Thursday, April 30, 2009

Don't Kill Whitey

The time has come to throw down another great theory. This one is a bit of a shoot off from my "having too many latino ballplayers" idea which never really went anywhere. After going through the record books and looking at stats from about the last 25 years, I have noticed a very interesting trend among the World Series champions each year. Almost every team had a white guy as their ace. Now say what you will about players of different races having less of an opportunity to play in the past, but this seems to be a pretty staggering find to me. Going forward, we can also use this to predict which teams will do well, and which not so well.

Since 1983, there have only been 3 non-white pitchers that could be defined as the "ace" of their team that ended up leading that team to a World Series title. In 1990 we saw Jose Rijo tear it up for the Reds, in 1989 Dave Stewart (though Mike Moore had a better ERA and only two less wins) anchored the A's title run, and in 1986 Doc Gooden propelled the Mets to a World Series. Other than those three, the list of white guys goes on and on and on and on.

2008: Cole Hamels
2007: Josh Beckett
2006: Chris Carpenter
2005:Mark Buehrle/ John Garland
2004: Curt Schilling
2003: Josh Beckett (by the playoffs at least)
2002: Jarrod Washburn
2001: Curt Schilling
2000: Andy Pettitte
1999: Roger Clemens
1998: David Wells
1997: Kevin Brown
1996: Andy Pettitte
1995: Tom Glavine/Greg Maddux/John Smoltz (take your pick)
1994: strike year
1993: Pat Hentgen
1992: Jack Morris
1991: Jack Morris/Scott Erickson
1988: Orel Hershiser
1987: Frank Viola
1985: Brett Saberhagen/ Charlie Leibrandt
1984: Jack Morris (dude was pretty good)
1983: Mike Boddicker

The list does not lie. Think about how many great non-white pitchers there have been out there in the past 25 years; Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Bartolo Colon, Felix Hernandez, C.C. Sabathia, Hideo Nomo, Ramon Ortiz aka Mini Pedro, Francisco Liriano, Carlos Zambrano, Ramon Martinez, but they all have either failed or needed help to lead their team to a World Series title. Think about Pedro Martinez's amazing run in the late 90s, he was far and away the best pitcher in the game at that time. But it was not until Curt Schilling came along in 2004 that the Red Sox won the World Series. There are no doubt many more white pitchers in the major leagues, but these other guys are no slouches (many of them Cy Young winners) so it is interesting to see the whiteys dominate in the playoffs.

This trend does not bode well for teams like the New York Mets, the Minnesota Twins and the Seattle Mariners, who all have non-white guys as their undisputed staff aces. This theory may not be perfect, but it certainly can hold its own. I'd look for the World Series winner this year to have a big white dude as the anchor of the rotation, but who knows? Maybe we will have another Jose Rijo or Dave Stewart type break through the ranks.


  1. I have a bone to pick with your theory. Does pitching win championships or does hitting? The cliche answer is pitching, but one ace does not necessarily beget a winning team. It'd be interesting for you to go back and compare the series champions and find their top run producers. Would Toronto have won in 1993 without Joe Carter, Robby Alomar or Rickey Henderson? Would the Mets have wone in 1986 without Mookie, Keith Hernandez or Strawberry?

  2. I'm not saying that that one guy puts the team on his back and brings home the pennant. And hitting obviously plays a part as well. It just seems to be an interesting trend. Might just be an extra thing to consider if say the Mariners led by King Felix played the Lincecum led Giants in the World Series. Just based on the trend, I would go with the Giants.