Run support: Blyleven vs. Morris 

January, 29, 2008
Over at Dugout Central, Steve Caimano delves into the run support for the best pitchers of the 1970s and '80s. He starts with Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven and finds about what you would (or should) expect: Morris got a great deal more support from his mates in the lineup than Blyleven did. For example, Morris's teams scored six or more runs in 35 percent of his starts, against only 27 percent in Blyleven's. As Caimano writes, "Wow!" Further:

If we dig into the individual numbers a little deeper, one of the things that stands out is that Blyleven and Morris were not as good as their HOF contemporaries at turning three runs of support into victories for their team. While the difference is relatively small with some (Niekro, Hunter, Carlton), a few of these guys blow the rest away. Namely, Jim Palmer and Don Sutton who both managed to convert more than 60% of the time when given three runs to work with. And then there's Tom Seaver. Seaver posted a .500 record when he had only two runs to work with. That's just insanity!

Seaver really was incredible. I suspect that if you polled today's fans, Seaver would finish behind Nolan Ryan and perhaps Steve Carlton, too. But Seaver certainly was the best pitcher between Warren Spahn and Roger Clemens, and here's just one more piece of evidence.

I think most hardcore fans understand that run support matters, in principle. But I also think we too often forget what it means, in practice.