Wednesday, August 31, 2005

August 31st, 1903

Joe McGinnity Pitches Doubleheader

I've done Joe McGinnity before, but today's feat is worth noting on two levels. First, McGinnity performed the rare even then but of course unheard of now feat of pitching--and winning--both ends of a Giants' doubleheader. McGinnity defeated the Phillies 4-1 and 9-2. Notable though this is, it was even more so as it was the third time in August that McGinnity had managed the feat.

This was the year, not surprisingly, when McGinnity set the modern era National League record for innings in a season, four hundred thirty-four. The game was different then of course, but the number still blows the mind. For sake of comparison, McGinnity's inning total represents the National League 2004 innings leader (Livan Hernandez) and to catch up to McGinnity, Hernandez would have had to pitch an additional one hundred seventy-nine innings, or about equal to the number pitched by Matt Clement, who ranked in the top thirty in National League innings pitched last year.

Seasons like McGinnity's also further demonstrates a concept one of my guest writers pointed out: that Pedro Martinez's 1999 is almost certainly the greatest pitching season of all time. However, a season like McGinnity's 1904 (I know I'm jumping ahead a year in his career here) presents an interesting contrast.
Martinez threw two hundred seventeen innings at an ERA one hundred eighty-five percent better than the league average. Those innings represent fifteen percent of his team's innings that year. In contrast, McGinnity's 1904 saw him post an ERA 'only' sixty nine percent better than league average, yet do so in four hundred and eight innings, or nearly thirty percent of his team's innings.

Pedro then, threw fifteen percent fewer innings relatively to his team total, but still holds a huge lead in ERA, as he was one hundred sixteen percent better compared to the league. McGinnity's huge inning totals are impressive, and a feat like pitching both ends of a doubleheader--victoriously--are more so. But in the end, it is merely another indication of how great Pedro Martinez truly was.

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