The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

All 2-14 Seasons Are Not of Equal Value

If a pitcher posts a win-loss record of 2-14, it’s easy to assume he’s had a lousy year.  With a record like that, he might even be looking for a new line of work in the off-season.  Yet, strange as it may seem, there can be important qualitative differences between one 2-14 season and another.

To begin with, here are some raw stats for a pair of pitchers who each posted a 2-14 season in their career:

Pitcher A:  2-14,  119 innings pitched,  510 batters faced,  71 strikeouts,  1.324 WHIP.

Pitcher B:  2-14,  121 innings pitched,  517 batters faced,  64 strikeouts,  1.364 WHIP.

As you can see, not a great deal of difference so far between these two pitchers.

Yet, for pitcher A, this represented the best season of his career, in which he posted a WAR of 3.3.

For pitcher B, those numbers represented one of the worst seasons of his career:  -0.5 WAR.

Pitcher A was exclusively a reliever in his 2-14 season.  Pitcher B swung back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation.

The team for which Pitcher A toiled went 70-92 in his 2-14 season.

The team for which Pitcher B worked slogged through a 72-90 season.

Pitcher A’s team had been picked to finish in last place by many writers before the season.

Pitcher B’s team had been picked to win their division.

They both pitched in what were considered to be “pitchers” parks.

Pitcher A was 28-years old.  Pitcher B was 26-years old.  “A” was a lefty.  “B” threw right-handed.

So what separated one 2-14 season from the other?

Pitcher A posted a 2.04 ERA, and an ERA+ of 174.

Pitcher B posted an ERA of 4.17, and an ERA+ of just 85.

Pitcher A was charged with having surrendered 27 earned runs.  Pitcher B gave up more than twice as many, 56.

The defense behind Pitcher A ranked #1 in Fielding Percentage in his 2-14 season.  The defense behind Pitcher B ranked 8th out of 12 teams.

Pitcher B, of the 4.17 ERA, was out of baseball by age 31.  Pitcher A lasted until he was 38-years old.

Pitcher B holds the record for consecutive losses, losing 27 straight decision from 1992-93.

Pitcher A is the only pitcher to have appeared in all seven games of a World Series.

Pitcher B, of course, is former New York Mets pitcher Anthony Young.

Pitcher A was a member of the Washington Senators in 1970 when he posted his 2-14 record, but is more closely linked with the Oakland A’s teams of the 1970’s, Darold Knowles.

From 1992-93, Anthony Young posted a record of 3-30, (2-14 in 1992), though not pitching quite badly enough to have earned such a horrific record.  Knowles never lost in double-digits again.

As you can see, a pitcher’s won-lost record does not tell the whole story of how he actually pitched.  In fact, it can quite clearly tell us nothing worth knowing at all.

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12 thoughts on “All 2-14 Seasons Are Not of Equal Value

  1. glenrussellslater on said:

    I looked it up, Bill and V, and all I could find was that the line “million dollar arm and ten cent head” came from the movie “Major League.” I didn’t see that movie, but anyway, that movie came out in 1989, and I know that it wasn’t originally from that movie. I seem to remember Ralph Kiner quoting that line long before “Major League” came out. I’m pretty sure that the line came from a manager talking about a pitcher in real life, not in a movie. It sounds like something that Casey Stengel might have said.

    Glen

    • glenrussellslater on said:

      I researched it further, and I found a thing that said that Met catcher Alex Trevino said it about Cincinnati pitcher Mario Soto. Maybe so, but I still doubt that he was the first one who said it.

      I could swear that I’ve heard the line since the 1970s, and I have the feeling that it was said in the early days of big league baseball.

      In fact, it sounds like something that manager Callahan might have said about pitcher Jack Keefe in Ring Lardner’s “You Know Me Al”. Callahan was always making biting remarks like that to the naive Keefe, who didn’t know that he was being kidded.

      I also found it attributed to a sportswriter writing it about Sam McDowell.

      Glen

      • Damn, Glen. That’s some serious research you’ve been up to. It could just be one of those apocryphal sayings that have been around forever, now more or less in the public domain. Perhaps we’ll never know where it originally came from. I wonder if the library attached to the Baseball HOF in Cooperstown would know? Could be worth finding out.
        Thanks again,
        Bill

    • Thanks for looking that up, Glen. I know I’ve heard that line before, but I have no idea where it originally came from.
      Much appreciated,
      Bill

      • glenrussellslater on said:

        Serious research? Ha ha! I know you’re kidding! Nah, took a total of ten minutes, altogether, at the most!

        If someone told me, only 15 years ago or so, that someday you’d be able to look up all of this stuff without going to the library, I’d say “Yeah, RIGHT!!!”

        Glen

      • Library? What’s a library? Do they still make those? 🙂

  2. Is Young the guy they had the “Million dollar arm and ten cent head” crack about?
    v

    • It might very well have been. I have to admit that ’92 was a year for me where I wasn’t following baseball all that closely.
      -Bill

      • glenrussellslater on said:

        At the time, I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe that ANYONE would ever equal, let alone PASS, Roger Craig’s (Mets’ Hard Luck Loser) record for consecutive losses (18 in 1963). But Anthony Young did it. I was rooting for him NOT to do it, because Roger Craig was such a symbol of the futility of the Mets early years.

        Speaking of Craig, I met him ten years ago at a Brooklyn Dodgers thing at a recreation center in Freeport, Long Island. I came all the way from where I was living at the time, in Syracuse, 300 miles away, to go to this. I also met Joan Hodges, the widow of Gil Hodges, Dick Williams, Joe Pignatano, and Johnny Podres. What a thrill!

        But the BEST thing was meeting Tommy Holmes. I found my father with a rolled up newspaper, and Tommy Holmes was teaching him the best way to hit!!! (He had the National League hitting streak record until Pete Rose broke it). He spent a short time with the Dodgers; he was mostly with the Boston Braves. He told my father that he was going to mention him in his autobiography that he was working on. Sadly, I don’t think that Holmes ever finished the autobiography because he died not too long after that. He was a nice guy. My father said that he and Holmes were talking and kidding around for about a half-hour.

        The BEST part of the day, at least for me, though, was when my father and I were sitting on this wall in the parking lot of the rec center, just sitting there, enjoying the day. I was wearing my Brooklyn Dodgers cap, and he was wearing an Ebbets Field cap. Well, this big amiable guy comes out of nowhere and pulled on the brim of my father’s cap and said, “I like this cap!” Then he comes over to me and he tugged on the brim of my Brooklyn Dodgers cap and said, “I like THIS one, too!” He then walked towards his car, a Cadillac. I hollered over to him, “Were you with the Dodgers?” and he just said, “Yeah!” Well, then I noticed the license plate on his car was an Indiana plate, and as he drove away, I realized that that guy was none other than CARL ERSKINE! What a great guy! And what a thrill that was, for both my father and me!

        Glen

      • Man, I am so jealous. Wish I could have been there. I would love to have Met those old Brooklyn Dodgers / Mets players.
        Great story,
        Bill

      • glenrussellslater on said:

        Thank God, YES, they still make libraries! And I hope that they always DO!

        Glen

      • Yeah, I go to the local one about once per week, and I take the kids there over the summer once in a while.

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