On January 8, 2014 the Baseball Writers Association of American (BBWAA) and the Veterans Committee will give out keys to the most important shrine in all of baseballdom. It is difficult to argue that baseball's Hall of Fame is not the most exclusive of any of America's big four sports. This year, baseball fans will get to see one of the most talent-laden ballots in many years. But which players should get in during this competitive year? For the purposes of this article, I will only be examining the pitchers who are up for induction.
Let's see what we've got!
Pros: Five all-star games accompanied by 254 wins would get anyone to the gate of Cooperstown. But Morris isn't just any pitcher. He also finished his career with nearly 2,500 strikeouts (32nd all-time) and arguably pitched the greatest game 7 in World Series history. In his 18 year career, he picked up four World Series rings along the way. (Fun fact! Morris is one of only a handful of players that has won the World Series with three different teams.) It is also Morris's last year to be admitted to Hall of Fame by the BBWAA, which frequently helps voting percentages go up.
Cons: His ERA (3.90) is high. Really high. Especially for Cooperstown. If he were admitted this year, he would have the highest ERA of any Hall of Famer by a tenth of a run.
Verdict: This is the hardest call for me to make. Morris has attractive stats and his place in history, but the ERA is really quite ugly. Last year, Morris received 67.7 percent of the vote, versus the 75 percent that he needs to be inducted. While players often see a jump in their voting percentage in their final year of eligibility, 7.3 percent is actually a fairly large gap. Jim Rice was the last person to make the Hall of Fame in his final year. That year, Rice gained only 4.2 percent from his penultimate year of eligibility (which was just enough to eke his way into Cooperstown). I think Morris will fall just short. Wait for the Veterans Committee, Jack!
Pros: Aside from his rookie season, Mussina won at least 11 games every year of his 18 year career, which brought him to a grand win total of 270. His consistent pitching and fielding earned him nearly a dozen 200+ inning seasons and seven Gold Gloves.
Cons: If he were to make the Hall of Fame, Mussina's 3.68 ERA would be the third highest ranking only behind Red Ruffing and Hank O'Day (who was really elected to the Hall of Fame as an umpire, not as a pitcher). In his eight seasons with the Yankees, his ERA was 3.88, suggesting that his wins may have been more a product of Yankee run support rather than superior pitching ability. Lastly, the absence of a World Series ring doesn't help his case. Verdict: He'll make it in, but probably not this year or the next. Give it some time. Worst case scenario, he'll be part of the Cooperstown class of 2021.
Pros: 216 wins and 3116 strikeouts (15th all-time) along with four pennants, three World Series Rings, and one bloody sock would help anyone's case. In addition, Schilling has an 11-2 record in the postseason accompanied by a very impressive 2.23 postseason ERA.
Cons: Like many of the other pitchers on this list, Schilling's career regular season 3.46 ERA is on the higher side. While 216 wins is impressive, it is not enough to automatically receive a key to the doors of Cooperstown. Schilling's stats are very similar to the likes of Kevin Brown, Bob Welch, and Orel Hershiser, none of whom are in the Hall of Fame.
Verdict: I don't see Schilling making it in this year or even in the next few years. He had 38.8 percent last year and a 36.2 percent jump is essentially unheard of. His regular season stats put him on the lower end of borderline Hall of Famer. If he does make it into Cooperstown, it will be attributed to his postseason success and his helping the Boston Red Sox finally end their 86 year World Series drought. The answer to whether or not Schilling will make it in will likely become clearer several years down the road.
Each of these players have their own claim to fame, but I cannot see any of them ever rising to the level of the Hall of Fame. Rogers's ERA is way too inflated to be anywhere near Cooperstown. Smith's accomplishments as a closer have been greatly diminished in comparison to legends such as Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. Lastly, Nomo really only had one great season in the MLB; the only case for his HOF entry would be as a pioneer, the first true All Star from Japan, but his stats hold him too far back for a regular induction.
Make sure to check out: Analyzing the Pitchers of the 2014 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot: Part 1