No. 151 Dazzy Vance (Number 37 Pitcher)

Before Vance was the 59th best pitcher (far too low) and the 268th best pitcher. I still had him in my hall of fame. This is what I wrote about him in my Hall of Fame article:

“In 1922 Dazzy Vance was 31 and had won zero major league games with a won-loss record of 0-8 and had a career WAR of -.4. He ended his career with 197 victories and 60.1 WAR. Beginning in 1922 he won 7 strikeout titles in a row. Beginning in 1924 he led the league in strikeout to walk ratio 8 years in a row. In 1924 he was named National League MVP. How can you keep this guy out of the hall of fame?”

Let us see what else I can find out about him. Vance was famous for having control problems early in his career. He seemed to always have the fastball. He came up in 1915, pitched for two teams and was terrible. He came up in 1918 and didn’t impress anyone. Brooklyn took him as a starter in 1920 at the age of 31 and he was an immediate success.

Two years later he had a super season winning the pitching triple crown of wins, earned run average and strikeouts. He was also named MVP that year. He won 28 games. Brooklyn finished in second a game and a half behind the New York Giants who won their fourth straight pennant. Brooklyn was 30 games above .500 and Vance was 22 games above .500. He was an easy MVP despite Rogers Hornsby hitting .424 that year.

I have heard that Vance won his strikeout titles by quite a bit, so I wondered how much he won by each year. Here are the results: 1922: 5, 1923: 46, 1924: 127, (In 1924 Vance had 262 strikeouts. With 8 more he would have double of the second-place pitcher. They were the only two National League pitchers with over 100 strikeouts that year.) 1925: 81, (Vance had 221 strikeouts that year. Again, he was one of two pitchers with over 100 strikeouts.) 1926: 13, (Vance was out with an injury that year.) 1927: 37, 1928: 45, (Vance had 200 that year and was one of three pitchers with over 100 strikeouts. So, he won the strikeout crown easily 5 out of 7 years.

Some of Vance’s control problems might have been due to bone chips in his elbow. He hurt his elbow playing poker. He was trying to bring the pot in and banged his elbow on the table. Sounds a little fishy to me, but that is the story. Anyway, the doctor looked at the x-rays and discovered a previous injury, which people now think was bone chips.

Vance supposedly played in the same t-shirt every time he pitched. He claimed it was his lucky t-shirt. It was so old that the sleeves were a bunch of narrow strips which would flap when Vance pitched. This bothered the pitchers and opposing manager John McGraw. The SABR article said there wasn’t a rule about this, but how hard would it have been to make a rule in the off season.

Apparently he was a character (thus the nickname Daffy) as well as a great pitcher.

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