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How Great Was Lefty Grove?

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  • From Dick Thompson at BBTF:

    Each of you is the manager of a team in which the owner has spent millions of dollars to acquire players. Though you don't really have a team capable of winning the pennant, there is a lot of pressure for you to do so. Let's just say you're the Red Sox competing with the Yankees.

    You are told you can have one of the two following pitchers for the next three seasons. You are assured that they will give you the following results:

    Pitcher A. He will complete 81 of 110 starts with a 62-40 record and a 4.11 ERA in 878.2 innings.

    Pitcher B. He will complete 53 of 76 starts with a 46-33 record and a 3.31 ERA in 665.2 innings.

    Pitcher A is willing to start consecutive games for you once, go 11 times on two days of rest and 36 times on three days of rest. He will require four days of rest 19 times and five or more days seven times.

    Pitcher B is willing to start on two days rest once and 27 times on three days of rest. He will require four days of rest 11 times and five or more days 19 times.

    With these numbers a sure bet, who do you take?

    Oh yeah, since you're in a league where the pitcher bats.

    Pitcher A will hit .308 in 396 at bats, score 64 runs and bat in 82. He will contribute 17 doubles, 2 triples, and 17 homers. He will be your best hitter and best pinch-hitter.

    Pitcher B will hit .116 in 215 at bats, score 11 runs and bat in 13. He will contribute 6 doubles, one triple and one home run.

    You're the manager and you job rests on winning ball games.

    Who do you take?
    Last edited by Floyd Gondolli; 01-27-2021, 04:15 AM.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post
      From Dick Thompson at BBTF

      Each of you is the manager of a team in which the owner has spent millions of dollars to acquire players. Though you don't really have a team capable of winning the pennant, there is a lot of pressure for you to do so. Let's just say you're the Red Sox competing with the Yankees.

      You are told you can have one of the two following pitchers for the next three seasons. You are assured that they will give you the following results:

      Pitcher A. He will complete 81 of 110 starts with a 62-40 record and a 4.11 ERA in 878.2 innings.

      Pitcher B. He will complete 53 of 76 starts with a 46-33 record and a 3.31 ERA in 665.2 innings.

      Pitcher A is willing to start consecutive games for you once, go 11 times on two days of rest and 36 times on three days of rest. He will require four days of rest 19 times and five or more days seven times.

      Pitcher B is willing to start on two days rest once and 27 times on three days of rest. He will require four days of rest 11 times and five or more days 19 times.

      With these numbers a sure bet, who do you take?

      Oh yeah, since you in a league where the pitcher bats.

      Pitcher A will hit .308 in 396 at bats, score 64 runs and bat in 82. He will contribute 17 doubles, 2 triples, and 17 homers. He will be your best hitter and best pinch-hitter.

      Pitcher B will hit .116 in 215 at bats, score 11 runs and bat in 13. He will contribute 6 doubles, one triple and one home run.

      You're the manager and you job rests on winning ball games.

      Who do you take?
      I honestly don't think you've listened to a single word anyone else has said. You just keep talking without considering. It's quite annoying.
      "The first draft of anything is crap." - Ernest Hemingway

      There's no such thing as an ultimate stat.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Bothrops Atrox View Post
        Remember, I can shave 750 feet off the top of Mnt. Everest, and it would still be the tallest mountain in the world. I could shave-off half-a-mile and it would still be top-10.
        All we're trying to do here is what you've spent almost the entirety of your 16 years here doing; making things fair, statistically, when things clearly aren't. Leveling the playing field.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post

          All we're trying to do here is what you've spent almost the entirety of your 16 years here doing; making things fair, statistically, when things clearly aren't. Leveling the playing field.
          Yup. And sometimes when the dust is cleared...things haven't actually changed ALL that much when you look at the entirety. What I try to do is quantify the end result instead of just say what adjustments need to be made.

          So let's take Grove's career. His ENTIRE career INCLUDING the fact he was heavily leveraged unfavorably during his time with the Red Sox. We absolutely SHOULD look at the phenomenon you are referring to. Let's make the correct adjustments and see where his career and season-by-season numbers are at that point. Then see where it leaves him. None of us are saying the Yankee-effect is negligible. We just ALL believe that after the top is cut-off, Grove is still one of the very tallest. That is how tall he is to begin with.
          1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

          1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

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          The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
          The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Bothrops Atrox View Post
            Yup. And sometimes when the dust is cleared...things haven't actually changed ALL that much when you look at the entirety.
            Hopefully the following can be stated for the last time, explicitly, since it's been repeated for 16 years here, in various discussions, at various times.

            This isn't and has never been about Grove's entire career. Nobody ever claimed it was.

            This is about two specific pitchers, two specific peaks, which coincided closely with one another. It's also about Grove's absolute peak, 1929-32, being incredibly inflated because of his leveraging.

            This is all also illustrative of a larger point that omni metrics are often incredibly misguided, uninformed, and misleading.

            Another case in point example, this one even more extreme:

            Robin Roberts against the best two teams/top two run scoring teams (Dodgers, Braves) 1950-1959:
            --996.0 IP, 57-56 record, 3.56 ERA

            Warren Spahn, same parameters:
            --196.1 IP, 6-20 record, 4.26 ERA

            Roberts in bandbox Ebbets Field, 1950-1959:
            --258 IP, 16-13, 4.36 ERA

            Spahn:
            --52 IP. 0-7, 6.49 ERA. He never pitched a single inning there after 1953.

            So......who was the better pitcher in the National League during the 50's? Omni metrics can't and don't account for this ocean of disparity in level of competition.
            Last edited by Floyd Gondolli; 01-27-2021, 07:07 AM.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post

              Hopefully the following can be stated for the last time, explicitly, since it's been repeated for 16 years here, in various discussions, at various times.

              This isn't and has never been about Grove's entire career. Nobody ever claimed it was.
              Okay - but when people are talking about Grove's greatness...the rest of the universe IS talking about his whole career. Why would anyone want to only focus on a handful of seasons when the clear purpose is to evaluate the entire career? The title of the thread is not "how great was Grove's peak?" Your argument is certainly a part of the story and there is some validity to it (as long as his unfavorable leveraging as a Red Sox is also discussed), but you are going on and on and on and on and on as if it is the only point to consider. The rest of the world has moved on. You are worrying about a pimple on a supermodel. Pop the noticeable and ugly pimple and then move on with how beautiful the rest of the model is.

              You can SAY you aren't trying to disparage his career, but it is certainly coming across that way. I have never spent this much ink or effort on nit-picking one aspect of a player's career if that wasn't my endgame. So you can see why people are confused.
              Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 01-27-2021, 07:29 AM.
              1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

              1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

              1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


              The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
              The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Bothrops Atrox View Post
                You can SAY you aren't trying to disparage his career, but it is certainly coming across that way. I have never spent this much ink or effort on nit-picking one aspect of a player's career if that wasn't my endgame. So you can see why people are confused.
                Fair enough. You make a good point and state it well.

                That said, how do you reconcile Robin Roberts vs. Warren Spahn's usage patterns/leveraging? They have the same WAR for the decade, but one clearly had it much, much harder than the other.


                Comment


                • Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post

                  Fair enough. You make a good point and state it well.

                  That said, how do you reconcile Robin Roberts vs. Warren Spahn's usage patterns/leveraging? They have the same WAR for the decade, but one clearly had it much, much harder than the other.

                  WAR does have a strength of opponent adjustment component. I do not know how comprehensive it is, but my guess would be that if it was not there - they WAR gape between them would be tangibly wider.

                  I think every WAR systems tackles strength of opponent. This isn't really a new or unique concept. Could there be more debate on if there needs to be more/different? Of course.

                  Bottom line - Spahn and Grove would already have higher WAR scores if that were not already in place.
                  Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 01-27-2021, 12:26 PM.
                  1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                  1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                  1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                  The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                  The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Bothrops Atrox View Post
                    WAR does have a strength of opponent adjustment component.
                    Can you point to where it is, exactly?

                    Thanks!

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post

                      Can you point to where it is, exactly?

                      Thanks!
                      From BBref WAR explanation on website:

                      xRA, Level of Opposition


                      Back to 1918, we have gamelogs for every major league pitching appearance. This means that we can, with certainty, determine which team's pitchers we're facing. For each season, we also know the average runs per out for each team and we can adjust this number into a neutral context using park factors. Then, based on this, we can determine what the average number of expected runs would be for this set of teams faced.

                      This can have a major impact in situations where there is a set of dominant offensive teams and some pitchers face them multiple times while others may never face them. For example, pitchers for the 1927 Yankees never faced Murderers Row.
                      1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                      1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                      1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                      The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                      The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                      Comment


                      • Some great posts here. I have Grove as the best lefty ever and #3 behind Maddux and Walter.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post
                          Robin Roberts against the best two teams/top two run scoring teams (Dodgers, Braves) 1950-1959:
                          --996.0 IP, 57-56 record, 3.56 ERA

                          Warren Spahn, same parameters:
                          --196.1 IP, 6-20 record, 4.26 ERA
                          The disparate sample sizes here render this whole exercise a little questionable. Spahn is effectively getting punished because he never had to face his own team. Who were numbers 3 and 4? A cursory look suggests to me that the Reds, Giants and Cardinals were the other consistently strong teams in the NL in that time frame. What are Warren's numbers against them?

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                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Los Bravos View Post

                            The disparate sample sizes here render this whole exercise a little questionable. Spahn is effectively getting punished because he never had to face his own team. Who were numbers 3 and 4? A cursory look suggests to me that the Reds, Giants and Cardinals were the other consistently strong teams in the NL in that time frame. What are Warren's numbers against them?
                            The sample sizes are disparate because Spahn's manager deliberately held him back from pitching against one of the greatest hitting dynasties ever.

                            Spahn is getting "punished" in an effort to level the playing field here. The discrepancy between he and Sphan in the 50's against the best teams, and tin he best hitting park is astronomical.

                            As far as your question, and ssmple size, here's the big picture. Roberts faced much, much tougher teams than Spahn, much more often.

                            Screen Shot 2021-06-02 at 5.48.22 AM.png


                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Floyd Gondolli View Post

                              The sample sizes are disparate because Spahn's manager deliberately held him back from pitching against one of the greatest hitting dynasties ever.
                              Yeah, I know that. It's a fairly well known fact that Spahn matched up poorly against a lineup of mostly righty mashers, especially in their rather cozy home park.

                              I still think you're cherry picking a set of parameters that will inevitably produce your desired result. He couldn't pitch against the Braves (for obvious reasons) and was deeply vulnerable to the Dodgers lineup. Making that the sole determining set of standards isn't really setting up a fair contest.

                              Your second set of data presents a fairer contrast but I also think it doesn't really support your thesis that Roberts is head and shoulders above Spahn. You can make the case that Roberts was better but it's reasonably close.

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                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Los Bravos View Post
                                Your second set of data presents a fairer contrast but I also think it doesn't really support your thesis that Roberts is head and shoulders above Spahn. You can make the case that Roberts was better but it's reasonably close.
                                Roberts totally burned out his arm, pitching that amount of innings, and just as importantly, against those two incredible lineups, constantly. While Spahn never faced either. Roberts, as a result, was totally shot by 28 (1956).

                                Amazingly, he still has more WAR and Win Shares than Spahn during the entire 1950's. Despite everything I've mentioned, and despite being on a .498 team versus Spahn's .584 team.

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