Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Unearned Run Average

I said I'd post this a couple days ago but haven't been able to get around to it until now. Oops.

In my last post I talked about unearned runs throughout baseball history. To quickly recap, the nineteenth century was filled with errors and unearned runs, the early twentieth century saw steadily decreasing totals of unearned runs. Since the end of World War II, baseball's been relatively even when it comes to unearned runs, though they've again been decreasing in recent years.

With all of that in mind, I want to look at the career and single-season records for the highest unearned run average (UERA). Since a list of guys from the nineteenth century is pretty boring for a lot of baseball fans these days, I'll make a post-1946 list for the career record to go along with the overall list. For the single-season numbers, I've split the record into 1876-1919, 1920-1945, and 1946-present lists. For the career list, I'm going to use the usual minimum of 3000 career innings. For the season lists, I'll use the nice round number of 100 innings pitched as a minimum.

Highest Career Unearned Run Average
(miminum 3000 IP)
  1. Will White, 1877-1886, 2.41
  2. Jim Whitney, 1881-1890, 2.24
  3. Pud Galvin, 1879-1892, 2.16
  4. Adonis Terry, 1884-1897, 2.15
  5. Mickey Welch, 1880-1892, 2.08
  6. Bill Hutchison, 1884-1897, 2.00
  7. Jim McCormick, 1878-1887, 1.98
  8. Tony Mullane, 1881-1894, 1.96
  9. Silver King, 1886-1897, 1.92
  10. Gus Weyhing, 1887-1901, 1.92
Highest Career Unearned Run Average, 1946-2008
(miminum 3000 IP)
  1. Curt Simmons, 1947-1967, 0.63
  2. Jim Kaat, 1959-1983, 0.60
  3. Phil Niekro, 1964-1987, 0.54
  4. Bob Friend, 1951-1966, 0.53
  5. Charlie Hough, 1970-1994, 0.53
  6. Jerry Reuss, 1969-1990, 0.53
  7. Juan Marichal, 1960-1975, 0.52
  8. Tommy John, 1963-1989, 0.51
  9. Rick Wise, 1964-1982, 0.50
  10. Mike Torrez, 1967-1984, 0.48
  11. Kevin Brown, 1986-2005, 0.48
The active pitcher with the highest career UERA is Kenny Rogers at 0.47. Randy Johnson is second at 0.41. He won't reach 3000 innings pitched, but active reliever Julian Tavarez clocks in with a 0.64 career UERA, the highest among active players with 1000 or more innings.

Highest Single-Season Unearned Run Average, 1876-1919
(miminum 100 IP)
  1. Lon Knight, 1876 Philadelphia Athletics, 6.57
  2. Dory Dean, 1876 Cincinnati Reds, 5.45
  3. Mike Golden, 1878 Milwaukee Grays, 5.42
  4. Scott Stratton, 1889 Louisville Colonels, 5.25
  5. Bobby Mathews, 1877 Cincinnati Reds, 5.15
  6. Ernie Hickman, 1884 Kansas City Cowboys, 5.05
  7. Fred Corey, 1882 Worcester Ruby Legs, 4.99
  8. Cherokee Fisher, 1876 Cincinnati Reds, 4.91
  9. Mike Morrison, 1887 Cleveland Blues, 4.77
  10. Tom Poorman, 1880 Buffalo/Chicago, 4.68
The 1876 Reds had some issues on defense, methinks.

Highest Single-Season Unearned Run Average, 1920-1945
(miminum 100 IP)
  1. Lefty Weinart, 1922 Phillies, 2.16
  2. Lefty Weinart, 1923 Phillies, 2.13
  3. Jesse Winters, 1921 Phillies, 2.13
  4. Junior Thompson, 1942 Reds, 2.04
  5. George Smith, 1921 Phillies, 1.99
  6. Carl Holling, 1921 Tigers, 1.99
  7. Chubby Dean, 1939 Athletics, 1.93
  8. Ed Heusser, 1940 Athletics, 1.88
  9. Dave Keefe, 1921 Athletics, 1.87
  10. Dutch Henry, 1930 White Sox, 1.86
This time it's the early-20's Phillies defense that didn't back up their pitching staff.

Highest Single-Season Unearned Run Average, 1946-2008
(miminum 100 IP)
  1. Craig Anderson, 1962 Mets, 2.06
  2. Anthony Young, 1993 Mets, 1.79
  3. Leo Kiely, 1954 Red Sox, 1.58
  4. Eddie Smith, 1946 White Sox, 1.55
  5. Ray Sadecki, 1966 Cardinals/Giants, 1.53
  6. Bobby Bolin, 1963 Giants, 1.51
  7. Sheldon Jones, 1951 Giants, 1.50
  8. Ed Farmer, 1979 Rangers/White Sox, 1.50
  9. Al Papai, 1949 Browns, 1.45
  10. Jack Hamilton, 1966 Mets, 1.45
It seems fitting that the hapless 1962 Mets have a pitcher on top of this list. For the curious, the 2008 leader was Jay Bergmann of the Nationals with a 0.97 UERA. Sidney Ponson of the Rangers and Yankees was the AL leader (and second overall) at 0.86.

3 comments:

Bopperland said...

So after all this, is it the pitcher or the team?

Theron Schultz said...

I would say it's mostly the team behind guys showing up on the list, but not everyone from those bad teams shows up. It's probably a mixture of bad defensive teams and pitchers who allow a relatively high number of baserunners or who primarily pitch to contact, allowing those runs to come around to score.

Gerry said...

So, what's the flip side? Who has the lowest URA? Who has the record for most runs given up in a season, none of them unearned (or, if you don't like double negatives, all of them earned)?