Monday, December 12, 2016

TOUGH LUCK LOSERS: Pitchers Who Deserved Much Better in the Win Column


A spit-baller, Walsh holds the record for lowest lifetime ERA with a 1.82 mark. He led the league in that category during the 1910 campaign yet still managed to lose 20 games. The White Sox scored just 456 runs all season (second worst in the majors) rendering Walsh's 1.27 ERA virtually meaningless on multiple occasions. Between 1907 and 1912, Walsh averaged 374 innings of work per year. By 1913, his arm was shot. He was enshrined at Cooperstown in 1946.


Born Irvin Key Wilhelm, this journeyman right-hander despised his nickname. He lasted through nine big league seasons nevertheless and set a minor league record with 72 consecutive scoreless innings. He deserved a better fate in 1908, losing 22 games in spite of his sparkling 1.87 ERA. The Brooklyn Superbas lost over 100 games that year and were outscored by a collective margin of 141 in an era when runs were at a premium.


Scott spent his entire career with the White Sox. He was big for the era at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds. Hailing from Wyoming, he carried the nickname of "Death Valley." Scott lost a league high 21 games in 1913 though he posted a handsome 1.90 ERA. He gave up just 2 home runs all season. His teammates--deadball standouts Hal Chase, Buck Weaver and Shano Collins among them--managed to score just 486 runs--worst in the American League.

1904 -- 1905

Between 1904 and 1908, Howell compiled a collective ERA of 2.02. He had the misfortune of playing on one of the worst teams in the majors. With lackluster offensive support, he lost 21 games in 1904 and 22 more the following year. His collective WHIP average of 1.07 in those two seasons indicates that he should have won far more often. Extremely versatile, Howell appeared in over a hundred games as an infielder and outfielder.


Largely forgotten today, Rucker was one of the top left-handers of the Deadball Era, winning 13 or more games in seven consecutive seasons. In 1912, the hapless Brooklyn Dodgers consistently failed to put runs on the board when Rucker was pitching. Rucker led the league with 6 shutouts and posted a 2.21 ERA yet somehow managed to lose 21 games. He spent his entire career in Brooklyn and retired with an even-.500 record.


The Senators were so star-crossed, they inspired the popular saying: "Washington--First in War, First in Peace and Last in the American League!" The second winningest pitcher of all time behind Cy Young, Johnson felt the poignancy of that statement in 1909, when he lost 25 games while posting a miserly 2.22 ERA. The Senators dropped a total of 110 games in '09, including a run of 11 in a row from August 26 to September 6.   


A little known Hall of Famer, Rixey was outstanding during the Deadball Era. When the lively ball arrived, he kept right on winning, accumulating a lifetime total of 266 victories. In 1917, the reliable southpaw made 18 appearances in Philadelphia's Baker Bowl, a hitter's paradise that featured a 281 foot foul line in right field. Rixey fared remarkably well in spite of the hazard, accruing a spectacular 2.27 ERA. The Phillies didn't have the offense to back him up, however, and Rixey absorbed 21 losses. 


"Long Tom" Hughes won 20 games for Boston in 1903 and pitched in baseball's first World Series. Two seasons later, he was toeing the rubber for the lowly Washington Senators. The Capital City crew finished 23 games below .500 that year and Hughes absorbed 20 losses in spite of his 2.35 ERA. 


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