After several rounds in which holdovers were widely preferred to candidates from each new birth-year class, the 1926 birth-year class produced two very popular candidates, including Robin Roberts, who becomes the 55th inductee into the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats.  More on Robin and the voting after the jump.

A few modern pitchers have pitched more career innings than Robin Roberts by continuing to pitch a very, very long time.  But for piling up innings pitched in the normal scope of a solidly long baseball career, there’s been no one who could top Roberts since the end of the end of the Dead Ball Era:

Past 100 Seasons, Most Innings Pitched Over First 17 Seasons in the Majors
Robin Roberts 4,386
Gaylord Perry 4,358
Warren Spahn 4,343
Don Sutton 4,137
Tom Seaver 4,131


Most Pitching WAR in the 1950s
1. Robin Roberts 60.4
2. Warren Spahn 57.3
3. Billy Pierce 43.7
4. Early Wynn 37.1
5. Bob Rush 32.9

WAR, as usual here, is Wins Above Replacement, in the version used at


MLB Regular Season Innings Pitched, Leaders By Decade
1900-1909 Cy Young 3,344
1910-1919 Walter Johnson 3,427
1920-1929 Burleigh Grimes 2,797
1930-1939 Carl Hubbell 2,596
1940-1949 Hal Newhouser 2,4543
1950-1959 Robin Roberts 3,011
1960-1969 Don Drysdale 2,629
1970-1979 Gaylord Perry 2,905
1980-1989 Jack Morris 2,443
1990-1999 Greg Maddux 2,394
2000-2009 Livan Hernandez 2,201

(in all the IP numbers in this post, by the way, I’ve rounded down to the nearest full inning to avoid all those unsightly thirds of an inning.)


Jim Bunning and Chris Short were the mainstays of the Phillies pitching staffs when I was growing up in, among other places, the Philadelphia suburbs.  Short pitched for the Phils from his age 21 season through his age 34 season, 14 years.  Robin Roberts also pitched for the Phils for 14 years, also from age 21 through age 34.  Jim Bunning came to the Phils in a trade rather late in a normal baseball life, at age 32, but was a genuine star in the City of Brotherly Love and all told spent six seasons with the Phils over two separate stints.  How big a star was Bunning for the Phillies?  For the three-year period from 1965 through 1967, here are the top pitching WAR totals in the majors:

1. Jim Bunning 24.8
2. Juan Marichal 21.2
3. Jim Maloney 19.6
4. Sandy Koufax 18.4
5. Chris Short 15.6

This is all by way of introducing the point that if you add together Chris Short’s 14 Phillies seasons together with Jim Bunning’s Phillies seasons, you get just about the equivalent of Robin Roberts’ Phillies career, although Roberts still probably comes out a bit ahead in total franchise accomplishment over the Short and Bunning combo:

Short as a Phillie plus Bunning as a Phillie: 3,773 IP
Roberts as a Phillie: 3,739 IP

Short as a Phillie plus Bunning as a Phillie: 63.6 WAR
Roberts as a Phillie: 69.7 WAR


Notes on the 1926 round of voting:
–The support for members of the latest birth class went from 15 votes for those born in 1927 to 71 votes for players born in 1926.  Roberts appeared on an impressive 40 of the 64 ballots cast, and Duke Snider also received heavy support, appearing on almost, but not quite, half the ballots.

–So 56 more ballot spots went to the newcomer class than did so in the previous round.  Ernie Banks was inducted last week with 25 votes, so those ballot spots were freed up, but that still left many fewer votes available for the continuing holdover group than we’ve seen in a while.

–As a result, only one holdover, Sandy Koufax, topped the 25% support level that provides a bonus year of guaranteed ballot eligibility — in contrast to each of the last few rounds, in which several guys have been able to add to their stores of eligibility.

–On the other hand, the votes that did go to the holdovers were spread evenly enough around that no one drops off the ballot or loses any rounds of eligibility.  Overall it was a very stable ballot for the holdover list: the only changes from this round to the next will be the addition of Duke Snider (increasing the number of holdovers from twelve to thirteen) and the one extra round of eligibility for Koufax, who already had a huge stock.  Everything else will be status quo on the holdover front.

–It continues to be the case that of our 55 inductees in the Circle of Greats so far, three are left-handed pitchers: Steve Carlton, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson.

The full spreadsheet showing this round’s vote tally is here: COG 1926 Vote Tally.

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

A spreadsheet listing the full membership to date of the Circle of Greats is here: Circle of Greats Membership . You can also now find that same link any time by clicking on “Circle of Greats” at the top of the High Heats Stats home page.

Subscribe to: RSS feed