Big League Stew

Matt Moore matches Babe Ruth with 8-0 start

David Brown
Big League Stew

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(Getty, BLS Illustration)

Comparing pitchers by their individual won-loss record isn't useful, usually. First off, pitchers don't complete games like they used to — not even close — so the statistic lacks much of its former meaning. Besides, there are many other, better stats to go by when measuring how well someone pitches. However, when the name Babe Ruth is evoked, it's fun just to take a look anyway.

Such is the case with Matt Moore of the Tampa Bay Rays, who Sunday became the youngest left-hander, at 23 years old, to start a season 8-0 since Ruth did so at age 22 for the Boston Red Sox in 1917. (It's also fun to remind ourselves that Ruth was once a dominant pitcher, as well, before he became the Sultan of Swat.)

Moore also set a franchise record by winning his ninth straight decision overall, edging teammate David Price.

''Historically speaking, it's been wonderful,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Moore's season.

Looking beyond the record, has Moore outpitched the Babe? In many ways, yes:

• The Rays have won in each of Moore's nine starts; In the Babe's ninth start of 1917, he got shellacked by the White Sox in a loss for the Red Sox. Edge: MOORE.

• Moore's ERA is higher a tad, but when you consider the era, it's much better than the current league average. Ruth's is very good, too, but it's much closer to the league average. Edge: MOORE.

• Ruth pitched more innings during the respective streaks — 13 2/3 more, a substantial amount, and that's even with Moore getting an extra start. Edge: BABE.

• Ruth allowed no home runs, compared to seven allowed for Moore. This is what what accounts for the difference in OPS allowed. Of course, nobody was hitting home runs in 1917 like they do today. Not even Babe Ruth (yet). Still, Moore gave 'em up. Edge: BABE.

• Moore struck out almost one man per inning. The Babe's nowhere near him. Strikeouts are good, if not democratic. Edge: MOORE.

• Game score, a stat developed by Bill James that's a great way to figure out (for example) whose no-hitter was the better performance, says that Ruth's average game score during his streak was 63. Moore's was 62. It's only one point, but ... Edge: BABE.

We'll end it there. It's reasonable to say that Matt Moore has pitched about as well as Babe Ruth did in getting to 8-0. And that's pretty cool.

A total of 95 pitchers have started 8-0 since 1916, but if Moore wins his next decision, he'll be only the 41st pitcher to start 9-0 in that span (that includes Kris Medlen of the Braves in 2012). Now, 10-0? That's really elite. Only 12 men (Roger Clemens twice) have done that since 1916. If Moore wants the all-time record in modern times, Dave McNally of the Orioles and Johnny Allen (who I've never heard of) of the Indians started 15-0.

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