The Glory Days: Six Pitchers with Hall of Fame Credentials
Okay, I’m just going to throw some numbers out there for you. They are pitching numbers, the heart of them etched in the 1960s and 70s.
Before we start, keep in mind that three of the six pitchers statistically chronicled here are in the Hall of Fame.
(a) 14 years, 209-166, 2.95, 49 shutouts, 3432 IP, 2486 so, 3-3 World Series
(b) 19 years, 229-172, 3.30, 49 shutouts, 3486 IP, 2416 so, 2-0 World Series
(c) 25 years, 283-237, 3.45, 31 shutouts, 4530 IP, 2461 so, 1-2 World Series
(d) 22 years, 287-250, 3.31, 60 shutouts, 4970 IP, 3701 so, 2-1 World Series
(e) 26 years, 288-231, 3.34, 46 shutouts, 4710 IP, 2245 so, 2-1 World Series
(f) 19 years, 284-226, 3.34, 49 shutouts, 4501 IP, 3192 so, no postseason
Without going to Google or picking up any reference books, which three do you think are Hall members?
The answer is a, d and f – Don Drysdale, Bert Blyleven and Ferguson Jenkins, respectively.
The other stats belong to (b) Luis Tiant, (c) Jim Kaat and (e) Tommy John. I might add that I think all three of these pitchers also deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
Especially if we compare them to the three listed above whose plaques are in Cooperstown.
You can match them up all kinds of ways. For example, note that Tiant has 20 more wins than Drysdale and the same number of shutouts even though Double-D has a lower earned run average and more strikeouts.
John has more wins than any of the six, one more than Blyleven, who has the most losses of this group as well as the most strikeouts, shutouts and innings pitched.
Blyleven’s World Series record is 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA. His overall post-season record is 5-1, 2.47.
Jenkins never appeared in a post-season game.
Kaat won 74 more games than Drysdale and only one less than Jenkins.
Some may point to Drysdale’s appearances in the World Series, where he had a 3-3 record and a 2.95 ERA. But Tiant was 2-0 and John 2-1 in the Fall Classic.
Do voters ignore the victory totals of John (288) and Kaat (283) because they pitched so long? Sure, John stuck around 26 years and Kaat 25, but that should be no crime. And John’s career ERA (3.34) is the same as Jenkins’.
Winning a Most Valuable Player or Cy Young award always helps. Drysdale was the 1962 major league Cy winner. (There was only one given each year until 1967, when both leagues began honoring a pitcher annually.) Jenkins won the 1971 National League Cy Young.
A Cy is just a sigh, however, when it comes to the Hall because Blyleven is in there, and he didn’t win one. Neither did the other three pitchers in this group.
Being a 20-game winner is a key accomplishment, but not a HOF difference maker. Jenkins did it seven times, Tiant four, Kaat and John three each, Drysdale twice and Blyleven once.
Winning percentage is surely not a deciding factor. Tiant tops this group at .571, followed by Drysdale and Jenkins, both .557; John .555; Kaat .544; and Blyleven .534.
By no means am I saying Jenkins, Blyleven and Drysdale should not be in the Hall of Fame. Quite the contrary.
I’m just saying that since they are, I don’t understand why John, Kaat and Tiant are not.