Starting Pitchers: Judging Their Careers
How do you judge whether a starting pitcher had a Hall of Fame career?Â Obviously, there are many fans who will have different opinions on this question.Â And many of the answers may be influenced by which team the fan supports.Â But is there a completely objective way to answer this question? Yes, according to the CAWS Career Gauge, there is.Â At least we can identify those pitchers who had obvious HOF numbers.Â And it appears that this method is quite accurate as to who actually gets elected.
Bill Jamesâ€™ Win Shares system is the most comprehensive tool available to understand how good a season a player had.Â It includes offensive and defensive contributions and adjusts for all relevant factors.Â The CAWS Career Gauge (Career Assessment/Win Shares) uses win shares to measure how good a career a player had.
Starting pitchers who have obvious Hall of Fame numbers fall into one or more of these three categories:
1.Â Â Â Â Â A CAWS score > 235.
2.Â Â Â Â Â 300 career win shares.
3.Â Â Â Â Â A CAWS score of 180 with fewer than 2400 innings pitched.
The PI Era (post-integration)
Letâ€™s take a look at each category and examine those pitchers who qualify during the PI (post integration) era.Â I will define the PI Era to be 1947-2010.Â Who are the starting pitchers who posted obvious HOF numbers during their careers during this era?Â According to the CAWS Gauge, only twenty-two (22) starting pitchers posted HOF numbers during the PI era: sixteen (16) had a CAWS score of 235 or greater, three (3) others did not make this benchmark but did have 300 or more career win shares and three (3) others compiled a CAWS score of 180 in fewer than 2400 innings.Â Here are the twenty-two (22) starting pitchers who have posted obvious HOF numbers during this era.
CAWS > 235
Here are the sixteen (16) starting pitchers who achieved a CAWS score of 235 during the PI era.
All numbers include the 2010 season.
BoldÂ =Â Hall of Famer
ItalicÂ =Â Active Player in 2010
CWSÂ =Â Career Win Shares
CVÂ Â Â Â Â =Â Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)
CAWSÂ =Â Career ValueÂ =Â CVÂ +Â .25(CWS â€“ CV)
These sixteen pitchers all have obvious Hall of Fame numbers.Â And every one of them who has been eligible is in Cooperstown.Â You will note that all except two had more than 300 career win shares.Â The presence of Bob Feller and Juan Marichal on the list indicates that it is possible to achieve Hall of Fame numbers as a starting pitcher without accumulating 300 win shares.
300 Career Win Shares
There are three other outstanding starting pitchers who earned 300 win shares during their careers but did not make the benchmark of CAWS > 235.
All three pitchers have obvious HOF numbers and the two who have been eligible, Ryan and Sutton, are in the Hall of Fame.Â The CV (core value) is the average number of win shares that a player posted during his ten best seasons.Â You will note that none of these three players reached the 235 benchmark primarily because their CV was not quite strong enough.
A CAWS Score of 180 in Fewer than 2400 Innings
The first two groups were relatively easy to identify.Â But now comes the part where the CAWS Gauge really earns its keep.Â The Gauge has determined that only very special starting pitchers earn a CAWS score of 180 in fewer than 2400 innings.
In fact, in the entire 20th century, I have found only five starting pitchers who have done this (who have not achieved either of the distinctions above).Â And only three (3) of these have pitched during the PI era.Â Here they are:
For Sandy Koufax, these are his career numbers.Â For Pedro Martinez and Roy Halladay, they each achieved this benchmark after thirteen seasons.Â (Addie Joss and Dizzy Dean are the other two pitchers who have done this.)Â Of the five pitchers mentioned here, all three who have been eligible have been elected to the Hall of Fame.
Think about that for a moment.Â Of the twenty-two (22) starting pitchers identified by the CAWS Gauge as having obvious Hall of Fame numbers, all sixteen (16) who have been eligible have been elected to the Hall.
I do not think that too many fans are going to argue with the CAWS conclusion that all twenty-two of these starting pitchers have posted Hall of Fame numbers.Â Of course, there may be fans who would argue that the CAWS criteria are too stringent and that other pitchers who are not on this list may qualify as Hall of Famers.Â And, that may be true.
Be that as it may, the CAWS Career Gauge has come up with a completely objective way in which to determine those starting pitchers who have obvious HOF numbers.
Is this a very tough standard?Â Yes, it is.
Should it be such a tough standard?Â Yes, it should.
Thank you for your time.
Professor Emeritus â€“ City U of NY
Author of A GOOD CAWS: A Hall of Fame Handbook,