Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Statistical Anomalies in Franchise History

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 01: Ryan Doumit #41 of the Pittsburgh Pirates warms up in the on deck circle against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 1, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers defeated the Pirates 6-4. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 01: Ryan Doumit #41 of the Pittsburgh Pirates warms up in the on deck circle against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 1, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers defeated the Pirates 6-4. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /

The Biggest “Loser”: Murry Dickson

Pitcher wins, and losses are pretty much worthless in evaluating how good or bad a pitcher is. Because they’re so reliant on how good the offense and defense are on the rest of the team, you can get some pretty wacky win/loss records despite how good or bad the pitcher is. Take, for example, Murry Dickson.

Dickson was a right-handed starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1949 to 1953. He was a very good arm for the Bucs, pitching to the tune of a 3.83 ERA, 4.05 FIP, and 1.36 WHIP. He was a well above average pitcher, having a 110 ERA+, making him 10% better than league average. He also had a solid 96 FIP-, 4% better than average.

However, he had a 66-85 record as a Pirate starter. He only ever once had a winning record, going 20-16 in 1951. However, the stretch of seasons I want to focus on is 1951-1953 seasons. He pitched two seasons with the Bucs and one campaign with the Philadelphia Phillies in these three seasons and led the league in losses every single season. The thing is, he wasn’t a bad pitcher.

Dickson had a 3.91 ERA, 4.16 FIP, and 1.39 WHIP. He was an above-average arm, having a 106 ERA+. He even made the 1953 All-Star Game. The reason he was this bad in terms of record was that the Pirates were just an awful hitting team. In 1951 and 1952, the Pittsburgh Pirates had an 80 wRC+, the third-worst in baseball those two years. In 1953, the Phillies had an 80 wRC+, again the third-worst in baseball that year.

Overall, in Dickson’s tenure as a Pirate, the team hit for a measly 84 wRC+, making them one of the worst hitting teams in the early-50s. It didn’t help that they were also a pretty bad defensive team with -27 total zone runs. All of this combined for a poor record for Dickson despite being a very solid pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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