SocraticGadfly: Who would you vote back OUT of the MLB HOF - pitchers

January 01, 2011

Who would you vote back OUT of the MLB HOF - pitchers

I have been a strong defender of voting Bert Blyleven into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. I've been at least as adamant about keeping Jack Morris out.

That leads to this question:

Among post-1900 players now in the Hall of Fame, whom would you remove?

Here’s the list of all pitchers.

And, the list of all hitters.

I’ll also simplify by ruling out all players who were Negro League inductees.

That said, before we get started, I have a bone to pick, a small one, with Baseball-Reference’s HOF lists. The comparative sabermetric tools we value, like WAR, OPS+ and ERA+? Why aren’t they included on these lists? It would make the comparisons much easier.

And, why are HOF pitchers who ever, more than once, swung a bat in their lives, listed again under the “batters” category? Ditto for managers who had a cup of coffee in the major leagues.

That said, on to the matter of hand. This post, I tackle pitchers.

I use two basic stats for starting the analysis, then bring in a third.

Those stats? WHIP and ERA+. Pitchers can control their walks, and, with partial allowance for the quality of fielding behind them and the size of park in which they pitch, can still, by pitch location, etc., control their hits surrendered. So, WHIP is a good comparison measure. And, from how well they bear down against batters when they have runners on base, how well they hold those runners, etc., they can control ERA, and ergo, ERA+, pretty well.

My standards? A HOF-worthy pitcher should have an ERA+ of 110 or better AND a WHIP of 1.25 or lower. Miss one or the other, and I’ll start raising an eyebrow. Miss both, and I’ll raise both eyebrows. If a pitcher just barely misses both, then the third comparison stat — WAR — comes into play.

Anyway, among pitchers that I would consider voting out would be Red Faber, Waite Hoyt, Clark Griffith (he was inducted as a player), Bob Lemon (he was the Jack Morris of his time), Burleigh Grimes, Jesse Haines, TEd Lyons, Hal Newhouser (got lucky to pitch during WWII, take those years away and he’s mediocre), Eppa Rixey, Red Ruffing, and possibly even Early Wynn. (If sabermetrics have taught us that wins aren’t the only thing to matter for a Cy Young award or even a Hall of Fame election, then, if metrics otherwise are bad enough, then we shouldn’t blanche at considering the possibility of ejecting a 300-game winner. AND, Wynn’s other metrics ARE bad. An ERA+ of only 107 and a WHIP of a horrible 1.329. Throw in the fact that his WAR is only 50.2, and outdoes Jack Morris in the definition of “lucky pitcher.”)

And, as discriminating baseball buffs know, there are unlucky pitchers, too. Felix Hernandez just last year. Or Bob Gibson, who somehow managed to “lose” nine games in 1968 despite a 1.12 ERA.

The pitchers I would consider throwing out of the HOF remind us, again, of why we need to keep the Jack Morrises of the world from getting in there in the first place.


Anonymous said...

you're an idiot.....Jack Morris was a good pitcher.. you can throw numbers around all day long giving you as much "authority" on the subject as the next idiot. you never played the game so how do justify putting down a good ball player like Morris? oh yeah you're an it!!!!!!

Gadfly said...

I never said Morris wasn't good. I just said he wasn't HOF level. Meanwhile, you present no good argument for the idea that is IS a HOF-level pitcher.

And, short of the major league-level, you have no idea as to whether I played competitive baseball, whether amateur or professional, or not.

Genomic Repairman said...

I'd even consider tossing out Don Drysdale, he won just over 200 games in his 14 year career. Give his ass the boot.

Gadfly said...

Genomic, I almost put Phil Niekro on the list, for reasons similar to Wynn's, though his stats aren't quite so bad.

Genomic Repairman said...

You're getting a little support on the Anti-Morris sentiment.

Anonymous said...

i'm surprised wynn is a HOF, for the same reason people say blyleven should not be. he played too long. it took wynn 3 seasons to get his last 16 wins for 300 for a total of 23 seasons. it is however beyond me how blyleven is not in, he retired 3rd on the all time strike out list, he had 60 shutouts! and if the felix hernandez, and grinke bullcrap has taught us anything, wins are apparently meaningless. if you ask me "playing too long" is a horrible reason to not voting for them. dont we want our good players to play as long as possible?! what did we miss by guys like puckett having their career cut short?

Anonymous said...

Where's Catfish Hunter?

Gadfly said...

I was being charitable on not booting Hunter. Per this year's Veterans Committee, Luis Tiant is more deserving.

Anonymous said...

Where is Luis Tiant??? He dominated and numbers identical to Catfish Hunter!!! What is the veterans Commmittee Waiting for?