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Baseball: Best pitching staffs historically

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posted on May, 5 2006 @ 01:59 PM
As I've admitted, I haven't really followed baseball for some time, so my span of knowledge is both narrow and shallow. I have memories of some pretty good pitching staffs like the '69 Mets with Seaver, Ryan, McGraw & Koosman and the mid-'60s Dodgers with Drysdale, Koufax, Perrnaoski & Podres, the Oakland A's with Catfish Hunter, Blue Moon Odom, Vida Blue, and Rollie Fingers, and some great staffs on the Yankees in the '70's with Guidry, Gossage, and some others previously mentioned snagged from other teams -Gullet, for instance, but while he was great for the Reds, I don't recall him doing much in pinstripes. (Remember Kuhn vetoing Vida Blue going to the Yanks?)

I had a Rocky Colavito bat when I was in Little League, so I kinda liked Cleveland for awhile and although it was before my time I know Bob Lemon and Bob Feller pitched for the Indians. Sal Maglie, comes to mind too, but I think that was after their '54 series (the year I was born).

Anyway, I have no idea how these staffs stand up overall, but just from memory, they really stand out to me. I'd be curious to know what the best staffs in history are considered to be. Anyone care to chime in?

BHN, don't trouble yourself to do ponderous research (unless you really want to), but I'd bet you'd be able to rattle off some stuff off the top of your head.

This site hs almost rekindled my interest in baseball. I'd kinda forgotten how much I used to enjoy it. Since we don't have a hometown MLB team, it makes it a little more difficult to maintain interest.

I think for this year, I'm pulling for the Cubs and Cleveland for the series, just to get some new blood in there.

posted on May, 5 2006 @ 04:19 PM
Dear Y.R.,

This is one I don't need research to give you my two answers. And neither of them is a pre-WW II team. The first is the Baltimore Orioles teams from 1969-1971, all of whom went to the World Series. They had Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson, all four of whom won 20 games in 1971.

Surprisingly, their Team Adjusted ERA was "only" 112 in 1971, i.e., 12% better than the league average, but it was 125 (!) in 1969 (minus Dobson). They were a team built almost entirely on pitching and fielding, with Brooks Robinson at 3B, Paul Blair in CF and Mark Belanger at SS, 3 of the greatest fielders ever at those positions, but scarcely great hitters. (You Brooks defenders, check his pitiful career on-base %.)

The other team, equally or more obvious to historians, is the 1954 Cleveland Indians, who put up an unreal record of 111-43. And whereas the Orioles' team had only one Hall of Fame pitcher, the 1954 Indians' team had FOUR. To wit:

Bob Lemon (HOF), 23-7, Adjusted ERA of 136;
Early Wynn (HOF), 23-11, Adjusted ERA of 135;
Mike Garcia, 19-8, Adjusted ERA of 139;
Bob Feller (HOF; at the end of his line), 13-3, Adjusted ERA of 119;
Hal Newhouser (ditto), 7-2, Adjusted ERA of 147.


Well, there you have it. That's a non-expansion year, and the team goes 111-43, and their pitchers as a whole have a park-adjusted ERA which is 32% better than the other pitchers of that year. That has GOT to be the best pitching staff of all time, at least after 1919, and probably ever.

The Ruth-Gehrig Yankees had some teams with 3 "Hall of Fame" pitchers, but usually one or two of them didn't deserve the title. Lefty Grove had some good teammate pitchers, but nothing like the 1954 Indians' pitchers. I don't think you'll find anything like these guys in the history books, at least after the start of real (Live Ball) baseball, and probably ever.


posted on May, 5 2006 @ 04:23 PM
The extent of my baseball knowledge is limited to 1998 to present, but some of the best pitching staffs of recent times have to be the Oakland A's with Hudson, Mulder, and Zito. Though they didn't stay together for more than a couple seasons that was a 1, 2, 3 punch that was very potent.

Another that comes to mind is the Braves of the 90's with Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz together they have 7 Cy Young awards(Maddux has 4, and won them in consecutive years, Glavine has 2 and Smoltz has 1) and the three of them won all of them in the NL between 1991 and 1996 with Pedro inbetween 1998 when Glavine won it again.

How about the "Nasty Boys"? they were Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton, and Randy Myers they had a combined record of 24 -18 with 44 saves in 1990. I know they were relievers but still were one of the best sets of relievers out there.

I'm sure there are more great staffs that i'm not familar with and for that i appologize, but i'm working on it, i promise.

[Edited on 5-5-2006 by aegis fang]

posted on May, 5 2006 @ 05:31 PM

Well, excuse me! I am duly embarrassed. I just ran the Braves' team Adjusted ERA's from 1993 through 2003. And it turns out that from about 1993 through 2002, they had a really excellent run, with a lot of years where their TEAM Adjusted ERA's were in the 120's, a couple of years where it was at 130 or 131, and the year 1997, where it was at 132--the same Team Adjusted ERA as the 1954 Cleveland Indians.

Now, I'm going to ask you to take my word for something:

That 1954 Indians' team is LEGENDARY on account of that pitching staff. And it's not just because they had all of those Hall of Famers. It's because they all had such great years, not only in wins and losses, but in E.R.A.'s--a fact manifested in that ridiculous Team Adjusted ERA.

But now, after you sparked my memory by mentioning those great Braves' rotations, I looked those teams up and learned that not only were their pitching staffs great for much longer than those of the 1950's Indians, but also that at their very greatest (1997), they were as great as the fabled 1954 Indians.

That, my friend, is as good as it gets.


posted on May, 5 2006 @ 07:47 PM
Dear Yeah Right,

Do not blame yourself for this, lol.

I tried not to be obsessive about this, but I couldn't resist checking a few things out. So I checked out the years Babe Ruth was a pitcher with the Red Sox, when they had several other fine pitchers. They never had a team Adjusted ERA anwhere near 132.

Neither, for all their "Hall of Fame" pitchers, did the dynastic Yankees teams in the Ruth era (no pun intended). Those teams won with awesome team OFFENSIVE stats, but their Team Adjusted ERA was never anything special at all. AND, despite Lefty Grove's other-worldly Adjusted ERA's and W-L records, and despite the A's snatching the pennant 3 years straight from the Ruth-Gehrig machine, neither did the 1929-1931 Philadelphia A's.

BUT, I found two teams in the course of this search:

(1) The 1926 Philadelphia A's, in Grove's second season, had an incredible TEAM Adjusted E.R.A. of 139... easily the best I've found. Grove's Adjusted ERA was 166, which is no big shock, but he had a LOT of teammates you've probably never heard of who had career years. Their names and Adjusted ERA's: Eddie Rommel, 136; Jack Quinn, 123; Howard Ehmke (old knucklballer, famous for Game One of the 1929 Series), 149; Joe Pate, 154; Rube Walberg, 149; and Dolly Gray, 115.

Those are ALL of the pitchers who pitched 100 or more innings for that team. Jack Quinn is known only because he pitched to age 50; Ehmke is known for the 1929 Series; the rest are nobodies, except of course Grove. But in 1926, they apparently had an unreal year together. The finished well above .500, but far behind the Yankees.

(2) The 1939 Yankees, in the year Gehrig's illness became known and he had to retire early in the season. This was the last of Joe McCarthy's four consecutive championship teams--a feat considered awesome at the time, but eclipsed by the Yankees in the years 1949-1953. Their adjusted ERA was 131.

They had two Hall of Fame pitchers, but one of them--Red Ruffing--is a VERY debatable Hall of Famer, with a deplorable Adjusted ERA prior to age 27, a 273-225 career record (much of it amassed on good-to-great teams), and a Career Adjusted ERA of 109. The other one, Lefty Gomez, is a legit Hall of Famer, and had one huge season, but won fewer than 200 games.

Of all the awesome Yankees teams from 1921-1964, when they won SO many pennants and World Series, it's surprising this is the team with the big Team Adjusted ERA. But it's so.

And the ones in the late 20's and early 30's, while of course awesome offensively, just weren't that good on the mound. Some of them had below average Adjusted ERA's, and even the legendary 1927 Yankees "only" had a Team Adjusted ERA of 120. The next year, when they annihilated the St. Louis Cardinals in a 4-game sweep and outscored them 27-10 (4 HR's for Gehrig; 3 in one game for Ruth) in the Series, their Team Adjusted ERA for the season was 101, meaning they were 1% better than other teams, with park adjustments made!

So much for the idea good pitching beats good hitting.


posted on May, 6 2006 @ 08:43 AM
Thanks for the input. I would've thought the '69 Mets with all that name talent would've been up there. Same with the As of the '70's. But when you're going by gut and not numbers, that's what memory does to you I guess.

I made the original post at the end of my workday, and when I was driving home, I thought 'Earl Weaver" and couldn't believe I didn't mention those Orioles teams. I used to love watching them just to see Brooks Robinson field. I always had an urge to slap Jim Palmer, though.

Wouldn't have had a clue about the Braves, since their recent success had been in my baseball blackout period. I probably went 10 years without seeing an entire major league game, regular season or playoffs. I can remember turning on the All Star game and not recognizing the name of a single player. Now, That's a blackout.

Early Wynn on that '54 Cleveland staff. I'd completely forgotten that.

When I think of pitching and playoffs, the first thing that comes to mind is "Spahn and Sain, then pray for rain."

posted on May, 6 2006 @ 01:03 PM
Dear YeahRight,

Well, I admit I hadn't thought to check the 1969 Mets. Hang on:

OK, their Adjusted Team E.R.A. was 123. Now, please realize that means ALL of their pitchers, taken as a group, were 23% better than the average pitcher of that year, which is great for a team. While I'm at it, I'll look at Gibson's 1968 team: Nope, 116... because ALL pitchers were having great years, just not nearly as great as his. (Witness, e.g., Hall of Frauds member Don Drysdale's breaking Walter Johnson's record for consecutive shutout innings.)

I'm stunned that the leader, by a huge margin, appears to be the 1926 A's. The '29-'31 A's are famed for having taken 3 straight pennants from the monster teams of Ruth, Gehrig, Bill D*ckey and 6 other H.O.F.'ers, and the centerpiece of those teams--despite the growing excellence of the very young Double XX, the great Mickey Cochrane (my #4 catcher) and Al Simmons (probably better than Foxx in these three years, but it's a real close call), was Grove--with his awesome ERA's and his 79-15 record. A pitcher named George Earnshaw helped a lot, too. THOSE teams I checked because I realistically thought they might have a shot at this thing.

But the 1926 A's? Yeah, they were 16 games over .500, but they finished in 3rd place, and I frankly had never heard a word about how overall-great their pitching was. I didn't have Clue One that all these other pitchers had career years that season, only to fall so far short of the Yankees Murderers Row and all their runs scored.

Well, OK, I had one clue: Sophomore pitcher Grove led the league in E.R.A. and Adjusted E.R.A. (at 166), and the nearest pitcher with the requisite # of innings pitched was George Uhle, all the way back at 144. Yet Grove was only .500 that year, at 13-13. THAT I knew.

But hell, I remember a year--as, I'm sure, do many of you--when Nolan Ryan led the league in E.R.A. and K's, and somehow managed to have a W-L record of 8-16... back in 1987. How'd you like to have taken batting practice against HIM that year? And yeah, Grove threw extremely hard, but NOLAN RYAN....

Anyway, while I had previously HEARD of knuckleballers Ehmke and Quinn, I didn't--and still don't--know anything of their careers, except that they weren't good enough for a spot in the Hall. And all those other pitchers I know nothing at all about. So, somebody please tell me:

How the hell did the 1926 A's--not the 1928, 1929, 1930 or 1931 A's, but the 1926 A's--pull that off? And are there any other teams out there whose staffs all had career years at the same time? Isn't 139--for a TEAM--just ridiculous, when there have been a few (very few) years when that number would have led the league for an INDIVIDUAL PITCHER??


P.S. For what this is worth, YeahRight, A LOT of us had an urge to slap Jim Palmer.

I got over mine in the mid-80's, when Palmer was at the end of his line, trying to decide whether to come back long enough to pursue win #300, and he was broadcasting an A.B.C. "Game of the Week," along with two other sportscasters, one of whom was the insufferable Howard Cosell. Cosell told Palmer, before a national TV audience, to give up on his comeback plans because he was through. Palmer said, "Thanks, Howard. Knowing how much respect not only I, but everyone else I know in baseball has for your understanding and opinions about the game--"

The lead announcer cut them off. But I wanted to hug Jim Palmer. And I'm not given to hugging other guys, but THAT was special....


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