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Rube Waddell - most underrated pitcher ever?

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  • Rube Waddell - most underrated pitcher ever?

    Man, if there is one pitcher in history that I think is vastly underrated, it's Rube Waddell. In my opinion, he should be mentioned with names like Johnson, Mathewson and Alexander. He was definitely the greatest left-handed pitcher of his era. He was a rarity for that time period, a fireballing lefty that led the league in K's for 6 straight years. His K's per 9 innings blew away the other pitchers in the league. He was in a class by himself. His lifetime 2.16 ERA is 6th best all-time and just nips Walter Johnson by .001. Will somebody please tell me why he doesn't get the respect he deserves??? Is it because he wasn't so bright upstairs? If that's the reason, then it's a shame.
    Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

  • #2
    Uh, I know a great many people, including myself, who rank him as one of the ten greatest pitchers of all time. I don't really see how he's underrated.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

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    • #3
      --He's definately considered by pretty much everyone at least one notch below Johnson, Mathewson and Alexander becasue he didn't excell nearly as long as they did. He is somewhat comparable to Sandy Koufax in that regard.
      --There is a(nother) debate currently in progress about wether Koufax is overrated (or underrated). I think 50 years from now when everybody who actually saw Koufax pitch is gone you could start a thread asking the exact same question about Sandy you just asked about Rube. Less the comment about his lack of mental prowess of course.

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      • #4
        Great to see ol' Rube the topic of a thread. Personally, I have him ranked as the 9th greatest lefty ever, and certainly one of the greatest of his era as well (along with Eddie Plank). In fact, his 2.161 career ERA ranks as the best post-1900 mark for any lefty (with at least 1,500 innings pitched) and his 349 strikeouts in 1904 still stands as the American League record for a southpaw.

        Here's a great snippet on Waddell

        Southpaw Legacy

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ElHalo
          Uh, I know a great many people, including myself, who rank him as one of the ten greatest pitchers of all time. I don't really see how he's underrated.
          It just seems to me I never hear him mentioned with the more famous names of his era. I think Leecemark probably hit it on the head that the reason is Waddell didn't last as long as the others, and didn't win nearly as many games. That probably had something to do with his intelligence.
          Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

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          • #6
            Love to hear about the Rube. He belongs in anyone's top 25 list of Pitchers.

            He's my closer on my A team. His autism didn't seem to limit him, once he was on the mound. It was getting him there that was the challenge. His speed was probably 93-97, whereas I estimate Johnson's speed as 100-105.

            Plus Waddell had his fast curve, which was like Koufax's, no loss of speed, breaks was a foot or two. They said Rube's hands were huge. He could almost wrap his thumb and forefinger all the way around the ball, which required HUGE hands.

            Bill Burgess
            Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-27-2006, 01:37 PM.

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            • #7
              I cannot be convinced that the big Train threw 100-105 mph....
              I share pictures from my collection of baseball photographs on twitter @PastimeClassics

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              • #8
                I can't say that the Rube is under-rated. It's just that few ever bring him up. But he is universally seen as one of the best ever. But not perhaps a championship pitcher, due to his unreliability. But once he was on the mound, he was absolutely brilliant. I love the Rube.

                Bill Burgess

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                • #9
                  I thought I'd bring this thread back and post Walter Johnson's opinions about Rube, who IMO is the most underrated pitcher ever. You've seen this on the Historical Articles thread, but I thought it deserved a place here. It's nice to see Rube getting his props from the greatest pitcher ever.

                  Walter Johnson on Rube Waddell:

                  In my opinion, and I suppose if there is any subject that I am qualified to discuss it is pitching. Rube Waddell had more sheer pitching ability than any man I ever saw. That doesn't say he was the greatest pitcher, by a good deal. Rube had defects of character that prevented him from using his talents to the best effect. He is dead and gone, so there is no need for me to enlarge on his weaknesses. They were well enough known. I would prefer to dwell on his strong points. And he had plenty.

                  There is one game that stands out in my memory above all, perhaps, that I have pitched. That was a game fairly early in my career, when I hooked up in a pitching duel with Rube Waddell.

                  Rube was a queer character and he could get indisposed more quickly than anyone I ever saw, when the mood seized him.

                  That day we scored a run off him in the first inning. This didn't please Rube at all. He wasn't feeling particularly ambitious that day, and as he came in to the bench, he started to limp. His leg, it seemed, hurt him a good deal. We had a coach at the time who had a deep knowledge of human nature and a particular knowledge of Rube Waddell's nature. He started after Rube, without an instant's delay. "You'd better be getting on your way to the showers," he said. "If you don't get out of the box, we'll knock you out."

                  Somehow, that remark got under Rube's skin. He really was a sensitive soul under it all. He made up his mind that he wouldn't quit. Instead, he came back the next inning with blood in his eyes, and from then on he gave the greatest exhibition of all-round speed and unhittable curves that I ever looked at. They scored a run off me, meantime, to tie up the tally. The game drifted into extra innings. In the eleventh inning they scored another run and beat me by 2 to 1.

                  In those eleven innings Rube struck out seventeen Washington players. Most of the time they were choking up on the bat and just trying to keep from getting struck out. But Rube burned them past in spite of everything.

                  There have been many arguments about pitchers' speed. Such arguments invariably hinge on personal opinion. When Waddell had a red letter day such as the one I have mentioned, and cut loose with everything he had, he showed an amazing amount of speed. But Rube was erratic and uncertain, and his pitching was decidedly unequal.
                  Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

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                  • #10
                    i think waddell is actually very well respected - best strikeout per game ratio prior to wwii - to me i always thought addie joss was the most overlooked pitcher of the 20th century

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bkmckenna
                      i always thought addie joss was the most overlooked pitcher of the 20th century
                      Joss is probably my #2 most underrated pitcher ever.
                      Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bkmckenna
                        i think waddell is actually very well respected - best strikeout per game ratio prior to wwii - to me i always thought addie joss was the most overlooked pitcher of the 20th century
                        Joss is extremely overrated. He had a very short career because of his premature death of course, and he really wasn't nearly as dominant in that time as he's made out to be. Is it possibly for such a dominating pitcher to only have 19 points of black ink? Robin Roberts had 62 points of black ink in his peak, and actually pitched a little bit after his peak (unlike Joss), and yet we have lots of people rating Joss ahead of him in the pitcher poll.

                        He really has no business in the HOF, and Rube Waddell may not deserve it either, although he is very close and with all the fame he has may be a worhty selection.
                        Last edited by 538280; 02-26-2006, 06:04 PM.

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                        • #13
                          My top 5 underrated pitchers of all - time

                          #1. Kid Nichols
                          #2. Addie Joss
                          #3. Eddie Plank
                          #4. Rube Waddell
                          #5. Robin Roberts

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 538280
                            Joss is extremely overrated. He had a very short career because of his premature death of course, and he really wasn't nearly as dominant in that time as he's made out to be. Is it possibly for such a dominating pitcher to only have 19 points of black ink? Robin Roberts had 62 points of black ink in his peak, and actually pitched a little bit after his peak (unlike Joss), and yet we have lots of people rating Joss ahead of him in the pitcher poll.

                            He really has no business in the HOF, and Rube Waddell may not deserve it either, although he is very close and with all the fame he has may be a worhty selection.
                            I agree Roberts is also underrated.

                            However, saying that Joss has no business in the HOF is ridiculous. His 1.89 ERA is 2nd all-time, adjusted ERA+ of 142 is 10th all-time. His 8.7 baserunners per 9 innings happens to be 1st all-time. He had a short career, but it was an excellent one, HOF worthy without question.

                            Waddell is not "very close" to HOF worthiness. He IS HOF worthy.

                            I feel that Joss, Waddell, and other pitchers from that era such as Ed Walsh, Mordecai Brown and Smokey Joe Wood don't get the credit they deserve. They shouldn't be mentioned quite in the same breath as the Big 4 from that era (Johnson, Alexander, Mathewson, Young), but they are just below them IMO. I may be stretching it with Smokey Joe, but at his peak he was awesome and Walter once said no man alive can throw harder than Smokey Joe.
                            Last edited by torez77; 02-26-2006, 06:32 PM.
                            Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by torez77
                              I agree Roberts is also underrated.

                              However, saying that Joss has no business in the HOF is ridiculous. His 1.89 ERA is 2nd all-time, adjusted ERA+ of 142 is 10th all-time. His 8.7 baserunners per 9 innings happens to be 1st all-time. He had a short career, but it was an excellent one, HOF worthy without question.
                              You don't think the era he played in has anything to do with those raw numbers? Joss played in an era where pitchers dominated the game. In determing his HOF credentials we should look at how good he actually was independant of time and place. Don't be fooled by the environment he pitched under.

                              The ERA+ is very good, but that also has a lot to do with the era he pitched in, because it was easier to separate from the pack. Plus, he died before he could have a decline, and decline periods can be horrible for career rate stats. Just ask Reggie Jackson.

                              When normalizing for all these things (league strength, offensive context, defense behind him, etc.), Joss comes out with an ERA of 3.77. The all time norm is set at 4.50. Most HOFers are lower than that, and Joss had a much shorter career than almost all of them.

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