Best 4-year WAR for Pitchers, 1982-2011

In light of recent discussions of Roy Halladay, here are the best 4-year bWAR totals by pitchers in the past 30 years. The top 15 marks all belong to Clemens, Maddux, Johnson or Pedro (with an even spacing among the top 12); you’ll find Halladay’s 27.7 WAR at #18:

[table id=30 /]

 

It’s been mentioned that Halladay has 4 straight years with ERA+ of 150 or better. Putting it in WAR terms, he has 4 straight years of 6+ WAR; only 4 other pitchers have done that since 1982:

[table id=31 /]

 

Maddux had 7 straight years at the 6-WAR level; no one else in this span had more than 4 straight.

Finally, here are the pitchers with the most 5-WAR seasons since 1982:
(Note the threshold change from the prior table – this is 5-WAR seasons)

[table id=32 /]

 

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34 Comments on "Best 4-year WAR for Pitchers, 1982-2011"

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bstar
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John, even before reading you may have the date on the title of the article wrong. Shouldn’t it be 1982-2011? You have 2001.

Dr. Doom
Guest

Great post, JA. I suppose this is why Maddux/Johnson/Pedro (and Clemens, for many) are considered such slam-dunk-all-time-great players. They have the best careers and peaks of all their contemporaries. It still remains to be seen, I think, how the next 3-ish years of Halladay’s career play out. They’ll mean a whole lot to the narrative.

Mike L
Guest

Really fascinating. I wonder if steroids usage, the greater realization of the value of walks, and higher home run rates haven’t accentuated the differences between the run of the mill or even good pitcher and the absolute elite. Batters may be (artificially) bigger and stronger, but you still have to make contact. BTW, Koufax’s last four years totaled 37.6 WAR (a very hard number to wrap your head around)

MikeD
Guest

I think it’s possible that being a great pitcher in a high-offensive period allows for greater separation from the pack.

PhilM
Guest

Not to beat a dead horse, but I’ll always consider Kevin Brown’s career to be as good or better than Curt Schilling’s. (Curtis Montague does have the postseason performance, but as a Yankee fan I’m conveniently disregarding that.)

It’s a shame the steroid taint (well, one mention in that paragon of propriety George Mitchell’s report) and a “surly to the press” demeanor dropped him from BBWAA Hall of Fame consideration so quickly, so now he doesn’t even have the “re-evaluation” period that Bagwell has been consigned to. As long as Schilling doesn’t coast in next ballot. . . .

PhilM
Guest

And since I have the list: here are the number of five-year bWAR titles. We used five years for the Dynastic Succession, and I use five-year intervals for my own studies, so it’s readily available. Brown, but no Schilling!

Pitcher 5-yr WAR HoF
Lefty Grove 9 BW
Cy Young 8 BW
Walter Johnson 7 BW
Hal Newhouser 6 VC
Roger Clemens 6
Bob Gibson 5 BW
Christy Mathewson 5 BW
Robin Roberts 5 BW
Dazzy Vance 4 BW
Don Drysdale 4 BW
Greg Maddux 4 BW
Kid Nichols 4 VC
Phil Niekro 4 BW
Tommy Bond 4
Warren Spahn 4 BW
Bob Feller 3 BW
Dave Stieb 3
Hoss Radbourn 3 VC
Johan Santana 3
John Clarkson 3 VC
Pedro Martinez 3 BW
Randy Johnson 3 BW
Roy Halladay 3
Sandy Koufax 3 BW
Tom Seaver 3 BW
Carl Hubbell 2 BW
Dwight Gooden 2
Gaylord Perry 2 BW
Jim Devlin 2
Jim McCormick 2
Pete Alexander 2 BW
Silver King 2
Stan Coveleski 2 VC
Steve Carlton 2 BW
Tim Keefe 2 VC
Ed Walsh 1 VC
Johnny Antonelli 1
Juan Marichal 1
Kevin Brown 1
Mort Cooper 1
Red Faber 1 VC
Rube Waddell 1 VC
Urban Shocker 1

PhilM
Guest

I stayed up too late watching March Madness: there are no Marichal or Devlin 5-year titles. Correct list:

Pitcher 5-yr WAR HoF
Lefty Grove 9 BW
Cy Young 8 BW
Walter Johnson 7 BW
Hal Newhouser 6 VC
Roger Clemens 6
Bob Gibson 5 BW
Christy Mathewson 5 BW
Robin Roberts 5 BW
Dazzy Vance 4 BW
Don Drysdale 4 BW
Greg Maddux 4 BW
Kid Nichols 4 VC
Phil Niekro 4 BW
Warren Spahn 4 BW
Bob Feller 3 BW
Dave Stieb 3
Hoss Radbourn 3 VC
Johan Santana 3
John Clarkson 3 VC
Pedro Martinez 3 BW
Randy Johnson 3 BW
Roy Halladay 3
Sandy Koufax 3 BW
Tom Seaver 3 BW
Carl Hubbell 2 BW
Dwight Gooden 2
Gaylord Perry 2 BW
Jim McCormick 2
Pete Alexander 2 BW
Silver King 2
Stan Coveleski 2 VC
Steve Carlton 2 BW
Tim Keefe 2 VC
Tommy Bond 2
Ed Walsh 1 VC
Johnny Antonelli 1
Kevin Brown 1
Mort Cooper 1
Red Faber 1 VC
Rube Waddell 1 VC
Urban Shocker 1

Paul E
Guest

Phil M
Schilling did incur a couple of surgeries to break up whatever roll he was on (unlike, say, Palmer & Jenkins). But, yeah, Kevin Brown “gettsa no respecta” despite his mirror of Schilling’s numbers. Schilling is a lot easier to take in retirement, that’s for sure

MikeD
Guest

Silver King. A player I once knew but had forgotten. I wonder if that 580-inning season led to his demise at 24. Didn’t they know anything about innings and pitch counts back then?!

bstar
Guest

Phil, is ‘Dynastic Succession’ an actual tool you are talking about that anyone can use? If so, where, or was that just a generic term to describe what you were doing?

PhilM
Guest

“Dynastic Succession” was an earlier thread (March 10), and I had weighed in with a list of the five-year run differential leaders, starting with the 1901-1905 Pirates through the 2007-2011 Yankees. It has a nice ring to it, coined by Birtelcom as his headline.

bstar
Guest

Oh, that’s right, now I recall. I remember your tableaus as well. Thanx Phil.

Jeff Allen
Guest

Halladay now has 6 years of 6+ WAR, tying him with 7 HOFers for 15th most all-time. Everyone above him is either in the HOF, will get in on their first ballot (Johnson, Maddux), or will get in once the BBWAA stop trying to deny the Steroid Era counted (Clemens).

Ed
Guest

Well he was getting bombed in spring training but I think he was tired of people wondering what was going on so he went out and threw 6 shutout innings in his last start.

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