No. 8 Negro Leagues Smokey Joe Williams

Williams has only 6.6 WAR in Baseball Reference, so I gave him a bonus. His win-loss record of 16-19 for four years doesn’t look good. That with a 6.6 WAR makes a person wonder what are they talking about. Of course, you have to take these records with a grain of salt. The four years only covers 53 games with 42 starts. Then I looked closer, and these years cover 37, 38, 43 and 46. I am going to make an assumption these were not Williams peak years.

Also, his earned run average was also well above average. The first three years he leads in strikeout to walk ratio. Also, at age 43 he led in strikeouts per 9 innings. Smokey Joe could still pitch. Not only pitch, but pitch at an all-star level.

Ty Cobb said Williams would have easily won 30 games in the American and National League Major Leagues. He also reportedly struck out 27 in a game for a 1-0 victory. The game was 12 innings but 27 guys in a game is astounding. Both pitchers used the emery ball the article said. That is when a pitcher roughs up the ball, so it has more spin. It is illegal now but was legal then.

Some people say that Williams was better than Paige. I think they were close, but Paige pitched later so has the time advantage. If I had both on my pitching staff I would be very very happy.



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