Best Pitching Performances

Dave · July 8, 2009 at 7:51 am · Filed Under Mariners 

We’re big fans of Larry Stone, if you haven’t noticed. He’s even Officially Endorsed. He does great work for the Times, and if you aren’t reading his stuff and his blog, you’re missing out.

That said, Larry, you gotta learn to use Baseball Reference’s immortal Play Index. It’s the greatest thing since Matt Wieters taught everyone how to slice bread. His most recent blog post deals with the best pitching performances in Mariner history, building off of Washburn’s complete game one hitter a couple of nights ago. He ends up putting Washburn’s performance at #7, right behind Felix’s one hitter in Boston.

However, had Larry used the Play Index, he would have found this – every game in Mariner history where the starter posted a Game Score of 85+ (Washburn had an 88). Game Score, for those wondering, is a Bill James creation that gives points to each event along the way in an effort to categorize total performance. 50 is average. Anything over 80 is really good. Getting over 90 is awesome. So, Washburn’s 88 is certainly fantastic.

But not historically fantastic. The Mariners have had 19 different games pitched where the starter had a game score of 90 or higher. 12 of those 19 were by Randy Johnson, naturally. Johnson just dominates the list up and down with so many ridiculously awesome performances.

Washburn’s start the other night is tied for 32nd. Johnson posted a game score of 88 four times, as did Brian Holman in his near perfect game and Gene Nelson in his complete game shutout back in 1982.

Larry gives a lot of credit to limiting baserunners, but not all that much to striking hitters out. So, he probably won’t agree with ranking batters by Game Score, which is fine, because it’s kind of a toy more than a serious analytical stat. But, when you look at that list, and see some of the games that Johnson pitched, it’s hard to argue that Washburn’s performance the other night belongs in the same category.


20 Responses to “Best Pitching Performances”

  1. JesseNYC on July 8th, 2009 8:19 am

    It seems so amusingly typical of the Mariners that the two best pitching performances in their history should both have resulted in losses.

  2. Miles on July 8th, 2009 8:21 am

    It’s interesting to see in this chart that Johnson’s and Bosio’s no-hitters both only scored 89s.

  3. Paul B on July 8th, 2009 9:05 am

    There’s some names on that list (resulted in a list of 74 games) that I had forgotten. Sort of a repressed memory.

    Such as:
    17. Saloman Torres
    18. Matt Young
    25. Dave Fleming
    31. Floyd Bannister
    38. Gene Nelson
    43. Mike Trujillo
    45. Bob Stoddard (thanks, Dave, now this will be stuck in my head today)
    47. Mike Parrot
    62. Jeff Weaver
    63. Ryan Franklin
    73. Byron McLaughlin (Actually, I do not remember him at all)
    74. Rick Honeycutt

  4. Benno on July 8th, 2009 9:11 am

    Is there a way to see the opposing pitcher score on the Erik Hanson 10IP game? And a nice reminder on Brian Holman, who was a very good pitcher until he got injured.

  5. IdahoInvader on July 8th, 2009 9:14 am

    Goodness sakes.

    I actually remember listening to Trujillo’s gem about a million years ago vs KC. Thanks for reminding me how old I am, lol.

    And oh Dave Fleming…what made you drop like a rock after a few genuinely promising years?

    Interesting topic in Mariner history. Thanks for the thread

  6. vj on July 8th, 2009 9:17 am

    looks like the link quicktag is broken.
    long link follows, with due appologies.

  7. marc w on July 8th, 2009 9:32 am


    I see vj gave you the link, but yeah, it was Dave Stewart who went the distance in the 11 inning win, but came out with a score of 89. Some walks, not many Ks. God, he used to kill the M’s.

    I thought Salomon Torres was going to be really, really good.

  8. Craig on July 8th, 2009 10:15 am

    I cherished my Dave Fleming rookie card at one point.

    Bedard was able to post a 57 last night in only four innings thanks to his flurry of strikeouts.

  9. MKT on July 8th, 2009 10:35 am

    And oh Dave Fleming…what made you drop like a rock after a few genuinely promising years?

    Was it possible that Dave Fleming was the Mariners’ version of Mark Fidrych? I.e. sensational start to his career (Fleming not as headline-busting as The Bird, but for Mariners fans, just to see a Mariner pitch decently was as flabbergasting in those days as Fidrych’s season).

    Then injuries curtailed their careers — and IIRC a close look at their pitching stats suggests that both pitchers were lucky in their early seasons, and even without injuries would’ve been unlikely to repeat their breakout rookie/early seasons. I guess I should look it up, but no time. The main thing is that Dave Fleming in the end was yet another cruel tantalizer for M’s fans: we thought that we had finally found a good pitcher but it was not to be.

  10. ralphie81 on July 8th, 2009 10:45 am

    Wow, Randy walked 6 people in his no-hitter. I guess that was back when he was wild.

    Also, I find it rather sad that Jeff Weaver is in this list and Bedard isn’t.

  11. dchappelle on July 8th, 2009 11:02 am

    Ah… Dave Fleming. Couple nice articles:

    ESPN Page 2

    Also a nice one by Derek

  12. lantermanc on July 8th, 2009 11:05 am

    Wow, Jim Beattie 10th? I went to grade school with his kid. Then he got a job with the Blue Jays I believe, and I ended up going to high school with his kid again, but at a boarding school one the east coast. I didn’t realize he was a halfway decent pitcher (for a few years anyways).

    It’s odd to see Washburn’s 9 ip 1 hit 3k performance one ahead of Randy’s 8 ip 4 hit 1bb 15k performance.

  13. Benne on July 8th, 2009 11:08 am
  14. Islets of Ryan Langerhans on July 8th, 2009 11:28 am

    I found it surprising that Freddy Garcia only appeared twice.

  15. IdahoInvader on July 8th, 2009 12:13 pm

    Fwiw, I once read that Beattie had a stretch where he had 18 cg’s for the M’s w/ a 1.85ERA…and a 7-11 record to show for it.

  16. Harry Canary on July 8th, 2009 12:47 pm

    I’m astonished that the Holman/Phelps game is ranked so low. I still think that might be the most heartbreaking moment in Mariners history.

    I still don’t get why the A’s pinch-hit there except to try to ruin the perfecto. But, such is baseball. I still am amazed that he came back from that and struck Rickey out. That was the year Rickey won the MVP.

  17. daboyd on July 8th, 2009 1:43 pm

    Erik Hanson at #1? Never would have thought Randy’s best perfromances would take a back seat to one of Erik’s. Someone could win a bet with that kind of knowledge.

  18. JMHawkins on July 8th, 2009 1:57 pm

    I found it surprising that Freddy Garcia only appeared twice

    Looking back, I think Freddy was more potential than production.

  19. Milendriel on July 8th, 2009 2:02 pm

    I remember Randy Johnson’s perfect game for the Diamondbacks scoring 100. I thought that was pretty cool.

  20. firova2 on July 8th, 2009 3:57 pm

    There are so few complete games in recent years–it is kind of hard to judge players from different eras when going eight or nine innings is so rare. Back in the day, Mike Moore threw 14 complete games in 1985, 11 in 1986, 12 in 1987, and 9 more in 1988. By the time guys like Garcia came around, seven innings was becoming standard, and lately it seems that Mariner starters are done after 5. Vargas threw 97 pitches in 5 today and got the hook.

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