Friday, February 4, 2022

Finishing what you started

***Before the post:  I'm happily shocked at the level of interest in the upcoming PWE Card Draft.  Thanks to all who are participating and unless things go poorly (I doubt it!) it looks like we will definitely be doing it again!  The cards should start rolling in to me soon and we will get the actual draft set up.  Thanks!!

I'm an old man.  Really, I'm not that old, but I seem to have gotten old enough to have some 'old man' attitudes.  One of those attitudes is the perception that today's players are not as tough as the guys from my youth.

Now I know that's not really, really true.  Sure there are some of today's players that would be considered pansies back then, but the human machine hasn't really changed, and there are plenty of tough guys nowadays.  Really, most of what I see is that the game changed.  I wish it hadn't, but it has!

Here's one example:

Phil Niekro threw 303 complete games in his career

Steve Carlton threw 254 complete games in his career

That's a total of 557 complete games between two pretty good hall of fame pitchers.  So now we look at today's pitchers for comparison.  How many of the top active pitchers do you think it would take to throw as many combined Complete Games as Carlton and Niekro?

Starting from the active leaders in complete games, how about if we add up all the complete games from the top 6 pitchers: Wainwright + Verlander + Kershaw  + Santana + Kluber + Cueto?

Not yet...

Add the next five to the pitchers above: + Grienke + Price + Bumgarner + Sale + Keuchel?

Still not there.  How far do we have to go?

Adding Scherzer + Carrasco + Holland + Bailey + Arrieta +Bauer + Cole + Gray + Hendricks + Corbin + Eflin + Giolito + Miller + Teheran + Tomlin?

Yeah, still not there.  I will spare you the further lists.  Here is the answer.

Take ALL active pitchers, every single one, from Verlander down to some scrub that has only 1 complete game in his career.  Add them all up and you only get 555 Complete games (160 different pitchers).  Yes, between Carlton and Niekro, they pitched more complete games than every currently active pitcher in Major League Baseball!

The. Game. Has. Changed.

OK, enough dramatics, we all know the game has changed.  It's not even all bad, though I wish the game was still what it once was (old man!).

So that was fun for me, because I am a bit of a stat nerd.  But this isn't a baseball stat blog, it's a baseball card blog.  So here you go, a few extremely random cards for your viewing pleasure:


  1. Players in all sports have changed over the years. You will not see any iron men like Cal Ripken Jr again. Hockey just had their consecutive games played streak record broken and one wonders how long it will go. Most players take a "rest" day every so many days or games.

  2. Well, is it the players that have changed or is it the strategy that has changed?

    Are starting pitchers being removed because they want to be removed? Or is it because managers want to bring in the lefty specialist or whatever?

    When I saw you mention toughness, I thought this post would go in a different direction.

  3. I don't like the "real men" argument at all - for every Carlton, Seaver, etc. there's 100 guys we haven't heard of who blew their arms out far too early. Couple that with the fact that starters aren't really trained to go past 5-6 innings these days, and you have the reliver's game that baseball has become. I'd like to see starters go a bit deeper into games (bit tiring watching 8 different pitching changes every night), but I think it has way more to do with shifts in the game's strategy rather than anything involving toughness.

  4. All right, all right, I get it, and even agree guys! I found a cool stat and wanted to write a post about it, so I threw an 'easy' cliche out to get it started. I still think it's amazing!

  5. That piece of trivia isn't surprising (can't remember the last time I attended a game where a pitcher went the distance)... but is still a pretty cool testament to the guys we grew up watching.

  6. I would've never come across a piece of trivia like this on my own, so it's pretty neat to read about it, though I'd be lying if I said I was surprised by these numbers.

  7. Completing games used to be a badge of honor, pitchers would get angry when their manager pulled them. I think today's pitchers have bought more into the analytics and now their team has a better chance of winning when a batter hasn't seen them 3 or more times.