Introducing… Ray Kremer

Comparable to former Yankees star pitcher Spud Chandler in that both he and Kremer each got late starts in the Majors and fashioned amazing career winning percentages.  Ray, who was known as “Wiz” by his peers, was a two-time ERA champ and two-time National League wins leader.  Kremer only pitched in ten seasons but they were spent with the Pirates during the Waner Brother years and he was able to make two World Series, winning a championship over the Senators in 1925.

By the time Wiz made his debut in 1924 he was already in his thirties.  As a 31-year-old rookie, Ray led the National League in games pitched and shutouts while winning 18 games for the Pirates.  Although he pitched in the height of a hitter’s era, Ray kept his ERA down below league average in his peak years.  As a freshman he posted a nifty 3.19 mark in 259 innings of work.  During their World Championship season of 1925, Ray went 17-8 for Pittsburgh and showed fine control with just 47 walks issued in 215 innings.  Ray worked 21 innings in the World Series and notched two of the Pirates wins on a terrific 1.000 WHIP.

Had their been a Cy Young Award in 1926, Kremer certainly would have won it.  The right-hander led the National League in both wins and ERA (2.61) while also topping the senior circuit with a robust .769 winning percentage.  Although Wiz was far from a power pitcher, he got the job done by limiting hits and throwing strikes.  Just as good in 1927, Kremer won 19 games and paced the NL with a 2.47 ERA–tremendous for the heavy-hitting era.  In four years in the Majors, Kremer’s winning percentage never fell below .643.  The Pirates captured another NL flag in ’27, but Ray lost his only start to the team that is widely regarded as the best ever: the 1927 Yankees.

But Kremer’s run of brilliance hit a brick wall in 1928.  Ray, who had been quite stingy with base hits the two previous years, surrendered an average of 10.4 hits over nine innings.  Despite his less-than-impressive peripheral stats, Wiz nevertheless fashioned his fifth consecutive winning season.  Although he was in his upper thirties, Kremer got back on track in 1929 when he went 18-10.  The following year, despite an inflated ERA, Ray paced the National League in wins with his second twenty-win season and topped the senior circuit in games started and innings pitched.  But Wiz’s offerings were too easily hittable, indicated by his poor average of 11.9 base hits allowed over nine innings.

Although Ray’s peripheral stats were sharper in 1931–he lowered his ERA from 5.02 to 3.33–he nevertheless posted his first and only losing season at the Major League level.  Through his first eight seasons in the Majors, Kremer reached 200 innings and at least 14 complete games every year.  That string came to an end in 1932 when Wiz turned 39.  Kremer won his final game in 1933 as a forty-year-old veteran of just ten Major League seasons.

THE NUMBERS

W 143/L 85/PCT .627/ERA 3.76/G 308/CG 134/SHO 14/IP 1,955/H 2,108/BB 483/SO 516

www.vintagecardtraders.com

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