That’s One Tall Rotation

One of the best parts of having the Extra Innings baseball package is that I get the chance to consistently watch out of market teams. Sure, ESPN and FOX broadcast games every so often but I am a baseball junkie and need my fix just about every night. While recently utilizing the package to its fullest capacity, I came to the realization that the Florida Marlins have a really tall starting rotation. And I don’t mean tall in a relative form, as in tall compared to Jimmy Rollins, but tall in general.

Andrew Miller, one of the prized prospects acquired for Miguel Cabrera, is listed at 6’6″. Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad each check in at 6’7″. Lastly, Sean West, a recent callup whom Marc deemed the best pitching prospect in their farm system, stands a mighty 6’8″. These four guys, all of whom are currently full-time starters for the team, average 79.0 inches. Of course, pitchers like Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco weigh down the average, but it got me thinking – who were the tallest rotations in the Retrosheet era?

To be considered eligible for this study, a pitcher needed to make at least 10 starts in a season. Then, the averages were taken for all teams using all qualifying pitchers. The tallest average rotations of the last 55 years have been:

Seattle Mariners, 1993: 77.33 inches
Arizona Diamondbacks, 2008: 77.16 inches
Seattle Mariners, 1992: 77.15 inches
Cleveland Indians, 2003: 77.12 inches
Seattle Mariners, 1991: 77.05 inches

Incidentally, these were the only five teams with an average exceeding 77 inches, meaning that the average pitcher on their team to make at least 10 starts stood 6’5″. Randy Johnson clearly played a huge role in these rankings, even though I avoided using a weighted average. Johnson was a starter for all three of the Mariners teams as well as last year’s incarnation of the Diamondbacks.

In 1993, Johnson was joined by the 6’6″ Erik Hanson, so he at least had one tall compadre. The year before, Johnson and Hanson received height contributions from the 6’4″ Brian Fisher. In 1991, Johnson and Hanson were joined by the 6’5″ Bill Krueger and the 6’4″ Brian Holman.

The 2008 Diamondbacks featured all 6’10″ of Johnson, 6’5″ from both Dan Haren and Micah Owings, and the 6’4″ Doug Davis. The 2003 Indians were led by the 6’7″ CC Sabathia but received plenty of starts from the 6’6″ Jason Davis and 6’5″ Jake Westbrook.

Interestingly, no team other than the 2008 Florida Marlins had four or more pitchers exceeding 6’5″ in a season in which they each made 10+ starts. Volstad, Johnson and Miller were there last season, but substitute Mark Hendrickson for Sean West. The Marlins might not have the tallest average, yet at least, but they certainly have the most tall pitchers consistently making starts over the last half-century.




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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

2 Responses to “That’s One Tall Rotation”

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  1. Matt B. says:

    Any word from Marlin land when they are planning to shutdown Josh Johnson?? By my math, he has already surpassed his total IPs from last year by well over 60… Getting nervous here given his track record and coming off TJ. Doesn’t seem worth it…

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    • Michael says:

      If the organization feels they’ll be in the playoff race, they likely won’t shut him down until the very end of the season. They’re already limiting his innings, so they are thinking about it.

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