Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 2/5/12

How do the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies and Roy Halladay measure up to the ace-laden trios in baseball history?  Up until now, this span-of-time issue has stymied everybody, but–unlike Joe Lewis versus Muhammad Ali–baseball statistics are plus-and-minus flexible.  With a compensating system, you can minimize the differences from the dead-ball era to the current day, including the balanced middle. (Photo is Chief Bender on Phillies Page @ Philadelphia Phillies.)

Tal's Handy Caps:



I am doing a weekly Baseball-Fix Monday until the end of March. Also, I’ll publish after every game that is not washed out during the summer. My format will remain the same in 2012 with Nitecap Insight, The Precap (restructured as the Precap Pitch), and The Apocalyptic Horsemen. Cap-Size Hindsight will feature certain players plus participants who warrant mention, good and bad, for what they have done in the contest or clubhouse. Penthouse Occupancy will cover all remarkable plays along with solid performances during critical moments by the red pinstripes. The best of those will receive The Crystal Champagne Toast. Cholley’s Doghouse is filled every now and then with a slacking effort. The Outhouse is for something that stinks, like a bad ump call. The Glass House is a stone’s throw away for a man who blows his opportunity to nail a juicier role. The Miniature Mansion is for off-field excellence, like a locker-room influence. However, these houses don’t have visitors after every battle: Some do and others don’t.

New wrinkles this season are: The Kangaroo Court House, Fun House Of Mirrors and Rally Tal & Cap.  The Big House Key will lock some in and reveal The Rising Son on others. The 1st sighting of my heckler this January occurred last week, and we’ll call him: Sporty Rant for his unsportsmanlike ranting. Thank you, Sporty, for the following inspiration. My Critic’s Choice: Precap Pitch is an innovative non-stat-oriented approach.

The Doctor Pictured During NLDS Game 5 At The Bank On October 7






Deluxe Rotations:


The concept is to employee equalizing factors by correcting for different elements that are pronounced during 3 separate periods. These results are based on the star’s power over his entire body of work. The 3 number ones then accumulate a total of their value and that tally is their strength rating. I list their peak year together. The wars, injuries and anomalies were just a few considerations. One stud became a slugger, while another was a premier closer in the middle of his days. The Phillies have 2 listed staffs, which are the 4 of 2011 and 3 this campaign. Their ratings are still active, as is 1 other.

Doctored Dead Ball

The sport has changed and grown from the late 19th century to now. This is not my first attempt to compare similar epochs and the best rotations with 3 or more aces. There is a good reason why this subject has been limited to the one-of-the-elite label. After 1920, hitting became a lot easier with fresh baseballs, which leveled the playing field. Results were altered again with the advent of advanced scouting aids, film, and more emphasis on relievers, which benefited the offensive ingredient. It was then that the decline of winning 20 began. The AL had this plus the designated hitter to double the affect.

I took into consideration the quantity of starts made, record and ERA. A stud had to produce at least 2 excellent summers within a reasonable proximity of each other. One super 162 is a career year but more than one is a pattern. I allowed a distance of 2 lesser seasons during a number-one run, which was for down summers and health troubles. Some had more than 1 span of excellence. I had 2 groups: 1 was for a sterling campaign and the other was a solid 162, which was sometimes a 3-month affair, like a 2 pointer but with only 20 appearances.

New Ball Gripped By Eddie Plank

The Dead Ball Era produced a distinct advantage for pitchers, when balls had unpredictable trajectories. Hurlers would dirty, scuff, spike, sandpaper and discolor the balls with tobacco or licorice juice. They became misshapen, difficult to see, and soft in the late innings. That period ended with the 1920 hit-in-the-head death of Ray Chapman 12 hours later on August 17. After that new balls were introduced when others became remotely tarnished.

Because there were dozens of ERA’s below 2.99 before 1920, I added 0.50 to their ERA for an equaling factor. I used 1973 as the timeline for a major shift on 3 fronts: The DH entered the AL, bullpens handled a bigger load and strategies changed, which affected the end result. I deducted 0.50 to AL ERA’s and lowered NL ones by 0.25 after 1972.

Equalizing Formula:

LAST ADJUSTMENT Dead Ball Era -----1920Plus 0.50 To ERA Basic19211972No Change AL Designated Hitter 19732012Minus 0.25 To ERA AL & NL Statistical Era19732012Minus 0.25 To ERA


The reason for the deduction is not just ERA but a variety of different contributing elements. Unlike the long-distance wings from my youth, these aces experienced inherited runners charged to their line when ineffective relief-corps denizens were hit. This balloons their ERA and affects the W-L ledger. Some clubs have weak ‘pens and the starter has to throw 1 or 2 frames too many. These days you need 3 or 4 quality relievers and not 1. The formula for comparing number ones today only needs an AL equalizing component, because they face the same circumstances, unlike 4 stark contrasts over the decades.

The stud’s strength is based on his entire career, which illustrates the power of the trio involved as a force to be reckoned with. There are 2 levels of excellence for an ace: outstanding and overwhelming.

Ace = 2 Points, Number 1 = 1 Point

1.  1998 Atlanta Braves:  53 Total Points

1993 To 2000 (8 Campaigns Together)      * Years

PITCHERARMW - LERAACE*# 1*TOTAL MadduxRight18-92.2212226 GlavineLeft20-62.4708117 SmoltzRight17-32.9005010


Greg Maddux



This squad produced a 106-56 mark, which is the organizational summit for Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. These stars dominated 1st place in 4 NL categories: Victories (Tom Glavine), winning percentage (John Smoltz), shutouts (5) and ERA (Greg Maddux). Smoltz had 2 of his stud years after closing. They cruised over the Mets with an 18-game cushion, swept the Cubs in the NLDS, but they were stopped 4-2 by the Pads (NLCS).



2.  2011 Philadelphia Phillies:  44 Total Points

For 1 Tour      * Years

PITCHERARMW - LERAACE*# 1*TOTAL HalladayRight19-62.357216 LeeLeft17-82.403208 HamelsLeft14-92.793107 OswaltRight9-103.695313


The General Fires A Bullet At The Bank During NLDS Game 2 On October 2



The only staff with 4 aces in baseball history set a franchise 102-60 zenith, finishing ahead of the Braves by 13. Since they have more years down the road, it means they could earn 6-8 points in 2012 to reach 50-52. Roy Oswalt is the wild card in that calculation. They lost the short series 3-2 against St. Louis, who went on to triumph in the Fall Classic. The players selected Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels with 2 rising arms as the All-Star starters.

3.  1910 Philadelphia Athletics:  38 Total Points

2-Season Threesome (1910-1911)     * Years

PITCHERARMW - LERAACE*# 1*TOTAL PlankLeft16-102.0110323 BenderRight23-51.5805010 MorganRight18-121.5502105


Eddie Plank




The best from the dead-ball timeframe were part of Philadelphia’s and Connie Mack’s first World Series title. They polished off a 102-48 record, accumulating 9 more A’s 100-victory summers after this one. Philadelphia and Oakland each had 5. They finished in front of New York by 14.5, and beat the Cubbies 4-1 for the championship. Chief Bender and Cy Morgan had their career year during that campaign.

4.  1971 Baltimore Orioles:  35 Total Points

1969 To 1974 (6 Tours Together)      * Years

PITCHERARMW - LERAACE*# 1*TOTAL PalmerRight20-92.689018 CuellarLeft20-93.094311 McNallyLeft21-52.892206

Jim Palmer



This crew led the team to a 101-57 showing and a 12-game margin over Detroit. After sweeping Oakland in the ALCS, they lost 4-3 to Pittsburgh. They had two best-type seasons: Dave McNally (2nd) and Mike Cueller (3rd).




5.  1966 Los Angeles Dodgers:  33 Points

2-Summer Span (1965-1966) As A Unit      * Years

PITCHERARMW - LERAACE*# 1*TOTAL KoufaxLeft27-91.735010 DrysdaleRight13-163.427115 OsteenLeft17-42.854008


Sandy Koufax



These 3 hurlers were together for 2 tours, edging past the Giants by a game and a half before Baltimore swept them. Sandy Koufax ended his career on top after his most spectacular season. He was first in NL wins, ERA and complete outings. Don Drysdale had a rare off year but Claude Osteen had his 3rd best outcome.


6.  2012 Philadelphia Phillies:  31 Total Points

1st Campaign As A 3-Man Force      * Years

PITCHERARMW - LERAACE*# 1*TOTAL HalladayRight19-62.357216 LeeLeft17-82.403208 HamelsLeft14-92.793107


King Cole Photographed During NLDS Game 3 In St. Louis On October 4


This group will open ‘12 as a trio after chalking up stellar stats last summer. If they duplicate those numbers, they can jump to 37 points for 4th place. You can anticipate their returns to have a paper-thin difference between them.




7.  1954 Cleveland Indians:  31 Total Points

1950 To 1954 (5 Tours Together)      * Years

PITCHERARMW - LERAACE*# 1*TOTAL LemonRight23-72.725111 WynnRight23-112.735212 GarciaRight19-82.643208


Bob Lemon

The Tribe went 111-43 with a bulge of 8 over the Yanks, but were swept by the other New York team in the Fall Classic. Cleveland had their top-tier finish in ‘54. All 3 stars had outstanding seasons with Early Wynn achieving his statistical peak, and the other two only had 1 better year on their resume. In the AL, Mike Garcia had the lowest ERA, while Bob Lemon and Wynn tied for the most triumphs.


8.  1916 Boston Red Sox:  27 Total Points

1916 To 1918 (Together For 3 Campaigns)      * Years

PITCHERARMW - LERAACE*# 1*TOTAL MaysRight18-132.393511 RuthLeft23-121.754008 LeonardLeft18-122.363208


Submariner Carl Mays


This 3-handed Goliath had 2 that were history-making and are connected: Both are known more as Yankees. Babe Ruth had his best season from the pitcher’s box, leading the league in ERA and shutouts. After 3.5 summers as a stud, he launched 29 bombs during a dead-ball-period season, and that quantity doubled in the lively-ball epoch. As a Yank, Carl Mays was the submarine thrower who decked Chapman. However, during this 91-63 year, Mays was earning his first relevant season as a starter. They captured the pennant by 2 games over the White Sox. Dutch Leonard achieved his second best 154 that ended with a 4-1 WS title over Brooklyn.


9.  1973 Oakland A’s:  26 Points

1972 To 1974 (A 3-Summer Unit)      * Years

PITCHERARMW - LERAACE*# 1*TOTAL HunterRight21-53.345010 BlueLeft20-93.284210 HoltzmanLeft21-132.973006


Catfish Hunter & Vida Blue




They won it all with a 94-68 mark for 6 over the Royals. Then, they took the ALCS 3-2 over the O‘s and edged the Metropolitans 4-3. Ken Holtzman had only one better summer than that one.



10.  2003 Oakland A’s:  23 Points

2001 To 2004 (4 Years Together)      * Years

PITCHERARMW - LERAACE*# 1*TOTAL HudsonRight16-72.705111 MulderLeft15-93.133006 ZitoLeft14-123.303006


Tim Hudson



They went 96-66 to top the division over Seattle by 3 games, but against Boston, they were nicked 3-2. Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder had their career toppers. Hudson is still accruing points with number one outcomes, but Zito hasn’t had an ace 162 since 2003.



* Years As A Unit

#TEAMYR.*WINNING FINISH 1'73 A's3WS (4-3) & ALCS (3-2)
21910 Athletics (102-48)2WS (4-1) 21916 Red Sox (91-63)3WS (4-1) 4‘71 Orioles6ALCS 5‘54 Indians5AL 111-43 (0-4 WS) 5‘66 Dodgers2NL 95-67 (0-4 WS) 7‘98 Braves8NLDS 82011 Phillies (102-60)1NL EAST (2-3 Vs. WC) 82003 A’s (96-66)
4AL WEST (2-3 Vs. WC)


Raw-Ability Yardstick is ( Philadelphia Phillies Storyline: The Dangling Untouchable ) my previous publication. Deluxe Rotations is the 10th storyline for 2012 that can be found on the Phillies page ( Philadelphia Phillies ) or my author archives ( Tal Venada ).

The Phillies finished 42 games over .500, which equaled a season of many positives. I have many summer-long highlights of puzzle pieces, especially important after drubbings and defeats. I alternated the 2011 ERA For The NL East ( Philadelphia Phillies: 2011 ERA For The NL East At Game 162 And Final ) and 2011 ERA For The MLB 5 ( Philadelphia Phillies: Final 2011 ERA For The MLB 5 At Game 162 ) with the last 2 in the links. Thank you, to all who bookmarked the Phillies page, because feeds are erratic at times. Many visitors come from these outlets, and it is always obvious when one of those didn’t work. Tal’s Handy Stats is daily coverage. The 2012 MLB 5 may feature the Halos or Cardinals, while the Sox and Dodgers may be replaced.

Note:  A site format change slightly altered the original ERA postings, but I’ll adjust my material accordingly for 2012. Two photos were used for game 162 on both, where 1 to 161 (1 picture) experienced only minimal distortion, unlike the finals.


This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

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The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

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The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

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