36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

January 10, 2014

Remember when I said that was my last Hall of Fame post? I lied.

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 6:41 am

Although I still think it’s more absurd that JT Snow got two votes — TWO — than Jacque Jones got one, I agree with Kevin’s last post. I still think some of the people who didn’t vote for Greg Maddux did so for strategic reasons (he’ll get in anyway, I’d rather vote in this guy). However, there are three topics I want to discuss here.

1) Tom Glavine. I know we make a big deal of Greg Maddux being the guy who out-thought hitters, who dominated without a great fastball or dominating Blyleven-esque curve. Yet Glavine is the bigger mystery, as per Fangraphs.

Clearly, the secret to Glavine’s success must come from one of two things — he was left handed or witchcraft. Maybe both. 

2) Fun fact: Matt Morris had a better year than Jack Morris. But you know who I kept thinking of when people were singing the praises of Jack Morris? Another guy with a rubber arm, who pitched a lot of innings. The win totals aren’t there because the Twins were mindbendingly awful most of the time he pitched for them. And yes, Morris did pitch more innings. But Brad Radke is still a pretty damn good comp. Another fun fact: #1 on Jack Morris’ comp list? El Freakin’ Presidente. Almost literally the only difference between Jack Morris and Dennis Martinez is the post season performance. Oh, and by postseason performance, it’s really just the one game, since Dennis Martinez actually pitched better than Jack Morris in the postseason on the whole. 

The real comparison is, of course, between that other guy what pitched really good once in a postseason game. Of course, Don Larsen was pretty much the definition of average, yet still somehow managed to get more than 10% of the HOF vote.

3) Can I build a Cooperstown case for Julio Franco? No. I’ve tried to bend the numbers this way and that, and the case boils down to his obscenely long career, the number of hits, and very good plate discipline. As a 2B, he’s 33rd — 33rd! — in history by JAWS. (between Eddie Stanky and Red Schoendienst.) And let’s be charitable — Julio Franco was a good 1B for a 2B. He pretty much has one chance to get into the Hall. He needs those extra 414 hits. Hey, the man’s only 55. Give him a uniform and a bat, I say!

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4 Comments »

  1. I don’t think strategy factored in for the people who didn’t vote for Maddux. Yes, you could come up with a list of 10 worthy Hall of Famers without Greg Maddux, but I very seriously liken it to voting against Willie Mays or Babe Ruth. I mentioned strategy with respect to Bonds and Clemens because of the Zeitgeist. Sans steroid problems, those guys should have gotten 99-100% of the vote as well.

    Glavine was another rare duck. His stats were rarely _that_ good and he definitely walked a lot more guys than a classic control pitcher. But he was an elite starter who broke DIPS. Most advanced pitching metrics focus on the Three True Outcomes (BB, K, HR) because, as the saying goes, most pitchers can’t control balls in play. Glavine was an exception: he consistently beat the spread.

    Comment by Kevin Feasel — January 10, 2014 @ 8:37 am

    • The only pitchers I definitely consider better than Maddux are Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson in his era, Pedro at his peak, and from the past… maybe Walter Johnson?

      Comment by Tony Demchak — January 10, 2014 @ 11:06 am

      • Even among that group, most of my agreement is peak. Clemens definitely has a longer career value. You’ll get no real argument from me there. For Johnson, the numbers are very close, so given that he was left-handed, I’d say that helps Johnson’s case. At his peak, Pedro was a better pitcher than Maddux at his peak. So yeah, there are three legit arguments.

        As for historical players, Baseball Reference’s lifetime WAR measure shows Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Clemens, Kid Nichols, Lefty Grove, and Tom Seaver as having higher lifetime WAR values than Maddux. When you take hitting into account, Maddux moves above Grove. Christy Mathewson, Warren Spahn (including his batting skills), Phil Niekro, and Bert Blyleven (no bat skills included) are close. Randy Johnson ranks right behind Maddux, and Pedro Martinez a little bit lower on the list due to his relatively shorter career.

        Given all of this, Maddux is, at worst, the 14th best pitcher ever. I’d consider him better than Mathewson, Spahn, Nikero, and Blyleven. It’s really difficult comparing Maddux to a deadball era pitcher like Young or Nichols because of how radically different the game was. I’d take Maddux over Martinez. With Johnson, it’d really boil down to whether you prefer Johnson’s left-handedness or Maddux’s superior bat (career WAR/WAA difference in batting of 4.4). My homerism makes me take Maddux, but I’d call them even. Grove is an interesting case: Maddux’s peak was higher than Grove’s, but Grove was fantastic across 15 years. Aside from a 1934 in which he was injured, he had an ERA+ over 130 every single year from 1926 through 1939, leading the league 9 times. He was elite for 13 full seasons. Maddux was elite (using that same 130 ERA+ cutoff) for 10 seasons, with an ERA+ in the upper 120s 2 additional seasons. Grove was a miserable hitter, so when you take hitting into account, Maddux’s WAR eeks above Grove. But to be fair to Grove, he pitched 1000 fewer innings than Maddux.

        That said, I readily concede Johnson, Alexander, and Clemens. Young and Nichols definitely had better career stats, but like I said, it was a totally different ballgame in the 1890s. If you want to include either (or both) as better than Maddux, you can make a very good case; I just don’t see it as being quite as strong a case as the first three. I wouldn’t cry if you picked Grove over Maddux. Seaver’s a tough call. They’re very similar in terms of WAR, career length, and ERA+. I’d have to give the nod to Seaver, even in full homer mode. I’d say that Maddux probably would have adjusted to Seaver’s world better than the other way around, though.

        Comment by Kevin Feasel — January 11, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  2. I’m getting a career WAR of 2.2 with Maddux from B-R. I mean, it’s not nothing, but you really think Maddux was all that great with the stick?

    Comment by Tony Demchak — January 11, 2014 @ 5:30 pm


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