• Bill James Compares Starting Pitchers Across History

    Posted by on February 23rd, 2010 · Comments (8)

    Just got this via a press release from the good folks at Acta Sports -

    In the just-released Bill James Gold Mine 2010, the noted baseball analyst introduces his new method for evaluating starting pitchers’ lifetime records. By using Season Scores, a system that measures every pitcher against their peers, he creates a top-10 starting pitcher list for every baseball season. These top-10 lists are then adjusted based on the number of teams in the league at that time and what he calls “historic season bonus points.”

    According to James, this methodology “enables us to say, with a fair degree of confidence, what a Hall of Fame career is in terms of having the necessary number of seasons as one of the best pitchers in the league.” In fact, he says, “What makes this methodology interesting is that the gray area goes from black to white very, very quickly. The line is: 43 points. At 43, you’re in; below 43 you’re not in.”

    James goes on to offer analysis of more than 40 pitchers, from Vida Blue to David Wells. You can read the article in its entirety here. Check it out – it’s a fun read.

    Comments on Bill James Compares Starting Pitchers Across History

    1. MJ Recanati
      February 23rd, 2010 | 3:43 pm

      I appreciate Bill James’s unquenchable thirst for baseball but any new formula that concludes with Dwight Gooden (among others) being a worthy Hall of Famer is just plain f__king stupid. The Red Sox ought to rethink how much they pay this guy if that’s what he’s coming up with (and I say that fully aware that Bill James forgot more about baseball than I will ever know).

    2. MJ Recanati
      February 23rd, 2010 | 3:46 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:
      Wait, I might’ve read that wrong. I can’t tell from the article if Gooden is making the HOF under this new formula or not. If he is, my earlier comment stands. If he isn’t, I apologize to Bill James for being hasty.

    3. Corey Italiano
      February 23rd, 2010 | 4:10 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:
      I didn’t get a full look, but according to his study he had Gooden at 59 points, and according to Steve’s caption the cut off is 43.

    4. MJ Recanati
      February 23rd, 2010 | 4:32 pm

      @ Corey Italiano:
      How someone comes to the conclusion that Dwight Gooden was a HOF’er is beyond me.

      I guess that should give turds like Carl Pavano hope. If he can manage three good years, he’ll make it in too.

    5. Raf
      February 23rd, 2010 | 5:54 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      How someone comes to the conclusion that Dwight Gooden was a HOF’er is beyond me.

      It appears that a good chunk of his “eligibility” comes from 1985. It seems this study rewards pitchers for being “10 best” in a season or decade that they’ve pitched according to their respective league.

    6. MJ Recanati
      February 23rd, 2010 | 5:56 pm

      @ Raf:
      Understood. Totally asinine, but understood.

      Guess that means Cliff Lee (2008) and Zack Greinke (2009) should start writing their HOF speeches soon?

    7. Evan3457
      February 23rd, 2010 | 7:26 pm

      Some people are not reading the article right.

      The strong seasons points method happens to coincide very well with PAST Hall of Fame voting; the cutoff line at 43 points is very sharp (as these sort of statistics things go).

      James is NOT making the argument that everyone over 43 points should be in the Hall of Fame, and that everyone under 43 should not. In fact, he states clearly that Jim Kaat, at 39 points, will likely go in someday.

      What he’s saying is that past Hall of Fame voters had a thought process analogous to the point count method; if you had a bunch of top seasons (5-10) then you were a Hall of Fame candidate. The more top seasons, the better the candidacy.

      Before a bunch of pitchers from the last 40 years starting getting high win totals, a pitcher like Doc Gooden would have been a very serious Hall of Fame candidate (see Dizzy Dean). However, with so many pitchers over the last half-century topping 250 wins, the voting standards have changed, and the BBWAA no longer considers pitchers with much less than 250 wins to be serious candidates.

      It might interest you guys to know that this method marks Ron Guidry (who had a career similar to Gooden’s, except the front side of his career was cut off by his prolonged apprenticeship, whereas Gooden’s drug use/injuries cut off the back side of his career) as well-qualified for the Hall of Fame, and also marks Andy Pettitte as a marginal candidate.

      Not sure I agree with any of those, but it’s food for thought.

    8. bags
      February 24th, 2010 | 7:45 am

      It also says that Mike Mussina is a “stunningly” strong one, per this methodology.

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