2012 Veteran’s Committee Ballot: the Pitchers

The 2012 Veteran’s Committee ballot lists three pitchers. Chronologically they are Tony Mullane, Wes Ferrell, and Bucky Walters. Here’s a quick review of each.

Tony Mullane

Let me begin this section with the same disclaimer that I used for the everyday players. No one alive today saw Tony Mullane pitch. So again, his stats and articles about him will be the only reference to used for determining his qualification for the Hall of Fame. He started in 1881 and played through 1894 (missing all of 1885). He was primarily a pitcher, but as was common in the era, played a lot of other positions. As a pitcher he was 284-220 (.563 winning percentage), pitched in 555 games (468 of the complete games), struck out 1803 and walked 1408 in 4531 innings. His ERA is 3.05 and his ERA+ is 117. He has a WHIP of 1.237 and has 30 shutouts. He led his league in winning percentage, hits, earned runs, walks, and strikeouts once each and led the league in shutouts twice (and in saves five times–although it wasn’t a stat yet). In the field he played 154 games in the outfield, 52 at third, and a handful at first, short, and  second. He hit .243, had an OBP of .307, slugged ..316 and ended with an OPS of .623 (OPS+ of 87). He scored 407 runs, had 223 RBIs, 661 hits, and 860 total bases. He spent about equal time in both the National League and the American Association, never won a pennant, and pitched at 45 feet, 50 feet, and the last year was on a mound. After his retirement, he became a sports writer and was noted during his career to have occasionally pitched left-handed (he was a natural righty), the only major pitcher to do so (although it seems to have been more a novelty than a normal occurence). In 1884 his battery mate was Moses Fleetwood Walker, the first black American to play in the Major Leagues. Mullane seems to have at least distrusted Walker’s baseball ability and would frequently throw a different pitch than the one Walker called for. I could not find any comment of overt racism on Mullane’s part so I won’t swear he had a racial problem, but considering the age and his attitude toward Walker as a catcher, it is likely (and certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for the age). 

The other Ferrell brother

Wes Ferrell was a pitcher, primarily for Cleveland and the Red Sox in the 1920s and 1930s. He began his career in 1927 with the Indians and played his last game in 1941 with the Braves (his only year with them).  He made the World Series with the Yankees in 1938, but did not pitch in the Series. For his career he was 193-128 for a .601 winning percentage. His ERA was 4.04 (ERA+ of 116). In 2623 innings pitched he gave up 2845 hits, 1177 earned runs, 1040 walks, and struck out 985. He led the American League in wins once, and in hits allowed, innings pitched, home runs  allowed, earned runs, and walks a handful of times. His WHIP is 1.481. Ferrell was also a good hitting pitcher, holding the record for home runs by a pitcher at 38. For his  career he hit .280, had an OBP of .351, slugged .446, giving him an OPS of .797 (OPS+ of 100). In 1933 he played 13 games in the outfield. One of the major comments about Wes Ferrell is that he was better than his brother Rick, who is in the Hall of Fame. That may be true, but is not a reason for putting Ferrell in. It may simply indicate that the brother shouldn’t be enshrined. 

Bucky Walters

The third candidate for the Hall is Cincinnati right hander Bucky Walters. Walters is one of the last of a breed of players that you don’t see much anymore. He got to the Major Leagues as a third baseman, did alright, but wasn’t anything special. He switched to the mound and became an all-star. That doesn’t happen much. Bob Lemon is the last major player I could find who did it (most of the players who switched, like Babe Ruth, George Sisler, or Rick Ankiel, went from the mound to a position in the field).  He batted .243, had an OBP of .286, slugged ..344, for an OPS of .530 (OPS+ of 69). He had 477 hits, scored 277 times, had 234 RBIs, and 23 home runs, to go with 114 walks and 303 strike outs. But he’s being considered for the Hall of Fame because of his pitching. He was 198-160 (.533 winning percentage) with an ERA of 3.30 (ERA+ of 116). In 3104.2 innings he gave up 2990 hits, 1139 earned runs, 1121 walks, and struck out 1107. His WHIP was 1.324. He made the World Series with Cincinnati in both 1939 and 1940, winning the Series the second time. His overall record was 2-2 with a 2.79 ERA and seven walks with 12 strikeouts. He led the NL in losses, hits, strikeouts, and shutouts once each, in wins three times, and in ERA and WHIP twice. He was the 1939 National League MVP.


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5 Responses to “2012 Veteran’s Committee Ballot: the Pitchers”

  1. William Miller Says:

    So, would you vote for any of the three?
    To be honest, I’m not sure why it continues to be necessary for a committee of old men to periodically pick over the remains of dead players whom virtually no one now alive saw play so that they can be enshrined in a place where few, if any people, will actually come to visit their particular plaques.
    It’s time to move on and take a closer look at many of the underrated players from the ’70’ and 80’s who are mostly still alive, who could actually enjoy their enshrinement, and whom many fans still remember.

    • verdun2 Says:

      As to your question, I have two more posts I want to do. In the final one I’ll tell you who I think ought to get in. Bear with me.

    • W.k. kortas Says:

      By and large, I’d agree with you, Bill–I think the Veterans’ Committee should focus on contributors, people like Bill Klem and Bill Veeck–and for that matter, Bill James (who I’d argue is the most glaring omission from Cooperstown, bar none). With the exception of the Negro Leagues, which is probably still somewhat under-represented, they should be more restrictive as to who they put in; frankly, I think it should require unanimity from the Veterans Committee to enshrine a player. To be equally frank, the Committee has done a half-assed job in selecting players, and I think the fewer they put in the better.

      • William Miller Says:

        I doubt they could ever get unanimity for anyone, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. In addition to Bill James, they should enshrine Marvin Miller. There aren’t too many people in baseball history who influenced the game as much as he did.

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