Cliff Lee turning in a clunker last night was a huge surprise, but how does his disappointing performance compare to some of the worst Game 1 efforts in World Series history?
Based on Game Score, which is a Bill James invention that uses various aspects of a pitcher’s performance to calculate one number representing the strength of each start, Lee’s outing ranks as the 13th-worst in Game 1 history.
Baseball-Reference.com has the complete list, with the worst of all time being Woody Williams’ start against the Red Sox in 2004 when he allowed seven runs while recording just five outs.
Lee’s start last night is the worst since Jeff Francis allowed six runs in four innings against the Red Sox in 2007. And while Williams and Francis aren’t exactly household names Lee is actually in some pretty good company overall. There are 18 pitchers with a Game 1 start that tallied a Game Score of 30 or lower and the list includes names like Don Drysdale, Whitey Ford, Andy Pettitte, Orel Hershiser, Hal Newhouser, and Eddie Cicotte.
The lesson? Two things, actually. First and foremost, Cliff Lee is human. Second, lots of other great pitchers have gotten knocked around in Game 1 of the World Series, in part because lots of great pitchers have started Game 1 of the World Series.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.