Inside Baseball: More Bob Feller
A couple additional items to add to last night’s post:
— I had to look it up, but I have Feller ranked as the 12th-best pitcher in major-league history. I didn’t remember him being that high on my list, but I’m sure there’s a very good reason.
— Feller never won a Cy Young Award. Probably because the award didn’t exist until his final season. But he finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting six times, which is remarkable for a pitcher. From 1939-41, Feller was third, second, and third in AL MVP voting. He missed the next 3 1/2 seasons while serving in the Navy, then finished sixth and eighth in MVP voting his first two full seasons back.
That’s five straight years in the top 10. I’m not going to take the time to figure out how many pitchers have pulled off that feat, but it has to be a short list. Carl Hubbell did it from 1933-37, winning the award twice, and I’ll bet he’s the only one.
— Feller was the top AL pitcher in the MVP voting in 1939, 1940, and 1941. Don’t know whether that would have translated to Cy Young balloting, but it’s reasonable to think he would have won the award at least three times. He led AL pitchers in Wins Above Replacement three times and was second three times. And that’s not taking into account the nearly four seasons he lost during his prime.
— Joe Posnanski, just about the best sportswriter around these days, has an enjoyable blog post filled with memories of Feller.
— When he retired, Feller ranked third on the all-time strikeout list with 2,581. Walter Johnson had 3,509, and Cy Young had 2,803. Without missing 3 1/2 seasons, he certainly would have passed Young, and might have passed Johnson.