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November 12, 2007 12:00 am

You Could Look It Up: Sweepers, Part 3


Steven Goldman

Wrapping up the grand historical tour of the game's four-and-out championships.

Hurrying this series on World Series sweeps to its conclusion, rather than do all of the remaining sweeps at a minimal level of detail, what we'll do is stop well short of the present day, covering the sweeps that took place between 1950 and 1990 in depth, and leaving the sweeps by the mini-dynastic Yankees (1998 and 1999 over the Padres and Braves, respectively), the Epsteinian Red Sox (2004 and 2007, over the Cardinals and Rockies), and Ozzie Guillen's random-stroke-of-good-fortune White Sox (defeated the Astros, 2005) to your memories, and perhaps a later collection of articles.

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Measuring the rate at which a pitcher strikes batters out is an important part of the toolbox.

Statheads and strikeouts…it's an age-old romance. For pitchers, we'll tell you that strikeouts are the biggest predictor of a hurler's future success. When batters go down, though, while we acknowledge that the whiff is an out--a negative result--it's an out we put on a pedestal as one of the Three True Outcomes (along with the walk and the homer). A noble out, I guess.

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Yesterday, it was Barry Bonds. Today, Derek looks at the performance of another 40-year-old who just keeps getting better.

Author/recluse Rany Jazayerli noted that Johnson's having a ridiculous season. Check this out: Johnson has 257 strikeouts in his 31 starts so far, and has allowed just 41 walks. Fully 30% of the batters who step up to the plate against him whiff. One in 20 gets a free pass to first base. One in 50 hits a home run, and they better put their head down and run the bases, because while he's allowed 16 home runs, he's also hit ten batters.

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Special thanks to Retrosheet

Injuries to pitchers are not a new phenomenon. They date as far back as the rule change that allowed pitchers to throw overhand, and so do the attempts to restrict the workload of pitchers to a safe level.

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