August 23, 2007

30-3...insert lame Matt Stover reference here!

If you watched any of the sports shows tonight, you know that the Texas Rangers beat the tar out of the Orioles.

And yes, the same night that saw a team plate the most runs in 110 years also saw a team score the most runs off of Brandon Webb in the last 42 innings.

One.

You see, one dubious distinction is a fluke (Hell, Wes Littleton came away with the save)…the other is masterful in this age of seven inning starters and hitter friendly ballparks.

What Brandon Webb did is the longest streak since fellow National Leaguer Orel Hershiser threw 59 scoreless innings(Luis Tiant once tossed 40 straight). And while I am not one to suggest putting someone in the Hall of Fame solely on a streak (PAUSE), Orel Hershiser was one of the most dominating pitchers of the late 80s and early 90s.

Let’s put what Orel did into perspective.

First…the scoreless innings streak. We know it spanned Hershiser’s last six starts of the 1988 season (and into the next season), but five were complete games. The sixth, he threw ten scoreless innings. Not too shabby. Let’s delve deeper. In Hershiser’s last nine starts, he gave up FOUR earned runs in 82 innings. That’s an ERA of 0.42 while leading his team into the playoffs and eventually to the World Series, kids. Eight straight complete games out of nine starts to end a season is pretty darned good.

Second…Orel was ARGUABLY one of the most dominant pitchers of the 80s. Hershiser notched 98 wins between 1984 and 1989…an average of 16 per year. To put that into perspective, Roger Clemens had 95, Dwight Gooden had 100 and Bret Saberhagen (remember him?) had 92. Nolan Ryan (the ONLY Hall member to have toed the rubber as a starter for the ENTIRE 80s) had 70 in that same span. Hershiser had an ERA of 2.68 (2.03 in 1985, 2.26 in 1988 and 2.31 in 1989)…second only to Gooden’s 2.64. The other guys mentioned, were all above 3.00. And s
peaking of 1988…Hershiser led the league in wins (23), innings (267) and complete games (15). Add to that his 8 shutouts, the Cy Young Award and his World Series MVP and he had one of the best seasons in recent memory.

Out of curiosity, how does Hershiser stack up against some current Hall of Famers? According to baseball-reference.com is stats are most comparable to Jim Hunter. “Bulldog” has a career record of 204-149 (.576 winning percentage), while “Catfish” went 224-166 (.574). From 1984-1989, Hershiser notched 48% of his wins. Similarly, “Catfish” had a six year run from 1970 to 1975 where he was one of the league’s best (129-63, 56% of his career wins).

Strikeouts were never the forte for either pitcher. “Cat” had 2012 careers Ks…“Dog” had 2014. Their ERAs were a wash as well…3.26 for Hunter, 3.48 for Hershiser. Coincidently, each pitcher brought home the Cy Young Award once and placed in the top four three other times.

Is Hershiser Hall-bound?

Probably not...yet.

But why not? He was one of the best pitchers during a decade that has VERY little mound representation in Cooperstown. Next to Ryan, Dennis Eckersley is the only other pitcher to have a career that spanned the 80s. As far as future Hall of Fame pitchers, Clemens came on board in 1984 (along with Hershiser)…Greg Maddux joined the league in 1986.

While his contemporaries (Gooden, Saberhagen, Frank Viola) failed to reach 200 victories, Hershiser did…and he did it in style.

Somewhere…Jack Morris (my pick for the MOST dominating pitcher of the ENTIRE 80s) is polishing his gun waiting to shoot me for NOT mentioning him anywhere.

Sorry ‘stache.



Ballhype: hype it up!

4 comments:

E said...

The '80s was a decade for the player-hating of pitchers. In the 17 years worth of pitchers eligible for the Hall that would have pitched in a majority of the '80s, a whopping six have gone in (seven if you want to count Seaver). Of those, only three (Ryan, Eckersley, and Carlton) went in first ballot. And one was Bruce Sutter, who, well, I'm sure he has his fans.

Yet, I look at the guys who pitched during the '80s, and there are guys who just dominated that decade. Yet, the only way they're getting into to Cooperstown is to pay the admission price the door, just like everyone else.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: There should be a Hall of Fame just for players from the '80s and '90s.

Jesus said...

Yeah...I'm not sure why the 80s get overlooked when it comes to pitching. There are some guys who came through the ERA-inflated 80s without COMPLETELY blowing up...Jack Morris, Bert Blyleven (I sound like a broken record), Ron Guidry, Orel Hershiser and yes, even Dwight Gooden.

Hell...as far as being one of the NINE players born in Nicaragua, Dennis Martinez's 245-193 (.559) and impressive run at the end of his Expos career doesn't look that shabby.

It'll be interesting to see how the 90s guys fair. My guess is a handful of them will do alright...while the vast majority get looked over (Kevin Brown anyone?) thanks to the deluge of power hitters.

Anonymous said...

I think Blyleven is a HOFer. I'm torn on Morris because I don't think he was as good, but one can make a reasonable case for him.

I never thought of Kevin Brown as a HOFer. From 1992 to 1999, KB was one of the best pitchers in the game, no question. Unfortunately, not every year. After a very good 1992, he turns in an okay '93 and a bad '94 and a so-so '95. He then turns in a butt-kicking '96, '97, '98, and '99 which are terrific. After that, he's still good but is too injury prone and erratic to really be considered an elite pitcher (he is very good in 2003). So his peak is short and when that happens, one hopes for something slightly more dominant than what he has (two top-five Cy Young votes).

His comps are about right:

Bob Welch, Orel Hershisher, Drysdale, Catfish, Pappas, Dazzy Vance, Vida Blue, Schilling, Tiant, and Freddie Fitzsimmons. All excellent pitchers, three of which went into the Hall (I don't know too much about Dazzy, but Drysdale and Catfish are marginal HOFers).

E said...

It's funny you should mention Hunter's Hall worthiness...

While his career numbers are marginal at best (even though he did dominate the early '70s), he did take teams to six straight World Series, coming away with five rings. So, his post-season may have a lot to do with his induction.

Conversely, Jack Morris was more consistent for his entire career, went to three straight Series, and won four overall (and pitched probably the greatest Series game EVER. Yeah, that's right: Fuck Don Larsen.) And he's not going in (but I'm campaigning like crazy).

It just goes to show that it's not always a numbers game. Unfortunately, it's not an induct-players-I-like game either.