Two of the longest-enduring star pitchers of modern times led the voting this round, with Phil Niekro winning out over Gaylord Perry to become the 38th inductee into the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats.  More on Niekro and the voting after the jump.

Most Pitching WAR After Age 27 Season, NL History:
1. Phil Niekro 90.3 WAR (baseball-reference version)
2. Pete Alexander 86.9
3. Warren Spahn 78.1
4. Greg Maddux 72.5
5. Bob Gibson 68.5

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Most Pitching WAR in MLB, Over The Following 15-Year Increments:
1895-1909 Cy Young
1910-1924 Walter Johnson
1925-1939 Lefty Grove
1940-1954 Hal Newhouser
1955-1969 Don Drysdale
1970-1984 Phil Niekro
1985-1999 Roger Clemens
2000-2014 Roy Halladay

Even with Halladay announcing his retirement yesterday (a sad moment indeed for baseball fans), it remains virtually certain that Doc will remain the WAR leader for the 2000s through 2014.  He has a more than 8 WAR lead over Sabathia and Buehrle (I’ll eat my jump drive if either of those guys tops 8 WAR next season) and a more than 10 WAR lead over everyone else.

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–The voting in this COG  round was very close between Niekro and Perry well into  balloting, but Phil eventually opened a solid lead that wasn’t really in doubt the last few days.  Knucksie’s support actually declined a little from the previous round (39 votes last time, 36 this time), but with no rival as popular as Carl Yastrzemski this go-around,  a small drop was still plenty good enough.

–With 69 total ballots cast this round, one more than the previous round, we again reached a highest overall vote total since March.

–Willie Stargell initially survived his 1940 birth-year round, appearing on about 19% of the ballots.  He  then dropped in the 1939 round to about 12% and this round suffered another comparable drop, falling off the ballot.  The bubble Pops.

–Three other bubble guys barely survived. Our two recent redemption round beneficiaries, Dave Winfield and Rick Reuschel, each appeared on just 10.14% of the ballots, as did COG fixture, but bubble-vulnerable, Roberto Alomar.

–For the second round in a row, Bobby Grich and John Smoltz each fell below the 10% vote threshold, but each continues to hold a healthy cache of guaranteed eligibility rounds.

–Ballot newcomers Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry each received significant support this round, not only surviving but topping the 25% vote level and thus avoiding bubble status next round.  McCovey and Perry replace the inducted Niekro and the dropped Stargell to maintain the number of holdovers for next round at 15.

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The full spreadsheet showing this round’s vote tally is here: COG 1938 Vote Tally.

The newest vote summary for Circle of Greats voting rounds is here: COG Vote Summary 2 .  An archive with fuller details of the 1968 through 1939 rounds is here: COG 1968-1939 Vote Summary .  In both cases, raw vote totals for each past round appears on Sheet 1 and the percentage totals for each past round on Sheet 2.

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Here’s the Circle of Greats membership thus far, currently in order of date of birth, from earlier to later:
Phil Niekro
Carl Yastrzemski
Pete Rose
Ferguson Jenkins
Joe Morgan
Tom Seaver
Steve Carlton
Rod Carew
Jim Palmer
Reggie Jackson
Nolan Ryan
Johnny Bench
Carlton Fisk
Mike Schmidt
Bert Blyleven
George Brett
Gary Carter
Ozzie Smith
Robin Yount
Paul Molitor
Alan Trammell
Wade Boggs
Rickey Henderson
Tim Raines
Tony Gwynn
Cal Ripken
Roger Clemens
Randy Johnson
Barry Larkin
Barry Bonds
Tom Glavine
Greg Maddux
Curt Schilling
Larry Walker
Jeff Bagwell and Frank Thomas
Mike Piazza
Mike Mussina

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