Randy Johnson not dead yet
That was my first article for The Hardball Times. One question on BTF raised the possibility of selective sampling. The first group of 25 pitchers I looked at, 4 were dropped from the study for not throwing 50 innings the following season. I don't think its a big deal, its really something you can't get away from anytime you look at consecutive years in baseball for any kind of study. Players don't play forever. Sometimes they aren't there the next year. I thought at first having 19 of 23 (excluding Johnson and Buchholz) in the sample was pretty good.
But I'll look deeper: The 4 were Gene Brabender (a HOF name if there ever was one) 1970, Dick Drott 1958, Jim Abbott 1996, and Craig Anderson 1962.
Brabender: 1970 was the last year of his career. Up to that year, he allowed about as many runs as predicted.
Drott: Only 21 that year. The year before he allowed slightly fewer runs than expected. In 1959 pitched only 27 innings. He pitched mostly in relief after that, and combining his 1960, 61, and 63 lines he pitched 251 innings and allowed 22 more runs than expected.
Abbott: Truly awful in 1996. He was wild, hittable, tateriffic, couldn't strike anyone out, and being a bit unlucky to top off the package of suckitude. That's how you get a 2-18 record. Up to that year, he had allowed fewer (27) runs than expected over his first 7 seasons. He didn't pitch in 1997 (mercifully), came back in 1998 and 1999, and allowed about as many runs as expected.
Anderson: His 1962 season was for the Mets, where he was 3-17. He had pitched 38 innings the year before, and 22 more in two seasons after. Being a 1962 Met makes you unlucky by definition.
Of the 4, Drott is the only one that would make this appear to be more of a persistent ability than the study showed - but his results aren't going to make a dent in the larger group of over 8400 pitchers.