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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Alexander the Great played on good, not bad, Phillies teams 1911-1917.

Grover Cleveland Alexander, aka, Pete Alexander, is sometimes given extra credit for his great pitching because some assume that Alexander created his record during his glory period before the onset of troubles from World War I despite playing for bad Philadelphia Phillies teams in 1911 through 1917. It turns out those Phillies teams were uncharacteristically good even in games whose pitching decisions went to pitchers other than Alexander.

Grover Cleveland Alexander omitted in the MLB "VOTE FOR THE TOP FOUR PLAYERS IN FRANCHISE HISTORY". Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Grover Cleveland Alexander may have been one of the five greatest pitchers in history, (but) was not a candidate among the top eight Phillies of all time.
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In examining his record relative to his team's and to the runs scored by his teams let's include the same data for another comparably great pitcher for those same years 1911-1917.

Grover Cleveland Alexander
Bats: Right, Throws: Right 
Height: 6' 1", Weight: 185 lb.
Born: February 26, 1887 in Elba, Nebraska, US


Walter Perry Johnson
Bats: Right, Throws: Right 
Height: 6' 1", Weight: 200 lb.
Born: November 6, 1887 in Humboldt, KS


They were born the same year but Walter Johnson will be shown as a year older in the baseball records because age is determined by whether a player was born in the first or second half of a year.

Johnson started in the big leagues in 1907, Alexander in 1911.  But Alexander pitched these innings in the minors prior:
1909 219
1910 345


careerWLPctInningsERA+SOSO/9SO/W
Alexander373208.6425,1901352,1983.82.29
Johnson417279.5995,9141473,5095.32.57


The focus of this post: 1911-1917.  Two factors:
- Runs scored by that pitcher's team relative to the league (Hi, Ave, Low)
- Team record overall and the difference between W-L record of the pitcher and rest of the pitchers on the staff.  "Kill the Win" was not applicable 100 years ago.

Click this link to view the data in more detail.

Alexander:

G/RG/RG/RG/RPhiPhiPhiPHI-Alex
yearPhiHiAveLowWLPctWLPctDifYearAgeTmLgWLW-L%
19114.34.94.43.57973.5205160.459-.060191124PHINL2813.683
19124.45.34.64.27379.4805462.466-.015191225PHINL1917.528
19134.44.64.13.58863.5836655.545-.037191326PHINL228.733
19144.24.33.83.27480.4814765.420-.061191427PHINL2715.643
19153.83.83.63.29062.5925952.532-.061191528PHINL3110.756
19163.83.93.53.19162.5955850.537-.058191629PHINL3312.733
19173.843.538765.5725752.523-.049191730PHINL3013.698
Ave4.104.403.933.39582484.546392396.497-.04919088.683

Johnson:

G/RG/RG/RG/RWasWasWasWas-John
yearWasHiAveLowWLPctWLPctDifYearAgeTmLgWLW-L%
19114.15.74.63.76490.4163977.336-.079191123WSHAL2513.658
19124.55.24.43.59161.5995849.542-.057191224WSHAL3312.733
19133.85.23.93.29064.5845457.486-.098191325WSHAL367.837
19143.64.73.63.18173.5265355.491-.035191426WSHAL2818.609
19153.7543.38568.5565855.513-.042191527WSHAL2713.675
19163.44.33.72.97677.4975157.472-.025191628WSHAL2520.556
19173.54.23.63.37479.4845163.447-.036191729WSHAL2316.590
Ave3.804.903.973.29561512.523364413.468-.05419799.666

Team winning percentage without the personal record of Alexander or Johnson for those seven seasons: .497 and .468 respectively.  Alexander's team was effectively at .500 without him and with him .546.  In his final three seasons when Alexander won at least 30 games the team winning percentage without Alexander:
.532
.537
.523

Obviously, those were good Phillies teams that helped Alexander achieve his success.  

For Phillies seasons 1911-1917 there were 35 pitcher seasons that qualified for the lead in winning percentage, including multiples for individual pitchers.  Here are the top ten:
RkPlayerW-L%YearAgeTmLgGGSCGSHOGFWLSVIP
1Pete Alexander0.756191528PHINL49423612731103376.1
2Pete Alexander0.733191629PHINL48453816333123389
3Pete Alexander0.733191326PHINL473623992282306.1
4Pete Alexander0.698191730PHINL4544348030130388
5Tom Seaton0.692191325PHINL52352151427121322.1
6Eppa Rixey0.688191625PHINL3833203322100287
7Pete Alexander0.683191124PHINL48373171128133367
8Erskine Mayer0.647191727PHINL281811161160160
9Pete Alexander0.643191427PHINL4639326727151355
10Eppa Rixey0.643191322PHINL3519918952155.2
Now the top ten of 34 seasons for Senators:

RkPlayerW-L%YearAgeTmLgGGSCGSHOGFWLSVIP
1Walter Johnson0.837191325WSHAL48362911103672346
2Walter Johnson0.733191224WSHAL50373471333122369
3Joe Boehling0.708191322WSHAL382518391774235.1
4Walter Johnson0.675191527WSHAL4739357827134336.2
5Walter Johnson0.658191123WSHAL4037366325131322.1
6Bob Groom0.649191227WSHAL4340282224131316
7Carl Cashion0.625191221WSHAL261713141061170.1
8Joe Boehling0.619191423WSHAL272414231380196
9Doc Ayers0.609191524WSHAL401682181493211.1
10Walter Johnson0.609191426WSHAL5140339928181371.2

1911-1917: several pitchers other than Alexander and Johnson had very good records on the Phillies and Senators, especially on the Phillies.

1. The best pitcher likely improves his team's overall record, especially if that pitcher is an all time great.

2. Even all time great pitchers need good teams to create great records.

3. Alexander was great enough a pitcher that he does not need false and/or misleading stuff to establish that.

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