Friday, February 24, 2006

Best teams per position

Nice analysis over at the Hardball Times of which teams have been historically best (and worst) at each position. For example, Cards have dominated 1st base (Mize, Musial, McGwire, Clark, Pujols), and Yanks of course in Center (Combs, DiMaggio, Mantle, Henderson, Williams). Red Sox get two positions: Left (Ruth, Williams, Yaz, Rice, and Manny), as well as Pitcher (Young, Grove, Clemens, Pedro). The Left Field honors are pretty obvious - and damn that's a collection of hitters - but I never would have guessed Sox also dominated pitching. But it makes sense.

(That analysis was inspired by this article, comparing the Yankees CF's to Red Sox LF's)


  1. Funny when i read your post I immediately figured the Sox were merely considered among the leaders for pitchers. Not THE leader. Like the author, the one that immediately came to mind for me was the Dodgers.

    Of course the measure gives extra credit for career longevity, so the short lived brilliance and dominance of Koufax or Hershiser/Valenzuela don't weigh heavily in the analysis. Plus a runs saved in dodger stadium is more valuabel than a run saved in fenway park.

    Regardless, it is interesting stuff. Interesting that the expansion teams don't get more dishonorable mentions. SEA has had about the absolute worst collection of LF ever assembled - Randy Winn is about the only guy they ever had that you could consider average. They gave LF dishonarable to SD who at least had a couple of good years out of Greg Vaughn, Phil Plantier and Ryan Klesko.

  2. Manny does not belong in that list of left fielders, defensively speaking. Either does the Babe. But offense? Another story entirely. Put Yaz right at the top for his defense. No one close.

  3. Peter it was purely based on offense as it stated:

    "used Lee Sinins's Runs Created Above Average (RCAA) as my measuring stick for position players, which, as you probably know, includes offense only. I find defensive metrics fairly unstable across time, and besides, their inclusion would have made this study infinitely more time-consuming (i.e., I’m lazy). So defense and run prevention are out,"

  4. Funny. I actually thought for a second about the Mets with pitching...

    Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Tug McGraw, etc...

    Then I took a look at their '69 team...I know the game was different then, but listen to this line...

    17 wins 9 losses
    2.28 ERA
    16 Complete Games
    6 Shutouts
    241.1 Innings Pitched
    180 Ks
    68 BB

    The year before, the same pitcher
    19 wins 12 losses
    2.08 ERA
    17 Complete Games
    7 Shutouts
    263 Innings Pitched
    178 Ks
    69 BBs

    Those are some amazing numbers...Not even his best years...

    The pitcher? Jerry Koosman! Who would have thought?

  5. Holy crap...

    I am losing respect for "today's baseball"...

    In back to back years (73 and 74) Nolan Ryan won 21 and 22 games...Ok, no big deal, right? In 73 he pitched 326 innings, in 74 332 innings...But, as they say that's not all..How about 383 K's in 73 and 367 Ks in 74? Ridiculous...Why are all these guys today wearing out so quickly? 15 years later in 89, he struck out 301!!!

  6. Why are all these guys today wearing out so quickly?

    A couple quick thoughts:
    - the DH rule began in 1973, but back then wasn't reserved for megahitters the way it is today.
    - OBP, pitch counts are a bigger deal now; so wearing out the pitcher is actually a priority for hitters.
    - more HR from smaller parks/juiced balls/steroids/whatever causes it keep innings alive longer.
    - emergence of specialists in the bullpen makes it easier for managers to pull starters when they're in trouble.

    These are just guesses.

    (It's worth noting that many old-time pitchers were a lot less durable than modern ones; had Koufax had modern medical science available to him, his career could have been 10 years longer, and he might be seen as the Best Ever.)

  7. Don't forget Ryan's amazing walk totals. The 4 man rotation was huge in getting to those numbers - he won 20+ games but lost 16 each year. But it sure is impressive - he had 20+ CG. and that is with all those walks.

  8. Yeah, but we're talking many more innings pitched...even at modest to short innings we're talking more pitches thrown. For example, 383 Ks x (at least) 3 pitches= 1149 pitches. That's 11 1/2 starts for a lot of pitchers...and that's if he just struck them out on 3 pitches...

    And Koosman's numbers were ridiculous, too. He'd be considered one of the best in the league today, (and he was their #3)with those numbers. Yes, no DH, I get that...

    I don't know if that can be proved about less durable. Koufax is one example. Not many guys throwing 240+ innings these days and lasting for years...

  9. Here is the all-time list of pitchers sorted by IP. Numbers 1-3 all pitched before 1930; then Phil Niekro, then Nolan Ryan. Only 6 active pitchers are in the top 100. So the most durable pitchers currently are less durable than they were before; what we don't know is whether the average has gone down as well (I bet it has).

  10. I know that one other reason for IP dropping is to protect big money guys...That wasn't a part of the game before. Now if a team has a big lead, the starter generally comes out. If the lead is small and a guy gets on base, the starter comes out...

    But, Earl, as you mentioned with science (and technology), you would think that today's pitchers can get instant feedback and correct any harmful movements in their mechanics. I would think that pitchers should be lasting longer now than before...Just doesn't seem to be the case.

  11. I also wonder about the number of pitches. The strike zone today is miniscule and pitchers tend to nibble around it. But even the most durable guys today are hard to compare to the durable guys from years past because of the 5 man rotation. arguably the most durable recent pitcher is Livan Hernandez and his career high is 255 innings. A ton by todays stadards, but probably does not even crack the top 10 in the 60s.

  12. X, yes the 4-man rotation was definitely big in getting to those numbers...But guys could get to those numbers.

    Here's a question...

    Do you think you could take the top 4 pitchers in baseball now and do a legitimate full season of a 4-man rotation?

  13. Also, you would think throwing so many innings and pitches that guys would tire as the season went on and their ERAs would have taken a beating, as well. Not the case at all...

  14. The effect of modern medicine could be complicated. Because doctors know so much more about arm mechanics, etc. (and teams will pay huge sums to find out what doctors will know), managers may be much more cautious. What this might do is increase the durability of pitchers on average, but hinder the natural iron men (like Ryan).

    It used to be that people didn't care much about those things. In Koufax's last two seasons ('65 and '66), his elbow was practically falling off and he was in constant pain. Yet he pitched 335 and 323 innings those years. Which is insane.

  15. Sorry. I didn't have time to read the link. I was commenting on what you printed.

  16. I can anser both those questions the same. Yes, with lots of greenies. Seriously, the four man rotation might be hard to make work today even with the most durable guys out there. I think that the pitchers today could do it if they were conditioned for it. You really are only talking about an extra 7-8 starts. The bigger issue would be getting pitchers to go deep into game and teams today just won't do that because of all the crap the managers will take (except Dusty) from the media, statheads that will quote PABP, etc.