Unusual recipe for 200 wins

If a pitcher never gets more than 17 wins in a season and retires at age 34, what are his chances of winning 200?

Since 1945, eleven pitchers have reached 200 wins by their age-33 season. Ten of them had a 20-win season by the time they won #200, and nine did it more than once, totaling forty-four 20-win seasons. The 11th guy just plugged away:

Rk Player W From To Age G GS CG SHO GF L W-L% IP H R ER BB SO ERA ERA+
1 Robin Roberts 233 1948 1960 21-33 503 454 270 35 40 189 .552 3622.1 3507 1506 1361 695 1817 3.38 116
2 Jim Palmer 225 1965 1979 19-33 447 420 194 51 11 122 .648 3275.1 2691 1081 968 1092 1927 2.66 132
3 Catfish Hunter 224 1965 1979 19-33 500 476 181 42 6 166 .574 3449.1 2958 1380 1248 954 2012 3.26 105
4 Greg Maddux 221 1986 1999 20-33 436 432 93 28 3 126 .637 3068.2 2761 1104 959 691 2160 2.81 144
5 Juan Marichal 221 1960 1971 22-33 399 390 229 50 8 109 .670 3071.1 2674 1102 930 607 2122 2.73 129
6 Tom Seaver 219 1967 1978 22-33 423 417 188 47 5 127 .633 3239.2 2568 991 905 888 2756 2.51 140
7 Don Drysdale 209 1956 1969 19-32 518 465 167 49 34 166 .557 3432.0 3084 1292 1124 855 2486 2.95 121
8 Steve Carlton 207 1965 1978 20-33 452 434 187 38 7 149 .581 3234.1 2866 1244 1093 1113 2470 3.04 120
9 Don Sutton 205 1966 1978 21-33 469 454 146 49 10 155 .569 3290.2 2836 1241 1125 858 2378 3.08 110
10 Fergie Jenkins 203 1965 1976 22-33 450 391 212 39 31 150 .575 3111.0 2763 1217 1097 633 2344 3.17 120
11 Milt Pappas 202 1957 1972 18-33 490 436 128 42 32 152 .571 3024.0 2854 1249 1126 818 1680 3.35 111
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/29/2012.
  • Jim Palmer had 8 20-win seasons (counting the year of #200), with a high of 23.
  • Fergie Jenkins had 7, with a high of 25. (Yet Pappas was 3 months younger than Jenkins when they won their respective 200ths.)
  • Robin Roberts had 6, with a high of 28.
  • Juan Marichal had 6, with a high of 26.
  • Tom Seaver had 5 (counting the year he won #200), with a high of 25.
  • Catfish Hunter had 5, with a high of 25.
  • Steve Carlton had 4, with a high of 27. (Pappas was 3 months younger than Carlton….)
  • Don Drysdale had 2, with a high of 25.
  • Greg Maddux had 2, both exactly 20.
  • Don Sutton had one 21-win season.
  • Milt Pappas never won more than 17 in a season.

This column started with me looking at Raphy’s recent post and wondering which of those first eight pitchers reached 200 wins the fastest and youngest, despite never winning 20. Each took at least 17 years (Chuck Finley) and was at least 36 at the time (Frank Tanana) — except for Pappas, who made it in his 16th year, at age 33.

Milt Pappas signed with the Orioles in 1957 as a “bonus baby” out of high school. After 3 games in class A (no wins), he made his big league debut at home against the Yankees, 3 months after turning 18. He held the Bombers scoreless in 2 innings of relief, retiring Enos Slaughter, Yogi Berra, Moose Skowron, Hank Bauer, Tony Kubek and pitcher Bob Turley. (Mickey Mantle and Jerry Lumpe singled.) His very next outing came in Yankee Stadium; he allowed his first run, but retired Mantle, who was on a 29-for-52 streak that raised his BA to .384. Pappas wound up that first year with no decisions in 4 relief games, allowing just that one run in 9 innings. He would not be going back to the minors.

He made the rotation out of spring training in ’58 and earned his first win a week before his 19th birthday. Pappas made 21 starts that year and went 10-10 with a 4.06 ERA, 89 ERA+, becoming the first pitcher in 20 years with a 10-win season before turning 20. In 1959, he logged 209 IP with a record of 15-9 and a 116 ERA+, earning his 14th career win on his 20th birthday; a year later he got win #27 on his 21st birthday and went 15-11, 113 ERA+.

And that pretty much defined Milt Pappas for 14 seasons. From 1959-72, he won 12 to 17 games every year but one, with a winning record all but two years and an ERA+ from 101 to 138 all but three years. Slowly but steadily, the wins mounted: #100 came 2 days after he turned 26, and he had 153 wins before turning 30.

His two losing records were 12-13 in ’68, and 6-10 in ’69, when he had a 101 ERA+ and was the unluckiest pitcher on the division-winning Braves.

Some of that luck was made up in 1972, when Pappas won 17 in just 28 starts and 195 IP. He did have a 138 ERA+, but only 80 strikeouts; he was the first SP in a decade with 16+ wins and less than 90 Ks. However, the luck did not extend as far as getting a gift strike call on Sept. 2, 1972, when Pappas retired the first 26 Padres and had a 2-2 count on pinch-hitter Larry Stahl (a .232 career hitter), but walked him; he then retired Garry Jestadt for the no-hitter. Jestadt was pinch-hitting for leadoff man Enzo Hernandez, who was hitting .184 and wound up at .195 for the year. (“You might not have an optimal lineup if … your best chance to avoid the no-hitter is to PH for your leadoff man with a guy who bats from the same side.”)

The ’72 no-hitter — 8 years to the day after he lost one with 2 down in the 8th on a single by Zoilo Versalles — was his 6th straight win in as many starts. That streak began on August 2, ran through his 200th win on Sept. 20 (a 6-2 CG) and carried to the end of the season, making him a perfect 11-0 in the last two months. It would be 25 years before another pitcher topped that streak. (Brad Radke won 12 straight starts in 1997.)

The next year, Pappas turned 34 and went 7-12 with a 92 ERA+.  Three of his last four starts were 6+ IP and 1 run or less, and he was one win shy of 100 in the NL — he would have been just the 4th to win 100+ in both leagues — but he decided to call it quits.

From his first start to his last, 74 different pitchers won 20 games in a season — but only Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson won more big-league games in that span than did Milt Pappas.

78 thoughts on “Unusual recipe for 200 wins

  1. 1
    BK says:

    Pappas also hit 20 HR in his career – quite impressive. In 1962, 4 of his 6 hits for the season were HR’s. Yet he only batted .123 for his career.

    • 7
      birtelcom says:

      Most Homers By a Pitcher in the Expansion Era (1961-2011):
      1. Earl Wilson 33
      2. Bob Gibson 24
      3. Carlos Zambrano 23
      4. Milt Pappas 18
      T5. Mike Hampton and Jim Kaat 16

    • 17
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      Has anyone else ever hit four homers in a season while batting less than .087?

      20 career homers with an ops+ of -3.
      K’d in 43% of PA.

      • 22
        Doug says:


        Your surmise is correct.

        Clem Labine and Mickey Tettleton(!) had 3 HR with BA under .100. Labine got his 3 HR in only 31 AB, compared to 69 when Pappas had his 4 HR.

      • 25
        John Autin says:

        I like the fact that Pappas only had 7 times on base that year — a walk, 2 singles, a double and 4 HRs. No one else has ever hit 4+ HRs with HR>TOB.

        • 28
          Doug says:

          Not more HR than other TOB, but Zambrano had 6 HR and an equal number of other TOB in 2006.

          Looking at the list HR < 2 * Hits, I see Keith McDonald with his much remarked on 3 hits aand 3 HR in 2000. Much remarked on because they were also the only hits of his career. But, for a single season feat, Jorge Sosa (2006), Clem Labine (1955) and Ed Sanicki (1949) have also done the same thing.

      • 26
        John Autin says:

        Pappas was the first pitcher in the live-ball era to hit 2 HRs and pitch a shutout (Aug. 27, 1961). He connected twice off Pedro Ramos, while blanking the Twins on 2 hits with 11 Ks in a 3-0 win.

        The feat has been matched 3 times since then. The next to do it was Ramos himself, against the Orioles, on May 30, 1962. Ramos hit a solo shot and a granny, both off Chuck Estrada.

        The others both came in 1971 — Rick Wise’s no-hitter against the Reds, and Sonny Siebert’s 3-hitter against Baltimore.

        Pappas had the highest Game Score at 91.

        • 30
          Ed says:

          John – Pappas talks about the 2-HR shut out in the second link under comment #10. Basically Pappas and Ramos agreed before the game to throw each other only fastballs. After the first homerun, Ramos reneged on the agreement and started throwing curves. Unfortunately, he hung one and Pappas hit it out for his second home run of the game.

  2. 2
    Doug says:

    Pappas also formed one half of the youngest battery ever. On Sep 11, 1957, he and catcher Frank Zupo hooked up against the As. Their combined age: 36 years, 136 days.


    This same game also featured Zupo catching Dizzy Trout in Trout`s final career appearance (he faced 4 batters and gave up 2 singles, a double and a triple). This was one of only a handful of times that a teenage catcher has caught a forty-something pitcher.

  3. 5

    To this day, Pappas insists that he did strike out Stahl, and that the ump blew the call. It’s just another bit of Cubs lore we have to live with.

  4. 6
    Ed says:

    Wow, an entire post on Milt Pappas and no mention of him being traded for Frank Robinson! Anyway, I was just looking at the trade. It wasn’t straight up…the Orioles included Dick Simpson and Jack Baldschun. Interestingly, neither Simpson nor Baldschun played a single game for the Orioles organization. Simpson was acquired from the Angles on Dec. 2, 1965 and a week later included in the Robinson trade. Baldschun spent even less time with the Orioles organization. He was acquired from the Phillies on December 6th.

    • 11
      John Autin says:

      “an entire post on Milt Pappas and no mention of him being traded for Frank Robinson!”

      Wait — you say the Reds traded Robinson for Pappas? What on earth were they thinking?!? That’s the worst trade in the history of commerce!!! 🙂

      • 13
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        “…but Frank Robinson was an “old” 30!!”* Plus, he had several off-field incidents which reflected poorly on the Reds organization, he was the Reds highest-paid player, and they really needed more pitching. I’m sure it made sense to the Reds at the time. However…

        WAR confirms the lopsidedness of the trade:
        -Robinson: 33.4 WAR over 6 years
        -Pappas: 6.2 WAR over 2 1/2 years

        To do a complete analysis you’d also need to include the players these two were later traded for. Pappas (+ others) got Clay Carroll, Tony Cloninger and Woody Woodward from the Braves in mid-1968. Robinson (+ Richert) got Doyle Alexander, Bob O’Brien, Sergio Robles and Royle Stillman from the Dodgers before 1972.

        Sorry, I’m not up that, plus Robinson was so awesome in his six years as an Oriole that it wouldn’t change much.

        * quote from Reds GM Bill DeWitt at the time of the time

        • 14
          Luis Gomez says:

          Sergio “Kaliman” Robles. Greatest catcher in Mexican League history.

          • 19
            Lawrence Azrin says:

            And a lot of good that did the Orioles: 10 games/ 21 PA/2 hits/ no runs or RBI over two years…

        • 15
          Voomo Zanzibar says:

          Here’s an analysis trying to make the case that it wasn’t a completely illogical trade. Sets the scene well, but I’m not buying it. Forget sabernumbers, just going by the old school numbers, The Judge had 1009 ribbys in his 20’s!


          It’s not mentioned directly in that article, but I’ve read that his getting busted with a concealed pistol was a big part of the heave-ho from Cincy. His being an “old 30” was a polite way of saying “too black.”

          • 16
            Voomo Zanzibar says:

            This article makes a clearer case for it, taking the long view of how it gave the Reds flexibility, leading to their rise to power five years later. (I’m still not buying it):



            Oh, and someone should spell out Pappas’ full name:

            Miltiades Stergios Papastergios

          • 20
            John Autin says:

            I agree with your conclusion.

            However, even without reading the articles, it’s easy enough to make a case with old-school numbers that Robinson was in decline, and that the trade made sense for the Reds from various angles.

            Robinson’s yearly averages:

            Age 20-26: .309 BA, 34 HRs, 33 doubles, 101 RBI, 107 Runs.
            Age 27-29: .289 BA, 28 HRs, 30 doubles, 100 RBI, 97 Runs.

            Also, in ’65 he had 100 Ks for the first time ever. He had averaged 66 Ks over the previous 5 years.

            Meanwhile, Pappas looked to be on the rise. 1965 was his 6th qualifying year, and the 5th in which he ranked in the AL top 10 in ERA.

            Cincinnati needed pitching (they were next-to-last in ERA in ’65) more than they needed offense (1st).

            They still had OFs Vada Pinson (5.0 WAR in ’65, age 26) and Tommy Harper (3.2, 24). They wanted to get Deron Johnson (NL-best 130 RBI and 4th in MVP vote) off of third base.

            They also got back Dick Simpson, age 22 and coming off an outstanding year at AAA — 7th in OPS and one of the 7 youngest players in the league. And Jack Baldschun had been a quality reliever for 4 years before an off year in ’65.

            I still think DeWitt undervalued Robinson — but as Springsteen once sang, “It was more than all this / that put that gun in my hand.”

          • 21
            Lawrence Azrin says:

            I must admit that was one of several articles I used for my research in #13 above. I’m not buying it, athough if the Redlegs had traded Pinson instead of Robinson, it would’ve been much more of an even deal. Pinson was a decent player from 1966-1968, but not the star he was from 1959-1965.

          • 23
            John Autin says:

            Another thing DeWitt may have overlooked was that the NL was just a better league than the AL at that time. So Robinson was going to see weaker competition than he was used to, and Pappas would have it tougher.

            I was just looking at the box score for the ’65 All-Star Game, which Pappas started. We all know how loaded the NL was in those days, but looking at an All-Star lineup really brings it home.

            In the first inning, Pappas faced Willie Mays (HR), Hank Aaron, Willie Stargell (single), Dick Allen, Joe Torre (HR), Ernie Banks, Pete Rose and Maury Wills. On the bench were Robinson, Santo, Billy Williams and Roberto Clemente.

            Thirteen future HOFers appeared in that game for the NL (if we count Rose). The AL had 3.

        • 38
          bstar says:

          What were the other off-the-field incidents you are referring to? I have never read about the why part of this trade before.

          • 39
            Lawrence Azrin says:

            #15/ Voomo Zanzibar covered it above. For more detail, here’s an excerpt from the 6/17/63 issue of SI:

            “… a few weeks before spring training in 1961, Robinson was arrested in Cincinnati for carrying a concealed weapon, charged with pulling a gun during an argument with a short-order cook in a sandwich shop. He had the gun, he explained, because he often carried large sums of “walking-around money,” and the area in which he usually parked his car was extremely dark. Robinson pleaded guilty and was let off with nothing more than a $250 fine.”

            There may have been another incident, which I cannot recall, but it’s more likely just the whole “too black” perception, which Voomo also mentioned.

    • 34
      Tmckelv says:

      Regarding the trade: Does anyone think that the Robinson trade has hurt Pappas’ overall perception? I feel that players involved in PERCEIVED “bad” trades, are thought of as lesser players than they actually were. Another example is Jim Fregosi.

      • 36
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        From the School Of Decieving Stats:
        Pappas’ career W-L record is almost the same as Don Drysdales’: 209-164 versus 209-166. Almost all of Drysdales’ other stats are clearly better, though: 121 ERA+ vs 110 ERA+, to start. His WAR is about 20 higher than Pappas.

        As for your question, I think it hurt Pappas a little, Fregosi not really. Fregosi was already respected before the trade: MVP votes in 8 years, 6 AS games, a GG. His career was already going into decline before the trade to the Mets.

        • 37
          Hartvig says:

          Lawrence- I’m not as certain that Fergosi’s image didn’t maybe take at least a bit of a hit after the trade. Even through at the time of his retirement he was probably one of the 10 best shortstops of all time (or at least very close to it) he received virtually no support for the HOF at the time of his retirement. I’m sure that misconceptions about playing in the second dead ball era were probably a larger factor but I’m guessing that if you have taken a poll in 1970 asking who the best American League shortstop was in the ’60’s he would have at least polled a pretty close second to Luis Aparicio if not beating him outright (he at least did better in MVP voting during the ’60’s than Aparicio) and yet by 1984, Fergosi’s only year on the ballot, he managed only 4 votes as opposed to 341 for Aparicio.

          • 40
            Lawrence Azrin says:


            I think it’s more his decline after 1970 at the shockingly young age of 28. Up to then he was building up decent HOF credentials. It’s a pretty clear dividing point – if you look at his Leaderboards, he’s all over the place till 1970, then has exactly one mention after (1971, errors). He never played 100 games or had 300 AB after age 30, so even though he played till 36, he didn’t quite have the career totals.

            I think it’s more the career length (and most of his best years being in the 2nd deadball era) than the trade for Ryan that hurt his HOF chances.

          • 41
            John Autin says:

            Fregosi’s productive years were just ending when I started following the game, so I find it too difficult to determine what his reputation was during his prime and what factors led to his current level of underappreciation.

            On the one hand, outside of a saber-friendly forum, I don’t recall hearing anything about Fregosi’s defense that would correspond to his dWAR ratings for 1964-70. On the other hand, he did win a Gold Glove in 1967.

            On the one hand, even though his WAR is easily the best of any SS in the ’60s (and ranks 8th among all players for the years 1963-70), he’s rarely mentioned at all in the mainstream media. On the other hand, he was a 6-time All Star in that span and got MVP votes every year.

            My gut sense is that, outside of the NYC area, Fregosi-for-Ryan isn’t as well known as Pappas-for-Robinson or Broglio-for-Brock, and that Fregosi’s lowered standing today is mainly due to (as you noted) the fact that his raw numbers look ordinary from our vantage point.

            I’d add that his unimpressive managerial career may be a small part of it. But maybe I’m the one who’s out of step here, as I’d totally forgotten that Fregosi ran the ’93 Phils and the ’79 Angels.

          • 44
            John Autin says:

            From age 21-28, Fregosi totaled 43.0 bWAR (and 49.1 fWAR, though I’ll stick with bWAR the rest of the way).

            The 43.0 bWAR ranked 39th in modern history (1893-) for that age range.

            There are 40 HOF-eligible players who had at least 40 bWAR from age 21-28. Only 3 haven’t made the HOF: Barry Bonds, Cesar Cedeno, and Jim Fregosi.

            Out of 43 now retired players who had 40+ WAR from 21-28, only 3 collected less than 11.7 WAR over the rest of their careers: Cesar Cedeno had 8.1, Fregosi 2.6, and John McGraw 1.5 (he only played 79 games after age 28). The median for this group is 37.7; more than 1/3 of them added at least 50 WAR from age 29 onward.

            Luis Aparacio is the only HOF shortstop who played even one game during the entire decade of the ’60s. The Hall of Weighted WAR, run by our friend Adam Darowski, has no SS who played a single game from 1959-1973.

          • 45
            John Autin says:

            On the subject of Fregosi-for-Ryan:

            In 1970, Fregosi ranked #3 in bWAR among all MLB players, including pitchers, with 7.7 bWAR. That capped an 8-year run of 4.1, 8.1, 4.5, 5.2, 5.0, 3.2, 5.2 and 7.7 WAR — all good to excellent years.

            In ’71 he had his first bad year, suffering some nagging injuries and one month-long absence. He was 29.

            If you looked him at that snapshot moment in time, would you see a player in decline, or a once-in-a-generation SS having a hiccup?

            Nolan Ryan at that moment was 24 years old with 510 MLB innings and a 98 ERA+. He had 2 shutouts, both in 1970; one of those was his only Game Score of 90+ to date.

            Later on I’ll try to run a search on pitchers similar to Ryan through age 24. I’m guessing that not many of them went to the HOF.

          • 47
            Hartvig says:

            And I agree that his early, rapid decline was probably the biggest factor in his lack of HOF support. And I also agree that the Brock & Robinson trades are bigger deals in my memory as well- although it’s also true that I followed baseball much more closely in the ’60’s than I did in the ’70’s.

            Truth is, I guess, that if the trade did or did not effect peoples perception of him it was at most a minor contributing factor as to why he is still underrated to this day.

            When I was writing this I did a Google search of “top shortstops of the 1960’s” and stumbled across an article that some guy had written in 2009 that ranked Fergosi as the 9th best major league shortstop, behind guys like Zoilo Versalles and Ernie Banks (who last played shortstop full time in 1960 and at all in ’61.

          • 48
            John Autin says:

            Ryan’s cohort: Through age 24, Nolan Ryan had 510 IP and a 98 ERA+. I looked at all SPs thru age 24 with 300 to 700 IP and ERA+ from 93-103.

            I chose the period 1920-85 — i.e., starting with the live-ball era, and ending in time for any such pitchers to have finished their career and become HOF-eligible.

            There were 49 pitchers who met the criteria. Ryan is the only one to:
            – make the HOF;
            – win more than 185 games in his career (Mike Torrez won 185); or
            – amass more than 47.1 bWAR in his career (Mark Langston had 47.1).

            The median career WAR for this group was 8.5 (Jim Gott). Their median career wins was 66. The 49 pitchers combined produced seven 20-win seasons — 2 by Ryan, 2 by Frank Viola, 1 each by Mark Gubicza, Mike Torrez and Ron Bryant.

            P.S. This is total speculation, but — I wonder if Ryan, as Texan as you can be, was ever happy in NYC, especially on a team fronted by such polished pitchers as Seaver and Koosman.

          • 52
            Voomo Zanzibar says:

            Fregosi segued from player to manager in the same year – with different teams.

            And it appears that it happened on the same day.
            He played his last game on May 31st, drawing a walk in his final PA in Philly….

            Dave Garcia managed the first 45 games for the Angels…

            The Angels’ 46th game was on May 31st.
            They lost 17-2.
            Was Fegosi holding the scorecard?

          • 53
            Doug says:

            Ryan had kind of a rough age 24 season, his first year as a mostly regular rotation starter (26 starts that year, previous high 19). Going with a comp group through age 23 (258-458 IP, 99-109 ERA+), there are a couple of HOFers, namely Marichal and Gossage.

            48 pitchers in group. Most wins after Ryan and Marichal – Billy Pierce 211, Claude Osteen 196, Mike Torrez 185. Median career wins of 61. Median career ERA+ of 100. Other notables in group: Guy Bush, Johnny Podres, Mark Gubicza, Johnny Antonelli, Bruce Kison.

  5. 8
    Ed says:

    Actually it sounds like Pappas thinks Froemming should have just given it to him since he was so close. Pappas was actually ahead 1-2 in the count but threw three straight balls. You can see live video footage of the last three outs here. The first out of the 9th inning is interesting as one of the outfielders slips and falls and Billy Williams comes over to make the catch. Unfortunately, the camera angle of the last 3 balls is horrible so there’s no way to tell if the ump got the calls right or not.


    Here’s video footage with interviews with Pappas and Froemming. The camera angle is still horrible though (Costas says Pappas was ahead 0-2 but the live footage above shows the second pitch was a ball).


    • 10
      Ed says:

      My comment was obviously a response to Wine Curmudgeon. Anyway, here’s a great article on the missed perfect game with input from Pappas, Froemming, Stahl and Hundley (the catcher).


      And here’s a great interview with Pappas re: his life in baseball. The story about how he helped Maris get to 61 home runs is particularly interesting. The Ted Williams anecdote is also priceless.


      • 12
        John Autin says:

        Thanks for those links, Ed.

        After I first read about Pappas’s outspoken resentment over Froemming not donating that 3rd strike, I checked out his splits by ump (maybe the first time I’ve ever used that feature). Froemming only called 2 other games of his (as far as B-R knows), one the year before and one the year after.

        Pappas had very good control. The year after the no-hitter, he walked 3 or more in just 5 of his 29 starts, with two 5-walk games; one of those was the only game of his that Froemming called after their run-in.

        Not that it means anything….

  6. 9
    Dr. Doom says:

    JA, I love this post! Normally, the only way we get a post so focused on one player is when it’s of the HOF variety, or maybe when someone retires. I’m not saying I would like a post like this every day, but it’s a really cool change of pace. Kudos to you for a great idea, and stellar execution.

    Also, any post mentioning Brad Radke is bound to make me happy, so this post pretty much has it all.

  7. 24
    T-Bone says:

    Pappas also had this strange happening after Baseball.


    • 42
      Howard says:

      Did I read that right? His “current fiance” moved in with him nine months after his wife disappeared? That is mighty fishy to me.

  8. 27
    Lawrence Azrin says:

    Pappas and the HOF – I vaguely recall a story that in late 1978, he was left off the 1979 HOF ballot. Pappas protested that he should be listed on the ballot. He got five votes, more than 21 of the 54 players listed on the 1979 ballot. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

  9. 31
    JDV says:

    I really enjoyed this post as well…great information and great links. Although I’m a life-long Oriole fan, my first memory of Pappas was his 1969 Topps card with the Braves, and then mostly as a Cub. Thanks to all.

  10. 32
    Doug says:

    John remarked that Pappas had won games on both his 20th and 21st birthdays.

    The most times a pitcher has won a game on his birthday? 5 times by Bobo Newsom. Jerry Reuss and Tim Wakefield each did it 4 times.

  11. 35
    Tmckelv says:

    ” (“You might not have an optimal lineup if … your best chance to avoid the no-hitter is to PH for your leadoff man with a guy who bats from the same side.”) ”

    And especially when that pinch hitter is Gary Jestadt!!!!

    For some reason, I love the early 1970’s San Diego Padres teams. Nate Colbert, Clarence Gaston, Clay Kirby, etc. I have always liked Enzo Hernandez. When I was a kid, I used to look at the back of his baseball cards and wonder why he had so many ABs for someone that was not good.

  12. 49
    Library Dave says:

    Sorry to go off topic: can someone write a separate post that shows just how ridiculous Yadier Molina’s new contract is?

    • 50
      John Autin says:

      That was my initial reaction, but now I’m not sure. The extension covers his age 30-34 seasons, which seems pretty old for a catcher. But there have been 18 catchers who amassed at least 15 bWAR in that span, led by Posada’s 22.8. And 16 have caught least 600 games in that span.

      Or maybe it’s just that the Mets fan in me is still traumatized from his game-winning HR in the 2006 NLCS….

      (FWIW, here’s David Schoenfield’s take.)

    • 51
      bstar says:

      I don’t think it’s a ridiculous contract. He’s far and away the best defensive catcher in baseball, and Fangraphs just added a wild pitch-blocking WAR component to their catcher defensive WAR, based on the really fantastic research done by Bojan Koprivica. Here’s the link to this groundbreaking article on The Hardball Times:


      To the surprise of no one, Yadier will (or now has) benefited the most from this new metric. Surprisingly, since 2008, Brian McCann finished second behind Molina in the pitch-blocking category, giving a much-needed positive boost to his defensive abilities. Word is McCann also scored very high on the cutting-edge pitch framing studies also.

  13. 54
    Ed says:

    Ultimately I suppose it depends on how well he hits. His OPS+ and oWAR last year were both better than anything he’s done previously.

    Bstar – In the chart labeled, “Best 15 Catchers Blocking Pitches, 2008-2011”, Molina is 2nd behind Quintero (McCann finished fourth). Were you looking at something else when you said McCann was 2nd behind Molina?

  14. 55
    bstar says:

    I was looking at the link provided by Jeff Appelmann in his 2/29 article at Fangraphs that lists the catchers who’ve benefited the most from this new metric. It lists Molina first and McCann second. They worked with the author of the article in implementing this stat, so I’m surprised there is a discrepancy here. Are your numbers from the actual article by Koprivica? Anyway, here’s the link:


    • 57
      bstar says:

      Ed, you were looking at a table that was a rate stat, based on 120 games/year. That’s why Wieters and Quintero were ahead of McCann. My table from Fangraphs lists cumulative effect from 2008 and on, so that’s why Molina and McCann were first and second, because they’ve caught way more games than Wieters or Quintero.

  15. 56
    e pluribus munu says:

    I’m with Dr. Doom – this is a very neat post. Having followed Pappas since his start, I remember being very dismayed as he approached 200 wins. Post-1900 200-game winners were still a relatively select group of almost uniformly famous work horse pitchers (19th century statistics were still generally ignored, despite MacMillan having been out a few years), and Pappas seemed to diminish its status. How had this happened? Nothing about him stood out except his role in the Robinson trade. After all, he only achieved even a 17-win season at the tail end of his career. I found it as hard to believe that Pappas’s numbers added up to 200 as to believe that Wes Ferrell’s didn’t.

    And then came all that self-puffery about being a Hall-worthy second Drysdale that earlier posts mentioned. Those and Pappas’s late comments on Froemming fit well with the unflattering portrait of him I recall from Leo Durocher’s autobiography – though being disliked by Durocher could be taken as a badge of honor. As I recall, two of the pitchers Durocher was hardest on were Pappas and Jerry Reuss, and I believe Reuss was the next to slide into the 200 club without a 20-win season.

  16. 59
    Howard says:

    In defense (sort of) of the Pappas/Robinson trade: over the first half of the 1965 season Pappas was the best pitcher in the American League, even better than Sam McDowell who had a fantastic season. Near the end of July Pappas was 10-3 with an ERA below 1.70. Of course he finished poorly but great first halves tend to stick out in people’s minds and when a young pitcher does it it gives hope that he can do it for a whole season. A case in point is Michael Pineda. He had an ERA over 5.00 in the second half after an excellent first half yet he is expected by many to be the second best starter on the Yankees.

  17. 62
    birtelcom says:

    Pappas was the all-time strikeout king for the Browns/Orioles franchise when he was traded for Robinson. Jack Powell (884 Ks for the Browns) had been the franchise leader in strikeouts since all the way back in 1909, until Pappas passed him in 1965 (July 9, 1965 if I have it figured correctly). Dave McNally passed him in 1970, but Pappas is still 6th on the franchise career strikeout list.

    Pappas had 944 Ks after 1965, his age 26 season. As of 1965, only 5 other American League pitchers had reached that many Ks by their age 26 season: Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Smokey Joe Wood, Hal Newhouser and Chief Bender.

    • 63
      John Autin says:

      Wow, that’s a real Urban Shocker, birtelcom! Nice find.

      The ’64 Orioles had 3 of the franchise’s top 9 in Ks to that point — Pappas (817), Steve Barber (649) and Chuck Estrada (517).

      I hadn’t quite realized this before, but to this day there have only been 7 seasons of 200 Ks by a Browns/O’s pitcher, 3 of them by Mussina. Of all the 20-game winners they had in the ’60s-’80s, only McNally ever reached 200 (202 in ’68). Palmer’s high was 199. Cueller had 203 with Houston in ’67, but his Oriole high was 190. Dobson, Torrez, Garland, Flanagan, Stone, Boddicker – nary a 200-K season.

      • 64
        Ed says:

        Scott McGregor also won 20 games in that period and also failed to reach 200 Ks. In fact, he had 7 seasons of 30+ starts with the O’s and only topped 100 K’s once.

      • 65
        Doug says:

        200 K Seasons by Franchise, Since 1901

        1. Senators/Twins 27
        2. Americans/Red Sox 25
        3. Tigers, Indians 22
        5. Angels 20
        6. Mariners 16
        7. Highlanders/Yankees 15
        8. White Sox 14
        9. Athletics 13
        10. Browns/Orioles, Blue Jays, Senators/Rangers 7
        13. Royals 4
        14. Devil Rays/Rays 3
        15. Brewers 2

        1. Superbas/Robins/Dodgers 43
        2. Giants 26
        3. Phillies 24
        4. Colt .45s/Astros, Mets 23
        6. Orphans/Cubs 17
        7. Cardinals 16
        8. Reds 15
        9. Beaneaters/Braves 13
        10. Diamondbacks 9
        11. Expos/Nationals 8
        12. Brewers 6
        13. Marlins, Padres, Pirates 5
        16. Rockies 2

        • 66
          bstar says:

          That Braves number seems really low; then I checked and realized Warren Spahn, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux combined had only one 200 K season (Maddux in 1998). There were lots of near misses by Maddux; he had seasons of 199, 198, and 197 K also. Smoltz had five in his career, including near misses of 197 and 193. Must have been a lot of Beaneaters on the list.

          • 67
            Doug says:

            It was Smoltz with 5, Niekro with 3, and one each for Maddux, Vazquez, Millwood, Cloninger and Vic Willis.

            Warren Spahn’s best was 191 in 1950, his second of 4 straight league-leading seasons.

          • 68
            bstar says:

            Tommy Hanson(9.8 K/9) and Brandon Beachy(10.7 K/9) look like good candidates to join this list at some point, although for some reason a lot of people are predicting a regression for Beachy in K rate. The big question is: can any of the young Braves starters(Hanson, Beachy, JJurj, or Mike Minor) pitch 200+ innings this year? Fredi Gonzalez probably using the big 3 out of the bullpen less this year might help that, if those starters can manage to stay healthy.

          • 69
            bstar says:

            Edit: those K rates for Hanson and Beachy were from 2011 only and represent career highs for both.

          • 70
            Voomo Zanzibar says:

            The (>1977)Mariners have more 200k seasons than 111 years of Yankees !

            And four of those 15 were since 2001.

            (And A.J. Burnett now has three of the top four wild pitch seasons in NYY history)

          • 71
            Doug says:

            And the post-1962 Astros and Mets both have significantly more than the Cubs, Cardinals, Red and Braves.

          • 72
            Doug says:

            Make that significantly more for the Astros and Mets than the Cubs, Cardinals, Reds, Braves and, especially, the Pirates.

          • 73
            bstar says:

            Not that surprising about the Astros considering they’ve had Ryan, J.R. Richard, and Mike Scott pitching for them. I’d wager Roger Clemens, Larry Dierker, Roy Oswalt, and maybe even Joe Niekro might have a few also.

          • 74
            Ed says:

            Dierker, Clemens, and Oswalt had one each. Niekro’s highest was 152. Now if only they had the foresight to start Schilling instead of trying to use him as their closer.

          • 75
            bstar says:

            Or the money to re-sign the Big Unit when he came over mid-season in ’98. Randy got over halfway to 200 K in only 11 starts with Houston (116).

          • 76
            Doug says:

            1967 Twins (Boswell, Chance, Kaat) and 1969 Astros (Dierker, Griffin, Wilson) are only teams having 3 pitchers with 200+ Ks.

            Teams have had 2 pitchers with 200+ Ks 48 times, led by the Doddgers with 8 times, including 6 straight seasons (1961-66) with Koufax every year and Drysdale in 1962-65. Mets, Angels and Giants had done this 4 times, and Astros, Tigers and Phillies have done it thrice.

        • 78
          Dr. Doom says:

          It’s funny to me that the Brewers have 3 times as many since moving to the NL as they had in twice as long in the AL. That’s pretty shocking when you consider it, especially since they had two Cy Young winners in the AL, none in the NL. It’s a different game, that’s for sure.

      • 77
        Doug says:

        Make that Astros, Tigers, Phillies and Cubs with 3 seasons having 2 pitchers with 200+ Ks.

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