Friday, August 15, 2008

Where does Galarraga's rookie season rank in Tigers history?

One of the few things that has gone right for the Tigers this year is Armando Galarraga's surprising and stellar season. The 26 year old Venezuelan was acquired from the Rangers for fringe prospect Michael Hernandez before the season and did not make the opening day Tigers roster out of spring training. He got the call when Dontrelle Willis got hurt in April and has been in the rotation (except for one relief appearance when Willis tried to come back) ever since. Not only has he been the Tigers best pitcher but he is also a strong Rookie of the Year candidate. With that in mind, I decided to go through the history of the Tigers to see how The Big Cat ranks among the best rookie seasons ever.

The best seasons for Tigers rookie pitchers are listed in chronological order in Table 1 below. The table stats are defined as follows:
  • Year = Rookie year
  • IP= Innings Pitched
  • W= Wins
  • L = Losses
  • ERA = Earned run average
  • ERA+ = ERA relative to league average ERA after adjusting for ballpark (e.g. Mark Fidrych had a 159 ERA+ so he was 59% better than league average).
  • RSAA = Runs saved over an average pitcher's runs allowed
  • WS = wins shares - estimate of number of wins a player contributes to a team based on his individual statistics. Divide by 3 to get estimated wins contributed. ( e.g. Mark Fidrych had 27 win shares in 1976 so he contributed an estimated 9 wins by himself).

Table 1: Top seasons for Tigers rookie pitchers (chronological order)

Player

Year

Age

IP

W

L

ERA

ERA+

RSAA

WS

Roscoe Miller

1901

24

332

23

13

2.95

130

42

30

Ed Siever

1901

24

289

18

15

3.24

119

27

22

Ed Summers

1908

23

301

24

12

1.64

147

27

21

Hooks Dauss

1913

22

226

13

12

2.67

117

8

14

Herman Pillette

1922

26

275

19

12

2.85

136

34

22

Hal White

1942

23

217

12

12

3.39

136

28

18

Frank Lary

1955

25

235

14

15

3.10

124

18

15

Mark Fidrych

1976

21

250

19

9

2.34

159

38

27

Dave Rozema

1977

20

218

15

7

3.09

139

29

18

Mike Henneman

1987

25

97

11

3

2.98

142

14

13

Joe Zumaya

2006

21

83

6

3

1.94

235

24

12

Justin Verlander

2006

22

186

17

9

3.63

126

18

15

Armando Galarraga

2008

26

133

11

4

3.11

139

18

11

Armando Galarraga*

2008

26

192

16

6

3.11

139

26

16


*Projected


I used the above stats and some other things to rank the seasons:

1. Mark Fidrych (1976)

The charismatic Fidrych had one of the most famous and best rookie seasons in baseball history. He led the league with a 2.34 ERA and 24 complete games and won the Rookie of the Year award. He finished second to Jim Palmer in the Cy Young voting. "The Bird" injured his shoulder the following year and then, after several come back attempts, pitched his last game in 1980 at the age of 26.

2. Ed Summers (1908)

"Kickapoo" Summers was the best pitcher for the pennant winning Tigers finishing in the top five in the league in ERA, innings and wins. That would be his best season but he followed it up with another strong season the next year, a third consecutive pennant winner for the Tigers. He pitched five seasons for the Tigers posting a 2.42 ERA (113 ERA+) in 999 innings. He pitched his last game in 1912 at the age of 27.

3. Roscoe Miller (1901)

Miller was the Tigers best pitcher in their first year of existence. His 35 complete games that year is still an American League rookie record. He never came close to duplicating his 1901 season and had a short career pitching 772 innings in four seasons with the Tigers, Giants and Pirates. He was done at age 27 in 1904.

4. Herman Pillette (1922)

Pillette pitched one inning for the Reds in 1917 and didn't pitch again until 1922 with the Tigers. He finished second in the league with a 2.85 ERA that year. Like the above pitchers, his rookie year would be his best. His ERA rose to 3.85 the next year and he pitched his last game in 1924. His son Duane pitched eight season for four teams between 1949-1956.

5. Dave Rozema (1977)

Rozema followed up Fidrych's amazing season with his own excellent season. He had the best bases on balls ratio in the league (1.4 BB/9 IP) and was seventh in ERA (3.09). He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting (Eddie Murray was first) and eighth in Cy Young voting. His rookie year was his best year but he lasted 10 seasons and was an important starter/reliever for the 1984 championship team.

6. Hal White (1942)

The 5-10 right-hander posted a strong 136 ERA+ in 217 innings in 1942. He pitched 12 seasons as a starter and reliever for the Tigers, Browns and Cardinals appearing in 336 games and posting a career ERA of 3.78 (106 ERA+).

7. Joel Zumaya (2006)

The 21 year old fire baller was a major contributor during the 2006 pennant winning season. He was the fastest pitcher in the league and had a 1.94 ERA in 83 innings and 10.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. He is still just 23 but his career has been derailed by a myriad of injuries.

8. Ed Siever (1901)

Siever was another member of the first Tigers team ever. He pitched 289 innings and finished ninth in the league with a 3.24 ERA (119 ERA+). He then led the league with a 1.91 ERA the following year. He pitched seven seasons with the Tigers and Browns compiling a 2.60 ERA (117 ERA+) in 1,507 innings.

9. Justin Verlander (2006)

Verlander finished 7th in the league with a 3.63 ERA and won the American League Rookie of the Year award. He also finished 7th in Cy Young voting. He followed his rookie season with another strong season in 2007 but is having a rough season in 2008.

10. Frank Lary (1955)

Lary had a 124 ERA+ in 235 innings in his 1955 rookie season. The "Yankee killer" went on to pitch 12 major league seasons and had 128 wins and a 113 ERA+ in 2,162 innings. He had three ERA+ of 127 or more in his career.

11. Mike Henneman (1987)

Henneman was a key reliever for the Tigers during the epic 1987 pennant race. He had a 2.89 ERA (142 ERA+) and accumulated 11 wins and 7 saves in 97 innings. He lasted 10 years pitching in 561 games for the Tigers, Astros and Rangers. He posted a career ERA of 3.21 (130 ERA+).

12. Hooks Dauss (1913)

After pitching two games in 1912, Dauss had a 117 ERA+ in 226 innings in his 1913 season. It was certainly not his only good season or his best season as he became the winningest pitcher in Tigers history. He had 222 victories in 3,391 innings for the Tigers between 1912 and 1926 and won 10 or more games 14 consecutive years.

So where does Galarraga's season rank? If you look at the last two rows of Table 1, you'll see Armando's 2008 statistics as of August 14 and his projected statistics if he keeps up the same pace through the end of the season. Based on the projected stats, I would say that his season would be close to Dave Rozema which would rank him 5th or 6th among Tigers rookie pitchers all time. That's a pretty good season for a hurler of whom many Tigers fans had never heard before this season.

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff. Dickerson brought this up during a broadcast last week, going over some of the top rookie pitchers by ERA in team history and where Galarraga ranks. It was cool to hear a discussion on Ed Summers in the middle of a game.

    ReplyDelete

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