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GAC
04-12-2006, 09:56 AM
I was listening to Marty and Jones this morning on WLW, and they were debating the Roger Clemens situation.... will he, won't he?.... who cares?

Anyway - they both agreed that he is the greatest pitcher all-time.

If you had to choose one pitcher - and one pitcher only (none of these top 5 lists ;) )...

who would you choose?

Would it be a Clemens?

Or someone from the deadball era, such as a Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson?

Nolan Ryan?

Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson (my favorites growing up. Gibson was lights out! )

If I had to chose though, it would be Walter Johnson.

TRF
04-12-2006, 09:57 AM
I'd go with Gibson, but he's only a hair better IMO than Clemens. Imagine Clemens pitching in the 60's!

Chip R
04-12-2006, 09:58 AM
I was listening to Marty and Jones this morning on WLW,

Why torture yourself?

GAC
04-12-2006, 09:59 AM
Why torture yourself?

I was driving home from the chiropractor, and I needed something to distract my mind from the pain/pinched nerve in my lower back.

They did it. ;)

GAC
04-12-2006, 10:01 AM
Another interesting note to consider is that waaaaay back then, those guys didn't have relief pitchers/bullpen.

registerthis
04-12-2006, 10:22 AM
Sandy Koufax

zombie-a-go-go
04-12-2006, 10:23 AM
Koufax. All the way.

westofyou
04-12-2006, 11:00 AM
Lefty Grove or Ed Walsh before 1910

RedFanAlways1966
04-12-2006, 11:01 AM
The Big Train, Walter Johnson.

boobhat
04-12-2006, 11:05 AM
sid fernandez, no wait, i would go with the rocket

savafan
04-12-2006, 11:34 AM
Bronson Arroyo ;)

Personally, I've always been a Nolan Ryan fan.

Cyclone792
04-12-2006, 11:53 AM
Walter Johnson.

Puffy
04-12-2006, 12:07 PM
Jose Rijo

redsfanmia
04-12-2006, 12:12 PM
Three-Finger Brown

RedsManRick
04-12-2006, 12:15 PM
If it's one game, with the guy at the peak of his prime, I'll take Pedro Martinez circa 2000.

It's hard with the older guys to appropriately account for the proper context. The pre WWII guys with the shallower talent pool and frequent cheating via scuffing, etc., Koufax with the dead ball and higher mound, etc.

Pedro was absolutely insanely dominant in a homer friendly era in a hitter's park.

217 IP (7.5 IP/GS), 1.74 ERA (285 ERA+), 284 K (11.8 K/9), 0.74 WHIP.

Attitude wise on the mound, Pedro is probably as close as you'll get to a Bob Gibson -- just ask Jose Guillen.

BTW - to me, when you are talking about the "greatest of all-time" you are referring to their absolute peak skills. It's not "greatest career" in which it would be hard to refute Clemens, but the best if you took them at their best. For what it's worth, Bob Gibson's 1968 season, once adjusted for context, is pretty much worse than Pedro's 2000 in every way.

bigredmachine1976
04-12-2006, 12:30 PM
Bob Gibon, they lowered the mound because of him if I'm not mistaken.

Falls City Beer
04-12-2006, 12:39 PM
The greatest pitcher must be a contemporary pitcher (I really don't care what anyone says--I'm incurious that way). Clemens it is. It's probably not even close.

Twenty years from now, someone will blow Clemens out of the water. As long as they keep pumping up milk and meat with 'roids and other insane additives :beerme: and smoking diminishes to non-existence and exercise becomes more targetted and efficacious, the human animal will continue to outpace its predecessor.

chicoruiz
04-12-2006, 12:55 PM
Pre 1950: Peak value- Grove, Career value- Johnson

Post 1950: Peak value: Koufax, Career value- Clemens

Except for the one game I had to win I'd take Gibson. And nobody has even mentioned Spahn. And Satchel may have been the best of all of them. OK, my head hurts now...

M2
04-12-2006, 01:03 PM
Walter Johnson.

Exactly. The battle is for second-place because Johnson stands apart from any of the other contenders.

Pedro Martinez has been the single most dominant pitcher I've seen and Roger Clemens has had the best overall career. Pitchers from Pete Alexander to Tom Seaver have been shining stars. Cy Young has the big pitching award named after him. Kid Nichols is history's most overlooked stellar pitcher. Lefty Grove absolutely dominated during an era of offensive explosion and would be the greatest pitcher ever expect he happens to come from the same planet as Walter Johnson. Johnson was good I sometimes have a hard time believing he really existed.

The big train comin out the tunnel up the track.
It's modern transportation, there's nothing that it lacks.
I don't know where I'm going, I know I ain't comin back.
Come along and ride the big train.

Puffy
04-12-2006, 01:04 PM
Exactly. The battle is for second-place because Johnson stands apart from any of the other contenders.

Pedro Martinez has been the single most dominant pitcher I've seen and Roger Clemens has had the best overall career. Pitchers from Pete Alexander to Tom Seaver have been shining stars. Cy Young has the big pitching award named after him. Kid Nichols is history's most overlooked stellar pitcher. Lefty Grove absolutely dominated during an era of offensive explosion and would be the greatest pitcher ever expect he happens to come from the same planet as Walter Johnson. Johnson was good I sometimes have a hard time believing he really existed.

The big train comin out the tunnel up the track.
It's modern transportation, there's nothing that it lacks.
I don't know where I'm going, I know I ain't comin back.
Come along and ride the big train.

And he could hit.

medford
04-12-2006, 01:49 PM
And he could hit.

Come on now Puffy, you're not seriously considering Bronson Arroyo are you?:evil:

registerthis
04-12-2006, 01:51 PM
Exactly. The battle is for second-place because Johnson stands apart from any of the other contenders.

His 1913 season seems almost fictional to me.

M2
04-12-2006, 02:11 PM
His 1913 season seems almost fictional to me.

Just a mind-blowing season: 36-7, 346 IP, 0.78 WHIP, 1.14 ERA (259 ERA+). Pedro's 2000, Gibson's 1968 and Greg Maddux in 1994 and 1995 are the only modern (post-1950) seasons I'd put near that category (>200 ERA+, <9.00 WHIP)

KronoRed
04-12-2006, 02:26 PM
Sandy Koufax
Yup, not even close.

M2
04-12-2006, 02:40 PM
Yup, not even close.

Koufax had only four seasons with an ERA+ of 160 or better. Randy Johnson's done it seven times. Lefty Grove did it seven times. Greg Maddux has done it seven times. Pedro Martinez did it seven times in a row (with a career-best of 285 compared to 190 for Koufax -- Maddux 273, Grove 219, Johnson 196). Clemens has done it eight times with a career-best of 226 (in 1997). Walter Johnson also did it eight times with a career-best of 259.

I agree it's not even close with Koufax, it's just that he's the one who's not even close. Amazing pitcher, but his legend far exceeds his accomplishments.

westofyou
04-12-2006, 02:46 PM
Bob Gibon, they lowered the mound because of him if I'm not mistaken.
No, they lowerd the mound because of this.


YEAR AVG SLG OBA OPS RC TB EBH ISO SEC BPA IBB HBP GIDP SAC SF
1967 .242 .357 .306 .664 12315 39027 7173 .115 .216 .396 1295 751 2245 1480 738
1968 .237 .340 .299 .639 11351 36958 6561 .104 .202 .379 1223 778 2217 1507 753

Chip R
04-12-2006, 02:51 PM
I think Clemens is a great pitcher and has had an outstanding career. But I think he's a bit overrated. I'm not saying he isn't one of the best 20 pitchers of all time but I don't think I'd put him in the top 10. For all his hype about being a big game pitcher he has had as many poor postseason games as he has had great games. If I had to put my money on someone to pitch a "big game" for me, I'd take guys like Gibson or Pedro or Koufax before I'd take Clemens.

vaticanplum
04-12-2006, 03:03 PM
The greatest pitcher must be a contemporary pitcher (I really don't care what anyone says--I'm incurious that way).

I think I agree with this. If nothing else the statistics are so hard to compare. They are always in comparison of the other players of their time, not the players of all-time.

My friends and I were discussing this a few weeks ago, and one of them made a good argument for Clemens. Clemens has an ERA differential of +1.34, higher than quite a lot of the pitchers listed here. One could argue that the ERA differential is biased in favor of pitchers in high-ERA eras, but clemens has also pitched in an era of steroids, good equipment, little ballpakrs, tightly-wrapped baseballs, and hightly trained and specialized hitters too, so that kind of evens out that argument a bit in my mind.

Martinez, probably the most dominant pitcher I've seen at his peak, has an amazing 1.78 ERA differential. But he hasn't been as good for as long as Clemens, and his win record (admittedly a rather poor gauge, but not discountable) is nowhere near clemens's.

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Warren Spahn. In some ways he's quite comparable to Clemens. His differential is .56, but he's won more games and for a contending team to boot. He also habitually had a day's less rest than Clemens (again, the problem of comparing stats). But he wasn't quite as dominant, totally.

Nolan Ryan did a wonderful job for some middling teams at times, but he also issued an awful lot of walks. Again, though, since he was pitching for poorer teams than Clemens, he might not have had the luxury of throwing as many ground balls and so on. You see, one can even argue with oneself on these things. I don't know that we can really say for sure.

Jaycint
04-12-2006, 04:59 PM
If I need one game at peak performance I'm takin' Pedro circa 2000 or so and not even thinking twice about it. I'm with FCB that the greatest has to be contemporary. I'm sure the guys from way back when were stellar during their time but would they stand up to today's hitters? Would their stuff be good enough or fast enough? Not looking for an argument by the way, just positing a few things that I really am curious about and don't have an answer to.

BoydsOfSummer
04-12-2006, 05:10 PM
Bob Owchinko of course...



BOB OWCHINKO

GIVEN NAME: Robert Dennis Owchinko
BORN: 1/1/1955 Detroit, Michigan
BAT: L THROW: L HEIGHT: 6'2" WEIGHT: 190 MLB DEBUT: 9/25/1976

YEAR TEAM AGE W L PCT G GS CG SV GF IP H R ER BB SO ERA RSAA
1976 Padres 21 0 2 .000 2 2 0 0 0 4.1 11 8 8 3 4 16.62 -7
1977 Padres 22 9 12 .429 30 28 3 0 0 170 191 93 84 67 101 4.45 -18
1978 Padres 23 10 13 .435 36 33 4 0 1 202.1 198 87 80 78 94 3.56 -7
1979 Padres 24 6 12 .333 42 20 2 0 7 149.1 144 73 62 55 66 3.74 -2
1980 Indians 25 2 9 .182 29 14 1 0 2 114.1 138 71 67 47 66 5.27 -14
1981 A's 26 4 3 .571 29 0 0 2 12 39.1 34 15 14 19 26 3.20 1
1982 A's 27 2 4 .333 54 0 0 3 23 102 111 60 59 52 67 5.21 -14
1983 Pirates 28 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 -1
1984 Reds 29 3 5 .375 49 4 0 2 9 94 91 47 43 39 60 4.12 -2
1986 Expos 31 1 0 1.000 3 3 0 0 0 15 17 6 6 3 6 3.60 0
TOTALS 37 60 .381 275 104 10 7 54 890.2 937 461 424 363 490 4.28 -64
LG AVERAGE 50 50 .500 20 14 890.2 879 421 376 321 507 3.79 0

YEAR TEAM HR H/9 BR/9 SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB SHO WP IBB HBP BFP BK NW NL
1976 Padres 0 22.85 29.08 8.31 6.23 1.33 0 1 1 0 27 1 0 2
1977 Padres 20 10.11 13.66 5.35 3.55 1.51 2 5 5 0 743 2 8 13
1978 Padres 14 8.81 12.32 4.18 3.47 1.21 1 1 12 1 851 3 11 12
1979 Padres 16 8.68 12.11 3.98 3.31 1.20 0 3 6 2 631 0 9 9
1980 Indians 13 10.86 14.72 5.20 3.70 1.40 1 7 2 2 516 0 4 7
1981 A's 2 7.78 12.36 5.95 4.35 1.37 0 0 2 1 164 0 4 3
1982 A's 11 9.79 14.38 5.91 4.59 1.29 0 4 5 0 463 1 2 4
1983 Pirates 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0
1984 Reds 10 8.71 12.45 5.74 3.73 1.54 0 3 2 0 407 0 4 4
1986 Expos 1 10.20 12.00 3.60 1.80 2.00 0 1 0 0 62 0 1 0
TOTALS 88 9.47 13.20 4.95 3.67 1.35 4 25 35 6 3866 7 43 54
LG AVERAGE 75 8.88 12.29 5.12 3.24 1.58 4 26 36 17 3790 7


Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia
New editions are available every October
http://www.baseball-encyclopedia.com

Cyclone792
04-12-2006, 05:17 PM
I'm absolutely convinced without question that Walter Johnson is the greatest pitcher ever. Plus, Walter Johnson's 1913 season is also the greatest season ever by a pitcher, and using him from that season would be my choice as the pitcher to win one all-or-nothing game. Not only that, but in a one game situation, he'd give me an advantage over just about any other pitcher in history with his placement in the lineup since he is also among the greatest hitting pitchers ever.

The argument of having to use a contemporary player because of the modern advantages - aka the time machine method - isn't at all fair to the players of yesteryear. If I went back in time to 1920, grabbed Babe Ruth and brought him to April, 2006, he wouldn't even come close to being the greatest player in today's game. Likewise, if I sent the 2006 Reds back in time to 1920, they'd absolutely dominate, cruise to a pennant and would likely win the World Series.

While we're at it, if we transferred the Big Red Machine to 2006, they'd likely be nothing more than an average team in today's game. The Big Red Machine was dominant for their time period of the 1970s, but they'd be nothing special in today's game. They dominated 30 years ago, and they'd be well behind the times in overall baseball ability if transferred to the 2006 season.

What's the point of all that? Simply that you must compare players and teams to their peers and how well they rose above their peers.

Babe Ruth rose above his peers in his time more than anybody else who has played the game. Walter Johnson did the same on the mound. Because of that, Ruth is the greatest player of all-time, and Johnson is the greatest pitcher of all-time.

As a team, the Big Red Machine, mostly in 1975 and 1976, dominated their peers like only a few teams in the history of baseball have managed to accomplish. Because of that dominance, those 1975 and 1976 squads are considered to be among some of the greatest teams in history.

Col_ IN Reds fan
04-12-2006, 05:28 PM
I should go with someone I have seen pitch. I would have to agree about Clemens , although Maddux was right up there.

Cyclone792
04-12-2006, 05:45 PM
An interesting anecdote about Walter Johnson's 1913 season, from Walter Johnson: Baseball's Big Train by Henry W. Thomas ...

------------------

With the Nationals guaranteed second place, [manager] Griffith made the last game of the season against Boston on October 4 a "joke" game, something Griffith often did in the season finale when it couldn't affect the standings. Johnson played center field, the first time in his big league career at another position, and had two hits and two stolen bases. "From beginning to end, the contest was a joke," reported The Post, "but it served to amuse the crowd more than any other engagement staged here this year."

"About half the time neither team knew whether there were one out or six. It often happened that four men were retired before the other team took its turn at bat. The umpires, Dinneen and Connolly, were so overcome with laughter that they, too, fell in with the rest of the company. During most of the day, the Nationals were minus a right gardener. Schaefer was supposed to play this position, but instead he cavorted around the infield most of the time. At times he would perch himself on the Bull [Durham] sign in right field, and then again lie down apparently asleep." At the end of eight innings Washington led 10-3, so Griffith pulled out all the stops.

At the demand of 1,000 cavalry soldiers attending the game as guests of the Nationals, Johnson was sent in to pitch. His catcher was Jack Ryan, a 43-year-old coach who, except for a similar joke game the year before, hadn't played in the major leagues since 1903. Lobbing pitches over, Johnson was touched for two quick hits before going back to center field in mock disgrace. His replacements on the mound were Eddie Ainsmith, who gave up two more hits to score Johnson's runners, infielders Germany Schaefer and Joe Gedeon, and finally another pitcher - Clark Griffith - who managed to retire the side in time for a 10-9 Washington victory. What nobody knew at the time was that the innocent buffoonery would cost Walter Johnson the major league record for lowest earned run average in a season (300+ innings). His 1913 ERA was listed for many years at 1.09 until the two runs in the joke game were added, raising it to 1.14. This slight difference would have been of little consequence, of course, had Bob Gibson not registered a 1.12 ERA in 1968.

------------------

Additional note by me: Dutch Leonard (0.96 ERA in 1914) and Three Finger Brown (1.04 ERA in 1906) both had ERAs lower than Johnson's and Gibson's, but neither reached the coveted 300 innings during those single seasons.

More Johnson feats in 1913:

Johnson had separate winning streaks of 14, 10 and 7 games.
Johnson had five wins by a 1-0 score.
Johnson had six wins by a 2-1 score.
Johnson had 15 wins by only one run.
Johnson had six wins by two runs.
Johnson was 7-0 in relief out of the bullpen.
Johnson was 20-3 on the road.
Johnson had 21 putouts and 82 assists in the field, 103 total chances, and a fielding percentage of 1.000 for the entire season.
In 141 plate appearances, Johnson put up a hitting line of .261/.293/.433, hitting two home runs, five doubles and six triples. His .726 OPS for the season enabled him to put up a 110 OPS+ at the plate.

cincyinco
04-12-2006, 05:47 PM
Satchel Paige people... Satchel Paige..

RedsManRick
04-12-2006, 06:08 PM
I'm absolutely convinced without question that Walter Johnson is the greatest pitcher ever. Plus, Walter Johnson's 1913 season is also the greatest season ever by a pitcher, and using him from that season would be my choice as the pitcher to win one all-or-nothing game. Not only that, but in a one game situation, he'd give me an advantage over just about any other pitcher in history with his placement in the lineup since he is also among the greatest hitting pitchers ever.

The argument of having to use a contemporary player because of the modern advantages - aka the time machine method - isn't at all fair to the players of yesteryear. If I went back in time to 1920, grabbed Babe Ruth and brought him to April, 2006, he wouldn't even come close to being the greatest player in today's game. Likewise, if I sent the 2006 Reds back in time to 1920, they'd absolutely dominate, cruise to a pennant and would likely win the World Series.

While we're at it, if we transferred the Big Red Machine to 2006, they'd likely be nothing more than an average team in today's game. The Big Red Machine was dominant for their time period of the 1970s, but they'd be nothing special in today's game. They dominated 30 years ago, and they'd be well behind the times in overall baseball ability if transferred to the 2006 season.

What's the point of all that? Simply that you must compare players and teams to their peers and how well they rose above their peers.

Babe Ruth rose above his peers in his time more than anybody else who has played the game. Walter Johnson did the same on the mound. Because of that, Ruth is the greatest player of all-time, and Johnson is the greatest pitcher of all-time.

As a team, the Big Red Machine, mostly in 1975 and 1976, dominated their peers like only a few teams in the history of baseball have managed to accomplish. Because of that dominance, those 1975 and 1976 squads are considered to be among some of the greatest teams in history.


Cyclone, I'm curious what makes you say that Johnson's 1913 was better than Pedro's 2000(or 1999)? Outside of raw workload, Pedro seems to have the better numbers. And arguably, Johnson's workload wasn't significantly greater than his peers, so contextually speaking, the workload and of itself is not a big deal -- wins is essentially a function of workload.

Walter Johnson 1913
36-7, 346 IP, 243 Ks, 259 ERA+, .780 WHIP

Pedro Martinez 2000
18-6, 217 IP, 284 Ks, 285 ERA+, .737 WHIP

Some other great single seasons:

Dutch Leornard 1914
19-5, 224.7 IP, 176 Ks, 279 ERA+, .886 WHIP

Grover Alexander 1915
31-10, 376.3, 241 Ks, 225 ERA+, .842 WHIP

Bob Gibson 1968
22-9, 304.7, 268 Ks, 258 ERA+, .853 WHIP

Doc Gooden 1985
24-4, 267.7 IP, 268 Ks, 226 ERA+, .965 WHIP

Greg Maddux 1995
19-2, 209.7, 181 Ks, 259 ERA+, .811 WHIP

Roger Clemens 1997
21-7, 264, 292 Ks, 226 ERA+, 1.095 WHIP

princeton
04-12-2006, 06:14 PM
Jamie Moyer is truly the greatest pitcher that I've ever seen. He's on a higher plane.

but Maddux is good, too.

Cyclone792
04-12-2006, 06:29 PM
Cyclone, I'm curious what makes you say that Johnson's 1913 was better than Pedro's 2000(or 1999)? Outside of raw workload, Pedro seems to have the better numbers. And arguably, Johnson's workload wasn't significantly greater than his peers, so contextually speaking, the workload and of itself is not a big deal -- wins is essentially a function of workload.

Walter Johnson 1913
36-7, 346 IP, 243 Ks, 259 ERA+, .780 WHIP

Pedro Martinez 2000
18-6, 217 IP, 284 Ks, 285 ERA+, .737 WHIP

Some other great single seasons:

Dutch Leornard 1914
19-5, 224.7 IP, 176 Ks, 279 ERA+, .886 WHIP

Grover Alexander 1915
31-10, 376.3, 241 Ks, 225 ERA+, .842 WHIP

Bob Gibson 1968
22-9, 304.7, 268 Ks, 258 ERA+, .853 WHIP

Doc Gooden 1985
24-4, 267.7 IP, 268 Ks, 226 ERA+, .965 WHIP

Greg Maddux 1995
19-2, 209.7, 181 Ks, 259 ERA+, .811 WHIP

Roger Clemens 1997
21-7, 264, 292 Ks, 226 ERA+, 1.095 WHIP

Glad you asked. The total wins obviously don't mean much to me, as wins are more often a reflection of run support than they are of actual pitching dominance. But the total inning workload vs. each pitcher's peers is the reason why I take Johnson's 1913 over Pedro's 2000 season.

Here's the league leaders in innings pitched for 1913 and 2000.



1913 Leaders Innings

Johnson-WSH 346.0
Seaton-PHI 322.3
Russell-CHW 316.7
Adams-PIT 313.7
Scott-CHW 312.3
Alexander-PHI 306.3
Mathewson-NYG 306.0
Cheney-CHC 305.0
Tyler-BSN 290.3
Marquard-NYG 288.0
Gregg-CLE 285.7
Tesreau-NYG 282.0
Falkenberg-CLE 276.0
Sallee-STL 276.0
Harmon-STL 273.3


2000 Leaders Innings

Lieber-CHC 251.0
Maddux-ATL 249.3
Johnson-ARI 248.7
Glavine-ATL 241.0
Hernandez-SFG 240.0
Mussina-BAL 237.7
Kile-STL 232.3
Brown-LAD 230.0
Wells-TOR 229.7
Rogers-TEX 227.3
Radke-MIN 226.7
Dempster-FLA 226.3
Park-LAD 226.0
Ponson-BAL 222.0
Finley-CLE 218.0
Benson-PIT 217.7
Hampton-NYM 217.7
Vazquez-MON 217.7
Helling-TEX 217.0
Martinez-BOS 217.0
Suppan-KCR 217.0


Walter Johnson not only led the majors in total innings pitched, he pitched over 23 more innings than the second highest total. Pedro Martinez, on the other hand, tied for 19th in the majors in innings pitched in 2000.

The actual total of innings isn't what's important here, as obviously everyone pitched more innings in Johnson's era than in Pedro's era. What's important is that when compared to his peers, Johnson still destroyed everyone in innings during his 1913 season, and combining that with his incredible adjusted ERA is what pushes him to #1 overall. Pedro's got incredible rate stats also, but he was merely just another starting pitcher as far as total workload vs. his peers.

Chip R
04-12-2006, 06:56 PM
An interesting anecdote about Walter Johnson's 1913 season, from Walter Johnson: Baseball's Big Train by Henry W. Thomas ...

------------------

With the Nationals guaranteed second place, [manager] Griffith made the last game of the season against Boston on October 4 a "joke" game, something Griffith often did in the season finale when it couldn't affect the standings. Johnson played center field, the first time in his big league career at another position, and had two hits and two stolen bases. "From beginning to end, the contest was a joke," reported The Post, "but it served to amuse the crowd more than any other engagement staged here this year."

"About half the time neither team knew whether there were one out or six. It often happened that four men were retired before the other team took its turn at bat. The umpires, Dinneen and Connolly, were so overcome with laughter that they, too, fell in with the rest of the company. During most of the day, the Nationals were minus a right gardener. Schaefer was supposed to play this position, but instead he cavorted around the infield most of the time. At times he would perch himself on the Bull [Durham] sign in right field, and then again lie down apparently asleep." At the end of eight innings Washington led 10-3, so Griffith pulled out all the stops.

At the demand of 1,000 cavalry soldiers attending the game as guests of the Nationals, Johnson was sent in to pitch. His catcher was Jack Ryan, a 43-year-old coach who, except for a similar joke game the year before, hadn't played in the major leagues since 1903. Lobbing pitches over, Johnson was touched for two quick hits before going back to center field in mock disgrace. His replacements on the mound were Eddie Ainsmith, who gave up two more hits to score Johnson's runners, infielders Germany Schaefer and Joe Gedeon, and finally another pitcher - Clark Griffith - who managed to retire the side in time for a 10-9 Washington victory. What nobody knew at the time was that the innocent buffoonery would cost Walter Johnson the major league record for lowest earned run average in a season (300+ innings). His 1913 ERA was listed for many years at 1.09 until the two runs in the joke game were added, raising it to 1.14. This slight difference would have been of little consequence, of course, had Bob Gibson not registered a 1.12 ERA in 1968.


That must have been some game thread.

RFS62
04-12-2006, 07:13 PM
Career, Walter Johnson

Peak value, Sandy Koufax

Best combination of stuff ever, Sandy Koufax

GAC
04-12-2006, 07:14 PM
Growing up, Koufax and Gibson was my all-time favorites.... a Dodger and a Cardinal. Who would have thunk it. ;)

At the time, my favorite Red's pitcher was Jim Maloney.

RedsBaron
04-12-2006, 10:01 PM
In his first Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James picked Lefty Grove as the greatest pitcher ever, both for peak value and career value. Two decades later James published a revised edition; he no longer made the distinction between peak and career value (abandoning the concept was a poor decision IMO) and, influenced heavily by Win Shares, picked Walter Johnson as the greatest pitcher.
Very good arguments could be made for Johnson or Grove; I tend to lean to Grove.
However, as I have posted several times previously, when I think of peak value, I think of who would I want to start a game I HAD to win, say the seventh game of the World Series----that is a very easy decison for me--Sandy Koufax gets the ball. There is no one in the history of the game that I would rather have start a game than the Koufax of 1963-66.

StillFunkyB
04-13-2006, 12:29 AM
You HAVE to seperate by era's.

Alot of people how have seen Wilt Chamberlain play say he was the greatest. I think it's Michael Jordan. Just had this debate the other day. Wilt played against midgets. He plays in this day and age, and he is probably just a very good player. Who knows.

I think that if you take a guy like Clemens and put him pitching in those earlier era's and he would be holding a ton of records. Guys now are in shape year round, and take training so seriously. I'm not trying to dismiss the abilities of guys like Walter Johnson, and Lefty Grove, but it was a totally different era that seperates who was truly the greatest.

IIRC, I heard a few blurbs here and there of people who had seen some of the greats pitch and said that none of them had what Satchel Paige had.

redsrule2500
04-13-2006, 01:12 AM
Nolan Ryan!

zombie-a-go-go
04-13-2006, 06:34 AM
I agree it's not even close with Koufax, it's just that he's the one who's not even close. Amazing pitcher, but his legend far exceeds his accomplishments.

I'd like to add here that it depends on how you define greatness. The measure of a man (in my eyes) is not composed wholly of his stat line.

That's why I'd make a crappy GM. :)

remdog
04-13-2006, 07:38 AM
For one game, at the top of their career, I'm giving the ball to Koufax. Of course, Walter Johnson is warming up in the bull pen. :)

Rem

westofyou
04-13-2006, 10:03 AM
Just had this debate the other day. Wilt played against midgets. He plays in this day and age, and he is probably just a very good player. Who knows.Wilt changed the sport, when your talent is something that transcends the rules of the game and they have to change them to accomdate the style of play you're bringing to the game then you are accomplishing more than dominance over "midgets"

Betterread
04-13-2006, 01:52 PM
Walter Johnson is my choice, but don't just take my word for it, let Jonathan Richman tell you why he was great in the song "walter johnson":

Walter Johnson

Oh I'm a going to tell you if you don't know,
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum.
About a great ball player from a long time ago.
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum.
Who's a hero to me I ain't putting you on son.
Cause I'm now going to tell the story of baseball's great
Walter Johnson.
And all through baseball he was loved and respected,
Well bitterness in Walter Johnson it was never detected.


Well now when pitchers throw their pitch to scare,
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum.
They actually try to almost hit that opposing player.
Doo da doo da doo da doo da doo da doo da doo.
Walter Johnson wouldn't do that not even just a little.
He made sure he through the baseball right down the middle.
And all through baseball he was loved and respected.
Was there bitterness in Walter Johnson well it was never
detected.


Now he pitched for the Washington Senators back in 1924,
Now, 1906,
Now look when the Washington 9 was inclined to win,
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum.
Cause Walter Johnson would actually ease up a little on the
opposition.
That's right.
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum.
Now the other team mates they simply didn't get it,
They said "Walter how come you let him hit it?"
Now Walter just told them with his gentle smile,
"Boys, This game isn't any fun if you don't get a hit once in a
while."
And all through baseball he was loved and respected.
Was there bitterness in Walter Johnson, well it was never
detected.


Now a record's just a record a book is just a book.
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum.
This Walter Johnson that I speak of never so much as gave the
opposing team a dirty look.
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum.
And a season's just a season and a game is supposed to be just a
game.
Walter Johnson cared about people more than he cared about fame.
So all through baseball he was loved and respected.
Ah bitterness in Walter Johnson well it was never detected.
HOO.

westofyou
04-13-2006, 01:55 PM
let Jonathan Richman tell you why

Oh I'm certainly not stoned, like hippie Johnny is.
I'm straight and I want to take his place.

StillFunkyB
04-13-2006, 06:33 PM
Wilt changed the sport, when your talent is something that transcends the rules of the game and they have to change them to accomdate the style of play you're bringing to the game then you are accomplishing more than dominance over "midgets"

I have never seen Wilt play. Would he have changed the game, had he played now?

I'm just trying to say that it's hard to compare players from different era's.

Big Klu
04-13-2006, 07:58 PM
As far as I'm concerned, Labor Day Weekend, 1908 sealed the deal as far as Walter Johnson being the greatest pitcher ever, as he pitched three complete-game shutouts and a total of 30 scoreless innings at New York.

Friday, September 4: Johnson pitched a five-hit shutout as Washington defeated New York, 3-0.

Saturday, September 5: Johnson then turned around and pitched a three-hit shutout the very next day, as Washington beat New York, 6-0.

Monday, September 7: New York state law prohibited sporting events on Sunday, so both clubs had September 6 off. But they played a Labor Day doubleheader on Monday. Johnson pitched a two-hit shutout in Game 1, as Washington won, 4-0. Johnson also started Game 2, pitching three shutout innings before leaving the game after being hit by a pitch. Washington completed the sweep by winning Game 2, 9-3. Tom Hughes got the win in relief.

GAC
04-14-2006, 04:11 AM
I'm just trying to say that it's hard to compare players from different era's.

And you're absolutely right. Especially when it comes to the game of baseball. One has to look at the shape and conditioning of players today compared to those of yesteryear (when there was no such "animal" for the most part).

Would a Clemens have greater success back then, then a Walter Johnson today? Babe Ruth today versus Barry Bonds then?

Jpup
04-14-2006, 07:34 AM
Rocket is the best pitcher that I ever watched.

Word this morining is that he is going to choose between Boston and New York and come back in June or July. If he goes to New York, astrobuddy has to buy me season tickets to the Reds games.

For some reason I don't think that is going to happen. :cool:

for one game I would not pick him though. Maddux, Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Petitte and Schilling would probably be better choices.

westofyou
04-14-2006, 10:22 AM
I have never seen Wilt play. Would he have changed the game, had he played now?

I'm just trying to say that it's hard to compare players from different era's.
IF the court was set up like it was then, he and a few others would. They changed the lane rules adn some other things during his era (including making the courts all one size) If you put it in the contxt of today, Wilt being larger and more athletic than prior big guys then yes he would change aspects of the game.

MrCinatit
04-14-2006, 11:16 AM
Satchel Paige people... Satchel Paige..

He is so near the top of my list. For a guy to have been that good past the age of 40 is rather remarkable.
I would also go with Koufax, after he matured.
I would also go with the professor, Greg Maddox.
Clemens would get a huge nod.
And finally to round out the rotation, The Big Train. Sure, he was dead ball - but he dominated. Domination is domination, no matter what the era.

savafan
05-12-2006, 01:53 AM
While seriously considering all candidates, Satchel Paige, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Lefty Grove, Bob Gibson, Roger Clemens, Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan, etc. I have finally, after doing a bit of research, concluded who I would pick to pitch that one game if I had to choose.

Amos Rusie. He threw so hard they had to move the mound back 10 feet 6 inches to the 60 feet 6 inches that it is today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amos_Rusie

Amos Wilson Rusie (May 30, 1871 - December 6, 1942), nicknamed "The Hoosier Thunderbolt", was a hard-throwing right-handed Major League Baseball pitcher during the late 19th century. The 6-foot-1, 200 pounder strongman terrorized batters, catchers and umpires with the hottest -- and wildest-- heat ever seen in the game at that time. This is quantified by Rusie leading the league in strikeouts five times and walks five times. He nearly killed Hall of Fame Shortstop Hughie Jennings with a bean ball; Jennings remained comatose for four days before pulling through. This incident was a catalyst for officials to change the distance from the pitching rubber to home plate from 50 feet to the current 60 feet, 6 inches. This ruling was made at the start of the 1893 season, right at the peak of Amos Rusie’s pitching prowess.

Born in Moorseville, Indiana, Rusie was 17 when he made his major league debut with the National League Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1889 and posted a 12-10 record. Indianapolis disbanded at the conclusion of the season and Rusie was transferred to the New York Giants.

Rusie would remain with New York until 1900. In 1890, Rusie was the National League leader in strikeouts with a career best 341. Albeit, he punched out a lot of batters, he also gave up a lot of walks. His 266 walks also led the league and Rusie finished that year with a losing record, 28-33.

From 1891-1894, Rusie was the best pitcher in baseball, winning at least 30 games in each of those seasons. In 1891, Rusie went 33-20, leading the league in strikeouts (337) and shutouts (6). In 1892, his performance dipped a bit, breaking out even with a 31-31 record.

With the strike zone being moved back in 1893, Rusie’s strikeout total dropped from 288 to 208. Still he was league leader. The 1893 campaign was a truly extraordinary one for Amos Rusie. He had 50 complete games out of 52 starts and went 33-21.

In 1894, Amos Rusie won pitching’s triple crown. He led the league in wins, going 36-13, strikeouts with 195, and a league best ERA of 2.78 (especially spectacular considering the league average that year was 5.32). After the conclusion of the 1894 regular season, a Pittsburgh sportsman named William C. Temple sponsored a trophy for the winner between the regular season 1st and 2nd place teams in the National League. The runner-up Giants swept the Baltimore Orioles, who featured Hall of Famers John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson, 4-0. Amos Rusie was virtually untouchable in the Temple Cup, giving up only one earned run while winning two complete games and compiling a 0.50 ERA; if that wasn’t enough, he even batted .429. Amos Rusie’s win total that year was fourth best in baseball history, since the modern pitching distance of 60’-6” was established.

Amos Rusie won his last strikeout crown in the 1895 campaign with 201. However, he finished with a mediocre (by Rusie's standards) 23 wins and 23 losses. After a bitter contract dispute with Giants' owner Andrew Freedman, Rusie responded by publicly thumbing his nose at Mr. Freeman, which was the 19th century variant of the middle finger. He was fined $200 (he made only $2,500). Rusie refused to play until Freedman returned his money and ended up holding out for the entire 1896 season. It was a fiasco for baseball; fans boycotted and the press railed against the owners. Owners implored Rusie and Freedman to compromise; neither would budge. The holdout was finally settled just prior to the 1897 season, as the owners collaborated for recoupment of the garnished wages, as well as a $5,000 settlement. This was partially out of respect for Mr. Rusie. However, the primary motivator was the threat of legal action against the reserve clause had his case gone to court.

Following the 1898 season, a combination of hearing damage from a line drive to the head, arm trouble, and personal problems kept him out of baseball for two years. In 1900, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for future Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson. In 1901, Rusie pitched poorly in three games before retiring. He finished his career with 245 wins, 174 losses, 1934 strikeouts and a 3.07 ERA.

Rusie was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.



Year Ag Tm Lg W L G GS CG SHO GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WP BFP IBB BK ERA *lgERA *ERA+ WHIP
+--------------+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+---+---+-----+---+---+-----+-----+----+-----+
1889 18 IND NL 12 10 33 22 19 1 11 0 225.0 246 181 133 12 116 109 9 9 953 0 5.32 4.18 79 1.609
1890 19 NYG NL 29 34 67 63 56 4 5 1 548.7 436 300 156 3 289 341 0 36 0 0 2.56 3.49 136 1.321
1891 20 NYG NL 33 20 61 57 52 6 4 1 500.3 391 244 142 7 262 337 0 17 0 1 2.55 3.21 126 1.305
1892 21 NYG NL 31 31 64 61 58 2 3 0 532.0 405 288 170 7 267 288 0 24 0 0 2.88 3.22 112 1.263
1893 22 NYG NL 33 21 56 52 50 4 4 1 482.0 451 260 173 15 218 208 0 26 0 0 3.23 4.66 144 1.388
1894 23 NYG NL 36 13 54 50 45 3 4 1 444.0 426 228 137 10 200 195 0 10 0 0 2.78 5.26 189 1.410
1895 24 NYG NL 23 23 49 47 42 4 2 0 393.3 384 248 163 9 159 201 0 10 0 0 3.73 4.63 124 1.381
1897 26 NYG NL 28 10 38 37 35 2 1 0 322.3 314 143 91 6 87 135 11 6 0 0 2.54 4.14 163 1.244
1898 27 NYG NL 20 11 37 36 33 4 1 1 300.0 288 149 101 6 103 114 9 13 0 0 3.03 3.46 114 1.303
1901 30 CIN NL 0 1 3 2 2 0 0 0 22.0 43 25 21 1 3 6 0 2 107 0 8.59 3.19 37 2.091
+--------------+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+---+---+-----+---+---+-----+-----+----+-----+
10 Yr WL% .585 245 174 462 427 392 30 35 5 3769.7 3384 2066 1287 76 1704 1934 29 153 1060 1 3.07 3.98 130 1.350
+--------------+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+---+---+-----+---+---+-----+-----+----+-----+
162 Game Avg 18 13 35 32 29 2 2 0 288.3 258 158 98 5 130 147 2 11 81 0 0 3.07 3.98 130 1.350
Career High 36 34 67 63 58 6 11 1 548.7 451 300 173 15 289 341 11 36 953 0 1 2.54 5.26 189 1.244

245 wins by the age of 27. That's pretty impressive.

redsmetz
05-12-2006, 05:22 AM
I'm presently reading Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and African American Baseball and I'm not so sure it wouldn't be Satchel Paige. From this and most every other thing I've read about him, he was unparalleled. I do agree Johnson would be there as well.

REDJAKE
05-12-2006, 09:33 AM
The best i have ever seen Koufax not even close.GO CINCY!!!!

15fan
05-12-2006, 09:47 AM
For the sake of argument, I'll throw another name out there: Mariano Rivera.

In 111 & 2/3 post-season innings, his era is 0.81.

Mutaman
05-12-2006, 10:01 AM
Of those pitchers I've seen, Koufax. And no one else even comes close.

westofyou
05-12-2006, 10:05 AM
Of those pitchers I've seen, Koufax. And no one else even comes close.
And in all that time you probably never saw anyone pitch in such an extreme pitchers park in such an extreme pitching era.

For every Sandy Koufax super season there was a Willie Davis crummy season on the other side of the coin, or a Juan Marichell/Hal Lanier.

Mutaman
05-12-2006, 10:50 AM
And in all that time you probably never saw anyone pitch in such an extreme pitchers park in such an extreme pitching era.

For every Sandy Koufax super season there was a Willie Davis crummy season on the other side of the coin, or a Juan Marichell/Hal Lanier.


I remember watching Koufax strike out 15 in the first game of the 63 series in that "extreme pitchers park", Yankee Stadium . With the possible exception of Goose Gossage, I've never seen a pitcher throw faster and with so much movement on his pitch. And he did it for nine innings. Maris never had a chance, and he knew it.

westofyou
05-12-2006, 10:54 AM
I remember watching Koufax strike out 15 in the first game of the 63 series in that "extreme pitchers park", Yankee Stadium . With the possible exception of Goose Gossage, I've never seen a pitcher throw faster and with so much movement on his pitch. And he did it for nine innings. Maris never had a chance, and he knew it.
96 PF in 63 after 4 straight years of PF's in the 80. A LH makes Yankee Stadium even a better pitchers park.

BTW Maris was .218/.307/.390 lifetime against LH's, not figuring out Koufax came with his game.

cincinnati chili
05-13-2006, 11:56 AM
Compared to his era, I think Walter Johnson is the best guy since 1900, and maybe ever.

But generally speaking, I firmly believe that the athletes of today are more skilled and better conditioned than those of generations ago. We're an evolving species. In sports that are more easily "measurable" (swimming, running, etc), it's abundantly clear that we've gotten incrementally better with time. I suspect it's the same with baseball. The hitters have better approaches and are a lot better conditioned (yes, even the ones not on steroids) than the guys in Walter Johnson's era.

Thus, I have to think that the greatest pitcher ever almost certainly pitched in the last 10 years (Clemens, Pedro, Randy Johnson, etc.)

dougdirt
05-13-2006, 02:59 PM
If we want to go with 2 years I get a guy I am taking Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000. Those were the two best seasons a pitcher has ever put together back to back and I refuse to believe otherwise.

redsmetz
05-13-2006, 05:29 PM
96 PF in 63 after 4 straight years of PF's in the 80. A LH makes Yankee Stadium even a better pitchers park.

BTW Maris was .218/.307/.390 lifetime against LH's, not figuring out Koufax came with his game.

A friend of mine roomed with Koufax when they played on UC's baseball team together. He says they were supposed to warm up with their roommates, but he started to find reasons to stay in the locker room longer so one of the catchers would have to catch him he threw so hard.

savafan
05-15-2006, 12:20 AM
Walter Johnson basically only had one pitch to work with, and he pitched in an era when strikeouts weren't as highly regarded as they are today. Same goes for Rusie. That's impressive in any era.

Candy Cummings
10-04-2006, 11:24 PM
Koufax was probably the most talented. I've always been partial to Mathewson. But, Clemens is definitely in the conversation.

Jr's Boy
10-05-2006, 03:42 PM
Satchel Paige people... Satchel Paige..

The best,my friend Joe B.Scott played against him and he said he's the best.What some great stories Joe has told me about their meetings.Happy 82nd birthday Joe.

Highlifeman21
10-05-2006, 05:36 PM
Walter Johnson.

What he said. No doubt in my mind.

Wheelhouse
10-06-2006, 01:41 PM
Pedro at his peak: virtually unhittable from 1997-2003, the biggest hitter's era in the history of the game. This includes a 1.73 ERA in 2000 and 1.90 in 1997. To put up HOF numbers that compare favorably to any era in that juicy period gets Pedro my vote.

Topcat
10-07-2006, 05:11 AM
Bob Gibson :thumbup:

Ltlabner
10-07-2006, 06:34 AM
Two words: Mario Soto

But serriously, this is a great thread. I'd have to lean towards Pedro simply because he did what he did in an era of super-hitting, steriod fuled madness. J

As far as peek value I'm biased towards Maddux in the mid 90's.