A Tale of Two Pitchers

Pitcher A threw 3,824 innings over 18 big league seasons.
Pitcher B threw 3,256 innings over 19 years.

Pitcher A struck out 2,478 batters and walked 1390, a 1.78 k/bb ratio.
Pitcher B struck out 2,397 batters and walked 901, a 2.22 k/bb ratio.

Pitcher A gave up .9 homers per 9 innings from 1977 to 1994.
Pitcher B gave up .6 homers per 9 innings from 1986 to 2005.

Pitcher A led his league in wins twice; complete games, innings pitched, strikeouts, and shutouts once each; once each in earned runs and walks allowed; and five times in wild pitches.
Pitcher B led his league in wins once; ERA twice; shutouts and innings pitched once each; twice in WHIP; twice in hits allowed; and three times in hit batsmen.

Pitcher A had a career ERA of 3.90, 5% better than the league over the course of his career.
Pitcher B had a career ERA of 3.28, 27% better than the league average.

Pitcher A earned 39.3 career WAR, per baseball-reference.org.
Pitcher B earned 64.8 career WAR, per baseball-reference.org.

In case you haven’t already guessed, pitcher A is Jack Morris, who collected 53.5% of today’s Hall of Fame vote and has a small but reasonable chance of election in the next two years. Pitcher B is Kevin Brown, who was named on 2.1% of ballots and fell off the writers’ ballot permanently.

I’m not advocating for Kevin Brown to be reinstated on the ballot or enshrined in Cooperstown. He is more qualified than several Hall of Fame pitchers- maybe even half- but he was never a writer’s darling, a fan favorite, or the first guy you wanted to start a World Series game seven.

I’m also not saying that Jack Morris would be a horrible Hall of Fame choice. His ERA would be the highest in the Hall, and he compiled it in a pitchers’ era, so you could make a case that he would be the worst pitcher in the Hall, but he was an ace for several good teams and won a lot of games, including one legendary game seven.

I am saying, unequivocally, that Kevin Brown was a better and more talented pitcher than Jack Morris, and that the 299 voters (at least) who named Morris on their ballots but excluded Brown, were either influenced more by character than performance, swayed more by a single famous game than by a pitcher’s entire body of work, or just didn’t bother to research their careers before voting.

With the exception of their often hypocritical take on steroids (the only form of cheating Hall voters seem to have a problem with), I think the voters did fairly well this year. Bert Blyleven was certainly the best eligible pitcher not in the Hall of Fame, and he’s finally in. Roberto Alomar was probably the best eligible position player not in the Hall, and he’s in on his second ballot (though I’m not sure what he did in the last twelve months that made him more Hall-worthy than he was last year). Barry Larkin gained enough votes that we can expect to see him enshrined in the next few years, and Tim Raines made up some ground, while Jeff Bagwell got what I would consider way too little support, but enough in his first year to suggest that he’ll probably get there before long.

When my biggest complaint about Hall of Fame voting is that one guy who didn’t get in was better than another guy who didn’t get in, but got a lot more votes, it wasn’t a bad year. But then, I’m not Kevin Brown.

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One Response to A Tale of Two Pitchers

  1. Pingback: Let’s Not Weep For Kenny Lofton | Replacement Level Baseball Blog

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