December 4, 2023

Starting Pitchers and Hall of Fame Numbers

January 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame candidacy has generated a discussion about HOF numbers for pitchers which I feel is very useful – partly because it raises the question of whether there is a “sabermetric” way to objectively measure a starting pitcher’s career performance.

Here is how the CAWS Career Gauge suggests it may be done – using win shares.

  1.  Add together the win shares for a pitcher’s 10 best seasons and call it his Core Value (CV).
  2. Add to this 25% of the difference between his career win shares (CWS) and his CV – to give credit for “longevity.”
  3. CAWS  =  CV  + .25(CWS – CV)

Here is what the results look like for some selected pitchers.  The first number is CWS, the second is CV and the third is the CAWS score. Each of these pitchers has “HOF numbers.”

  Roger Clemens 432 260 303
  Tom Seaver 388 255 288
  Greg Maddux 398 246 284
  Bob Gibson 317 258 273
  Jim Palmer 312 252 267
  Randy Johnson 326 230 254
  Bert Blyleven 339 218 248
  Juan Marichal 263 229 238
  Tom Glavine 314 203 231


Here are some pitchers who do not have “HOF numbers.”

  Luis Tiant 256 198 213
  John Smoltz 289 185 211
  Mike Mussina 270 186 207
  Curt Schilling 252 191 206
  Jim Kaat 268 181 203
  Mickey Lolich 224 179 190
  Jack Morris 225 172 185
  David Cone 205 173 181
  Orel Hershiser 210 171 181


You will note that Bert Blyleven’s numbers are significantly better than those of Curt Schilling or Jack Morris.

Also note that a Core Value of 200 for a starting pitcher is a fairly good indicator of “HOF numbers.”

I should add that there is another “CAWS criterion” that suggests that a few pitchers like Sandy Koufax, Hoyt Wilhelm, Goose Gossage, Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera also have HOF numbers: a CAWS score of 180 with fewer than 2400 innings pitched.  (Pedro did this in his first thirteen seasons – as did Roy Halladay.)

Thanks for your time.

Mike Hoban
Professor Emeritus – City U of NY
Author of DEFINING GREATNESS: A Hall of Fame Handbook

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