As Reds fans we are all sad to see Johnny Cueto go to Kansas City. I feel he ranks right up there with Jose Rijo and Mario Soto as the best Reds pitchers I have seen in my lifetime. I thought it would be interesting to figure out where Cueto ranks among all the starting pitchers who have played for the Reds throughout their illustrious history. I did a lot of research and learned a lot of things, some of them very surprising.

Websites like Fangraphs and Baseball Reference offer an endless panorama of baseball facts, tidbits, trivia and minutiae. It is easy to get lost and wander forever in that wonderful landscape of baseball history. How many pitchers have thrown for the Reds since the franchise began? Take a guess…

… the answer is 895 pitchers have retired at least one batter for the Reds. That is a LOT! That includes position players who got to pitch in mop-up duty. A whopping 588 hurlers have started a game for the Reds. So when trying to determine which starting pitcher is the best the Reds ever had it is going to take a long time to go through all the choices. Luckily only 51 pitchers have started 100 or more games for the Reds, so that whittles things down a lot. But that brings up an important question: how should we determine who the best pitcher was? What are the criteria? It is not as simple as using one statistic to crown the winner. There is no one single chart or graph that tells us everything we need to know. No matter which stat you choose there will always be guys near the top of the leaders’ list that don’t belong in the conversation of best Reds starter ever.

Take WAR for example. Wins Above Replacement is one modern statistic that tries to distill everything a player does on the field into one simple number. I don’t think it is perfect, far from it in fact, but it can help us get closer to the truth. Here are the top 30 pitchers by WAR in Reds’ history (chart uses FanGraphs’ version of WAR):

Rank Name W L ERA WAR
1 Paul Derringer 161 150 3.36 45.6
2 Eppa Rixey 179 148 3.33 41.7
3 Noodles Hahn 127 92 2.52 38.6
4 Dolf Luque 154 152 3.09 35.7
5 Jose Rijo 97 61 2.83 33.9
6 Joe Nuxhall 130 109 3.80 33.6
7 Jim Maloney 134 81 3.16 33.4
8 Bob Ewing 108 103 2.37 32.5
9 Pete Donohue 127 110 3.73 30.0
10 Bucky Walters 160 107 2.93 28.2
11 Jim O’Toole 94 81 3.59 27.6
12 Gary Nolan 110 67 3.02 27.0
13 Johnny Vander Meer 116 116 3.41 25.7
14 Ewell Blackwell 79 77 3.32 25.5
15 Mario Soto 100 92 3.47 24.9
16 Tony Mullane 163 124 3.15 24.3
17 Frank Dwyer 132 101 3.78 24.3
18 Aaron Harang 75 80 4.28 23.5
19 Red Lucas 109 99 3.64 23.1
20 Billy Rhines 97 79 3.27 23.1
21 Johnny Cueto 92 63 3.21 21.4
22 Ken Raffensberger 89 99 3.64 20.9
23 Bob Purkey 103 76 3.49 20.2
24 Rube Benton 84 91 3.28 17.1
25 Bronson Arroyo 105 94 4.05 17.0
26 Tom Browning 123 88 3.92 16.1
27 Tom Seaver 75 46 3.18 15.7
28 Don Gullett 91 44 3.03 15.3
29 Jakie May 55 63 3.99 15.3
30 Fred Norman 85 64 3.43 14.2

There are some excellent pitchers on there for sure, even some Hall of Famers. But there are some not-so-great pitchers on there too. I absolutely love Joe Nuxhall but there is no way in heck that he was the 6th-best pitcher in franchise history. There are a few pitchers on that list I have never heard of, so how can they be candidates for the best Reds pitcher ever? The problem is that WAR is a counting stat like Wins or RBI, rather than a rate stat like ERA or batting average. That means there are two ways to earn a high WAR score: 1.) Be a great player or 2.) Play a lot of games. Pitchers like Tom Seaver can earn a big chunk of WAR by being fantastic for a short time period, while pitchers like Joe Nuxhall or Tony Mullane can earn a big chunk of WAR by being decent for a long time. But we don’t want decent pitchers included in the discussion of the best ever do we?

Part of the problem here is that pitchers in the so-called Dead Ball Era were playing a different game than modern pitchers. Back in the 1800’s some pitchers threw 600 or more innings in a single season. In 1879 the Reds really only had one true pitcher on the team. They Reds played 81 games that year and Will White started 75 of them — and threw a complete game in all of them! In addition to White, the Reds had some really good pitchers in the 1800s, including Frank Dwyer, Tony Mullane and Billy Rhines. We will exclude them from the discussion henceforth because back in those days pitches could be delivered on a bounce, some threw underhanded and foul balls were not strikes.

In the early 1900’s the game started to resemble modern baseball, but the ball was made differently and did not travel the same as modern balls when hit. Noodles Hahn and Bob Ewing were the Reds’ stud pitchers in those days. We can safely leave them out of the discussion as well.

For the purpose of brevity, I am going to distill the list down to 16 pitchers. I eliminated any pitcher who earned his WAR purely through longevity. I eliminated the pre-1920 pitchers. I also eliminated a couple just because I didn’t think they belonged in the conversation (like Fred Norman). This is the list of 16 pitchers who get mentioned at least occasionally when great Reds pitchers are discussed.

Rank Name WAR
1 Paul Derringer 45.6
2 Eppa Rixey 41.7
3 Dolf Luque 35.7
4 Jose Rijo 33.9
5 Jim Maloney 33.4
6 Bucky Walters 28.2
7 Jim O’Toole 27.6
8 Gary Nolan 27.0
9 Johnny Vander Meer 25.7
10 Ewell Blackwell 25.5
11 Mario Soto 24.9
12 Johnny Cueto 21.4
13 Bob Purkey 20.2
14 Tom Browning 16.1
15 Tom Seaver 15.7
16 Don Gullett 15.3

Johnny Cueto ranks 12th on this list, so right now he is not looking like a strong candidate for best Reds hurler ever. But we still have a long way to go. How will the top 5 change when we look at some other stats?

Paul Derringer was a 6-time All Star with the Reds and perennial MVP candidate. He won 20 games four times back in the 1930’s. He sounds like a serious contender. Dolf Luque was a Cuban-born pitcher who won 27 games and led the league in ERA in 1923 and again in 1925. Johnny Vander Meer is best known for throwing back-to-back no hitters in 1938, his rookie year. He led the league in strikeouts three consecutive years in the 1940s. Bucky Walters led the NL in wins three times and in ERA twice in the 1930s. He made five All Star teams and won the 1939 MVP Award. The Reds have never had a Cy Yound Award winner, but they have had a pitcher win the MVP Award. He is a strong candidate for best Reds pitcher ever.

Two of the pitchers on that list above are Hall of Famers. Eppa Rixey pitched for the Reds for 13 years from 1922-33 after having pitched 8 years for the Phillies during the Dead Ball Era. He was excellent for both teams and finished with a combined 65.9 career WAR. Rixey is generally considered one of the weaker members of the Hall but hey, he’s in there. Tom Seaver was a great pitcher for the Mets before coming to the Reds in 1977. He played 20 years in the majors with several teams, six of them with the Reds. He accumulated an amazing 93.1 career WAR, but only 15.7 of that with the Reds. In my opinion he is the best pitcher who ever pitched for the Reds, but not the Reds’ best pitcher ever. See the difference? He had his best years with the Mets, and then pitched for the Reds and other teams. He was great with the Reds but not as great as some other pitchers were. Seaver is widely considered one of the 10 best pitchers to ever play the game, but most of that reputation was earned outside of Cincinnati.

Now that we know we can’t simply use WAR to define the best Reds pitcher ever, let’s move on to another stat. Let’s take a look at their ERA during their time with the Reds:

Rank Name ERA
1 Jose Rijo 2.83
2 Bucky Walters 2.93
3 Gary Nolan 3.02
4 Don Gullett 3.03
5 Dolf Luque 3.09
6 Jim Maloney 3.16
7 Tom Seaver 3.18
8 Johnny Cueto 3.21
9 Ewell Blackwell 3.32
10 Eppa Rixey 3.33
11 Paul Derringer 3.36
12 Johnny Vander Meer 3.41
13 Mario Soto 3.47
14 Bob Purkey 3.49
15 Jim O’Toole 3.59
16 Tom Browning 3.92

Rijo, Luque, Walters and Maloney are in the top 6 of both lists so far. Are they going to end up the cream of the crop? Eppa Rixey takes a big step back here. Don Gullet goes from 16th to 4th. Cueto moves up to number 8 on this list. We can see Jose Rijo is a full run better than Tom Browning. They both pitched at the same time so it is quite clear that Rijo was much better than Browning. But how do we compare those two to the rest of the players who were from different eras with different scoring environments in different ballparks. We know that the 1960’s were a much easier time period to put up a good ERA than the late 1990s and early 2000s right? So we need to adjust for that to make the comparison more fair.

This time it will be ERA-, which is a stat like OPS+ that is adjusted for league, era and ballpark. 100 is an average ERA- and lower is better. An ERA- of 99 means the pitcher was 1% better than average, 98 is 2% better than average, 105 is 5% worse than average, and so on. Let’s see the leaderboard:

Rank Name ERA-
1 Jose Rijo 73
2 Johnny Cueto 79
3 Bucky Walters 82
4 Dolf Luque 84
5 Eppa Rixey 85
6 Gary Nolan 85
7 Ewell Blackwell 85
8 Jim Maloney 86
9 Tom Seaver 86
10 Don Gullett 87
11 Bob Purkey 89
12 Paul Derringer 91
13 Mario Soto 93
14 Jim O’Toole 94
15 Johnny Vander Meer 94
16 Tom Browning 102

Rijo, Walters and Luque have been top 5 in all three lists. Cueto steps up to number two on this list, which rewards him for playing in a hitters’ park like GABP during a time when scoring is easier than when Jim O’Toole, Bob Purkey and Jim Maloney toed the rubber at Crosley Field in the 1960s. The pitching mound was higher then too. I think this list does a better job than the WAR list and ERA list of telling us how these guys compared to the other pitchers of their own eras. Jose Rijo was 27% better than an average major league pitcher in the 1990s. That is by far the best score on this list. Cueto is right behind him. Tom Browning was actually a slightly below average pitcher during his years. He won 20 games his rookie year and threw the perfect game, but by and large he was just a normal pitcher. He is not a serious candidate for the best starting pitcher in franchise history.

Before doing this research I expected Mario Soto to be a strong candidate for the title. He was the first pitcher I really, really admired when I was a kid. I thought he was great. I must admit I am disappointed that Soto is not measuring up to the likes of Rijo, Cueto and Walters so far in this process.

Name W L
Eppa Rixey 179 148
Paul Derringer 161 150
Bucky Walters 160 107
Dolf Luque 154 152
Jim Maloney 134 81
Tom Browning 123 88
Johnny Vander Meer 116 116
Gary Nolan 110 67
Bob Purkey 103 76
Mario Soto 100 92
Jose Rijo 97 61
Jim O’Toole 94 81
Johnny Cueto 92 63
Don Gullett 91 44
Ewell Blackwell 79 77
Tom Seaver 75 46

People used to consider Wins as the ultimate way to identify the best pitchers. Nowadays that is considered obsolete. After all, Wins are a team stat, not an individual stat. Wins and Losses have just as much to do with the hitters and fielders than they do with the pitchers. Pitchers who play on high-scoring teams are going to get more Wins than pitchers who play on low-scoring teams. Pitchers who are backed up by good fielders are going to allow fewer runs and win more games than pitchers who are “supported” by bad fielders. Pitchers in the old days were left in games much longer than modern pitchers. The deeper the pitcher stays in the game the more likely he is to earn a win or loss. So pitchers from bygone eras got more wins than pitchers from the modern era. Obviously, Wins and Losses are not a good way to choose which pitcher was the Reds’ best ever. Bob Purkey won more games than Tom Seaver, but Tom Seaver was a MUCH better pitcher.

I think we have enough information to whittle the list down to a top 5. Here is my version of the Reds’ Top 5 Best Pitchers of All Time:

1. Bucky Walters should be a Hall of Famer. He won an MVP award and finished in the top 5 of MVP balloting two more times. He made 6 All Star teams, 5 with the Reds. He won a World Series with the Reds in 1940 and took the Reds to the World Series in 1939 as well. He won the pitching Triple Crown in 1939, leading the NL in Wins, ERA and Strikeouts. He led the league in Wins three times and in ERA twice. He completed more than half the games he started in his career. He later managed the Reds.  Walters deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as he was better than many of the pitchers in the Hall.

Jose Rijo2. Jose Rijo twice finished in the top five of Cy Young voting with the Reds. He led the Reds to a World Series championship in 1990 and was WS MVP. He threw a two-hit shutout in the World Series. He has the best ERA and ERA- of all the contenders. He led the league in strikeouts in 1993 with 227 whiffs. He led the league in WHIP and winning percentage in 1991. He gave us 10 years worth of a 2.83 ERA at time when scoring was rampant in baseball.

Cueto3. Johnny Cueto finished second in the Cy Young voting in 2014 and 4th in 2012. He should have won it both years (as I wrote here). His ERAs for his last five seasons were 2.31, 2.78, 2.82, 2.25, and 2.62 in Great American Ball Park. In all of baseball over the last five seasons only Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers has put up a better ERA than Johnny Cueto. His ERA- is second best among the contenders, and I consider ERA- the most important metric discussed in this article.

tom-seaver4. Tom Seaver was one of the best ten pitchers to ever play the game of baseball for any team. He had his best days with the Mets but he was still an elite pitcher for the Reds. His best season with the Reds was the strike-shortened 1981 campaign when the Reds had the best record in baseball but did not make the playoffs. He led the league with 14 wins against only 2 losses and a 72 ERA-. He was elected to the Hall of Fame with 98.8% of the votes, the highest percentage ever recorded by any player in history. He pitched a no-hitter for the Reds in 1978. Seaver finished second and fourth in Cy Young balloting with the Reds. He made 12 All star teams and won three Cy Young Awards in his career. Seaver led the league in wins three times, led the league in ERA three times and led the league in strikeouts five times. He was the 1967 Rookie of the Year. He started 16 Opening Day games. He hit 12 home runs as a batter.

5. Ewell Blackwell made the All Star team each of his first six seasons in the majors. He finished second in the 1947 MVP balloting even though the Reds finished 5th in the NL that season. He led the league with 22 wins and 193 strikeouts that year. He threw a no-hitter in 1947 and in his very next game took another no-no into the 9th inning before it was broken up, almost matching the feat of his teammate Johnny Vander Meer. Blackwell was similar to Randy Johnson in that he was the tallest pitcher of his day (6’6″) and threw very hard with a side-arm motion.

6. Dolf Luque. Yeah I said it was a top five but now it is a top six. Luque was a great pitcher and I couldn’t decide between him and Blackwell, so you get both. Luque was the best pitcher in baseball in 1923, but there was no Cy Young award back then. He went 27-8 that year with an amazing 1.93 ERA. He led the NL in ERA, WHIP and ERA- again in 1925 but had a losing 16-18 record. How did that happen? He was on the 1919 Reds team that won their first World Series over the Chicago White Sox (Black Sox). He was primarily a curveball pitcher. He spent 12 seasons with the Reds.

Johnny Cueto may not have been the best pitcher in the history of the Reds, but he was surprisingly close to it. His run of success was amazing and so fun to watch. I will miss him badly. I hope we don’t have to wait too long for another contender to emerge. The Reds have a lot of promising young pitchers already on the major league roster or in the minor league system. Maybe the next great Reds starting pitcher is already here and ready to blossom.

Now it is time for you to chime in with your personal Top 5 lists. Who is the best pitcher in Reds history? Best pitcher of your lifetime? Where does Cueto rank? Do you agree with me or am I nuts?

 

43 Responses

  1. DavidTurner49

    Thanks for the comprehensive historical analysis Nick. Others can debate the metrics; I’ll just say I’m glad to see Rijo’s strong showing. In my subjective memories, his sheer dominance was equal to Cueto’s. Before the injury his slider was amazing.

  2. Westwood Eagle

    I agree with this top 5. Walters and Derringer were the best 1-2 punch the Reds ever had. That ’40 WS doesn’t get a lot of recognition because of the BRM, but man they were good. A killer rotation (that also included Vander Meer) with a lineup anchored by Reds HOF’s Ernie Lombardi (the guy catching Nuxy at Crosley Terrace) and Frank McCormick.

    • Tom Gray

      My Mom was a big Reds fan in those days. She had an autographed ball from the 1940 team but loaned it to some boys in the neighborhood (Covington KY) to toss in the street.

      Yep, it got away and went down the sewer on Jefferson Avenue. It would be priceless now.

      Baseballs were not made during WW2 except for professional teams.

  3. Yippee

    Where’s Elmer Dessens on these lists?

  4. Justin inhisbasement (@jinazreds)

    I think Walters is an interesting case. His ERA and innings totals were amazing on those 1939-1940 teams. His fielding-independent numbers, however, were far below that. His K-rate was almost equal to his BB-rate during those years, for example. Those Reds teams were good defensive ballclubs, so one could argue that he was riding his defense. Paul Derringer, by contrast, looks really good by both traditional numbers and fielding-independent numbers (4:1 k:bb, etc).

    Then again, not every pitcher on those teams was brilliant. And if you have a good defense, you should take advantage of it. And maybe, in that era, when quality of competition wasn’t at the level it is now, and so maybe some of what we “know” about BABIP and FIP in modern times don’t apply as well. I think he’s a really interesting case. Maybe when I have some time I’ll do a thing on it.

    Justin

    • Tom Gray

      And he was a very good hitter, too. I think he came up as 3B but moved to P.

  5. Tom Gray

    Interesting analysis. But the title made me LOL.

    The best Reds P ever (in my view) was Tom Seaver from 1977-1982. He was better as a Met before that (1967-1977) but I put him on top.

  6. Tom Gray

    Bob Purkey (for those who wondered Who) was a good (not great) Reds P from 1958 through 1964. He averaged 15 W per season those 7 years (and 11 L).

    Those Reds teams were either not very good (1958-59-60) or very good to excellent (1961-62-63-64).

    He was a knuckleballer. He rarely was higher than 3rd best Reds SP (he was best in 1962) on those Reds teams. Joey Jay, Jim O’Toole, and Jim Maloney ranked ahead of him most years.

    Purkey was one of the nicest Reds when giving autographs to us kids in those days. A true gentleman (if not the Reds best P ever).

  7. tct

    Nice work.

    My only criticism would be that I’m not sure FIP based WAR is the best tool for looking at a guy’s whole career. If you are just looking at one year, FIP can show how a guy should have performed with neutral luck and defense based on his peripherals. And FIP is better than RA at predicting what a guy will do going forward. But when looking at an entire career, you might as well just look at what actually happened assuming that luck and defense would even out. And this is especially true when evaluating Cueto who has shown an ability over the past 5 years to consistently out perform his FIP.

    When using RA/9 based WAR, Cueto’s total jumps up to 30. And Bucky Walters goes from 28 to 48. The biggest jumps go to Tony Mullane, who goes from 24 to 47, and Will White who goes from 12 to 45!

    Perhaps the best way would be an average of the two WARs. Cueto would be at 26, Rijo at 36, Walters at 38

    • redsfan06

      I have to agree with TCT’s comment. fWAR uses FIP, which makes it better suited for gauging a player’s future potential. bWAR is based upon what actually occurred, making it better suited for comparing past performance.

      But this was an excellent, well researched article. Thanks, Nick.

  8. doctor

    Interesting Jim Maloney not on the list. he could have been the veteran ace for those early 70’s Reds team to help win another WS but for his arm injury.

      • charlottencredsfan

        You’re absolutely right, running to first base of all things. Not a proponent but it is a great point to make during a DH/no-DH debate.

      • doctor

        yep, i had forgotten it was achilles. either way, bummer end to stellar pitcher just as BRM was ramping up.

  9. ohiojimw

    I think JIm Maloney got short shifted in the second half of your post.

    As a person around for both Crosley Field and GABP, I have trouble accepting that GABP is more hitter friendly than Crosley was. The deepest part of Crosley was 390′ from home plate. The high scoreboard did turn a number fly balls that would have been homers into doubles. I haven’t been able to find an overlay of the two parks but I suspect some fly balls that hit low on that Crosley score board would be outs at GABP.

    • Tom Gray

      The LF screen made HR out of some fly balls so it may be a wash with the 2B off the scoreboard.

    • Tom Reed

      GABP is bigger than Crosley field in center and left center fields. But Crosley Field had the terrace in left and center fields which took away some hits provided the outfielders were adept at going up and down the terrace.

      • Tom Gray

        Took away hits, not so much. Took away fly ball outs in many CF games I saw.

        Very few OF were adept at handling the terrace. Even some Reds OF struggled.

    • Nick Doran

      The biggest thing that made Crosley a more pitcher-friendly ballpark than GABP was the height of the pitchers’ mound. Maloney had the advantage of pitching from a higher mound. Mounds were lowered prior to the 1969 season and offense took a jump from then on. Maloney pitched in the 1960’s, which was really the decade of the pitcher. Pitchers had a huge advantage at that time and there were a lot of really good pitchers in the league. Maloney had great numbers and results, but so did a lot of pitchers in those offensively challenged years. That is the biggest reason why Maloney gets downgraded by the metrics that are adjusted for ballpark and era. He was a great pitcher though for sure. I would put him in the top 10 but not the top 5.

  10. Victor Vollhardt

    I can only repeat what I said in another posting on this website–I have been a very close observer of the Reds since 1949 and in that time there have been many very good pitchers—but Cueto was the very best. Others had their careers cut short by injuries (Maloney–Rijo-Gullett) or did their best work with other teams (Seaver for one). Soto was a very good pitcher on mostly bad teams, but could never master himself on emotional scale. Cuteo became a better pitcher with every start (even those he lost or got hit around), He improved his training–thinking–pitch selection–even his hitting and bunting. and he will continue to get better. He can put batters away with different out pitches and speeds and locations or if pressed (even late in the game) reach ,at will, for something extra to do the job. He is human, but still he pitches way above average the majority of the time. As to the others –my father told me about Walters and others from the 39/40 group and my grandfather saw Luque pitch and I deeply appreciate Red history, but I never saw them play. Also as I came on the scene Blackwell’s greatness was about gone. However if you have ever heard Vin Scully broadcast he mentions Blackwell all the time and at length–I believe Scully if he says Blackwell at his peak was tops then he was, but I never had the chance to see it. For the past 65+ years of watching, reading about, listening to, and attending Reds baseball——Cueto is the best pitcher that the franchise has had in that time–I am anxious to see what new heights he will achieve.

    • Tom Gray

      If he stays healthy, Cueto should be very productive for the next 5-7 years as SP.

      Maloney best in 1960’s. Nolan better than Gullett in 1970’s. Seaver the best P to ever play for the Reds. Soto best in 1980’s. Rijo in 1990’s. Arroyo in 2000’s.

      And Cueto in 2010’s.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Here’s the problem with pitchers and the statement that Cueto “should be very productive for the next 5-7 years as a SP” – most pitchers, even the great ones, don’t do well in their 30s.

        Johnny Cueto will be 30 years old next year. He will have earned about 27 WAR at the end of this season. (I’m using Baseball-Reference WAR here.) Now look at the WAR of the other pitchers you mention, before and after they turn 30:

        Jim Maloney: Before – 35 WAR; After – (negative)1.6 WAR
        Gary Nolan: Before – 26 WAR; After – 0 WAR
        Don Gullett: Before – 16.7 WAR; After – 0 WAR
        Tom Seaver: Before – 60 WAR; After – 46 WAR
        Mario Soto: Before – 27.5 WAR; After – (negative) 0.4 WAR
        Jose Rijo: Before – 34 WAR; After – 0.9 WAR
        Bronson Arroyo: Before – 12.5 WAR; After – 14.7 WAR

        Tom Seaver was a freak. He pitched well through his age 40 season. He may be the greatest pitcher of all time. I guess it’s possible Johnny Cueto is like Tom Seaver. Bronson Arroyo was a reliever for much of the early part of his career, although he did have a nice post-30 record.

        So it’s not impossible that Cueto will have a productive 5-7 more years. But the odds are substantially against it. I’m glad the Reds aren’t the organization that’s going to spend $150 million or more to roll the dice.

      • Tom Gray

        BTW I pay no attention to that WAR crap. An I doubt the best baseball GM and mangers do, either.

        Wonks do but wonks don’t play baseball at MLB level.

      • Steve Mancuso

        If you don’t think baseball front offices are wonks now, you aren’t paying attention. If you don’t think front offices and agents negotiate over numbers like WAR, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Organizations probably don’t use fWAR or bWAR because they develop in-house measurements that value players. But it’s the same concept – calculate the overall contribution of a player (pitching, hitting, fielding, base-running) and put it on a common scale. How else would you compare the value of a pitcher to a hitter without a common metric? Or a reliever to a starter?

        Baseball is changing rapidly. You can stick your head in the sand and pretend otherwise. But that doesn’t make it so.

      • Tom Gray

        You can WAR if you want.

        Baseball games continue to be won by good hitting, good pitching, and good fielding – not good WAR.

        The Reds have stunk in the so-called WAR era. Why? Crummy players, crummy managers, not crummy WAR.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The so-called WAR era? Who calls it the “WAR era”? And I wouldn’t describe winning the division twice in three years for the first time in a quarter-century as bad.

        From your statement — Baseball games continue to be won by good hitting, good pitching, and good fielding – not good WAR — it’s pretty clear you have no idea what WAR is and how it’s figured.

        It makes as much sense as saying “Baseball games are won by good pitching, not good ERA.”

        Or “Baseball games are won by good hitting, not home runs, singles or doubles.”

        Considering how much you love baseball, judged by how often you comment here, you might find reading up on WAR and the concepts behind it to be interesting.

      • Tom Gray

        I think Cueto (if he stays healthy, BIG IF) will be productive through 2020 anyway.

        Nearly all of the P listed had SERIOUS injuries in their 30’s. Seaver and Arroyo didn’t.

      • Jason

        Yeah there is a reason for that and that is age hahaha Cueto has already had some injuries contracts for $200 million past your 30s for a pitcher aren’t worth it

      • Tom Gray

        Agreed. $200 million contracts for P in their 20’s aren’t worth it, either.

        But that is what the market will pay. He deserves his market worth.

      • Tom Gray

        I think the WAR stuff is ridiculous. Baseball is not a statistic, otherwise robots (or drones) could scout, manage, and coach.

      • Steve Mancuso

        “Baseball is not a statistic” from a guy who cites ERA, home runs, RBI, batting average, WHIP, pitcher wins, strikeouts, walks etc. Those are statistics you know. WAR is just a statistic, one you haven’t made the effort to understand yet.

        Your quotes are right out of the 1990s.

      • Tom Gray

        I have no idea what WHIP (or WAR) is. And care even less, if possible.

        The best P have the most W, fewest L, and usually the best ERA.

        The best hitters have the best BA sometimes with most HR and/or RBI.

        The best fielders make the fewest E on the most chances.

        The Reds were pretty in the 1990’s. 1990 ,1994, 1995, and 1999.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Hmm. Just two days ago you posted this in a comment:

        “On Thursday for Louisville, Holmberg allowed one run and seven hits over six innings with no walks and four strikeouts for a victory. In 19 games, including 17 starts, this season, he is 7-6 with a 4.40 ERA. Over 108 1/3 innings, he allowed 129 hits, 13 home runs, 38 walks with 61 strikeouts and 1.54 WHIP. As a September callup last season, Holmberg had a 1.82 ERA in his five games, including three starts.”

        You use a lot of statistics when it suits your purpose. Your opposition to WAR isn’t because you don’t approve of stats or think they can’t represent baseball. You’re just against statistics you haven’t taken the time to learn about yet.

      • Nick Doran

        People who think Wins and Batting Average are the best statistics, or even important statistics, just are not taken seriously anymore in this day and age. There are so many better, less misleading statistics that there is no good reason to use the obsolete, disproven ones in any discussion.

  11. Tom Reed

    As a history buff, I love the story of baseball. Thank you for your historical and analytical write-up on Reds pitching. Maybe a campaign could be started to get Bucky Walters and Dolf Luque into the HOF on the old-timer ballot. Ewell Blackwell was an amazing pitcher. He pitched side arm and had an incredible flip of the wrist which probably shortened his career. I haven’t seen any pitcher quite like him since the late 40’s.

    • Tom Gray

      Not anywhere near as dominant as EB was, but Reds had sidearmer Ted Abernathy as CL in the late 1960’s.

  12. Vanessa Galagnara

    Not the best but he sure was fun to watch. He will be reunited with Edison Volquez. Last time I was in Cincinnati was for the opening day parade that featured Edison and Johnny. I believe Edison was the opening day pitcher because Bronson didn’t feel “worthy”. We anyhow Love Johnny Cueto, and I hope he finds his pile of riches (just in case 10 million isn’t enough to make a person happy and content) and goes on to have a long career. After 5 years hope he gets the call to the hall.
    I think Johnny can be effective up until around 34. 5 more years in a pitcher friendly park…. is that enough to see him with Hall Of Fame credentials? And which park would benefit his skillset? LA or New York? PIttsburgh is supposedly the most pitcher friendly ballpark out there but doubt they can afford Johnny’s demands.

  13. sixpacktwo

    It is impossible to find the best as the support cast was different but, Jim Maloney belongs in the top five. I have seen them all live since 1956 and Maloney was slotted against the like of Koufax and Drysdale and there were some great battles.