“All In” – Starting Pitchers and the Hall of Fame
With the induction of Bert Blyleven into the Hall of Fame in 2011, every starting pitcher in the second half of the 20th century who has HOF numbers is now in Cooperstown.
Let me be a bit more precise. Â According to the CAWS Career Gauge, every starting pitcher whose career began after World War II and who posted HOF numbers during his career has been elected to the Hall of Fame. Â There are a total of eighteen starting pitchers in this time-frame who have posted HOF numbers during their careers.Â Thirteen are in the Hall and five are not yet eligible.
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.
According to the CAWS Gauge, a starting pitcher who has a CAWS score of 235 or has 300 career win shares has obvious Hall of Fame numbers and deserves to be in Cooperstown.Â In addition to these greats, any starting pitcher who attained a CAWS score of 180 in fewer than 2400 innings also has the numbers (e.g., Sandy Koufax).Â (I do not include here those pitchers such as Dennis Eckersley, Hoyt Wilhelm and Goose Gossage who are usually viewed as relievers.)
Here are the starting pitchers who careers began after World War II who satisfy one (or more) of these criteria and who have been eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame.Â There have been thirteen (13) such pitchers and all have been elected to the Hall.
The Starting Pitchers Who are in the Hall of Fame (2nd Half of 20th Century)
All numbers include the 2010 season.
BoldÂ =Â Hall of Famer
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)
As you can see, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton and Sandy Koufax each fell short of the CAWS benchmark of 235 but qualified under another benchmark.
Here are a few other starting pitchers from this period who are in the Hall of Fame but who do NOT have obvious HOF numbers according to the CAWS Gauge.
In addition to the thirteen starting pitchers above who are already in Cooperstown, there are only five others from this period who are retired and did post HOF numbers during their careers – but who are not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame.Â Here they are.
The Starting Pitchers with HOF Numbers â€” Not Yet Eligible for the Hall
Like Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez satisfied (after thirteen seasons) the CAWS benchmark of a score of 180 or better with fewer than 2400 innings pitched.Â Only a handful of 20th century pitchers have accomplished this.Â And all who have been eligible are in Cooperstown.
For those of you who are inclined to ask â€œWhat about so and so?â€ I am listing here a number of outstanding starting pitchers from this period who fell short of posting HOF numbers according to the strict benchmarks of the CAWS Career Gauge.
Some Good Starters Who Do NOT Have Hall of Fame Numbers
Note that Luis Tiant and John Smoltz posted the best numbers of this group.
Jack Morris is currently on the BBWAA HOF ballot and got 54% of the vote in 2011.Â As you can see, there are a lot of starting pitchers who had a better career than Morris.Â By no stretch of the imagination can he be considered good enough to merit induction into the Hall of Fame.Â If he is elected, it will represent another glaring mistake by the BBWAA (similar to the election of Jim Rice).
I was pleased (and surprised) to see that so far all the starting pitchers since World War II who have HOF numbers have been inducted into the Hall.Â Of course, with Roger Clemensâ€™ steroids problems, that streak may soon come to an end.
Thanks for your time.
Professor Emeritus â€” City U of NY
Author of A GOOD CAWS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (2011)