March 30, 2020

Jim Bunning and the Hall of Fame

March 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Recently on SABR-L there was a discussion regarding Jim Bunning’s credentials for the Hall of Fame. It seems that at least one SABR member felt that if Bunning had not been elected to Congress, then he would not have been elected to the Hall. There followed a number of notes from different members saying why they thought Bunning should or should not be a Hall of Famer. Of course, I felt compelled to give an opinion so I pointed out the following.

According to the CAWS Career Gauge (based on win shares), Jim Bunning ranks among the top 40 starting pitchers of the 20th century. He is in a dead heat with Don Drysdale and ahead of such Hall of Famers (in order) as Red Faber, Nolan Ryan, Bob Lemon, Dazzy Vance, Don Sutton, Whitey Ford and Catfish Hunter (not to mention a number of other HOF pitchers who rank well below these).

The CAWS Career Gauge suggests that a starting pitcher who has a CAWS score of 235 or 300 career win shares has OBVIOUS HOF NUMBERS.

Here is a comparison of Jim Bunning’s numbers with some pitchers who were contemporaries or near-contemporaries. All are in the Hall of Fame with the exception of Bert Blyleven who should be there.

The first number after the player’s name is his career win shares, the second is his core value (the win shares for his ten best seasons) and the third is his CAWS score.
CAWS = CV + .25(CWS – CV)

Player CWS CV CAWS
Gaylord Perry
369
243 275
Bob Gibson
317
258 273
Steve Carlton
366
240
272
Phil Niekro
374
235 270
Robin Roberts
339 246 269
Jim Palmer
312
252 267
Fergie Jenkins
323
233
256
Bert Blyleven 339 218 248
Early Wynn
309
217
240
Juan Marichal
263
229
238
Jim Bunning
257
221
230
Don Drysdale
258
221
230
Nolan Ryan
334
191 227
Don Sutton
319
187 220
Whitey Ford
261
202
217
Catfish Hunter
206
184 190

You will note that Juan Marichal, Jim Bunning and Don Drysdale do not have 300 CWS but have a higher CAWS score than Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton because their core value (CV) is significantly better.

You will also note that Bob Gibson and Jim Palmer are the only ones here to have a CV greater than 250. That means they averaged better than 25 win shares over their ten best seasons. This is an outstanding achievement – real dominance sustained over a long period of time.

Sandy Koufax cannot be compared to this group in a fair manner because of the number of innings he pitched in his career. He does have HOF numbers because he is among only five pitchers in the 20th century to achieve a CAWS score of 180 in fewer than 2400 innings. Here are those five pitchers – all are in the HOF.

Player CWS CV CAWS
Addie Joss
191
191 191
Sandy Koufax
194
190 191
Hoyt Wilhelm
256
168
190
Goose Gossage
223
173 186
Dizzy Dean
181 180 180

It seems to me that Jim Bunning had a reasonably good argument for the Hall of Fame without ever getting elected to Congress.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!