In today's edition, we'll check out the third in a series of 100 articles to document the 100 best Pittsburgh Pirates of all-time. I determined this list based on the"wins above replacement" statistic found at www.baseball-reference.com. I favor this statistic because I believe it lends equal weight to each of the two principals in each plate appearance, for every plate appearance throughout each player's career. I think it allows us to measure up our (relative) contemporaries against historical figures, dating back to before youtube, before tv, and even before radio (for some players). I looked at each of the 1,837 players who ever appeared for the franchise, dating back to 1882.
Carmen Hill was born in Royalton, Minnesota on October 1, 1895. A 6'1" right handed pitcher specializing in the screwball, Hill was sometimes known as "Specs," because he wore glasses. He made his first appearance in the major leagues with the 1915 Pirates, posting a 2-1 record, including two complete games and a shutout. He allowed only six earned runs over 47 innings, an ERA of 1.15. Most of his season was spent with the B level Youngstown Steelmen, of the Central League. He went 19-12 with a 2.29 ERA while with Youngstown.
1916 would see Hill go 14-16, 1.92 for the AA level Rochester Hustlers of the International League. He did manage to enjoy a cup of coffee with the Pirates, allowing 11 runs (six earned) in only 6.1 innings pitched.
In 1917, Hill went 26-12, 2.19 for the A level Birmingham Barons in the Southern Association. He pitched 320 innings through 42 games, almost eight innings per start. He was also careful around the plate, resulting in minimal walks and a microscopic 1.056 WHIP.
Hill returned to the Pirates for a spell in 1918, accruing a 2-3 record with a 1.24 ERA through six games. He put up a WHIP of 0.939, but still spent most of the season in the minors with the Barons and the 2A level American Association Kansas City Blues. He posted a 10-10 collective record between the two clubs that season.
In 1919, Hill went 14-9, 2.92 for the AA Indianapolis Indians. He played in four games for the Pirates in three short callups, all relief appearances. He allowed 12 hits and a walk in only five innings with a 9.00 ERA.
Hill did not appear with any professional franchise until 1922, when he resurfaced with the New York Giants, posting a 2-1 record. He spent most of the next five seasons with Indianapolis, collecting a 91-69 record with the AA team. He earned a promotion to the Pirates in September, 1926, making six rotation starts and compiling a 3-3 record with a 3.40 ERA.
1927 was Hill's best major league season. He started the season with three losses and a no-decision and a 3.99 ERA before winning his next eight starts and 15 of his next 16 decisions on his way to an NL third-best 22-11 record. He finished 23rd in the MVP voting, and most modern day metrics have him placed in the league's top 10, including a 4.4 PWAR, a 3.24 ERA, a 1.224 WHIP, and 8.427 hits allowed over nine innings. The Pirates finished the season at 94-60, winning the NL pennant and earning a postseason berth against the New York Yankees. Hill earned a no-decision in his only start, game four of the World Series, by allowing nine hits and three earned runs over six innings, striking out six and walking one. The Pirates were swept in four.
Hill remained with the Pirates in 1928, compiling a 16-10 record with a 3.53 ERA. He continued to allow less than a hit per inning, keeping his WHIP at a competitive 1.308. Although the team finished 18 games above .500 at 85-67, they finished fourth in the eight team National League, behind the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Giants, and the Chicago Cubs.
Hill played out of the Pirates bullpen in 1929, going 2-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 79 innings through 27 contests (24 in relief). Pittsburgh waived him in August, where he was picked up by the Cardinals for the stretch run. He totalled an 0-1 record and a 7.71 ERA in seven games for the Cards over the next two seasons.
Even though Hill appeared with three different teams over his 10 major league seasons, he earned the lion's share of his success while part of the Bucks. (He earned all but two major league victories while with the team).
Hill continued to play minor league ball for two more seasons before hanging it up for good. He had a career 202-162 minor league record.
All-Time Statline: 47-31, 3.26 ERA, 132 games, 78 starts, 32 CG, five shutouts. 735.1 innings pitched, 714 hits allowed, walked 241, struck out 239, 1.299 career WHIP, 11.2 wins above replacement.