Heath Bintliff: WAR says Guthrie rates among O’s all-time best pitchers

Jeremy Guthrie turned in yet another good performance last night against the Minnesota Twins, even though he was handed the defeat. He went seven innings, gave up two runs, walked no one and struck out four.

This is Guthrie’s fifth season with the Orioles. Is it time to start considering him among the great Oriole hurlers of all time?

It sounds like an odd question. He’s not a strikeout king. His career record is 39-51. Even though he has been the staff ace by default, nobody really considers him a true ace. Not even close.

But when you compare him to other pitchers who have been inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame, he is beginning to compare favorably.

I decided to look at Oriole pitchers ranked by Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as calculated by Baseball-Reference.com. WAR is defined as this:

A single number that presents the number of wins that a player contributes to the team above what a replacement player (think AAA or AAAA) would add.

For more on how WAR is calculated, see here.

But you don’t have to know too much about how WAR is calculated when you look at the all-time Orioles leaders in WAR for pitchers.

Player WAR
Jim Palmer* 63.5
Mike Mussina 44.5
Dave McNally* 22.1
Mike Flanagan* 20.2
Milt Pappas* 19.9
Scott McGregor* 17.5
Mike Cuellar* 15.9
Mike Boddicker* 15.9
Steve Barber* 15.6
Jeremy Guthrie 15.3
Hoyt Wilhelm* 14.7

*indicates Orioles Hall of Fame member

There’s Palmer and Mike Mussina, rightly head and shoulders above the rest, followed by McNally. Mussina will be in the Orioles Hall of Fame some day, probably soon. The only other pitcher not in the Orioles Hall of Fame is Guthrie.

If Guthrie has one of his average years in 2011, his WAR total will put him right tbeween McGregor and Pappas. Guthrie is also under team control for 2012 and he has an outside chance of catching McNally before he becomes a free agent.

It is high time to start considering Guthrie one of the great Oriole twirlers. The numbers don’t lie.

Heath Bintliff blogs about the Orioles at Dempsey’s Army. His ruminations about the Birds have appeared this week as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. Next week, Anthony Amobi of Oriole Post joins our rotation. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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