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April 26, 2000

Doctoring The Numbers

The Superstar Edition

by Rany Jazayerli

They're Similar in Everything but Religion

With Randy Johnson's torrid start, his career won/lost record is now 164-88. There are those who think that despite his terrific winning percentages and his two Cy Young Awards, Johnson simply hasn't won enough games to merit Hall of Fame consideration yet. To that, I say, "phooey." Check out Johnson's career numbers, next to a mysterious Pitcher X...alright, it's Sandy Koufax:

Name      W  L   G  GS  CG ShO   IP    H   R   ER   BB   SO  HR  ERA  BR/9

Johnson 164 88 335 326  71  27 2286 1748 917  817 1018 2735 201 3.22 10.89
Koufax  165 87 397 314 137  40 2324 1754 806  713  817 2396 204 2.76  9.96

The two have virtually identical records, and when you factor in ballpark and era, Koufax's 46-point edge in ERA disappears. If anything, Johnson has been more dominant in his time.

Koufax does have the advantage in postseason performance (the all-time record of a 0.95 ERA in 57 World Series innings), and has three Cy Youngs to Johnson's two. He might have won a fourth in 1965 had each league given out their own Cy Youngs.

If Koufax was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Johnson already deserves enshrinement. Not that another 100 wins or so wouldn't help.

And McGwire Has Missed Nine Games

The Cardinals are already threatening to destroy every team power record known to man. They broke the all-time NL record for home runs in April with a week to go, and with 44 home runs in just 19 games, they're on a 375-homer pace. This for a franchise that, prior to 1998, had never hit more than 144 in a season. The 1942 Cardinals, who won 106 games and the World Series, hit 60 homers all year. The 1982 Cardinals, also World Champions, hit 67.

It's been a total team effort. Seven players, including Placido Polanco, Shawon Dunston and Thomas Howard, have hit at least three homers so far. Only four teams in history had even five players hit 25 homers apiece:

Team         Year  Players

Cincinnati   1956  Robinson 38, Post 36, Kluszewski 35, Bell 29, Bailey 28
Boston (AL)  1977  Rice 39, Scott 33, Hobson 30, Yastrzemski 28, Fisk 26
Baltimore    1996  Anderson 50, Palmeiro 39, Bonilla 28, Ripken 26, Hoiles 25
Colorado     1997  Walker 49, Galarraga 41, Castilla 40, Burks 32, Bichette 26

Why John Olerud Was the Winter's Best Free-Agent Acquisition

Alex Rodriguez walked five times on Saturday, giving him 18 walks in the Mariners' first 18 games. Rodriguez only has Ernie Banks in his way on the list of most home runs by a shortstop in a single season (min: 75 games at shortstop):

Name            Year    HR

Ernie Banks     1958    47
Ernie Banks     1959    45
Ernie Banks     1955    44
Ernie Banks     1957    43
Alex Rodriguez  1998    42
Alex Rodriguez  1999    42

Here's the list of most walks by a shortstop in a single season:

Name            Year    BB

Eddie Joost     1949   149
Eddie Joost     1952   122
Luke Appling    1935   122
Luke Appling    1949   121
Eddie Lake      1947   120

Since 1955, only once has a shortstop drawn 100 walks: Cal Ripken, with 102 in 1988.

Rany Jazayerli, M.D., can be reached at ranyj@baseballprospectus.com.

Rany Jazayerli is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Rany's other articles. You can contact Rany by clicking here

Related Content:  Ernie Banks

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