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How Great Was Lefty Grove?

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  • #91
    Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    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.
    How about relief pitching? How were you sure who Grove faced and didn't face in relief?

    What tool do you use to do your historical research at this point? Paper of Record has been a nightmare, and TSN is unwieldy.

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    • #92
      Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
      Check out Chris Jaffe's work, he did an excellent job disproving much of Thompsons views on Grove.
      I've poured over all of it at HBT and Think Factory. The problem is, to begin with, Jaffe erroneously used starts, and not innings. This is entirely misleading, since Grove's starts against the Yankees in 30 and 31, for example, aren't nearly as disparate as his innings pitched. Dave Kent made the same mistake.

      Second, Jaffe didn't consider any differential factors regarding days of rest, pitching staff support, managerial treatment, etc. All of the very significant advantages which add up to a huge disparity between Ferrell and Grove.

      Grove also had the best catcher in the game as his batterymate in Mickey Cochrane- it was probably the only time in modern history that the best pitcher in the game had the best catcher and a dynastic offense behind him- all at the same time for many years.

      Also, he didn't "disprove" any of Thompson's work. Dick never stated that Grove ducked the Yankees much more than he should have outside of 1929-31. Grove biographer Jim Kaplan agreed that Grove ducked the Yankees in his best years. In fact, Kaplan states that Grove's ongoing troubles with the Yankees in his prime was deemed "The Gotham Jinx".

      And unlike someone being lazy and deferring to spreadsheet answers (see: Jaffe), Thompson did his research in a game by game manner.
      This is a vastly more accurate and reliable way to study a player's career and research baseball history in general.

      Thompson stated his belief that Grove was the greatest lefty ever, even after taking all this into consideration. He sang his praises here and on other forums when it was warranted. He was not biased against him; rather, he was trying to level the playing field and bring to our attention all of the recondite factors which influence statistics but garner no consideration. Hardly any of the all time greatest pitchers had more advantages than Grove did at his best.

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      • #93
        It remains true however csh, that all of Mr. Thompson's writing against Grove has a single point: to elevate Ferrell. No amount of research can be considered above board if the intents are set in stone before it is started.

        The research is genuine, good, hard work. The presenting of the facts is done through Ferrell-tinted glasses.

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        • #94
          Originally posted by baseballPAP View Post
          It remains true however csh, that all of Mr. Thompson's writing against Grove has a single point: to elevate Ferrell. No amount of research can be considered above board if the intents are set in stone before it is started.

          The research is genuine, good, hard work. The presenting of the facts is done through Ferrell-tinted glasses.
          How exactly is pointing out the massive advantages Grove had over pitchers on average to below average teams disingenuous?

          It isn't; Thompson's intent was to be historically accurate and level the playing field; that was his "agenda". When at least an attempt to level the playing field is made, Ferrell was every bit the pitcher Grove was from ages 29-36, which includes Grove's triple crown seasons and almost all of his great years. Prior to 1929 and after 1936, Grove only had two very good (full) seasons as a pitcher.

          Ferrell and Grove were direct contemporaries, so the comparison is inevitable. They were the top two rivals in the league for years, teammates, and eventually close friends. Ferrell held Grove in the highest esteem. Before he passed away, Ferrell gave an interview to esteemed author Donald Honig.

          Another time, when I was with the Red Sox, Grove was pitching and he was getting beat by one run going into the last of the ninth. Now, you know Lefty; he was a great competitor and a hard loser. A very hard loser. He's sure he's lost his ball game and is madder'n hell over it. He goes into the clubhouse. We get a man on base and Cronin sends me up to hit. Tommy Bridges is the pitcher. Well, I hit the first pitch I see and knock it over the left-field fence and we win the ball game.

          So we all rush into the clubhouse, laughing, and hollering, the way you do after a game like that. And here's Lefty, sitting there, still thinking he's lost his game. When he saw all the carrying on, I tell you, the smoke started coming out of his ears.

          "I don't see what's so funny." he says. "A man loses a ball game and you're all carrying on."

          Then somebody says. "Hell, Lefty, we won it. Wes hit a home run for you."

          Well, I was sitting across the clubhouse from him, pulling my uniform off; and I notice he's staring at me, with just a trace of smile at the corners of his mouth. Just staring at me. He doesn't say anything. I give him a big grin and pull my sweat shirt up over my head. Then I hear him say. "Hey, Wes." I look over and he's rolling a bottle of wine across to me -- he'd keep a bottle of one thing or another stashed in his locker. So here it comes, rolling bumping along the clubhouse floor. I picked it up and thanked him and put it in my locker. At the end of the season I brought it back to Carolina with me and let it sit up on the mantle. It sat up there for years and years. Every time I looked at it I thought of Old Left. He rolled it over to me.

          He was my idol. Lefty Grove. Fastest pitcher I ever saw. The greatest
          .

          Honig later wrote that is was the only time in baseball history that baseball's best pitcher threw to baseball's best catcher while getting the best possible run support. He later stated:

          "It was not just a question of, 'Well, imagine what Walter Johnson could have done with a better team. Here was a perfect matchup. Lefty Grove was Babe Ruth on the mound; a force of nature with the wind at his back."

          Comment


          • #95
            Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post

            Switch them, and how much different would their final stats have been likely to look?
            Unlikely you'd see a change imo. This whole thing is pretty silly to me. What if this. What if that. There's no way to know how each player would be impacted. Its not like the Yankees staff was filled with dynamic twirlers. Ruth would have still been Ruth. And if we want to get into him facing the Yankee pitchers, that puts him onto another team and into a better ballpark to hit in, so at the very least, it's a wash and it would extremely reasonable to think his numbers would be even better.

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            • #96
              Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
              Unlikely you'd see a change imo. This whole thing is pretty silly to me. What if this. What if that. There's no way to know how each player would be impacted.
              I don't see how it's silly to examine the factors beyond a player's control that made him appear greater or worse than he was.

              In fact, that's the whole reason people started using adjusted statistics in the first place!!! Before accounting for variables beyond a hitter's control- miraculously, all the best hitters somehow happened to have played from 1893-1900 or 1920-40. And with the pitchers 1901-1919 and in the 1960's.

              With the reserve clause in effect, players had little to no leverage against their own organization. Players on dynasties are conferred advantages beyond what the current measures take into account. Dick Thompson expounds upon this elaborately in his book. Grove, for example, was given more rest, didn't have to pitch against the greatest run scoring lineups in modern baseball history, or his own lineup, which was right behind the Yankees in runs scored every year from 1927 until he went to the Red Sox.

              We have to consider that, just as we have to consider how well deadball pitchers like Mathewson would have done against the liveball. That's why I posted Metal Ed's musings about Warren Spahn and Walter Johnson earlier in this thread- which was strongly in Grove's support, by the way- Ed was one of Grove's greatest defender. A player's skill set is maximized or minimized according to the franchise he plays for and the era he plays in.

              Again, beyond a player's control. There's no way to know exactly how each player would be impacted, but we at least attempt to bring all of the factors to the table.

              Just trying to level the playing field, Randy.

              Comment


              • #97
                Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                I don't see how it's silly to examine the factors beyond a player's control that made him appear greater or worse than he was.

                In fact, that's the whole reason people started using adjusted statistics in the first place!!! Before accounting for variables beyond a hitter's control- miraculously, all the best hitters somehow happened to have played from 1893-1900 or 1920-40. And with the pitchers 1901-1919 and in the 1960's.

                With the reserve clause in effect, players had little to no leverage against their own organization. Players on dynasties are conferred advantages beyond what the current measures take into account. Dick Thompson expounds upon this elaborately in his book. Grove, for example, was given more rest, didn't have to pitch against the greatest run scoring lineups in modern baseball history, or his own lineup, which was right behind the Yankees in runs scored every year from 1927 until he went to the Red Sox.

                We have to consider that, just as we have to consider how well deadball pitchers like Mathewson would have done against the liveball. That's why I posted Metal Ed's musings about Warren Spahn and Walter Johnson earlier in this thread- which was strongly in Grove's support, by the way- Ed was one of Grove's greatest defender. A player's skill set is maximized or minimized according to the franchise he plays for and the era he plays in.

                Again, beyond a player's control. There's no way to know exactly how each player would be impacted, but we at least attempt to bring all of the factors to the table.

                Just trying to level the playing field, Randy.
                Hey, dude, level the playing field all you want. You know I'm in your corner when it comes to looking at things beyond the numbers. Except in this case it seems thats all you're looking at when it comes to Grove. Anyone who has done any studying on Grove would tell you that he was a bulldog through and through and the notion of him "ducking" a team is absurd. It's all good though, do your thing. My big issue came when you tried to discredit Ruth because of the Yankee pitching. Aside from the reasonable assumption that hitting against the Yankees wouldn't translate to different numbers for a guy like him, you failed to mention that he wouldn't be hitting in the same ballpark if that scenario took place. Gotta cover everything. I'm with ya in the discussion of Cobb getting to face his own pitchers 22 times a year...who knows how that would affect his numbers. It's not required to drag Ruth down in order to bring Cobb up though.

                Comment


                • #98
                  Originally posted by baseballPAP View Post
                  It remains true however csh, that all of Mr. Thompson's writing against Grove has a single point: to elevate Ferrell. No amount of research can be considered above board if the intents are set in stone before it is started.

                  The research is genuine, good, hard work. The presenting of the facts is done through Ferrell-tinted glasses.
                  I'd pin the truth somewhere in the middle.

                  To PAP, I'd say that the numbers are the numbers, and you are free to disagree with the conclusions, but the idea that Grove grove pitched fewer innings against the best team in the league during his peak, and was relatively coddled over the same period isn't really up for debate. You are free to make of that what you will.

                  To csh, I'd say that Thompson was obviously a fan of Wes, he wrote a book (half) about him. Might as well leave Grove out of it, that's what seems to be eliciting the charges of bias - true or false. Grove wasn't as good as his numbers made him out to be from '29-31, that's true irrespective of how anyone would personally compare him against Ferrell.
                  THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

                  In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

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                  • #99
                    Lefty Grove dodging the Yankees was an issue of contention for years here:

                    Splits per Retrosheet during the years in question, or Grove's peak (1928-32)

                    Code:
                    Oppon   G  GS  CG SHO  GF  SV  IP     H  BFP  HR   R  ER  BB  SO  SH  WP HBP  BK  2B  3B   W   L    ERA
                    NY  A   8   7   3   0   1   1  49.2  52  222   3  35  30  18  32   1   2   0   0   5i  0i  1   6   5.44
                    NY  A   8   5   2   0   3   2  33.1  29  141   3  17  10   9  32   2   1   0   0   2i  1i  2   1   2.70
                    NY  A   6   2   1   0   3   3  16.2  21   79   2  10   9   8  19   0   0   0   0   1i  0i  1   0   4.86
                    NY  A   5   3   1   0   2   1  21.2  25   95   3  11  11   7  18   0   0   0   0   3i  0i  3   1   4.57
                    NY  A   6   4   3   0   1   0  41    44  182   4  25  25  16  31   3   0   0   0   7i  3i  3   2   5.49
                    Grove's ERA against the Yankees was 4.6, against the rest of the league it was under 2.50. A paltry 12% of his innings pitched were against the archrival Yankees, often in the heat of the pennant race. His record against the Yankees was 10-10 in 160 innings. His record against the rest of the league was 118-23.

                    By comparison, here is Grove went 26-2 with a 2.36 ERA against the Red Sox during the same timeframe. He pitched 220 innings (almost 20% of his total) against a team that was certainly minor league quality.
                    Of course, he also never had to face the A's, who during those years established one of the great dynasties of the first half of the 20th century.

                    Dick Thompson (the member here formerly known as "WJackman" at Baseball Fever) unearthed some very interesting truths, and as our member Ubiquitous noted, the disturbing lack of parity (check out the Boston Red Sox' record from 1923-32) brings into question the quality of the AL during that time.


                    The issue of competitive balance and its effects on individual statistics is resounding......imagine if Pedro Martinez had been given the chance to face a minor league quality team 20% of the time, going 26-2 against them during his peak (1997-2003).
                    Last edited by csh19792001; 02-24-2010, 12:44 PM.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by AstrosFan View Post
                      I wasn't arguing that Grove had durability issues, just that he wasn't dominating the IP leaderboards. He never led his league. The trapped in the minors argument should have an impact on everyone's ranking, but how much is a tough question. We can't honestly know how good Grove would have been had he been in the majors during those years. I would presume he would have been good, but I don't know for sure. Finally, while I have Grove as the best lefty, I don't see him as way ahead of Randy Johnson. With LQ adjustments, Johnson is fairly close.
                      I think we can make a reasonable guess as to how good he would have been, given his record with Baltimore (overwhelming) and his later track record in the Majors (truly great). Grove lost at least 4 ML seasons due to Jack Dunn's business decisions. His first year or 2 might have been a learning proces, but by his 3rd year he would have beeen great. Then, he never would have had the later adjustment years of his first 2 actual ML seaons, since he would have had them earlier. Grove probably lost at least 70 wins because he was unable to come to the Majors when ready- perhaps more.

                      Somebody somewhere posted info on Grove vs the Yankees. Can't remember it. I don't think he "dodged" them much.

                      Grove, in my opinion, is definitely one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball history.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by BigRon View Post

                        Somebody somewhere posted info on Grove vs the Yankees. Can't remember it. I don't think he "dodged" them much.

                        Grove, in my opinion, is definitely one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball history.
                        See the last post before yours on Grove dodging the Yankees and beating up on the hapless Red Sox during his supposed all-time run from 1928-32.

                        Also, I'll refer you to Jim Kaplan's Grove biography as well as Dick Thompson's (aka, "WJackman" here)research on Grove which he has posted on this site about Grove supposedly "languishing" in the minors. If he was actually being "held back" to such a high degree, he would have come up like Pete Alexander and dominated (or at least would have been great) from day 1. He didn't and wasn't. He wasn't even ready for the Major Leagues at 25 and wasn't and his record in a full season (1925) demonstrates that.

                        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.
                        Last edited by csh19792001; 02-24-2010, 04:42 PM.

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                        • According to the data I have Ruth faced Grove in a total of 49 games in their careers. Ruth had 149 PA against Grove (3 are unaccounted for) and his line was .306/.363/.522 with 2 doubles, 9 homers, 12 walks, and at least 38 strikeouts.

                          Now the three missing PA can be at most 2 singles and a walk on the positive side. On the negative side it can be 3 outs.

                          If it is 3 outs then his line is .299/.356/.511. If it is 2 hits and a walk his line is .316/.376/.529.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
                            According to the data I have Ruth faced Grove in a total of 49 games in their careers. Ruth had 149 PA against Grove (3 are unaccounted for) and his line was .306/.363/.522 with 2 doubles, 9 homers, 12 walks, and at least 38 strikeouts.

                            Now the three missing PA can be at most 2 singles and a walk on the positive side. On the negative side it can be 3 outs.

                            If it is 3 outs then his line is .299/.356/.511. If it is 2 hits and a walk his line is .316/.376/.529.
                            This won't change stats much , but just for the record.

                            Opening day April 15, 1930, Grove on the mound. Shibe Park, Ruth's drive cleared the wall in RCF but struck speaker supports mounted on wall. Ruth sent back to second, a double. As far as I am aware there was no ground rule covering this one, the umps word is final.

                            Believe it.................September 26, 1930, again Ruth clears wall, strikes same supports, another double, Grove not involved in this one.
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 06-28-2010, 04:17 AM.

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                            • Oh Groves was as goood as it got, Koufax or Big Unit or Carlton level. Did his thing in small parks during the day in a hitters era, won awards and set records. Has to.be a top 5'er all time easy.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by TomBodet View Post
                                Oh Groves was as goood as it got, Koufax or Big Unit or Carlton level. Did his thing in small parks during the day in a hitters era, won awards and set records. Has to.be a top 5'er all time easy.
                                He was deff over Steve Carlton level. Koufax's peak may have been better but he wouldn't be near him on a career level. Randy Johnson would be comparable but I gotta wonder if he was clean. Warren Spahn might be number two here but he deff had his faults. Grove is on a different level than all those guys.
                                "(Shoeless Joe Jackson's fall from grace is one of the real tragedies of baseball. I always thought he was more sinned against than sinning." -- Connie Mack

                                "I have the ultimate respect for Whitesox fans. They were as miserable as the Cubs and Redsox fans ever were but always had the good decency to keep it to themselves. And when they finally won the World Series, they celebrated without annoying every other fan in the country."--Jim Caple, ESPN (Jan. 12, 2011)

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