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How Great Was Lefty Grove?

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  • #76
    Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
    As far as being held down in the minors, well, it wasn't unusual. Dimaggio and Ted Williams were held in the minors a few years too long and look at what they did when they hit the league- both premier players.

    I'm not entirely convinced that Grove really "lost" all those years; he had no control over his fastball and was mediocre at best during his first big league season, despite the fact that he was already 25.
    Well, he was certainly a wild cannon that lead the IL in walks and strikeouts quite a bit. He was improving every year, and I think he was ready to come up much earlier, to benefit from better coaching and level of competition that would have been there. Starting in '21 here are his IL K/BB.

    ---K-----BB

    --254---179
    --205---152
    --330---186
    --231---108

    After leading the league in K's those four years, he continued right on in the majors in '25 and led with 116. Walter pitched 32 more innings and had 8 fewer K's. There was definitely an adjustment year for him but I'm sayin' that either '22 or '23 should have been that year, not '25.

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    • #77
      Originally posted by AstrosFan View Post
      My list, from the first post:

      1. Walter Johnson
      2. Greg Maddux
      3. Roger Clemens
      4. Cy Young
      5. Grover Cleveland Alexander
      6. Lefty Grove
      7. Tom Seaver
      8. Satchel Paige
      9. Randy Johnson
      10. Christy Mathewson

      Not unreasonable at all.
      That's the closest I've ever seen to my list (top 10 pitchers, and top 10 position players are the only two I keep).

      1. W. Johnson
      2. Maddux
      3. Clemens
      4. Young
      5. Alexander
      6. Grove
      7. Matthewson
      8. Seaver
      9. R. Johnson
      10. Martinez

      I don't rank Paige because I don't consider myself qualified to do so.

      Chris suggested dropping Clemens; I'd like to make it known that I could any multitude of orderings of most of these guys.

      Additionally, there are probably half a dozen guys who are in close competition for the last two spots or so.
      Last edited by digglahhh; 02-26-2008, 11:47 AM.
      THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

      In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

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      • #78
        Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
        Given how difficult it was to hit homers in Ruth's day in Detroit, this supports my original supposition about Detroit pitching being very poor, and giving up tons of homers.
        I am a Cobbian, and I support the notion of Cobb as the greatest ever.

        But you have to keep in mind, it's not a one way street.

        Sure, Ruth avoided the Yankees awesome pitching, but the staff he played for also never got to face a Yankee offense that, at during one period, posted at least a 125 OPS+ for over 5 straight years, 137 in 1927, and 133/131 in '30 and '31.

        Cobb played behind some lousy pitching staffs, but Yankee staffs were very likely overrated during the Ruthian/Iron Horse years.
        Last edited by DiMag4Life; 02-29-2008, 07:31 PM.

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        • #79
          I have the data to figure out what the league OPS+ was minus the Yankees for every season Ruth was in pinstripes, but I'm not at my computer right now. I'll post the data later.
          "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

          - Alvin Dark

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          • #80
            Grove, as mentioned, had some fairly weak defenses backing him in Boston, yet he led the league four times in ERA with the Red Sox. During his peak years with the Athletics, he had very good defenses backing him, which made him look a little better, but when he lost the defensive backing, he was still the best pitcher in the league. Is this a testament to Grove's greatness, or a reflection of the lack of pitching talent in the AL during the 1930s?
            "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

            - Alvin Dark

            Comment


            • #81
              Originally posted by AstrosFan View Post
              Grove, as mentioned, had some fairly weak defenses backing him in Boston, yet he led the league four times in ERA with the Red Sox. During his peak years with the Athletics, he had very good defenses backing him, which made him look a little better, but when he lost the defensive backing, he was still the best pitcher in the league. Is this a testament to Grove's greatness, or a reflection of the lack of pitching talent in the AL during the 1930s?
              I think that is the ultimate question. I don't thinks it's fair to penalize a player for the era they played in(once you use advanced metrics everything is somewhat equalized). Joe Jackson never won a batting title(because of Cobb) but was obviously great. Grove on the opposite end never had to face Walter Johnson, but Johnson never had to face Matty and Alexander. With every player it's possible to have these what-if questions. Grove's AL contemporaries weren't all-time greats, but the AL wasn't completely lacking good pitchers(ie Ruffing, Allen, Ferrell, Bridges etc). Plus the 1930's AL was a dominant hitter's league, which is a point in Grove's favor.
              "It's good to be young and a Giant." - Larry Doyle

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              • #82
                Code:
                yearID	lgID	OPS+
                1920	AL	92
                1921	AL	91
                1922	AL	92
                1923	AL	91
                1924	AL	92
                1925	AL	93
                1926	AL	90
                1927	AL	88
                1928	AL	90
                1929	AL	90
                1930	AL	89
                1931	AL	88
                1932	AL	88
                1933	AL	89
                1934	AL	90
                Total	AL	90
                Here is what the league OPS+ looks like for the AL in Ruth's years with the Yankees when you take the Yankees out of the equation. There may be something to the idea that the Yankees pitching was overrated.
                "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

                - Alvin Dark

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by AstrosFan View Post
                  There may be something to the idea that the Yankees pitching was overrated.
                  Can you expound on this?

                  Comment


                  • #84
                    Originally posted by leecemark View Post
                    --As to whether he could have been a great pitcher is last several years in the majors, I am certain he was. Sure he had some rough spots that first year, but that is normal when stepping up a level.
                    They called Grove "The Wild Oriole". Jim Kaplan, Grove biographer, states that he averaged 5.6 walks per game through 1923. He then discusses how for the most part, his incredible K totals were a product of facing bush league hitters who swung at anything. He also asserts that only in 1924 were the scouts really interested in him, and prior to that Grove was not ready for the Majors.

                    When he finally got to the league, he showed he wasn't really ready. He set a then all time record for walks in 1925, and it was the only time in the twentieth century that anyone had that many walks in less than 200 innings.

                    On his minor league career, look at it in more depth before assuming he was ready and was so horribly "held back" from the Majors before 1925:

                    Originally posted by WJackman View Post
                    I once reviewed Grove's record - game by game - at Baltimore. For the most part he was never the team's ace and sometimes he wasn't even the second best pitcher. His control was horrible and several times walked double digit batters in a game. He piled up his wins against the lower ranked International League teams and was basically a .500 pitcher against the teams that were above .500 in the International League standings. He had trouble completing games and one had to be removed from a no-hitter in which he walked nine batters in 5 innings. He was really only the undisputed ace of the staff in 1924. None of the other big winners for Baltimore are/were household names.

                    Baltimore pitching staff:

                    1920 (Grove only partial season). Baltimore 110-43

                    John Ogden 27-9 (led lg in wins)
                    Harry Frank 25-12
                    Jack Bentley 16-3
                    Grove 12-2
                    Rudolph Kneisch 11-4

                    1921 team 119-47

                    John Ogden 31-8 (led lg in wins)
                    Grove 25-10 (.714 winning percentage for team that was .717)
                    Al Thomas 24-10

                    1922 team (115-52)

                    Ogden 24-10 (leg leg in wins)
                    Harry Frank 22-9
                    Grove 18-8 (.692 winning percentage for team that was .689) Led league with 179 walks in 303 innings
                    Al Thomas 18-9
                    Jim Parnham 16-10

                    I do believe that the rest of the staff each had at least 20 CGs while Grove had about 11. His ERA was best on the team by a wide margin but he walked 152 batters in 209 innings. Led lg in walks.

                    1923 (team 115-53 for .677 winning percentage)

                    Jim Parnham 33-7 (led league in wins)
                    Grove 27-10 (led league with 330 K's and 186 walks in 303 innings
                    Ogden 17-12
                    Al Thomas 15-12

                    1924 (Team 117-48)

                    Grove 26-6 (led league in wins and K's (231). Walked 108 in 236 innings.
                    Ogden 19-6
                    Cliff Jackson 16-8
                    Al Thomas 16-11
                    Ed Tomlin 11-2
                    According to Lefty himself, he didn't even develop a curveball until his fifth or sixth season. Unlike Walter Johnson, his fastball didn't have significant movement. He admitted he was just a thrower early on, and didn't really have an idea of how to really pitch. Like Nolan Ryan, early on he was just up there to strike every hitter out, regardless of the situation.

                    As to the relief pitching and your other points, I'm looking into it. Actually, I'm starting a research project on Grove as we speak and am re-reading the Kaplan book.

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                      Can you expound on this?
                      Well, as the chart shows, based on OPS+, the AL offenses the Yankee pitching staff was facing was about 10% worse than average. So we might dock their pitching accomplishments 10%, that is, if the team ERA+ from 1920-34 was 110, we would dock it 11 points, and they would be only a 99 ERA+, which is pretty much average. When we realize that the offenses of the AL outside of the Yankees were below average, you have to penalize the Yankee pitching staff, not because it's their fault, but because they are not being measured against average performance.

                      In truth, I would probably be better off finding the runs average for each year without the Yankees, multiplying that by the league earned runs percentage, and then calculating the Yankees ERA+ against the new average. I'll be right back with that info.
                      "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

                      - Alvin Dark

                      Comment


                      • #86
                        Originally posted by AstrosFan View Post
                        Well, as the chart shows, based on OPS+, the AL offenses the Yankee pitching staff was facing was about 10% worse than average. So we might dock their pitching accomplishments 10%, that is, if the team ERA+ from 1920-34 was 110, we would dock it 11 points, and they would be only a 99 ERA+, which is pretty much average. When we realize that the offenses of the AL outside of the Yankees were below average, you have to penalize the Yankee pitching staff, not because it's their fault, but because they are not being measured against average performance.

                        In truth, I would probably be better off finding the runs average for each year without the Yankees, multiplying that by the league earned runs percentage, and then calculating the Yankees ERA+ against the new average. I'll be right back with that info.
                        Very interesting. Thanks for your reply.

                        So I wonder, what are the ramifications of these facts? How important is not facing one's own staff over 20 years in an 8 team league? We have Ruth, who was on well above average pitching staffs, which were sometimes the best in baseball. Contrasted that with Cobb, was almost always on well below average pitching staffs.

                        Switch them, and how much different would their final stats have been likely to look?

                        Comment


                        • #87
                          Code:
                          Year	League	ERA+
                          1920	AL	113
                          1921	AL	108
                          1922	AL	118
                          1923	AL	107
                          1924	AL	107
                          1925	AL	100
                          1926	AL	97
                          1927	AL	116
                          1928	AL	98
                          1929	AL	90
                          1930	AL	85
                          1931	AL	91
                          1932	AL	99
                          1933	AL	87
                          1934	AL	108
                          I fudged a little here, assuming that offensive innings would be the same as defensive innings. But this is more or less what the Yankees ERA+ looks like when you take into account they weren't facing the fabled Yankees offense.
                          "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

                          - Alvin Dark

                          Comment


                          • #88
                            Preliminary Findings

                            I have absolutely no way to corroborate this with anything else, and can't reach the source of this info, however...

                            According to Don Malcolm of the Big Bad Baseball fame in a post on Baseball Primer, Grove was 30-25 with an ERA of 3.82 as a starting pitcher vs. the Yankees, including 18-16, 4.34 with the A's and 12-9, 3.11 with the Red Sox.


                            His overall ERA during his A's years was 2.88- it would be lower if the Yankees innings were omitted. Unfortunately this doesn't come with an innings breakdown. His record a blistering .738 against the 6 AL teams other than the mighty Yankees and A's. He was a .500 pitcher against the Yankees. Unfortunately, this also doesn't include his relief work.

                            Here is Grove's career relief line against everyone. Again, these are naked numbers:
                            Code:
                            G: 159
                            SV: 55
                            IP: 377.2
                            H: 340
                            H/9: 8.1
                            W-L: 32-22
                            ERA: 2.84
                            BB: 153
                            BB/9: 3.65
                            K: 243
                            K/9 5.8

                            Comment


                            • #89
                              Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                              Apparently Ubiquitous went back to look at Grove and Ruth- I'm not sure how he determined how he waded through the info when Grove didn't complete games, but this is what he found.

                              NYTimes and it is rather easy to figure out when Grove got removed in his non complete games since the NYT covered the Yankees extensively and provided detailed game recaps. The games I would be missing for the most part are games in which Grove did not start and a small handful of games in which there is some doubt as to when Grove left the game.

                              Comment


                              • #90
                                I haven't read all of the posts but I'm sure Dick Thompson's work has been mentioned as a strike against Grove. Sadly Thompson is no longer with us but that doesn't mean he was right. His views on Grove were off and a bit misleading. Check out Chris Jaffe's work, he did an excellent job disproving much of Thompsons views on Grove.

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