B-R reader Nash noticed something interesting about Mordecai Brown's black ink this weekend:
"Everyone talks about unbreakable records (DiMaggio's 56, Cy Young's 511, etc.), and I know that this is in the context of the 'dead ball' era, so I don't know how relevant this is -- but in 1910, Mordecai Brown led the league in CG, SHO, and ... SAVES.
Don't think that anyone will pull THAT off again anytime soon!"
Keep in mind that the save policy we're using for pre-1950 seasons is the so-called "encyclopedia rule" (a pitcher who finished a game his team won, but did not get the win himself, is awarded a save). Still, Brown is just one of four pitchers since 1901 to lead his league in complete games, shutouts, and saves in the same season:
"Jose Bautista was the AL home run king in 2010, while the second-place HR leader (Paul Konerko) had 15 homers less. Is that the biggest difference in history of HR kings?"
Not quite. While the 15-HR gap between Bautista and Konerko is impressive, it actually pales in comparison to some of the leads Babe Ruth had in his HR races.
In 1920, the same year he famously had 4 more HR by himself than any other AL team, Ruth also placed a 35-HR gap between himself and runner-up George Sisler. And the following year, Ruth repeated that feat, hitting 35 more HR than Ken Williams. All told, Ruth owns 5 of the 6 biggest differences between a league HR leader and the runner-up. Here's the full list of biggest disparities between #1 and #2:
One of the nice new features of the PI event finders is the ability to search multiple years when the sample is small enough. Here are the career leaders in Walk-Off Home Runs since 1950. (Due to the addition of the new "OR" feature, the search for walk-offs has changed. You now need to select "Go Ahead", "Home", Inning "9" and Inning "10+")
B-R user Simmy Cohen noticed that we don't have a K/BB leaderboard on our all-time playoff pitching leaders page, and asked if I could post one today. Here you go... Career K/BB ratio leaders (along with some other stats), in the postseason, minimum 30 innings pitched:
This plot shows the year-to-year ratios of the active career hits leaders. Please take a look at my recent similar post for strikeout leaders to understand how it's done. Basically, I take the number of hits for the active leader at the end of each season and divide by the total for the year from the previous season.
(click on the image for a larger version)
As with the strikeout chart, the big dips occurs when the active leader retires and the new leader has a much lower total.
A few things to notice:
The highest point on this graph is in 1953, when Stan Musial registered a ratio of nearly 1.10. This is pretty much an artifact of how the plot works. Between 1952 and 1953, Musial posted 200 hits, running his career total from 2,023 hits to 2,223 hits. When Joe DiMaggio stepped aside after 1951, he left Musial as the active hits leader with a fairly total total. Most other times in baseball history, the active career leader has been around 3,000 hits. So when Musial had that 200-hit season in 1953, he boosted his own career total by about 10% and jumped to the top.
Jim O'Rourke managed to stay as the active hits leader despite not adding any hits at all from 1894 to 1903. He didn't play in the majors during that time. He came back to play in 1 game in 1904 so he gets credit for being active the whole time and amazingly nobody had a higher total than he did the entire time.
The plot shows lots of bumps in the last 10 years. This is because of lots of changes in the active hit leaders. After Gwynn took over from Molitor, there was Cal Ripken, Rickey Henderson, Rafael Palmeiro, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey, and the current leader, Derek Jeter.
One of the interesting new features of the PI is the sortable summary provided when using the game finder. This summation provides the total statistics of the games found can be ranked by a variety of different stats. I find this very exciting because it represents the first step in searching splits. Let me explain with an example.
Suppose we wanted to find the player with the most hits on the road in a single season.
Use the Game Finder called Player Batting.
select "Find Players with Most Matching Games in a Season"
Until now we had to stop at this point and say that "Lou Brock had the most road games with a hit in a season (since 1954)". However, the new version of PI lets us take this a step further. Assuming that it is logical that the player with the most hits on the road in a season would be among the top 300 in games with a hit, we can find that player by sorting for hits. After completing the above search, simply click on the column heading "H" and you will be presented with this list:
Clearly, this technique is limited. It can't be used for stats that usually occur in bunches (most pitching stats). It also can't be used for rate stats like batting average. However, for a lot of hitting stats it can be a fun and useful new tool.
Those 18 wins came over 249 IP in 40 games and starts. So that's a little over one regular season's worth of starts, and he's managed 18 wins, which is very good. (Remember that in the post-season, you're facing all good teams, so he has no doormats with which to pad his win total. Winning at a rate of 15-16 games for a full-year equivalent is impressive.)
This table summarizes the baseball playoffs nicely. In the Wild Card era, there are so many more games that all the records belong to modern guys, and over that same period, it's been pretty much all Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox.
However, 5 of the top 10 guys above actually allowed homers at a higher rate than Pettitte (including, obviously, Jaret Wright--wow!) Catfish Hunter sticks out as the only holdover from prior to the Wild Card era.
Anyway, the bottom line is that Pettitte has been very impressive. He's pitched in 8 World Series (including with Houston in 2005.) True, he's been lucky to be on such good teams, but A) he had a lot to do with them being so good and B) regardless of how he got the opportunities, he has done well with them.
It's interesting to debate his Hall of Fame credentials. His position as a top pitcher on 8 World Series teams goes a long way, in my opinion. He's got the 63rd-highest win total of all time, but only the 229th-highest loss total (translation: he's got a great winning percentage.) He has two 20-win seasons (actually 21 both times) and finished in the top 6 in Cy Young voting in 5 different seasons.
The marks against him are primarily these:
He has only 229 career wins (as mentioned, 63rd all time) which would be a very low total for a Hall of Famer.
His excellent W-L record seems to be at least partially a product of playing on such good teams. He came to the Yankees in 1995 when they made the playoffs for the first time in a long time and has never pitched for a poor team. His ERA+ is only 116 which, while very respectable, is not excellent. His neutralized pitching totals tell the story. They say his record should be (gulp) 162-146, a whopping 67 wins fewer than he has. This means that if he hadn't been on the Yankees, he'd be much closer to a .500 pitcher in all likelihood. This would give him numbers more like Tim Wakefield, Livan Hernandez, or Kevin Millwood. These are all good pitchers but clearly not HOFers.
Chase Utley's World Series Career has been relatively brief. Utley's 9 career World Series games tie him for 37th among second baseman. Yet, no second baseman has hit more World Series home runs. Utley's Game 4, 7th inning blast was his 5th, tying him with Billy Martin for most ever by a second baseman. It should be noted that it took Martin 27 games at second to reach that total. Here are the leaders: