A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 39 Lefty Grove (Number 10 Pitcher)

Bill James had him as the number 1 pitcher during his first historical abstract. Part of the reason for this was Grove had four great seasons in the minors before going to the majors. Bill gave Grove some credit or a lot of credit for that. My system doesn’t. This argues that Grove could pass some of the pitchers ahead of him on this list and I would think you would have a good argument. I did put him past Gaylord Perry. Thought about putting him past Carlton but decided not to. It could go either way.

Grove always had good not great career, but today I discovered he didn’t his rookie year. I always wondered why he had a mediocre rookie year in the majors after that experience with the Baltimore Orioles, probably the top minor league team at the time. He had poor control as a rookie walking 6 batters a game. Somewhere in his second season he found his control and kept it under 3 walks a season the rest of his career. I looked at his minor league record to see if he had any control problems there. He did. So, he got away with poor control in the minors but couldn’t get away with that playing other quality teams.

Grove led the league pitchers in WAR 8 times and in earned run average (ERA) 9 times. He is sixth all time in WAR for pitchers.

It was well known Grove hated to lose. Interesting enough he had only six seasons in double figures losses. That seems low for someone who pitched as much as he did early in career.  It helps when you win 68 percent of the games you start. Also, interesting Connie Mack would use him as a reliever quite often in his career with the As. After he went to Boston his arm had to be saved more so he pitched less in relief. I found it interesting he never led the league in innings pitched.

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