Hope for Hall of Fame Pitchers

Ferguson Jenkins

There are two relatively new trends occurring in Hall of Fame voting (both BBWAA and the various Veteran’s Committees) that bear watching closely. Both may, and I stress “may,” lead to new candidates getting a better shot at election, and “Old Timers” getting a better second look. To me, they are hopeful signs.

In 1991 Ferguson Jenkins made the Hall of Fame. In 1992 the Veteran’s Committee of the day elected Hal Newhouser. In 1996 the Vets again elected a pitcher, Jim Bunning. Then it took all the way to 2011 to elect Bert Blyleven. Other than those four (and a number of relievers and Negro League pitchers, both of which are different from starters) the Hall elected only 300 game winners. It seemed that the key to getting your ticket stamped for Cooperstown as a starter was to win 300 games. Then came 2015 and John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, and now Jack Morris. None won 300 games (none got overly close–Morris had 254). I think that’s a hopeful sign that the reliance on 300 wins as the metric for election is going away. I suppose there are a number of reasons why (like all the 300 winners are already in and you still want to put in a starter or two now and then just because you can) but to me it’s most important not for the reasons why but because it opens up the possibility of other non-300 game winners reaching Cooperstown. I’m one of those that believes Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina ought to be enshrined and neither got near 300 wins. So the new willingness to add in pitchers with lower win totals makes that much more possible.

Whatever you think of Morris making the Hall of Fame, he has one positive for pitchers still waiting, an enormous ERA. His 3.90 ERA is well above what you normally see in a Hall of Fame pitcher. There are a lot of Deadball guys with ERAs under three and several later starters with ERA’s in the mid-threes, but Morris is an outlier and that to me is a hopeful sign also. Because now it becomes more difficult to dismiss a pitcher simply because he has a high ERA. Andy Pettitte with his high ERA is on the horizon (and I mention him here without reference to steroid issues). Wes Ferrell, an excellent pitcher from the 1930s with an ERA over four suddenly has a better chance for Cooperstown (without reference to his bat, which I believe few voters will consider). There is also Mel Harder and George Earnshaw (neither of which I’m convinced are Hall of Fame quality, but ought to get another look) and a number of others like Eddie Rommel (whose ERA is near Mussina’s) and Bill Sherdel deserve another look (and again I’m not convinced either is up to Hall standards).

It is sometimes very difficult to be hopeful when discussing the Hall of Fame voting. But these are good signs moving forward. It will be interesting to see if either is maintained.




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5 Responses to “Hope for Hall of Fame Pitchers”

  1. Miller Says:

    Very good points! I’d love it if Rommel, who I don’t support, got another look. And Ferrell absolutely belongs in.

    I also like how you didn’t mention steroids with Pettitte by specifically mentioning steroids with Pettitte. 🙂

  2. glen715 Says:

    Let’s just get Jim Kaat, Tommy John (not the surgery, but the actual MAN), and Loooooie Tiant in there, already! Come ON! We got Blyleven in there, Sutton in there, then why the heck not THEM???

  3. wkkortas Says:

    I’m going to take issue–respectfully, mind you–with this post. I can’t see where 300 wins has ever been the standard for starters getting in. Red Faber got in with 254 wins, and that was over fifty years ago. Rube Marquard barely got over the 200 mark, and he got in over forty years ago. Ditto Jesse Haines, who got in with 210. There have always been a lot of pitchers who reached Cooperstown well short of 300 wins, even short of 250. As far as Morris’ election being a hopeful sign for pitchers still waiting…well, yes, but does it elevate Cooperstown to create a case for guys like Rommel or Sherdel who, while fine pitchers, have a tenuous case at best for immortality. In my find, this post constitutes further evidence that the Veterans Committee botched it by electinig Morris.

  4. wkkortas Says:

    As an addendum, I see where I have probably misread what you are saying concerning 300 game winners, and hereby withdraw my objections to same.

  5. Gary Trujillo Says:

    I’m sorry but Alan Trammell is sort of a joke as a HOFer. Was he better than Miguel Tejada!? Nope. And Tejada has no shot. Guys like Trammell and Morris better thank their lucky stars for the “steroid era” or they would have been long ago passed up in the mind’s eye by guys like Bonds, Clemens and McGwire. They would have just been seen as “better than average players.”

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