Circle of Greats 1928 Part 1 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 52nd round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG).  This round begins to add those players born in 1928.  Rules and lists are after the jump.

Players born in 1928 will be brought on to the COG eligible list over two rounds, split in half based on last names — the top half by alphabetical order this round and the bottom half next round.  This round’s new group joins the holdovers from previous rounds to comprise the full set of players eligible to receive your votes this round.

As usual, the new group of 1928-born players, in order to join the eligible list, must have played at least 10 seasons in the major leagues or generated at least 20 Wins Above Replacement (“WAR”, as calculated by, and for this purpose meaning 20 total WAR for everyday players and 20 pitching WAR for pitchers).

Each submitted ballot, if it is to be counted, must include three and only three eligible players.  The one player who appears on the most ballots cast in the round is inducted into the Circle of Greats.  Players who fail to win induction but appear on half or more of the ballots that are cast win four added future rounds of ballot eligibility.  Players who appear on 25% or more of the ballots cast, but less than 50%, earn two added future rounds of ballot eligibility.  Any other player in the top 9 (including ties) in ballot appearances, or who appears on at least 10% of the ballots, wins one additional round of ballot eligibility.

All voting for this round closes at 11:00 PM EDT Sunday, March 30, while changes to previously cast ballots are allowed until 11:00 PM EDT Friday, March 28.

If you’d like to follow the vote tally, and/or check to make sure I’ve recorded your vote correctly, you can see my ballot-counting spreadsheet for this round here: COG 1928 Round 1 Vote Tally.  I’ll be updating the spreadsheet periodically with the latest votes.  Initially, there is a row in the spreadsheet for every voter who has cast a ballot in any of the past rounds, but new voters are entirely welcome — new voters will be added to the spreadsheet as their ballots are submitted.  Also initially, there is a column for each of the holdover candidates; additional player columns from the new born-in-1928 group will be added to the spreadsheet as votes are cast for them.

Choose your three players from the lists below of eligible players.  The 13 current holdovers are listed in order of the number of future rounds (including this one) through which they are assured eligibility, and alphabetically when the future eligibility number is the same.  The holdovers list includes the two winners of the just-completed redemption round. The new group of 1928 birth-year guys are listed below in order of the number of seasons each played in the majors, and alphabetically among players with the same number of seasons played.  In total there were 20 players born in 1928 who met the “10 seasons played or 20 WAR” minimum requirement.  Ten of those are being added to the eligible list this round (alphabetically from Gus Bell to Billy Klaus).  The ten players further down in the alphabet will be added next round.

Sandy Koufax (eligibility guaranteed for 7 rounds)
Lou Whitaker (eligibility guaranteed for 7 rounds)
Ernie Banks (eligibility guaranteed for 4 rounds)
Juan Marichal (eligibility guaranteed for 4 rounds)
Bobby Grich (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
Willie McCovey (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
John Smoltz (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
Craig Biggio (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Harmon Killebrew (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Kenny Lofton (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Edgar Martinez (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Eddie Murray (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Ryne Sandberg (eligibility guaranteed for this round  only)

Everyday Players (born in 1928, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Gus Bell
Jim Gilliam
Joe DeMaestri
Dick Gernert
Don Hoak
Billy Klaus
Steve Bilko

Pitchers (born in 1928, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Roy Face
Whitey Ford
Bob Buhl

210 thoughts on “Circle of Greats 1928 Part 1 Balloting

  1. 1
    Hartvig says:

    Junior Gilliam is an old favorite. If I we forming an all-time team with players used as they actually were he would be third in line as my über-utility man behind Gil McDougald and Tony Phillips.

    Sandberg, Grich, Martinez

    • 52
      Lawrence Azrin says:


      Billy Goodman and Cesar Tovar were also very good in that role, though not as good as your three. Maybe Ben Zobrist belongs on this list, too?

      • 56
        Hartvig says:

        I thought about Goodman but forgot about César entirely even though I don’t think I’d put him ahead of any of my 3 either. Zobrist might be a different matter however since defensively he’s better than all but McDougald.

        I aslo thought about Pete Rose and Gary Sheffield but they were never used like that during a single season, plus Sheffield was awful defensively almost everywhere.

      • 60
        Lawrence Azrin says:


        Yeah, Rose played at five positions regularly (over 500 games @1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF), but didn’t move around much in-season.

        Honus Wagner was a true utility guy in his early years of 1897-1902, till he settled down at SS in 1903. Jimmy Foxx was a semi-utility guy his whole career, playing third and even catching years after establishing himself as a superstar – check out 1940.

        Musial, Killebrew, and Biggio are three other HOF-level players to play three different positions regularly for several seasons. I’m sure I’ve missed another couple big names.

        There’s been a few guys recently, like Eric Hinske or Audry Huff, who functioned as a ‘four corners’ utility guy, playing 1B/3B/LF/RF as needed.

  2. 2
    Mike says:


  3. 3
    Nick Pain says:

    Whitaker, Murray, Lofton

  4. 4
    ATarwerdi96 says:

    Ernie Banks, Bobby Grich, Edgar Martinez

  5. 5
    Chris C says:

    Marichal – for the win

  6. 6
    Artie Z. says:

    Leaving Whitey Ford off my ballot feels wrong, but I can’t see what he did as being better than Marichal.

    Marichal, Whitaker, and the return of Steady Eddie.

    • 12
      paget says:

      I don’t care how good the defense behind him was — anyone who has an ERA+ of 133 in more than 3000IP deserves to be in the COG. Reckon that ahead of Ford on the all-time ERA+ list are 10 or so pitchers from the deadball era, five relievers, and a couple of starters whose careers aren’t over yet. So, actually, his career ERA+ is even more impressive than his #26 rank would already indicate.
      Add to that his post-season performance, and I can’t see how he can be excluded. It’s not that I don’t see why Marichal should make it in to the COG (I’ll vote for him eventually), but I’d take the chairman.

      (Also, it may be worth remembering the two years he lost to military service.)

      • 20
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Some Whitey numbers:

        1 stolen base
        11 pickoffs.

        2nd best Winning Percentage in the modern era,
        behind Spud, his predecessor on the pinstriped juggernaut.

        111th in Innings Pitched

        79th in WAR for Pitchers

        29th in Shutouts

        28th in ERA+


        ERA+ for Starters since Ford
        2800+ IP +

        157 Pedro
        143 Clemens
        135 Randy Johnson
        133 WHITEY FORD
        132 Maddux
        131 Hallday

        Pedro is 300 innings short of Whitey

        • 23
          --bill says:

          WAR/250IP, using the list for ERA+ above, and throwing in Drysdale:
          Martinez: 7.60
          Clemens: 7.09
          Johnson: 6.31
          Halladay: 5.97
          Maddux: 5.22
          Drysdale: 4.46
          Ford: 4.25

      • 29
        Richard Chester says:

        Ford holds the searchable record for for the seasonal record with most IP without having a SB against him, 283 IP in 1961. Altogether he had 4 seasons of more than 162 IP and 0 SB against him.

      • 31
        no statistician but says:

        Ford’s career rank among all pitchers eligible:

        Adjusted pitching runs: 22nd
        Adjusted pitching wins: 19th
        Base-out runs saved: 9th
        Win probability added: 13th
        Situational wins saved: 20th
        Base-out wins saved: 8th

        So why is Ford’s WAR, the only standard for Mr. –bill and others, so miserable? One: some pitchers’ skills don’t correspond with what WAR values most. Ford is one of those. And citing WAR criteria to say this isn’t true begs the question entirely. Two: Yes, Ford missed two prime years in the 1950s to the military, but also in most of the others he was underutilized in Stengel’s five and a half man rotations. Example—in 1956 he finished 5th in WAR but was no where near the top ten in IP. Three: WAR rates the defense behind him and the stadium he played in much to his disadvantage.

        So what do you see? A guy who ranks high in almost every important criteria except WAR; who won games at an astonishing level, both those for which he got credit (.690) and those for which he didn’t; who performed far above expectation in the categories listed above, plus ERA, ERA+, and career shutouts; and who was arguably the greatest pitcher ever at picking off base-runners and keeping them from stealing.

        Does he belong in the COG ahead of some of the other candidates here? I don’t know. But dismissing him using WAR as the only criteria is . . . I’ll be polite and call it misguided in the extreme.

        • 32
          no statistician but says:

          That should be “criterion.” Past my bedtime.

        • 44
          Voomo Zanzibar says:

          Regarding Base-out runs saved (RE24)…

          Does Ford’s 9th All-time ranking,

          (virtually tied with Schilling,
          with a similar # of Innings)

          tell us that he was excellent at pitching clean innings,
          or that he was terrific at wiggling out of trouble,
          or some combination of both?

          I feel like I understand the concept behind RE24,
          but not so much how to interpret what it Means for pitchers over the long haul.

          • 49
            mosc says:

            It’s a little like RAA, not really tied to replacement level. Replacement level innings count against you since they’re below average (hence Carlton and Ryan are lower than you might expect). It doesn’t penalize a pitcher though for park factors or defense behind them.

            It’s saying Ford gave up a lot fewer runs than an average pitcher in an average stadium with an average defense would have. When he was on the mound, runs were prevented at historic levels. Who you accredit that to is up to you. I guess RE24 is more a raw data gut check.

        • 72
          Michael Sullivan says:

          I don’t believe any of those stats you list adjust for defense. They give all credit to pitcher or batter. WAR does. That’s why there’s a huge difference. If you think WAR is wrong and these stats are right, it should be because you think that the defensive metrics used to evaluate the yankees playing behind the chairman are off, and that they were in fact, not much better than average overall. Do you think that? I don’t.

      • 35
        David P says:

        There are two basic problems with using ERA+ to assess Whitey Ford. One is that it doesn’t take into account that he had a very good defense behind him for most of his career. The other problem is that it doesn’t adjust for quality of opposition. The Yankees finished first or second in runs scored in almost every year of Ford’s career. And obviously Ford never had to face the Yankees.

        I don’t know what Ford’s ERA+ would be if these two factors were taken into consideration but it would certainly be a lot lower, probably somewhere between 115-125.

        Ford certainly deserves consideration for the COG but I would politely suggest that ERA+ shouldn’t be part of the argument for him.

        • 37
          no statistician but says:

          David P:

          The main component of your reasoning about ERA+, not having to face the bats of one’s own team, is equally true of virtually all the later pitchers with high ERA+. Clemens and Martinez certainly didn’t pitch most of their careers in the second devision.

          The point is that no one else did it for the Yankees but Ford did. Is that because the Yankees were a stupid organization from top to bottom who couldn’t develop or trade for someone better throughout Whitey’s tenure? Dumb luck, that’s how they won fourteen pennants in sixteen years.

          As for performance away from Yankee stadium and against the quality of opposition, if you will look at Ford’s career splits, you will see that he did virtually as well in away games as at home except at Fenway, and beat the 500+ teams at a .606 pace with a 2.83 ERA even though he pitched against them proportionally at a much higher rate than against the losers. 24 of his 45 shutouts came agains winning teams. The White Sox, who were challengers throughout his career, saw him beat then at a .650 pace with an ERA of 2.17. In Comiskey the record was 18-9 and 2.48.

          Lefty Grove might have done it better, true, but he wasn’t available, having retired early.

          • 41
            David P says:

            NSB – As I said, Ford certainly deserves consideration for the COG; I’m just don’t see ERA+ as a useful metric to evaluate him.

            The Yankees finished first or second in runs scored almost every year of his career. I doubt that’s true of Martinez or Clemens or any other pitcher. And I believe these effects tend to get magnified when there are fewer teams in the league. Ford’s contemporaries had to face the Yankees over and over again.

        • 38
          RJ says:

          I plugged Ford’s numbers into a formula for estimating a defense-neutral ERA+ (as prescribed by bstar of these parts) and I came up with a new figure of 124.

          • 47
            mosc says:

            I agree this is the most useful way to look at ERA. It is however clouding the career value indicated. Career value is not just a function of ERA+ * IP.

      • 71
        Michael Sullivan says:

        Ford’s FIP stats are more in line with his WAR numbers, as a great, but not COG level pitcher.

        There is no question he had a great defense behind him. Why shouldn’t that matter? He also played in a pitcher’s park but ERA+ accounts for that.

        IMO, he needs war and postseason credit to get into the hall. It’s not enough for COG. I don’t support Koufax for COG, but I think he’s got a better case than Ford. Similar WAR, but in fewer seasons with a huge peak. Marichal seems clearly better. Smoltz, I’m not sure belongs, but I’ll also take him over Whitey.

        • 101
          mosc says:

          FIP of course takes zero into account about his ability to hold runners. 65% caught stealing, a staggeringly small rate of less than a stolen base every 100 innings pitched. He also produced 354 double plays, better than one per 9IP. For a pitcher with a 1.215 whip, that’s a significant percentage of baserunners!

          Does the left handed ground ball producer benefit from good defense? Yes. But how much of that produces the defense and how much is the defense producing for him? I’m just saying if you want to put up gaudy attempts and putouts as a double play tandem, few of history’s best are going to feed you more than ford.

  7. 7
    jajacob says:

    Whitaker, grich, lofton

  8. 8
    Dr. Remulak says:

    Biggio, Ford, Koufax.

  9. 9
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Koufax vs Marichal vs Ford
    Best seasons, by WAR:

    10.7 … 10.3 … 6.7
    10.3 … 9.1 … 5.2
    8.1 … 7.8 … 5.2
    7.4 … 7.7 … 4.3
    5.7 … 6.4 … 4.3
    4.4 … 5.0 … 3.8
    2.1 … 3.5 … 3.8
    1.5 … 2.9 … 3.7
    1.3 … 2.8 … 3.6
    1.1 … 1.8 … 2.8
    0.9 … 1.8 … 2.5
    -0.3 .. 1.8 … 2.5
    ……. 1.3 … 2.0
    ……. 0.2 … 1.9
    …….-0.1 … 1.3

    • 11
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      I’m copying the above data, and adding Smoltz:

      Koufax, Marichal, Ford, Smoltz:

      10.7 … 10.3 … 6.7 …7.3
      10.3 … 9.1 … 5.2 … 5.9
      8.1 … 7.8 … 5.2 … 5.4
      7.4 … 7.7 … 4.3 … 4.9
      5.7 … 6.4 … 4.3 … 4.8
      4.4 … 5.0 … 3.8 … 4.6
      2.1 … 3.5 … 3.8 … 4.2
      1.5 … 2.9 … 3.7 … 3.7
      1.3 … 2.8 … 3.6 … 3.6
      1.1 … 1.8 … 2.8 … 3.6
      0.9 … 1.8 … 2.5 … 3.3
      -0.3 1.8 … 2.5 … 3.3 (in relief)
      ……… 1.3 … 2.0 … 2.3
      ……… 0.2 … 1.9 … 2.2 (in relief)
      ………-0.1 … 1.3 … 1.2 (in relief)
      ………………. 0.9
      ………………. 0.9
      ………………. 0.8

      • 22
        --bill says:

        Some more along these lines,
        Early Wynn, Robin Roberts, Billy Pierce, Camilo Pascual, Whitey Ford, and Don Drysdale. The Drysdale/Ford comparison was a little surprising to me.


  10. 10
    Jeff Harris says:

    Whitaker, Banks, McCovey

  11. 13
    latefortheparty says:

    Bobby Grich
    Lou Whitaker
    John Smoltz

  12. 14
    KalineCountry Ron says:

    Lou Whitaker

  13. 15
    Scary Tuna says:

    Banks, Ford, Killebrew.

  14. 16
    Dr. Doom says:

    Time to whittle the holdover list some more!

    Ernie Banks
    Bobby Grich
    Juan Marichal

  15. 17
    Andy says:

    Banks, Marichal, Koufax

  16. 18
    PaulE says:

    Grich McCovey Sandberg

  17. 19
    BillH says:


    Would also like to vote for Banks, McCovey, Koufax among others, but would have to steal someone else’s ballot to do that this round.

  18. 21
    Bix says:

    Koufax, Marichal, Killebrew

  19. 24
    bells says:

    Alright, here’s my methodology. I take four measures of player value as a gauge of how players compare across metrics that value things slightly differently. Then I give them a cumulative rank with all players on the ballot over 50 WAR, adding their ranking of each measure. Here are the measures:

    WAR – is it too new to call it ‘classic’? Well, it’s the ‘classic’ way of measuring a player’s value over a player the team could have gotten to replace the player, over that player’s career, to show how ‘good’ that player was.

    WAA+ – adding the wins above average players (rather than replacement) for that player’s positive seasons (ie. tossing out the negative seasons), to measure how great that player was when he was great.

    JAWS – a weighted WAR score to incorporate both peak and career performance by weighting a player’s best seasons.

    WAR*WAR/162G (250 IP for pitchers) – this is a fun construction I saw John Autin use on the last redemption round that takes into account peak and career performance, but using games played as a unit rather than seasons. I like this one.

    Here are the cumulative rankings, in order (a ‘4’ would rank first in all 4 categories):

    Grich 6
    Whitaker 10
    Martinez 16
    Smoltz 21
    Lofton 22
    Banks 24
    Sandberg 24
    McCovey 34
    Marichal 35
    Murray 36
    Biggio 42
    Koufax 47
    Killebrew 47
    Ford 55

    Seems simple still for top 3. Grich, Whitaker, Martinez.

  20. 25
    RonG says:

    Marichal, Koufax, Ford

  21. 26
    MJ says:

    Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, John Smoltz

  22. 27
    MikeD says:

    Ford (have to have someone from the 1928 class)

    Deserving players will be dropping off.

  23. 28
    Gary Bateman says:

    Marichal, Ford, Banks

  24. 30
    Francisco says:

    Marichal, Koufax, Killebrew

  25. 33
    T-Bone says:


  26. 34
    koma says:

    Sandy Koufax, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio

  27. 36
    Josh says:

    Juan Marichal, Whitey Ford, John Smoltz

  28. 39
    mosc says:

    Ford, Koufax, Smoltz

  29. 40
    Mike HBC says:

    Koufax, Smoltz, Grich.

  30. 42
    RJ says:

    Smoltz has been on the ballot a long, long time, so forgive me if I’m covering previously trodden ground here, but…

    I believe Smoltz’s 2004 season features the second most innings pitched (81.2) for players receiving no more than one decision. It is the most innings pitched for those who played in at least 50 games and received no more than one decision.

    The record holder in the first statistic is one Dennis Higgins, who rode his 93 IP to a 1-0 record in 1966. Here’s where things get weird though: he’s cousins with Joe Crede?!

  31. 43
    JEV says:

    Koufax, McCovey, Banks

  32. 45

    Most Wins Above Average, excluding negative seasons:

    Grich 43.6
    Whitaker 42.7
    Martinez 41.3
    Smoltz 40.1
    Lofton 39.3
    McCovey 38.9
    Sandberg 38.8
    Banks 36.8
    Biggio 36.3
    Murray 33.7
    Killebrew 33.0
    Marichal 32.7
    Koufax 32.3
    Ford 29.3

    Grich, Smoltz, Martinez

  33. 46
    Voomo Zanzibar says:


    Kenny Lofton , for the Win

    Whitey Ford , to continue the conversation

    Eddie Murray, because it is Great to be steady

  34. 48
    Abbott says:

    Murray, Biggio, McCovey

  35. 50
    Kirk says:

    Banks, Ford & Smoltz

  36. 51
    JamesS says:

    Whitaker, Marichal, Edgar

  37. 53
    Luis Gomez says:

    Marichal, Whitaker, Martinez.

  38. 54

    A few years back, when Ford was in the hospital, Yogi Berra called him on the phone. “Hey Whitey, are you dead yet?”

    D.Ford’s teammate E.Murray
    C.Biggio, of whom Yogi once said “Short catchers are better, because they don’t have to stand up as far.”

    • 55
      Lawrence Azrin says:


      Yogi is also alleged to have said, “You should go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t to go yours.”

      • 57

        but of course, “I really didn’t say everything I said.”
        The Yogi book : I really didn’t say everything I said! / by Yogi Berra ; foreword by Joe Garagiola ; introduction by Larry, Tim & Dale Berra.

        • 58
          Lawrence Azrin says:


          I own that book!!! I keep it on my coffee table, along with a book about Phil Rizzuto’s-broadcasts-as-poetry, for comic relief – athough an excerpt from the game after Thurman Munson’s funeral is genuinely moving.

          • 62
            birtelcom says:

            There’s also the story, poignant now in light of Carmen’s recent death, of Carmen’s asking Yogi where he wanted to buried, in St. Louis, in New York or in New Jersey, and his response: “Surprise me!”

          • 68
            Voomo Zanzibar says:

            I’ve got the Rizzuto poetry book, too.
            Splendid stuff, though the folks who put it together drew mostly from the dark years (88-90).

            I would have liked to see more throughout the decades.

        • 82
          Lawrence Azrin says:


          Found it(Rizzuto’s broadcast comments after Thurman Munson’s funeral) – fittingly, I googled it and it was on a 09/06/2012 HHH discussion about Thurmon Munson, posted by – me.

          The Man in the Moon

          The Yankees have had a traumatic four days.
          Actually five days.
          That terrible crash with Thurman Munson.
          To go through all that agony,
          And then today,
          You and I along with the rest of the team
          Flew to Canton for the services,
          And the family….
          Very upset.

          You know, it might,
          It might sound corny.
          But we have the most beautiful full moon tonight.
          And the crowd,
          Enjoying whatever is going on right now.
          They say it might sound corny,
          But to me it’s some kind of a,
          Like an omen.

          Both the moon and Thurman Munson,
          Both ascending up into heaven.
          I just can’t get it out of my mind.
          I just saw that full moon,
          And it just reminded me of Thurman.
          And that’s it.

          August 6, 1979
          Baltimore at New York
          Ron Guidry pitching to Lee May
          Fifth inning, bases empty, no outs
          Orioles lead 1-0

          • 102
            JasonZ says:

            Thanks Lawrence. I was 12 on August 2, 1979.
            Thurm was the MVP when I first saw him.
            Then a back-to-back world champ.
            My favorite player on my favorite team of any

            Every year at 4:02 PM I think of Thurm and I
            remember a 12- year-old boy who became
            hysterical and inconsolable with grief for several
            days as he dealt with death personally for the first time.

            I remember watching that game against Baltimore
            on August 6, 1979.

            I will never forget Bobby Murcer delivering the
            eulogy during the day, excerpts shown on that
            evenings newscast, watching that. And then
            soon thereafter, the game. When the Yankees
            took the field the crowd went crazy for what seemed
            like forever.

            Munson’s widow accepted the full glare of
            those WPIX cameras for much of that time.
            Her composure was amazing and yet so sad
            to look at her knowing what she was thinking.

            When the camera wasn’t on Diana Munson
            it was pointed at the empty spot where Thurm
            was supposed to be.

            The crowd cheered for a long long time.

            Finally, later that night under a full moon
            chronicled by the Scooter and posted above
            by Lawrence, the great Bobby Murcer capped
            his 5 RBI night by knocking in the last 2 runs
            as the Yankees won the biggest game of
            that season, 5-4.

            Eulogy+all 5RBI’s=I wouldn’t believe it if I
            did not see it.

            The drama of that day and night is only enhanced
            when one recalls that the game itself was
            televised live to the entire nation that night
            by ABC TV.

            That broadcast historically documented by the
            incomparable Keith Jackson and a man, a
            sport’s poet, who if he was in the booth, it was
            huge and someone who if you weren’t around
            to hear him, you just can’t understand his impact.

            Howard Cosell.

          • 105
            Lawrence Azrin says:


            WOW!! thanks for sharing your memories. I know that Munson’s death affected a lot of baseball people, not just Yankees fans. The only comparable MLB death that I experienced was Clemente’s six years before.

            You are right about Cosell; it’s difficult nowadays to explain what he was all about – how he could be voted both ‘best sports broadcaster’ AND ‘worst sports broadcaster’ at the same time.

  39. 59
    J.R. says:

    Koufax, Grich, Biggio

  40. 63
    wx says:

    Sandy Koufax, Lou Whitaker, Juan Marichal

  41. 65
    Tim Pea says:

    Coriolis Force down under. Did anyone notice that Clayton Kershaw’s fastball was a few MPH faster in Australia?

  42. 66
    Darien says:

    Sandberg, Banks, and Killebrew

  43. 67
    robbs says:

    Whitaker Koufax Biggio

  44. 69
    David Horwich says:

    Marichal, McCovey, Sandberg

  45. 70
    birtelcom says:

    Koufax and Ford started in the same game just twice: in the first game and the fourth game of the 1963 World Series. Koufax was the winner in both.

    In Game 1, Koufax struck out 15 and held the Yankees scoreless until two outs in the 8th — with his Dodgers up by five runs he surrendered a two-run homer to Tom Tresh. Whitey gave up five runs in five innings pitched: two hits and two RBIs to ex-Yankee Moose Skowron and a three-run homer to Johnny Roseboro. For some reason, Wikipedia says that was the only homer Ford surrendered to a lefty hitter all year. That’s true, except for the ten other ones he surrendered to lefties during the regular season.

    Game 4 was a classic. Scoreless until the 5th, when Frank Howard hit a solo homer off Ford. In the top of the seventh, Mickey Mantle returned the favor and hit a solo shot off of Sandy. In the bottom of the 7th, Joe Pepitone completely muffed a perfect Clete Boyer throw from third base, and Junior Gilliam ran all the way around to third base. When Gilliam then scored on a sac fly, the Dodgers had enough to win the game. You can see the Boyer/Pepitone play between the 5 minute and the 6 minute mark here:

    • 73
      RJ says:

      Good catch on the Rosebero home run, birtelcom. As far as I can tell Ford’s last two seasons were the only ones in his career where no lefties homered off him, but Ford only pitched 73 and 44 innings those years.

      I did actually find a source for this strange falsehood (, but a little bit of sleuthing shows that the information on Wikipedia predates this article, which unfortunately leads me to believe that the writer of the article simply copied the “stat” from Wikipedia.

      I’ve removed the misinformation from Roseboro’s page. There’s an important lesson here: don’t take unsourced information on Wikipedia at face value!

      • 77
        birtelcom says:

        Thanks for correcting the error on Roseboro’s Wikipedia page. I’ve also corrected it on the 1963 World Series Wikipedia page.
        Thanks to us, Wikipedia is at last now 100% accurate.

        • 80
          RJ says:

          Hahaha. I checked out the user who added the info and all of his other edits seem to be in good faith. I can’t find any contemporary sources that mention this trivia though, so I remain mystified as to where he would have heard it.

          An aside: I did find one source that suggested that Roseboro was “so nervous prior to the game that he took a couple of nips of brandy”.

    • 75
      no statistician but says:

      The Pepitone play exemplifies the superior defense Ford always had behind him to make him look like a better pitcher than he was.

      • 76
        birtelcom says:

        LOL. On the other hand if you watch Boyer’s initial grab on that play, it does actually provide a reminder of the defense Ford was teamed with.

        The references to Pepitone’s error seem consistently to characterize it not as one of the worst “goat” plays in WS history, but rather as the play where poor Joe lost sight of the ball in the background of white shirts in the stands on the third base side of the infield. That seems odd to me. Was the background really tougher that day than what a first baseman often has to deal with?

    • 78

      Ford vs Marichal:

      Game 4, 1962: Ford’s bullpen lost to Marichal’s bullpen (Ford 6IP, 2ER, 5H; Marichal 4IP, 0R 2H, injured his hand while batting [struck out])

  46. 74
    aweb says:

    Grich, Whitaker, Lofton

  47. 79
    Low T says:

    Grich, Whitaker, and for now, Lofton.

    I feel so empty not being able to vote for Santo this round.

  48. 81
    Professor Larry says:

    Koufax, Whitaker, Grich

  49. 83
    Lawrence Azrin says:

    – Juan Marichal
    for the win,
    -Ryan Sandberg
    -Willie McCovey
    to stay on our ballot

    Lofton, Killebrew you’re on your own (would like to vote for both of you, and have in the past)

  50. 84
    brp says:

    and eh, why not change things up, Murray

  51. 85
    birtelcom says:

    Lou Whitaker on five of the last seven ballots to catapult into a tie for the lead with Sandy Koufax at 16 votes. Just a single vote behind is Bobby Grich at 15 and one more vote behind at 14 are Juan Marichal and Whitey Ford. Ernie Banks at 11 is by no means out of it either, as Whitaker has just demonstrated. Every vote cast these days is potentially decisive.

  52. 86
    PP says:

    Banks, Marichal, McCovey

  53. 87
    David Horwich says:

    My vote @69 hasn’t been tallied; with that, and the ballot @86, I have it as a 3-way tie for first, Koufax Marichal Whitaker each with 16.

  54. 90
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Making sense of our 4 pitchers using WAR….

    Best 6 years

    46.6 Koufax
    46.3 Marichal
    29.5 Ford
    32.9 Smoltz

    Best 7 years

    48.7 Koufax
    49.8 Marichal
    33.3 Ford
    37.1 Smoltz

    Best 8 years

    50.2 Koufax
    52.7 Marichal
    37.0 Ford
    40.8 Smoltz

    Best 9 years

    51.5 Koufax
    55.5 Marichal
    40.6 Ford
    44.4 Smoltz

    Best 10 years

    52.6 Koufax
    57.3 Marichal
    43.4 Ford
    48.0 Smoltz

    Best 11 years

    53.5 Koufax
    59.1 Marichal
    45.9 Ford
    51.3 Smoltz

    • 93
      mosc says:

      WAR isn’t everything. Neither is ignoring single season success, post season success, rotation flexibility, and impact on the game.

      • 94
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Yah, mosco, i know it isnt everything.
        Just made a nice little chart for pondering.

      • 95
        birtelcom says:

        True, but WAR does suggest we be careful with Ford. Whitey’s raw numbers are superb, but it’s also true that during his career the NL was a stronger league than the AL, and once you exclude the Yankees, the rest of the AL in that era is probably a step below in terms of level of competition, compared to the NL and the Yankees. And Ford’s entire regular season career was pitching against that somewhat lower level of competition, as compared to NL pitchers of the time such as Koufax and Marichal (even if, as may well be the case, Stengel tried to schedule Whitey’s starts so they came more frequently against the better of the Yankees’ opponents). WAR does take quality of competition into account to some extent in a way that the raw stats don’t.

        But on the other hand, Ford did pitch 146 innings in World Series games (about 4.4% of his combined regular season and post-season IP) against the cream of the NL, and didn’t miss a beat: 2.75 regular season ERA, 2.71 World Series ERA. .640 OPS against in the regular season, .621 OPS against in the World Series.

        Also, as came up frequently in our discussions of Jim Palmer, and as has been raised in this thread, WAR does give us a chance to try to take into some account the quality of defense behind a pitcher in a way that the raw stats just ignore. So yes, WAR may miss or oversimplify some things. But it may also pick up some things that the raw stats (or historical reputation) may be missing or oversimplifying.

        • 107
          no statistician but says:

          Here are some nuts and bolts career comparisons that indicate, I think, a lot about how different a pitcher Ford was from the other three:

          Quality start %: F 64, K 65, M 63, S 62—not much difference among them
          Game Score: F 58, K 63, M 59, S 57—Koufax had no declining years

          HR %: F 1.8, K 2.2, M 2.3, S 2.0
          X-base hit %: F 5.3, K 5.5, M 5.5, S 6.7
          Groung out/Air out ratio: F 1.32, K .70, m 1.04; S 1.02
          DP % of opportunities: F 15, K 6, M 9, S 10

          Although there is no record at present of ground ball/ fly ball ratios for Ford, Marichal, and Koufax, it seems pretty clear that Ford was much more of a ground ball pitcher than the others. Fewer of the hits off him were for extra bases, and far fewer proportionally went for HRs. The Yankee defense ate up the ground balls, true, but Ford’s pitching gave them the ground balls to eat up. His ability to hold runners close added to this synergy, allowing his defense to concentrate on the batter, not the runner(s), contributing to the turning of double plays.

          • 110
            RJ says:

            That’s an interesting point about the synergy between pitcher and defense, especially in light of what the Pirates organisation have been trying to do the last couple of years – encouraging their pitchers to induce ground balls to take advantage of their plus infield defense.

      • 96
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Well mosco, I wasn’t suggesting the Everythingness of anything.

        Looking at several things with that chart:

        Marichal’s peak was comparable to Koufax’s.
        Smoltz was very very good for quite a while.
        And WAR doesn’t do much for Ford’s case.

        I changed my vote from Ford to Marichal because I want a dog in this week’s hunt. And I want more of the conversation about Ford (beyond WAR).

        • 97
          Voomo Zanzibar says:


          My quick little Two Line response didn’t seem to post.

          And then I elaborated.

          And then it appeared.

          Not trying to be redundant……

  55. 91
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Vote Change:




  56. 92
    Hub Kid says:

    Whitaker, Grich, Murray

  57. 98
    Doug says:

    Some notes on the players on this year’s ballot.

    Gus Bell is one of 31 players since 1901 with career totals of 50+ triples and more than twice as many triples as stolen bases. Half of those other 30 players were contemporaries of Bell, with Wade Boggs the only player to do this more recently.
    Jim Gilliam is one of only four players since 1901 with at least 60 walks and 60 runs in each of the first 11 seasons of a career. The others are Lu Blue, Jeff Bagwell and Albert Pujols. Only Bagwell, with 14 straight seasons, extended the streak into a 12th year.
    Joe DeMaestri‘s -3.9 WAR cracks the bottom 10 lowest WAR among players with 3000 PA, and is 5th lowest among those with 3500 PAs. DeMaestri was traded several times in his career, in exchange for players ranging from Hank Bauer to Marv Throneberry.
    Dick Gernert is one of only 5 players with 100 home runs as a Red Sox first baseman. The others are Mo Vaughn, Jimmie Foxx, George Scott and Kevin Youkilis.
    Don Hoak led all major league 3rd basemen with 149 doubles for 1957-61.
    Billy Klaus was just the fourth Red Sox shortstop with a season (1957) of 10+ HR, following Joe Cronin, Eddie Lake and Vern Stephens. Since Klaus, eight more Boston shortstops have had 23 such seasons, but none in a 22-year stretch from 1971 to 1992.
    Steve Bilko was the first player with a season (1953) of 20 home runs, 75 RBI and 125 strikeouts. 224 other players have since followed Bilko with like campaigns.
    Roy Face followed Hoyt Wilhelm as just the second pitcher with 8 or more seasons of 70+ IP, all in relief
    Bob Buhl‘s .673 W-L% was best in the majors for 1956-60 (min. 100 decisions). Two other Braves (Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette) made the top 5.

    • 138
      no statistician but says:

      Re: Steve Bulko

      If he had come along in a later era he wouldn’t have spent so many of his peak years in the PCL, and I don’t think that’s a positive reflection on the later era. 21 HR, 70 BB, and an OPS+ of 93?

  58. 99
    Doug says:

    Martinez, Lofton, Killebrew

  59. 100
    Jeff B says:

    Banks, Murray and Marichal

  60. 103
    JasonZ says:

    Apologies for the above aesthetic abomination.

    I clearly have IPhone user challenges.

  61. 104
    mosc says:

    Here are some stats for Whitey Ford vs Randy Johnson vs Blyleven. See if you can pick up the trend.
    CS%: 65% vs 33% vs 32%
    IP/SB: 105.7 vs 9.1 vs 11.7
    DP*9/IP: 1.0 vs 0.5 vs 0.7

    WAR needs an assist and that should be blatantly obvious. Yogi was an average defensive catcher and that’s probably being nice considering all the off-prime years he spent behind the plate. Howard was a little better but hardly threw out guys near a 65% clip. Guys were stealing bases more than 3x as often off of Howard on other pitchers besides Ford.

    • 120
      Artie Z. says:

      But … stolen bases were at a fairly historically low level during Ford’s years. I looked at this the other day – I think there was one year (maybe two) in Ford’s career in which AL teams averaged over 100 attempts (and that was some time near the end of Ford’s career).

      In 1958 the AL average was 79 stolen base ATTEMPTS per team. In 1956 there were 2 stolen base attempts against Ford (in 330 opportunities), but the league average was 76 ATTEMPTS (and it’s actually lower if you remove the Yankees as they attempted 88 steals, second to the White Sox 103). In 2005, Kenny Rogers had 3 stolen bases attempted against him in 326 opportunities (which I’m guessing counts the same if it’s a Molina or a Billy Hamilton on first base with no one on second) – the AL average was 123 stolen base attempts, with 3 teams stealing more than 103 bases (the amount the White Sox attempted in 1956) and 2 others stealing 102 bases (and Texas was well below average with 82 attempts). Does Kenny Rogers also get extra credit?

      Plus (and I know I’m opening myself up to some “do you even watch baseball” criticism here – not necessarily from you, but from the audience in general), what does it really matter if the runner steals second off of Randy Johnson but he doesn’t score because Randy’s busy striking out the next 2 guys? If holding runners on first base helped keep runners from scoring against Ford, that should already be reflected in how many runs he allowed.

      • 124
        no statistician but says:

        Artie Z:

        I don’t think you quite get the point about holding runners on in a non-three-true-outcomes environment. It has to do with intimidation. The White Sox stole or attempted to steal over a hundred times every year during Whitey’s career, usually over a hundred and thirty times. Whitey started almost exactly 25 % of the Yankees’ games against them from 1953-1965, his tenure as a full-time starter. Result: 4 stolen bases and 12 CS, 4 years with no attempts and seven years with one attempt. The go-go Sox’ running game was shut down when Ford was on the mound, a disruption of the team’s style of play.

        Did the Sox use their brand of running game against other Yankee pitchers? Yes. I didn’t track every year, but between 1956 and 1960 the Sox stole or attempted between 14 and 39 times against the Yankees.

        • 147
          Artie Z. says:

          I will grant that pretty much very few players ever stole any bases against Ford (that is an undeniable fact based on the numbers).

          The thing is now we are getting into really detailed data (what did Whitey do against the White Sox). Maybe Aparicio did not do well against Whitey, but did well against other Yankee pitchers, so that’s why the White Sox did not run against Whitey? Yes there were other White Sox who ran.

          The main 4 base stealers on the Sox during Whitey’s years, AVG/OBP vs. Whitey and then vs. Yankees overall (PA numbers in parentheses against Whitey and non-Whitey Yankee pitchers, but the overall Yankee AVG/OBP have Whitey included because I don’t want to figure all of those out – and the non-Whitey Yankee numbers may include years Whitey wasn’t on the team):

          Aparicio – .234/.260 (178) to .255/.301 (1128)
          Jim Rivera – .186/.230 (74) to .240/.318 (511)
          Jim Landis – .229/.314 (105) to .226/.313 (508)
          Minoso – .262/.347 (169) to .266/.362 (866)

          Aparicio (1), Minoso (2), Rivera (3), and Landis (6) were 4 of the top 6 SB guys in the AL from 1945-1965 (Mantle and Jackie Jensen are 4 and 6, if you’re curious). Whitey kept (1) and (3) off base much more frequently than his Yankee counterparts (non-Whitey OBP against Yankees is .308 for Aparicio and .331 for Rivera), (2) off base a little more frequently, and (6) off base at about the same rate. So how much was it Whitey’s ability to stop the running game, and how much was it his ability to keep Aparicio and Rivera off the bases?

      • 126
        bstar says:

        I agree with what you say, Artie. I think Whitey’s ability to control/abolish the running game might have had a bigger impact in the ’70s and ’80s when the running game was in full swing.

        I don’t think Ford really needs any extra credit for suppressing the running game because whatever effect he had on it is already reflected in his excellent run prevention.

        It’s like saying, “Greg Maddux had such and such ERA+ and such and such career wins AND he was a great fielder”. Well, that’s kind of redundant. His great fielding contributed to his run prevention and his ability to win games. If you have to give credit to Maddux for fielding balls other pitchers couldn’t, you surely have to deduct that credit from his pitching. I’d rather Maddog look like the best pitcher possible.

        Same thing with Whitey and his running-game prevention. It actually makes his pitching look worse if you insist on making a point about the lack of SB. It’s probably better for his case overall to just include it in his overall pitching package. You can’t have it both ways where you list his career W-L record and his ERA+ and then try to give him extra credit for his running-game suppression skill. That’s double counting.

        • 127
          Voomo Zanzibar says:

          Are steals counted against a pitcher’s RE24?

          Does this have something to do with why Whitey is 9th all-time?

        • 141
          Michael Sullivan says:

          mosc did have a point in response to me, however in that this wouldn’t show up in FIP based stats, so it’s legitimate to think they undervalue him. ERA+ clearly overvalues him, FIP stats undervalue him. The question is whether bWAR undervalues him as well. I think that’s less likely than FIPs, but I agree that there’s some question about the extent to which a pitcher has synergy with the defense.

          That said, In the bWAR calc, he’s getting dinged for the value of the defenders behind him on average weighted by the number of BIP he pitched, not just what they did in the games that he pitched. That means whatever effect his ability to produce easy ground balls had, it’s only a factor for at most about 20% of the defender’s fielding value.

          OTOH, the fact that he clearly had some ability to affect BIP and steals, means I should be suspect of a WAR calculation that was 100% in line with FIP based WAR over at fangraphs. It’s hard to believe that *none* of the fielding dependent value was from Whitey’s ability to hold baserunners and generate good ground balls.

          It’s instructive to examine both the bWAR and fangraph’s WAR in detail. Whitey’s fangraph’s WAR is 55.4, and bWAR is 53.4. fangraphs also shows him with 25.4 FDP wins (i.e. if you based his WAR on pure run prevention without accounting for defense, it would be 25.4 wins higher than the 55.4.

          For comparison, I looked up another pitcher renowned for his results on BIP and holding runners, to the point where it may not be simple luck: Tom Glavine.

          On fangraphs he shows up with 64.3 (FIP based) WAR, and 23.7 FDP wins. A very similar gap. But bWAR, rather than being in line with his fWAR, is 74.0, somewhere in between his pure RA9WAR and his fangraphs WAR.

          So bWAR *is* giving Glavine a fair bit of credit for run prevention beyond his FIP stats, but it actually gives Ford *negative* credit.

          So this makes me confused. I feel like those two have very similar styles and results, and I’d have expected the differences between how bWAR and fWAR treat them to be similar, yet they aren’t.

          If you give the Chairman roughly the same % of his FDP wins as Glavine gets in the bWAR calculation, then he’s legitimately on the border of being COG worthy, even without postseason or war credit. I still take him after Marichal, but it would probably put him ahead of Smoltz, and only peak enthusiasts would put him behind Koufax. He certainly belongs in the conversation.

          I wish I understood where that difference is coming from though. I’d like to know what I’m missing, or what bWAR is missing for sure. Because it *should* be covering his ability to suppress runs by any means other than his defender’s ability, as demonstrated not just in his games, but also his teammates’ games.

          Digging into his defensive adjustments, since bref breaks that out now. It says his defense was .24 runs above average per 9 innings on average for his career. That’s huge and works out to 84 runs over his 3170 IP. Which means bref’s defense calculation is dinging him for about 9 wins over the course of his career.

          bWAR dings Glavine for less. It says his defense was excellent but not as good as Ford’s only .12 per 9 innings. Working out to about 60 runs over his career, or 6 wins. Yet with similar total FDP results over at fangraphs, he’s getting 12 more wins from bref (relative to fangraphs WAR) than Ford, not 3. Where are the other 9 wins coming from?

          I’ll admit I’m confused, and uncertain as to what this says about Ford’s value, versus some weakness in the calculations.

          • 181
            mosc says:

            Good discussion Michael, I followed along with you looking up the stats. I concur but I also add to what you said a great mistrust of defensive metrics.

            I see all 4 pitchers on the holdover list as above the grade. I think I have a couple more pitchers and a few less hitters (like lofton, martinez, etc) on my COG than most folks. I give Ford A LOT of credit for military service. I assume he would have played at a very high level, had no injuries, and his career immediately after the war would have also been better than it was. There’s no way of knowing what would have happened but I deeply respect the military service of baseball’s all-time greats during that time so it carries a lot of extra weight with me.

            And I guess I am a pretty big peak enthusiast.

  62. 106
    Richard Chester says:

    Ford, Koufax, Killebrew

  63. 108
    jeff hill says:

    I find it fascinating that so many look at Ford’s winning% and say, “he’s one of the greatest ever” when he was losing 61…SIXTY ONE games when he left the game, only for the Yankees to score and tie/win the game. His winning% would be more along the lines between 206-136(taking half the 61 wins and adding half the losses) or worst case 175-167(If he had lost all 61 games assuming he won all 61). Either way, great defense plus a tremendous lineup that averaged 4.8 runs per start for him plus a great pitchers park = a great winning% and a slightly overlooked/overvalued pitcher…IMHO.

    Whitaker, Lofton, Smoltz

    • 112
      no statistician but says:


      I think you don’t understand the concept of how wins and losses are attributed. The only games among those 61 that Ford would receive W credit for are those in which 1) he pitched at least five full innings and was not relieved up to that point, 2) his teammates overcame the deficit by at least a run in the bottom half of the inning he left (at home ) or the top half of the next inning (away),and 3) maintained that lead or added to it by the end of the game.

      Those 61 games have to be measured agains the 297 times the Yankees won when Ford started, not the 236 Ws credited to him, even though some of the 61 games doubtless are among the 236. You might note that the difference between 297 and 236 is 61, by the way.

      Oh— and Sandy Koufax had 42 losses saved the same way in roughly 70% of the innings pitched that Ford put up. So what’s your point again?

      • 130
        jeff hill says:

        I definitely understand, what I didn’t do was take my time and really break the numbers down as you did. Thanks…

        Also, my point is this: Ford is a HOF, no question but lower tier to me (as my explanation states above), same as Koufax (who I never previously mentioned in that post). Koufax is a rarity in that he was only great for 6 years. Now those 6 years were some of the best ever but were also with a higher mound in a tremendously forgiving pitchers park. His first half of his career was average, if that.

        Dodger fan? Ford hater? Neither? Both?

        • 139
          no statistician but says:


          I mentioned Koufax’s record simply to suggest that 1) Ford’s losses saved, while good, are no better proportionally than at least one other pitcher, so to assess him fairly on the point one ought to look at losses saved for the pitchers he’s competing against here; 2) with good teams especially, the game really isn’t over until the last man is out.

          Marichal had 46 losses saved and won 243 games, but against that he had a high proportion of cheap wins. So did Smolz, and he had 53 losses saved while winning only 213 games so he ranks around the Ford/Koufax level.

          • 163
            jeff hill says:

            To that point I will say that Smoltz played at a much higher level throughout his career than Koufax did, peak there is no debate, it’s Koufax. Smoltz probably would’ve flirted with 300 wins if he didn’t miss a full season in his prime and then moved to the closer role. I figure he had a very good chance for about 275 wins.

  64. 109
    jeff hill says:

    I’d like to point out that I believe telling the vote totals prematurely sways votes. Again, just my observation/opinion here.

    • 111
      David Horwich says:

      I don’t think there’s any doubt that the fact that we have an open ballot influences how the elections play out; strategic voting would be far less effective if the ballot were secret.

      • 116
        birtelcom says:

        I absolutely agree that the open voting method, combined with the eligibility/percentages aspect of the system, influences voting decisions from a strategic (or maybe the more accurate word is tactical) point of view. I also agree with what I think jeff was saying that seeing how other people are voting may influence some voters as to how they choose to vote, even aside from purely tactical considerations. I happen to think that’s a good thing. That is, one of my goals has always been to encourage a communal aspect to this process — a group effort and not just a bunch of individual voters going off silently and doing their own thing in private.

        • 117
          birtelcom says:

          On the other hand, though, I can also understand that some readers may prefer to remain less conscious of how the totals are playing out in advance — to enjoy the suspense, or to feel less influenced by groupthink, or for other reasons. I’ll try to be a bit more conscious of not revealing the ongoing vote counts here in the thread as often for the benefit of those folks. You can always check the spreadsheet whenever you want to get the vote count.

          • 131
            jeff hill says:

            Thanks for understanding exactly what I was saying. Post #117 is spot on! I try not to look at vote totals so I’m not somehow persuaded, albeit not on anyone else’s recommendation, I just do my homework and try to vote for who I believe is the most deserving. I never change my vote based on vote totals but I believe some may do so as previously mentioned.

          • 182
            mosc says:

            I agree, it’s easy enough to check but I think it should be a social taboo to forecast added rounds, cutoffs, and winners in the discussion. Lets discuss the candidates (and the occasional meta-discussion) but not the vote totals. We have a wonderful sum-up post to discuss the vote totals. That’s as big a part of it as celebrating the winner.

            I agree the voting would be quite different if this were closed ballot. It would also be less valuable and MUCH less interesting. I love the discussion. I think that’s more valuable honestly than the list we end with. Certainly kept me interested in baseball over the off-season!

  65. 113
    Mike L says:

    Jeff @108 and 109, and David @111, I find myself voting later in the week because sometimes I’ll learn from people. Might not be enough to shake me from my preferences, but could come up in a later vote or a redemption round. But I think that’s also the reason you can’t have a secret ballot–reading the comments at least gives people a chance to display different ways of thinking about players. In this round I’ve been going back and forth in my head between Marichal, Koufax, and Ford. I understand the arguments against Ford, but I’m still impressed by an ERA+ of 133, higher than Maddux, Koufax, Brown, Gibson, Schilling, Seaver, Smoltz, Marichal, Mussina, Blyleven, Glavin, Perry, and Carleton of just the people we have voted in or are presently considering. And I’m impressed by the consistency. I’m impressed by the post season performance against the best of the ostensibly superior NL. I’ll admit to a Yankee bias, but I can’t help feeling that WAR might be missing something. I still haven’t made up my mind. I may end up voting for two of the three, and getting the third one in a later round. Smoltz later as well.

  66. 114
    Stubby says:

    Banks, Whitaker, Lofton

  67. 115
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Wondering if Whitey got WAR-shortchanged.
    Picked a season: 1958

    Ford had 4.3 WAR in 1958

    Led the league with
    2.01 era
    177 era+
    7 shutouts

    Searched for 177+ and 219 innings or more

    One season only.

    Whitey also had 4.3 WAR in 1963

    24 Wins
    269 IP
    129 era+
    4.3 WAR

    Throwing away the wins, I searched for seasons with that many innings, 129+ or better, and “only” 4.3 WAR or less.

    There are 15 such seasons.
    All of them deadball era, except for Ford and

    1964 Gary Peters.
    He had a low-homerun rate and a great White Sock defense behind him.

    Taking Whitey’s “best” season, according to WAR: 1964

    6.7 WAR
    244 IP
    170 era+

    Six other pitchers.

    • 118
      Artie Z. says:

      The Yankees are credited with a really good defense in 1958. The Yankees as a team had 58 Rfield that year – only Slaughter (-2), Throneberry (-2), and Mantle (-5) are negative. The 1982 Cardinals had 53 Rfield – and they had Ozzie and Keith Hernandez and Tom Herr in the infield. Now, it’s not 1970s Orioles good (in 1972, the one year I checked, the Orioles had 78 Rfield). Also, it looks like Ford faced slightly weaker opponents that year (by a quarter to a half of a run or so relative to surrounding years).

      For 1963, compare Whitey’s 1962 season. A difference of about a dozen innings, but he allowed the same amount of runs (unearned + earned) per 9 innings across seasons. However, he had 5.2 WAR in 1962 but just 4.3 in 1963. The difference is that his opponents in 1963 scored less runs (4.06 to 4.35 the year before) and the Yankee defense was better in 1963 than 1962 (0.32 to 0.21 RA9Def in those 2 years).

      At some point in time, I think during the Hoffman and Rivera discussions, someone pointed out all of those things to me as big drivers of their WAR differences. Whitey Ford gets the same adjustment based on the numbers as everyone else. He’s like the anti-Larry Walker – Walker gets the same adjustment (as a hitter) as Bichette, Castilla, Galarraga, etc., it’s just that Walker’s WAR numbers don’t get as deflated as those guys because he was a vastly better hitter than anyone else to play for the Rockies during that time (and I’m considering Helton coming along a little later than those guys). I don’t think there’s any special “let’s get Whitey Ford” conspiracy or “let’s boost Larry Walker” conspiracy – not that WAR is perfect, but I would be more worried if there were never any outcomes that really challenged our prior beliefs about players.

    • 119
      paget says:

      I brought up Ford’s 1958 season in a thread here a few months ago wondering exactly the same thing – why WAR had so little love for Whitey. Apart from the ace defense that was playing behind him, the consensus among those who replied was that 219IP was not a very high number of innings for a starter back in the ’50s, and so Ford’s WAR suffered by comparison to guys who were racking up 60 or 70 more IP per year. I follow that logic for as far as it goes, but I still resist the idea that, with those raw numbers, he should have had such an utterly pedestrian level of wins above replacement.

      • 121
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        with 177 era+

        .36 Rdef
        219 IP
        4.3 WAR

        Derek Lowe
        .39 Rdef
        219 IP
        7.2 WAR

        Andy Pettitte
        .29 Rdef
        222 IP
        6.8 WAR

        • 129
          bstar says:

          Voomo @121:

          Here’s what’s different about Whitey vs. Lowe/Pettitte.

          -UNEARNED RUNS.
          Whitey, 1958: 13
          Lowe, 2002: 2
          Pettitte, 2005: 7

          Whitey’s opp. would score -0.11 R/G less than lg. avg.
          Lowe’s opp. would score exactly the same as lg. avg.
          Pettitte’s opp. would score +0.15 R/G more than lg. avg

          There was no difference between reliever and starter performance before 1960, so there is no bump upward for starters and downward for relievers until that year.

          In other words, Pettitte/Lowe’s 177 ERA+ is more impressive than Ford’s because their ERA is being judged against starters’ ERAs AND one-inning relievers’ ERAs (which, after 1960, are higher).
          Whitey, 1958: 0.00 RA9role adjustment
          Lowe, 2002: +0.18 RA9role (+4 or 5 runs)
          Pettitte, 2005: +0.17 RA9role (+4 or 5 runs)

          -PARK FACTORS.
          All runs to this point are not park-adjusted, so we need park factors to level the playing field. However many runs below lg. average that Whitey (93 PPF) is allowing are lessened in comparison to Pettitte (100 PPF) and Lowe (101 PPF).

          Due to the weak AL in the ’50s and ’60s, Whitey gets fewer replacement runs while Lowe (Boston) gets more than Pettitte (Houston) because of AL’s superiority over the NL in the 2000s.
          Whitey, 1958: 17 Rrep
          Lowe, 2002: 26 Rrep
          Pettitte, 2005: 20 Rrep
          Here’s what I would suggest to anyone wanting to calculate/understand pitching WAR: it’s not a magic black box. Anyone can do this stuff.

          I’ll put this in caps, but just for emphasis: STOP USING ERA+ AS YOUR STARTING POINT. There’s too many adjustments made after that point to simply jump from ERA+ all the way to the final WAR number and expect it to always make sense.

          You’re going to get bogged down when you have a pitcher who has a very good/very bad defense behind him, or one who faces great/awful opposition, or one who allows a small amount of unearned runs (pitchers of today) compared to one who allows a lot of UER (deadball pitchers or pitchers in Ford’s era).

          Start at RA9opposition, adjust for defense and role, apply park factors to get RA9avg, then compare RA9avg to RA9 of pitcher, multiply by IP, and you have RAA. RAA converts to WAA, then replacement runs are stapled on after that. That’s it. Honestly…that’s all there is.

          The calculations to get to the exact RA9opposition mark, or the lg avg. ERA that is used to get to player ERA+, now THOSE are complex calculations and are over my head. But everything you need to compute or simply understand WAR is right on the player page in the VALUE section.

          • 183
            mosc says:

            I didn’t know there was a ROLE ADJUSTMENT in pitching WAR. That’s utter nonsense. Wow. If it’s that large that’s a real knock against the Kevin Brown’s of the world and a real boon to the 20s-60s pitchers.

          • 187
            bstar says:

            MLB splits based on role

            Year: starterERA / relieverERA
            1953: 4.10 / 4.27
            1954: 3.84 / 4.06
            1955: 4.02 / 3.95
            1956: 4.01 / 3.84
            1957: 3.84 / 3.80
            1958: 3.90 / 3.75
            1959: 3.90 / 3.91
            1960: 3.88 / 3.65
            1961: 4.08 / 3.88
            1962: 4.03 / 3.78
            1963: 3.47 / 3.44
            1964: 3.65 / 3.40
            1965: 3.72 / 3.54
            1966: 3.57 / 3.41

            So as late as 1959, reliever ERA was just about as good or sometimes lower than starter ERA. The general trend was whichever role you pitched in didn’t influence your performance.

            Starter/reliever ERA began to permanently diverge starting in 1960. That’s why the role adjustment wasn’t used before then.

            In today’s game it’s easier to post a 150 ERA+ as a one-inning reliever than as a 6 or 7-inning starter. The role adjustment corrects for that. Look at the last three years in baseball and you’ll see why the RA9role adjustment is up to +0.15 or so for starters per 9 innings:

            Year: starterERA / relieverERA
            2011: 4.06 / 3.59
            2012: 4.19 / 3.67
            2013: 4.01 / 3.59

            mosc: I don’t know what you mean by suggesting it hurts the Kevin Browns but helps pitchers from 1920-1960. It’s the Kevin Browns who are getting a few extra runs per year over relievers (rightly).

          • 188
            birtelcom says:

            mosc @183: Here’s the logic of role adjustment, I think. WAR is based on a pitcher’s “runs allowed” compared to what the teams he pitched against scored on average against the rest of the league’s pitchers. Beginning in the 1960s and accelerating in the 1970s, this comparison to average began to become unfair to pure starters and overly generous to relievers, because relievers as a whole were allowing fewer runs than starters as a whole, this collective advantage/disadvantage being a a function of the role and not the individual. So to balance that new advantage (or disadvantage) for some pitchers, a role adjustment is added to WAR.

            Actually now that I see what bstar posted, I could have just written “what bstar said”.

          • 189
            bstar says:

            mosc, here’s an example.

            Clayton Kershaw and Twins reliever Glen Perkins both have a 166 ERA+ over the last three years.

            Forget about the IP difference for a second. Isn’t Kershaw’s mark (the best in baseball, by far, for a starter) more impressive than Perkins’ number (12th best in baseball for a reliever)?

            The role adjustment bumps Kershaw’s numbers up slightly and Perkins’s down, which offers a fairer estimation of the quality of each performance.

            Here’s a different approach using RA9. If the role adjustment for 2013 is around 0.17 runs per 9, then WAR is treating these two performances as equal *on a per-inning basis*:

            A starter with a 4.17 RA9
            A reliever with a 3.83 RA9

            Since the 0.17 is subtracted from starter RA9 and added to reliever RA9, WAR is seeing both of those marks as being 4.00.

          • 194
            Michael Sullivan says:

            How do they determine who is a reliever and how much credit they get/lose? Is it just about whether they started, or is it about how many innings they pitch in an appearance? Long relievers should probably be treated like starters rather than closers, for instance. I agree coming in to pitch just one inning should be adjusted, but if anything long relief may be a tougher job to excel in than starting.

            OTOH, you have to be careful because while closers are chosen for excellence, often long relievers are pitchers who couldn’t quite make it as a starter, closer or setup reliever. So just looking at results of all starters vs. long relievers vs. one-inning relievers would make it look like they needed a bigger adjustment than they probably do, and I’m not 100% sure how to decide.

      • 122
        Richard Chester says:

        In 1958 Camilo Pascual had 177.1 IP, an ERA+ of 121 versus 177 for Ford and OPS+ against of 89 versus 69 for Ford. Yet Pascual had 4.5 WAR versus Ford’s 4.3.

        • 135
          bstar says:


          Pascual allowed only 4 UER, 66 total for a 3.35 RA9
          Ford allowed 13 UER, 62 total for a 2.54 RA9

          The Senators’ defense was awful: Pascual -0.37 RA9def
          The Yankees’ defense was great: Ford +0.36 RA9def

          Combine those two metrics:
          Pascual defense-adjusted RA9: 2.98
          Ford defense-adjusted RA9: 2.90

          Pascual (18 out of 27 starts vs. .500 or better teams, 4 GS vs. NYY) faced tougher competition than Ford (15 of 29 starts vs. .500 or better teams, 6 GS vs. last-place Senators).

          Pascual’s opposition, in a neutral park, would score a park-neutral 4.27 runs, while Ford’s would have scored 4.07 (RA9opp). That’s a 0.20-run difference for Pascual. The AL 1958 average was 4.17 R/G, so let’s subtract 0.10 runs from Pascual’s RA9 and add 0.10 to Ford’s.**

          Now we’re at 2.88 RA9 for Pascual and 3.00 for Ford.

          Apply the park factors:
          Pascual 2.88 x (100/101.1 ppf) = 2.85 RA9
          Ford 3.00 x (100/92.7 ppf) = 3.24 RA9

          **I’m not positive the way I handled the opposition marks is 100% correct, but if it’s close then:

          Pascual’s RA9, adjusted for defense, park, and opposition, is now about 40 points lower than Ford’s.

          If AL scoring was 4.17, then Ford was (4.17 – 3.24) = 0.93 runs better per 9 than average, while Pascual was (4.17 – 2.85) = 1.32 runs better.

          Double-checking, it IS about right because:
          Ford (RA9avg – RA9)=(3.44 – 2.54) = 0.90 RAA per 9
          Pascual (RA9avg – RA9)=(4.70 – 3.35) = 1.35 RAA per 9

          The WAR difference should flow from there, despite more IP for Whitey.

      • 123
        Artie Z. says:

        It’s not necessarily just the innings pitched – there are 59 pitchers who had IP between 200 and 240 with an ERA+ between 160 and 194. As Voomo mentions above, Ford does have the lowest WAR at 4.3.

        But Kevin Brown in 2003 pitched 211 innings with a 169 ERA+ and only had 4.5 WAR. Rube Marquard pitched 205 innings with a 171 ERA+ in 1916 but only had 4.4 WAR. Of the 59 pitchers who popped up on the search, 5 are below 4.8 WAR (Gene Bearden in 1948 and Johnny Beazley in 1942 being the other 2).

        The highest WAR of those 59 pitchers was Kevin Appier in 1993, who had fairly similar “search criteria” numbers to Ford in 1958. Appier had 238.2 IP and 179 ERA+ – but 9.3 WAR. Appier has slightly better numbers (19 more IP, an ERA+ of 2 higher) but over twice as much WAR. It may be instructive to look at the difference. And I’ll put Kevin Brown in 2003 in there as well.

        Appier allowed 6 UER, Ford 13 UER. Still, Ford allows less runs/9 innings than Appier – 2.54 to 2.79. Kevin Brown, 11 UER, 2.86 RA/9.

        Ford’s opposition scored 4.07 against people on average, Appier’s 4.80 (I don’t think that’s a surprise). Brown 4.61.

        Ford’s RA9def is at 0.36, Appier’s 0.15. Brown 0.38.

        There’s a huge park factor swing – Ford 92.7, Appier 105.3. Brown 91.3.

        Probably the biggest difference – “they” (bbref) estimate that an average pitcher in Ford’s circumstances would allow 3.44 RA9, whereas an average pitcher in Appier’s circumstances would allow 5.07 RA9. Brown is 4.03. This leads to a difference of RA9pitcher and RA9average pitcher of: 0.9 for Ford, 2.28 for Appier, and 1.17 for Brown.

        Ford’s components look much more like Brown (who had 4.5 WAR) than Appier (who had 9.3 or 9.2 depending on if it’s the search output or the player page one looks at).

        There’s an RA9role adjustment for post 1960 pitchers that I don’t quite understand (it’s a reliever/starter adjustment) that may also be coming in to play a little.

      • 125
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        The 1958 Yankees
        #1 Offense and #1 Pitching in the league

        Player Value, Batters (and defense)
        38.4 WAR

        Player Value, Pitching
        7.6 WAR

        Only Ford, Turley, and Duren show a significant positive.

        • 132
          bstar says:

          How was NYY first in the league in pitching? You must be looking at raw ERA. Shouldn’t the parks they played in, the quality of opponents they faced, and the strength of the team defense be considered when evaluating their pitching?

          The Yankees were last in the league in pitching WAR in 1958, although it’s a safe bet they still led the league in overall WAR by a substantial margin.

          • 133
            Voomo Zanzibar says:

            I was referring (over)simply to runs allowed per game, which, of course, includes defense.

  68. 128
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    I’ve been grappling with our four pitchers.
    Changed my vote to Marichal, but I’m not convinced.
    The other three have much more impressive postseason resumes.

    I’m changing my vote one last time, and giving Whitaker a bump.





  69. 134
    bstar says:

    Is Whitey Ford the toughest guy to evaluate for the COG so far? I thought it was Koufax, with his mind-numbing peak but low career WAR, but maybe it’s Whitey.

    You’ve got the all-time-best winning % and the stellar ERA+, which scream inner-circle great. Then you’ve got a WAR total which merely whispers Hall of Very Good, a great defense behind him, a great lineup batting for him, etc.

    But there’s also time lost to war service (is Whitey the first guy we’ve had to consider in this regard?), his awesome WS record, his manager doing very odd things with him. It’s a lot to take in.

    I’ve tried to read as much as I possibly can on Ford and look at his numbers very closely and I’ve come to the conclusion I DO want him in the COG. His winning % and ERA+ are, to me, overrated. But even after you downward-adjust his ERA+ for defense (I think RJ said it goes down to 124 from 133), that’s still the best mark in the AL for the time period covering his career.

    And despite a somewhat-pedestrian WAR total for an all-time great, that also is the best mark for an AL pitcher for his career. In fact, Ford is probably the best AL pitcher from around 1945-1970 or so. Who else is there between Hal Newhouser (60 WAR in the ’40s and early ’50s) up until Jim Palmer and Luis Tiant and guys like that in the late ’60 and ’70s? As far as AL contemporaries, there’s really just Billy Pierce, whose career numbers are indeed similar to Ford’s (53 WAR in about 200 more innings than Whitey) or maybe Early Wynn (51 WAR in over 4000 innings).

    Though I wouldn’t put a number on it, I’m inclined to give Whitey a nudge for years lost to wartime service. I do think that’s a different animal than other “what-if” scenarios. Casey Stengel keeping his IP totals down? Bizarre is the only word for it. No way he could get away with that managing a lesser team. I won’t give Whitey credit for innings lost there; it’s just unfortunate.

    The clincher for me is the postseason record, like Koufax. I just don’t think you can put a proper numerical value on World Series shutouts or 30-inning scoreless streaks with everything on the line. It’s immeasurable.

    Something about the Circle of Greats without Whitey or Sandy Koufax just feels wrong. I may only offer a vote for Whitey once, but:

    Koufax to win, Ford, Lofton to stay on the ballot.

    • 140
      RJ says:

      Dammit bstar, just when I thought I’d reached a conclusion about Ford for the CoG…

      Ford is such a fascinating case, for all the reasons you mentioned. I do wonder about his war service. It’s not inconceivable that he puts up 6 total WAR in those two missed seasons (Ford put up less than 5.8 WAR only once in any of the next 11 two-year periods) which gets him to 60 career WAR.

      I’m not necessarily saying we give him credit for this, but I find it funny that despite all the things Ford apparently has working against him, we’re probably not questioning his case quite so thoroughly if he plays even moderately well in the missed years of ’51 and ’52.

    • 142

      Not sure I disagree with any of your comments on Whitey, but:

      Ford in the postseason: 10-8, 2.71 ERA
      Smoltz in the postseason: 15-4, 2.67 ERA, in a hitter’s era

      • 143
        David P says:

        Ford also had 3.5 batting WAR which seems worth mentioning.

      • 146
        birtelcom says:

        In case anyone’s curious how those Smoltz numbers break down between starting and relieving, he had a 2.55 ERA in 187.1 post-season IP as a starter (13-4 W/L record) and a 3.74 ERA in 21.2 post-season IP as a reliever (2-0 record).

        Smoltz’s ERA takes a beating from his relief appearance in the sixth (and last) game of the 1999 NLCS against the Mets (the words “Kenny Rogers walk-off walk” still cause Mets fans everywhere to faint from horror). The Mets got four runs off Smoltz (who had started Game 4) in his 7th inning relief appearance, as New York came back to tie the game, including via a thrilling Piazza homer. The Mets took the lead in this one in both the 8th and the 10th, only to blow it both times.

        • 148
          Artie Z. says:

          Thanks a lot. Now to get back to my happy baseball place before I get back to work, so I say: There’s no one like Buckner, there’s no one like Buckner, there’s no one like Buckner. Except perhaps Schiraldi.

          I feel better now.

    • 177
      John Autin says:

      Good points on Whitey Ford, b. One thing that’s hard to measure comparatively is the match of player and team. I think Ford’s consistency was far more valuable to that particular team, strong title contenders every year, than it would have been for any lesser club — and more valuable to them than a pitcher with similar totals but more variation.

      Three related factors covering Ford’s 13-year prime (1953-65):

      — Performance against good competition: Ford had the best ERA against winning teams of any pitcher with 70+ starts in that split. And despite never facing the Yankees, his 194 such starts were 7th-most. His ratio of ERA in that split vs. overall was also among the best.

      — Excelling within Stengel’s non-rotation: Out of 404 starts in those same 13 years, Ford made 18 starts with 2 days’ rest, 153 with 3 days, 137 with 4, 50 with 5, and 49 with 6 or more — and had a sub-3 ERA in each set. He was among the leaders in starts and ERA with 3 days or less (7th in starts, 3rd in ERA among the top 30 in starts), but also with 5 days or more (4th in starts, 1st by a mile among the top 40 in starts).

      — Being healthy and sharp for the stretch run: In 520 regular-season IP in Sept./Oct., Ford had a 2.45 ERA, 2nd only to Drysdale (2.25) among those with 400+ such innings; the other 8 guys were at 3.04 and up. And although the Yanks won almost every pennant, most of those races were close into late August, and Ford made a big difference — look at 1950, ’55, ’57, ’60-62 and ’64.

      — As for the Series, the Yanks were in it 11 times in his career, not counting his service years, and Ford made at least 2 starts in each but the first (pitched the clinching game 4 as a rookie) and the last (pitched the opener, then no more in that 7-game set as he succumbed to a sore shoulder).

      Bill James wrote that there were three men who made Casey a genius — Yogi, Mickey and McDougald. I think he miscounted.

      • 180
        David P says:

        Well done John! Your next mission, should you choose to accept it, is to show how it makes sense to give a 10-year, 292 million contract to a 30/31 year old first baseman/DH, particularly on the heels on the Albert Pujols contract. 🙂

  70. 136
    RJ says:

    With all the talk of record winning percentages and with Roy Face being on the ballot, we can’t let this vote pass by without acknowledging Face’s 18-1 record in relief in 1959. That .947 W-L% is the greatest non-perfect single-season win percentage and best win percentage for a season with over 12 decisions.

    • 145
      Hartvig says:

      I can remember seeing that on the back of his baseball card(s) when I was probably 8 or 9 years old and just being amazed by it. Whenever I would make up an imaginary team for whatever reason, Face was almost always my relief pitcher.

  71. 137
    Mike L says:

    Really excellent discussion, and why I keep coming back here. Question. If all of Ford’s stats other than his modest WAR have to be discounted because he pitched on a powerhouse team, just how much better would he have had to have been to get to say, 65 WAR?

    • 171
      bstar says:

      Mike, continuing down the Whitey Ford rabbit hole, he would have needed about 95-100 more runs to get 11 more WAR and reach 65 for his career.

      Just an estimate, but if his ERA had been about a quarter-run lower than it was, that would have been around 100 more runs for Whitey. I think the final number was 2.48 instead of his career 2.75. I won’t tell you what his ERA+ would have been with that ERA. 147 ERA+

      Or the same ERA and a little more than 600 extra innings. That would have done it also.

      Any other manager and maybe he’d be halfway there. 🙂

      • 172
        Mike L says:

        Bstar, that’s great. But if Ford had to bring his ERA down to 2.48 just to get to 65 WAR, there hasn’t been a pitcher since the 1930’s who achieved that. If that’s the level WAR demands, then I’m going to discard it for Ford (yes, I know, I’m a Luddite)

        Ford, Koufax, and Sandberg

  72. 144
    JasonZ says:

    Not sure if or how this might affect opinions.

    In response to Bryan @142, made me think of this.

    Whitey Ford 146 IP in the World Series.

    John Smoltz 61 IP, (of 209 total postseason innings) in the World Series.

    My question is does one consider Ford’s innings
    to be against a higher caliber competition and
    therefore worthy of a boost?

    I don’t know what to think and am throwing this
    out to most of you who have forgotten more about
    these advanced metrics then I will ever understand.

    • 149
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      I think Whitey’s 10-8 record is misleading.
      He was, indeed, playing the best of the best.
      And he was great.

      Hard to compare the Divisional Round, The LCS, and the World Series.
      One the one hand it seems unfair to consider the newer rounds as the same as the WS. But they are played against top opponents in an elimination scenario.

      If anything, players nowadays perform under a lot more pressure.
      The playoffs last for almost a month.

      Whitey and company had the advantage some years of knowing, part way through September, that they were going to the World Series. Nobody has that leisure anymore.

      JasonZ, are you by any chance a native of Throgs Neck?

    • 152
      Richard Chester says:

      Let’s not forget his 33 consecutive scoreless WS innings. (Sorry, I don’t count thirds of an inning, either you pitch a shutout inning or you don’t.)

      • 158
        Lawrence Azrin says:


        1961 was a tough year for Babe Ruth, even though he’d been dead 13 years – first Maris broke his HR record, then in the WS, Whitey broke his consecutive scoreless IP streak…

        He’s still got aload of records, when you throw in ‘advanced stats’ measurements (such as WAR), though Barry Bonds broke several of those in 2001-2004.

      • 159
        Lawrence Azrin says:


        1961 was a tough year for Babe Ruth, even though he’d been dead 13 years – first Maris broke his HR record, then in the WS, Whitey broke his consecutive scoreless IP streak…

        He’s still got a load of records, when you throw in ‘advanced stats’ measurements (such as WAR), though Barry Bonds broke several of those in 2001-2004.

    • 156
      no statistician but says:

      At one point in time, Oct 24, 1962, Ford’s WS record was 10-4 with an ERA of 1.98. In the succeeding games of the ’62 series and the next two series he started five times, pitched well in the no decision against Marichal, and even better in the duel he lost to Koufax, but the other three games he gave up big runs in three losses. 15 of his 44 Series earned runs came in those three starts.

  73. 150
    JasonZ says:

    No Voomo.

    But you are close.

    White Plains.

    I remember a bridge that we called “frogs” neck.

    • 151
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      I have cousin who is a Jason Z.
      Wondering if we were on the same blog.
      That would be funny.

  74. 153
    birtelcom says:

    If you divide the first 100 years of AL baseball into four 25-season segments, the top WAR pitchers in the AL during each segment come out this way:
    1901-1925: Walter Johnson 149.2 WAR
    1926-1950: Lefty Grove 107.9 WAR
    1951-1975: Whitey Ford 51.4 WAR
    1976-2000: Roger Clemens 108.7 WAR

    • 154
      David Horwich says:

      If you go by 20-year segments, you get this:

      1901-1920 Johnson 122.4
      1921-1940 Grove 110.0
      1941-1960 Newhouser 59.0
      1961-1980 Tiant 66.2
      1981-2000 Clemens 108.7

      • 161
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Or, breaking the history of the American League into thirds:

        1901 – 1938

        Walter Johnson

        1939 – 1966

        Hal Newhouser

        1967 – 2013

        Roger Clemens

    • 155
      David P says:

      Over that same 51-75 year period, Ford ranks 12th overall behind Larry Jackson, Koufax, Jenkins, Bunning, Drysdale, Marichal, Seaver, Spahn, Roberts, Perry and Gibson.

      • 157
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        @155/David P,

        Could this be used as evidence that the NL was the considerably strong leagues in the 50s and 60s?

        The NL/AL pitcher in-balance is striking. I wonder if it similar for position players – the NL had:

        Musial, Kiner, Ashburn, Campanella, Mathews, Snider, Mays, Aaron, Frank Robinson, Banks, McCovey, Clemente, Pinson, Cepeda, Boyer, Billy Williams, Torre, Santo, Rose, Dick Allen, Joe Morgan

        while the AL had:
        Ted Williams, Berra, Doby, Minoso, Mantle, Kaline, Elston Howard, Brooks, Aparicio, Killebrew, Rregosi, Freehan, Oliva, Yaz, Carew, Jackson

        Looks like the NL had more AND better ‘star power in the 50s/60s.

        • 162
          Voomo Zanzibar says:

          American League from 1950 – 1969:

          8 pitchers with 30+ WAR
          15 pitchers with 25+ WAR

          Whitey leads the way with 53.9

          National League from 1950 – 1969:

          13 pitchers with 30+ WAR
          26 pitchers with 25+ WAR

          5 pitchers with more than Whitey,
          led by Spahn’s 72.5

        • 164
          Lawrence Azrin says:


          Voodoo, thanks for statistically backing up my hypothesis. I’ve often seen it stated that the NL was the stronger league from the very late 40s till the mid/late 60s, often by a lot, but your #162 is pretty striking.

          This makes Mays/ Aaron/ Frank Robinson’s etc accomplishments even more impressive…

          • 166
            David P says:

            Lawrence and Voomo – One caution. Because Baseball Reference decided the NL was the stronger league during the period (due to earlier and quicker integration), they assign more WAR to the NL. So one would expect the NL pitchers to have more WAR during this period.

          • 167
            Lawrence Azrin says:

            @166/David P.,

            AHH!! So “quality of league strength” is already factored into the WAR calculations?

            Are these factors listed somewhere on B-R?

            I’d imagine that the Al was inferior in 101-02, but caught up quickly.

          • 169
            David P says:


            If you scroll to the bottom of this link, you’ll see the year by year WAR assigned to each league.


            Ultimately, the NL gets about 40-60 more WAR in total during the years in question. Spread amongst all the players, it probably doesn’t have much of an impact on any one individual.

          • 170
            bstar says:

            Looking at replacement runs (RAR – RAA) for Warren Spahn vs. Whitey Ford, 1962-1965. (I just picked a random time period)

            Spahn (NL): 91 Rrep in 900 IP; 25.3 Rrep/250 IP
            Ford (AL): 67 Rrep in 1016 IP; 16.5 Rrep/250 IP

            So maybe about 9 more runs for NL pitchers over AL ones for a full season in the early ’60s? With a lower offensive context, 9 runs was pretty close to 1.0 WAR per full season.

            That’s a deserving 1.0 WAR, isn’t it? It’s not just star power; it’s also the NL being quicker to integrate.

          • 176
            Lawrence Azrin says:


            Well, a lot of the “star power” is a _ direct _ result of the NL integrating much more quickly; look at all the African-American players I listed for the NL, as stars, in my comment in #157. I listed a dozen and I could’ve listed at least 20.

            The AL had a decent number of African-American players by the late 50s, but I don’t think that it was fully integrated until the late 60s, maybe later.

        • 199

          If you look at the period 1950-1960, counting both decade years, there were five different NL teams that won the pennant (somewhat surprisingly, the Cardinals were not among them).

          During that same period, the Yankees won nine AL pennants and Al Lopez won the other two.

  75. 165
    Gary Bateman says:

    I enjoy reading the discussions on this site and I hope someone can help me understand this. Why does a pitcher’s WAR take a hit because they have a good/great defense playing behind him? Isn’t it possible that the pitcher makes the defense behind him better? It has already been mentioned about Ford’s ability to hold runners, which takes pressure off the defense. I also think that it is easier to look good defensively when your pitcher’s ground balls are weak two-hoppers rather than a hot smash. Does any metric measure what type of ball is hit on the infield? If a pitcher is smart enough to utilize his strengths, which include an ability to force weak grounders and know that he also has a good defense behind him, why the penalty?

    • 173
      birtelcom says:

      I wouldn’t say that WAR “penalizes” a pitcher for having a good defense behind him, or that a pitcher’s WAR “takes a hit” because he has a good defense behind him. That would be generally similar to saying that a high RBI hitter’s WAR “takes a hit” because WAR takes into account that the high RBI guy had a very high number of players on base when he came up to bat. WAR tries to separate out as much as possible a player’s own contribution to his team’s wins from that of the context around him. Yankee fielders in the 50s-60s were terrific when Ford was pitching and they were terrific when the rest of the staff was pitching, too. Yankees fielders as a group were converting an unusual number of balls in play into outs, more than most teams of fielders in baseball history, and they were doing that not just when Whitey was pitching. If we are trying to figure out how much of the success of each of the Yankees pitchers during that era was attributable to the pitcher himself and how much to the defenses behind him, it seems logical to assume that some meaningful level of the success of the individual Yankee pitchers is attributable to the defense’s unusual (and repeatable across different pitchers) ability to convert a high number of balls in play into outs.

      Exactly how much of a portion of the team’s success in keeping opposition run-scoring low to assign to the defense and how much to the pitcher is hard to know, indeed it’s essentially impossible to make this assignment perfectly, because there is at least some effect that a pitcher or group of pitchers can have on the ability of the defense to convert balls in play into outs, by inducing balls in play that are easier to field.

      But a large of amount of research has shown that for most pitchers that ability to control the out-convertibility of balls in play is quite small at best. It is therefore logical to assume that if you see a team that is converting a high number of balls in play into outs across its various different pitchers that the defense and not the pitchers deserves credit for a good portion of the variation in that out-convertibility.

      Did Whitey Ford have an unusual ability to render the balls hit into play against him especially playable? From 1953 through 1965, the period during which Ford was a regular part of the Yankees staff, the overall major league batting average on all balls in play was .276. (.274 for the AL). Against the Yankees, though, it was .263. Against Ford it was .264, essentially identical to how teams did playing the Yankees overall. That does seem to suggest that Whitey’s balls in play were being picked so successfully because that’s what the team could do, not because Whitey had some special skill in that respect.

      Is it possible that Whitey noticed his team’s fine fielding skills and made himself into a groundball pitcher to take advantage of that skill, and if he’d been on another team he would have been a high-K power pitcher? I guess, but I can’t really think of any pitcher who has ever actually demonstrably been able to tailor his pitching style depending on the type of defense behind him. So personally I’d be skeptical of relying on that hypothesis. WAR gives Whitey Ford credit for being an excellent pitcher, the best AL pitcher of his era. But it also tries to recognize the context in which he pitched. I don’t think of that effort to recognize context as penalizing Ford.

      • 206
        bstar says:

        birtelcom: revealing stuff.

        How did you get team BABIP for the Yankees in Whitey’s era? Did you just look up yearly numbers one-by-one or is there a way to do it with the P-I?

        • 207
          birtelcom says:

          Go to Team Pitching Split Finders, set the years at 1953 to 1965, set the button at the top to Find Totals Spanning Seasons, and set the team to Yankees. If you want, you can set the “Sorted By” to BAbip, but you don’t have to as your are going to get one row of data anyway.

        • 208
          birtelcom says:

          Go to Team Pitching Split Finders, set the years at 1953 to 1965, set the button at the top to Find Totals Spanning Seasons, and set the team to Yankees. If you want, you can set the “Sorted By” to BAbip, but you don’t have to as you are going to get one row of data anyway.

  76. 168
    JasonZ says:

    Continuing the NL had better players theme.

    All-Star-Game record 1950-85.

    NL 33 wins.
    AL 7 wins.

  77. 174
    Hartvig says:

    With 55 votes cast (not to mention 174 comments) it’s still anybody’s election:

    Whitaker- 20
    Koufax- 19
    Marichal- 17
    Grich, Ford- 16
    Banks- 13

    All of the holdovers have at least 7 votes plus our top 5 leaders are over 25% (and Banks is just a vote shy).

    On the horizon: Richie Ashburn (which is why I’m happy Kenny Lofton is still around- lots of good discussion to be had there, I think), Nellie Fox (ditto for Whitaker, Grich, Sandberg & Biggio) and Billy Pierce (double-ditto for Ford, et al.)

  78. 175
    Mike G. says:

    Smoltz, Whitaker, McCovey

  79. 178
    CursedClevelander says:

    Ford, Lofton, Grich

    As a Member of the Tribe, it hurts not to vote for Sandor. It really does. But Ford was a better pitcher, and I think Ford has become underrated because of the “Yankee mystique.”

  80. 179
    donburgh says:

    Sandy Koufax (to keep the vote interesting)
    And shout outs to
    Don Hoak (died at age 41 of a heart attack while chasing a stolen car) and
    Roy Face (still with us at age 86)

    Are all the other HHS writers besides birtlecom on vacation this week?

  81. 184
    jeff hill says:

    @179 & @birtlecom

    See, here is a prime example of someone voting pro Koufax to “keep the voting interesting” because he knew it was a 1 vote race. That’s my beef with the telling of the voting tally.

    I’m a voter on the COG since day one and respect someone’s vote but at the same time someone is using their vote simply to even things out, in a close race…kind of sucks.

    • 185
      birtelcom says:

      I think a fair way to understand a vote to “keep things interesting” is “the player I’m voting for is a player worth strong consideration, and is starting to fall behind, so I’m going to vote for him, giving him the benefit of the doubt, as opposed to someone I might otherwise value equally but whose vote from me might lead to a less competitive and thus less discussion-worthy election.” I don’t see anything wrong with that approach. It might be argued that political elections might benefit from a similar approach. If Candidate X started to get a large lead that was visible to the remaining voters, and people began to think maybe they should vote for the other candidate so that Candidate X doesn’t get over-confident, we might have more modest elected officials who are more respectful of opposition views.

      I do also see you point, though, jeff. Nevertheless, the best policy here I think is for each voter to vote as he or she chooses, with his or her own method for picking, but let the votes of others fall where they will, without direct criticism of anybody’s alternative approach.

      • 186
        Stubby says:

        Dewey Defeats Truman! A lot of people voted for Harry because they felt bad for him, Dewey’s lead was presumed to be so large. Personally, I’m glad they did.

  82. 190
    Michael Sullivan says:

    Whitaker, Grich, Marichal

  83. 191
    David Horwich says:

    Looks like the vote @86 was partially mistallied: Sandberg was tallied for Banks, so Sandberg has one too many votes, and Banks one too few.

  84. 192
    Andy says:


  85. 195
    Doug says:

    This one is going right down to the wire.

    With 60 ballots counted, Sweet Lou leads Koufax by one vote, and Marichal, Ford and Grich by four.

    I notice that Whitaker shares the nickname Sweet with two other Lou’s, Johnson (Dodger outfielder in the mid-60s) and Piniella. Hard to imagine referring to Piniella as sweet.

    • 196
      Hartvig says:

      And you couldn’t have 2 more different types of players competing either- pitching vs position, American vs National and most notably peak vs consistency.

  86. 197
    Bill Johnson says:

    Killebrew, Whitaker, and McCovey

  87. 198
    Brendan Bingham says:

    Whitaker, Martinez, Murray

  88. 200
    paget says:


  89. 201
    opal611 says:

    For the 1928 Part One election, I’m voting for:
    -Ryne Sandberg
    -Edgar Martinez
    -Craig Biggio

    Other top candidates I considered highly (and/or will consider in future rounds):

    • 203
      birtelcom says:

      opal: Interesting that none of the three pitchers who have been generating a high level of discussion — Koufax, Ford, Marichal — even make your candidates list, much less your vote list.

      • 205
        Hartvig says:

        A quick & dirty count shows about 15 ballots without any pitchers on them (including mine) and of those ballots about two-thirds had Whitaker on them. I don’t know if those voters tend to lean towards offensive/position players or just aren’t as impressed with our current crop of pitchers or what.

        In my case I’ve only been voting for players I feel absolutely certain belong in the COG- as far as our current pitchers go I feel 1 probably does belong, 1 might & 2 probably don’t. And FWIW I feel that Whitaker does belong and he could have just as easily been on my ballot as any of the 3 that I did vote for.

  90. 202
    e pluribus munu says:

    Koufax, Whitaker, Marichal

  91. 204
    RJ says:

    I’m still undecided on Ford, so I’m glad to see he’ll be sticking around for the time being. As Hartvig says, it’s interesting to see a battle for election between two completely different players in Koufax and Whitaker, and I’m not sure which one I want in more. As it is I think I’l cop out and vote for them both:

    Koufax, Whitaker, Grich.

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