A Baseball Blog - Scientific and Speculative Thoughts from Third Base

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Droughts, Expansion Team Series, and Other Trivia on the 2016 Playoffs

Two years ago, I wrote about all of the teams with World Series droughts that would be going to the postseason. I didn’t intend to make it a regular feature back then, but then the very next season, wouldn’t you know it, there was yet another batch of teams looking to bust their drought! (And that postseason actually ended with a drought getting busted, unlike 2014!)

Two years of looking at this aspect of the playoffs was enough to inspire me to look again, and it wound up being yet another interesting set of teams, so it looks like I have a new tradition on my hands here. How does it stack up to years past? Well enough, actually. In fact, once again, the Blue Jays are the third-shortest championship drought in the whole thing, despite last year marking their first postseason appearance in 22 seasons.

Giants: 2014
Red Sox: 2013
Blue Jays: 1993
Dodgers: 1988
Mets: 1986
Orioles: 1983
Nationals: Never (team founded in 1969)
Rangers: Never (team founded in 1961)
Indians: 1948
Cubs: 1908

Comparing that to last year, we lose a little bit at the top (since the Yankees and Cardinals were the most recent winners from last year’s set, with 2009 and 2011 wins, respectively), but the addition of the second-longest active title drought in the Indians more than makes up for that. We once again have two 1960s expansion teams that have never won, although the Nationals are a little younger than the Astros.

How does that look in the larger context of the wild card era?

Yep, once again, this year’s set of playoff teams are some of the longest suffering. With a 39.9 year average drought and a 31.5 median, they stand above every year other than 1998, which was a murderer’s row of suffering teams, between the Cubs, Indians, pre-2004 Red Sox, and the championshipless Astros, Rangers, and Padres…but wound up with the Yankees on top anyway.

Another interesting way to look at this year’s set of teams: throughout baseball history, only 25 times has a World Series drought lasted more than 30 seasons. Eleven of those droughts are active, and for the second season in a row, five of thoes eleven teams are playing in October.

Relatedly, the ten teams left have combined for only 33 titles, which is interesting in its own right. That’s the fewest combined titles for a playoff set since the league expanded to a ten-team finale. Heck, even going back to when only eight teams made it, that’s still the second-lowest combined total ever; the only year with less decaorated teams (both in sum and in average) was 2008, with the Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers, Brewers, Rays, White Sox, Angels, and Red Sox combining for only 20 wins. Granted, this number is a little misleading. The Yankees alone are nearly enough to put any year above this*, with their 27 titles. But it’s interesting trivia all the same.

*Fun fact: the lowest total number of previous World Series titles you can construct for a ten-team postseason set that features the Yankees is 30.

Also, if you’re interested in World Series match-ups as much as I am, this is a pretty good set of teams. With 25 possible combinations available, only 9 of them have previously occurred, and 6 of those haven’t occurred in five decades or more. The nine World Series that have occurred before from this set of teams includes:

Cubs-Red Sox (1918)
Dodgers-Indians (1920)
Dodgers-Orioles (1966)
Dodgers-Red Sox (1916)
Giants-Red Sox (1912)
Giants-Indians (1954)
Giants-Rangers (2010)
Mets-Orioles (1969)
Mets-Red Sox (1986)

So yeah, there’s a greater-than-80 percent chance we see a matchup we haven’t seen since 1920. Whatever happens will more than likely be something that we’ve never seen personally before. It’s also worth noting that five of those pairings involving the Giants or Mets, one of whom will be knocked out after Wednesday, while six involve either the Red Sox or Indians, who are facing off in the ALDS, making the probabilities of repeats slightly less likely.

And lastly, I have to cover the All-Expansion-Team angle, as has also become something of a tradition here. Just because we got our first example last year doesn’t mean I’m going to stop just like that. And while we don’t have five expansion teams playing on like last year (which was a record), we did get pretty close, with four.

Assuming each series has 50/50 odds (which isn’t too far off, to be honest), the AL has a roughly 37.5% chance of being represented by an expansion club (the Blue Jays in the Wild Card game and the Rangers set to face of against the Wild Card game winner). Meanwhile, the NL has similar odds (with the Nationals in the NLDS and the Mets in the Wild Card game), although their set-up is different, meaning that we might either end up with an all-expansion NLCS or no expansion teams moving on.  Put together, that’s a 14.1% chance of our second all-expansion team World Series, or just under 1-in-6. That doesn’t sound great, but it’s not much worse than what we had last year, so it could happen.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

MLB Trying to Push Legislation to Get Around Paying Minimum Wage to Minor Leaguers

I'm going to take a moment here to share some short thoughts about baseball and legislation in the news. 

For those who may not know, minor league baseball players don’t make very much on average. Like, below-minimum-wage, bordering onfederal-poverty-line salaries. And since most minor leaguers, statistically speaking, do not reach the majors, this is a large number of people.

Several minor leaguers have sued Major League Baseball for violating minimum wage and overtime pay laws. So far, makes sense. They have a decent chance of winning, too. Which brings us to last week: two Representatives introduced the deceptively-named “Save Our Pastime” act (HR 5580), to the endorsement of Minor League Baseball. The law would essentially explicitly exempt Minor League Baseball from minimum wage and overtime pay laws, circumventing their upcoming lawsuit.

It’s also worth noting that the bill’s bipartisan sponsors, Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Cheri Bustos (D-IL), both received money from Major League Baseball’s PAC, and that Guthrie is the son of the PAC’s former head lobbyist.

The law is framed in such a way that it makes the price of paying minor leaguers sound like an onerous burden on teams that might bankrupt minor league teams. In actuality, the Major League teams are the ones footing the bill for minor leaguers’ salaries, and minor league teams would be unaffected. On top of that, MLB is a multi-billion dollar industry that regularly gets absurd handouts for things like publically-financed stadiums, and each team could pay it’s entire minor league system even as much as $50,000 per year (roughly the US median household income) and the total cost (~$7.5 million) still wouldn’t be far off from the average Major League player’s salary ($4.4 million).

I’m worried this bill could pass because it sounds so innocuous, and sports leagues regularly get more ridiculous legislation passed. In reality, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry asking Congress to help bail it out from a lawsuit it brought upon itself for not paying it’s workers fair wages, and I’m even more worried of the precedent it might set for other industries. The group that’s supposed to represent these players (the MLB Player’s Association) has issued no statements, and has regularly ignored issues affecting minor leaguers if it hasn’t helped those at the highest level, so I’m not sure what counterbalance there is. If you’re the type of person who writes to your representatives, maybe consider dropping them a line to let them know.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Out of the Park Baseball 17: Let's Build a Modern Day Answer to the 1990s Braves!

The folks behind the fantastic baseball simulator Out of the Park Baseball were once again kind enough to let me test out their new version this year, Out of the Park Baseball 17. I’ve long held that it’s the smartest, most powerful baseball game there is, and this year’s version only further solidified me on that The core game is as solid as ever, with new updates to the basic system, but with cooler features around the edges, like a full MLB license and automatically generated post-game reports that add to the full experience.

But the best part is always in the limitless capabilities in what Out of the Park lets you do. For that reason, some of you may be a little disappointed that I’m revamping one of my older ideas, but I had good reasons. The biggest is that, for as fun as historical What Ifs are, if I go back to before I was old enough to follow baseball (or even born), they become much harder for me to write about. I have no opinions about, say, Sam Horn or Leo Gomez. But if I’m writing about them, even for an article about a video game-created alternate universe, I feel compelled to look them up as I’m playing and write out said defense. If I’m talking about current players, I already have pre-formed thoughts on players, and have maybe even written about them. It makes the playing and writing phases a lot less slow.

So, in case you didn’t click the link, this year I’m going to be modernizing the concept of the 1990s Atlanta Braves’ pitching big 3. Picking a team was a simple matter; I looked at the Braves’ position player WAR (per Fangraphs) the year before they acquired Greg Maddux, then looked at teams’ 2015 numbers. The closest one made for an easy choice: the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hey, at least I would be starting with one historic ace; less work for me to figure out the other players to pick.

Yes, it seems the Dodgers would get some compensations for losing half of their historic 2015 pitching duo. I would be like Justin Timberlake in The Social Network; “Two future Hall of Fame pitchers isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Three future Hall of Fame pitchers.”

I went through my most recent Future Hall of Fame Pitchers article to find some people on track or close to it and similar in age to Clayton Kershaw to serve as my core. There weren’t many good choice in the years immediate above Kershaw, so I went younger instead, and acquired Chris Sale and Stephen Strasburg. I did this towards the start of the season too, before I knew just how fantastic those two would be and when trading Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir for them (respectively) seemed a lot less lopsided. Upon doing so, I locked Strasburg (formerly the only one not under team control through at least 2019) down with a 7 year, $155 million deal (with player opt-outs after the fifth and sixth seasons). And with that, I was now off to the races.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Predicting Today's Future Hall of Fame Pitchers, 2016 Edition

And just in time for Opening Day, I’m covering the follow up to the last article  and looking at the pitchers’ side of things. Once again, I’ll be using last year’s numbers to keep things simple. My description from last time: Essentially, I’m looking at how many Wins Above Replacement (Baseball-Reference version) all Hall of Fame hitters had accumulated at each age and picked the median. Then, to give some context, I found what percentage of players at that mark or higher went on to be inducted into Cooperstown (accounting for players still on the ballot and such). This isn’t to say these players will or won’t make Cooperstown; by definition, half of all Hall of Famers didn’t. And hitting these marks is no guarantee; players may drop off, or they may not and Hall voters may not choose to recognize them anyway. This is just to get a rough guide to what a Hall of Fame career might look like, and to see who is on pace.

Compared to the Future Hitters article, the Future Pitchers Hall of Fame article is always less fun to cover. Part of that is the greater unpredictability of pitchers; with hitters, you can follow along as a guy keeps up with the numbers, but a pitcher might fall of the face of the earth or get injured and see his chances crash and burn. But more of it is that the Hall is much stricter with regards to pitchers, so it’s harder to dream on guys. The “Hall Pace” that I use moves up extremely aggressively, and it’s almost impossible for all but the best two or three pitchers from a generation to match that.

I wrote more about it a few years ago, and that article is still good if you want the full details. But the general point is the Hall voters have no idea what to look for to induct most pitchers. They know the most obvious ones, but they don’t realize that there are also plenty of pitchers in the Hall of Fame already below the median, and have more or less stopped inducting pitchers of that caliber. That would be less of a problem if there were a bunch of over-the-median pitchers they forgot to induct and they were just now going back to get them, but that’s not the case; every pitcher above the median WAR is either in or still on the ballot. Being below that gets you zero consideration. It’s a big part of the reason post-deadball-era pitchers are underrepresented.

But let’s ignore that problem for now; I’ll come back to it another time (possibly next time, even). For now, let’s focus on who is on pace.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Predicting Today's Future Hall of Fame Hitters, 2016 Edition

It’s long been a tradition here at Hot Corner Harbor to look at which active players might be on pace for the Hall of Fame. I’ve been busy with various things the past few months, but I really wanted to do my yearly update to the series before the 2016 season got under way. To keep it simple, I’m going to reuse my numbers from last year and give a quick refresher on my system; feel free to check previous year’s editions if you want a more in-depth explanation.

Essentially, I’m looking at how many Wins Above Replacement (Baseball-Reference version) all Hall of Fame hitters had accumulated at each age and picked the median. Then, to give some context, I found what percentage of players at that mark or higher went on to be inducted into Cooperstown (accounting for players still on the ballot and such). This isn’t to say these players will or won’t make Cooperstown; by definition, half of all Hall of Famers didn’t. And hitting these marks is no guarantee; players may drop off, or they may not and Hall voters may not choose to recognize them anyway. This is just to get a rough guide to what a Hall of Fame career might look like, and to see who is on pace.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Predicting the Future of the Hall of Fame, 2017-2019

The 2016 Hall of Fame election is finally in the rearview mirror, with Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza on the other side. Not joining them is a gaggle of similarly-qualified stars, though, and most of them (outside of Jim Edmonds, Mark McGwire, and Alan Trammell) will be back at this next year once again. Some of those qualified stars even came remarkably close this year, with Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Trevor Hoffman falling 15, 23, and 34 votes shy (respectively). So, let’s take this opportunity to look towards the future; where does the Hall of Fame vote go from here?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016 Hall of Fame Ballot and 25 Best Players Not in the Hall

After a one-year hiatus, Graham Womack has returned to his 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame project, and I have once again decided to contribute. One twist is that, this year, he had to trim his list down to just the 25 Best Players. I might still name a Top 50 to match years past, but for now, I’ll just go over my ballot for the top 25 and save the rest for another day. Once I do that, it shouldn’t be too difficult to whittle that down to my 10-person Hall list for 2016.

My methodology for my ballot was pretty straightforward. I used my past years’ ballots as starting points, saw how many openings I had, then decided what changes I needed. The top spots were easy to decide, and the only really difficult choices came down to the last four or five slots. As usual, I noted on Graham’s ballot that I’d vote for all of my choices for the real Hall of Fame, as all 25 easily clear the standards set forth by Cooperstown (as I’ve shown in the past, usually, the top 50 or so players not in the Hall are still as good as the median Hall of Famer, if not better, as the Hall includes far more than just the Willie Mayses as Babe Ruths of the game).

Since my last ballot on this matter, four players have gotten the call: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Joe Torre. That means I’ll need to cut at least 21 players to get to the appropriate number. How many newcomers do I have to account for? Certainly Ken Griffey, Jr., as there’s clearly no argument against him. Also Jim Edmonds; I can’t see any argument that he isn’t on of the 50 Best players not inducted yet, although we’ll need to see if he makes the top 25. I’m not sure I’d add Trevor Hoffman or Billy Wagner to the list, but they’d be in the conversation. My uncertainty stems more from how to treat the general position of relief pitcher (if we decided we need to elect some eligible reliever to Cooperstown right now, Hoffman and Wagner would be my choices 1 and 1A). So at least two of our open slots are filled.

Next, I need to whittle my rough, ~48-person list down to just 25. This seems like it might be a difficult task, but it winds up being easier than you might think. While the ballot itself never requires ranking, it would be a lie to say that I don’t consider some players on my list stronger candidates than others. I’ll start with the more “obvious” choices, as they generally take less explanation to get through.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Long-Fabled All-Expansion World Series Is Finally Here!

Long-time readers might know about my semi-obsession with the idea of a World Series match-up consisting only of expansion teams. It seems like the type of thing that should have happened; after all, for the past eighteen seasons, we’ve had league that’s nearly 50/50 original teams/expansion teams (16/14 to be precise, but that’s pretty close). Despite that, though, expansion teams have been extremely underrepresented in October. The lack of an all-expansion team World Series was just another symptom of that.

And now, that’s over, thanks to the Mets’ sweep of the Cubs (the AL side was assured once the Yankees lost). Like I said a month and a half ago, this postseason would be our best shot to break the streak in three decades (1986 saw three expansion teams in a four team tournament, and still couldn’t pull it off), but the odds were still only at about 22%. In honor of those odds, I’ve decided to look a little more closely at the math behind this momentous occasion.

First, it’s interesting to look back at those odds; 22% was our best chance at the start of October in years, and yet, in the abstract, it doesn’t seem that great. Assuming each team has an equal 1/30 chance of winning it all in Spring Training, we’d assume the chance of an all-expansion World Series in any given year to be 21.78%, just below the 21.875% I calculated back in September*.  That’s 7/15 in the AL times 7/15 in the NL. And yet, somehow, it ranks as one of the best chances we’ve ever seen. Certainly within the top five, at least. Why is that?

*Note: Given the short series and random nature of the postseason, I rounded each team’s chance in a given series to 50%. For quick and rough calculations, that’s probably close enough. In any case, it fits in with my “assume each team has an equal chance” method that I’ll use for the rest of this article. Also, part of my reasoning for assuming every team has a 1/30 chance is that we’re not dealing with a specific year, but any random year. For example, if I told you we’d have 30 teams still in the year 2030, what odds would you assign each team lacking specifics? Given that we haven’t quantified the effect of being an expansion team, setting each team as equal seems reasonably fair. Since we’re essentially assigning the 2015 odds with 1960 knowledge for most of the piece, this seemed like a fair estimation.

I really can’t say for sure. I mean, we all kind of know that expansion teams have a rougher go of things than either league’s original eight. There are probably specific underlying reasons for that, and hopefully someone has looked into it more extensively. All I’ll be doing here is showing how rough it’s been for these underdogs.

So, assuming that every team has an equal chance of winning the World Series in a given random year, what were the odds it would take us until 2015 to get only expansion teams? What I did was look at the league’s make-up each year, in terms of expansion and non-expansion teams, just like I did earlier. I did this for each season since MLB started adding teams way back in 1961. Then, I took to probability of an all-expansion series each season and multiplied it with the previous years. Basically, what I wanted to figure out was: if you were told in 1960 how the league would expand in the next five and a half decades, what would the chances be that it would take until 2015 for two of them to meet at year’s end?

In the end, through 2014, those odds came down to 0.018%. In fractions, that works out to less than 1/5000 (and yes, that’s removing the 1994 postseason that never was). Is this a reasonable estimation? I mean, if we could quantify how expansion teams are disadvantaged, it would probably be a little less surprising. At the same time, though, I’m not sure that it would explain everything. I mean, over half of the first eight expansion teams from the 1960s still haven’t won a World Series. Is that all due to the pains of being an expansion team? The Astros, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, and Brewers are all fifty years old or getting close; can they still point to the fact that they’re an expansion team as the cause of their woes? I really don’t know.  Whether it’s dumb luck or a sign of how disadvantaged these newer teams are, it’s an interesting fact.

Let’s look at it a few different ways, though. Less than half of the fourteen expansion teams have won a single World Series (past champions are the Mets, Royals, Blue Jays, Marlins, Diamondbacks, and Angels). Only three have won it all twice (the Mets, Blue Jays, and Marlins, which is quite an interesting group). It seems fitting that our first all-expansion series comes down to the Mets and Royals or Blue Jays, in a way; the Mets or Jays would become the first three-time champion, while the Royals could become the fourth repeat winner. Additionally, those three were the first three expansion champions (the Mets in 1969 and 1986*, the Royals in 1985, and the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993).

*Note: When you look at it this way, it seems kind of funny that the Mets have the reputation that they do. They were the first expansion team to win it all, no expansion team has more titles or as many pennants (5; only the Royals have more than 2, and either they’ll get number 4 or the Blue Jays will get number 3), their success has been pretty spaced out (pennants in 1969, 1973, 1986, 2000, 2015, NLCS losses in 2006, 1999, and 1988), etc.      

Which brings up another interesting point; we were in the second longest expansion-champion drought ever. The 2003 Marlins were our last one, twelve seasons ago. The only longer dry run for expansion teams was between the first two, from 1969 to 1985 (sixteen seasons). The drought from first expansion team to first expansion champion was even shorter than that (1961 to 1969). With those three extended droughts, you could probably deduce that eight of the ten expansion titles (counting this year) came in a nineteen year span (which included 1994, so it was only eighteen seasons). What caused that approximately-two-decade burst? Again, no idea.

Which gives me one last interesting pieces of trivia: how many expansion World Series should we have “expected” for expansion teams? Again, we’ll use the assumption that every team has an equal chance in a given year. Given that, the expected value for a expansion team winning the World Series in a given year is about .467 (which equals 14/30). Essentially, since about half the league is expansion teams, you’d “expect” an expansion team to win about every other season.

Except that there haven’t always been fourteen expansion teams. Once we account for the gradual growth over time, we come out to about 20.44 “expected” titles for these new teams. In real life, we’re at only 10 (counting this season). For pennants, we find something similar; there “should” be 40.68 pennants for expansion teams, yet we’re only at 22. Is this a quantification of the effect of being an expansion team? That you’re half as likely to win the World Series in a given year in perpetuity? Again, I’m not sure, but it’s an interesting result nonetheless.

A few more notes that don’t fit in elsewhere: No expansion team has more World Series titles than a non-expansion team. The Mets or Blue Jays would be the first, and they’d pass the Indians, Cubs, and Phillies. The Mets’ 2015 pennant ties them with the Indians with five; again, none of the original sixteen has fewer than that. The Royals winning this year would become the second expansion team with four pennants, while the Blue Jays would be only the third with three. The Ranges and Padres are the only other expansion teams with more than one. The only two teams without a pennant are expansion teams (the Mariners and Nationals). Also, expansion teams are well-represented in the overall title drought department. While none of them can match the Cubs or Indians, the next six longest active droughts are all expansion teams who have never won (the Rangers, Astros, Brewers, Padres, Nationals, and Mariners).

Whatever happens the rest of the year, history has been made. Here’s to an exciting rest of the season.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Why MLB Should Seed Playoff Teams Based on Record Alone

Over time, I’ve written several pieces about the change to baseball’s playoff system. Overall, I’d say my position on it has shifted from “Get rid of the second wild card” to “if we’re going to have a fifth team, at least do it better than we are now”. I would hope that prospective improvement is something that we can all agree is a good goal, right? So what would prospective improvement for the current system be?

Well, I think there are a number of things that could be fixed, but the one I want to focus on today is seeding. You may or may not have heard, but the three best records in the majors this year all belong to teams in the NL Central. Despite this, the Pirates and Cubs will need to play one game to determine which one of them “really” deserves a post-season spot, at which point the winner will face the Cardinals. So we are guaranteed to see only one of the best records in the majors making the Championship Series round.

That’s a little absurd. Why can’t baseball switch to seeding solely based on record, like the NBA recently decided to do? I see people arguing against it all the time, but the arguments just don’t make sense to me. The Pirates won 98 games; the Cubs won 97. You mean to tell me that, because they were assigned to the Central division back in 1994, that the 92-win Dodgers and 90-win Mets deserve those automatic bids to the ALDS more? Sure, sure, you can scream “DOESN’T MATTER, JUST WIN YOUR DIVISON” all you want, that still doesn’t explain why teams that did less to win their division (in just about every conceivable way) than the Pirates and the Cubs should see benefits. It’s not even like the Mets and Dodgers were noticeably better at beating the Cardinals; they went 3-4 and 2-5 versus St. Louis respectively, while the Cubs went 8-11 and the Pirates went 9-10.

Some might point out that it’s rare for the three best teams in the majors to all come from one division, and that is true. However, what’s not uncommon at all is for a wild card winner to have a better record than a division winner; since the first full season with the new format in 1995, there have been thirteen seasons in the AL and fourteen seasons in the NL where the top Wild Card has had a better record than at least one division winner. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Looking at Playoff Droughts and the Fabled Expansion World Series

It’s a little hard to believe, but we only have about a month left in the season. And, while the playoff field is far from set, we already have a pretty good idea of which teams will still be playing coming October.

Among those teams likely to go is the Toronto Blue Jays, who will (if they make it) be appearing in the postseason for the first time in 22 years, the longest active playoff drought in baseball right now. However, there’s a funny second side to that possibility that I realized the other day; of the set of ten teams in postseason position right now, the Blue Jays actually have the third-shortest World Series drought. No, really, look at each team’s last championship:

Blue Jays: 1993
Royals: 1985
Astros: Never (team founded in 1962)
Yankees: 2009
Rangers: Never (team founded in 1961)
Mets: 1986
Cardinals: 2011
Dodgers: 1988
Pirates: 1979
Cubs: 1908

That fact got me thinking back to last year, when I looked at the championship droughts of the 2014 postseason.  How does this season stack up to the rest of the wild card era?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Predicting the Future of the 3000 Strikeout Club

Growing up, I always thought of 3000 strikeouts and 300 wins as the pitchers equivalents of 3000 hits and 500 home runs. Now, though, I get the feeling that it’s not necessarily the case. I don’t really have any single point that proves it, just a hunch built around small things. When a player gets close, the countdown to 3000 strikeouts gets some love, but not as much as those three. No one bothers playing “what if” about Mike Mussina reaching 3000 strikeouts like they do with 300 wins, despite the fact that he was even closer to the former than the latter (2813 K’s versus only 270 W’s). Everyone freaked out when Craig Biggio became the first (clean) 3000 hit guy in forever to not waltz in to Cooperstown two years ago, but there was no similar panic about his fellow ballot debut Curt Schilling struggling despite becoming the only (again, clean) 3000 strikeout guy not in.

The funny thing is, 3000 strikeouts is the rarest of those four milestones. We’ve got twenty-four 300-win guys, twenty-six 500-homer guys, and Ichiro will be 3000 hit guy number thirty next season. But 3000 strikeouts? There have only been sixteen of those. Even when you account for the number of 300 win pitchers who were deadball guys*, it’s pretty even; since Walter Johnson (the first to 3000 strikeouts and a 300 winner himself), there have been fifteen 3000 K pitchers and fourteen 300 win pitchers.

*Fun fact: seven of the 300 win club, or over one quarter, reached the mark before the first World Series was played.

Even with the mismatch in appreciation, I think the 3000 strikeout milestone is important. And, since it’s much more closely tied to skill than wins, it seemed like the more sensible pitching milestone to measure like I have with hits and homers.  One thing that surprised me as I did research was the relative modernity of the club. Six members have retired in the past decade; everyone in the club except Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson started in the ‘60s or later (and Bob Gibson just misses, starting in 1959).