Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 13, 2010
BASEBALL: High Quality Starts, Part II

Following up on my earlier post on High Quality Starts, here's the rest of the post: a look at HQS as a percentage of starts, as well as a percentage of wins (unsurprisingly, for good pitchers these constitute an outsize component of wins).

Now, read this chart with caution. First of all, guys who spent a lot of years in relief will have relief wins - Kenny Rogers is last on the list with HQS representing just 37.9% of his wins, and while that accurately reflects that Rogers generally needed help to win, it's a little exaggerated by his time as a reliever. Then again, Sandy Koufax tops the list with 73.3% of his wins being HQS, despite having worked heavily in relief for much of the late 1950s.

Second, here is where you really see the differences in era - Koufax and Rogers are pretty much at the far poles here, but there's a very large difference between the Sixties and the 00s, between Dodger Stadium and Arlington.

Third, bear in mind that some guys here - e.g., Pete Alexander - pitched parts of their careers before 1920 (1920 was the last year of Alexander's prime).

That said, I tip my hat to the guy who topped even Koufax for percentage of his starts that were HQS: Jim Palmer, who came the closest to notching a HQS in half his career starts. And the guy who was the first real surprise among the immortals atop the list, Mel Stottlemyre. Maddux rated lower than I'd expected, but he did start a huge number of games, many of them late in his career after he'd stopped really being Greg Maddux.

Note the list of 200-game winners who turned in a High Quality Start in less than a third of their career starts: Jamie Moyer, Jesse Haines, David Wells, Herb Pennock (not counting the 61 starts Pennock made before 1920), Bobo Newsom, Andy Pettitte, Red Ruffing, Mel Harder, Burleigh Grimes, Ted Lyons, Waite Hoyt, Charlie Hough, Charlie Root, Jim Kaat, Chuck Finley, Joe Niekro and Jerry Reuss. Mostly this is a list of bad Hall of Famers, but other than Kaat (who has no business in a Hall discussion despite a high career win total), Niekro and Reuss, they're also all from high-scoring eras. I'll have to revisit later the question of Pettitte as a deserving Hall of Famer.

(Tommy John and Bert Blyleven both come in the 36% area).

Chart below the fold.

Jim Palmer24819152126847.6%71.3%
Sandy Koufax14612131416546.5%73.3%
Tom Seaver29521764731145.6%69.8%
Bob Gibson21717648225145.0%70.1%
Mel Stottlemyre15710835616444.1%65.9%
Warren Spahn29224966536343.9%68.6%
Whitey Ford19215443823643.8%65.3%
Roger Clemens30823470735443.6%66.1%
Bob Veale1117525512043.5%62.5%
Dizzy Dean1009123015043.5%60.7%
Johan Santana1117625813143.0%58.0%
Bob Feller20817748426643.0%66.5%
Pedro Martinez17512940921942.8%58.9%
Andy Messersmith1268829513042.7%67.7%
Tim Hudson14210433316142.6%64.6%
Harry Brecheen1028224013342.5%61.7%
Don Drysdale19613846520942.2%66.0%
Pete Alexander1239729316542.0%58.8%
Roy Halladay12910431116241.5%64.2%
Allie Reynolds12811430918241.4%62.6%
Denny McLain1099126413141.3%69.5%
Don Sutton31022175632441.0%68.2%
Hal Newhouser15212437420740.6%59.9%
Juan Marichal18515545724340.5%63.8%
Dave McNally16012039618440.4%65.2%
Curt Schilling17614043621640.4%64.8%
Bob Lemon14112435020740.3%59.9%
Lon Warneke13811834319240.2%61.5%
Carl Hubbell17414943325340.2%58.9%
Eddie Lopat12711131816639.9%66.9%
Mike Cuellar15112037918539.8%64.9%
Larry Dierker1319532913939.8%68.3%
Steve Carlton28222270932939.8%67.5%
Gaylord Perry27420769031439.7%65.9%
Jim Bunning20614251922439.7%63.4%
Randy Johnson23918460330339.6%60.7%
Steve Rogers15510839315839.4%68.4%
David Cone16412141919439.1%62.4%
Kevin Brown18613247621139.1%62.6%
Sam McDowell1358934614139.0%63.1%
Robin Roberts23616660928638.8%58.0%
Fergie Jenkins22917459428438.6%61.3%
Catfish Hunter18314447622438.4%64.3%
Greg Maddux28419274035538.4%54.1%
Jon Matlack1228231812538.4%65.6%
Roy Oswalt1128329414438.1%57.6%
Bret Saberhagen1419937116738.0%59.3%
Mike Scott1218331912437.9%66.9%
Early Wynn23219761230037.9%65.7%
Nolan Ryan29221077332437.8%64.8%
Ron Guidry12210032317037.8%58.8%
Dwight Gooden15411041019437.6%56.7%
Mike Mussina20115653627037.5%57.8%
Mickey Lolich18613949621737.5%64.1%
Rudy May1359636015237.5%63.2%
Ray Culp1007526812237.3%61.5%
Lefty Grove17014545730037.2%48.3%
Claude Osteen18112048819637.1%61.2%
Dazzy Vance12711134519736.8%56.3%
Dean Chance1087729412836.7%60.2%
Tommy John25718170028836.7%62.8%
Mike Garcia1038828114236.7%62.0%
Phil Niekro26219471631836.6%61.0%
Billy Pierce15812943221136.6%61.1%
Luis Tiant17713948422936.6%60.7%
Bucky Walters14512439819836.4%62.6%
Bill Singer1127830811836.4%66.1%
Milt Pappas16913546520936.3%64.6%
Bob Buhl13410236916636.3%61.4%
Jerry Koosman19114152722236.2%63.5%
Jim Perry16212544721536.2%58.1%
Joe Horlen1056729011636.2%57.8%
Bert Blyleven24818168528736.2%63.1%
John Smoltz17412048121336.2%56.3%
Vida Blue17113047320936.2%62.2%
Larry French13811638319736.0%58.9%
Dizzy Trout1169632217036.0%56.5%
Virgil Trucks1189732817736.0%54.8%
Al Downing1147831712336.0%63.4%
CC Sabathia1128531315135.8%56.3%
Doug Drabek13810038715535.7%64.5%
Burt Hooton1348737715135.5%57.6%
Bob Rush1147532112735.5%59.1%
Paul Derringer15812644522335.5%56.5%
Chris Short1097530813535.4%55.6%
Rick Reuschel18712352921435.3%57.5%
Claude Passeau1179833116235.3%60.5%
Charlie Leibrandt1229134614035.3%65.0%
Dennis Martinez19813056224535.2%53.1%
John Denny1138032212335.1%65.0%
Hal Schumacher1158432915835.0%53.2%
Bob Friend17312649719734.8%64.0%
Ross Grimsley1027929512434.6%63.7%
Mark Buehrle1128732414534.6%60.0%
Fritz Peterson1148033013334.5%60.2%
Jack Morris18214252725434.5%55.9%
Ken Holtzman14110441017434.4%59.8%
Frank Viola14411542017634.3%65.3%
Dave Stieb14110441217634.2%59.1%
Dutch Leonard1289637519134.1%50.3%
Larry Jackson14610742919434.0%55.2%
Jimmy Key1329438918633.9%50.5%
Dennis Leonard1028230214433.8%56.9%
Dock Ellis1078131713833.8%58.7%
Lefty Gomez10810132018933.8%53.4%
Tom Glavine22916168230533.6%52.8%
Bob Welch15511746221133.5%55.5%
Curt Simmons15511746219333.5%60.6%
Dennis Eckersley1218836119733.5%44.7%
Lew Burdette1259937320333.5%48.8%
Bill Gullickson1309239016233.3%56.8%
Bill Lee12610137916933.2%59.8%
Ron Darling1217436413633.2%54.4%
Freddie Fitzsimmons14111842521733.2%54.4%
Brad Radke1259237714833.2%62.2%
Tommy Bridges1209836219433.1%50.5%
Frank Tanana20414061624033.1%58.3%
Guy Bush1027930817633.1%44.9%
Orel Hershiser15410946620433.0%53.4%
Sonny Siebert1016830714032.9%48.6%
Eppa Rixey12810639119032.7%55.8%
Tom Candiotti1349041015132.7%59.6%
Fernando Valenzuela13810342417332.5%59.5%
Jerry Reuss17814054722032.5%63.6%
Bruce Hurst1168335914532.3%57.2%
Mark Langston13810142817932.2%56.4%
Joe Niekro16111550022132.2%52.0%
Rick Rhoden1227938015132.1%52.3%
Mike Flanagan12910640416731.9%63.5%
Chuck Finley14911246720031.9%56.0%
Vern Law1168836416231.9%54.3%
Mike McCormick1068033313431.8%59.7%
Red Faber1119034917231.8%52.3%
Stan Bahnsen1047632714631.8%52.1%
Dolf Luque1107634617831.8%42.7%
Tim Belcher1188037314631.6%54.8%
Jim Kaat19715362528331.5%54.1%
Johnny Podres1078234014831.5%55.4%
Charlie Root1078234120131.4%40.8%
Charlie Hough1389144021631.4%42.1%
Ted Lyons15113548426031.2%51.9%
John Candelaria1118235617731.2%46.3%
Waite Hoyt12911041423331.2%47.2%
Doyle Alexander1449946419431.0%51.0%
Dave Stewart1088334816831.0%49.4%
Rick Wise14110045518831.0%53.2%
Murry Dickson1048733817230.8%50.6%
Burleigh Grimes13011042423630.7%46.6%
Andy Benes1187838715530.5%50.3%
Mel Harder13211143322330.5%49.8%
Mike Hampton1088235514830.4%55.4%
Bob Knepper1258941314630.3%61.0%
Kevin Tapani1078035414330.2%55.9%
Darryl Kile1006833113330.2%51.1%
Jim Lonborg1118736815730.2%55.4%
Red Ruffing16214253827330.1%52.0%
Livan Hernandez1319443616430.0%57.3%
Andy Pettitte14311347624030.0%47.1%
Mike Krukow1067635512429.9%61.3%
Bobo Newsom14410948321129.8%51.7%
Sad Sam Jones12610342519729.6%52.3%
Kevin Appier1197740216929.6%45.6%
Javier Vazquez1208240615129.6%54.3%
Joe Coleman1006934014229.4%48.6%
Bob Forsch1248142216829.4%48.2%
Rick Sutcliffe1159139217129.3%53.2%
Herb Pennock1058735820329.3%42.9%
David Wells14311648923929.2%48.5%
Jesse Haines1129838621029.0%46.7%
Camilo Pascual1178940417429.0%51.1%
Paul Splittorff1138339216628.8%50.0%
Tom Zachary1159139918328.8%49.7%
George Uhle1029335619028.7%48.9%
Kevin Gross1047136814228.3%50.0%
Jim Slaton1006636015127.8%43.7%
Jim Clancy1057938114027.6%56.4%
Al Leiter1037138216227.0%43.8%
Jamie Moyer16911562826726.9%43.1%
Mike Torrez1219345818526.4%50.3%
John Burkett1117942316626.2%47.6%
Kevin Millwood1027239815725.6%45.9%
Scott Sanderson1036840716325.3%41.7%
Tim Wakefield1098543719224.9%44.3%
Mike Morgan1026341114124.8%44.7%
Steve Trachsel1026241714324.5%43.4%
Mike Moore1078244016124.3%50.9%
Kenny Rogers1138347421923.8%37.9%
Earl Whitehill1028847321821.6%40.4%
Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:03 PM | Baseball 2010 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Perfect! Just what I was looking for.

So Jim Palmer has the highest % of HQS per starts in Major League Baseball history? Almost 50% of his starts were HQS! A full 10% more than famous pitchers like Nolan Ryan (37.8)%

Bob Veale (one of my favorite Pirates) is 9th! WOW!

And of the present day pitchers, Johann Santana clocks in at 11th on the list!

I like this metric as a mean to identify the truly standout SPs.


Posted by: Lee at August 13, 2010 2:48 PM

It's especially impressive to see how high Spahn, Clemens and particularly Seaver rank on this list given that they each started over 600 games (700 in Clemens' case). Sutton drops down a bit but is still doing quite well for a guy who is third on the all time starts list.

Posted by: Crank at August 13, 2010 3:00 PM

Had Mel Stottlemyre played in amost any other era (free agency or when the Yankees were good) instead of the mid-to-late 60s, he'd be a HOFer. With Mantle fading quickly after '64, he was arguably the best player on those teams.

Posted by: Maryland Conservatarian at August 13, 2010 3:35 PM

Very interesting list. I agree that Mel Stottlemyre's playing career is under-valued.

OK. I'll bite. What's your beef with Kaat? I remember seeing him pitch in the mid-60's and thinking he was one of the better pitchers in the AL. Also, excpet for that stretch, the teams for which he played were not exceptional.

Posted by: Magrooder at August 16, 2010 2:46 PM

The AL had few outstanding starters in the mid-60s, so for the decade, yeah, he's in there with McDowell.

First, Kaat was never especially dominant in his prime, nor was he unusually consistent or durable to balance that. Aside from 1972, when he missed half the season, his best ERA+ was 131 in 1966. Yes, he would have won the Cy that year if they'd given one for the AL, but I'm pretty sure there are no pitchers in the Hall who were never 40% better than the league in their best season.

Second, and relatedly, he had a lot of his best years in very pitcher-friendly environs, especially eras when starting pitchers threw a ton of innings. His career #s are not comparable to John, let alone Blyleven, when you adjust for context - John was a 20-game winner and workhorse in the late 70s AL, Blyleven racked up a lot of his wins and innings in the AL in the 80s. A 3.45 career ERA for a guy who threw the bulk of his career in the 60s and early 70s is not impressive.

And his career win total is padded by a bunch of mediocre years - from age 37-44 he was 48-50 with a 4.08 ERA and 2 saves (ERA+ 92), mostly as a spot starter/middle reliever.

Posted by: Crank at August 16, 2010 3:13 PM

I hear you with respect to the longevity-producing-inflated-stats" issue.

Granted that it is only one year, but Kaat was pretty dominant in 1966. He led the league in wins, innings pitched, starts, complete games, strikeouts to walks ratio, and won the 5th of 16 consecutive gold gloves. I looked at the career stats comparison at baseball reference between Kaat and John and they are almost identical.

Jim Kaat is, at best, a borderline Hall of Famer, but he merits a discussion.

I was eating at a hotel restaurant in St. Louis during Frank Robinson's first year as manager of the Nationals (terrific job, by the way) and he was at an adjacent table. His dinner companion asked the waiter if he knew who Frank was. When the waiter said he didn't, the companion introduced him. The waiter mis-heard because he kept callinghim "Mr. Frankie." It was both funny because of the looks Robinson gave him and sad that such a great player and man wasn't recognized.

Posted by: Magrooder at August 17, 2010 12:14 PM
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