane Ward 8.1
Al Leiter 38.6 Dave Stieb 0.8
Pat Hentgen 31.4 Vince Horsman 0.6
Jimmy Key 25.9 Bob Macdonald 0.5
Juan Guzman 23.1 Ken Dayley -0.2
Tom Candiotti 22.6 Denis Boucher -0.3
Todd Stottlemyre 18.6 Frank Wills -0.4
Mike Timlin 18.2 Jim Acker -0.5
Dave Weathers 9.6 Mickey Weston -0.5
Tom Henke 9.6 Willie Fraser -1.6
7. 1964 Indians (238.6)
Luis Tiant 60.1 Lee Stange 5.3
Tommy John 59.0 Tom Kelley 3.6
Sam McDowell 42.6 Jack Kralick 1.4
Sonny Siebert 26.5 Gordon Seyfried 0.1
Ted Abernathy 14.8 Jerry Walker 0.0
Don McMahon 10.9 Dick Donovan -0.2
Mudcat Grant 9.8 Pedro Ramos -0.8
Gary Bell 5.5
8. 1996 New York Yankees (237.0)
Mariano Rivera 52.8 Brian Boehringer 4.5
Andy Pettitte 47.6 Graeme Lloyd 2.1
Kenny Rogers 35.1 Scott Kamieniecki 0.9
David Cone 17.9 Mark Hutton 0.7
Bob Wickman 15.1 Dave Pavlas 0.6
Dave Weathers 11.7 Wally Whitehurst 0.0
John Wetteland 10.8 Mike Aldrete 0.0
Ramiro Mendoza 10.3 Paul Gibson 0.0
Jeff Nelson 8.3 Steve Howe -0.1
Jimmy Key 8.1 Dale Polley -0.4
Jim Mecir 7.2 Billy Brewer -1.1
Dwight Gooden 6.4 Ricky Bones -1.5
9. 1984 Red Sox (229.8)
Roger Clemens 128.4 Mark Clear 2.8
Bruce Hurst 31.3 Steve Crawford 1.5
Dennis Eckersley 27.1 John Henry Johnson 1.1
Bob Ojeda 20.0 Rich Gale 0.0
Oil Can Boyd 14.4 Charlie Mitchell -0.1
Al Nipper 3.9 Jim Dorsey -0.8
Bob Stanley 3.0 MIke Brown -2.8
10. 1997 New York Yankees (228.3)
Mariano Rivera 47.4 Jim Mecir 6.9
Andy Pettitte 41.9 Brian Boehringer 4.0
Kenny Rogers 31.5 Dwight Gooden 3.5
David Wells 30.9 Joe Borowski 2.9
David Cone 15.3 Hideki Irabu 2.7
Dave Weathers 12.6 Graeme Lloyd 1.3
Ramiro Mendoza 10.5 Willie Banks 0.6
Mike Stanton 9.3 Wade Boggs 0.0
Jeff Nelson 7.4 Danny Rios -0.4

It turns out that when we look at "potential wins" through the prism of Wins Above Replacement, Phil's 1968-71 Mets do in fact rank as the staff with the most future performance remaining in their collective arms.

25 Responses to “Which Staff Had the Most Wins in Their Future?”

  1. Phil Says:

    I knew it!!!!!

  2. Dennis Garone Says:

    What a great idea. You probably still got the crap beaten out of you in the neighborhood but at least you had something to look forward to. Great analysis.
    It was E-Z being a Met fan in the 60s and 70s. It seemed to be a National League town. Now with all the front runners it is a Yankee town and has been for 15 years.

  3. Phil Says:

    Dennis, wasn't beaten up, mostly ignored... and for the recrod, it's never easy being a Mets fan! Having suffered through the Nino Espinoza years in the late '70s and early '80s... and then the let down after the '86 team failed to become a dominate force in the following years.... all that money, so little success...

  4. Pete Says:

    This is a cool idea. How about doing the same for offensive players? The 1974 Boston Red Sox would fare pretty well here. Yaz, Evans, Cooper, Fisk, Rice, and Lynn still had A LOT of future hits, home runs, and RBI.

  5. Tmckelv Says:

    The only problem for the Mets teams on this particular list (WAR), is that the main reason they are on there has a lot to do with the as-of-yet-realized WAR "potential" of Nolan Ryan. Unfortunately, the Mets traded him away prior to accululating the vast majority of Wins and WAR. I doubt they would have all of these teams represented on this list if you replace Nolan Ryan's future WAR number with that of Jim Fregosi's future WAR "potential".

    You could definitely make a case of the Mets fans not having to suffer thru the "Nino Espinoza years" (@ #3 above) if the Mets don't make that specific trade. That would be a good "What if column".

    My personal opinion is that if Nolan flourished similarly with the Mets as he did with the Angels (not really a stretch), the Mets would definitely have won more Pennants/World Series in the ealy 70's, especially 1973. Also being in the NL, Nolan potentially could have pitched even more no-hitters, and lastly, The Mets may have not ever needed to trade Tom Seaver in 1977 since they wouldn't have "needed" to rebuild in the late 1970's. Seaver/Ryan/Koosman/Matlack/Swan could potentially have gone down as the best Rotation in the history of Baseball as they would have dominated the 1970's into the 1980's.

  6. ZackAttack Says:


    I bet the 1993 Cleveland Indians are high up on the list too, with Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, and Manny Ramirez.

  7. LJF Says:

    Very cool stuff Neil and Phil. Amazing to think that those were Cardinals teams AFTER their run had ended in the late 60's. Which brings me to a (somewhat) related question I wondered about. Which teams traded away the most wins, HRs, WAR, hits (choose your stat)?

  8. Jaxx Says:

    Would be interesting to see these numbers for players who left the organization.

    In other words who let the most Wins, or WAR go. (in other words, don't count what they did while still with there first team)

  9. Uncle Mike Says:

    I once did a what-if scenario about the Mets keeping Nolan Ryan. It was surprisingly under-consequential. Having a healthy Ryan in 1973, the year he set the record of 383 strikeouts and pitched 2 no-hitters, probably means the Mets clinch the NL East sooner, easing the strain on their rotation (especially Tom Seaver), meaning their chances of beating the A's in the World Series are significantly improved, and it might not go 7 as in real life. Other than that, the Mets don't get helped much. First of all, in most of their other seasons from 1970 until they got good again in 1984, they were so far back that having Ryan wouldn't have helped. Second of all, when Ryan did get into the postseason, such as in 1986 with the Astros against the Mets, he was hardly overwhelming. And third of all, chances are that M. Donald Grant, without Joan Payson and Gil Hodges to stop him, would have traded Ryan in the late '70s anyway, so he wouldn't have been there to help Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and the rest in the failed dynasty of 1984-90.

  10. John Q Says:

    Think about that Mets team at the end of the '71 season when they still had Seaver, Ryan, Koosman, McGraw and Matlack plus they still had Ken Singleton and Whitey Herzog in the organization. That team could have easily been a powerhouse team of the 70's. Also this is only one year removed from when they traded Amos Otis for Joe Foy.

    The Mets essentially made 4 terrible moves from December 1969 To April 1972 that turned a potential powerhouse team into a perennial 90+ loss team in only 2 1/2 years.

    Dec 3, '69: Traded Amos Otis for Joe Foy: Foy was a bust and Otis goes on to a 5 time All Star, 40+ WAR player and key player for those '76-80 Royals teams.

    Dec 10, '71: Traded Nolan Ryan, Don Rose, Frank Estrada, and Leroy Stanton for Jim Fregosi: Fregosi was a bust, Ryan became a HOF Legend and the Angels used Rose, Estrada and Stanton in trades that essentially win them the 1979 American League Western division. And to add injury to insult Fregosi comes back to manage the '79 Angels.

    April 3, '72: After the untimely death of Manager Gil Hodges, the Mets pass over Whitey Herzog for 3rd base coach Yogi Berra. Berra led them to a 3-2 lead in the '73 World Series, but strangely decided to pitch Tom Seaver on short rest in game 6 rather than pitch him on FULL rest in game 7. Also decided not to pitch George Stone who was 12-3 with a 132+ era on full rest in game 6.

    Herzog upset after being passed over went to the Rangers in '74 and then found great success and win 6 division titles, 3 N.L. Pennants, and 1 WS title with the Royals in the '70's and the Cardinals in the 80's. And to add insult to injury, it was Herzog's Cardinals that knocked the Mets out of the playoffs in '85 & '87.

    April 5, '72: Ken Singleton, Mike Jorgensen and Tim Foli are traded for Rusty Staub. Herzog has mentioned several times that he would have never agreed to that trade had he been manager. Staub who was a great player for the Expos and Astros was essentially passed his prime and a defensive liability in Right Field. He had two decent seasons with the Mets and a tremendous post-season for the Mets in '73 but was traded for Mickey Lolitch who was a bust and out of baseball by '77.

    Jorgensen was a great glove man but couldn't hit very well. Foli was basically a bust except for the '79 season but somehow ended up with 5000+ plate appearances.

    Singleton ended up with a 132 career ops+ and was one of the great players in Major League Baseball from 1975-1980. He had the highest OPS+ (150) from 1975-1980, and finished 13th overall in WAR from 1975-1980.

    I can't think of another team that made so many bad moves in such a short period of time that transformed a potential powerhouse into a perennial 90+ loss team.

  11. Artie Z Says:

    Amazingly enough, the 1988 Cubs could move up the list. With 4 more wins from Jamie Moyer they would pass the 1971 Cardinals and move into 12th place on the wins list. If Moyer gets to 300 wins they would move up to at least 8th (assuming he gets about 300 wins and stops).

  12. John Autin Says:

    On a funny tangent:

    The 1890 Cleveland Spiders had 580 future wins on their staff: 511 by Cy Young, 69 by the other 11 men who pitched for Cleveland that year. Only 2 pitchers besides Young won any games after 1890.

    P.S. The workhorse on that 1890 Spiders team was the aptly named Ed Beatin, who went 22-30, with 53 CG in 54 starts.

  13. Jacob Says:

    Use '96 Indians & you can add Brian Giles, Jeff Kent, Omar Vizquel & Jeromy Burnitz.

  14. WanderingWinder Says:

    Of course, these lists really hurt the modern teams, and some already on the list look to move up - like the 1988(!) Cubs, who have a good chance of getting 4+ more wins out of... Jamie Moyer

  15. JoJo Says:

    Looking over the list I noticed that Steve Carlton played for the Cardinals. I had forgotten that he was traded to the Phils.

    Does anyone now why he was traded?

  16. kingcrab Says:

    contract dispute shipped him to philly for rick wise

  17. Basmati Says:

    This is a great list. I also would be interested in seeing who traded away the most potential as it were, and also be interested to see a list like this but only including wins or WAR for the team they were on at that time - ie discard anything after they moved on. This would be interesting to see who had the rotation with the most potential and kept it together to get the most out of it. I would imagine this would lean towards older teams when player movement was less common.

  18. Basmati Says:

    PS: The best 'recent' team I could think of was the 98 Blue Jays who I make it have so far totalled 841 wins with Halladay and Carpenter good bets to win another 100 each possible. They've certainly got a great shot at 1000.

    Other than that I thought of the 2003 Marlins who had a very young group who still have several years left - Beckett, Burnett, Pavano, Penny, Willis.

  19. dennis Says:

    Very intriguing stat.....but I m not sure of its value...what is an eternal truth about baseball is that good to great pitchers are in high demand and almost always in short suppñy. Pitchers that people expect to be the pitcher of a generation flame out...sometimes they go on to greatness....

    I remember the 69 mets I lived in new York and was a fan and what they did that year still makes me smile...because other tnen the extraordinary pitching, the rest was just constant platooning by Hodges and both Cleon Jones and Tommy Agee having banner years.

    It s easy to remember Seaver and Kossman and the young Nolan Ryan...what I also remember was Don Cardwell a jouneyman picher and the fourth starter who gave them a lot of innings and was way better then his 8 and 10 record indicated.

  20. Izzy Says:

    Wonder where Today's Giants will end up finishing...

  21. miken Says:

    Noone cares about the relief guys that go on to win games. The original version was so much better.

  22. Keeping Score: What the Future May Hold for Giants’ and Phillies’ Pitchers – » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive Says:

    [...] up on yesterday's post about "Future Wins", today's Keeping Score column uses Bill James' Similarity Scores to estimate how many more wins we [...]

  23. DocRostov Says:

    I imagine that in a decade or so, the mid-2000s Indians will rate pretty highly here.

    Sabathia, Lee, Carmona, Westbrook... sigh.

  24. TheGoof Says:

    Seems odd to me that there are no teams before 1964. I would have thought one of Connie Mack's teams would be up there, or McGraw's, or some other old crew. The 1914 A's had three outstanding players just starting their careers (Shawkey 23, Bush 21 and Pennock 20), plus Plank at the end of his career. The 1919 Red Sox had several great young pitchers, including Bush and Pennock again. Hoyt was only 19.

    Is it perhaps in part because there are so many more pitchers these days?

  25. Friday Links (22 Oct 10) – Ducksnorts Says:

    [...] Which Staff Had the Most Wins in Their Future? (Baseball-Reference). This has nothing to do with the Padres but it’s a fun study worth perusing. [...]