The Fabulous Five

In a previous post (“The Triumvirate,” June 25, 2016) I wrote about my choices for the three greatest ballplayers in history. Now, I turn to pitchers—-the greatest five-man fantasy rotation of all time.  Some may argue with the choices. For example, younger fans may take issue with the picks, which start in the dead-ball era and end in the 1980s. But legendary status takes time to develop: it must age like good whiskey. So, for this old baseball guy, anyone touting Clayton Kershaw or Chris Sale is premature. Their turn will come in time.

First, I wanted three right handers and two lefties; therefore, batters would have to face a rotation of R-L-R-L-R.  I then looked for hurlers with top winning percentages.  Lifetime wins are impressive, to be sure, but if a pitcher had a shorter, but brilliant career, I took him over Cy Young, for example, who won 511 games but pitched ten years in the 19thcentury.  By the way, no pitcher tainted by steroid use made my list (Roger Clemens).

I found eight lists of top ten (or more) pitchers.  I then looked for those with excellent winning percentages and outstanding earned run averages.  Finally, to determine a rough consensus, I looked for five pitchers who made at least four of the eight lists.  Here is my five-man rotation:

WALTER JOHNSON (1907-27).  “The Big Train” is the greatest pitcher ever.  Winner of 417 games, he posted a winning percentage of .599 and an ERA of 2.17.  And dig this: He threw 110 shutouts!  That’s a record that won’t be broken unless pitchers again go nine innings.  He ranks 5th or higher on six of the eight lists, topping two of them.  Incidentally, Johnson was not listed on one of the lists.  That it had Bert Blyleven 5th, Gaylord Perry 6th, and Curt Schilling 14th, explains The Train’s omission.

LEFTY GROVE(1925-41).  I think Grove is the most underrated pitcher ever; this is emphasized here by his making only four of the eight lists.  Grove won 300 games while losing only 141.  That’s a winning percentage of .680!  His ERA of 3.06 was posted in the slugging 1920s and ‘30s.  Of all the pitchers on the lists, his 162-game won-lost record of 19-9 is the best.

TOM SEAVER (1967-86).  Known as “Tom Terrific,” Seaver won 311 games, posting a .603 winning percentage and an ERA of 2.86.  He got on five lists, topping one of them.

SANDY KOUFAX (1955-66).  From 1961 through 1966 Koufax won five ERA titles, and finished his career with a 2.76 and a .655 winning percentage.  He topped one list, making four.

BOB GIBSON (1959-75).  He made five of the eight lists and ranked second on one, behind Seaver.  Gibson won just a shade under 60 percent of his games, compiling an ERA of 2.91, including an awesome 1.12 in 1968.

Now, I would have no argument against two of three lefties—Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton or Warren Spahn—replacing Koufax and Grove.  This is a subjective enterprise.  As for righties, if you prefer Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander or Greg Maddux, that’s fine. One right-hander I would argue against, however, is Nolan Ryan, who won 324 games, but lost 292, a .526 winning percentage.  His 162-game average was 14-13.  His seven no-hitters can’t compensate for that.

In an earlier post (“The Triumvirate,” June 25, 2016) I presented my choices for the greatest three ballplayers in history.  Now I present the pitchers—in the form of the greatest five-man rotation.  You may argue with it, and no doubt will.  Younger fans may take issue because my picks begin in the dead-ball era and end in the 1980s.  But I think greatness—legendary status—takes time to develop; it must age, like good whiskey.  So anyone touting the likes of Clayton Kershaw or Chris Sale is premature.

Here are my criteria:  First, I wanted three righties and two lefties, so that batters would have to face a rotation of R-L-R-L-R.  I then looked for hurlers with a high winning percentage.  Lifetime wins are impressive, to be sure, but if a pitcher had a shorter, but brilliant career, I took him over Cy Young, for example, who won 511 games but pitched ten years in the 19thcentury.  By the way, no pitcher tainted by steroid use made my list (Roger Clemens).

I found eight lists of top ten (or more) pitchers.  I then looked for those with excellent winning percentages and outstanding earned run averages.  Finally, to determine a rough consensus, I looked for five pitchers who made at least four of the eight lists.  Here is my five-man rotation:

WALTER JOHNSON (1907-27).  “The Big Train” is the greatest pitcher ever.  Winner of 417 games, he posted a winning percentage of .599 and an ERA of 2.17.  And dig this: He threw 110 shutouts!  That’s a record that won’t be broken unless pitchers again go nine innings.  He ranks 5th or higher on six of the eight lists, topping two of them.  Incidentally, Johnson was not listed on one of the lists.  That it had Bert Blyleven 5th, Gaylord Perry 6th, and Curt Schilling 14th, explains The Train’s omission.

LEFTY GROVE(1925-41).  I think Grove is the most underrated pitcher ever; this is emphasized here by his making only four of the eight lists.  Grove won 300 games while losing only 141.  That’s a winning percentage of .680!  His ERA of 3.06 was posted in the slugging 1920s and ‘30s.  Of all the pitchers on the lists, his 162-game won-lost record of 19-9 is the best.

TOM SEAVER (1967-86).  Known as “Tom Terrific,” Seaver won 311 games, posting a .603 winning percentage and an ERA of 2.86.  He got on five lists, topping one of them.

SANDY KOUFAX (1955-66).  From 1961 through 1966 Koufax won five ERA titles, and finished his career with a 2.76 and a .655 winning percentage.  He topped one list, making four.

BOB GIBSON (1959-75).  He made five of the eight lists and ranked second on one, behind Seaver.  Gibson won just a shade under 60 percent of his games, compiling an ERA of 2.91, including an awesome 1.12 in 1968.

Now, I would have no argument against two of three lefties—Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton or Warren Spahn—replacing Koufax and Grove.  This is a subjective enterprise.  As for righties, if you prefer Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander or Greg Maddux, that’s fine. One right-hander I would argue against, however, is Nolan Ryan, who won 324 games, but lost 292, a .526 winning percentage.  His 162-game average was 14-13.  His seven no-hitters can’t compensate for that.

In an earlier post (“The Triumvirate,” June 25, 2016) I presented my choices for the greatest three ballplayers in history.  Now I present the pitchers—in the form of the greatest five-man rotation.  You may argue with it, and no doubt will.  Younger fans may take issue because my picks begin in the dead-ball era and end in the 1980s.  But I think greatness—legendary status—takes time to develop; it must age, like good whiskey.  So anyone touting the likes of Clayton Kershaw or Chris Sale is premature.

Here are my criteria:  First, I wanted three righties and two lefties, so that batters would have to face a rotation of R-L-R-L-R.  I then looked for hurlers with a high winning percentage.  Lifetime wins are impressive, to be sure, but if a pitcher had a shorter, but brilliant career, I took him over Cy Young, for example, who won 511 games but pitched ten years in the 19thcentury.  By the way, no pitcher tainted by steroid use made my list (Roger Clemens).

I found eight lists of top ten (or more) pitchers.  I then looked for those with excellent winning percentages and outstanding earned run averages.  Finally, to determine a rough consensus, I looked for five pitchers who made at least four of the eight lists.  Here is my five-man rotation:

WALTER JOHNSON (1907-27).  “The Big Train” is the greatest pitcher ever.  Winner of 417 games, he posted a winning percentage of .599 and an ERA of 2.17.  And dig this: He threw 110 shutouts!  That’s a record that won’t be broken unless pitchers again go nine innings.  He ranks 5th or higher on six of the eight lists, topping two of them.  Incidentally, Johnson was not listed on one of the lists.  That it had Bert Blyleven 5th, Gaylord Perry 6th, and Curt Schilling 14th, explains The Train’s omission.

LEFTY GROVE(1925-41).  I think Grove is the most underrated pitcher ever; this is emphasized here by his making only four of the eight lists.  Grove won 300 games while losing only 141.  That’s a winning percentage of .680!  His ERA of 3.06 was posted in the slugging 1920s and ‘30s.  Of all the pitchers on the lists, his 162-game won-lost record of 19-9 is the best.

TOM SEAVER (1967-86).  Known as “Tom Terrific,” Seaver won 311 games, posting a .603 winning percentage and an ERA of 2.86.  He got on five lists, topping one of them.

SANDY KOUFAX (1955-66).  From 1961 through 1966 Koufax won five ERA titles, and finished his career with a 2.76 and a .655 winning percentage.  He topped one list, making four.

BOB GIBSON (1959-75).  He made five of the eight lists and ranked second on one, behind Seaver.  Gibson won just a shade under 60 percent of his games, compiling an ERA of 2.91, including an awesome 1.12 in 1968.

Now, I would have no argument against two of three lefties—Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton or Warren Spahn—replacing Koufax and Grove.  This is a subjective enterprise.  As for righties, if you prefer Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander or Greg Maddux, that’s fine. One right-hander I would argue against, however, is Nolan Ryan, who won 324 games, but lost 292, a .526 winning percentage.  His 162-game average was 14-13.  His seven no-hitters can’t compensate for that.

In an earlier post (“The Triumvirate,” June 25, 2016) I presented my choices for the greatest three ballplayers in history.  Now I present the pitchers—in the form of the greatest five-man rotation.  You may argue with it, and no doubt will.  Younger fans may take issue because my picks begin in the dead-ball era and end in the 1980s.  But I think greatness—legendary status—takes time to develop; it must age, like good whiskey.  So anyone touting the likes of Clayton Kershaw or Chris Sale is premature.

Here are my criteria:  First, I wanted three righties and two lefties, so that batters would have to face a rotation of R-L-R-L-R.  I then looked for hurlers with a high winning percentage.  Lifetime wins are impressive, to be sure, but if a pitcher had a shorter, but brilliant career, I took him over Cy Young, for example, who won 511 games but pitched ten years in the 19thcentury.  By the way, no pitcher tainted by steroid use made my list (Roger Clemens).

I found eight lists of top ten (or more) pitchers.  I then looked for those with excellent winning percentages and outstanding earned run averages.  Finally, to determine a rough consensus, I looked for five pitchers who made at least four of the eight lists.  Here is my five-man rotation:

WALTER JOHNSON (1907-27).  “The Big Train” is the greatest pitcher ever.  Winner of 417 games, he posted a winning percentage of .599 and an ERA of 2.17.  And dig this: He threw 110 shutouts!  That’s a record that won’t be broken unless pitchers again go nine innings.  He ranks 5th or higher on six of the eight lists, topping two of them.  Incidentally, Johnson was not listed on one of the lists.  That it had Bert Blyleven 5th, Gaylord Perry 6th, and Curt Schilling 14th, explains The Train’s omission.

LEFTY GROVE(1925-41).  I think Grove is the most underrated pitcher ever; this is emphasized here by his making only four of the eight lists.  Grove won 300 games while losing only 141.  That’s a winning percentage of .680!  His ERA of 3.06 was posted in the slugging 1920s and ‘30s.  Of all the pitchers on the lists, his 162-game won-lost record of 19-9 is the best.

TOM SEAVER (1967-86).  Known as “Tom Terrific,” Seaver won 311 games, posting a .603 winning percentage and an ERA of 2.86.  He got on five lists, topping one of them.

SANDY KOUFAX (1955-66).  From 1961 through 1966 Koufax won five ERA titles, and finished his career with a 2.76 and a .655 winning percentage.  He topped one list, making four.

BOB GIBSON (1959-75).  He made five of the eight lists and ranked second on one, behind Seaver.  Gibson won just a shade under 60 percent of his games, compiling an ERA of 2.91, including an awesome 1.12 in 1968.

Now, I would have no argument against two of three lefties—Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton or Warren Spahn—replacing Koufax and Grove.  This is a subjective enterprise.  As for righties, if you prefer Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander or Greg Maddux, that’s fine. One right-hander I would argue against, however, is Nolan Ryan, who won 324 games, but lost 292, a .526 winning percentage.  His 162-game average was 14-13.  His seven no-hitters can’t compensate for that.

 

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