Friday, January 03, 2020

Top Forty Tigers Starting Pitchers

Tigers Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser had the highest Baseball-Reference WAR of any Tigers pitcher
(Photo credit:Baseballhall.org)

Last year, I wrote a series of posts listing the all-time top ten Tigers at each position.  They can be found at the links below:

Catchers
first basemen
Second Basemen
Shortstops
Third Basemen

This post does the same thing with starting pitchers, except it is a top forty instead of a top ten list as there is a much larger pool of pitchers than of players at other positions.  Pitchers are more difficult to rank because their roles have changed dramatically over the decades.  In the first part of of the 20th century, pitchers were expected to finish what they started and thus threw a lot more complete games than they do now.  Up until the 1920s, more than half the games were complete games.  The percentage of complete games decreased gradually over the decades, but was still over 25% in the 1970s.  Since then, the downward trend in complete game percentage has steepened even more to the point where a complete game is now a rare occurrence.  

Starting pitchers also tended to pitch more often in the early days frequently pitching on three days rest and sometimes appearing in relief between starts.  That along with the larger number of complete games resulted in more innings pitched per season for the typical starter.  In 1910, for example, there were 7 pitchers with 300 or more innings pitched and 19 with over 260 innings.  In 2000, Mike Mussina led the majors with 238 innings and only 16 pitchers worked as many as 200 innings.

Another difficulty in this ranking is that there have been a lot of pitchers who were great for one or two or three years and then either got injured or flamed out or were traded (I am only counting innings pitched as a Tiger).  It is a challenge to determine how to rank someone like some Bobo Newsom who only pitched in Detroit for three years, but was one of the most dominant Tigers pitchers ever for two of those years.  In contrast, Hooks Dauss was a workhorse for 15 years, but was only an average pitcher most years.

The Wins Above Replacement (WAR) Statistic was helpful for sorting pitchers.  I mostly used the Baseball-Reference.com version if WAR which is based primarily on innings pitched and runs allowed.  I looked at the Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) based WAR at Fangraphs.com as well, but I found that less useful for comparing pitchers from different eras.  It is based heavily on strikeouts and home runs which were not a big part of the game during the Deadball era of the early 20th Century.

One problem with WAR is that it tends to give too much credit to compilers - pitchers like Dauss who worked a lot of innings but were not dominant.  So, I also looked at Wins Above Average (WAA) which puts less weight on innings pitched and more on quality.  Dauss ranked 7th on WAR, but 28th on WAA!  That's a big difference.  Seventh place seemed a bit high and 28th didn't seem right at all for a solid pitcher with 3,390 career innings pitched. In contrast, Newsom was 20th in WAR and 11th in WAA.  I didn't want to rank Newsom ahead of Dauss who had 2,600 more innings.  

Next, I met WAR and WAA in the middle by taking the average of the two.  I called this Wins Above Ordinary or Wins Above OK or WAO.  On this measure, Dauss ranked 11th and Newsom 19th.  This made sense to me and eyeballing the rest of pitchers this seemed to work better than WAA in many cases

I also wanted to give pitchers credit for peak performance.  I tried doing something like Jay Jaffe's JAWS where career WAR is combined with WAR over a players peak years.  This was OK for pitchers at the top of the list with a lot of years, but didn't work so well for short Tigers career pitchers.

I decided that the WAO statistic was a good first cut, but it was far from perfect.  There is never any one statistic that works all the time though, so I allowed for some flexibility.  While WAO was my initial guidepost, I moved pitchers up a bit if they had great peak years or if they missed years due to World War II or if their WAO ranking just looked off for some reason.  Other pitcher were moved down for similar reasons.  

The pitchers are ranked in the table below.  Comments for each pitcher follow.

Table 1: Statistics for All-Time Top 40 Tigers Starting Pitchers
Rk
Player
From
To
GS
IP
ERA+
WAR
WAA
WAO
1
Justin Verlander
2005
2017
380
2,511
123
56
32
44
2
Hal Newhouser
1939
1953
373
2,944
130
59
36
47
3
Tommy Bridges
1930
1946
362
2,826
126
52
26
39
4
Mickey Lolich
1963
1975
459
3,361
105
47
18
32
5
Dizzy Trout
1939
1952
305
2,591
125
44
25
34
6
Jack Morris
1977
1990
408
3,042
108
38
11
24
7
Bill Donovan
1903
1918
242
2,137
109
35
16
25
8
Virgil Trucks
1941
1956
229
1,800
113
27
13
20
9
Jim Bunning
1955
1963
251
1,867
116
30
15
22
10
Frank Lary
1954
1964
274
2,008
116
29
13
21
11
Hooks Dauss
1912
1926
388
3,390
102
37
5
21
12
George Mullin
1902
1913
395
3,394
102
35
5
20
13
Ed Killian
1904
1910
172
1,536
109
24
11
18
14
Schoolboy Rowe
1933
1942
181
1,445
113
24
10
17
15
Fred Hutchinson
1939
1953
169
1,464
113
21
9
15
16
Denny McLain
1963
1970
219
1,593
110
23
9
16
17
Max Scherzer
2010
2014
161
1,013
117
21
12
17
18
Earl Whitehill
1923
1932
287
2,171
104
25
4
14
19
Bobo Newsom
1939
1941
101
760
131
18
11
14
20
Ed Siever
1901
1908
123
1,036
121
18
8
13
21
Dan Petry
1979
1991
274
1,843
105
17
1
9
22
Harry Coveleski
1914
1918
125
1,023
123
16
6
11
23
Vic Sorrell
1928
1937
216
1,671
102
20
4
12
24
George Uhle
1929
1933
92
828
117
17
9
13
25
Joe Coleman
1971
1976
201
1,407
97
16
3
9
26
Don Mossi
1959
1963
129
929
116
14
6
10
27
Milt Wilcox
1977
1985
220
1,495
103
14
1
7
28
Frank Tanana
1985
1992
243
1,551
99
13
-1
6
29
Earl Wilson
1966
1970
145
962
107
12
4
8
30
Mark Fidrych
1976
1980
56
412
126
11
8
9
31
Dave Rozema
1977
1984
128
1,007
120
15
6
11
32
Justin Thompson
1996
1999
101
647
119
13
7
10
33
Billy Hoeft
1952
1959
176
1,324
98
14
4
9
34
Ed Summers
1908
1912
112
999
111
12
3
7
35
Elden Auker
1933
1938
136
1,083
108
12
1
7
36
David Wells
1993
1995
64
428
122
10
6
8
37
Doug Fister
2011
2013
68
440
128
10
6
8
38
Ed Willett
1906
1913
179
1,545
99
13
-1
6
39
Paul Foytack
1953
1963
185
1,425
98
11
-1
5
40
Roscoe Miller
1901
1902
54
480
120
8
4
6
Source: Baseball-Reference.com

1. Justin Verlander

Verlander trails Hal Newhouser in WAR (56 vs 59), WAA (32 vs 36) and WAO (44 vs 47), but Newhouser had two of his best seasons during World War II against depleted rosters.  Thus, I am putting Verlander in the top spot.  The hard throwing right hander had two of the seven best WARs in franchise history in 2011 (8.6) and 2012 (8.1).  He earned both the Cy Young and MVP awards for his fantastic 2011 season.  

2. Hal Newhouser
Newhouser had not only the highest career WAR (59), but also the highest single-season WAR (11.3 in 1945) in Tigers history.  Newhouser's 1944-1945 seasons were surely enhanced by the lower level of competition during World War II, but he continued to excel after the war averaging 6.8 WAR and 143 ERA+ from 1946-1949.  (Remember that an average pitcher relative to the league has an ERA+ of 100.  Over 100 is above average and under 100 is below average)

3. Tommy Bridges
Bridges did not have elite seasons like Verlander and Newhouser, but he had twelve seasons of two WAR or better which was more than any other Bengals pitcher.  He also won two games in the 1935 World Series helping the Tigers to their first championship.

4. Mickey Lolich
Following a familiar theme, Lolich trailed Dizzy Trout in WAO (32 versus 34), but Trout benefited  from inferior competition during World War II, so Lolich was ranked higher.  Lolich, remarkably for his era, pitched 300 or more innings each season from 1971-1974.  In 1971, he accumulated 8.5 WAR in 376 innings!  Yeah, Billy Martin liked to abuse pitchers.  The portly left hander is the Tigers all-time strikeout leader with with 2,679.  He won three games in the 1968 World Series leading his team to an improbable comeback after being down three games to one versus the Cardinals.  

5. Dizzy Trout
Trout's best season was during the war in 1944 when he posted a 167 ERA+ in 352 innings.  He had no other season quite like that but he did reach three WAR or better eight times.  

Warren Corbett of SABR relates several tales about Trout which may or may not be true.  The most famous one concerned Ted Williams:
Trout struck out Williams to end a game, then asked Ted to autograph the ball. Williams turned and stomped away. The next time they met, Williams poled a long home run. As he rounded the bases, he called out, “I’ll sign that one if you can find it.” 
  
6. Jack Morris
Before Morris was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018, there was was much debate about his worthiness.  Many, including myself, argued that the durable right hander did not have the run prevention statistics necessary for a Hall of Fame pitcher.  However, he was a workhorse who completed a high number of games for his era.  He finished in the top five in complete games eight times and could be considered the last of the prolific complete game hurlers.  Morris had 165 complete games after 1980.  Roger Clemens was second with 118.  

7. Bill Donovan
Donovan earned the nickname "Wild Bill" due to his volatile temper and busy social life (Doug Skipper SABR).  In his first season with the Tigers in 1903, Donovan had 7 WAR in 307 innings pitched.  He never duplicated that season, but he was the best of the Tigers Deadball era hurlers.  

8. Virgil Trucks 
Oliver Virgil "Fire" Trucks was 11th in WAO, but moved up the list due to missing almost two full prime seasons (all of 1944 and most of 1945) during World War II. His best season was 1949 when he had 6.9 WAR and led the league with 153 strikeouts in 275 innings.  One of only five pitchers to throw two no hitters in a single season, Trucks accomplished this feat in 1952.  

9. Jim Bunning
Bunning had, in effect, two baseball careers reaching 30 WAR with both the Tigers and Phillies.  The Southgate, Kentucky native reached six WAR twice and led the league in strikeouts twice as a Tiger.  Unfortunately, he was traded too soon as he had his three best seasons in Philadelphia from 1965-1967.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.  After his playing career, Bunning was a long-time Kentucky congressman serving in both houses.   

10. Frank Lary
The Mule was a very durable starter for the Bengals leading the league in innings pitched three times and in complete games three times.  Lary also reached six WAR twice in 1956 and 1958.  He was best known as the "Yankee Killer" for his 28-13 lifetime record versus the perennial champs (Jim Sargent, SABR).

11. Hooks Dauss
At 5-10 and 168 pounds, George August Dauss was once deemed too small to be a major league pitcher.  That didn't stop him from pitching 3,390 innings over 15 seasons and becoming the all-time Tigers leader in wins (223).  He was nicknamed Hooks or Hookie for his signature curveball (Bob O'Leary, SABR)

12. George Mullin 
Wabash George was almost identical to Dauss statistically with four more innings (3,394) and the same ERA+ (102).  Even their WAR distributions were almost the same.  Mullin is the all-time Tigers leader in complete games with 336.  His 32 innings pitched in the 1909 World Series is the most ever for any seven-game World Series.  

According to David Cicotello of SABR, Mullins was a character on the mound:
Mullin perfected a number of eccentric strategies to gain an advantage over hitters. At critical times, Mullin chose the "stall," wherein he distracted the batter with tactics of walking off the mound, loosening or tightening his belt, fixing his cap, re-tying his shoes, and removing imaginary dirt from his glove. Mullin also incessantly talked to himself, to batters, and to fans of opposing teams who would heckle him when he engaged in his act. Mullin was also superstitious and believed team mascot Ulysses Harrison, an African-American orphan whom the players nicknamed "Li'l Rastus," brought him good luck.  

13. Ed Killian
Killian's 7.2 WAR in 1905 was the highest of any Tiger before 1939.  The Detroit southpaw had a 120 ERA+ with a league-leading eight shutouts in 313 innings that year.  According to Dan Holmes of SABR, Killian won both games of a double header effectively clinching the 1909 pennant.  Holmes also noted that Killian was incredibly stingy even for the Deadball era about home runs allowing just nine in his career and zero in three full seasons from 1902-1904.     

14. Schoolboy Rowe
Lynwood Thomas Rowe was one of the most popular and successful players in the history of the franchise.  Despite a chronic sore shoulder, he managed six seasons of 2 WAR or better and played an important role in three Tigers pennants in 1934, 1935 and 1940.  The Texas native acquired the moniker "Schoolboy" from a local sportswriter John Erp because he starred as a 14-year old in a local adult league.

Gregory Wolf of SABR writes that Rowe captured the attention of baseball fans with his success and folksy personality:  Rowe was known for talking to the baseball, which he often called Edna in honor of Edna Mary Skinner, whom he married after the 1934 World Series. He once described his preparation for pitching: “Just eat a lot of vittles, climb the mound, wrap my fingers around the ball and say to it, ‘Edna, honey, let’s go.’" During a nationally broadcast interview, Rowe famously asked his bride-to-be, “How am I doin’, Edna?” The question, which captured both Rowe’s charm and eccentricity, was as recognizable at the time as his nickname.

15. Fred Hutchinson
Hutchinson's rank is complicated by his missing four years (1942-1945) serving in World War II.  What makes it difficult is that he pitched in the minors in 1941 making it impossible to know when he would have started pitching regularly in the majors.  It is likely he would have added a couple of strong years though, so I ranked him higher than a couple of pitchers with better WAR statistics.  In six seasons following the war, Hutchinson averaged 3.3 WAR and 118 ERA+.  

After his playing career, Hutchinson managed for 12 seasons, including three with the Tigers.  When Hutchinson died of cancer in 1964, his older brother Dr William B. Hutchinson established the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which later became internationally known (Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia).  

16. Denny McLain
McLain was baseball's last 30-game winner in 1968 and he continued to dominate in 1969.  He won both the Cy Young and MVP in 1968 leading the league in innings (336), Wins (31) and complete games (28).  He won another Cy Young in 1969 with a 134 ERA+ in 325 innings.  McLain made his mark off the field as well.  He was an accomplished organ player who frequently performed in nightclubs.  He also appeared on the The Ed Sullivan Show and other popular programs and was featured in Life and Time magazines.  He was a national star and he loved the limelight. 

After 1969, it was all downhill for McLain.  In February 1970, Sports Illustrated published a story linking him to gamblers and organized crime.  Among other things, the article suggested that a foot injury in 1967 was the result of a mobster stepping on McLain’s toes when a partner could not cover a bet.  Because of the story, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended McLain for the first half of the 1970 season.  Later in the season, Kuhn suspended him two more times, once for pouring water over the heads of reporters and again for carrying a gun.

After his career, it got worse.  He tried to make a living in radio and television and other various occupations but he built up large debts and went bankrupt,  He later turned to loan sharking and bookmaking and was imprisoned in 1985 for racketeering, extortion and drug trafficking.  He went to prison again in 1996 after stealing $12.5 million from the pension fund of his meat-processing company.  

17. Max Scherzer

Tigers fans still grumble about the departure of Scherzer to Washington after the 2014 season, but it was good while it lasted.  Scherzer's best work was in 2011 when he won a Cy Young award with a 144 ERA+ in 214 innings.  He also finished in the top three in the American League in strikeouts every year from 2012-2014.  Of course, Max has even done better in Washington averaging an incredible 7 WAR over the last five seasons.  How come we never get guys like that?

18. Earl Whitehill
Whitehill was never an elite pitcher, but he finished two WAR or higher eight of his ten years in Detroit.  His best season was 1927 when he posted a 125 ERA+ in 236 innings. A popular tale suggests that Earl's wife Violet Oliver was the original model for the Sunmaid Raisins "maiden".  Is it true? Bill Johnson of SABR writes that the rumor has been debunked by the company.  It's still a good story though.  

19. Bobo Newsom
A baseball writer once said that Newsom "was as tough as shoe leather, as unlucky as an old maid, as colorful as a tree full of owls, and about the friendliest fellow you'd ever want to meet" (Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia).  He was also an excellent pitcher who pitched for eight different major league teams.  The nomadic right hander pitched only three seasons for the Tigers, but they were quite memorable.  His 131 ERA+ is the all-time highest career ERA+ of any Tigers starter.  His WARs of 7.2 and 7.4 in 1939 and 1940 are two of the top twenty single-season WARs for motor city hurlers.  He pitched a complete game shutout in game five of the 1940 World Series just a couple days after the death of his father.  He also pitched well in game seven, but lost 2-1.

20. Ed Siever
Siever's 195 ERA+ in 188 innings pitched in 1902 is tied for the best ever (with Newhouser in 1945) for a full-season Tigers starter.  

Siever once got into a fight with the legendary Ty Cobb. This is how Ty Cobb told it (abstracted from Baseball-Reference bullpen): 
 "Pitching that day for our side was Ed Siever, one of the anti-Cobb ring. (After a ball bounced between Cobb and another outfielder) back in the dugout he cursed me... that night ... Siever ... started one that would have removed my head had it landed... But I smothered the blow and ... hit him a right to the jaw ... Tom McMahon, our trainer (said) 'You did only one thing wrong ... You kicked Siever after you had him down." - Ty Cobb's version of an altercation with Ed Siever, from the book My Life in Baseball: The True Record, one in which he denied kicking Siever when he was down

21 Dan Petry

Overshadowed by teammate Jack Morris, Petry was still a key component to the success of the 1980s Tigers.  Peaches was never considered a star, but had a 115 ERA+ between 1979-1985.  Petry then suffered an elbow injury in 1986, from which he never fully recovered.  He pitched a lot of poor innings after that which brought his ERA+ down to 105.  It's hard to rank pitchers like Petry who were good for several years and then hung around because the team needed their mediocre innings.  I couldn't disregard those innings, but I didn't want to penalize a pitcher too much for it either.   

22 Harry Coveleski
Harry should not be confused with his Hall-of-fame brother Stan, but he was quite successful in his short career.  He pitched only three full seasons with the Tigers, but he packed a lot into those years.  The southpaw hurler threw 1,023 innings from 1914-1916 posting an ERA+ of 123 with 16 WAR.  

23. Vic Sorrell 

Sorrell pitched 10 seasons in the majors, all with the Tigers.  He had his best seasons between 1930-1934 averaging 4.5 WAR and 116 ERA+

24. George Uhle
Uhle had his best years with the Indians, but performed admirably for the Tigers after age 30.  From 1929-1931, Uhle averaged 5.5 WAR and had a 121 ERA+.

According to Joseph Wancho of SABR, Uhle once walked Mark Koenig to pitch to the great Babe Ruth in a key spot in the ninth inning.  He then struck the Babe out.      

25. Joe Coleman
Mickey Lolich was exhibit number one of Billy Martin pitcher abuse.  Coleman was exhibit number two.
After averaging 285 innings, 5.1 WAR and a 114 ERA+ from 1971-1973, Coleman was pretty much ruined as a pitcher at the age of 27.  He had the lowest ERA+ (97) of any pitcher on the list, but he was very good and pitched a lot of innings annually before his fall. 

26. Don Mossi
Mossi was unfortunately most known for his large ears, but he could pitch too.  The Sphinx was an excellent reliever for the Indians early in his career , but mostly started for the Tigers.  His best years were 1959-1961 when he averaged 3.7 WAR and a 126 ERA+. 

27. Milt Wilcox
Wilcox was neither dominant nor a workhorse during his nine years with the Tigers, but he was consistently good.  He averaged 180 innings and a 104 ERA+ with little variation in performance between 1977-1984.  Wanting to stay in the rotation during the Tigers 1984 championship season, he endured an arm injury and multiple cortisone shots.  He never missed a start and was excellent during the post-season with 19 innings pitched, a 1.42 ERA and two wins.    

28. Frank Tanana
Tanana had three careers - the young dominant fastball pitcher from 1973-1977, the still young but softer tosser between 1978-1985 and the crafty old lefty between 1986-1993.  The Tigers got the the third Tanana and were quite happy with it.  His best season in Detroit was 1987 when he was an integral part  of their thrilling pennant drive in 1987.  He was three WAR over 218 innings and was strong down the stretch including a 1-0 shutout in the division clinching game on the final day of the season. After that season he remained a solid presence on an increasingly feeble pitching staff.  

29. Earl Wilson

Wilson was a double threat on the mound and at the plate showing surprising power for a pitcher.  He was 12 WAR as a pitcher with the Tigers, but also helped himself with 3.3 WAR as a batter.  In 1968, he hit 7 home runs for the second time, a total surpassed by only Wes Ferrell (9 with the Indians) in 1931. 

30. Mark Fidrych  
The Bird had only one great season in 1976, but it was the most exciting individual pitching season I have witnessed as a Tigers fan.  His combination of dominating, crafty, quirky and folksy captured the baseball world by storm like nothing I have seen since.  One season or not, Fidrych needed to be on this list and needed to be a little more than a token #40.  Fidrych's WAR of 9.6 in 1976 was the second highest of any Tiger other than Newhouser (11.3 in 1945). 

As the story goes, he injured his knee in spring training the next year and then tore his rotator cuff overcompensating for the knee.  I have long believed the real reason for the shoulder injury was over use in his rookie season.  It's been said that he was not enough of a strikeout pitcher and that 1976 was a fluke, but his statistics when he did pitch in 1977-1978 were just like those in 1976 - impeccable control, stingy with home runs and even a somewhat increased K rate.  He may not have managed a long career without the strikeouts, but I think he had more great years in him had he stayed healthy.  

31. Dave Rozema
Rozema's best season was his rookie year at the age of 21 in 1977.  His second best season was his sophomore year in 1978.   He pitched over 200 innings each year and showed excellent control for a youngster with 1.6 walks per nine innings.  Fans imagined a one-two punch of Rozema and Mark Fidrych once The Bird got healthy.  Fidrych never got healthy and Rose never approached 200 innings again.  Rozema lost his signature change-up by his third season, but still had some good years left as a swingman.  Rozema was known to be a party boy off the field and was not always wise on the field either.  He severely injured his knee attempting a karate kick during a brawl in 1982 and required surgery.      

32. Justin Thompson
The Tigers pitching was mostly mostly a disaster in the 1990s, but one bright light was Thompson.  The Texas southpaw appeared headed to stardom after his sophomore season in 1997 when he had a 152 ERA+ in 223 innings.  He had another strong season in 1998, but things unraveled after that.  He was eventually traded to the Rangers in 1999 and then suffered a torn rotator cuff in 2000 effectively ending his career.  

33. Billy Hoeft
According to Billy Nowlin of SABR, Hoeft once pitched a perfect game in legion ball where he struck out all 27 batters.  That is quite a feat at any level.  He pitched for six teams in the majors, but his first eight were with the Tigers.  His best season was 1955 when he posted a 130 ERA+ and was five WAR in 220 innings.  

34. Ed Summers
One of baseball's first knuckleballers (Phil Williams, SABR), Kickapoo Ed Summers was another Tiger who was good for three years before flaming out.  Summers averaged 3.6 WAR and 119 ERA+ between 1908-1910 and was a big part of two pennant winners in 1908-1909.  Unfortunately, he struggled in post-season losing all four of his World Series starts.

35. Elden Auker
Auker was a submarine pitcher and an important piece of the exciting Tigers teams of the 1930s.  He averaged 113 ERA+ and 2.5 WAR between 1934-1937.  

36. David Wells
Boomer Wells pitched for nine team major league teams including three seasons with the Tigers.  He had WARs of 2.9, 2.7 and 4.6 in Detroit, the last one coming in just 131 innings before being traded to the Reds.      

37. Doug Fister
Fister was obtained from the Mariners in mid-season 2011, finished the season strong and followed up with two more good seasons. He was a great control pitcher walking just 1.76 batters per nine innings, but could also get strikeouts when necessary.  In fact, he set an American League record with nine consecutive strikeouts versus the Royals in 2012.  He had a 3-2 record with a 3.06 ERA in 47 post-season innings for the Tigers.  

38. Ed Willett
Robert Edgar Willett had a non-descript but solid career with the Tigers between 1906-1913.  He reached three WAR in both 1908 and 1910.  The Farmer finished in the top ten in hit batsmen six times.   

39. Paul Foytack
Foytack pitched ten seasons for the Tigers.  In each year from 1956-1958, he reached three WAR.  
In the last game of his career pitching for the Angels, Foytack gave up four consecutive home runs before departing, but had a sense of humor about it:
After the fourth homer, manager Bill Rigney came to the mound. According to Foytack, “Upon arriving Rigney said, ‘Well, Paul, what do you think?’ ‘Gee, Bill,’ I said, ‘I think I am in pretty good shape. There’s nobody on base.’ (Jerry Nechal, SABR)

40. Roscoe Miller
Rubberlegs Miller was the best player on the first team in Detroit Tigers history in 1901.  He pitched just one and a half seasons before jumping to the Giants in 1902, but he made this list because his 6.9 WAR in 1901 was tied for the 21st highest in Tigers history.  He was third in the league in complete games and had a 130 ERA+ that year. 

2 comments:

  1. Bill Donovan was listed as having 7 WAR in 307 IP in 2003 instead of 1903.

    ReplyDelete

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