COG 1938 Results: Voters Get Their Phil

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

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.


–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.


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.

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


COG 1938 Results: Voters Get Their Phil — 6 Comments

  1. “the bubble Pops.”

    Oh birtelcom. Your puns are AMAZING! 15 holdovers… it’s getting just like the real-life BBWAA ballot! Thanks for all the recap info. Now, off to examine the new ballot, and vote!

  2. You know what would really make this a circle? After we reach the end we have a recall ballot removing somebody from the COG then run another round with them against the remaining holdovers. Process repeats until the guy you kick out is the guy who gets voted back in.

    That would make it more a complete list though, more like voting with zero regard for birth year X number of times to get the total amount. Kind of directly against the spirit of skewing this thing younger. So Congrats Walker, Bagwell, etc. You get in where some older player does not because you had less competition.

    • I did try to start with a year that included a lot of talent so it would be hard to sneak in undeserved. Bagwell beat Frank Thomas head-to-head, who in turn beat Mussina, who beat Schilling, who beat Gwynn and Raines. Unless you believe all these guys are undeserving, the process has I think created a certain legitimacy. You may disagree with what the voters decided in a few cases, but I’m not sure that reflects a system flaw. If the voters viewed Bagwell as weaker than all these inductees, he’d presumably still have been on the ballot (or banished to redemption-land) after all these guys were in.

      All that being said, it might be interesting at the end to do, as you suggest, a “buyer’s remorse” vote of some kind to see whether in retrospect the voters prefer someone still stuck as a holdover when the music stops to a past inductee.

      • Yeah, I’m not sure if it would destroy what you’re trying to achieve or not. Without the year biasing, we might as well just be voting for Ruth, Young, and Cobb on our first ballot and then keep going till we get the right number. Still, might be a fun remembrance of the process once it’s all over to see who the worst guy was and which holdover was closest but didn’t quite make it.

        I wasn’t involved in the voting the first few rounds but I just don’t think they had the rigor we have going now. I get that there was enough talent early on that things didn’t dip too much but the ordering itself and the depth of the ballot really helps get the best candidate out. At least those are my thoughts.

        I guess my current reject ballot would be:

        though Mussina seems tempting to me too. I’m not sure if it’s co-incidence that those guys got in so early but maybe it is. I doubt my 3 would change by the time we finish this whole thing.

        • I’m just curious what it is about Jeff Bagwell that bothers you? I like Frank Thomas a lot, but if I had to pick between Thomas and Bagwell, I’d pick Bagwell.

          Thomas was a better hitter, but Bagwell was also a fantastic hitter (149 OPS+ for his career). Bagwell was better at everything else (baserunning, fielding, actually playing a defensive position), and usually better by a really large margin.

          When I look at the holdovers I would say Perry and Santo are the only two who really jump out at me as “missing” from the COG, and that includes McCovey (I’ve thought about this more than I should have – I’d take the consistency of Murray over McCovey’s peak – now if McCovey could magically be healthy his entire career, I’d take him over Murray) and, assuming Griffey is elected, Rivera (who I think is benefiting a bit from his career just wrapping up – I think if this vote was next year people might be more reflective upon his career – if I was starting a team and you said I could have Rivera or McCovey for their careers I would take McCovey, assuming I didn’t already have Gehrig or Foxx or someone else like that).

          I think what we’re going to see at the end is that we’re going to have someone like Alomar (or a few of those second basemen) or Lofton be the marginal candidate, and it’s going to be difficult to say “Wow, we REALLY missed on that guy”. The 1930s birth years will be messy, but (1) the multiple elections every few years helps alleviate that strain and (2) the 1920s are not overly strong.

        • “…but I just don’t think they had the rigor we have going now.”

          Based on what reasoning? The 2nd through 13th rounds featured higher vote totals than any of the subsequent 22 rounds. The comments section featured the same level of discourse we see now. There were still some wrinkles in the process that needed to be ironed out, but we’re still doing that now, regarding the rules on ties and run-offs for example.

          As for players sneaking in against weak competition, Walker got in on his 11th time on the ballot, Raines on his 13th. That’s plenty enough competition, no?

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