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  #1  
Old 07-02-2024, 12:41 PM
G1911 G1911 is offline
Gr.eg McCl.@y
 
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Default The Most Bad Luck Pitching Seasons In Baseball History

In 1910, Ed Walsh led the American League in losses, posting a record of 18-20 (in an era where wins and losses were a meaningful stat as he completed 33 of his 36 starts). With a losing record, Walsh also led the league in WHIP and ERA, posting a minuscule 1.27. Even in the dead ball era, that 1.27 ERA was an amazing 87% better than the league average. His team sucked, going 68-85, but the #2 pitcher on the staff that year posted a winning record, with an ERA more than double Walsh's at 2.66, 11% below the league average.

In 1987, Nolan went 8-16 with a league leading 2.76 ERA, his second and final ERA crown. Houston was a loser of a team, going 76-86, which was still better than they did with Ryan on the mound, winning more with inferior pitchers hurling.

The most hard luck season I can find though was in 1900. Rube Waddell also led the league in ERA with a 2.37. He posted a record of 8-13 while completing 16 of his 22 starts. Unlike Walsh and Ryan, Waddell pitched on a fine club though. The Pirates were 2nd in the National League that season, going 79-60. And yet with the most effective pitcher in baseball on the mound, they lost more than they won. .568 as a team, .381 when the best pitcher in the league got the decision.

Is there a more bad luck season than Waddell's 1900 campaign?
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  #2  
Old 07-04-2024, 07:43 AM
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Those are some tough seasons.

One that comes to mind is Walter Johnson's 1909 season, where his ERA and Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) were just 2.22 and 2.16 respectively, but he ended up with a record of 13 wins and a whopping 25 losses. That year, the Washington Nationals won just 42 games, and finished dead last, 56 out of 1st place, and 20 games back of the next to last team. They averaged only 2.4 runs a game, while the 1st place Tigers averaged over 4.

During 20 of the 36 games he started, Washington scored 1 run or less.
Walter had 27 complete games and 4 shutouts. All of his shutouts were 1-0 victories except one, which was 2-0.

For comparison, George Mullin, a starting pitcher for Detroit, had the same 2.22 ERA a worse FIP than WaJo at 2.29, but still went 29-8.

By the way, I went the Nats/Mets game on Tuesday at Nats Park and went to Walter's, a sports bar named in honor of Walter Johnson located across the street from the stadium. They have a framed print of his T206 portrait hanging on the wall, among other large pictures of him. The men's bathroom has baseball card themed wallpaper with his T205, T206 and T207 cards.
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Last edited by cgjackson222; 07-04-2024 at 08:40 AM.
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  #3  
Old 07-04-2024, 08:35 AM
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In 1988, Joe Magrane led the NL with a 2.18 ERA but went 5-9. In his 9 loses the Cardinals scored a total of 13 runs. In 4 of his losses, the Cardinals were shutout. Magrane allowed a total of 6 runs in those games.

In his 5 wins, Magrane shutout his opponents 3 times and allowed 1 & 2 runs in the other two games. Overall, Magrane gave up 2 or fewer earned runs in 20 of 24 starts.
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  #4  
Old 07-04-2024, 09:23 AM
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Nolan Ryan had Five seasons where he had EXACTLY 16 losses With and earned run average below three .
1972 - 2.28
1973 - 2.87
1974 - 2.89
1977 - 2.77
1987 - 2.76
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  #5  
Old 07-04-2024, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beercan collector View Post
Nolan Ryan had Five seasons where he had EXACTLY 16 losses With and earned run average below three .
1972 - 2.28
1973 - 2.87
1974 - 2.89
1977 - 2.77
1987 - 2.76
Pitchers used to complete a lot more games back then so high loss totals were not uncommon even for better pitchers. In the 4 seasons listed in the 70s, he had a winning record and also did not lead the league in ERA.
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  #6  
Old 07-04-2024, 08:06 PM
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These guys didn't just have bad luck seasons: they had bad luck careers.

In a seven-year-career between 1896 and 1904, Ned Garvine had a 124 ERA+ but a win-loss of 58-97. Highlights were 1900 (10-18, 2.41 ERA, 149 ERA+ for the Cubs), 1901 (8-20, 3.39 ERA, 103 ERA+ for the Milwaukee Brewers), and 1904 (5-16, 1.72 ERA, 159 ERA+ for the Dodgers and Highlanders.)

Eddie Smith, who pitched for the White Sox, Phillies, and Red Sox between 1936 and 1947, had only one winning record in his 10 years in the majors and finished with a career win-loss of 73-113 despite a career ERA+ was 108.

Scott Perry, who pitched for the Athletics in their 1920-era doldrums, was 4-17 with a 95 ERA+ in 1919 and and 11-25 with a 111 ERA+ in 1920. He jumped the Athletics in mid-1921 to pitch semi-pro ball, and who can blame him?

Ned Garver was of course the top pitcher on some bad Browns teams in the early 50s; in 1950 he was 13-18 but led the league with an ERA+ of 146. For his career he had a 129-157 record but a 113 ERA+.

For his career Jose DeLeon had an approximately average 102 ERA+ but a record of 86-119.

Last edited by John1941; 07-04-2024 at 08:19 PM.
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  #7  
Old 07-04-2024, 09:13 PM
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Irv Young won 20 games for the 1905 Boston Beaneaters.

But lost 21...
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  #8  
Old 07-05-2024, 09:41 AM
G1911 G1911 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John1941 View Post
These guys didn't just have bad luck seasons: they had bad luck careers.

In a seven-year-career between 1896 and 1904, Ned Garvine had a 124 ERA+ but a win-loss of 58-97. Highlights were 1900 (10-18, 2.41 ERA, 149 ERA+ for the Cubs), 1901 (8-20, 3.39 ERA, 103 ERA+ for the Milwaukee Brewers), and 1904 (5-16, 1.72 ERA, 159 ERA+ for the Dodgers and Highlanders.)

Eddie Smith, who pitched for the White Sox, Phillies, and Red Sox between 1936 and 1947, had only one winning record in his 10 years in the majors and finished with a career win-loss of 73-113 despite a career ERA+ was 108.

Scott Perry, who pitched for the Athletics in their 1920-era doldrums, was 4-17 with a 95 ERA+ in 1919 and and 11-25 with a 111 ERA+ in 1920. He jumped the Athletics in mid-1921 to pitch semi-pro ball, and who can blame him?

Ned Garver was of course the top pitcher on some bad Browns teams in the early 50s; in 1950 he was 13-18 but led the league with an ERA+ of 146. For his career he had a 129-157 record but a 113 ERA+.

For his career Jose DeLeon had an approximately average 102 ERA+ but a record of 86-119.
Another bad luck full career that springs to mind is Bob Friend. Friend was a fine pitcher who made 4 all-star games with a 107 career ERA+, but a losing record of 197-230, weighed down by some poor Pirates teams and some just bad luck.
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  #9  
Old 07-05-2024, 02:26 PM
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In 1933 Paul Derringer began the season going 0-2 for the Cardinals. They then traded him to the Reds where he went 7-25 the rest of the season for a 58 win team. He actually finished tied for second in wins on the team with 10 being the most, and his ERA was a very respectable 3.30 with him competing 17 games and throwing 2 shut outs and finishing with an ERA+ still above league average at 103.

Derringer’s 27 losses are still the most since the dead ball era and despite his dubious season, he won 20 games 4 times and finished with 223 wins.
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  #10  
Old 07-06-2024, 06:41 PM
ClementeFanOh ClementeFanOh is offline
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Default Bad luck

I knew my guy Mario Soto deserved to be in this chat. 1982 saw Soto lead the
league in WHIP, amass 274 Ks, and a 2.7ish ERA. He was 14-13 on a Reds
team I could have started for (before the literalists crawl out of their holes,
I'm using hyperbole). This is why it is a slippery slope to devalue pitchers like
Nolan Ryan, who accomplished incredible feats while basically playing against
the other team AND his own

Trent King
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  #11  
Old 07-06-2024, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClementeFanOh View Post
I knew my guy Mario Soto deserved to be in this chat. 1982 saw Soto lead the
league in WHIP, amass 274 Ks, and a 2.7ish ERA. He was 14-13 on a Reds
team I could have started for (before the literalists crawl out of their holes,
I'm using hyperbole). This is why it is a slippery slope to devalue pitchers like
Nolan Ryan, who accomplished incredible feats while basically playing against
the other team AND his own

Trent King
Thank You - Being a pitcher on a crappy team is the definition of bad luck

Last edited by Beercan collector; 07-06-2024 at 06:45 PM. Reason: Not Picture
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  #12  
Old 07-06-2024, 11:31 PM
G1911 G1911 is offline
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In 1880 with the Cincinnati Stars Will White posted a 114 ERA+, and won 18 games. Unfortunately he lost 42 because the Stars were not stars, going 21-59 as a club. A 24 game deficit is quite a lot for an excellent hurler.
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  #13  
Old 07-07-2024, 06:21 AM
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Default Just a comment

ERA and ERA+ in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century are poor statistics due to the fact that often 50% or more of the runs were unearned. Despite the low ERAs characteristic of the deadball era, runs per game were not reduced nearly as much. If, in the current game, players used century old gloves, ERAs would generally go down. The number of catchers would also go down trying to catch 100 mph heat with ancient equipment. OUCH!!!
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  #14  
Old 07-07-2024, 07:46 AM
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Default Bad Luck

One bad day could make a bad season? Cover picture from Baseball Magazine 1916 of Roy Caldwell. In 1919 during a game was directly hit by lightning and knocked cold for 5 minutes. Many thought he was dead. But he regained consciousness and FINISHED THE GAME!!!!
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  #15  
Old 07-08-2024, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beercan collector View Post
Nolan Ryan had Five seasons where he had EXACTLY 16 losses With and earned run average below three .
1972 - 2.28
1973 - 2.87
1974 - 2.89
1977 - 2.77
1987 - 2.76


Even more amazing, IMO, is that he had two seasons where he walked over 200 batters and his ERA was STILL under 3!!


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  #16  
Old 07-08-2024, 04:40 PM
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Kind of the same:

Great performances with really bad teams. Carlton's 1972 season springs to mind, but consider this one too:

Arizona was 51-111 in 2004; Randy Johnson was 16-14 with a 2.60 ERA and 290 Strikeouts with only 44 walks!

He led the league in Starts-35; ERA+ -176; FIP- 2.30; Whip- 0.900; H/9- 6.5 and the punch-outs of course.

as far as Run Support was concerned, in 17 of his 35 starts, he was given 2 runs of less to support his efforts.

He was 3-12 in those games with a 2.35 ERS and a 0.84 WHIP.

What would 16-14 have translated to on a better team?


I'm not saying this was as good as season as Carlton's, I'm just saying it was Carlton-ish.

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  #17  
Old 07-10-2024, 08:17 AM
steve B steve B is offline
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For the great pitchers with bad luck seasons, it might be worth looking at who they pitched against. I don't know exactly how it worked back then, but at one point somewhat recently schedules and starts would get moved so the teams number 1 pitcher went against another teams number 1.

That was also likely back then to increase attendance for a poor team.
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  #18  
Old 07-10-2024, 08:59 AM
Theodderthebetter Theodderthebetter is offline
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I am sure this will stir up some people but I am going to make the case for Bob Gibson in 1968. He gave up 38 earned runs in 34 statrs and managed to lose 9 games and was on a great team. That has to be bad luck!
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Old 07-10-2024, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theodderthebetter View Post
I am sure this will stir up some people but I am going to make the case for Bob Gibson in 1968. He gave up 38 earned runs in 34 statrs and managed to lose 9 games and was on a great team. That has to be bad luck!
Below are the 9 losses for Gibson. 3 were shutout losses and 4 had enough unearned runs without which games would have been tied or the Cardinals ahead so with a little more luck, he could have had only 2 losses.

April 20 - 5-1 loss to Cubs, Gibson pitched complete game and gave up 5 runs, 3 earned

May 12 - 3-2 loss to Astros, Gibson pitched 8 innings and gave up 3 runs, 2 earned

May 17 - 1-0 loss to Phillies in 10 innings, Gibson pitched complete game and gave up 1 earned run

May 22 - 2-0 loss to Dodgers, Gibson pitched 8 innings and gave up 1 earned run

May 28 - 3-1 loss to Giants, Gibson pitched complete game and gave up 3 earned runs

Aug 24 - 6-4 loss to Pirates, Gibson pitched complete game and gave up 6 runs, 3 earned

Sept 1 - 3-2 loss to Giants, Gibson pitched 8 innings and gave up 3 runs, 2 earned

Sept 17 - 1-0 loss to Giants, Gibson pitched complete game and gave up 1 earned run, a first inning home run to Ron Hunt

Sept 22 - 3-2 loss to Dodgers, Gibson pitched complete game and gave up 3 runs, 2 earned
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