Year Inducted: 1973 (Veterans Committee)
As lamentable as it was in the previous post about the hitters of the early era, the pitchers suffer just as much. Pud Galvin scored lowly because, despite winning 300 games and throwing 6000 innings, his ERA and peripheral stats were mostly average which hurts him from a more modern perspective. And, like Galvin, Mickey Welch suffers some from a more modern perspective.
Welch was the third pitcher to win 300 games in a career (after Galvin and Tim Keefe). In total, he pitched 4802 innings with a 307-210 record and an ERA of 2.71. He struck out 1850 batters against 1297 walks and allowed 106 home runs. Welch teamed up with Keefe to help form one of the greatest collections of talent on the planet. The Troy Trojans had gathered five future Hall of Famers (the aforementioned pitchers as well as Buck Ewing, Dan Brouthers and Roger Connor) but would stumble through some growing pains as both pitchers were just starting out in their illustrious careers.
Welch was one of the best pitchers of the early era. Upon his retirement, he was 4th in wins, 5th (most) in losses and 4th in innings. However, he was also 24th in ERA, 85th in FIP and 9th in WAR. His ERA was only 11% better than league average in his career and his FIP was actually 8% higher than average, due to a fairly high amount of walks issued in his career (including 3 years leading the league in walks).
Welch, like a lot of the older pitchers, had a short career with a lot of innings thrown due to being part of a rotation made up of 2 or 3 pitchers. While the innings that pitchers threw were higher than current pitchers in a season, the career innings numbers tend to be the same for current pitchers, and are a of a higher quality. While Welch gets hurt by being compared to current pitchers, he also gets hurt by being compared to his peers (based off of his ERA- and FIP-).
Welch was a very good pitcher who threw a lot of innings which helped him win a lot of games. His spot in the Hall of Fame is at least defensible, as he was highly regarded in his time and was legitimately a top pitcher of the early era.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck 8/6/16 This slick fielding shortstop from the Boston Braves was known for his on field antics.