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Thread: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

  1. #31
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    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.
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  3. #32
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    I should go with someone I have seen pitch. I would have to agree about Clemens , although Maddux was right up there.

  4. #33
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    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.
    Last edited by Cyclone792; 04-12-2006 at 07:08 PM.
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  5. #34
    We are the angry mob cincyinco's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    Satchel Paige people... Satchel Paige..
    "I hate to advocate chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone... But they've always worked for me."

    -Hunter S. Thompson

  6. #35
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792
    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
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  7. #36
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    Jamie Moyer is truly the greatest pitcher that I've ever seen. He's on a higher plane.

    but Maddux is good, too.

  8. #37
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick
    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.
    Code:
    
    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.
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  9. #38
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792
    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.
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  10. #39
    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    Career, Walter Johnson

    Peak value, Sandy Koufax

    Best combination of stuff ever, Sandy Koufax
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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  11. #40
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    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.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

  12. #41
    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    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.
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  13. #42
    Your killin' me Smalls! StillFunkyB's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    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.
    "And the fact that watching him pitch is like having someone poop on your soul." FCB on Gary Majewski

  14. #43
    Member redsrule2500's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    Nolan Ryan!
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  15. #44
    Mod Law zombie-a-go-go's Avatar
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    Quote Originally Posted by M2
    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.
    Last edited by zombie-a-go-go; 04-13-2006 at 07:37 AM.
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  16. #45
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    Re: #1 All-Time Greatest Pitcher

    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


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