2011 vs. 1887 Gypsy Queen #5 – Workhorses

26 05 2011

I’ll move on to some pitchers in my next installment of the Gypsy Queen set comparison.

The Workhorse

Charles Radbourn.  Otherwise known as “Old Hoss”.  When I was young, my mom used to make my brother and I stay in for an hour every summer and read right after lunch.  It was to keep us intelligent, and probably to keep us from being in the sun in the middle of the day.  So what I often read was the baseball encyclopedia – and I was always enthralled by the season Old Hoss had in 1884, when he set the standard with some records that will clearly never be broken.  Radbourn started his career pitching for the Providence Grays in 1881.  The rules were different then – and teams generally went with a two-man rotation.  Often the better of the two pitchers would pitch back-to-back games.  Radbourn was becoming the best pitcher in baseball – and he started 70% of the Grays games in 1883.  That year he set a single-season record that year with 48 wins – but the Grays were beat out by teams that used their 2nd pitcher a bit more.  The next season Radbourn had a truly great year.  The Grays had signed and developed a young pitcher named Charles Sweeney, and began using him more at the start of the 1884 season.  Sweeney struck out 19 batters in one game early in the season, and was being used more frequently, taking some starts away from Radbourn.  However, Sweeney was kicked off the team for insubordination in the middle of the season, and Radbourn started almost every game from July on.  “Old Hoss” finished the season with 678 innings pitched – the 2nd most all-time.  But he didn’t just pitch a lot – he was almost un-hittable.  Over all those innings, he had an ERA of 1.38, winning 59 games and Completing 73 of the 75 games he started.  Some sources credited him with 60 wins due to differences in official scoring rules from the time.  The best-of-3 World Series was played at the Polo Grounds against the New York Metropolitans, champions of the American Association.  Radbourn won all 3 games (they played the 3rd game even though Providence had clinched) without giving up an earned run.  Radbourn pitched for 11 seasons, winning 209 games up against 194 losses, and was eventually elected to the Hall of Fame.

CC Sabathia best represents the “Workhorse” pitcher in today’s game.  Its nothing like Radbourn’s stats in a very different game – but CC has never pitched less than 180 innings, even in his 2001 Rookie Year.  He had 157 wins at the end of last season, and is well-known for pitching effectively on 3 days’ rest when needed.  In 2008 when he was traded to Milwaukee, CC basically pitched them into the playoffs doing this.  He is the only pitcher with double digits in complete games in any season since the start of the decade.  Since the start of his career in 2001, he is tied with Roy Halladay with 162 wins and has more innings than all but 2 pitchers.

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