September 30, 2023

The Four CAWS HOF Benchmarks for Pitchers

February 15, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

In a previous post re Koufax and Kershaw, I mentioned one of the benchmarks created by the CAWS Career Gauge to help establish whether a pitcher posted HOF numbers during his career.  As a result of that post, I have been asked to list all of the benchmarks for pitchers.

(CAWS  =  career assessment/win shares).

There are four HOF benchmarks for pitchers according to the CAWS Gauge.   And here is an interesting fact.


  1. 300 career win shares = 18 pitchers

Roger Clemens, Warren Spahn, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux, Gaylord Perry, Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro, Robin Roberts, Jim Palmer, Fergie Jenkins, Randy Johnson, Bert Blyleven, Early Wynn, Tom Glavine, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton and Dennis Eckersley.

  1. A core value (ten best seasons) of 200 (with fewer than 300 CWS) = 8 pitchers

Bob Feller, Hal Newhouser, Juan Marichal, Jim Bunning, Don Drysdale, Bob Lemon, Pedro Martinez and Whitey Ford.

  1. A CAWS career score of 180 in fewer than 2400 innings = 6 pitchers

Sandy Koufax, Hoyt Wilhelm, Goose Gossage, Roy Halladay, Dizzy Dean and Clayton Kershaw.   (Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera also belong in this group but are mentioned elsewhere.)

  1. A CAWS career score of 160 in fewer than 1500 innings (the true relievers) =  3 pitchers

Mariano Rivera, Lee Smith and Bruce Sutter.

To my knowledge, no other system designed to evaluate a player’s career (other than the CAWS Career Gauge) has developed such mathematically precise (and accurate) benchmarks for pitchers who have had great careers with fewer innings pitched.

Finally, how many pitchers (since 1950) have been elected to the Hall who did not reach any of the benchmarks?  =  6 pitchers.

John Smoltz, Mike Mussina, Catfish Hunter, Jack Morris, Rollie Fingers and Trevor Hoffman.   Smoltz and Mussina both came close to reaching a benchmark – falling somewhat short.

Thank you for your time.

Mike Hoban, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus (mathematics) – City U of NY

Author of DEFINING GREATNESS: A Hall of Fame Handbook (2012)


From Bill James (12/2/2004) – in reponse to an article on CAWS:

Mike– … I appreciate your using Win Shares for the purpose for which it was intended. . . thanks. … Bill”

From the NEW YORK TIMES Sports Section (11/19/2011) – quoting “experts” on the Hall of Fame (Rob Neyer and Michael Hoban) re Allie Reynolds:

“Dr. Michael Hoban, a professor emeritus of mathematics at City University of New York has adapted the sabermetrician Bill James’s Win Shares formula to examine the full careers of major leaguers.   He said that a starting pitcher must score at least 220 in his Career Assessment/Win Shares calculation, or CAWS, to deserve enshrinement.  With a 157 score, Reynolds falls well below Hoban’s benchmark, as do Luis Tiant (213) and Jim Kaat (203), neither of whom have made it to Cooperstown.”

From Bill James (11/20/2011) – in response to the TIMES article:

“Mike,   Good to see you getting the chance to promote solid research. …   Bill”

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