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Don Sutton pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers when I was a kid, from 1966-1980, from Koufax to Valenzuela, then went on and on through 1988, winning a huge total of 324 games and making the Hall of Fame despite never being considered the best pitcher in the National League at any one point. He couldn’t quite throw the ball 90 mph, but he was amazingly consistent and healthy.

Sutton was the starting pitcher in 756 baseball games, third all time after Cy Young and Nolan Ryan. Sutton and Ryan wound up each winning 324 games, but Sutton was kind of the anti-Ryan: each game for Ryan was a heroic struggle of his 101 mph fastball vs. his wildness, and you often wondered why such a supremely gifted pitcher didn’t have a better win-loss record than Ryan’s. In contrast, Sutton’s fastball was about 88-89 mph and it came as a big surprise to many people when he stayed highly effective into his 40s and then they realized there was no way they could keep a guy who won 73 more games than Bob Gibson out of the Hall of Fame.

Ryan was an extremely durable pitcher, but he was put on the disabled list 13 times in his 26 year career. Sutton never went on the disabled list in his 23 seasons.

Sutton is said by several sources to have made 756 straight starts over 23 seasons, which would be (if true) a Cal Ripken-like number for a pitcher. Ripken broke famous Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game record by playing in 2632 straight games from 1982 to 1998. But I’ve never heard of an equivalent mark for a pitcher. One reason is because it’s a little harder to define what is a missed start for a pitcher than a missed game for a player. Obviously, if the pitcher is on the disabled list, or if the manager says he’s going to skip the start because his shoulder is sore, that would be a miss. But what if the manager says he’s going to start the lefty up from Triple A against this team of lefty power hitters to see how he does? So, there’s no official consecutive starts record for

I don’t think it’s quite true that Sutton made 756 straight starts: he missed some starts with a sore arm late in 1966 and some more at the end of his career in 1988. And he got sent to the bullpen for a month or so in 1968. But it could be that from the late 1968 into mid-1988 he never missed a turn when he was called upon, which would be somewhere around 680 starts in a row.

Sutton was a conservative Alabaman. He got along great with his first Dodger manager, quiet-spoken Walt Alston, but didn’t get along his second, the exuberant, publicity-conscious Tommy Lasorda, who died recently at 93.

In retirement, he went back South and got his dream job announcing Atlanta Braves games on TV.

The Dodgers had a ridiculous number of quality starters back then. For example, in 1977, their five starters won, across their careers, 995 games or an average of 199 each: Sutton and Tommy John won 612 between them, Burt Hooton and Rick Rhoden 302, and Doug Rau 81.

Then in mid-1978 they added rookie Bob Welch (211 career wins), so their six starters that year won 1206 games. Is that a record?

Probably not. The best starting staffs of all time were likely the late 1990s Atlanta Braves staff anchored by the three Hall of Famers of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz, who won 873 games among them. Their five 1998 starters with Denny Neagle and Kevin Millwood won 1166 games among them.

The deep 1970s Dodgers’ starting staffs were in contrast to the Dodgers’ famous 1960s pitching duo of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, whom they burned out young by having them pitch over 300 innings per year. The Dodgers switched from the old four man rotation to the modern five man rotation in 1972, which probably preserved the pitching staff’s arms.

Also, Dodger Stadium is a pitcher’s park, which I’m guessing helps pitchers’ arms because they can throw it over the middle of the plate and let the batter hit it to the warning track rather than to throw a lot of pitches around the corners in fear of giving up a home run.

Remarkably, the 1990s Braves starters won a colossal number of games while pitching in a home run park during an home run era.

 
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  1. Sutton enhanced his average stuff, with a world class ability to scuff and cut the baseball.

    Gaylord Perry was more famous for doctoring the ball, but Sutton was every bit as good at doctoring the ball.

    Never the best pitcher in the game, but among the best for for a very long time.

    RIP-One of the last great warhorse pitchers.

    • Replies: @Mike Tre
    @Sandy Berger's Socks

    I remember reading somewhere a while back that the character Harris in Major League was based on Don Sutton:

    https://youtu.be/3FXVgHhHufE

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Ganderson, @Chase Gioberti

    , @Prester John
    @Sandy Berger's Socks

    Sutton may have been the ultimate "compiler", one of those athletes who preferred to remain in the background and ply his trade. And at the end of 22 years he compiled some pretty damn big numbers. There's a lot to be said about that. And the HoF agreed.

    RIP, Don.

    , @SunBakedSuburb
    @Sandy Berger's Socks

    "Gaylord Perry was more famous for doctoring the ball"

    Me and the spitter.

    , @Haxo Angmark
    @Sandy Berger's Socks

    a favorite Don Sutton memory:

    he's taken out of a game in the late innings, sits down on the bench. Camera is directly on him, but he's unaware. So he glances around slowly and carefully, then quickly takes a piece of emery board out of his glove and flips it behind the bench. Later interviewed and questioned, he blandly denies any wrongdoing.

    Don shoulda run for public office.

  2. @Sandy Berger's Socks
    Sutton enhanced his average stuff, with a world class ability to scuff and cut the baseball.

    Gaylord Perry was more famous for doctoring the ball, but Sutton was every bit as good at doctoring the ball.

    Never the best pitcher in the game, but among the best for for a very long time.

    RIP-One of the last great warhorse pitchers.

    Replies: @Mike Tre, @Prester John, @SunBakedSuburb, @Haxo Angmark

    I remember reading somewhere a while back that the character Harris in Major League was based on Don Sutton:

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Mike Tre

    Sounds plausible.

    , @Ganderson
    @Mike Tre

    I always assumed he was based on Gaylord Perry, but what do I know? Uecker’s descriptions of his pitches are priceless.

    , @Chase Gioberti
    @Mike Tre

    I always assumed he was Gaylord Perry or Phil Niekro.

  3. @Mike Tre
    @Sandy Berger's Socks

    I remember reading somewhere a while back that the character Harris in Major League was based on Don Sutton:

    https://youtu.be/3FXVgHhHufE

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Ganderson, @Chase Gioberti

    Sounds plausible.

  4. I recall seeing Sutton on game of the week when I was first starting to follow baseball in the mid-70s. He was instantly recognizable, even from the center field camera angle: big fluffy man-perm sticking out around his cap, and an upright pitching posture with a little backward lean when doing his leg kick.

    I hadn’t realized just how durable he really was. It’s remarkable.

    • Agree: Desiderius
    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    "the mid-70s"

    Even in my single digits I was looking to annoy those around me: I became a Dodgers fan in the 70s whilst living in Oakland A's/SF Giants territory. Don't exactly know the reason; probably saw the ugly redhead kid in the Partridge Family wearing the LA cap. The Dodger presence in various crappy TV shows was definitely a factor. Inspiration to travel down I-5 and begin my long and storied career cleaning celebrity bathrooms. Not as glamorous as it sounds.

    Replies: @Marty

  5. I looked up his record when I heard the news of his passing. Since Sutton pitched in the era of lazy, often alcoholic, sportswriters, whose primary refrain was “ players were better in the old days” (come to think of it, not much different than today) Sutton was never considered an elite pitcher, merely an innings eater kind of guy- good, not great. And, this was born out (the perception, anyway) by the fact that on the so-called Black Ink Test, a measure of how many times a player led the league in important categories he has to have one of the lowest numbers (8, with an average HOFer scoring 40) of any Hall of Famer. On the other hand, on the Grey Ink Test which measured the same things, but top ten finishes, he is WAY above HOF standards. In addition, his year to year comps are all HOFers. 300 + wins is also really impressive- he was a walking advertisement for the Jamesian notion that, while wins by a pitcher are not all that important in evaluating a season, they are an important career stat. He did benefit from playing for good teams most of his career, and as you say, while he didn’t much care for Lasorda personally, the five man rotation may have lengthened Sutton’s career. My assessment is that he’s not an inner ring HOFer, but he’s close. Koufax at his peak was better, but Sutton had a better career. Definitely better than Drysdale, although Drysdale was more impressive-looking on the mound. And Drysdale was more famous- on TV all the time. ( I particularly remember Drysdale and Leo Durocher in an episode of The Munsters, or was it the Addams Family?) Sutton was perhaps, not considering anyone still active, the second-best starter in LA (and maybe all of ) Dodger history.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Ganderson

    Sutton took his first 5 years in the majors (1966-1970) to learn how to pitch, with a 66-72 record and a 3.45 ERA over his first 5 years, but then was 164-102 with a 2.89 ERA over his last 10 years in LA.

    Then from age 36-43, as a gun for hire, he was 94-81 with a 3.71 ERA.

    He never had a single great season -- 1972 was shortened by a strike, while 1974 he felt apart mentally for two months, but then went to Maury Wills' hypnotist who helped him go 16-1 through the World Series.

    But he was extremely reliable: I grew up thinking for 15 years that of course Don Sutton was going to pitch every four or five days without fail and do it better than average.

    Replies: @Ganderson

    , @Desiderius
    @Ganderson

    Also a fixture on Beverly Hillbillies

  6. Aside from Sutton’s amazing 324 wins, I wondered how many modern pitchers, (since 1950), had over 200 losses. I expected to read the names of Ryan, Niekro, Perry, and Bunning, but surprised to find Maddox (227), Seaver (205), and Carlton (256) in that group.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @6dust6

    Will any pitcher ever lose 200 games again? Clayton Kershaw is currently at 175-76. He might well retire with under 100 losses. Justin Verlander is at 129 and Zack Greinke at 126. Unless the choose to stick around into their dotage, they might not exceed 150 losses.

    Replies: @Prester John, @Ganderson, @Known Fact, @MC

  7. @Mike Tre
    @Sandy Berger's Socks

    I remember reading somewhere a while back that the character Harris in Major League was based on Don Sutton:

    https://youtu.be/3FXVgHhHufE

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Ganderson, @Chase Gioberti

    I always assumed he was based on Gaylord Perry, but what do I know? Uecker’s descriptions of his pitches are priceless.

  8. @Ganderson
    I looked up his record when I heard the news of his passing. Since Sutton pitched in the era of lazy, often alcoholic, sportswriters, whose primary refrain was “ players were better in the old days” (come to think of it, not much different than today) Sutton was never considered an elite pitcher, merely an innings eater kind of guy- good, not great. And, this was born out (the perception, anyway) by the fact that on the so-called Black Ink Test, a measure of how many times a player led the league in important categories he has to have one of the lowest numbers (8, with an average HOFer scoring 40) of any Hall of Famer. On the other hand, on the Grey Ink Test which measured the same things, but top ten finishes, he is WAY above HOF standards. In addition, his year to year comps are all HOFers. 300 + wins is also really impressive- he was a walking advertisement for the Jamesian notion that, while wins by a pitcher are not all that important in evaluating a season, they are an important career stat. He did benefit from playing for good teams most of his career, and as you say, while he didn’t much care for Lasorda personally, the five man rotation may have lengthened Sutton’s career. My assessment is that he’s not an inner ring HOFer, but he’s close. Koufax at his peak was better, but Sutton had a better career. Definitely better than Drysdale, although Drysdale was more impressive-looking on the mound. And Drysdale was more famous- on TV all the time. ( I particularly remember Drysdale and Leo Durocher in an episode of The Munsters, or was it the Addams Family?) Sutton was perhaps, not considering anyone still active, the second-best starter in LA (and maybe all of ) Dodger history.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Desiderius

    Sutton took his first 5 years in the majors (1966-1970) to learn how to pitch, with a 66-72 record and a 3.45 ERA over his first 5 years, but then was 164-102 with a 2.89 ERA over his last 10 years in LA.

    Then from age 36-43, as a gun for hire, he was 94-81 with a 3.71 ERA.

    He never had a single great season — 1972 was shortened by a strike, while 1974 he felt apart mentally for two months, but then went to Maury Wills’ hypnotist who helped him go 16-1 through the World Series.

    But he was extremely reliable: I grew up thinking for 15 years that of course Don Sutton was going to pitch every four or five days without fail and do it better than average.

    • Agree: Prester John
    • Replies: @Ganderson
    @Steve Sailer

    Steve: do you ever sleep? No comments on Justin Thomas? An iSteve topic if ever there was one!

  9. @6dust6
    Aside from Sutton's amazing 324 wins, I wondered how many modern pitchers, (since 1950), had over 200 losses. I expected to read the names of Ryan, Niekro, Perry, and Bunning, but surprised to find Maddox (227), Seaver (205), and Carlton (256) in that group.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Will any pitcher ever lose 200 games again? Clayton Kershaw is currently at 175-76. He might well retire with under 100 losses. Justin Verlander is at 129 and Zack Greinke at 126. Unless the choose to stick around into their dotage, they might not exceed 150 losses.

    • Replies: @Prester John
    @Steve Sailer

    Steve, a bit OT but--who do you think was the greatest pitcher in the history of MLB?

    , @Ganderson
    @Steve Sailer

    I don’t think modern managers care much about pitchers’ wins and losses- in the old days a pitche would be left in to get the “w” often resulting in a pitcher gettin the “L”

    Anf then there’s Bob Friend, who had the fantastically lopsided record of 197-230. As someone once said, you have to be a pretty good pitcher to lose 230 big league games.

    , @Known Fact
    @Steve Sailer

    Young Diego Segui showed a lot of promise for 200 losses, going a combined 13-32 in '64 and '65. But his career then went sadly uphill.

    , @MC
    @Steve Sailer

    The all-time losses list is fascinating:
    https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/L_career.shtml

    You have to get down to No. 16 before you find someone, Jim Kaat, who wasn't either a Hall of Famer or born in the 1800s. And even he had 283 wins, 50+ WAR and a career 3.45 ERA. With 300 wins he'd probably be a Hall of Famer too.

  10. Thank you, Steve, for this interesting article about Sutton.

    • Agree: Desiderius, FLgeezer
    • Replies: @Old Prude
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Thanks for nothing, Buzz. I skipped the article and scanned the comments. Jock sniffers. When I saw you tag the blog as "interesting", I trusted you. I want my two minutes back.

    Replies: @Buzz Mohawk

    , @Desiderius
    @Buzz Mohawk

    The sort of thing we used to look forward to reading in SI.

  11. Pretty good Sutton story – Sutton was a member of Atlanta National, a Pete Dye designed course north of Atlanta. My parents were members – dad played a lot, mom every so often. My mom was not a good golfer but one day the golf gods smiled on her – she hit a worm burner on a par three that hit a rock, popped into the air, onto the green, and rolled in the hole for an ace. Dad was buying obligatory post hole in one drinks for everyone in the club house and Sutton happened to be there. As my dad was introducing Sutton to my mom he ran down the litany of Sutton’s accomplishments – wins, number of starts, and of course HOF – my mom looked at him, shook his hand, and asked – well, have you ever hit a hole in one? Sutton shook his head, smiled, laughed and announced the next round was on him. He and my mother talked a bit and discovered they were both children of Alabama sharecroppers. I called my mom the other day and told her Sutton had passed – her memory isn’t that great but she recounted the story and we shared a laugh. Prayers to his family and RIP Mr. Sutton.

    • Thanks: Morton's toes, Ron Mexico
  12. @Sandy Berger's Socks
    Sutton enhanced his average stuff, with a world class ability to scuff and cut the baseball.

    Gaylord Perry was more famous for doctoring the ball, but Sutton was every bit as good at doctoring the ball.

    Never the best pitcher in the game, but among the best for for a very long time.

    RIP-One of the last great warhorse pitchers.

    Replies: @Mike Tre, @Prester John, @SunBakedSuburb, @Haxo Angmark

    Sutton may have been the ultimate “compiler”, one of those athletes who preferred to remain in the background and ply his trade. And at the end of 22 years he compiled some pretty damn big numbers. There’s a lot to be said about that. And the HoF agreed.

    RIP, Don.

  13. @Steve Sailer
    @6dust6

    Will any pitcher ever lose 200 games again? Clayton Kershaw is currently at 175-76. He might well retire with under 100 losses. Justin Verlander is at 129 and Zack Greinke at 126. Unless the choose to stick around into their dotage, they might not exceed 150 losses.

    Replies: @Prester John, @Ganderson, @Known Fact, @MC

    Steve, a bit OT but–who do you think was the greatest pitcher in the history of MLB?

  14. @Steve Sailer
    @Ganderson

    Sutton took his first 5 years in the majors (1966-1970) to learn how to pitch, with a 66-72 record and a 3.45 ERA over his first 5 years, but then was 164-102 with a 2.89 ERA over his last 10 years in LA.

    Then from age 36-43, as a gun for hire, he was 94-81 with a 3.71 ERA.

    He never had a single great season -- 1972 was shortened by a strike, while 1974 he felt apart mentally for two months, but then went to Maury Wills' hypnotist who helped him go 16-1 through the World Series.

    But he was extremely reliable: I grew up thinking for 15 years that of course Don Sutton was going to pitch every four or five days without fail and do it better than average.

    Replies: @Ganderson

    Steve: do you ever sleep? No comments on Justin Thomas? An iSteve topic if ever there was one!

  15. @Steve Sailer
    @6dust6

    Will any pitcher ever lose 200 games again? Clayton Kershaw is currently at 175-76. He might well retire with under 100 losses. Justin Verlander is at 129 and Zack Greinke at 126. Unless the choose to stick around into their dotage, they might not exceed 150 losses.

    Replies: @Prester John, @Ganderson, @Known Fact, @MC

    I don’t think modern managers care much about pitchers’ wins and losses- in the old days a pitche would be left in to get the “w” often resulting in a pitcher gettin the “L”

    Anf then there’s Bob Friend, who had the fantastically lopsided record of 197-230. As someone once said, you have to be a pretty good pitcher to lose 230 big league games.

  16. My domestic partner had a parent who knew someone in the LAD org. That parent used to get free tickets for Chavez seats right behind home plate.

    DP saw DS pitch at-home, only ~110 feet away, on probably many occasions.

    DP couldn’t have cared less about MLB, BTW.

    Blogger and Blue-bleeders, eat your hearts out!

  17. Speaking of the Atlanta Braves, Phil Niekro also passed away on December 26, 2020. How Niekro made it to over 300 wins with some of the clubs he pitched with is a miracle. Niekro’s final ledger was 318-274 so he nearly lost 300 games as well. The Atlanta Braves with the exception of 1969 and maybe a few other years during Niekro’s tenure with this team were one of the worst teams in baseball. Like Nolan Ryan, Niekro wasn’t blessed with pitching with the best teams around. Those 1970s Dodger teams reminded me of the 1980s Cardinals teams. Sure they had some GOOD players like Sutton, Garvey, Cey, Lopes, etc., but no real superstar whereas the other dynasties of the 1970s like the A’s and Yankees had Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, the Reds had Rose, Bench, Perez, while the Orioles had the Robinsons (Brooks and Frank) and in 1971 produced 4-20 game winners in Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Jim Palmer and Pat Dobson. McNally-Cuellar-Palmer won 20 games each from 1969-1971. The 1970s Dodgers are ranked below the 4 teams that dominated the 1970s, the A’s, the Yankees, the Reds and the Orioles IMO.

    Btw, Hank Aaron died today as well.

  18. @Sandy Berger's Socks
    Sutton enhanced his average stuff, with a world class ability to scuff and cut the baseball.

    Gaylord Perry was more famous for doctoring the ball, but Sutton was every bit as good at doctoring the ball.

    Never the best pitcher in the game, but among the best for for a very long time.

    RIP-One of the last great warhorse pitchers.

    Replies: @Mike Tre, @Prester John, @SunBakedSuburb, @Haxo Angmark

    “Gaylord Perry was more famous for doctoring the ball”

    Me and the spitter.

  19. @Buzz Mohawk
    Thank you, Steve, for this interesting article about Sutton.

    Replies: @Old Prude, @Desiderius

    Thanks for nothing, Buzz. I skipped the article and scanned the comments. Jock sniffers. When I saw you tag the blog as “interesting”, I trusted you. I want my two minutes back.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
    @Old Prude

    LOL. Er... sorry? I'm happy to hear you trusted me, though. Sutton is interesting to me because he started out with Koufax and Drysdale when the Dodgers were my boyhood team. He was a slightly less-outstanding guy who steadily worked at his career, while they were very bright stars who burned out sooner, particularly Koufax (my hero then.) That to me is the interesting story.

  20. @The Last Real Calvinist
    I recall seeing Sutton on game of the week when I was first starting to follow baseball in the mid-70s. He was instantly recognizable, even from the center field camera angle: big fluffy man-perm sticking out around his cap, and an upright pitching posture with a little backward lean when doing his leg kick.

    I hadn't realized just how durable he really was. It's remarkable.

    Replies: @SunBakedSuburb

    “the mid-70s”

    Even in my single digits I was looking to annoy those around me: I became a Dodgers fan in the 70s whilst living in Oakland A’s/SF Giants territory. Don’t exactly know the reason; probably saw the ugly redhead kid in the Partridge Family wearing the LA cap. The Dodger presence in various crappy TV shows was definitely a factor. Inspiration to travel down I-5 and begin my long and storied career cleaning celebrity bathrooms. Not as glamorous as it sounds.

    • LOL: bomag
    • Replies: @Marty
    @SunBakedSuburb

    Giants fans can be wacky. Late in ‘92, I was at Candlestick and at the other end of an otherwise empty row in the box seats was a gorgeous brunette wearing every piece of Giants paraphernalia imaginable - socks, skirt, jacket, muffler, hat, pins, Croix de Candlestick. But with the Giants hitting, she yells to the opposing pitcher, “C’mon Joe, strike this guy out!” I asked her what the heck she was doing, and she said, “he’s from Sunnyvale and I’m from Sunnyvale, and I always root for guys from Sunnyvale.” I said something like, “wasn’t Ted Bundy from Sunnyvale?” She ended up sitting on my lap, and it became a long relationship. Years later she asked me who my favorite ball player was and I said Mike Piazza. Outraged, she said, “You like a Dodger?” and it was over.

  21. • Replies: @MEH 0910
    @MEH 0910

    https://twitter.com/espn/status/1352653176974028801

    https://twitter.com/espn/status/1352660897404248066

    Replies: @Deckin

  22. @MEH 0910
    https://twitter.com/NYTSports/status/1352653591333449733

    Replies: @MEH 0910

    • Replies: @Deckin
    @MEH 0910

    And just a couple of weeks after taking the Moderna CoVid vaccine and feeling 'great'. Hmmm

    Replies: @Known Fact, @MEH 0910

  23. Anon[387] • Disclaimer says:

    He threw a screwball too, which is kinda tough on the arm . Hardly anybody actually reverse supinates the wrist and turns over a screwball anymore, they just get a one-seam grip on the inner seam and use their middle finger on the side of the baseball and hope the opposite spin results make the baseball tail in a screwball’s direction.

    Nolan Ryan’s fastball was timed as it crossed the plate back then, and not as it left his hand as is done now. You can add a good 3-4 mph for sure to his 101mph fastball. I thought the umps didnt give Ryan the corners early in his career so the other teams might actually have a chance to get some hits.
    Watch some early Ryan footage with the Mets and Angels on Youtube. He was explosive. Just amazing. 20 former teamates have a son named “Nolan”. That says it all.

  24. @Mike Tre
    @Sandy Berger's Socks

    I remember reading somewhere a while back that the character Harris in Major League was based on Don Sutton:

    https://youtu.be/3FXVgHhHufE

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Ganderson, @Chase Gioberti

    I always assumed he was Gaylord Perry or Phil Niekro.

  25. “The deep 1970s Dodgers’ starting staffs were in contrast to the Dodgers’ famous 1960s pitching duo of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, whom they burned out young by having them pitch over 300 innings per year.”

    Both Koufax and Drysdale pitched over ten yrs in MLB, which is slightly above average for a starting pitcher in MLB. So they actually had above average careers in the longevity dept.

    “The Dodgers switched from the old four man rotation to the modern five man rotation in 1972, which probably preserved the pitching staff’s arms.”

    Even though the four man rotation in MLB, in place since ca. 1920’s/1930’s, had suited MLB teams just fine. There’s no direct evidence that pitchers can’t consistently pitch more than 300+ IP per season for their careers, especially since it was done for decades for most of the 20th century, and pitchers did just fine. Obviously now, its the psychological aspect of “Well, if they attempt to pitch 300 IP per season, their arms will fall off and they’ll only have a three yr career.” Nolan Ryan pitched for 27 yrs in MLB, and had several yrs of 300+ IP. It wasn’t the IP that caused his injuries so much as maintaining his fastball year after year, pitch after pitch. Would also speculate that for the last couple seasons of his career in Texas, Jose Canseco was his teammate. In his autobiography, Canseco mentioned that he introduced steroids to OAK teammates and to TEX teammates, which would’ve included Nolan Ryan. Whether or not Nolan Ryan did PEDS is open to question, but it would be consistent with late career injuries if he did.

    Also of note, HOF P Steve Carlton (329 W) had more career W’s than either Ryan or Sutton, and won the Cy Young Award four times. Neither Ryan nor Sutton won the Cy Young Award. So Sutton’s win total could be attributed more to longevity and less to dominance. He was a very consistently good pitcher, but not necessarily a great one (unlike Nolan Ryan, and of course, the greatest of the three, Steve Carlton).

    Wonder why Steve Carlton doesn’t get the respect among MLB historians that he should? More career wins, more Cy Young Awards, and unlike Ryan or Sutton, actually started and pitched his team to a WS Championship. The fairly (post mid. 60’s) modern pitch, the slider, belongs to him. When you think of MLB’s greatest slider pitcher, you think of Steve Carlton (even though he also had a fairly high speed fastball as well).

    • Agree: Desiderius
    • Replies: @Desiderius
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Growing up as a Reds fan Carlton was the one you knew you were looking at a long night. Seaver almost as bad which was half the reason we thought we had it made when we got him.

    As for Sutton:

    https://youtu.be/ppMRNWFfb4k

    Replies: @Haxo Angmark

    , @Morton's toes
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Philadelphia is a brutal location to be a successful professional athlete.

    https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-fans-are-the-absolute-worst-and-here-are-9-times-they-proved-it/

    , @RAZ
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    The slightly over average career length that Koufax and Drysdale had may have been slightly over average for all pitchers, but probably not just slightly over average for elite pitchers, whom you would expect to have longer careers.

    It wasn't just the number of starts. In the 60's pitchers used to pitch complete games. Remember reading about some game Koufax won something like 8-2 and Koufax had something like 145 pitches.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @The Last Real Calvinist, @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

  26. @Buzz Mohawk
    Thank you, Steve, for this interesting article about Sutton.

    Replies: @Old Prude, @Desiderius

    The sort of thing we used to look forward to reading in SI.

    • Agree: FLgeezer
  27. @Ganderson
    I looked up his record when I heard the news of his passing. Since Sutton pitched in the era of lazy, often alcoholic, sportswriters, whose primary refrain was “ players were better in the old days” (come to think of it, not much different than today) Sutton was never considered an elite pitcher, merely an innings eater kind of guy- good, not great. And, this was born out (the perception, anyway) by the fact that on the so-called Black Ink Test, a measure of how many times a player led the league in important categories he has to have one of the lowest numbers (8, with an average HOFer scoring 40) of any Hall of Famer. On the other hand, on the Grey Ink Test which measured the same things, but top ten finishes, he is WAY above HOF standards. In addition, his year to year comps are all HOFers. 300 + wins is also really impressive- he was a walking advertisement for the Jamesian notion that, while wins by a pitcher are not all that important in evaluating a season, they are an important career stat. He did benefit from playing for good teams most of his career, and as you say, while he didn’t much care for Lasorda personally, the five man rotation may have lengthened Sutton’s career. My assessment is that he’s not an inner ring HOFer, but he’s close. Koufax at his peak was better, but Sutton had a better career. Definitely better than Drysdale, although Drysdale was more impressive-looking on the mound. And Drysdale was more famous- on TV all the time. ( I particularly remember Drysdale and Leo Durocher in an episode of The Munsters, or was it the Addams Family?) Sutton was perhaps, not considering anyone still active, the second-best starter in LA (and maybe all of ) Dodger history.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Desiderius

    Also a fixture on Beverly Hillbillies

  28. Remarkably, the 1990s Braves starters won a colossal number of games while pitching in a home run park during an home run era.

    You can mark that down to having the great Terry Pendleton bringing the intangibles. At least that was the Van Wieran theory.

  29. Sutton … Aaron … poor ‘ol Mike Sadek, 3rd-string catcher par excellance, kinda got lost in the shuffle this week

    https://mlb.nbcsports.com/2021/01/21/mike-sadek-former-giants-catcher-dies-at-74-after-illness/

  30. @Steve Sailer
    @6dust6

    Will any pitcher ever lose 200 games again? Clayton Kershaw is currently at 175-76. He might well retire with under 100 losses. Justin Verlander is at 129 and Zack Greinke at 126. Unless the choose to stick around into their dotage, they might not exceed 150 losses.

    Replies: @Prester John, @Ganderson, @Known Fact, @MC

    Young Diego Segui showed a lot of promise for 200 losses, going a combined 13-32 in ’64 and ’65. But his career then went sadly uphill.

  31. How about the 71 Baltimore Orioles? Four 20 game winners.

    • Thanks: Trinity
  32. Sutton was discovered by Whitey Herzog, at the time a scout for the A’s. From a motel somewhere in the southwest, Herzog called Charlie Finley and said, “we have to sign this kid.” Sutton wanted $16k. Finley offered 9k. Herzog wrote, “Can you imagine a staff of Hunter, Sutton, Odom, Blue, Nash, Fingers and Krause? The A’s might never have lost a game.”

  33. @MEH 0910
    @MEH 0910

    https://twitter.com/espn/status/1352653176974028801

    https://twitter.com/espn/status/1352660897404248066

    Replies: @Deckin

    And just a couple of weeks after taking the Moderna CoVid vaccine and feeling ‘great’. Hmmm

    • Replies: @Known Fact
    @Deckin

    ... "Hoping to send a message to Black Americans that the vaccine is safe."

    https://www.wkrg.com/honoring-hammerin-hank/baseball-legend-hank-aaron-got-virus-vaccine-earlier-in-january/

    Replies: @Wade Hampton, @Desiderius

    , @MEH 0910
    @Deckin

    https://twitter.com/NOIResearch/status/1352675679255592963

  34. ‘…Remarkably, the 1990s Braves starters won a colossal number of games while pitching in a home run park during an home run era.’

    It’s not too remarkable. You can give up homers and win. You just have to give up fewer homers than the other guy — and he’s pitching in the same park you are.

  35. @Deckin
    @MEH 0910

    And just a couple of weeks after taking the Moderna CoVid vaccine and feeling 'great'. Hmmm

    Replies: @Known Fact, @MEH 0910

    … “Hoping to send a message to Black Americans that the vaccine is safe.”

    https://www.wkrg.com/honoring-hammerin-hank/baseball-legend-hank-aaron-got-virus-vaccine-earlier-in-january/

    • Replies: @Wade Hampton
    @Known Fact

    RIP Hank Aaron. At that age, he was likely to go from influenza or attendant pneumonia. Think of it as government-assisted suicide

    , @Desiderius
    @Known Fact

    Not good.

    Maybe the CDC Wokelism is cover for uncertainty.

  36. I remember Sutton mainly for the locker room fight he got into with Steve Garvey. That and Sutton’s perm. I think the fight took place after the first edition of Inside Sports magazine ran an ‘expose’ of Garvey’s marriage.

    • Replies: @David In TN
    @CW Acumen

    The 1978 Garvey-Sutton fight was a few years prior to the Inside Sports story.

  37. @Known Fact
    @Deckin

    ... "Hoping to send a message to Black Americans that the vaccine is safe."

    https://www.wkrg.com/honoring-hammerin-hank/baseball-legend-hank-aaron-got-virus-vaccine-earlier-in-january/

    Replies: @Wade Hampton, @Desiderius

    RIP Hank Aaron. At that age, he was likely to go from influenza or attendant pneumonia. Think of it as government-assisted suicide

  38. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    "The deep 1970s Dodgers’ starting staffs were in contrast to the Dodgers’ famous 1960s pitching duo of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, whom they burned out young by having them pitch over 300 innings per year."

    Both Koufax and Drysdale pitched over ten yrs in MLB, which is slightly above average for a starting pitcher in MLB. So they actually had above average careers in the longevity dept.


    "The Dodgers switched from the old four man rotation to the modern five man rotation in 1972, which probably preserved the pitching staff’s arms."

    Even though the four man rotation in MLB, in place since ca. 1920's/1930's, had suited MLB teams just fine. There's no direct evidence that pitchers can't consistently pitch more than 300+ IP per season for their careers, especially since it was done for decades for most of the 20th century, and pitchers did just fine. Obviously now, its the psychological aspect of "Well, if they attempt to pitch 300 IP per season, their arms will fall off and they'll only have a three yr career." Nolan Ryan pitched for 27 yrs in MLB, and had several yrs of 300+ IP. It wasn't the IP that caused his injuries so much as maintaining his fastball year after year, pitch after pitch. Would also speculate that for the last couple seasons of his career in Texas, Jose Canseco was his teammate. In his autobiography, Canseco mentioned that he introduced steroids to OAK teammates and to TEX teammates, which would've included Nolan Ryan. Whether or not Nolan Ryan did PEDS is open to question, but it would be consistent with late career injuries if he did.

    Also of note, HOF P Steve Carlton (329 W) had more career W's than either Ryan or Sutton, and won the Cy Young Award four times. Neither Ryan nor Sutton won the Cy Young Award. So Sutton's win total could be attributed more to longevity and less to dominance. He was a very consistently good pitcher, but not necessarily a great one (unlike Nolan Ryan, and of course, the greatest of the three, Steve Carlton).

    Wonder why Steve Carlton doesn't get the respect among MLB historians that he should? More career wins, more Cy Young Awards, and unlike Ryan or Sutton, actually started and pitched his team to a WS Championship. The fairly (post mid. 60's) modern pitch, the slider, belongs to him. When you think of MLB's greatest slider pitcher, you think of Steve Carlton (even though he also had a fairly high speed fastball as well).

    Replies: @Desiderius, @Morton's toes, @RAZ

    Growing up as a Reds fan Carlton was the one you knew you were looking at a long night. Seaver almost as bad which was half the reason we thought we had it made when we got him.

    As for Sutton:

    • Replies: @Haxo Angmark
    @Desiderius

    favorite (((Koufax))) memory:

    1965 WS 7th game, Dodgers vs. Twins, Twins @ home. Koufax, tired and on maybe 2 days rest, struggles thru the first couple innings, and it's evident something is not right. Scully nails it: no curve ball today. So Koufax goes thru the rest of the game with nothing but his fastball. Throws a low hit (2?4?) shutout w 12 strikeouts.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @David In TN

  39. @Known Fact
    @Deckin

    ... "Hoping to send a message to Black Americans that the vaccine is safe."

    https://www.wkrg.com/honoring-hammerin-hank/baseball-legend-hank-aaron-got-virus-vaccine-earlier-in-january/

    Replies: @Wade Hampton, @Desiderius

    Not good.

    Maybe the CDC Wokelism is cover for uncertainty.

  40. @CW Acumen
    I remember Sutton mainly for the locker room fight he got into with Steve Garvey. That and Sutton's perm. I think the fight took place after the first edition of Inside Sports magazine ran an 'expose' of Garvey's marriage.

    Replies: @David In TN

    The 1978 Garvey-Sutton fight was a few years prior to the Inside Sports story.

  41. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    "The deep 1970s Dodgers’ starting staffs were in contrast to the Dodgers’ famous 1960s pitching duo of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, whom they burned out young by having them pitch over 300 innings per year."

    Both Koufax and Drysdale pitched over ten yrs in MLB, which is slightly above average for a starting pitcher in MLB. So they actually had above average careers in the longevity dept.


    "The Dodgers switched from the old four man rotation to the modern five man rotation in 1972, which probably preserved the pitching staff’s arms."

    Even though the four man rotation in MLB, in place since ca. 1920's/1930's, had suited MLB teams just fine. There's no direct evidence that pitchers can't consistently pitch more than 300+ IP per season for their careers, especially since it was done for decades for most of the 20th century, and pitchers did just fine. Obviously now, its the psychological aspect of "Well, if they attempt to pitch 300 IP per season, their arms will fall off and they'll only have a three yr career." Nolan Ryan pitched for 27 yrs in MLB, and had several yrs of 300+ IP. It wasn't the IP that caused his injuries so much as maintaining his fastball year after year, pitch after pitch. Would also speculate that for the last couple seasons of his career in Texas, Jose Canseco was his teammate. In his autobiography, Canseco mentioned that he introduced steroids to OAK teammates and to TEX teammates, which would've included Nolan Ryan. Whether or not Nolan Ryan did PEDS is open to question, but it would be consistent with late career injuries if he did.

    Also of note, HOF P Steve Carlton (329 W) had more career W's than either Ryan or Sutton, and won the Cy Young Award four times. Neither Ryan nor Sutton won the Cy Young Award. So Sutton's win total could be attributed more to longevity and less to dominance. He was a very consistently good pitcher, but not necessarily a great one (unlike Nolan Ryan, and of course, the greatest of the three, Steve Carlton).

    Wonder why Steve Carlton doesn't get the respect among MLB historians that he should? More career wins, more Cy Young Awards, and unlike Ryan or Sutton, actually started and pitched his team to a WS Championship. The fairly (post mid. 60's) modern pitch, the slider, belongs to him. When you think of MLB's greatest slider pitcher, you think of Steve Carlton (even though he also had a fairly high speed fastball as well).

    Replies: @Desiderius, @Morton's toes, @RAZ

    Philadelphia is a brutal location to be a successful professional athlete.

    https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-fans-are-the-absolute-worst-and-here-are-9-times-they-proved-it/

  42. Nolan Ryan like Phil Niekro played on some awful teams which explains his won-loss record. Like football’s Walter Payton, you have to wonder what kind of numbers these guys would have put up with better teams.

  43. Hard to trash Sutton’s career (it was a lot better than mine) but to me he fails the HOF test because no one ever feared facing him. And those 256 losses. The Brewers probably lost the ’82 World Series by starting Sutton in 2 games and dissing Jim Slaton. I’m not sure why you’d start someone the opposing team knew like an old comfortable shoe.

  44. The stat that impresses me most is his 58 shutouts.

  45. @Steve Sailer
    @6dust6

    Will any pitcher ever lose 200 games again? Clayton Kershaw is currently at 175-76. He might well retire with under 100 losses. Justin Verlander is at 129 and Zack Greinke at 126. Unless the choose to stick around into their dotage, they might not exceed 150 losses.

    Replies: @Prester John, @Ganderson, @Known Fact, @MC

    The all-time losses list is fascinating:
    https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/L_career.shtml

    You have to get down to No. 16 before you find someone, Jim Kaat, who wasn’t either a Hall of Famer or born in the 1800s. And even he had 283 wins, 50+ WAR and a career 3.45 ERA. With 300 wins he’d probably be a Hall of Famer too.

  46. More than likely Ted Williams would have broken Babe Ruth’s all time home run record had Williams not lost some years while serving in the military. And when you look at how many more at bats that Aaron had than Ruth, that speaks volumes about who the REAL HOME RUN KING WAS no matter the final count. Denny McLain played briefly under Williams with the Washington Senators when Teddy Ballgame was managing the lowly Senators. McLain said that Ted Williams was one of the biggest jerks in the game and that hardly anyone could get along with him. Aaron was himself a racist. No doubt that Aaron endured racism while growing up to one degree or another and he received loads of hate mail and even death threats chasing the Bambino’s record, but even years later, Aaron was extremely racist, as racist as someone like an Al Sharpton. Aaron was not a nice guy, lets put it that way.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Trinity

    As a manager, Ted Williams did a lot to help Frank Howard, a giant man fulfill his potential as a home run hitter, according to "Ball Four."

    Replies: @Trinity

    , @Haxo Angmark
    @Trinity

    favorite Hank Aaron memory:

    me and a couple HS friends at an early 1960's Braves-Dodgers game in D stadium, sitting about halfway up the bleachers in left field. Drysdale (?) pitching, Aaron at bat. He hammers a RISING line drive so hard the shortstop instinctively ducks away from it....the ball then heads straight at us in the bleachers. You've seen many times how people will cluster together to try to snag a HR ball....not this one, we all scattered. It hit something metallic with a loud CLANG! And then bounced clear out of the park.

    , @Truth
    @Trinity

    It's Aaron's fault Ruth got fat?

    And Williams missed 4 seasons to WWII and finished 197 HR's behind Ruth. That's an average of 48 hr's a year.

    Williams never hit more than 43 in a season.

    Replies: @Nicholas Stix

  47. @Trinity
    More than likely Ted Williams would have broken Babe Ruth's all time home run record had Williams not lost some years while serving in the military. And when you look at how many more at bats that Aaron had than Ruth, that speaks volumes about who the REAL HOME RUN KING WAS no matter the final count. Denny McLain played briefly under Williams with the Washington Senators when Teddy Ballgame was managing the lowly Senators. McLain said that Ted Williams was one of the biggest jerks in the game and that hardly anyone could get along with him. Aaron was himself a racist. No doubt that Aaron endured racism while growing up to one degree or another and he received loads of hate mail and even death threats chasing the Bambino's record, but even years later, Aaron was extremely racist, as racist as someone like an Al Sharpton. Aaron was not a nice guy, lets put it that way.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Haxo Angmark, @Truth

    As a manager, Ted Williams did a lot to help Frank Howard, a giant man fulfill his potential as a home run hitter, according to “Ball Four.”

    • Replies: @Trinity
    @Steve Sailer

    Ted Williams did lead the lowly Senators to an impressive 86-76 record in his first year at Washington. Vince Lombardi and Williams arrived to and both brought winning seasons for the Redskins and Senators to Washington. Ted Williams was voted the American League Manager Of The Year for turning the Senators around. Even with that respectable record, Washington still finished in 4th place in the best division in baseball at the time, the American League East, a full 23 games behind the Orioles who finished with 109 wins for the season.

  48. @Sandy Berger's Socks
    Sutton enhanced his average stuff, with a world class ability to scuff and cut the baseball.

    Gaylord Perry was more famous for doctoring the ball, but Sutton was every bit as good at doctoring the ball.

    Never the best pitcher in the game, but among the best for for a very long time.

    RIP-One of the last great warhorse pitchers.

    Replies: @Mike Tre, @Prester John, @SunBakedSuburb, @Haxo Angmark

    a favorite Don Sutton memory:

    he’s taken out of a game in the late innings, sits down on the bench. Camera is directly on him, but he’s unaware. So he glances around slowly and carefully, then quickly takes a piece of emery board out of his glove and flips it behind the bench. Later interviewed and questioned, he blandly denies any wrongdoing.

    Don shoulda run for public office.

  49. @Trinity
    More than likely Ted Williams would have broken Babe Ruth's all time home run record had Williams not lost some years while serving in the military. And when you look at how many more at bats that Aaron had than Ruth, that speaks volumes about who the REAL HOME RUN KING WAS no matter the final count. Denny McLain played briefly under Williams with the Washington Senators when Teddy Ballgame was managing the lowly Senators. McLain said that Ted Williams was one of the biggest jerks in the game and that hardly anyone could get along with him. Aaron was himself a racist. No doubt that Aaron endured racism while growing up to one degree or another and he received loads of hate mail and even death threats chasing the Bambino's record, but even years later, Aaron was extremely racist, as racist as someone like an Al Sharpton. Aaron was not a nice guy, lets put it that way.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Haxo Angmark, @Truth

    favorite Hank Aaron memory:

    me and a couple HS friends at an early 1960’s Braves-Dodgers game in D stadium, sitting about halfway up the bleachers in left field. Drysdale (?) pitching, Aaron at bat. He hammers a RISING line drive so hard the shortstop instinctively ducks away from it….the ball then heads straight at us in the bleachers. You’ve seen many times how people will cluster together to try to snag a HR ball….not this one, we all scattered. It hit something metallic with a loud CLANG! And then bounced clear out of the park.

  50. @Desiderius
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Growing up as a Reds fan Carlton was the one you knew you were looking at a long night. Seaver almost as bad which was half the reason we thought we had it made when we got him.

    As for Sutton:

    https://youtu.be/ppMRNWFfb4k

    Replies: @Haxo Angmark

    favorite (((Koufax))) memory:

    1965 WS 7th game, Dodgers vs. Twins, Twins @ home. Koufax, tired and on maybe 2 days rest, struggles thru the first couple innings, and it’s evident something is not right. Scully nails it: no curve ball today. So Koufax goes thru the rest of the game with nothing but his fastball. Throws a low hit (2?4?) shutout w 12 strikeouts.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Haxo Angmark

    Right, and the reason Koufax only had 2 days rest in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, as hundred of thousands of Bar Mitzvah speeches have pointed out, was because he had chosen to not pitch in Game 1 because it was Yom Kippur.

    Replies: @Trinity, @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    , @David In TN
    @Haxo Angmark

    When Koufax was at his best, whenever the Dodger got ahead 1-0 or 2-0, you would think the game's over.

  51. @Haxo Angmark
    @Desiderius

    favorite (((Koufax))) memory:

    1965 WS 7th game, Dodgers vs. Twins, Twins @ home. Koufax, tired and on maybe 2 days rest, struggles thru the first couple innings, and it's evident something is not right. Scully nails it: no curve ball today. So Koufax goes thru the rest of the game with nothing but his fastball. Throws a low hit (2?4?) shutout w 12 strikeouts.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @David In TN

    Right, and the reason Koufax only had 2 days rest in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, as hundred of thousands of Bar Mitzvah speeches have pointed out, was because he had chosen to not pitch in Game 1 because it was Yom Kippur.

    • Replies: @Trinity
    @Steve Sailer

    Love when my Orioles swept the Dodgers in '66 though. hehe. Just kidding.

    Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    @Steve Sailer

    Wow, only had 12K's in game 7 of WS. Was definitely an off night for Sandy. Must not have had his best stuff for that game.

    Would've been interesting to see Koufax facing HOF MIN Harmon Killebrew, because righty Killebrew lived for the fastball, so southpaw Sandy's pitch must've been on the money for that game. And a P knows he's good when it doesn't matter what side of the plate the lineup bats; they didn't hit him that series.

  52. @Steve Sailer
    @Trinity

    As a manager, Ted Williams did a lot to help Frank Howard, a giant man fulfill his potential as a home run hitter, according to "Ball Four."

    Replies: @Trinity

    Ted Williams did lead the lowly Senators to an impressive 86-76 record in his first year at Washington. Vince Lombardi and Williams arrived to and both brought winning seasons for the Redskins and Senators to Washington. Ted Williams was voted the American League Manager Of The Year for turning the Senators around. Even with that respectable record, Washington still finished in 4th place in the best division in baseball at the time, the American League East, a full 23 games behind the Orioles who finished with 109 wins for the season.

  53. @Steve Sailer
    @Haxo Angmark

    Right, and the reason Koufax only had 2 days rest in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, as hundred of thousands of Bar Mitzvah speeches have pointed out, was because he had chosen to not pitch in Game 1 because it was Yom Kippur.

    Replies: @Trinity, @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Love when my Orioles swept the Dodgers in ’66 though. hehe. Just kidding.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    @Trinity

    How'd BAL do in the 1969 WS vs the "Miracle" Mets?

    Or in the 1971 WS vs PIT? And BAL had a four man rotation that yr, and all four of their hurlers had 20 or more W's. And still they lost in 7 games to PIT.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Trinity

  54. @Steve Sailer
    @Haxo Angmark

    Right, and the reason Koufax only had 2 days rest in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, as hundred of thousands of Bar Mitzvah speeches have pointed out, was because he had chosen to not pitch in Game 1 because it was Yom Kippur.

    Replies: @Trinity, @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Wow, only had 12K’s in game 7 of WS. Was definitely an off night for Sandy. Must not have had his best stuff for that game.

    Would’ve been interesting to see Koufax facing HOF MIN Harmon Killebrew, because righty Killebrew lived for the fastball, so southpaw Sandy’s pitch must’ve been on the money for that game. And a P knows he’s good when it doesn’t matter what side of the plate the lineup bats; they didn’t hit him that series.

  55. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    "The deep 1970s Dodgers’ starting staffs were in contrast to the Dodgers’ famous 1960s pitching duo of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, whom they burned out young by having them pitch over 300 innings per year."

    Both Koufax and Drysdale pitched over ten yrs in MLB, which is slightly above average for a starting pitcher in MLB. So they actually had above average careers in the longevity dept.


    "The Dodgers switched from the old four man rotation to the modern five man rotation in 1972, which probably preserved the pitching staff’s arms."

    Even though the four man rotation in MLB, in place since ca. 1920's/1930's, had suited MLB teams just fine. There's no direct evidence that pitchers can't consistently pitch more than 300+ IP per season for their careers, especially since it was done for decades for most of the 20th century, and pitchers did just fine. Obviously now, its the psychological aspect of "Well, if they attempt to pitch 300 IP per season, their arms will fall off and they'll only have a three yr career." Nolan Ryan pitched for 27 yrs in MLB, and had several yrs of 300+ IP. It wasn't the IP that caused his injuries so much as maintaining his fastball year after year, pitch after pitch. Would also speculate that for the last couple seasons of his career in Texas, Jose Canseco was his teammate. In his autobiography, Canseco mentioned that he introduced steroids to OAK teammates and to TEX teammates, which would've included Nolan Ryan. Whether or not Nolan Ryan did PEDS is open to question, but it would be consistent with late career injuries if he did.

    Also of note, HOF P Steve Carlton (329 W) had more career W's than either Ryan or Sutton, and won the Cy Young Award four times. Neither Ryan nor Sutton won the Cy Young Award. So Sutton's win total could be attributed more to longevity and less to dominance. He was a very consistently good pitcher, but not necessarily a great one (unlike Nolan Ryan, and of course, the greatest of the three, Steve Carlton).

    Wonder why Steve Carlton doesn't get the respect among MLB historians that he should? More career wins, more Cy Young Awards, and unlike Ryan or Sutton, actually started and pitched his team to a WS Championship. The fairly (post mid. 60's) modern pitch, the slider, belongs to him. When you think of MLB's greatest slider pitcher, you think of Steve Carlton (even though he also had a fairly high speed fastball as well).

    Replies: @Desiderius, @Morton's toes, @RAZ

    The slightly over average career length that Koufax and Drysdale had may have been slightly over average for all pitchers, but probably not just slightly over average for elite pitchers, whom you would expect to have longer careers.

    It wasn’t just the number of starts. In the 60’s pitchers used to pitch complete games. Remember reading about some game Koufax won something like 8-2 and Koufax had something like 145 pitches.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @RAZ

    I went to college with a fireballing pitcher named Allen Ramirez. To break the U of Texas's 34 game winning streak, he threw 240+ pitches over 13 innings or so. He though he eventually made it to the majors for half a season, his arm was never the same.

    , @The Last Real Calvinist
    @RAZ

    You look at Koufax's career now, and it's easy to see an analogue to Randy Johnson: overpowering lefty who didn't harness his full powers for several major league seasons, then suddenly becoming dominant. The big difference, of course, is that Johnson then pitched at a high level well into his 40s, whereas Koufax's arm was ready to spontaneously detach itself by the time he was 30.

    Another decade of Koufax would have been nice. If he'd have pitched till he was 40, he'd still have been playing when I became a fan. Now he seems to me like a legend from the fairly distant past.

    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    @RAZ

    In other words, Koufax and Drysdale were no different than their MLB P peers. For most of the twentieth century, pitchers were expected to pitch a complete game, or at the very least, pitch complete games between one-third to half of their total starts per season. The dominant HOF caliber P's usually pitched 75% complete games during their careers. It wasn't a huge deal, it was the way things were done.

    This idea, that pitchers can't do what was done for decades and decades before them, is both asinine and ridiculous. The fastball pitch existed well before Sandy Koufax, he was not the first P to throw it constantly and consistently. HOF great Walter Johnson was one of MLB's all time fastball pitchers, and yet he had a 21 yr career in MLB. HOF CLE P Bob Feller, also a fastball hurler, pitched for about 17 yrs in the bigs. HOF MIL P Warren Spahn, the all time winningest lefthanded pitcher also was a fastball first pitcher, and he pitched for about 21 yrs in MLB.

    So it is ridiculous to state that what was done for decades simply "can't" be done any longer.

    And people wonder why MLB is no longer the National Pastime, both in total viewership or in total annual revenues. NFL is grosses nearly twice the amount of MLB, whose fanbase is far, far older and making few inroads any longer with new demographics under 30yrs old.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

  56. @RAZ
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    The slightly over average career length that Koufax and Drysdale had may have been slightly over average for all pitchers, but probably not just slightly over average for elite pitchers, whom you would expect to have longer careers.

    It wasn't just the number of starts. In the 60's pitchers used to pitch complete games. Remember reading about some game Koufax won something like 8-2 and Koufax had something like 145 pitches.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @The Last Real Calvinist, @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    I went to college with a fireballing pitcher named Allen Ramirez. To break the U of Texas’s 34 game winning streak, he threw 240+ pitches over 13 innings or so. He though he eventually made it to the majors for half a season, his arm was never the same.

  57. @RAZ
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    The slightly over average career length that Koufax and Drysdale had may have been slightly over average for all pitchers, but probably not just slightly over average for elite pitchers, whom you would expect to have longer careers.

    It wasn't just the number of starts. In the 60's pitchers used to pitch complete games. Remember reading about some game Koufax won something like 8-2 and Koufax had something like 145 pitches.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @The Last Real Calvinist, @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    You look at Koufax’s career now, and it’s easy to see an analogue to Randy Johnson: overpowering lefty who didn’t harness his full powers for several major league seasons, then suddenly becoming dominant. The big difference, of course, is that Johnson then pitched at a high level well into his 40s, whereas Koufax’s arm was ready to spontaneously detach itself by the time he was 30.

    Another decade of Koufax would have been nice. If he’d have pitched till he was 40, he’d still have been playing when I became a fan. Now he seems to me like a legend from the fairly distant past.

  58. @Deckin
    @MEH 0910

    And just a couple of weeks after taking the Moderna CoVid vaccine and feeling 'great'. Hmmm

    Replies: @Known Fact, @MEH 0910

  59. @Trinity
    @Steve Sailer

    Love when my Orioles swept the Dodgers in '66 though. hehe. Just kidding.

    Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    How’d BAL do in the 1969 WS vs the “Miracle” Mets?

    Or in the 1971 WS vs PIT? And BAL had a four man rotation that yr, and all four of their hurlers had 20 or more W’s. And still they lost in 7 games to PIT.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Great starting pitching staffs seem to lose postseason series more than you'd expect: e.g., 1954 Indians got swept, Baltimore lost 2 of 3 in 1969-71, 1990s-2000s Atlanta only won one World Series despite making playoffs 14 years in a row.

    Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi, @Nicholas Stix

    , @Trinity
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    haha. That was just shit luck, everything was falling into place for the Miracle Mets. No names like Ron Swoboda making the catch of his lifetime, etc. Baltimore could have played those 1969 Mets in five World Series and they would have won 4 of them. The Dodgers were a better team than Baltimore in 1966 as well. Matter of fact, of the 6 World Series that the Orioles have been involved in, they should be 4-2 instead of 3-3. They should have beaten the Pirates in 1971 & 1979, both times the Orioles had the superior team and Pittsburgh had to come from behind to win in 7 games. Baltimore took the Big Red Machine in 5 games, but IMO, despite Baltimore's superior pitching staff, Cincy was the better team. Just like the Jets vs. the Colts in Super Bowl III, some say that game wasn't on the level and I believe there was some shady goings on. Morrall not spotting a wide open Jimmy Orr, Baltimore in the red zone and denied numerous times, etc. The Baltimore Colts played the New York Jets 4 times in 1970-1971 and they won all 4 games. Jets over Colts in Super Bowl III was rigged, the Mets over the Orioles in 1969 was just shit luck.

    Replies: @David In TN

  60. @SunBakedSuburb
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    "the mid-70s"

    Even in my single digits I was looking to annoy those around me: I became a Dodgers fan in the 70s whilst living in Oakland A's/SF Giants territory. Don't exactly know the reason; probably saw the ugly redhead kid in the Partridge Family wearing the LA cap. The Dodger presence in various crappy TV shows was definitely a factor. Inspiration to travel down I-5 and begin my long and storied career cleaning celebrity bathrooms. Not as glamorous as it sounds.

    Replies: @Marty

    Giants fans can be wacky. Late in ‘92, I was at Candlestick and at the other end of an otherwise empty row in the box seats was a gorgeous brunette wearing every piece of Giants paraphernalia imaginable – socks, skirt, jacket, muffler, hat, pins, Croix de Candlestick. But with the Giants hitting, she yells to the opposing pitcher, “C’mon Joe, strike this guy out!” I asked her what the heck she was doing, and she said, “he’s from Sunnyvale and I’m from Sunnyvale, and I always root for guys from Sunnyvale.” I said something like, “wasn’t Ted Bundy from Sunnyvale?” She ended up sitting on my lap, and it became a long relationship. Years later she asked me who my favorite ball player was and I said Mike Piazza. Outraged, she said, “You like a Dodger?” and it was over.

    • LOL: Johann Ricke
  61. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    @Trinity

    How'd BAL do in the 1969 WS vs the "Miracle" Mets?

    Or in the 1971 WS vs PIT? And BAL had a four man rotation that yr, and all four of their hurlers had 20 or more W's. And still they lost in 7 games to PIT.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Trinity

    Great starting pitching staffs seem to lose postseason series more than you’d expect: e.g., 1954 Indians got swept, Baltimore lost 2 of 3 in 1969-71, 1990s-2000s Atlanta only won one World Series despite making playoffs 14 years in a row.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    @Steve Sailer

    That's why from a WS Championship perspective, if judging by history, ATL's divisional dominance was a total waste, and a failure.

    Notice that whatever era you mention, whether in the 1950's or the 1990's, one MLB franchise remained dominant. The House that Babe Ruth built, the 20th century's most dominant MLB team.

    , @Nicholas Stix
    @Steve Sailer

    One possible explanation: Arm fatigue, after a 162-game season and playoffs. And somebody else pointed out that starters were expected to go the distance. Thus, they won a lot more games, than their counterparts today, but they also lost a lot more. And they were routinely pitching 280-310 innings per season.

    The first ballgame I witnessed in person was 1969, the day before Tom Seaver threw the 8 2/3 innings perfect game against the Cubs that Jimmy Qualls broke up. The Cubs' ace, 6'5" sinkerballer Fergie Jenkins, cruised through eight innings, but ran out of gas in the ninth inning. We managed to come back and win. If you look at Jenkins' record, you see a lot of seasons where he went 21-13, 21-15, etc.

    However, if a manager played Captain Hook in those days with a future Hall of Famer like Jenkins, he might not have remained manager for long.

  62. @RAZ
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    The slightly over average career length that Koufax and Drysdale had may have been slightly over average for all pitchers, but probably not just slightly over average for elite pitchers, whom you would expect to have longer careers.

    It wasn't just the number of starts. In the 60's pitchers used to pitch complete games. Remember reading about some game Koufax won something like 8-2 and Koufax had something like 145 pitches.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @The Last Real Calvinist, @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    In other words, Koufax and Drysdale were no different than their MLB P peers. For most of the twentieth century, pitchers were expected to pitch a complete game, or at the very least, pitch complete games between one-third to half of their total starts per season. The dominant HOF caliber P’s usually pitched 75% complete games during their careers. It wasn’t a huge deal, it was the way things were done.

    This idea, that pitchers can’t do what was done for decades and decades before them, is both asinine and ridiculous. The fastball pitch existed well before Sandy Koufax, he was not the first P to throw it constantly and consistently. HOF great Walter Johnson was one of MLB’s all time fastball pitchers, and yet he had a 21 yr career in MLB. HOF CLE P Bob Feller, also a fastball hurler, pitched for about 17 yrs in the bigs. HOF MIL P Warren Spahn, the all time winningest lefthanded pitcher also was a fastball first pitcher, and he pitched for about 21 yrs in MLB.

    So it is ridiculous to state that what was done for decades simply “can’t” be done any longer.

    And people wonder why MLB is no longer the National Pastime, both in total viewership or in total annual revenues. NFL is grosses nearly twice the amount of MLB, whose fanbase is far, far older and making few inroads any longer with new demographics under 30yrs old.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Sutton only threw about 23% complete games, but he wound up fifth among post-1901 pitchers in innings pitched for his career.

    The complete game fetish probably burned out a lot of good pitchers.

    Greg Maddux only completed 15% of his starts, but pitched 5000 innings and won 355 games.

    The typical batting lineup before the 1990s only had 2 or 3 home run threats, so you could take something off your pitches when nobody was in scoring position and pitching to the wiry middle infielder. Now, with weight training, 7 or 8 of the nine in a lineup with the DL are homer threats, so pitchers can hardly ever ease off.

    Replies: @I, Libertine

  63. @Steve Sailer
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Great starting pitching staffs seem to lose postseason series more than you'd expect: e.g., 1954 Indians got swept, Baltimore lost 2 of 3 in 1969-71, 1990s-2000s Atlanta only won one World Series despite making playoffs 14 years in a row.

    Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi, @Nicholas Stix

    That’s why from a WS Championship perspective, if judging by history, ATL’s divisional dominance was a total waste, and a failure.

    Notice that whatever era you mention, whether in the 1950’s or the 1990’s, one MLB franchise remained dominant. The House that Babe Ruth built, the 20th century’s most dominant MLB team.

  64. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    @RAZ

    In other words, Koufax and Drysdale were no different than their MLB P peers. For most of the twentieth century, pitchers were expected to pitch a complete game, or at the very least, pitch complete games between one-third to half of their total starts per season. The dominant HOF caliber P's usually pitched 75% complete games during their careers. It wasn't a huge deal, it was the way things were done.

    This idea, that pitchers can't do what was done for decades and decades before them, is both asinine and ridiculous. The fastball pitch existed well before Sandy Koufax, he was not the first P to throw it constantly and consistently. HOF great Walter Johnson was one of MLB's all time fastball pitchers, and yet he had a 21 yr career in MLB. HOF CLE P Bob Feller, also a fastball hurler, pitched for about 17 yrs in the bigs. HOF MIL P Warren Spahn, the all time winningest lefthanded pitcher also was a fastball first pitcher, and he pitched for about 21 yrs in MLB.

    So it is ridiculous to state that what was done for decades simply "can't" be done any longer.

    And people wonder why MLB is no longer the National Pastime, both in total viewership or in total annual revenues. NFL is grosses nearly twice the amount of MLB, whose fanbase is far, far older and making few inroads any longer with new demographics under 30yrs old.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Sutton only threw about 23% complete games, but he wound up fifth among post-1901 pitchers in innings pitched for his career.

    The complete game fetish probably burned out a lot of good pitchers.

    Greg Maddux only completed 15% of his starts, but pitched 5000 innings and won 355 games.

    The typical batting lineup before the 1990s only had 2 or 3 home run threats, so you could take something off your pitches when nobody was in scoring position and pitching to the wiry middle infielder. Now, with weight training, 7 or 8 of the nine in a lineup with the DL are homer threats, so pitchers can hardly ever ease off.

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    @Steve Sailer

    Compelled as I am to comment on all iSteve baseball posts, a couple of notes:

    Today's best pitchers throw a change-up with more velocity than Sutton's fastball (DeGrom, e.g., usually hits ninety on the gun). Did Sutton's change-up even reach the plate?

    For the last several seasons (excluding 2020, which is too weird to count as a season, so I can't be bothered checking) about two-thirds of all batters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship hit at least 20 homers. About half hit at least 30. It's a different world today.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Nicholas Stix

  65. @Steve Sailer
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Sutton only threw about 23% complete games, but he wound up fifth among post-1901 pitchers in innings pitched for his career.

    The complete game fetish probably burned out a lot of good pitchers.

    Greg Maddux only completed 15% of his starts, but pitched 5000 innings and won 355 games.

    The typical batting lineup before the 1990s only had 2 or 3 home run threats, so you could take something off your pitches when nobody was in scoring position and pitching to the wiry middle infielder. Now, with weight training, 7 or 8 of the nine in a lineup with the DL are homer threats, so pitchers can hardly ever ease off.

    Replies: @I, Libertine

    Compelled as I am to comment on all iSteve baseball posts, a couple of notes:

    Today’s best pitchers throw a change-up with more velocity than Sutton’s fastball (DeGrom, e.g., usually hits ninety on the gun). Did Sutton’s change-up even reach the plate?

    For the last several seasons (excluding 2020, which is too weird to count as a season, so I can’t be bothered checking) about two-thirds of all batters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship hit at least 20 homers. About half hit at least 30. It’s a different world today.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @I, Libertine

    Will anybody playing today get to 700 homers?

    Maybe some of the really young guys like Juan Soto.

    Pujols is the only active player over 500. Stanton might have been on pace after 2018, but his injury proneness makes him unlikely. Trout could do it but he takes so many walks that I'd give him less than a 50% chance. Aaron and Mays had an advantage over Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle in ringing up a huge number of homers in that they weren't super inclined to accept a walk. E.g., Aaron had 400 total bases in 1959 but only 51 walks. Mays didn't get over 100 walks in a season until he was in decline at age 40.

    Anyway, what it looks like is that the great home run hitters of the past were just as good as the best home run hitters of the present. But, baseball has far fewer singles hitters today than in the past.

    Replies: @I, Libertine

    , @Nicholas Stix
    @I, Libertine

    Tom Seaver, may he rest in peace, was the Mets’ announcer for several years, and was a very good one, by my lights. My standard is how much I learn from an announcer.

    (I remember learning nothing from the Mets announcers of my youth, Ralph Kiner, Lindsay Nelson, and Bob Murphy. However, that may have been because the TV suits had them on a short leash. At the end of Kiner’s life, he would appear as a guest on Mets’ broadcasts, and notwithstanding his slurred speech [neurological disease], he was a joy to listen to. He hated the skinflint Branch Rickey, who had traded Kiner from his beloved Pirates to the Cubs in a cost-cutting move, and delighted in telling stories that showed Rickey in a harsh light, e.g., as the worst defensive catcher in baseball history.)

    Two things I recall learning from Seaver are that: 1. A pitcher has to establish his fastball at the outset of a game; and 2. The three most important factors in pitching are velocity, movement, and location.

    Seaver emphasized—and he was an old power pitcher—that if a pitcher changes speeds effectively, he doesn’t have to have an overpowering fastball, in order to be effective. If you set up your fastball by slowing down the opposing hitter’s bat with a curveball or change-up, an 88-89 mph fastball will look as if it was 95 mph.

    Replies: @I, Libertine

  66. @I, Libertine
    @Steve Sailer

    Compelled as I am to comment on all iSteve baseball posts, a couple of notes:

    Today's best pitchers throw a change-up with more velocity than Sutton's fastball (DeGrom, e.g., usually hits ninety on the gun). Did Sutton's change-up even reach the plate?

    For the last several seasons (excluding 2020, which is too weird to count as a season, so I can't be bothered checking) about two-thirds of all batters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship hit at least 20 homers. About half hit at least 30. It's a different world today.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Nicholas Stix

    Will anybody playing today get to 700 homers?

    Maybe some of the really young guys like Juan Soto.

    Pujols is the only active player over 500. Stanton might have been on pace after 2018, but his injury proneness makes him unlikely. Trout could do it but he takes so many walks that I’d give him less than a 50% chance. Aaron and Mays had an advantage over Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle in ringing up a huge number of homers in that they weren’t super inclined to accept a walk. E.g., Aaron had 400 total bases in 1959 but only 51 walks. Mays didn’t get over 100 walks in a season until he was in decline at age 40.

    Anyway, what it looks like is that the great home run hitters of the past were just as good as the best home run hitters of the present. But, baseball has far fewer singles hitters today than in the past.

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    @Steve Sailer

    I like to use Bill James' "favorite toy" (google it) as a guide to whether baseball player A has a chance to reach total X in some category that accumulates. But last year's abbreviated season has messed up the calculations. Putting in my best guess as to what Pujols would have done if there were no such things as Wuhan and it lab and/or wet market, it gives Pujols a 38% chance at 700. Trout has a 35% chance. Stanton was on a good pace through 2018, but the last two years a have put him behind the eight ball. Bryce Harper has tailed off to 6%. For every other good home run hitter, they're either too old by now, or it's too soon to tell.

    But, to answer your question: yes. Given the all or nothing (I'm gonna homer or strike out tryin') nature of today's game, I don't think we've seen the last 700 club member. But another 300 game winner? Not unless things change back to near where they once were.

  67. Nowadays, most big-league clubs would never give a junkballer like Don Sutton a look.

    Aren’t you glad we live in an age of “three true outcomes”? It’s not only a stupid age, with suits preferring ballplayers who live by strikeouts, walks, and homers. (Maybe that’s why I so often nod off during the late innings [that, and the constant pitching changes, though recent rule changes supposedly limit them]).

    But you don’t even get good baseball slang. What kind of idiot came up with a nonsensical phrase like “three true outcomes”? What’s true about them?

    I’ll bet a troglodyte like Dick Young, who’d never be permitted anywhere near a newsroom today, would never have used such pansy-a**ed slang.

    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist
    @Nicholas Stix


    What kind of idiot came up with a nonsensical phrase like “three true outcomes”? What’s true about them?

     

    I'm not a fan of what's happened to baseball in the 'three true outcomes' era, but as a pitcher myself when I was back in high school, I do understand the intention of phrase.

    Walks, strikeouts, and homeruns are the only outcomes a batter can have that don't involve fielding in any way. For the statheads, this makes them more trustworthy, i.e. more 'true', when they're trying to assess the value of a given pitcher.

    I recall one game I threw in high school. We played seven-inning games, and I'd thrown a one-hitter through 6 and 2/3; we were up 1-0. But I was seriously gassed, and had let a couple of batters on base, at least one via a walk. They'd advanced to 2nd and 3rd. The next batter popped up a short fly ball to straightaway center field -- our center fielder didn't even have to move. But unfortunately he was a sub filling in for our excellent regular, who was away at camp or something. Anyway, the sub dropped it, both runners scored, game over, we lost. I was pretty sad, because I was a mediocre pitcher, and a shutout would have been a significant highlight for me. I only had one other in two full years of varsity ball.

    The upshot is that I did my job -- but the last batter's outcome was not 'truly' representative of that fact. The involvement of the center fielder and his error messed up what should have been the outcome.

    , @Abolish_public_education
    @Nicholas Stix

    Before this thread, I had never heard of the “three true outcome” standard.

    Am I really the first person to notice that two of those outcomes, e.g. BB and K, also depend on an external factor, e.g. the home plate umpire’s judgement?

    None of those announcers were as dreadful as Rizzuto: “There’s a long drive to left .. holy cow it’s caught by the shortstop!”

  68. @I, Libertine
    @Steve Sailer

    Compelled as I am to comment on all iSteve baseball posts, a couple of notes:

    Today's best pitchers throw a change-up with more velocity than Sutton's fastball (DeGrom, e.g., usually hits ninety on the gun). Did Sutton's change-up even reach the plate?

    For the last several seasons (excluding 2020, which is too weird to count as a season, so I can't be bothered checking) about two-thirds of all batters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship hit at least 20 homers. About half hit at least 30. It's a different world today.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Nicholas Stix

    Tom Seaver, may he rest in peace, was the Mets’ announcer for several years, and was a very good one, by my lights. My standard is how much I learn from an announcer.

    (I remember learning nothing from the Mets announcers of my youth, Ralph Kiner, Lindsay Nelson, and Bob Murphy. However, that may have been because the TV suits had them on a short leash. At the end of Kiner’s life, he would appear as a guest on Mets’ broadcasts, and notwithstanding his slurred speech [neurological disease], he was a joy to listen to. He hated the skinflint Branch Rickey, who had traded Kiner from his beloved Pirates to the Cubs in a cost-cutting move, and delighted in telling stories that showed Rickey in a harsh light, e.g., as the worst defensive catcher in baseball history.)

    Two things I recall learning from Seaver are that: 1. A pitcher has to establish his fastball at the outset of a game; and 2. The three most important factors in pitching are velocity, movement, and location.

    Seaver emphasized—and he was an old power pitcher—that if a pitcher changes speeds effectively, he doesn’t have to have an overpowering fastball, in order to be effective. If you set up your fastball by slowing down the opposing hitter’s bat with a curveball or change-up, an 88-89 mph fastball will look as if it was 95 mph.

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    @Nicholas Stix

    "We could have finished last without you," Rickey is said to have told Kiner, rejecting Ralph's request for a modest raise.

    Even as a little kid, it was blatantly obviously to me that Kiner, Nelson and Murphy were kept on a comically short leash. It was accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, as Johnny Mercer might have noted if he were a Mets fan back in that day.

  69. @Old Prude
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Thanks for nothing, Buzz. I skipped the article and scanned the comments. Jock sniffers. When I saw you tag the blog as "interesting", I trusted you. I want my two minutes back.

    Replies: @Buzz Mohawk

    LOL. Er… sorry? I’m happy to hear you trusted me, though. Sutton is interesting to me because he started out with Koufax and Drysdale when the Dodgers were my boyhood team. He was a slightly less-outstanding guy who steadily worked at his career, while they were very bright stars who burned out sooner, particularly Koufax (my hero then.) That to me is the interesting story.

  70. @Haxo Angmark
    @Desiderius

    favorite (((Koufax))) memory:

    1965 WS 7th game, Dodgers vs. Twins, Twins @ home. Koufax, tired and on maybe 2 days rest, struggles thru the first couple innings, and it's evident something is not right. Scully nails it: no curve ball today. So Koufax goes thru the rest of the game with nothing but his fastball. Throws a low hit (2?4?) shutout w 12 strikeouts.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @David In TN

    When Koufax was at his best, whenever the Dodger got ahead 1-0 or 2-0, you would think the game’s over.

  71. @Nicholas Stix
    Nowadays, most big-league clubs would never give a junkballer like Don Sutton a look.

    Aren’t you glad we live in an age of “three true outcomes”? It’s not only a stupid age, with suits preferring ballplayers who live by strikeouts, walks, and homers. (Maybe that’s why I so often nod off during the late innings [that, and the constant pitching changes, though recent rule changes supposedly limit them]).

    But you don’t even get good baseball slang. What kind of idiot came up with a nonsensical phrase like “three true outcomes”? What’s true about them?

    I’ll bet a troglodyte like Dick Young, who’d never be permitted anywhere near a newsroom today, would never have used such pansy-a**ed slang.

    Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist, @Abolish_public_education

    What kind of idiot came up with a nonsensical phrase like “three true outcomes”? What’s true about them?

    I’m not a fan of what’s happened to baseball in the ‘three true outcomes’ era, but as a pitcher myself when I was back in high school, I do understand the intention of phrase.

    Walks, strikeouts, and homeruns are the only outcomes a batter can have that don’t involve fielding in any way. For the statheads, this makes them more trustworthy, i.e. more ‘true’, when they’re trying to assess the value of a given pitcher.

    I recall one game I threw in high school. We played seven-inning games, and I’d thrown a one-hitter through 6 and 2/3; we were up 1-0. But I was seriously gassed, and had let a couple of batters on base, at least one via a walk. They’d advanced to 2nd and 3rd. The next batter popped up a short fly ball to straightaway center field — our center fielder didn’t even have to move. But unfortunately he was a sub filling in for our excellent regular, who was away at camp or something. Anyway, the sub dropped it, both runners scored, game over, we lost. I was pretty sad, because I was a mediocre pitcher, and a shutout would have been a significant highlight for me. I only had one other in two full years of varsity ball.

    The upshot is that I did my job — but the last batter’s outcome was not ‘truly’ representative of that fact. The involvement of the center fielder and his error messed up what should have been the outcome.

  72. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    @Trinity

    How'd BAL do in the 1969 WS vs the "Miracle" Mets?

    Or in the 1971 WS vs PIT? And BAL had a four man rotation that yr, and all four of their hurlers had 20 or more W's. And still they lost in 7 games to PIT.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Trinity

    haha. That was just shit luck, everything was falling into place for the Miracle Mets. No names like Ron Swoboda making the catch of his lifetime, etc. Baltimore could have played those 1969 Mets in five World Series and they would have won 4 of them. The Dodgers were a better team than Baltimore in 1966 as well. Matter of fact, of the 6 World Series that the Orioles have been involved in, they should be 4-2 instead of 3-3. They should have beaten the Pirates in 1971 & 1979, both times the Orioles had the superior team and Pittsburgh had to come from behind to win in 7 games. Baltimore took the Big Red Machine in 5 games, but IMO, despite Baltimore’s superior pitching staff, Cincy was the better team. Just like the Jets vs. the Colts in Super Bowl III, some say that game wasn’t on the level and I believe there was some shady goings on. Morrall not spotting a wide open Jimmy Orr, Baltimore in the red zone and denied numerous times, etc. The Baltimore Colts played the New York Jets 4 times in 1970-1971 and they won all 4 games. Jets over Colts in Super Bowl III was rigged, the Mets over the Orioles in 1969 was just shit luck.

    • Replies: @David In TN
    @Trinity

    So how much money did they pay the Colt players and coaches to "throw the game?" Who made the payoffs? How much more did the Colts get by losing than they would get from winning? What exactly were the "shady goings on?"

  73. @Steve Sailer
    @I, Libertine

    Will anybody playing today get to 700 homers?

    Maybe some of the really young guys like Juan Soto.

    Pujols is the only active player over 500. Stanton might have been on pace after 2018, but his injury proneness makes him unlikely. Trout could do it but he takes so many walks that I'd give him less than a 50% chance. Aaron and Mays had an advantage over Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle in ringing up a huge number of homers in that they weren't super inclined to accept a walk. E.g., Aaron had 400 total bases in 1959 but only 51 walks. Mays didn't get over 100 walks in a season until he was in decline at age 40.

    Anyway, what it looks like is that the great home run hitters of the past were just as good as the best home run hitters of the present. But, baseball has far fewer singles hitters today than in the past.

    Replies: @I, Libertine

    I like to use Bill James’ “favorite toy” (google it) as a guide to whether baseball player A has a chance to reach total X in some category that accumulates. But last year’s abbreviated season has messed up the calculations. Putting in my best guess as to what Pujols would have done if there were no such things as Wuhan and it lab and/or wet market, it gives Pujols a 38% chance at 700. Trout has a 35% chance. Stanton was on a good pace through 2018, but the last two years a have put him behind the eight ball. Bryce Harper has tailed off to 6%. For every other good home run hitter, they’re either too old by now, or it’s too soon to tell.

    But, to answer your question: yes. Given the all or nothing (I’m gonna homer or strike out tryin’) nature of today’s game, I don’t think we’ve seen the last 700 club member. But another 300 game winner? Not unless things change back to near where they once were.

  74. @Nicholas Stix
    @I, Libertine

    Tom Seaver, may he rest in peace, was the Mets’ announcer for several years, and was a very good one, by my lights. My standard is how much I learn from an announcer.

    (I remember learning nothing from the Mets announcers of my youth, Ralph Kiner, Lindsay Nelson, and Bob Murphy. However, that may have been because the TV suits had them on a short leash. At the end of Kiner’s life, he would appear as a guest on Mets’ broadcasts, and notwithstanding his slurred speech [neurological disease], he was a joy to listen to. He hated the skinflint Branch Rickey, who had traded Kiner from his beloved Pirates to the Cubs in a cost-cutting move, and delighted in telling stories that showed Rickey in a harsh light, e.g., as the worst defensive catcher in baseball history.)

    Two things I recall learning from Seaver are that: 1. A pitcher has to establish his fastball at the outset of a game; and 2. The three most important factors in pitching are velocity, movement, and location.

    Seaver emphasized—and he was an old power pitcher—that if a pitcher changes speeds effectively, he doesn’t have to have an overpowering fastball, in order to be effective. If you set up your fastball by slowing down the opposing hitter’s bat with a curveball or change-up, an 88-89 mph fastball will look as if it was 95 mph.

    Replies: @I, Libertine

    “We could have finished last without you,” Rickey is said to have told Kiner, rejecting Ralph’s request for a modest raise.

    Even as a little kid, it was blatantly obviously to me that Kiner, Nelson and Murphy were kept on a comically short leash. It was accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, as Johnny Mercer might have noted if he were a Mets fan back in that day.

  75. @Trinity
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    haha. That was just shit luck, everything was falling into place for the Miracle Mets. No names like Ron Swoboda making the catch of his lifetime, etc. Baltimore could have played those 1969 Mets in five World Series and they would have won 4 of them. The Dodgers were a better team than Baltimore in 1966 as well. Matter of fact, of the 6 World Series that the Orioles have been involved in, they should be 4-2 instead of 3-3. They should have beaten the Pirates in 1971 & 1979, both times the Orioles had the superior team and Pittsburgh had to come from behind to win in 7 games. Baltimore took the Big Red Machine in 5 games, but IMO, despite Baltimore's superior pitching staff, Cincy was the better team. Just like the Jets vs. the Colts in Super Bowl III, some say that game wasn't on the level and I believe there was some shady goings on. Morrall not spotting a wide open Jimmy Orr, Baltimore in the red zone and denied numerous times, etc. The Baltimore Colts played the New York Jets 4 times in 1970-1971 and they won all 4 games. Jets over Colts in Super Bowl III was rigged, the Mets over the Orioles in 1969 was just shit luck.

    Replies: @David In TN

    So how much money did they pay the Colt players and coaches to “throw the game?” Who made the payoffs? How much more did the Colts get by losing than they would get from winning? What exactly were the “shady goings on?”

  76. @Nicholas Stix
    Nowadays, most big-league clubs would never give a junkballer like Don Sutton a look.

    Aren’t you glad we live in an age of “three true outcomes”? It’s not only a stupid age, with suits preferring ballplayers who live by strikeouts, walks, and homers. (Maybe that’s why I so often nod off during the late innings [that, and the constant pitching changes, though recent rule changes supposedly limit them]).

    But you don’t even get good baseball slang. What kind of idiot came up with a nonsensical phrase like “three true outcomes”? What’s true about them?

    I’ll bet a troglodyte like Dick Young, who’d never be permitted anywhere near a newsroom today, would never have used such pansy-a**ed slang.

    Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist, @Abolish_public_education

    Before this thread, I had never heard of the “three true outcome” standard.

    Am I really the first person to notice that two of those outcomes, e.g. BB and K, also depend on an external factor, e.g. the home plate umpire’s judgement?

    None of those announcers were as dreadful as Rizzuto: “There’s a long drive to left .. holy cow it’s caught by the shortstop!”

  77. @Steve Sailer
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Great starting pitching staffs seem to lose postseason series more than you'd expect: e.g., 1954 Indians got swept, Baltimore lost 2 of 3 in 1969-71, 1990s-2000s Atlanta only won one World Series despite making playoffs 14 years in a row.

    Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi, @Nicholas Stix

    One possible explanation: Arm fatigue, after a 162-game season and playoffs. And somebody else pointed out that starters were expected to go the distance. Thus, they won a lot more games, than their counterparts today, but they also lost a lot more. And they were routinely pitching 280-310 innings per season.

    The first ballgame I witnessed in person was 1969, the day before Tom Seaver threw the 8 2/3 innings perfect game against the Cubs that Jimmy Qualls broke up. The Cubs’ ace, 6’5″ sinkerballer Fergie Jenkins, cruised through eight innings, but ran out of gas in the ninth inning. We managed to come back and win. If you look at Jenkins’ record, you see a lot of seasons where he went 21-13, 21-15, etc.

    However, if a manager played Captain Hook in those days with a future Hall of Famer like Jenkins, he might not have remained manager for long.

  78. @Trinity
    More than likely Ted Williams would have broken Babe Ruth's all time home run record had Williams not lost some years while serving in the military. And when you look at how many more at bats that Aaron had than Ruth, that speaks volumes about who the REAL HOME RUN KING WAS no matter the final count. Denny McLain played briefly under Williams with the Washington Senators when Teddy Ballgame was managing the lowly Senators. McLain said that Ted Williams was one of the biggest jerks in the game and that hardly anyone could get along with him. Aaron was himself a racist. No doubt that Aaron endured racism while growing up to one degree or another and he received loads of hate mail and even death threats chasing the Bambino's record, but even years later, Aaron was extremely racist, as racist as someone like an Al Sharpton. Aaron was not a nice guy, lets put it that way.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Haxo Angmark, @Truth

    It’s Aaron’s fault Ruth got fat?

    And Williams missed 4 seasons to WWII and finished 197 HR’s behind Ruth. That’s an average of 48 hr’s a year.

    Williams never hit more than 43 in a season.

    • Replies: @Nicholas Stix
    @Truth

    Williams missed three seasons to military service in WWII, and almost two full seasons in the Korean War, where he was a legendary USMC fighter pilot and John Glenn's wingman.

    "Truth"!?

  79. Tony Kornheiser said that the best ability is availability, and he specifically said it about Don Sutton.

    But it could be that from the late 1968 into mid-1988 he never missed a turn when he was called upon, which would be somewhere around 680 starts in a row.

    Let’s look at the season where he had the fewest starts: 1983 with the Brewers. He pitched May 8th against the Brewers and May 18th against the Blue Jays without pitching in between. Looking at the Brewers’ schedule and their starters

    May 9 off day
    May 10 Moose Haas
    May 11 Bob McClure
    May 12 Mike Caldwell
    May 13 Rain Out
    May 14 Chuck Porter
    May 15 Haas
    May 16 McClure
    May 17 Caldwell

    So when the 13th was rained out it looks like they skipped Sutton instead of pushing everyone back a day.

    Then he pitched August 9th against the Royals and August 19th against the A’s without pitching in between. Looking at the Brewers’ schedule and their starters

    Aug 10 Haas
    Aug 11 Porter
    Aug 12 Caldwell
    Aug 13 McClure
    Aug 14 Bob Gibson
    Aug 15 Haas
    Aug 16 Porter
    Aug 17 Game 1 Caldwell
    Aug 17 Game 2 Tom Candiotti
    Aug 18 Off day

    So in this case, it looks like Sutton missed his August 14th start against Dave Stieb and the Blue Jays. Still, not missing a regular-season start in 17 years is impressive.

    Sutton had the bad timing to leave the Dodgers after 1980 to join Nolan Ryan and the Astros, who lost to the Dodgers in the first NLDS in 1981. Remember, Sutton did not pitch in that series. Bill Virdon went with Ryan, Joe Niekro, Bob Knepper, and Vern Ruhle. Why? Because the last Friday of the season Sutton was hit by a Jerry Reuss pitch on the kneecap, ending his season. The Astros hadn’t clinched a playoff spot yet, so they had to play to win.

    Another commonality of Sutton and Ryan is that despite their longevity, neither was ever considered the best pitcher in baseball at any point in their careers. They each started one All-Star Game: Sutton for the 1976 NL and Ryan for the 1979 AL. However, neither won the Cy Young. Also, neither won a World Series.

    • Agree: I, Libertine
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @ScarletNumber

    It's hard to tell exactly what "missing a start" means. It could be that Sutton didn't "miss" either of those starts in 1983, but that the manager skipped him for strategic reasons. E.g., he might have been the #5 starter at that moment.

    Replies: @ScarletNumber

  80. @ScarletNumber
    Tony Kornheiser said that the best ability is availability, and he specifically said it about Don Sutton.

    But it could be that from the late 1968 into mid-1988 he never missed a turn when he was called upon, which would be somewhere around 680 starts in a row.
     
    Let's look at the season where he had the fewest starts: 1983 with the Brewers. He pitched May 8th against the Brewers and May 18th against the Blue Jays without pitching in between. Looking at the Brewers' schedule and their starters

    May 9 off day
    May 10 Moose Haas
    May 11 Bob McClure
    May 12 Mike Caldwell
    May 13 Rain Out
    May 14 Chuck Porter
    May 15 Haas
    May 16 McClure
    May 17 Caldwell

    So when the 13th was rained out it looks like they skipped Sutton instead of pushing everyone back a day.

    Then he pitched August 9th against the Royals and August 19th against the A's without pitching in between. Looking at the Brewers' schedule and their starters

    Aug 10 Haas
    Aug 11 Porter
    Aug 12 Caldwell
    Aug 13 McClure
    Aug 14 Bob Gibson
    Aug 15 Haas
    Aug 16 Porter
    Aug 17 Game 1 Caldwell
    Aug 17 Game 2 Tom Candiotti
    Aug 18 Off day

    So in this case, it looks like Sutton missed his August 14th start against Dave Stieb and the Blue Jays. Still, not missing a regular-season start in 17 years is impressive.

    ---

    Sutton had the bad timing to leave the Dodgers after 1980 to join Nolan Ryan and the Astros, who lost to the Dodgers in the first NLDS in 1981. Remember, Sutton did not pitch in that series. Bill Virdon went with Ryan, Joe Niekro, Bob Knepper, and Vern Ruhle. Why? Because the last Friday of the season Sutton was hit by a Jerry Reuss pitch on the kneecap, ending his season. The Astros hadn't clinched a playoff spot yet, so they had to play to win.

    ---

    Another commonality of Sutton and Ryan is that despite their longevity, neither was ever considered the best pitcher in baseball at any point in their careers. They each started one All-Star Game: Sutton for the 1976 NL and Ryan for the 1979 AL. However, neither won the Cy Young. Also, neither won a World Series.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    It’s hard to tell exactly what “missing a start” means. It could be that Sutton didn’t “miss” either of those starts in 1983, but that the manager skipped him for strategic reasons. E.g., he might have been the #5 starter at that moment.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    @Steve Sailer

    Admittedly I'm not an expert on Harvey Kuenn and the 1983 Milwaukee Brewers. Perhaps I will look back at contemporary newspapers to see if the coverage gives any clues, but I would guess the August 14th game was a missed start. I know you know this, but for others, the Bob Gibson who started for the Brewers is not the Hall of Fame pitcher, so I doubt Kuenn started him that day for strategic reasons. It was only Gibson's 4th start of the season, and the first that wasn't part of a double header.

    However, there is no doubt that the 1981 NLDS would be a missed start. However, I think it is unfair to count it against him because he was kneecapped by Jerry Reuss. It's not like he had arm trouble.

    I do want to ask you, Steve: at the time of the 1981 NLDS you were back in LA but you had just spent 4 years in Houston. Do you remember that series at all, or Sutton getting hit by Reuss that last Friday of the regular season? I know this is 40 years ago, but I figured it was worth asking.

  81. @Truth
    @Trinity

    It's Aaron's fault Ruth got fat?

    And Williams missed 4 seasons to WWII and finished 197 HR's behind Ruth. That's an average of 48 hr's a year.

    Williams never hit more than 43 in a season.

    Replies: @Nicholas Stix

    Williams missed three seasons to military service in WWII, and almost two full seasons in the Korean War, where he was a legendary USMC fighter pilot and John Glenn’s wingman.

    “Truth”!?

  82. @Steve Sailer
    @ScarletNumber

    It's hard to tell exactly what "missing a start" means. It could be that Sutton didn't "miss" either of those starts in 1983, but that the manager skipped him for strategic reasons. E.g., he might have been the #5 starter at that moment.

    Replies: @ScarletNumber

    Admittedly I’m not an expert on Harvey Kuenn and the 1983 Milwaukee Brewers. Perhaps I will look back at contemporary newspapers to see if the coverage gives any clues, but I would guess the August 14th game was a missed start. I know you know this, but for others, the Bob Gibson who started for the Brewers is not the Hall of Fame pitcher, so I doubt Kuenn started him that day for strategic reasons. It was only Gibson’s 4th start of the season, and the first that wasn’t part of a double header.

    However, there is no doubt that the 1981 NLDS would be a missed start. However, I think it is unfair to count it against him because he was kneecapped by Jerry Reuss. It’s not like he had arm trouble.

    I do want to ask you, Steve: at the time of the 1981 NLDS you were back in LA but you had just spent 4 years in Houston. Do you remember that series at all, or Sutton getting hit by Reuss that last Friday of the regular season? I know this is 40 years ago, but I figured it was worth asking.

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