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Game 144 Open Thread: September 13, 2007

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wells

harang

6-16, 5.65

14-4, 3.64

the cards are now 0-6 since the ankiel-hgh allegation came out. likewise, toronto is 0-5 since troy glaus was unmasked as a steroid purchaser, while the orioles are 0-3 since the jay gibbons/steroid revelation. last season, you might recall, the diamondbacks were in first place by a game and a half the day the jason grimsley affidavit hit the papers (june 7); they promptly lost 5 in a row and 20 of their next 23 to fall all the way to the bottom of the division.

rather obviously, these sorts of disclosures are a bit of a distraction. of particular note, 3 of the 4 teams in question abruptly stopped hitting after their clubhouse was linked to peds:

dbacks (23 games): .236 / .311 / .361
cards (6 games): .235 / .308 / .405
jays (5 games): .218 / .272 / .309
o's (3 games): .283 / .315 / .491
an interesting pattern, no? doesn't really prove anything (sample size, etc), but the similarities among these cases get one's attention at the very least.

* * * * * * * * *

i and many others have been arguing for weeks that anthony reyes' won-loss record is misleading. that's not to say, however, that it means nothing; like every stat it captures a slice of reality, while missing other parts. (for some of the other parts, i highly recommend red baron's diary about reyes.) at 2-14, reyes how owns one of the worst single-season winning percentages (10 decisions or more) of any pitcher in franchise history. here are the rankings:
  1. john raleigh, 1909: .111 (1-10)
  2. anthony reyes, 2007: .125 (2-14)
  3. danny jackson, 1995: 143 (2-12)
  4. gus thompson, 1906: .154 (2-11)
  5. wish egan, 1906: .182 (2-9)
since 1900, there have been 112 big-league pitchers who posted a single-year winning percentage of .200 or below in at least 15 decisions (ie, a 3-12 record or worse). it includes plenty of names you've heard of. for example, burleigh grimes, the last of the legal spitballers and a mainstay of the cardinals' pennant-winning rotations in 1930 and 1931, went 3-16 for the pirates in his first full season (1917); he hung around long enough to win 270 games and a trip to cooperstown. camilio pascual, one of baseball's first cuban-born stars, went 2-12 in his 2d year (1955) and by age 24 had a career mark of 28-66; he lasted 18 years in the big leagues and retired with a career record of 174-170 and 5 all-star game appearances. darold knowles, one of history's pioneering LOOGYs, went 2-14 in relief in 1970 despite a 2.04 era (what are the odds . . . . .); fred norman went 3-12 in his first full year (1971) but finished 6th in the cy voting two years later and helped pitch the reds to back-to-back world titles, while jerry koosman went 3-15 for the mets in 1978 (on the heels of an 8-20 season) but bounced back to win 20 for the twins the following year.

there are way too many guys on this list to name them all. but if we winnow it to include only guys with reyes' current record (2-14) or worse, it gets a lot shorter --- fewer than 30. and if we further restrict it to pitchers who, like reyes, were used predominantly as starting pitchers in their terrible year (at least 2/3 of their appearances), it's a very exclusive roster --- just 6 guys:

year age team w-l era era+ avg+ obp+ slg+
anthony reyes 2007 25 stl 2-14 5.69 76 103 102 93
jim abbott 1996 28 cal 2-18 7.48 66 90 90 88
jose deleon 1985 24 pit 2-19 4.70 77 109 96 105
matt keough 1979 23 oak 2-17 5.04 81 86 87 90
ken reynolds 1972 25 pha 2-15 4.26 84 97 96 84
jack nabors 1916 28 pha (al) 1-20 3.47 82 n/a n/a n/a

reynolds and nabors barely pitched in the big leagues again after their face-plant seasons, while jim abbott (who had a string of excellent years behind him) missed most of the next two seasons and only made another 20 mlb starts. but keough and deleon both provide at least a little hope. the season after going 2-17, keough went 16-13 and finished 4th in the league in era. he followed that up with a solid year in 1981. unfortunately, it didn't last; he walked 101 men in 1982 and lost 18 games, then hurt his arm and was out of the league by age 30.

deleon is the most comparable pitcher to reyes on this list. he reaped his banner crop of losses at about the same age as anthony, and at about the same point in his career (3d season); note also that both pitchers' won-loss and era disagree sharply w/ their opponent avgs; both were better than league average in 2 of the 3 categories and close to average in the 3d category. when we look at deleon's situational splits (bless you, baseball-reference.com), we find an additional correspondence w/ reyes --- deleon in 1985 was way above league average with the bases empty but got killed with runners in scoring position. he brought that problem under control the following year and pitched pretty effectively for 6 seasons, mostly in st louis. if you're 30 or older, you remember this guy; he spent 4 1/2 years w/ the cards (1988-1992) and made 145 starts, won a league strikeout title (1989) and maintained a league-average era. he went 29-22 his first couple of years in the loo and, at age 28, seemed poised to become an all-star; but a 7-19 record in 1990 dashed those hopes, and in 1991 he contrived to win just 5 games despite finishing 6th in the league in era. in august 1992 the cardinals released him; he would make only 6 more major-league starts. . . . . all the same, deleon lasted 10 seasons after the 2-19 debacle and turned in 6 more-than-respectable years immediately following it --- a 3.60 era between 1986 and 1991.

though justifiably perceived as an underachiever, deleon nevertheless was a more-than-useful pitcher for several years. i suspect reyes will have a similar career. i doubt he will have it in st. louis.