Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 4, 2012
BASEBALL: Dickey Rises Above

RA Dickey this season finished 20-6 for a 74-88 team: 14 over .500 for a team that was 14 under. How unusual is that accomplishment? I ran through the past century looking for examples, focusing on pitchers who (1) won 15 or more games and (2) finished 5 or more games over .500 (3) for a team that was below .500 when they didn't pitch. I came up with 73 75 examples; I'm sure there are more I missed, but I think I got the major ones. The chart below is ranked by multiplying the pitcher's number of games above .500 by the team's number of games below .500 the rest of the time ("x"); the "TOT" column adds the two:

UPDATED: Per comments, added Nolan Ryan's 1973 and 1974.

PitcherYearWLG OverW(T)L(T)G UnderTOTx
Steve Carlton19722710175997-5572935
Walter Johnson19112513126490-3850456
Tim Lincecum2008185137290-3144403
RA Dickey2012206147488-2842392
Cliff Lee2008223198181-1938361
Ray Scarborough194815875697-4855336
Roger Clemens1997217147686-2438336
Bob Feller19462615116886-2940319
Aaron Harang2007166107290-2838280
Ted Lyons1930221576292-3744259
Roy Face*1959181177876-1532255
Pat Hentgen19962010107488-2434240
Cy Young1907211565990-3743222
Grover Alexander19202714137579-1730221
Bobby Shantz1952247177975-1330221
Walter Johnson1910251786685-2735216
Grover Alexander19142715127480-1830216
Roy Halladay2002197127884-1830216
Al Leiter200315966695-3541210
Steve Trachsel2003161066695-3541210
Clayton Kershaw2011215168279-1329208
Walter Johnson1919201465684-3440204
Brandon Webb2008227158280-1328195
Nolan Ryan1974221666894-3238192
Bob Feller19412513127579-1628192
Johnny Marcum1935171255891-3843190
Roger Clemens1987209117884-1728187
Javier Vazquez200715877290-2532175
Tex Hughson1944185137777-1326169
Steve Blass1968186128082-1426168
Ted Lyons1927221487083-2129168
Jerry Koosman1968191277389-2330161
Roger Clemens1992181177389-2330161
Gaylord Perry1972241687284-2028160
Brandon Webb200616887686-1826144
Vean Gregg1911237168073-925144
Tom Seaver1975229138280-1124143
Cy Young19082111107579-1424140
Gaylord Perry1978216158478-924135
Pedro Martinez199717897884-1524135
Roy Halladay2009171077587-1926133
Larry Jansen1947215168173-824128
Brad Penny2007164128280-1022120
Bill Bernhard**1902175126967-1022120
Bob Forsch1977207138379-922117
Robin Roberts1954231587479-1321104
Jim Kaat1975201467586-1723102
Rick Reuschel19772010108181-1020100
Randy Johnson1993198118280-92099
Rip Sewell1940165117876-92099
General Crowder1928215168272-62296
Russ Ford***1914216158071-62190
Walter Johnson1913367299064-33287
Walter Johnson1917231677479-121984
Felix Hernandez2009195148577-62084
Robin Roberts1955231497777-91881
Bryn Smith1985185138477-61978
Fergie Jenkins19742512138376-61978
Bob Tewksbury1992165118379-71877
Ted Lyons193515877478-111877
Fergie Jenkins19712413118379-71877
Roy Halladay2003227158676-52075
Jim Kaat1974211388080-81664
Ted Lyons19252111107975-61660
Ramon Martinez1990206148676-41856
Bill Gullickson1991209118478-51655
Wade Miller2002154118478-51655
Rick Reuschel1979181268082-81448
Roy Halladay200716798379-51445
Nolan Ryan1973211657983-91445
Roy Oswalt2002199108478-41440
Walter Johnson1916252057677-61130
Bob Feller1947201198074-31227
Pedro Martinez200515878379-31021
Walter Johnson19142818108173-21220

* - Relief pitcher
** - Pitched with two teams, also was 1-0 with his other team.
*** - Federal League

As you can see, there's a lot of modern pitchers here (the 5-man rotation and lots of no-decisions makes it easier for a team to be bad with 1 really good pitcher) but also a fair number of guys with big workloads from earlier eras. Some of these guys were - unlike Dickey - the only good pitcher on a good offensive team, but not all of them. Two teams, the 2002 Astros (Miller & Oswalt) and 2003 Mets (Leiter & Trachsel), are actually represented twice here, reflecting the horrible dropoff of the rest of their rotations.

It's unsurprising that 1972 Steve Carlton utterly dominates this list or that Walter Johnson - who averaged 12 wins over .500 while the rest of his team averaged 10 games under for the decade 1910-19 - makes multiple appearances, as do Roy Halladay, Roger Clemens and Ted Lyons, among others.

A historic season for Dickey. Appreciate it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:00 PM | Baseball 2012-14 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Shouldn't Nolan Ryan's '74 season with the Angels be listed as well?

Posted by: DubiousD at October 9, 2012 4:14 PM

Good catch. Updating to add his 1973 & 1974.

Posted by: Crank at October 9, 2012 4:19 PM
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