Monday, March 10, 2008

Most Career Hits Allowed per 9 Innings, 1901-2007

This kind of relates to the previous post about WHIP. Hits Allowed as a statistic has been dismissed more and more as the concept of a pitcher not having much control over a ball put in play takes hold in sabermetric circles. Of course, that's not much comfort to the guy who's just given up seven straight hits in an inning leading to a quick exit. Instead of focusing on hits per inning, however, let's look at hits per nine innings (mostly because it's easier and doesn't involve envisioning three-quarters of a hit).

It's common sense that if a pitcher, through whatever means, allows only a few hits every time he's on the mound, he'll do better than a guy who gives up hits a lot. A pitcher that records most of his outs through strikeouts is a good example: if you strikeout one batter every inning, that's one less play for your defense to screw up. The list of the fewest Hits Allowed per 9 Innings (H/9) can be found here. As expected, there's a lot of good pitchers at the top of the list.

As with WHIP, I've made a chart showing the average number of hits allowed per 9 innings for the major leagues from 1901-2007. It's easy to see the various periods of baseball in the twentieth century: the deadball era has a big drop followed by an explosion in the 1920's and 1930's. Relative stability in golden era of the 1940's and 1950's is followed by a drop in 1968 before a slow and steady rise to about 9.4 H/9 today. Since I haven't adjusted any of the numbers below, it makes sense the leaders in this category threw in the era from 1920-1940. Thus I'll post the overall list first, and then one of pitchers since 1940 to try and bring a more recent feel.

Most Career Hits Allowed per 9 Innings, Minimum 1000 Innings Pitched
  1. Chief Hogsett, 11.13
  2. Dick Coffman, 10.982
  3. Benny Frey, 10.978
  4. Sloppy Thurston, 10.85
  5. Jack Russell, 10.77
  6. Ken Holloway, 10.63
  7. Clarence Mitchell, 10.61
  8. Jake Miller, 10.60
  9. Lil Stoner, 10.58
  10. Brian Moehler, 10.56
  11. Alex Ferguson, 10.5463
  12. Fred Heimach, 10.5458
  13. Clint Brown, 10.54
  14. Glendon Rusch, 10.49
  15. Phil Collins, 10.47
  16. Scott Karl, 10.46
  17. Rollie Naylor, 10.451
  18. Ray Benge, 10.448
  19. George Blaeholder, 10.44
  20. Huck Betts, 10.41
Cripes. Mothers, don't let your children grow up to be Chief Hogsett (or a Lil Stoner, but that's a different story). Hogsett is atop this list and the WHIP list. His career is nothing special: he had an ERA+ of 94 and a record of 63-87, but he had decent seasons in 1932 and 1935. I like that he issued 501 walks against 441 strikeouts in his eleven seasons.

Those who know their mediocre pitchers will note only three pitchers in that list did not pitch between 1920 and 1940. As promised, here's the list from 1941 until today.

Most Career Hits Allowed per 9 Innings, Minimum 1000 Innings Pitched
Active Picthers
  1. Brian Moehler, 10.56
  2. Glendon Rusch, 10.49
  3. LaTroy Hawkins, 10.17
  4. Josh Fogg, 10.12
  5. Elmer Dessens, 10.11
  6. Esteban Loaiza, 10.10
  7. Aaron Sele, 10.087
  8. Sidney Ponson, 10.086
  9. Kyle Lohse, 10.07
  10. Darren Oliver, 9.97
  11. Jason Jennings, 9.96
  12. John Thomson, 9.90
  13. Jeff Suppan, 9.87
  14. Rodrigo Lopez, 9.85
  15. Jamey Wright, 9.833
  16. Mark Redman, 9.827
  17. Julian Tavarez, 9.81
  18. Jeff Weaver, 9.77
  19. Paul Byrd, 9.75
  20. Jon Lieber, 9.74
Paul Byrd has the highest career ERA+ of those on the list, at 105. None of the guys on this list are great pitchers, but some of them have the "quality innings-eater" label.

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