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Following up on my earlier look at the best short position players of all time, I decided to look at how vertically challenged pitchers fared historically.
The graphic above includes the top 25 pitchers in terms of WAR that stood 5'9" tall or shorter.
It's amazing when you compare this list to the position players. For one thing, the best pitcher on this list (Eddie Cicotte) on ranks 65th among all pitchers in terms of WAR. The second best pitcher (Luque) comes in at 112th all time.
Compare that to Eddie Collins (9th all time), Mel Ott (15th all time), and Joe Morgan (19th all time). Huge difference.
The other interesting thing is that a pretty clear picture emerges in terms of how height affects pitching performance over time.
Only one of the pitchers on this list pitched later than 1980 (Tom Gordon). Six of the best short position players did some or all of their damage post-1980.
Even though player size has changed overall it does appear that to be a good to great pitcher does depend more on size than position players.
Now, we would need more data to say for sure, but just looking at these lists suggests that if you are below 5'9" and want to have an impact career in the bigs your best bet is to play the field.