5's vs. 12's
Off to the No. 5 seeds vs. the No. 12 seeds. Bracketologist Kirk Minihane will be subbing in for me again with the commentary. But first, here are the winners from the 4’s vs. 13’s:
Fergie Jenkins (82 percent) over Frank Viola (18 percent)
Gaylord Perry (94 percent) over Milt Pappas (6 percent)
Tom Glavine (97 percent) over Larry Jackson (3 percent)
Juan Marichal (91 percent) over Mike Cuellar (9 percent)’
Now, the next round:
Cy Young Region
5. Early Wynn vs. 12. Roy Oswalt
300 wins, five 20-win seasons and a Cy Young winner in 1959, Wynn also finished in the AL top 10 in complete games 14 times. So why only a five seed? His career ERA was 3.54, not significantly better than the average league ERA for his career (3.77). Compare that with Oswalt, who owns a 3.13 ERA against an average league ERA of 4.36. Tough to pick a guy with just eight seasons over a 300-game winner, but there is an argument to be made for Oswalt. Five top-five Cy Young finishes, a .688 winning percentage and a pair of 20-win seasons. In career Adjusted ERA+ Oswalt ranks 16th. Wynn? Tied for 422nd.
Walter Johnson Region
5. Robin Roberts vs. 12. Don Newcombe
Roberts won 20 games in this third season in the majors (1950). He would win 20 in each of the next five seasons, including 28 in 1952. Never won 20 again after 1955, he was actually little more than an average pitcher over the last half of his career. Still finished with 286 wins, though. Newcombe only pitched 10 seasons (missed two of his prime years to the military, also spent time in the Negro Leagues), but won 20 games in three of them. His 1956 season was his best, as he won 27 games and picked up the MVP and Cy Young Award. Newcombe was breaking down in his early 30s, so even if we give him credit for those missed seasons I doubt he would have matched Roberts’ career totals.
Lefty Grove Region
5. Bert Blyleven vs. 12. Jimmy Key
Blyleven should be a Hall of Famer. Just bad luck, pitched for some terrible teams. Put it this way: There are are eight pitchers that rank among the top 20 in wins, strikeouts and shutouts since 1900. Seven (Don Sutton, Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Fergie Jenkins and Walter Johnson) are in the Hall of Fame. The eighth is Blyleven. Ten seasons with an ERA of 3.00 or less. Would’ve won 320+ games if he had pitched for good teams his whole career. Final Four sleeper. Key was a really consistent pitcher. Save for 1995 (he missed most of the season with an injury) he won between 12-17 games in each season from 1985 to 1997. Two second-place Cy Young finishes and a 3.15 ERA in 14 postseason appearances.
Christy Mathewson Region
5. Phil Niekro vs. 12. Andy Pettitte
Niekro is remembered for the knuckleball, of course, but he was a terrific pitcher for some lousy Atlanta teams. Take 1978. Niekro throws 334.3 innings (22 complete games) with a 2.88 ERA. His record? 19-18 (the team won 69 games that season). He was also stuck in a hitters’ park for the great majority of his career (career home ERA was 3.50, road 3.20). He still managed to post 13 seasons with at least 15 wins. I’m not sure we’d be talking about Pettitte if he had pitched in Kansas City for his entire career. Still, he’s been a 15-18 game winner almost every season (two 20-win years). Not sure what to make of his best season. 17-9 with a 2.39 ERA for the Astros in 2005 (league ERA was 4.23). Was HGH a factor? That’s where this stuff gets tricky.