Comments on: Cliff Lee’s 16 strikeouts (and loss) This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: John Autin Wed, 11 May 2011 16:44:59 +0000 Spahn's greatness lay in his phenomenal consistency and durability.

-- He had very good seasons like clockwork: 10 seasons between 3.0 and 6.0 WAR, more than any other pitcher. (No. 2: Mike Mussina and Ted Lyons, 9 each.)

-- He rarely had a brilliant season: Ten of his thirteen 20-win seasons came with an ERA+ of 125 or less; that's twice the number of any other modern pitcher.

Spahn won exactly 21 games 8 times. There have been 168 such seasons in modern history; Spahn alone accounts for (appropriately) 1/21st of that total.

By: frank Tue, 10 May 2011 15:24:54 +0000 Check out Spahn's 15-inning Complete Game with 18 Ks in 1952!

Whata horse this guy was.

363 wins We all know that one, but how about a couple more numbers:

13 twenty-win seasons!!

382 Complete Games!!

And on and on...

This guy deserves more mention when we talk about the great, great players.

By: Anon Tue, 10 May 2011 01:45:19 +0000 One other note on the Johnson 16-K relief performance. I listened to this game on the radio and i had forgotten that Schilling/Johnson had taken a no-hitter into the 8th before Wiki Gonzalez broke it up with a 2-out single in the 8th!

By: Ed Mon, 09 May 2011 20:16:18 +0000 Hey, does that 16+ and the loss have the 2 record setting K games at their time? I think that one of Feller's set the record at 18, and I am pretty sure Carlton's 19 was the one that set the record. He had 2 strikes on Swoboda 4 times, IIRC. Twice he got the K, the other 2 times Swoboda hit a 2 run HR.

By: Doug Mon, 09 May 2011 05:20:49 +0000 @37, @38.

Thanks JT and JA for the ideas.

I've tried JT's idea, and as he suspected, the results aren't as pronounced using the first metric, but only slightly so.

Looking at 36+ year-old pitchers with 25+ starts as a percentage of all pitchers with 25+ starts, the average of the yearly percentages looks like this:
1901-1981: 4.7% of 25+ start pitchers were 36 years or older
1982-2010: 8.2% of 25+ start pitchers were 36 years or older

The percentages for the 1901-1981 period are slightly inflated due to the war. And, the figures AFTER the war are also pretty interesting. Take a look:
1942 8.3%
1943 6.5%
1944 11.4%
1945 22.9%
1946 8.6%
1947 7.5%
1948 2.6%
1949 1.9%
1950 0.0%

There was also a curious 10-year period from 1925-34, when the number was 6.8% or higher every year, including 11.4% or higher in 1927, 1928, 1930 and 1931. Prior to 1925, the highest point was 6.1% and was only above 5% one other year. What was going on here? My wild guess is batters were tearing up the young guys who weren't allowed to throw spitters anymore, and managers responded by using more older guys who could still throw the wet one. But, even if that is part of the answer, I'm sure there's much more to it than that.

I've just read JA's idea, so haven't tried that yet. I'll give it a shot.

By: Johnny Twisto Mon, 09 May 2011 05:11:30 +0000 True that on the reduced K-rates for older pitchers. (I haven't run any #s either.) Considering that wouldn't eliminate the size of Tiant's reduced "K+," but it would probably reduce it a bit.

By: John Autin Mon, 09 May 2011 04:37:43 +0000 JT @ 36 -- Good point, comparing Tiant's K rate to the league average for each period, which makes it clear that he was, in fact, less effective at inducing strikeouts. I still think that aging should also be taken into account in such a comparison, because I think (though I haven't run the numbers) that most pitchers have a lower K rate in their 30s than their 20s.

By: John Autin Mon, 09 May 2011 04:25:55 +0000 @37, Johnny Twisto -- You type faster than I do! (Or I'm just more long-winded.)

By: John Autin Mon, 09 May 2011 04:23:10 +0000 @35, Doug -- Thank you for the interesting data.

Can you think of any way to normalize the comparison taking into account the following two developments?:
(1) The schedule increase from 154 games to 162 in 1961/62; and
(2) The gradual adoption of the 5-man rotation.

These two factors have led to an increase in the number of pitchers per team of any age who make 25+ starts in a season:

-- From 1901-60, an average of 2.79 pitchers per team made at least 25 starts.
-- From 1961-2010, the average was 3.16, an increase of about 13%.

Using a dividing line of 1981/82, as you did, yields similar ratios: the average for 1901-81 was 2.87 per team; for 1982-2010, 3.21 -- a 12% increase.

This fact alone likely accounts for some of the increase in starters age 36+. And while a 12% rise is obviously far from the 100% surge you charted, the modest 25-start requirement might further skew the numbers towards the older pitchers, if those pitchers tend to be less durable than younger ones.

I ran the search a couple more times using different thresholds for GS, but the results were always similar: More pitchers per team making N starts over the past 30-50 years than there were before.

Might it make sense to run the search with a 23-start requirement for the 154-game schedule, and a 25-start requirement for the 162-game schedule?

By: Johnny Twisto Mon, 09 May 2011 03:56:52 +0000 there's an undeniable shift, starting in the early 80s, for teams to have more older pitchers as regulars in their rotation.

I see you controlled it for expansion, as that was my first thought. My second thought is that the 4-man rotation didn't really become ingrained until the early-60s, and the 5-man rotation in the late-70s. Prior to that teams might have a few regular starters, and some swingmen, who would start and relieve, adjusted for the schedule. What would the chart look like if you looked at the number of old SP w/ 25+ starts PER all SP w/ 25+ starts? I expect there's been an increase but I think it may not be as dramatic.