Rucker for the Hall?

The post just below this discusses the no-hitter tossed by Brooklyn pitcher Nap Rucker in 1908. In a comment by rjkitch13, he speculates that if Rucker played for the Cubs, Giants, or Pirates, the dominant teams of the era, he’d be in the Hall of Fame.

Well, that lends itself to the question, is that the case? To begin with, the answer is “we’ll never know, because Rucker played his entire career in Brooklyn.” But we can do a little guessing. For his career (1907 through 1916) Rucker posted a 134-134 record, exactly a .500 winning percentage. In those same years, the Brooklyn team went 673-848 for a winning percentage of .443. So Rucker outperformed his team overall by a few percentage points (.057). Of course some years he did better and some years he did worse than his team, and in the final three years of his career he only started 35 games.

By contrast Chicago went 903-627 for a winning percentage of .590 over the same years (1907 through 1916). New York went 905-623 (.592 winning percentage), and Pittsburgh was 808-680( for a winning percentage of .555). All three teams did significantly better than Rucker’s Superbas/Robins (the two names the Brooklyn team carried while Rucker played for them). Would Rucker have fared better with any of these three teams? Likely, but ultimately unknowable.

In doing this short exercise I have concentrated on Rucker’s win-loss record. In the period most likely for him to have adorned a Hall of Fame voting ballot that stat would have been front and center in determining his enshrinement. With the Veteran’s Committees that followed, the same is true until at least very recently.

Finally, the answer to rjkitch13’s proposal is unknowable, but it is probable, based on what is unquestionably a small sampling of the information, that Rucker’s overall record, especially in wins and losses would have been better. Whether that would get Nap Rucker to the Hall of Fame is unknowable. But it is fun to speculate.

A thanks to rjkitch13 for bringing this little exercise to my attention and I suggest all of you take a look at his own blog. Give ’em the address rj.

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2 Responses to “Rucker for the Hall?”

  1. rjkitch13 Says:

    Thanks for the shout out, V! If you’d like to look at my 300-year project in which I am compiling All-Star teams for all of Major League history, go to rjkitch13.wordpress.com. By the way, Rucker is in MY Hall of Fame 🙂

  2. Ron Rollins Says:

    My poor math says a 174-104 (.623) record playing for a combination of the other teams, pitching at the same effectiveness above his team.

    I don’t see that as Hall of Fame material.

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