The usually hopeful time between Super Bowl and “pitchers & catchers” brought a double dose of sad news from NL Cy Young Award winners.

Brandon Webb is retiring, nearly four years since he last pitched in the majors. Webb becomes the 27th modern pitcher to retire with 80+ wins before age 30, but none thereafter — and arguably the best of that bunch, based on WAR per 250 innings:

 

80+ wins before age 30 / No wins in rest of career

Pitcher WAR/
250 IP
WAR IP ERA+ W-L G GS CG Years
1) Brandon Webb 6.0 31.7 1315.2 143 87-62 198 197 15 2003-2008
2) Noodles Hahn 5.3 29.9 1409.0 135 91-66 166 160 151 1901-1906
3) Smoky Joe Wood 4.9 28.3 1432.1 149 117-57 224 158 121 1908-1919
4) Jim Maloney 4.6 33.5 1802.0 119 134-80 282 255 74 1960-1969
5) Ray Collins 4.1 21.7 1336.0 116 84-62 199 151 90 1909-1915
6) Reb Russell 3.9 19.9 1291.2 121 80-59 241 148 81 1913-1918
7) Don Wilson 3.7 25.8 1748.1 109 104-92 266 245 78 1966-1974
8) Gary Nolan 3.6 23.9 1674.2 117 110-70 250 247 45 1967-1977
9) Mark Mulder 3.5 18.2 1312.1 106 103-60 202 202 25 2000-2007
10) Jim Scott 3.4 26.1 1892.0 121 107-114 317 226 123 1909-1917
11) Jim Shaw 2.7 17.5 1600.1 99 84-98 287 194 96 1913-1921
12) Don Gullett 2.7 15.0 1390.0 113 109-50 266 186 44 1970-1978
13) Jim Merritt 2.5 14.2 1446.2 99 81-86 266 191 56 1965-1973
14) Lefty Williams 2.4 11.6 1186.0 99 82-48 189 152 80 1913-1920
15) Ralph Branca 2.4 14.3 1482.0 104 88-68 321 188 71 1944-1954
16) Willie Mitchell 2.4 15.7 1632.0 104 83-92 276 190 93 1909-1919
17) Denny McLain 2.4 18.0 1886.0 101 131-91 280 264 105 1963-1972
18) Carl Lundgren 2.4 12.5 1322.0 112 91-55 179 149 125 1902-1909
19) Erskine Mayer 2.1 12.1 1427.0 99 91-70 245 164 93 1912-1919
20) Tom Seaton 1.9 10.2 1340.0 103 92-65 231 155 90 1912-1917
21) Pete Donohue 1.8 15.3 2083.0 104 134-116 334 264 137 1921-1930
22) Tom Brewer 1.8 11.0 1509.1 104 91-82 241 217 75 1954-1961
23) Art Houtteman 1.6 9.7 1555.0 99 87-91 325 181 78 1945-1957
24) Bob Rhoads 1.4 9.6 1691.2 100 97-82 218 185 154 1902-1909
25) Larry Christenson 1.4 7.6 1402.2 99 83-71 243 220 27 1973-1983
26) Pol Perritt 1.1 6.7 1469.2 95 92-78 256 177 93 1912-1921
27) Frank Owen 0.9 5.0 1368.1 100 82-67 194 155 119 1901-1909

(Stats are since 1901 and through age 29.)

Webb and McLain are the only Cy Young Award or MVP winners on this list. (Smoky Joe Wood might have won such an award in 1912, had one existed.) Webb won the Cy Young in 2006, then finished 2nd in 2007 (when he tossed 42 straight scoreless innings) and again in 2008. I believe that Webb, Fergie Jenkins and Warren Spahn are the only one-time CYA winners who also finished 2nd twice (thrice for Spahnie).

Webb’s 31.7 WAR in his first 6 years ranks 16th in modern history. And only Webb, Hideo NomoTom Seaver and Don Sutton began their careers with 6 years of at least 160 strikeoutsTim Lincecum can join that club this year.

Here’s another list: Pitchers with 20+ WAR through age 29 and less than 1 WAR thereafter. Once again, stats are since 1901 and through age 29 again, this time sorted by WAR:

20+ WAR before age 30 / Less than 1 WAR in rest of career

Pitcher WAR/
250 IP
WAR IP ERA+ W-L G GS CG Years
1) Wes Ferrell 4.9 47.2 2406.2 123 175-115 338 291 215 1927-1937
2) Dizzy Dean 5.5 41.6 1908.1 133 147-80 305 219 151 1930-1939
3) Sam McDowell 4.3 39.1 2274.0 115 132-117 364 320 101 1961-1972
4) Jim Maloney 4.6 33.5 1802.0 119 134-80 282 255 74 1960-1969
5) Dutch Leonard 4.1 33.1 2015.0 118 125-107 304 248 140 1913-1921
6) Jose Rijo 4.7 32.4 1717.0 124 106-83 318 246 22 1984-1994
7) Larry Dierker 3.5 31.9 2294.1 104 137-117 345 320 106 1964-1976
8) Brandon Webb 6.0 31.7 1315.2 143 87-62 198 197 15 2003-2008
9) Dean Chance 3.9 31.7 2057.2 120 124-109 375 280 83 1961-1970
10) Noodles Hahn 5.3 29.9 1409.0 135 91-66 166 160 151 1901-1906
11) Johnny Antonelli 4.1 29.6 1821.1 122 119-99 316 251 101 1948-1959
12) Willis Hudlin 3.5 28.4 2024.1 108 125-116 353 251 126 1926-1935
13) Smoky Joe Wood 4.9 28.3 1432.1 149 117-57 224 158 121 1908-1919
14) Jim Scott 3.4 26.1 1892.0 121 107-114 317 226 123 1909-1917
15) Don Wilson 3.7 25.8 1748.1 109 104-92 266 245 78 1966-1974
16) Ken Holtzman 2.7 25.3 2360.2 111 151-124 348 336 108 1965-1975
17) Ewell Blackwell 4.9 25.2 1297.1 121 80-77 226 165 69 1942-1952
18) Mario Soto 3.9 25.2 1611.2 111 94-83 277 204 69 1977-1986
19) Alex Fernandez 3.7 25.1 1708.0 115 103-83 255 253 33 1990-1999
20) Johnny Podres 3.6 24.7 1692.2 111 115-84 299 252 62 1953-1962
21) Ben Sheets 4.2 24.1 1428.0 115 86-83 221 221 18 2001-2008
22) Gary Nolan 3.6 23.9 1674.2 117 110-70 250 247 45 1967-1977
23) Ismael Valdez 3.7 23.8 1606.2 107 88-94 277 250 12 1994-2003
24) Ray Collins 4.1 21.7 1336.0 116 84-62 199 151 90 1909-1915
25) Dave Righetti 5.3 21.5 1014.2 128 71-54 414 76 13 1979-1988
26) Frank Sullivan 4.0 21.5 1351.2 128 84-64 212 179 68 1953-1959
27) Carl Weilman 4.0 21.4 1337.2 119 75-80 209 155 92 1912-1919
28) Orval Overall 3.6 21.0 1467.1 125 104-66 207 173 127 1905-1910
29) Pedro Ramos 2.4 20.4 2085.0 96 105-142 412 267 73 1955-1964
30) George McQuillan 4.0 20.2 1278.2 116 72-68 208 141 90 1907-1914
31) Dick Ellsworth 2.4 20.0 2081.2 100 112-133 353 309 87 1958-1969

____________________

Another Cy of Disappointment

The other cleat was dropped by Chris Carpenter. The 2005 CYA winner is likely out for the coming season — and maybe done for good — with a recurrence of the nerve problem that limited him to six games last year. (Three of those starts came in the postseason; is there another pitcher with 3+ postseason starts and no more than that in the regular year? Or no regular-season wins?)

Carpenter is 95-44 with St. Louis, and holds franchise records with a 133 ERA+ (tied with three from the ’40s dynasty), a .683 winning percentage, and 10 postseason wins. He’s the only pitcher since Bob Gibson to notch 20+ WAR as a Cardinal. (Redbirds fans expect to see Adam Wainwright join that club this season.)

In 18 postseason starts, Carpenter is 10-4 with a 3.00 ERA, and his team is 13-5. His best was probably a 3-hit, 1-0 road shutout against his ex-teammate, Roy Halladay, in the 2011 first-round clincher (the game where Ryan Howard blew out his Achilles). In the only Cardinals postseason shutout since 1987, Carpenter walked none and let just 2 runners past 1st base. He followed that up with three strong starts in the World Series, including game 7. He’s the only pitcher since Curt Schilling in 2001 with 3 Quality Starts in a World Series.

It looks grim for Carpenter, but if he does try a comeback, he certainly knows the drill. After missing all of 2003 — his career record was then 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA — Carpenter in the next three years went 51-18 with a 3.10 ERA, winning one CYA and placing 3rd when Webb won; he was 2nd in NL wins and 5th in WAR in that span. Then came a 2007 Opening Day injury (two years before Webb’s similar fate) that cost him almost two full seasons — whereupon he roared back to win the 2009 ERA crown, coming thisclose to another Cy despite missing a month.

P.S. Surprised? Out of 121 modern pitchers who logged 20+ WAR in their 30s, over 40% had (like Carpenter) less than 10 WAR through age 29, including seven who didn’t even pitch in their 20s.

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