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  • Ryan better than Seaver?

    I noticed that Nolan Ryan had incredible seasons as far as OPS+ allowed. I decided to compare these to Tom Seaver. Here are their top 10 for OPS+ allowed (based on BBRef). If someone has other numbers for OPS+ against, please inform me.

    So what is a better gauge of how they truly pitched? OPS+ allowed or ERA+? How did Ryan have such good OPS+ allowed and such relatively poor ERA+'s.

    The only things I can see are that Ryan pitched poorly with runners on first, and or third and better with the bases empty.
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  • #2
    A pitcher is judged by some variation of earned runs allowed per their time pitched
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    • #3
      OPS+ underweights walks and hitbatters for begin with.

      You may want to check Ryan's WP, PB, SB, CS and other baserunner events. I seem to remember they weren't good.

      Instead of using something horrible like OPS, why not try BaseRuns or Linear Weights?
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      • #4
        As I mentioned on the other site, I have heard that Ryan gave up a uniquely disproportionate amount of his homeruns with men on base too. I don't know if this is true, however. How does Ryan's LOB% look? I know LOB% isn't a great stat either, but it does explain some differences in ERA vs. FIP or OPS+ or what have you.
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        • #5
          Ryan left 73% of his runners, while Seaver stranded 77%. However, this is just a roundaboutway of looking at runs allowed.

          Ryan has 12% of his runs allowed unearned, while Seaver had 9%.

          Ryan was terrible with men on base, compared to himself with bases empty:
          http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi...62=1&lg=&team=

          His strikeouts plummetted, while his singles allowed jumped. His HR went up a bit.

          Seaver was fairly stable. His HR went down a decent amount.

          All in all, there are alot of little things that Ryan didn't do well.

          I'd stick with career ERA+ as the best measure.
          Author of THE BOOK -- Playing The Percentages In Baseball

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          • #6
            Originally posted by brett View Post
            I noticed that Nolan Ryan had incredible seasons as far as OPS+ allowed. I decided to compare these to Tom Seaver. Here are their top 10 for OPS+ allowed (based on BBRef). If someone has other numbers for OPS+ against, please inform me.

            So what is a better gauge of how they truly pitched? OPS+ allowed or ERA+? How did Ryan have such good OPS+ allowed and such relatively poor ERA+'s.

            The only things I can see are that Ryan pitched poorly with runners on first, and or third and better with the bases empty.


            While it is true that Ryan pitched worse with runners on base that doesn't explain why he allowed more runs than you expect for a given OPS. What you have discovered is simple: OPS does not exactly track runs scored.

            OPS is a simple combination of On-Base and Slugging percentages. It is a shorthand method of combining the two major offensive skills. OPS+ is an attempt to adjust that based on park effects and the league average. The problem comes when you assume that OPS is proportional to run production. It isn't. While OBP and SLG are the two key offensive skills they are not equal in importance. OBP has the greater effect, and needs to be weighted more heavily (about x1.7 or so).

            Ryan was much better at preventing hits than preventing baserunners. So, even if his OPS+ was equal to Seaver, Seaver's combination of OBP and SLG was more effective at reducing runs.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Tango Tiger View Post
              Ryan left 73% of his runners, while Seaver stranded 77%. However, this is just a roundaboutway of looking at runs allowed.

              Ryan has 12% of his runs allowed unearned, while Seaver had 9%.

              Ryan was terrible with men on base, compared to himself with bases empty:
              http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi...62=1&lg=&team=

              His strikeouts plummetted, while his singles allowed jumped. His HR went up a bit.

              Seaver was fairly stable. His HR went down a decent amount.

              All in all, there are alot of little things that Ryan didn't do well.

              I'd stick with career ERA+ as the best measure.
              Perhaps Ryan just didn't throw well from the stretch?
              I know that he always said he didn't worry about baserunners, but memory tells me that he didn't take this maxim to the point of throwing from a full windup with men on.
              Nolan may have had the most impressive physical skills of any pitcher in history, but he wasn't very good at translating them into wins until he got older. Imagine putting Seaver's, Maddux's, or Pedro's head onto his body...well, maybe then they wouldn't have had Ryan's insane work ethic to keep the body working at such an incredible level. That man WORKED, on the field and off.
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              • #8
                OPS and OPS+ are good stats for measuring hitters but OPS+ against is not very good for measuring pitchers. When a batter is either retired or reaches base, his batting event is over. (Of course, his baserunning skill is still important after the plate appearance, but it doesn't measure his talent at the plate.) On the other hand, after a plate appearance, if a pitcher gets a batter out or allows him to reach base, his job is not over (unless the batter is retired for the third out, of course.) He still needs to pitch to another batter or more, so a pitcher could have a high OPS+ and not give up many runs, or vice versa.
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                • #9
                  Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see who faced the tougher competition. They're actually kinda close in terms of total performance, so it might make a difference in evaluating them.

                  And my best answer to that question is...it didn't make a difference in this case. Both Seaver and Ryan faced VERY close to average competition over the course of their careers. The difference is less than 3 one thousandths of a run per start above league average. Yowch.

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