Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bert Blyleven's Amazing Strikeout-To-Walk Ratio

You might know that he had a 2.8 ratio. It was also 75% better than the league average and that is the 29th best ratio relative to the league average since 1900 for pitchers with 2000+ IP (Greg Maddux is the guy just ahead of him with 75.5%). All data is from the Lee Sinins Complete Baseball Encyclopedia. Hall of Famers he is ahead of include:

Juan Marichal
Jim Bunning
Three Finger Brown
Sandy Koufax
Addie Joss
Don Sutton
Chief Bender
Don Drysdale
Tom Seaver
Rube Marquard
Bob Feller
Gaylord Perry
Hal Newhouser
Lefty Gomez
Eddie Plank

I also found the pitchers since 1900 who had the most seasons in the top 5 in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Here are the leaders:

Walter Johnson 16
Bert Blyleven 13
Mike Mussina 13
Robin Roberts 13
Carl Hubbell 12
Christy Mathewson 12
Greg Maddux 12
Lefty Grove 12
Don Sutton 11
Jim Bunning 11
Randy Johnson 11

Only the great Walter Johnson, one of the first five members of the Hall of Fame, is ahead of Blyleven. Now for the pitchers who had the most seasons in the top 10 in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Greg Maddux 17
Bert Blyleven 16
Don Sutton 16
Walter Johnson 16
Christy Mathewson 15
Grover C Alexander 15
Mike Mussina 15
Roger Clemens 15
Ferguson Jenkins 13
Jim Bunning 13
Lefty Grove 13
Robin Roberts 13

Only Maddux is ahead of Blyleven. And here is something I posted to the SABR List in early 2006:

"I thought it would be interesting to use a point system to see how well pitchers have done in RSAA (runs saved above average and it is park adjusted). A first place finish would be 10 points, second 9, and so on. Ties would split points. A tie for first would get 9.5. Then I called up the annual top tens for the AL, NL and AA using the Lee Sinins Sabermetric Encyclopedia. Each pitcher got his points then a career total was found for each guy. Here are the top 10

Cy Young-134
W. Johnson-111.5
R. Johnson-83

For Blyleven to crack the top 10, he had to consistently be among the leaders for a long time. There were some years where only 4-5 pitchers had significant RSAA, like the 1870s in the NL. One year several guys tied for 10th with an RSAA of 1. I eliminated anyone with less than 10 RSAA for a given year.

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