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POLL: Kevin Brown and the Hall of Fame

Posted by Andy on July 13, 2010

Let's take a look at Kevin Brown's chances for the Hall of Fame. He'll be on the ballot for the first time coming up in January.

I'm going to keep this simple with basic arguments for and against. Please add in your own thoughts and then vote below.

For the Hall of Fame:

  • WAR for pitchers of 64.8, which is 34th all-time, and includes 6 individual seasons in the top 3 in his league.
  • Career ERA+ of 127.
  • He was 96th in career innings pitched, but 38th in strikeouts and only 153rd in walks. Some of that is due to the era in which he played, but the discrepancies in those rankings is impressive nonetheless.
  • Posted a truly fantastic season in 1996, with a 217 ERA+ (!!) and 0.944 WHIP over 233 innings. Thanks to only 3.15 runs of support per game, Brown finished with a record of just 17-11, and that includes 3 shutouts he pitched. Neutralized stats have him at 20-5 that season.
  • 1998, his only year with the Padres, was even better from a WAR standpoint, when he racked up 8.4 as a pitcher. (1996 registered at 7.5.)
  • From 1995 to 1999, Brown was the best pitcher in baseball. He ranked #1 in WAR among pitchers over that period. Only Pedro's incredible 2000 (10.1 WAR) kept Brown from continuing his reign for a 6th year. Brown himself posted another 6.5 WAR that year.
  • Played in two World Series, including on one championship team (1997 Marlins.)
  • Top 100 all-time in Wins
  • 6-time All-Star

Against the Hall of Fame:

  • Career record of 211-144 (.594) is good but puts him only 90th in wins and 129th in W-L%. Neutralized record is 205-145 (.586), so no help there.
  • Not very durable: started 30 games in only 9 of his 17 full seasons (15 non-strike-shortened) in the majors, although he did tie for 4th in baseball in starts from 1996-2000, trailing the leader (Tom Glavine) by just 4 starts, 172-168. His career ranking of just 96th in innings pitched wouldn't be expected for a guy who pitched until age 40.
  • Of his 3 World Series starts, one was decent and two were no good.
  • Had only 2 top-5 finishes in the Cy Young voting and no wins. Apparently he was not regarded as the best pitcher in any single season.
  • His most similar pitcher is Bob Welch, and in many ways that seems about right.

100 Responses to “POLL: Kevin Brown and the Hall of Fame”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    "He ranked #1 in WAR...." link doesn't work.

  2. Jim Says:

    This is probably the first of this series that I am definitely voting "NO." Kevin Brown was a great above average pitcher, but above average players dont make it into the hall of fame.

  3. Matt Young Says:

    "His most similar pitcher is Bob Welch, and in many ways that seems about right".

    Bob Welch does seem about right --Brown had no truly defining moments, which IMO, are important. A good pitcher that could go in, and it wouldn't bother me, but I think he's on the wrong side of the line, but he's right at the line for sure. I also find his AL and NL splits interesting. He clearly had his best years in the NL, but his AL ERA was 3.93 and ERA+ 108 (pitched ~1600 innings in both leagues). As someone mentioned in previous blogs, yes we try to adjust for the differences in the leagues, but they're guestimates, and we have no idea of the full effect pitching to loaded line ups day in and day out has. Many rallies in the NL are killed b/c of weak 7 and 8 hitters and pitchers hitting. I personally like the nationally game more, but the AL is brutal --i.e. the AL hasn't lost an All-Star game in 13 years! His playoff numbers and overall bad attitude don't help his case either.

    And we continue to see this Neutralized Numbers formula used?!

  4. Andy Says:

    I looked into the Neutralized Stats methodology, and it's pretty extensive. See here:

    If folks have specific complaints about the methods, I encourage you to post them.

  5. JR Says:

    Never ever! I hate Kevin Brown.

  6. Andy Says:

    JR...can you give an actual reason for hating him?

    Fixed thank link, thanks JT.

  7. Matt Says:

    Yeah, he ranks first by WAR (95-99), but it's by a fraction over Maddux, who has a better ERA and slightly more innings than Brown. Brown has more K's and K/9, but Maddux has a much better SO/BB ratio, better WHIP, better ERA+... Brown gets some of that back for playing in front of worse defenses, but not enough, in my estimation. Brown has some very nice seasons, but not enough of them. No to HOF.

  8. MikeD Says:

    No. His ending on the Yankees will also leave a bad taste in the collective mouths of many voters.

  9. Matt Young Says:

    I try not to let one's attitude sway me too much, b/c afterall, it is the numbers that should be by far the most important thing to consider. His Raw numbers are in the low end for a Hofer and he clearly didn't have the playoff dominance that Schilling and Smoltz (IMO the playoff dominance these two showed is the big difference maker) --these two also have similar raw numbers. Brown's WAR, WPA, ERA+ are quite good and they surely make him a borderliner. With that said I know he punched a wall and broke his hand while with the Yankees and when he signed with the Yankees he demanded a private jet with 12 personal flights for himself and his family. Additionally, he often would get on his teammates when he played with the Rangers. Perhaps Bert's "Cryleven" nickname has hurt him too much, but being an ornery teammate doesn't help ones case. I don't know what kind of teammate he was when he was with the Dodgers or Marlins --anyone else have an info on his days with those two teams? FYI: He was also mentioned in the Mitchell report, but I wouldn't hold that against him. I do wonder however if he was on the juice and maybe this is why he was a bit more of an arse than others.

  10. Adam Says:

    Kevin Brown is clearly seen as greatly underrated today. "Above average"? Who was he, Ray Durham? He had six seasons with an ERA+ over 150! A 3.28 career ERA while playing in one of the best offensive era's in baseball history. He had a 6 year span where he went 92 and 45 with a 2.53 ERA. He spent more than half a decade as one of the elite pitchers in the game and supplanted it with many other fine seasons. He had, hands down, a better career than Jim Bunning who is a pretty uncontroversial hall of fame pitcher. And basing his hall credentials because he wasn't quite as great as Greg Maddux is little absurd, isn't it? I mean, Wade Boggs was great and all, but he was no Ted Williams!

    Oddly, no one has mentioned Kevin Brown's inclusion in the Mitchell Report as a negative...

  11. DavidRF Says:

    On what universe does the Bob Welch comparison make any sense? The W/L record is the same, but Brown clobbers him by 21 points of ERA+. And how does being within a fraction of Maddux (above or below) from 1995-99 count as a negative?

    Brown was a great pitcher. If his career had been longer, he'd be an easy pick. But at this career length, he ends up in that "Drysdale/Pappas" group that Bill James used to write about. All those guys are borderline. Many of them are better than others on second look. (e.g. Drysdale > Pappas) Brown is among the better ones of that group. I'd rank him below Schilling. Once Schilling is inducted, I could see Brown topping some people's "best eligible lists" but I doubt he'll ever get the votes.

    Funny that he's so hated. I think it was the fact that he bounced around from team to team. Made him seem like a mercenary and kept him from collecting fans in any particular city. Also, that big contract ended up being a bit of a bust. After signing that, he had one great season (1999), two seasons where he pitched very well but couldn't get wins (2000,2004) and then struggled with injuries the rest of the time.

  12. Matt Young Says:

    There's more to Brown being disliked than him bouncing around a lot (bouncing around doesn't help him either) --see above. He was a bad teammate with both the Rangers and Yankees. Anyone have info on his Dodgers and Marlins days? I agree he shouldn't be compared to Maddux though. Maddux is one of the 10 best pitchers ever IMO. Brown's clearly a borderliner, but I wouldn't be shocked if he was dropped from the ballot after the first year, which would be an injustice for sure. Many will remember him as a good pitcher, but a bit of a jerk with no defining moments.

  13. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    There's only one way Brown will ever get to the Hall of Fame:

    1} Drive east to New York City.

    2} Go North to Cooperstown.

    3} Buy a ticket.

    Perhaps I shouldn't be so positive, though; I said the same thing about Jim Bunning, too. And I am still campaigning for Kaat, Mullane and Blyleven as well -- not to mention {God rest his soul} George Steinbrenner.

  14. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    He might make it. I also might become the first Jewish-American Pentecostal Pope. Don't place any bets on either one happening soon, though.

  15. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    It could happen. I could also become the first Jewish-AMerican Pentecostal Pope. Don't count on either one happening soon, though.

  16. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Pitcher A: 211-144, 3.28, 127 ERA+, 3256 IP, 1.222 WHIP, .655 opp OPS,
    5 seasons receiving CYA votes, led in wins, ERA 2x, WHIP 2x

    Pitcher B: 216-146, 3.46, 128 ERA+, 3261 IP, 1.137 WHIP, .673 opp OPS
    4 seasons receiving CYA votes, led in wins 2x, K 2x, WHIP 2x

  17. JR Says:


    I don't care what his WAR was in those 4 years. If you had a choice between Maddux or Brown, you took Maddux 10 times out of 10, same with Pedro. To me, Brown was never a big game pitcher. Schilling is a more deserving canidate than Brown is period.

  18. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    No way.

  19. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Pitcher A is Kevin Brown, pitcher B is Curt Schilling. There are differences between them, of course, most notably postseason performance and Schilling allowing many fewer unearned runs. To those who voted for Schilling and against Brown, how close to the imaginary borderline do you think each is?

  20. Andy Says:

    JR, maybe if YOU had a choice YOU would choose Maddux or Pedro every time. As a fan who paid attention to every game every day back then, I know that Brown was every bit the pitcher as those other two back then (regular season, at least.)

  21. JR Says:


    8 of the 10 guys on that WAR list from 1995 to 1999 I would rather have than Kevin Brown. I wonder where Randy Johnson would have stood had he not been injured in 1996. There were a few guys on that list who won multiple Cy Youngs (Johnson, Clemens and Pedro), while Brown won none. I can't beleive I forgot to mention Johnson in the earlier post.

  22. BSK Says:

    "Not very durable: started 30 games in only 9 of his 17 full seasons (15 non-strike-shortened) in the majors, although he did tie for 4th in baseball in starts from 1996-2000, trailing the leader (Tom Glavine) by just 4 starts, 172-168. His career ranking of just 96th in innings pitched wouldn't be expected for a guy who pitched until age 40."

    I think this is a BIT overstated.

    Since Brown became a full-time starter in '89, he had only 4 seasons where he threw under 170 IP, and they were all within his last 5 years in the league (and I'm pretty sure one of them was shortened because he punched a wall). He had only 4 more under 200 but over 170, with two of those happening during his first two years as a starter. In '89 (191 IP) he had at least 12 starts on more than normal 4 days rest but no extended absences. Maybe he had several little bang-ups that pushed him back, but my guess is they were simply preserving a young pitchers arm. He had 8 such starts in '90 (180 IP), though the game log seems to indicate one or two DL stints towards the end of the year (can't tell if he finished up the year on the DL or was just shut down early, though I guess the difference between those two scenarios is negligible). And while some of these starts came in April, where there are typically more days of and some teams give every pitcher extra rest, a lot came in the middle and end of the season as well. I don't know how "normal" these numbers are, but given that he had a max of 2 DL stints over the two years, and spent the entirety of both seasons in the big leagues AND his IP/GS was roughly in line with his career average, it seems as if this was the likely culprit for decreased starts in those two years.

    So, leaving out the beginning and end (which still matter), he had 8 of 10 seasons in the middle of his career over 230 IP, with the other 2 being at 170.

    To be honest, I was surprised at this as well, as I remember durability being an issue. But it seems like this was largely only a major issue towards the end of his career. It's still an issue, but probably not AS big an issue as it is for guys who usually get stuck with that label.

  23. Andy Says:

    BSK--wow. I don't see this particular argument of yours having very much merit. It's filled with all sorts of caveats about why we shouldn't take Brown's IP numbers at face value. If he missed time due to punching a wall, was that not his fault? Does that missed time somehow not count? If he was held back from pitching to preserve his arm, that's not his fault, but it still counts toward his total career IP--why should we ignore that? The bottom line is that he didn't pitch that many innings as compared a lot of other guys.

  24. BSK Says:

    In reflecting on my post, is there a way to get a list of a guy's DL stints? That would be helpful. Is it preferable, for either the player or the team, to have a guy make multiple small DL stints or one extended one (assuming he is going to spend a given amount of time on the DL regardless)?

    When Brown started to break down, in 2001, it looks like he:
    2001: Missed 3+ weeks in June and 6+ weeks in July/August
    2002: Missed 11 weeks in June/July/August
    2003: Made 32 starts; looks like a 15-dayer in July
    2004: Missed 7 weeks in June/July and 3 weeks in September
    2005: Missed 5 weeks in June/July; made last start on July 23

    Since I've broken down all but two of his shortened seasons, might as well do the other two:
    1994: Last start on August 10; no other DL stints
    1995: First start of season April 29; missed 3+ weeks in June/July
    (Crudely assuming end of '94 and early '95 injury were the same, but can't say with certainty)

    Now, I'm not sure what all of this means. I'm sure similar analysis can be done for other guys who have the "durability" concern. I'm not even necessarily a pro-Brown guy (still undecided, though I think he doesn't get in). BUT, in the middle of his career, Brown was a pretty reliable work horse. He was babied a bit early, had apparently one major injury during his 10 year peak, and broke down big time at the end.

  25. BSK Says:


    I don't mean to overstate my argument. You are right that the lack of innings is an issue with his candidacy, regardless of why that was the case. We can't give guys credit for something they didn't do. Rather, I was surprised when I looked at his numbers that he wasn't as brittle and unreliable as I remember him, so I thought I'd research it out. In thinking about a pitcher, I personally think there is less value in a guy who is consistently brittle, whom you never know what you will get out of him in a given year. Obviously, this is SOMEWHAT true for any player. But if "reliability" is to be factored in, and IF it is and IF it has an impact (something I think but don't *know*), then Brown had a pretty extended period in which he could be considered a reliable pitcher.

    Again, I don't think it really matters in the end run. If it does, it has only a tiny sliver of influence and largely on subjective perception. There is a difference in how we think about a workhorse who broke down at the end vs a guy who was off-and-on the DL throughout his career. I had always thought Brown was more of the latter when it seems he was more of the former. That being said, I don't think that matters with regards to his election. I just found it interesting.

  26. Raphy Says:

    BSK - Two sites for injury info:

  27. steven Says:

    Nope. I used my own scientific/mathamatical analysis from which came the conclusion that I just don't like the guy.

  28. BSK Says:

    BTW, when I said "In reflecting on my post, is there a way to get a list of a guy's DL stints? That would be helpful," I didn't mean it would be helpful in making a case for/against Brown, but that it'd be interesting to be able to quickly look up how a guy's time on the DL broke down. Or maybe that's just interesting to me.

  29. BSK Says:

    Thanks, Raphy!

  30. DavidJ Says:

    HOF career value, HOF peak value--he's an easy pick for me. A lot of people hate him, which is fine, but I don't take into account whether or not I like the player. He's not in the Clemens-Johnson-Pedro-Maddux tier, but neither are Schilling, Mussina, Glavine, and Smoltz. Brown fits in very solidly with that second tier.

  31. Andy Says:

    For injuries, I like this site:

    That actually includes all transactions--drafted, traded, disabled, released, etc. Pretty sweet for reconstructing a player's career.

    I think Johnny Twisto is the one who told me about that site!

  32. DavidRF Says:

    Who says Brown couldn't win the big games against big pitchers?

    Brown vs Maddux:
    Brown vs Glavine:
    Brown vs Randy Johnson:
    Brown vs Glavine:

    Sure, his postseason record isn't that great overall. He pitched poorly in the 97 WS, was outdueled by Pettite in the 98 WS and he got pounded in the 04 ALCS. But there's big game victories mixed in there, too.

    I'm playing a bit of devil's advocate here. Personally, I've always thought Brown was borderline due to career length issues, but its interesting seeing how irrational the anti-Brown rhetoric is.

  33. Matt Young Says:

    To a degree, the shorter number of innings is also a sign of the times. Brown did have some durability issues, but he did pitch nearly 3300 innings too --in today's day and age not that bad. As we go forward, I think Glavine, Johnson, Maddux and Clemens will be hard to come by in number of innings. The day and age of a pitcher going much more than 3500 innings is mostly over. I see the innings as a non-issue. He had a really good peak of about 7 years in NL and his AL numbers are a bit less. He needed one more good year and a defining moment or two for a yes vote. His 211 wins, poor playoff numbers and an overall lack of defining moments are merits for a no vote. This is one case where the WAR is a bit overrated.

  34. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Andy, I don't think I've ever seen that site.

    BSK, '94 and '95 were strike years.

  35. DavidRF Says:

    "Lack of a defining moment" translates to "I can't think of a better reason to oppose his candidacy so I'll wave my hands in the air a while".

  36. Matt Young Says:

    33# Not true. Defining moments are when someone steps up on the biggest stage and performs in the biggest way when the most is on the line.. He's a borderliner for sure, but on the opposite side of the line. I'll be surprised if he lasts more than 1-3 years, but admit he's more worthy of 15 years on ballot and making an honest run at making it.

  37. Adam Says:

    On his never winning a Cy Young:
    He deserved it in 96'. It's not his fault he didn't have the Braves offense!

  38. Matt Young Says:

    And it's also not Smoltz's fault he did.

  39. BSK Says:


    DUH! Thanks. So he essentially had a 10 year run of pitching full seasons. Worth noting. Enough to get him in? Still not sure.

  40. Mike Says:

    Steroid era pitchers # seasons leading league in WAR for pitchers:
    Clemens (6)
    Johnson (6)
    Maddux (3)
    Martinez (3)
    Santana (3)
    Halladay (3)
    Brown (2)
    Glavine, Mussina (1)
    Smoltz (0)

  41. DavidJ Says:

    FWIW, Fangraphs WAR (which is based on FIP rather than runs) has Smoltz and Maddux as better than Brown in '96. It certainly was a Cy Young-caliber year for Brown, though, as was '98. He never won a CYA, but he had CY-caliber years, and a great peak overall. Whatever people want to say against Brown, they can't say that he was never one of the very best pitchers in baseball. In the the late '90s and early '00s, he definitely was.

  42. Matt Young Says:

    And the differences between the Fangraph WAR and this WAR points to how different a pitcher can be perceived.

  43. KevinK Says:

    Brown was a tremendously talented pitcher, but he just doesn't have Hall of Fame numbers. Additionally, he was one of the biggest jerks ever to put on a uniform.

  44. Matt Young Says:

    On a side note, I know some have mentioned that they don't get the "best of an era/period" argument-- Would that apply to second basemen and shortstops as well? To me you simply cannot compare the numbers of these two positions today to the numbers they put up 25+ years ago. Because of the numbers put up today Trammell, Whitaker and perhaps Grich are all getting much less Hall play than they should. IMO, Trammell is really getting robbed. I think best of a era is a legitimate thing to consider.

  45. BSK Says:


    I think it matters, but context also matters, as well. Some guys were the best of their eras but still weren't great. Some had trouble cracking the top but were phenomenal. Despite changes in the game that legitimately impacted the era as a whole, there were also times where there was more or less talent at a position. So if a guy dominated an era but his raw numbers pale in comparison to dominant players from other eras because of changes in the game, that guy should still be considered elite. But if a player was the best of a lackluster group, I'm not inclined to give him credit for being fortuitous. Trammel, I think, does get a raw deal when unfairly compared to modern players.

  46. Matt Young Says:

    Agreed BSK. Best of Era would certainly seem to apply best to these two positions though.

  47. Matt Young Says:

    I think Best of Era applies to pitchers to a degree as well. While I certainly think Blyleven is getting jipped, many that saw him pitch (I did see him pitch) say he wasn't nearly the best of his era. I would agree that he wasn't the best of his era, but he was plenty good enough to go in. Out of the 8 or so pitchers that went in from that era, I'd put him somewhere in the middle of the pack behind, Palmer, Seaver, Carlton etc.

  48. Bill@TDS Says:

    I'd like to know how many of these "no" voters would vote yes on Mussina and Schilling. Brown was basically the same pitcher as those two guys. He's never going to get in, but he absolutely should.

  49. JR Says:


    I would vote for Mussina and Schilling over Kevin Brown in a heartbeat. Mussina to me is a no brainer with a .634 winning percentage and has 100 more wins than losses. You are only looking at maybe 30 pitchers who have accomplished this feat. Schilling and Brown are similar as far as winning percentage goes (I think both are .595). However take Schillings post season accomplishments and is in the 3,000 strikeout club give him a edge over Brown. 3,000 k's should not be discounted as with only 16 members currently and guys don't strike out 275+ anymore, that plateau will be tough to reach.

  50. Matt Young Says:

    Nicely put JR. There's a significant difference between Schilling/Mussina and Brown. I would argue that Schilling is more deserving than Mussina, but both deserve to go in and I voted for both. Schilling was crazy good in the playoffs --11-2 with 3 championships and an era of 2.23. I don't like the guy, but he was money. I don't like Brown, and he wasn't money. Hence, Schilling had great defining moments, Brown had nearly none. Mussina had nearly no great defining moments either, but he did have nearly 60 more wins than Brown. Translation, Brown needed a couple more defining moments and/or another year or two of 15+ wins to go in.

  51. Matt Young Says:

    On a whole, I actually think Cone is a better equivalent to Brown than Brown is to Schilling and Mussina.

  52. Joe Says:

    @50, I agree - I tend to think of Brown along the same way I think of guys like Cone, Saberhagen, and Appier. Very good pitchers, all, and perhaps Brown was the best of those names, but even saying that, I don't think any of them are really legitimate HOF candidates.

  53. BSK Says:

    I'm still not sure where I fall on Brown, but I will say this: I'd take him over Morris.

  54. Matt Young Says:

    I tend to think if Coney won another 25 games or so he would have went in or at least would have gotten significant play. Unless you ridiculously dominate for 8+ years, finishing with a win total under 200 is too much to overcome. Mussina had the 60 plus wins (than Brown); Schilling had fabulous playoff numbers, 3 championships and the bloody sock and overcoming the curse; Smoltzy also had great playoff numbers, a Championship, A Cy Young and 150+ saves; and Brown just had the good sabermetrics and pretty good raw numbers for the most part (he did have a no-hitter). To me, in reality, a Hall player is 35% sabermetrics, 35% raw numbers, 20% defining moments (i.e. playoffs numbers, championships, and even no-hitters, perfect games and Cy Youngs) and 10% how good of a teammate you were and your relationships with teammates and the media. Coney had the defining moments, good sabermetrcis, pretty good relationships, but his raw numbers were too short to overcome, particularly the wins. Hence, you have the more accurate comparison of Brown and Coney. In some ways a HoFer needs a fairly well balanced resume with positives for at least 3/4 of the above and the one perhaps negative not being too great of a negative to overcome.. I see no problem with HoFer's being assessed this way. And yes, sabermetrcis are being looked at more than ever as they should. Lets hope they don't become all that is looked at though.

  55. Matt Young Says:

    Sorry, in a big game I'd take Morris over Brown any day and every day....for a whole season I'm not sure who I'd take though.

  56. Matt Young Says:

    As for how to perhaps deal with steroids, I'd consider that a defining moment with the outcome to be determined by how the said person dealt with the issue/allegation.

  57. BSK Says:

    Matt Young-

    That statement seems to imply that Morris was better in big games than in "regular" games or "small" games. Otherwise, if he was better in one game, he'd be better over a season. Why would Morris only pitch his best on certain occasions?

  58. rico petrocelli Says:

    The iconic image of Brown is that of a loser. The face of the 2004 Yankees who went down so hard.
    Sour, dour and on the short end of the stick. If Schilling is a winner ("bloody sock") and that carries weight then Brown is a loser ("broken hand, water cooler, hellfreezes over") and carries counterwight
    Victimized by the greatest comeback in sports history.

    That said, his numbers are in or near HOF

    PS --seeing Byrd nail Papi at second last night made methink of allthose Dewey Evans RF putouts-to-1B he made. Easily one of the coolest palys inbaseball. Does BR track this? Are there numbers for putouts from the RF position? Who are the leaders?

  59. Matt Young Says:

    I agree Rico, that Byrd play was awesome....and I remember Dewey doing that fairly frequently --seemed to be a handful or so of times each year. I'll also say that Dewey Evans was my favorite Red Sox of all time and surely one of the most underrated players. Not sure he was a HoFer, but he should have received more play than he did.

    Also agreed on the Schilling and Brown analogy.

    As for BSK's post, yes, I think Morris mostly stepped up in games when he needed to and Brown didn't....and it matters to some degree to me. We don't have formulas that show whether a player has "it" or whether a player is a "winner", but stepping up in big moments makes a difference as does not stepping up. It helps one determine whether a player has "it" or not, and Morris had "it" more than Brown did. As for Morris being better in any old "one game" don't know if I'd say that, but he was better in "one big game" when he needed to be more often than not and more often than Brown. Again, for the record, I changed my mind and voted against Morris in the Hall after taking a closer look at his sabermetrics. However, I certainly get why he gets much more play than Brown does. As said above, Brown is a near HoFer, but so is Jack.

  60. Adam Says:

    BS. Jack Morris' career post season ERA was 3.80, his regular season career ERA was 3.90. People are confusing stepping up one's game (I.E., two of his 3 world series he appeared in. No one mentions the third with it's 8.77 ERA) with SAMPLE SIZE!

    Case in point: Why does Jeff Suppan step up his game so much in the NLCS (1.69 ERA!)?

  61. Adam Says:

    Hey Joe,

    You "tend to think of him" like players who weren't as good as him. Seriously, take two seconds to look up his stats, don't just rely on fuzzy memories!

  62. Matt Young Says:

    Please, yes, look up his stats --Morris was 7-1 to start, ERA under 2 with 2 WS where he played a big, big role.....and then he flamed out. Jack should have been co-MVP the first WS and then won MVP the second WS. He was bad in the third WS. Yes, his bad ending should count, but to point to the 3.80 playoff ERA is just diluting things too much. His stats aren't as impressive for sure, but he's a borderliner as much as Mr. 64 WAR never did much in the playoffs Kevin Brown is. Obviously Jack POLLS much better than Brown as well. As for Suppan, he didn't have 254 wins.

  63. Josh Says:

    I'll summarize points I've made on other threads.

    On Morris: He had massive run support for his career and won almost exactly as many games as one would expect someone with a slightly above average ERA and his huge run support. His Tigers teammate pitchers in the 1980s had similar just above average ERAs and put up almost identical winning percentages to Morris. There is absolutely zero evidence Morris leveraged his support well or pitched to the score. He pitched the same in close games and not -- the numbers are easily accessible on this site. Morris' teammates like Trammel and Whitaker deserve substantial credit for his 254 wins and should be the ones getting HOF support, not Morris. Morris' highest 200 IP season ERA+ was equal to Kevin Brown's career average ERA+. Frank Tanana would have won more games than Morris had he been on the same teams.

    On Brown: On career value, he is clearly HOF worthy, and Brown is a peak candidate more than a career candidate. Every previously eligible pitcher with >3000 innings and an ERA+ over 120 is in the HOF. Brown easily clears these thresholds. His peak is phenomenal, well above most HOF pitchers with 6.5 seasons that can be described as tremendous in run prevention. He was a top-3 pitcher in his league 6 times.

    Brown is an incredibly similar pitcher to Schilling, Smoltz and Mussina, and reasonable people could sort them any way, but reasonable people cannot put a big gap between them. Schilling was particularly good at preventing unearned runs so may have had a touch more career value, and Brown had the best peak of the 4. Schilling and Smoltz had a postseason edge. Mussina pitched a bit more at a slightly worse rate. Mussina only has the big win-loss record edge over Brown because Moose received 5.3 run support/9 (.5 runs per game above average for his career) and Brown received 4.5 of run support (.2 runs below average). There is just not a dime's difference between these guys unless all you care about is the postseason (which is dumb unless you want Billy Hatcher and Phil Garner in the HOF) or how many runs your teammates score for you. To be clear, all four of Brown, Smoltz, Schilling, and Mussina meet every standard that has ever been used for Cooperstown. You can deny it if you want, but it's obviously true.

    Let's be clear here: people are anti-Brown because either they refuse to look at his stats honestly or because he pitched for the Yankees in the limelight when he was washed up and wasn't good any more. We don't hold Steve Carlton out of the HOF because of 1986-1988 and we don't ignore Brown's entire non-Yankee career before he was 39 because he was a bad Yankee.

  64. Josh Says:

    "Sorry, in a big game I'd take Morris over Brown any day and every day....for a whole season I'm not sure who I'd take though."

    Good luck getting a GM job with that analysis. A guy in his prime who was a top-3 pitcher every year or a guy who was a good solid pitcher who every now and then would be a top-10 pitcher in his league? Tough choice. Brown was the highest paid player in baseball for 4 years for a reason.

  65. Matt Young Says:

    There's a huge difference b/w Schilling, Smoltz and Brown, and you hit it, playoffs, K/WW ratio and Championships for Schilling, and 150 saves and an amazing run with BRaves for Smotlz, which IMO should count for more than what you think obviously. I was never impressed with Brown when he was a Ranger, and yes, his stats show he was slightly above average for those 1600+ IP in the AL. His AL and NL splits are quite different. In fact Mussina and even Pettite were better than Brown in the AL. His peak was quite good in the NL, but not quite long enough. He had a really good 6-7 in NL. He's a borderliner, but just out. Over a season perhaps I'd pick BRown, in a big must win spot it would be Morris, Morris, and Morris with not even a thought of Brown. Perhaps the same could be said about Brown over Morris for in-season games --I'd buy that. I'll buy he's a bit closer to Mussina since I rank both Schilling and Smotlz ahead of Mussina. It's all good. Great discussion.

  66. Josh Says:

    "There's a huge difference b/w Schilling, Smoltz and Brown... "
    "K/WW ratio and Championships for Schilling:"
    (1)Yes Schilling was better in the postseasons, and it matters, but postseason is far from everything. If it were, there would be dozens of guys like Billy Hatcher in the hall. (2) Schilling had more Ks and was a little better at walk prevention, but Brown was much better at HR prevention and inducing DPs. These factors balance out, and the two men were almost equally good at preventing runs over their careers.

    "150 saves and an amazing run with BRaves for Smotlz,"
    The Braves would have made the playoffs those years if they had Brown instead of Smoltz too, since prime Brown was better at run prevention and generally more durable. The saves are a usage choice and don't mean much to me. Smoltz was a very good reliever for a few years when he compiled those innings. Brown compiled the same innings as a starter, and they helped to win games too. There's no doubt Smoltz was great in the playoffs, and that counts, but Smoltz needs a lot of help to catch up to Brown since his career was similar but peak and prime much worse. Also, how can you say Brown's peak was too short when it was better than Schilling or Smoltz's?
    (As an aside, I expect if Brown had as many starts in his prime, his postseasons numbers would look a lot better; he was pretty solid outside of his age 39 postseason in NY)

    OK, you weren't impressed by Brown as a Ranger, but he was a lot better later, and that's where his case rests. I don't know that people were impressed with Koufax in his first 6 years either. Brown is a hall candidate because of his peak, not his Ranger years (not that the Ranger years were bad or anything -- they were typical Jack Morris type years).

    To summarize: you can come up with some reasons why Smoltz or Schilling is better than Brown, but I can come up with other reasons why Brown is better than either (like his dominant peak). The fact of the matter is the three guys plus Mussina are extremely similar, and it's very hard to draw a line between them. If you like one, you should like all four.

    The line for the real HOF (where there are 200-some players) is far below any of these four pitchers. They're pretty average as Hall of Famers go. Guys like Cone or Bunning are the guys who sit on that line, and guys like Pennock are the clear mistakes. I still have no idea why you like Morris so much.

  67. Matt Young Says:

    Other than a really good NLDS, his playoff numbers aren't good. Even his Marlins run wasn't good in the WS. Playoffs just mean more to me. Statheads will state that's stupid b/c of small sample, but it's the biggest stage and the biggest moment. Brown stunk. I admit he's a borderliner and it wouldn't bother me if he got in, but the playoffs put Schilling and Smoltz in and Brown out. As for largely dismissing Smoltz's saves, that's ridiculous --then add another 40+ wins to put him in the 255-260 range. Yes, Brown's peak was better, but Smoltzy was quite consistent over the long haul. Schilling had injury issues even during his peak....and again, Smoltzy and Schilling were crazy great in the playoffs. Perhaps the two best playoff pitchers ever!--certainly they are in that argument. I don't think Jack was phenomenal and I voted against him, but he too, like Brown, is a borderliner.

  68. Josh Says:

    "His most similar pitcher is Bob Welch, and in many ways that seems about right"

    I don't like this point, as it is a misuse of similarity scores. Similarity scores are fun, but they are not park and era neutralized; they look for similar raw stats. Welch was a very good pitcher with 3100 innings @ 107 ERA+ (41.9 WAR) and a good record. His record and raw ERA look similar to Brown's, but the quality was nothing alike. Welch's peak was much weaker. Welch got an undeserved Cy and Brown lost two deserved Cys to undeserving pitchers. A good Welch seasons might have a 3.00 ERA good for a 123 ERA+ because it was the 1980s in a pitcher's park. A Brown 3.00 ERA might translate to a 143 ERA+ because it was a high scoring era and would win many more games for an average quality team than Welch's lower ERA+. It's just a smaller example of comparing Pedro Martinez's ERA to some average deadball era guy and asking what was so special about Pedro.

    Welch is honestly much more similar to Morris. Their prime ERA+ totals look pretty similar. Morris has 700 more innings at a slightly worse ERA+ (Morris tacked on a few seasons more of average-ish pitching by that metric by being more durable). They have similar strikeout, walk, and HR prevention rates, with Welch being slightly better. WAR puts Welch slightly ahead because it thinks Morris got great defensive support, and therefore thinks the quality of Welch's pitching was better than Morris' -- the extra Morris innings after adjusting for defensive are replacement quality. I'm willing to give Jack the nod over Welch for his durability in his prime, but I don't see any intelligent way to comp Welch to Brown.

  69. Josh Says:

    Matt, I think I've got you to the point where you think Brown's regular seasons are close enough to Schilling and Smoltz, so your main objection to Brown is that his WS "stunk." Brown played in one WS in his prime, 1998. He was extremely good in the 1998 NLDS and NLCS with 0.61 and 2.61 ERAs. In the WS, he had one very good 8 IP 3 ER start he lost to a Pettitte shutout and a ND where he pitched below average and allowed 4 runs in 6.1 innings. Brown then returned to the WS when he was 39 and washed up, and he stunk. Basically you are condemning him because he pitched in the WS when he was old and no good any more. I have little doubt if he had gone to a few more WS in his prime, he would have pitched well.

    Ted Williams hit .200/.333/.200 in his only World Series, which occurred in his prime. Throw the bum out of the HOF! Willie May had a .589 career OPS in 4 WS. That guy was a terrible ballplayer. You realize how judging a player on a handful of games sounds?

  70. Matt Young Says:

    Not true, I've always understood the similarities in their numbers, I just draw different lines. I might have voted against Schilling and Smoltz if they weren't crazy good in the playoffs like Brown, but they were great.....absolutely lights-out great! 11-2 and 15-4 with mid-2 ERA's are ridiculous. Brown was 5-5 with 4.20 ERA and 0-3 in WS with ERA over 6. 2 of those losses were in his Marlins run with an ERA over 8.00! Enough said. If you're going to sit here and justify Brown's performance in the playoffs, then I'll continue to state that Morris started his playoffs as 7-1, ERA under 2 with two iconic WS performances, but the reality is he did flame out in his last WS when he past his prime and that should count just as should Brown's overall crappy playoffs. I don't think you can look at WAR, ERA+, WPA in a vacuum. Context matters and that's evidenced by Brown polling so badly and Morris polling better. Some statheads will continue to say that writers don't know what they're doing, but writers can also say statheads don't know what they're doing when they make arguments that put Brown leaps and bounds above Morris and the same as Schilling and Smoltz. Yes, in a vacuum, looking at numbers, they were very similar, but they were different enough in reality that Brown is on wrong side of line and Schilling and Smoltz are on the right side of the line.

  71. Matt Young Says:

    To your point about Williams and Mays, we're talking about shoo-in HoFers that didn't need playoff numbers to tip the balance. It's a ridiculous example to use. Brown is a borderliner, not a shoo-in, and when looking at borderliners you look for things that tip the balance. So, no, not looking at the playoffs is ridiculous. Besides, you make it sound like Brown had little playoff experience to look at. He had 13 starts and 80 IP --that's a pretty good sized sample to see how one performs at the most important time of the year. It be one thing if he had 30IP, but he didn't. Also, the guy averaged 5.1 IP/start in playoffs.

  72. Matt Young Says:

    Sorry, that should have been 6.1 IP start. Certainly plenty good. I agree he's a borderliner, but I just don't think he quite makes it.

  73. Josh Says:

    "Morris started his playoffs as 7-1, ERA under 2 with two iconic WS performances"

    True, but he pitched 3800 innings slightly better than average (particularly if you count his defensive support) . His regular season performance does not put him anywhere near the borderline. He was a fair amount worse than Tanana, worse than Koosman (who was also 3-0 2.39 in the WS), and worse than Lolich (also 3-0 1.67 in the WS). The guys similar to but better than Morris get no HOF support and some have postseason heroics. Morris was great in two WS and terrible in 1 (the same year he won 21 games, so if he was washed up, you have to throw out that year, and his career victor total will not look so competitive). His overall playoff stats are in line with his career performance in the regular season. I watched that one game too, and it was great, but he would have lost if not for a base running error, and then we wouldn't even be having this conversation. Morris's case is pretty much due to one postseason game he should have lost to Smoltz. His regular season career is the same as a dozen guys not close to the HOF.

    Kevin Brown started his playoff career with a 3.46 ERA in a high offense era until his last playoffs when he was washed up. If he had retired the year before, he would have just as good of a HOF case (unlike Morris who needs his 1992 20-win season). Brown wasn't a choker in the playoffs in his prime -- he was perfectly good. If you include his washed up year, over 81 innings he was average. It doesn't help him and doesn't hurt him. There are many, many HOF players with far worse playoff performance.

    Now, let's look at at Brown's 3250 inning career, as opposed to 81 innings: while every pitcher who looks like Morris get no HOF support, every pitcher who looks like Brown and is eligible is in easily. The pitchers in history with roughly similar ERA+ and similar innings pitched: Drysdale (121), Mussina (123), Marichal (123), Cicotte (123 -- banned), Smoltz (125), Brown (127), Coveleski (128), Schilling (128), Hubbell (130), Ford (133). These are not bottom of the barrel guys. These are clear, easy HOF players, and we don't need to consider the playoffs for any of them (Drysdale is the worst of the group and maybe borderline).

    "writers can also say statheads don't know what they're doing when they make arguments that put Brown leaps and bounds above Morris and the same as Schilling and Smoltz"

    You don't make any arguments at all though. You just assert that it is so and appeal to authority that sportwriters agree with you. You and sportswriters can "say" anything, but it doesn't make you right unless you have an actual argument. Your argument is, "I am a Yankee fan and he was terrible for us when he was 39, so I'm going to disregard everything else he did in his career because of 25 WS innings." If you are going to be consistent, you have to say an inner circle guy like Mays is a borderline HOFer due to 3-4 bad WS if you think a middle of the pack HOFer like Brown is borderline-out due to two bad WS.

    If you pull down Brown so much that he is not a HOF due to 25 WS innings, to be consistent you have to put such a heavy weight on WS performance that Phil Garner and his .500 career WS batting average is a HOFer.

  74. Josh Says:

    "He had 13 starts and 80 IP --that's a pretty good sized sample to see how one performs "

    No, it's not. What was Roger Clemens's line in his first 14 playoff starts? He managed to put up a few nice WS starts after that. You can find 13 games where any HOFer looks like he doesn't belong in the league and 13 games where almost any scrub looks like a star. You found 13 games where Brown looked average. Morris had 9 starts in the playoffs where he looked great and then 4 where he was atrocious. Put them together and you have 13 starts where he was a little above average, just like the Jack we saw over 3800 regular season innings.

  75. Matt Young Says:

    And Brown Polls terribly for some reason. I guess delusion. The majority, not only of writers, but here at this site, are also wrong. Despite making no argument, lets just see how it plays out. Seems you look at the sabermetrics in a vacuum. Look, I voted against Morris, rate Schilling and Smoltz ahead of Mussina, and state that both Morris and Brown are borderliners on the wrong side of the line, but Schilling, Smoltz and even Mussina are on the right side. I think I'm pretty close to spot on to how it will unfold -- I know, many of us are assessing players wrongly. My prediction is Brown will fall off ballot in 3-5 years (he should stay on to make a run but unfortunately won't), Schilling and Smoltz will go in in years 3-5, Mussina in years 5-8, and Morris will fall just barely short. Morris will also get plenty of Veteran committee play at some point but Brown will get little reconsideration. And do you really think a delusional Yankee fan would vote Schilling ahead of Mussina. 🙂

  76. Josh Says:

    "And Brown Polls terribly for some reason. I guess delusion. "

    People either haven't thought it through and really examined the numbers, or they're just wrong in how they weight them. Ad populum is not a valid argument just as an appeal to authority isn't. 33% of US adults firmly reject evolution and only 14% think it's definitely true. Should that influence my opinion, or should I look at the relative merits of the arguments?

    I agree Brown is going to get limited support, and that is why I'm being so passionate in my support for him. Blyleven's case took passion, and ultimately Blyleven will succeed because of concerted efforts to share the facts about the quality of his career and not just accepts myths like "he wasn't a winner." Brown, for whatever reason, is just getting dismissed by most people without thinking through his career. There isn't a single eligible pitcher with a similar career to Brown who isn't in the HOF.

  77. Josh Says:

    Matt, I don't think I can change your mind, but I'm hoping others will read this thread, consider the arguments, and then reconsider Brown.

  78. Andy Says:

    Oh don't start a debate about evolution. Or abortion. Or politics.

  79. Josh Says:

    Andy, fair enough and not my intent. I'll just say the popularity of a position has nothing to due with its truth -- leeches curing disease, geocentrism, and countless other propositions.

  80. Matt Young Says:

    Actually, great points and I agree. Have at it and I hope you're successful with your endeavor. My argument does have some weight though. I put numbers up in addition to popularity (Brown did only have 211 wins), but you don't agree with them and that's fine too. I very likely won't vote for him though, but I've been known to change my mind. If Pettitte gets to 250-260+ wins and a WAR in the mid 50's I'll vote for him over Brown. I think wins are a bit overrated by the writers but I also think wins are clearly underrated by many statheads --that same would apply for playoff stats. There's a midpoint. The platform is yours. 🙂

  81. Matt Young Says:

    Before I completely let this go, almost all of Brown's Hall of Fame Stats are well short of Schilling, Smoltz and Mussina.

  82. Josh Says:

    "Brown's Hall of Fame Stats are well short of Schilling, Smoltz and Mussina."

    Do you mean the HOF monitor and standards? Standards are in the same ball park but you are right about the monitor. I think the monitor explains some of the difference in people's perceptions between the pitchers, as it is designed to capture likelihood of election but not value (lots of credit for Cy Youngs and All Stars where Brown was often overlooked and also points for achieving various win round numbers that Brown missed often due to subpar run support).

    Brown may have "only" had 211 wins, but that's about the same as Schilling, Smoltz, Coveleski, or Drysdale. 211 wins has never been a problem for peak candidates. He had a .594 winning percentage in spite of below average run support for his career; with Mussina's .5 runs/game above average support, Brown would no doubt have had at least as good of a record and be high up on the all time winning percentage list.

    I don't think Pettitte has nearly enough left to pass Brown or the other three in my mind (he had far too weak a peak and his ERA+ is far worse in few innings thus far), but I'll probably support him for the HOF if he can tack on another 500-600 quality innings.

  83. Matt Young Says:

    The Hall of Fame Standards are sort of in the same ballpark--Mussina 54, Schilling 46, Smoltz 44 (would have been a bit higher, but being a closer for 3+years hurt a bit) AND Brown 41. Pettitte 42. His Monitor is well short of all these guys. I agree with your interpretation of the Monitor.

  84. Matt Young Says:

    As a whole, Pettitte is already at the same level as Brown, but behind the other 3. He won't pass the other 3, but if he finishes this year out strong and does 1 more year he'll be by Brown regardless of WAR.

  85. Josh Says:

    The standards like the monitor is an indicator of probability and not representative of value; it's really just a toy. It is very sensitive to small changes, and a few points mean nothing. Brown could add a point with 3 more strikeouts, add a point for 3 more wins, another point for lowering his H/9 by 0.01, and perhaps more. It is by far most reliant on Win-Loss record, and therefore Mussina and Pettitte outperform their peers due to their teammates, and strikeouts represent the other easiest points (Schilling and Smoltz used strikeouts to prevent runs and Brown suppressed home runs) . You can't make too much of either standards or the monitor if you really care about value. It's fun for style points though.

    What is the argument for Pettitte being even with Brown? Andy has fewer innings pitched and a much worse ERA/ERA+. Pettitte has had only two seasons where he was in the conversation for best pitcher in the league; otherwise, he has always been just a good pitcher. The only things I can think of are:

    (1) great won-loss record, but that is obviously largely due to his playing for the Yankees and having incredible .7 RS/9 better than average support over his career (compared to Brown's .2 runs below average run support) plus Mariano in the bullpen. You would expect Brown to have a winning percentage (pythag methodology) almost .05 higher than Andy given the same run support, which would put Brown right up with the all time leaders. The same would be true for Schilling or Smoltz. Mussina of course got only a bit less than Pettitte's run support while pitching better, so his winning percentage is similar.

    (2) Playoffs, where Andy has pitched a lot of innings at his career rate, just as you'd expect him to; good and valuable, but nothing unique given his opportunity.

  86. Matt Young Says:

    I understand the monitor is a toy, but again, I think a HOFer can be assessed by more than peripherals. Peripherals are a part, but not everything. I see the HoF standard as a bit more valuable, and there's a difference between these pitchers there as well. I'd give Andy a little more credit than that for the playoffs --he's remarkably good and consistent, but during the playoffs it's against nothing but the best.

  87. Josh Says:

    "I think a HOFer can be assessed by more than peripherals. Peripherals are a part, but not everything. I see the HoF standard as a bit more valuable"

    A big part of HOF standards is peripherals, though: peripherals in fact make up the entire difference between Brown and Schilling in the standards test. Schilling has a 5 point edge. 4 points come from Schilling's greater strikeouts, 1 from walk rate, (and I think Schilling gets an additional 1 point from hit rate and Brown 1 from ERA). Schilling was a strikeout/flyball pitcher who was better at striking out batters and allowed fewer walks; Brown was a ground ball pitcher who allowed many fewer home runs and induced more double plays. Those factors basically offset each other and the two men were similarly good at preventing runs overall. The standards test basically gives "style points" to Schilling for the strikeouts and doesn't reward Brown for preventing home runs. The men put up similar innings totals, ERA/ERA+, and records. The regular season differences between the men are Brown's better peak and Schilling's flashy strikeouts.

    I do think Andy has been very valuable in the playoffs, but I don't know how you can with a straight face give Andy a lot of playoff credit for a 3.90 playoff ERA and think Brown played himself out of the Hall with a 4.19 playoff ERA (that was in the 3.40s before his last series when he was washed up). I know, only the world series counts and win-loss record is all that matters, regardless of run support.

  88. Matt Young Says:

    Mussina has a HoF Standard of 54, Schilling 46, Smoltz 44, Pettitte 42 and Brown 41. I'll never see WHIP as more important than wins. They are both pieces to be looked at. I heard on the radio Andy left his game injured today.

  89. Josh Says:

    "I'll never see WHIP as more important than wins."

    If you care a great deal about wins, why isn't Moose your favorite guy of the group (I think he is 3rd best to you)?

    The HOF standard stat is mostly a combination of wins, winning percentage, and strikeouts for modern pitchers. Smoltz and Schilling are slightly ahead of Brown due to having more strikeouts, and that's it (Smoltz would even be behind otherwise) -- their records are basically the same.

    Pettitte is only in the conversation because of his record, and his record is only so great because the Yankees have given him some of the best support of any pitcher in history; Pettitte is obviously inferior to the other guys in every way except he was very skilled at having guys like Jeter/Arod/Posada/Williams/Giambi etc as teammates almost his whole career. Pettitte wasn't nearly as great at winning games when he was in Houston in spite of pitching some of the best ball of his career. I'm not trying to say Pettitte isn't a borderliner himself, but it's just that the other guys were better pitchers.

    Mussina is ahead of them all in standards because he was similar in pitching quality to Brown/Smoltz/Schilling and also got a lot of run support, so he had the best won-loss record. None of these guys had records all that different from what you'd expect given their ERAs and run support, so I don't see why it's worthwhile to focus on win-loss unless you want to rank their teammates. All we need to do is think about is innings, ERA, peak, and (to some extent) postseason.

  90. Matt Young Says:

    Mussina is my third best b/c I look at more than HoF Monitor too--the monitor is just one thing to look at just like everything else. As I've said before I assess Hall of Famers based on 35% Raw Numbers, 35% Sabermetrics, 20% playoffs, championships, and signature moments like CY Youngs, No-hitters, World Series' performance etc, and 10% how good of a teammate you were and what was your relationship with your teammates and media. I try not to look at anything in a vacuum. You need a well-rounded resume with no gaping holes that are too hard to overcome. I mean really, people complain about the writers, but really how many pitchers are in the Hall that are truly undeserving? Eppa Rixey, Vic Willis, Herb Pennock, Catfish Hunter, Bob Lemon, Jack CHesbro, Red Ruffing, Jessie Haines,Ted Lyons, Burleigh Grimes, Chief Bender, and Rube Marquard? Out of the 125+ years of baseball maybe they put in 5-6 from this list that truly might not be deserving? And the thing is, most of us haven't even seen most of them pitch, which I think does make a difference. Out of all of them maybe most of us saw Catfish, but even Catfish was a borderliner despite his 32.5 WAR. I mean, his 73 season he was 21-5 with a 3.34 ERA, a WHIP of 1.13, 11 CG and 3 SO, 3rd in CY Young, but his WAR was 1.7 and his ERA+ 107? .........and his team won the WS with him going 1-0 in 2 starts and a ERA of 2. Why was his WAR so low, well, because he led the league giving up 39 HR's. Who cares if he gave up 39 HR's, he won 21 games and a WS. His WAR was disproportionately hurt by giving up 39 homers just like perhaps Brown's WAR was helped a bit disproportionately because he didn't give up homers? You can't tell me that WAR can't be as overrated or even at times as underrated as wins are too. I mean, if we rely on WAR too much what will voters do with Tanana, Cone, Koosman, Finley, Rueschel, and Saberhagen in 30 years?

  91. Matt Young Says:

    Besides, saying the only reason why we're talking about Pettitte is because of wins is like saying the only reason why we're talking about Brown is because he kept the ball in the park more and walked less people than norm. Last I checked baseball was still a team sport. They are as equally important.

  92. Josh Says:

    I agree most of the biggest mistakes have been due to the veterans committee, and if anything the writers elect too few guys. I mostly wish the writers would be more consistent if they're only going to take a few guys; you let in guys like Rice or Dawson and Puckett goes in on the first ballot, but Raines gets limited support, Whitaker falls off the ballot in the first year, Santo can't get in, Sutter beats out Blyleven, Larkin misses...

    On Catfish, we just have a big philosophical difference. I say a 3.34 ERA in 1973 Oakland is not a particularly great year. Catfish didn't go 21-5: His team won those games. It is a team sport, and you can't give the credit for a victory to a single player. Catfish was one player of nine and did an average-ish job, but everyone else was great. The 1973 A's led the league in runs in spite of being in a tremendous pitcher's park. They scored 5.6 runs per game in Catfish starts in a 3-something run per game environment. The team had great defense. Catfish was average and along for the ride. He was the third best starter. Let's honor the real stars of that team like Jackson and Bando and not give the credit to Catfish, who was perfectly decent but was not the reason for those wins.

    "f we rely on WAR too much what will voters do with Tanana, Cone, Koosman, Finley, Rueschel, and Saberhagen in 30 years"

    Baseball Think Factory has a "Hall of Merit" project where contributors go through history and try to elect the most worthy players of all time while being fair to all eras and while keeping the HOM at the same size as the HOF. The contributors are not totally WAR-based at all, but most use saber principles. Only Saberhagen has made it from your list in a close call, and honestly I can't complain about it. The guy's career was short but he was an amazing pitcher when healthy, and if you're going to have 200-some players, he should probably slide in. Cone has support and may make it at some point -- he's well below average for a HOF sure but had some very good seasons, and someone has to be the worst worthy player in the hall. Some people like Rueschel as well; his surface numbers don't jump out, but he was victimized by some terrible defense. He's the anti-Morris: durable with lots of innings pitched in prime, better run prevention than Jack, got terrible instead of good defense, and got poor run support instead of great run support, and didn't do well in limited postseason duty. I think WAR actually does a nice job of seeing the subtle value in a guy like Reushel, even if I think he's pretty borderline myself.

  93. Josh Says:

    "Besides, saying the only reason why we're talking about Pettitte is because of wins is like saying the only reason why we're talking about Brown is because he kept the ball in the park more and walked less people than norm. Last I checked baseball was still a team sport. They are as equally important."

    Not an apt analogy at all. Winning a game is half scoring runs and half preventing runs. The team wins the game. Batters contribute to the winning effort by producing runs. Preventing runs is mostly pitching and some defense. A pitcher can do his part in preventing runs by not giving up hits (mostly influenced by strikeout rate), not walking batters, and not giving up home runs. Not walking batters and not giving up runs is an entirely individual achievement just like hitting home runs is on the offensive side. We like Babe Ruth because he hit home runs and got on base more than anyone else of his time. Babe did his individual part to help the team win by hitting well. I say Brown is better than Pettitte because Brown was much better at preventing the opponent from scoring because he didn't walk guys or give up home runs. He was better at pitching. Pettitte happened to play on teams with better hitters, so they won more in spite of Pettitte allowing more runs, so what the heck did those extra team wins have to do with Pettitte? He wasn't batting.

  94. Josh Says:

    Should read, "Not walking batters and not giving up home runs are entirely individual achievements..."

  95. Matt Young Says:

    Yes, philosophical difference (I actually read the book above), but the truth surely lies in the middle. I think the sabermetrics can be a bit like losing the forest through the trees. It's very important stuff to look at, but so is the rest of the bigger picture. As for your first paragraph above, Dawson and Rice went in when they should have (near the end of eligibility), Santo should get/be in I agree, Sutter had a great peak (it was almost all peak) and he was a bit of a pioneer, Whitaker falling off in first ballot is a crime, I think Blyleven should be in, but I do get why he's waited a while, Raines should be getting more play but we'll see how it ends up, and to say Larkin misses, come on, he wasn't a first ballot kind of guy, but he's going to get in in a few years. As for the mix of guys above, the Hall (and sabermetricians for relievers to a degree) has always had a hard time evaluating speed, the save, and even starting pitchers. There are always going to be nuances and anomalies that no stat will ever correct for.

  96. Matt Young Says:

    None of these guys are Hall worthy: Tanana, Cone, Koosman, Finley, Rueschel, and Saberhagen. The WAR is a bit imperfect as well. It be just as bad as the writers or Veterans Committee putting in some oddballs due to cronyism. I do think Tiant and John have better arguments and should likely go in. Kaat should not get in.

  97. Matt Young Says:

    The Hall of Merit site is very interesting but there are also dubious names elected there-- Torre, Nettles, Randolph, Steib, Darrell Porter, Reggie Smith, Will Clark, Keith Hernandez, Minnie Minoso, and Dwight Evans. All very fine players, some borderliners, many not even borderliners IMO. Dwight Evans is my all-time favorite red sox, and he should have gotten more HoF play, but he also falls short IMO.

  98. Matt Young Says:

    Saberhagen is in Hall of Merit too.

  99. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Matt, can you name ~230 guys who clearly belong in the HOF? If you think the HOF is too big, that's fine, but the HOM's purpose was to be the same size as the HOF. Of course some guys will be borderliners; how could that not be the case?

  100. Matt Young Says:

    You're right Johnny Twisto --Nobody's Hall list would be perfect, so they'll always be ones that perhaps don't belong and ones that perhaps should belong. Like Josh said, someone has to be the worst of the best.. I see names in the Hall and in the HOM that you could argue are no better or worse than the other. I'm OK with all that. I just don't think the WAR necessarily does a hands down better job than what is already being done. It's an important tool to be used and looked at --all the voters should look at it. . I don't think the Hall is too large, if anything it's slightly too small IMO. Simmons, Trammell, Santo, Tiant, and Blyleven should be in along with perhaps Whitaker, Mullane, John, Grich, Morris and a few others. The HOM does correctly put Trammell, Santo, Blyleven, and Simmons in. We'll see how Raines (and Trammell) plays out --he should get in in time. Trammell is certainly getting robbed! After Bert goes in everyone should take up Trammell's cause. I think he's getting it the worst.