Hall of Fame Hopefuls- Starting Pitchers

Pitching has changed a lot over the years, hasn’t it?  So, it makes sense that pitching has had the most ebbs and flows in terms of standards for induction over the years.  Until the 1970’s, there were a total of 12 starters inducted by the writers, including two on the first ballot.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s, they inducted another 10 starters, and since the 1990’s they inducted 14 pitchers.  However, from 1999 (Nolan Ryan) until 2011 (Bert Blyleven), no starters were inducted (three closers were, however).  Pitching seems to be one of the tougher positions for induction, but there still are plenty on the outside looking in that should be corrected for.  No median score, this time.  Just going to compare them to current starters.

Should be definites:

1. Roger Clemens

Score: 35976

Most similar to: Pedro Martinez

Next eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Suggested Team: Red Sox

Synopsis: Roger Clemens was one of the most dominating pitchers ever.  He should have been a first ballot inductee, but steroid usage/suspicion has kept him out.  Both he and Bonds had about a 10% uptick in voting this year, so it should be no surprise to see them both inducted within the next 5 years.

2. Curt Schilling

Score: 27933

Most similar to: Whitey Ford

Next Eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Suggested Team: Red Sox

Synopsis: Curt Schilling was one of the most dominating pitchers of the late 1990’s-2000’s.  In addition to the best strikeout-to-walk ratio ever, Schilling struck out 3000 batters, and at a higher rate than Clemens did.  Why isn’t Schilling in?  Because he only won 216 games, despite being on some pretty terrible teams in his prime.  Schilling should gain induction soon.

On the bubble, Probably Yes:

3. Roy Halladay

Score: 22313

Most similar to: Don Sutton

Next Eligible: 2019 (BBWAA)

Suggested Team: Blue Jays

Synopsis: Doc Halladay dominated the game, stymying hitters in one of the most hitter friendly eras (he debuted in 1998!) to a .249 average, a 3.39 FIP, an ERA- of 76 and an FIP- of 78.  Halladay jumped to the NL towards the end of his career and, before his career ending early due to an injury to his shoulder, Halladay dominated further by throwing the second ever no-hitter in postseason history in his first ever postseason start.  Halladay should be a Hall of Famer, but a short career may have him on the outside looking in for a while.

4. Mike Mussina

Score: 21892

Most similar to: Robin Roberts

Next Eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Suggested Team: Orioles

Synopsis: Mike Mussina was the most unheralded pitcher of the 1990’s.  Pitching his entire career in the AL East and in tons of tiny little hitter’s parks, the Moose won 270 games, rarely walked anyone, struck out about 7 per game and carried an ERA- of 82.  Moose’s downfall may be that he never really peaked, he was just consistently great for a long time.

Close but not quite:

5. Luis Tiant

Score: 19756

Most similar to: Catfish Hunter

Next Eligible: 2018 (Veterans Committee)

Synopsis: El Tiante was a top starting pitcher for the Red Sox and other teams in the 1970’s.  He had a very good ERA- of 87, a WHIP of 1.20 and FIP of 3.46.  However, as strong a candidate as he is, he’s just a little shy of induction.  He pitched at a time when strikeout pitchers were on the rise (Seaver, Gibson, Perry, Ryan, Carlton) and just wasn’t quite at their level.  A very good career, but not quite one of the all-time greats.

6. Mel Stottlemeyer

Score: 19640

Most similar to: Bob Lemon

Next Eligible: 2018 (Veterans Committee)

Synopsis: Mel Stottlemeyer, as solely a pitcher, just wasn’t on the field enough to warrant induction.  He had a very brief career, only 11 years, and he wasn’t Koufax-dominant to be on the radar for induction.  However, Stottlemeyer as the baseball lifer definitely deserves consideration, combining a very good pitching career with an excellent career as a pitching coach.

Not Gonna Happen:

7. Orel Hershiser

Score: 15833

Most similar to: Red Ruffing

Next Eligible: 2019 (Veterans Committee)

Synopsis: Already covered in the John and Bud post, but had he not hurt his shoulder he would have been a surefire Hall of Famer.  However, as with a lot of pitchers, injuries derailed a great career.

8. Jack Morris

Score: 12780

Most similar to: Herb Pennock

Next Eligible: 2018 (Veterans Committee)

Synopsis: Jack Morris spent 15 years on the ballot of the BBWAA.  Why?  Three reasons.  One is that he had the narrative of a great pitcher due to the most wins in the 1980’s and that one great start in the playoffs, despite the numbers not bearing that out (e.g. 1.30 WHIP, 3.94 FIP).  Two was backlash against the rising sabermetric crowd, as Morris was basically the antithesis of what sabermetrics valued.  Three was, again, that one game against the Braves in the postseason.  Had that game not happened, he would have dropped off the ballot within the first five years probably.  Good pitcher, but not great.

9. Wes Ferrell

Score: 11806

Most similar to: Ted Lyons

Next eligible: 2021 (Veterans Committee)

Synopsis: Wes Ferrell has long been lamented as the Ferrell brother who should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, referring to his brother Rick.  However, Ferrell wasn’t a great pitcher, with a WHIP of 1.48 and FIP of 4.23.  He was an unbelievably good hitting pitcher, with 38 homers and a wRC+ of 100.  The hitting may give him a possible reason for induction, but his pitching just wasn’t good enough.

10-12: Jim Kaat, Dennis Martinez, Tommy John

Scores: 11619, 11542, 10889

Most similar to: Lyons

Next Eligible: 2018 (Veterans Committee)

Synopsis: All three of these pitchers have the same write-up.  20+ years of being average pitchers give them some very good counting stats, but the fact is that they are the definitions of “compilers”.  None of them were ever great for an extended period of time, all just very good pitchers that managed to stay healthy (for the most part-John’s surgery notwithstanding) and just being able to take the ball often.  John maybe deserves induction for what he went through with his surgery, but statistically they are all similar and not very good choices for induction.


Stay tuned for the next update.

On deck 1/22/17: Closing up the hopefuls by looking at closers.



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