• Love Mo, But, He’s No Grove

    Posted by on July 30th, 2008 · Comments (3)

    The Immaculate Inning suggests that Mariano Rivera is now the “Greatest Pitcher of All Time.”

    This got me thinking. So, I went to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia and asked it to give me all pitchers, since 1900, who have 1,000+ career IP and 100+ runs saved above average (RSAA). Once I had that list, I decided to sort them by RSAA per IP. Here’s the top twenty-five – including games pitched yesterday:

    Mariano Rivera	1000.3	251	.251
    Pedro Martinez	2718.3	500	.184
    Lefty Grove	3940.0	668	.170
    Brandon Webb	1235.0	196	.159
    Roger Clemens	4916.6	732	.149
    Johan Santana	1456.3	209	.144
    Dan Quisenberry	1043.3	148	.142
    Randy Johnson	3967.3	521	.131
    Roy Oswalt	1534.6	198	.129
    Carlos Zambrano	1335.0	169	.127
    Hoyt Wilhelm	2253.0	282	.125
    John Franco	1245.6	149	.120
    Bruce Sutter	1042.3	123	.118
    Roy Halladay	1729.0	204	.118
    Roberto Hernandez	1071.3	126	.118
    Greg Maddux	4948.6	554	.112
    Lee Smith		1289.3	143	.111
    Harry Brecheen	1905.3	210	.110
    Tim Hudson	2017.3	222	.110
    John Hiller	1242.0	136	.110
    Walter Johnson	5914.6	643	.109
    Joe Wood		1437.3	154	.107
    Mel Parnell	1752.0	187	.107
    Tommy Bridges	2826.6	301	.106
    Curt Schilling	3261.0	346	.106

    Now, that’s an interesting list, no? Makes for some interesting debate…

    If you had to pick one pitcher, between Rivera, Martinez and Grove, for your team, who do you pick? Rivera for his one-inning dominance? Martinez for his one-season supremacy potential? Or, Grove for being the horse that he was?

    And, note Brandon Webb’s placement. He’s pretty good, huh?

    How about Dan Quisenberry finishing higher than Randy Johnson? Roberto Hernandez higher than Greg Maddux? John Hiller hugher than Walter Johnson? When you see that…it makes you ponder if being a relief pitcher is an easier way to excel – in terms of run prevention – than being a starter.

    So, I dunno…

    Yes, hands-down, Mariano Rivera is the greatest relief pitcher of all-time. But, it terms of being the greatest pitcher, period, of all-time…I think you have to go with Lefty Grove…all things considered.

    Comments on Love Mo, But, He’s No Grove

    1. July 30th, 2008 | 11:41 am

      Clearly, being a reliever is easier than being a starter- just ask John Smoltz. But even so, look at how much higher Rivera ranks in RSAA/IP than anyone else. In the category of doing the pitcher’s job- preventing runs from scoring- Rivera is much better than anyone else.

      Sure, if you were going to build a team you might select Grove, but that’s changing the argument a bit. If you wanted one pitcher for one at bat to save the world, Space Jam style, you have to go with Mariano Rivera.

      And that’s why he’s the greatest.

    2. July 30th, 2008 | 12:15 pm

      mehmattski -Well, as much as it kills me to say this…Jonathan Papelbon’s RSAA/IP mark is .320 – which is a lot higher than Rivera’s .251

      But, Papelbum has only about 200 IP to his credit.

      But, in your Space Jam setting, some might go for Papelbum…no?

    3. hopbitters
      July 30th, 2008 | 1:31 pm

      It’s really a difficult comparison. The Big Train finished just shy of 80% of the games he started. I don’t know about Grove, but I’m guessing he wasn’t far off from that. I’d take either of those guys or Young in a heartbeat, but that doesn’t diminish Rivera’s value in today’s game.

      I’ve seen Webb pitch a couple times live, including a one-hit gem a couple years ago. He’s an absolute joy to watch in person when he’s on a roll – games would average about an hour and a half if everyone pitched like him.

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