April 20, 2024

“All In” – Starting Pitchers and the Hall of Fame

August 1, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

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.  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.  There are a total of eighteen starting pitchers in this time-frame who have posted HOF numbers during their careers.  Thirteen are in the Hall and five are not yet eligible.

Bill James’ Win Shares system is the most comprehensive tool available to understand how good a season a player had.  It includes offensive and defensive contributions and adjusts for all relevant factors.  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.  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).  (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.  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.

Bold  =  Hall of Famer
CWS  =  Career Win Shares
CV      =  Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)
CAWS  =  Career Value  =  CV  +  .25(CWS — CV)

Player Years CWS CV CAWS
Tom Seaver 1967-1986 388 255 288
Gaylord Perry 1962-1983 369 243 275
Bob Gibson 1959-1975 317 258 273
Steve Carlton 1965-1988 366 240 272
Phil Niekro 1964-1987 374 235 270
Robin Roberts 1948-1966 339 246 269
Jim Palmer 1965-1984 312 252 267
Fergie Jenkins 1965-1983 323 233 256
Bert Blyleven 1970-1992 339 218 248
Juan Marichal
1960-1975 263 229 238
Nolan Ryan 1966-1993 334 191 227
Don Sutton
1966-1988 319 187 220
Sandy Koufax 1955-1966 194 190 191

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.

Player Years CWS CV CAWS
Jim Bunning
1955-1971 257 221 230
Don Drysdale
1956-1969 258 221 230
Whitey Ford
1950-1967 261 202 217
Catfish Hunter
1965-1979 206 184 190

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.  Here they are.

The Starting Pitchers with HOF Numbers — Not Yet Eligible for the Hall

Player Years CWS CV CAWS
Roger Clemens
1984-2007 432
Greg Maddux
1986-2008 398
Randy Johnson
1988-2009 326 230
Tom Glavine 1987-2008 314 203 231
Pedro Martinez 1992-2009 224 200 206

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.  Only a handful of 20th century pitchers have accomplished this.  And all who have been eligible are in Cooperstown.

For those of you who are inclined to ask “What about so and so?” 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

Player Years CWS CV CAWS
Luis Tiant 1964-1982 256 198 213
John Smoltz 1988-2009 289 185 211
Mike Mussina 1991-2008 270 186 207
Billy Pierce 1948-1964 248 193 207
Curt Schilling
1988-2007 252 191 206
Kevin Brown
1986-2005 241
Jim Kaat
1959-1983 268
Tommy John
1963-1989 289 165
Jerry Koosman 1967-1985 240 181 196
Mickey Lolich
1963-1979 224 179 190
Jack Morris
1977-1994 225
Vida Blue
1969-1986 202
David Cone
1986-2003 205 173
Orel Hershiser 1983-2000 210 171 181
Jamie Moyer
1986-2010 224 149 168
Andy Pettitte 1995-2010 206 149 163
David Wells
1987-2007 211 147 163

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.  As you can see, there are a lot of starting pitchers who had a better career than Morris.  By no stretch of the imagination can he be considered good enough to merit induction into the Hall of Fame.  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.  Of course, with Roger Clemens’ steroids problems, that streak may soon come to an end.

Thanks for your time.

Mike Hoban
Professor Emeritus — City U of NY
Author of A GOOD CAWS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (2011)


2 Responses to ““All In” – Starting Pitchers and the Hall of Fame”
  1. David says:

    You know, it appears that every eligible pitcher with a CV of 200+ is in, as well. That may be something to keep in mind, in case we one day have a pitcher who’s phenomenal for ten years and then falls off the map (the Dale Murphy of pitchers, for example). This could give us a good indication of whether or not to induct.

  2. MIKE HOBAN says:


    This is a very good point. I think it is fair to say that any pitcher who has a CV of 200 should get a VERY LONG LOOK for the Hall of Fame.

    Likwise, any position player who has a CV of 250 should also get very serious consideration.


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