No. 198 Billy Pierce (Number 45 Pitcher)

Billy Pierce was the 53rd best pitcher and the 242nd best player overall before. Now I’m going to try to figure out why he moved up. In the old list the 45th best pitcher Red Ruffing was in the 201st position. Not really much of a change and it is easily random. So, we can’t say the difference is that pitchers rank higher.

I figured out Pierce was passed by 2 pitchers, so he passed 10 pitchers. The two that passed him were Dazzy Vance who benefited not only because he had a short career with a great peak, but I gave him bonus points for being the best pitcher in the 1920s and Max Scherzer who benefit from what Vance did plus he is still earning points.

The pitchers that Billy Pierce passed are:

Ed Walsh
Rick Reuschel
Jerry Koosman
Ted Lyons
Jim Kaat
Red Ruffing
Kevin Brown
C.C. Sabathia Frank Tanana Red Faber

Ok, here is one thing that is obvious with four pitchers. Ted Lyons, Jim Kaat, Frank Tanana and Red Faber had long careers and don’t benefit as much as they did under the old formula. So, that is part of the explanation, but leaves 6 pitchers.

So now I’m going to look at the changes I made.  Well one is rather obvious. Billy Pierce is in 8th place in championship WPA (Wins Probability Added). He also doesn’t do bad in wins probability added. He led in Championship WPA three times and regular WPA twice. So, he was a great pitcher in the clutch, and I reward him for that. He even got more points than Red Ruffing who was awfully good. I think we basically answered that question.

One thing I noticed is that Pierce got 22.2 points in 1962 in Championship WPA when he didn’t even lead the league in WPA. That is the year the Giants beat the Dodgers in a three-game playoff for the championship. Of course, Pierce pitched for the Giants that year. Let us see how he did it.

For the season Pierce had a record of 16-6 with and ERA of 3.49. His ERA was 10 percent better than an average pitcher. In September he was 3-2 with an ERA of 3.62. While Pierce pitched great in August, Baseball Reference has him only 8 percent better than average in September. So let us look at individual games.

Well looking at the individual games we figured it out. Billy Pierce started game 1 of the 2 out of 3 game series against the Dodgers and threw a shutout in game 1. The score was 8-0 Giants. Pierce gave up 3 hits and 1 walk in 9 innings. His game score was 84. He probably didn’t get a lot of credit as Walter Alston tried starting Sandy Koufax who was trying to recover from an injury and hadn’t fully recovered. Pierce’s championship WPA went up 15.88 that game. Since it was 22.2 for the season that game accounts a lot for it. However, you can’t argue Pierce didn’t deserve it as he pitched a great game in a pressure situation.

To make this short the Dodgers won game 2 in a wild game. Now for the deciding game 3. The Giants came into the ninth down 2 runs and had a 7 percent chance of winning the game. The Giants scored 4 runs in the top the ninth to go ahead by two runs. Manager Alvin Dark probably thought back 2 days before and decided that Pierce had done so well against the Dodgers he was the best pitcher to bring into the ninth. Pierce got the side out in order. This added 4.35 to the Championship WPA as it gave the Giants the pennant. Pierce got the opportunity to do well in the clutch, which was partly luck, but he came through for the Giants.

Billy Pierce got to start two games in the World Series and pitched well going 1-1 against the Yankees. He lost game 3 by the score of 3-2. He gave up 3 runs in 6 innings and had a game score of 55. This put the Giants down 2 games to 1. The Giants were still down in game 6 when Pierce started again. Pierce got the win in a 5-2 game. He pitched a complete game beating Whitey Ford with a game score of 73. However, the Giants lost game 7.

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