For the full High Heat Stats experience:

Circle of Greats 1961 Results: Moose Head of the Class

When this round of balloting began, Mike Mussina was not considered the most likely winner by those who offered predictions, but Magic Mike’s cool demeanor and steady performance over the years seem to have helped bring him the most votes in a closely contested, back-and-forth election. More on Moose and the voting after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

Hall of Fame Backlog: Have We Been Here Before?

It’s pretty obvious that there was a lot of talent at the top of the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot.  With Kenny Lofton, and to a lesser extent, David Wells, failing to garner the five percent needed to see another ballot, it was one of the deeper ballots in recent memory as well.  The 2014 ballot drops those two, but adds Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, and a handful of viable candidates for whom voters may struggle to find room in a year with so much talent on the bill.

The first Hall of Fame ballot, in 1936, was obviously top-heavy and deep as well, naming not only inductees Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, Johnson, and Mathewson, but snubs like Cy Young, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, and the still-active Lou Gehrig.  The interceding years cycled through ballots with several obvious Hall of Famers and those on which Bruce Sutter looked like the best choice, as various Veterans Committees were tasked with clearing out ballot backlogs and did so to various degrees.

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King Felix’s new clothes

As you’ve heard by now, the Mariners are close to a deal with Felix Hernandez on a 5-year extension. The deal would run from 2015-19, his ages 29-33, and is expected to make him the highest-paid pitcher ever, with an average salary of at least $25 million per season. (Initial reports of a $27.1 million AAV have been denied, but if I were a betting man….)

King Felix was already under contract for 2013-14 at about $20 million per.

I confess: I don’t really understand negotiating a top-of-the-pay-scale, 5-year extension for a pitcher two years before his free agency, when a mound of data suggests he’ll be declining by the time the contract kicks in, and quite possibly sooner. What does the club gain by doing this now?

Since the deal comes so far before his free agency, it’s worth guessing at what he might do not only during the deal, but also in the two years before it begins — two years that represent lost knowledge in Seattle’s decision-making process. Let’s see what we can learn from recent stars at a similar age.

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Beyond ERA+: Why Rick Reuschel Had Hall of Fame Value

1988 Score #519 - Rick Reuschel - Courtesy of COMC.com

It’s been some time since I wrote a “Let’s Talk About” piece. This time I bring you a pitcher who WAR would have you believe is perhaps the most underrated player in Major League history.

Lets talk about Rick Reuschel.

Now, first let’s acknowledge the sniff test. When Rally first made his WAR spreadsheets available (it later became Baseball-Reference WAR), Reuschel ranked surprisingly high. I had never once considered Reuschel for the Hall. Even after some major revisions to Rally’s original WAR formula, Reuschel still ranks 32nd all time in pitching WAR and 97th overall. The Hall of Stats adjusts WAR with more emphasis on peak value. Reuschel rankings:

  • 99th among all players in history
  • 85th among players eligible for the Hall of Fame (84th if you remove Pete Rose)
  • 30th among all pitchers in history
  • 23rd among all pitchers eligible for the Hall of Fame
  • 13th among eligible players not in the Hall of Fame
  • 6th among eligible players not in the Hall of Fame who are not currently on the ballot, behind Pete Rose, Lou Whitaker, Bill Dahlen, Bobby Grich, and Kevin Brown (again, fifth if you don’t count Rose)

According to WAR and the Hall of Stats, Rick Reuschel was a top 100 player. That was—and still is—a revelation. When I create lists of the best players outside of the Hall, I still hesitate a bit before listing Reuschel’s name. So, what gives?

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The All-Time Milwaukee Brewers Team

Franchise History

Milwaukee Brewers (1970- )
Seattle Pilots (1969)

No franchise that started in Seattle has ever won a World Series. The Brewers were only the Seattle Pilots for one year, but their 44 years combined with the Mariners’ 36 adds up to almost as much futility as a certain drought that ended with a “curse” being broken.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s not a single member of the ’69 Pilots on this all-time team. Read the rest of this entry

The Mr. Journeyman Derby

Bobo Newsom www.baseball-reference.com

Bobo Newsom
www.baseball-reference.com

If you’ve ever wondered about who are the most well-traveled ballplayers, well you’ve come to the right post.

My favorite journeyman is good ol’ boy Bobo Newsom on the left, there. His career spanned 25 years during which he played on 9 clubs, switched teams 16 times, and never stayed on the same club for more than 3 consecutive seasons. He even had multiple stints with 4 different organizations, and was once traded for two brothers, one (the wrong one) a future HOFer.

After the jump, I’ll introduce you to a number of other journeymen, some unfamiliar and some who need no introduction.

WARNING: what follows is entirely for fun and written 100% tongue in cheek. Remember, you were warned.

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Cy-onara, Brandon … Say it ain’t so, Chris!

The usually hopeful time between Super Bowl and “pitchers & catchers” brought a double dose of sad news from NL Cy Young Award winners.

Brandon Webb is retiring, nearly four years since he last pitched in the majors. Webb becomes the 27th modern pitcher to retire with 80+ wins before age 30, but none thereafter — and arguably the best of that bunch, based on WAR per 250 innings:

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Proceed with caution: the toughest pitchers to run against

Kenny RogersWhich pitchers are the toughest to run against? Well, Kenny Rogers on the left there is certainly among them (what do you think: is that Kenny’s no-look pickoff move to 1st base; or is he staring down the runner on 3rd as he delivers the pitch?)

There are a lot of ways to look at this question. After the jump, I’ll consider a few of them.

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Quiz – “Great baffling box scores, Batman!” (solved)

In the game-searchable era (since 1916), there is something that has happened during a major league game only 4 times, specifically in the games below.

What is it?

1923-06-06 - White Sox 4, Yankees 1, Red Faber homered off of Herb Pennock

1929-06-24 - Tigers 13, White Sox 4, Red Faber homered off of Emil Yde

1948-09-20 - Phillies 5, Pirates 2, Bob Chesnes homered off of Robin Roberts

1962-05-05 - Athletics 18, Indians 6, Jerry Walker homered off of Pedro Ramos

Happy sleuthing!

Congratulations to Stuart! He correctly identified the above games as the only contests since 1916 to feature a home run hit by a switch-hitting pitcher off of another switch-hitting pitcher who also homered in his career. Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com for the home runs logs.

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Percentage of full seasons played by rookies

Here’s a simple calculation that reveals lots of interesting stuff. Using B-R.com’s new option to limit searches to players who qualify as rookies (using the modern definition only), it’s easy to find what fraction of players each season who qualified for the batting title also qualified as rookies.

This is what the data looks like:

percentage rookies

The overall trend is clear. In the early part of the 20th century, about 15% of full-time players were rookies. There is an uptick in 1914 as the Federal League was formed and lots of new players were brought in. In the late 1910s, nearly no rookies played full seasons but by the 1920s the rate was back up to about 12%. When World War II came around, the rate spiked as a lot of established players left for military service. There was a spike from 1952 into 1953, due to the Korean War. The rate spiked even further in 1954, but I’m not sure why, as that war was already over and guys like Ted Williams and Willy Mays were back.

By the 1960s, the rate of rookies dropped down to about 9%. In the 1970s, it went even lower, plummeting to an all-time low in 1979. From 1980 on, the rate has been relatively consistent around 5%. Note a few upticks in expansion years of 1969, 1977, and 1993.

I wonder why the fraction of rookies has dropped gradually over time? September call-ups probably have something to do with it–more players qualifying as rookies before playing a full qualifying season. There may just also be less playing of rookies full time–for example fewer rookies winning jobs in spring training.

What else can we surmise from this data?

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