Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Glavine's Greatness

Here are ten testaments to Tom Glavine's greatness

1. Glavine did not go on the Disabled List until his age 42 (and final) season in 2008.

2. Like his rotationmate and fellow inductee Greg Maddux, Glavine was incredibly durable, making at least 25 starts in every season from 1988 through 2007. That's 20 years, in the last of which he threw 200 and a third innings at age 41.

3. Speaking of Maddux, I find it funny that Glavine made more All-Star teams (10) than Maddux (8). Glavine also had five 20 win seasons to Maddux's two.

4. Many pitchers are doomed to consistently finish with 17-19 wins per year while rarely reaching 20. Maddux was one such pitcher, Mike Mussina another. Glavine wasn't. He won precisely 20 three times, 21 once and 22 once, but never 19 and 18 only once. He had zero 17-win seasons. This probably explains why whenever Glavine received Cy Young consideration, (six times--including all five 20-win seasons--and winning twice) he never finished outside the top-three.

5.Glavine was a pretty decent hitting-pitcher, winning four Silver Slugger awards (second only to Mike Hampton all-time) and batting as high as .289 in 1996. Far from an automatic out, Glavine got on base in nearly one-quarter of his plate appearances. Interestingly enough, his best run as a hitter (1995 through 1998, when he won three of his four Silver Sluggers) also coincided with his best run as a pitcher. His 2.87 ERA over that stretch was 48 percent better than average on a league and park adjusted basis. As a batter he contributed 7.5 bWAR over the course of his career.

6. Great as Glavine was, the 1995 World Series MVP was even better in the playoffs, with a 3.30 postseason ERA compared to his 3.54 regular season mark. He pitched the equivalent of a full season in October, making 35 starts (24 of them quality) and throwing 218 and a third innings. And while he had a losing record in the playoffs (14-16), his teams had a winning record (18-17). Opponents batted .237/.316/.366 against him in the postseason compared to .257/.319/.378 in the regular season.

7. I believe he is still the only pitcher to throw two shutouts at Coors Field.

8. Glavine's 682 starts are a record for someone who never made a relief appearance. Throw in his 35 postseason starts--also without a relief appearance--and that makes 717.

9. One of only six southpaws with at least 300 career wins. The others are Steve Carlton, Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn, Randy Johnson, and Eddie Plank.

10. Glavine was rarely great, with only two seasons over the six-win mark and just two more above five, but he was always good (typically in the three-to-four win range). His adjusted ERA was better than average every year but one from 1991 through 2006 and he had four other seasons (1989, 90, 2003, and 07) where it was very close to average.


  1. WAR isn't the perfect metric and will tend to undervalue a pitcher such as Glavine, who excelled at run prevention more by inducing a weaker and easier-to-field form of contact than by missing bats. Over a twelve-season prime stretch from 1991-2002, Glavine posted an ERA+ of 125 or better ten times, which is indeed a sign of greatness. He was perennially great; he just was rarely "dominant."