DRYSDALE AND PAPPAS
Don Drysdale won 209 games in his career, and lost 166.
Milt Pappas, Drysdale's contemporary, posted an almost identical won-lost record, 209-164.
Don Drysdale was selected to the Hall of Fame, by the BBWAA, in his tenth year of eligibility.
Milt Pappas received so little support (five votes from 324 ballots) that he was dropped from the ballot after one turn.
Pappas, an outspoken fellow, was very unhappy about this, and has been known to compare his own record to Drysdale's in an occasional interview, so this comparison between them is well known:
It is truly a travesty to have Don Drysdale elected to baseball's Hall of Fame. When Milt Pappas was not listed on the Hall of Fame ballot, his protests were met with howls of derision. He won only 209 games and had a winning percentage of only 560, they said. Not good enough for the Hall.
Now, here's the new Hall of Famer, Mr. Drysdale, who won the same 209 games pitching for the best team of the era....If there's a sub-basement at Cooperstown, I suggest the plaque be hung there.
-- Randall Kendrick
Baseball Digest, May 1984
There are many distinctions which can be drawn between Drysdale and Pappas, and many similarities. Presenting first the full record.
Drysdale was more of a power pitcher than Pappas, recording 758 more strikeouts. He had better earned run averages and better ERA components (control, opposition batting average). Drysdale pitched for more championship teams and more teams that were in the pennant race. He was a better hitter, and he established a well-known record in 1968, since broken by Orel Hershiser.
Almost all of those issues have another side to them (if he pitched for better teams, shouldn't he be expected to have posted a better won-lost record?), and I'll discuss all of them later, in Chapter 31. I wanted to deal here with what I think is really the key difference between them, which is the issue of consistency versus peak performance.
Copyright © 1994, 1995 by Bill James. Excerpted with permission.