Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
7 Total Updates since February 17, 2012
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
John Autin at High Heat Stats has posted an interesting list of active MLB leaders in pitching categories that will change significantly with the retirement of Tim Wakefield. But what’s most interesting is this note that ends the post, referring to Jamie Moyer and Roy Halladay’s position on top of the active pitcher wins list:
If Moyer doesn’t make it to Opening Day, Halladay’s 188 wins will be the lowest active leading total since 1949, when Bob Feller began the year with 177 wins. No other season in modern history has begun with the active leader having fewer than 190 wins.
Baseball-reference.com’s year-by-year leaderboard lists Bobo Newsom as the active leader in pitching wins in 1949 with 205. However, looking at Newsom’s baseball-reference page, we see that he did not pitch in the major leagues at all in 1949, 1950 or 1951; he was a member of the Washington Senators’ organization, but threw exclusively in the minor leagues those three seasons. He later pitched again in the majors in 1952 and 1953, so technically Newsom was “active” in 1949.
So Autin is correct; 1949 was the last season when the major leagues had an active leader who actually pitched in the majors that year, with fewer than 200 wins.
Of course, if Moyer makes the Rockies’ roster, that all becomes moot, with Moyer’s 267 career wins.
over 1 year ago Update 2 comments
Of course it’s Posnanski so you have to read the whole thing, if only for the long digression about Charlie Hough and passed balls. But here’s a taste:
I’ve always thought of the knuckleball as poetry. When it’s really good, it’s surprising and deep and almost impossibly awesome — you just can’t believe something could be so cool. A great poem, like a great knuckler, feels like it is breathing. And when it’s really bad — bad poetry or bad knuckleballs — yeah, it’s really bad.
Here’s the thing: Like poetry, I can’t help but feel like the knuckleball is on the verge of disappearing. Of course, neither one is really disappearing. It just feels that way. That’s why it struck me so funny and touching when Elizabeth talked about going into the poetry business. I know there IS a poetry business out there, I know there ARE brilliant poets out there, but I honestly don’t come across them much in my life.
Joe worries that Tim Wakefield was the last of the great knuckleball pitchers; the last of the knuckleballers who last forever and win a couple of hundred games. I don’t think he’s the last. But I fear he’s the last we’re going to see for a long, long while.
over 1 year ago Update 4 comments
Tim Wakefield is retiring after a lengthy career that saw him throw more than 3,300 innings and debut with the last Pittsburgh Pirates team that was any good. As Wakefield moves on, baseball fans will lament the loss of a knuckleballer, as Wakefield was one of the last of a dying breed. Indeed, Wakefield rode his knuckler to remarkable and sustainable success.
But Wakefield didn't throw his knuckleball 100 percent of the time. For a change of pace, he would mix in the occasional heater. Maybe not heater. Maybe more like lukewarmer. Wakefield's fastball topped out in the high 70s. The overwhelming majority of them were slower than that.
And here's the funny thing - it worked. Since 2002, which is as far back as our data goes, Wakefield's fastball has been as effective on a per-100 basis as Justin Verlander's fastball. It's been more effective than Tim Lincecum's fastball. It's been more effective than Josh Beckett's fastball. Tim Wakefield's fastball was bad, but Tim Wakefield's fastball was good. Tim Wakefield's fastball is all the proof you need that raw velocity is less important than relative velocity.
In honor of Tim Wakefield's fastball, then, here are .gifs of Tim Wakefield throwing his fastball and getting batters to whiff.
That's Ichiro. That's Ichiro swinging through a Tim Wakefield fastball in a 3-and-1 count.
That's Trevor Plouffe. That's Trevor Plouffe swinging through a Tim Wakefield fastball in a 3-and-1 count, and then swinging through a Tim Wakefield fastball in a 3-and-2 count.
Tim Wakefield will be remembered for his knuckleball. As he ought to be. Tim Wakefield was a knuckleball magician. But Tim Wakefield's fastball was a big part of his charm. Here's to Tim Wakefield, whose every encounter ended with someone looking ridiculous.
over 1 year ago Article 10 comments
Tim Wakefield's been my favorite player for a long time, and I'm still not ready for him to quit.
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
Tim Wakefield had hoped to continue his major league career in 2012; ideally with the Red Sox, but perhaps with another team. However, via tweet from Red Sox beat writer Pete Abraham, we learn that the 45-year-old's career is over:
Wakefield will announce his retirement at 5 p.m. at Fort Myers.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) February 17, 2012
Wakefield pitched 17 seasons for the Red Sox after making his major league debut in 1992 with the Pirates and pitching for Pittsburgh in the NLCS that year. For Boston, he won 186 games, third in franchise history behind Cy Young and Roger Clemens, who both won 192 for the club.
Wakefield, who relied largely on his knuckleball, pitched in eight postseasons for the Red Sox and was a key contributor for both their 2004 and 2007 World Series title teams; he even filled in as closer for a brief period of the 1999 season. He finishes his major league career with exactly 200 wins, a 4.41 ERA, 33 complete games and 32 Wins Above Replacement.