PITCHING SECRETS

April 12, 1971

George Sisler, who hit .420 in 1922 and had a lifetime batting average of .340, "would simply feel a sense of sorrow," Branch Rickey once said, "for anybody who disagreed with him about hitting." The estimable Mr. Rickey did not live long enough to find out what Sisler and his son George Jr. felt about another of baseball's arts, pitching. It is a talent, they have concluded, that has been much misjudged.

For four years George Jr., who is president of the International League, has studied methods for evaluating the effectiveness of pitchers. He decided that there were few worse measuring sticks than the earned run average. "The ERA fools a lot of people," he says, "because in many cases it is affected by the manager. A pitcher might work for a manager who tends to go too long with him; the fate of another might rest in the hands of a man with a quick hook but a weak bullpen."

So Sisler and his father developed their own system for ranking pitchers. The results, which appear below and on the following pages, are somewhat startling. Herb Score, for instance, with barely more wins than losses, is seventh on the alltime list. Dick Selma, 8-9 with the Phillies in 1970, was the second most efficient pitcher in the National League according to the Sislers. The most efficient in either league in 1970 was a player who was almost unknown, Tom Hall of the Minnesota Twins. Hall won 11 games and lost six, but the Sisiers figured he was worth many more points than teammate Jim Perry, who was 24-12.

All of which might suggest that there is something frivolous about the Sisler ratings. But there isn't. The numerical values represent a combination of performance and potential. While the Sisiers will not divulge their precise formula, they admit that they take into consideration earned run averages and wins and losses. "But," says George Jr., "those only tell you what kind of team a pitcher plays for, not how good he is. But walks are important, very important." Beyond that he refuses to go.

Major league teams take the Sisler system seriously, especially the Baltimore Orioles. Harry Dalton, Oriole director of personnel, saw that the 1968 Sisler figures ranked Mike Cuellar, 8-11 with the Houston Astros, as one of the best pitchers in the National League. Baltimore got Cuellar in a trade and he responded by winning 23 games in his first season as an Oriole and 24 in the next. This year the Orioles traded for two more pitchers high on the Sisiers' list—Pat Dobson and Tom Dukes of San Diego. Dobson ranks 15th. Dukes does not appear because he worked fewer than 100 innings, but in those he had 1,130 efficiency points. The Sisiers suspect the well-padded Orioles may have feathered their nest again by heeding George Sr. and Jr.—and ignoring ERAs.

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ILLUSTRATION THREE CHARTSASDUR TAKAKJIAN

THE BEST OF ALL TIME

PITCHER

LIFETIME RECORD

EFFICIENCY RATING

SANDY KOUFAX

165-87

1661

ED WALSH

194-130

966

DON DRYSDALE

204-162

922

WALTER JOHNSON

413-277

883

CHRISTY MATHEWSON

367-186

848

CHIEF BENDER

208-127

808

HERB SCORE

55-46

782

DAZZY VANCE

197-140

775

DIZZY DEAN

150-83

712

WHITEY FORD

236-106

711

ROBIN ROBERTS

286-245

674

GROVER CLEVELAND ALEXANDER

374-208

670

CARL HUBBELL

253-154

651

DON NEWCOMBE

149-90

647

CY YOUNG

509-316

623

WARREN SPAHN

363-245

621

LEFTY GOMEZ

189-102

617

BOB FELLER

266-162

615

HAL NEWHOUSER

207-150

566

RUBE MARQUARD

205-177

552

THE NATIONAL LEAGUE'S BEST1970

PITCHER

1970 RECORD

EFFICIENCY RATING

TOM SEAVER-METS

18-12

1285

DICK SELMA-PHILS

8-9

1261

FERGUSON JENKINS-CUBS

22-16

1204

BILL SINGER-DODGERS

8-5

1179

BOB GIBSON-CARDINALS

23-7

1095

DAVE GIUSTI-PIRATES

9-3

903

JIM McANDREW-METS

10-14

870

GAYLORD PERRY-GIANTS

23-13

839

DON SUTTON-DODGERS

15-13

827

CHUCK TAYLOR-CARDINALS

6-7

815

BARRY LERSCH-PHILS

6-3

804

CLAY CARROLL-REDS

9-4

798

WAYNE SIMPSON-REDS

14-3

790

PAT JARVIS-BRAVES

16-16

783

*PAT DOBSON-PADRES

14-15

765

PHIL NIEKRO-BRAVES

12-18

765

GARY NOLAN-REDS

18-7

765

KEN HOLTZMAN-CUBS

17-11

760

WOODY FRYMAN-PHILS

8-6

758

MILT PAPPAS-BRAVES/CUBS

12-10

750

*Traded to Baltimore Orioles

THE AMERICAN LEAGUE'S BEST-1970

PITCHER

1970 RECORD

EFFICIENCY RATING

TOM HALL-TWINGS

11-6

1477

SAM McDOWELL-INDIANS

20-12

1170

LINDY McDANIEL-YANKEES

9-5

1115

STAN WILLIAMS-TWINS

10-1

1062

*BOB JOHNSON-ROYALS

8-13

1061

BERT BLYLEVEN-TWINS

10-9

1024

ANDY MESSERSMITH-ANGELS

11-10

1021

KEN BRETT-RED SOX

8-9

957

JOHN HILLER-TIGERS

6-6

942

RAY CULP-RED SOX

17-14

920

JIM PERRY-TWINS

24-12

867

MARTY PATTIN-BREWERS

14-12

867

MIKE CUELLAR-ORIOLES

24-8

839

WILBUR WOOD-WHITE SOX

9-13

828

RUDY MAY-ANGELS

7-13

818

*JIM GRANT-A's

6-2

813

JIM PALMER-ORIOLES

20-10

797

FRITZ PETERSON-YANKERS

20-11

781

SONNY SIEBERT-RED SOX

15-8

771

DAVE McNALLY-ORIOLES

24-9

760

*Traded to Pittsburgh Pirates

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)