Jackson: Face Time ’59: An unusual pitcher, an unusual year

From SABR member Frank Jackson at The Hardball Times on May 1, 2015:

When you check major league pitchers who lead their league in winning percentage, you can pretty well rest assured that they will be starting pitchers. Relievers just don’t get many decisions, and while a loss is certainly undesirable, a win is not as coveted as a save or a hold. In fact, a closer racking up a win is sometimes a negative, as it could be the consequence of his having blown a save.

In 1959, however, Elroy Face of the Pirates led National League pitchers in winning percentage. In fact, he flirted with a 1.000 percentage. If his wife was checking the box scores every day, she would have had to wait until mid-September to see an “L” linked to her husband’s name.

His league leadership wasn’t a fluke, say, just barely crossing the threshold for the minimum number of decisions to qualify. Face had 19 decisions, 18 of them victories. Curiously, he was not eligible for the league ERA title, which required one inning pitched for every game played (154 innings in those days). In fact, he wasn’t even close to that minimum, as he racked up those 18 victories in just 93.1 innings.

The one loss he absorbed snapped a 17-game winning streak, as well as a 22-game winning streak going back to early in the 1958 season. He actually made 99 appearances between losses.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/face-time-59-an-unusual-pitcher-an-unusual-year/

Originally published: May 1, 2015. Last Updated: May 1, 2015.