Exactly how great was Cliff Lee’s performance last night? Well …
Years ago Bill James invented a metric called Game Score that assigned a numerical value to every start based on the following criteria:
– Start with 50 points.
– Add 1 point for each out recorded.
– Add 2 points for each inning completed after the fourth.
– Add 1 point for each strikeout.
– Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
– Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
– Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
– Subtract 1 point for each walk.
If a pitcher tossed a nine-inning perfect game and struck out all 27 batters he faced, his Game Score would be 114. In terms of actual Game Scores, the highest ever recorded in a nine-inning start belongs to Kerry Wood, who racked up a 105 with his 20-strikeout, one-hit, no-walk shutout against the Astros in 1998.
So where does Lee’s outing last night rank among the all-time best World Series starts? Thanks to the magic of Baseball-Reference.com and according to Game Score, here are the 10 most dominant World Series outings since the mound was raised in 1969:
YEAR IP H R BB SO PIT GS
Randy Johnson 2001 9.0 3 0 1 11 110 91
Roger Clemens 2000 8.0 2 0 0 9 112 87
Orel Hershiser 1988 9.0 3 0 2 8 101 87
Tom Glavine 1995 8.0 1 0 3 8 109 85
Mike Boddicker 1983 9.0 3 1 0 6 107 85
Jack Morris 1991 10.0 7 0 2 8 126 84
Josh Beckett 2003 9.0 5 0 2 9 107 84
John Tudor 1985 9.0 5 0 1 8 108 84
CLIFF LEE 2009 9.0 6 1 0 10 122 83
Greg Maddux 1995 9.0 2 2 0 4 95 83
Many people would point to Jack Morris going 10 innings to complete his Game 7 shutout against the Braves in 1991 as the best World Series start of the past 40 years and as a Twins fan I’d be hard-pressed to disagree, but Game Score doesn’t account for the magnitude of a Game 7 and also docks him a bit (relatively speaking, of course) for giving up seven hits and two walks.
Instead of Morris’ gem, the metric shows Randy Johnson’s three-hit, 11-strikeout shutout in Game 2 against the Yankees in 2001 as the top World Series performance since 1969. Lee’s shaky ninth inning last night keeps him from ranking much higher on the list, but there’s no doubt that we witnessed one of the great World Series starts of all time.
Now the big question is whether or not the Phillies will let him try again on short rest in Game 4.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.