MLB.com vs. A Sip of Sports (Left-Handed Starters Edition)

Not much disagreement on left-handed starters between MLB.com and ASIPOFSPORTS when it comes to picking each teams best left handed starting pitchers. We agreed on 77 percent of the choices. The most at any position we have compared so far. Our main complaint is why MLB.com decided to list left-handed starters as a separate category. At no other position do we sort players by their dominant hand. 

Toronto Blue Jays

ASOS:      Jimmy Key

MLB.com: Jimmy Key

Pretty easy to agree on this one

Baltimore Orioles

ASOS:      Dave McNally

MLB.com: Dave McNally

Thought they might go with Mike Cuellar. Again we’re happy to agree.

Tampa Bay Rays

ASOS:      David Price

MLB.com: David Price

Another easy one

Boston Red Sox

ASOS:      Babe Ruth

MLB.com: Lefty Grove

Grove was the better pitcher, but if you include offensive contributions (and we do at every other position), then Ruth is the choice. “The Babe” was a pretty fair pitcher also.

New York Yankees

ASOS:      Whitey Ford

MLB.com: Whitey Ford

Who else could you take? Andy Pettitte?

Cleveland Indians

ASOS:      Sam McDowell     

MLB.com: Sam McDowell

Herb Score was on the trajectory to the Hall of Fame until he was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Gil McDougald in May of 1957. Score was only 23 years old and had a record of 38-20 with a ERA of 2.63 and 547 strikeouts in 513 innings at the time of the injury. He was never the same, going 17-26 in his five remaining seasons in the Big Leagues. C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee both won the Cy Young Awards while in Cleveland, but both left the Indians the next season and never returned. That brings us back to “Sudden” Sam McDowell. McDowell led the American League in strikeouts five times in his 11 years in Cleveland, but he also led the League in Walks five times. He finished with 122 wins in Cleveland, the most ever by an Indians’ lefty, but was dealt to the Giants in 1973 for Gaylord Perry. Perry would win one of his two Cy Young Awards his first year after the trade. Just to be clear, we’re not sure McDowell would be listed as one of the top 10 pitchers in Indians’ history, but he’s still the most deserving choice for the top southpaw in franchise history.

Kansas City Royals

ASOS:      Paul Splittorff

MLB.com: Paul Splittorff

Splittorff could have been the pick as the 4th starter for Kansas City if we hadn’t taken closer Dan Qisenberry as one of the four. An easy selection.

Detroit Tigers

ASOS:      Hal Newhouser

MLB.com: Hal Newhouser

Thought they might discount Newhouser enough because of the war so they could go with Mickey Lolich. They didn’t, good for them.

Minnesota Twins

ASOS:      Jim Kaat

MLB.com: Johan Santana

Kaat’s record in Minnesota was 190-159 with a WAR of 30.9 and 185 Win Shares. Santana was 93-44 with a 35.8 WAR and 120 Win Shares. Santana did win two Cy Young Awards to Kaat’s zero. However, big Jim threw 3,014 innings in Minnesota to Santana’s 1,309, more than twice as many. Plus, Kaat was the best fielding pitcher of his generation, maybe ever (16 Gold Gloves). We had Kaat 3rd and Santana 4th on our All Time franchise team, but the decision between the two was not difficult. We’ve got the right man. 

Chicago White Sox

ASOS:      Billy Pierce

MLB.com: Mark Buehrle

The top four ChiSox hurlers were all right handed, but Billy Pierce would have been 5th. He won 186 games in Chicago (Buerhle won 161) and led Buehrle in WAR (49.3-49.0) and Win Shares (223-176). It’s close enough that had Pierce played before 1947 we would have gone with Buerhle, but he didn’t, his first win came in 1948. We’re comfortable that we got the right one.

Los Angeles Angels

ASOS:      Chuck Finley

MLB.com: Chuck Finley

The best pitcher in Angel history.

Houston Astros

ASOS:      Dallas Keuchel    

MLB.com: Dallas Keuchel

Bob Knepper threw 549 more innings than Keuchel, while winning 17 more games in an Astros’ uniform, and also led in Win Shares 72-71. But we’ll still go with Dallas. He won a Cy Young Award and led in WAR while in Houston 18.0 to 9.9. We’re very comfortable agreeing with MLB.com.

Oakland Athletics

ASOS:      Lefty Grove

MLB:com: Eddie Plank

Plank leads in all the metrics that we use, so his selection is very well reasoned. He leads Grove in wins 284-195, WAR of 74.6-68.4, Win Shares 308-248 and innings pitched 3,861- 2,401. This is one where those numbers are misleading. Peak value and the timeline favors Grove. Grove led the American League in 16 Triple Crown categories (Wins, ERA, Strikeouts) during his 9 years in Philadelphia. Plank didn’t lead the league in any of those categories in his 14 years in Philly. Grove’s peak was much higher. Also, Plank was throwing in the American League at its beginning, when it was a marginal Major League. In defense of Eddie, he was a very effective pitcher from 1910 to 1914 when it was the better league, but he was pitching for the best team in baseball which inflates his won/loss record quite a bit.   

Seattle Mariners

ASOS:      Randy Johnson

MLB.com: Randy Johnson

Sorry to leave Jamie Moyer off the list.

Texas Rangers

ASOS:      Kenny Rogers

MLB.com: C.J. Wilson

Wilson went 43-35 with the Rangers and earned a 11.6 WAR. Rogers was 133-96 with a 31.2 WAR. Kenny Rogers was not a popular player in Texas with the press or the fans. That’s the only logical reason to choose Wilson over him. 

Atlanta Braves

ASOS:      Warren Spahn

MLB.com: Tom Glavine

Two members of the Hall of Fame and 300 game winners. Glavine’s numbers with the Braves were a 244-147 record in 4,413 innings with an ERA of 3.54 and 2,607 strikeouts. He won two Cy Young Awards and finished in the top three four other times. His WAR was 58.6 with 236 Win Shares. These are excellent numbers, but pale next to what Spahn accomplished with the franchise. A 356-229 record in 5,046 innings with an ERA of 3.05 and 2,493 strikeouts. Spauhn’s WAR in Boston/Milwaukee was 91.9, Win Shares of 405. He had one Cy Young Award with three other top three finishes, even though the Cy Young Award did not begin until 1956 (when Spahn was 35 years old), and was only awarded to one pitcher a year representing all of Major League Baseball. In the article justifying their choice of Glavine over Spahn MLB.com opined that Glavine’s best seasons were more valuable than Spahn’s. The numbers do not support that hypothesis. Spahn’s top three seasons had WARs of 9.4, 8.8, and 7.7. Glavine’s were 8.5, 6.1, and 5.9. Win Shares show a similar result, with Spahn’s top three being 32, 31, 28 to Glavine’s 23, 23, and 22.. Warren Spahn spent three years in the United States Army during World War II (he won a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge) before he won his first Major League game at age 25. He faced Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson. He was a longtime teammate of Henry Aaron. There is a case to be made that he is the greatest pitcher of all time. Unless you extract a huge penalty for the era Spahn dominated there is no objective criteria to justify MLB.com’s pick. 

Miami Marlins

ASOS:      Dontrelle Willis

MLB.com: Dontrelle Willis

Another easy pick

New York Mets

ASOS:      Jerry Koosman

MLB.com: Jerry Koosman

Tom Seaver’s longtime teammate.

Washington Nationals

ASOS:      Gio Gonzalez    

MLB.com: Gio Gonzalez

No southpaw made our Expo/National top four. Gio would have been 5th.

Philadelphia Phillies

ASOS:      Steve Carlton

MLB.com: Steve Carlton

Doesn’t get much easier than this

Milwaukee Brewers

ASOS:      Teddy Higuera

MLB.com: Teddy Higuera

The best pitcher in Brewer history

St. Louis Cardinals

ASOS:      Harry Brecheen     

MLB.com: Harry Brecheen

It’s either Brecheen or Slim Sallee. 

Chicago Cubs

ASOS:      Hippo Vaughn

MLB.com: Hippo Vaughn

No Cub left-hander made our top four, but Vaughn would have been 5th.

Pittsburgh Pirates

ASOS:      Wilbur Cooper

MLB.com: Wilbur Cooper

Still holds the franchise record for career wins (202).

Cincinnati Reds

ASOS:      Eppa Rixey

MLB.com: Noodles Hahn

We admire MLB.com for having the guts to take an old timer like Noodles Hahn here. Hahn was a quality pitcher at the turn to the 20th century for the Reds, and is mostly forgotten today. He would have been our choice for the 5th starter for the franchise if we had gone with five pitchers. Unfortunately, Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey was our 3rd choice at that position. Rixey has the most wins in franchise history with 179, Hahn is tied for 10th with 127. Hahn does lead Rixey in WAR in Cincinnati 45.8-40.9, but Rixey is ahead in Win Shares, 211-158, and in our system, 2,105-1,942. Hahn is not an outrageous choice, but we think ours is better.

Arizona Diamondbacks

ASOS:      Randy Johnson

MLB.com: Randy Johnson

Second franchise that “The Big Unit” is the choice.

Los Angeles Dodgers

ASOS:      Sandy Koufax

MLB.com: Sandy Koufax

We thought MLB.com was going to take Clayton Kershaw and had our arguments organized to challenge that selection. They didn’t, and like us, went with Koufax. The case MLB.com made to justify the Koufax pick was basically the same one we would have made. 

San Francisco Giants

ASOS:      Carl Hubbell

MLB.com: Carl Hubbell

A great pitcher.

San Diego Padres

ASOS:      Randy Jones    

MLB.com: Randy Jones

Another obvious one.

Colorado Rockies

ASOS:      Jorge de la Rosa

MLB.com: Jorge de la Rosa

De la Rosa won only 86 games for Colorado. It says all you need to know about Rockies’ history that that’s the most in franchise history.

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