Beyond ERA+: Why Rick Reuschel Had Hall of Fame Value

1988 Score #519 - Rick Reuschel - Courtesy of COMC.com

It’s been some time since I wrote a “Let’s Talk About” piece. This time I bring you a pitcher who WAR would have you believe is perhaps the most underrated player in Major League history.

Let’s talk about Rick Reuschel.

Now, first let’s acknowledge the sniff test. When Rally first made his WAR spreadsheets available (it later became Baseball-Reference WAR), Reuschel ranked surprisingly high. I had never once considered Reuschel for the Hall. Even after some major revisions to Rally’s original WAR formula, Reuschel still ranks 32nd all time in pitching WAR and 97th overall. The Hall of Stats adjusts WAR with more emphasis on peak value. Reuschel rankings:

  • 99th among all players in history
  • 85th among players eligible for the Hall of Fame (84th if you remove Pete Rose)
  • 30th among all pitchers in history
  • 23rd among all pitchers eligible for the Hall of Fame
  • 13th among eligible players not in the Hall of Fame
  • 6th among eligible players not in the Hall of Fame who are not currently on the ballot, behind Pete Rose, Lou Whitaker, Bill Dahlen, Bobby Grich, and Kevin Brown (again, fifth if you don’t count Rose)

According to WAR and the Hall of Stats, Rick Reuschel was a top 100 player. That was—and still is—a revelation. When I create lists of the best players outside of the Hall, I still hesitate a bit before listing Reuschel’s name. So, what gives?

Traditionally Similar Players

Seven pitchers in the post-integration era (1947–present) threw between 3248 and 3848 innings (within 300 of Reuschel) with an ERA+ between 110 and 118. Sorted by WAR, Reuschel leads the list, followed by Luis Tiant (who is in the Hall of Stats). The next two—Jim Bunning an Dennis Eckersley—are Hall of Famers (and not particularly borderline ones). Jerry Koosman (who sits on the Hall of Fame borderline) ranks fifth, followed by Larry Jackson (who isn’t as close as Koosman to the Hall of Stats, but ranks near pitchers like Jim Kaat and Dennis Martinez). The list finishes with Curt Simmons, who is way off in terms of WAR and Hall Rating.

Rk Player WAR ERA+ IP Defense UER%
1 Rick Reuschel 64.6 114 3548.1 -69.5 11.0%
2 Luis Tiant 61.8 114 3486.1 27.1 8.6%
3 Dennis Eckersley 58.6 116 3285.2 -1.2 7.5%
4 Jim Bunning 56.7 115 3760.1 3.8 10.5%
5 Jerry Koosman 53.1 110 3839.1 -5.5 10.9%
6 Larry Jackson 48.7 113 3262.2 0.6 12.2%
7 Curt Simmons 38.2 111 3348.1 33.4 15.0%

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool UsedGenerated 2/6/2013.

At the very least, this table tells me that pitchers like Reuschel should at least be considered for the Hall of Fame. After all, the list of seven does include two already in and one who is often considered on the borderline (Tiant). For whatever reason, Reuschel was never thought of that way, receiving a total of two Hall of Fame votes.

Why is Reuschel at the top of this list? What isn’t ERA capturing? Why the huge discrepancy between Reuschel and Simmons?

The Raw Numbers

Reuschel: 214–191 (.528), 3.37 ERA, 114 ERA+, 3548 IP
Simmons: 193–183 (.513), 3.54 ERA, 111 ERA+, 3348 IP

Do these look like pitchers who would have a 26.4 WAR discrepancy? Not on the surface.

Unearned Runs

In the table above, I added a couple columns for my own numbers that I pulled from the Baseball-Reference Play Index and their historical WAR downloads. Let’s talk about unearned runs.

11.0% of the runs Reuschel allowed were unearned. This seems pretty insignificant because the league average was 11.2%—incredibly close. Meanwhile, Simmons’ unearned run percentage is 15.0%. The league average was 11.9%. This is a rather significant difference.

This would lead me to believe that Reuschel played for average defenses while Simmons played for weak ones. But to assume that would be to acknowledge that the only way to measure defense is by number of errors. Unearned runs only occur as the result of an error. We know that there is a lot more to defense than errors. There’s range, arm strength, double plays, and more.

Total Zone

Total Zone, the defensive component of Baseball-Reference’s WAR, captures all of these and they are factored into WAR. So, what were the defenses behind these pitchers really like? That’s the other column I added to the table above.

It turns out the Simmons actually played in front of good defenses (33 runs above average) while Reuschel played in front of historically bad defenses (70 runs below average). Only 11 pitchers in history played in front of worse defenses than Reuschel—and several of those pitchers were active 100 or more years ago. What does this do to Reuschel and Simmons’ WAR? Ten runs roughly equate to a win. Their defenses have a 103 run difference. So, just based on the defenses they pitched in front of, these pitchers are separated by ten WAR.

Who were the culprits? I used the Play Index to find the fielders for every team that Reuschel pitched 100 innings for in a season. Here are the ten best and ten worst.

The Worst The Best
Player Rfield Player Rfield
Rick Monday -77 Barry Bonds 32
Jerry Morales -52 Tony Pena 20
Jose Cardenal -43 Sid Bream 17
Bill Madlock -34 Mike LaValliere 15
Dave Rosello -34 Matt Williams 13
Jerry Martin -30 Robby Thompson 13
Bobby Murcer -29 Jose Lind 12
Billy Williams -25 Ernie Riles 10
Vic Harris -18 Sam Khalifa 10
Don Kessinger -17 3 tied with 9

I wanted to make sure that the Total Zone numbers didn’t look out of whack. The ten players on the “Worst” list combined for three Gold Gloves. One was by Bobby Murcer back when he was with the Yankees. The other two were by Don Kessinger back when he was much younger. The numbers show that he was actually very good in one of those seasons (1969), but dropped off after that. He was no help to Reuschel by the time they played together. The first two players on the “Best” list combined for twelve Gold Gloves. Honestly, I think Total Zone does a pretty good job.

So, here are some reasons why Rick Reuschel is better than we seem to think…

  1. Part of it is unexplainable. Reuschel’s raw numbers are actually nearly Hall-worthy. He had a .528 winning percentage and 114 ERA+. Nolan Ryan had a .526 winning percentage and an ERA+ of 112 (I understand Ryan pitched longer, but still… this is a little surprising).
  2. He played for some pretty terrible teams. His teams combined for a winning percentage of .463. This doesn’t lead to a lot of wins, awards, or publicity.
  3. He didn’t give up a lot of unearned runs. He was right at the league average. Considering the defense he played in front of, you’d think he would have given up more. If looking at things in terms of runs allowed rather than earned runs allowed, Reuschel would look much better.
  4. He played in front of some horrendous defenses. Phil Niekro must sympathize with him. If you think about how bad his defenses were and how many unearned runs they must have led to, you realize that the actual number of unearned runs Reuschel allowed was probably unbelievably low. He helped this by not walking many players and not allowing many home runs. Those are easy ways to be beaten and Reuschel didn’t let his opponents do it.

I don’t think I’ve ever publicly said “Rick Reuschel should be in the Hall of Fame.” I was still uncomfortable with why his WAR-based numbers looked so good. But now I know. And I think I’m ready to say it.

Rick Reuschel should be in the Hall of Fame. He wasn’t flashy. He wasn’t famous. But he provided more value than the average Hall of Famer. That, to me, makes him worthy of the Hall of Fame.

74 thoughts on “Beyond ERA+: Why Rick Reuschel Had Hall of Fame Value

  1. 1
    Dr. Doom says:

    Neutralized pitching record is easy. You take IP/9. That’s your number of decisions. Then you take 100/ERA+ (which is really ERA-; that’s the stat we should use, since it puts the correct thing in the numerator and denominator). Then we do a little Pythagorean formula for Run Support, where 100/ERA+ = x. It looks like this:

    100^2/(100^2+x^2)

    We then multiply this by IP/9 (which was the number of decisions), and we get a neutralized won-lost record.

    For Reuschel, we get 394.2 decisions (meaning that he actually got 11 more decisions than we would expect).
    100/114~88
    100^2/(100^2+88^2)=.563 (meaning that Reuschel’s winning percentage was much lower than we would have expected given his actual ERA, adjusted for ballpark).
    Neutralized W-L Record = 222.2-172
    In other words, Reuschel pitched like a guy who was 50 games over .500, with over 220 wins. Basically, he was Catfish Hunter, who went 224-166 – except that Catfish’s neutralized record is 199.4-183.8. So basically, Reuschel pitched as well as Hunter’s W-L record, and Hunter pitched a bit worse than Reuschel’s W-L record. So there’s that.

  2. 2
    Doug says:

    Nice piece, Adam.

    Aside from pitching on lousy teams, Reuschel’s HOF issues could be that he just doesn’t look like a HOF pitcher, as evidenced by the baseball card image. Does he look like Seaver dragging his knee in the dirt or Marichal or whatever pitcher you could name with a memorable delivery? No, he actually looks more like a guy playing catch with his son.

    Of course, you could well say as much about Greg Maddux. But, you don’t because he has the results to back it up.

    As with ducks, I suppose the explanation for Reuschel’s HOF slight is simply that if he doesn’t have the “raw” numbers of a HOFer, and he doesn’t “look like” a HOFer, then he’s not a HOFer. Which is unfortunate, because I think Adam has made a strong (I wouldn’t necessarily say compelling, but certainly strong) case that that indeed is what Reuschel should be.

    • 8
      Chuck says:

      Wait…so you’re saying voters “overlooked” Reuschel because he was fat?

      • 17
        Doug says:

        Well, that isn’t what I said exactly, but it’s probably part of it.

        If you’re a traditional (i.e. non-sabermetric) voter, you first look at his numbers and see he won 200, but he also lost almost 200 and pitched almost 20 years. Good control but wasn’t a big strikeout guy. Made it to the post-season a few times but didn’t really do anything memorable on that stage.

        So, that’s your first pass. If you give him a second pass, it’s probably more on the subjective level – in your mind’s eye, can you see him as a memorable pitcher (i.e. does he look the part of a HoF pitcher)? Answer, almost certainly, is no.

        Not saying it’s right, just that that probably is not too far off his evaluation by many HoF voters.

        • 64
          Tim Pea says:

          Reuschel really wasn’t that fat. He did look out of shape, made worse by tight uniforms. I think CC Sabathia is quite a bit fatter than RR.

      • 70
        Scott Silveira says:

        Lon Simmons, the voice of the San Francisco Giants in the 70’s, once said that Reuschel looked like the kid who no one would let play on his side at recess. He was homely. He played on bad Cubs teams, and when he was traded to the Yankees, for a shot at glory, he seriously hurt his arm. You need good timing, as the Beach Boys said.

        His delivery was actually quite similar to Walter Johnson’s. He couldn’t throw as hard as Johnson, likely, but both pitchers threw a ton of innings. It’s surprising you don’t see more deliveries like this in the majors.

        His yearly WAR with the Cubs was quite high, year after year. I think even Cubs fans from this era would be shocked at that.

  3. 3
    Devon says:

    You make a good case. I’m surprised you didn’t mention his FIP, which was 3.22. Over the same period (1972-1991), Tom Seaver had a 3.23 FIP. Tom Terrific’s consider a 70’s star, while Rick’s generally forgotten. In fact, Reuschel’s FIP ranks 14th among pitchers with 1500+ IP from ’72-’91, and only 3 of the guys ahead of him, pitched more innings during that period.

    • 13

      Thanks. I try not to just use stats like FIP. I’d rather explain them. I think I did that here:

      he actual number of unearned runs Reuschel allowed was probably unbelievably low. He helped this by not walking many players and not allowing many home runs. Those are easy ways to be beaten and Reuschel didn’t let his opponents do it.

      His FIP is certainly part of what made him valuable. I don’t think FIP alone tells the story, so I try to explain it a bit more.

  4. 4
    BryanM says:

    Adam , terrific piece. I am a big believer in RA /9 as a shorthand look at a pitcher’s effectiveness and have come to the conclusion that ERA Is essentially useless as a measure , since RA9 is available, closely connected and more meaningful. Some additional thoughts.

    The pitcher’s job is to prevent runs, not earned runs. ERA favors weaker pitchers , since the guys who are less effective in getting 3 outs in an inning will also be , generally, less effective in getting 4

    ERA , alone among the major stats, is based on a counterfactual, not what happened on the field, but what some guy in the press box thinks might have happened

    Pitchers in Rueschel’s generation and before, with 9-10 man staffs , cannot be judged fairly among each other . compared to modern starters , ,in order to rack up the innings totals they did , they had to pitch much more to the base- out situation ; in other words, they tried to allow base runners but not runs; ( see C Mathewson ; pitching in the pinch) . When men got on base,
    For example , through an error, the better ones has another gear to go to, and allowed fewer unearned runs. Of course the ones who pitched in front of better defenses also allowed fewer unearned runs , and defensive stats , other than errors are patchy, back in time.
    DD@1 makes a nice point that we can get a neutralized WL . would using RA9+ instead of ERA+ in his formula change anything materially?

  5. 5
    oneblankspace says:

    When the Cardinals hired Dave Parker as a hitting coach, one of the reasons stated was that he could get his name in front of the Hall of Fave voters, er, Hall of Fame voters. Perhaps Reuschel should have done something like that.

  6. 6
    Jason Z says:

    On June 28, 1977 the Cubs beat the Montreal Expos 4-2 in front of 18,955 fans at the brand new Olympic Stadium.

    Reuschel moved his record to 11-2 on the season.

    Meanwhile the Cubs won their 8th game in a row, had the best record in baseball and were 8.5 games ahead of St. Louis in the classic NL East.

    From this date forward, only the expansion Blue Jays, the hapless A’s as
    destroyed by Charlie Finley and the soon to be resurgent Brewers were
    worse than the Cubbies. The Cubs played .681 ball for 69 games. Than
    they played .366 for the rest. Truly one of the most extreme in season
    reversals of all time. They finished in another time zone, 20 games out.
    Made 1969 feel like a tip toe through the tulips.

    Reuschel finished 20-10 and led the NL with 9.4 WAR.

    From 1973-1981 Reuschel could be counted on. He made 35-38 starts every
    season, except the strike shortened 1981.

    Than the injuries.

    1982-missed the entire season due to injury.

    1983-makes 4 starts.

    1984-makes 14 starts, goes 5-5 with a career low ERA+ of 75. Cubs management
    being the astute judges of talent they are, allow him to sign as a free agent
    with the Pirates.

    1985-Rueschel is 36, was last whole back in 1981 at age 32. In 1977
    his ERA+ was 158. In 1985 it was 159, the best mark of his career.
    Unlike Bartolo Colon whose revival after multiple season’s missed can
    be explained somewhat by steroids, Reuschel would only mount Deer Antler’s,
    not snort them. I feel very comfortable having seen this man pitch many
    times, and Adam’s aforementioned reference to body type confirms, no steroids
    here.

    Reuschel goes on to pitch very effectively through his age 40 season. Good
    enough that he makes the All-Star team for the 2nd and 3rd times in his career
    during his age 38 and 40 seasons.

    Remarkable.

    In the parlance of the times, I like to think of Reuschel as a craftsman.

    And as Doug mentions above, in my mind Maddux and Reuschel both won with
    less than stellar “stuff”.

    Maddux was insane. We may never see another with his pinpoint precision.

    Reushcel was good too. Very good.

  7. 7
    Dr. Remulak says:

    This piece reinforced my support of Tiant as HOF worthy. Reuschel: close, but as El Tiante might say, no cigar.

  8. 9
    John Autin says:

    Great piece, Adam. HHS needs more of these long essays, IMHO. 🙂

    I’m still not sure I support Reuschel for the Hall, but he deserves consideration. Besides what’s been mentioned, I think his image also suffers from the lack of a defining team/era identity, and the unusual mid-career value gap.

    Taking the second point first:

    From age 23-31, Reuschel averaged almost 5 WAR per year. But from 32-35, Reuschel totaled just 3.1 WAR.

    Since 1901, 23 retired pitchers had 55 to 75 WAR (Reuschel +/- 10, roundly). Only 5 of those (including R.R.) had less than 6 WAR from age 32-35. The other 4 guys in that subset — Feller, Walsh, Newhouser, Drysdale — combined for less than 1 WAR from age 36 onward. But Reuschel racked up 16.5 more WAR from age 36-40.

    So, a very unusual value pattern — something like a Tommy John, maybe. And nobody really knows what to do with ToJo, either. Or you could liken it to Smoltz’s pattern. But Smoltzie had the benefit of a long stint with a grett team.

    Which brings us to the identity issue: Reuschel came up in ’72 just as the Cubs were transitioning from a competitive era (five HOFers, counting Durocher) into a morass. His rookie year was their last winning season until 1984, by which time Reuschel had left, come back, and been injured/ineffective for 4 years — and then he left again.

    In June ’81 he was dealt to the Yankees, and if all had gone well, it might have been a “wake up, America!” moment, a chance for Reuschel to get noticed for how consistently good he’d been over the past 9 years. Instead, the strike wiped out 2 months of that summer, and while Reuschel pitched well for the Yanks in the 2nd half and in his ALDS start, he became part of their WS meltdown, and then missed almost 2 years with injury while the Yankee dynasty was crumbling.

    By the time Reuschel was pitching well again, he was on the abysmal 1985-86 Pirates (who averaged 101 losses in the shadow of the cocaine trials). Finally, he landed on the Giants, had a couple more big years and got into the playoffs twice — one last chance to forge a strong identity. But he managed just 1 quality start in 5 tries over those two postseasons. And so, here we are.

    • 10

      Reuschel is tough.

      I mean, he obviously wasn’t a traditional Hall of Famer. His case is incredibly complex. You really need to analyze him to say he’s a Hall of Famer. Most don’t. Most feel that you should “know” a player is a Hall of Famer. That’s fine. That’s what the Hall of Fame can be. I, of course, feel differently. That’s why I made my own place.

      That 3.1 WAR from age 32-35 is pretty shocking. But if you look it was in 261 innings. That’s a season. So, three years in his early-to-mid 30s were represented by what amounts to a 3 WAR season. That’s not really a value drop, IMO. That was injury problems, especially when you consider that some of that had to be pitching hurt.

      But he came back from it and had a LOT left in the tank. That doesn’t happen often. Interestingly, one other time it happened was with Luis Tiant. He was hurt in 1970 and some felt he’d never return. But he worked his way back and had a hell of a run with Boston.

      Here’s an interesting question—well, one that was harder before this year. Who’s the best eligible pitcher outside of the Hall of Fame? Obviously now it’s Clemens and I’d say Schilling is an easy #2. But then… who?

      If you like Morris, you hate everyone else. But beyond him… Reuschel and Tiant probably have to be in that conversation. I might say Kevin Brown, David Cone, or even Bret Saberhagen. None of them have clear-cut cases, however.

      A more traditional look might pick Tommy John and Jim Kaat, neither of which I’d mind seeing get in.

      But really, who is it? There are quite a few WEAK pitchers in the Hall. And I think Reuschel is better than a lot of them. So I support him.

      • 20
        Brooklyn Mick says:

        I’ve been a longtime supporter of Kitty, but now I’m not so sure. I think most people who support him are thinking in terms of his longevity, but the fact is that of his 25 year career, he accumulated 78% of his career WAR during his 7year-peak WAR. It’s pretty astounding that during the other 18 years he accumulated only 10 WAR. That and the 108 ERA+ don’t really make his case very attractive.

        Tommy John might make more sense. The numbers alone are borderline [103 Hall of Stats rating :)], but I also give him some credit for being the first to undergo the surgery named after him that really revolutionized baseball for pitchers. It had to take a certain amount of courage on his part, and IMHO it should tip the scale in his favor.

        The other one I’d like to see get in is Wes Ferrell. During his 8-year peak run from 1929-1936 he was arguably the best pitcher in baseball not named Grove.

      • 28
        John Autin says:

        I agree with all of this, Adam, except I think that distinguishing injury problems from a drop in value is pointless in general and especially so with pitchers. I’d guess that, outside of luck on batted balls, the vast majority of variation in a pitcher’s performance over time can be chalked up to health.

        I like Reuschel a lot — I was living outside Chicago in the mid-’70s and followed the Cubs pretty closely, especially in ’77 when they started off hot and Reuschel won 20.

        Among the 102 pitchers with 1,000 IP during the 1970s, Reuschel ranks 9th in career WAR. Nos. 1-8 are all in the Hall, as are nos. 10-11 (Palmer and Sutton). Among that same group, Reuschel ranks 5th in WAR per 200 IP, and 8th with 6 years of 5+ WAR (same as Ryan and Palmer).

        Among all modern pitchers (since 1893) who have not yet been elected to the Hall, only Clemens tops Reuschel in both IP and ERA+.

        He was a good fielder and a decent hitter. It all adds up to a strong case for the Hall. I’m just not quite there yet — and I have to admit, his postseason performance (albeit a small sample) is part of the problem.

        • 34

          I’m not too concerned with 32 playoff inninga—two-thirds of which came after the age of 38.

          Since he’s not quite a Hall of Famer for you John, let me as this… If you were forced to make a Hall of Fame from scratch and needed to choose 62 pitchers. Would Reuschel make it into that Hall of Fame?

      • 63
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        Adam,

        Amongst more recent pitchers, I’d probably support Hershiser, Cone, and Saberhagen (in that order) ahead of Reuschel – better peaks, more “big” moments Schilling is 1st, but will probably get in within 4-6 years. I realize you’ve done the serious research above, whilst I am going mainly on instinct,so I’ll give your informed opinions above a lot of resprct.

        Kevin Appier, Kevin Brown,and Dave Steib also deserve re-appraisal from a wider audience (than us).

        Amonng older pitchers, probably Tommy John, Wes Ferrell, and my favorite “out-of-nowhere” deadball-era candidate:

        Ed Reulbach –
        not a long career, but it’s hard to ignore those ERAs in the one’s, and the .600+W/Ll %’s from 1905-09.

        I’m sure someone is going to mention how the great defense of the Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance Cubs is responsible for a lot of that, and list other better-qualified dead-ball pitchers not in the HOF (like the Pirates cluster of pitchers at the start of the 20th century)..

  9. 11
    JasonZ says:

    Jim Kaat won the gold glove every year from 1962-77.

    He also had a career dWar of -0.1.

    Greg Maddux won it every year from 90-08 except 03.

    His career dWar is 0.1

    • 12

      Well, pitchers don’t have defensive WAR. I’m actually digging into that, pertaining to Kaat. Some discussion has started here:

      http://www.hallofstats.com/articles/50-best-not-in-hof-8-best-not-in-hos

      I just don’t know if
      a. his defensive value is ignored or
      b. his defensive value is actually rolled up into his pitching value.

      • 27
        bstar says:

        I’ll say what I said in that discussion that you linked to: unless someone pushes me off this belief, I think a pitcher’s defense is embedded in his pitching value.

        First off, I think it’s important to remember that a pitcher doesn’t have nearly as many opportunities defensively as other infielders, sort of like a first baseman. So, if pitcher fielding totals were computed, I doubt they would be that high or that low because, like WAR itself, defensive runs saved is a counting stat and is dependent on how many opportunities you get to field balls. That’s why you see a smaller spread of Rfield among first basemen than other infield positions. I would guess that the spread would be even smaller for pitchers.

        Since we know that pitcher defense is not a part of team DRS (or, in Kaat’s case, TZ), I have to assume whenever Kaat made a great play stabbing at a ball that otherwise would have gone into centerfield and scored a run, all of that credit is going to Kaat’s pitching and none to his defense. So in this sense his defense is not being ignored, it’s being included in his RA9.

        But I’m open to being moved off that position.

        • 44
          Jason Z says:

          What effect if any should a pitchers pick off ability
          have on the equation?

          I will just throw out a name form the expansion Blue Jays.

          Jerry Garvin. According to Frank Messer, Bill White and the Scooter, Phil Rizzuto…he had a great move. They said it so often, it became a cliche in my mind.

          Andy Pettite is a contemporary example that comes to mind.

          My question is how much weigh should it be given?

        • 56
          mosc says:

          See, this is one thing I always point to with dWAR and how stupid it is. Left fielders and pitchers have similar impact DEFENSIVELY on a game yet left fielder’s dWAR is all over the place (some high, a lot of low ones). Pitcher’s DWAR is always close to zero. Most pitchers are terrible fielders who cost their team runs with their defense. It’s become so expected that we don’t even count it against them anymore. As a result, good defensive pitchers are not valued correctly and furthermore a lot of LF-RF-1B-DH type guys are murdered by DWAR in comparison.

  10. 14
    Tim Pea says:

    Adam this is a fantastic piece! I am not big on new stats because it seems they are often used to pick the bones of very good players. I like to see someone reading between the lines to find something that hasn’t been talked about. I’m a Cub fan so I knew RR was special, but I learned things I didn’t know. A very fantastic piece!!!! HEY, a stat you might have overlooked. RR had 46 career walks as a batter. The best hitting pitchers in the game today, Zambrano and Owings have a combined 18. RR might not have been a good hitter, but he was a good batter.

    • 16

      Tim, thanks for the kind words. Yes, Reuschel was somewhat useful at the plate—compared to other pitchers. He clocks in at 1.6 WAR at the plate. Obviously, that’s over a replacement PITCHER.

      He also pinch ran on occasion, which is remarkable given his physique.

  11. 15
    donburgh says:

    Great piece, Adam.

    It’s amazing to me that all of the best fielders by Rfield were from the second half of Reuschel’s career, including six Pirates. (Sammy Khalifa!!!) However with that said…

    Reuschel and Lind were never teammates. Reuschel was traded on August 21st, while Lind made his debut on the 28th. Probably a limitation of the Play Index.

  12. 18
    Mike L says:

    Adam, this is one of the best pieces I’ve read on HSS. Well reasoned, well researched and well presented. As a Yankee fan, I was disappointed in him and that may have colored my memory, but this puts him in a new light. Nice job.

  13. 19
    Doug says:

    Reuschel’s 36 combined wins in his age 39 and age 40 seasons are the 4th most since 1901.

    Rk Player W From To Age G GS CG SHO L W-L% IP ERA ERA+ Tm
    1 Warren Spahn 42 1960 1961 39-40 78 67 39 8 23 .646 530.1 3.26 109 MLN
    2 Phil Niekro 40 1978 1979 39-40 88 86 45 5 38 .513 676.1 3.14 129 ATL
    3 Eddie Plank 37 1915 1916 39-40 79 57 40 9 26 .587 504.0 2.20 136 SLM-SLB
    4 Rick Reuschel 36 1988 1989 39-40 68 68 9 2 19 .655 453.1 3.04 109 SFG
    5 Early Wynn 35 1959 1960 39-40 73 72 27 9 22 .614 493.0 3.32 115 CHW
    6 Jamie Moyer 34 2002 2003 39-40 67 67 5 2 15 .694 445.2 3.29 130 SEA
    7 David Wells 34 2002 2003 39-40 62 61 6 2 14 .708 419.1 3.95 112 NYY
    8 Cy Young 34 1906 1907 39-40 82 71 61 6 36 .486 631.0 2.54 104 BOS
    9 Charlie Hough 33 1987 1988 39-40 74 74 23 0 29 .532 537.1 3.57 120 TEX
    10 Gaylord Perry 33 1978 1979 39-40 69 69 15 2 17 .660 493.1 2.88 118 SDP
    11 Pete Alexander 33 1926 1927 39-40 67 53 37 4 20 .623 468.1 2.75 145 TOT-STL
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 2/9/2013.

     
    Reuschel’s W-L% in the same seasons (min. 50 decisions) is second only to Gaylord Perry.

  14. 21

    Adam, Another excellent piece of research, analysis and writing. Your case for Reuschel is objectively very strong. I still see him as a borderline case for The Hall, but his case should certainly be studied carefully by future Vet Committees.
    Nice work,
    Bill

  15. 25
    Cyril Morong says:

    Great post. I hope people keep looking at Reuschel. Here is something I posted a few years ago

    http://cybermetric.blogspot.com/2009/06/rick-reuschel-for-hall-of-fame.html

    Just a couple of stats I mentioned

    -His strike-out-to-walk ratio was 31% better than the league average

    -He gave up 21.6% fewer HRs than average

    Also, the idea of being under rated is interesting. Maybe a study comparing a guy’s Hall of Fame votes to his WAR or something like that

    • 30
      John Autin says:

      Wow — that HR rate is an eye-opener, Cyril. I would not have guessed it just from looking at his stats. His career rate of 0.56 HR/9 did not strike me as great, considering he did not pitch at all in the “steroids era.”

      But I just checked his contemporaries, and it is outstanding, after all. Out of 61 pitchers with at least 2,000 IP during Reuschel’s career (1972-91), only 3 had a lower HR/9. And at least 2 of those 3 had some help from their parks, while Reuschel’s HR% was 20% higher at home.

  16. 26
    bstar says:

    Excellent stuff with this article, Adam. I’ve always loved Reuschel and to me he’s a Hall of Famer, period. I’m of the opinion that a player can be a Hall of Famer without a strong narrative attached to his career, but I guess that puts me in the minority.

    To me, one of the best things about sabermetrics is it helps us identify who the great players really were irrespective of narrative. Just looking at the numbers alone, Reuschel isn’t really even borderline. He’s got more rWAR than Jim Palmer, Whitey Ford, Don Sutton, John Smoltz, Carl Hubbell, and Juan Marichal. He’s 30th all-time in Hall of Stats for pitchers. His JAWS score is the 45th best for starting pitchers. I don’t think you necessarily have to be a “big Hall” guy for Reuschel to be in your Hall of Fame.

  17. 29
    Joe Dimino says:

    We elected him to the Hall of Merit. I was probably his biggest supporter, nice work.

    I think Bunning and Palmer are really good comps. Palmer had historically great defenses and Reuschel historically bad ones – that’s about the range for how much defensive support can help/hurt – D can make Jim Bunning look like Jim Palmer … or Rick Reuschel.

    • 32
      bstar says:

      You’re right about Palmer and Reuschel being the two extreme points for good/bad defense behind them. I’ve been looking at all pitchers with greater than 50 rWAR and their respective RA9defense mark. The biggest number I’ve encountered outside the deadball era is Palmer at +0.33 RA9def, while Reuschel is tied with Phil Niekro for the worst at -0.18.

      The closest positive numbers to Palmer I can find are Whitey Ford at +0.24 RA9def, Carl Hubbell at +0.23, Billy Pierce at +0.19, and Dave Stieb at +0.17.

      • 36

        The worst defenses…

        player_ID xRA_def_pitcher
        Bobby Mathews -126.3
        Phil Neikro -109.3
        Jersey Bakley -96.8
        John Coleman -81.5
        Win Mercer -78.7
        Tom Candiotti -77.5
        Larry Dierker -77.0
        Bill Stearns -71.8
        Ned Garver -70.4
        Wilbur Wood -69.6
        Rick Reuschel -69.5
        Turk Farrell -67.8
        Pedro Ramos -66.2
        Kenny Rogers -61.9
        Kevin Gross -60.4
        Bobo Newsom -59.9
        Al Orth -58.7
        Sid Hudson -56.6
        Casey Patten -56.2
        Orel Hershiser -55.9

        The best defenses…

        player_ID xRA_def_pitcher
        Charles Radbourn 146.4
        Tim Keefe 144.4
        Jim Palmer 143.1
        Kid Nichols 134.2
        Al Spalding 129.0
        Dave McNally 128.1
        Tony Mullane 118.8
        Dick McBride 108.1
        Larry Corcoran 100.6
        Catfish Hunter 96.7
        John Montgomery Ward 96.0
        Mickey Welch 94.6
        John Clarkson 94.0
        George Bradley 90.5
        Carl Hubbell 90.0
        Carl Mays 87.9
        Cy Young 85.0
        Whitey Ford 84.5
        Bob Caruthers 84.0
        The Worst The Best
        Player Rfield Player Rfield
        Rick Monday -77 Barry Bonds 32
        Jerry Morales -52 Tony Pena 20
        Jose Cardenal -43 Sid Bream 17
        Bill Madlock -34 Mike LaValliere 15
        Dave Rosello -34 Matt Williams 13
        Jerry Martin -30 Robby Thompson 13
        Bobby Murcer -29 Jose Lind 12
        Billy Williams -25 Ernie Riles 10
        Vic Harris -18 Sam Khalifa 10
        Don Kessinger -17 3 tied with 9
        • 37

          Drat, accidentally pasted in the Total Zone table again. Sorry about that!

        • 38
          bstar says:

          Cool, Adam, may I ask where you got that table? The wording of the tables suggests the B-Ref WAR database.

          I personally filtered out all the deadball era guys because there were soooo many with crazy good defensive numbers.

          What’s weird is that among all pitchers with over 50 WAR, almost all of the deadball guys on this list had very good defenses behind them, but hardly any had poor ones. Here’s a partial list of the good defenses:

          Al Simmons +0.40 RA9def
          Old Hoss Radbourn +0.29
          Tim Keefe +0.26
          Kid Nichols +0.24
          Tony Mullane +0.24
          Ed Walsh +0.21
          John Clarkson +0.19
          Mordecai Brown +0.19
          Mickey Welch +0.18

          But where are the deadball guys who pitched behind awful defenses? The only pitcher I can find who places in the top 50 for rWAR playing behind a really crappy D in the deadball era is Bobby Matthews at -0.24 RA9def. Why just one guy?

          What conclusion can be reached from this? I guess it’s that back in the day pitching and defense were more intertwined and it was really difficult to put up good pitching numbers without a good defense behind you.

          Knowing this, I’m forced to look at deadball (or especially 19th century) pitchers with even more skepticism because it’s more difficult to tell if it was pitching or defense driving their numbers.

          • 39
            bstar says:

            Sorry, not top 50 for rWAR but pitchers with over 50 rWAR.

          • 40

            Yes, from the B-R WAR CSVs.

            Many of the top pitchers of the 19th century came from the top teams. The top teams were the top teams because they had great defenses. I think the pitchers that pitched well and played for these teams happened to stick around a lot more.

            Lousy pitchers who played for lousy teams did not have long careers, which meant they couldn’t compile the “bad” defensive numbers on quite the same level.

            There are 19th century guys on the “bad list”:

            Jersey Bakley – 3rd on the bad list – pitched just 1782 innings
            John Coleman – 4th – just 843 innings
            Win Mercer – 5th – over 2500 IP
            Bill Stearns – 8th – just 800 IP

            Stearns pitched only in the NA from 1871 to 1875. He was 13-64 with an ERA+ of 75. That’s misleading because he only allowed 333 earned runs. He allowed 1001 total runs! His defense was costing him a run more than average PER GAME.

          • 41
            bstar says:

            Good point about lousy pitchers playing behind bad defenses not lasting as long.

            But I don’t think that answers the question entirely.

            Of the names you listed, only Win Mercer had much value as a pitcher, with 20+ WAR to his credit. Do we really know if Win Mercer was a good pitcher or not? Since he played for such bad defensive teams (and bad in the standings), as you say this may have shortened his career. I’m certain it hurt his RA9. And since the line between earned runs and unearned ones was so blurred back then, isn’t it possible that Win Mercer was a really skilled pitcher who had the misfortune of being picked up by a bad team? If that is so, there’s likely more guys out there like that.

          • 42
            John Autin says:

            bstar, I endorse this view:

            “I’m forced to look at deadball (or especially 19th century) pitchers with even more skepticism because it’s more difficult to tell if it was pitching or defense driving their numbers.”

            Take the Cubs of Tinker-Evers-Chance. From 1903 through 1912, 15 pitchers logged 200+ total IP for the Cubs, and all but one had an ERA+ of at least 108.

            Plenty of them were provably good pitchers, but some were just guys who came along and looked great for a while with that defensive machine behind them.

            Buttons Briggs; King Cole; Bob Wicker; Jake Weimer; even Jack Pfiester — all had a few big years for the Cubs, but did little otherwise, and only Weimer lasted much beyond 1,000 IP.

        • 43
          Voomo Zanzibar says:

          Neikro, Candiotti, Wood.
          Is a knuckleball-hit-ball harder to catch?

          • 57
            mosc says:

            no, it’s like being hit off a tee since there’s no spin on the ball when it contacts the bat. How much are wild pitches and passed balls getting into this calculation? Bad catching (or wild pitching) can have a much larger effect than strong or weak fielders.

        • 52
          Doug says:

          That list of worst fielders all-time is incredible.

          Incredible because 5 of the 10 all played 100+ games for the 1974 Cubs. And, it wasn’t just that one season. 4 of those 10 played on the ’72, ’73 and ’75 Cubs, and 3 played on the ’76 Cubs.

          That’s got to be worth a post – the Cubs as MLBs Bad News Bears.

          • 53
            Ed says:

            Doug – That’s not a list of the worst fielders of all time. It took me a while to figure out what it was. It’s the list of the worst (and best) fielders for Rick Reuschel. And only counting the years they were teammates with Reuschel.

          • 54
            Mike L says:

            I would still like to see negative Rfield per 100 games. Might be fun. Was Frank Thomas worse than Dick Stuart?

          • 62
            Doug says:

            Thanks, Ed. That makes more sense.

            Those 1974 Cubs were indeed the worst defensively of those Cubs teams, posting -139 TZ fielding runs as a team. Only 3 players (none a regular) were above zero, at 2, 1 and 1. They committed 199 errors and allowed 129 unearned runs.

    • 35

      Thanks, Joe. I should have mentioned he was in the Hall of Merit. Good work pushing for him.

  18. 33
    John Autin says:

    Just noticed this about Reuschel: In 1987, he placed 3rd in an incredibly close vote for the NL Cy Young Award. Reuschel got 8 first-place votes and 54 points, while Bedrosian got 9 firsts and 57 points. Sutcliffe squeezed in between with 4 firsts and 55 points.

    Reuschel went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA and got traded in August. He was 4th in ERA, 3rd (tie) in ERA+, miles away from the SO leaders. He did lead the league with 12 CG and 4 shutouts, but he was only 8th in IP and 8th in WAR/pitch.

    The Giants did surge to the division title, going 26-13 after trading for Reuschel. But Rick went 5-3, 4.02 after the trade.

    Where did those CYA votes come from? I’m not saying he didn’t deserve them, and we know ’87 was a very odd year for NL starters — Ryan with the ERA and SO crowns but an 8-16 record, Hershiser 2nd in WAR and 3rd in ERA but a 16-16 record, nobody winning more than 18, etc.

    Even with all that, to see a 13-win pitcher (in a full season) come within whiskers of winning a CYA 25 years ago is pretty shocking.

  19. 45
    Jason Z says:

    Your assessment that 1987 was an “odd” year for the NL CY Young is spot on John.

    Thinking back to that season, my guess is emotion played a large part.

    As mentioned, the lack of a clear frontrunner, led to Bedrosian winning
    a close race.

    Bedrosian was a beneficiary of the times. Mike Marshall broke through
    as the first relief pitcher to win the CY Young in 1974. And then…

    1977 Sparky Lyle
    1979 Bruce Sutter
    1981 Rollie Fingers
    1984 Willie Hernandez
    1987 Steve Bedrosian
    1989 Mark Davis
    1992 Dennis Eckersley
    2003 Eric Gagne

    None since. In 1987 40 saves was a huge number of saves. The voters
    in the midst of this run, probably figured, why not. They probably
    wished there was a starter who was clear cut.

    Interesting that two pitchers who never won it, Nolan Ryan and Reuschel
    probably had their best opportunity in the same season.

    I think the voters and fans loved Reuschel’s comeback to form. It was
    a popular story. I am sure that helped garner him support in an odd year.
    It is reasonable to describe him as a sentimental favorite.

    • 46
      Ed says:

      Looking some more at 1987…all the top candidates (except for Bob Welch and Ryan) pitched poorly down the stretch.

      Orel Hershiser had an ERA of 2.42 on July 10th and was still at 2.72 on Sept. 18th. But he pitched poorly in 2 of his last 3 starts to end at 3.06.

      Rick Sutcliffe was 15-4 with a 3.26 ERA on August 2nd. He ended at 18-10 with a 3.68 ERA.

      Dwight Gooden had an ERA of 2.41 on July 16th and was 13-4 with a 2.87 ERA on Sept. 2nd. He finished 15-7 with a 3.21 ERA.

      Mike Scott at one point was 9-3 with a 2.10 ERA. As late as August 2nd he was 12-7 with a 2.67 ERA. He finished 16-13 with a 3.23 ERA.

      Rick Reuschel had a 2.19 ERA on July 22nd and was 13-7 with a 2.64 ERA through Sept. 17th. He pitched poorly in his last three starts to finish with a 3.09 ERA.

      Anyone of those 5 could have “grabbed the bull by the horns” and pulled away from the pack but they all faded. Welch meanwhile won his last 4 starts lowering his ERA by .24 in the process. But the Dodgers were out of the race so likely no one noticed or cared. And Ryan went from 4-13 with a 3.14 ERA to 8-16 with a 2.76 ERA. But even today, pitchers who go 8-16 have little chance in the Cy Young race; in 1987 it was an impossibility.

      Another oddity about 1987…4 NL teams won 90+ games (Cardinals, Mets, Expos, and Giants). Between them only one pitcher (Gooden) won more than 13 games. The Cardinals won 95 games with no pitcher winning more than 11. The Mets were led by Gooden’s 15 wins (and Gooden only made 25 starts that year). The Expos were led by Neal Heaton’s 13 wins and the Giants by Mike LaCoss’ 13.

      Meanwhile….how the hell did Bedrosian win the Cy Young that year? I realize there were no traditional starter candidates but what about Todd Worrell? His numbers are similar to Bedrosian’s but Worrell did it for the team with the best record in the NL. Yet somehow Worrell got 0 votes for the Cy Young (Worrell was also skunked in the MVP vote whereas Bedrosian finished 16th). Or what about Tim Burke who went 7-0 with 18 saves and a 1.19 ERA for the 90+ win Expos?

      • 47
        John Autin says:

        Good finds, Ed. As to Bedrosian, here’s my take:

        1987 was the first full NL season without a 19-game winner. Voters may have assumed the apocalypse was nigh. And when all around you is crumbling, you naturally seek Bedrock.

      • 48
        Artie Z. says:

        Bedrosian set at record in 1987 – he had 13 straight appearances in which he recorded a save, from 5/25 to 6/30. While it was in the middle of the season, it likely drew attention to Bedrosian. This was apparently a big enough event that Score made a Bedrosian highlight card, and Topps included mention of Bedrosian’s record on his box bottom card.

        Plus, as Jason states, 40 saves was huge. Only Sutter, Reardon, Quisenberry, and Righetti had ever hit that mark (at least according to the aforementioned Score card). This probably added extra attention to Bedrosian.

        • 51
          John Autin says:

          I’ll quibble a bit about the eyeball impact of Bedrosian’s 40 saves in 1987.

          Yes, he led the majors, and no one else had more than 36 that year. But someone else had recorded *more than 40* saves in each of the past 4 years.

          In 1983, Quisenberry set a record with 45 saves, 7 more than the old mark. Sutter tied that the very next year (setting an NL mark), while Quis himself had 44. Reardon got 41 in ’85. And in ’86 Righetti nudged the record up to 46.

          With all that going on so recently, I don’t think the number 40 made a big impression by itself. I think he became the default option just because he was the Saves leader, and the recent Saves records had focused attention on Saves as the main measure of a relief ace.

          Just my opinion.

          BTW, only 4 guys have won a CYA outright with less than a 50% share:
          — Bob Turley, 1958 (one award for MLB, and Spahn & Burdette split the NL support).
          — Jim Perry, 1970 (odd voting; Cuellar had the same 24 wins and the same 6 first-place votes as Perry, but finished 4th).
          — Sparky Lyle, 1977
          — Bedrosian, 1987.

          It hasn’t happened since Bedrock.

    • 50
      bstar says:

      Here’s the WAR totals for those reliever Cy Young years, the actual WAR pitching leader that year, with the WAR leader’s finish in the voting in parentheses:

      1974 Mike Marshall 2.9 WAR / Jon Matlack 8.8 WAR (zero Cy votes)

      1977 Sparky Lyle 3.5 / Frank Tanana 8.0 (9th)

      1979 Bruce Sutter 4.9 / Phil Niekro 7.0 (6th)

      1981 Rollie Fingers** 4.1 / Bert Blyleven 5.5 (zero Cy votes)

      1984 Willie Hernandez** 4.6 / Dave Stieb 7.6 (7th)

      1987 Steve Bedrosian 2.2 / Bob Welch 6.8 (8th)

      1989 Mark Davis 4.4 / Orel Hershiser 6.8 (4th)

      1992 Dennis Eckersley** 2.8 / Roger Clemens 8.4 (3rd)

      2003 Eric Gagne 3.6 / Mark Prior 7.2 (3rd)

      **won MVP that year also

      Only Rollie Fingers, Mark Davis, Sutter, and maybe Willie Hernandez seem like somewhat reasonable choices to me. Thank goodness the writers are over the save as a very worthwhile statistic.

      Otherwise, we may have seen Craig Kimbrel and Fernando Rodney take down the Cy Youngs last year.

      • 55
        Jason Z says:

        Bstar:

        I agree with what you say about the “save”. Clearly in 1987 the writers were still enamored with saves.

        Thankfully, in the last 25 years we have come to a better understanding. As the closer has now morphed into being a
        one inning pitcher, I find it possible that we will never see
        another closer win.

        If so, it would have to be perfect storm, similar to 1987, where
        no starter stands out. Unlikely.

        I would take issue with only one point you made.

        I think Mike Marshall was phenomenal in 1974. So much so that the writers actually got it right IMO.

        He richly deserved being the first relief pitcher to win the award. Notice I did not say closer.

        Allow me to explain…

        He appeared in 106 games and finished 83. Used in a way that we cannot even fathom today.

        In fact, just like the four man rotation, this usage is something we will never see again.

        208.1 innings in relief is ridiculous. I am sure this must be
        the record, and probably by a lot.

        Obviously, a case can be made for Phil Neikro, Andy Messersmith and even one of my favorite names, Buzz Capra.

        Most starters don’t even throw that many innings any more.

        Plus, a reliever who pitches four or five times a week for multiple innings, also warms up alot more. Trust me when I say
        those throws count too. Every pitcher has a finite amount of
        throws in his arm. Mike Marshall in 1974 defied reality. And
        that is the main reason I believe he was a superb choice in 74.

        I feel safe in saying that bullpen and mound combined, Mike Marshall probably threw more pitches in that one season than
        just about anyone.

        Last season Craig Kimbrel pitched in 63 games. He totaled 62.3 innings.

  20. 58

    My homie/colleague James Gentile expanded on this over at Beyond the Box Score. You should read it: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/2/11/3973066/adding-defensive-adjustments-to-era-plus

    After adjusting for defense, James writes:

    This would give Reuschel a career xRA9+ of 120, significantly higher than his ERA+ of 114. Enough to change your opinion on his Hall of Fame worthiness? Perhaps not, but it is important enough to when conducting serious inquires into the merit of Reuschel’s career.

    That’s actually a pretty big deal.

    I added:

    How big a deal is a 120 ERA+?
    The list of eligible pitchers with a 120 ERA+ and 3500 IP (since 1900) who are not in the Hall of Fame:

    1. Roger Clemens

    That’s it.

    Drop it to 3000 innings and it’s Clemens, Schilling, and Brown. Cicotte also qualifies, but he’s ineligible. Defense cost Rick Reuschel the Hall of Fame.

    I’ve never been more convinced that Reuschel should be a Hall of Famer.

    • 59
      Ed says:

      Adam – A question. Not sure if you know the answer but it’s worth asking. Does the defensive adjustment for pitchers take into account the number of balls in play? Obviously a strikeout pitcher is going to be less effected by a poor defense than a non-strikeout pitcher. But I’m not sure that’s factored in. Reuschel wasn’t a big time strikeout pitcher but he was definitely above average so perhaps he was hurt less by his defense than we’re assuming.

      • 60

        Yessiree:

        xRA_def, Adjusting for Team Defense

        A great deal of work has recently gone into the study of Defense-Independent Pitching Stats (DIPS). We agree with the validity and importance of most all of this work, and some would argue that you shouldn’t charge the pitcher for runs allowed in the way we do since it is often not the pitcher’s fault, but the defense’s. Our view is that while the pitcher may have been unlucky or lucky in certain ways, we are trying to measure the value of the recorded performance–not its repeatability–and that we can account for defense in different ways.

        To account for defense, we find the overall team defensive runs saved, which uses Baseball Info Solutions’ Runs Saved from 2003 on and Total Zone before 2003. We then compute the number of balls in play allowed by the team and the number of balls in play allowed by the pitcher and assign the negative of the proportional team defensive runs to the xRA_ppf values.

        xRA_def = (BIP_pitcher)/(BIP_team)*TeamDefensiveRunsSaved

        from http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/war_explained_pitch.shtml

        • 61
          Ed says:

          Thanks Adam! Seems like the one thing that “might” be missing is an adjustment based on the groundball/flyball tendencies of the pitcher relative to the defense. For example, if you had a groundball pitcher who was backed by an above average infield but a below average outfield, that pitcher’s defense would (I think) be rated average when in fact for that particular pitcher it would be an above average defense. I don’t know if it’s true but I think that’s how the defensive adjustments for WAR work.

          (this is a general comment by the way, not related to Reuschel)

          • 65
            bstar says:

            But it does relate to Reuschel quite well, Ed.

            One thing I’ve heard recently about Reuschel is that he gets a ton of credit for pitching all those years in Wrigley Field where the park factor is so high for pitchers, but since he was such an extreme ground ball pitcher, he wasn’t as affected by the short fences in Wrigley.

            I’m a huge Reuschel fan, so I’m not into this argument much. But it is out there.

          • 66
            Ed says:

            Okay thanks for that info Bstar. Personally I think WAR is great but I do think it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. There are so many things that haven’t been factored in yet. I assume/hope that some of them are being worked on. But even if they are, we’ll probably lack the data to go back in time and apply them to players in the past.

  21. 67
    Tim Pea says:

    Hey Adam, how about Reuschel vs. Orel Hershiser? Similar win totals with Orel having far fewer loses. Orel pitched a lot for Tommy LaSorda who liked to give away a little on defense for a good bat (see Steve Sax and Pedro Guerrero). Also check out the similar batting stats.

    • 68

      Hershiser seems to be a bit of a Reuschel-lite. His defense was bad, but not quite as bad. He had a few hundred fewer innings. He also threw in a pitcher’s park rather than a hitter’s park. I like Hershiser a lot, though. His postseason record does help his case.

      A late start and overwork probably severely hurt Hershiser’s case.

  22. 71

    […] his mammoth Hall Rating, I wasn’t sold on Reuschel until Adam Darowski convinced me about his incredible results in front of horrible defenses. Tiant had two sub-2 ERA seasons and was […]

  23. 72

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  25. 74

    […] Rick Reuschel- Reuschel played on bad teams, filled with poor defenders, and he was out of shape. He was constantly overlooked because of those […]

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