Year Inducted: 1964 (Veterans Committee)
The Black Sox were one of the worst things to ever happen to baseball. When those players were banned, not only did people lose faith in the game, but the players that remained were probably never looked at the same again. Three members of the team eventually made it to the Hall of Fame. Eddie Collins, one of the greatest second basemen ever, Ray Schalk, the era’s best defensive backstop and Red Faber, the Sox best non-banned pitcher.
Faber threw over 4000 innings for the White Sox, winning 254 games and losing 213 in his 20 seasons on the bump. He struck out over 1400 batters and walked over 1200. He had an ERA of 3.11 pitching mostly after the home run boon of the 1920s. That’s why his ERA- is an excellent 84. While he didn’t strike out or walk batters at a great rate, he did manage to limit the home runs he allowed, with a career HR rate of 0.24 per 9 innings.
Faber had many instances of arm injuries and soreness that limited how often he could pitch. He missed significant time in 1916, 1919 (after losing most of 1918 to WWI) and most of the late 1920s. He was also hurt by the utter decimation of the White Sox following the expulsions of the players involved in the gambling operation.
As Faber was a spitballer, it serves well to compare him to the previous spitballer covered, Burleigh Grimes. Both had high WHIPS (though Faber’s was lower), and both had similar walk and strikeout rates with similar innings pitched. Grimes won more games, but he was on better teams. Both were adept at controlling the home run, but Grimes was ranked much lower than Faber. Mostly that was due to Faber having a much better ERA, and adjusted ERA being much better than Grimes’. Grimes’ numbers probably wouldn’t have gained him induction had it not been for the spitter, but Faber’s case can be made without discussing the spitball.
Faber wasn’t a great selection for Cooperstown; his FIP- was only 93, and his lack of strikeouts are a mark against him. However, his excellent ERA at a time of increased offense indicates that he was good at making weak contact (inasmuch as any pitcher can control the type of contact that he allows), as well as an incredible home run rate. His spot in Cooperstown is most deserving.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck, 8/21/16: It’s time for another player from the hot corner, as we cover the second great third baseman in baseball history.