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Ryan Dempster - Where Does He Rank in Cubs History


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17 replies to this topic

#1 Baseballet

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:05 PM

I was wondering where Dempster ranked as a pitcher in Cubs history. Using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) statistic on Fangrahs, I took a look at Cubs pitchers from 1970 - 2011 (I don't think Fangraph's WAR stats go back any further than 1970).

Here are the top ten since 1970:

42.0 - Rick Reuschel
39.4 - Greg Maddux
31.4 - Carlos Zambrano
22.1 - Rick Sutcliff
19.9 - Kerry Wood
15.8 - Mark Prior
15.7 - Jon Lieber
15.5 - Ryan Dempster
13.2 - Frank Castilo
12.2 - Scott Sanderson

This year (early in the season) Dempster will leapfrog Lieber and Prior to become the sixth most valuable Cubs pitcher since 1970. If he pitches for the Cubs in 2013 he could also pass Wood and move into fifth place, and has a chance at surpassing Sutcliffe for fourth place.

That's pretty amazing for a pitcher who converted from a closer into a starter and who has only logged four full seasons starting. Dempster has also been a workhorse, logging over 200 innings each year as a starter and having a reputation as a good influence in the clubhouse (something Big Z cannot claim).

#2 TWC

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:14 PM

Dick Tidrow's not listed because he's impossible to replace, therefore "Wins Above Replacement" is an irrelevant statistic, right?

Just making sure.

#3 SirCub

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:15 PM

That's kind of depressing really. I mean, our second best pitcher of the era is a guy that's going to the HOF with another team, # 3 is a nutter that we ran out of town, 5 and 6 had injury-riddled careers, then there is Jon Lieber. Good 'ol Jon Lieber. I loved that guy. Dude would pitch til his arm fell off.

#4 TWC

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:18 PM

I'm shocked that Castillo is on that list. I don't remember him being all that ... good.

#5 SirCub

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:22 PM

The sad thing is, you don't have to be that good to make the list. Just as long as you were good for about a 2 WAR/season and stuck with the team for 5 seasons or so, boom, your name will live on forever in Cubs lore.

#6 TWC

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:29 PM

Yeah, that's true... and looking at the stats, Castillo was pretty solid in '92.

#7 Cubbie Blues

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:32 PM

I would much rather see WAR average per year so the number of years with the club isn't taken into account.

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#8 Brett

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:54 PM

Kind of amazing how high Prior is.

#9 Baseballet

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 02:15 PM

The sad thing is, you don't have to be that good to make the list. Just as long as you were good for about a 2 WAR/season and stuck with the team for 5 seasons or so, boom, your name will live on forever in Cubs lore.

Hmmm, maybe that has something to do with not being able to get into the World Series. I wonder if there's a connection?

#10 Brett

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 02:27 PM


The sad thing is, you don't have to be that good to make the list. Just as long as you were good for about a 2 WAR/season and stuck with the team for 5 seasons or so, boom, your name will live on forever in Cubs lore.

Hmmm, maybe that has something to do with not being able to get into the World Series. I wonder if there's a connection?


Yeah, I don't even want to look at other teams' lists and see how high the numbers are...

#11 Robbo

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 03:04 PM

What, no Turk Wendell on this list? I thought jumping over foul lines was calculated into WAR? I'm writing Fangraphs to have them check their calculations.

#12 imwhitti

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 04:05 PM

WOW! Rick frickin' Reuschel is our best pitcher (by total WAR) in the past 40 years? Don't get me wrong, I loved the guy (his brother Paul...not so much).
I get the fact that Rick spent many more years with the team than virtually everyone else on the list, but, kind of echoing Brett's comment; That isn't a flattering list if you compare it to other teams' top pitchers of the same time period.
A list like this seems to reaffirm what I have always sensed about the Cubs:
1. When they develop talent, they don't utilize it.
2. When they acquire talent, they exploit it and then destroy it.
I really think that has changed, finally, with our new FO

BTW - With all of the talk about certain players being out of shape (i.e., Marmol); could you imagine what fans would say about Reuschel if he were playing today?
....and, if you can keep your head about you while those around you are losing theirs; then, you ...........probably don't understand the gravity of the situation!

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#13 scorecardpaul

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 04:29 PM

I think this list is a little misleading. I think it is possible to make a list say what ever you want it to say. I remember one guy who pitched in that time frame who should be very near the top of any all time Cub pitchers list. If Fergie Jenkins isn't on a list there must be something wrong with it. But what I have found is the years that came before us can all be blended into one group. We didn't see them play anyway, so reach a little further back, and we have a much larger base to pull actual talent, and heroes from. I guess I am a glass half full guy, but when I want to talk about history, it is much more fun to look at all of the history. I also think it gets a little cooler when you can actually reach back, and purchase some of the really old history.

#14 MichiganGoat

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 06:34 PM

Isn't the WAR stat something that can't be compared from year to year because the bar of "replacement" changes each season?

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#15 Fishin Phil

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 05:41 AM

Surprised to see Reuschel at number 1 as well.
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