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The Nine All-Time Greats Of The Post-Raised Mound Era: 1969: 1990

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The Nine All-Time Greats Of The Post-Raised Mound Era: 1969: 1990

The Nine All-Time Great Pitchers of the Lowered Mound – Divisional Baseball era:   1969 – 1990

(And the best of the Rest)

 

                As I grew up and followed baseball through this era, I was aware of all these pitchers.   I played a Sports Illustrated game from 1970 that kind of imprinted all of the players stats from that year on my mind.  The combination of tv broadcasting, radio, baseball magazines and sportswriters made a combined impression of players’ greatness.   The media lauded some player’s exploits to legendary status.  About others there were more differing opinions, and some toiled long and hard without getting the spotlight they deserved.

After the 1968 season baseball executives reacted to the dominance pitchers displayed.  The lack of run scoring in particular led the powers that be to reverse the rules change of 1963.  The mound was physically lowered 5”, and the umpires were instructed to shrink the strike zone.  Pitching was heading into a new era.              

                The lowered ERAs, incredible strikeout totals, and never before seen K/BB ratios of the raised mound era all left new levels of expectation on pitching excellence.  Since the live ball era beginning in 1921, only Warren Spahn (363), Lefty Grove (300), and Early Wynn (300) had won 300 games.  Would the new demands on strikeouts and excellence cause pitching longevity to go by the wayside?

Pitchers rose to the challenge presented by the raised mound era in a big way!  More runs were being scored in the new era, but the depth of pitching excellence displayed is equalled perhaps only by the deadball era pitchers!  Later I will list 27 pitchers who displayed some form of mastery in their careers that could have been considered among the top 15 or so statistical pitchers from any previous era. 

 Bob Gibson had a few good years '69 - '74, but for the most part the great pitchers of the previous era were finished by the early 70s.  Having been ranked as the #2 pitcher of the previous era, Bob Gibson will not be ranked in this article.  (He would certainly cause the number in the title to change to 10!)

There were 9 pitchers who truly separated themselves with their accomplishments.   They didn’t just have long careers, or win games, or have low ERAs, or a lot of strikeouts, or great K/BB ratios, or prevent fewer hits than innings pitched, or have significant shutout totals.  Many of these pitchers did everything well! 

8 of these 9 reached 4500 innings – 4 topped 5000!

 8 of these 9 passed 3000 Ks, a mark previously reserved for Walter Johnson (3508), and more recently Bob Gibson (3117).  (This began setting 3000 Ks as a career mark worthy of the HOF.) 

7 of the 9 topped 50 shutouts, pretty much an automatic HOF #, or should be!  4 more from the era had 45 or more!

6 of these 9 won 300 games!  6 more won between 250 and 300.

8 pitchers completed over 200 games.

7 of the 9 surpassed a K/BB ratio of 2.00 – the historical mark of excellence.

7 of the 9 had a career ERA+ of 115 or better.

So whether you are measuring with stats of dominance, longevity, or quality, all were present for these 9 greats of the era.

 

Neutralized Stats offered at Baseball Reference are a great tool for making comparisons of pitchers’ careers because it puts the pitchers on an even playing field.  Adjustment is made for the ballpark a pitcher worked in and provision for historical average run support.  It gives you a good feel for just how effective a pitcher was!  Did a pitcher ride the coattails of a powerful offense to amass large win totals, or pitch in a severe pitcher’s park, aiding his ERA?  Or did a pitcher suffer from poor run support, but pitched great quality ball?   The answers to these questions are largely revealed by the neutralized stats.   I included neutralized W-L, ERA and WHIP in my pitcher evaluations along with actual W-L, ERA, ERA+, shutouts, complete games, innings pitched/hits allowed, Ks/ BB, ratio, and WHIP. 

Having lived through the era, I, like any fan of the period, had preconceived impressions of the relative greatness of these pitchers.  So I determined to throw out my pre-judging, and let the #s speak for themselves.  Having determined to list 27 pitchers and somehow rank them, I ran into trouble making judgment calls between so many pitchers.  Desiring to be fair in evaluating and comparing these careers, I developed a point system to aid in separating the best from the rest.

I will preface listing the point system by saying this is by no means a flawless comparison system.  But it is an arbitrary evaluation of each category, to emphasize the all-around excellence that prevailed as the theme for this era.  It was evenly applied to every pitcher’s career total.  The point total will be listed last after the pitcher’s stats.  As in real life, emphasis is given to wins, but all aspects are given attention.

Neutralized wins ;  1 pt for each 5 wins over 200.

1 point for each 10 real wins over 200. (rounded to nearest 10)

1 point for each 10 real wins more than losses. (rounded to nearest 10)

Neutralized ERA ;  1 pt. for each .05 +/- from 3.70.

ERA+ ;  1 point for each % point over 100.

1 pt. for each shutout over 30.

1 pt. for each 100 hits fewer than innings pitched.

1 pt. for each 100 Ks  +/- 2000. 

K/BB ratio;  1 pt. for each .1 in ratio +/- 2.00.

1 pt. each 10 complete games +/- 150 for the career.

Neutralized WHIP;  1 pt. for each .010 +/- 1.300

1)      Tom Seaver – (311 - 205; 2.86 ERA; ERA+ 127; 61 SHO; 231 CG; 4782 IP/ 3971 H; 3640 K/ 1390 BB; ratio 2.62; WHIP 1.12; Neut. Stats: 330-196; 3.12 ERA; 1.18 WHIP; 170 points)  was the leading pitcher for this era, and the one who most exemplifies all-around  excellence.  “Tom Terrific” was good at everything.  He won 300 games, is 6th on the all-time K list, is tied for the most shutouts of the era, and had the best ERA+ and WHIP. 

Tom Seaver began his career in 1967, winning the Rookie of the Year award with 16 wins, 18 complete games and an ERA of 2.76.  In 1969 he led the “Miracle Mets” to the world series title.  Along the way he won 25 games and the Cy Young award.  He won 20 games 5 times and garnered two more Cy Young awards in 1973 and ’75. 

Seaver had a unique combination of power and control.  His delivery came straight over the top, using his legs to drive forward toward the plate.  It was one of the most classic pitching deliveries in baseball history.

In 1977 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, who had just finished winning back to back world series.  Although he pitched well for his new club, he never made it back to the world series while he was there.  After struggling in 1982, he was back with the Mets in ’83.

The White Sox plucked him off the waiver wire, and he won his 300th game against the Yankees in 1985.  He spent one season in Boston before retiring in 1987.  He was inducted into the HOF in 1992 with 98.84% of the vote on the first ballot.

 

                The Surprises! -  the next four pitchers all finished within 5 points of each other following my point system,  (138 – 133).  The order is a little surprising, but I will list them according to how the points came out.  (This is certainly not a flawless system), but I think it shows rather that these four great pitchers are relatively close in strength of their careers.  The surprise here is that Nolan Ryan fits in a group at all, and that this is where Bert Blyleven finds his place. 

                Each of them has their individual strengths.  Ryan and Steve Carlton were the power pitchers, and led with incredible strikeout totals (5714 and 4136).  Gaylord Perry  pitched 303 complete games, and had great all-around strength.  He and Carlton have Cy Young awards.  If it’s ERA+ (118) or K/BB ratio (2.80) you’re looking for then Blyleven is the leader.  Ryan (61) and Blyleven (60) led in shutouts. 

2)      Bert Blyleven – (287 – 250; 3.31 ERA; ERA+ 118; 60 SHO; 242 CG; 4970 IP/ 4632 H; 3701 K/ 1322 BB; ratio 2.80; WHIP 1.19; Neut. Stats: 325 – 227; 3.37 ERA; 1.213 WHIP; 138 points) was born in the Netherlands, and was named AL rookie pitcher of the year in 1970 at the tender age of 20. For 6 straight years, from 1971 – 1976, he pitched over 250 innings and struck out over 200 batters, posting ERAs between 2.50 and 3.00.  The Twins, his team, scored a total of 18 runs during his 15 losses in 1971.  He won 20 games just once in 1973, when he pitched 9 shutouts,  325 innings, 25 complete games, struck out 258 batters, had a WHIP of 1.11 and still finished 7th in the Cy Young award balloting! 

        He was traded to the Texas Rangers during the 1976 season, and in 1977 pitched a no-hitter for them.   Bert has 8 career one hit games in his career. 

        In 1979 he was instrumental in helping the Pittsburgh Pirates of “We are Family” fame win the league championship series against the Reds and the world series against the Baltimore Orioles. 

        He continued on with the Cleveland Indians ’81 – ‘85, went back to Minnesota ’86 – ’87, pitching with them for the world series title in ‘87, and finished his career in California with the Angels.  In 1989, at age 38, he pitched 242 innings, went  17 – 5 and won the Comeback Player of the Year award.

        Beginning in 1979 and ’80 Bert struggled with various arm and neck injuries, but always seemed to find a way to reinvent his excellence.  He maintained a high level of effectiveness late into his career.  His career K/BB ratio of 2.80 was only matched in history by Christy Mathewson from the deadball era, and the high flying stats from the raised mound era (Marichal, Koufax and co.)

        He is one of only 4 pitchers since the live ball era began (1921) to have 60 shutouts.  15 times he shut down the opposing team for the entire game while only getting one run of support himself.  This leads all pitchers in the same time period.

        His 3701 strikeouts are 5th all-time.  But what Bert Blyleven is perhaps most well-known for is his legendary curveball.  Being inspired by watching Sandy Koufax pitch, he learned a curve with similar mechanics, and used it throughout his career.  It has become the curve against which all others are compared. 

 

3)      Nolan Ryan – (324 – 292; 3.19 ERA; ERA+ 111; 61 SHO; 222 CG; 5386 IP/ 3923 H; 5714 K/ 2795 BB; 2.04 ratio; WHIP 1.247; Neut. Stats: 320 – 259; 3.62 ERA; 1.350 WHIP; 137 points) – the Texas gunslinger came up with the New York Mets, pitching his first full season in 1968.  Ryan became known for his blazing fastball that seemed to rise on the way to the plate.  He was regularly clocked at over 100 mph. 

 He became unhappy without a regular rotation spot in New York, and was traded to the California Angels for the 1972 season.  His 329 Ks led the league, and  were the first of 6 times he would break the 300 K mark for a season.  The next year he broke Sandy Koufax season mark by one with 383 Ks.  Ryan came into his own for the Angels, posting his highest IP and win totals for them from ’72 – ’79. 

He pitched for the Houston Astros (1980 – ’88), and the Texas Rangers (’89 – ’93).  Along the way he threw a record 7 no-hitters.  His pitching became known as “the Ryan Express”.  In that he was described as an unstoppable force, the nickname was quite accurate.  He was still striking out more than a batter per inning, and throwing in the high 90s at age 46.

His 5714 Ks are first all-time, more than 900 ahead of Randy Johnson heading into the ’09 season.  But his 2795 BB are also by far the most any pitcher has allowed.  He was the hardest pitcher to hit in baseball history, allowing 1463 fewer hits than innings pitched.  His 61 shutouts tie Tom Seaver for the most from this era, one of 4 pitchers with 60 or more since the live ball era began (1921).

4)       Gaylord Perry – (314 – 265; 3.11 ERA; ERA+ 117; 53 SHO; 303 CG; 5350 IP/ 4938 H; 3534 K/ 1379 BB; 2.56 ratio; WHIP 1.18; Neut. Stats: 342 – 242; 3.40 ERA; 1.248 WHIP; 136 points) broke in with the San Francisco Giants in 1962.  By 1966 he had won 21 games and was known as part of a 1 – 2 pitching force for the Giants along with Juan Marichal. 

In 1972 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, and went on to win the Cy Young award, leading the league in wins and IP.  He pitched 4 years for the Indians, 3 for the Texas Rangers, and 2 more for the San Diego Padres to round out the decade.  He is one of only 4 pitchers to win a Cy Young Award in both leagues (“78 for San Diego). 

He won 20 games 4 times.  He was especially renowned for doctoring baseballs, writing an autobiography titled “Me and the Spitter” in 1974.  However, he was never suspended for his “illegal” activity until near the end of his career in 1982. 

Gaylord Perry was  excellent in many facets of his pitching.  His 303 complete games and 342 neutralized are 1st and 2nd among pitchers from this era.  He was strong in every category, exemplifying the all-around excellence theme.  He was inducted into the HOF in 1991.

5)       Steve Carlton – (329 – 244; 3.22 ERA; Era+ 115; 55 SHO; 254 CG; 5217 IP/ 4672 H; 4136 K/ 1833 BB; 2.26 ratio; WHIP 1.247; Neut. Stats: 336 – 237; 3.42 ERA; 1.297 WHIP; 133 points) pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1965 – ’71 and the Philadelphia Phillies from 1972 – 1985. 

He established an effective career early on, pitching in the ’67 and ’68 world series.  He became mostly identified with the Phillies, winning 20 games 6 times and winning 4 Cy Young awards.  His most incredible season came in 1972 when he won 27 games, posted a 1.97 ERA, struck out 310 batters, and threw 30 complete games. 

His fastball and slider were his “out” pitches.  His slider was especially devastating.  In 1980 Carlton led the Phillies to the world series and won the final game.  Again in 1983, the Phillies won the NL pennant, but this time lost the world series.

Battling Nolan Ryan for the all-time K lead from ’82 – ’84, “Lefty” succumbed to arm problems after the ’84  season, and settled for 4136 for his career.  Retiring 2nd to Ryan in strikeouts, he is also connected to Ryan by posting the 2nd most BB for a career (1833). 

Carlton was inducted into the HOF on the first ballot in 1994.  Steve Carlton was the first pitcher to win 4 Cy Young awards.  He is the leading lefthander from this era, and an all-time great.

 

                The rest of the 9 greats –

6)      Ferguson Jenkins – (284 – 226; 3.34 ERA; ERA+115; 49 SHO; 267 CG; 4500 IP/ 4142 H; 3192 K/ 997 BB; 3.20 ratio; 1.14 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 2896 – 211; 3.45 ERA; 1.168 WHIP; 123 points) was born in Ontario, Canada.  He later became the first Canadian inducted into the HOF. 

 

Jenkins came to fame with the Cubs in the late 60s and early 70s, winning 20 games 6 years in a row (1967 – ’72).  He won the NL Cy Young award in 1971. 

 

In 1974, ’75, and ’78 – ‘81 he pitched for the Texas Rangers.  He spent ’76, ’77 with the Boston Red Sox.  Although an effective pitcher throughout his career, he never pitched a post-season game. 

 

Jenkins topped  the 3000 K  mark.  But his 997 BB make him the leading K/BB ratio pitcher of this era.  His 267 complete games are second only to Gaylord Perry.  He is the second, (Bob Gibson was the first), black pitcher to make these top ten lists.   

 

7)       Jim Palmer – (268 – 152; 2.86 ERA; Era+ 126; 53 SHO; 211 CG; 3948 IP/ 3349 H; 2212 K/ 1311 BB; 1.69 ratio; WHIP 1.18; Neut. Stats: 265 – 166; 3.21 Era; 1.264 WHIP; 106 points) was a leading pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles in ’66, ’69 – ’82.  He joined with Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally to make one of the great all-time pitching staffs.  In 1970 the Orioles had four 20 game winners including Palmer – a feat only matched by the 1920 White Sox.

 

Palmer won 20 games ’70 – ’73 and ’75 – ’78, winning Cy Young awards in ’73, ’75 and ’76. 

 

Palmer was not a strikeout pitcher, but rather relied on his sinker and solid defense behind him to induce ground balls and prevent runs from scoring.  His career ERA (2.86) is one of the lowest in the live ball era.  His 53 shutouts speak to his dominance without high strikeout totals.

 

Jim Palmer has one of the more distinguished post-season careers.  He pitched in 6 world series with the Orioles (’66, ’69-’71, ’79, ’83).  His post-season stats include an 8 – 3 record, 2.61 ERA, 124 innings, 101 hits, 90 Ks, and 2 shutouts. 

 

Jim Palmer is undoubtedly one of the great pitchers not only of this era, but of all-time.  He was amazingly consistent and reliable during his prolonged peak (’69 – ’78).  His pitching style was somewhat of a throwback to earlier eras, when strikeout dominance was less expected.  His declining years came rather abruptly and put a quick end to his brilliant career, leaving his longevity #s short of the other  8 pitchers on this list.  Also, his K/BB ratio (1.69) is rather low – he topped 90 BB 6 different years.

 

I have moved him two places higher than the point totals indicate for his post-season record.  I am aware that a differing viewpoint of evaluation could put him even higher.

 

8)       Don Sutton – ( 324 – 256; 3.26 ERA; ERA+ 108; 58 SHO; 178 CG; 5282 IP/ 4692 H; 3574 K/ 1343 BB; 2.66 ratio; WHIP 1.14; Neut. Stats: 309 – 260; 3.71 ERA; 1,237 WHIP; 115 points) pitched for the LA Dodgers from ’66 – ’80.  He also pitched for Houston, Milwaukee, California, and Oakland, finishing his career back with the Dodgers in ’88. 

 

Sutton was a product of one of the great pitching factories in baseball – the Los Angeles Dodgers of the 1960s.  During his peak years from ’71 – ’78, he won 19 games twice and 21 games in 1976.  His best year was probably ’72 when he won 19 games, pitched 9 shutouts, allowed only 186 hits in 272 innings,  had 207 Ks against 63 BB, and posted an ERA of 2.09.

 

His longevity is remarkable.  He is 7thall-time in IP (5282) and 7th in Ks (3574).  His 58 shutouts demonstrate his high quality of pitching, and are 5th among pitchers in the live ball era.  He fits the profile of the pitcher demonstrating all-around excellence, posting a 2.66 K/BB ratio, winning 324 games, and a WHIP of 1.14 as well.   

 

9)       Phil Neikro – 318 – 274; 3.35 ERA; ERA+ 115; 45 SHO; 245 CG; 5404 IP/ 5044 H; 3342 K/ 1809 BB; 1.85 ratio; 1.268 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 349 – 247; 3.41 ERA; 1.283 WHIP; 110 points) was a mainstay of the Braves pitching staff for 20 years. 

 

Niekro’s best seasons came in ’69 (23 – 13; 2.56 ERA), and ’74 ( 20 – 13; 2.38 ERA).  He finished second to Tom Seaver in the Cy Young balloting in ’69.

 

Phil Niekro’s incredible longevity can be attributed to his soft-tossing knuckleball.  His 121 wins after the age of 40 are still a major league record.  He threw over 200 innings 19 times!  His 5404 innings are the most of any pitcher in the live ball era. 

 

He combined with his brother, Joe Neikro (211 wins), to top the win list by any brother tandem in history (539 wins).  Phil was beloved by the Atlanta crowd because of his loyalty to the team, despite many losing seasons.  Along the way, Phil won 5 gold gloves.

 

He reached the post-season twice, in ’69 against the Mets, and ’82 against the Cardinals.  He pitched well, but was unable to come away with a win.

 

 

These 9 pitchers separated themselves from the rest.  But there was also depth of excellence in this era as well.  Below you will find a breakdown of 18 more pitchers who had excellent careers.  There are 200 game winners, 2000 K artists, and pitchers with 30 or more shutouts.  These were all marks of excellence in previous eras.   The pitchers ranked 26th and 27th turned out to be 200 game winners.  (Some other 200 game winners did not make the list – Joe Niekro, Jim Perry, and Charlie Hough.)

 #s 10 – 27:

10)   Luis Tiant - (229 - 172; 3.30 ERA; ERA+ 114; 49 SHO; 187 CG; 3486 IP/ 3075 H; 2416 K/ 1104 BB; 2.19 ratio; WHIP 1.19; Neut. Stats: 222 – 158; 3.43 ERA; 1.232 WHIP) 72 points.

11)   Tommy John – (288 - 231; 3.34 ERA; ERA+ 110; 46 SHO; 162 CG; 4710 IP/ 4783 H; 2245 K/ 1259 BB; 1.78 ratio; WHIP 1.283; Neut. Stats: 289 – 225; 3.61 ERA; 1.346 WHIP) 55 points

12)   Jim Kaat  - (283 - 237; 3.45 ERA; ERA+107; 180 CG; 31 SHO; 4530 IP/ 4620 H;  2461 K/ 1083 BB; 2.27 ratio; 1.259 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 266 – 222: 3.68 ERA; 1.307 WHIP) 43 points

13)   Mickey Lolich – ( 217 – 191; 3.44 ERA; ERA+ 105; 41 SHO; 195 CG; 3638 IP/ 3366 H; 2832 K/ 1099 BB; 2.58 ratio; 1.227 WHIP;  Neut. Stats: 205 – 184; 3.81 ERA; 1.305 WHIP) 42 points

14)   Catfish Hunter – ( 224 – 166; 3.26 ERA; ERA+ 104; 42 SHO; 181 CG; 3449 IP/ 2958 H; 2012 K/ 954 BB; 2.11 ratio; WHIP 1.134; Neut. Stats: 194 – 174; 3.82 ERA; 1.249 WHIP) 35 points

15)   Dave Stieb – (176 – 137; 3.44 ERA; ERA+ 122; 30 SHO; 103 CG; 2895 IP/ 2572 H; 1669 K/ 1034 BB; 1.61 ratio; 1.245 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 200 – 127; 3.25 ERA; 1.202 WHIP) 34 points

16)   Frank Tanana – ( 240 – 236; 3.66 ERA; ERA+ 106; 34 SHO; 143 CG; 4188 IP/ 4063 H; 2773 K/ 1255 BB; 2.21 ratio; 1.27 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 245 – 216; 3.78 ERA; 1.295 WHIP) 32 points

17)   Ron Guidry – (170 – 91; 3.29 ERA; ERA+ 119; 26 SHO; 95 CG; 2392 IP/ 2198 H/ 1778 K/ 633 BB; 2.80 ratio; 1.184 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 159 – 107; 3.34 ERA; 1.193 WHIP) 31 points

18)   Jack Morris – 254 – 186; 3.90 ERA; ERA+ 105; 28 SHO 175 CG; 3824 IP/ 3567 H; 2478 K/ 1390 BB; 1.78 ratio; 1.296 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 229 – 204; 3.82 ERA; 1.283 WHIP)30 points

19)   Jerry Koosman – ( 222 – 209; 3.36 ERA; ERA+110; 33 SHO; 140 CG; 3839 IP/ 3635 H; 2556 K/ 1198 BB; 2.13 ratio; WHIP 1.259; Neut. Stats: 230 – 188; 3.62 ERA; 1.319 WHIP) 30 points

20)   Dennis Martinez – ( 245 – 193; 3.70 ERA; ERA+ 106; 30 SHO; 122 CG; 3999 IP/ 3897 H; 2149 K/ 1169 BB; 1.84; 1.266 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 245 – 210; 3.76 ERA; 1.283 WHIP) 25 points

21)   Vida Blue – ( 209 – 161; 3.27 ERA; Era+ 108; 37 SHO; 143 CG; 3343 IP/ 2939 H; 2175 K/ 1185 BB; 1.83 ratio; WHIP 1.233; Neut. Stats: 200 – 163; 3.70 ERA; 1.332 WHIP) 23 points

22)   Rick Rueschel – ( 214 – 191; 3.37 ERA; ERA+ 114; 26 SHO; 102 CG; 3548 IP/ 3588 H; 2015 K/ 935 BB 2.16 ratio; 1.275 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 225 – 168; 3.47 ERA; 1.294 WHIP) 21 points

23)   Steve Rogers – ( 158 – 152; 3.17 ERA; ERA+ 116; 37 SHO; 129 CG; 2837 IP/ 2619 H; 1621 K/ 876 BB; 1.85 ratio; 1.232 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 1892 – 132; 3.45 ERA; 1.290 WHIP) 20 points

24)   Mike Cuellar – ( 185 – 130; 3.14 ERA; ERA+ 109; 36 SHO; 172 CG; 2808 IP/ 2535 H; 1632 K/ 822 BB; 1.98 ratio; 1.197 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 165 – 133; 3.68 ERA; 1.314 WHIP) 18 points

25)   Dave McNally  - ( 184 – 119; 3.24 Era; ERA+ 106; 33 SHO; 120 CG; 2730 IP/ 2488 H; 1512 K/ 826 BB; 1.83 ratio; 1.214 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 156 – 136; 3.79 ERA; 1.329 WHIP) 0 points

26)   Bob Welch – ( 211 – 146: 3.47 ERA; ERA+ 106; 28 SHO; 61 CG; 3092 IP/ 2894 H; 1969 K/ 1034 BB 1.90 ratio; 1.270 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 179 – 162; 3.82 ERA; 1.347 WHIP) -7 points

27)   Jerry Ruess – ( 220 – 191; 3.64 ERA; ERA+ 100; 39 SHO; 127 CG; 3669 IP/ 3734 H; 1707 K/ 1127 BB; 1.69 ratio; 1.325 WHIP; Neut. Stats: 204 – 196; 3.97; 1.398 WHIP) -8 points

 

 

Discussion –

Luis Tiant is the bridge between the greats and the rest.  His 3.30 ERA – ERA+ of 114, 49 SHO, 2400+ Ks, and post-season success indicate a HOF worthy career. 

Tommy John and Jim Kaat are ideal candidates for the veteran’s committee.  They have traditionally inducted pitchers with high win totals.  (Burleigh Grimes, Red Ruffing, Eppa Rixey, etc.)

Catfish Hunter’s HOF induction certainly was the benefit of world series and large market media exposure.  Although he had several good years, his #s have a hard time holding up to his HOF contemporaries – especially in neutralized stats.

Jack Morris has 254 wins and not too much else to hang his hat on.  His #s do not stand out among his contemporaries.

Mickey Lolich was a very good pitcher who may have fallen a few wins short of strong HOF consideration.  His 1968 post-season exploits are certainly memorable.

All of these pitchers had many different incredible seasons and excellent careers.  (We didn’t even get to look at Fernando Valenzuela!) 

The list is just a way to show the depth of the era, and the relative strength of the different careers.

 

The case of Bert Blyleven – lack of run support masked the greatness of what he was accomplishing in the 70s.  By the early 70s when he broke in, sportswriter’s attention was already rapt on Seaver, Palmer, Perry, Gibson, Carlton, Catfish Hunter leading his team to the world series, and the new unheard of strikeout totals being put up by Nolan Ryan.  It wasn’t hard to miss the curveball artist, toiling away out in Minnesota, when he put up W – L records like 17 – 17 (twice), 16 – 15, or 20 – 17.  When it came time for the Cy Young voting, writer’s attention was easily diverted elsewhere. When he did get a chance to pitch in the post-season, Bert shined, going 5 – 1 with a 2.47 ERA.  But Blyleven was clearly doing something special with his incredible curve – pitching 8 one-hitters, fifteen  1 – 0 shutouts, and a no-hitter in ’77.  The neutralized stats begin to give us a glimpse of what his pitching was truly about – 325 – 227 with one of the best ERA+, WHIP, and K/BB ratios of his era  accomplished over 4970 innings.  There is no denying that he was not only one of the great pitchers of his era, but also one of the greats across the history of the game.  He deserves voting induction to the HOF with a healthy dose of attention to his overlooked career!

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