Jekyll and Hyde Pitchers

Recently, John Autin coined the term “disaster start” to denote starts where a pitcher allows more runs than innings pitched. So far this year, there have been 119 such starts, or about 3 a day. In 2011, there were 54 games where both starters were a disaster.

After the break, I’ll take a closer look at disaster starts and the pitchers most prone to them.

If I recall correctly, John came up with the “disaster start” idea in connection with his post about Philip Humber. Humber has had some pretty mixed results this year – everything from perfection to the furthest thing from it. But, Humber isn’t the only guy. All of the pitchers on the next list are currently on pace for 10 or more disaster starts in 2012, something which hasn’t happened since Jeff Weaver, Edwin Jackson, and Kyle Davies in 2007.

Rk Player Year #Matching   W L W-L% ERA GS CG SHO IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
1 Mike Minor 2012 3 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 11.57 3 0 0 16.1 24 21 4 11 19 2.14
2 Francisco Liriano 2012 3 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 11.91 3 0 0 11.1 22 15 2 9 8 2.74
3 Phil Hughes 2012 3 Ind. Games 1 2 .333 9.53 3 0 0 11.1 19 12 4 4 12 2.03
4 Luke Hochevar 2012 3 Ind. Games 0 3 .000 20.03 3 0 0 10.1 28 23 2 5 5 3.19
5 Chris Schwinden 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 11.25 2 0 0 8.0 13 10 4 3 1 2.00
6 Jonathan Sanchez 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 17.47 2 0 0 5.2 12 11 2 7 4 3.35
7 Tyson Ross 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 19.64 2 0 0 7.1 20 16 1 3 3 3.14
8 Clayton Richard 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 9.53 2 0 0 11.1 16 12 3 6 6 1.94
9 Hector Noesi 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 27.00 2 0 0 4.1 12 13 3 5 4 3.92
10 Juan Nicasio 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 14.09 2 0 0 7.2 13 12 2 8 8 2.74
11 Guillermo Moscoso 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 11.57 2 0 0 9.1 16 12 2 4 10 2.14
12 Luis Mendoza 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 11.05 2 0 0 7.1 19 9 2 5 1 3.27
13 Brian Matusz 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 9.90 2 0 0 10.0 19 11 1 5 10 2.40
14 Paul Maholm 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 13.50 2 0 0 8.0 12 12 3 3 4 1.88
15 Hiroki Kuroda 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 9.00 2 0 0 10.0 18 10 3 4 6 2.20
16 Josh Johnson 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 17.05 2 0 0 6.1 17 12 0 4 2 3.32
17 Tommy Hunter 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 11.70 2 0 0 10.0 17 13 3 5 10 2.20
18 Philip Humber 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 20.86 2 0 0 7.1 17 17 4 5 6 3.00
19 Liam Hendriks 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 18.47 2 0 0 6.1 18 13 2 2 4 3.16
20 Matt Harrison 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 15.12 2 0 0 8.1 22 14 2 3 6 3.00
21 Freddy Garcia 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 29.70 2 0 0 3.1 12 11 1 2 3 4.20
22 Yovani Gallardo 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 22.24 2 0 0 5.2 15 14 4 7 6 3.88
23 Josh Collmenter 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 0   12.86 2 0 0 7.0 10 10 3 4 6 2.00
24 Clay Buchholz 2012 2 Ind. Games 0 0   14.09 2 0 0 7.2 15 12 3 6 6 2.74
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/10/2012.

So, which pitchers have had the most disaster starts in a season?  I took a look and found 190 seasons in the game-searchable era with 10 or more disaster starts. Here are the top 25 from that list (note that stats shown are for the disaster starts, NOT for the entire season).

Rk Player Year #Matching   W L W-L% ERA GS CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
1 Pat Caraway 1931 16 Ind. Games 0 16 .000 18.44 16 1 0 0 41.0 98 84 6 41 8 3.39
2 Sam Gray 1931 14 Ind. Games 0 12 .000 11.84 14 0 0 0 57.0 113 75 7 28 24 2.47
3 Early Wynn 1948 13 Ind. Games 0 10 .000 13.72 13 0 0 0 41.1 91 63 10 27 9 2.85
4 Claude Willoughby 1930 13 Ind. Games 0 12 .000 15.20 13 1 0 0 45.0 107 76 4 35 12 3.16
5 Les Sweetland 1930 13 Ind. Games 1 8 .111 13.31 13 1 0 0 48.0 110 71 15 27 9 2.85
6 Eric Milton 2005 13 Ind. Games 0 8 .000 13.84 13 0 0 0 53.1 113 82 20 21 32 2.51
7 Jack Knott 1936 13 Ind. Games 1 10 .091 12.02 13 2 0 0 60.2 115 81 6 39 18 2.54
8 Jay Hook 1962 13 Ind. Games 0 8 .000 14.95 13 0 0 0 37.1 78 62 15 20 28 2.63
9 Bump Hadley 1932 13 Ind. Games 1 10 .091 14.47 13 0 0 0 51.0 90 82 10 71 26 3.16
10 Tony Cloninger 1969 13 Ind. Games 1 10 .091 13.62 13 0 0 0 37.0 70 56 13 33 20 2.78
11 Johnny Babich 1935 13 Ind. Games 0 9 .000 14.28 13 1 0 0 34.2 71 55 4 15 16 2.48
12 Pedro Astacio 1998 13 Ind. Games 1 9 .100 11.47 13 0 0 0 62.0 101 79 18 32 53 2.15
13 Mike Smithson 1986 12 Ind. Games 1 8 .111 12.34 12 0 0 0 35.0 81 48 11 18 17 2.83
14 George Pipgras 1930 12 Ind. Games 1 8 .111 10.72 12 1 0 0 47.0 85 56 4 26 26 2.36
15 Darren Oliver 2001 12 Ind. Games 1 7 .125 11.49 12 0 0 0 49.1 93 63 5 28 30 2.45
16 Jack Kramer 1939 12 Ind. Games 0 9 .000 15.98 12 0 0 0 32.2 69 58 4 44 9 3.46
17 Clay Kirby 1973 12 Ind. Games 0 11 .000 11.67 12 0 0 0 39.1 79 51 12 24 23 2.62
18 Darryl Kile 1999 12 Ind. Games 0 7 .000 13.32 12 0 0 0 51.1 97 76 18 31 35 2.49
19 Si Johnson 1934 12 Ind. Games 0 9 .000 14.75 12 0 0 0 32.1 73 53 3 15 15 2.72
20 Phil Huffman 1979 12 Ind. Games 0 10 .000 13.19 12 0 0 0 43.0 87 63 11 19 14 2.47
21 Chief Hogsett 1937 12 Ind. Games 0 11 .000 14.44 12 0 0 0 43.0 103 69 11 31 16 3.12
22 Sammy Ellis 1966 12 Ind. Games 0 9 .000 15.75 12 0 0 0 36.0 75 63 16 23 28 2.72
23 Richard Dotson 1986 12 Ind. Games 0 11 .000 14.24 12 0 0 0 42.1 85 67 11 24 22 2.57
24 Brian Bohanon 1999 12 Ind. Games 3 5 .375 12.82 12 0 0 0 53.1 107 76 18 30 32 2.57
25 Jim Bibby 1974 12 Ind. Games 1 11 .083 12.53 12 0 0 0 51.0 83 71 16 32 30 2.25
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/9/2012.

So, there’s a HOFer 3rd on the list, and in the prime of his career. And, Brian Bohanon (#24), the poster boy for the marvels of run support, with a 3-5 record in 12 disaster starts.

Interestingly, 3 other HOF pitchers (Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro and Bert Blyleven) also had seasons with 10 or more disaster starts although, unlike Wynn, that season came late in each of their careers when all were past their prime.

Bobby Witt leads all pitchers with 3 seasons of 10+ diasaster starts. Steve Blass, Max Butcher, Wes Ferrell, Lerrin LaGrow, Dave Roberts, Sammy EllisEarly Wynn, George Pipgras and Vern Kennedy each have two such seasons.

 In case you were wondering, complete game victories have been recorded in disaster starts. Here are those games.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR GSc BF
1 Ned Garver 1951-05-13 (1) SLB DET W 13-10 9.0 11 10 8 3 2 1 28 40
2 Ralph Branca 1949-06-25 BRO PIT W 17-10 9.0 12 10 10 5 5 5 23 41
3 Dutch Leonard 1940-05-19 WSH CHW W 12-10 9.0 15 10 9 4 8 3 23 48
4 Bob Harris 1938-10-02 (2) DET CLE W 10-8 7.0 11 8 7 4 6 0 27 36
5 Thornton Lee 1938-09-28 CHW CLE W 14-11 9.0 16 11 11 6 3 2 8 49
6 Wes Ferrell 1937-07-25 (1) WSH SLB W 16-10 9.0 14 10 9 4 4 2 21 45
7 Peaches Davis 1937-05-09 CIN PHI W 21-10 9.0 15 10 7 3 2 0 22 46
8 Oral Hildebrand 1937-04-21 SLB CHW W 15-10 9.0 17 10 10 4 2 0 11 47
9 Jack Knott 1936-09-02 SLB PHA W 13-11 9.0 12 11 11 7 2 1 14 43
10 Phil Collins 1932-06-23 PHI CHC W 16-10 9.0 14 10 10 3 2 2 18 40
11 Lefty Stewart 1932-06-22 SLB NYY W 17-10 9.0 14 10 6 7 2 2 22 46
12 Herb Pennock 1930-06-15 NYY CLE W 17-10 9.0 16 10 8 1 4 1 22 45
13 Elam Vangilder 1928-09-29 DET NYY W 19-10 9.0 18 10 10 1 3 2 13 46
14 Ted Blankenship 1927-07-03 CHW SLB W 14-10 9.0 14 10 5 3 1 2 27 44
15 Bill Sherdel 1926-07-13 STL BRO W 12-10 9.0 16 10 10 1 5 4 19 42
16 Ernie Wingard 1925-05-31 SLB CHW W 15-11 9.0 19 11 10 1 0 0 6 45
17 Urban Shocker 1924-07-03 SLB CLE W 16-10 9.0 12 10 5 2 2 0 33 42
18 Red Faber 1919-09-15 CHW PHA W 11-10 9.0 13 10 8 2 4 2 27 44
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/10/2012.

Finally, something the Browns excel in – they are the class of this list, going 6-2 in these games. Also note that only 4 of these 18 games were from the NL – the AL definitely had the lion’s share of the bashers in the 20s and 30s. Incidentally, the Ernie Wingard game (#16) has the distinction of being the lowest game score in a complete game victory.

But, now for the Jekyll and Hyde bit. Of the 190 seasons with 10+ disaster starts (DS), these are the ones that also featured at least 18 quality starts (QS).

Player Year QS DS Tm G GS CG SHO W L W-L% IP H R ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR
Bobby Jones 2001 18 10 SDP 33 33 1 0 8 19 .296 195.0 250 137 111 38 113 5.12 78 37
Melido Perez 1990 19 10 CHW 35 35 3 3 13 14 .481 197.0 177 111 101 86 161 4.61 83 14
Mike Witt 1987 18 10 CAL 36 36 10 0 16 14 .533 247.0 252 128 110 84 192 4.01 108 34
Ken Forsch 1982 19 10 CAL 37 35 12 4 13 11 .542 228.0 225 108 98 57 73 3.87 105 25
Geoff Zahn 1980 19 10 MIN 38 35 13 5 14 18 .438 232.2 273 138 114 66 96 4.41 99 17
Ray Burris 1977 19 11 CHC 39 39 5 1 14 16 .467 221.0 270 132 116 67 105 4.72 93 29
Rudy May 1977 22 10 BAL 37 37 11 4 18 14 .563 251.2 243 114 101 78 105 3.61 105 25
Dave Roberts 1976 18 10 DET 36 36 18 4 16 17 .485 252.0 254 122 112 63 79 4.00 93 16
Paul Splittorff 1974 18 11 KCR 36 36 8 1 13 19 .406 226.0 252 122 103 75 90 4.10 93 23
Lerrin LaGrow 1974 18 10 DET 37 34 11 0 8 19 .296 216.1 245 132 112 80 85 4.66 81 21
Alan Foster 1970 19 10 LAD 33 33 7 1 10 13 .435 198.2 200 104 94 81 83 4.26 90 22
Joe Niekro 1970 18 10 DET 38 34 6 2 12 13 .480 213.0 221 107 96 72 101 4.06 93 28
Gerry Janeski 1970 20 10 CHW 35 35 4 1 10 17 .370 205.2 247 125 109 63 79 4.77 80 22
Sammy Ellis 1965 22 11 CIN 44 39 15 2 22 10 .688 263.2 222 119 111 104 183 3.79 99 22
Larry Jackson 1965 25 10 CHC 39 39 12 4 14 21 .400 257.1 268 126 110 57 131 3.85 96 28
Paul Foytack 1959 18 10 DET 39 37 11 2 14 14 .500 240.1 239 137 124 64 110 4.64 87 34
Bob Purkey 1959 18 10 CIN 38 33 9 1 13 18 .419 218.0 241 118 103 43 78 4.25 96 25
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/9/2012.

Larry Jackson leads this group with 35 out of 39 (89.7%) “Jekyll and Hyde” starts, those that are either quality or a disaster. Jackson is followed closely by Alan Foster (87.9%) and Rudy May (86.5%). Possibly the most impressive thing about this list is that 7 of the 17 pitchers have an ERA+ over 95, not easy to do with 10 or more disaster starts.

Any other J&H pitchers you recall – either on their game or way off it, but seldom in between?

37 thoughts on “Jekyll and Hyde Pitchers

  1. 1

    Caraway ended 10-24, 6.22

    At the end of May he was 6-3, 2.21, Zero DS

    The rest of the way that is 4-21, 8.82
    16 out of 22 starts were Disasters.

  2. 2
    e pluribus munu says:

    I’m going off the rails early in this string (with apologies, Doug; this research is not only imaginative and impressive, it’s a lot of fun) because it relates to an issue that has bothered me for over fifty years: the degree to which an occasional disastrous outing (starting or, more often, relieving) can distort the value of ERA.

    For example, it’s easy to recall John Smoltz in 2002: he gave up 8 runs to the Mets in one early 0.2 IP adventure and his ERA never recovered. Actually, checking B-R, that season he pitched over 80 innings, yielding 29 ER, but almost half (14 ER) came in three outings of just 2.2 IP total. Over those three appearances, his ERA was a non-Smoltzian 57.27; over his remaining 72 appearances – virtually his entire season – his ERA was 1.74. His ERA of record in 2002 was 3.25 – mediocre for a closer. Of course, we all knew what was going on at the time – Smoltz came in third in the Cy Young voting – but the ERA stat is simply useless: it misrepresents his performance by treating average as normal.

    I wonder whether a stat generated by a regression analysis (my own math is at fifth-grade level, so I have no idea what I’m talking about) could be developed that would smooth these sorts of distortions and yield an ERA measure that indicated normal performance, rather than average.

    (PS: For another type of Jekyll-Hyde pitcher, check out Dick Hyde’s season-to-season ERA.)

    • 6
      Doug says:

      One way to do this is throw out the best and worst two starts and recalculate.

      • 11
        e pluribus munu says:

        Thanks for following my side track, Doug, and with math even I can do. That is the sort of remedy I was thinking of. But the +/- extremes often have unequal impact, and different pitchers have different numbers of outliers (though beyond a point, they’re no longer outliers). So a real stat that could be used for both practical and historical purposes would probably need to involve two numbers, one indicating a pitcher’s season performance norm and one his degree of variabilty from the norm.

        Here’s an example, unsing game score (not the same as ERA per game, but available on B-R): In 1962, Koufax produced the following distribution of game scores: 95/86/83/82/81/81/81/80/80/76/76/75/74/74/59/59/56/56/
        49/47/44/43/43/40/33/31.
        If a “quality start” (bad stat, I know) translates to something like a 45-50 game score (with considerably more elasticity for rising than diminishing numbers – those bottom three, even the 40, are all “disaster starts”: just a quirk of the game score stat), then this sequence tells you something about Koufax’s very high reliability in ’62 reaching and exceeding that standard. But his best start – a no-hitter (with five BB) – is actually much less an outlier from his upper tier performances than his disaster starts: and, in fact, the bottom three starts are all the effects of the finger injury and long DL stint that closed his season, when his ERA went from 2.06 to 2.54 over 9.2 IP. I’m thinking of some stat that would reduce without entirely erasing the impact of a nearly 25% rise in ERA, while indicating that there was some unusual variation from the norm in his performance.

        By the way, the only game I saw Koufax pitch that year was his 44 game score day: his debut vs. the Mets, a 13-hit CG gem. Only the Mets could get 13 hits against Koufax and lose by seven runs. (In game 2, they executed a triple play. Lost that one too.)

        • 15
          Doug says:

          Not often I see 13 hits and pitching gem in the same sentence, but I will defer to the eyewitness 🙂 .

          Your point about performance consistency/variability is well taken. Couple of thoughts that pop into my head about expressing both the expected performance level and expected consistency in one number are these:

          – GS75 – bottom qusrtile of game scores: the minimum performance level expected 75% of the time

          – GSR – game score rating: mean (or median) game score divided by standard deviation of game scores. My guess is a really good GSR would be around 10, and an average one around 5.

          • 32
            e pluribus munu says:

            Doug, I can understand GS75 well enough; GSR is a stretch for me, but I think it’s closer to what I was getting at. (Of course, I’d be interested in a formula that works for all outings, not just starts.) I’ll link to some linear regression tutorials and see whether I can hold onto enough to think through your idea. Thanks!

            “Gem” was ironic. Koufax seemed befuddled by the Mets, the heat, and the behavior of the huge crowd of about 55K. It was the first chance to see Koufax back in NY since he’d become Koufax – the crowd went delirious with joy when he was introduced and at every Met strikeout. But the Mets were had already established themselves as so amazing in their awfulness that whenever one got a hit off Koufax the crowd erupted equally in joyful shock and awe. It made no sense, and I remember during one explosion of cheers Koufax ambling towards first base, throwing his arms in the air. – By the way, B-R reminds me that the losing pitcher that day was Jay Hook: this was one of the many 1962 disaster starts that earned him an honored place on your second list above.

    • 9
      RJ says:

      I’ve mentioned this elsewhere before, but Madison Bumgarner’s ERA last year would have come down from a respectable 3.21 to a pretty darn good 2.81 were it not for his 8 earned runs in 0.1 of an inning mid-season misadventure.

  3. 3
    • 5
      Doug says:

      That’s what a lot of those complete game victories were like. The manager’s attitude seemed to be “as long as we’re winning the game, why take out the pitcher?”.

    • 14
      John Autin says:

      The 14-run lead is nice, but I’m sure Peaches felt the game was in the bag as soon as he saw his opponent would be Losing Pitcher Mulcahy.

      • 17
        Doug says:

        Mulcahy just missed the list. He had 9 disaster starts in 3 straight seasons, 1937 to 1939. That’s 27 DS out of 92 starts, 29.3%.

        The rest of his career, he had only 8 other disasters, but in just 53 starts, 15.1%.

  4. 4

    Sammy Ellis, 22-10 while leading the league in earned runs.
    His Jekyll self had back-to-back outings of 11 and 14 innings each giving up one run.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=ellissa01&t=p&year=1965

    • 7
      Doug says:

      What I wonder is whether Ellis’s J&H character had to do with his inexperience. In the previous season (his rookie year), Ellis was used mostly in relief, pitching 128 innings with a 146 ERA+, placing 16th in MVP voting! Then, he goes to 39 starts and 263 innings – a pretty drastic jump.

      The ERA the year before (and even the 99 ERA+ with 11 disaster starts) suggest the kid had some stuff. But that was too much work for a kid in his first season as a starter. He never again had a winning season or an ERA+ over 100, and was done at 28.

  5. 8
    kds says:

    I guess Urban Faber had red hair, so he got the nickname. We can’t say this is no Shocker. Not an urban legend, in any case.

    Phil Collins must have quit his day job. Whether that was a good thing or not depends upon your taste in music and pitching.

    AFAICT, the Nationals have had no disaster starts yet this year. What are team records for fewest in a year, and latest with first?

    • 18
      Doug says:

      And, Ted sure didn’t blank ’em.

    • 19
      John Autin says:

      kds — Washington has had one Disaster Start, by Gio Gonzalez on 4/7 (4 R in 3.2 IP):
      http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN201204070.shtml

      But there is one team that hasn’t had one yet — the Blue Jays. (Neil, take a bow.)

    • 21
      John Autin says:

      The fewest DS this century is 13 by last year’s Phillies.

      For the ’90s (excluding ’94) the low mark was 13 by the ’98 Astros and the ’92 Reds. (The latter is a bit surprising, as only 2 in their rotation had ERA+ over 93. But they had a strong bullpen, so I guess the starters would get yanked quickly if they were giving up runs.)

      For the ’80s (excluding ’81), 10 by the ’85 Mets. Note that’s ’85, not their title year.

      For the ’70s, 12 by the ’71 Angels, another surprise. They had a ridiculously deep bullpen, but a losing record.

      For the ’60s, 13 by the ’65 Yankees. The big surprise is that nobody in ’68 was special in this regard (Mets were low with 16 that year).

      For the ’50s, 16 by the ’52 Phils.

      For the ’40s, 14 by the ’46 Tigers.

      For the ’30s, 17 by the ’34 Giants and ’37 Yanks.

      For the ’20s, 14 by the 1920 Brooklyn Robins.

      And for 1918-19 (with 128- and 140-game schedules), 8 by the 1918 Red Sox.

    • 22
      John Autin says:

      Too much work to figure out the all-time latest for a team to have its first DS, but for 2002-11 it was the 2010 Rays; their first was in game 45. They wound up with 19, tied for 4th fewest.

    • 23
      Doug says:

      In the live-ball era, fewest disaster starts in a non-shortened season are 10 by the 1985 Mets, followed by the 1986 Mets, 1985 Blue Jays and 1971 Angels with 12.

      The most disaster starts in a season – 63 by the 1939 Browns followed by 61 by the 1930 Phillies and 59 by the 1996 Tigers. Led by Pat Caraway the all-time single season leader, the 1931 White Sox were next with 58.

      It appears the latest a team has gone before recording its first disaster start is game 51 by the 1967 Reds. Billy McCool allowed 4 runs in 2.2 innings on June 3, 1967 but the Reds still won.

      The 2010 Rays had their first disaster start in game 45, but then had 4 more in their next 16 games.

      • 35
        Richard Chester says:

        I also searched for the latest a team had its first DS and came up with the same result– the 1967 Reds with 51 games.

  6. 10
    RJ says:

    Jonathan Sanchez frustrated with his inconsistency in San Francisco. In 2008 he had 13 quality starts but 6 disaster starts (19 J&H of 29 total) ending up with a 5.01 ERA and an ERA+ of 88. In fact, whenever Sanchez went six innings that year, it was a quality start.

  7. 12

    Seeing Bobby Jones’ 2001 season as the most recent entry on the Jekyll and Hyde list makes me thinks of the back to back matchups by Jones and the Cardinals’ Bud Smith that season, where they both made the the Jekyll and Hyde (or I guess it should be Hyde and Jekyll) switch in dramatic fashion….

    August 29, 2001 in St. Louis (I was at this slugfest!):

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN200108290.shtml

    Five days later, same two pitchers, this time in San Diego:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SDN/SDN200109030.shtml

  8. 13

    This is the kind of post that makes me what wonder what Baseball-Reference was smoking when they kicked you guys out.

  9. 16

    Geoff Zahn managed to be 4 games under .500 in a season where he had 5 Shutouts.

    Check out this game:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIN/MIN198004270.shtml

    Staked to a 10-0 lead in the First inning.
    Couldn’t go 5.
    14 hits in 4.1
    Got relieved with a 17-8 lead

    • 20
      Doug says:

      That’s why Geoff was 4 games under .500 – his manager was taking away his wins by not letting him pitch 5, even with a 9-run lead :).

    • 24
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      In 1952 Virgil Trucks had two no-hitters, but finished 5-19. BTW, he is uncle to Butch Trucks, founding member of The Allman Bros.

      • 25
        Mike L says:

        The Tigres were 50-104. Trucks wasn’t that awful-he had an ERA+ of 95 and WAR of 1.7. Yeesh

        • 28
          Lawrence Azrin says:

          I was not implying that Trucks had a terrible year, merely that a pitcher can have some spectacular starts the two no-hitters) and still be rather ordinary overall for the year.

          Per the example in #16 above – Geoff Zahn in 1980 had five shutouts, which is very impressive, but finished 14-18 in 232 IP, with a 99 ERA+. These are decent numbers, but not as good as you might expect from someone who threw five shtouts, second in the league.

          That is all that I meant.

          • 36
            Mike L says:

            LA, no offense intended. An observation on how a 5-19 pitcher can be not all that bad. Anyone remember Anthony Young’s run of horrible in 92 and 93. A combined 3-30. In 1993, he had an ERA of 3.77 in 100 inning, but gave up an additional 20 unearned runs. Young ended up a wreck. He was 15-48 for his career, with and ERA+ of 100.

      • 26
        Richard Chester says:

        He also had a one-hit shutout, a CG win giving up one run and 6 hits and a win where he pitched 7.2 innings and gave up 2 hits.

        • 29
          Richard Chester says:

          Trucks and Nolan Ryan are the only two pitchers with two no-hitters and a complete game one-hitter in the same season.

        • 30

          Run Support for Trucks that year: 2.65

          How well did he have to pitch to get a win?
          Here are the batters’ slash lines in those 5 wins:

          .064 .166 .107 .273

          For Virgil that would be:
          0.21 era
          43.2 IP
          9 H

    • 34
      Richard Chester says:

      There have been 66 instances of a pitcher throwing 5 or more shutouts and finishing with a sub-.500 W-L%. Camilo Pascual, Bullet Joe Bush, Rube Waddell and Christy Mathewson each had a season of 8 shutouts.

  10. 27
    no statistician but says:

    I’d be interested in seeing career % of disaster starts for, let’s say, hall of famers, given that it isn’t possible to chart the earlier ones.

    Looking at the second list above, with 40% of the worst performances in the 1930s, I’m also wondering a little about changes from era to era. Given the tendency of managers in the last twenty years or so to pull the starter on almost any pretext, one would expect fewer of these disasters to show up in the records, possibly skewing ERAs lower, WARs higher.

    • 31
      Richard Chester says:

      I did a quick check. Early Wynn’s DS/GS ratio is 111/612 which is 18.1%. Wynn’s 111 DS, along with Tommy John’s, are the most for the game searchable era. Nolan Ryan clocks in at 103/773 = 13.3%. Red Ruffing is also high, 88/538 = 16.4%.

  11. 33
    Paul E says:

    JA:
    I like this Jekyll & Hyde concept-very interesting stuff. You could probably do it on a larger scale with whole seasons for batters and pitchers. You know, 120 OPS+ or ERA+ followed up with a sub 100 season…where’s Lon Chaney when you need him

  12. 37
    Hartvig says:

    In a normal run scoring environment a starter with an ERA around 4, and an ERA+ in the mid to high 90’s is usually best suited to maybe 4th starter status on a decent team. If a starter gives up 4 or more runs for a team with an average offense in a normal run scoring environment he’s going to normally lose the vast majority of those games. Does anyone know: has there ever been a game-to-game Jekyll & Hyde type pitcher at least for the majority of his career? I’m thinking of someone who gives up 2 runs or fewer in close to two-thirds of this starts but usually 6 runs or more in the remainder? I assume that in most seasons that would give him 4th-starter type peripherals but with a better than expected winning record?

    I’m also surprised that in an article about Jekyll and Hyde pitching performances and all the comments that there was no mention of probably the pitcher best known for up and down seasons in my direct baseball memory (going back to around 1960): Bret Saberhagen (I know some of his issues were injury related but still…).

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