Friday, May 23, 2008

Lately, I’ve been looking at/doing some all-time rankings of baseball positions, in particular looking at the best pitchers in the NL

Right now, my top 6 looks like, with no order, Christy Matthewson, Three Finger Brown, Pete Alexander, Greg Maddux, Bob Gibson, and Tom Seaver.

This leaves out a couple of things – first, I have the problem of a couple of old timey guys – John Clarkson and Kid Nichols who both played primarily in the 19th century – and both of course, have a lot more wins, complete games, inning per year than pretty much anyone else. Nichols is the better candidate of the two, and may have to sneak somewhere onto that list.

Second, any time you do league rankings, you run into the problem of guys who split leagues. The two biggest guys this presents problems for in these rankings are Cy Young, who spent his career almost evenly divided between the AL and the NL, spending the first 11 years in the NL with the Cleveland Spiders and the St. Louis Perfectos, all but the last in the 19th century, and Randy Johnson who spent far fewer years with the Diamondbacks in the NL than in the AL, but his best years in the NL, which were nothing less than dominating.

Comparing eras is among the hardest things to do in baseball…stats like ERA+ help a lot, in that they reflect players ERA’s, relative to the year, but one thing I’ve been wondering is whether there was a far larger gap between the best players and the worst players earlier on, which helped certainly players dominate more. One reason for this could be because the pool out of which players are chosen was smaller, without black or latino players. The idea might be that instead of the worst batters, which represented easy outs for the very best pitchers, a new set of players should have been there, with skills at the very least closer to average, had these pools of players been in the game. Anyway, it’s just a theory, and I don’t have much proof of any kind of verify it, so for now it’s off to ordering these six – the first two are probably going to be Matthewson and Alexander.

The AL is a lot harder – there are three that really stick out from the pack – Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, and Roger Clemens, but beyond that it’s kind of a crapshoot. More on this later!

1 comment:

AndrewEberle said...

Did you really steal my idea (And my top 3 AL pitchers) and put it on your blog? Hahaha, at least you mentioned the members of my top 5 that you disagreed with, I'll give you that. Up with 19th century pitchers!