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HoMEcoming Heroes for 2015—The Hurlers

If you're wondering, this is the guy after whom Miller's system is named.

If you’re wondering, this is the guy after whom Miller’s system is named.

Now that we’ve checked in on how the 2015 season impacted the future cases of middlemen and cornerdudes for the Hall of Miller and Eric, let’s see what’s up with the moundsmen.

Like before, we’re splitting things up to give you two perspectives. Each of us uses a homemade sifting/sorting junk stat that operates similar to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS. Eric uses CHEWS (Chalek’s Equivalent War System) and Miller uses MAPES (Miller’s Awesome Player Evaluation System). In each case, more is better. In CHEWS, Walter Johnson has about 114 them, and Whitey Ford has the fewest among HoMErs at 42.8. In MAPES, Johnson has about 119, and Ford has 44.7 (though Goose Gossage at 42.8 has the fewest MAPES pitching HoMErs). So now you know what we’re referring to.

Starters

Clayton Kershaw
2014 CHEWS: 40.0 (similar to Carlos Zambrano, 40.1 CHEWS)
2015 CHEWS: 46.4 (similar to Joe McGinnity, 46.5 CHEWS)
Welcome to the HoME, Claytie. Kershaw passed something like 50 pitchers this season and now ranks 54th all-time. A merely mortal All-Star level year of 5.0 WAR in 2016 would even him up with fellow Dodger great Don Drysdale. Another 20 WAR for his career puts him into the top 30 all-time. He’s not even 30 yet, and barring a visit to Dr. Andrews, he should end up at least that high.

CC Sabathia
2014 MAPES: 46.8 (similar to Don Sutton, 46.8 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 47.3 (similar to Andy Pettitte, 47.3 MAPES)
On offense, MAPES and CHEWS are extremely similar. On the mound, there’s a greater difference. MAPES builds in some playoff performance more than CHEWS does, so some guys with amazing playoff histories, or even just big innings totals move up the MAPES ranks. This is something about which we must be mindful as we elect more recent guys given the expanded playoff format in recent years. More to the point about Sabathia, he’s in. The two eligibles immediately ahead of him are Dave Stieb and Orel Hershiser. The two eligibles immediately behind him are Don Sutton and Mordecai Brown. And he’s ahead of eight other HoME pitchers. While I wouldn’t expect much more out of him given his age and recent performance, there’s a shot his alcohol rehabilitation will turn his life around, so perhaps there’s more to come from CC.

Tim Hudson
2014 CHEWS: 45.8 (similar to Chuck Finley, 45.8 CHEWS)
2015 CHEWS: 46.1 (similar to Andy Pettitte, 46.1 CHEWS)
His CHEWS ranking is 64th in history, ahead of HoMERs such as Koufax, Wynn, Walters, Galvin, Brown, Ford, and Sutton. In other words, he’d be among the bottom eighth of HoME pitchers. Which means he’s a debatable case. There’s plenty of guys in the neighborhood that we didn’t vote for such as Caruthers, Rommel, Gooden, and Griffith. Hudson is unlikely to get many votes for the Hall of Fame, but he might well deserve it. He’s well qualified for any Hall of its size, including ours.

Better than Red Faber means we'd better save a place in the HoME.

Better than Red Faber means we’d better save a place in the HoME.

Zack Greinke
2014 MAPES: 35.8 (similar to Jack Morris, 35.9 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 43.4 (similar to, Mickey Welch 43.3 MAPES)
After another amazing season, the free agent jumps about 70 spots and is now at a level where we might elect him to the HoME, above Pud Galvin and Goose Gossage by MAPES. Based on my adjustments, he looks like a better version of a mid-career Red Faber. I’d bet Greinke reaches HoME no-brainer land during his next contract.

Faber                    Greinke
11.0                        10.5
9.4                          10.4
5.1                          5.8
4.6                          5.4
3.7                          5.2
3.5                          3.8
3.2                          3.6
2.9                          3.4
2.9                          2.2
2.9                          1.7
2.8                          1.2
2.7                          0.1
2.4
1.8
1.7
1.7
1.5
1.4
1.1
-1.1

Mark Buehrle
2014 CHEWS: 44.4 (similar to Early Wynn, 44.2 CHEWS)
2015 CHEWS: 44.8 (similar to Bob Caruthers, 44.6 CHEWS)
If this is, indeed, the end for Buehrle, he, like Hudson above, has put himself into a reasonable position for eventual HoME enshrinement. He’s essentially Don Sutton with more peak value, similar career value, and 100 fewer wins courtesy of the usage patterns of their respective careers. Sutton emerged in the four-man rotation era and never missed a start. Buehrle emerged in the five-man rotation era and over his career, bullpen usage became more aggressive. He never missed a start, or close enough to never. He’ll be another pitcher whose induction isn’t automatic but would be eminently reasonable.

Felix Hernandez
2014 MAPES: 38.1 (similar to, Vida Blue 38.1 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 40.6 (similar to, Bob Lemon 40.5 MAPES)
Given his current comp, it would seem that King Felix already has a shot at the Hall. To make it to the HoME, he has some additional work to do, but at age 30 at the start of next year he clearly has time. Let’s say he has only five seasons left, one each of 5 WAR, 4 WAR, 3 WAR, 2 WAR, and 1 WAR. If so, he’d jump to 55th in history, right behind Dennis Eckersley and Jim Bunning, right ahead of Bret Saberhagen and Urban Shocker. Throw in a sixth year at 6 WAR, and he moves up about ten more spots into the Vic Willis, Tim Keefe, David Cone land. My money is on the King to get in eventually.

Cliff Lee
2014 CHEWS: 41.5 (similar to Ron Guidry and Frank Viola, 41.7 CHEWS)
2015 CHEWS: 41.5
DNP due to DL. Bummer. Still running even with the likes of Guidry and Viola. He’s got a pretty good peak and doesn’t necessarily require a return to form. But he does need to throw some bulk onto his career total. He got a bit of late start and took a while to find himself. So time is of the essence. Three more three-WAR seasons would do the trick and make him even with Chuck Finley, a pitcher whose career has some interesting similarities when looked at in a certain way.

Cole Hamels
2014 MAPES: 37.1 (similar to Mel Harder, 37.1 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 40.0 (similar to Bobo Newsom, 40.0 MAPES)
Hamels keeps chugging along with another season at near All-Star level. With five more seasons at 3 WAR, he’d slot right between Dave Stieb and Orel Hershiser. He has a real shot of reaching the HoME one day since he’ll be entering only his age-32 season. If he was five more seasons of 4 WAR, 3 WAR, 2.5 WAR, 2 WAR, and 1 WAR, he’d land between Don Sutton and Three Finger Brown. Let’s say he’s a little better than that, at 4.5 WAR, 4 WAR, 3 WAR, 2 WAR, and 1.5 WAR. That would move him up to Urban Shocker and Dave Stieb. He has a real shot.

Justin Verlander
2014 CHEWS: 39.2 (similar to Tommy Bridges, 39.2 CHEWS)
2015 CHEWS: 40.2 (similar to Hippo Vaughn, 40.3 CHEWS)
There’s real doubt about whether Verlander has enough in the tank to make a run at the HoME. He hasn’t come close to the MVP-level pitcher of his 2011 and 2012 seasons. In fact, his last three seasons, he’s either been hurt or been around the 120ish ERA+ pitcher he’s been in most other seasons of his career. Indeed, his peak seasons are amazing outliers in a way. On the other hand, in the second half of 2015, Verlander seemed to shake off a little rust. His days as a strikeout maven are done, but he’s reigned in the walks and posted a 3.5:1 strikeout/walk ratio, his best since 2012. IF he’s healthy enough to make 30 starts a year, and IF he retains his command and glides through his early and mid-30s as a four-win pitcher, then he’ll probably be HoMEward bound. He needs another 10–12 WAR to get into Hudson/Buehrle territory.

Look how skinny!

Look how skinny!

Bartolo Colon
2014 MAPES: 37.4 (similar to Addie Joss, 37.4 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 37.8 (similar to Bob Shawkey, 37.7 MAPES)
We’ve counted the big guy out in the past, haven’t we? I think this time it’s different. Bartolo won’t add much to his resume the rest of the way, so he’ll retire well short of HoME-level. Still, I’m pulling for the guy to get a shot at a rotation next year. While it won’t be in Queens, there has to be a team out there that can use a Spanish-speaking former star who can still pitch some passable innings.

Adam Wainwright
2014: 34.6 CHEWS (Similar to Al Orth, 34.6 CHEWS)
2015: 35.0 CHEWS (Similar to Al Leiter, 34.9 CHEWS)
Obviously injuries don’t help. Wainwright has the makings of a HoME case, but like many others, he needs bulk. Another couple of big years would go a long way, but he really needs bulk to catch up to the bottom tier of HoME pitchers.

Jake Peavy
2014 MAPES: 32.6 (similar to John Candelaria, 32.6 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 33.5 (similar to Al Leiter, 33.5 MAPES)
You’ve heard that there’s no such things as a pitching prospect. Well, there no such thing as any pitcher guaranteed to be healthy. Peavy has reached 200 innings just four times in his career. And he’s started over 32 games just once. In other words, he’s almost always a few weeks away form missing at least one start. It would be pretty shocking if he were to put together a HoME-level career at this point. But no matter, he’s been quite good, as his comps above indicate.

Dan Haren
2014: 32.3 CHEWS (similar to Milt Pappas, 32.2 CHEWS)
2015: 33.3 CHEWS (similar to Mel Sottlemyer, 33.1 CHEWS)
I’m a little sorry to see Haren go. Good pitcher whose career ends as about the 170th highest CHEWS-ranked pitcher ever (including relievers). That’s not nothing, you know?

Jered Weaver
2014 MAPES: 31.3 (similar to Virgil Trucks, 31.4 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 31.5 (similar to Ed Reulbach, 31.5 MAPES)
Weaver was a very good pitcher for nine seasons. Then 2015 happened. He’s pretty much stopped using his heater, at least the four-seamer, which may be a good thing since he throws it at about 85 MPH. Still, there was a time when he whiffed seven guys per nine. If he can find that form again, he may rediscover his path to the HoME. If not, he’d kind of done as an effective pitcher.

Jon Lester
2014: 30.7 CHEWS (similar to Charlie Leibrandt, 30.7 CHEWS)
2015: 32.4 CHEWS (similar to John Candelaria, 32.6 CHEWS)
It doesn’t seem that Lester will ever become the ace-level pitcher that Sox fans expected, or that the Cubs paid for. Instead he’s a number-two on a contender or a two-plus on a lesser team. There’s something of Buehrlesque quality to Lester. He’s a lefty who makes 34 starts a year, tosses 200+ quality innings, and isn’t likely to ever have one of those eye-popping seasons. Dissimilarly to Buehrle and his Gold-Glove defense and intimidating pickoff move, whenever Lester reverts to fielding mode, disaster ensues. So the comp only works so far. Let’s call it substance over style because the results are very similar. The question is whether Lester will keep on rolling injury-free like Buehrle did.

John Lackey
2014: 27.2 CHEWS (Similar to Jason Schmidt, 27.3 CHEWS)
2015: 31.2 CHEWS (Similar to Rick Stucliffe, 31.3 CHEWS)
Who saw an All-Star season coming from this guy after years of looking like a fourth starter? At his age, there’s little hope of making a charge at the HoME, but he’s got an excellent shot at being one of the top 125–150 pitchers of all time, by CHEWS at least. Then again, he might just revert to what’s been like the previous few seasons. Pitchers….

Matt Cain
2014 MAPES: 29.6 (similar to Guy Hecker, 29.6 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 29.0 (similar to Danny Darwin, 28.7 MAPES)
Cain moved in the wrong direction this season. Just four wins and 151 innings over the last two has to be cause for concern. He was on the right path before he began to break down. Then again, a lot of pitchers can say the same thing.

Max Scherzer
2014 MAPES: 23.8 (similar to Dennis Leonard, 23.9 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 30.0 (similar to Deacon Philippe, 30.1 MAPES)
This is exciting to see, a young guy on his way to the HoME. What’s that? Scherzer will be 32 just after the All-Star Game? Sure, Max has had three years of awesome sauce, just not the seven or so he’d need at this point to make a real HoME run. On the other hand, he struck out everyone and walked essentially nobody last season. Curt Schilling built his case in his later years. Maybe Scherzer can do the same.

Will Price be worth his free agency price tag?

Will Price be worth his free agency price tag?

David Price
2014: 22.5 CHEWS (similar to Scott Sanderson, 22.4 CHEWS)
2015: 28.5 CHEWS (similar to Burt Hooton, 28.7 CHEWS)
Price has never quite dominated the league. He’s been outstanding twice, a near All-Star twice, and average two other times, mixing in some minor injuries here and there that ate at his production at times. He’s also not as young as you might think. He’ll be 30 next year, and he needs to do a lot of work, peak-level work, to make a dash for a HoME plaque. Until he throws out two more of his six-plus-win seasons or a true monster season, there’s plenty of skepticism. The clock is ticking.

Chris Sale
2014 MAPES: 22.1 (similar to Spud Chandler, 21.9 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 24.9 (similar to Bill Hands, 24.9 MAPES)
Even if you love the results that Sale gets, you simply can’t love the way he throws. He looks like he’s going to get injured on the very next pitch. And he does have some Jake Peavy in him. In his four seasons as a starter, he’s topped 200 innings only twice. And last year he made a career high 31 starts. He’s going to need some health, some in-season bulk, and another decade of production. Yeah, it could happen. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

James Shields
2014: 26.6 CHEWS (similar to Mike Moore, 26.5 CHEWS)
2015: 27.3 CHEWS (similar to Jason Schmidt, 27.3 CHEWS)
Did Kansas City win the James Shields trade? Miller and I go back and forth on this occasionally. My answer to him is this: Let’s see who won the Jake Odorizzi trade, then decide. Shields, for his part, has never been as good as A.J. Preller, the mainstream media, and whoever nicknamed him Big Game James thought he was. This year he collapsed in a pitcher’s park. He’s got virtually no shot at the HoME, and at this point, he’d be fortunate to finish as one of history’s 200 best pitchers.

(Miller would like to add that the flag flying in Kansas City says that the Roylas won the Wade Davis trade, no matter what Odorizzi does the rest of the way).

Johnny Cueto
2014 MAPES: 19.3 (similar to Red Ames, 19.3 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 22.9 (similar to Allie Reynolds, 22.9 MAPES)
The good news is that Cueto is moving in the right direction. He’s averaged about 4.2 WAR over the last five years entering free agency. The bad news might be coming for the team that acquires him. Cueto is often healthy, sometimes not. He’s never really been a superstar, and I wouldn’t expect he’ll turn into such a pitcher at age 30. Still, he’s off to a nice start. It’ll be interesting to see what the next few years show.

Tim Lincecum
2014: 22.6 CHEWS (Similar to Spud Chandler, 22.3 CHEWS
2015: 23.4 CHEWS (Similar to Kerry Wood, 22.6 CHEWS)
2015 was a comeback of sorts for Timmeh. His first year above replacement since 2011. He earned 0.5 WAR (with my adjustments). Lincecum is perhaps the ultimate example of why we should always take the under on a pitcher’s Hall of Fame/Merit/Stats/Miller and Eric chances. As they used to say over at Baseball Prosectus, “Young pitchers will break your heart.” Also, you just never know with guys who contort their arms and bodies in biomechanically difficult ways for a living.

Madison Bumgarner
2014 MAPES: 18.5 (similar to Cy Falkenberg, 17.9 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 23.3 (similar to Johnny Allen, 23.3 MAPES)
The most exciting thing about Bumgarner, okay, it’s his 2014 playoff run. The second most exciting thing is that he won’t turn 27 until August. He still has a long, long way to go. And as Eric points out above, Tim Lincecum should be a cautionary note. The upside here is extremely high up. Let’s give him some time to see whether or not he gets there.

Relievers

Joe Nathan
2014: 34.7 (similar to Trevor Hoffman, 33.3 CHEWS)
2015: 34.7 (similar to Trevor Hoffman, 33.3 CHEWS)
Nathan’s had a fantastic run, but it’s pretty clearly over. He’s missed a couple years and still strung together one of history’s best reliever careers. Who’s better than Nathan in history (according to CHEWS)? Future HoMEr Mariano Rivera (52.5 CHEWS), HoMER Goose Gossage (46.2 CHEWS), of course, and Hoyt Wilhelm (38.6 CHEWS). That’s it. Now this was news to me when I first noticed how Nathan did by my own adjusted WAR and by CHEWS. But maybe it’s not so mysterious? Nathan’s 150 ERA is the fifth best since World War II for pitchers with 900 or more career innings (Nathan has 917). Billy Wagner has a 187 ERA+ but only 31.3 CHEWS. But part of my calculations includes a nod to WPA and clutchiness. Wagner is a little behind in WPA (29 to Nathan’s 31), and Nathan’s clutchiness is almost six wins better than Wagner’s. You could spin relievers in any of a dozen ways. I just happen to do it this way, and maybe it works for you and maybe not. In the end, it may matter little since only Rivera and Gossage have ever gotten close to a HoME level.

Even if I'm the only one, I'm rooting for you, Paps.

Even if I’m the only one, I’m rooting for you, Paps.

Jonathan Papelbon
2014 MAPES: 29.9 (similar to Billy Wagner, 29.1 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 31.5 (similar to Trevor Hoffman, 32.4 MAPES)
Among relief pitchers there’s Mariano, Goose Gossage, Hoyt Wilhelm, Joe Nathan, Trevor Hoffman, and then Paps. He’s better than Fingers. He’s better than Sutter. And he has a tiny shot to reach the Hall of Fame one day. As far as reaching the HoME, that’s going to be more difficult. Papelbon is 34 now. Even if we give him five more seasons at 2 WAR, which seems like a stretch, he’s still miles behind Gossage. Then again, he’d be ahead of Hoyt Wilhelm! It would seem the River Dancing and choking of Bryce Harper obscure how great Papelbon has been. I remember when Paps came up telling a friend that he’d never win as many as 15 games in a season. Never before has a correct prediction even been so wrong. How far is Goose ahead of Wilhelm? With seven more seasons, two at 3 WAR and 1 WAR, and three at 2 WAR, Papelbon would still be close to Wilhelm than Gossage.

Francisco Rodriguez
2014: 28.9 CHEWS (similar to Bruce Sutter, 28.9 CHEWS)
2015: 29.9 CHEWS (similar to Lee Smith, 29.9 CHEWS)
If the way I look at relievers is anything like useful, the figures above this line should tell us everything we need to know about how useless the save statistic is and why the Hall has tangled itself up with regards to relief pitchers.

Huston Street
2014 MAPES: 17.2 (similar to Dick Radatz, 17.4 MAPES)
2015 MAPES: 19.3 (similar to Ron Reed, 18.7 MAPES)
You get a sense of how far Street is away, right? And he’s one of the best. Because there’s nothing so exciting to say about Street, this seems to be where I should insert that I rank Mariano Rivera as the 29th best pitcher ever, just ahead of Carl Hubbell, Jim Palmer, and Hal Newhouser.

Craig Kimbrel
2014: 12.5 CHEWS (Similar to about a thousand relievers)
2015: 15.8 CHEWS (Similar to a little less than a thousand)
We included Kimbrel for illustrative purposes. The guy who inherited the mantle of utter relief dominance from Mariano, has had four crazily good seasons, and even coming down off his peak strikes out nearly half the batters who don’t walk against him, has not only a long way to go, but doesn’t earn all that much value for all his exploits. Today, starting pitchers are pitching more like relievers than ever. They give closer to max effort on every pitch than they ever have. Then after about six innings, they turn it over to three guys who throw 95–100 to nail things down. The guy doing the toughest job is the starter. He’s got to have better stuff to get through major league lineups at least twice, sometimes three times. Guys like Kimbrel can’t do that. Wade Davis proved multiple times that he couldn’t, and now he’s Kimbrel’s competition for the best closer out there. This is the essence of why we think the Hall of Fame (and even the Hall of Merit) has overrated relievers. In a phrase: Relief pitching is more important, than relief pitchers.

Miller and Eric

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “HoMEcoming Heroes for 2015—The Hurlers

  1. Regarding CC Sabathia and Tim Hudson: their current comp of Andy Pettite is comparable, but the tone of the text suggests Sabathia in while Hudson is debatable. Could you provide the MAPES for Hudson and CHEWS for Sabathia?

    Posted by mike teller | November 18, 2015, 9:20 am
  2. Thanks for the comment, Mike. Because Eric and I wrote individual profiles, tone might be tricky. I think we’d both say that both hurlers are over the minimum line but that neither is guaranteed to gain induction. With that said, Hudson is #66 by MAPES (45.8). That’s ahead of seven HoMErs and behind three who haven’t made it. To put a duller point on it, there are two pitchers ahead of him by over one MAPES point (rounded) who aren’t in, and there are three behind him by over one MAPES point (rounded) who are. In other words, it’s very close. I’ll let Eric explain CHEWS.

    Posted by Miller | November 18, 2015, 12:26 pm
    • Just so interesting to have two pitchers who each are comparable to Andy Pettite and on the border . . .

      I know you both have two different systems so when you overlap so closely I think it becomes an interesting case study into not only the players examined and comparable but also the systems. In other words I think of MAPES and CHEW as two overlapping systems in a HoME Venn Diagram.

      I look forward to hearing from Señor Chews.

      Posted by madelineandmike | November 18, 2015, 12:35 pm

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