Baseball Hall of Fame Vote: Why Andy Pettitte, Mark Buehrle and Tim Hudson Are Worth Watching Longer

There are only a few more rounds of voting before I get my first official BBWAA Hall of Fame vote. I’ve already revealed what my mood would have been like this time around and it didn’t include a few starting pitchers I’m going to highlight here. However, I am always willing to reconsider and I am certainly willing to discuss when the situation merits discussion.

As for starting pitcher and how the position evolves, I think there should be a discussion. It’s been six years since I wrote that an entire generation of starting pitchers didn’t get their due in the Hall of Fame ballot. Do you know how many have come in through the BBWAA route since then? Two: Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina.

That is, nothing has actually changed.

Looking forward to the next few years, CC Sabathia is the only retired player I think will make a dent. I’m hopeful, but certainly not sure, in Jon Lester’s chances. Among active players, there is a trio of surefire Hall of Famers in Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. Zack Greinke seems likely. That’s the point though, right?

And with relief specialists becoming more prominent alongside things like the opener, it’s easy to see that the number of starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame continues to dwindle. It has actually moved in this direction since the arrival of the designated batter. Pitchers from the 1980s are drastically underrepresented in the Hall of Fame, and not much has changed since then.

I don’t think there would be much discussion if I say that in an individual game the pitcher is the most important position on the field. And while the individual on the mound is constantly changing, do we really want to move to a place where those who perform the most important job on the field are the least represented in the Hall of Fame? That doesn’t seem easy.

All this is to say, maybe our standards for Hall of Fame pitchers need to be changed. It probably isn’t as simple as bringing in Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens and getting a vet commission to add Johan Santana and Kevin Brown as well. No, it seems we should now start with a trio of arms on the ballot.

Mark Buehrlea

Buehrle was never thought of as an elite pitcher and we can say the same of the next two names we’ll see in the subheadings below.

However, we’ve talked about this many times before. The Hall of Fame isn’t just the supreme, elite, inner circle all-time greats. It’s not just the Walter Johnson, Cy Young and Tom Seaver types. There are also Bob Lemon, Jim Bunning and Dazzy Vance types. This is not an insult. It is a fact. Quite a few people I meet on social media seem to believe it’s either just the Walter Johnsons or it should be just those types. That’s just not how it is. It’s a museum, not a short list of the inner circle elite.

Buehrle’s plea for an appearance in the museum lies in his career as a workhorse. In 2001, at age 22, Buehrle threw 221 1/3 innings. In 2015, at the age of 36, he finished in 198 2/3 innings. He fell just 1 1/3 innings for 200, which was the first time since 2000 that he missed the two-century mark. He put together 14 consecutive 200-inning campaigns.

In the wildcard era (1995-present), these are the pitchers with the most seasons from 200 innings:

1. Buhrle, 14
2. Verlander, 12
3. Greg Maddux, 11
4. Six players equal at 10

Buehrle finished his career 214-160 with a 3.81 ERA (117 ERA+). He made five All-Star Games and won four gold gloves. He won the 2005 World Series with the White Sox. But above all, he was the greatest workhorse of his generation. He picked up the ball every five days and created such volume for his team that he ranks 97th in career innings pitched and 65th in the career of pitcher WAR.

Andy Pettitte

Pettitte has a decidedly old-fashioned business. He won 256 games in his career, making his 42nd all-time title and for quite a few Hall of Famers. He was part of a ridiculous eight pennant winning teams and won five World Series rings. In 44 postseason starts, he went 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA. He won an ALCS MVP.

While not Buehrle, Pettitte was also a workhorse. In that 200+ innings pitched leaderboard above, Pettitte was one of “six players who were out of 10”. He ranks 91st in his career innings and 63rd in pitcher WAR, eliminating Buehrle in both. He was only an All-Star three times, but he got more Cy Young love than Buehrle, finishing second once and in the top six five times. He also missed many more bats, finishing with 2,448 strikeouts, making him 46th in history.

Pettitte is also the career leader in postseason wins and innings pitched. He is fourth in strikeouts. Maybe there are bonus points for playoff achievements here.

Tim Hudson

Hudson was a four-time All-Star with four Cy Young finishes in the top six, including runner-up in 2000. He wasn’t quite the consistent workhorse that Buehrle and Pettitte were, but he had eight 200-inning seasons and had five of at least 220. He went over 235 three times and in the wildcard era only Randy Johnson, Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia and Curt Schilling had more such seasons.

Hudson went over 3,000 innings (he is 119th all-time) and struckout 2,000 (he is 74th) and ranks 77th in his career pitcher WAR.

He was a very good pitcher for a long time who gave so much value and volume to his teams. He went 222-133 in his career, with a win rate of 0.625 meaning his teams played as teams with 101 wins throughout his career when he got the ball. He played on seven different playoff teams and pitched in the rotation for the 2014 World Series champion Giants.

As mentioned, I don’t have any of the three on my current ballot, but I’m open to change. As we watch the starting pitcher’s position evolve, these three illustrate the workhorse that is a thing of the past and I have come to appreciate such pitchers more as time goes on. Especially if pitchers in the designated hitter era still fall short in the Hall of Fame voting, these three are worth checking out.

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