Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 4, 2012
BASEBALL: Doubled Up

Looking through the Play Indexes, which have this data back to 1948, yields some interesting nuggets.

Highest opposing BABIP, 100 or more innings: Glendon Rusch in 2003 (.381). You can beat the balls in play if you're good enough: BABIP vs Pedro Martinez in 1999: .325.

Most 2B allowed in a season since 1948: 68 by Rick Helling in 2001. Tied for second: 66 by Helling in 2000.

Most 3B allowed in a season since 1948 is a 4-way tie at 17, but Larry Christenson managed it in 1976 in just 168.2 IP. That 1976 Phillies team frequently had Greg Luzinski in LF, Ollie Brown or Jay Johnstone in RF, Garry Maddox in CF.

Most steals allowed in a season: 60 by Dwight Gooden in 1990. Tied for second: Gooden with 56 in 1988. Fewest: 200 innings in a season without allowing a steal has been done 10 times, four of them by Whitey Ford; Kenny Rogers in 2002 is the only one since 1968. Most career steals allowed: 757 off Nolan Ryan, and it's not even close, Greg Maddux is second at 547. Gooden allowed 452 steals in just 2800.2 innings.

Then there's the things besides steals that get buried in a pitcher's line, even looking at BABIP numbers, most of all double plays, doubles and triples. Tommy John induced 605 double plays in his career. Since 1948, Jim Kaat is second with 462, a huge gap. For the 61 pitchers to throw 3000 or more innings over that period - admittedly an elite group - I broke out their GIDP, steals, doubles, triples, and total bases allowed on doubles and triples (23B/9, counting triples twice) per 9 innings. The results are obviously heavily influenced by era and park and teammates, but interesting nonetheless - Tommy John and Dennis Eckersley are as dominant in the most- and least-DP business as Ryan and Whitey Ford are in allowing the most and least steals. I sorted the table by GIDP/9, so for the others:

SB/9: Most - Ryan, Tim Wakefield, Joe Niekro, Eckersley; Fewest - Ford, Billy Pierce, Warren Spahn, Rogers.

3B/9: Most - Robin Roberts, Bob Friend, Curt Simmons (Roberts' longtime teammate). Fewest - Chuck Finley, Randy Johnson, Jamie Moyer (Johnson's Seattle teammate).

23B/9 (largely the same list as 2B/9): Most - Rogers, David Wells, Livan Hernandez, Wakefield. Fewest - Juan Marichal, Ryan, Bob Gibson, Ford.

All of which went a long way to explaining to me why Whitey Ford was so successful in an era when the truly fielding-independent paths to success (K, BB, HR) were limited - few pitchers in the 50s had especially low BB/9, high K/9 or huge variances in HR/9. Not to say there was no variations, but not nearly enough for a pitcher to really distinguish himself (it's a study for another day to ask whether BABIP was as pitcher-independent in that era as today). But what's clear is that, with the help of a superior defense and possibly park effects (see here and here), Ford cut off the running game, induced a lot of double plays, and rarely allowed doubles or triples, which in addition to a fairly low HR rate explains how a guy with a 1.37 K/BB ratio from 1950-60 could be such a dominating pitcher year in and year out.

The table is below the fold.

Tommy John4710.36051.162400.466991.341170.221.78
Claude Osteen3460.73941.02760.204971.29790.211.70
Whitey Ford3170.33541.00290.083761.07840.241.54
Andy Pettitte3055.33391.001760.526051.78570.172.12
Mike Torrez3043.73240.962380.705021.48730.221.92
Kenny Rogers3302.73500.95630.177191.96690.192.34
Lew Burdette3067.33250.95670.204491.32930.271.86
Jerry Reuss3669.73750.921890.465601.37730.181.73
Jim Kaat4530.34620.921680.337061.401320.261.93
Kevin Brown3256.33300.911800.504931.36530.151.66
Orel Hershiser3130.33140.901810.525251.51650.191.88
Bob Friend3611.03450.861420.354721.181200.301.77
Chuck Finley3197.33050.862690.765771.62400.111.85
Tom Glavine4413.34200.862260.467861.60760.151.91
Larry Jackson3262.73080.85890.254701.30940.261.82
Livan Hernandez3139.32910.831590.466311.81820.242.28
Rick Reuschel3548.33200.812040.525991.521020.262.04
Milt Pappas3186.02790.791610.454731.34710.201.74
Gaylord Perry5350.04510.762360.407081.191420.241.67
Greg Maddux5008.34220.765470.988171.47840.151.77
Jerry Koosman3839.33190.751900.455971.40940.221.84
Dennis Martinez3999.73320.754220.956511.461070.241.95
Mike Mussina3562.72930.741820.467191.82530.132.08
Warren Spahn4812.73910.73770.145961.111200.221.56
Jamie Moyer4049.03280.733140.708121.80590.132.07
Rick Wise3127.32510.722520.735251.51890.262.02
Phil Niekro5404.04310.724460.747341.221240.211.64
Joe Niekro3584.32820.714151.045081.28880.221.72
Don Drysdale3432.02700.71950.254711.24740.191.62
Bert Blyleven4970.03890.704240.777121.291160.211.71
Jack Morris3824.02990.703730.885721.35910.211.77
Vida Blue3343.32610.701970.534581.23880.241.71
Steve Carlton5217.74050.703140.548071.391370.241.86
David Wells3439.02660.702680.707411.94650.172.28
Curt Simmons3339.32550.691120.305121.381040.281.94
Doyle Alexander3367.72560.682340.635871.57950.252.08
Bob Gibson3884.32920.681960.454571.06830.191.44
Jim Perry3285.72450.67800.224161.14770.211.56
Frank Tanana4188.33090.663050.666941.49910.201.88
Tim Wakefield3226.32320.654481.256721.87540.152.18
Billy Pierce3296.72320.63500.144131.13940.261.64
John Smoltz3473.02440.631820.476051.57670.171.92
Mickey Lolich3638.32550.631610.405641.40740.181.76
Jim Palmer3948.02730.622650.605121.17880.201.57
Early Wynn3495.32400.621160.304881.26860.221.70
Charlie Hough3801.32600.623980.945631.33830.201.73
Bob Welch3092.02090.612130.624821.40720.211.82
Roger Clemens4916.73300.604460.827961.46840.151.76
Tom Seaver4783.03150.594090.776751.271200.231.72
Danny Darwin3016.71950.582620.785441.62720.212.05
Robin Roberts4688.72950.571820.357941.521680.322.17
Randy Johnson4135.32520.554560.996601.44580.131.69
Fergie Jenkins4500.72740.552840.577321.46990.201.86
Curt Schilling3261.01930.531050.296121.69600.172.02
Juan Marichal3507.02070.531760.453961.02700.181.38
Nolan Ryan5386.03140.527571.266491.081060.181.44
Luis Tiant3486.32030.521820.475241.351000.261.87
Jim Bunning3760.32100.502080.505561.33950.231.79
Don Sutton5282.32920.504320.747281.241070.181.60
Catfish Hunter3449.31830.482020.535251.37700.181.74
Dennis Eckersley3285.71460.403801.045711.56710.191.95
Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:00 PM | Baseball 2012-13 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Was the AL much of a base stealing league in Ford's day?

Posted by: stan at May 4, 2012 5:15 PM

Was the AL much of a base stealing league in Ford's day?

Posted by: stan at May 4, 2012 5:15 PM

I remember as a little kid seeing an article that quoted Whitey Frod heavily, about the importance of a pitcher learning to keep the baserunner close. Whitey said it could be the difference of five wins a season for a pitcher; which sounds highly unlikely today, but one can see why he might believe if.

Posted by: DD at May 5, 2012 11:11 AM

The AL was a station-to-station league in Ford's day. The only team known for running was the White Sox - the "Go-Go Sox" - and their only big base stealer was Luis Aparicio.

Posted by: Joe R at May 8, 2012 4:16 AM

I remember Bill James' laconic explanation of how Maury Wills was able to steal NL catchers blind in 1962: "Catchers [of that era] couldn't throw." Meaning that since virtually no one was stealing bases, catchers were generally chosen for other qualities, with teams knowing that there weren't enough base stealers out there to make it a problem most of the time.

Greg Maddux was high on that SB/9 list, to the surprise of virtually no one--it was probably the only significant weakness in his game. Fortunately for him--and Mike Piazza--the high octane offense of the era they played in made base stealing relatively rare compared to what it had been in the seventies and eighties, and what might have been a more significant flaw in their games became relatively trivial.

Posted by: M. Scott Eiland at May 12, 2012 1:28 AM
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