Just a look at how each player's WAR has been earned. *Gordon's numbers are 2008
Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida go to war at the TUF 9 Finale
When I first started posting on more intelligent baseball boards a few years ago, I came across a couple ideas I hadn't much thought before. The first was that Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown were all fairly similar to eachother, and the second was that they all probably belonged in the Hall of Fame. Sean Smith's WAR would seem to agree with the first point very much, as this graph shows. The second point is up for debate, but, on this graph, I've included a Hall of Famer that few disagree with for comparison: Willie McCovey. Over the last couple decades we've been blessed with four of the very greatest pitchers who have ever lived, and they were all at their best in a very close period of time. As a result, I think the Mussinas and Browns got forgotten a little as second rate pitchers, but they were still very much great. Over recent years, it's become accept that Tom Glavine and John Smoltz are Hall of Famers (with good reason), and it seems Mussina may have joined that class as well (with more difficulty than he should have faced). Schilling might be in that group, too, but Brown -- always seemingly underrated -- belongs in their conversation, as well. Also of interest, perhaps in a later piece, is a third tier of pitchers behind even this including names like David Cone and -- to my shock -- Bret Saberhagen who aren't so far behind this group that they should be easily dismissed (though I know Sabes already has been). A large version can be found here. Career path can be found here. Career Totals Mussina: 74.8 Schilling: 69.8 McCovey: 66.7 Brown: 64.9
Here are five of the greatest pitchers in the history of a franchise without a lot of great pitchers. They are compared using FanGraphs' method for converting FIP to WAR. The picture is regretably small, so I'll link to bigger version here and career path here. The first thing that stands out to me: Nolan Ryan was a ****ing robot. His first year in Texas was an 8.3 WAR. That may have been his best season, and I'll bet it was the best season ever from a Rangers pitcher by a wide margin. And he was 42. Ryan seems to have the peak value, but I lean towards Hough as the best Rangers pitcher ever.
This unspectacular graph is the career (consecutive) WAR for "Neon" Deion "Prime Time" Sanders. Unspectacular until you think about this: baseball was a hobby for him. Missing are his comeback 1997 and 2001 seasons, but from 1989-1995 he never played more 97 games and only played 90 or more three times. He made the Majors without ever playing in the minors, and he only played 2 games in the minors in his career until his 2000 comeback attempt. He was dedicating most of his time to being the best cornerback in the NFL, not baseball; often playing games in the same week he chased receivers all over astroturf (often playing both ways). He averaged a 1.1 WAR during that period, once putting up 2.6. Think about that: he was above replacement level and most seasons not too far below average while playing part-time seasons as a, basically, a time killer while not being a Hall of Fame football player. His rate was a 3.0 WAR per 600 PA. All things considered, that is just freakish. I'm a football fan first, and the Dallas Cowboys mean more to me than almost anything in the world. So as a kid in the 90s, Deion was probably my favorite athlete. His personality (which would probably annoy me today), his athletic ability, his being everywhere, his playing both ways in football and both games, his style, his speed, everything was just so incredible to me. It's only now occuring to me how unbelievable the level he was able to play at in baseball while devoting his time to dominating the NFL was, though.
Sky Kalkman has been busy graphing. Here's the different ways the top four Brewers accumulated their WAR.
Value Comparison of four AL Central Outfielders, 2005-2008, using FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement. If this doesn't seem very interesting for the Royals fan, you probably need to look more closely... For a larger version, click here (opens in a new window).
As the graph says, probabilities of the Brewers winning X amount of games. The first 99.99% mark is 52 games, then it goes to 60 and then increments by 5. This is using a binomial distribution based on my WAR projections, which give a win% of .538 Larger version here: http://img.imgcake.com/brewerprobabilities.jpg