Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wilbur Cooper

1912 – 1926, 15 N/L Seasons

216 Wins – 178 Losses – 14 Saves; .548 Pct.; 3480 Innings Pitched; 2.89 E.R.A.,

1252 Strikeouts, 853 Bases on Balls.

In connection with my radio show, I decided to create a points system and identify the 100 leading players of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900 to the present. I don’t have much confidence in the reliability of any such points system or formula for player evaluation, so I won’t bore you with the specifics. However, my research indicates that I may have under-valued Wilbur Cooper (P) in my list of potential Hall of Fame candidates.

The left hander performed most of his career with the Pirates and is the only pitcher to record at least 200 Wins as a Pirate. His career lasted from 1912 to 1926. His best seasons were from 1917 through 1924 and his four 20-win seasons all were in the 1920’s.

He presents two clusters of features which I consider important in HOF evaluations. First, among non-member pitchers performing extensively in the 1920’s, he presents a major career combination: 200+ career Wins; 3000 + Innings Pitched; Earned Runs Ave. below 3.00; at least 3 20-win seasons.

More importantly, I place a high premium on pitchers with at least 5 20-win seasons. All but four pitchers meeting this requirement in the past century gained membership. Cooper also won 19 games each in 1918 and 1919. Both seasons were shortened (125+ and 140). Cooper’s best season may have been in 1917 when he went 17-11 for a team finishing last with a record of 51 – 103.

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