|WAR for Pitchers (?)
Stats Sun-Saturday – Cub Pitching
Last week Len took a look at some of the all time great Cub hitters and how they stack up using some of the more advanced stats in use today. This week we focus on the pitchers. I got playing around on Baseball Reference, Fangraphs and StatsLLC and found some interesting (at least to a baseball geek) stuff. Some of the leader boards are tilted to the modern era since data going way back is incomplete. One of the ways we look at hitters is by combining their on base and slugging percentages so I thought it might be fun to find the best single seasons for a Cub pitcher in OPS against. Look at the chart above: Left-hander Dick Ellsworth was an All-Star in 1964 but 1963 was his best year. His .543 OPS against is the best by a Cub pitcher since at least 1955. He also led the league with an ERA+ of 167. That number reflects the players ERA compared to the league and adjusts for the ballpark.
WAR or Wins above Replacement is another way of determining value. 4 of the 5 best single seasons in Cub history in terms of pitcher’s war were turned in during the 19th century. Pete Alexander in 1920 had the third best season in franchise history according to this metric. Post 1920, the best performances were logged by Fergie Jenkins with 10.3 in 1971 and Ellsworth”s 10.2 in 1963. Big Daddy Rick Reuschel shows up 8th on the list 9.4 and Greg Maddux accumulated 9.2 wins above replacement in 1992- good for 9th best. Jenkins in ’71 was 24-13, logged 325 (not a typo) innings and fashioned a 2.77 ERA. In terms of career WAR Fergie leads the way followed by Big Daddy who is maybe a little underappreciated? Then you go into the way back machine with Three Fingers Brown et al before you see Carlos Zambrano at # 9 with 37.9. In case you’re wondering Mad Dog is number 11 in career WAR earned with the Cubs and Kerry Wood comes in at 19. Speaking of Kerry Wood, how about the kings of K? All-Time K’s per 9 innings pitched in a single season for the Cubs:
1) Kerry Wood 12.58 1998
2) Kerry Wood 11.3 2003
3) Mark Prior 11.3 2002
4)Kerry Wood 11.2 2001
5)Rich Harden 10.9 2009
With strikeouts so prevalent in the modern game, just about all the K rate leaders are from the last twenty years. Sutter (’77, ’79) Sutcliffe (’84) Assenmacher (’91) and Dick Selma in 1969 are the only guys to make the top 25 prior to Wood’s ’98 season. In terms of career k’s/9, the top 5 are:
and Jeff Samardzija at 8.67
Really just a glimpse into all the stats that are available to the ardent fan. I lean heavily on the three sights mentioned above.