Apr 23, 2017

Stat Anomaly: 20 Losses, Roger Craig in 1963

This decade is passing quickly, as we are in 2017, without an appearance from the always elusive 20 game loser.  In 2016, for the first time since 2004, there was at least one 19 game loser, both respected pitchers, "Big Game" James Shields and Chris Archer.  Chris Archer was even drafted in the top 65 of my last fantasy draft, so the expectations for repeating his record are not really being considered.

There is one pitcher in the annals of modern (modern= since Topps existed) baseball, that turned convention on its head and excelled at accomplishing this most elusive accomplishment....of sorts.

Roger Craig was a league average pitcher for his career, yet ended up with two of the most spectacularly horrible W-L records back-to-back.  Such is the fate of one who toiled for the Amazins' in those formative years.

The awfulness of the 1963 Mets is never noted because it was only the 3rd worst team of those early Mets years with 111 losses.  The team had one eventual HOFer (Duke Snider), and ended up being outscored by ~250 runs.  Roger Craig pitched a team-leading 236 innings that year with a 92 ERA+ and somehow finished 5-22.  Was there any conceivable way that he could have avoided this fate?

In a word....yes.

How's this for run support?  He had 5 starts, in which he allowed 1 run over 8 innings or more and that resulted in a loss.  He had 4 more  quality starts, allowing 2 runs or less, with greater than 6 innings pitched that also resulted in a loss.  There were five 1-0 losses and two 2-1 losses in total.

On a league average team (that would have scored 117 runs than the 1963 Mets), a 5-22 record definitely would not have happened.    This even didn't happen on the 1963 Colt 45s, who scored even less than the Mets (Ken Johnson had 17 losses with a 119 ERA+).

Based on the evidence, the most likely reason for his record with the Mets is that Roger Craig was cursed by a fortune teller in Queens after losing his luggage and going into the wrong storefront.  Another mystery solved.