My response to the Journal-Sentinel’s ‘Seasons of Greatness’

Posted by Steve

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently completed their rankings of the top ten seasons in Wisconsin sports history. If anyone knows me, you know I of course thought of Ben Sheets’ 2004 season, that of 264 strikeouts to 32 walks. Incredible. This was the year of his 18 strikeout game, among other great performances (Incidentally, all the people whoever said Ben Sheets wasn’t tough probably don’t realize he threw 673 2/3 innings over the course of three seasons, or that he pitched all of 2004 with a herniated disc. But that’s not my point here, so I’ll move on).

What’s actually more incredible is the fact that nobody noticed that season happened. The win is obviously a horrible pitching “stat,” but this very season is why I hate that stat the most. Sheets finished eighth in Cy Young voting that year. The joys of playing for a crappy team.

Are you ready for an eye-popping statistic?

You sure?

Sheets’ WAR of 8.0 that year is higher than any NL Cy Young Winner since 2002 (tied with Lincecum)!

It’s one thing to go unnoticed on a national level, but apparently it wasn’t even noticed right here in Milwaukee.

Not that I expected Sheets’ 2004 to make the top 5 or 6, or even top 10 (though I would put him in), I certainly expected it to be in the discussion. Instead, it didn’t get one measly vote. One of the best seasons of its decade, and zero votes.

I’ll only stick to baseball players on their list, since comparing him to athletes from other sports seems pretty arbitrary, but Ben Sheets very likely has had the best season of any pitcher in Milwaukee baseball history–that’s Brewers and Braves–and it’s gone completely unrecognized in the teams’ own city! Here are some pitchers who beat him out.

CC Sabathia got seven votes. He wasn’t even here the full season, and his 2008 season was worse than Sheets’ 2004.

Warren Spahn got 7 votes for a season in which he struck out 111 and walked 78.

Lew Burdette got 4 votes for a season in which he struck out 78 (!) and walked 59. His ERA+ was 94, meaning he was below league average!

Rollie Fingers had a great year for a closer, but he threw 78 innings. This won him an MVP!? Insane. Also crazy to put him #9 on the list.

Clearly these “experts” just based it on A) team achievements and B) awards, such as MVP or Cy Young, which are often based on team achievements.

I swear, if I was given ten seconds on national television to say absolutely anything in the world, there’s a good chance it would be, “Ben Sheets’ 2004 season is one of the most underrated in history. Go look at the numbers.”


Changing gears here for a bit of news. I am happy to announce that I will be writing for a new site this year: Reviewing the Brew. It’s part of the growing FanSided blogging network, and it’s made some big strides since it started in 2009. They’ve asked me to join, and I’m excited to expand my audience and work with other writers.

Just to be clear, I will still be running this site and writing here plenty; I will just be writing there in addition. The idea is that this will help expand my audience, and hopefully bring more readers here as well. It won’t be the same content, either; I’ll have original stuff for both sites.

If you want to keep up with what I’m writing over there, the best way is to (sorry to say this) follow me on twitter. Anything I post at Reviewing the Brew will be linked on twitter. Look for my first post soon, likely on the topic of trading Nyjer Morgan.

As always, thanks to everyone for reading.


4 responses to “My response to the Journal-Sentinel’s ‘Seasons of Greatness’

  1. I can’t believe my 2003 tennis season at Neenah didn’t get any votes, that’s a slap in the face. My partner and I racked up a 30-6 record, FVA conference champs, sectional champs, 1st team all conference, 1st team all state, 3rd place finish at team state, 6th place finish at individual state, and were named Post-Crescent All Area Players of the Year.

    Not one single vote. Ludicrous.

  2. Yours was more impressive than Pete Vukovich’s Cy Young season, which got a mention in that article. The year he won the Cy Young he had 105 ks to 102 BBs.

    And what about your Ping Pong run in Wentz Hall from 2003-2005?

  3. I mean it’s not like I was the Wentz Hall Ping Pong Champion or anything…

  4. That title has a bigger asterisk than anything Barry Bonds or Lance Armstrong have won.

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