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The Boss
04-21-2011, 22:51
I dont know where it came from, but at some point in my childhood I was led to believe that Cy Young and some other all time great baseball players weren't all that great. In The Mariano Rivera Award (http://66wfan.net/showthread.php?1366-The-Mariano-Rivera-Award) thread the subject came up so I decided to look into the numbers and some other factors of the era to see how great he really was.

The first thing to look at, is career wins. An incredible 511 wins is easily tops in history. But this list also shows you that #8 is Maddux in the top spot for a recent player. Does this mean that the top 7 were all better then he or Clemens? (by 150 wins at that).


1 Cy Young† 511
2 Walter Johnson† 417
3 Grover Cleveland Alexander† 373
4 Christy Mathewson† 373
5 Pud Galvin† 365
6 Warren Spahn† 363
7 Kid Nichols† 361
8 Greg Maddux 355
9 Roger Clemens 354
10 Tim Keefe† 342

Cy also leads baseball in career loses with 316

Another stat Cy Young owns is Innings pitched for a career. You notice more "modern" pitchers are in the top 10 in this category then in career wins:

1 Cy Young 7,354⅔
2 Pud Galvin 6,003⅓
3 Walter Johnson 5,914⅔
4 Phil Niekro 5,404⅓
5 Nolan Ryan 5,386
6 Gaylord Perry 5,350⅓
7 Don Sutton 5,282⅓
8 Warren Spahn * 5,243⅔
9 Steve Carlton * 5,217⅓
10 Grover Cleveland Alexander 5,190


Cy Young also blows away the competition in the Career complete games totals. Roy Halladay leads current players in Career CG with 58, only 690 behind Cy:

1. Cy Young - 749 (Had 815 Career starts)
2. Pud Galvin - 646
3. Tim Keefe - 554
4. Walter Johnson - 531
5. Kid Nichols - 531
6. Bobby Mathews - 525
7. Mickey Welch - 525
8. Charley Radbourn - 489
9. John Clarkson - 485
10. Tony Mullane - 468

Cy Young pitched from 1890-1911. As I sit here and think about a baseball game being played in 1890, I can’t imagine the game being anything close to a modern game. I can’t imagine anything close to an exercise program being part of the team and I would imagine the fundamentals were awful. Looking at the home run stats of the era, I would have to assume that very few hitters were actually any good. In that time period the pitching mound was around 50 feet from the plate and pitchers would pitch underhand if they got tired in a game. I mean are you kidding me? It’s hard for me to take any of Cy Youngs statistics seriously. I can accept that he was better then the other pitchers of his day, but I also believe with all my heart that if you put Cy Young in his prime on the mound in Yankee stadium tomorrow night to face a modern day line-up, he wouldn’t make it out of the 2nd inning. With his fastball topping out at 90mph and his attitude of letting batters hit the ball since they couldn’t do anything with it anyway, he would get smacked around every time out.

I read somewhere that if the Cy Young award existed while he was pitching, he would have one it 3 times because he was only the best pitcher 3 year out of his career. Take that for whats its worth.

mezz1962
04-21-2011, 23:17
The problem taking one player and putting them in an another era, is most people just say how would they do in today's game and not factor in how would todays player be in their era as well.

In Cy Young s time it was routine to throw 175 pitches in a game and then go an work a job at night. Then after throwing all those pitches, go out and pitch the next day again. I cant see any of today's pitchers doing that. I also cant see any of today's ballplayers hitting with that equipment.

Imagine how many HR's arod would NOT have if he was hitting at the Polo grounds with a 485 foot center field fence?

So there is no honest way to take one ball player out of an era and place them in todays game without factoring in what they had to go trough also.

Remember back then you could throw splitters, quick pitch, and do a few other things like cut the ball, It's not like today where a ball gets changed every pitch, they used a ball that was beaten down, so all these HR hitters today would have to face a lot tougher pitching than they do now. Also the mounds in those era's were much higher.

I believe it was the late 60's early 70's the MLB lowered the mound from 17" because no one could hit the ball. Check out some of those era's ERA's because the mound height was much higher, not because the pitchers were worse or better than today's pitchers, the angle was so sharp, it made hitting nearly impossible

mezz1962
04-21-2011, 23:29
Not to mention, shitty feilds, bad equipment, working another job, no weights (Remember weights were thought to be a bad thing). There were also no nutritionist, no gator-aid, hell alot of them did not even have water in the barn storming days. Imagine pitching a 13 inning game without a drink of water?

mezz1962
04-21-2011, 23:33
I am currently reasearching my next book on Pete Reiser he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and he kept getting knocked out because he kept running into the Cement walls. One time he was paralyzed for a while, and one time he hit so hard he cracked his skull opened but he still made the catch and threw the ball back in to hold the runner before collapsing. He was knocked out 11 times and it ruined his career. Can't imagine any ball player doing that in today's era...Hell you get a concussion now and you sit for the rest of the year.,..these guys just kept playing

he got hurt one time so bad that Pete was once given his last rites in the ballpark.

The Boss
04-22-2011, 00:00
Not to mention, shitty feilds, bad equipment, working another job, no weights (Remember weights were thought to be a bad thing). There were also no nutritionist, no gator-aid, hell alot of them did not even have water in the barn storming days. Imagine pitching a 13 inning game without a drink of water?

Those conditions were prominent way more recently then the 1800's, so just imagine back then how much worse it was. Some guy pumping well water into a bucket and players taking sips from a big ladle. 100 degrees and humid, no showers. No AC. those guys were swinging first pitch just dying to get out of there. Some ripped up filthy cloth wrapped around their feet to run in. forget it

HurricanDrew
04-22-2011, 06:22
Personally when comparing pitchers like this its not a question of greatness its a matter of era. Modern baseball is a game of stamina and athleticism. Baseball has become a career while in the past players had full time jobs in the offseason. Coming with this year round grind and improvements in the health field pitchers by some standards are being "babied." How can a modern player even come close to the unreachable innings pitched plateau that has been set forth. That being said Baseball has also emerged as a world wide sport. Talent from every corner of the globe competes on a daily basis. In the early times of the game people were able to put up gaudy numbers but as you pointed out the hitters were at a serious disadvantage and probably most of them inept. Its fun to look at these numbers put up by the pioneers of the game we love but like everything in life, Perception is key.

mezz1962
04-22-2011, 06:55
Also remember, there were no minors, or as many pro teams, the talent was not spread out like it is today. Also remember the people were playing for their jobs everyday, no 100 million guaranteed contracts and if you don't think I'll come in spikes high at 2nd to save my job, or throw one at your head, you have another thing coming.

Batters today do not fear getting hit anymore, Bob Gibson could show pitchers today how to really pitch

Jersey John
04-22-2011, 08:29
If pitchers of that era threw with the intensity they did and faced the talent of today they wouldn't be throwing those huge amount of innings. I also thinnk that the best hitters in 1890 wouldnt even make a modern day roster. if you could put Maddux in a time machine and have him pitch in 1890 he would probably throw a shutout everytime.

Jimmy from Brooklyn
04-26-2011, 17:54
Personally when comparing pitchers like this its not a question of greatness its a matter of era. Modern baseball is a game of stamina and athleticism. Baseball has become a career while in the past players had full time jobs in the offseason. Coming with this year round grind and improvements in the health field pitchers by some standards are being "babied." How can a modern player even come close to the unreachable innings pitched plateau that has been set forth. That being said Baseball has also emerged as a world wide sport. Talent from every corner of the globe competes on a daily basis. In the early times of the game people were able to put up gaudy numbers but as you pointed out the hitters were at a serious disadvantage and probably most of them inept. Its fun to look at these numbers put up by the pioneers of the game we love but like everything in life, Perception is key.

That says it all right there. Cy Young probably would get slapped silly against todays line-up, but that doesnt mean if a 19 Year of Cy came up today he couldnt have developed and been great against todays talent.