Jake Peavy should have picked up a win in what sure seems like his final start in a White Sox uniform.
Under normal circumstances, Peavy would have been pulled after the Indians started the ninth with a bloop single. But Tuesday night was the first truly irrelevant game of the year, so Robin Ventura could appeal to Peavy's desire to finish what he started, instead of resorting to his usual strategy. They shot for the storybook ending, but they couldn't change the existing narrative. He remains the guy the offense abandons. Peavy finished the season with four runs of support or fewer in 21 of his 32 starts.
He also wrapped up 2012 with a paltry 11 wins and a sub-.500 record, which seems hard to believe considering he threw 219 innings, the highest total by any White Sox starter since Mark Buehrle tossed 236⅔ innings in 2005.
Because we're talking about the Sox here, this mismatched collection of criteria puts him in some elite company.
The White Sox didn't have a guy hit 40 homers until the 1990s, which is another way of saying poor offenses have forced pitchers to fend for themselves for the bulk of the franchise's existence.
Let's take the stats that paint Peavy's bad fortune, and run them through Baseball-Reference.com. To allow for guys who were close enough to count, we'll build some cushion into the requirements:
- A maximum of 12 wins (Peavy had 11)
- A minimum of 210 innings (219)
- A minimum of 11 losses (12)
- An ERA+ of 120 (129, unofficially)
Here's what the computer spits out:
Outside of Humphries, each of these pitchers gave the Sox some serious value.
Joe Horlen: He was the unlucky pitcher of the 1960s. Hell, he was unlucky when he wasn't. In 1967, he went 19-7 and led the AL with a 2.06 ERA, but finished a runner-up to Jim Lonborg, whose ERA was a run higher (3.18). But Lonborg won 22 games for the pennant-winning "Impossible Dream" Red Sox that Hawk Harrelson likes to talk about, so Horlen's story wasn't nearly as interesting.
Horlen never won more than 13 games in any other year between 1963 and 1968, even though he averaged 208 innings and a 2.41 ERA.
Thornton Lee: Like Horlen, he had one great year, going 22-11 with a 2.37 ERA over 300 innings in 1941. Like Horlen, he gave the Sox a lot of good innings with little to show for it in the four years prior.
Unlike Horlen, he can't claim he was shafted in awards voting. He finished fourth in the AL MVP race, behind Joe DiMaggio (56-game hitting streak), Ted Williams (who hit .406), and Bob Feller (league-leading 25 wins, 343 innings, 260 strikeouts). If you're ever going to finish fourth...
Eddie Cicotte: I went through his Hall of Fame Library player file last winter. He'd have far sexier win-loss records in future seasons, and then he just stopped playing for some reason. Weird!
As for Humphries, there isn't much on the Internet about him. His B-Ref page shows that 1942 was his only standout year, and his Bullpen page merely accounts for his stats. The most color I can find on him right now is in The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, which says that he must've had some heat.
Joe McCarthy: "That kid is great! I wish we had him. He has got a fast ball! Say, he's faster than Feller, and maybe faster than any pitcher in the league. What a future! Just a little more control and a polishing up on pitches other than his fast ball, and he will be a pip!"
Source: unidentified clipping dated May 25, 1938
Comment: "But nearly all who have seen Humphries, including Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Joe Cronin, say that Humphries is faster than Feller."
Source: unidentified column by Bill Braucher, dated June 19, 1938.
The book notes that he suffered arm problems in 1939 and never developed a second pitch. Still, I wish Robin Ventura talked like that. Or at least one beat writer/columnist fudged his language accordingly. Damn video cameras.
Oh yeah. We were talking about Peavy.
The diminished stakes of the game allowed Peavy to pass up the chance to to reflect on his season and the road ahead, rather than beat himself up for an inability to win the game he started. Scott Merkin has the most pertinent quotes bunched together at the end of his gamer:
"If this was the end, it's been a good ride," Peavy said. "We can all look back and say we have no regrets. We did things and handled things the best we could. So it's been a fun ride and I hope this isn't the end.
"I just knew I put everything I could into last offseason, knowing the doctor said this will be your tell-tale if you can do it or not. I would have never imagined it would have been as easy as it has been to stay healthy.
"There have been no pain pills. No anti-inflammatory," said Peavy, who has a 28-25 mark since joining the White Sox. "I never would have imagined it would have come this easy. I feel very blessed to have been through the surgeries I've been through and be where I'm at now. I'm still young. A lot of people think I'm 35, 36 years old. I'm only 31 and have a lot of good baseball ahead of me."
As mentioned before, Peavy doesn't have an agent at this time, but once the league heard that he might represent himself in free agency, the suitors came texting.