March 30, 2017

Comments on The SABR Baseball List and Record Book, Part 10

March 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Here is Part 10 of my postings (updated from original posting at my personal blog in 2007) on what I find interesting and worthy of comment while browsing through the 2007 SABR book, The SABR Baseball List and Record Book (available at Amazon). This time around I comment on one more hitting list, and then several on pitching.

First, one last list from the Hitting section…

List #367 is “Most RBI in First 10 Seasons”. The all-time leader here is Joe DiMaggio with 1,277. Right behind him is Al Simmons with 1275. For each they averaged about 127 per season in their first 10 seasons, a very impressive feat. Ted Williams is third with 1258. Through 2006, a total of 24 players had over 1000 RBIs in their first ten seasons (the players who averaged 100+ RBI during those years). The highest recent player was Jeff Bagwell, who is 7th on this list with 1093. Also making it are Frank Thomas 1040, Manny Ramirez 1036, Albert Belle 1019, and Ken Griffey Jr. 1018. I wondered about A-Rod and Vladimir Guerrero, but they had some brief initial seasons, so that keeps them from making this list. But watch out, because Albert Pujols is well on his way. In his first eight seasons he had 977 RBI. He’ll obviously make the list, but I don’t see him catching DiMaggio, as he’d need to average 150 RBI in both 2009 and 2010 to do that.

Now for some pitching lists…

List #389 is “Best Career Winning Percentage by a Pitcher (Min. 100 wins)”. While the list includes everyone over .620 (several dozen), I’ll focus just on the top 10. There are two active pitchers in this top 10, and I would only have guessed one of them. Best all-time is Spud Chandler (109-43, .717), who barely meets the minimum win criterion. Second all-time is the active hurler I would have guessed: Pedro Martinez (206-92, .691 through 2006, though has slipped to .684 through 2008). Next is a name you likely aren’t familiar with: Dave Foutz (147-66, .690), who was both a pitcher and regular position player for many years in the late 19th century. In the 4th-9th spot are three I would have guessed (Whitey Ford, Lefty Grove, and Joe Wood), and three that I wouldn’t have (Bob Caruthers, Don Gullett, and Vic Raschi). And then 10th is the other active pitcher, Tim Hudson (119-60, .665 through 2006, though he too has slipped to .655 through 2008). Interestingly, since 2006, three additional active pitchers have attained the minimum 100 wins and would rank this high: Johan Santana (109-51, .681), Roy Oswalt (129-64 for a .668 percentage), and Roy Halladay (131-66, .665).

List #402 is “Most Career Walks by a Pitcher, since 1893”. All baseball fans know that Nolan Ryan is the all-time strikeout leader (5714), and by a wide margin. And many fans know that he is also the all-time walks leader. I would have assumed that too was by a wide margin, though I didn’t realize just how wide. He had 2795 walks, while Steve Carlton is second with 1833. So Ryan had more than 50% more than any other pitcher! After Carlton the next few are all close behind: Phil Niekro 1809, Early Wynn 1775, Bob Feller, 1764, and so on.

List #422 is “Pitchers Whose Careers Lasted 10 or More Seasons and Never Had a Losing Record”. Through 2006 there were only nine such pitchers, with only one active. How many of the existing nine can you name? Can you name the one active pitcher? I’ll give the list at the end of this post.

List #426 is “Most Career Games with 15 or More Strikeouts”. 15 Ks in a game is a lot, so doing this many times is a sign of dominance. Through 2006, there have been 21 pitchers who have done it 3 times or more. Only four have done it 10 times or more. Two are Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez, with 10 times each. But way beyond that are Nolan Ryan with 26 and Randy Johnson with 29! None of the others on this list are surprises to me, though some are not names anyone would likely have guessed quickly (Bob Veale, Don Wilson, Frank Tanana are amongst those to strikeout 15+ three times). The one name that was new to me on this list was Toad Ramsey, and with good reason as he was a 19th century hurler who only played five full seasons. And he is one of those guys whose numbers are not easy to relate to, e.g., he had 499 strikeouts in 589 IP in 1886 (he completed 66 of his 67 games started that year). Those 499 Ks weren’t even good enough to lead the league, as Matt “Matches” Kilroy managed 513 that year.

List #430 is “Most Career 1-0 Games Won”. If given a few minutes, I would have been able to guess the leader here. Walter Johnson, who is second all-time in wins as such, played his entire career for the Washington Senators. During that era they did have some good seasons, but they also had many poor ones, so it would make sense that Johnson wouldn’t always get a lot of run support, and hence would have to win many of his games 1-0. But the margin of lead on this list is impressive. Johnson won 38 games 1-0, while second place is Grover Alexander with 17. Next is Bert Blyleven with 15 — a nice additional piece of evidence for the argument that Bert should be in the hall-of-fame.

OK, now for the answers to list #422. Through 2006, only two pitchers had 13-year careers without a losing season: Deacon Phillippe (1899-1911) and Urban Shocker (1916-1928). Dizzy Dean pitched 12 seasons, so he is next in line. Tied with him as of now is Andy Pettitte, the only active pitcher to make this list. He had a winning record in 2007, and then split 14-14 in 2008 — so I guess that means he is the new record holder on this list??!!

The aforementioned Dave Foutz and Spud Chandler are two of three to have an 11-year career without a losing season. The other is likely one you couldn’t have guessed: Jay Powell who was a reliever from 1995-2005… a 36-25 career record, does that really count?! And lastly we have two with 10-year careers who make this list. Hall-of-Famer Joe McGinnity was an amazing 246-142 from 1899-1908. And… drum roll… Babe Ruth pitched in 10 seasons, from 1914-1919 for the Red Sox of course, but then also a total of five games in four seasons for the Yankees (1920-21, 1930, 1933), winning all five of those games. So that is a trick answer, but it counts!

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