Friday, March 17, 2006


A Baker's Dozen, 13 Brilliant Hall of Fame Caliber Pitchers Who Will Never Get There Do to Their Late-Starting Careers - Part III

SAL MAGLIE - in 1945, as a 28 year old rookie, Sal Maglie went 5-4 in 13 games. He didn't pitch in the majors again until 1950, when he was nearly 33 years old. None of which changes the fact that Maglie was a great major league pitcher. In his first 3 full seasons he went 46-14. For his career he won .657 of his decisions (119-62). That puts Maglie 20th on the all-time active list, and 15th on the retired list for winning percentage. For his career Maglie pitched to 80% of the league ERA.

Leaving out the two years when Maglie pitched less than 100 innnings (first and last years), Maglie's record was 111-51 (.685). The teams he pitched for over the time frame had a combined record of 708-527 (.573). Maglie's winning percentage was .112 above that of the teams he was pitching for. The only pitchers in major league history to pitch at higher levels above their teams were Grover Cleveland Alexander and Sandy Koufax, both at .121.

A typical year for Maglie was 14-7. Using that as a basis, if his career had started 10 years earlier, he'd have ended up with a record something like 259-135. With a record like that he'd be in the Hall of Fame and recognized as one of the best pitchers of all-time.

JEFF PFEFFER - pitched most of his career for the Browns. Pfeffer's career didn't get going on the major league level until he was 26 years old. He went on to post a 158-112 (.585) career record. Pfeffer pitched to 89% of the league ERA over his career, and moved his teams forward by .058. Over his first 3 years in the majors, Pfeffer was 67-37, clearly indicating he was ready for the bigs long before he was really given a chance. A typical year for Pfeffer was 16-11. Using that as a basis, if his career had started 4 years earlier, his career record might have been something like 222-157. Probably good enough to have gotten him into the Hall of Fame.

DEACON PHILLIPPE - his career did not get going until he was 27 years old. Pitched one year for Louisville, and the rest of his career for the Pirates. Was a long-time teammate of another of the Baker's Dozen, Sam Leever. Like Leever, Phillippe was a great pitcher. Phillippe's career record was 189-104. That's good for a winning percentage of .634, which puts Phillippe in 37th place on the active list, and 30th on the all-time retired list. Over his career, Phillippe pitched to 83% of the league ERA and moved his teams forward .019. A typical year for Phillippe was 17-10. Using that as a basis, if his career had started 5 years earlier, Phillippe's career record might have been something like 276-159. Clearly Hall of Fame numbers. (Phillippe was 63-42 over his first 3 years in the majors.)

The Pirate teams of the first decade of the last century had some great pitchers. At one time or another, during the decade, the Pirates had Leever, Phillippe, Jack Chesbro, Vic Willis, Babe Adams, and Jesse Tannehill pitching for them. Two of them, Willis and Chesbro, are in the Hall of Fame, while any of the other four could be. The best combination was probably from 1900-1902, when Chesbro, Leever, Phillippe and Tannehill compiled a combined 224-114 (.663) record. The 1909 team included Leever, Phillippe, Tannehill and Adams, who compiled a combined record of 50-18 (.735).

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