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Backlog Prospectus: The Pitchers

Line up the pitchers. Man, they all have great curves.

Line up the pitchers. Man, they all have great curves. Ewer going to love them.

It’s time to talk pitchers. Our backlog of moundsmen feels extensive, even if numerically it isn’t all that bad In this last installment of our backlog prospectus, we’ll follow the same format we did with the middlemen and the corners.


Balance: So far, so good
Recently elected: Bucky Walters
Recent regrets: Hoyt Wilhelm

Wilbur Cooper

Why he might just make it:

  • Good peak/prime hurler
  • Very good hitting pitcher
  • Pitched in a time from which we are a little short of honorees

Why he might not make it:

  • His worst seasons really drag him down

Dizzy Dean

Why he might just make it:

  • Helluva a peak!
  • Good hitter too!
  • Also a relief ace!
  • Great 1934 World Series!

Why he might not make it:

  • There’s just six seasons and some change
  • That peak isn’t historically amazing, so the lack of bulk really hurts
  • His other World Series appearance wasn’t so hot
  • We could be waiting a long time for more information about his relief work

Red Faber

Why he might just make it:

  • His best two seasons are of historic proportion
  • He racked up a lot of value and threw a ton of innings
  • Helps fill out a period of time that needs it

Why he might not make it:

  • After his best two or three years, his career is a series of barely above-average seasons that don’t inspire a vote

Pud Galvin

Why he might just make it:

  • 6000 innings and 365 wins are not exactly chopped liver
  • Miller has voted for him in the past
  • A huge 1884 season

Why he might not make it:

  • His bulk career value (especially below average but above replacement) may be a reflection of the usage patterns of his times or of WAR’s construction, not of greatness
  • That huge 1884 season came in a double-expansion year
  • He might not be the best pitcher of his time outside the HoME
  • He is among the very worst hitting pitchers ever

Clark Griffith

Why he might just make it:

  • Lasted a long time
  • Third most innings of the 1890s
  • Could hit a little

Why he might not make it:

  • Was not especially durable during the season by the standards of his times
  • You’d need a shoehorn to jam him into the 1890s
  • Competes with several of turn-of-the-century players, including Beckley, Childs, Bresnahan, and Kelley

Whitey Ford

Why he might just make it:

  • Was never really bad and thanks to the addition of a good bat had a lot of seasons of four or more WAR
  • Boatload of World Series innings
  • Helps with two underserved eras (post-War and the 1960s)

Why he might not make it:

  • Was never great in any season
  • Despite looking sort of like a long/low candidate he only pitched 16 seasons and didn’t rack up Suttonesque career value

Tommy John

Why he might just make it:

  • Long career with good value
  • Many, many years with above average value
  • We’re fans of That 70s Player

Why he might not make it:

  • Many, many years of garbage time
  • Don Sutton is a better version of the same type of pitcher
  • Soon to arrive Frank Tanana might be better, too

Jim McCormick

Why he might just make it:

  • Had more BBREF pitching Wins Above Average during his career than any other pitcher in baseball
  • Third most pitching WAA between 1871 and 1895 of anyone in baseball
  • Might be the best pitcher of his time outside the HoME

Why he might not make it:

  • We may not even want another 1880s player
  • His career year of 1884 season came in a double-expansion year, and he pitched a third of his innings in the lousy Union Assocation
  • He might not be the best pitcher of his time outside the HoME

Billy Pierce

Why he might just make it:

  • Second most WAA of any AL pitcher during his era
  • Nice, if brief, World Series numbers

Why he might not make it:

  • He’s not quite as good as Ford though shaped pretty similarly
  • Miller is pondering his demise
  • Eric is pondering his demise

Eddie Rommel

 Why he might just make it:

  • BBREF WAR likes him a lot
  • Probably has some hidden relief value

Why he might not make it:

  • If he was so good, why did Connie Mack use him in relief?
  • If he was so good in relief, why did Connie Mack use Lefty Grove as his relief ace?
  • Miller’s been casting him away for years, Eric’s listening

Don Sutton

Why he might just make it:

  • Lotsa career value, but more than Tommy John
  • Miller is already casting ballots for him
  • Did you know we could use another 1970s guy?

Why he might not make it:

  • Never, ever had a great year
  • Was rarely very far above average and has relatively few total WAA

George Uhle

Why he might just make it:

  • One hell of a hitter for a pitcher!
  • Three outstanding peak seasons
  • Pitched in a time when we’re looking for guys

Why he might not make it:

  • He wasn’t actually a very great pitcher, which would be nice to have in a pitching inductee
  • Wilbur Cooper and Red Faber may be the better pitchers from his times

BEHIND THE SCENES: More than anywhere else on the diamond, we disagree in the pitcher’s box. The nature of this disagreement can be easily seen in Galvin v. McCormick. Galvin’s got the huge bulk innings but McCormick slams him in Wins Above Average, especially once Galvin’s absolutely terrible batting is factored in. One of us prefers the bulk, the other prefers the WAA. We’ve even debated whether the 1880s with its 600 inning years breaks WAA/WAR. Maybe pitchers were truly more valuable then? Or maybe it’s more a matter of conditions and trends of the day. Anyway, it might be that neither pitcher makes it, but this discussion has been the crucible in which the 4% of baseball that we disagree on comes spattering up. Elsewhere, Sutton and John (and soon Tanana) spark a similar discussion owing to their long/low career path. Obviously Miller doesn’t object as he’s voted already for Sutton and led the charge on Faber. Eric has never liked that career shape and wishes like heck that Dizzy Dean had one more decent year on his baseball card. Acceptance is the first step. We can make too much of this and blow it up to sound like we’re at war. In reality, neither of us thought for a moment that Jim Kaat should get a plaque in our Hall, so the divide is obviously not that deep. It’s not Bill Plaschke versus Nate Silver here. More like Rob and Rany. As we march along, a few more borderliners will pop up to challenge this bunch. Frank Tanana, Doc Gooden, Chuck Finley, Mark Langston, Kenny Rogers, Frank Viola, and more, so don’t expect resolution (or even resoluteness) here for a while. Looks like it could come down to the (hopefully not bitter) end.


* * *

That’s the end of our look at the current backlog at the Hall of Miller and Eric. We’d love to hear what you all think of these guys. We will deliver all the plaques we promised on time. Fortunately the 2015 Hall elections will come before that so that we can have a few more weeks of mulling and with any luck at all, a few more slots to fill.



One thought on “Backlog Prospectus: The Pitchers

  1. You ought to give “Ole Diz” a break and remember his contributions to broadcasting. “Zarilla slud into third” “They x-rayed my head and didn’t find nothing.” “The players returned to their respectable bases” “It ain’t bragging if you can do it”, and “don’t fail to miss us tomorrow at this same time”. Gotta be room in there for a man like that. 🙂

    I’m a big Whitey Ford fan, but you gotta admit that Stengel used him strangely in the World Series (not a lot of game 1s or game 7s. You might want to check into that to see if there was a reason besides Casey being Casey.

    Posted by verdun2 | December 8, 2014, 9:25 am

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