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Gypsy Maroth
2004-05-13 23:56
by Mike Carminati

"Even the losers get lucky sometimes"
—Tom "Don't Call Me Gary" Petty

O villain! Thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this.
—William "Author" Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

If a victory is told in detail, one can no longer distinguish it from a defeat.
—Jean-Paul "Bako" Sartre

After a 3-1 victory over the A's today, Detroit's Mike Maroth improved his record to 4-1. Considering the fact that Maroth was 9-21 last season and lost the most games by a pitcher since 1974 when four pitchers lost at least that many: Mickey Lolich (16-21), Bill Bonham (11-22), Steve Rogers (15-22), and Randy Jones (8-22).

Maroth is now on a pace to win twenty games (20-5). I highly doubt that he will win that many given his poor overall performance (4.86 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, .278 OBA) and the fact that pitches for the Tigers. He also is coming off two poor starts, five runs in 5.1 innings in an 11-9 loss to the Angels May 3 and nine runs (eight earned) on seven hits, six walks, and zero strikeouts in four innings in the crazy 16-15 loss to the Rangers after being staked to a 15-5 lead. In the process his ERA rose by two full runs. The Tigers offense which was non-existent last year has rushed to Maroth's aid scoring 59 runs in his seven starts or just under 8.5 per game.

Let's assume that Maroth's season continues as it had in April (3.58 ERA),that the Tigers continue to provide him great run support, and that Maroth does end up a twenty-game winner. Would such a turnaround be unprecedented at least since the advent of five-man rotations or since World War II? Here's a list of twenty-game losers since 1900 who went on to win twenty games the next season (Note: There are 135 all-time but only 23 since 1900):

NameYr 1WLYr 2WL
Randy Jones197482219752012
Wilbur Wood1973242019742019
Dick Ellsworth196292019632210
Paul Derringer1934152119352213
Ted Lyons1929142019302215
Dolf Luque192213231923278
Eddie Rommel1921162319222713
Walter Johnson1916252019172316
Nick Cullop1914142019152211
Ed Walsh1910182019112718
Walter Johnson1909132519102517
Cy Young1906132119072115
George Mullin1905212119062118
Jack Taylor1905152119062012
Vic Willis1905122919062313
Ed Killian1904142019052314
George Mullin1904172319052121
Togie Pittinger1904152119052314
Joe McGinnity190331201904358
Patsy Flaherty1903112519042011
Bill Dineen1902212119032113
Joe McGinnity1901262019022118
Noodles Hahn1900162019012219

Maroth's winning percentage has improved from .300 to .800. There are only 23 pitchers in baseball history who have improved their winning percentage by 500 percentage points (min. 10 decisions). They are in descending order of winning percentage improvement (and didn't you know I would list them?):

Don Larsen1960110.091196182.800.709
Cherokee Fisher1871416.2001872101.909.709
Don Larsen1954321.125195592.818.693
Jack Manning1874416.2001875152.882.682
Cal Eldred199928.2002000102.833.633
Stan Williams1969614.3001970101.909.609
Mark Grant198828.200198982.800.600
Tom Zachary1928912.42919291201.000.571
Mike Remlinger1998815.3481999101.909.561
Bill Doak191328.2001914196.760.560
Dick Bosman196829.1821969145.737.555
Tom Hall197147.3641972101.909.545
Carl Scheib1951112.0771952117.611.534
Larry French1941514.2631942154.789.526
Nelson Briles1966415.2111967145.737.526
Steve Hargan1969514.2631970113.786.523
Scott Stratton1889313.18818903414.708.521
Burleigh Grimes1917316.1581918199.679.521
Fred Corey1882113.0711883107.588.517
Darold Knowles1970214.125197174.636.511
Dennis Lamp198488.50019851101.000.500
George Caster194137.300194282.800.500
Scott Radinsky199237.300199382.800.500
Zane Smith1989113.0711990129.571.500

There aren’t that many great names in that list. There are a lot of veteran, journeymen types on the list, which perhaps doesn't bode well for Mike Maroth's future should he actually end up qualifying for the list. Don Larsen appears on it twice demonstrating how odd Larsen's career really was.

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