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Bob Gibson has died, after a long battle with cancer.

No one who saw him pitch will ever forget him. I wrote about him here a dozen years ago, and this is more or less what it said.

We had been talking about creating an ideal pitcher - this pitch from this guy, this pitch from another guy. Any of us old enough to remember Gibson saw a quick and easy shortcut.

For his best pitch, let's give him... let's see, let's see. I know. Let's give him the best pitch ever. We actually had a poll a couple of years back on this very subject: the toughest Hall of Fame pitch to hit in major league history. The Bauxite consensus agreed with Jim Thome and voted for Mariano Rivera's cutter. So let's give our man something like Mariano Rivera's cutter, a fastball that zips

through the strike zone with a unique, upward-moving right-to-left sail that snatched it away from a right-handed batter or caused it to jump up and in at a left-handed swinger - a natural break of six to eight inches - and hitters who didn't miss the ball altogether usually fouled it off or nudged it harmlessly into the air. The pitch, which was delivered with a driving, downward flick of... forefinger and middle finger (what pitchers call "cutting the ball") very much resembled an inhumanly fast slider...

Our man will have absolute command and control of this fearsome pitch, which he will also throw as hard as anyone in the game throws a fastball.

But we need more than this, surely. That cutter will take Mariano to the Hall of Fame, but we can't get through a whole game with just one pitch, can we? Mariano never tries to get through more than two innings. Our man has his sights set on much larger chunks of the ball game. And so he needs a breaking ball of some kind.

Let's give him a slider, and let's make it a honey: a Dave Stieb - Francisco Rodriguez type of slider, a

superior breaking ball that arrived, disconcertingly, at about three quarters the speed of the fastball and, most of the time, with exquisite control.

You're going to miss more than a few bats with that combination. But  you don't always want to miss the bat, and on those occasions, it would be nice if you had a second fastball; it would be truly excellent if, like Roy Halladay, you could complement your cutter with a world-class sinker:

a fastball that broke downward instead of up and away; for this pitch, he held the ball with his fingers parallel to the seams (instead of across the seams...), and he twisted his wrist counterclockwise as he threw - "turning it over," in mound parlance.

Because there are times when you want the hitter to put the ball in play, as our hero once tried to explain to his bewildered third-baseman:

"I always told him I didn't give a damn where he played unless there was a right-handed batter coming up with a man on first and less than two out, but then he should be ready, because he'd be getting a ground ball... And I'd throw a sinker down and in, and the batter would hit it on the ground to Mike to start the double play, and when we came in off the field Mike would look at me with his mouth open, and he'd say, "But how did you know?" He didn't have the faintest idea that when I threw that pitch to the batter he had to hit it there."

Anything else? Oh, let's make him a superior athlete. What the hell. Good enough at another sport to go to college on a scholarship, good enough to win nine consecutive Gold Gloves...

And one thing more: let's make him insanely, ferociously competitive. As driven by the need to win and the need to succeed as Michael Jordan ever was. In fact, all the rest of this somewhat mind-boggling arsenal notwithstanding, if there is one single trait that most distinguishes this particular hurler, the one thing that people most remember about him, it will be this: his ferocity as a competitor. It will be legendary.

Considering everything else he's got working for him, it will have to be legendary. Naturally, such a pitcher will probably have a somewhat aggressive approach to the hitter, and a desire to establish who's in charge:

"I don't like batters taking that big cut, with their hats falling off and their buttons popping and every goddam thing like that. It doesn't show any respect for the pitcher. That batter's not doing any thinking up there, so I'm going to make him think. The next time, he won't look so fancy out there. He'll be a better looking hitter."

It would surely take some Dr Frankenstein to build such a monster, and I suppose there may be some young 'uns who think this old fool has forgotten his meds and is telling mythic tales of some Paul Bunyan like figure from some undocumented and impossible to verify Land Far Away in Ages Long Past.

But no. I'm telling you now: this ain't no Sidd Fitch fiction. There really was such a pitcher. He had Mariano's cutter, and K-Rod's slider, and Doc's sinker. He fielded his position like a cross between Greg Maddux and Kobe Bryant. He threw strikes - at his peak, he walked fewer than two batters per 9 IP. He was an utterly possessed and driven competitor.

Forty years ago this coming Monday, he threw a shutout against the Mets. It was his second start since the All Star Break (he had been named to the team, but didn't get in the game.) He struck out 13 and didn't walk anyone. He scattered seven singles - one runner made it to second base, one made it all the way to third. The complete game victory improved his record to 13-5, and lowered his ERA to 1.01 (yes, 1.01).  It was his tenth complete game victory in a row, seven of them by shutout - and he would throw yet another shutout just four days later, blanking the Phillies on six hits, and yet another CG victory five days after that (trailing 6-0, the Mets would scratch out a single run).

So yeah. Meet this impossible creation. Meet him in the middle of America's annus horribilis, the year that began with the Tet offensive, proceeded through the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, descended to the chaos in the streets of Chicago during the Democaratic convention, and concluded with the election of Richard Milhous Nixon as President. In the middle of that dreadul year, in June and July of 1968, Bob Gibson - for who else could it possibly be, and all of these quotes are from "Distance," Roger Angell's marvellous 1980 portrait of Gibson for The New Yorker -  would go 12-0, with an ERA of 0.50, with 91 Ks and 16 BB in 108 IP. He made 12 starts, completed them all, and threw 8 shutouts. Fully half of the six runs he would allow would come in the very first game of the twelve, a 6-3 victory over the Mets, in which he gave up the only home run he surrendered during this two month reign of terror. In the other 11 games, he gave up a single run three times and no runs whatsoever eight times.

It's not always that easy to find a closer who can do that for 11 games, working just one inning each time.  Do the math - if your closer allows a single run three times and shuts down the opposition the other eight times - he's given you a 2.45 ERA over the 11 games, and you're probably reasonably pleased.

So let's run those numbers. This really happened:

 G GS CG SHO  IP   H  BFP  HR  R  ER  BB  IB  SO  WP HBP  BK  2B  3B GDP ROE   W   L   ERA
12 12 12 8 108 63 398 1 6 6 16 0 91 1 4 0 9 0 9 3 12 0 0.50

So Gibson headed into August with a 15-5 record, which is pretty nice, and a 0.96 ERA which is way, way beyond niceness. Why didn't he pitch in the All Star Game, anyway? Well, he probably didn't want to. The manager was his own boss, Red Schoendienst, who started Don Drysdale of the Dodgers, and also got Juan Marichal, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Ron Reed, and Jerry Koosman into the game. Gibson and Woody Fryman were the only guys who didn't get into the game.

"I never really liked being on the All-Star team. I liked the honor of it... but I couldn't get used to the idea of playing with people from other teams in the league - guys I'd have to go out and try to beat a couple of days later. I didn't even like having Joe [Torre[ catch me - he was with the Braves then - because I figured he'd learn how to hit me... I'd always dress right away and get out of there in a hurry... I didn't want to be friends with anybody on the other side..."

He cooled off a little in August - in six starts, he scuffled along at 4-1, 1.29 and actually failed to finish one of his games - he was lifted for a pinch-hitter after 11 innings. He threw just three shutouts that month, which means that in his other three starts, the opposition was actually able to score some runs against him. The Pirates even scored often enough to overcome 15 Ks and beat him 6-4, although a couple of Cardinal errors led to half the runs being unearned.

On September 2, he threw a 10 inning three hit shutout at the Reds for his 20th win of the season. At that moment, his record stood at 20-6, 0.99. He had started 29 games, completed 23 of them, thrown shutouts in 12 of them. He had pitched 262.2 IP, and he had an ERA of 0.99 - on the second day of September.

By now the Cardinals had a 13 game lead on the rest of the league.  They put it in cruise control the rest of the way. Even Gibson himself eased his foot off the throttle, as far as he was capable, anyway, going 2-3, 1.93 over his final five starts. He actually failed to finish one of his starts, when the Cardinals, down a run in the eighth, pinch hit for him. That, by the way, is how he was replaced in all six of the games he failed to finish. Not once was he relieved on the mound in the middle of an inning; not once did his manager even choose to make a between-innings pitching change. He was only ever replaced by a pinch-hitter, and only  if his team was trailing, and never before he had completed at least seven innings.

Hey - he made 34 starts, and he only gave up more than three earned runs in a game twice - so I guess he made 32 Quality Starts. In 34 tries. That should keep your team in the game most of the time...

So the Cardinals cruised into the World Series, where Gibson had already established a formidable legend - twice in four years, he had started Game 7 for his team and twice he had delivered a complete game victory and a World Series triumph.  His legend preceded him in other ways as well. Just one year in earlier, in mid-July 1967, Roberto Clemente smashed a line drive that caught Gibson just above his right ankle. It cracked the bone in his leg. He wouldn't come out. The trainer sprayed it and he stayed in the game. He walked the next batter and retired the next man on a popup, before the bone finally snapped beneath him as he delivered a full-count pitch to the next hitter. Dal Maxvil was in the dugout, and wouldn't soon forget:

That was the most extraordinary thing I ever saw in baseball - Gibby pitching to those batters with a broken leg. Everyone who was there that day remembered it afterwards, for always, and every young pitcher who came onto our club while Gibson was still with us was told about it. We didn't have too many pitchers turning up with upset stomachs or hangnails on our team after that.

He missed the next two months, but returned in time to pitch three complete game victories, two by shutout, in the World Series. After all of that, and after the season he had just put together - well, what manner of man could top that?

This one could. Here's how his next game went. The other team sent the only man to win 30 games in a season in what's now the last 70 years against him. Like that would have made a difference. Third baseman Mike Shannon felt sorry for the unsuspecting Tigers: "Most of them had never seen Gibby before, and they had no idea what they were up against."

It was 2 October, 1968 and this is what happened:

Tigers 1st
McAuliffe struck out
Stanley SINGLE (caught stealing 24)
Kaline struck out

Tigers 2nd
Cash struck out
Horton struck out
Northrop struck out

Tigers 3rd
Freehan struck out
McLain struck out
McAuliffe ground out 3

Tigers 4th
Stanley flyout 9
Kaline struck out
Cash flyout 8

Tigers 5th
Horton popout 4
Northrup lineout 6
Freehan WALK
Wert struck out

Tigers 6th
Matchik ground out 31
McAuliffe SINGLE
Stanley struck out
Kaline DOUBLE (McAuliffe to 3rd)
Cash struck out

Tigers 7th
Horton lined out 6
Northrup struck out
Freehan struck out

Tigers 8th
Mathews struck out
Brown flyout 7
McAuliffe flyout 7

Tigers 9th
Stanley SINGLE
Kaline struck out
Cash struck out
Horton struck out

The Game Score, by the way, is a pretty nifty 93. Only one game in the history of the World Series tops it, the one thrown at Yankee Stadium a dozen years earlier by Don Larsen. (Twenty-seven up, twenty-seven down, 7 by strikeout - comes in at 94.)

Maybe it's just another five-hit shutout. Although it's kind of neat that the Cardinals defenders recorded only two assists in the entire game - when catcher McCarver caught Stanley stealing in the first, and when first baseman Cepeda tossed to Gibson covering the bag to retire Matchik in the 6th. And yep, those are seventeen strikeouts in a World Series game. (There's a YouTube compilation of all 17 of them - the Tigers hitters are just befuddled. They're not even close. It's amazing to watch.) That record's stood for 40 years now, which is an awfully long time for any record to stand in this game. And man... if you were a kid watching it on TV... you'd never forget it.

"He doesn't remind me of anybody. He's all by himself."
 - Dick McAuliffe, October 2, 1968

Good bye, Gibby.
Bob Gibson (1935-2020) | 47 comments | Create New Account
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John Northey - Friday, October 02 2020 @ 11:53 PM EDT (#391416) #
Always found that '68 amazing. 28 complete games in 34 starts. An average of 8.96 innings per game. Wow. For comparison - Cy Young in the 1901-1911 era (deadball) when pitchers were expected to finish every start he averaged 8.6 innings per start - less than Gibson in '68.

Hard to believe he had a 5.61 ERA at age 24 - just 86 2/3 IP over 12 starts and 15 relief games. ERA+ of 73. He was 38 before he again had an ERA+ under 100 and never again threw under 100 innings until he retired. He only led in complete games in '69 (the next year) with 28. Strikeouts only in '68. Never started more than 36 (odd in an era when the 4 man rotation was the norm - for example, years later in '82 the Jays had 3 starters with 38+ starts in Stieb/Clancy/Leal).

Like many others I assumed Gibson had passed on awhile ago, but nice that he had a long life - made it to 84. Hopefully he had a happy life as he provided tons of happy memories for many in his day and for many after too (his is one of the careers I find fun to dig into now and then).
ISLAND BOY - Saturday, October 03 2020 @ 07:32 AM EDT (#391418) #
A lot of hall-of-famers have died this year - Gibson, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver, and Al Kaline. We also lost Blue Jay greats Tony Fernandez and Damaso Garcia. 2020 has really sucked.
Mike Green - Saturday, October 03 2020 @ 08:20 AM EDT (#391419) #
Gibson was also a fine hitter for a pitcher. Just about thing a pitcher could do to help his team win, he did.

Earlier this year, he expressed his happiness at MLB's promotion of Black Lives Matter. The man had guts right to the end. But that was no surprise.

Magpie - Sunday, October 04 2020 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#391447) #
Noy a good week for pitchers from the 1960s, or old Dodgers, as Ron Perranoski has just passed on after a long illness.

Perranoski was one of the first pure relief pitchers - there had been many, many other pitchers who had succeeded out of the pen, but they had generally been failed starters. Perranoski started just one game in his career (in his rookie season of 1961 and I think he was an emergency fill-in for Drysdale that day.)

His remarkable 1963 season (16-3, 1.67 with 21 saves was possibly the best season any relief pitcher had ever had to that point - except that Dick (the Monster) Radatz was having an even better season in the other league. But Radatz had only one more good season left in him and Perranoski went on pitching well for another seven years. He was a lifer - after retiring he worked in the Dodgers' organization for more than twenty years, most of them as pitching coach.
John Northey - Sunday, October 04 2020 @ 06:11 PM EDT (#391449) #
Interesting how Gibson was always a Cardinal. For the Jays the longest career as just a Jay is Garth Iorg - quite a bit weaker player than Gibson. #2 for career games as a Jay without ever playing elsewhere is Devon Travis, then Russ Adams, Danny Ainge, and at 206 games - Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

For pitchers Luis Leal leads with just shy of 1000 innings, then Ricky Romero at 801, Jerry Garvin 606 IP over 196 G (most games for a pitcher as a Jay only), Jesse Litsch 417, Trent Thornton is the highest current Jay with 160 innings.

Boy, the Jays rarely keep guys from start to finish eh? Dave Stieb came very close, with just 4 games for the White Sox in 1993 (22 1/3 IP) otherwise he'd have led my a mile with 15 seasons 439 games, 2873 IP as a Jay.
Magpie - Sunday, October 04 2020 @ 11:14 PM EDT (#391455) #
Tony Fernandez played in more games (1450) than any other Blue Jay - he and Delgado are the only guys to play in more than 1400 games, and Jason Frasor pitched in more games than any other Jay (505).

But I'm certain no player suited up for more games than Dave Stieb. I estimate he dressed for just over 2,000 games as a Jay, even if he only appeared in 439.

And Cito Gaston - well, he would have put the uniform on roughly 3,200 times.
John Northey - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 12:02 AM EDT (#391456) #
I guess if you go by coaching Cito holds the record there - he managed only for the Jays (1731 games), and coached only for the Jays (1982-1989, 2000-2001). Of course, as a player he played elsewhere as his career only crossed over the Jays first 2 seasons (77/78). Funny that 7 times he got votes for manager of the year but never really came close to winning it - 2nd in 1989 but Frank Robinson got 23 first place votes to 3 for Cito and 2 for Tony LaRussa. Just no respect from writers for him.
Super Bluto - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 09:58 AM EDT (#391460) #
I'd never heard of Ron Perranoski until now and went to baseball reference to check on that 1963 season. Kind of interesting as part of the evolution of the reliever. Like most relievers, he was mostly a 1 or 2 inning guy but every once in a while they left him out -, three, four, six, once for seven innings! (a 13 inning game on plenty of rest, but still...) He also had 8 blown saves that year.
Mike Green - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 10:12 AM EDT (#391461) #
Relievers were used differently in Perranoski's time.  During his prime from 1962-70, he regularly made 65-75 appearances and threw 100-130 innings- basically the same workload as Duane Ward.  It's not a sustainable workload (unless you throw a knuckler), but Perranoski didn't throw as hard as Ward so he didn't blow out entirely.  Instead, he ended up being about as effective as Dennis Lamp after his prime.

Trivia question: which three pitchers had the top 3 seasons by bWAR as a reliever?  Hint: Mariano Rivera did not have a season over 5 WAR whereas Sid Monge comes in at #12 with a 5.6 WAR season. 
Chuck - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#391463) #
He also had 8 blown saves that year.

I have railed many times over how awful the blown save is as a stat given how often it used out of context. Check out Perranoski's game log that season -- lots of blown saves on games he entered in the 5th or 6th inning. On July 20, he pitched 3.2 innings, allowing one run, and got a blown save for his efforts (he also got the win which no doubt would be characterized as a "vultured win" by those tracking that also dubious stat). The starter was Koufax, who allowed 3 runs in 5.1 innings and received no red marks beside his name for that effort ("blown start"?).

To this day, I still see the blown saves of middle relievers held up as evidence that they might not be closer material. Joe Schmoe was 2 for 4 in save opportunities. Well no, not really, Joe Schmoe probably "blew" saves in the 7th inning when he was never going to be afforded the opportunity to earn the save in the first place. Call that a "blown hold" if you want since it was only really a hold that Joe Schmoe was realistically vying to achieve.

Chuck - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 10:36 AM EDT (#391464) #
Mariano Rivera did not have a season over 5 WAR

Models like WAR always fall down for closers since leverage index is not factored in. If all runs saved (or xRuns saved) are treated equally, then Rivera throwing 70 (mainly) high leverage innings will never match what Sid Monge can do given 130 innings.

In my Strat-O-Matic playing days, I had many discussions on reliever evaluations for just this reason. How do you factor leverage into evaluating worth? Some in the league would follow the "accepted wisdom" and evaluate closers as they are evaluated now, where the very best is paid for 65 innings what a top shelf starting pitcher would earn. Others would use a WAR-like model with an arbitrary LI adjustment of say 150%.

Mike Green - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 10:43 AM EDT (#391465) #
Sid Monge's LI during his big year was 1.98, which would fit right in with Mariano's best years.  He was used as Cleveland's ace that year. 
Mike Green - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 10:45 AM EDT (#391466) #
bWAR also does make an adjustment for leverage index; the adjustment is probably not sufficient but it's not ridiculously off. 
Chuck - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 10:48 AM EDT (#391467) #
Thanks, was not aware of bWAR's LI adjustment. And good on Sid for such a high LI for so many innings. That almost seems unthinkable.
Mike Green - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 10:57 AM EDT (#391468) #
Monge would often come into the game in the 7th or 8th inning with the game tied or with a small lead, and would finish the game.  In his last outing of the year, he came on in the 7th with Cleveland down 1.  They tied the game and Cleveland won in the bottom of the 11th.  Monge pitched the last 5 innings. 
Chuck - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 11:00 AM EDT (#391469) #
Yet more on Sid Monge, who has probably never been spoken of as frequently in many a year... It is not surprising that his fWAR in his big year was only 2 given the disparity between his ERA and FIP. It would certainly have been even less were the data available to calculate his xFIP (his HR/9 rate was unduly low that year).

Of course, this tangentially opens the door to the debate about bWAR and fWAR when it comes to pitchers, where one measures what happened (absent luck, good and bad) and the other what would have happened.

As far as I know -- and I await correction -- bWAR does not factor leverage into measurements of WAR for position players. A HR off the other team's shortstop in a 23-2 game counts just the same as a HR off their ace reliever in a tie game. (I'm not arguing that leverage should be built into the math since a great amount of random variation would otherwise be construed as skill, just noting that accounting for leverage in one place, but not another, could open the door to criticism).

Mike Green - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 11:14 AM EDT (#391471) #
Leverage is not taken into account for position players.  It makes a certain amount of sense to distinguish between pitchers and position players.  Very few position players are assigned roles by leverage whereas it's common for pitchers and so there is a constancy in the disparity of leverage for pitchers and not for position players. 

Mariano Rivera's xFIPs were not particularly great (career 2.99).  I am pretty confident that his ability to generate poor contact was a skill rather than luck.  He allowed only 2 homers in 142 innings in the post-season against presumably significantly tougher competition than you would see normally.  The Yankees, it should be said, were often able to save him for the post-season.

With all those provisos, any guesses on the bWAR seasonal leaders?
Chuck - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 11:22 AM EDT (#391473) #
Any guesses on the bWAR seasonal leaders

My first instinct is to go for bulk innings. Mark Eichhorn, Mike Marshall, Rich Gossage (early days)...

Mike Green - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 11:29 AM EDT (#391474) #
Two out of three correct, Chuck!  Eichhorn 1986 is third with 7.3 bWAR.  Goose Gossage 1975 is first with 8.2 bWAR (his LI was 2.42- far higher than any of Rivera's seasons).  Marshall's top season by bWAR was 1979 with the Twins at 4.4...
Chuck - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 11:35 AM EDT (#391475) #
I'll let the other old-timers around here guess the rest. Some young guys may be surprised to learn that relievers used to log more than 100 innings. Some, like Fingers and Gossage, lived in both worlds, ending their careers in the world of reduced usage patterns.
hypobole - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 12:07 PM EDT (#391476) #
Mike mentioned Gibson's fine hitting upthread. So did Dave Laurila yesterday:
* Gibson slashed .303/.347/.404 in his 1970 Cy Young season.
* He hit two World Series home runs. The first of them, in 1967, came in a Game 7 win.
* He hit 24 regular-season home runs, including five each in 1965 and 1972.
* In September 1965, he had a three-hit game that included a grand slam off Gaylord Perry. That same month he had a four-hit game. Gibson hit his second of his two career grannies in 1973.
* Gibson hit three doubles in a September 1964 game against the Reds.
mathesond - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 02:40 PM EDT (#391482) #
I thought it might be Hoyt Wilhelm, but he started 27 games in his 7.6WAR season.
Mike Green - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 02:58 PM EDT (#391483) #
Wilhelm was, of course, who I was thinking of predominantly with my comment about sustaining a workload with the knuckler and not losing effectiveness.

The game starts in an hour, so another clue is in order.  The question exceeded the old Can-con guidelines. 
hypobole - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 03:37 PM EDT (#391486) #
I think I got #2. He has a connection to the Bob Gibson post above. And as crazy good he was that season, his following season was crazy as well, just a different crazy.
Chuck - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 04:42 PM EDT (#391490) #
Just thought of another "bulk" pitcher and verified that he is indeed on the list. Hints: he was anti-TTO (didn't walk anyone, strike out anyone, or give up homers) and was the unlikeliest star closer of the 1980s you could imagine.
John Northey - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#391491) #
Ah, good old Quisenberry - loved watching him pitch in the 80's. Sidearmer who was poorly treated near the end - still effective but was not given a chance to close anymore for lord knows what reason. 3.52 ERA his last 5 years, but just 27 saves vs 10 blown plus 8 holds - not the best ratio, but also wasn't being used everyday like in his prime. Had led the league in saves 4 years in a row before his manager decided 'thats it - you are setup from now on' in a year he had a 154 ERA+. 17 saves went to old starters that year instead. Sigh.
Mike Green - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#391492) #
Posted the answer in the wrong thread.  It follows.

The answer was John Hiller in 1973.  An abridged version of the story is here.  Just your basic "had a heart attack, learned a changeup and was better than ever" story from a guy from Scarborough. 
hypobole - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 05:10 PM EDT (#391493) #
Mike posted the answer in the other thread. Hiller was on the 68 Tigers team that beat Gibson's Cards. 1973 he threw 125 IP, 1.44 ERA, 7.9 WAR.
The next year he wasn't nearly as good, but without starting any games he had 31 decisions, 17W-14L. No starter , much less reliever, gets 30 decisions anymore.
Chuck - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 06:31 PM EDT (#391495) #
Out of curiosity, I just looked up Bruce Sutter remembering some really low ERAs and some 100+ IP seasons. I am seeing 6.5 WAR in 1977 based on 107 IP of 1.34 ERA in a big offensive season for the NL (4.4 R/G).

In 1984, he logged 123 IP of 1.54 ERA, but because the NL offense was down (4.1 R/G), his effort was worth just 4.5 WAR.

Mike Green - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 06:35 PM EDT (#391496) #
Sutter's season was 4th.
John Northey - Monday, October 05 2020 @ 10:38 PM EDT (#391499) #
Ah well, thought Quis would have done that, but his max was 5.5 in 1983 - the year Stieb should've won the Cy (7.0 WAR #1 by a mile, Quis was next at 5.5 so it really wasn't close and should've been a no-brainer but instead the no brains voting based only on his 17-12 won-lost record) but didn't even get a vote. Quis was ahead of the rest as a 3.7 got it in Lamarr Hoyt (wins were everything then and he had 24 with a 3.66 ERA). Not as bad as the year before when Stieb had a 7.6 WAR year to lead by a mile over Rick Suttcliff (5.7) while Pete Vuckovich with a 2.8 (28th in WAR) got it thanks to leading the league in winning percentage (18-6). Sigh. Awards in the 80's were really, really poorly done (look at the MVP 1987 race for the worst).
Magpie - Tuesday, October 06 2020 @ 11:50 PM EDT (#391517) #
(didn't walk anyone, strike out anyone, or give up homers) and was the unlikeliest star closer of the 1980s you could imagine.

Actually, the first guy I thought of was not Quisenberry, but old Bigfoot. In 1982 Bob Stanley made 48 appearances, all in relief, and pitched 168.1 IPT. He went 12-7, 3.10 with 14 saves. The next year, he pitched 145.1 IP in 64 games and had 33 saves. Having established himself as a Relief Ace, they started using more like a regular relief ace - more games, fewer innings, and he wasn't as effective. All he threw was a sinker, and it seemed to have more sink when he was a little tired.
Chuck - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 10:13 AM EDT (#391520) #
Quisenberry and Stanley are surely relics of a different age. Can't hit 95? Sorry son, sit down, we can't use you.

Not anyone who would threaten to be on Mike's 5-WAR list, but an unlikely closer from the deep recesses of my memory: Don Stanhouse (Stan the Man Unusual). His one virtue was keeping the ball in the yard, which Weaver certainly valued above all else. But along with that virtue came a vice, a not exactly modest issue with the strike zone. Weaver wasn't always man enough to watch Stanhouse's performances, often opting for a cigarette in the clubhouse to tackle his nerves.

hypobole - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 11:36 AM EDT (#391523) #
Mentioned upthread that John Hiller managed 31 decisions working strictly in relief in 1974, and not even starters seem to reach that anymore. Finally checked to see when the last time any pitcher reached 30.

Anyone interested in guessing who or when it happened last?
Mike Green - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 12:53 PM EDT (#391524) #
Bert Blyleven did it for sure. I am pretty sure that he had over 35 decisions one or two years.

After that, Dave Stieb did it one year at least.

As for the most recent, I will guess Felix Hernandez in his Cy year. I thought that he went 16-14.

Mike Green - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 12:55 PM EDT (#391525) #
My second guess turned out to be right. Won't spoil.
mathesond - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 01:29 PM EDT (#391526) #
I would guess someone like Schilling, Verlander, or Randy Johnson - they seemed to go deep into games and pile up the innings.

I'm pretty sure Halladay was 22-7 in his CYA year, just short of the cutoff. Wouldn't surprise me if he hit 30 decisions in another year, though.
Chuck - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 01:51 PM EDT (#391527) #
While the "number of decisions" trivia continues, let me throw another related question out there. Only two pitchers (I believe) in the modern era have won and lost 20 games in the same season. Who?
hypobole - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#391528) #
I got 1. My first 2 guesses were so close, but both wrong. One was Gaylord Perry who topped out at 19-19. The other one I actually kinda remembered, just remembered the wrong guy.
hypobole - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 02:28 PM EDT (#391530) #
OK, got the second one as well. Both were uniquely similar.
Chuck - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 03:50 PM EDT (#391531) #
One of the two once wore the same uniform, though not all at the same time, of Dave Parker, Rickey Henderson and Al Oliver.
mathesond - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 06:04 PM EDT (#391532) #
Didn't one of the Niekro's have a 20-20 season? Or maybe Wilbur Wood (don't know why that name popped in my head)
hypobole - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 06:45 PM EDT (#391534) #
Actually I remembered a White Sox knuckleballer doing it, but the name that popped into my head was Hoyt Wilhem, not Wilbur Wood. The seasons that Niekro and Wood had the 20-20's, they combined to pitch over 700 innings.
hypobole - Wednesday, October 07 2020 @ 07:32 PM EDT (#391536) #
Quite the coincidence after the discussion about the innings 70's/80's closers threw, Bob Melvin brings his closer out to start the 7th and leaves him in to finish the game.
Magpie - Thursday, October 08 2020 @ 11:05 PM EDT (#391550) #
Finally checked to see when the last time any pitcher reached 30.

It's probably going to be someone going 20-10 like Hentgen in his Cy Young year.

Geez, there has to have been someone more recent than Hentgen. I think. I don't remember Doc or Verlander ever losing in double figures though. Adam Wainwright?
hypobole - Friday, October 09 2020 @ 12:22 AM EDT (#391551) #
Wainwright is correct, but so is Doc. 2010, Wainwright went 20-11, Doc in his 1st year with the Phillies 21-10.
scottt - Friday, October 09 2020 @ 01:28 PM EDT (#391552) #
And there goes Whithey Ford. It's the type of year this is.
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