Saturday, June 9, 2007

More Complete Games than Wins= Hall of Fame

When you think of who has the most complete games you might think the pitcher with the most wins would be the best bet and you would be right. Cy Young, winner of 511 games had 749 complete games.

On the all-time complete game list are names of players who pitched before 1900. Names that take you back to the black and white ninety mile-an-hour Charley Chaplin films. And as we discussed in an earlier article, the rules establishing the strike/ball count were different before the 20th century. But while that may be true, the pitchers still had to throw the number of innings they did to accomplish the numbers they were accredited.

Kid Nichols, on the Boston Braves before Warren Spahn, had 531 complete games. Tied with Walter "Big Train" Johnson.

I'm not so sure this is Willie McCovey 521 homers and Ted Williams 521 homers. This is more like Walter Johnson came along after the Kid and rules changed. The Kid did his thing with different rules than Walter. Because of that Walter has to be atop the Kid. The Kid was on the Braves during a time someone named George Herman Ruth was breaking into the league with the Red Sox, also from Boston.

What's interesting is how the players' complete games and wins match. It's almost uncanny.
I mean, Christy Mathewson who ended up with W=373 and 188-L and his exploits during the John McGraw days are legendary. But do we know that a guy named Pete Alexander had 437 complete games (3 more than Christy's 434) and he too had 373 wins. (he lost 208 to Christy's 188.) Pete was inducted into the Hall of Fame as Grover Pete Alexander.

For a pitcher 300 is the milestone that is equivalent to 500 homers for a hitter.
A batter may bat 4 times in a game, but a pitcher always has to pitch long enough to qualify for a win. Winning a game is far more difficult than hitting a home run.

A home run doesn't necessarily win the game.
It could.
But not if there are still many outs to be made.

A win is making plays on defense.
Some pitchers were the defense. They were on teams that were so bad you may not have noticed how good they pitched. Because they were so good
they kept their team in the game. They may have lost more than they won. Had more complete games than wins but that's baseball.

That's baseball.
More complete games than wins.
Check it out.
A pitcher who has more complete games than wins/victories is hall of fame material.

And the way the game is going now, with so few 20-game winners, there will be a pitcher inducted into Cooperstown, NY with a .500 record if he dominated any period of the game when he played. Longevity will have to factor into this equation, but you may not need to be above .500 to enter the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.

Perhaps the bar should be lowered. Maybe the stakes were set too high for a player who merely pitches. Is the outcome always indicative of how he pitched?

5 innings to qualify for a WIN, if you're a starter.
One out at the right moment, if you're a Vulture, the nickname of Dodger closer Phil Regan.
Either Don Drysdale or Sandy Koufax dubbed Regan the Vulture.

Probably in 1966 when Regan was 14W and 1L with 21 saves and a 1.62 ERA.
(Note: Regan started out playing for the Detroit Tigers then was traded to the Dodgers for Dick Tracewski.)

In 1959, Elroy Face of the Pittsburgh Pirates had a won/loss record of : 18W 1L and 10 saves. Who was pitching when his boy Elroy jettisoned to the mound as reliever and came away with victory, after victory?

(You think back to that time. That was one season before Bill Mazeroski hit a game winning homer against the Yankees, at Forbes Field to win the 1960 World Series. Elroy Leon Face had no known nickname but he may have been the original vulture.)

kevin marquez