Willie Barrios and the Search for the Greatest Season Ever by a Starting Pitcher

Only one player in the 2020 Best Baseball League simulation pitched at least 200 innings and had a WHIP under 1.00: Willie Barrios. At just 24 years old, WB was ranked the #2 prospect coming into the season, and was the 5th overall pick in the Inaugural BBL Draft, taken by the Virginia Beach Swordfish.

Fangraphs is such a great resource for information on baseball statistics and which of them are the most important to look at when valuing a player’s performance. I’ve always liked to look at WHIP for a quick measure of how “good” a starting pitcher is, since it measures how many runners a pitcher allows per inning – which directly correlates to runs given up, and overall team wins and losses. But WHIP is only so informative:

Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) is essentially a measurement of how many base runners a pitcher allows per inning. Given that preventing base runners the fundamental role of pitchers, a rate statistic designed to tell you how many they allow definitely points you in the right direction.

That being said, WHIP is more of a quick reference statistic rather than something you want to use for full-fledged analysis. If you want to measure base runners allowed using a rate stat, OBP against is a better choice because batters faced is a better denominator than innings. WHIP is also lacking in that it treats all times on base equally, equating a walk with a home run. A statistic like wOBA against is more useful in that regard.

While WHIP is no longer at the forefront of stat-head analysis, it’s easy to calcuate and corelates relative well with more accurate statistics. Think of WHIP as something like OPS. It’s a little rough around the edges but it will generally provide a fine starting point.

https://library.fangraphs.com/pitching/whip/

Willie’s 2020 season got me thinking – how many times in history has a starting pitcher thrown at least 200 innings and had a WHIP of 1.00 or below? And, given what Fangraphs has to say about WHIP, how do each of those pitcher’s OBP-against compare across those seasons?

Baseball Reference’s Play Index, as usual, provides access to this info! There have been 91 instances where a starter has thrown 200 or more innings with a WHIP of 1.00 or below in the history of the MLB. Four players accomplished this feat in 2019: Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. Four players in the same season seemed incredible, but in 1968, EIGHT pitchers reached this feat: Bill Hands, Bob Gibson, Dave McNally, Dean Chance, Denny McLain, Luis Tiant, Pat Jarvis, and Tom Seaver. 1968 might be the year of the pitcher.

Seasons where a starting pitcher threw at least 200 innings and had a WHIP of 1.00 or below.

Willie’s 0.98 WHIP would rank 63rd overall, tied with Greg Maddux’s 1998 season in Atlanta. Barrio’s WHIP (0.98) & OBP-against (.258) fell above the average and median rankings for the 91 seasons in the dataset.

OBP vs. WHIP
OBP vs. WHIP in seasons where SP threw at least 200 innings and a WHIP of 1.00 or below.

So who had the greatest season ever for a starting pitcher? Based on this data, it isn’t very close – Pedro Martinez’s 2000 season is my pick for the #1 spot on the list.

With a WHIP of 0.74 across 217 innings, Pedro amassed 284 strikeouts – while only allowing 44 runs to score, 42 of them earned. That comes out to a 1.74 ERA.   The Red Sox missed the playoffs in 2000, going 85-77, finishing 2.5 games behind the Yankees. That means Pedro’s 18 wins were 21% of the club’s total. Somehow, he lost 6 times and had another 5 no decisions that year.

What’s amazing is how dominant he was across the board. Let’s look at how is stats relate to each other.

What else did we find in this data? 10 pitchers have accomplished the 200+ IP, >/= 1.00 WHIP 3 or more times in their careers:

  1. Max Scherzer (5)
  2. Sandy Koufax (4)
  3. Pedro Martinez (4)
  4. Juan Marichal (4)
  5. Greg Maddux (4)
  6. Tom Seaver (3)
  7. Justin Verlander (3)
  8. Johan Santana (3)
  9. Don Sutton (3)
  10. Clayton Kershaw (3)

What’s really crazy is that Scherzer did it 5 years in a row, winning the CY-Young in 3 out of those 5 years. He may have had the most dominant stretch of any pitcher in history, but none of the seasons was quite as dominant as Pedro’s Y2K season. We’ll see if Willie Barrios can match his 2020 performance in the simulated years to come.

This post is related to the 2020 Best Baseball League series. If you missed it, check out the series kick-off article.

The 2020 Best Baseball League
RkPlayerAgeYearTmLgIPWHIPGGSCGSHOGFWLW-L%SVHRERERAFIPSOK%BBBB%ERA+BAbipHRBFAB2B3BIBBHBPSHSFGDPSBCSPOBKWPBAOBPSLGOPSOPS+PitStr
1Pedro Martinez282000BOSAL2170.73729297401860.750012844421.742.1728434.8%323.9%2910.241781776818101421111032010.170.210.260.471831642136
2Justin Verlander362019HOUAL2230.80334342102160.778013766642.583.2730035.4%425.0%1790.223684779628706027930040.170.220.360.584834482361
3Greg Maddux291995ATLNL2090.811282810301920.905014739381.632.2618123.1%232.9%2600.2587857482203491162662010.20.220.260.4829  
4Dave McNally251968BALAL2730.8423535185022100.688017567591.952.7620219.5%555.3%1500.22410389623071104718951150.180.230.30.5467  
5Zack Greinke312015LADNL2220.84432321001930.864014843411.662.7620023.7%404.7%2220.2314843790223156215762070.190.230.280.514532392078
6Bob Gibson321968STLNL3040.8533434281302290.710019849381.121.7726823.1%625.3%2580.2311116110752306715219650040.180.230.240.4747  
7Sandy Koufax291965LADNL3350.855434127822680.765221690762.041.9338229.5%715.5%1600.242612971205297451331316410110.180.230.280.5152  
8Juan Marichal281966SFGNL3070.859373625412560.806022888762.232.8622218.8%363.1%1670.2232118011282423583162071030.20.230.310.5451  
9Jake Arrieta292015CHCNL2290.86533334302260.786015052451.772.3523627.1%485.5%2150.25108708113242641152761060.190.240.270.514434382236
10Corey Kluber312017CLEAL2030.86929295301840.818014156512.252.526534.1%364.6%2020.2721777732310253171550040.190.240.320.564429452005
11Luis Tiant271968CLEAL2580.871343219902190.700015253461.62.0426426.8%737.4%1860.2216987905275445010090030.170.230.260.556  
12Sandy Koufax271963LADNL3110.8754040201102550.833021468651.881.8530625.3%584.8%1590.2418121011352867313191110160.190.230.270.554  
13Clayton Kershaw272015LADNL2320.88133334301670.696016362552.131.9930133.8%424.7%1730.281589083926215408799390.190.240.280.524933922303
14Gerrit Cole282019HOUAL2120.89533330002050.800014266592.52.6432639.9%485.9%1850.2829817762301031371150340.190.240.340.584933622254
15Greg Maddux281994ATLNL2020.896252510301660.727015044351.562.3915620.2%314.0%2710.2647747262223665212262130.210.240.260.534  
16Randy Johnson402004ARINL2450.900353542016140.533017788712.62.329030.1%444.6%1760.271896489834911075417101130.20.240.320.564436322507
17Max Scherzer322017WSNNL2000.90231312001660.727012662562.512.926834.4%557.1%1780.25227807093022114113730040.180.250.320.574931122114
18Justin Verlander352018HOUAL2140.90234341101690.640015663602.522.7829034.8%374.4%1640.272883378131508253342250.20.240.360.66334272363
19Denny McLain241968DETAL3360.905414128603160.838024186731.962.5328021.7%634.9%1540.23311288120638526103191950030.20.240.320.5672  
20Max Scherzer332018WSNNL2200.91133332101870.720015066622.532.6530034.6%515.9%1680.27238667973654124210820140.190.250.330.585634932406
21Jacob deGrom302018NYMNL2170.91232321001090.526015248411.71.9826932.2%465.5%2180.28108357762733535131581020.20.240.280.525032122213
22Don Sutton271972LADNL2720.913333318901990.679018678632.082.2420719.5%635.9%1620.231310619843441454181541190.190.240.270.5151  
23Catfish Hunter261972OAKAL2950.914383716512170.750020074672.042.7719116.6%706.1%1400.2121114810564246315481830030.190.240.30.5468  
24Juan Marichal271965SFGNL2950.91439372410222130.629122478702.132.5924020.8%464.0%1690.2427115310923064464191451020.210.240.320.5659  
25Clayton Kershaw252013LADNL2360.91533333201690.640016455481.832.3923225.6%525.7%1940.26119088403032383205472120.20.240.280.525134302288
26Felix Hernandez282014SEAAL2360.91534340001560.714017068562.142.5624827.2%465.0%1700.261691285230515451220510180.20.240.30.555834342275
27Max Scherzer302015WSNNL2280.918333343014120.538017674712.792.7727630.7%343.8%1420.27278998474032511256201100.210.240.360.66433592380
28Justin Verlander282011DETAL2510.92034344202450.828017473672.42.9925025.8%575.9%1720.24249699043130323121051270.190.240.310.565039412591
29Johan Santana252004MINAL2280.92134341102060.769015670662.612.9226530.1%546.1%1820.2524881812223093315674070.190.250.320.574534262273
30Mike Scott311986HOUNL2750.923373775018100.643018273682.222.1630628.7%726.8%1610.2517106597641562861141122030.190.240.290.5353  
31Pedro Martinez271999BOSAL2130.92331295112340.852016056492.071.3931337.5%374.4%2430.33983578038019361121100060.210.250.290.5435  
32Sandy Koufax281964LADNL2230.928292815711950.792115449431.742.0822325.6%536.1%1860.251387080625250838561090.190.240.280.5255  
33Pedro Martinez251997MONNL2410.932313113401780.680015865511.92.3930532.2%677.1%2190.26169478602445991162053130.180.250.280.5342  
34Joe Horlen261964CHWAL2100.93532289221390.591014254441.882.8113816.9%556.8%1840.2211815746201446425731040.190.250.260.5149  
35John Tudor311985STLNL2750.9383636141002180.724020968591.932.7116915.9%494.6%1850.2414106210012834543201271040.210.250.290.5354  
36Kevin Brown311996FLANL2330.944323253017110.607018760491.892.8815917.6%333.6%2150.26890684922621644261293160.220.260.290.5552  
37Greg Maddux311997ATLNL2320.94633335201940.826020058572.22.4317719.8%202.2%1890.29989384931366117232081000.240.260.310.5750  
38Ron Guidry271978NYYAL2730.946353516902530.893018761531.742.1924823.5%726.8%2080.2513105796934511132159142170.190.250.280.5350  
39Tom Seaver261971NYMNL2860.9463635214120100.667021061561.761.9328926.2%615.5%1940.2718110310213142411625733150.210.250.30.5561  
40Pedro Martinez332005NYMNL2170.94931314101580.652015969682.822.9520824.7%475.6%1460.25198437813743492121440040.20.250.330.595830452070
41Vida Blue211971OAKAL3120.952393924802480.750020973631.822.230124.9%887.3%1830.2419120711032833493237701100.190.250.270.5255  
42Joe Horlen291967CHWAL2580.953353513601970.731018866592.063.1210310.4%585.8%1460.22139959262684462211291050.20.250.290.5470  
43Jason Schmidt302003SFGNL2070.95329295301750.773015256542.342.6420825.4%465.6%1800.26148197593271563101700170.20.250.320.575130922108
44Dick Hughes291967STLNL2220.954372712361660.727316472662.673.0916118.5%485.5%1230.232287180728965749673270.20.250.340.5975  
45Johnny Cueto282014CINNL2430.96034344202090.690016969612.253.324225.2%656.8%1630.24229618733422157113664110.190.260.310.576536592380
46Bret Saberhagen251989KCRAL2620.961363512402360.793020974632.162.4519318.9%434.2%1800.26131021961456629613593180.220.250.320.5759  
47Don Drysdale271964LADNL3210.9654040215018160.529024291782.182.4623718.8%685.4%1470.251512641171383910114212941110.210.260.280.5462  
48Dwight Gooden201985NYMNL2760.965353516802440.857019851471.532.1326825.2%696.5%2290.2613106598623342622122105260.20.250.270.5252  
49Max Scherzer312016WSNNL2280.96834341002070.741016577752.963.2428431.5%566.2%1440.263190283037426736831120.20.250.370.626535632419
50Curt Schilling352002ARINL2590.96836355102370.767021895933.232.431631.1%333.2%1400.3291017974328135211960060.220.250.360.615737212630
51Turk Farrell291963HOUNL2020.9693426120514130.519116176683.022.414117.8%354.4%1050.251279273425922155914111120.220.260.330.5876  
52Roger Clemens231986BOSAL2540.969333310102440.857017977702.482.8123823.9%676.7%1690.242199791634204461481513110.20.250.310.5651  
53Max Scherzer282013DETAL2140.97032320002130.875015273692.92.7424028.7%566.7%1440.26188367663650428101482160.1980.2540.3290.5835833882232
54Chris Sale282017BOSAL2140.97032321001780.680016573692.92.4530836.2%435.1%1570.3248517943430824111020030.2080.2540.3490.6035634282343
55Johan Santana262005MINAL2310.97133333201670.696018077742.872.823826.2%455.0%1550.2622910856424116210450080.2100.2500.3460.5965533352331
56Jacob deGrom312019NYMNL2040.97132320001180.579015459552.432.6725531.7%445.5%1670.29198047452811753102440020.2070.2570.3230.5806032972222
57Derek Lowe292002BOSAL2190.97432321102180.724016665632.583.3412714.9%485.6%1770.241285478730301252281970050.2110.2660.3020.5694930781959
58Aaron Nola252018PHINL2120.97533330001760.739014957562.373.0122427.0%587.0%1730.25178317563123764161754140.1970.2590.3110.5705732122163
59Tom Seaver281973NYMNL2900.9763636183019100.655021974672.082.5725121.9%645.6%1750.2523114710643555410517530050.2060.2520.3130.56562  
60Clayton Kershaw232011LADNL2330.97733335202150.808017466592.282.4724827.2%545.9%1610.271591284230123112141499150.2070.2560.2980.5545834692264
61Tom Seaver231968NYMNL2780.9783635145116120.571122473682.22.2220518.8%484.4%1370.2615108810113311581651016150180.2220.2610.3200.58280  
62Gaylord Perry331972CLEAL3420.9784140295124160.600125379731.922.523417.4%826.1%1680.2417134512354391612151276800110.2050.2610.2960.55668  
63Greg Maddux321998ATLNL2510.98034349501890.667020175622.222.8120420.7%454.6%1870.27139879153211071552128110040.2200.2600.2990.56050  
64Gary Peters291966CHWAL2040.9823027114312100.545015654451.982.712916.1%455.6%1600.241180173528263162166511110.2120.2600.3010.56170  
65Zack Greinke352019TOTML2080.98233330001850.783017573682.933.2218723.1%303.7%1540.2721810767372245422242120.2280.2600.3640.6236331092030
66Mike Scott331988HOUNL2180.98332328501480.636016274712.92319021.7%536.1%1140.24198757932386816473160110.2040.2600.3250.58575  
67Don Sutton281973LADNL2560.9833333143018100.643019678692.422.6320019.9%565.6%1440.2518100693729345532317420100.2090.2570.3040.56163  
68Dean Chance271968MINAL2920.9834339156316160.500122496822.532.223420.2%635.4%1240.2515116110642368101771823201120.2110.2600.2860.54566  
69Ben Sheets252004MILNL2370.983343450012140.462020185712.72.6526428.2%323.4%1620.29259378915741464101551180.2260.2550.3830.6376635812442
70Pat Jarvis271968ATLNL2560.9843434141016120.571020282742.62.5315715.4%504.9%1160.24151018944337521111111160250.2140.2520.3110.56460  
71Sandy Koufax301966LADNL3230.985414127502790.750024174621.732.0731724.9%776.0%1900.26191274117838540118131351070.2050.2520.2940.54562  
72Catfish Hunter281974OAKAL3180.9864141236025120.676026897882.493.1714311.5%463.7%1340.242512401171437249101514191010.2290.2580.3420.60076  
73Cole Hamels272011PHINL2160.98632313001490.609016968672.793.0519422.8%445.2%1370.26198507892862593182360330.2140.2590.3370.5966631322058
74Frank Tanana221976CALAL2880.9883434232019100.655021288782.432.7626122.9%736.4%1360.252411421042334591431134228050.2030.2610.3120.57372  
75Don Sutton351980LADNL2120.98932314211350.722116356522.23.4612815.4%475.6%1610.2320833773225528392461100.2110.2570.3300.58768  
76Don Newcombe301956BRONL2680.989383618522770.7940219101913.063.4813913.2%464.4%1310.23331052992454838321550040.2210.2570.3740.63166  
77Curt Schilling251992PHINL2260.99042261041014110.560216567592.352.9114716.4%596.6%1500.2311895819304417811770040.2010.2540.2880.54258  
78Odalis Perez242002LADNL2220.990323242015100.6000182767433.3615517.8%384.4%1270.2521869807331541371817109320.2260.2620.3470.6096830212032
79Kevin Brown352000LADNL2300.99133335101360.684018176662.583.1721623.5%475.1%1670.262192184836319134112152040.2130.2610.3370.5985834572271
80Corey Kluber322018CLEAL2150.99133332102070.741017975692.893.1222226.4%344.0%1500.2825842801324032216470020.2230.2570.3670.6246731812118
81Jim Merritt231967MINAL2270.993372811441370.650019672642.532.8116117.7%303.3%1380.26219118532766715693600100.2300.2600.3490.60977  
82Steve Carlton271972PHINL3460.9934141308027100.730025784761.972.0131023.0%876.4%1820.26171351124444581992322125280.2070.2570.2910.54860  
83Bill Hands281968CHCNL2580.9943834114016100.615022191832.893.0314814.6%363.6%1100.25261013955202061151910104040.2310.2620.3380.60180  
84Juan Marichal311969SFGNL2990.9943736278121110.656024490702.12.3920517.4%544.6%1680.261511761098235761261615154250.2220.2610.2930.55461  
85Fritz Peterson271969NYYAL2720.9963737164017160.515022895772.552.6315014.1%434.0%1370.2515106699739711317628333020.2290.2610.3270.58872  
86Kevin Millwood241999ATLNL2280.99633332001870.720016880682.683.5320522.6%596.5%1670.2424906831362249361242050.2020.2580.3370.59454  
87Juan Marichal251963SFGNL3210.996414018512580.7580259102862.412.6224819.5%614.8%1330.2527127011983596273161591320.2160.2550.3280.58374  
88Johan Santana272006MINAL2330.99734341001960.760018679722.773.0424526.5%475.1%1620.2724923862425046410450140.2160.2580.3600.6185934502364
89Vern Law351965PITNL2170.998292813411790.654018266522.153.1310111.9%354.1%1630.2417847796254235824223010.2290.2610.3340.59569  
90Teddy Higuera301988MILAL2270.99931318101690.640016866622.452.819221.5%596.6%1620.25158958132914610712982600.2070.2630.3000.56356  
91Wilbur Wood291971CHWAL3341.0004442227222130.629127295711.912.6321016.0%624.7%1890.252113161224314271852427125060.2220.2630.3060.56864  
92Willie Barrios242020VBS 2150.98033330002060.769017570622.592.6824028.1%374.3%1870.2917855804485 8   52   0.2180.2580.353    
Data from Baseball Reference and OOTP21



Categories: 2020 Best Baseball League, Chart Of The Day, OOTP Simulation, Player Comparison

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