Written by: Matthew Haines
Last week I brought you my list of what I believed were the active position players with the best shot at cementing their names in history via the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you missed this article, I highly recommend you take a quick minute to read through here. Today, I will be focusing on the flip side of that coin, the pitchers.
I have already introduced you all to Matthew’s JAWS (mJAWS), my homemade statistic that attempts to weigh both a players’ peak success with their longevity. One of the key measures used in creating mJAWS was a player’s WAR per 162 games played. However, this would be much harder to replicate with pitchers. As many know, most pitchers pitch somewhere around every 5 days, with the amount pitched varying based on their success in that outing. For this reason, I would need another way to create a stat that would accurately create base for a pitcher’s “season”.
Since we are comparing current players with Hall of Famers (HoFers), I decided to first take a look at the HoF pitchers. Currently, there are 80 HoF pitchers, with 73 of them being labeled starting pitchers and only 7 relievers. In order to maintain consistency, I decided to remove the relievers from the HoF data set, for today I will solely be focusing on starting pitchers. First I found the average innings pitched per game for all HoFers. This number game to be around 6.4 IP/G. Next, I divided every HoFers IP by 6.4 to find how many “True Games” each pitcher had pitched. This would hopefully account for any short outings as well as unusually long ones pitched by each pitcher. Next, I found the average games per year by each HoF pitcher. To do so, I took the number of games started and divided it by the amount of years the pitcher pitched in the MLB. Finally, I divided the number of “true games” by the average games per year, thus returning the amount of “Average Seasons” for each pitcher. This may be confusing, so here is another way of looking at it.
- Find average IP/Game, this will be called IP/G. This average = 6.4
- Divide each pitcher’s IP by 6.4 to create “True Games” (TG)
- Find average G/Year by each pitcher. This averaged around 35 games/year for the typical HoF pitcher.
- Divide True Games by G/Year, yielding “Average Seasons” AKA, the pitcher’s version of Games/162
Hopefully that clears it up. Next, it was a very similar process to creating the mJAWS calculation for the position players, simply weigh the WAR per Season with the total WAR for each pitcher in a way that accurately values their production throughout the years. First, let’s see how our current group of top HoFers turned out.
Here we have quite the list and spoiler alert, no current starting pitcher comes even close to the top of this list. However, there are a few that can make a case, especially when looking at the WAR/Season of current pitcher. As seen, the “average” HoFer produces around 41.8 mJAWS throughout their career, as well as an average of 4.1 WAR/Season. Therefore, when looking at our top picks for future HoFers, we will want to keep in mind both their total production as well as the rate at which they are currently producing.
Currently, there are no pitchers that currently lie above the average mJAWS mark for HOFers. However, part of this can be due to how much the game has changed over time. As the years have progressed, the role of the starting pitcher has become less and less. With the introduction of bullpens handling the game from the 7th inning onward, and the more recent development of the opener, we see a different landscape in which starting pitchers are expected to control. For this reason, let’s take a look at the more recent inductees.
Here, we get to see a much better comparison of today’s pitchers with those of the recent past. Again, we currently do not see a single pitcher in today’s game that surpasses the average HoFer. However, there is much to be said about current pitchers that I would label on track to hear their name called.
So here it goes, my picks for today’s future HoFers. First off, I must go with Clayton Kershaw. Out of the top pitchers in today’s game, he boasts the highest WAR/Season and is already on the cusp of placing himself above the average HoFer. With a few more seasons under his belt, he will most likely end his career in the best position to solidify his name into glory. For my second pick, Justin Verlander. Ever since his days in Goochland, VA, he has seemed to constantly be on the radar as one of the best pitchers in the game. Currently, he has acquired the highest mJAWS amongst all active pitchers and continues to impress day in and day out. When the day comes where he is done ravaging through MLB lineups, I would not be surprised if he has thoroughly cemented himself as a future HoFer. Lastly, I am going to go with C.C. Sabathia. He has had a stellar career and is looking to end it out strong. While he does not have the best production in the league, he has established himself amongst the middle 10% of HoFers and in my opinion, it should be enough for him to join the legends in the hall.
This has been quite a fun experience for me. One thing I have learned throughout these two articles is that it is REALLY hard to be a Hall of Famer. Have any other picks for a future HoFer? Feel free to let us know in the comment section or our social media!