We need a quick runoff vote to resolve the tie at the top in the 1871-72 election voting. Voting closes Wednesday night, December 23rd, so vote early.
More after the jump.
This runoff vote involves two pitchers, but that’s where the similarity begins and ends. Two different eras, starter vs reliever, spitballer vs knuckleballer.
Walsh compiled 63.2 WAR and 36.3 WAA in a fourteen year career of almost 3000 innings pitched, all but 18 of them for the White Sox. However, 85% of those innings and 95% of the WAR came from a 7-year peak from 1906 to 1912, with three of those seasons over 10 WAR and all of them over 4 WAR. Walsh won 195 games and lost 126 for a .607 W-L%. He won 20 games four times, with three of those seasons over 25 wins. Walsh is the last pitcher to record a 40 win season, going 40-15 in 1908 with 49 starts, 17 relief appearances and 464 innings pitched, the last the AL record workload for a single season.
Walsh’s career marks of a 1.82 ERA and 2.02 FIP are both all-time bests. He also sports a nifty 1.000 career WHIP. It’s thus somewhat surprising that he led the AL in ERA and WHIP only twice, and in FIP just once. His complete black ink ledger includes:
- 5 times – Games, Saves
- 4 times – IP, BF
- 3 times – GS, GF, Shutouts, SO/BB ratio
- 2 times – CG, Strikeouts, ERA, ERA+, WHIP
- 1 time – Wins, Losses, W-L%, FIP, BB/9, HR/9
Wilhelm made his major league debut in 1952, just three months shy of his 30th birthday.Despite his late start, Wilhelm authored a 21-year career that would see him surpass Cy Young‘s all-time record of 906 games pitched, reaching a total of 1070 appearances that would stand for 30 years as the major league standard. Most of Wilhelm’s career was spent with the Giants, Orioles and White Sox, recording 600+ IP and an ERA under 3.00 for each of those franchises. Now a common occurrence, Wilhelm was the first pitcher to begin a career without a game start over his first 6 seasons. His 666 IP over that span remains the highest total without a start. Wilhelm exceeded 50 appearances in the first five of those seasons, also a major league first.
Wilhelm’s 2.52 ERA is easily the best of the live ball era among pitchers with 2000 career IP, while his 147 career ERA+ trails only Pedro Martinez and Lefty Grove among that group. Wilhelm twice led his league in both ERA and ERA+, in his rookie season (the only time in a full length season that a reliever has qualified for and won the ERA crown) and for the Orioles in 1959, his lone season as a starter. Wilhelm’s 881 IP aged 40+ is the highest total among relievers, over 400 innings more than Satchel Paige in second place. Wilhelm’s 2.18 ERA over that part of his career is second only to the 1.95 mark posted by Mariano Rivera.
One caveat to Wilhelm’s ERA results is that, while his earned run count was very low, his total runs allowed were less so, as more than 18% of them were unearned. That proportion is second only to Dutch Leonard among pitchers in a 2000 IP career played entirely since 1920. While Wilhelm’s knuckler befuddled hitters, it often did the same to his catchers as, eight times during Wilhelm’s career, his catchers led the league in passed balls. All that said, Wilhelm’s 3.09 career RA is still the best of the live ball era among the 2000 IP group, just a hair better than Sandy Koufax, Whitey Ford and Tom Seaver.
So, the choice is yours: Walsh or Wilhelm. However you decide, your ballot in this runoff round, unlike the usual three-name ballot, should identify just one name, that of Walsh or Wilhelm. You will also need to add at least a little bit of extra verbiage though, because the WordPress engine that supports the site won’t accept comments of only one or two words.
This is a short-deadline runoff election. All votes must be in by 11:59PM EST on Wednesday night, December 23rd. If the result of this runoff is still a tie, the tie-breaker will give the win to the candidate who received the most runoff votes immediately before the very last runoff vote cast. So it may not be advisable to wait till the end of the runoff period to cast your vote, because if your vote happens to be the last one cast, your vote may not count for tiebreaker purposes. If you would like to keep track of the vote tally for the runoff, you can check this tally spreadsheet: COG 1871-72 Runoff Vote Tally.