Mailbag: Biggest 1-2 Punches In Baseball HistoryBy
Daniel asks: Assuming Michael Pineda becomes the number two starter, CC Sabathia and Pineda (aside from being one of the more lethal 1-2 punches in the AL) must be the largest 1-2 in both height and weight we’ve ever seen in baseball no?
I’m a bit of a sucker for completely useless trivia like this, and thankfully we have the B-Ref Play Index to help us find the answer. Both Sabathia and Pineda are 6-foot-7, and CC is listed at 290 lbs. on the official site while Pineda admitted to being 280 lbs. yesterday. The former racked up 6.9 bWAR last season while the latter was at 2.8. So let’s do a search for teams with pitchers meeting those minimum requirements: 6-foot-7, 280 lbs., and 2.8 bWAR.
The results? Nine total teams have had exactly one pitcher satisfy the criteria, and it’s all the same guy: CC Sabathia, with the Indians (2002-2003, 2005-2007), the Brewers (2008), and Yankees (2009-2011). That’s it. Sabathia is such an extreme outlier in terms of size of performance in baseball history, it’s ridiculous. Now let’s relax the criteria a bit to see if we can actually get some results. Let’s use a minimum height of 6-foot-5, a minimum weight of 240 lbs. and a minimum bWAR of 2.5.
This time around we get 47 different teams with exactly one player meeting the criteria, though it’s only 14 different pitchers: Sabathia (ten times), Carlos Zambrano (eight times), John Lackey (five times), Gavin Floyd (four times), Josh Johnson (four times), Aaron Harang (three times), Chris Young (three times), Carl Pavano (three times), J.J. Putz (twice), Pineda (once), Justin Masterson (once), Mike Pelfrey (once), Guillermo Mota (once), and Jeff D’Amico (once). We still haven’t found a team with two productive pitchers that size though, so let’s drop the weight requirement all together and stick with the 6-foot-5 and 2.5 bWAR minimums.
Okay, now we’re talking. Fifty-four different teams have had at least two players meet the criteria while five had had three: 2003 Cubs (Zambrano, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood), 1997 Cardinals (Matt Morris, Alan & Andy Benes), 1991 Mariners (Randy Johnson, Erik Hanson, Bill Krueger), and both the 1985 and 1987 Cubs (Scott Sanderson, Lee Smith, Rick Sutcliffe). Dan Haren and Jered Weaver have one season meeting the criteria but figure to put a few more together. Same goes for Doug Fister and Justin Verlander. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have two such seasons together and should be able to add a third this year. Andy Pettitte and Sabathia are the list for their 2010 efforts.
Needless to say, Sabathia and Pineda have a chance to do something never before done in baseball history just by being themselves — physical huge and really effective on the mound. Add in Ivan Nova (6-foot-4), Freddy Garcia (6-foot-4), and Phil Hughes (6-foot-5), and the Yankees have a chance for one of the tallest rotations in baseball history. Poor Hiroki Kuroda (6-foot-1) is going to be stuck looking up at everyone.