Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Best Pitching Duos in History (Part III--1920-1929)

Waite Hoyt and Bob Shawkey/ New York Yankees (1921-1924)

A self-proclaimed "fastball pitcher," Hoyt had stints with the Giants and Red Sox before arriving in the Bronx. He gave his best years to the Yankees, winning 16 or more games seven times between 1921 and 1928. In '28, he led the league with 8 saves while also collecting 23 victories.

Shawkey's best years came between 1916 and 1924, when he won 20 games on four occasions. He began his major league career with the A's at the end of the club's deadball dynasty. Shawkey once struck out 15 batters in a game--a Yankee record that stood for decades.
                                                               1921        1922        1923        1924
Waite Hoyt                                        19-13        19-12        17-9         18-13
Bob Shawkey                                    18-13        20-12       16-11        16-11

Stan Coveleski and George Uhle/ Cleveland Indians (1921-1923)

Coveleski appeared in a previous post paired with Jim Bagby. His time of dominance extended into the 1920's as he won 20 games three times during the decade and captured 2 ERA titles. The right-hander found baseball to be rather stressful. "The pressure never lets up," he once said. "Lord, baseball is a worrying thing." 

Uhle picked up the nickname of "The Bull" because of his durability. He tossed 280-plus innings three times during his prime and led the league in complete games twice. Hefinished 63% of his lifetime starts. Uhle was an excellent hitter, compiling a .289 batting average with 90 extra-base hits and 187 RBIs.

                                                               1921        1922         1923
Stan Coveleski                                  23-13       17-14         13-14*
George Uhle                                      16-13       22-16         26-16
*--Despite his sub .500 record, Coveleski led the league with a 2.76 ERA

Eppa Rixey and Pete Donahue/ Cincinnati Reds (1922-1926)

Rixey is one of those Hall of Famers who has gained very little attention over the years. He spent 8 seasons with the Phillies and led the league in losses twice on account of poor run support. Traded to the Reds in 1921, he was the ace of their staff several times, winning 15 or more games on five occasions between 1921 and 1928. He was a smooth fielder, logging five errorless seasons.  

Donahue, a right-hander, had five dominant years in the majors. Like many players of his era, he was overworked and it would prove to be his undoing. He led the league twice in innings pitched and averaged 265 frames per year from 1922-1926. After that, he never posted a record above .500.

                                                             1922        1923        1924        1925        1926
Eppa Rixey                                       25-13       20-15       16-9          21-11        14-8
Pete Donahue                                   18-9         21-15        15-14       21-14        20-14

Burleigh Grimes and Dazzy Vance/ Brooklyn Robins (1922-1924)

Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes was the last legal spit-baller in the majors. He moistened the ball by chewing slippery elm bark. The resin irritated his skin so he avoided shaving on the days of his starts, earning the nickname of "Ol' Stubblebeard." Grimes was fiercely competitive and threw at hitters often. He remained effective into his late-thirties, gathering 270 lifetime victories.

Another Hall of Famer, Vance was a late-bloomer, recording his first 20 win season at the age of 31. He captured a triple crown in '24 with 28 wins, 262 strikeouts and a 2.16 ERA. He led the league in K's for seven straight seasons. He also paced the loop in shutouts four times and ERA three times.

                                                                 1922            1923            1923
Burleigh Grimes                                  17-14           21-18            22-13
Dazzy Vance                                         18-12          18-15             28-6

 Ray Kremer and Lee Meadows/ Pittsburgh Pirates (1925-1927)

Unless you're a fan of Pittsburgh Pirates history, you've probably never heard of Kremer or Meadows.
Kremer spent his entire ten-year career with the Pirates and was a mainstay in the rotation for 7 of those seasons. Between 1924-1930, he averaged 18 wins per year. He led the league in ERA twice. In Pirates' World Series win over Senators in 1925, he won 2 of 3 decisions and posted a 3.00 ERA. He used various arm angles and speeds to keep hitters off balance.

Meadows was the first modern major leaguer to wear glasses on the field and picked up the nickname "Specs." He began his career with the dreadful Cardinals and Phillies, leading the league twice in losses. Joining the Pirates in 1924, he won no fewer than 19 games in three straight seasons. He turned in a quality start in the '25 Series, but the Pirates offense failed him as he was strapped with a loss.

                                                                   1925        1926           1927
Ray Kremer                                            17-8         20-6             19-8
Lee Meadows                                         19-10       20-9             19-10

Lefty Grove and Rube Walberg/ Philadelphia A's (1927-1929)

Grove was so fast, one writer famously commented that he could "throw a lamb chop past a wolf." Among the sorest losers in history, he was known to tear apart the clubhouse on the heels of a tough defeat. He led the AL in strikeouts every year form 1925-1931. A nine-time ERA leader, he captured two triple crowns (in '30 and '31). He hung around just long enough to collect 300 wins then retired at the age of 41.

Another left-hander, Walberg was at the heart of the A's turnaround in the late '20's. Before then, the club had been the laughing stock of the majors for roughly a decade. Between 1927 and 1932, Walberg posted 16 or more victories five times. He had the distinction of giving up 17 homers to Babe Ruth--more than any other hurler. An excellent fielder, he enjoyed two error-free campaigns. He was among the top ten in strikeouts five times and finished second to Grove in 1927.     

                                                                                   1927         1928        1929
Rube Walberg                                                       16-12         17-12         18-11
Lefty Grove                                                             20-13         24-8         20-6

Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock/New York Yankees (1926-1928)

 After Bob Shawkey lost his effectiveness, Hoyt teamed with fellow Hall of Famer Herb Pennock.
Pennock was on the pennant winning A's squad in 1914, posting an 11-4 record. After the Series sweep at the hands of the underdog Braves that year, he was dealt to the Red Sox. The Sox were loaded with lively arms at the time and Pennock wouldn't have a chance to prove himself until 1919-'20, when he won 32 games. Dished to the Yankees in Harry Frazee's infamous roster purge, the left-hander would had his best seasons between 1923 and 1928, averaging 19 wins per year. He helped the Yanks to three World Series championships. Hoyt pitched beside him in two.

                                                                                1926          1927          1928
Waite Hoyt                                                        16-12           22-7            23-7
Herb Pennock                                                   23-11           19-8             17-8  

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